Sunday, 8th January, 2023

[Day 1028]

Today was a different kind of Sunday. As I had rather a disturbed night’s sleep last night, I did get up at a reasonably early time and then walked down into town to pick the Sunday newspapers. There was quite a sharp cold feel to the day but it was not actually raining and I had regaled myself with one of those little packets of ‘instant’ porridge oats before I ventured out. But when I got back, I tuned into the Laura Kuennsberg show but probably as a result of last night’s interrupted sleep I very promptly fell asleep and slept for the best part of a couple of hours. Meg had slept in whilst I was walking down into town but then we had to get up, dressed and breakfasted before we could make the best of the day. Our University of Birmingham friend phoned up to ask whether we intended to coffee together but I explained that we both felt a little rough today so we would postpone our next meeting until about next Friday. So the rest of the morning and some of the afternoon was left to a slow and lesiurely read of the Sunday Times which I rather enjoyed. We had a light lunch of some pork loin which was already cooked and deep frozen so it was just a job of making some onion gravy to make it spring into life again.

We are all awaiting for tomorrow when the Government announces a plan to release the log jam caused by ambulances queuing up ouside A&E departments across the length and breadth of the country becuse there is ‘nowhere’ to go for those adjudged medically fit for discharge. At this stage, all must be speculation but a plan, which Mr Barclay will announce on Monday, is understood to be aimed at block-buying up to 2,000 care home beds in Care Quality Commission-approved facilities over the next four weeks. There may well be other parts of this strategy as well but these may be longer term. One of these is called the ‘virtual’ ward. Virtual wards are in place in many parts of the country, for example, supporting people with frailty or acute respiratory infections. The NHS is introducing more virtual wards to support people at the place they call home, including care homes. In a virtual ward, support can include remote monitoring using apps, technology platforms, wearables and medical devices such as pulse oximeters. Support may also involve face-to-face care from multi-disciplinary teams based in the community, which is sometimes called ‘Hospital at Home’. Whether all of this is to be seen as just a sticking plaster or the start of a much more sensible strategy remains to be be seen. There is often a mantra put about that ‘you do not solve a problem just by throwing money at it’ but in this particular case, the government is doing exactly that at a cost of hundreds of millions of pounds (and I suspect that eventually if this policy is to have any chance of uccess we are actually talking about billions i.e. thousands of millions).

One of the things that I enjoy about the New Year, is that once we get over the winter solstice on 21st December, the nights are getting lighter to the tune of about a minute and a half a day. In the past, I have actually searched the web where it is possible to find a calendar which details sunrises and sunsets for each day of the year. I have just consulted a quick on-line version which tells me that sunrise is one minute earlier tomorrow and sunset two minutes earlier making tomorrow three minutes longer than today. Of course it is true that some of the population suffer from ‘SAD’ (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and, in severe cases, I believe that people have recourse to light boxes, although this is not true in my own case. But as January proceeds, it is possible to think about some seeds that take a long time to germinate and are best planted out in early March. Parsnip is the seed that most springs to mind and I do not think that the seed keeps well from one year to the next so I may have to think about sourcing some as soon as they are in the shops and think about getting them going a window sill. After we had several Christmas card with messages inside to the effect that we must meet up as soon as we can in 2023, Meg and I are thinking about friends and relatives that we really must must make an effort to see and thinking about what emails we need to send and in what order. We still have a couple of our Christmas wreaths hanging outside our front door and these have not yet been taken down. One of them will probably end up on the grave of our domestic help’s relatives whilst the other we have, in the past, put on the grave of Tolkein’s mother, who happens to be buried in the churchyeard of our local church.