Saturday, 27th June, 2020

[Day 103]

Today was meant to be the day when showers swept up the country – we did have three or four transient showers but not the good old-fashioned downpour I had been expecting (and hoping for). Meg and I managed to get our walk to the park without getting rained on either the journey or the way back and we managed a chat without an Italian friend as well. I forgot to mention in last night’s blog that the government has asked me to participate in an antibody trial targeted at a national UK sample. The website was easy to navigate and just took a few confirmatory questions and I expect that I will be sent a full testing kit in a few day’s time. It probably entails a small finger-jab blood sample and then we will have to wait and see what happens. I am (mildly) interested in the results.

This afternoon, I set myself the task of getting a few plants repotted but never quite round to it. The first thing I did was to use a metal tent peg as a type of ‘fastener’ and then applied that to my new plant holder so that tempestuous winds do not send it flying. I then applied a couple of small wood ‘chips’ to the front feet to give it a slight backward tilt and thereby make the whole caboodle somewhat more stable. (Incidentally, since time immemorial I have applied this tip to any freestanding bookcases that I have to enhance their stability – it is not at all funny to realise how unstable an open-ended bookcase can be without some type of offset – I generally deploy small pieces of tile) Finally, to get ready for repotting some of my smaller plants I had to wash and scrub out some old ones that I had lying around but need to be cleaned so that things like slug eggs, ant eggs, plant viruses and the like do not infect the new plants. I really do not like this task at all but my task was made considerably easier by a spare bottle of bleach in a spray carton that I happened to have and which meaks the whole job more tolerable.

And now – here is a question for the really. really nerdy i.e. do long screwdrivers give you more torque (turning power) than shorter handled ones. My reason for asking the question is that, quite impressionistically, I often have the feeling that a longer screwdriver gives that extra bit of ‘oomph’ when tightening a screw to the ultimate and therefore I treated myself to a 14-incher which seemed to be of good quality and reasonably priced. If you look on the web, you find an amazing variety of answers. On the one hand, you get some experienced joiners who will say ‘Yes‘, as for whatever reason they always get extra turning power out of long-handled screwdrivers. On the other hand, there is a mass of mathematical data that shows that the length of a screwdriver can have no relationship to the torque that it applies. The answer may lie in between the classical mechanics and mathematics of turning forces on the one hand and the actual alignment of wrists, arms and shoulders when using a long-handled driver. I shall go out and experiment tomorrow. I did say that this section is for the really, really nerdy – but what is interesting is that people’s real-world experiences seem to be at odds with what the mathematics says.

The Jenrick affair rumbles on, as the Sunday Times leads with the story that civil servants pleaded with the minister not to allow the development but it was pushed through a day or so before the developer would have been liable (under Tory legislation) to £45 million to one of the poorest local authorities in the country. The ministerial code states clearly that there should not be the appearance of a conflict of interests and the appearance is only too self-evident in this case. But the only person who can police the ministerial code is Johnson himself and the ‘word on the street’ seems to be that if Cummings survives, Jenrick should so as well. However, there is a real stench of corruption in this case – but most people are preoccupied with the pandemic crisis in any case.