Sunday, 28th June, 2020

[Day 104]

As is often the case, we start off a conversation with a dog owner in the park when the dog comes bounding towards us attempting to be friendly and so it proved today. The conversation progressed beyond dogs to what was happening in the world of work and it is always fascinating to find out what others people’s preoccupations and concerns turn out to be. Such was the case today where we spent a very enjoyable 20 minutes with a lady who was exercising her dog, discussing a wide range of issues. On our way back up the hill, we encountered two of our sets of friends (who are both near neighbours to each other so not surprising, really) We were shocked to discover that one of our friends had had an accident in her car and had had a collision with an 86 old gentleman. We were even more amazed to discover that our friend’s car was practically a write-off whilst the old gentleman was completely unscathed. I expressed my amazement that this could happen – but only then did it emerge that the elderly gentleman was himself in a car and he immediately accepted liability (and so did his insurance company) for all that had happened.

The afternoon was quite blustery with several showers which was quite frustrating for us as there were several things that we wanted to do. I did succeed in eventually repotting my lavatera and weigela (bought) plants recently, although the latter is such a weedy little specimen I am resolved not to buy plants over the internet again as you cannot see what you are getting! I did, though, on my way down to collect my Sunday newspapers take several little cuttings as May-June is the best time to propagate these and June is nearly up. I’m not sure what I have got but I think I have managed to purloin a weigela, perhaps a skimmia, certainly a laurel and have collected the seeds of both a sycamore and a laburnum which I am going to try and raise from seed (without too many hopes of success). In the late afternoon, I finally got round to rescuing two horseshoes which I had got de-rusting using white vinegar (for the acetic acid) It could well be that Coke (phosphoric acid) will give you the same effect but I haven’t got round to trying that yet- if it de-rusts metal, imagine what it might do to one’s guts! I also managed to get my daughter-in-law’s old exercise trampoline into the back of the car which gives me a good excuse to go to the garden centre just around the corner from the municipal tip so I can cast an eye on what shrubs (or even small trees) they may have on offer, as well as buying perhaps a bag of grit (to help to top out some of my plant pots).

There are two political developments tonight which seem disturbing. The first is the situation in Leicester which is incredibly near the point of a total lockdown due to a resurgence of the COVID-19 virus. There now seems to be 80 new cases a day and it is fair to say that the city is on a ‘knife-edge’ – however, if the city does go into lockdown it may be the first of similar cities. The virus seems to be concentrated in the poorest parts of the city where population densities are highest and perhaps the general health of the population is already poor. The Metro (free newspaper) is also reporting tonight that the UK may be on the cusp of a second wave – as many of the unlock down measures will take place in a week’s time, then the next week or so may prove critical in the UK’s experience of COVID-19.

The other political story is the fact that Dominic Cummings appears to have had his way and the head of the civil service has been forced out (to be replaced by a Brexiter?) When the Cabinet is populated only by those people who agree with Boris Johnson, it appears that any source of opposition to the present government is immediately quelled. One only has to look at the scientists who appeared in the daily briefing who were all dropped, one by one, the minute they did not give 100% endorsement to the government position. So it seems that we are living in profoundly authoritarian times which, in the long run, makes neither for a properly functioning democracy or, indeed, for effective government. It is interesting also to see that the committee which can release the report into Russia’s meddling in the UK’s electoral process has not been constituted (delayed by No. 10 Downing Street) as the report if it ever sees the light of day is bound to be damning!