Tuesday, 7th July, 2020

[Day 113]

Today bands of rain were forecast to sweep across the north of the UK with scattered showers on the edges affecting the Midlands so we suspected that today was going to be one in which we had to dodge the rain showers. As it turned out, we were kept in the dry until we sat down for our elevenses which we then proceeded to munch through to alleviate the effects of the constant drizzle. However, as we turned to go home, we got into a conversation with a couple of friendly gentlemen (one of whom recognised us from our church attending days) It turned that these two were long standing friends who had both suffered from heart problems in the past. Apparently with a large group of fellow ‘sufferers’ they had been organised into a walking club which traversed many of the footpaths surrounding Bromsgrove. There had been at least 20 odd members of this fraternity and perhaps even more but they used to meet in the Scout Hut which is located within the park’s perimeter. Over the years, these numbers had dwindled somewhat and the lockdown, whilst the pandemic was raging, had put paid to any of these regular activities. But our two acquaintances had formed a duo and they still used to walk regularly as far as their strength would allow. One, in particular, had some interesting connections e.g. a son who had lived in France and who had been a professional ski instructor. I was reminded of the story of a particularly athletic fellow boarder and member of my year group in Bolton in Lancashire. This lad was a prodigious, natural athlete and in 1958 lowered the record for the 100 yards (for 13-year olds) from 13.9 to 11.3 seconds. He was also extraordinarily good looking which meant that he had quickly acquired a reputation for impregnating at least two of of the local girls and was subsequently expelled (for reasons that to this day remain unclear to me). Looking him up on Friends Reunited in later years I discovered that he had emigrated to Australia and become the equivalent of the General Secretary of the National Union of Railwaymen. His daughter, however, had become the national surfboarding champion of Australia so athletic genes must have had their play after all.

After lunch, the rain came down pretty hard but I knew that as we were due to make our lunch-date in Oxfordshire tomorrow, I had better get the car checked over. Filling with petrol under the canopy was one thing but bending over in the pouring rain whilst I checked the type pressures was quite another. However, I was glad I did so as I really cannot remember when was the last time we had checked the air pressure and I am sure that it needed to be done before a longish journey. A week or so ago, I was caught up in a national sample in a survey organised by Imperial College, London, to test the level and antibodies for Coronavirus in the population at large. I had previously intimated that I was willing to participate in the survey and had been sent some testing materials which arrived a few days ago. The test was relatively straightforward and involved taking a pinprick of blood from a finger and putting it in a special container, adding some moderating agent and then waiting for 10 minutes, and then observing the result. I tested negative for antibodies (what a surprise) and then had to fill in an online questionnaire and transmit the photo that I had taken of the rest result to the survey organisers. I also intimated that I would be willing to participate in further surveys if required – in the meantime, it will be quite interesting to see what the general results reveal (which I anticipate will be in about a month)

I thought it was interesting that three pubs who had recently opened had been forced to close again as one of the patrons of one of the pubs had tested positive for coronavirus. The publicans had conscientiously telephoned 90+ of their patrons to indicate to them that a fellow drinker had tested positive and they should seek further advice and/or testing. Then Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, had the gall to claim in the Commons that this pointed to the success of test-and-trace whereas the pubic spirited publicans had actually done all of the hard work!