Monday, 13th July, 2020

[Day 119]

Today turned out to be a dismal day, weather-wise. It started off cloudy and Meg and I largely avoided the rain whilst we were in the park but started to get rained upon with slight smatters on the way home. However, the rain intensified for the rest of the day meaning that we could concentrate on ‘inside’ jobs (which turned out to be just as well). After we had returned home, I decided to contact British Airways (as their website had suggested) in order to speak to a customer services representative to attempt to get my vouchers turned back into the cash that they extracted from me months ago. Needless to say, my worst fears turned out to be justified. The recorded message on the suggested BA number indicated that owing to ‘unprecedented demand’ and in order to ‘protect their staff’ presumably from abuse, they would not even put you in a queueing system but asked you to call back later. As it happens, their call times are 8.00 am to 8.00 pm so I am currently ‘on hold’ at the moment as I type. I am not very hopeful but I did manage to get an email through to them which has acknowledged ‘automatically’ that has probably disappeared into a BA black hole as well. I can now report that I did manage to get through and speak to a BA staff member who told me that the contract was with Expedia and not with them and therefore I should try to claim from Expedia. Meanwhile, the Expedia website is telling me that flight+holiday trips are not refundable. Tomorrow, I shall have a go at contacting my credit card company who ought to be liable under the terms of Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. We shall see!

As it was a rainy afternoon, this was a good opportunity for me to look over an academic paper which I am reviewing for an academic colleague/friend. The paper was an interesting one and well-written so the task was not arduous as can be the case if the author happens to be a non-English writer first speaker. The author of this paper had written me an email saying he thought he knew me because he had bumped into me at a conference in South Africa. However, I was able to tell him that I actually attended a conference in which there were two instances of a Professor Mike Hart giving papers on widely different subjects – and I was the other one. You can imagine the confusion that caused.

The government, after much vacillation, are now going to announce a change in policy re. face masks – i.e. it is going to be obligatory to wear one as from Friday, 24th July. When the government was asked by the BBC’s NewsNight programme to supply a spokesperson from any government department to explain the decision (or rather the vacillation over the decision), quite mysteriously no spokesperson could happen to be found. So it looks as though the UK is going to follow 100 other countries in recommending the use of face masks. What is so significant about this is that the far eastern countries (South Korea, Vietnam) that have had experiences of other pandemics such as SARS and have made the use of face masks compulsory at an early stage have overcome the ravages of the virus more easily (and almost exactly the reverse is happening in the USA)

The other interesting statistic that is being aired this evening is that in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon’s approval rating is +60% whilst that of Boris Johnson is -39% – in other words, a 99% difference between the two. One the one hand, Nicola Sturgeon appears calm, competent and empathetic whilst Boris is bombastic and disorganised. Is it any wonder that support for Scottish Independence has now gone up to 53% – no doubt, voters thinking that if the Scots could handle as important a crisis as COVID-19 so much more competently then in England, then an independent Scotland is surely very viable!