Thursday, 16th July, 2020

[Day 122]

Today was an interesting day for us in the park. We struck up a conversation with a couple of locals who lived on the far side of the park but were very knowledgable about the various plans that were being put forward in the locality and we suspected that absolutely none of them could hope to come to fruition if the developers only wanted to build houses but the existing road infrastructure would not bear the weight of the extra traffic. We calculated that of the suggested 500 new houses with 2.5 cars per household (Mum, Dad and teenage children so eventually 2.5 cars) they would stretch for 2.5 miles which is approximately all the way down into Bromsgrove and back again if the cars were actually bumper-to-bumper. If the proposed developments were to take place under the government’s policy of ‘presumed consent’ then it would be the first new development in a town where nobody would go anywhere because the roads would be so clogged up! The developers and the County Council are of the view that many people would walk anyway (presumably on the grounds that gridlock would mean that was the only way to get into the town centre). What is desperately needed is, in effect, a Western bypass but the county council will not even fund a feasibility study for that because it knows what the answer would be (absolutely necessary and therefore undesirable because it would draw funds away from the rest of Worcestershire) The joys of local planning -we speak as one who has won three planning appeals against the destruction of a local orchard adjacent to the house to be replaced by 16 houses but lost on the final planning application (as the developer can keep on submitting for evermore until they are successful and can appeal against a decision but local residents cannot)

This afternoon I had decided if the weather was fair (which it was), that I would pick over my gooseberry bushes which I planted about three years ago. I had noticed that although the leaves had dropped off the bushes (in response to the absence of rain?), the fruit was still hanging intact. I picked 800 grams of berries which is about 1.75lb of fruit. This was sufficient for us to have a delicious meal of them stewed and then served with ice cream but the rest will be despatched to my sister in Yorkshire who, I hope, can turn them into jam for us which we can collect the next time we see her. This having been done, I then turned my attention to my neighbour’s hosepipe where I was attempting to turn two lengths into one. She had an assortment of fittings but even though they were Hozelock they all seemed to leak like mad. Eventually, I was forced into the situation where I had to get a half-inch ‘female’ hosepipe onto the conventional ‘male’ part of the fittings (yes- they do call them that) which took for a lot of manipulation of the female end to make it pliable and a lot of brute force and ignorance to get the male connector to fit. This is what we used to do in the days before Hozelock fittings became standard and I recall the struggles that I have had in the past.

It looks as though there are two big political stories in town tonight. The first of these is that it looks as though there is a split between the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Adviser over whether it is sensible or not to resume working in one’s normal workplace or at home. One has seen the tensions apparent for a week or so now but the divergences in approach are now much more transparent. One report is that the experts recommended a full lockdown at least one full week before it actually occurred (a week is a long time when the infection rate is doubling every three days). It looks as though the politicians and the scientists know that in a forthcoming public enquiry, it is evident that mistakes were made and they are trying to blame the other party first. The second issue is the fact that the Russians may well have interfered in our last general election (as they probably did in the US Presidential election also) and this issue is being conflated (to muddy the waters deliberately?) with a suggestion that the Russians may be trying to ‘acquire’ i.e. steal our corona vaccine research. The government knows that the ‘Russian dossier’ will be published next week and parts of this will make uncomfortable reading for them so releasing reports about Russian interference with the ‘body politic’ in the UK is probably a diversionary tactic on their part. Then, of course, there is the effect of the Russian state in promoting Brexit and undermining the strength of the EU by helping to break it up but this has not really hit the public consciousness yet!