Monday, 20th July, 2020

[Day 126]

Some of our not very immediate neighbours were having renovations to their communal driveway done which meant that some cars spilled out and were parked on our private roadway. As we need to keep access clear at all times for emergency vehicles, one of our immediate neighbours asked the relevant questions and we discovered who was parking in our roadway and why. This occasionally happens and there is generally an innocent explanation but it is not fully appreciated that we need to keep our roadway clear for emergency vehicles (such as ambulances) who have to have unimpeded access at all times (a fact not fully appreciated when other people think ‘Oh, I’ll just pop the car here for an hour or so’). Our near neighbour got the problem resolved but it would have been much better if we had been informed/consulted beforehand.

As you expect on a Monday morning, there seemed to quite a lot of ad-hoc groupings at various places in the park. Evidently, there is some degree of organisation to this as people tend to turn up at a particular time complete with portable chairs and then get round in a circle and get on with whatever they were meeting for in the first place. After lunch, I started to write an email to the wife of my ex-colleague but our peace and tranquillity were disturbed by a variety of vehicles (unconnected completely with the first set around the corner) who had come to undertake a garden makeover of one of our local residents and were using our access roads (without our permission) so that their vehicles could take away soil, deliver slabs and proceed to dump all kinds of materials directly onto the roadway and without the benefit of protective plastic or a tarmac. We were assured that they would completely clear up after themselves and jet the roadway clear to restore them to the state they were in before they started their work – needless to say they only did a rough sweep up and so my son and I were left to do a more complete sweep-up and had to ensure that the excess and other extraneous materials were cleared away. Needless to say, we hadn’t been informed that any of this was about to happen so we had to make our feelings absolutely clear that permissions needed to be sought and the site restored to the kind of condition it was in before they started their work. More is expected in the next day or so and therefore we are anticipating that the contractors/sub-contractors not employed by us have to be watched like a hawk and make good on their promises which were glibly given. Interesting that the French existentialist philosopher, Jean-Paul Satre used the expression ‘Hell is other people‘ although I think that the expression is often quoted in ways that Satre himself did not intend.

There is a lot of news in the bulletins tonight about the likely success of the vaccines that are being developed – and perhaps a lot of false optimism. It was only at the end of a news item that the correspondent let us know that many, if not the great majority, of potential vaccines, fail after having shown initial promise. It may well be that the press is desperate for a breaking ‘good news’story about a potentially successful vaccine for the coronavirus and all normal (and scientific) caution is abandoned. I think the best comment upon all of this came from the commentator Matthew Parris (ex-Tory MP, on the liberal wing of the party) who has indicated tonight that it is a bit like predicting the Grand National winner after a few successful fences have been jumped (and ignoring the majority of fences that lie ahead). We also learn that in the now infamous Downing Street press briefings, the UK’s chief nurse who was due to appear on the podium was immediately dropped from the panel when she replied that she would not give immediate support to the fact that Dominic Cummings (the PM’s ‘adviser’) appeared to have breached the lockdown rules with his well-publicised trip to his parents in Durham. This only reinforces the suspicion that many of us held at the time that the scientists that appeared on the podium during the press briefings were only used a prop to the politicians to give them a kind of legitimacy- but were immediately dropped when basic scientific integrity conflicted with the political message or ‘line’ that was being peddled at the time.