Monday, 27th July, 2020

[Day 133]

Today was a cloudy, wet and windy day and enough to make one thoroughly miserable – however, the longer-range weather forecast indicates that a high pressure in on its way so the weather should improve dramatically later on in the week. Before our daily walk to the park, we received a wonderful text from the relatives of our old friend, Clive, who sadly passed away a month or so back. They gave us details of where his ashes were to be buried in a local cemetery and as soon as the weather improves (in a day or so) we will make a little pilgrimage there and pay our last respects to him. In the meanwhile, Meg and I undertook our daily journey to collect our newspapers and have a wander in the park but today we were confined to the bandstand of which we were the only occupants. We espied one other dog walker and a lady in the far distance sporting an umbrella but that was the sole occupancy of the park this morning. For once, we were fairly pleased to get home this morning.

Most of the afternoon, I spent on technical work for this blog. The first and important task was to install a new plug-in which would act as a spam filter and so far it seems to have done its job most effectively. Then I installed another editor which allowed me to change the font of these posts to make it a bit larger and more readable to smaller devices than a computer. Although the various bits of advice available on the web gave me the option of tweaking the underlying CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) this did not achieve the desired effect so I ended up manually changing all of the 130 pages to the font and size that I wanted. As with all repetitive tasks, you get it down to seconds at a time once you get into the swing of things.

The government’s reaction to recent spikes of the coronavirus in Spain is receiving a lot of media attention. A very common view, if not a consensus, is that the government has panicked and adopted a blanket policy of asking everybody who has holidayed in Spain to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return. Luckless individuals are having to hope that their employers are ‘sympathetic’ to the necessity to quarantine but whether this run to paying two weeks of wages is another matter. I have a completely untested theory that the government is secretly worried about hundreds? thousands? of Brits getting abroad and as they are on holiday they will do anything except socially distance, with the consequence that many Brits might actually infect each other irrespective of whatever country they happen to be in and then come home to infect the rest of the population. But notwithstanding all of this, I cannot personally see why the government’s newly imposed quarantine arrangements should not apply if you have been to the islands of Spain rather than the mainland – after all, I would suspect that, at a guess, the islands are responsible for half of the UK tourists and that would help to minimise any degrees of risk.

Lastly tonight, a COVID-19 item which comes under the heading ‘you couldn’t make it up if you tried‘ The government has awarded Serco a £45m contract for test-and-trace – it has subsequently emerged that Serco has outsourced this to 29 other companies and that 85% of those recruited to run this service are not employed directly by Serco. We have been here before and it appears that the government does not appear to have learned any lessons from Carillion’s collapse and other privatisation failures, where outsourcing companies subcontracted the majority of work. This means that accountability for the new contract has practically sunk without trace and is another pure example of the ways in which contracts are being handed out to private sector companies whose experience in this field is extremely limited rather than resources being given to the local authority health teams who know the techniques for dealing with infectious disease and whose track record is markedly better.