Wednesday, 29th July, 2020

[Day 135]

Today was a somewhat cloudy and blustery sort of day but with enough sunshine to make our walk pleasant and with the promise of more sunshine to come (although it did not quite materialise) We are hopeful of better weather tomorrow because we are hoping that some friends may be able to call around so that we can have a pleasant afternoon tea in the garden. We have been waiting for some better weather for some time now before we could have friends around but we need to make sure that we have a few sunny days in a row to ensure that we do not get rained off. In the late morning, we discovered that we appear to have an infestation of a wasp’s nest in the eaves of one of our dormer windows. As it happens, our next-door neighbour has just had to deal with a similar infestation and had negotiated a good price with a local company. So we got onto them and arranged for a visit sometime tomorrow. As this has happened a few years ago we know what to expect. An industrial strength pesticide will be inserted by a long lance into the wasp nest site and then they receive a blast which should put paid to them. Most of these firms work in the same way because the infestation might not be completely killed off (the oldest die but the younger and fitter ones survive – sounds familiar from somewhere) Generally the firm will come back within the quoted price to finish off the job if all is not clear after a fortnight. So we shall await our phone call tomorrow and see what happens.

There are a few interesting political stories that are springing to the fore this evening. One of these, as reported by Sky News, is that No. 10 (Downing Street) is looking for a new spokesperson to smash the system of the lobby (a cabal-type group of accredited journalists who get privileged information on the condition that they do not disclose the exact source) The Sky News ‘take’ on this is that for a salary in excess of £100k the appointed figure will soon become a controversial and much-lampooned figure. If we look over the pond to see the variety of Press spokesman deployed by President Trump, they invariably leave because they find the demands of defending the indefensible, or the quasi-lying that they have to undertake quickly proves too much for them – unless they are already an outstanding political journalist, which is very unlikely. It goes without saying that they would have to be an ardent Brexiteer!

The second story is that a local council (Sandwell in the West Midlands) has got such little faith in the central government’s test-and-trace regime that they are actually setting up their own, independent of the centre. One has to say that at the very least, they will ‘know their own patch’; and will also have access to the prominent languages (other than English) which are present in the area. I would imagine that they can only be more successful than the Serco, sub-contracted, call-centre staffed outfits can possibly hope to be.

The third story is one that I heard on Radio 4 this morning – it was an interview with the European director of the World Health Organisation who was arguing, along with many others, that we are not so much dealing with a second wave of the pandemic as the dying members of the first wave, only to be predicted when the lockdown is eased. The analogy that I have in my mind is that once a major forest fire is brought under control, there are always a lot of little ‘brush fires’ along the perimeters of the original conflagration that have to be dealt with. Such is what I think we are actually seeing.

BBC2’s NewsNight this evening conducted an interesting investigation looking at how scientific advice had been used to justify policy in dealing with the pandemic. But nowhere could they find any evidence that the public would not tolerate a long lockdown and therefore it was prudent to delay the start of lockdown for as long as possible. It looks as though politicians and scientists had a ‘groupthink’ about how long a lockdown would be politically possible and ascribed this view to behavioural science – they then claimed to be ‘following the science’ for what was essentially a political judgement. We have been here before – one is reminded how elderly men in mediaeval times would minutely the bodies of typically young virginal women who had been accused of witchcraft for any warts or skin imperfections and then use these as ‘evidence’ that that was how the devil had entered the bodies of the young women thus providing the source of their witchcraft. You can always find what you are looking for if you have the right mindset!