Thursday, 6th August, 2020

[Day 143]

On our way down to the park, we met our Italian friend who we have not seen for several days now so it was wonderful to have a general chat. We often chat about family matters and today was no exception. As we have shared interests in classical music, we often exchange stories. There are many stories told about Sir Thomas Beecham, who was somewhat misogynistic but also very witty. Two of his most famous asides were these. Once he described the sound of the harpsichord as ‘two skeletons copulating on a tin roof‘ whilst on another occasion he declared that ‘the British may not like music, but they absolutely love the noise it makes‘. The opera story that sticks in my memory is a performance of Wagner’s Lohengrin at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York in which the stage directions dictated that a swan should glide serenely across the stage and the leading tenor should step onto it and make his exit gracefully into the wings. On this particular occasion, there was evidently something amiss with the mechanism propelling the swan and after a few horrible grinding noises and a long delay, the swan shot across the stage far too fast to be caught and disappeared at the other end. What to do? With great presence of mind, the tenor leant forward to the orchestra and said in a loud stage whisper so that all of the audience could here ‘Pssst! What time is the next swan?‘ This defused the tension of the moment – the audience laughed and then applauded as it was the final scene in the opera. Would that we would all have the presence of mind to something appropriate when disaster strikes!

We have some assistance in the garden once a month and the husband and wife team are very knowledgeable – hence if I have any problems I don’t hesitate to consult with them. Today, I asked them to have a look at my fairly newly planted hornbeam tree of which the leaves have started to turn brown which could be a sign of drought or could be a virus. They were able to give me some reassurance that as the tree was planted on a slope then it was probable that the roots were not getting enough water so I need to do what I did (with great success) to my Tilia Cordata in which I built up a little rampart and then packed it well with good topsoil (and fortunately, I recently bought for myself a supply of the same for another planting job) so I know what is to be done in the next day or so. This afternoon as it was a bit gloomy and cloudy, I ran off several reviews of the new car that we anticipate taking delivery of in November, and in particular, I wanted to know how the internal dimensions compared with our present car. Although the new car will be 11″ shorter most of the internal space remains the same or, at the most, there is only 1″ of difference. For example, there is only 0.1″ difference in the front legroom between our present and the new car which is why in our test run yesterday it felt almost exactly the same.

Tonight, the fear is being expressed that if a second wave of the virus were to develop, the NHS should learn the lessons of this spring and not become just a COVID-19 service. 1 million operations were cancelled (heart surgery, cancer operations) and one cancer specialist hs argued that if left untreated, then there could be anything between 7,000-35,000 deaths in the next year. The ONS (Office of National Statistics) has already calculated that there have been 12,000 ‘excess’ deaths in recent months as treatment regimes have been cancelled or postponed to deal with the COVID-19 cases and as people have been reluctant to present themselves for treatments they would have done in more normal times.