Monday, 10th August, 2020

[Day 147]

Well, you can never tell how a day is going to turn out and so it proved today. We were somewhat delayed this morning because we have an arrangement whereby our oven gets professionally cleaned – we have this done every six months and evidently, the person whose business it is does not mind doing a job professionally that most of us hate doing periodically, so we are more than happy to have done for us. Needless to say, it is always interesting to see how other individuals and families have coped with the COVID-19 lockdown so we had a good chat about this. Then Meg and I left for our daily newspaper/trip to the park walk in what turned out to be quite a fine, albeit muggy day (the rains and thunderstorms are on their way, perhaps tomorrow, but it is a bit difficult to estimate precisely when) On our way home from the park, we came across one set of friends who were busy gardening and we managed to convey several useful bits of information about the church service we attended on Saturday last. Then three doors down we bumped into another set of friends who we had not seen for a few days so we exchanged news and gossip with each other. Then, on the spur of the moment, they invited us into their back garden for what I think the Anglo-Indian community used to called ‘tiffin’ but which was actually sandwiches which were rustled up on the spot, cake, tea and even beer. We have been saying to each other for a week or so now that we would like to invite each other into our respective gardens when the weather was set fair so this an actual case of ‘carpe diem‘ (seize the moment) a phrase popularised in the film ‘Dead Poet’s Society‘ which I know is a bit dated now. Altogether we spent some two and a half hours chatting and the time flew by but it was well to get the opportunity whilst we could because the weather is undoubtedly going to break and they were going away for a mini-break in a few days’ time. I think we managed to get the world set to rights anyway – on our way home we received an anxious message from other family members who assumed we had been captured by the white slave trade as we had left the house several hours ago and not returned. This afternoon, I was full of good intentions to clear up some of the clutter on the desk in my study but what with a good reading of the newspapers, coupled with a trawl through some of the car reviews I have collected over the days, it didn’t actually get done. Incidentally, reading car reviews is always a slightly frustrating experience, particularly if one is trying to compare performance characteristics (it’s a man thing!) when each review seems to be referring to a somewhat different specification or trim level to the one you have intended to purchase.

It looks as though the long-awaited thunderstorms are in the vicinity but it just possible that we may be on their outer fringes. The members of my family have a special app on their iPads that enables them to track the distribution of thunderstorms as they progress across the country – if they develop in intensity, we love to sit in our porch and enjoy the intensity of the storm. Evidently, we have to chase around and make fast all of our windows before the rain strikes.

It now looks as if the government’s ‘world-beating’ test-and-trace regime is having to undergo significant revision. Some 6,000 staff are being stood down (and many of them had nothing to do anyway) whilst a significant number amongst the remaining 12,000 will be deployed to assist the local authority public teams where the real expertise has been located all along – at least for a century! The Serco scheme is starting to look more and more like ‘contracts for one’s friends’ instead of a serious and professional attempt to hunt the virus down as is happening in other societies such as Germany (not to mention the far eastern economies of South Korea from who we could have learnt many a lesson)