Thursday, 13th August, 2020

[Day 150]

We did not have a tremendous storm last night but we did have a certain amount of rumbling thunder, some sheet lightning and quite a steady patter of rain which persisted until the small hours. So we were not surprised when we awoke to a day with a much fresher feel to it and the threat of a further shower always there. The morning’s post brought us some unwelcome news. It was from Meg’s cousin who is now living in Bolton and whose husband had had a stroke the bet part of a year ago. The letter informed us that her husband in a weakened condition had contracted a mild version of the COVID-19 virus but had died (and been cremated) some two months ago. We were shocked, but not absolutely surprised, and later on today we wrote a letter of condolence which we will post tomorrow. I consulted with my neighbour over a range of issues because after the lockdown we have to be very careful about what equipment we need to bring to our resumed Pilates classes. So far, we are thinking about Pilates mat, a bath sheet to spread on it, small handtowel to act as a neck roll, some stretch Pilates exercise bands, a Pilates ball – I think that’s about it. Anyway, we have enough time to assemble things before the class resumes on 1st September. Before we entered the park, we called by the opticians ao that we could arrange for an eye test for Meg as she feels that her eyesight is deteriorating somewhat and this was a bit more difficult than you imagine involving a call to the manageress (who knows us quite well). However, we got there in end and got an appointment with the optician who knows Meg’s eyes well having treated her over the years. We also took the opportunity to call by our favourite High Street cobbler to get new ferrules put on our National Trust portable stool (what exciting lives we do lead!)

This afternoon, we texted one of the relatives of Meg’s uncle who lives in North Wales to check out whether a quick visit is feasible. As it happens, the coast seems to be clear so upon the strength of that, we went ahead and made a booking in a Holiday Inn that we know well and is very convenient for us (but we got the 3rd last room according to their website) Having got this all booked, we then made a further booking at a country club down the road at which we eat on the day we arrive and then made yet another telephone call to Meg’s uncle to check out it would be OK for us to call upon him and so he could note things in his diary. This leaves us one free day which we would normally spend on our own in Chester but on this occasion, we intend to make a trip from outside Chester to Bolton to see if we can see Meg’s recently bereaved cousin – as it is a trip almost entirely by motorway it seems to us to be an excellent idea to fit in this visit as we are in the vicinity. So now we have ‘all of our ducks in a row’ having made all of the arrangements that we want without any real difficulty.

As it happens, the predicted row over ‘A’-levels is underway. The government is evidently desperately worried not to let ‘inflated’ teacher’s grades become the finished product but as a result of applying some degree of standardisation the public schools and high performers seem to have come out of it best whilst the pupils whose marks have been moderated (downwards) the most just happen to come from the poorest areas, thus apparently ‘baking in’ the inequalities that already exist within the system. (Thus was it ever so!) It is hard to say at this point whether the political pressure will eventually force a rethink but in purely political terms, a situation in which 39% of marks were reduced by one or more grades does not seem to a particularly healthy one for any government, even one with a large majority. We shall see!