Sunday, 30th August, 2020

[Day 167]

After the journey of yesterday, it seemed to take Meg and I a long time to get going this morning, so much so that we failed to get into newspaper shop before they closed at 11.30 but fortunately managed to get our supplies from Waitrose which is just around the corner. I generally read Meg my blog’s from the night before but today she had three to contend with as she has rather missed out as we were travelling away. Then on the way home we bumped into some of our old church friends who were busy in their front garden (which is often the case) As we had not seen them for several days, it was good to have a chat about life in general – and I was donated a so as a yellow clump of something that will grow ‘anywhere’ so as I always have some odd corners to populate in Mog’s Den, this was gratefully received. By the time we got home, the morning was practically gone so we did not even our normal perusal of the Sunday newspapers but cracked straight on with lunch.

This afternoon was scheduled to be the great ‘damson’ harvest and as I have mentioned before our old trees seemed to be truly laden this year. According to my records, the previous total that I had gathered was 1,300 fruits so I wondered whether that total would be exceeded this year. Believe it or not, sometimes I can lose track of what count I have got up to, so I relied upon an old cricketing umpire’s trick by keeping a supply of old pennies in one pocket and transferring them (not after every ball but after every hundred fruits) to ensure that I could keep an accurate count. I started picking at 3.00 pm and by 5.00 pm the job was done. Evidently, the first bucket (of 1000 fruits) was relatively easy – as they say, ‘picking the low hanging fruit’ From then on, though, it became progressively harder as I have to resort to a rake which pulls down the taller branches with one hand whilst I pick with the other. However, I was delighted to exceed my previous best which was 1,300 fruits 5 years ago. Today, I picked 1,750 fruits which were 35% more than the previous best. My estimate is that I have picked 9.5 kilos which is nearly 21 lbs of fruit. Again, according to my little book, I am going to need approx 16 litres of gin tomorrow, so I anticipate a very busy day as each damson has to be pricked 4-5 times and then the kilner jars have to be loaded up with the right amount of both sugar and gin.

Tonight there seem to be several pressures building upon the government. The first of these is the re-opening of the school allied to thousands of university students arriving in ‘strange’ cities to take up their places in the now bursting universities. Although in the school and the universities sterling efforts have no doubt been made to preserve bubbles, social distancing and the like, I get a terrible feeling that all might go absolutely ‘pear-shaped’ and these two pressures alone will cause quite an increase in the infection rate. Then, of course, the furlough schemes will progressively start to end, with the result that the unemployment rate will soar. Backbench Tory MP’s will be returning to Westminster this week knowing that according to one opinion poll, the Tory lead over Labour has shrunk to zero, a high proportion of the population feel that the government has not acted with any degree of competence in handling the COVID19 crisis and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is planning big tax rises on the rich to help to pay for it all. The next few weeks are going to be both critical and traumatic aa, after all, handling a lockdown is relatively easy but releasing a lockdown calls for degrees of political sensitivity and skill not yet manifest in the Boris Johnson scheme of things. There is some talk of Johnson stepping down in about six months – and the Tory party did get of Thatcher when it suited them (and for those with long memories Churchill was turfed out by the electorate in 1945)