Friday, 11th September, 2020

[Day 179]

It was a fairly warm day today which made our walk to the park as pleasant as always. On the way down, we met our Italian friend with whom we had a good chat. After picking up our newspapers, we called into the nearby Waitrose in order to buy a big bag of red potatoes, which I forgotten to put in my weekly order. We do not eat many potatoes these days (about one a day, baked in the microwave) Hence purchase of a large bag of the same only takes place about once a month or so. Attendance in the park seemed quite attenuated today – whereas in the past few days we have seen groups of up to about 15 complete with camping chairs, food etc. one wonders whether this will now be a thing of the past once the ‘Meet only 6’ regime kicks in.

This morning’s Daily Mirror has revealed the results of a study by the think-tank Demos in which Britain appears to be more divided over measures to curb coronavirus than it was over Brexit. Their study suggests the “social fractures” triggered by moves to halt the spread of Covid-19 have proved more controversial than the rows unleashed by the UK’s exit from the EU. Their online survey of 10,061 voters, carried out between July 31 and August 7, found 58% of mask wearers have “severely negative attitudes towards non-mask wearers”. Some 68% of people who stuck to strict lockdown rules have “strong negative views” about lockdown rule breakers. In comparison, only 33% of people who did not vote Leave in the 2016 EU referendum “resent, hate, or think people who voted for Brexit are bad people”, while 26% either “admire, respect or think they are good people”, the survey found. The upshot of all of this is just when we thought we had a real ‘culture wars’ between Brexiteers and Remainers, this divide has been replaced by an even stronger social divide in the case of mask wearers v. non-wearers. One can understand where some of this resentment comes from when those who have largely kept to the shielding, social distancing and mask-wearing rules have seen many elements of the younger generation openly flouting these conventions (and thereby putting at some severe risk any members of their family who are much older and/or more vulnerable).

This afternoon was largely devoted to reading (and some computing) with an eye as to what is happening politically. I had found in a web-search a simple directory listing written in PHP but I needed to find a way in which I could format the admittedly simple output into the font styles I wanted (hence combining HTML and PHP) I think more by good luck than anything else, I found a way to do this so, having succeeded, I think I will stop this particular line of experimentation.

The COVID-19 news today is pretty scary, whichever way you look at it. Birmingham has had to restrict the visiting of households (working out that this is how the transmission seems to be occurring) whilst the critical ‘R’ factor (= rate of reproduction) factor has risen to about 1.1 which is the highest value than has been the case since early March. When you consider that thousands of university students are about to travel all across the country to their new universities, one wonders what the effect of this is going to be when added to the return of the schools and the easing of the lock-down on commercial premises. The universities are really trying to do their best before the students return but the implications of all of this must be a bit scary to university chiefs and policy makers alike.

For those interested in the political process, the next week or so will prove to be absolutely fascinating. Boris Johnson will face opposition from Bexiteers who think the bill goes too far and from those who think it does not go far enough. Teresa May has indicated that she will head any opposition to the new proposals but fortunately for her she will be out of the country when some vital votes are taken. Otherwise, we would see the prospect of Teresa May voting against the Johnson government, having the Conservative ‘whip’ withdrawn and thereby being thrown out of the Conservative party. It is now well recognised that the ideological fervour of the Brexiteers is now so great that they honestly do not care if the entire economy is wrecked if there is no deal (which is now quite probable)