Tuesday, 15th September, 2020

[Day 183]

This morning, I noticed on my mobile that Meg and I had received a message indicating that we needed to contact the GP’s surgery to arrange for us to receive a ‘flu jab’. It seems particularly important that we get our jabs now and not delay, as we did two years ago, with the effect that supplies of the vaccine had run out. As it seems important that we receive our flu jab in a timely fashion, I stuck on the end of a phone for some 20 minutes before speaking to a human and actually getting an appointment booked in 13 days time on a Sunday. Last time, it was organised in huge batches like a military operation and I am sure the same will be true this year.

We tried a slightly different routine this morning, largely because we wanted to save some time so that Mike was not to have a tremendous rush-around as today is the ‘Pilates’ day when he has to leave the house for a couple of hours in the middle of the day. So today, we tried a ‘mixed economy’ when we drove to the park and parked in the car park and then went on foot to collect our newspapers. We then walked back to the park but had the benefit of the car for the journey home after we had our elevenses and this saved a critical half hour or so. The new arrangements worked out particularly well and it was a particularly warm and pleasant day for our little venture. We bumped into one of our ‘park friends’ with whom we chatted for a few minutes. Already we are noting that the maximum size of the group we have observed is a grouping of five sitting on the grass i.e. within the ‘Rule of 6’ regulations and it was vaguely reassuring that nobody seemed to be breaking the rules, in force since last Monday. I walked down to Pilates on my own without my neighbour on this occasion so my class had the tremendous number in it of 2 (one of our regulars was taking her son to University) but joined by a third on Zoom. The class went well and we were soon back in our old routines – at least as we have been with the same teacher for years, we have a fair idea with only a minimum of prompting what is required in each move. With a combination of walking, an hour’s exercise then followed by our main meal of the day, I find it almost impossible not to have a little doze after lunch and today was no exception. I am already planning some of the jobs to be done in the garden whilst the good weather holds (not least the lawn mowing) but these are tasks for tomorrow.

Meanwhile, government ministers are struggling to answer basic questions on a range of issues. Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, claimed that that the test-and-trace scheme was operating well in Bolton (the worst-hit town in the UK for the incidence of COVID-19) by constantly saying that ‘it was wrong to say that tests are not available’. However, there was clear evidence from reporters and many members of the public, filmed as they queued outside a test centre in Bolton, that the centre was not processing any cases because ‘the system’ indicated that no testing slots were available! In the same interview, she admitted that two groups of neighbours chatting in a group totalling more than six were breaking the law whereas it was permissible to hold a birthday party on a grouse moor as this was a legitimate sporting event! Matt Hancock, the Education Secretary was forced in the House of Commons to admit that the test-and-trace system could take ‘weeks’ to fix – as some schools may have to close as they are ‘running out’ of teachers forced to self isolate but not able to get themselves tested (a story oft-repeated for some GP’s and other health service professionals aired on the media). Meanwhile, in the House of Lords it was claimed that the government minister who admitted that international law would be broken by the provisions of the new bill suggested that the minister ‘had been answering the wrong question‘ and had, therefore ‘misspoke’ Finally, some members of the SAGE group (Special Advisory Group of Experts) are warning that if the ‘Rule of 6’ is not working after a fortnight, then another full-scale lockdown is inevitable. You couldn’t make up this catalogue of errors even if you writing it up as a farcical play…