Sunday, 20th September, 2020


Today we entered into our ‘Sunday morning’ routine – this entails getting up reasonably early and Mike walking down to the newsagents to pick up our supply of the Sundays before walking back in time for the ‘Andrew Marr’ show. This worked out fine but the Andrew Marr show did not add very much, if anything, to the analyses that had emerged overnight. Then we picked up our coffee flasks and made for the local park but not before quite a long and friendly with our Italian friend who lives down the road. She told us that in the early days of the lockdown she had actually seen quite an unkempt male spitting on each of the keys of an ATM machine in Bromsgove High Street. Just after we had had our coffee I got a surprise phone call from a very old (in every sense of the term) friend, now 95 years of age, with whom I had worked in the Central Office of Information in 1964 – so our friendship goes back 56 years! For the sake of anonymity, I shall call my friend ‘Jan’ and she has had the most remarkable career. In the course of her early scientific career, she had worked in the same room as (and alongside) Alan Turing (the ENIGMA code breaker and the person many would regard as the father of modern computing) Jan and I and our respective families try to meet at least once a year but COVID-19 has prevented that this year. As soon as it is safe (and Jan would have to travel from her home on the South Coast probably up to London) we shall try to meet again with our son and daughter-in-law and Jan’s son and his wife – but that is breaking the ‘Rule of 6‘ already. It was wonderful to hear from Jan and I am going to send her a photo which I took of the view of the park where we usually tend to sit, overlooking the little lake around which some of the local dogs like to race. Then on the way home, we enjoyed another chat with one of our regular church friends (with whom we had coffee and biscuits a few days ago) so it became quite a busy social morning for us. We treated ourselves to a ‘Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding’ type dinner (doing in the slow cooker during the morning) which we enjoyed greatly.

After dinner, I was browsing the TV schedules to see what we might view this evening when I spotted that ‘Doctor Zhivago’ (probably our favourite film) had started 20 minutes previously. This film has quite an emotional ‘pull’ for us because we first saw it in 1968 and as it happened, Meg was expecting our son Martin and, at that time, looked very similar to Geraldine Chapman who played ‘Tanya’ – of course Zhivago himself was torn between the brunette Tanya (Geraldine Chapman) and the blond Lara (June Christie) and it is Lara’s theme (played on the balaika which is so well known even now) The cinematography is, of course, superb but the greatest impact of the film is the emotional pull between the characters and families caught up in the throes of the Russian evolution of 1917. It is impossible to summarise the complex plot in a few words but, for many including us) the film is a real ‘weepie’. It is amazing to reflect that film made half a century ago can still be so powerful.

The Sky political commentator is reported tonight as writing: ‘As autumns go, this was always going to be a tough one for the government…A deadly virus preparing its second assault, a Brexit trade deal stuck in the mud and the usual predicted winter pressures of flu and flooding.’ This seems as good a summary as you are going to get and it quite evident, as Matt Hancock the Health Secretary has been saying all day ‘Britain is at a tipping point‘ A rather under-analysed factor is the fact that in the last day or so, thousands of university students are travelling from their parental homes to the universities of their choice and it could well be that the students, whilst being unsymptomatic themselves, could be carrying the virus into communities all over the country. I suspect that the government know this and are secretly dreading what may be the consequences but after the ‘A’-level debacle feel they do not want another educational crisis to hit them! The next two weeks re going to be quite critical (and of course, we have Brexit rumbling along at the same time)