Sunday, 4th October, 2020

[Day 202]

Today started off somewhat gloomily but I raced down to my friendly little newsagent to collect the Sundays and get back in time for breakfast and the Andrew Marr show – which is a part of our Sunday routine. What we did not expect was to see Boris Johnson put in an appearance. Perhaps Boris is starting to realise that his popularity with his own backbenchers is on the slide – indeed, I saw a survey recently amongst recent Tory voters that indicated that about 70% of them would not be unhappy if Boris were to replaced before the next election. To my mind, he made two revealing little slips in his interview with Andrew Marr. Firstly, then asked to account for his waning popularity within the party, he opined that the bluster and elan that he would exhibit when campaigning (for Brexit) or electioneering were not qualities that were very valuable in the running of a crisis like COVID-19. Boris Johnson’s lack of attention to detail, which is well known, is starting to manifest itself in several ways. During the last week, he was evident that he was not sure of the application of his ‘lockdown’ rules as they applied to the Northeast and he ‘misspoke’ as they say – and had to issue a correction later. When asked about the soaring numbers of new infections even in areas subject to increased lockdown he replied that he knew that re-opening the schools would ‘add to the risk side of the equation‘ which was certainly not admitted at the time. Meanwhile, 770 students at the University of Northumbria have tested positive for the virus (which to my mind is both horrendous and predictable once thousands of young people all over the country were urged to attend their universities where a large degree of into-personal ‘mingling’ is inevitable).

On our way down to the park, we passed the house of one of our ‘church’ friends who dashed out to give Meg a birthday card and a belated birthday present – we would have had this yesterday but in view of the weather, we decided to forego our walk yesterday. We discussed the fact that we have abandoned our new found ‘niche’ attending a service at St. Mary’s Harvington and we are going to return ‘to the fold’ next Saturday – but this will involve us making a telephone call to ‘book a place’ and attendance will be restricted to about 36 socially distanced worshippers. This, no doubt will be a slightly strange experience for us all the first time but I am sure we will get used to the new routine. Whilst in the park, we met one of our ex-Waitrose friends who had managed to get to France but know she would have to self-quarantine when she got back to the UK which she actually found very hard. We updated her on all of the news concerning some of our mutual friends. Then we ran into our Italian friend with whom we had a heart-felt chat – we gained the impression that she was actually missing her husband (and brother who only died a matter of weeks ago) quite keenly. Finally, we saw our next-door neighbour was busy walking his dog to the park and we exchanged all of the Trump news (and sentiments – we both felt the same way about him) which we had been following on the news bulletins.

There have been two quite extraordinary stories hitting the headlines tonight. The first of these is that some 23,000 new cases were registered as COVID-19 positive since yesterday and that is an enormous leap. It has also been revealed that some 16,000 cases had been omitted due to a ‘technical error’ and had not been recorded on the system and this will affect the figures reported for the last 10 days or so. At whose door we can lay the blame for this, it is hard to tell at this stage – some fingers are already pointing at Public Health England but that has often been used as a whipping boy in the past. I think we shall to wait and see until we get some in-depth analysis by tomorrow’s newspapers to really get a handle on what exactly has been going on. The other story this evening is that President Trump has seen fit to make a tour in his heavily armoured car (I think they call it ‘The Beast’) in order to wave to some supporters. It sounds like an act of sheer showmanship and nothing to do with being presidential! There is some talk that he may be discharged from the hospital tomorrow but of course, the real ‘crunch’ point to see if the virus is going to intensity in his system won’t be known for about 7-10 days since the start of his infection which should take us up towards the end of this week. In the meantime, we are learning that a week last Saturday, there was a huge reception for senior Republicans on the lawns of the White House to celebrate the latest Trump nomination to the Supreme Court and it does appear that some senior aids and about 2-3 senators were infected (some even by Trump himself). Being Republicans, none of them appeared to be wearing face masks…