Tuesday, 6th October, 2020

[Day 204]

Today turned out to be quite a fine autumn day with only a hint or so of rain – fine enough to risk going out without any shower ware of any kind ( I think it is a Scandivanian expression that ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing‘). Meg and I always have to keep an eye on the time on Tuesday’s because it is my Pilates day when I walk down to town with a neighbour to attend my class. We do Pilates together for an hour (as we have been doing for years) and then come home to a somewhat delayed lunch. My neighbour was having some external building work done in her garden (having a wall built) and when this happens, you suddenly develop an interest into how other neighbours and residents in the area have coped with similar problems. The one thing I have noticed is that the better-built walls fronting gardens tend to have a line of ‘blue’ (i.e. engineering style) bricks as a top course laid in a transverse direction. I suppose the theory here is that blue bricks prevent the ingress of water which would eventually make the top course of bricks unstable and the wall would degrade. In addition, better builders have always finished off with a type of coping stone in order to shed water. As soon as the building work is done, I am sure I will lose all interest in how such things get done!

After I had lunched and rested, it was time to make a Skype call which I had previously arranged with one of my friends and ex-colleague from the University of Winchester days. As his wife had been ill recently but was now well on the road to recovery, it was wonderful to have a chat about progress. We tended to roam over world affairs e.g. our reactions to Donald Trump and the various acts of showmanship that were being performed as we saw a COVID-19 infected president appear on the balcony of the White House to which he had been discharged from the hospital before theatrically ripping off his mask and walking indoors, to infect how many more members of the White House I wonder. From what I can tell, at least a dozen of those who had been close to Trump have tested positive for the virus but the White House is being extremely reticent about the actual numbers involved. There are some inside stories that tend to suggest that the ‘staffers’ inside the White House are going round in a state of panic and that no contact tracing seems to be at all evident. The CDC (Centre for Disease Control) in the USA is listing the number and type pf transgressions that are occurring – it appears, in any case, that the White House is exempt from any of the rules and regulations that affect the rest of the population in Washington, DC. The interesting thing about all of this from the point of view of a disinterested observer lime myself (!) is that as members of the Presidents entourage drop off one by one then it becomes difficult to disguise the fact that a lot of spreading of the virus is going on, not least by Trump itself. One item of news tonight is that ‘Twitter‘ has removed one of Donald Trump’s tweets tonight as he was suggesting that COVID was no more dangerous than the ‘flue – which is patently and evidently absurd.

In the meanwhile, it is evident that the virus is spreading really rapidly in the student communities and the areas of town in which students live. The first house that Meg and I was a terrace house overlooking Platt Fields Park in the area of Fallowfield, Manchester. The road we lived on overlooked the park but there was a block of terrace housing near the park built at the start of the twentieth century. This has evidently over the years been either bought or rented by the student community and, in fact, we must have been one of the first ever students to have bought in that area in 1968. Tonight, they had some TV cameras surveying that part of Manchester and it was amazing to see the parts of town in which you used to live the subject of current affairs in the news. It seemed from the TV reports that as well as the terraced housing occupied by students, there were now several businesses catering for the student community – but I haven’t visited there for some fifty years at least so I can imagine what the area actually looks like in 2020. By the way, the house we bought cost £1995 (but it would have only cost about £1400 if it hadn’t been overlooking the park!)