Monday, 12th October, 2020

[Day 210]

Today’s blog will be a return to ‘normality’ following the excursion of yesterday’s blog down memory lane – forgive the self-indulgence. Today was a ‘spitting’ kind of day in which it was not actually raining as such but there was plenty of water in the air and a type of drizzle. Having collected our newspapers, we had a fairly soggy sojourn on our park bench but got into an interesting conversation with a lady who we recognise who regularly comes to our area of the park and who recognised us. We had an interesting conversation but had to rather curtail it because everyone was getting a little cold and miserable but no doubt there will be other occasions for a more extended chat. I did not mention that yesterday we attempted to Skype (but eventually Zoomed) Meg’s great-niece and her husband living at the moment in Seattle. We spent more than an hour chatting with each with other with family matters and politics being the main topics of conversation – we arranged to have another video-chat on the day after the election in the USA to which we are both looking forward in a macabre sort of way. Actually, all of the focus is on the presidential election but one-third of the Senate seats come up for re-election and it is just possible that the Republicans who have a very narrow lead in the current Senate lose that lead and the Democrats could end up with a lead of one. The American constitution (which we studied at university) is predicated upon a system of checks and balances and it does not often happen that the Presidency, the Senate and the House of Representatives are ALL governed by the same party. Of course, there is till the countervailing power of the Supreme Court which could well have an extra ‘conservative’ nomination approved in the next week or so, leaving the balance of Conservatives to Liberals of 9:3. With an important case shortly to come before the Supreme Court (whether to exclude pre-existing conditions from the Americans ‘Affordable Care Act‘) then the composition of the Supreme Court can have a direct effect upon millions of Americans. So I shall try and follow the senate elections with as much interest as the presidential elections – remember, you read it here first!

Today has been a more technological kind of day. Last night, I managed to get Zoom installed upon my Mac and now I have to learn how to use it! One way or another, I have arranged for a good friend and ex-De Montfort University lecturer who runs her own research consultancy to get into contact next Saturday, so if I get that working OK then I will have most of my most significant contacts accessible on either FaceTime, Skype or Zoom. Tomorrow, for example, I have Skype slots to talk to ex-Winchester colleagues, one at 9.0am and the other at 4.40 (after my Pilates class) As the second wave of COVID-19 gathers pace, ‘winter draws on’ (a phrase once banned by the BBC) and the ability to meet people in the flesh diminishes, the uses of social and technological communication assumes a new level of importance.

As I write tonight, the UK is to be divided into three-tier lockdown levels – medium, high and very high alert levels. Much of the South and a half of the Midlands area in the medium-risk level, whilst much of the North and the North-East are to be placed in the high-risk area and Liverpool will be placed in the very high-risk area. Reluctantly, the central government appears to be conceding that the national test-and-trace regime is not fulfilling its potential and no wonder why when it was subcontracted to Serco and did not utilise the real expertise which the local authorities have ‘on the ground’. It does appear that a metropolitan i.e. London based government is laying down an almost colonial-style regime for the North and the Midlands – who are reacting with a degree of fury. Once totally locked down (as in Liverpool) then the night-time economy will ‘de facto’ cease and the workers will have to survive (or starve) on two-thirds of the national minimum wage (whilst paying 100% of their mortgages and food bills) There is a palpable degree of anger and frustration in the country tonight and a feeling of rampant unfairness. The Nightingale hospitals (emergency large scale industrially built hospitals) are being readied again and the NHS stands on the point of being overwhelmed again (if hospital admissions double every week or so) There is a feeling that ‘something has to be done’ but my own feeling is that it is ‘too little, too late’ I must admit to feelings of dismay when I ty to observe social distancing in my daily walks to the park whilst being dismayed by the scenes of what happens at pub turning out time with hundreds of young people, not generally masked and not observing any social distancing whilst the police stand by helplessly. (Just a thought – I said to the lady in the park today ‘Why don’t they use police horses like the way the used to police large crowds at football matches’ and then I saw a clip of videotape in which the police were doing just that in Liverpool!) But again – too little, too late!