Thursday, 15th October, 2020

[Day 213]

Today, the weather is fine i.e. we are in the tail-end of a high pressure system which is gradually moving away. We are also not in a lockdown at the moment, being in Tier 1 – BUT this may well change in a few days time. Apparently, the good burghers of Worcestershire have been called into Whitehall to discuss why the whole of Worcestershire should not be placed into Tier 2 as there appear to be high rates of infection of COVID in both Bromsgrove (121 per 100,000) and Wyre Forest (=Kidderminter, Stourport) which is 87 per 100,000 whilst the rate for the county as a whole is about 94/100,000. The fellow feeling of the rest of Worcestershire is self-evident as they are arguing furiously that Bromsgrove and Wyre Forest should be regarded as separate from Worcestershire and put into Tier 2 leaving the rest of Worcestershire (and their businesses) alone. It looks as though Bromsgrove (and Wyre Forest) will almost certainly be put into Tier 2 early next week but we shall know soon enough. As the rate of COVID increase is 50% in the past week, then this seems to me to be a cast-iron certainty. When our friends invited us to have some coffee and cakes with the last week, it looks as they knew what was coming – to be honest, they are very well-informed about local matters and affairs.

Meg and I thought we would seize the moment and go off to Droitwich to the little cafe we frequented about a week ago and when we knew they put on a special last dinner once a week. So we popped in to have our morning coffee and to put it our oder for lunch later on in the morning. Then we did our round of charity shops which seem to have proliferated in profusion over the last year or so and we bought a very fashionable type of cardigan for Meg which will go well with some of her kilts and, on the spur of the moment, I bought myself a felt hat which fitted me perfectly and which will be used on fine days if I feel inclined to leave my black leather Australian bushman type hat at home. When we eventually got ourselves seated for lunch, we were treated to the most enormous meal you could imagine. The roast was turkey and we each had about 4 thick slices, a mountain of stuffing, carrots, sprouts, roast potatoes and gravy. We neither of us felt that we were going to manage to eat it all but I packed away almost all of mine and Meg ate most of hers as well. There seemed to be a supply of regulars who turn up week after week – perhaps they do not need to eat anything else for the rest of the week, given potions like that. Then we popped into the local Waitrose to buy some odds and ends that we knew were not coming in tonight’s order.

Last night before I eventually rolled into bed I thought I would consult the American website, MSNBC, which I now know was created as a result of a merger between Microsoft and NBC in 1996 (but perhaps is not very widely known, or even accessible, in the UK). I found a fascinating analysis on that website which served to dampen my optimism at the prospect of a forthcoming Joe Biden election. The analysis examined the contest between Clinton and Trump in 1996 and then the context between Biden and Trump in 2020 in several of the key ‘swing’ states. The analysis was making a comparison at the same point in the electoral cycle i.e. about three weeks out and the startling thing was that Hillary Clinton was typically appearing to be beating Trump by an even greater margin than Joe Biden is at the moment – and then she still lost! This does give pause for thought. However, there are two important differences, the first being that four years ago, America was not in the middle of a pandemic with hundreds dying every day. Also, the news broke 12 days before the election that Hillary Clinton’s email records were about to be investigated again by the FBI with a suspicion that they might reveal evidence of corruption. This added to a very volatile and unstable situation for Clinton which led to her eventual eclipse in the polls – even though she did win several million more votes in the popular vote (but not, evidently, in the Electoral College) and the rest is history. The final point that I shall make about American politics is that as well as observing the Presidential race and the contest for Senate seats, the composition of several state legislatures could well ‘tip’ from Republican to democrat. Given that the Republicans typically pass legislation that makes life difficult for black people to vote (‘voter suppression’) then Democratic victories in some of the contests for the state legislatures could help to redress this balance. So another thing to keep my eye on!