Saturday, 17th October, 2020

[Day 215]

I always knew that today was going to be a bit busier than a normal Saturday and so it proved. Meg and I were a little late but then we bumped into two of our friends that we had not seen for a few days followed shortly by another so soon we were five (No. 6 was busy weeding so he had already had his share of attention) Of course, we are all trying to make the best of things before some kind of new lock-down emerges as we will probably move from Tier 1 to Tier 2 within a few days. Eventually we made it to our newspaper shop and thence to our normal park bench where we had a snatched coffee. We knew that we did not a massive amount of time so had to cut short yet another couple of conversations in order to get home by 1.00pm. As it happened, we just had time to throw some sausages into the oven and then settled down in our study to enter a Zoom session with our two of our friends and ex-colleagues from our De Montfort University days (although we have met for meals at approximately yearly intervals since then) It was really good to chat with our friends again but the technology (‘Zoom‘) rather let us down because the quality of the video was pretty poor – we looked as though talking to each from under the sea, and the audio seemed to come and go. Nonetheless, we exchanged what stories and reminiscences we could for over three quarters of an hour but resolved to try another technology (‘Skype’?) in two weeks time.

I knew that after lunch I had to make my way to a nearby hospital to have a (routine) CT scan, ordered months ago by my cancer surgeon after an episode some two years ago. I treated myself to a brand-new face mask as I was going to visit a hospital and, fortunately, the car parking charges were suspended as well. I won’t bore you with details of the procedure except to note that the first attempt to insert a cannula into my left arm failed so I had to have it inserted into the other arm (this was to allow for the injection of the radio-opaque agent which has the strange effect – upon everybody – of making the bottom of your abdomen feel all warm) Removing the cannula seemed to result in the spillage of a certain quantity of blood so I was relieved to get home and have a nice cup of tea! (The procedure itself was relatively quick and trouble-free). Then we had to prepare ourselves for going to our church service from 6.00-7.00. In theory, we should have telephoned to reserve a place amongst the congregation to be one of the 36 allowed maximum. So we got there 20 minutes early and pleaded the we were ‘lost sheep returning to the fold‘ and, fortunately, there was space so we were not turned away. The service seemed a little more intimate tonight for reasons I cannot exactly put my finger on. Anyway, at an appropriate point in the service, a beautiful rendition was made of John Henry Newman’s poem/hymn ‘Lead, Kindly Light – amongst the encircling gloom; Lead thou me on‘ The story behind the penning of these lines is quite interesting. Apparently, it was composed in the middle of a tempestuous storm where all the fellow passengers were being sea-sick and all feared for their lives – Newman just got on and composed the poem (I sent a recording of this to a friend of mine who was living out her last days in a hospice, hoping that it might bring a little bit of comfort to her. Whether it did or not, I do not know)

In the US, Donald Trump and Joe Biden did not debate with each other but each had what the Americans call a ‘town hall meeting’ with the two broadcasts transmitted at the same time. This format is favoured by Joe Biden and he appears to have performed well with a reasonable yet avuncular tone. Donald Trump did not fare so well, however, coming off second best to a feisty female interviewer and not helping to capture any of the middle groups by refusing, yet again, to condemn any of the white supremacist groups who are supporting him. In the meantime, the British political scene seems to be just as cantankerous but I am looking forward to tomorrow’s newspapers that often contain some interest insights/bits of gossip that do not get repeated much in the Main Street Media. It looks as though Boris is cooking up a miniature ‘circuit breaker’ of his own – it could be that something is devised which avoids the use of the term ‘lock-down’ or even ‘circuit breaker’ itself, whilst essentially being the same thing.