Monday, 19th October, 2020

[Day 217]

Today was a little out of the ordinary as I shall explain. Meg was in bed for the morning after a slight stomach upset so I made the walk down into town on my own. I took the opportunity to pop into my local Poundland where I want to buy some cut-price Tipp-Ex. Of course, Sod’s Law took over and the Tipp-Ex was the only thing I wanted that was out of stock but I took the opportunity to buy a few bits and pieces that are always useful but not the kinds of things you would specify on a normal shopping list. Having got home, I realised that I had not made my weekly shopping order so I got onto the website and secured a slot very late on Thursday (which was pretty lucky given the lateness of the day). I then ordered another slot for next week so I now have two ‘normal’ pending orders (and an ‘extraordinary’ Christmas week slot which I had booked up earlier in the week). After lunch, I received a phone call from our Oxford friends with whom we are going to share a tour round the Oxford Museum of Natural History as well as a lunch-date when we are exhausted with ‘museum walker’s foot’ We were both trying to organise a slot for this Saturday but as the slots are released in batches and you need to book about two weeks in advance, there were no spots available for this Saturday. After some telephone calls, we settled on going the week after next and at least now we know that we have a slot as the tickets are sent electronically nd hence can be printed off or the bar-code read directly from your phone. So we are looking forward to that in about ten days time.

In the late afternoon, we knew we had an appointment with one of my Winchester colleagues/friends who has recently retired and we had agreed to ‘Zoom<‘ each other. It took a certain amount of time to get our technology up and running but eventually we managed to liaise OK and had a wonderful chat, including news of old friends, pet cats and much else besides. We will probably repeat this about once a fortnight from now on and, as always in these COVID-19 days and the joys of video-technology, it is always rather wonderful to hook up in this particular way.

Now that the American election campaign is in its final stretches (15 days to go) I have found an incredibly informative website which gives a very careful analysis of the polling data without hyping up either side although its values do show! The title of the article I read was ‘8 Tips to Stay Sane in the Final 15 Days of the Campaign‘ and I found this to be incredibly informative. I was able to take a smidgeon of comfort from the fact that on average, since 1972, national polling averages had shifted by an average of 1.8 points and a median of just 1.4 points in the final 15 days of the race. Given that Joe Biden is some 10 points ahead in the polls nationally, this is somewhat reassuring. However, I do have to keep reminding myself that opinions given over the phone (or internet) to a pollster re. voting intentions is one thing, but actually getting to vote (or getting your postal vote organised and not regarded as invalid) is another thing altogether.

Meanwhile, pressure seems to be mounting for at least a limited lock-down. 67% of the population are in favour of some type of ‘circuit breaker’ and some 61% do not trust the PM on COVID-19. If we were to have a full lock-down, the models suggest that the number of deaths would reduce from 20,000 to 12,000 (8,000 lives saved!) whereas were we go for a partial lockdown keeping shops and schools open, then the number of deaths would reduce from 20,000 to 15,600 (4,400 lives saved!) Meanwhile the (Asian)MP for Bolton South has just been admitted to a Manchester hospital once her COVID-19 symptoms had worsened – apart from Boris Johnson, is this the first MP to be hospitalised? A quick and not very systematic search of the web indicates that about 3 MP’s have been hospitalised, two from the Manchester area and two as members of the Asian community. Let us hope for the best.