Saturday, 31st October, 2020

[Day 29]

Today was a pretty foul day with a lot of rain in the early part of the morning. As Meg and I had a lunch date in Bicester, we decided to play things a little differently this morning. To save a bit of time but also to get our bit of exercise in, we walked to the park (in the pouring rain) and then decided to go straight to the bandstand where we drank our coffee (although I managed to send half of my coffee flying as my rucksack fell off our little tripod stool) We then got home rapidly and jumped in the car, picking up our newspapers and dry-cleaning en-route and thoroughly confusing the sat-nav as we seemed to keep going in the wrong direction) The heavens really opened and we drove to Bicester through masses of heavy rain but fortunately, our timings were perfect and we got there with a quarter of an hour to spare before our lunch appointment and finding some parking quite easily. There we met with our friends for a wonderful Mediterranean meal (in a Turkish restaurant, which we have visited several times before) but I think we were conscious, right throughout the meal, that there was an impending lock-down and this might be the last meal together for quite some time (and so it proved to be). By the time we had finished our meal, we strolled down the pedestrianised High Street to have a post-prandial coffee and then we knew we had to make haste to get home. Fortunately, the heavy rain had finished by now so the journey home was quite uneventful. Then we had a fairly quick turn-around before we departed for our normal Saturday night church service – again, we were wondering if this was going to be the last time for some time. Once we eventually did get home, we were just about in time to catch some of the Downing Street announcements and press conference but availed ourselves of watching the France v. Ireland rugby match which occupied us nearly all of the evening. Then we waited unto the late evening news to get the full story of the new lock-down.

Naturally, we are interested in seeing how the new rules of lock-down will apply to Meg and myself. It seems that our daily walk to the park is still quite legitimate – even sitting on a park bench is now specifically allowed (according to Sky News!) Domestic help with the cleaning of the house will still be permitted, but attendance at church services is now out-of-bounds (except for private prayer – so that puts paid to our Saturday night excursions for a little while) It looks as though gyms are due to close so that means my Pilates class will bite the dust – I will probably join my Pilates’ teacher Zoom sessions if these are going to be put on again. Social mixing with other people inside their houses is now not allowed but the rules allow you to meet with one other person outside the house. {I can see this rule causing all kinds of difficulties as, so often, outside the house you meet with couples. Do you avoid talking to both of them? Or only one of them at a time? I am not sure how this has been thought through and how the police who are responsible for ensuring compliance with the law are going to deal with this one)

It will be interesting for me when I get round to watching ‘What the Papers Say‘ to see what the popular reaction to all of this is going to be. Boris Johnson is trying to sell the package on the basis ‘if we do this right. we might be able to enjoy Christmas a little more’ which I suppose is a sort of lifeline for many – if you think restrictions are going to be lifted after only one month (which I very much doubt). Speaking, absolutely personally, I am quite pleased that Boris Johnson has grasped the nettle and not dithered about any more. It is interesting to the principal correspondents from the main news channels (I am thinking of Laura Kuensberg for the BBC, Beth Rigby for Sky News both asked essentially the same question in the press conference i.e. why did you not act sooner, – say two weeks ago – and save 1,000s of lives. The answer was predictable (‘blather..blatther..blatther .. difficult balance, had to protect the economy as well as people’s lives, blather.. blather…’) I suspect that the right-wing of the Tory party will be incandescent with rage again but will they vote against the measures when they come (eventually) before Parliament? I suspect they may not but I am sure that Boris will now be ditched at the first possible opportunity when the immediate storm clouds have passed!