Wednesday, 11th November, 2020

[Day 240]

Today turned out to be quite a busy day as it turned out. We decided fairly early on that we might make a trip out to a giant Sainsbury superstore on the outskirts of Redditch in order to buy some clothing items for Meg. So we had our customary walk in the park where we met up with a lady who we have met before and who gets a taxi once a week to the park in order to socialise and to get some exercise. She had been watching the Remembrance Day service in Westminster Abbey (shown on TV) and we reminded each other of the fact that Lutyens, the designer of the Cenotaph in London had designed it in such a way that it is also purposefully devoid of any religious symbolism, allowing people to project their own meaning onto the empty tomb, regardless of their faith. In fact, I now know that Cenotaph is derived from the Greek and means ’empty tomb’). A war memorial (admittedly not a Cenotaph) has just been erected in Bromsgrove decorated by a tasteful but undoubtedly Christian cross and I wonder to myself how those of a non-christian faith or none feel about that when it comes to the yearly commemoration of those who have died in conflict? We made our way home knowing that we had to make a lightning visit immediately to Redditch.

We found the Sainsbury’s quite easily – those who know Redditch know that it a series of roundabouts and bypass roads and it is quite easy to lose one’s way. The store which we have visited before turned out to be massive but we managed to get the things that Meg wanted with a fair range of choice. I then made enquiries to locate the ‘car maintenance’ section expecting to find a huge amount of shelve devoted to it, only to find that they only had about a shelf and a half devoted to motoring products. I managed to buy one or two of the things that I wanted and then we raced back home to be in time for the funeral service of our former colleague’s wife which was to be broadcast at 2.30. We had about five minutes to get ourselves a cup of tea and a biscuit to keep body and soul united before we joined the service.This link did not seem to work at first, although the test video said we were connected. So we changed browser and this time we got straight into the service and I doubt we had missed much, if anything, as the coffin was just being borne into the church as we connected. Then we had a very tasteful service ending, much to our surprise with the Bach cantata ‘Wachet Auf‘ (Sleepers Awake) – Meg and I had this played as the opening piece at our wedding in 1968 and we know it well, so this proved to be quite a coincidence. Although these video links into funerals are a relatively recent innovation, they do act as quite an acceptable substitute for those who cannot (or are not allowed to) attend the actual service.

Today is the day when we have just passed the hugely symbolic figure of 50,000 dead due to COVID-19. Even this figure is an underestimate because if you count those deaths where COVID is mentioned on the death certificate (and not just within the last 28 days) then the figure would arise to over 61,000 – and this is before you take account those who dies of untreated conditions which the COVID-19 crisis displaced from their operations or treatment programmes that might have saved their lives (or delayed their deaths)

There is a certain amount of breast-beating amongst the Democrats in the US. One evident question is ‘why were the polls so wrong?' to which the answer is ‘The polls were not very wrong given the margins of error associated with polls'. But two factors are starting to emerge from the pack.One is that getting the opinion of those who have already/are intending to vote by post in huge numbers has proved to be quite difficult. Another factor which may turn out to be quite significant is that many voters will not respond on their mobile phones to an anonymous polling organisation that they do not know and they may well trash the calls. In any event, a huge post mortem is under way and this involves not just an examination of the polls but also the Democrats strategy particularly for the Senate races where they did far less well than expected. It could be that some of the factors such as ‘defunding the police’ (whatever that means) was a massive turn-off for those of a centrist or floating voter disposition.