Monday, 16th November, 2020

[Day 245]

Normally in these blogs I do not make any comment on the TV programmes that I watched the night before, but this morning I feel that I must make an exception. Meg and I watched last night ‘Small Axe:Mangrove’ by the noted film director, Steve McQueen. This was the story of a restaurant opened in Notting Hill in the 1960s (the Mangrove) which rapidly became a community centre for the whole of the Afro-Caribbean community. It was, though, subject to repeated police harassment which led eventually to a riot and a prolonged trial – which I will not spoil by revealing the outcome. However, I will say that Meg and I were on the edge of our seats, particularly in the later stages – in my view, it was one of the best bits of TV I have seen in the last ten years. Enough said – although I think there may be more in that series in which case I will be glued to my seat.

Meg and I had decided that we would make a venture out to a large Sainsburys store in the late morning to get a refund on a piece of clothing bought for Meg that did not fit. We nearly went to our local newspaper store but realised at the very last moment, that we had forgotten to bring our tokens with us (it is a weekly chore for Sunday evenings to tear the vouchers out of a little book and transfer them to my wallet for the forthcoming week). Every once in a blue moon – such as this morning, I forgot! So we had our elevenses in the park and made our home. Then we collected our tokens, collected our newspapers from Waitrose (as they had sold out from our local newsagent) and then went on our way to Longbridge. What used to be the home of car assembly in the Midlands has now been flattened and replaced by a series of superstores and quite a lot of new housing, built as a series of flats. We negotiated our way through the deserts of carparks, found our way into a gigantic superstore where we got our refund and then made our way home home. Once home, we had a lightening lunch (thank goodness for some of those bags of microwave vegetables which only take some 4 minutes because there are times, such as today, when you really want to turn around a meal as quickly as possible).

After lunch, I started to tackle a pile of unread newspapers – if we don’t get round to reading them that day we put things on a pile for ‘later’ and at some stage we need a quick flick through these to see if we have missed anything interesting. But what I did find particularly revealing looking at newspapers published just before the American election is that on several occasions, commentators had argued that Trump knew he was going to lose the forthcoming election having been seven points behind in the polls since about last January. So it was a well-rehearsed strategy that he was going to wait until he had some early victories under his belt and rely upon a ‘red wave’ of early Republican voting before declaring himself the winner, the uncounted mail-ed in Democrat votes as fraudulent and then relying upon the courts to add to the chaos and confusion. As things have turned out, this strategy did not work -but it was well predicted and under other circumstances might have been enough to secure him the sneakiest of victories. As it stands today, in American society there have been 11 million cases of infection and practically a quarter of a million have died – in the face of such an appalling pandemic, it is still a source of amazement that some 70 millions of Americans voted for Trump (and at leat a quarter of these believe that the whole election was fraudulent)

The news headlines today have been dominated by news of a second vaccine that seems, so far, to have come though tests upon 30,000 volunteers and seems to have a success rate of nearly 95%. Moreover, the new vaccine developed by a firm called Moderna can be stored at temperatures closer to that of a domestic fridge rather than the -70° of the Pfizer recently announced vaccine so it may well be a winner. However, during the course of the day, we had not taken out only options for any purchase of it (we have options on nearly all of the other leading vaccine contenders). Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, announced in the late afternoon that we now had an option on some 5 million doses (i.e. sufficient for 2.5 million people at two doses per person) available from April onwards. The government have appointed one of their own cronies at enormous expense to oversee the purchase of vaccines but as she had evidently failed in her job or be aware of this vaccine and take out options upon it, she was ‘not available’ to be interviewed on any of the media. In the meanwhile, Boris Johnson had been given a hard time by some ITV journalists on why he did not wear a face mask in a recent meeting with a Tory MP who has subsequently tested positive. This means that by not wearing a mask Johnson exposed himself to danger and is now having to self-isolate for 12 days. Of course, there is one rule for the politicians and another for the rest of the 60 million of us who have to comply…