Wednesday, 18th November, 2020

[Day 247]

It has been one of those dark, gloomy days all day today – although mild and blustery, the rain seemed to threaten nearly all day and did arrive in some force during the afternoon. Nonetheless, we enjoyed our normal walk encompassing both collecting the newspapers and ending up in the park on one of our favourite benches. The leaves are now falling apace as you would expect in November and, on occasions, can prove a little hazardous. This occurs when you have a large flat leaf (e.g. from a horse chestnut tree) which then becomes flattened to the ground under the trampling of many feet – with the addition of a little moisture, they then become slimy underfoot and can send you flying if you do not take care. (In case this sounds a little extreme, Meg and I remember a guest lecturer from our Scraptoft Campus, De Montfort University days when a fit 28-year old dashed down the path because she was a little late and fell over.) She picked herself up and carried on but in the course of her lecture, she thought she was experiencing some pain in her left arm and shoulder. Later, as an experienced nurse, she returned to work and had a colleague examine her only to discover she had been nursing a broken collar bone. As it happens this is emblazoned on my memory – so I treat large flattened slimy leaves with a certain degree of respect!)

Today being a Wednesday, I treated ourselves to a (by now) traditional curry. I suppose that having done this approximately once a week for the last fifty years, it has become engrained into my psyche but the only variation to a traditional curry that I make is a sliced and diced apple ( or pear) in the summer with a handful of sultanas and a tablespoon of brown sugar. One of my former colleagues said to me ‘Ah – I see you make curry by the Arabic method‘ but of course, I do not really know, apart from the fact that I have always done it this way.

This afternoon, I busied myself gutting the last of my pile of newspapers and getting on with some filing. In the late afternoon, I Skyped one of my old Hampshire friends who, like me, has been keenly following the political news and the American elections. We exchanged commiserations with each other as to what might occur if Donald Trump goes absolutely rogue in her last few weeks. I did do a Google search wondering whether an insane president can be bypassed and found that there is a procedure, albeit cumbersome, in the 27th amendment to the American constitution. I think the difficulty here is that the Vice President has to agree whereas the existing VP says he is looking forward to a smooth transition towards the next Trump presidency. Apparently, the Democrats did think hard about this problem when Trump emerged from his COVID-19 episode declaring he was a ‘young man’ and other non-sequiturs but nothing came of their attempts to institute a speedier procedure to deal with the removal of an evidently incapacitated president. So far, I have not seen any resurgence of this question in the press but if Trump’s behaviour becomes quite bizarre, then perhaps even the American system might be stimulated to act.

There is increasing concern in the UK political system about how to handle the Christmas period. The latest thinking (or is a deliberate leak from Downing Street?) is that the lockdown which is due to expire on December 2nd i.e. in about two weeks time, will be extended by another month in exchange but as a ‘reward’ we will be allowed to have five days of relative relaxation over the Christmas period. Public opinion may be divided on this – I have heard two contradictory views on how to let a late 80’s grandparent experience Christmas. One view is to to forget about COVID-19 and let the elderly person enjoy one last Christmas with their family even at the risk of contracting the virus and then dying shortly afterwards. The contrary view is to keep the lockdown extended, over Christmas if necessary, if it preserves the life of the elderly person until at least the first few months of 2021. This is quite a difficult judgement call but I suspect that government will opt for a month extra lockdown until, in effect, the New Year but allowing a little bit of licence over the Christmas period (although it will undoubtedly come at a price)

The latest bit of advice (a bit late?) is to keep windows open for at least 15 minutes at regular intervals throughout the day in order to dilute the virus micro-particles which can stay in the atmosphere for some time as micro droplets. I am not sure whether the full import of this advice has been fully thought through – but I do remember a nursing book, written in the 1920s that I had read when I was teenager which advocated flinging open the windows of a ‘sickroom’ regularly – perhaps they were way ahead of their time?