Sunday, 6th December, 2020

[Day 265]

Today we entered into our normal Sunday morning routine which involves running down to the newsagents in the car to pick pop the Sunday newspapers in order to get back for the Andrew Marr show (which never quite manages to fulfil its promises these days). Our sit-down in the park was a little on the cold side but not really unpleasant. Whilst sitting on the park bench we were visited by a friendly dog (this is not at all unusual as their magnificent olfactory organs can sense the presence of food from a long way away and hence we are the target of their attentions). Once we got into conversation with the dog’s owners, we ascertained that it had been a rescue dog from the RSPCA. I opined to the owner that you were never quite sure what you were going to get if you acquired a rescue dog but we were informed that before a dog was entrusted to a new owner, it had a ‘behavioural analysis’ done on it. I suppose with a knowledge of the breed and some acute observation, the veterinary personnel who perform the behavioural analysis can have a fair idea whether the dog is going to be OK with children, other animals, not to mention human kind (all of this I didn’t know) On the way home, I got a telephone call from one of our friends whose wife was busy preparing the Christmas wreaths that we had already pre-ordered. As it happened, we were only two minutes away from their house so we called in had our choice of wreaths. Tomorrow we will pass by and pick them up and then when we get them home we will have to decide how and where we are going to hang them. As it happens,I have reel of fishing line wire which is very fine but has a 50lb breaking strength so no doubt I can utilise this when I choose a display point for the wreaths. Our friends also informed us, much to our delight, that they were going to make application to go on the pilgrimage to Rome next September. All of this means that there will be a group of some 7-8 of us who all know each other and it may well be that we can hire a minibus to take us all down to Bristol airport which seems to be our best accessible airport if we wish to avoid Heathrow.

The afternoon was dominated by our watching the England-France rugby final which turned out to have a pulsating finish. Two minutes before the end, England after concerted pressure all during the second half of the match eventually scored a try (and converted it) which managed to make the scores level. From then on, it was extra time and a ‘sudden death’ finish i.e. whoever scored would win the game. England appeared to have won the match only for a penalty kick to hit the upright post, traverse the goal and then not, in the event, go in. So with hearts in mouths, we watched England eventually get a penalty from which they won the match but it certainly, in the words of the Duke of Wellington, ‘a damned near-run thing‘ (said of the battle of Waterloo) Without it sounding too fanciful, I wondered idly if this result would have a deleterious effect upon the current increasingly tense EC-UK trade negotiations in which the French are said to be maintaining a very hard line. I was wondering whether the French might be stiffened in their resolve NOT to yield to the UK having just had victory just snatched from their grasp in the dying seconds of the match this afternoon.

There is no news yet of a COVID-19 negotiation outcome, as yet, as the negotiators have resumed their negotiations for ‘one last throw of the dice.‘ It looks as though day, or even some time tomorrow, might be the critical end-point for the negotiations. If and when the UK reinstate the clauses from the legislation governing the operation of the internal market (removed by the House of Lords) then the EU will probably walk away from the negotiations indicating there is no point in trying to reach and agreement if the UK government intends that it intends to break past agreements (the ‘Withdrawal Agreement’) which has the force of international law.

Meanwhile, there is quite a lot of excitement in the press over the imminent arrival of the recently developed vaccine. This looks as though it is going to be delivered to various hospitals and distribution points over the weekend with final preparations on Monday next and possible start of the injection programme on Tuesday. Various political leaders have indicated they are quite prepared to publicly receive their doses of the vaccine so as to increase acceptance of the virus in the wider community. Even the Queen has indicated she is willing to receive the vaccine (although not in public) and apparently there is a precedent for this in the early 1950’s when the monarch ‘did her bit’ for the acceptance of the polio vaccine.