Thursday, 17th December, 2020

[Day 276]

Yesterday was a foul day, weatherwise, with constant rain and a blustery wind that made us retreat to the car to collect our newspapers and curtail our visit to the park. Today could not have been more different as there was a beautiful clear sky and no wind to speak of. So we had a very pleasant trip down into town but this was not to last and the it started to cloud over as we walked home. After we had collected our papers, we made a lighting visit to Waitrose to buy a quick ‘surprise’ (stocking-filler) Christmas present for someone who shall be nameless!. We said ‘Hello’ to some of our friends who were all visored up and then a longer chat with other groups of friends who were busy in, and enjoying, their grandparent duties. When we saw both sets of friends we told them that we had a ‘cunning plan’ i.e. if the weather is beautiful and fine next Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday we will whip some mince pies out of the rucksack together with some sherry and paper cups and have an impromptu little Christmas party outside in the street (or even a front garden) No doubt, Sod’s law might apply in the run-up to Christmas but as I read the weather forecast for the forthcoming week (Christmas Day being on the Friday) we may just strike lucky.

This afternoon, I have been engaged in ‘doing’ the Christmas card. In theory, this is quite a simple process as I all I have to do is to write a similar message into each card (wishing that we all had a better 2021 than 2020) Then I stick inside an address label, further contact details and finally some information about Meg’s medical condition to keep people up to speed. Finally, people get ticked off a list. This all takes the best of 5 minutes per card and I estimate that I am about 70% of the way through the process at the moment.

One of Meg’s cousins together with her husband had relocated to Paris and, following that, to Seattle In the United States. Today, though, we got a Christmas card from their Cheltenham address so I have sent off a quick text message expressing the hope that we might be able to meet (in a park!) in Cheltenham and catch top on a lot of news as well as enjoying a proverbial mince more and sherry that we will drink out of paper cups (We have to have these dreams/fantasies to keep us going by the way)

The result of the Tier ‘adjustments’ has been published today and the direction of traffic has all been one way i.e. a lot of the South East has put into a Tier 3 ‘semi-lockdown’ much to their disgust. After Tier 3 had been visited so much upon the industrial North and Midlands, perhaps there is a certain poetic justice after all. The news is reporting that some 38 million people are now in Tier 3 – twelve areas had moved up from Tier 2 to Tier 3 and only one had moved down. The government privately is now quite worried as the level of infection has increased by 50% over the last week and there is a sickening realisation in government that there will be some kind of crisis in late January/February when the ‘normal’ winter-related pathologies hit their height. The COVID cases are continuing to surge and hospitals are coming under increasing pressure. I think that this time (i.e. in the second wave) there is a growing realisation that accommodating COVID patients means that routine tests and investigations eg. for cancer is going to be postponed or at least delayed. As cancers keep on growing inside patients COVID-19 crisis or not, then delays in diagnosis and treatment will mean more cases and probably deaths further down the road. The NHS chiefs are all too well aware of this and it means that whatever advances we might have made as a society in early diagnosis and then prompt treatment of cancer is being set back, perhaps by years.

Our daughter-in-law has finished at school today and I wonder to myself how many other professions apart from teaching will be ‘winding down. in the few days before Christmas. Of course, practically every family in the land will be having to work out how much (or much little) contact to have with parents and grandparents over the festive season, particularly as many people have not seen their extended family for months now. The experience of the USA (where there was a large ‘spike’ in COVID-19 cases after American families were reunited for Thanksgiving) must be giving many people pause for thought. And Esther Ranzen said the other day ‘Don’t kill your granny for Christmas’ which might sound over-dramatic but is certainly within the realms of possibility. One can only imagine how a child might feel if it could be demonstrated that they had contributed to the death of a beloved grandparent. In the meanwhile, the Education Secretary is suggesting only a ‘phased’ return to school after the Christmas vacation which must be an indication of the degree of concern of the government.