Sunday, 3rd January, 2021

[Day 293]

Last night there had been a scattering of snow so I wondered how deep it would prove to be this morning. As it happened, the snow was quite thinly scattered on an underlay of slush – I walked down in my ‘old’ boots thinking that a deep covering of snow might not do my new ones any good but in the event I did not need to worry. After I collected my newspapers, I was walking upon along the road (safer than the pavement!) when I got into a conversation with a lady cleaning the snow off her car. As our conversation progressed from one topic to another, it transpired that she was an evangelical christian and so we started to discuss some interesting points of theology e.g. in the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ the phrase ‘Lead us not into temptation’ in the Latin is ‘ne nos inducas in tentationem’ which could be translated as ‘let us not fall into temptation‘ which is subtly different. There is a massive theological debate in all of this in which the present Pope had expressed his view but time and space to do permit us to enter in the the intricacies of this debate just now. This all made me a little late for the Andrew Marr show but I was quite happy to miss a few minutes of Boris Johnson who was on the show this morning (complete with ruffled hair)

Meg and I made our usual trip to the park (the trip being foreshortened as the papers had already been collected) and we sat on a dry park bench to have our elevenses. As always, we were passed as we sat by the normal collection of young children on their scooters and dog walkers with their unleashed dogs (the latter always approach us thinking that some food might be in the offing, which of course, it never is) After we got home, we discovered that the lamb pieces that we had in a kind of stew and cooking throughout the morning was almost burnt to a cinder. However, I managed to resurrect it with some onion gravy and, in the event, we had quite a nice dinner. The afternoon was devoted to a long and lazy reading of the Sunday newspapers in which the two major topics of the day (the worsening COVID-19 crisis and the full implications of our exit from the EU now that we had a minimal trade agreement in place) were well and truly analysed.

In the early evening, we got into contact with our friends in Spain who were now in a happier state of mind as their daughter who is at university in Madrid has tested negative for the virus and subsequently has been allowed to go home to see her parents for ‘Reyes‘. (‘Reyes‘ literally when translated from the Spanish is ‘kings’ and is the day in Spain when children will traditionally receive the presents from their parents and friends). They might have opened a little present on on Christmas Day itself but ‘Reyes‘ which we know as the feast of the Epiphany is that day when major presents are given and received. In small fishing communities, the ‘Kings’ will arrive by fishing boat whilst on some of the islands such as Tenerife they might actually arrive by camel – all of this adds to the sense of veracity to impress the younger children.

The COVID-19 news continues to be terrible with new infections again at 55,000 and the number of deaths 454. Boris Johnson is insisting that schools are safe for pupils (probably true) and for teachers (probably untrue). Some teachers at the suggestion of their union are sending in letters indicating that they are not prepared to work unless the school can guarantee that they are entering a safe place of work. Even Boris Johnson is saying that further restrictions may need to be applied ‘in the weeks ahead’. Meanwhile, Keir Starmer (the leader of the Labour Party) is calling for an immediate national lockdown (similar to that experienced in the spring) and his argument is that the government is always doing doing too little, too late and we should attempt to be ‘ahead’ of the curve and not always behind it. If the virus continues to infect at the present rate, then perhaps the only solution may be another national lockdown. Some senior Tories (but not the government) are arguing that all children should be kept out of school until half-term (towards the middle of February). The situation is fast moving and it will be interesting to see if schools actually do reopen next week or whether the absence of teachers may force a ‘de facto’ closure. It may be that schools find themselves in an almost impossible situation and the headteachers and school authorities may have to cope with whatever complex situation confronts them when the schools actually resume next week.