Friday, 8th January, 2021

[Day 298]

Today was one of those ‘nothing much happened all day’ type of days. There had been a light scattering of snow overnight but nothing to trouble us on the pavements. Having collected our newspapers and trudging towards the park, though, it started snowing (fairly lightly) so we did not tarry excessively but drank our coffee and headed homewards. Today was the day that our domestic help comes to help so it was great to see her again after the excitement of Christmas and New Year – we chatted away excitedly about the kind of Christmas we had both had but, of course, we have to be particularly careful to keep a fair distance between all of us. We worked out little culinary treats that we are going to do for each other – whenever, I have some curry left over (which is nearly always) a save a bit extra for her and similarly she was to cook for us one of her specialist lasagne which, no doubt, will be streets ahead of anything you can buy or eat in a restaurant.

We had a fish dinner today (some pieces of cod which I found in an obscure part of the freezer that I had forgotten all about). We tart it up a bit by making a specialised little piece of hot sauce (equal elements of Thousand Island dressing, mayonnaise and tomato sauce heated up for a minute in the microwave) and it works a treat. We try the same dressing, incidentally, to make the fishcakes we tend to have once a week slightly more interesting.

Watching the rolling news programmes, it was amazing to see Donald Trump in something like a contrite mood and formally conceding the election as well as promising an orderly transfer of power. It is fairly evident to us what is going on. There is now a real possibility of being drummed out of office either via the 25th Amendment procedure or via another impeachment. It looks as though Trump is now seriously fighting for his political life and hence the strange spectacle of him reading out a statement condemning the rioters (that he had previously egged on) and indicating that the offenders would be prosecuted (but is anyone going to ‘shop’ them to the FBI?) It appears that some 4-5 people have actually lost their lives during this storming of the Capitol building. My son showed me something he had seen on social media that I had not been able to verify concerning how one of the rioters had lost their lives. After being photographed brandishing a couple of rifles in the air, he attempted to steal a picture from one of the walls. In the course of wrenching it off, he had discharged a taser which he was carrying into his own scrotum – in the subsequent distress he had inflicted upon himself, he had suffered a heart attack from which he died. I do not know if this story is correct but, if it is, it gives an extra twist to the meaning of the German word ‘schadenfreude’ which means 'malicious delight in another person’s misfortune'.

The COVID-19 news tonight is truly frightful. In the last 24 hours, there have been 1325 deaths recorded and 68,000 new infections. Of these statistics, the ‘new infection’ rate is always going to be the most important because a proportion of these are destined to become hospital in-patients – if there is any room left in the hospitals. The hospitals in London are at breaking point and the London Mayor has declared that the state of the London hospitals is now a ‘major incident’. As so many commentators are now saying, it really is a race between trying to get as many of the elderly and vulnerable vaccinated before the middle of February and the fact that the hospitals, already at breaking point, are going to have to cope somehow with an intake that seems to be increasing more than their discharge date day by day. Once the wards are full, the A&E corridor space is full with trollies and the ambulances outside are full, then what is to be done? The government is so worried about the next few weeks that they are going to start a major advertising campaign that members of the population should act as they are already infected by the virus and should keep to social distancing religiously – something that even a casual observation in the streets shows is not happening. Another source of worry is that a recent survey has shown that many people think they once they have been vaccinated, then many restrictions may be eased. It could be that ‘easing of restrictions prematurely’ will exceed the benefits to be derived from the vaccination itself which willingly prolong the misery for all of us.