Saturday, 16th January, 2021

[Day 306]

Despite a prognostication of rain and even snow, today turned out to be quite a fine day. Meg and I appreciated the faintest glimmerings of the warmth of the sun which reminded us that although some bad weather is undoubtedly to come, at least we have some slight indications of the spring to come. Before we collected our newspapers, we came across two of our church friends who were having a chat with a neighbour whilst they caught up on news not having seen each other for about a week or even longer now. Then we collected our weekend complement of newspapers (bulging with supplements) and made our way to the park where we met with our new-found university friend. We now have a well-established routine of sitting on adjacent benches which helps to ensure social distancing. Just as yesterday, our elderly lady trotted along none the worse for her virus jab yesterday and we chatted variously amongst ourselves. Finally, on our way up the hill, we met with even more church friends (our oldest) and again caught up with each other’s news. Needless to say, it was quite late by this time but we enjoyed a lunch of liver and onions which we had promised ourselves for some time but not actually eaten for months. This afternoon was spent on a good long read followed by some necessary tidying up which is always necessary to avoid the clutter building up on my desk and computer work areas.

A big scandal is emerging at the Home Office where due to a ‘human error’ some 400,000 police records were wiped from the national police database. Apparently, Home Office computer engineers were urgently seeking to develop some code which might help to restore some of the lost records and ensure that this does not happen again. The mind boggles as to what kind of system the Home Office deploys if so many records can be deleted accidentally. As we all know from our own personal (and professional) experience, when you hit the ‘Delete’ button, things rarely disappear for good but are removed to a type of archive from whence they can be retrieved. This happens regularly with our emails, for example, and if our simple domestic systems can deploy a methodology to ensure the safety of even trivial (as well as important) records, surely there must be a back-up system that ensures the safety of critical police records. It will be interesting to see how much data the engineers manage to retrieve – and I wonder who will be fired as a result of all of this. Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, is being called to account although politicians grasp of technical detail is typically woefully deficient.

Naturally, we are all waiting to see what preparations are being made for the inauguration of Jo Biden next Wednesday. It has been reliably reported that President Trump will leave the White House at the latest possible moment before he takes a flight for Florida and his ‘stately’ home. One account is that he will initially fly to an Air Force base where he will have a little leaving ceremony (perhaps with brass bands, certainly with much flag waving) so it appears that he will be a showman to the last. I would think that this last gesture is just meant to provide some video so that his huge band of supporters can still be energised. Meanwhile, the CNN website reveals some shocking details of the events of last week:

Emerging details paint an even grimmer picture than the shocking images of violence broadcast live around the world last week. Evidence suggests planning by the insurrectionists, and there are concerns that they may have received support from some Capitol Police, current and former members of the military, and even some members of Congress.

As rioters broke into the Capitol building and some chanted “hang Mike Pence,” the seditious mob ripped through the “thin blue line” many claim to revere, kicking and beating police with their own batons, spraying them with chemical irritants, threatening to kill them. One policeman and four others died that day.

Sky News reports that some 3.5 million people have now received a vaccine – more than the total number of people who have been infected with the virus itself. The Sky News website even has an on-line tracker so that you can see in real time how many in the population have actually been vaccinated and the progress being made towards the government target of 15 million by mid- February. Entertaining if nothing else – and it is one small way of holding the government to account given its proven record of over-promising and under-delivering. The news from the COVID-10 front line is that the COVID patients are getting both younger and sicker – and the peak is still some 7-10 days away as of tonight.