Saturday, 23rd January, 2021

[Day 313]

Today when we awoke it was evident that we had had a short sharp snow shower the previous evening. All of the trees and shrubs, as well as the countryside in general, looked magnificent in the snow, particularly as by now we had bright sunlight and a clear blue sky. We made our way with a degree of caution down the hill but the snow was quite crunchy underfoot and indeed had quite disappeared on sections of footpath that had received the full complement of the sun’s rays. On our way to the newspaper shop, we bumped into Birmingham University friend so whilst he and Meg went off to the park together, I made a quick dash to collect the newspapers. Whilst in the park we adopted our customary juxta-position of our friend on one bench, Meg on another and myself forming the third point of the triangle. I am not quite sure how we got onto the topic but we got onto the subject of plagiarism in universities and what was to be done about it. Eventually, we explored some mutual interest in the philosophy of science where we discussed the work of Karl Popper and the principles of falsifiability. Although all sociology students will have been exposed to the work of Karl Popper, many physical scientists had not. We quickly established that both of us preferred slightly to be at the edge of our respective disciplines and hence sort of moved sidewise into cognate fields. Hence I started off my academic career as a sociologist but via teaching Research Methods and statistics finished up as a teacher of IT. Similarly, my Birmingham University friend’s discipline was in Mechanical Engineering but he had moved into Operations Research. So all in all, we found some interesting areas of communality in our various academic endeavours. We were speculating whether the journey home would prove treacherous but everything was fine. In fact, the sun had melted quite a lot of the snow on the pavements so compared with an hour previously, we had quite a quick journey home. Just outside the park we caught up with some of our church friends and as always happens got onto the perennial topic of vaccinations. As it happens, the husband of the couple with whom we had been chatting had just been vaccinated the day before whilst his wife was waiting impatiently for her own jab.

This afternoon, I thought I would bring a Bluetooth portable speaker into use that I bought several month ago but only used occasionally until now. As it happens, I often listen to a Piddock recording of Handel’s ‘Messiah‘ which I have playing on earphones through an old iPad which I have in the bedroom and which generally sends me off to sleep quite quickly (something to do with alpha brainwaves, I surmise). So this afternoon, I ran off a copy of the manual for the portable Bluetooth speaker (long since mislaid) and then found the recording I wanted on the net, courtesy of YouTube. I then paired my iPhone with the speaker and Meg and I listened to the recording during the later part of the afternoon. Having done this once, I might try it with other classic recordings that I enjoy.

According to the Weather app in my iPhone, we should have a continuous dump of snow between 9.0am and 12.0am. If this proves to the case, then we shall have to spend a lot of the late morning digging ourselves out because our daughter-in-law needs to leave for work at about 6.0 am on Monday morning. We have about 150 yards of driveway that services ourselves and four sets of neighbours but we are pretty well equipped with snow shovels so we shall have to wait and see. Actually, it is a few years since we had a large dump of snow so I suppose it is about time that we were due for one. I tend not to attack the snow the minute it had fallen as some people do but wait for the sun to do some of the work for me, if possible.

Politically, it seems that the government seems to have switched its tactics somewhat and does not seem as desperate as it was to appease its own right wing and ease the lockdown as fast as possible. The discovery of the new variants of the virus which seem to transmit much more easily militates against quick and easy of the lockdown in any case. It looks as though instead of ‘over-promising and under-delivering’ the government has decided that it is much more judicious to ‘under-promise and to over-deliver’ It does appear the vaccination rate has really picked up over the last few days but it is an interesting question whether they can get all of the vulnerable and over 70 yr olds done by the middle of February which was one of their promises.