Thursday, 11th February, 2021

[Day 332]

I make no apologies for starting off commenting on the weather as last night was the coldest night in the UK for 25 years – a temperature of -23° was recorded in Braemar, Scotland. I had thought that this cold snap might be ending today but tonight might be just as cold, if not colder. This has an impact on things that I had intended to do tomorrow. I was scheduled, together with our gardener who calls by once a month, to replace a kind of wooden arch support down one side of the house. We were going to saw off the rotten base and then re-plant it in concrete (which I have already purchased in anticipation of the event) I was not looking forward to being out in the cold for several hours tomorrow morning so after a brief telephone chat with our gardener, we both agreed that the ground would be too hard for us to do anything so we had better postpone things for a week or so until the weather improves. I have to say I am not at all sorry about that! This morning was quite busy as our central heating engineer was fixing the unexplained loss of pressure in our boiler. He may (or may not) have cured a slight leak that we have somewhere on the system by introducing some sealant into a radiator but it will take some 2-3 weeks to percolate around the system. Then we had our normal Waitrose grocery delivery after which we set out on our walk, picked up our newspapers and met our Birmingham University friend ‘en route’ We called in at Waitrose for one or two forgotten items and made our way to the park. However, we jointly took the decision we would not loiter in the park but just drink our respective coffees and then get on our way – just to keep moving and hence keep warm. When we got home, we warmed ourselves up with some cuppa soups and then made a lunch of Swedish style meat balls (which I made a bit more piquant by adding them to some fried onions and peppers and then adding a modicum of gravy tarted up with a good dollop of brown sauce). It all worked out well, although it stands a little pedestrian. After a good read of the newspapers, I busied myself getting my accounts up to date (a process which involved working through my online statements and then recording the transactions in a large ledger that I keep) and I like to do this so that I do not get too many weeks behind. All my incomings and outgoings tend to take place in a flurry in the middle of the month which is now fast approaching.

I have been sort of following the Donald Trump impeachment proceedings in the senate, although the result is a foregone conclusion. The Democrats have put together a video presentation drawn from a variety of sources (and some of them not in the public domain) which shows that the mob were quite close to capturing some key members of Congress – including Pence, their own Vice-President. This video is apparently quite impressive whilst Trump’s defence lawyers are abysmally bad – I suppose it doesn’t help that he sacked one set about a week or so ago and is now working with their replacements who are definitely ‘second tier’. The Democrat case is primarily that Trmp had incited and ‘de facto’ given orders for the Capital building to be invaded. As the Democrats say “He invited them with clear instructions for a specific time and place – and with clear orders: ‘Fight to stop the certification (of the election result) in Congress by any means necessary’.” For a conviction to take place, 17 Republican senators out of 50 are going to have to vote against their own president and this is not going to happen. However, given the compelling nature of the video evidence any Republican senator who votes to save Trump must be doing so for reasons of pure ideology rather than any dispassionate discussion of the evidence.

British medical researchers have been trying to see if any existing drugs can be ‘re-purposed’ to assist them treat victims of COVID-19. They have discovered that a combination of two drugs may prove to be quite efficacious. These two drugs combined, tocilizumab and dexamethasone should cut death risk by about a third for patients on oxygen and halve it for those on a ventilator, the researchers say. This is quite a dramatically good result and may well to keep the death toll from the virus quite a lot lower than it would have been. Again, one has to pay tribute to the dedication of medical researchers who have discovered these drug combinations which makes COVID-19 more treatable than it would have been even a few months ago.