Saturday, 20th February, 2021

[Day 341]

As today was one of those ‘raining all morning’ days, we decided to pop down and collect our newspapers in the car and then make our way to the park. Once there, we made for the bandstand as it was too wet to take a seat – but then we were joined unexpectedly by our Birmingham University friends. We spent about twenty minutes chewing the fat until we all decided we had got a little cold and decided to call it a day. Fortunately as we were in the car we got home without getting wet and immediately started cooking our mid-day meal. Then we had a lazy afternoon, reading the Saturday newspapers until I decided it was time to complete the tidy up of the study. On top of my book cases in the study, I tend to store the empty boxes of any hardware that we have bought in the past (in case anything needed to go back within the guarantee period) I located a little stool that I had underneath a desk and ‘liberated’ it so that I could make some space on the bookcase tops for things that I needed to store but keep accessible like our Photo Frame (which we may need to drag out once we make contact with members of the family). One thing that I re-discover was a type of hard-drive which we used to use with an Apple Mac – this particular model, whilst expensive, is the kind that film producers and professionals of a similar ilk use to make sure that their work does not get lost. To cut a long story short, it was already formatted for a MAC so I tried it out as an alternative backup mechanism and was delighted to find out it saved 16 Gbytes of data in about 8 minutes, which is a good reason for doing it regularly from now on.

It will be interesting to read the Sunday newspapers tomorrow morning to see how the world at large is responding to the imminent ending of the lockdown. The most immediate point of contention is whether schools should all be re-opened in almost the form of a ‘Big Bang’ on March 8th. Were this to happen against the advice of teachers and many in the scientific community (including the Government’s Chief medical officer, Chris Whitty. There is a strong feeling that whilst the right wing of the Conservative party are baying for schools to re-open, it may prove to be an incredibly risky procedure. I had not realised that children whilst not suffering much from the virus itself can certainly pass it on adults with whom they come into contact. Most of the scientific community are of the view that the current R rate of between 0.6 and 0.9 will rise to 1.0 and over if the schools get reopened in a ‘Big Bang’ sort of way. The Scots and the Welsh seem to be heading for a much more measured and phased return of children to school which is surely the way to go – but of course political considerations come dramatically to the fore. Whilst there is a consensus that this has to be the ‘last’ of the lockdowns, it it is far from clear how carefully we need to tread, as a society, to make sure we do not throw away the efforts we have made during the last 10-11 months. For example, most of the population are of the view that pubs should not reopen until about May at the earliest.

On the more positive side, it does appear that there will some liberalisation of the contacts between members of a family and their aged relatives in residential homes. What is being suggested is a very limited form of contact where holding hands will be allowed but no hugging or kissing – and members of the family must wear full PPE. Meg and I are anxious to try and see Meg’s cousin in Lancashire who is in sheltered accommodation. We will have to see what the actual norms are but I will wait until about Tuesday (the final versions of the regulations may well be published late on Monday afternoon). We hope that it may be possible to make a visit at least in a garden if we were to wait until mid-April and the regulations permit members of facilities to meet in the outdoors. Anyway, we shall to wait and see. I see that BBC are running an article in their website called ‘Coronavirus: What Europeans have learned from a year of pandemic’ and at first glance, it appears to be interesting to see how other societies have coped with the common threat. I think that we in the UK are particularly bad at learning from other societies – always assuming that we know and do things better than anywhere else on earth. But if do imitate other societies, it always seems to the worst of practices in the USA rather than our European neighbours.