Wednesday, 3rd March, 2021

[Day 352]

After we got up this morning, there was an item on the Radio 4 ‘Today‘ programme which was genuinely uplifting. It was an interview with the well known singer/songwriter/benefactor Dolly Parton. She had taken her own song ‘Joline, Joline, ‘Joline‘ and had re-worded it so that it was rendered as ‘Vaccine! Vaccine! Vaccine!' Perhaps many people know by now the Dolly Parton is an exceptionally shrewd businessman as well as being a huge benefactor. She has started an ‘Imagination Library‘ in 1995 and, starting with her home state of East Tennessee, the program distributes 1 million free books a month to children at each month from birth to the age of 5. It has been calculated that 100 million books have already been given away FREE and not for nothing is Dolly Parton just as well known for being ‘The Book Lady‘ as for her country and western prowess. Dolly Parton donated £1 million dollars to the ‘Moderna’ vaccine program but she had only just today received her jab because she did not want other people to think that she was ‘jumping the line’ (i.e. queue). This is all quite inspirational stuff really – there are still millions of Americans who need to be convinced about the benefits of accepting the vaccine.

Today was a ‘grey’ day and the Midlands seemed to be swathed in a a cold mist which was not incredibly cool as there was no accompanying wind to increase the chill factor. Nonetheless, we picked up our newspapers in the normal way, meeting on the way one of park friends who is in his mid 80’s but still walks about 7-8 kilometres a day (but monitored at a distance by his daughter who can keep track of him, presumably via an Apple-type watch) We hope that we can sustain ourselves with such an energetic daily routine when we are his age but we can but hope. When we got home, it was straight on with cooking the mid-day meal and then watching the news unfold on the television. Today was Budget Day but a lot of this had been trailed beforehand in any case – I think the real surprise, though, was that the furlough scheme was going to be extended until September (as well as the £10 supplement to Universal Credit). I suppose it is quite easy to be a popular Chancellor of the Exchequer if you are still in the ‘giving out lots of cash’ stage but tax rises are on the way in a year or so. This will be done by the old-fashioned expedient of not increasing the actual tax rates but rely upon freezing the income tax threshold levels which means that owing to ‘fiscal drag’ more and more people get drawn into greater contributions of tax from 2025. After that, there is a prediction that the tax burden borne by the population will be the highest since the 1960’s and corporation tax will be increased in a year or so to a rate which is higher than now but below the level of other G7 countries. We all knew that the expenses created by the pandemic would have to be paid for how somehow. The other major story is the Nicola Sturgeon evidence before a Scottish parliamentary committee but this is is labyrinthine and tortuous to put it mildly and who is lying about what is difficult to disentangle.

This afternoon, I busied myself with one file tidying and I started on one of Meg’s old medical files. Some of this stuff went back for more than 15 years so it was a case of seeing what could be safely be junked straight off into our green bin, those documents that had to have identifiers removed and shredded and that which it is prudent to retain even if for historical purposes. This is but part of a much longer process of tidying up files but I intend to keep up this good work until a lot of junk has been removed. At 5.00pm, we Zoomed some of Meg’s cousins in Derby and this time we were joined by another family member still in Cheltenham so it was good to have a kind of family get-together. We find these occasions quite enjoyable so we are going to repeat the exercise at about fortnightly intervals from now on.

Various European societies (principally France and Germany) are now re-tghinking their opposition to the AstraZeneca virus. Although it was subject to a lot of ‘black’ propaganda, we now have the evidence from the several millions vaccinated in the UK over its effectiveness in stopping the rate of infection, keeping people out of hospital and so on. Given that the UK is so far ahead of other European societies in the vaccination race, it now looks as quite a re-think is going on in Europe but decision makers do not like to admit that they were actually wrong or mistaken!