Tuesday, 9th March, 2021

[Day 358]

Today was a beautiful day, at least to start off with, and Meg and I enjoyed a really pleasant walk down to collect our newspapers. However, it was not so much a case of ‘now is the time for the turtle dove to be heard in our land‘ but rather one gets used to the whirr of the lawnmower as the population gets geared up for the spring. Whilst in the newsagents, I indicated that I had managed to solve one of the great mysteries of life i.e. how is it that the newsagent can sell a bar of Cadbury’s Bournville dark chocolate for £1.00 whereas Waitrose sells the same bar for £2.00? The answer lies in the fact that although the bars look alike (width x. height) they nonetheless differ in their height or depth i.e. the Waitrose bar is twice as thick and consequently has twice as much chocolate and the commensurate increase in price.So now we know. In the park we met with our Birmingham University friend who, as it happened, had received his jab the day before and was feeling a little under the weather. We conveyed our condolences and told him that when he died from the after-effects of the jab, we would go to the local cemetery in order to pick up some flowers which we would then recycle for his own funeral – he was very grateful for this offer. We also met another long-standing park friend who is a wheelchair user but it transpired that during her working life she had been an NHS manager in a small local hospital, now long since closed down and the site developed as a housing estate. We also engaged in some gossip about other park acquaintances that we all know well but prefer not to get into arguments with, if we can avoid it. The park was pleasantly quiet today and we met a few friends of friends as well as the variety of dogs some of whom we are starting to recognise.

This afternoon, we sent ae email to Meg’s cousin in Bolton, wondering with the easing of the lockdown situation whether we might make a flying visit to see the family in early April. As it happens, the weekend we were thinking about is going to be quite busy with family reunions so we are probably going to settle for a date some time in May. This might suit our purposes quite well because it is my birthday towards the beginning of May so it may well be that we have a family reunion which includes a little birthday celebration at the same time. However, it is a thought that a lot of population think they are ‘safe’ because they have received one dose of the vaccine and there may be lots of family reunions and events all over the country. Then this might have all of the ingredients that we need for another surge of the virus.

After the Harry/Meghan interview, Buckingham Palace has tonight released but a terse but incredibly well-written statement. This indicates that they will tackle the issues raised, particularly racism, within the family and offering their continuing love and support. To my mind, this hits absolutely the right note and shows a degree of dignity and restraint – with absolutely the right words chosen for the occasion. The interesting question is whether the media is going to keep this particular story rumbling on and on or whether the public as a whole will get bored with it and public attention moves elsewhere. After all, there is an expression in the newspaper world that yesterday’s newspapers become today’s fish-and-chip wrapping paper.

One of the government health ministers (Lord Bethell) has tonight given his opinion that nurses are well-paid for the job they do. While he praised the ‘heroics’ of health workers during the pandemic, he said they had secure jobs that many people would ‘envy’. Given that a government re-shuffle is on the cards, this sounds like one of the most inopportune things that a government minister might admit to. Of course, the whole question whether nurses are to receive a pay-cut (given that a 1% pay increase when the rate of inflation is more than this) is still under active political discussion. It seems very likely that the government are going to receive a bloody nose over this particular conflict.

Late on this afternoon, we FaceTimed some of our ex-Waitrose friends, as we generally do on a Tuesday evening. We exchanged news of the various ventures which we can both look forward in the next few weeks. Our friends had got a trip booked in July to see both York (where Meg and I, incidentally, decided to get married) and then Harrogate (where I lived as a child from the age to 5-17) Meg and I don’t have any trips planned as such but we might make a lightning visit to see Meg’s cousins in Derby some time in April (i.e. after some restrictions end on March 29th)