Monday, 15th March, 2021

[Day 364]

Well, here we are at the start of another week and we wonder what this week will bring for us. It was a bit of an indeterminate day today with a fair bit of cloud but with a mild temperature and only the modicum of wind. As we walked down to collect our newspapers, we bumped into the friend of a friend outside the park and then, once inside the park, a little gaggle of 5-6 of us (including ourselves) met and exchanged pleasantries and then, as the weather turned cooler, we all made for home. We generally turn on the rolling news programmes on the TV when we return home and as anticipated, the airways were full of the reaction to the way in which the Metropolitan police handled (mishandled!) the vigil held by women on Clapham Common. One particular image has gone around the world i.e. a slight 5′ 2″ physics student pinned to the ground and restrained by several burley police officers. All of this, of course, in a vigil which was designed to honour the memory of a woman who had been killed by a serving police officer as well. There are more idiosyncrasies attached to this event as well. There just happens to be a huge bill being presented to Parliament today (the rather ungainly entitled ‘Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill‘) which is a portmanteau type of provision designed to gave the state and the police many more powers than they already have. Before Saturday’s vigil. the bill seemed to aimed at Extinction Rebellion type protests as well as the current concerns about what to do with the statues all over the country erected to ex-slaver traders and which many now wish to see removed. It has been pointed out in Parliament that there are several references to offences against property in the new bill but nothing which would address the concerns of the omen who feel unsafe on the streets of our cities and towns. A senior minister has defended plans to increase sentences for violence against statues, amid rising fury at the government’s failure to tackle violence against women – the Tory Police Bill, to be debated in the Commons today, will allow judges to hand down sentences of up to 10 years for damaging statues based on their ’emotional, symbolic value’. There are some who argue that in the UK legal system offences against property tend to attract high penalties than offences against the person but I haven’t managed to track down any evidence for this oft-quoted remark.

As it was a beautiful afternoon I decided to give the car a wash as it hasn’t had a wash for a couple of weeks. When we bought it new, we did have a special treatment to help protect paintwork against things like bird droppings (which can be a particular nuisance if you happen to park the car in the wrong place) Anyway, I was particularly pleased that the car seemed to get itself cleaned particularly easily today – I suspect the trick is not to let it get too dirty in the first place. I have had the same large container of car shampoo for several years now but it seems to do its job OK- one particular car washing aid I have which is particularly useful is a smaller size watering can with a very long spout (designed, I imagine, to water handing baskets and the like). This I use to deliver a small but constant steam of water to wet the car before I get going with a soft brush (and then a multi-fibre mitten).

Tonight, many European countries (Germany at first, followed by France, Italy and Spain) are pausing their use of the AstraZeneca vaccine over fears that it might be implicated in a number of incidents of blood clots after people have received the vaccine. This is probably excessively cautious as there will always be a certain (low) proportion of blood-clotting in the population as a whole, vaccine or no and so the epidemiologists have to ascertain whether there is (a) an excess of blood clotting and (b) whether there is a causal relationship with the vaccine in any case.

Tomorrow afternoon will be quite full of video calls. First we are going to have a natter with one of my Hampshire friends/colleagues. It transpired that we inhabited the same haunts of Manchester but separated by a few years so we never actually met whilst we were both working there. Then we will FaceTime some of our oldest ex-Waitrose friends as we do every Tuesday afternoon. They, like us, are making some plans as to what they might do in a few weeks time when the lockdown starts to ease. But the news from Europe is now grim. Italy, France, Germany nd Poland are now all in the grip of a third wave of the pandemic and their failure to vaccinate enough of their population in time means that the third wave is proceeding apace. Can we be isolated from this, I ask myself?