Tuesday, 16th March, 2021

[Day 365]

For the various numerologists who read this blog, you will notice that a particular type of milestone is recorded today. It is blog no. 365 which means that this blogging exercise has continued for exactly one year. As it happens, a lot of the media are talking about the first anniversary of the ‘lockdown’ (No. 1 that is) and it is rather a strange anniversary to celebrate as so many at the time thought that it would be for a month or so of some privations and certainly not a year. It is interesting that according to the ‘official’ account, the lockdown began on 16 March 2020, when Matt Hancock told the House of Commons that all unnecessary social contact should cease. Mr Hancock did say this, but it was not until 23 March 2020 that Boris Johnson told the country that people ‘must’ stay at home and certain businesses must close. Government ministers have previously described this second date as the start of lockdown. There is no official government definition of ‘lockdown’. So there is a certain degree of confusion, even now, when the lockdown is supposed to have started but today is 16th March and therefore the anniversary of the Matt Hancock (if not the Boris Johnson) announcement.

Today was a little on the dull side but at least the weather app on our phone indicted that the sun might make an appearance a little later in the day. We collected our newspapers, picked up some milk from Waitrose and then wondered who we might meet in the park. Eventually, we ran into a little gaggle of four of the regulars and we exchanged some details about what the various members of our families were up to, particularly as there is now the possibility that we might make some arrangements to see some of the more distant members in only month or so now. When we have lived throughout twelve months of the pandemic, then another month seems quite a trifling amount of time. We all chat happily away until the standing around makes us realise we are feeling a little cold and want to be on our way as it nearly always approaching lunchtime.

This afternoon, we knew we were going to have a good time with video calls to friends and ex-colleagues. The first of these was a call to one of our Hampshire (ex University of Winchester friends) and we exchanged reminiscences about some of the earliest computers and software with which we cut our computing teeth (when we were younger, in the late 1970’s and then the 1980’s) We were recalling a particular type of computer (the Amstrad) which became massively popular as a fairly cheap consumer product. In fact the name ‘Amstrad‘ was brought to the market by Alan Sugar (of ‘The Apprentice’ fame) as the name ‘Amstrad‘ is derived from Alan Michael Sugar (Ams) and then ‘trad’ from trading. We were thinking about some of our earliest computing experiences and both of us expressed the desire to see the Museum of Computing which actually lives next door in Bletchley Park to the wartime code-breaking project to which Alan Turing contributed so much. We have made a tentative commitment to meet each other at the Museum of Computing when travel conditions allow- it should be approximately the same distance of travel for both of us and will certainly be a good day out. We then discussed strategies of decluttering our respective houses, in which our Hampshire friends seem to have made a considerable degree of progress whereas we in Bromsgrove have scarcely started. After this lengthy but really entertaining chat, we FaceTimed some of our ex-Waitrose friends here in Bromsgrove as the time is rapidly approaching (after March 29th) when we can make some tentative plans to meet with each other in some open space somewhere (our garden, their garden, or even the park) Next week, we might be able to see our way ahead to make some more firm arrangements.

The COVID news still proves of interest to us all. Although the infection rates and death rates are dropping dramatically in the UK (and vaccination rate seems to be holding up), the situation in Europe is still grim. In about three quarters of European societies, the COVID rate is increasing although concentrated in Central and Eastern Europe. But Italy is feeling the need to go into a full national lockdown again, as from today, so that if is persists our little vacation scheduled for Rome late September might be put at jeopardy. Tomorrow might prove to be quite an interesting day as well for we are to be in touch (via Zoom) with Meg’s cousins in Derby and the time is fast approaching when it might be possible to arrange a visit (if only in a garden). If and when we meet, this might be quite interesting because Meg’s cousin is actually buying a house in Derbyshire near to her daughter and we might be at a stage when we can view it (if only from the outside)