Tuesday, 30th March, 2021

[Day 379]

Today was a day for which we have looked forward for a very long time i.e. the opportunity to see friends once the COVID-19 regulations are starting to ease off. Knowing that we were going to Oxfordshire later on in the morning, we did not rush around too much this morning but did go down in the car to collect our newspapers. We then carried on to Oxfordshire where we arrived within a minute of our appointed time. It turned out to be the most beautiful spring day it was possible to imagine and in fact the news was reported this evening that it had been the warmest March day since 1968 (53 years ago). We ate with our friends outside in their delightful garden and had a magnificent meal of salmon washed down with some excellent beer and wine. We had taken down a collection of wine and plants for our friends and they, in turn, collected some eggs from the hens that they keep so we can look forward to these. As you imagine when we had not seen each other for so long we talked over families, friends, ways of coping with the lockdown, quite a lot of politics and lots of other things that took our fancy. After a fantastic lunch and very happy few hours, we turned the car for home at arrived back at about 6.00pm.

Tonight, we are going to treat ourselves to some classic comedy programs. No doubt, to keep the nation’s spirits high, there is going to be a repeat of ‘Yes, Minister‘ and a classic ‘Fall and Die of Reginald Perrin‘ episode. I think the ‘Yes, Minister‘ episodes are particularly well crafted and there are some well-founded inside stories that most of these stories are elaborated around episodes that actually occurred. One of the ‘leakers’ was Harold Wilson’s secretary, Marcia Williams (later Lady Falkender) who met with the scriptwriters over a good lunch revealing to them some of the stories that were eventually to find their way into our our television screens.

My exploration of my recently acquired IBM ThinkPad is still proceeding apace. I am setting myself the mini-task to see how much of the accretions that computers appear to naturally acquire such as log files and out-of-date remnants of installation routines can safely be deleted. There is always a slight reluctance to get rid of a program wholesale in case it takes out a vital component upon which another program relied. It is the case that some programs can be entwined with each ‘like a pig’s entrails’ so one has to proceed with a degreee of caution. However, with a playing-about type of machine like the, it doesn’t matter in the long run if something does go awry occasionally.

Today, whilst reminiscing with friends, we were almost inevitably starting to wonder what the shape of civil society will be once the worst ravages of the pandemic are over. Rather as disclosing agents are used in dentistry to reveal the existence of a film of plaque not immediately discernible to the human eye, so I wonder whether the COVID virus will have cruelly exposed some of the weakest points in our body politic. On the one hand, there will be individuals whose lives have been completely devoted by the virus. They might have lost relatives to it, they themselves might have suffered from the virus and may still be suffering the consequences of ‘long-COVID’ which seems to affect many organs within the body. And of course, the disruption to economic life will have been severe in the extreme for very many families. On the other hand there may be a small but significant part of the population who have quite a ‘good’ COVID. (I am reminded that in World War II there were some individuals who had quite a ‘good’ war if they happened to have a large garden so they could feed themselves, who might have been in a reserved occupation which meant that they didn’t have to join the front line of the armed services and who might have found some opportunities for self-enrichment via the ‘black market’) The argument for a good COVID runs like this. Some people might rather like the idea of only working a 2-3 working week at home (if you work 4 10-hour days you can have three ‘leisure’ days or at least non-working days). These ‘non-work days could be devoted to voluntary work, some opportunities for outdoor exercise for which one barely had the time in a past life – and, of course, some people’s social contacts have expanded enriching the lives of their friends and associates. So it makes one wonder whether in the ‘new’ normality, there might not quite a large percentage of the population who have no real desire to return to the ‘status quo ante‘ but are are actually quite happy with the opportunities that have been afforded to cut up one’s life space in a completely different way. Just a thought for the day?