Sunday, 23rd May, 2021

[Day 433]

Another Sunday dawns and as we have come to anticipate, we awake to another gloomy and cloud-filled day. I get up and collect my newspapers early which is part of my normal Sunday routine and I didn’t even pass my usual quota of joggers and/or dog-walkers which is more typical of an early Sunday morning. Then as usual, we listen to the Andrew Marr Show before we get ourselves turned around and walk down to the park as usual. We meet with our University of Birmingham friend plus ‘Park Regular No. 2’ and we start our early morning discussions by wondering about the results of last night’s Eurovision song contest in which the UK excelled itself by scoring a total of 0 points from the specialised panels and also a total of 0 from the popular vote taken across Europe giving a grand total of zero or ‘nul points’. The UK has received this rare distinction once before – but at least both Austria and Norway have received this dubious honour on four occasions. At last, when the UK result of 0 was announced, there was a sympathetic cheer (not, I think, ironically meant) across the auditorium. The Dutch, by the way, had done an incredible job in staging the Eurovision Song Contest in the most challenging of COVID-19 circumstances. We discussed a lot more than last night’s TV, as you might imagine, and as usual our conversations seem to swirl around cosmological questions such as ‘Is the universe infinite? Is it spherical?‘ And to be really mind-blowing a Google search term such as ‘What is the Geometry of the Universe‘ will keep you lost/amused/amazed for hours if you can follow the logic of all the arguments here. By the time we had amused ourselves with all of this, the weather started to get a bit cool so Meg and I made tracks for home. On our way back through the park, we were recognised and stopped by a lady who recognised us from our Saturday evening church attendance. We chatted a little about church activities and resumed our journey home. As we were now so late, we had to abandon our normal plans for Sunday lunch and, instead, rustle up a quick rice-based lunch. We then spent a pleasant and restful Sunday afternoon digesting the Sunday newspapers which needless to say are full of the recent BBC fracas- I, for one, cannot wait for the object of media interest to move on.

Although we do not have much in prospect this week, Wednesday may prove to be quite an explosive day – or a damp squib. It is the day when Dominic Cummings, the ex-advisor to Boris Johnson, is due to give evidence in Parliament. The day’s highest-profile event will probably be the appearance of the former chief adviser to the Prime Minister, Dominic Cummings, before the joint inquiry into lessons learned from the pandemic, by the Health and Social Care and the Science and Technology committees, to talk about the government’s decision-making. The interesting question to be determined is this: does Cummings have evidence that Boris Johnson initially followed a policy of ‘herd immunity’ (protect the elderly and let everything get and then recover from the virus)? On the other hand, Cummings evidence might be regarded as totally suspect and Johnson loyalists on the two committees may try to cast doubt on the whole of his evidence (which he may not be able to give, in any case, as it breaks the ‘Official Secrets Act‘) As with so many things in politics, we shall just have to wait and see.

Tomorrow might be quite an interesting day. In the early morning, I am due to take accompany my son as he takes his car in for a service – then having dropped the car at the garage for what might be a full-day job, I will bring him home and then progress onto Droitwich (just down the road) where there are one or two two items I particularly want to get my hands on. All will be revealed if I am successful in that which I am looking for but we shall see.

Some interesting virus-related news has emerged over the weekend as research evidence slowly accumulates. It seems that both the Pfizer and the AstraZeneca vaccines are equally effective (at a rate in the 80% range) against the Indian as well as the earlier so-called Kent variant of the virus. However, both of the the vaccines may only be about 33% effective some three weeks after the initial vaccination. If these findings are confirmed by much more detailed studies, then this would point to the importance of getting the second jab into people’s arms, after a suitable interval, and still to exercise caution until the second jab has been received. It also reinforces the government’s intention to put a full -release from the lockdown into effect from June 21st onwards, although I suspect that there might still be a recommendation to wear face masks as a precaution and other recommended restrictions even after that date.