Wednesday, 2nd June, 2021

[Day 443]

Wednesday morning is always quite a busy morning before we have a chance to think about our daily walk. The first and most important thing was to write a reference for a close friend of ours- although I only got the request about a day ago, the accompanying letter indicated that no employment would be forthcoming without a completed reference so I was anxious to get this completed and despatched. It used to be said that in the ‘bad old days’ (and I am going back about thirty years now) that employers in both the private and the public sector used to give terrible references on the people that they wished to retain and absolutely glowing references on the people with whose services they wanted to dispense i.e. hoping that they would get another job and leave. I am sure that things are much more professional nowadays but it is quite a long time since I have actually written a reference for anyone. After this had been completed, I refined my Waitrose order, ready for delivery tomorrow morning and finally prepare our elevenses ready for the park. We had a most delightful walk down the hill with beautiful sunshine and a very gentle breeze. When we finally got the park we encountered two of our regular park friends and enjoyed both the weather and the good conversation. Meg is teaching one of our friends some Spanish (or at least Spanish phrases) and whilst I shoot off and get the newspapers, Meg is busy teaching all she knows. The point about languages, I suppose, is that when you are in the country itself you hear little phrases repeated over and over again and this seeps into your consciousness, as it were – the grammar books evidently aim to be comprehensive and ‘correct’ but of course people actually talk in all kinds of unconventional ways.

Later on this afternoon, I Skyped one of my Hampshire friends and we rather went down memory lane, talking about the early computers which we had either owned or upon which we cut our computing teeth, as it were. I remember quite well my early Commodore-64 days which I learned how to program in 6502 machine code. Where to put one’s code ? Actually, there was a bit of space in what was called the ‘second cassette buffer’ which nobody actually used and this space ran from 828-1022 i.e. 192 bytes of space which is less than one fifth of 1k. So anything you wanted to do (e.g. sorting programs, graphics programs) had to be fitted into this space. It used to be said by one of my favourite authors that the machine code ‘fitted together like polished mahogany’ and there was certainly no room for viruses or the like. Talking about things that have to be adapted, on my Thinkpad there is no Windows logo key (IBM refused to pay the royalties to Microsoft which the latter were demanding as the price to be paid for putting this key on your keyboards) So I found out how to alter the registry entry so that the Caps Lock key (which hardly anyone actually uses) is remapped so that it now functions as a Windows logo key. My friend and I were using Skype for over an hour and a half as we had a lot to catch up but we always exchange tips, hints, things in which we know the other will be interested) These chats are always so enjoyable so we will catch up with each other again in about a fortnight’s time.

The political rhetoric is getting quite interesting at the moment. I notice that the right wing of the Tory Party (e.g. Ian Duncan Smith) always seem to be willing and able to be interviewed on any contemporary political issue. This time, of course, it is the ‘finally balanced’ decision as to other to lift the lockdown completely on June 21st or whether to retain some residual restrictions. The rhetoric being used currently is that the scientific community are ‘bullying’ Boris Johnson into an incomplete release of the lockdown. Now the use of this term is really very interesting as scientists are only in a position to advise and their collective advice can be accepted or rejected by the government. On the other hand, the right wing of the Tory Party knows a thing or two about bullying as they can dispose of Johnson in a moment should they decide to withdraw their support from him. As it was, there was a massive rebellion when we had ‘Tiers’ and it looks as though Kent (yes, Kent!) was going to be placed in Tier 3 as it was then. This revolt on the Tory benches were right-wingers to a man and I find it fascinating that they would collectively use a term like ‘bullying’ to describe legitimate pressure on the government coming from the scientific community. It does look, by the way, that several scientists are now calling for Step 4 to be delayed by several weeks as the Indian variant of the virus looks threatening.