Monday, 19th July, 2021

[Day 490]

Today I needed to make an early start because I needed to be at our local Health Centre for (another) routine check – eyes this time. That seems to have gone OK apart from the fact that drops are put in your eyes that expands the pupils which means that driving is not an option. I then took the opportunity to pop into Asda to collect a few things that only Asda sells, then went down the High Street In Bromsgrove to pick up some cosmetics products, called in at the newsagents to collect the daily ration of newspapers and finally popped into Waitrose to pick up some wine, beer and ‘party food’. When we saw our immediate next door neighbours the other day, we invited them round to share either a beer or a cup of tea with us in the garden at 3.00pm this afternoon. It was a question of seizing the moment, actually, because the fine weather will not go on for ever and our neighbour has a part-time employment during the week and is seeing his own family at the weekends. So it was rather a question of ‘now or never’- any way our neighbours came around and we had a really pleasant couple of hours discussing neighbourly type things such as the improvements we have made to our various gardens and our little projects for the future. As our parasol shade had been nibbled to bits by the local, hungry mice whilst stored in the garage, we had to relocate our garden table and chairs into the shade provided by the leas of the house. But we had a wonderful time, particularly as I treated our neighbours to a zero alcohol beer provided by Waitrose where the brewers have performed a magnificent job in keeping practically all of the flavour of a conventional beer whilst removing all of the alcohol. After our neighbours had left, I spent a certain amount of time in the late afternoon creating drainage holes in the last of the (plastic) oak-barrel shaped planters I had acquired recently. Making drainage holes is actually s little complicated as first I make a small pilot hole with a bradawl, then widen it with a small hand-drill, then widen it a bit further using a large heavy duty screwdriver and finally finish off by using a pair of small utilitarian scissors in which I keep the blades shut but a circular motion which actually widen my drainage holes to the desired aperture size.

Considering that this is the first day of ‘Freedom’ when all (or nearly all) of the pandemic restrictions have been removed, the images and messages have been as mixed as they come. One could expect that the TV crews would be present at night clubs where at 1 minute past midnight, everyone could in theory enjoy themselves and there were lots of shots of throngs of teenagers singing, dancing (and no doubt exhaling billions pf particles of virus) Meanwhile, the night club staff themselves were all masked up! I heard some ‘vox pop’ from the city of Leicester where the virus has struck particularly hard and no doubt to give a sense of balance, we had one interview with a boutique owner who had thrown away her mask and hoped it would never return (‘because it made you look as though you were ill’) and another with a local barber who was going to wear a mask himself and was going to insist on it for all of his customers (because he was frightened of the potential of the virus to bounce back) The confusing messaging continues apace.Whilst nightclub owners might have been filled with joy on Day 1 of their ‘liberation’ their joy would have been short-lived as the government announced that from the end of September all entrants to nightclubs and other crowded spaces would have to show evidence of having been vaccinated twice. What are the manpower implications of policing all of this, I ask myself? Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has announced (from Chequeurs, where he is self-isolating) that all critical care workers will not to have self isolate after being ‘pinged’ by the Test and Trace App but presumably they will have to give themselves a ‘Lateral Flow’ test every day. The Americans are advising their citizens that none should consider visiting the UK as the rate of infections is now so high. It looks as though the UK infection rate is one of the highest in the world and is mainly amongst the young, unvaccinated portion of the population. The infection rates are somewhat alarming – approx 45,000-50,000 per day (which is 10x. the USA incidence) and this rate may rise to as much as 100,000 now the end of lockdown has occurred. The one saving grace is that the rate of new infections is rising extremely rapidly, the rate of admission to hospitals whllst increasing rapidly, are at a lower rate than when the pandemic was raging.