Wednesday, 11th August, 2021

[Day 513]

Today was an ‘ordinary’ sort of day in which it looked as the weather was more-or-less set fair but with the threat of a shower. Meg and I decided to risk going down for a walk without the benefit of rainwear as it so potentially humid that outerwear can make you feel quite uncomfortable. We were a little delayed going down to the park as we needed to update our Waitrose order and I also needed to spend some time getting my accounts up-to-date. I left Meg on the park bench, complete with a copy of yesterday’s Guardian and this works out very well as Meg can immerse herself in the newspaper for the 20 minutes in which I am away. Also, if she looks up from the newspaper, she can probably see me enter the park by the main (lower) entrance and observe my progress up the hill to our traditional bench. On the way home, I called in at the house of our South African friend who had texted me the other day desperately searching for a handyman who can do a few jobs for her. I ws delighted to be able to recommend someone who does little (and not so little) jobs for us when the need arises. This afternoon, I gave my rusted spade a final attack and that is all I now intend to do with it – practically all of the blade is now in a sufficiently good condition for me to want to keep it that way.

There have been several reports in the last few days of people who are critically ill, and some at the point of death, who have been active COVID deniers but have now seen the error of their ways and are pleading with medical staff to give them a vaccine now in the hope that it save them (which of course it won’t) This, for me, raises the interesting question of why many people believe, almost implicitly, in social media rather than the views of the ‘experts’ who often appear on the Main Street Media channels. For me, the problem is not who some people believe in the social media – after all, there have always been pockets of society of groups who are prepared to believe conspiracy theories. Perhaps some of the explanation here is that in a world where individuals perceive themselves to be always at the ‘receiving’ end of the system, then a belief in what might seem to be outlandish is a way of exerting some degree of power or even control against the over-arching belief systems within a society. The problem for me is not why some people over-rely upon the social media but why a substantial minority (and, according to some reports, a majority) of people have such implicit faith in social media. Without descending into huge academic debates about the presence of culture wars, the following explanation I believe had a lot of traction. The point about social media is that views are promulgated not just by a few powerful sources (the Main Street Media) but stories are shared between friends, colleagues and family members. This can then boost the credibility of the contents of social media with readers. This may be due to the fact that people may simply “think differently” when using social media from how they might think when watching the evening news. Why wouldn’t we want to believe a story our friends shared?

Meg and I feel we have had a pretty ‘good’ day today and it is an interesting question of what makes for a ‘good’ versus a ‘not-so-good’ day. I think the answer is that is a good thing to set yourself some limited objectives of what you want to achieve in a day (which might be as mundane as completing a set of household chores) or doing some tidying up (or de-cluttering might be a more accurate term). Then if you complete your limited objectives you are left with a slightly virtuous feeling – conversely, if you had set yourself fairly ambitious objectives, then you might only manage to achieve some of them and are left with a vague feeling of dissatisfaction that one has not achieved more. So the secret of contentment might be to set yourself certain goals (e.g. a walk of a certain length – but not too far to leave you feeling exhausted for the rest of the day) and take satisfaction from achieving them.

Tonight as I was reading my emails, I received a letter from my consultant giving me the results of the investigations I had about a fortnight ago. The letter was generally reassuring but he does have a tendency to write things like (but ‘nothing for you to worry about‘ which does indicate some anomalies of which one is ignorant) One test result has still be returned but so far, so good. I must say I am impressed by the level of monitoring that the NHS provides – one does wonder, though, about the fate of those with lingering or undiagnosed symptoms that could have been targeted much earlier were it not for the pandemic.