Friday, 1st October, 2021

[Day 564]

Today turned out to be a very different Friday to the pattern of the last three weeks. For a start, our domestic help texted in to inform us that her dog, a long-lived family pet, had been taken very ill in the middle of the night and they had to take the dog to an emergency all-night vet (I did not know that such a service existed) The dog was diagnosed with a heart condition and breathing difficulties – this afternoon, I texted our domestic help to see if there was any news but have not had a reply so I am fearful that the eventual outcome may well be a sorrowful one. At 11.0 in the morning, we had been invited round to the home of our long-standing Italian friend for coffee and cakes. We were there ‘on the dot’ and spent a marvellous three hours with our friend as we had quite a lot to catch up. Our friend was mainly full of reminisciences about her late husband and we were informing her also about some of the medical difficulties that members of my family are experiencing in Yorkshire. So we left to prepare our meal of sea-bass, which is a particular treat for us each Friday and it might well be that our friend comes and joins us in a week or so’s time so that she can share some sea-bass with us. I now have the requisite casserole dish (complete with lid) to help to prepare this dish to perfection so I am hopeful I can repeat my culinary efforts and share them with friends along the way. After lunch, I walked down to collect our copy of ‘The Times‘ always held behind the counter for us by our friendly newsagent. I then popped into Waitrose to pick up a parcel (a surprise birthday present for Meg for next Sunday) and also to buy a birthday card. I don’t know why it is but a lot of birthday cards seem to feature wine bottles, champagne bottles and the like – on the assumption that a happy birthday can only be had if you have consumed an awful lot of alcohol. This may be true for many people but there are more things to make a birthday happy and memorable than a load of booze.

The repercussions from the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer continue apace. A counter-reaction to yesterday’s outpourings of grief and comment came form a North Yorkshire police commissioner. We were told that ‘So women, first of all, need to be streetwise about when they can be arrested and when they can’t be arrested. She should never have been arrested and submitted to that…. Perhaps women need to consider in terms of the legal process, to just learn a bit about that legal process.’ To add to some of this nonsense are such bits of advice as ‘Run away! ..Hail a passing bus!… Ask the policeman if you can use his radio to radio through to his control room to confirm his identity…‘ All of these bits of advice fall into the league of things you thought you would never hear. I call to mind the advice given to foreign visitors to St Paul’s in London to enter the ‘Whispering Gallery’ and shout as loud as you can to fully appreciate the echo. Another story which I well believe to be true is that the Vatican in the 1970’s authorised the use of condoms by the use of missionary nuns who were being raped (or in danger of being raped) by young Congolese mercenaries. The oficial advice given from the Vatican is that the nuns should offer condoms to the soldiers immediately prior to their acts of rape to enquire would they please put on a condom first! I kid you not. But there is another story today which is almost as silly. All the Germans living in the UK at the moment are being written to by the UK authorities to see is any of them would like to volunteer to become a HGV driver. Apparently, any licences issued to Germans before 1997 entitled the holder to drive a small tuck up to 7.5 tonnes in weight. So even though a holder of such a licence might never have driven a HGV in their life, the UK government is asking them if they can help us out in the current fuel crisis.

Some of the latest COVID news is either interesting (or disturbing) depending upon one’s point of view. A finding has been published that the highest rate of infection is to be found in ..secondary school pupils.The ONS data covers the week up to 25 September, and estimates a steep rise in infections in children aged 11-15 over the last few weeks, with nearly 5% now testing positive – up from 2.8% the week before. This is a figure of 1 in 20 whereas the figure for the general population is 1 in 90. Needless to say, whenever you see secondary school children outside in the shops and streets, none of them are wearing masks (even though they are 4-5 times more infectious!)