Thursday, 7th October, 2021

[Day 570]

Today has been a very strange day in all sorts of ways. Meg and I had a delayed start for our walk down into Bromsgrove but as we went this morning, practically everybody we met wanted to stop and chat. Our Italian friend’s water problems seem to have been solved – or at least, we think the leak has been rectified and the hole in the pavement filled in. In the park, we had a long conversation with a couple where we know each by sight. Today, we stopped for a much longer chat mainly talking about the ways in which ourselves and our families had coped with COVID over the months. We concurred that those of who live fairly near the park have had a pretty good COVID as we have had the opportunities of a good walk, a chat with friends and acquaintances and of course lungfulls of generally fresh air and the changing vista of the park to admire. After our extended park stay, we popped into town to collect our newspaper, went to an ATM to take out a bit more cash and finally called in at Waitrose so that we could replenish supplies of tea and milk before I go shopping in the morning (visit of our shopping trip to Waitrose delated by a day this week). As we walked up the hill to get home, we happened to pass one of our neighbours who lives just around the corner and whose husband acts as one of the marshalls in the Artrix Arts Centre which, here in Bromsgrove, has been re-purposed as a vaccination cntre capable of handling up to 2,000 vaccinations a day when fully manned. We were informed that the centre had plenty of vaccine and if we wanted to receive our booster vaccines, all we needed to do was to get ourselves down there. So after we had a rather thrown-together lunch, we got ourselves down to the Artrix to get our boosters.We had taken our NHS numbers with us (most useful of all) as well proof on our phones of our first two vaccinations and we were soon located on the system and received our jabs without further ado. We were mildly surprised to be getting the Pfizer vaccine as out first two vccinations were Astra-Zeneca – nonetheless, I think I have read (somewhere) that giving separate vaccines helps the immune system to produce a better response than a single vaccine. As we were last vaccinated last April, it is probable that our immune reponse might have lowered somewhat so we were pleased to get our booster way before the autumn cold gives the cold viruses (of all types) a field day.

Late on this afternoon, we thought we would FaceTime my sister who lives in Yorkshire. The news from Yorkshire was all a little depressing. My brother-in-law has suffered from prostatic cancer for some years but this has now migrated to his spine and it is severely impairing his mobility which is now almost zero. Needless to say, he has been getting depressed by all of this and its sequelae but a wheelchair was delivered this afternoon. On the strength of this, one of my brother-in-law’s sons was pushing him out to a local pub (or at least a place where alcohol is served) so it looked as though he might drink his first pint for many a long month. The news from the rest of the famnily was a little grim as well. My niece has been infected with COVID (probably by one of the pupils in the school in which she works) and has infected her husband and daughter so the three of them have been coping with all of this for the past week or so. We always knew that schools were massive reservoirs of infection but the government has kep on insisting that they are ‘safe’ (perhaps for other pupils but not for the staff who work in them) Tomorrow, I must get into contact with them and get all of their news from the horse’s mouth as it were.

Now that the Conservative party conference is over, three particular features remain in the memory. The first of these is that the whole of Johnsonian conference speech was devoted to what has been termed ‘blusterism’ where the speech was full of rhetorical announcements about a glorious future but no indication how we are to get there. The second feature is many of the business community (and even some on the Conservative right) are labelling Boris Johnson as economically illiterate and doubt that many of the ‘sunlit uplands’ might actually arrive. And thirdly, there are a whole series of absolutely massive problems building up (massive rise in gas prices as well as council taxes, cut in Universal Credit, possibility of rampant inflation and this is before we even start to factor in the results of Brexit unwinding).To these, the government appears blind with no policies to speak of at all (but they are still ahead of Labour in the opinion polls)