Sunday, 31st October, 2021

[Day 594]

Today was one of those days when it was raining cats-and-dogs when I woke up. However, this does not matter a great deal to me as it was the night after British Summer Time had ended at 3.00am in the morning and, consequently, all of the house clocks needed to be put back by one hour. Normally, this task proceeds quite smoothly but there are always one or two household appliances where I can never remember exactly from one six month period to the next how to make the adjustment (e.g. the cooker) Nonetheless, I got all of this task accomplished and then looked skywards to see if I could brave a walk doen to the newspaper shop or not. As it was still raining pretty hard, I decided to go in the car and took the opportunity to change the car’s time whilst I was at ai it. There was nobody in the newspaper shop so I had quite a chat with the young lad is regarded as a ‘trusty’ and who opens up the shop first thing on a Sunday morning. We exchanged experiences of both having had bar work in the past and I had a look at the range of wines offered in the newspaper shop, which I have noticed out of the corner of my eye but never really had occasion to buy from. When I got home, we watched the Andrew Marr show (as usual) and then had to decide how to fit in our morning walk. As there were spells of sunshine followed by blustery squalls, we decided to walk down to the park whhilst the weather was fair (i.e.not actually raining) but we equipped ourselves with plenty of rainwear and took an umbrella with us. Then we made for the Victorian bandstand (full of wrought iron work) and were half way through our coffee when we joined by one of our regulars in the park, Seasoned World Traveller. Our conversations this morning ranged over the typcal bizarre range (the innate characteristics of the friendliness of labrador dogs, the degree of ‘wokeness’ exhibited by the Labour front bench) before it was time to go home. As we we walked, we were greeted by a burst of sunshine where we felt the warm rays of the sun upon our cheeks – perhaps the last for several weeks or months as the weather is predicted to go several degrees colder in the next few days. We then started watching the England vs. New Zealand womens rugby match which was reasonably entertaining – particularly as England were 17 points up at half time. We had one of those ‘chicken-in-its-own-tinfoil-tray meals’ cooking away in the oven which we ate at half time before we saw the English women complete their biggest victory over the New Zealand team (called the ‘Black Ferns’ no doubt to distinguish them from the ‘English Roses’)

Today is the first day of the COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow which is opening today. Actually, nothing that much appears to be happening as various world leaders are still making their way from various parts of the world,including the G20 meeting in Italy. Perhaps later on tonight, there will be a formal welcome and procedural opening but the full work of the conference does not start in earnest until tomorrow morning. I must admit that I have a certain sense of foreboding that as China, Russia and probably India and Brazil will absent themselves from the conference (and Jo Biden from the USA may well arrive empty handed) then the prospects cannot be very good at all. As the conference will proceed for the best part of a fortnight, then some minor areas of progress might present themselves but whether the magic target of reducing the increase in global temperatures to 1.5% is problematic in the extreme.To achieve this result, one would have hoped for a lot of quiet diplomacy in the background over the months – instead the English and French are tearing chunks out of each other Brexit (and the row may rumbleon right throughout the conference)

The same sorry Brexit story is unfolding in quite a predictable way. The Sunday Times reports today the astonishment of other members of the European ‘family’ who are watching the UK as its infection rates soar to several multiples of theirs whilst the school children remain unvaccinated and there are images of semi-clad tennagers cavorting in the pubs and clubs with no social distancing, masks or anything that would remotely help to avoid the spread of the virus. I must admit that my sentiments are very much attuned to the words of Stephen Griffin, a virologist at the University of Leeds, who says 'the disappointing booster uptake is unsurprising given the hesitancy from the government about vaccinating children.This decision has made the booster programme increasingly important. We are indeed in dire need of this booster programme, but it is at least partly of our own making as a result of policy. Yet again, it may become a case of too little, too late, despite the availability of fantastic vaccines to help steer the ship.’