Sunday, 14th November, 2021

[Day 608]

Today being a Sunday, I leapt out of bed (fairly) early as I collect my newspaper first thing on Sunday mornings. On my way down, I was ‘spotted’ by a couple of Jack Russell terriers that were being taken for their morning walk. They used to belong to my old friend, the trumpet player Clive who unfortunately died about a year and half ago. But the dogs recognised me and came dashing forward barking (as is their wont) but with thir tails wagging ferociously by way of greeting. I walked with Clive’s daughter-in-law for a hundred yards or so until our paths diverged and we chatted about the jobs we had lined up for ourselves as autumn tasks in the garden. I treated myself to a little of Mozart’s ‘Requiem‘ on my trusty aged iPhone (used as an MP3 player) and got back just a little late but before missing too much of the Andrew Marr show. Today is the day after the ending of the COP26 Climate Change conference held in Glasgow. All seemed to be heading for a world ‘phasing out’ of the coal industry until the China and the India, at the very last moment, forced a change in the draft treaty so that ‘phasing out’ of the coal industry became a ‘phasing down’ which weakens considerably this particular commitment. The conference, as it was hosted in the UK (in Glasgow) was chaired by the cabinet minsiter, Alok Sharma, who could be seen fighting back the tears as he was forced to accept the Chinese/Indian amendments of the draft treaty at what might have been the 59th minute of the last hour of the conference. I have not seen any particular comment upon the way in which Sharma has performed his role but to chair an international conference and to try to achieve consensus amongst twenty-five thousand delegates from 200 countries attending and around 120 heads of state must call for a degree of political skill. This might do him no harm at all in any leadership stakes that the Tory party might eventually have when (if?) they get tired of Boris Johnson.

On our way to the park, a car drew up alongside Meg and I and it was a friend of ours from church who manned one of the craft stores – she was giving us a little spiced ginger cake to enjoy in the park. We thanked her effusively and then met up with a gaggle of our park acquaintances where we engaged in some mutual joshing as well as some more serious conversation. Eventually, though, we started to get a little chilled with standing around so we made for home, knowing there was a Sunday lunch to cook. This is always a bit more work on a Sunday because we tend to slow-cook a joint of meat (unsmoked gammon today) which we always divide into two, once cooked, and save half for another week. This is obviously part of our strategy not to overdo the amount of meat that we eat but it has the exceptionally minor consequence of our doing our miniscule bit to save the planet (by minimising the methane production associated with the rearing of animals for domestic consumption) This afternoon, we really enjoyed watching the English women’s rugby team win their match against Canada by a score of 51-12. Actually, this score flatters England and the Canadians proved quite a tough prospect – this brings the running total of the England women’s rugby team to 17 wins in a row. Next week’s match will be against the USA who may prove a tougher nut to crack. Incidentally, the match commentators on more than occasion apologised for the bad language uttered on the pitch, although I must admit I didn’t actually catch any of it.

The latest COVID news has some interesting twists and turns. Austria is putting all unvaccinated residents into lockdown from midnight on Sunday, the government has said. Anyone over the age of 12 who has not been double-jabbed will only be allowed to leave their homes for work, school, exercise and buying essential supplies. Part of the explanation for this is that Austria has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Europe and an infection rate of 775.5 per 100,000 people compared with the UK equivalent of 348.7 per 100,000. The other interesting bit of news is that there seems to be a cross-over between climate change deniers and vaccine-benefit deniers. COVID-19 conspiracy groups who have attempted to undermine efforts to bring the pandemic under control are increasingly sharing climate change misinformation. One suspects that ‘climate change denial’ came before vaccine denial but now there seems to be a mutual feedback. Only a few days a group of women protestors stood by the side of a busy roundabout in Bromsgrove (where traffic was forced to slow down) with rediculous anti-vaccine sloganser written on them. I did my bit by shouting ‘Murderers!’ at them as I walked past them (on the other side of the road, I hasten to add)