This was a day for leaping out of bed early and heading off for Waitrose bright and early. After a very vivid dream (basically it involved smuggling myself from Mexico into Brazil, bartering for a large and gaudy cake and then smuggling myself back again, all without papers) I made some tea in the early morning and promptly fell back to sleep again. After I had thrown some clothes on, the weather had been so frosty overnight that the car required the trusty old method of a trickle of warm water across the windscreen and window areas before I could set off. I got to the supermarket only a few minutes after the opening time, got some cash out of their ATM and then proceeded with my normal weekly shopping. Finally, I got home a little late having filled the car up with petrol on the way home and then Meg and I had a quick breakfast and a slow unpacking of the shopping. Then we had a long phone call lasting ½ hour to work out what had happened to our Christmas tree which should have delivered a week ago and seems to have ‘stuck’ in the carriers. As we going out in the afternoon, we again popped out in the car to pick up our newspaper and then proceeded to prepare our lunch of chicken curry. Half way through this, our central heating engineer arrived and we were mightly glad to see him. The kitchen mixer tap which was a good make and failed after only about 18 months of use was still covered by the five year warranty. But our central heating firm had to request an invoice from their wholesalers that had to be sent to the manufacturers who then had to authorise and post on a replacement mixer tap. All of this process has taken the best part of 2-3 weeks in which time, Meg and I have had to suffer a slowly running tap which couldn’t be turned off and after a while, this proved irritating beyond all measure. But the replacement tap is of a variety named ‘Easyfit’ and indeed so it proved. The whole job took only about 5 minutes to fit and as well as fully functioning tap, we could then restore the contents of the undersink cupboard to their proper home (relieved of their contents in case more serious access was required).
This afternoon, we had been invited out to visit close friends who had just moved house. It is always an interesting experience to see furniture that you are used to seeing on one place relocated to entirely new surroundings but the overall effect was stunning. The new flat contained a mixture of both the existing furniture, some bought from the previous owners and some newly purchased but they blended with each other perfectly. Moreover, the views from the new dwelling were absolutely fabulous and we were delighted that everything had worked out well in the end. When you see someone else’s place, you are never fully aware of the various little traumas that have been involved getting things to exactly the way they would like them. So it was back home braving the Bromsgrove rush hour which I had forgotten can be truly dreadful if you happen to find yourself in the middle of it.
The COVID news this evening sounds rather alarming. Omicron has a ‘substantial’ ability to evade immunity from a previous COVID infection, according to the first real-world study of the variant’s effect. The finding suggests the new variant could cause a substantial wave of infections, even in populations with high levels of antibodies. Researchers at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) warn their finding has important public health implications. They add: ‘Urgent questions remain regarding whether Omicron is also able to evade vaccine-induced immunity and the potential implications of reduced immunity to infection on protection against severe disease and death.’ On the other side of the equation, there are also reports that cases of the Omicron variant might be much more infectious but has symptoms that are mild rather than severe. The trouble about all of this is that the data upon which predictions are based is at best, incomplete, and at worst misleading. The early findings from the South African data (where the variant was first identified) were from a population that was predominantly young and we know that the COVID virus, in general, affects the young less severely than the old. So at this stage, it is incredibly difficult to form any firm conclusions and we just have to wait for 2-3 weeks until we have a sufficiently large data set upon which we can draw even tentative conclusions. The debate in this country is still intensifying as to whether we should hold Christmas parties as normal, scale them back radically or avoid them altogether. Some government advice is not particularly helpful or enlightening such as ‘do not snog a stranger at a Christmas party‘ which sounds rather like the first entry in the Manual of the Exceedingly Obvious.