Sunday, 5th December, 2021

[Day 629]

Winter has set in with a vengeance and today dawned with a generally raw and icy blast. As is customary, I walked down to our local newsagent on my own coming back in time to watch the Andrew Marr show. The deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab, was interviewed and I was wondering how he was going to reply. He admitted that a ‘formal party’ in Downing Street last December would have been contrary to Covid-19 guidance saying it would have been ‘the wrong thing to do’. However, Boris Johnson had assured him no rules had been broken over the alleged gathering last year, despite reports from various sources in several newspapers. So that is all right then! Meanwhile, some of the Sunday newspapers are recounting poignant stories of how about a year ago now, relatives were not allowed to be present at the deaths of their close relatives (observing the rules) whilst a party was taking place in Downing Street (where ‘no rules were being broken’). Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions last Wednesday has not denied that the party took place but has denied that any rules were broken. But holding a party (breaking the rules) is not breaking the rules. This is Alice in Wonderland politics and I wonder for how long the present government can continue with such rampant dissimulation.

Meg and I got into contact with our University of Birmingham friend to indicate we would have to have a truncated meeting this morning as we were off to visit our friends down the road for a coffee. In the event we decided to call off our meeting in the park and we made our way, cold and shivering, to have coffee and a chat with our Irish friends. We spent a very happy couple of hours and it was particularly nice to accept the offer of a hot toddy (whisky and boiling hot water) to help to overcome the effects of the cold and streaming colds that are afflicting Meg and myself. I think it migh be another case tonight, as last night, to have a ‘cold relief’ type of medication before we settle down for the night. Our chat was very useful to us, though, in lots of ways because as well as a laugh and a joke, we discussed some of the ways in which we might align our holiday plans for later next year. It could be that we go off to our normal haunts in Northern Spain next year when the coast has cleared (in the spring) and then we might holiday together on the same pilgrimage to Rome and Assissi in Italy in the autumn. Of course, so much depends on how much damage the new COVIFD variant of Omicron manages to wreak on the European population and how viable travel to any European country turns out to be.

In the Sunday Times, I read a wonderful quote which rather tickled my fancy. This was an apparently an old expression that if you being pursued by a bear who wants to eat you, then it not important to be at the front of the group of people who are running away but rather one should strive not to be the slowest person in the group (at the back). This rather reminds me of an article which I read decades ago and this was entitled ‘Protection of the Inept’ The idea here is that all organisations contain within people who are obviously inept in their current role for the psychological well-being of the other organisation members. These may well say (or think) ‘However badly I am doing, I am not doing worse than X’), the principle being that all organsations find it useful not to sack evidently inept people. Whether this was intended to be a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ article or a serious organisational principle, I am not in a position to determine – but it is an amusing idea. I am pretty sure that I can discern this princple at work in every organisation in which I have been employed (since 1962)

It is scary time in the Omicron saga again tonight. The number of new infections in which Omicron has been identified has leapt by 50% in a single day. Whilst the absolute number of cases is not huge at this stage, the rate of increase is dramatic. The cases have risen from 160 yesterday to 246 today and this must be getting close to an exponential rate of increase. According to the scientists, we have to wait for about three weeks (which takes us very close to Christmas Day) before as a society, we can discern what degree of threat the new variant poses to us and what further measures might be necessary. I can see another lockdown coming on but no doubt it won’t be called that but will have the attribution of ‘Plan B’ or something similar. I think the degree of complacency in our current political leadership lamentable – one suspects they are holding their fingers and hope it all goes away (but we have to have lots of socialisation over Christmas to give the new variant an especially forceful boost)