Wednesday, 29th December, 2021

[Day 653]

Today has turned out to be another day with some frustrations built in but life must go on. The weather is unseasonably mild at the moment – this time last year, I am pretty sure that we were shivering in the snow as soon as Christmas was over. Today, though, Meg and I went off by car to collect our newspaper and then we made a brief excursion into the park where we sat and drank our coffee as per usual.The I dropped Meg back at home and I went on my way do visit a few places on the Bromsgrove High Street. I started my series of errands by calling in at our local pharmacy to pick up a lateral flow test. Admittedly, the Government’s own website indicated that there are no kits available for distribution from the centre – but nonetheless encouraged visitors to the site to visit their local pharmacy. So I got my special authorisation code sent to me and also available on the phone but when I arrived at the pharmacy, despite my code, they had no supplies and did not know when they get future supplies. Apparently, a lack of lateral flow tests (LFTs) in UK pharmacies is a ‘huge’ problem as people have been requesting them every five minutes over the Christmas period, providers have warned. ‘What our members are telling us is that demand for the lateral flow tests is very high at the moment due to the current guidelines around self-isolation. Pharmacies are reporting that every five minutes, approximately, somebody comes into the pharmacy asking for a test' BBC Radio 4’s Today programme was told. So this looks like a case of non-joined up government with the official advice being to test yourself before going to meet relatives or other crowded spaces, without making sure that adequate supplies of the test kits were available. The more responsible that people try to be, the more the government has not made it possible for people to act responsibly. So this was frustration ‘Numero Uno’ this morning. The next one was to follow shortly. I walked along to my local bank as I had done yesterday only to find them shut. Today, having arrived there to get our debit cards sorted out (as the ATM’s will not recognise them), I found the branch shut again. Apparently, all of the available staff have COVID so there was nobody to open up the branch. Having negotiated my way up the queue of frustrated clients, the bank had a couple of people outside the bank saying to come back tomorrow. I explained my dilemma to these staff who advised me to ring the number on the back of the cards. So that was Frustation No. 2. But I did manage to pick up a supply of perfume which had come through to Boots after a delay of some days – a belated Christmas present for Meg. So I got home and threw lunch together before I tackled the issue of contacting my bank. After a wait of some 40 minutes (and having been made to supply voice recognition samples in the meanwhile) I did speak to a human employee, I was informed that a new card could be supplied but it would take some 4-5 working days and even then it would have a new expiry date and 3-digit security code. So when this new card arrives, I will still be put to the trouble of going to various websites where my credit card details are lodged and getting these updated which is always a pain. So that was Frustation No. 3 for the day.

This afternoon, though, we did manage a Zoom session with Meg’s cousins and this all worked very well. We managed to get an up-to-date address for a relative whose most recent address details we had lost. We had quite a jolly time chatting with the cousins and have arranged a date in about 10 days time when we get ourselves to Derby and we can all go out for a meal together – or some oher kind of face-to-face interaction. We are all looking forward to this as we have not seen this particular branch of the family for some two years now.

The Omicron variant continues its macabre progress. We have learnt today tht up to 90% of people in intensive care had not had the booster jab. Pharmacies have reported that they are asked for lateral flow tests every 5 minutes but adequate supplies have been promised in time for New Year’s Eve – which is only just over a day away. In France, it looks as though the number of new infections may top 200,000 new cases compared with 183,000 in the UK. But the situation in French hospitals as here in the UK is that whilst hospitalisations are rising, the rate of increase of new COVID cases is not yet overwhelming. Even so, in the UK, the number of COVID hospitalisations in the UK jumped by 900 in the past 24 hours.