Friday, 14th January, 2022

[Day 669]

Today was the day when our domestic help comes to ‘do’ for us and she is always a welcome sight as we chat over the week’s events. The weather was one of those days when the sky is the clearest blue and the weather was icily cold but not bitter as there was a complete absence of wind to add a chill factor – this is always the kind of climate I associate with Switzerland. It proved to be quite an interesting morning for Meg and I. On our way down the hill, we bumped into our Irish friend and we exchanged our perceptions of the new priest who has just taken over at the parish. We have been invited round for a coffee in the days ahead to which we shall look forward as well as to chat over lots of other things. We also said ‘Hello’ in passing to yet more friends of friends and then proceeded onto our our local newsagents. The shop was open today for the first time in days as it is has been closed as a result of the virus. Apparently, the newsagent and his wife had a light sniffle, tested themselves and were dismayed to find that they tested positive, even though their symptoms were extremely mild. So they had shut the shop for the requisite number of days only to reopen today. Whenever I visit (each morning) I also register my presence via the ‘Test-and-Tace’ app and I had always imagined that in the face of a proximate infection, I would have been informed so I am a little puzzled as to what is going on – perhaps the ‘Test-and-Trace’ has not or is not working as was intended. Once we got into the park, we met with our Italian friend who we have not seen for a few days and we had a good chat. I showed how to access this blog on her own smart phone so that she can follow our comings and goings, pedestrian though they might be. Then after we had had our coffee, another couple hove into view who we know by sight but had not seen them for a week or so – we exchanged pleasantries and compared notes about the damson gin that we both make. Then we made for home and, together with our domestic help, rationalised a few of the drawers in our bedroom where clothes we had not worn for years and were dispensable were junked to make additional storage space for more recently bought items. Then we treated ourselves to a good meal of trout fillets that we had purchased from Waitrose last Thursday. This was delicious and I felt it probably tasted better than had it been salmon. I cooked it in the same as the seabass we often have but made sure it got turned regularly, as the filletts were quite thick.

The news bulletins are still on a ‘partygate’ feeding frenzy, not least because revelations keep appearing very day. The latest one reveals that the night before the funeral service of the Duke of Edinburgh, some of the staff in Downing Street were partying away in two separate parties, one playing loud music before the two parties combined in the garden of No. 10. When one of the parties ran out of alcohol, someone was dispatched to a local Tescos with a suitcase, presumably to disguise the contents, so that the party could continue. On the same day, a woman in Hackney was fined £12,000 for holding a large belated birthday party and what influenced the police at the time that this should have been a day of national mourning. I have seen a videoclip of a crowd assembling outside the precincts of Downing Street, complete with Boris Johnson masks and wine glasses pretending to hold a riotous party. It is now a case of people making fun of the Tories i.e. they are being openly the object of ridicule, which might be much more damaging to them than the conventional modes of political opposition. What has made these events so newsworthy in visual terms is that the news editors are constantly replayng images of the Queen having to sit alone (because of COVID restrictions) at her own husband’s funeral contrasted with reports of the parties going on at No. 10. The Prime Minister has taken the almost unprecedented step of communicating directly with Buckingham Palace in order to prefer apologies – a most unBoris like thing to do but I suppose by convention he has to go and see the Queen once a week so perhaps he thought he had better get his apology in quickly.

Before we all get too excited about the wane of the Omicron variant, it looks as though a wave of Omicron cases is possible over the summer as people resume social activities and the effect of the vaccines wanes, according to scientists advising the government. I would have thought this was a cast-iron certainty as people will certainly relax ‘too much’ and all precautions will be thrown to the winds.