Well, you never know what a day is going to bring, as we shall see. Today is my son’s birthday and he was going to call round and do a little bit of work in his office here before catching the train to London via Birmingham New Street and he was teaming up with a long standing friend before they went off on a rail tour together. I have had a sniffle for a day or so but I was reminded that so did my friend down the road before he tested positive for Covid. I had intended to give my son a big hug on his birthday (what else?) but a little voice inside me said that I ought to test myself first in case the sniffle was more than that. So I tested myself for COVID and was dismayed to test positive. My wife tested herself and she was negative. My son also tested himself and he was positive. According to the natrional data (a random sample conducted across the UK) the number of infections in the UK has risen by 1 million in the last week and is now 1 in 16 (and as high as 1 in 9 in Scotland) I know that this is a virus that we have to learn to love with from this point on – nonetheless, I cannot suppress a rumbling anger at the government who, utterly beholden to a libertarian right ideology are dismantling controls, testing and testing as rapidly as they can whilst infection rates are soaring. Hopefully, many of the cases will turn out to be mild and transient but I have seen estimates that ‘long covid’ type symptoms can persist in anything from 10%-50% of cases, which to my mind is unacceptably high. So now I am having to change some of my plans for the weekend. Tomorrow night, after church, we intended to go to a concert in our local Anglican Church, St. Johns, at which domations were to be sought to help victims of the aggression in Ukraine. After that, we had been invited to go the house of a mutual friend for a little bit of supper. So I had to write a quick note to my friend saying that Meg and I would not be attending church, or the concert or her little ‘soirée’ all of which is a disappointment to us. But I think it would be massively irresponsible to go ahead with our social engagements as though nothing had happened.
This afternoon was the planned afternoon for the start of the ‘big mow’ of the communal green area in between our houses which is about 500 square yards followed by our own individual lawn. At the start of the season, the mower evidently has to be ‘oiled up’, followed by a check of the air filter and a filling with high-quality petrol well-primed with fuel stabiliser to prevent any ethanol attracting water from the air to contaminate the fuel. After all of this preparation,the mower started at the very first pull of the starting handle which is not bad when it has been idle for about 150 days. I started today’s session with the blades set on the highest of the five ‘notched ‘ settings, but as as I tend to mow the large area twice (once in one direction and then another at right angles to it), I notched the height down a position after the initial run. The mower ran very sweetly, both for the communal area in the front of the house and then for our own lawns which are about 50% of the size of the former. I am pleased to have made a start as all of my neighbours seem to have been mowing for a week or so now.
The Russians will focus on the ‘liberation’ of Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region after mostly completing the first phase of its military operation, Moscow’s defence ministry has said. It claimed that Russian-backed separatists are controlling 93% of Luhansk and 54% of Donetsk – the two areas that make up the Donbass. This will eventually be an extremly hard decision for the Ukrainian government to have to take i.e. wheher to cede some of the country to protect the integrity of the rest of it. One thing that is certain is that when the immediate conflict is over, the rest of the Ukraine will be so well armed that Russia might never be tempted to try and enlarge what gains it manages to make in the present conflict. In a kind of thought experiment, if the Russins were to ‘control’ the whole of the Ukraine, they would have to have some kind of miliary vehicles (tanks, armoured personnel carriers) patrolling the streets. But if every single Ukrainian house were to have an anti-tank missile ready to be fired, then do the Russians have any hope whatsover of actually holding the Ukraine? There are also some reports tonight that a Russian general may have been killed (or possibly just injured) by his own troops. Even if this is ‘untrue’ I am sure that many Ukrainians will believe it to be true and will take heart from it.