Today seemed pretty cold when we woke up and got ourselves going so it was one of those days when an extra jumper went on at the start of the day. After breakfast, I took a few minutes to tune the DAB on our newly installed music centre into Radio 3. Some radios make the tuning process very easy but this one does not – however, once you have pressed the appropriate buttons and got the station that you desired, it is then not too difficult to put it into your list of favourites. The left and right double arrow keypad key then sends you backwards or forwards through your pre-selects which is as simple as it could be. The fact that this is not really explained in the sparse instructions in the manual but is something that you discover after a few days of use is something that is a joy to discover. After we had picked up our newspaper, we called in at Waitrose because we needed to pick up some supplies and then we made our way to the park. It was quite a fine morning although fairly sharp and cold. As usual, the bench which is our favourite was deserted but we do come supplied with a variety of sponges, kitchen paper and the oldest of old tea towels which we use to wipe the bench dry so that we can sit down on it. We never really expect to see many people in the park on a Monday and,indeed, we had to get our skates on because I had a dental appointment at the rather awkward time of 1.30. After we had got home and had another hot drink, I got busy preparing a ‘quick’ lunch so we could have this in plenty of time and then get washed up before I departed for the dentist. The visit to the dentist was actually in two parts and the first one was a visit to the hygienist. This all went well and I got seen the minute that I arrived. After this treatment, I was then going to have a permanent crown replace the temprary crown affixed some three weeks beforehand. For this, I had to wait about 40-45 minutes and I even got up from seat in the waiting room to enquire whether or not I had been forgotten in the system but it was just a case of running late. The actual procedure of affixing the new and permanent crown only took some 5-10 minutes and I soon returned home after the procedure.
There are all kinds of ‘off-the-ball’ events surrounding the current World Cup, of the sort that one has never seen before nor expect to be seen. One of the latest is that the USA have taken the Iranian flag and ‘doctored’ the image so that the emblem of the Iranian Republic is actually removed from the flag before it was posted on social media. The Iranians are incensed (as any other nation be, I imagine, if the image of their national flag is altered). They are demmanding that the USA be kicked out of the World Cup or subject to a 10-match suspension which is a penalty laid down in FIFA regulations. Evidently, FIFA will not act in any meaningful way against the USA (which I am sure it would against a small struggling third world country who particiapated in flag desecretion) I am just left open-mouthed at the arrogance of the Americans, who feel that they can perform actions like this with impunity.
A much more significant and serious story concerns the current actions of the Chinese authorities who are trying to stem the most recent outbreaks of COVID-19. The Chinese have practiced a policy of ‘total lockdown’ whenever and wherever an outbreak of COVID-19 is identified. The population in several parts of China is starting to react very strongly against this policy and protests were to be found in several Chinese cities where the crowds were chanting ‘Down with the Chinese Communist Party’ as well as ‘Down with Xi Jinping’ These are the greatest protests since the time of Tiananmen Square in 1989. I had not fully appreciated that the vaccines that have been developed in China do not work particularly well and that levels of vaccinations in the society as a whole are below the comparable figures we have achieved in Western Europe. This then means that the level of immunity in Chinese society also fails to match those in comparable western societies – of course they could import ‘better’ vaccines from the West but of course the Chinese, for political and ideological reasons, would never go down this route. Meanwhile, many in China have watched the World Cup on TV and wonder why the rest of the world is getting on with life, gathering unmasked in large stadiums, while they risk being locked in their homes at short notice or having their businesses shut down and unable to trade. The Chinese are even showing the World Cup with censored images of crowd scenes so that the Chinese viewers do not see unmasked crowds enjoying the football as otherwise, the population may ask serious questions of the ruling Communist Party.