4 October 2020

The Arctic plume came and went and Ms Playchute chastised me for painting too gloomy a picture of our weather conditions last week. To be fair, I probably did exaggerate to some extent but summer is past and the Indian summer, if that was it, was far too short. As I look out my window the rain is pelting down, the wind is howling, the pub sign is being blown back and forth like an accordion and it is cold and miserable.

Thankfully, the weather last Saturday was not quite so grim – it was clear and sunny if somewhat brisk and windy. That didn’t stop Ms Playchute and her companions in the Garden Club who held their annual Macmillan Coffee Morning to raise money for the Macmillan Cancer charity. They do this each year but this time, with coronavirus restrictions precluding groups of more than six from meeting indoors (or outdoors), the decision was taken to convert the bus shelter across the road from us into a “pop-up” café serving coffee, tea, cakes, cupcakes and witty and intelligent conversation.

And a great success it was too. Villagers came out in droves and even some adventurous bike riders stopped for a quick cuppa. Folks did pretty well at maintaining social distancing and there were few, if any, breaches of the government’s Rule of Six. Which is a good job since, of course, the coronavirus only affects people if they are in a group of more than six people.

We had a nice walk, new to us, on Sunday. We drove to Helmdon, a village about five miles away, parked the car and set off on a gentle stroll across the fields to Stuchbury and back.

Clearly, this is a set of footpaths which are not particularly well-trodden. We met only one other group of walkers but both the sheep and the cattle were very curious indeed. The cattle, a group of young bullocks, sprinted down the hill to greet us when we came to the gate into the field. They clearly were so excited that they did not want to let us pass. We asked them nicely if they would mind moving but they were unmoved. At one point Pen suggested I play them some music. “What sort of music do you think they would like?”

“Oh, something soothing and gentle,” she suggested. So, I put on Ode to Joy but sadly it did not encourage them to move aside although several of them perked their ears up and closed their eyes to absorb the mood.

Eventually, we back-tracked and attempted to find another way around the field which was sadly unsuccessful. However, by the time we came back to the gate they had dispersed and seemingly were not so interested the second time round. The sheep simply seemed stunned to see anyone.

I had a nice bike ride along some very quiet country roads which were new to me. The weather was decent, the birds were singing and it was a very pleasurable and leisurely jaunt. Still quite a ways from finishing my Land’s End to John o’ Groats journey but edging closer.

Thursday was the one really good day we had at the end of this week and I just about had time to mow the lawns before the weather turned for the miserable weekend in which we now find ourselves. It’s all feeling and looking very autumnal – mushrooms galore in the woodland glade and long, late afternoon shadows across the finished product.

I am grateful to my dear friend Jordan, our favourite diplomat, who alerted me to an article in the Huffington Post. It seems a Lincolnshire Wildlife Park has had to remove five African Grey parrots from public view due to their “colourful” language.

“I get called a fat t**t every time I walk past.”

Steve Nichols, park CEO

Where to start in the You Couldn’t Make It Up department this week?

One could start with the absolutely bonkers news that the UK Home Office seriously considered shipping asylum seekers to a processing centre on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic while their claims are investigated. It would certainly send a positive message to the loonier Brexiteers in their midst but it proved even too looney for the looniest of loonies. Instead the Home Office is now exploring the idea of using disused oil rigs and idle ferries as detention centres instead. Apparently, Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has asked whether a giant wave machine could be developed which would push all the asylum seekers in their inflatable dinghys back to France. No, I am not making this up!

Or, one could start with the continuing failure of our “World Beating” Covid-19 Track and Trace system. In spite of bucket-loads of money being thrown at the private sector to run the service, the results continue to go in the wrong direction.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had pledged that, by the end of June, the results of all in-person tests would be back within 24 hours.

It’s currently just less than 10% get their results back within 24 hours. So, that’s another lie he’s told us.

As always, John Crace put his finger on the pulse in the Guardian on Monday:

“I ask myself every day how to protect everyone and preserve liberties.” In which case the rest of us should have been asking ourselves every day why he hasn’t resigned. Because just about every decision he has made has failed either to protect lives or preserve liberties.

John Crace, the Guardian, 28 September

Or, perhaps it would be best to start with the confirmation that the EU has initiated legal action against the UK for setting out to break the Withdrawal Agreement. Just to remind you, this is the international treaty Boris Johnson negotiated, signed, rammed through Parliament and campaigned on in the 2019 General Election claiming it provided an “oven ready Brexit.” Apparently, what he meant to say was that it was a lousy deal which only a slathering idiot could support.

Or, how about the Fake News that President Trump has tested positive for the hoax virus? Nope, you could not make it up.

Finally, how about some wonderfully delightful dancing from one of our delightfully beautiful granddaughters?

And finally, finally, a photo of our California family having fun.

And finally, finally, finally Happy Birthday to my great nephew Theo and to my lovely sister Susie tomorrow, 5 October. One is delighted to be five years old and the other is perhaps somewhat less delighted to be however old she is.

Meanwhile, keep happy, keep smiling, keep isolating as much as you can, wear a facemask when you go out and keep your distance. And keep safe.

Lots of love to you all,

Greg

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