1 November 2020

It’s been a (largely) miserable, wet and windy week. Lashings and lashings of rain and howling winds – I guess the summer is well and truly past.

We had a great time last weekend with visitors, our dear friends Sue & Stuart and Dave & Sue, always a great tonic. We went down the road to Michael Heseltine’s gardens at Thenford on the Friday afternoon and although we’ve been three or four times previously, this is the first time our guests had been and it did not disappoint. The weather was a bit brisk and the colour was just going over but it stayed mainly dry and it’s always a lovely visit. We generally see Michael chatting with visitors on these open days but this time he was nowhere to be seen – at 87 years old he was, no doubt, isolating from the hordes of potential Covid carriers. Pity, as I would have liked to invite him to our garden to see the changes Ms Playchute has introduced, especially Wood End. I’m sure he would have been impressed.

On Saturday we made our way down to Stowe Gardens, a National Trust property landscaped by Capability Brown. (Actually, so too was Thenford as well as Fawsley, another local estate. Goodness, he certainly did get around). Again, the colour was just past its best but Stowe is always a wonderful place to wander about and the weather held off raining until we had just finished touring the garden and had sat down in the café for our coffee and cakes.

It was a lovely weekend full of great fun and amusement. And, as a bonus – Penelope’s legendary catering did not let us down – we’ve had delicious left-over dinners and desserts for days. Also, the two days we spent deep-cleaning the house in anticipation of their visit should just about keep us straight until Christmas. And, since it’s likely no one is going to be able to come for Christmas anyway the deep clean we performed may keep us going until the Spring! Win-win!

A couple of items caught my eye this week. Firstly, Moreton Pinkney was awarded a local community award for all the actions and activities the village organised during the pandemic.

You can read the report prepared by a neighbour here. BTW, you probably know this but the “couple” mentioned who organised the delivery of local medication was none other than Penelope and her idiot assistant and the “Garden Club member” who came up with the idea to grow ‘Sunflowers for Solidarity’ was, again, Ms Playchute. Of course, she was also one of the “two ladies in the village” who decided to make facemasks to support the Hope Centre for the Homeless in Northampton and Médecins sans frontières while her idiot assistant did nothing.

A neighbour took this photo of our house the other day – I reckon the pot of gold is just behind our garage.

I’ve had the spade out and been digging but I guess I’m going to need to hire an excavator – it must be deeper. I’ll let you know how much gold I recover.

There was a lovely collection of photos in the Guardian last Thursday – the “bright lights of LA car-food culture.”

I remember the Wigwam Motel (I’m pretty sure). I am guessing we would have driven past it when travelling to our grandmother’s cabin at Lake Arrowhead in the mountains above San Bernadino. I also have a memory of visiting a drive-through dairy in Arcadia as a young boy – very similar to the one pictured. My siblings, all of whom have a much better memory than I do, will undoubtedly be able to confirm or refute my recollections.

This week’s You Couldn’t Make It Up extract – I wrote a few weeks ago about the government ignoring the scientific advice arguing for a “circuit break” lockdown – a full(ish) lockdown for three weeks to really hammer the pandemic before all hell breaks loose in the winter. The government ignored the advice and did nothing for three weeks until the Prime Minister introduced his laughable three tier system.

There is now clear evidence that the trajectory of infections, hospital admissions and deaths is rising steadily, in spite of the tier system of controls on people’s social activities.

Now, six weeks further down the road and the scientists are back in the news arguing, once again, for tighter restrictions. And, once again, the government is doing nothing.

Still determined to maintain its “world-beating” status, the delay in imposing a significant lockdown has at least ensured that the death rate from the virus continues to accelerate. This week, the daily Covid-19 deathtoll topped 350, meaning the UK has shot past an earlier warning by chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance that the country could see 200 coronavirus deaths a day by mid-November.

And this isn’t something new or out of the blue, the evidence was there in a report that the government’s top scientific adviser himself commissioned from the Academy of Medical Sciences in July.

Most folks reckon it’s only a matter of time before the government is forced to carry out yet another U-turn and introduce tighter restrictions by which time it will be too late for the tens of thousands of people who will have died in the meantime.

STOP PRESS! You read it here first. An article in yesterday’s Guardian suggested that the PM will now “bow to pressure” and introduce a national circuit break lockdown of the type suggested by the scientists six weeks ago. Apparently, the scientific assessment that the virus is spreading significantly faster than their worst-case scenarios and the warning that there could be as many as 85,000 additional deaths this winter finally persuaded the government to act. What’s that expression about a horse bolting and a stable door?

Thankfully, some folks are coming up with some innovative ideas to get round the “Rule of Six” and salvage Christmas. Someone suggested holding a funeral on 25 December for a “pet turkey”, while one man from Leeds set up a company so he could hold an “unpaid work event” with people from outside his household on Christmas Day.

Finally, I enjoyed the following in the Guardian last weekend (click for a larger version).

It’s true – there are an awful lot of idiots out there. So be careful!

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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