Week one of Lockdown II completed successfully. Only three more weeks to go and then everything will be back to normal (according to the Prime Minister). Typical Boris – over promising and under delivering.
Not surprisingly, we’ve done almost nothing this week. The weather has been reasonable and we’ve been on a couple of splendid walks across the countryside and we’ve started a project which we should have started several months ago. But, other than that, not much.
One such walk was across the fields to Preston Capes which we’ve not done in some time. The view from the church, which is set on the top of a steep escarpment, across the fields below is stunning.
I had not realised (although I suspect I should have known), that Norman St-John Stevas, a prominent Conservative politician especially during the Thatcher era, lived in the old rectory in Preston Capes with his lifelong companion Adrian Stanford. We met an elderly gentleman who was on his way into the church to pay his respects to an old school friend who had been killed in the Second World War – he said he doesn’t live in the village any more but makes this pilgrimage every year at this time. He was somewhat scathing in his assessment of St-John Stevas, who was an ardent Catholic, for replacing an old stained-glass window in the church with an etched-glass one commemorating himself. He (the elderly gentleman, not St-John Stevas) felt that as a Catholic St-John Stevas had no business commemorating himself in a Church of England church, nor should he have been allowed to remove a “beautiful” stained-glass window and replace it with a modern equivalent. Between you and me, St-John Stevas’ lifestyle may have contributed to the less than flattering appraisal.
Just a couple of extracts from the You Couldn’t Make It Up department. Baroness Dido Harding, head of the “world-beating” Test, Track and Trace system, was called before a Parliamentary committee investigating, again, its utter failure to test, track or trace. In the latest figures, the system failed to reach 124,000 “close contacts” of people with a positive Covid-19 test result in a single week. Scientists suggest that it needs to track 80% of close contacts within 24 hours to have any significant impact on the spread of the virus. At present it’s managing to reach about 30%.
Not content with thoroughly embarrassing herself when she was summoned before the committee just over a month ago, Harding doubled down on the absurd claim that no one could have predicted the increase in demand for Covid testing when students went back to school and universities.
“As schools came back we saw demand significantly outstrip [the] planned capacity delivery,” she said, adding a similar surge in demand was seen in Scotland. “None of us were able to predict that in advance,” she said.
Quite literally, everyone predicted precisely that! £12 billion of public money (so far) well spent. YCNMIU.
In a splendid touch of irony, Harding’s husband, the Tory MP John Penrose, was told he needed to self-isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app, not by the Track and Trace system which, presumably, will be contacting him with the same information in the next week or so.
And just to add the cherry on the top – the system suffered a “huge” IT glitch in October which meant that a significant number of people who had been in close contact with someone who tested positive, were not contacted and told to self-isolate at all. Perhaps they’ve reached the limit of their “new” Excel spreadsheet.
As the Covid second wave surges through the population, it’s good to know that the government is still treating migrants to this country as if they were the problem rather than a significant part of the solution. The NHS currently has something like 122,000 vacancies. 13.8% of all NHS staff are not British subjects and 5.5% are European nationals. However, staff are being forced to return to their country of origin when their work permits expire because the loony Brexiteers have forced through immigration restrictions designed to attract “only the best health professionals from around the world.” This means that tens of thousands of lower paid NHS staff – healthcare assistants, porters, cleaners, etc. – are being forced out of the country just at a time when they are needed more than ever before.
Honestly, you could not make this shit up!
Finally, we must congratulate whoever organised the rally outside the Four Seasons Total Landscaping outlet in the aftermath of Trump’s election defeat. Either it was sheer incompetence to announce the location of the rally at a landscaping outlet on the edge of town rather than the Four Seasons Hotel or it was an intentional act designed to troll the soon-to-be-former president. The irony of this location is marvellous – set between a crematorium (tens of thousands of Covid deaths) and a sex shop (the dozens of sexual assault claims against him). I love that the landscaping company has been able to monetise the event.
Finally, finally, we enjoyed a celebratory glass of champagne with our lovely neighbours Graham and Leslie when the result of the presidential election was announced. Since we’re in lockdown, we couldn’t physically get together. So, we resorted to what we did a couple of times during the first lockdown – shared a drink through the hedge!
And finally, finally, finally Happy Birthday to our lovely daughter-in-law Lucy for yesterday. Many, many happy returns.
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,