7 March 2021

After one (or two) very promising days last week with sunshine and relatively warm temperatures, this week it has been “back to normal.” It’s been cold, grey, damp and dismal! C’est la guerre.

We watched a cute film the other day – The Map of Tiny Perfect Things. It was recommended by my brother Steph and it was charming, light, fun, sweet (select any number of similar adjectives). It’s not going to win any Oscars, I don’t imagine, but it was divertingly entertaining. It’s about two teenagers who are trapped in the same day, borrowing from the plot of Groundhog Day. They have differing attitudes to being trapped and different incentives to either escape from the recurring day or stay in the present forever.

Like most everyone else, I guess, we’re in our own Groundhog Day, especially now that we no longer have the exciting twice weekly medication round to dispense. Our huge excitement this week was a trip to the local tip/recycling centre where we disposed of a car-full of stuff from our first attempt (this year) to clear out the garage. Several more trips will be required.

Penny at least has her twice weekly online bridge sessions so at least she has some variation to her week. Me? Every day is the same!

A former colleague and Facebook friend shared a photo of one of his ancestors which had been subjected to the “Deep Nostalgia” treatment currently being offered by My Heritage. So, I threw up a photo of one of my ancestors and can offer you the following:

Eleanor Joy Toll was my mother’s father’s mother – one of my great grandmothers – and she was quite a remarkable woman. She was a teacher and taught at Los Angeles High School before she was married. After her four sons were in school, she became involved in the Parent-Teacher Federation of Glendale, serving as president, vice-president, and educational chair. In 1916 she founded the Mutual Benefit Reading Circle, a weekly book group for mothers that soon grew too large to meet in her home, and had to relocate to the city library. In 1917, she was elected to the Glendale school board, and was president of the board for three years. In 1920, she was appointed a trustee of the California School for Girls in Ventura. She was the first woman appointed to the board of trustees at Scripps College; however, she died before she was able to serve.

As a clubwoman, she was a founding member of the Foothill Club, and president of the large and active Ebell Club of Los Angeles. She was also the founder and first president of the Glendale Symphony Orchestra Association.

Pretty spooky and perhaps even creepy but pretty amazing technology as well.

Speaking, as I was, of enduring the trials of Groundhog Day, the following video has been popping up a lot over recent days. One year ago last Wednesday we had this from our famously incompetent leader:

Since then more than 125,000 have died in the UK.

And, it just keeps getting worse and worse. A PR firm (which, surprise, surprise, has links with the Tory government) was awarded a contract to provide “reputation management” services to the beleaguered Test and Trace system. Once again, in these days of Tory corruption, without a competitive tender. In spite of having spent £22 billion on it, Test and Trace is still reckoned to be not fit for purpose. So, rather than spending money to fix the problems, the government has given a wodge of money to a PR firm to build some positive public perception.

Yep. We know we have appalling problems with the system and it is not fit for purpose. But, what the heck – let’s spend a bunch of money feeding people some nonsense in the hope that we can fool them into believing it’s actually providing value for money.

Given that just about everyone reckons the whole thing is a shambles, I’m not sure the PR firm will earn their fees.

And while we’re at it – Private Eye has a feature called Number Crunching where they compare two figures and invite you to guess which one of the two is the more absurd. In the most recent issue they had figures comparing the budget for the NASA Perseverance Rover with that of the UK’s “World Beating” Test and Trace system. I couldn’t, at first, believe the numbers were accurate so I checked and indeed they are. £2 billion is the amount NASA budgeted to send Perseverance Rover to Mars, landing it on the planet to collect samples and search for signs of alien life. £22 billion is the amount the UK government has budgeted (so far) to set up the ‘world-beating’ test and trace system for coronavirus, which still fails to trace about half of the contacts it is supposed to reach and which even Dido Harding, the wife of a Tory MP who was given the contract (without any competition) to run the system, admits “needs to improve.” So, the equivalent of eleven Perseverance Rover missions then.

**Stop Press**
The latest figures for the Test and Trace fiasco have escalated to £37 billion (so far) as revealed in this week’s budget. So, that’s about eighteen and a half Perseverance Rover missions.

And so to Brexit.

You really could not make it up. A government minister (these people are supposed to know what’s going on) wrote a letter to the EU complaining about the ban on the UK exporting live bivalve molluscs. In his letter on 8 February George Eustice (amusingly referred to by John Crace and, no doubt others, as George Useless) complained about being “surprised that the Commission has changed its position” on the question of importing live, bivalve molluscs for depuration from waters classified as ‘Class B’ into the EU.

Two days later the EU Commissioner, Stella Kyriakides, wrote back gently reminding the hapless Eustice that the EU position had not changed at all and that he himself had personally written and signed a letter to UK stakeholders on 10 December setting out the precise position, the one he was claiming to have been ‘surprised’ by, with crystal clarity.

Somehow, once again, a leading looney Brexiteer has criticised the EU for applying the same rules to the UK as they do to any other country outside the Union. Quelle surprise!

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,


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