18 April 2021

It’s been mainly cold bordering on Arctic-like for much of the week although when the sun does break through the clouds the warmth it imparts could persuade you that spring cannot be far away. Even so, we’ve had snow flurries this week on a couple of occasions for goodness’ sake and a neighbour shared the following photograph of a frozen stack of water on Brook Street in the village.

Correction: I had a nice text from Adam the other day taking me to task for mis-representing the effectiveness of the lateral flow Covid tests which are being rolled out for anyone and everyone. I had said that nearly half of those testing negative likely had Covid which is an exaggeration. He carefully and calmly explained to me that the more accurate summary would be that of those who have Covid, as many as 50% will receive a negative test result. The annoying thing is that he had explained precisely the same to me the day before I wrote it but by that time I couldn’t remember what he had said!

As it happens, it may be even worse than that. On Thursday, less than a week after the massive expansion of lateral flow testing was announced, senior government officials have raised “urgent” concerns about the scheme, estimating that as few as 2% to 10% of positive results may be accurate in places with low Covid rates, such as London. Heck, the government has messed just about everything else up so why change the habits of a lifetime? Never mind the billions handed to their chums to develop such “not fit for purpose” facilities.

Having said the weather has been largely Arctic-like this week, Tuesday was a glorious day and I took advantage of the sunshine to enjoy an excellent bike ride. The weather was still decidedly “fresh” but it was gloriously sunny and clear with virtually no breeze to impede one’s progress.

As I was riding in the marvellous sunshine (even though the “irreversible” unlockdown is proceeding apace and folks can go out to shops, hairdressers, meet up with friends out of doors and even visit a pub or restaurant for out of doors refreshment) there was very little traffic – I guess everyone is flocking to the towns rather than meandering along the quiet country lanes. I was thinking that this might be one of the best bike rides ever surpassed only, I suppose, by those in early lockdown last year when the weather had the distinct advantage of being considerably warmer. Also, by some of the rides we enjoyed in France all those years ago, I suppose.

This is mainly for Jessie as the shape of Tuesday’s bike ride seems to resemble a winged Pegasus!

Don’t be overly alarmed by the top speed of 482 miles per hour. I suspect that’s not quite accurate, especially as it seems to have been recorded on one of the steepest uphill sections!

Also on Tuesday I reached another “milestone” in my virtual quest to ride the Pacific Coast – I passed the 1000 mile mark at a no-doubt charming location about ten miles south of Westport, CA and just a gentle four miles north of Ft Bragg.

The nearby Pelican House looks a nice enough place to celebrate the achievement.

Some excitement – we had the results of this year’s village Spring Garden competition this week. Penny and I both submitted photos but our garden simply wasn’t up to scratch this year. Grandchildren of Garden Club members were also allowed to enter and Annabelle sent in a few. She won the Junior section and was also proclaimed overall winner!

Congratulations!

If you’ve not been living under a rock for the past week you will know that Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, died and, not surprisingly, the whole of the news agenda for the past week has been dominated by tributes. The BBC pulled all its programmes on both main channels last Friday to broadcast their tributes. Astonishingly, people complained!

The BBC’s wall-to-wall coverage of Prince Philip’s death was the most complained-about moment in British television history, as viewers expressed their annoyance that shows such as EastEnders and MasterChef were replaced with royal tributes! Poor old BBC – damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

The David Cameron lobbying scandal continues to amuse and disgust in just about equal measure. Not only is it unseemly for a former Prime Minister to be seen lobbying his former colleagues and mates in government, the investigation has already revealed that there were civil servants who were hired by Greenshill at the same time as they were employed in government. I think that’s a pretty textbook definition of a conflict of interest.

Cameron never had much of a reputation and his legacy is defined by the stupidity of granting the Brexit referendum.

“. . . but Cameron has done a pretty good job of trashing his own reputation so far. The grubby spectacle of a former prime minister repeatedly texting and phoning serving ministers on behalf of a firm of financiers will be hard to live down. Cameron’s own admission that he should have used “the most formal of channels” failed to grasp that an ex-PM really shouldn’t be lobbying anyone in government for profit.

Paul Waugh, Huffington Post

Quite. An ex-PM really shouldn’t be lobbying anyone in government for profit. Especially disgraceful when one learns that Cameron stood to gain around £60 million if Greenshill could have been saved.

I cannot remember whether I saw this before I saw the Doonesbury cartoon below or vice versa – I suspect the former.

I’ve added our own coward, liar, promise-breaker and owner of no one good quality to the original which just featured the former president. You have to hand it to this Shakespeare chap – what a marvellously appropriate quote. I love the “hourly promise-breaker” and “the owner of no one good quality.” Sums them both up so well.

And this was Sunday’s Doonesbury cartoon.

Yesterday would have been my folks’ 73rd wedding anniversary. So, many happy returns of the day!

I ran across the following Far Side cartoon at some point this week and it reminded me of my mother and her “obsession” with a clean and tidy forest.

Back in the day when we visited our family retreat on Lake George when our children were young, my mother would invent “work details” largely, I suspect, to keep idle hands busy and the devil and mischief at bay. Her favourite assignment was to give the youngsters the task of “twigging.” This involved traversing the various trails though the forest and removing all fallen twigs and other forest detritus from the paths, thus keeping the forest neat & tidy. Generally, the youngsters had to “twig” for an hour or so in the morning before they were allowed to indulge in the more enjoyable aspects of the Lake George property. As the grandchildren grew into teenagers my mother eventually concluded that her attempts to keep the devil at bay were probably not working – there were too many youngsters having too much fun. At later reunions at the Lake we had to put up with messy and untidy trails!

And finally, this.

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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