Friday, 1st May, 2020

[Day 46]

Another showery day which made our daily journey rather a damp one. As the local bandstand was colonised by a family with young children, we decided to sit on a soggy park bench although we were fortunate in that we did not actively get rained upon. On our way home, we ran across a person who we know by sight as he visits his father on a Friday at just about the time. coincidentally, that we are walking home. We always ask after each other but stopped for a longer chat today. It turns out that he was a software engineer so we exchanged some details of programming languages with which we were familiar and had utilised in the past. The day turned out to one of those infuriating days when there are bouts of brilliant sunshine that lull you into a false sense of security punctuated by showers. As it was over a week since the lawns had had their cut, I took a chance on it and managed to get the communal areas and our lawns cut just before the heavens opened which would have given me a good drenching.

The 5.00 briefing from 10 Downing Street was dominated by the news that the government had well exceeded their target total of 100,000 tests to be conducted on one day – a target that they had set themselves before the end of the month (which was yesterday) and which few thought that they would actually meet. As it happened, and as you might suspect, there was a massive fiddle of the figures going on – the announced figure actually included test kits that had been despatched to peoples’ homes but not yet returned (a practice that Downing Street had earlier in the week said would not be included in the returns) It took Channel 4 News and a couple of the journalists to ask pointed questions but the rest of the ‘brat-pack’ were pretty tame. Channel 4 claimed that the true figure should be about 83,000 not 120,000+. It does appear that as the Health Secretary was desperate to meet his target, about a third of the total (39,000) related to kits mailed out but not, as hitherto, actually dispatched for analysis to the laboratory. The government scientific advisors did their usual trick of ‘throwing sand in the eyes of the enemy’ i.e. quoting a lot of other statistics which whilst not being untrue were not related to the pointed questions that were asked and which only served to confuse the issue ( I always thought that ‘throwing sand in the faces of the enemy’ was derived from gladiators in mortal combat who had been disarmed and resorted to the only thing they could possibly do whilst prostrate in the arena and that was to grasp a handful of sand and throw it in the face of their attackers) But I am wrong as the expression dates from the 17th century according to Google.

The other major story was the fact that the death rate for the COVID-19 virus had hit the poorer areas of the country twice as hard as the more affluent areas. The death-rate for the poorest areas was 55 per 100,000, twice the rate for the more affluent areas. Of course, there are a variety of explanations that all contribute to these figures such as the fact that the poorest individuals are in jobs where they are forced to go out to work and do not have the ability to work ‘from home’ And, of course, a decade of austerity means that housing and welfare payments have been slashed for the poorest communities before the COVID-19 virus compounded their difficulties. It is evident that a major task of reconstruction needs to take place but whether this will happen under a government of this complexion will have to wait to be seen.