Sunday, 24th May, 2020

[Day 69]

I once asked one of my Spanish students what was the worst time he had ever spent in England and he replied ‘4 pm on a Sunday afternoon!‘ I suspect that is because when he was studying at the Complutense University in Madrid, many of the students used to go to a really atmospheric bar in central Madrid where they could drink coffee and meet up with friends – and hence the contrast with England. Today we watched the Andrew Marr show and noticed how adeptly Grant Shaps managed to evade or wriggle out of tighter corners than Houdini. For example, when confronted with the statement from the Durham police about the contact with Dominic Cummings’ father, we were offered the following (i) ‘You haven’t gone on to give the whole quote and particularly the portion that follows‘ (tending to imply that this would somehow negate the damning quote that had just been read out to him) And how about this for circumlocution ‘The police did not speak to Mr. Cummings père but he spoke with them‘. This was a downright falsification anyway but it only serves to potentially confuse the listener.

Just after we first moved into this house, nearly thirteen years ago, I planted some golden privet hedging (Ligustrum ovalifolium ‘Aureum’) to shield the BioDisc(= mini sewage treatment plant) we have outside the house. At the time, I got 30 plants in the boot of my car. Now it has grown to the extent that it is at least 1.5 metres tall and equally as wide and so, consequently, it was in need of pruning twice a year. My daughter in law had invested in battery-operated hedge clippers but even standing on some home=made platforms it was still too wide to get a completely even cut. Nonetheless, the job was done and cutting is the easy part – the more tedious part being clearing up all of the clippings into plastic sacks (two huge ones) Anyway, we managed to get the contents of these plus a sackful of cardboard shreddings into our compost bin (the right combination of both ‘green’ and ‘brown’ i.e. nitrogen/carbon as the aficionados of this blog will recognise) and all I need know is copious quantities of home-made compost accelerant (aka human urine) to let the microbes get to work. The people next door are having a party (I counted some 8-9 adults+children besporting themselves around a recently constructed garden bar – I am reliably informed these are increasingly popular but I had no idea they existed, until very recently…) I think it is several conjoined families so that is all right then – the distinction between a household’ and a ‘family’ is rather a subtle one anyway!

It is quite possible that this forthcoming week is ‘the calm before the storm’. Our daughter-in-law will be returning to school a week on Monday (June 1st) and it remains an interesting question of how many children actually turn up. But it is quite possible that she will be exposed to many more children than hitherto and, of course, there are several adults running a school as well as the teachers and parents who will be both leaving and collecting children from school – whether they will properly police themselves to be at 2-metre intervals is an interesting question (I suspect not) We feel that we might have to take extra precautions in our household cleaning and domestic routines from June 1st as there may be a very small, but nonetheless increased risk that the Coronavirus may still pose a potent threat.

Politically, it looks as though the Daily Mail is turning against Dominic Cummings. The Daily Mail always thought of itself (particularly under the editorship of Paul Dacre) as having its finger on the pulse of Middle England and if they pursue an anti-Cummings agenda for any period of time, then the future does not look bright for the most senior adviser to the Prime Minister.