Monday, 1st June, 2020

[Day 77]

We made a fairly early start to the day this morning because our decorator had come to undertake the external painting of the house – we like to have it done every 5-6 years. Naturally, we had to have a walk around to ascertain that access for ladders was maintained in all of the relevant places and, of course, we have to ensure that relevant supplies of tea and/or coffee are made available from the word go. Well, the day has arrived on what might be billed as the start of the unlock-down and one wonders what social changes might be evident. On the ground, there was not much apparent here in Bromsgrove although the TV channels report that the Birmingham IKEA has experienced a huge queue as the lockdown appears to be easing. It is reported that some people starting queuing at 5.45 in time for the store opening at 10.00. I must admit, I didn’t think that IKEA was judged to be an essential store like a supermarket or a pharmacy but apparently the government has ‘tweaked’ the definition of essential retail shops so that furniture and hardware shops are now to be allowed to open. I had thought that shops could only open in a fortnight’s time of June 15th but apparently, hardware and homeware stores are now regarded as essential – subject, of course, to rigid social distancing rules. Actually, today for the first time in about 11 weeks, Meg and I decided to buy our newspapers directly instead of relying upon our son and/or daughter-in-law to do it for us. As it turned out, the process was ridiculously easy as we choose a little newspaper shop in a not particularly busy street in the town. Having ascertained there was no one else in the store it took all of half a minute to enter, choose the newspapers, hand over my vouchers and then leave. This will be our routine form now on – although I had taken the precaution of having a face mask and disposable gloves with me, this no longer proved to be necessary. The park was delightful today, as it was certainly not too busy and there was a slight breeze to make the day feel really pleasant. On the way home, one of our ‘friends-who-garden’ had consulted their RHS book to ascertain what plant (portion of a plant) some other friends had donated to us. It turns out that it is ‘Lychnis coronaria Abrosanguinea Gp‘ which a quick Google search reveals has the popular name of a rose campion and our little plant is now flowering beautifully.

This afternoon turned out to be a pretty hot afternoon and the early morning breeze had abated, I had started what I call ‘routine’ edging/gully clearing from the edge of our communal grassed area and managed to get about two-thirds done of what I had hoped. These days, I find that having low expectations of what you set yourself to do is the way to happiness – otherwise, you are only dissatisfied with what have you have got done rather than satisfied with what you have achieved. I particularly wanted to get my tasks finished by 5.00 pm so that I could watch the Downing Street briefing but why I bother, I really do not know as it only sends my blood pressure sky high. Today, the Health Secretary was asked the perfectly reasonable question of ‘how much use has been made of the Coronavirus test-and-trace’ regime since its inception. Every kind of evasion was being deployed although Hancock claimed that the system was ‘up and running’ and was ‘successful’. However, there are several reports from the front line that many of the 25,000 testers recruited to do the job (all employed by private-sector agencies’) were sitting around all day twiddling their thumbs and perhaps only 25% of the 8,000 or so new cases each day are getting caught up in the system. When pressed for some statistics, the Health Secretary eventually admitted that the figures would be ‘forthcoming’ in a few days’ time – the truth probably being that the whole thing has been botched from beginning to end with ill-trained contact tracers manning call centres, a promised app that has not seen the light of day and the experienced local authority workers who do have experience of dealing with communicable diseases sidelined. You couldn’t really make it up!