Friday, 10th July, 2020

[Day 116]

Well, today promised to be and actually turned out to be. a much more pleasant day than yesterday. This was just as well because we had an arrangement to meet some of our long-standing Waitrose friends in the park. We did have the excuse of a birthday to celebrate as well and we had made some plans accordingly. I had been busy renovating (if that is the right word) a special birthday gift which was unusual in the extreme – it was a lucky horseshoe (a real one, that is) that I had bought as a job lot through eBay in a rusty condition and I had then renovated it (the process involves soaking in white vinegar to lessen/remove the rust, following by brushing with a wire brush, a scrub with brillo pads and a final ‘seasoning’ with WD40 and some silver polish). As it happens, I did exactly the same for our Oxfordshire friends and when I wrapped the present up, I include the story, taken from the web, of why horseshoes are considered to be lucky. Of course, they have to be fixed the right way up so that your good luck does not fall out of them – I am amazed how many people actually know this (because I didn’t until a week ago) In the park, we had some delicious birthday cake. Then as a birthday treat, I read out the Gerard Hoffnung classic recording of a supposed bricklayer explaining to his employers how, owing to series of accidents involving bricks and a barrel, he wanted to report sick for work. For those who have never heard it, here is the URL of a soundtrack of Hoffnung’s speech to the Oxford Union (in the 1950s?). It is incredibly funny if you have never heard it before: Hoffnung

This afternoon, it was evidently time to get grass mowing done as after our recent rains the grass seems to have shot up and badly needed a cut – it looks so much better now. As soon as this was done and I had my customary cup of tea, I received a call from my near neighbour who needed some assistance to get her hose pipe properly connected so she could utilise it in the garden. I managed to get connected OK at one end but we may need to acquire an extra piece of hose and connect the two halves together before we can use it fully in the garden.

We received tonight a long and detailed email from our closest friends in Northern Spain indicating to us why they thought it was not a good idea for us to visit as we had planned to in late September. This has given us pause for thought and Meg and I are having to reconsider what our holiday plans might have to be. In the short term, we know that we need to make some tentative plans to see Mike’s relatives in Yorkshire and Meg’s relatives in North Wales but after that, the future is a lot less certain. Certainly, the idea of transiting through an airport does not appeal so we may have to think of the days out we can have and the social contacts which we can sustain whilst the pandemic unlock down is occurring. It is quite difficult to think of what a sensible course of action might be that does not expose one and one family and friends to any unnecessary degree of risk.

There is talk tonight that Boris Johnson wants to reform the NHS again! Whilst the last reorganisation was judged to be a bit of a mess (to put it mildly) one shudders to think what happens if politicians do not want to keep the NHS at arm’s length but want to get involved in decisions that border on the clinical – for example, massive political pressure to cut down waiting lists may mean that the more easily seen and treatable are dealt with first (the ‘low-hanging fruit’) and more difficult cases receive less priority. Again, we shall have to wait and see what transpires but the omens are not good.