Wednesday, 15th July, 2020

[Day 121]

This was another dismal day- and just when we thought the weather was going to get a bit better as well. Meg and I endured a slight drizzle as we sat in the park drinking our coffee but the drizzle was not sufficiently serious to strike for home. We got into a conversation with an ex-teacher and her husband whose labrador-like dog was on its first trip out after a serious leg operation. I mused that when we had watched TV programmes featuring surgery on animals, then when the (typically) dogs had recovered from the amputation of a leg and the anaesthetic and were reunited with their owners they incredibly quickly adapted to their new status and were not thinking to themselves ‘I am a disabled dog’ Instead, they just got on with it and adapted to their new circumstances. I wondered if there were any lessons from this we could learn – but of course, we have a much longer memory span than dogs (I suppose).

Having allowed myself to read a feature in The Times on face masks, a particular firm was mentioned which sold high-quality cotton or cotton/silk face masks. To cut a long story short, I decided to buy two good quality face masks for Meg and myself that were both washable, comfortable and also had the facility to incorporate a filter. Although I have a good supply of temporary face-masks, I thought I would reserve these for the occasions when I shoot into my local newspaper shop, gather up the newspapers, hand over the tokens and get back outside again – a process I can generally achieve in about 30 seconds. Of course, it will be compulsory to wear a mask in about 9 days time in any case. But now we have settled down into our new regime of ordering online from Waitrose but the higher quality masks will be reserved for those occasions when we may be having extended conversations with people or else are having a longer shopping experience than 30 seconds. We are now well into the system of having about two or three orders at weekly intervals stretching out into the distance (to secure one’s slot) but we have also to remember that about the day before the order is delivered, it needs to be amended with what one actually needs for the week ahead (rather than having filled up the shopping trolley from an ex-order some weeks back).

There were then three outdoor tasks I had set myself. The first of these was to follow the advice that I had read on the web and ensure that whatever mulch one puts around a newly planted tree, the recommendation is not to form a ‘volcano’ (which I had) but to spread the mulch around over a radius of about two metres because this would be more beneficial to the roots in the long run, particularly by ensuring they were not starved of oxygen. The next task was to pull some sticks of rhubarb which was very easy (and our plant is doing reasonably well this year and not tunning to seed which it often does) The third task was to ‘take out the dustbins’ which entails dragging the relevant bins along our access rods to a point at which they can be more easily accessed by the refuse collection vehicles (one of the downsides of living on a private road is that the local authority has a policy that local householders have to be responsible to dragging their own bins to an access point) Needless to say, each of my outdoor activities was closely monitored and supervised by Miggles, the cat who has adopted us.

There have been two really interesting political developments this evening. The first of these is that the Boris Johnson nominee to head the influential House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee has been rejected. Johnson has nominated Chris Grayling to the committee expecting he could be elected Chairman, However, not for nothing is Grayling known to fellow MP's as 'failing Grayling' that they rejected him and elected another Conservative, Julian Lewis in his stead (who had nominated himself and got the agreement of the Opposition MP's to back him) Grayling's record of incompetence is legendary and I quote from The Guardian to be published tomorrow:'He presided over the collapse of Northern and Thameslink rail services and the granting of a no-deal Brexit ferry contract to a company with no ships. As justice secretary, he part-privatised the probation service and banned prisoners from receiving books from relatives, a measure that was overturned in the courts.'  (The privatised probation service was such a disaster that even a Tory government had to bring it back into public ownership as the firm contracted it to run made such an abysmal mess of it) Downing Street has reacted by withdrawing the Conservative whip from Julian Lewis i.e. throwing him out of the party. The second development is that the important report which indicates that the Government should take immediate steps to make sure that we do not have 120,000 deaths in the second wave of the Coronavirus had not even been read by Boris Johnson - he revealed in Prime Minister's Questions only that he was 'aware' of it. One can not really believe this level of incompetence in a Prime Minister - but the electorate voted for him and gave him an 80 seat majority!