Tuesday, 25th August, 2020

[Day 162]

Today was an incredibly blustery day with the storm ‘Francis’ blowing away all day long. Meg and I needed to make a trip out on the road so we decided to miss out on our normal walk and call in at the park on the way back from our trip to the dry-cleaners. As we were in the car, we parked in a section of the car park away from our normal route and located ourselves on a bench next to the pond itself, replete with ducks. This proved not to be a good idea. The park benches had little advisory signs on them explaining that it was NOT a good idea to feed bread to the ducks and suggesting some good alternatives. Nonetheless, just a few yards away from us were several mothers with their children busy feeding bread to the ducks – I suppose people have done it for generations and an advisory note on a park bench is not going to stop them now. But at least we were not rained upon despite the winds being incredibly blustery. As we are going away tomorrow we knew that today was going to be our packing up day and that took a goodly part of the afternoon, even though we are only going for three nights. Of course, we do not quite know what to expect when we get to the hotel although I suspect that the Holiday Inns have got a very well worked out set of protocols in these COVID-19 days, not to mention the restaurant into which we are booked for a meal just after our arrival. The great thing about packing when you are going for a stay in an English location and in your own car is that you don’t have to think about jamming things into a suitcase but can take several dedicated packages along. So far, I have one carrier bag devoted to cleaning products, another to ‘useful things’ such as kitchen roll, spare toilet roll, waste bin liner bags and the like, whilst a third bag will be devoted to teamaking things and some necessities/luxuries such as biscuits!

We think that a change of policy is now rapidly underway as regards the use of face masks in schools. Although the situation is developing rapidly, it now looks as I write that the use of face coverings will be mandatory in all areas (such as Greater Manchester) subject to the COVID-19 restrictions but that headteachers in secondary schools will be given discretion as to whether pupils might wear face coverings for example in communal areas (which is the policy in Scotland) It does appear that whatever sensible policy the Scots adopt, we in the UK do it eventually but two weeks later!


here is a sign of a culture war boiling up over whether the traditional ‘Rule Britannia – Britannia rules the waves/Britons never, never shall be slaves‘ is still appropriate as a rousing point of English nationalism at the ‘Last Night of the Proms‘ The argument from the Conservative right is that these patriotic songs are an intrinsic part of British culture and should certainly not be jettisoned. I must confess that I used to quite enjoy watching ‘The Last Night of the Proms‘ but have felt increasingly uneasy about it, especially since the success of the Brexit campaign. What with the ‘Black Lives Matter‘ campaign and the toppling of the Colston (prominent slave-owner) statue in Bristol, perhaps the culture is at a turning point and the time has now come to quietly abandon such cultural artefacts, stirring though they may be. If you read the words of ‘Rule Britannia’ then the 17th/18th century sentiments seem completely inappropriate to modern-day British society. After all, we put an end to witch-ducking, bear-baiting, sending children up chimneys and at the time no doubt these were said to represent ‘traditional British values’. One way out for the BBC is to let the tunes be played but without the words being provided or sung (but would an audience behave itself, one wonders?) As an afterthought, perhaps in the light of the Brexit (non) negotiations, we should all be singing that ‘Britain waives the rules‘ rather than the other way around!