Thursday, 8th October, 2020

[Day 206]

I woke up rather early this morning – well, just after 4.00 am to be precise. I surmised that the Pence-Harris vice-presidential debate might be over by now and very often the media likes to announce a ‘winner’ But on this occasion, there seemed to be no such conclusion and when I listened to subsequent analysis, it seemed that a 0-0 draw was the best approximation. The most exciting point of the whole debate was a large black fly that seemed to embed itself in Mike Pence’s hair and could not extricate itself for the last 10 minutes of the encounter. Of course, Donald Trump tweeted that Kamala Harris had been a mass of evasions (but both candidates evaded some awkward questions). Tonight, as I blog, it looks as Donald Trump may be on the verge of pulling out of the next debate with Jo Biden. It appears that commission organising the debate in Miami on 15 October said it would have to take place remotely after Mr Trump tested positive for coronavirus and therefore it would have to be a virtual i.e. remote debate. Trump has refused this and is trying to renegotiate the timetable with Jo Biden refusing at this point. If Trump does pull out of the second televised head-to-head he will be shooting himself in the foot and handing the moral high ground (and the political ground) to Jo Biden who has just to keep on saying ‘no’ to any renegotiation of the timetable. Again, I have the feeling that this one might rumble on for several days.

On reading my emails this morning, I had a very pleasant surprise. One of my closest Winchester friends had read my blog in which I was reminiscing about the first house we bought on the edge of Platt Fields Park in Manchester. It transpired that his first teaching job In Fallowfield, Manchester at a college with a really innovative design which was known as ‘Domski’ and also the ‘toastrack’ This is because it did resemble a huge toastrack thrusting into the sky with a poached egg i.e. circular building at its base. It housed students studying domestic science and offered courses such as ‘Hotel and Catering Management’ I suspect that in organisational terms it straddled the divide between technical i.e. further education and higher education – it probably offered OND’s and HND’s and the latter would qualify it as higher education. My first teaching job was at Elizabeth Gaskell College of Education and that there was a course in Institutional Management in that college – in the eye of the public Domski and Elizabeth Gaskell College were often confused with each other, perhaps because most of the student body was female. As part of our ‘party scene’ in my first year at Manchester University, we certainly regarded the Domski students as ‘one of us’ as we did the students from the College of Commerce at All Saints and the Royal Northern College of Music which were later to become Manchester Metropolitan University. Whilst on a student theme, my heart is beginning to feel for those students, particularly at Manchester Met who have got themselves to university only to be faced with a bill for £9,000, only on-line tuition and an inability to go out, even to buy food on some occasions. A son of an acquaintance of mine had abandoned his course at Liverpool University where he could only see his tutorial group about once every three weeks and decided to save himself a packet of money (which he doesn’t have anyway) to live and study at home and then go off to Birmingham University to where he has transferred himself. Normally, one would say that the experience common in the UK to go away to university adds a degree of depth to student development but under these extreme circumstances, perhaps there is a logic to staying at home (and close to home comforts, not to mention food!) and then have the occasional face-to-face contact in one’s local university, only a bus ride away.

It does appear that tonight we can only be a few days from more stringent degrees of lockdown. The latest figures for positive testing is 17.540 with 2,000 recorded in the last week in Nottingham alone. The hospitals are filling up rapidly with COVID-18 cases and they are seeing hospital admissions jump by about a quarter in one day. However, there is still quite a lot of capacity in the hospitals at the moment and the death rate is not very high – the more ‘nightmare’ scenario is when the younger populations who have the virus inflict it upon he older populations who will soon fill up all of the hospital beds and then die in great numbers. We are, as the politicians keep saying every day, at a ‘critical juncture’.