Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

[Day 226]

Today turned out to be one of the most interesting of days. As we walked down into town this morning, we were called in to one of our oldest (church) friends who live down the hill and, as they espied us walking down, invited us in for a coffee and biscuits. They are such good company that we were delighted to accept the invitation. We engaged in what the Irish term ‘craic’ and I give the Wikipedia definition here: 'Craic (/kræk/ KRAK) or crack is a term for news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation, particularly prominent in Ireland.'' This is very interesting, not least seeing what I suppose is the original Gaelic term – otherwise if you were say ‘we enjoyed engaging in crack with our friends’ this is liable to a massive mis-interpretation. Anyway, we discussed our tentative plans to see each other over the Christmas period – and I had fun putting a bit of flesh on the ‘bare bones’ story (in last night’s blog ) with the Professor of Surgery at Manchester University whilst I was a student there in the mid 1960’s. After a very enjoyable get-together, we carried on into the town, picked up our newspapers, sojourned for a little in the park and made our way home in term for a somewhat delayed lunch.

This afternoon was, to be fair, a little on the lazy side but I do enjoy a good read of ‘The Times‘ before we made a Skype call to one of our ex-Winchester friends. This, too, turned out to be an incredibly enjoyable three-quarters of an hour with stories, jokes, reminiscences and so on. We are both looking forward with a kind of fascinated horror to the US election next Tuesday/Wednesday and will no doubt text/email each other constantly as the story unfolds. In the meanwhile, I have been busy ordering more supplies of my favourite tipple of Newcastle Brown (ale) which I intend to work my through, either by way of celebration or to drown my sorrows, whatever the case might be. (I hasten to point out, though, that if the result is delayed by several days which could well be the case, I do NOT intend to be in a state of permanent inebriation as normal life has to go on!)

As I blog this evening, it looks as though both France and Germany are heading quickly towards full-scale lockdowns similar to the spring (with the possible exception of keeping children still within the schools). If this is indeed the case, then can the UK be far behind? The difficulty is that we do not seem to learn the lessons of history and do ‘too little, too late’ so it could be that delaying the almost inevitable full UK-wide lockdown by a week doubles the number of deaths, infections, hospital admissions and so on. Of course there is a division of opinion between the libertarians who would wish for no lockdowns at all once the extremely vulnerable are protected and the majority of scientific opinion that seems to indicate that a full lockdown is better done sooner rather than later.

Every so often, you get a news story that leaps out at you and this is a story from Wisconsin, USA. There is an incredibly well informed website called ‘‘ and what they have to say is so extraordinary that I quote their headline in full (it was also reported on Channel 4 news in the UK):

Once in a blue moon, you see a poll that makes you blink twice to make sure you’re not seeing things. This morning’s ABC News/The Washington Post survey of Wisconsin was just such a poll. It showed Joe Biden 17 points (not a typo) ahead of President Trump, 57 percent to 40 percent, among likely voters. To put it mildly, this is a stunning margin in what is supposed to be one of the most competitive swing states in the country — a place that Trump carried by less than 1 percentage point in 2016.

Of course, this might be a completely rogue poll – as there are so many polls conducted in the USA, across all of the states as well as nationally, then statistically one would expect the occasional ‘outlier’ or statistical aberration. But what is so extraordinary about this poll is that it is conducted by ABC News/Washington Post which is regarded as one of the ‘gold star’ polls in terms of the methodology deployed. As I have now learnt, there are three ‘rust-belt’ states across the north of the USA in which many of the traditional industries have declined – these are Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. If Biden were to win these three northern states than together with other states that are pretty secure Biden should have enough votes in the Electoral College to gain the magic 270 votes needed (even if, subsequently, he fails to win Florida in the ‘Sunshine Belt’)