Sunday, 1st November, 2020

[Day 230]

Today is evidently the 1st of the month but I resisted the temptation to utter my normal aphorism. As we woke up a little late, I went down in the car to pick up our normal supply of Sunday newspapers and just managed to get back in time to watch the Andrew Marr show from the start. Keir Starmer (Leader of the Labour Party) was interviewed and seemed to me to be very impressive in that he gave full support to the government lockdown but reminded the government that he had been calling for this lockdown together with the consensus of scientific opinion some two weeks earlier. He made the very interesting point that if the lockdown had been called a couple of weeks ago, then it could have coincided with the school’s half term which, combined with two weekends and one or two in-service training days, then you could have had the best part of two weeks with the children not in school. I must admit I had not fully appreciated that government scientists regard the level of infection amongst the older secondary school children as comparable with the wider population, but of course most of the school children will be asymptomatic. Nor had I realised that the SAGE committee had advised university students to be taught on-line and not to return to their colleges which, when the story of the pandemic comes to be told, will rank as another great mistake by the present government in not keeping the university students in their home communities.

We had an interesting chat with one of our oldest friends on the way down the hill and we exchanged news and views about the latest lockdown. To interpret at least one of the rules is going to be difficult. You are allowed to meet one person from outside your household bubble but in the case of our conversation this morning, would this have been legal? Meg and I were speaking to one person which is within the rules but out friend was speaking to two of us which is now forbidden by the rules. Given that a person on their own often meets a couple outside, then who is allowed to have a meeting and a chat with whom? This morning was a much pleasant day after the rain of yesterday for Meg and I to have a sojourn in the park where we were met by our Italian friend who was out for a stroll in the pale sunshine. We walked back to her house together, exchange COVID lockdown observations and speculated that for people like ourselves (enjoying the open air, meeting with acquaintances and friends) the new lockdown would not prove to be especially arduous but for some others who are housebound, then they must be regarding the next four weeks or so with a degree of trepidation. Finally, on nearing our own house we encountered some more near neighbours who we happen to know have both a dog and a cat who happily co-exist with each other, so we exchanged observations about how we were going to cope with the weeks ahead.

Being Sunday, we were happy to spend a lot of the rest of the day absorbing the contents of the Sunday newspapers. I was extremely impressed by a graphic design which I saw on the inside pages detailing how either Trump or Biden can chart their progress to wards the magic 270 votes in the Electoral College. The graphic showed for each candidate a line indicating the seats that they ought to have ‘in the bag’ i.e. a state which alway votes one way, plus a further component which ‘leans’ towards one candidate. In Biden’s case, the certain plus the probable would give him 233 votes – so he needs another 37 to get him over the finishing line. You then consult the graphic for the number of votes available in each of the swing states to work out what was needed. For example, if Biden were to gain Florida which declares early and would give him 29 votes than he would only need one more state to get him over the line. On the same logic, were he to carry the three northern ‘rust-belt’ states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, then he could afford to ‘lose’ Florida to Trump. So as you can see, this is going to be enormously useful to me in the wee small hours of Wednesday morning when I am following the progress of the elections. If Biden gains Florida early, I can go straight to bed – otherwise, it might be a nail-biting finish which extends or days (particularly Pennsylvania, for reasons best known too itself, is only going to start the counts of the postal votes the following day!) Of course, the more the postal vote, the longer the count might be – but it could also be that a very large vote hands victory to Biden sooner rather than later. We have just over two days left now to find out how this all works out!