Wednesday, 25th November, 2020

[Day 254]

Today looked as though it was going to turn out to be a miserable day but we were a bit delayed in our walk down into town. I was awaiting a telephone call from my local GP surgery to discuss the results of some blood tests – what should have taken place at 9.30 eventually took place at 10.40 after some prompting. So this delayed me somewhat and then I had to update my Waitrose order which I always do the day before the order is due to be delivered. We are now onto a regime where if I can time the advance order correctly, I can get a delivery slot between 8.00am-9.00am two weeks later which is our ideal. I do have to remember to get the order in at just the right time but that is how people who use the system regularly have learnt how to use the online system effectively. So by the time we started to walk down to the park, the weather had cleared somewhat and it turned out to be quite a nice day.In the park, we met with our old and dear Italian friend who often seems to ‘take a turn’ in the park these days and had one of those interesting conversations that range over life, birth and death. As we walked home together, we helped to cement the relationships between two of our sets of friends and for whom we are the common factor – as it happened, they had some acquaintances in common. I think I have pointed out months ago a theoretical notion that one of our tutors at university (Professor Ronald Frankenberg) had espoused that one index of community is the density and interconnectedness of the social network – hardly a completely revolutionary notion in itself but one that is capable of a degree of mathematical measurement. The telecommunication and railway engineers are well aware of this aspect of networks – which can be made more robust if you can route a telephone call (or a train) though a verity of routeways to get from ‘A’ to ‘B’ if one of the legs of the network happens to get taken down. This incidentally, was also publicised in a book I read about the haphazard nature of the way in which the railway system as developed in the UK – if the Nazi invasion of Britain had ever taken place, then it would have been quite difficult to disable the railway network because those ‘in the know’ could always route a train through ‘Little Puddleton-on-the Marsh’ (a factitious nameplace) in the event of a link broken somewhere on the system.

This afternoon, after our traditional curry lunch for a Wednesday, Meg and I got to work with a variety of domestic tasks. Meg was mending one of her kilts (well worth the investment in time and effort given what useful garments they turn out to be the autumn and winter) whilst I ordered a supply of new clothes (mainly shirts) over the internet as we have not bought any new clothes since the start of the lockdown some eight months ago.

The political news today has been dominated by the spending review (a sort of mini-budget) given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The official figures have revealed that the depth of the recession facing the UK. The Office for Budget Responsibility expects GDP to decline by 11.3% this year, the biggest drop in annual output since the Great Frost of 1709, Europe’s coldest winter in 500 years that caused widespread death and destruction to agriculture. Added to this, and now public acknowledged in some forecasts, is that the results Brexit, dire in themselves, may be added to the effects of the pandemic and a ‘normal’ ‘flu epidemic to produce a crisis of almost epic proportions in which social order my well break down. In The Guardian today, there is a photograph of a huge queue of lorries, five miles in length, on the M20 motorway in Kent – all a result of the delays occasioned by the French trying out some new software that may well be needed whether or not there is a Brexit deal. The government last month apparently gave a warning that could be queues of some 7,000 vehicles on the main motorway routes to the Eurotunnel and Dover ferries before you reach for your calculators – if each lorry is twice the length of a car and they are separated by one one yard, then 7,000 lorries would occupy some 28 miles of road. (These incidentally, are the government’s own assessments of the ‘reasonable worst-case scenario’) This might impel negotiators of the UK side to seek some kind of deal as Brexit on top of all of other worries would only be throwing petrol onto an already blazing bonfire. And finally, today is the day when Diego Maradonna (one of the greatest footballers of all time) drew his last breath – at the age of 60.