Friday, 27th November, 2020

[Day 256]

Today turned out to be quite a fine and bright day, although it was pretty cold at the start. We are evidently in the midst of a high-pressure weather system at the moment and so enjoying the reasonable weather whilst we can. Today was the day when our domestic help arrives and we always have a good chat and a laugh about life’s vicissitudes before we start our morning walk. We met with two of our sets of friends today and enjoyed a chat on their drive – which actually passed quite a lot of the morning away. And so to home and to a risotto made according to my newly developed recipe (cauliflower rice, kipper fillets) which is turning out to be a Friday favourite. This afternoon, after lunch, I decided to have a second brisk walk into Bromsgrove on my own this time. I wanted to buy some cleaning materials and hardware type items that never quite make it onto our weekly Waitrose order – I am always amazed at the bits and bobs of things that you suddenly find you need (mainly cleaning materials) and I ended up buying and lugging home a large bag full of the kinds of things it is always incredibly frustrating to run out of. For example, I always like to have a supply of sponge cloths available to cope with a sudden spillage or other emergency and these start a progression down the cleaning order (ready used get relegated to car cleaning before their eventual demise) Several large parcels arrived including some shirts and other Amazon deliveries to keep us well supplied. I try to avoid Amazon when I can largely for ethical reasons and they are not always the cheapest – but they do tend to be the fastest and with ‘free’ delivery (via Amazon ‘Prime’)

The COVID-19 virus is causing myriad controversies. The Sage group are advising that the Christmas celebrations could cause the incidence of virus to increase ‘by a large amount’. Last night at the Prime Ministerial briefing, Chris Whitty the Government’s chief medical officer said ‘Don’t hug grandma if you want her to survive Christmas‘. So there seems to be an indication that if we do collectively relax our guard a little (for quite understandable reasons) there will quite a price to pay in the New Year. The difficulty is that this is just the period of time when hospitals naturally experience a lot of pressure with ‘normal’ respiratory conditions that require hospital treatment. So this does place most people with real Christmas dilemmas – do we engage in something that approximates to a ‘normal’ Christmas with relatives or do we attempt to soldier on for a few more weeks, knowing the end (via a vaccine) may be within our sight?

The Americans are facing quite an acute dilemma at the moment as they are trying to negotiate how to celebrate Thanskgiving (which is when many American families traditionally get together) with a pandemic that is still wreaking a terrible toll. The incidence rate is approaching 13.5 million and another 8 million have apparently had the virus and recovered. The death toll is 270,000 (more than a quarter of a million) and it could be that if the situation approximates to that of the UK, then this figure may almost double once we take into account the number of people who may have died prematurely because they could not be availed of suitable treatment when resources are diverted to cope with COVID-19 cases. I did read a terrible ‘Vox pop’ account about a week ago where some people who were dying of the virus had so swallowed the Donald Trump line about ‘false news’ that they refused to believe that they were actually dying of the virus – they thought they were dying of pneumonia. There is a conspiracy theory of which the majority of Americans have heard that powerful people actually planned the coronavirus – 5% of people think this is definitely true whilst another 20% believe it is probably true. If we were to stratify the responses by educational level, then approximately half of the American sample (educated only with a high school education i.e. without any form of higher education) believe that this conspiracy theory is definitely or probably true. Of course, this section of the population formed the bedrock of support for the Donald Trump vote so beliefs in the virus have helped to form a chasm in American society similar to that formed by Brexit in the UK.

Donald Trump has finally admitted that he will leave the White House if the Electoral College votes for Biden (which they will) But he explains that it is hard for him to concede because ‘we know that was massive fraud’ Of course, we do not know whether Trump is so deluded that he believes his own propaganda or whether it is all part of a massive game to keep his support base as high as possible.