Tuesday, 8th December, 2020

[Day 267]

Tuesday is always quite a busy day and today was no exception. As we walked down the hill towards the park, we called in at the house of one of our friends who had kindly supplied us with a wreath. I was hoping in the off chance that she might have had a spare to replace the one that finally mets its demise when it crashed (twice) to the floor, but alas it was not to be. Bromsgrove has an open street market on Tuesdays and Saturdays so I will try and get a replacement either later on today or, failing that, at the weekend. We collected our newspapers and enjoyed quite a pleasant day in the park. We suddenly realised that we were running a bit short of time so we had to put on a bit of a turn of speed to get home and get myself turned round ready for Pilates. My Pilates class had not met during the lockdown but our Pilates teacher had been keeping things going via her ‘Zoom’ classes. It was nice to be back in a class again (with a lot of jokes and banter) but we are restricted to four only – one in each corner of the room. As I was going through my Christmas card box, I discovered a card I must have bought some time ago. It showed two middle aged ladies observing a grossly overweight torso whilst one remarked to the other ‘It reminds you of our Pilates class on a Tuesday’ (Actually it doesn’t because we are all fairly slim and in good shape but the joke arises from the fact that it mentions Pilates on a Tuesday – so I was very pleased to hand it over to my Pilates teacher for her collection of other joke Pilates cards)

No sooner had I got in after my Pilates class had some lunch and got the washing up done when it was time to Skype one of my closest friends in Hampshire. This went ahead at 4.00pm and we chatted for well over an hour, mainly chatting about the things that had happened to us as academics. One way or another, the hour absolutely flew by and we will have a chat again in about a fortnight’s time.

The news agenda today is dominated by the first injections of the new vaccine at various hospitals throughout the country. As it happens the second person along in the queue happened to be a certain Mr. William Shakespeare from the county of Warwickshire. Whilst the press and the politicians have had a field day celebrating ‘the start of the fight back’ there have also been some words of warning as well. There are some legitimate fears that now the vaccine is here, the general population may relax their guard but there is still a long way to go. For a start, after the first dose of the vaccine a second dose has to be administered in about three weeks time and then full immunity occurs seven days after this – which means that full immunity only occurs some 28 days after the first dose of the vaccine. There are also encouraging reports about the success of the Oxford University/AstraZenica virus and, of course, this will be the really big one once it has been approved. This is because the government has ordered 100 million does of the vaccine and the cost for each dose it about the same as a cup of coffee.

The Brexit Dara is drawing to a conclusion. Boris Johnson is due to meet with Ms von der Leyen, president of the EU commission for some ‘very last minute’ attempts to reach a deal. There is some tittle tattle in today’s The Times that the French have suddenly become very hardline and have insisted that a tougher line has to be taken with the British. The UK has offered a small olive branch indicating that the clauses in the Internal Market bill that would break the Withdrawal Agreement (which has the force of international law) will be withdrawn if there is a trade agreement. But as the gap between the two sides is so wide and with only about one day left to negotiate, it looks extremely likely that we will slide out with a ‘no deal’ . The fact that the rest of the Johnson cabinet is prepared to countenance a ‘no deal’ irrespective of the consequences does not bode well and I fear that this is the fate due to befall the UK in the next day or so.