Friday, 18th December, 2020

[Day 277]

When we set off for our walk today, the weather seemed somewhat blustery and with a little bit of rain threatening, but nothing we thought to trouble us unduly. So we picked up our newspapers and headed for the park and that is when the heavens opened.We decided that discretion was the better part of valour and thought we would head towards the bandstand. It was at this point, we discovered to our dismay that we had left our (exceedingly precious) little portable folding stool somewhere. When we got to the newsagents, fortunately a public-spirited gentleman had found our stool leaning against the window and had handed it to the shopkeeper who promptly returned it to us. The rain shower was really intensifying at this point so we trudged back to the park, drank our coffee and made our weary route home, squelching with every step. Needless to say, we had to rip off several layers of our clothing the minute we got inside the house to get ourselves dried out.

I have been feeling pretty tired this morning but with the remainder of the Christmas cards to be processed, when I woke up in the middle of the night I decided to attack the remaining pile.To cut a long story short, I stayed up for several hours to get the rest of the cards done (about 45 in total, leaving aside about a dozen for our immediate neighbours and friends which will get hand delivered) The bulk of the cards I took to the post office (now housed in W H Smiths!) to ensure they got posted – somehow I dod not trust the traditional red letter boxes which are often full to overflowing at this time of the year. So having got home and dried out, I set about preparing the risotto which I typically cook on a Friday. This was absolutely thrown together in a hurry but was still enjoyed by Meg and myself (as well as our domestic help who is quite partial to a bit of my risotto and has even copied the recipe herself).

The COVID news tonight does not bring any good news – quite the reverse. The ‘R’ rate now stands at about 1.1-1.2 and the rate seems to be on the increase in the South of England. About two-thirds of the population are now living under Tier 3 conditions and there is quite a lot of concern about what may happen over the festive period. Whilst some parts of the population will evidently try and maintain the spirit of the existing semi-lockdown conditions, others will no doubt go a bit wild after months of restrictions. The Americans found that they had quite a spike after their Thanksgiving celebrations and some medical scientists fear that after the festivities, we will see a similar spike in just about a month’s time, coinciding with the period when the winter pressures on the NHS are at their worst. Some hospitals are already near to their capacity already and we have to remind ourselves that we are ‘only’ in mid-December and not mid-January or February.

We have one week left before the Christmas festivities start in earnest. We are going to have a family ‘Christmas meal’ next Monday, no doubt being a little socially distanced from each other. Some of the official advice seems to indicate that one should make every effort to allow any potential virus to disperse e.g. by having good ventilation and all of the doors and windows open. How far we go down this road remains to be seen -for example if two people not in the same ‘bubble’ are travelling in a car then the passenger should be on the opposite side of the car to the driver on the back seat with the windows open.

I sort of look forward to Christmas but only in the sense that once one gets past December 21st, then the shortest day has passed and we can expect it to be getting lighter by about 1 minute or so a day. Christmas occasionally has some good films on offer – for example last night we saw Hardy’s ‘Far from the Madding Crowd‘ which Meg studied for ‘A’-level. It was a version we had seen before but well worth watching again with superb cinematography. Meg and I look forward to an opera being broadcast but there is generally only about one in the whole of the Christmas period and sometimes not even that. On the other hand, Radio 4 often broadcasts some excellent archive material which is well worth a listen.V/p>