Thursday, 14th January, 2021

[Day 304]

Thursdays are our normal delivery dates for our Waitrose order and so this normally delays us a little. However, today we got things put away in plenty of time and started our walk in weather conditions that although a little cold and dull were not particularly unpleasant. This was not to last, though, and the journey home was somewhat unpleasant with a fine but sharp drizzle or it could have been the start of a freezing fog. The park was quite underpopulated today as, indeed, it was yesterday so I wonder if the message about the virulence and the proximity of the virus is eventually starting to ‘cut through’ with members of the public. Whilst having our coffee, an elderly lady passed us but it does not take long for the conversation to turn to the subject of COVID-19. She and her husband had just received her vaccination at a GP practice which is adjacent to ours. I was sufficiently ungallant to enquire as to her age and she informed me that she was 80 (although she didn’t look it) This means that she is the Priority Level above me (Priority Level 2) so you do get the feeling that the day will approach when we will get the call. All of the 80+ have to be vaccinated before they start on the next Priority level down so, in my mind’s eye, I still think it will be some 2-3 weeks before I actually get the call for vaccination. Whilst on the subject of medical matters, Meg had received her routine bowel cancer screening kit which is done once every 3 years – as I remember it, the procedures last time were quite a lot more complicated but now they seem to have refined the procedure so that you only have to submit one sample instead of several collected over several days. Anyway, we got that all done and dusted and posted off with the results promised in about two weeks time. Finally, I got a call postponing my physiotherapy appointment I was due to attend tomorrow but I am quite relieved about that because by the time the new appointment comes around, I might just then received my vaccine.

Another little ‘faux pas’ has been apparently been committed today in the person of Priti Patel, the Home Secretary. She was trying to provide clarity on whether one should exercise alone or not. (As an aside, Priti Patel is renowned for starting off a statement saying ‘Let me be absolutely clear‘ before embarking on utterances which are anything but clear) Apparently today she said that people should exercise ‘on their own’ giving examples from cycling and running where this might be the case. But she was swiftly contradicted by No. 10 who pointed out the policy remains that you can exercise with someone else in your own support bubble (typically husbands and wives) So not for the first time, we have ministers unaware of the guidance which is being issued to the population. It also transpires today that the Fisheries Minister had failed to read the portions of the Trade Agreement with the EU which details the new arrangements regarding shipping – so this, too, hardly inspires much confidence that the ship of state is in secure hands.

In Washington, the number of troops protecting the Capitol building now exceeds the total number of troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan at 26,000. The most elaborate security arrangements with barriers and no-entry zones are now established and even private companies are doing their bit. Airlines are refusing to let people with firearms board a flight for Washington in the next few days. Airbnb, HotelTonight has just cancelled all Washington, DC, metro reservations ahead of Inauguration. Meanwhile, for those addicted to conspiracy theories, there are some reports that the Capitol building received quite a large number of ‘unusual’ visitors in the few days before the insurrection. In The Washington Post, it is alleged that In the days before the Jan. 6 attack, immediately preceded by Trump’s remarks at a rally, a number of Democrats have pointed to speeches, tweets and videos that they have said raised questions about whether the attackers may have been inspired or helped by Republican members of Congress.

So we are counting down the days before the inauguration next Wednesday, hoping and praying that Trump does not do anything completely bizarre in the dying days of his presidency. The one thing that may be helpful is that removal vans have already been spotted in the vicinity of the White House. There are also reports that most of the ‘staffers’ in the White House are avoiding Trump like the plague for the next few days so that they will be not dragged into any controversial actions in the few days that remain of the Trump presidency. Meanwhile, armed Trump supporters may turn up at every state capital throughout the land next Wednesday – you couldn’t make it up!