Friday, 15th January, 2021

[Day 305]

Today proved to be one of our more interesting mornings. The weather was rather cold with a cold but not excessive wind. We greeted our domestic help as it was a Friday and then collected our newspapers. In the park we met up with our new found friend, the academic from Birmingham University, whose acquaintance we made recently. We met sort of by accident as we both knew the approximate time that we normally coincided. In order to make sure that we complied with the social distancing regulations, we met on adjacent park benches so that we could have a chat from a two-metre distance from each other – we formed a sort of triangle with Meg on one bench, our friend on the adjacent one and myself on the other side of the path. We are mainly discussing some of the literary figures that we had in common – for example, John Mortimer who wrote the ‘Rumpole of the Bailey‘ series, I was reminded of his biography which I believe was called ‘Clinging to the Wreckage‘ As a not particularly competent sailor, he argued that in the event of a capsize, it was ultimately safer in the long run to ‘cling to the wreckage’ and await rescue rather than strike out independently to swim for safety, probably only to die in the process. One journalist who had died in the last few days was Katherine Whitehorn at the ripe old age of about 92. I remember her for the way in which she took the well-known expression ‘Inside every fat woman is a thin woman trying to get out‘ and inverted it brilliantly to observe ‘Outside every thin woman is a fat man trying to get in‘ In the midst of all of this mirth, we encountered an ‘old’ acquaintance of ours who lives on the edge of the park and therefore used to walk quite regularly in the park with her little Jack Russell dog. Meg and I were saying to each that we hoped she was OK as we had not seen her since well before Christmas and then up she popped. She had received her dose of the vaccine earlier on that morning, so yet again we feel that our turn is not an incredibly long way off. She was pretty well and sprightly but as the cold did not suit her very much, so she was curtailing her walks in the park. And then some friends of friends who attended the local church came along – we had been introduced to them when we were regaling each other with mince pies and sherry at a kind of impromptu party on Christmas Eve, when the weather was quite fine and we entertained each other sitting in an open but well ventilated garage (sort of outdoors) The really interesting thing about all of this is that you don’t really know who you are going to meet on these occasions which makes the occasional encounter into quite a bonus. By this time, we were getting quite cold and the sharp wind had intensified so we made our way home with alacrity to cook ourselves a warming lunch. Although snow was sort of threatened, it looks as though some is definitely on the way together with some biting winds. It looks like a case of ‘winter draws on’ tomorrow (a phrase which the BBC under its first Director General tried to ban in the 1930’s as it suggested an extreme licentiousness, but there you are)

The vaccine news sounds reasonably encouraging. Although it is very early days yet, it does appear that the government attempts to roll out the vaccine may be starting to bear some fruit. This government tends to ‘over-promise but to under-deliver’ and this may well prove to be the case here. One closely guarded secret is the data on the supplies of vaccine as the government fears that some of this data is subject to commercial confidentiality. However, the Scottish government inadvertently let some data slip out before the relevant website was pulled but it could be the case that in Scotland it is possible that most of the population could be vaccinated by the end of July. Of course, a lot of this is speculation and I suspect that the next week or so are going to be really critical when several new vaccinations centres will get into full swing. As from Monday next, all air corridors into the UK are too be closed. As I write, there is an advert on the TV warning everyone how infectious the latest variant to the COVID-19 is so I surmise that the UK is seriously worried that the hospitals whilst at full capacity are not yet at their peak (expected in some 2-3 weeks yet?) and that some variant of the virus which is not susceptible to the vaccines may well appear on these shores.