Sunday, 28th February, 2021

[Day 349]

This morning was our by now Sunday morning pattern i.e. I get up a little earlier and then walk down in the cold, clear light of the morning to pick up our Sunday newspapers. Sunday morning is always a little treat for me because as I am on my own, I treat myself to a little concert on my trusty very old iPhone and this morning played some Bach and Mozart to myself. After breakfasting during the Andrew Marr show (not particularly informative, I must say), Meg and I walked to the park. The air was like champagne and we wonder how long this glorious little spell of high pressure is going to last but we think it is a few more days yet. The number of children on scooters in the park reached its typical Sunday morning ‘high’ but we met with a couple of park acquaintances and passed our time of day trying to solve the following (almost mathematical) puzzle, which is: ‘Why is it when you are waiting for a bus there is always a bus coming first in the opposite direction ? (Assuming that buses travel on each side of the road at 10 minute intervals)‘ I will leave this conundrum for others to sort out.

We dined on chicken this lunch time using our normal ‘chicken’ recipe. We sear the chicken and in the meanwhile fry off some onions, peppers and tomatoes. Then the chicken, fried vegetables and half a jar of lasagne type white sauce go into a casserole and then into the oven for about 30-40 minutes (served with tender stem broccoli and a baked potato)

There was no France-Scotland rugby match to entertain us this afternoon as half of the French team are laid low with the COVID-19 virus. (My son was of the opinion that as they hadn’t sufficiently self-isolated in training they should have made to field a 2nd or 3rd team of 15 or forfeit the match is necessary – I have some sympathy with this view) I found that the sports writers had no sympathy whatsoever for the English team and their performance and praised the Welsh diligence in keeping their discipline (and hence no penalties) as against the English who again offended considerably.

This afternoon is one of those little statistical ‘milestones’ in that we have passed the total of 20 million of the population having received at least their first jab – I think the proportion is well over a third of the adult population by now. But perhaps of some concern is that a cluster of six of the Brazilian variant of the vaccine have appeared and most of these cases occurred in travellers from Brazil but before the most recent lockdown. This tends to indicate that we should have locked down much more stringently and much more urgently. The present cases have been discovered in South Gloucestershire but there has been plenty of time for the virus to have spread much more rapidly. Apparently in Auckland in New Zealand they discovered ONE outbreak of the virus and immediately locked down most of the city for a few days! Meanwhile, the spell of really good weather is encouraging people to flock to the parks and to socialise as if the restrictions had already been lifted. I would not be surprised if we were to find that after this burst of fine weather the ‘R’ (reproduction rate) of the virus actually increases and this can well threaten the rest of the unlock down process. One of the scientists on the SAGE committee has already admitted that this is a ‘great worry to us‘ and one can understand why. What is so frustrating is that we have endured eleven months of turmoil and it doesn’t take much more self-restraint to ensure that we are not knocked back by a fair amount. But, I must admit. if the park is anything to go by there is already a feeling (probably unjustified) that we are nearly at the end of the lockdown and can therefore let go a little.

There are two political events of some significance during the forthcoming week and both on Wednesday. Firstly, we are having a budget on Wednesday – although it used to be the case that Chancellors of the Exchequer used to ‘go into purdah’ and make sure the budget contents remained a closely guarded secret. But today there seems to be a tendency to extensively ‘leak’ or ‘brief’ the budget contents several days beforehand, perhaps so any good news can be announced at least twice over. So we already know that billions of pounds are going to be offered to businesses to help them over the next month or so. The next big political event is going to be Nicola Sturgeon giving evidence to the Scottish parliamentary committee. It is really difficult for us down here in England to ascertain the exact cause of the dispute between Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmon but it is a question of who knew what and when – somebody, somewhere is lying through the teeth but we may be a little nearer to the truth next Wednesday.