Monday, 8th March, 2021

[Day 357]

Today had a morning characterised by what I think you would call ‘watery sunshine’ – the temperature was quite mild and our walk down to collect the newspapers was reasonably pleasant, particularly because as you go, it is just possible to discern which perennial shrubs and trees are starting to bud. My observation of this process is that many plants and shrubs may start in the late autumn and then undergo a halt in early spring, perhaps anticipating a late frost or snow and then suddenly burst into life with a flying start when the days lengthen and the temperature warms up. Just before I get onto our park bench meetings, today was the day in which you could legally sit down with a friend on a park bench and enjoy a cup of coffee – without the ‘excuse’ of the park bench bench being a necessary break in the middle of exercise which was the legal regime under which we have been operating since the start of the current lockdown. In fact, Channel 4 news devoted to a little item to the joys of the park bench and how it had (and will) continue to be the ways in which we can meet with old friends now that coffee shops and pubs are generally closed (as yet) to us. Anyway, we met with our Birmingham University friend and had a really useful chat about how we were going to manage our gradual ‘unlockdown’ transactions from now on. At least a couple of our park acquaintances met up with us and we chatted about how much we were enjoying the mildish weather, particularly as the children have returned to school today and the park had returned to a quiet and relaxing haven after the bustle of the weekends. There were several little things we had wanted to chat over with each other but this is not always possible when you are joined in conversation by others and then it is time to go home.

Today, I carried on looking at bits of my computer system and which I could usefully prune, move elsewhere and/or make part of my backup routines. Over the years I have collected a range of pen drives as the price has dropped dramatically over the years. I found one that was a SanDisk Extreme 32GB and when I checked out the current price, Amazon were selling it for £8.99. So I reformatted it and used it as an additional backup source for my system. I reformatted it to a MAC format and then was amazed that I could easily get most of my important files on it, writing at the rate of 2.34GB per minute and this only using the slow-is USB 2.0 rather than the more up to date and faster drive (on more modern machines than mine) which is USB 3.0. So at the end of the day, I do now have three backup systems – one being Apple’s own Time Machine, a second being a conventional and recently purchased Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and the third being the flash drive. In the course of poking around in my system, I found an audio file (and subsequently, on the web some movie files) of our 50th wedding anniversary celebrations in 2017. So Meg and I enjoyed watching these again, some 3½ years after the event. There were three video clips which were of great interest – one being of Meg and her observations on 50 years of marriage, one of me telling a range of tall (and largely true) stories and a third of ours who was a close friend, now deceased who came along to our celebrations and played some Handel for us on his trumpet. So this took a fair amount of time but we enjoyed looking at it was well as the range of photos which we took on the day itself.

Today the media has been dominated, as you might expect, by the Meghan Markle interview which was shown on the American media overnight and is going to be shown tonight on ITV at 9.0pm. Very much is being made of the fact that one member of the Buckingham Palace outfit had speculated as to the skin colour of the yet unborn baby and everybody (particular Oprah Winfrey) had reacted to this as though it was the purest expression of racism! On the hand hand, it could be that the person uttering the remark was imbued with a racist ideology but an alternative explanation is that a courtier of liberal views was expressing delight that the British royal family was modernising by including mixed heritage members within it. Anyway, I am thoroughly bored by the whole media blitz and attention and the programme has not even been broadcast yet.

Back to school today for millions of school children under some conditions (e.g. lateral-flow testing 2-3 times a week to be continued at home, face mask wearing for senior pupils etc.) I believe that some members of the SAGE committee are already of the view that this is bound on the ‘R’ factor (pushing it up from 0.6 to 0.9?) but, in any case, Easter beckons quite soon and provide a bit more respite.