Monday, 22nd March, 2021

[Day 371]

Today is evidently the start of a new week and it means that there is exactly one week to go before some of the restrictions under the current lockdown are to be eased. From next Monday, it will be possible for six people or two households to get on with each other in an open space such as a garden. So we are hopeful that the weather will turn fine and sunny next week so that we can meet up with each other for extended chats not just on the pavement as we pass. We picked up our newspapers as per normal but on the way met with our University of Birmingham friend so we all walked to the park together. Once there, there was an aggregation (I hesitate to call it a crowd) of park regulars so we split into little groups discussing this and that. Although the morning started off quite fine, there seems to be a tendency for the sky to cloud over and it starts to get chillier rather than warmer as the morning wears on. At a certain point, we all realise we are getting a little cold so we all continue our journeys or strike for home. Actually, I owe our University of Birmingham friend a favour because he unintentionally did us a good turn. I had let him have sight of a paper I had written over twenty years ago which was unpublished but was quite an important piece of work because it analysed statistically the relationship between GCE O-levels, A-levels and final degree results across a couple of Business Studies degrees at the University of Winchester (and threw in some comparators from an earlier paper with a similar type of analysis done at Leicester Polytechnic some eleven years before that) Armed with the title of the paper, I used the Apple app ‘Finder‘ and located the paper in an archived folder which dated from a computer that I used to own with the brand name of Evesham. Having found the paper, written as a MicroSoft Word .doc document, my version of Word would not open it as it regarded it as too old and out-of-date! Fortunately, I have on my system a small, light ‘clone’ of Word which retains 90% of the functionality for about 10% of the size (not for nothing are Microsoft products known as ‘bloatware’) This opened it OK but could not cope with some of the clipart I used to decorate the title page but the rest of the text seemed to be there OK so I was delighted to be able to hand over a copy of the paper to our friend. At the same time, I realised where some of my archive material was that I had forgotten all about, so hence the gratitude to my friend.

In the late afternoon, after a read and a snooze, the weather seemed quite delightfully sunny so I decided to keep up a good habit and give the car a wash. The more regularly I do this, the easier the task seems to become and of course there is no ingrained dirt to have to shift. Regular readers of this blog will be relieved to know that Miggles, the local good-looking cat that has semi-adopted us turned up at the start of the proceedings to make sure that I was doing the job correctly. He then wandered off, bored with watching me and went in pursuit of mice, birds or whatever to stalk. Being unsuccessful in this venture, Miggles strode into view as I was finishing off the car to give it my efforts the nod of approval and check that I had washed the car to the relevant standard.

We seem to be in a strange place viv-a-vis the. vaccines saga. The UK is progressing very well with up to 30 million now vaccinated (which is over 50%) But the EU seems to be threatening to withhold supplies of the AstraZeneca virus manufactured in continental Europe despite the complexity and interconnectedness of the supply chains. At the same time, there is a great loss of confidence in this vaccine after a degree of ‘bad mouthing’ by European leaders which has resulted in stocks of this vaccine not being used as some members of the European public do not wish to have this particular inoculation. But the figures show that some 12% of Europeans have received their first job whereas the comparable figure for the UK (when the figures were collected) was over three times this proportion at 40%. In the meanwhile, the Americans have concluded a large study amongst 32,000 volunteers which shows over 70% efficacy in preventing an infection in the first place and with an astonishing 100% absence of a severe form COVID once inoculated. Another very large cloud on the horizon is the increasing third wave across many European societies which may well ‘wash over’ these shores in the autumn and is rapidly putting paid to any prospects of a holiday in parts of continental Europe.