Tuesday, 23rd March, 2021

[Day 372]

Today, we were a little delayed because I had promised our University of Birmingham friend that I would scan a copy of my 1990 paper to which I referred yesterday so he could have his own copy of it. The scanner failed to work and I assumed that it had lost its drivers after the recent MacOS update so subsequently went on the web to attempt to update these. In the event, I didn’t need to because of course it is obvious to me (now!) that the scanning sofware cannot find the scanner if you have neglected to attach it onto the USB bus (which I had!) Working against the clock, I discovered that I had missed out p. 311 (on a series numbered 309-317 (numbering derived from its position as an Appendix in a re-submitted Ba(Hons) In Public Administration) so I resolved to sort out the problem later on when I got home. When ‘later’ came, I could not find the original of p.311 but I did have two different pages numbered 314. So the error had been dormant in the original document where it had remained undiscovered for some 31 years but at least I managed to get it sorted out in so I can give my friend a copy.

Today was a mild, not quite spring-like day so we popped straight into the park so that Meg could make contact with her park acquaintances whilst I shot off on my own to collect the daily ration of newspapers. We had the normal jolly chat over a range of issues but my University of Birmingham friend wondered, after I had given him an updated copy of one of my statistical papers, whether I still had the original data set so that he could do some analysis of his own – regrettably, I had to tell him that after 31 years the data file (which would have been fed into a statistical program that we both used called Minitab) was not readily to hand! I suggested that we might make upside randomised figures but I am not sure whether even this would fit the bill.

Today is the one year to the date since the first lockdown was announced. The media has been full of ‘one year anniversary’ film clips of which the media is so fond as it gives the opportunity to recycle a lot of the footage that they have accumulated during the year. But to try to ensure that there is no celebratory atmosphere, Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer has warned of the potential dangers that are still to be faced. In his view, there will certainly be a new surge of infections and of course the interesting question is to what extent a more or less fully vaccinated population can withstand the onslaught from a resurgence of the virus which appears to be rampaging across much of Europe at the moment. A second major problem, related to the first, is the emergence of new variants of the virus which may well evade all of the efforts of the various vaccines to combat it. Of course, it is possible to ‘fine tune’ our existing vaccines to cope with these new variants (just like the ‘flu jobs, reformulated every year) but by the time they are developed, tested and ready for injection yet more variants could have arisen. And, of course, there may well be problems in the supply lines of vaccine which can cause some of the hiccups that we are experiencing at the moment. And, for good measure, he also highlighted the ‘very big job of work’ in preventing ‘lifelong’ problems related to the effect of lockdowns, such as increased deprivation and non-COVID health issues.

Believe it or not, I am not an avid follower of football but there was an obituary in The Times the other day recalling the life of a famous Leeds United footballer, Peter Lorimer. He was part of the formidable Leeds United team in late 60’s whose half-back line (Jack Charlton, Johnny Giles and Billy Bremner) were reputed to be one of the most formidable defences in the country. The point about Peter Lorimer is that he was reputed to have had the hardest shot in football and to test this out, Leeds United organised some trials so his formidable shot could be measured and it exceeded 100mph. Lorimer was often deputed to take penalties for Leeds and when you work out that the average goalkeeper had ¼ second to respond to the penalty kick, it is easy to see why. I wonder, by the way, if any statistics were ever collected of how penalties that Peter Lorimer took were actually saved?

Our vaccination total has now exceeded 28.3 million. Meg and I are counting off the days until we receive our second dose of the jab which ought to further enhance our immune status. We have another two and half weeks to wait until our appointed time comes and in the meantime, of course, we have a lifting of some of the restrictions on the current lockdown to which to look forward and this will be on Monday next, 29th March.