Sunday, 28th March, 2021

[Day 377]

Today was the day in which the hour goes forward and we lose an hour of our beauty sleep. I had set the alarm to go off half and hour earlier than normal which is my normal Sunday morning pattern. Having got up, washed and dressed, I then had to turn my attention to putting forward all of the clocks and time pieces which we have in the house, of which there seem to be several. Thank goodness that things like radios and computers themselves often perform this updating without human intervention but there are still some appliances (e.g. like the clocks on our cooker and microwave) that do not and one has always to remember the instructions for that particular device. All of this got done in plenty of time and I popped down to collect the newspapers, treating myself to my weekly ration of Bach on the trusty old iPhone (used as an MP3 player) before settling down to the Andrew Marr show and breakfast upon our return. Then it was time for our daily walk to the park but there was a lot of rain ‘in the air’ as it were and we encountered a fine drizzle. Once in the park, we met up with our University of Birmingham friend but the frequency of our visits will shortly be attenuated because shortly as a keen tennis player he will be involved in participating in his favourite sport now that participation in outdoor sports is permitted as from tomorrow. We had a very long conversation discussing our separate experiences in the use (and abuse) of statistics in the the classification of final degree results and, as we have come to expect, our philosophies of how this should best be done showed a remarkable degree of congruence. We left for home and met the husband of one of our church friends and this was the start of another long conversation, equally fascinating, on the way of life of the Anglo-Indian communities in India and Pakistan. I said I would dig out my copy of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children which explores these themes in a rich and fascinating detail. Eventually we got home and gratefully accepted some ‘Coq au vin’ which our son and daughter-in-law kindly donated to us as a Sunday lunch. After this fairly long and extensive morning, we were pleased to have a good after-lunch rest and a good read of the Sunday newspapers.

There is some more interesting COVID-19 news today. The most important headline is that, as a country, we have now inoculated some 30 million and achieved a rate of 57% (for the first jab) However, there is a big push now towards getting the second jab of the vaccine into the arms of people who received their first jab over two months ago. One only hopes that the logistics of this have been properly worked out so that when we turn up for our second jab in just over two weeks time, the supplies of vaccine are relatively forthcoming, Boris Johnson has also announced that he will be able to say more on the subject of the availability of foreign holidays on April 5th. If I had to make a guess at this stage, it would be that a trickle to flights to foreign destinations may be allowed from mid-August onwards. As Meg and I have a trip tentatively booked for Rome in late September, we are very cautiously optimistic but I still think the chances of this are only 50:50 at best.The most difficult factor in this whole equation is how far the third wave has extended in various continental countries and the rate of vaccination in this countries as well (very much behind us, of course). After tomorrow’s milestone for the gradual relaxation of the lockdown, the next critical date if going to be 12th April (only two weeks away now) This is the earliest date on which shops, hairdressers, gyms, nail salons, libraries, and outdoor attractions such as theme parks will be allowed to reopen. But no indoor mixing of different households will be allowed. We are due for a period of quite fine weather and one hopes that the population ‘en masse’ do not go mad and assume that all restrictions have now gone. There are some grounds for cautious optimism, however, as I understand that the majority of people in the country think a slow and gradual release of the lockdown is absolutely correct and although the libertarian wing of the Conservative party are pressing for much earlier end to the lockdown, it looks as though wiser counsels are prevailing. It is being said in government that we cannot have a ‘third’ lockdown and therefore it is critical that we get the current timetable absolutely correct. All that one can say is ‘So far, so good‘ and at this stage let us hope that we do not get derailed in the few weeks ahead.