Sunday, 4th April, 2021

[Day 384]

A few days ago, we thought that today, Easter Sunday, would be gloomy and overcast. In practice, today had clear blue skies and there had evidently been an overnight frost. I made my way down into town fairly early to pick op our newspapers – the streets were deserted at about 8.00am apart from the very occasional dog-walker and the even more occasional jogger. Meg remained in bed as it was possible that staying out late last night was a bit too much for her system to bear, so whilst she slept, I breakfasted on cereals on my own. Then Martin and Mandy delayed their walk into town whilst I went down to see if I could rendezvous with our University of Birmingham friend. As it turned out, he did not ‘swing by’ so I spent about an hour in the sunshine waiting for him and tidying up my bag at the same time. I spent quite a lot of time hunting for a writing implement and then some scraps of paper – once I had located these writing materials I reminded myself of the procedures I have developed to get any files I might need from the internet onto my IBM ThinkPad (via my computer and the judicious use of thumb drives) I am discovering that my new found little friendly ThinkPad is a little picky over the ways in which various USB peripherals are brought into play. I turn it on with one USB permanently populated with a thumb-sized pen drive which is about 26GB and effectively doubles my memory. Then I attach the hub extender and switch on the nano-receiver for the mouse (next) and finally the second flash memory disk I use as a transfer disk from my main iMAC computer for material I may have downloaded for it from the web. To the uninitiated, Windows XP is amazingly insecure and virus writers, knowing that MicroSoft has ended all support for XP, can target it in the hope of rich pickings or random damage. When I eventually did get home, I finished off the Waitrose pie which we started yesterday – I somehow couldn’t bear the thought of too much cooking so this was a way of getting a lunch fairly quickly.

This afternoon, Meg and I ‘stumbled’ into watching two University boat races. Because of the insecure nature of Hammersmith bridge, the Boat Races have had to be routed away from the Thames and the chosen location was north Great Ouse river in Cambriedgeshire where the course was long and straight which, in the absence of bends, made the races much closer than normal. As it turned out, Cambridge won both the Women’s race and then the Men’s race in each case by a similar margin (just a bit short of a boat length). In races this close, it was always possible that Oxford could ‘catch’ Cambridge but their tacticians (and home river advantage?) won the day, despite the Oxford teams being the favourites before the race was actually run.

Tonight, I have just had my usual struggle trying to get a reply of Handel’s Messiah from last night (for Meg’s benefit). Faced with the ‘Black Screen of Death’ I had to take out the Firestick, reinsert it, get some new batteries inside it and then fumble about to get what I wanted. I cannot work out why but the technology seems to work fine on my son’s and daughter-in-law’s TV but ours always seems to take an enormous amount of fiddling about with all kinds of hit-and-miss before I get anywhere. They used to day ‘A child of five can operate this technology – send for a child of five‘ so I had better try and kidnap one from somewhere.

Tomorrow it is claimed to be ‘three jumpers a day’ as the long predicted bad weather sweeps over the whole of the country. Arctic winds will cause temperatures to plunge back to winter levels on Easter Monday and bring a ‘significant’ wind chill. Overnight on Sunday, figures could drop as low as -7C (19.4F) in some areas of Scotland, with sub-zero figures also forecast in parts of northern England. A high of 17C (63F) in southern England on Sunday afternoon will drop to just 6C (43F) on Monday morning. I hope that this is just one blast of bad weather and then we can get back to watching a normal springtime return. The weather conditions are a little strange because my car also has a very fine sprinkling of what I think is Saharan sand thrown high into the atmosphere and then deposited on our cars. Well, it needed a wash tomorrow in any case but I think that will have to wait until Tuesday now.

The COVID-19 deaths and cases are now at their lowest since early September – but after the children have been home from school for two weeks and there are going to be a lot of family reunions (in theory in the open air), one wonders what the ‘R-‘ rate is going to be in a fortnight’s time.