Tuesday, 25th May, 2021

[Day 435]

Today was one of those days when you seem constantly be running to catch up with one’s self – as they used to say ‘Like a dog chasing its own tail‘ We knew that we would have keep a careful watch upon our timings because of a couple of appointments in the middle of the day. Nonetheless, I dropped Meg on her normal park bench where she met with our University of Birmingham friend who is busy teaching himself some Spanish. Naturally, Meg and I were happy to step in with our little bits and it is always interesting to note that the books tend to teach you one thing whereas ‘colloquial Spanish’ (what you hear people speak on the street) is quite another. We were taught an important lesson when our son spent a year in Mexico and had to teach himself Spanish in as short a time as possible. His tip was a good one – never bother to learn the future tense of a verb in Spanish (although it is useful to know of it when you are reading a more formal report in a newspaper, for example) So instead of saying (in Spanish) ‘I will catch a train’ we can use the much more colloquial (and sloppier way of saying something) such as ‘I’m going to catch a train’ where all you have to remember is the ‘I ‘m going’ to bit and then the infinitive of the verb ‘to catch’ and hence ‘Voy a coger un tren‘ rather than ‘Cogeré un tren‘ which is more formally correct (but perhaps harder to remember). Anyway, I left Meg and my friend exchanging little bits of colloquial Spanish which our friend assiduously wrote down in his little notebook whilst I went to collect the newspapers. Then we had to race home and I had to quickly fill in an on-line COVID assessment form before I raced down to the physiotherapy clinic to have my knackered shoulder looked at (in the same building where my Pilates class was die to start 35 minutes later). I was 2 minutes late for this appointment but then we ran over a bit and I was five minutes late for my Pilates class – but it was that kind of day. At the very end of the class, one of my Pilates classmates of several year’s standing let something slip about a widow’s pension. It was only then that I was told that her husband had died last November of a massive heart attack. With the COVID-19 restrictions in place, their daughter could not come back from Australia to attend the funeral and the funeral itself was the by now all too familiar Covid-19 restricted affair. I felt particularly sad on their behalf because I do not know how much of a happy retirement they had managed to spend together.

By the time we had a delayed lunch (typical on Pilates days) I carried on with some newspaper tidying before we suddenly realised it was time for our weekly chat with our ex-Waitrose friends which we generally do using FaceTime. With the lockdown gradually easing, our friends had managed to make more sustained contact with members of their family which was a great source of pleasure to them. It looks as though the weather will change for the better in the next day or so and then we might have a series of fine days – if so, we might be able to go to Webbs (the nearby large garden centre) where we may be able to share a socially distanced coffee and cake in the next few days ahead. We are particularly pleased about the weather because our immediate neighbours are planning an outdoors 70th birthday party on Sunday next – although contingency plans are no doubt in place, it will be so much easier to mingle and chat if the weather is fine.

The government is evidently in a dilemma and in some disarray this evening. It is evident that the Indian variant of the virus is taking quite a hold in various areas of the country (all starting with a ‘B” – Bolton, Blackburn, Bedford,Burnley) as well as Kirklees, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside. In order to counteract this, the Government quietly introduced a policy of ‘de facto‘ lockdown in which travel into and out of the area was to be severely discouraged (to put it mildly) The trouble is that nobody bothered to tell the relevant local authorities what was meant to be happening in their own areas. After the most tremendous row (behind the scenes) between local and central government, the advice on the Government website was withdrawn – sorry, ‘updated’ in government speak. This little episode can be interpreted in one of two ways. Either one can argue that central government have an autocratic disregard for the wishes of the local populace and did not see fit to inform them. Or else, it was a massive communications ‘cockup’ which only displays the government’s lack of grip on the levers of government.