Monday, 21st June,2021

[Day 462]

Today is the longest day but it does not quite feel like it as we have endured quite a humid cloudiness for most of the day. Meg and I did our usual walk into town, bumping into one of our near neighbours on the way down and it was quite useful to inform her that we would be away for a few days, starting on Wednesday, although our son and daughter-in-law would be keeping the home fires burning. Meg and I are settling into a rather different routine now as we go straight to the Waitrose cafe and have our elevenses there. I have started to partake of their spicy soup which I have instead of a coffee and a pastry which I reckon is probably better for me carbohydrate-wise. Then I go up and pick up our newspapers which is 2-3 minutes around the corner and then I call back and meet up with Meg again. In the cafe, we did bump into one of our previous Waitrose acquaintances for a brief chat – also we just missed a young lady complete with young son with whom we share quite a lot of interests as she teaches Politics and History at Bromsgrove school. In the past, I have off-loaded to her some of my collection of politics books which are probably of much more use to her and some of her pupils than it would be for me. I must get round to slimming down my collection of other academic books once I found a reasonable home for them. Actually, some months ago before the lockdown I was in contact with a firm who would take them off my hands – but every book had to be catalogued first and I reckoned that for several hundred books this would probably take for ever so I never got started doing it.

When we eventually got home, we had a rather delayed lunch and then after a bit of a rest got going with the major task that we had set for ourselves in the afternoon. This was to get packed up for our mini-holiday starting on Wednesday. We have a fairly simple rule given that we are not going to be away for long and that is to have one clean set of clothes for when we start off and two copies of other items (e.g. underwear) to go in the suitcase. Things like our nightwear always goes in last of all, of course, and I am never quite sure whether we provide our own towels or not but we had better be prepared. We have made an arrangement, confirmed by telephone conversations, to see Meg’s uncle and godfather on Thursday morning. I am sure he will be delighted to see us and he is, of course, Meg’s oldest living relative. On Wednesday, we are already booked in for lunch at an establishment at which we have dined several times before. It is a restaurant attached to a golf club in a country park just off the A55 North Wales expressway, so all being well we will have a good rest there before we progress to make the rest of the journey (another 30 miles or so) after we have been fed and watered.

The COVID news continues to be mixed. The number of new infections is still quite high at 10,000+ but at least the rate is not rising exponentially. Boris Johnson is simultaneously trying to sound optimistic about July 19th (which he is calling the ‘terminal’ point) but pessimistic about the prospects for international travel until next year and the prospects of a resurgence in the virus to coincide with the winter months cannot be discounted. We are now in the position where all 18+ adults can at least book a vaccination – there may be a waiting time and then of course quite a lag between the first and the second jabs before the immunity really builds up. A Scottish player in the Eurofinals has tested positive so he will miss the remaining games – meanwhile a couple of English players are having to self-quarantine as a precaution. The interesting question is how the virus has managed to evade the protective bio-security cordons that ought to be protecting both of the football teams.

The big ‘infected blood’ scandal that hit our country in the 1980’s is finally facing the scrutiny of a public enquiry. In a nutshell, haemophiliacs who suffer constant bleeds and need to have their blood supplemented by blood products such as plasma received supplies that were infected with AIDS and hepatitis-C from which many (thousands) subsequently died. The point of all this is that the initial days of the NHS, this would have been impossible because all blood was donated. Then someone had the (not very bright) idea to import blood products from America where it is common knowledge that blood is often sold by drug addicts, down-and-outs and the like because no doubt it was ‘cheaper’ than the administrative costs associated with taking blood from the volunteers in the UK. A prime example of where ‘the market’ does not provide the best (actually, the worst) solution to problem of shortages.