Monday, 12th July, 2021

[Day 483]

Last night was the Euro cup finals (after yesterday’s blog was written) in which England were eventually beaten by Italy. England scored within 2 minutes which is almost a record in itself and had the better of the first half. Then the Italians came out to play and had about two-thirds of the possession (perhaps even more in the second half) and inevitably scored an equaliser after masses of sustained pressure. Then it was extra time where honours were just about even and so it came to the ‘curse of penalties’ Italy scored from three of their five penalties but the young English team missed three of theirs (cruelly, all of the young black players) and so Italy won 3-2 on penalties. If the truth be known, Italy were probably the better team and deserved to win – if England had got through on penalties then perhaps ‘the wrong team might have won‘ as happened in the Italy-Spain match. What is particularly disappointing is the undercurrent of vile racist abuse thrown in the direction of our younger black players via social media. Actually, what I remember of the Brexit campaign is that in last few days, Europe was hardly mentioned but there was much talk of potential immigration from Turkey which happens to be Muslim and to be a neighbour of Syria (home of Middle East terrorists). The wider point here is whether there is a deep underbelly of racism within British society which manifests itself in all kinds of ways whoever there is an opportunity. Our chiropodist called today to do our feet and she showed us some of the vile racist tweets that a friend of her’s had forwarded on to her – and I must say, I was shocked beyond all measure at the vituperative and crude messaging doing the rounds. Can social media deal with this problem, I ask myself?

Meg and I were a little late going down into town today and we thought we would pop into Waitrose to have our normal coffee. These plans were put into disarray when some of the friendly Waitrose staff informed us that the cafe was closed and likely to remain so for about a fortnight (‘staff shortages’ was the official reason but it makes you wonder whether because the pick-up of trade was so low that it might never re-open as it used to be). We bumped into one of our park friends who often scoots around in her wheelchair and asked for her recommendation as to which coffee bar to frequent in the absence of Waitrose. We were directed to one which evidently put post-pandemic precautions in place because there were perplex screens permanently screwed into place between each table appear to be in its own carousel as it were. So we treated ourself to (expensive) coffee and cakes after which I shot off into town to get a cheque entered into the system at Santander and to pick up some plastic decorative plot dividers from Poundland (quaintly called ‘Georgian’) but a bit less naff than this description indicates. They are actually very effective at demarcating one area of a plot from another and I have used them to stop the rhubarb from drooping over onto or lawn.

After lunch our chiropodist called and we always enjoy having a chat (mainly about football as you might imagine but also about family matters that we share with each other). Immediately my feet were done and received their MOT, I popped into our local Asda superstore because they were still selling three bags of blue slate clippings for £9 and three bags of compost for £10. I had intended to ask Asda to supply a lusty young man to help to carry things into the boot of the car but I was fortunate enough to get one of those ‘high loading ‘ trolleys into which I could load the clippings quite easily, get them into the car and then load up with compost. I managed to do within the time allocation (umpublicised) whereby you can exit the car park without charge. I think it is about 10 minutes ‘loading time’ that is allowed but nobody seems to know what the exact limit is. When I got home, I dumped this lot outside the back gate and then after we had our tea, used a set of wheels I had to take take my purchases to the top of Mog’s Den. From here, there was a certain degree of humping to get them down the slope and ready for use.

Today Boris Johnson announced the ‘end’ of lockdown from next Monday, July 19th. All ‘optimistic’ talk of ‘Liberation day’ has been quietly forgotten and we are now being urged by the government to use use facemasks ‘when the situation demands and at our own discretion’. All legal sanctions have been withdrawn (to the delight of the Tory right wing, I imagine), although The Observer poll published yesterday showed that over one half of the UK public feels unhappy about the threats posed to us by too rapid a loosening of the lockdown.