Saturday, 17th July, 2021

[Day 488]

The hot weather continues – today has clocked in at 29°-30° which is in the mid 80’s F. Knowing that the weather was going to very hot today, I reversed my normal routines and decided to garden in the morning and collect my newspapers afterwards. Today was the last day in which I was going to do anything approaching ‘heavy’ construction work. But the first job I had to do was to get some willow edging by the side of my curving path. I found the easiest way to accomplish this was to make a narrow and deep slit with a long bladed spade. I then inserted the willow edgings and hammered them in using a block of wood. But what started out straight finished off being a little bit wavy but I did not have the heart to pull them out and start all over again. Then I started on my major task which involved removing about 2″ of soil from a section about two yards long by one yard wide. This having been, I then deployed my last remnants of builders sand (that is one fewer sack left hanging around), seated the three flags I had managed to rescue from other parts of the garden and did some final bits of levelling up. I then filled the interstitial spaces with some blue slate clippings recently purchased from Asda. Actually, this was quite a fine one with somewhat smaller pieces and I must say the smaller pieces made the finishing job easier as well as being aesthetically more pleasing. So overall, I was quite pleased with my morning work although you can always perceive the imperfections. The rest of the family who were busy enjoying their elevenses even descended down the tortuous series of steps and cast a judgement on the overall finished product. From now on, it should be just a pleasant job to put my planters into position, fill them with a mixture of topsoil and compost and populate them. I am going to put the recently arrived pussy willow in a particular corner plot and tomorrow plant my hydrangea (recently purchased) in one and plant some ‘Penstemmon‘ (split from a large mother plant) in the other.

I walked down the park on my own, hugging the shaded areas (Meg gave our walk a miss not feeling too well this morning) There I encountered our University if Birmingham friend and another of our park regulars – we had a fairly long and quite a deep discussion about how we had overcome particular problems in the course of our lives. One thing is sure and that is we are going to regard ‘Freedom Day’ next Monday with a kind of fascinated horror. None of us feel in the slightest bit ‘liberated’ and in practice the rate of infection is now 54,674 which is a 5.4% increase over the day before. The WHO is regarding what is going in the UK as a terrible experiment as basically we are trying to achieve herd immunity by allowing the virus to let rip amongst the younger, not yet vaccinated part of the population. Tonight, we learn that the Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, has tested positive for the virus even though he had already received both is vaccine jabs. He has reported is symptoms as ‘mild’ but the interesting question is to work how many other people, including the PM, were in his near vicinity within the last few days. Another unintended and unanticipated consequence of letting the virus ‘rip’ is that the ‘Test and Trace‘ app is now ‘pinging’ more and more people requesting that they self isolate. This is having major effects of the staffing of some of our utilities – for example, London’s Metropolitan line has been suspended and East Yorkshire bus services have been cancelled and some private sector employers are reported to have major difficulties with staff shortages. There has been talk of making the app a little less response by tweaking the software but so far, these calls have been resisted.

I think that tomorrow’s Sunday newspapers are going to provide a fascinating read. Boris Johnson, the great libertarian and populist, is now in a position where the majority of people think that progressing with the lockdown will be unsafe, two thirds of us will still carry on wearing face mask and the infection rate is soaring. We now have a situation where much of the UK population is doing what it can to protect itself without feeling ‘liberated’ and whilst the right wing of the Tory Party may appear to show some delight, did they anticipate the way in which the ‘Test and Trace‘ app will create so many problems for employers? The question is whether the Sunday Times is still going to support the government or whether they will throw their weight behind some reformulation of policy (otherwise knows as a ‘U’ turn)