Monday, 2nd August, 2021

[Day 504]

It proved to be quite a bright and breezy day today with just a hint that showers might come along later in the day to disrupt things. After a somewhat delayed start whilst we did some household jobs, Meg and I started off walking late down to the park. On our way down, we met some of our church friends and we were very pleased to see them because we had not coincided for a couple of weeks. They were just off on holiday for a week so we quickly told them all of our news and they sped off to spend a week in a forest retreat somewhere. Meg and I progressed as far as the park where we bumped into one of our daily park friends and we chatted for a few minutes before I went off to collect our newspapers for the day. We tend to ask ourselves unanswerable questions such as ‘If you are flying in an aircraft from west to east faster than the rotation of the earth, do you actually get younger? Which army in the Second World War actually exhibited the most discipline when confronted with civilian populations? Did the Americans know that Japanese codes had been deciphered and therefore they had forewarning of the attack on Pearl Harbour’ and so on and so forth.Then it was a leisurely walk homeland a lightish lunch before we settled down to watch the Olympics. In particular, we watched the British team secure a gold in the Eventing (Equestrian) category – the first time we have secured a gold medal in this event since 1972 – fifty years ago. I think it was an Olympics game some time ago in which we were enjoying success in cycling, rowing and equestrian events when an Australian commentator remarked, with a degree of feeling,’What is about you Brits? You only win things in the Olympics when you are sitting down!‘ This was a wry observation but quite amusing when you think about it.

This afternoon, I had two little jobs I had set myself, neither of them particularly onerous. Firstly, I had ordered through Amazon a mini-dustbin in which I am going to store a large bag of grit which I had previously ordered and had in stock. This involved making a little brick platform so that the little dustbin (and my storage chest) sit a little proud of the rest of the surface to keep themselves clear of water, slugs and the like. I then had a couple of bags of blue slate clippings which I put down and these spread fairly thinly, so I think I need to pop down to Asda where I can pick up an extra three bags of slate for £9.00 and thicken up the layers of slate that I spread this afternoon. Then inside for a cup of tea and a pleasant little job. I buy rapeseed oil in 5 litre containers for a specialist little farm in Staffordshire where the whole family business is growing the rapeseed and then producing and clarifying the oil itself. I have a series of empty glass cordial bottles and my 5-litre supply fills ten of these but I find it useful just to be able to grab another bottle of oil when I run out. I share the oil with my domestic help as well.

The COVID news stories are developing as well. The principal story this evening is that under pressure from many Tory MPs amongst others, the Test-and-Trace app has been ‘tweaked’ so that, basically, it will ‘ping’ fewer people than previously which save them (and the economy) from further self-isolation. This move has been on the cards for several days now but I have to smile at the ‘chutzpah’ of the government. Basically, if you have a measuring instrument (‘Test-and-Trace‘) that gives you results that you don’t like or are inconvenient then just adjust the measuring instrument. Mind you, the Tories have form in doing things like this. At a time when the rising unemployment rates were a matter of deep political significance, the government kept on changing the definitions of how the unemployed were counted. The first two changes to the rules actually increased the claimant count but the Social Security Advisory Committee found the unemployment definition had been changed 20 times between 1979 and 1988, and that almost every change reduced the number of people defined as unemployed.

The second major change that has come into effect basically allows people to enter the UK without a quarantine if you have a double vaccination and come from a major European country or the USA. No doubt, the government is hoping that other European countries will reciprocrate but this is a huge question. In theory, Meg and I are due to go on holiday to Rome in late September but unless the Italians change their quarantine policy in a reciprocal fashion, then our holiday looks in jeopardy.