Friday, 3rd September, 2021

[Day 536]

Today seemed as though it was going to be a tad less gloomy than we have been used to over the days so Meg and I made our way to the park after our usual ‘chat’ with our domestic help who makes a visit to us every Friday. We exchanged news (gloomily, about family illnesses) before we set off for the park but once there, we were delighted to meet up with our University of Birmingham friend who we had not expected to meet in the park on a Friday as his tennis commitment had been postponed until the afternoon. I collected our newspapers and then popped into town to access an ATM – we don’t tend to use these very often as we now get out a block of money which lasts us for several weeks. Then we got home and eventually after our domestic help and I had a joint effort to give Meg’s hair a bit of a tweak with a special hair curling implement that our domestic help uses on Meg. Our domestic help tried to teach me how to use it but I think I can say that Mr. Teazy-Weazy (hair dresser star of yesteryear) does not have a rival in this house. After lunch and a bit of rest, I decide that the lawns badly needed a cut. The sun came out to give us a gloriously fine afternoon, so it seemed a shame not to avail myself of the opportunity to make hay whilst the sun shines. Half way through the lawn mowing our neighbour came out and seeing me had a chat – both Meg and our son joined is so we had a jolly few minutes as neighbours do when they are in a relaxed frame of mind. Our neighbour had just bought some large original whisky half barrels (still smelling of of whisky) so I went round and admire the trees he had planted in them – bamboo in one and fir trees in the other. I must say our neighbour has put a lot of investment of thought, design, materials and not to mention money transforming the back garden of his house which is now a sheer delight to visit. Before our new neighbours moved in, I did my best to keep the garden of our former neighbours ‘ticking over’ as I cut their grass once a week and tried to keep the borders weed-free whenever I could spare the time. However, the garden is now transformed with several new raised beds, new fences and a variety of additions so, subject to invitation, it would be delightful to pass an afternoon drinking either tea or beer as the inclination takes us.

There is quite a debate going on between the the Joint Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation (JCVI) and the government at the moment. The decision of the JCVI is not to vaccinate the 12-15 year school population unless there are underlying health conditions but the decision is evidently quite a balanced one as the committee are saying that they will keep their decision under constant review. One suspects that the government may want to over-rule the committee as there are reports from other parts of the scientific community that the COVID rate may well surge enormously once the schools return next Monday.

Each Friday night, we are in the habit of FaceTiming one of our erstwhile University of Winchester colleagues and we always seem to have a fund of stories with which to regale each other. Some of these relate to incidents that we found amusing whilst we were both employed at the University of Winchester but many of them relate to our student days that we seem to remember with an alarming clarity as the years proceed. We reminded ourselves that in those days, the mid-1960’s before the sexual revolution had really swept over even the universities there were a variety of institutions and rules to keep the female of the species in a degree of obeisance. For example, at Manchester University they had a ‘Women’s Moral Tutor’ but what she actually did in her day to day work was rather hidden from the rest of us. Meanwhile, at the University of Oxford, our colleague informed us that some of the women’s colleges had a rule that no men were to be allowed in a female student’s room after 7.0pm – for which one could infer that if two young people were very much in lust with each other, then anything they did before 7 in the evening was regarded as quite ‘legal’.

Next week, if the weather remains fair, we shall to think picking some of our soft fruit. We have a plum tree which has some clusters of plums but very high up so we may have to adapt a long handled pruner to reach these. Similarly, we need to think about collecting our damson plums (from old trees at the bottom of the garden) and the new season of making damson gin will start all over again (but we still have some of last season’s gin in stock to give to unsuspecting recipients)