Wednesday, 1st December, 2021

[Day 625]

Well, I have to say that today has been a thoroughly miserable day. Meg and I have not managed a walk down to the park for a day or so for one reason or another but we decided to risk it today as the weather seemed to offer a brief respite. But no sooner had we collected our newspaper and made for our customary park bench when a really icy wind laden with a kind of stinging drizzle assailed us. This was so unpleasant that we shared one cup of coffee between us and quickly packed up our bags and struck for home. When we got out of the park, the stinging rain abated somewhat but we have to say that this was one of the most unpleasant walks we have had for several months. As soon as we got home, we started to prepare our lunch which we could not prepare too soon. It was one of those days when wet clothes had to be shaken off and stored in the garage, my leather hat had to be dried out and we gradually got round to being slightly less miserable once we were home and dry. Later on in the day, I has the exciting job of picking the usable morsels of meat off our chichen carcase which we will form the bedrock of a curry for tomorrow’s lunch. If the weather worsens again, then a hearty curry will be much appreciated. We have generally maintained the habit of preparing a curry from the leftovers of the weekly joint, a habit we acquired in our student days and have maintained for about 56 years now.

The COVID news this evening is about what one might expect. The number of cases of variant Omicron has risen to 32 as I write and one hopes this does not explode into hundreds or even thousands in the few weeks ahead. The news from government today is that that we may know within about 2-3 weeks how severe and transmittable the Omicron variant will prove to be. The fact that the government policy is now to go ‘hell-for-leather’ to get all of the adult population vaccinated both with two doses and a booster by the end of January is an indication of the race against the virus. It may well be that in about three weeks time, it may become somewhat more clear whether or not we are losing the race and we need to look forward to even tighter restrictions (or a lockdown by any other name). Meanwhile two supermarket chains (the Co-op and Iceland) are saying that their staff will not enforce the wearing of masks within their stores – despite the fact that this is now the law of the land. I must ask myself how it is that supermarket chiefs take it upon themselves to inform their staff which of the laws of the land are to be obeyed and which ignored, however unpleasant some of the reactions of customers might be. Can supermarket chiefs be prosecuted to telling their staff to not enforce the law, I ask myself (although it would never happen). The number of new cases of infection which has been hovering around the 39,000-41,000 mark for a few weeks now as today risen to 48,000 which sounds that infections are going in the wrong direction (when, in theory, they should be going down as the proportion of the vaccinated pop[ulation increases)

There are two political stories to note this evening. The first is the revelation that Downing Street threw a party for their staff last December when the rest of the country was well and truly locked down and relatives could not even visit their families over the Christmas. There seems to have been quite a ferocious row at Prime Minister’s Questions today in Parliament and Boris Johnson does not deny that the party took place but just that ‘all of the relevant rules were followed’. The rule in place at the time was that Christmas parties and functions should not take place so the Prime Minister’s assertion that all of the rules were followed appears to be, to put it baldly, an untruth.

The other big story comes from the United States where the US Supreme Court is being asked to either approve a draconian abortion law that radically retricts the availability of abortions. It is today considerering a Mississippi law which asks the court to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Its final ruling, due in June next year, could cut off abortion services for tens of millions of women. Although the case is being heard today, I am not quite sure why it should take 7 months before a ruling can be made. If the Mississippi law is upheld, then it will open the floodgates for many other conservative-run states to pass similar legislation which will all be deemed to be ‘constitutional’ Of course, all of this is a consequence of the fact that Donald Trump got many of his nominees (ultra conservative) to become Supreme Court justices and they hold power for life (i.e. until they die). The balance of the Supreme Court was altered from about 5:4 to 6:3 (conservative vs. liberal) This means that the legacy of Donald Trump could persist for another 30-40 years (or until the balance of the Supreme Court alters)