Monday, 21st February, 2022 [Day 707]

Today opened as a very windy day as the succession of storms proceed across the country. If anything, I think the intensity of the wind might have been worse than we experienced with the Storm Eunice a day or so ago and last night we certainly seemed to have a lot of intense rainfall. These weather conditions put our walk this morning in some jeopardy so we did not rush to get ready this morning, hoping that the storms would rapidly traverse the country. When we did venture out as far as the park, we had decided to go by car and went on a small perambulation intending to stop on a bench to drink our usual coffee. However, the conditions were so unpleasant that we decided to cut our losses, come back home in the car once we had had a walk of several hundred metres and have the coffee from our flask in the comfort of our own home. Lunch was easy to prepare as we still had a good portion of our turkey-and-root-vegetables stew left from yesterday so we heated this in the oven and served it with a baked potato and some green beans.

During some spare time I had this morning, I continued with my decluttering of my Apple Mac and am pleased with the progress that I have made. Basically, I have taken all of the items off the desktop apart from an icon showing the system’s hard disk and put them away in a folder I called XS-Files which is itself subdivided into video, images, apps and so on. The huge download file has now been copied in its entirety to a secondary storage (a 1TB external pocket drive) where it can be pruned at my leisure at the same time releasing space on the main hard disk.

Late on this afternoon and by prior arrangement, I was delighted to be able to Skype on my ex-University of Winchester friend. We seem to have kept missing each other for the last few days what with one thing or another but we certainly made up for it today with a good old hour and half long natter about things. We are both getting a little frustrated about the weather which is curtailing our normal walking activities but as restrictions are easing, we are cautiously looking forward to being able to resume some more of our social contacts. Boris Johnson made an announcement in the House of Commons this afternoon announcing the legal end to all pandemic restrictions from next Thursday onwards. This was followed up by a news conference from 10 Downing Street announcing the same end  of restrictions, including the necessity for self-isolation, to members of the public at large. There was some speculation that the two scientific advisors would not appear along Boris Johnson but nonetheless they did do so and dutily went through their graphs but one certainly did not sense any degree of enthusiam for their task. As well as an ending of legal requirements, there was also an announcement that free testing was due to end and people would have to pay for this in future. After the news conference was over, I heard an excellent contribution on the BBC rolling news programme from a professor at the University of St. Andrews. He was making the point with a great deal of force and cogency that those who had the resources to afford lateral flow tests for themselves would indeed have more ‘freedom’ how to conduct their affairs. However, a low paid worker who had not seen, for example, an aged relative and who also needed to go back to work to put food on the table has his ‘freedoms’ restricted if they have to make a choice whether to visit their relative or not and cannot afford the cost of a test. The Professor also made the excellent point that the during the pandemic the motivation of the public to comply with restrictions on their liberty was pretty uniformly high – but the ability to comply with legislation was very much governed by the economic ability of the individual. A previous social theorist, R H Tawney, expressed this dilemma extremely pithly when he pronounced that ‘freedom for the pike was death for the minnow‘. The wider point here is that one person’s freedom is often at the expense of another. All ‘freedoms’ (how I dislike this term) have to be exercised in the context of obligations to others and therefore one is not ‘free’ to show ‘Fire‘ in a crowded theatre or cinema.

In the last hour, Putin has just announced that he will recognise the ‘independence’ of the two provinces of eastern Ukraine that have large Russian-speaking populations. Is this going to be the green light for him to roll in his tanks in support of their ‘independence’? I actually think not but it enormously ratcheted up the pressures that Nato now faces as well as being contrary to the Minsk agreements as as well as international law.

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