Wednesday, 23rd February, 2022 [Day 709]

As I was getting up this morning, I listened to some fragments of the excellent Radio 4 statistics programme ‘More or Less‘ I must say at the outset that I only caught some of this debate and may be mis-representing it entirely. But the debate went something like this – in assessing the impact and incidence of the COVID pandemic across most countries do we place more faith in (a) statistical modelling or (b) detailed inter-country comparisons, insofar as they are valid, to try to evaluate the effect of any one policy (e,g, wearing vs. non-wearing of face masks). I think I am right in saying that approach (b) was adjudged to be more fruitful but even here there are pronounced political and social differences between societies. Authoritarian compared with more ‘laissez-faire’ societies (who are inclined to punish infractions immediately) may well generate ‘better’ results even though both types of society have the same policy on mask-wearing. I am sure these statistical arguments and approaches will go on for years but if there is any consensus, it is that early and decisive action at the intimation of a pandemic generates better societal results in the long run.

Last night, as the newsreader was going through various items in the bulletin, there seemed (at first sight) to be an odd pause nwhen it was announced ‘Let us just have a quick time check‘ The time check was scheuled (to the second) to be on 22:22:22:22:22 i.e. the 22nd second of the 22nd minute of the 22nd hour (i.e. 10pm ) of the 22nd day of the 22nd year. To students of numerology, no doubt this was a second to savour but I suspect that it passed most of us by without a second glance.

When Meg and I gazed out of our window this morning, the sky was blue and the sun was shining so we thought this would be a good day to make an impromptu visit to Droitwich just down the road. This seemed to be a good idea at the time but after we had collected our newspaper and then motored to Droitwich the skies had clouded over and the whole environment semed a lot less pleasant. Nonetheless, we trundled off to our favourite coffee bar but a couple of things conspired againt us. Not only was it half term (lots of screaming kids looked after by fraught grandmothers) but we got there at just about the minute late morning when the whole world suddenly determined they were in desperate need of a coffee and more. Nonetheless, we felt disinclined to go roaming much further afield so eventually we acquired a table and after a period of queuing ordered our favourite cappuchuno and teacakes. After this we had a long way to travel  (next door) to the Oxfam charity shop which is always stuffed full of high quality goodies, Most of the china goods were things that we would not want or need but the quality was universally high. We did, though, purchase a good handbag and bought some Easter cards which are occasionally hard to find. We had spent so much on this that we went straight to our cafe-cum-bistro where we knew we could get some high quality comestibles and we had not booked thinking, quite rightly, that the venue would be pretty quiet. The café had an interesting menu in that for its ‘specials’ board it was displaying some soup (lightest of meals), pasta with meatballs (a light meal) and finally salmon with new potatoes (a full meal) We opted for the pasta which was delicious and eventually I got into conversation with the chef to see if we could reproduce the same result at home. To drink with our meal, we also ordered some elderflower pressé and this was delivered in two stout bottles. When the waitress told me they would only throw the bottles away, I ‘begged’ them so that I could utilise them for my damson gin, cheekily asking her if she could possibly retrieve the screw-on caps for me (which she did).

About the Ukraine crisis, I have only thing to say at this point in time. Our government have been extremely forthright in indicating that sanctions would be applied against Russia to counter their incurson into the Ulkraine. However, the actual sanctions imposed amount only to the slightest slap on the wrist as it is said that the government is now going to pursue three Russian oligarchs and two minor Russian banks (which the americans had sanctioned months ago on any case) Even some Conservatives in the House of Commons think that the UK response is weak in the extreme. The Germans, for their part, with practically no fanfare, have suddenly halted the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project which is designed to double the flow of Russian gas directly to Germany. This must have quite an impact on the German economy but it looks as though they are prepared to put principles before money (whereas the UK approach is the reverse i.e.  to put money before principles)



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