Wednesday, 1st April, 2020 [Day 16]

Although as a child I used to say ‘White Rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits’ and then hold my fingers crossed behond my back until I saw a policman riding a white horse on the first day of the month, I began to think I was too old for such childish nonsense and decided not to go down this road again – finding any policman is rare enough, let alone on a white horse!

It was an interesting venture into the park today although the weather was a bit grey with a lot of overhanging cloud. A police car pulled up into the park (notwithstanding what I was saying just now) – Meg and I wondered if they were going to cast an eye over diverse dog walkers or even, as reputededly happened in Ipswich according to a recent letter in The Times, to admonish a couple for not exercising and who were therefore breaking the spirit of the newly created social universe which we now inhabit. Fortunately, our customary park bench was out of sight of the police car but it appeared that the couple of officers (male plus female) had just pulled in to have a snack of a chocolate bar and was not chasing miscreants such as myself. As we were drinking our coffee, an elderly lady who I know by sight came into view, walking her little Jack Russell terrior dog. As I was born only two days when World War II ended and I am nearly 75, I had worked out that the only people who had any first hand knowledge would have to be about ten years of age or older and thus be 85+ years of age. After explaining why I needed to know, I tentatively asked my acquaintance her age – it turned out that she was actually 85 (but looked younger). I had been thinking that people of that generation would have had to have shown some resourcefulness and resilience to have lived throughout the wartime years and that would probably stand them in good stead for the times that we living through at the moment. It turned out that neither of us had known our fathers – my friend’s father had been drowned (they thought) crossing from Sicily to Italy. Her house in rural Worcestershire had been subject to some bombing but the three bombs dropped nearby had actually missed her house. It turned out that the German bomber had been pursued by a British fighter plane and the bomber had released his bombs indiscrimately in order to lighten his load and make good his escape. I thought this was quite fascinating social hisory – I explained how my own mother was bombed out of her house in Hull before going to Liverpool (for what reason I have not managed to ascertain but my sister was born there) before being bombed out of her house in Liverpool. On our way home, a sight that gladdened the eye was to see a duck with a brood of 10 ducklings swimming towards us in the park pond. They only looked a day or so old and I had not noticed them before so I wonder when they were actually born. The other remarkable fact was the ducks had nested on an island which is sits astride a stone wall at least a metre high so I speculated that the mother duck must have encouraged one or two day old chicks to have plunged that distance to reach the pond  (a bit like us leaping at least from the top of a house)

Our daughter-in-law had very kindly offered to do the weekly shopping for us at a branch of Waitose in Droitwich. This was a surreal experience as the queue stretched right around the car park as individuals had to keep at least 2 metres apart and only about 10 were allowed in the store at any one time. However, we managed to get some basic supplies (at Waitrose prices!) to keep us going for the next week or so. I wonder what the COVID-19 death toll tomorrow will be as it was 560 today and can only get worse…

 

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Tuesday, 31st March, 2020 [Day 15]

A beautiful bright day today and consequently the park seemed somewhat fuller of dog-walkers than normal – I mean we could see about six people in total rather than two. I was thinking aloud whether if we were spotted sitting on a park bench, we would be moved on by an officious community police person or a park attendant. Mind you, this is an entirely artificial concept, as in twelve and a half years of living in Bromsgrove, I have never seen a uniformed police offer patrolling the streets of Bromsgrove. Occasionally ( once or twice a week), you might see a Police Community Support Officer and I suspect that park attendants were least seen in the pages of ‘The Beano‘ because I do not recall ever having seen once since. When they did disappear? Parking wardens first appeared in 1960 so perhaps one was transformed into the other. On the way home, we spent a pleasant 20 minutes or so chatting with one of our friends from church. We made her appear by the simple expedient of standing in front of her house and waving at a window until we were spotted – these chats help us all to stop having cabin fever.

In the afternoon, I carried on with the organisation of press-cuttings and articles which I had allowed to accumulate over the years. I now have them organised into folders comprising a variety of health conditions (which I won’t detail now), exercise, dietary issues, the ageing process and finally a category I call ‘newsworthy’. These are now housed in a couple of box-files and I am resolved both to keep them accessible and also to constantly file away new material as I find it. In this respect, The Times Health section often contains interesting material and is generally very reliable. In the late afternoon, we FaceTimed some of our Waitrose friends and exchanged news about current supermarket access and the state of the world in general. It’s great to be able to talk over a video-link like this and I wish I had started it sooner with many of my friends and acquaintances. I am resolved to also get to grips with Skype which is a bit of a closed book to me at the moment.

If I were a member of the NHS front-line staff, I think I would feel incredibly frustrated at the government’s response to the absence of sufficient testing for the COVID-19 virus. When faced with direct and sometimes penetrating questions, they resort to evasion, aspiration (‘We hope very much that soon we will…etc’)and occasionally, a direct misrepresentation, for example saying that the shortage of a suitable reagent in the testing process is the source of the problem. It is evident that there has been a massive lack of preparedness over the years and is now manifest by a deficit in the testing facilities, the staff to do the tests and the analysis, not to mention the kits themselves. I am finding that the daily briefing at 5.00 pm is particularly irksome as the journalists can pose quite pointed questions over their video- links but after an evasive reply not answering the question at all directly, the journalist is not given the opportunity to have any come-back and hence this plays straight into the politician’s hands. There will be a lot more of this in the next two weeks, I am sure.

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Monday, 30th March, 2020 [Day 14]

So the start of another week – and the end of our first fortnight of self-isolation. We were really looking forward this morning to taking delivery of our first Waitrose ‘Click and Collect‘ groceries which my son was picking up for us from a larger Waitrose store in Droitwich. However, we only received £13 worth of the £40 worth of goods ordered, many being unavailable alhough the website did not list them as being out of stock. These were mainly cleaning materials and anti-bacterial wipes which we could really have done with but evidently, just as if one were shopping in person, there were none to be had. At least the Amazon website is brutally honest when it says “We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock

My niece had sent me a link to her local church in Harrogate where they are offering a vew of the special mid-day prayers. As this was a YouTube reference, I put the reference on a website with a specially short and snappy name to help to access it – and then the problems started. On my Panasonic TV I found on the menu where, in theory, you could access the web – I ascertained that I did indeed have an internet connection. I was incredibly pleased to get my webpage up and loaded although it was very tedious typing to type in the name by picking out ony letter at a time on the keyboard so I accessed the link and waited. Then I got a message saying ‘YouTube cannot work with this browser‘ as it was out of date. So I attempted to download an update to FireFox which then informed me ‘Error – FireFox cannot display this page‘ At that stage, I gave up completely and went to view it on the computer in my study where it took only seconds to load. The ‘service’ was a little basic (the pastor sitting in a chair and reading out a few bits of scripture and a prayer/contemplation or so) but out of interest I wondered what the rest of YouTube was up to and discovered that if one wanted one could have complete Catholic Masses complete with video images of the church and congregation, full music and the like (mainly North American or Canadian) and evidently produced at a professional level. So if I need some spiritual consolation ( I am not at thet stage yet) we shall have to wait and see!

In the afternoon, I decided to tackle one of my well-known piles and made a fair degree of progress. I managed to throw away about half of the pile and the remainder was mainly newspaper articles and/or printouts from the internet which focussed on the following issues:

(i) bowel and prostate cancer

(ii) how to eat healthily

(iii) how to exercise healthily.

I then discovered to my delight that I had two empty box files (and an empty Apple iPad box which I can press into service) so the task for tomorrow is to do a proper sorting out into the relevant boxes and then finding a location in which to store the boxes (as my study is already rather full) I think it’s going to be a ‘top-of-the-bookcase’ jobby but at least it helps to fulfil the pledge both to my son and our home help that ‘There is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth‘ – but I will have to keep on repenting until the study (and the rest of the house) are in a completely ship-safe and orderly state. Another bout of tidying up/sorting out/throwing away/filing awaits tomorrow no doubt. Incidentally, our local park was incredibly quiet this morning – we were approached by several enthusiastic licking dogs (whose owners kept at a respectable distance)

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Sunday, 29th March, 2020 [Day 13]

I always think that the day after the clocks is the first actual day of spring, whatever the date of the Spring equinox – it is nice to get an hour of extra light at the end of the day. Although it seems a big job to get all of the clocks in the house done. my son and I share the tasks between us so it is soon done. I just have to remember the alter the time in the car the next time I take it for a drive. This afternoon, we decided to devote the time to a good clean of the house, now that our weekly help is not available to us. I did a certain amount of tidying up before hoovering and now fully appreciate what a difficult job it must be week by week when I leave little piles of things on the floor. Nonetheless, as a result of tidying up, I have now discovered a calculator which had been temporarily mislaid, two books that were in places that I did not expect them be (although I intend to give both of them away) and some coloured electicians tape littering my study floor (I used it for bookbinding purposes when I run several pages of e.g. a manual and make it into a little book, properly stapled and with tape covering the spine if you really wanted to know!)

My son managed to get me a Sunday Times and an Observer which were very gratefully received. From the Sunday Times, I discovered the following:


UK COVID-19 tests per week:35,000 Deaths : 1000+

Germany COVID-19 tests per week: 500.000 (available to all who ask for them) Deaths: 400


Our populations are similar so that is quite a telling statistic! When challenged over the evident delay exhibited by the government before their volte-face, the response by various government ministers is always either complete prevarication or the mantra ‘we have always been guided by the science’ One wonders when this is all over and we have an official enquiry, what it will actually reveal (although I feel that we could probably write the enquiry report now)

 

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Saturday, 28th March, 2020 [Day 12]

Well, I sort of struck lucky in the wee small hours of the morning. I had set up an account with Waitrose ‘Click and Collect‘ mainly for cleaning materials, wipes and the non-food items that we were likely to run out in a couple of weeks time (or at least, not find in the store) To my delight, a ‘slot’ came up on Monday next which I eagerly accepted although it entails a jouney (by son and/or daughter-in-law to nearby Droitwich, where the Waitrose store is so much bigger) It will be interesting to see how much of the original order is actually fulfilled – we shall see!

Today, I was also delighted to be the recipient of ‘The Times‘ and ‘The Guardian‘ which had kindly been collected for us by the family on their morning walk. Although we are prepared to forego newspapers during the week, those on a Saturday are particularly valuable as they contain the guides TV programmes in the week to come.

As I was watching TV tonight, I was particularly struck by how pointless many of the advertisements are on commercial TV. Of course, they would have been commissioned months ago and made weeks ago – but an advert advocating a particular brand of cosmetic seems singularly pointless when it is impossible to go to a shop that could sell it for me. I forget who it was who opined that at least half of all the money spent on advertising is absolutely wasted but the difficulty remains that no one can discern which half!

I thought I would attempt to be virtuous today – if the weather had been better, I would have spent some time in the garden doing a bit of a spring tidy up. Instead, I engaged in a stepper routine to which I have a link via YouTube – the presenter is quite a likeable young American lady who with her partner runs a series of programmes called on a website called FitnessBlender.com. It takes me about 15 minutes and gets me out of breath as well as exercising my lower body – in the meantime, to get me going for the day, in the morning and before breakfast I do a series of Pilates style stretches and incorporate a 4kg weight to make sure my arm muscles do not waste away. The way that I know whether these various exercises are doing their job is (a) how easy it is to put a loaded suitcase in an overhead luggage compartment when one is going on holiday (a distant hope?) and (b) whether my muscles ache or not after the first mowing of the season (which tends to be the heaviest one) Whilst on the fitness theme, I am in two minds whether to do the online yoga course which my local yoga studio is putting on to try and gain a bit of income for themselves whilst it is not possible to attend in person. I think I probably will if only I would like their small business to keep going after the ‘crisis’ and a combination of yoga and Pilates exercises ought to keep me in shape.

The news continues to be shocking, of course, and I keep wondering where the ‘inflection‘ point of the curve will come i.e. the point at which the rate of new cases starts to moderate, indicating one is nearing the tope of the curve. The following is copied from the MedScape website:


        Number of Patients With COVID-19 in ICU Doubles Every 2 to 3 Days

  • Manca has calculated from the Italian data that the number of patients in intensive care with COVID-19 initially doubles every 2 to 3 days.
  • This rate slows fractionally every day until, after 3 to 4 weeks, the doubling time is around 4 to 5 days. Around day 18, the rate of increase is maintained for 3 to 4 days without increasing further, known as the “inflection point”, after which the rate of increase in ICU cases begins to drop.
  • He found that the inflection point was reached in Lombardy 19 days after the outbreak started in the region.
  • For the rest of Italy, that point will not be reached until the start of next month, he therefore predicts. The consequence is that “every day counts,” he stressed.

On these calculations, we still have 2 more weeks of really bad news. Interesting that exhibition centres (ExCel in London, NEC in Birmingham, GMex in Manchester) are now being commissioned as instant hospitals-cum-morgues.

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Friday, 27th March, 2020 [Day 11]

After I have blogged in the past about the inanities of accessing Ocado, the online supermarket, I think I only need to report that I had to wait three minutes in a queue to join a queue which was more than 262,000 long (more than a quarter of a million) – and which now was ‘being paused! ‘  I think, enough said!

Meg and I were heartened to meet with one of our Waitrose friends in the park today and we held an interesting chat as a distance of some three or four metres. I have noticed that when people know each other and evidently have a regard for them then the distance between them actually increases so that perhaps on a subconscious level one is trying not to do harm to friends and kindred spirits. The park was extremely quiet today and it looks as though the social isolation message is really starting to ‘cut through’ – perhaps the prospect of £30 fines is deterring some people. When we got home and turned on the TV it was to the news that Boris Johnson (the prime minister), Matt Hancock (Health minister) and the Government’s chief medical adviser had all been stricken by the virus (but none, it appears, too severely at this stage)

In these very straightened circumstances, I have been reflecting upon the fact that my mother’s generation who had lived through World War II knew about social isolation (air-raid shelters) and privations and certainly know how to make a little go a long way. My mother tended to bake bread every day and had a range of other habits that seemed to date from her war-time experiences. For example, she always conserved what she called ‘good’ water i.e. water that had been used for one cleaning purpose but was not thrown away as it could then be used for something else. As we eke out our meagre and dwindling food supplies in the weeks yet to come, we may need to relearn some of those old-fashioned virtues of thrift and resilience. In the late afternoon, we FaceTimed some of our oldest and dearest Waitrose friends and nattered for practically an hour (which always seems to fly by) We may meet in the park for a distance at a distance if the nice fine days of spring return in a few days. This evening I spent a pleasant few minutes reading and replying to one of our Hampshire friends who had been reading these blogs and whose supermarket experiences seemed to parallel our own.

As I type, I am listening to Beethoven’s 9th (choral symphony) on ClassicFM and reflect that some things have got better. The various radios we have scattered throughout the house are tuned either to Radio 4 (talk programmes) or to ClassicFM with an occasional foray into Radio 3 when ClassicFM goes a bit downmarket by playing a Strauss waltz (does anybody actually choose that?) I suppose my appreciation of classical music started when I was at a boarding unit in a school in Bolton, Lancashire to which I was despatched whilst my mother trained to be a teacher in the mid-1950s. [As an aside, she was so desperate to get into what was then called a Teacher Training College that she altered the 1911 on her birth certificate to 1914 to make herself look three years younger, the penalty for this sin being that she had to wait for an extra three years before she could draw her state retirement pension!] The school did not have a particularly good reputation but I was in the school choir and the orchestra (and two members of the school were actually in the National Youth Orchestra) But much more prestigious was the school brass band (of which I was not a member being a violinist) and it played reguarly at the Catholic Whit Walks held in the Lancashire towns when all the various civic and ethnic groups (e.g. Ukranians who had come to work in the mines) used to parade in their best uniforms/national dress. On my study wall, I still have a Lowry (print!) showing the Whit Walks in the distance which is a reminder of our Manchester and university days.

 

 

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Thursday, 26th March, 2020 [Day 10]

The day did not start off particularly well because, as I might have predicted, I got to the front of a queue of about 60,000 in Ocado only to find there were no slots available. However, this is not quite as dire as it sounds because our daughter-in-law managed to secure a few provisions for us from Marks and Spencers/Waitrose (the ALDIs and ASDAs of this world are a disaster zone) I may see if Ocado have any priority system for self-isolaters although I doubt it, despite government urging. I have also signed up to my local Iceland who is offering free delivery but there are no slots available (whilst my welcoming letter once I had signed up was promising the earth)

Actually, there is quite a jolly atmosphere in our house at the moment. We are all well and aiming to keep that way by being particularly careful about who we interact with. The house is reasonably stocked with food and we do not feel under any great stress, although I must say the local park is a god-send. This afternoon marked the first outing of the petrol mower and I was delighted that it started on the second ‘pull’ – I have to have the mower on a higher cut for the first cut of the season as the grass is so tufty. Incidentally, did you know that petrol contains 5%-10% ethanol at the moment (the petrol companies are very coy about telling you about this) and you need to buy a special ‘fuel stabiliser’ to add to the fuel in the container you use for the mower. It doesn’t matter too much in cars where the motion of the car joggles it all around but it does matter in the case of containers for your mower as they tend to hang around in the garage. The ethanol absorbs a layer of water from the atmosphere and the water and the petrol then separate and you have horrendous problems with the mower. For that reason, I always religiously drain off the oil and the excess fuel at the end of the mowing season and at the start of a new season I only ever use the highest quality of fuel I can and put in a Briggs and Stratton fuel stabiliser additive which lasts forever. I only found out about this because my mower handbook recommended that I use a fuel stabiliser and I did some Googling to find out why. If any reader also runs a petrol mower, it’s worth a search around.

Tonight we had the first? last? episode of the Clap for Carers event – everyone comes to their windows or doors at 8.00 in the evening and applauded the workers in the NHS who are keeping us all safe. We all found it quite inspiring – the most unlikeliest of our neighbours participated.

Today was the day when the Chancellor of the Exchequer unveiled a scheme giving a grant to all the self-employed of 80% of the profits they declared to HMRC. Has it occurred to anyone that many of the self-employed declared everything they could think of as expenses (cars, clothes, equipment, parts of rooms as office space etc. etc.) to minimise their tax liability and consequently paid very little in actual tax (whilst claiming that it was their taxes that paid for the NHS – not the hefty contributions from the rest of us on PAYE) This means that their actual ‘profit’ which is income minus expenditure would have been declared as very little and now they only receive a grant of 80% of this. None of the commentators have explained that but are declaiming how generous the government has been but I suspect not! Those who don’t qualify have to join the rest of humanity on Universal Credit where they wait 5 weeks for the first payment and an horrendous online assessment process. Hey Ho – the German word ‘schadrenfreude‘ occurs to me!

 

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Wednesday, 25th March, 2020 [Day 9]

Today started with a maximum degree of frustration. To order some groceries online, I am using Ocado which seems very good but is almost completely overwhelmed by the demand for online shopping – it is not unheard to join a queue of 50,000 whilst shopping. In order to maximise my chances of getting onto the system, I logged in about 1.00 am in the morning and was pleasantly surprised to get after only a 5-minute wait (eight hours is threatened if you try during the day). Having already saved a trolley load of groceries, I took on the remaining three delivery slots. However, the way the system works one has to order £40.00 worth of goods. As so many items were unavailable my ‘shopping basket’ dropped to about £20.00 so I was forced by the system to abandon my delivery slot in order to top my groceries to a volume which after allowances would not drop below £40.00.  So I topped up with various items but by the time I came to checkout, all of the delivery slots had gone so I was left, as at the beginning of the night with a basket of groceries (a bigger basket in this case) but no delivery slot. On the assumption that slots are released each day in the wee small hours of the morning, I shall try again tonight and see how I get on. To be honest, as we have about two weeks of food, we have sufficient to cover our needs but I am trying to be organised for what is to come a fortnight down the track, as it were. As it happens, our daughter-in-law managed to pop into M&S and had topped up with a few things for both herself and for Meg and me.

Today on our daily walk, we found people both friendly but also responsible as tended to swerve ‘outwards’ as it were to give each other a wide berth as it were. I am sure we are quite fortunate, having a large park to walk around only about 1.5km away but I can only imagine how people are feeling if they have been cooped up in a small flat for days on end.

This afternoon, I waited for a telephone call from my doctor to give me the results of my recent gastroscopy (some small polyps were removed but they were benign) and to update blood pressure medication so I spent some of the afternoon trying to get into a really relaxed state listening to ClassicFM before I took some blood pressure readings. As it happens, I am listening to ClassicFM as I type and they are trying to encourage the British public to do what the Italians, Spanish and French are already doing. At 8.00 every evening, people get onto their balconies (in flat-centred societies) where everyone gives a huge round of applause as a mark of appreciation to the NHS personnel who are struggling to preserve our lives in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We had previously arranged to FaceTime our closest friends in Spain and to get news from them. The ‘lock-down’ had been imposed much more rigorously there rather than here – for example, one was allowed to venture out about 200 metres with one’s pet to allow it to relieve itself and then back home. We joked that if they ran out of toilet paper (there had been a panic on this in Spain as well) it would be not only the pets that were relieving themselves on the side of the road. The military (‘Guardia Civile’) seemed to have played a much bigger role in maintaining the new social norms but after some terrible scenes in supermarkets, the access to food seems to have settled down. But Spain has many more smaller shops as well as supermarket chains so I suppose that helps. The view from Spain as the deaths in Spain exceed those in China was that the Chinese could be lying about their figures – but in any case, in a non-democratic regime people could be dragged from their houses and made to conform if it was evident that they were not doing so.

The Ocado website is down until 11.0opm so I wonder if I get any more success tonight – I will report tomorrow. Watch this space!

 

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Tuesday, March 24th 2020 [Day 8]

This has been the first full day of ‘lock-down’ but it hasn’t seemed so very different from the days preceding it.  The roads were certainly quieter but from our bedroom we can still see (a long way off) lorries making their way up and down the M42/M5. It was a beautiful spring day and one in which felt good to be alive with the birds singing and the trees starting to burst into bloom. On our way down to our normal pitch in the park, we passed a couple of neighbours who we have got to know better over the years – they attend the same church and were keenly gardening whilst they could. We chatted for perhaps half an hour exchanging horror stories and thoughts about the current crisis. The behaviour of fellow walkers was quite interesting. When we started to get within range of any other walkers, we engaged in a mutual swerve in plenty of time making sure that there were at least three metres between us rather than the recommended two. It seemed a reversal of normal patterns of behaviour – one exhibited on’s concern for other people by taking steps to avoid them rather than greet them. We observed just one example of antisocial behaviour in which a couple of parents and their two children and a dog were romping down the path without seemingly a care in the world – we turned abruptly on our heels and took off in the opposite direction so that we would come nowhere near them.

Our son, Martin, spent an hour and three quarters queuing to get into the local pharmacy picking up a couple of prescriptions for us (in a queue of about two dozen) for which we were very grateful. Lunch consisted of one of our own home-made fish pies and I reminded myself that I had all of the ingredients to male another one which lasts for 4-5 meals altogether. When everyone is safely in the house we engage on a deep clean of kitchen surfaces and the like – I am taking over the duties of the light switches monitor, disinfecting each of the light switches in the house (of which there seemed to be a lot – I must do a count of them tomorrow)

Quite a lot of the day I  have had my Ocado app running on the computer running down from about 40,000 in the queue only to find there are no delivery slots yet allocated. We are stocked up with enough food for about the next two weeks but I am trying to put in a sensible order for delivery in about a fortnight’s time although this may be a vain hope. Our daughter-in-law is going to try and buy a few essentials from M&S when she comes home from school tomorrow so we shall have to live in hope.

As I was watching the news bulletin at end of the day we learned that the NHS are concerting the Excel exhibition centre in London into a 4,000 bedded temporary hospital whilst Donald Trump is arguing that he intends to ‘open up’ the rest of America to the world by Easter which is now three weeks away, whilst the mayor of New York is pleading desperately for medical supplied as the virus is whipping through the city like wildfire!

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Monday March 23rd, 2020 [Day 7]

Well, we knew in our hearts that this day was eventually going to arrive and so it has. Of course, if you have already been self-isolating and keeping at least two metres from individuals you pass on a walk then nothing much will actually change. But, inevitably, the most dramatic impact is upon food distribution. Did all of the people who ‘panicked’ and collectively put £1 billion worth of food in their store cupboards act sensibly and rationally: if you tried not to panic and hoard then were you denying yourself essential supplies in the future? About 10 days I signed up for Ocado and actually got a delivery last Sunday. I now have a ‘normal’ week shopping of some £40.00 worth of goods in the Ocado system but no delivery slots are available so what to do? The official government advice is to use online delivery services ‘when you can’ (which are incredibly weasel words from a government which must or should have known/modelled these consequences) As of 8.30 this evening, the entire food distribution system is suspect. I’m not sure I particularly want to be starved into standing in a queue to be let in three at a time into a supermarket with basically no stock, but when the point of starvation arrives I suppose I will.

Today didn’t start off particularly well as our friendly assistant in our local Waitrose with whom I had set up an arrangement to collect my pre-paid newspapers had reported in sick and was self-isolating. However, she had fully briefed one of her colleagues and we handed in our bag and vouchers and got our newspapers for the first (and probably the last) time. We had some nice chats at a distance with friends and acquaintances in the course of the morning. The afternoon was spent composing a little note to send round the rest of the residents who share the BioDisk (mini sewage treatment system for our six houses) reminding them to only flush conventional toilet tissue down the loos in case desperation forces them to use cut-up newspaper or other improvised solutions which could well clog the system. We FaceTimed some more friends at the end of the afternoon and swopped notes about access to food, recipes and the like. Then a nice long chat with our new next-door neighbours that I hadn’t managed to see in quite a long while.

Martin sent me a very interesting article from Roy Lilley, a very well informed commentator on the Health Service. The article ‘Some thinking to do..‘ was essentially trying to predict what new models of economic and social organisation we would develop ‘when this is all over’ as the government’s response to the crisis in paying 80% of the wages of people working in the private sector is  ‘pure socialism’ It is surely the case that nothing will ever be quite the same again. In particular, there is. a strong argument that our NHS must always start off from a position where it can respond well to new situations of pandemics which will surely arise again (three in the last century?)

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