Wednesday, 3rd February, 2021 [Day 324]

The mild spell continues as we are getting a nice taste of quasi-Spring sunshine. However, I fear that this is the calm before the storm because the weather forecasters are telling us that another cold snap is on the way. Hopefully, we may just about evade the snow but ‘wintry showers’ are the order of the day. We were a little delayed this morning because it was the appointed day for our house alarm system to be checked over, which we do once a year about this time. The reason for doing it now is that it is the time of year when our house insurance has to be renewed and we always tick the box to say our alarm system has been checked – if we had not ticked the box or even worse had lied, then our house insurance might have been rendered null and avoid. After three quarters of an hour with the alarm whooping at various intervals in order to test it, we were given the all-clear for another year so that is a relief. We were also reminded how to press the ‘panic mode’ which is useful to know but not mentioned in the manuals, for some strange reason. We then enjoyed a pleasant walk to collect our newspapers and on the way, we met with our Italian friend who had been vaccinated on the same day as Meg and myself. We enquired whether she had endured any ill-effects (and she had not) so I said I was owed a ginger cake at least for taking her to the vaccination centre. From here, we made our way to the park, where we met up with our Birmingham University friend. We were discussing matters of a statistical nature – particularly the way in which statistics tend to get reported even by doctors. For example if a patient’s risk factor are to be increased by 50%, this sounds dramatic. But if the risk had increased from 1 chance in a 1,000 to 1.5 chance in 1,000 then for all intents and purposes this can be ignored. Whilst we tend to have a chat every day, we are going to try an experiment tomorrow and relocate ourselves to a different set of benches overlooking the park so that we can survey if anyone is going to approach us indicating we may be bending the rules. On our way home, we met with an old lady who we know well from our walks in the park – she was having a conversation with her son and grand-daughter and they were doing this whilst standing in a porch whilst the relatives were standing in the driveway. The things we have to do to comply with the spirit (and the letter) of the regulations. Finally, we met again with some of our old church friends and had another of our pleasant little chats before we returned home in reasonable time. 

By this morning’s post, we received a letter from Meg’s cousin who is in the business of relocating herself from Cheltenham in order to live much nearer to one of her daughters in a small village just outside Derby. We had a wonderfully long and informative letter and Meg’s cousin does not seem to have a routine which is very dissimilar to yours in that it involves a circular walk, a chance to pick up a newspaper and to pick up one or two items of shopping. She also sent us some estate agent’s ‘blurb’ detailing a bungalow that she intends to buy and it seems, to our eyes, to be superbly adapted for her needs. The blurb did actually use the words ‘deceptively spacious” (this phrase is now so hackneyed I wonder that it is still actually used). Basically, this is a two bedroomed bungalow but the whole of the loft space has been converted into a potential third bedroom or even a work room which should our cousin’s craft activities down to the ground. In the reply I am going to draft tomorrow, I must work out what modes of communication we can now deploy other than a letter – FaceTime of course would be ideal if her daughter has equipped her with an iPhone.

Tonight, we were exhorted by Boris Johnson to ‘clap for Captain Tom’ which the members of the family duly did at 6.00pm. I actually use a metal serving spoon banged on the back of a large anodised cooking pot which makes a beautiful loud ringing noise right across our little square. Having just seen a programme on the plague, I was also tempted to cry out ‘Bring out your Dead’ which seemed funny at the time but was actually in the worst possible taste. Next time, I think I shall engage brain before mouth. I am slightly ambiguous about doing anything that Boris Johnson urges one to do but the case is truly a worthy one and Captain Tom was a life well to be remembered. I wonder if a statue will be erected to him, which is one suggestion doing the rounds this evening.