21/06/2020

A View from Crazy Town

Chris Dell, Washington, D.C.

An air of normalcy (or what passes for normal in Crazy Town) has settled over Washington as summer approaches: yet another of Dear Leader's former satraps has written a tell-all book about his time in the Heart of Crazy and the White House responds with yet more legal moves to quash the book, while elected Democrats fulminate against both Dear Leader and His satrap, and Republicans pretend never to have heard of either. We're all definitely in our comfort zone pretending this is the main story, even as the city prepares to move to Phase Two of re-opening (including in-door restaurants).

 

Speaking of Dear Leader, he resumes his Famous Rallies on Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a city and state where cases of COVID-19 are rising sharply. Vice Dear Leader has reassured us that everything is fine, nothing to worry about, but the Dear Leader Campaign is requiring the 19,000 Faithful-in-Attendance to sign agreements absolving Himself and His Campaign of any responsibility should they come down sick from exposure to the virus during the Famous Rally. What could possibly go wrong?

 

Several famous relatives that all Americans grew up with have fallen by the wayside this week, victims not of COIVD-19, but the backlash against the killing of black Americans by police. Both Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, of pancake and rice fame respectively, are being retired as advertising symbols by their parent corporations. Seriously, only 50+ years after the civil rights era, corporate America is catching on to the fact that slave imagery is no longer a potent selling point. Who'd a thunk? This was only made possible, of course, because the National Football League belatedly decided it was wrong to blackball and otherwise punish athletes who took a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest said killings of black people by police. Dear Leader, who once said to great acclaim that the NFL should "fire all those sons of bitches" for kneeling, was not happy and tweeted his protests, but alas it would seem his mojo no longer works as reliably. Perhaps a return to the campaign trail will get him back in synch with the Faithful.

 

But, but... are history and demography finally catching up with Dear Leader (even sooner than COVID)? Twice this week the conservative-majority Supreme Court handed down rulings that ran contrary to His wishes. The Court - in an opinion written by one of Dear Leader's hand-picked judges no less - ruled that the law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, creed, gender, ethnicity, sex, and etc., encompasses LGBTQ persons as well. And then it also stuck a spoke in Dear Leader's wish to deport the so-called "Dreamers," immigrants who had come to America illegally as children and grown up here, sending the case back to a lower court, which effectively ended any prospect that Dear Leader would get his wish before the November election. 

 

With COVID cases on the rise in the heartland, the economy in tatters, unemployment at record levels and small pockets of Normal breaking out everywhere, Dear Leader is casting about for a magic Crazy bullet. "But her e-mails" has grown stale. As has "Lock Her Up!" The "Russia Hoax" has fallen flat. "Sleepy Joe" isn't catching on with an electorate that saw Dear Leader unable to raise a glass of water to His lips with one hand or walk down a ramp without assistance. So, "Build that Wall, Mr. Gorbachev!" may have to be dusted off and brought out of retirement from the GOP Hall of Fame, suitably updated, of course. In related news, we read that the UK's very own Dear Leader is watching Crazy Town carefully for signs, portents, and magic formulas (or formulae, if you must) of His own as he tip-toes through the wreckage of the pandemic. Allegedly, "Brexit means Brexit" has not played well with test audiences. In the famous spirit of generosity and U.S.-UK cousinly relations, we're ready to offer you the use of several recently retired relatives with long experience in advertising, but we're given to understand that Your Dear Leader would like something a touch more local. Thus, rest assured you will soon again be assured that "you've never had it so good." And who'd be Crazy enough to argue with that?

21/06/2020

Thoughts from the Top of the Hill

Linzy, Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire

Friday is here already, at the end of a worrying week. The news from the US has been unremittingly grim, with another shooting, Covid cases growing in many states and the ignorant fool at the helm claiming that the virus is dying out, as he plans his mass rally of self-glorification this weekend. Here too, it's more of the same bumbling incompetence with the "world-beating" app abandoned in favour of something more in line with the one long since adopted by other countries. This one might be ready by the autumn but the Health Secretary doesn't want to make any more promises in case he can't keep them.

 

Meanwhile, Boris is fixated on spreading his image of the new and greater Britain by jetting around the world in an aircraft about to be emblazoned with the proud Union Jack. Perhaps he would be better advised to skulk around in an anonymous grey plane but no, he's so proud of what his government has achieved. I have just heard the mind boggling figures which now describe the country's debt. It's not so long ago that there wasn't enough money in the kitty to give the nurses a pay rise. Now they are going to pay for private tutors to help children to catch up with their school work, which is very commendable but they still can't decide on the social distancing level to be used in schools. All the two metre signs will have to be painted over.

 

I was amused by your account, John, of your two radios variously tuned to the cricket. With us at the moment it's Sky News playing on my laptop a minute behind the TV in the living room. Sometimes you hear half of an item twice and sometimes you miss it, depending on your movements. The absence of sport has made a huge hole in our lives, football in Richard's, tennis and cricket in mine. Many is the time when I have lain awake through the night, watching the Ashes or the Australian Open on the TV in the bedroom, with the sound off so Richard wouldn't be disturbed, long distance glasses perched on my nose so I could read the scores, dozing through to the early hours.

 

Now some sport is returning, slowly. We settled down to the first night of Premiership football together, trying the coverage with and without the dubbed in crowd noise. We preferred it without, on balance. The first match was boring as there were no goals. There is to be some UK tennis this week, crowd free of course, and there are plans for the US and French Open tournaments to be held. Unfortunately there will be no qualifying rounds, so the lower level players will continue their enforced unemployment and the events can't really be described as "open". Only the elite top level players are required to command the TV audiences needed to get sport going. It's all about the money. Always.

 

All is quiet on the farm now, cattle and sheep grazing contentedly, unworried by their future. There was a pair of ducks on the wall outside this morning, where usually there are partridges or pheasants. A jackdaw chased the female woodpecker away from the bird feeder. We still haven't felt able to have the grandchildren over. When they stayed here the house was full of play and laughter and they would get me up early to cook a big breakfast. It's so quiet today.

21/06/2020

Gratefully Sheltering

James Oglethorpe, Virginia, USA

Shikimate Pathway

 

In search of plant food I discover death. Supermarket shelves stretching into a brighter tomorrow. Contain. Kill. Destroy. Weeds are evil. Terrifying monsters patrol your borders. Keep your loved ones safe. Protect your family from leaves that sprout and bugs that scuttle. Pour our eternal product on the grass where children crawl. Raze the horror of invasive clover. Strike at the unholy web of diversity. Our patented grass seeds are immune to our garden improvers. Ring-fence your home with our invisible protectors. Live worry-free. We control untamed nature in your homeland so you don’t have to.

 

Polluted I reach the end of the aisle. Tucked away on a bottom shelf are non toxic boxes of plant food. Feed the tomato plants growing on the patio. See. In their shadows, rounded up by nerve agents, legions of ants and silent bees convulse on the ground. Follow the sterile pathway. Defeat the enemy. Join us on the road to chemotherapy.

21/06/2020

Youlgrave lockdown

Dianne, Youlgrave Derbyshire

I had hoped to be further along with my well dressing after four hours work. Some of the things that have slowed me down are;- very small daisy petals; being careful not to bruise the petals or get clay on them; finding flowers that haven't been damaged by the heavy rain; having to cut lots of the petals to fit the shapes. All of the petals have to be laid like roof tiles so the rain will run off them and not lift them off the clay. Hopefully forty boards will be ready to go on display early tomorrow morning.

Now I have a Zoom drama workshop where we have to continue a story started by one of the group in the style of an author I choose. No confidence in my ability to do this at all. I imagine lots of you would find it really easy. Good to be back and looking forward to reading all about what you have been up to.

21/06/2020

Greetings from the far south

Mark Waller, Pretoria, South Africa

We’re in lockdown lite. Most of the restrictions on movement and activity have been lifted. The shops are open and the vast informal sector of the economy, mainly all sorts of street vending, is back in motion. Schools have reopened for a couple of the grades, but most children will be off school until July. There are a few other restrictions on gatherings, sports events, and we’re urged to stay at home ‘unless necessary’, whatever that means. Much of the noise and bustle of everyday life has returned. 

 

You get the feeling that for many people the whole crisis has suddenly evaporated. We’re supposed to wear face masks when leaving home, and the shops and offices have pedal operated hand sanitisers at their entrances. Strips of tape on the ground mark the standing distance we’re meant to keep when queuing to enter stores, pay, use ATMs and so on. 

 

But you don’t see many people complying with any of this. The ubiquitous minibus taxis, the public transport staple linking the huge dormitory townships with city centres, are supposed to take half the normal number of passengers. When people board the taxis at the terminuses they have to be disinfected and are given a squirt of hand sanitiser. But most people who use taxis get onboard along the routes not at a terminus, so no one bothers much about face masks, sanitisers or how many people cram into a taxi.

 

The first 21 days of the stringent phase of the lockdown, starting at the end of March, saw the rate of infection double every 15 days. It is now, under the more relaxed rules, doubling roughly every 12 days. There are about 84,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, 1,737 people have died, and there’s a recovery rate of 53% (18 June). The scientists advising the government reckon that the coming months will see the rate of infection reach its highest level, with up to two-thirds of the population affected and possibly 40,000 deaths by November. Such estimates can only be gauged by the eventual reality they attempt to describe. On 19 May we were told there would be about 400 deaths from the virus by the end of that month, but the figure turned out to be several hundred more. 

 

We’re told that from now on it’s very much up to us individually how things will unfold. Masks, hand washing, social distancing are the only weapons we have. The opening up of things has produced a false sense of normality. Like the eye of a hurricane.

21/06/2020

Vie de château

Marie-Christine, Blois, France

Communal History. Some French spelling. 

 

18 Juin:

For French people (even the ones who know almost nothing about history) it's an important anniversary:
1940, Général De Gaulle first broadcast from London. 

There is another almost completely unknown 18 Juin - 1429, la bataille de Patay; I never met a person who knew about it, including a young English (and Brexiter) historian whose wife is a musicologist specializing in medieval singing. Unlike Agincourt, the battle of Patay is not taught in English schools. 

 

Bataille de Patay 1429:  

I learned, soon after marrying Rob, of the "importance" of the battle of Azincourt. I had never heard of it before, and did not mind about it. Just remembered about it, each time we went to Calais by the motorway; between Calais and St Omer there is a sign-post saying Battle of Azincourt. I got interested in October 2017, when Jacob Rees-Moog "compared the UK'S withdrawal from the EU to the battles of Agincourt (English spelling), Waterloo and Trafalgar".
I am horribly fascinated by Jacob R-M, his look, his oversized costumes, his offensive behavior, his home crafted half-baked Catholicism... 


It all started with the "masculinity clause" of Philippe Le Bel in 1314, to prevent woman inheriting the French crown. In 1337, no French heir, and many other big problems in Europe. Among them the black death (the subject of my contribution to plague20 on 3 May) .

In 1348, the English king had an ambition to become also king of France and the war started. The plague stopped it until 1355. 

 

I wrote on 14 May in plague20 how our lives are shaped by WW2. I can practically do the same with the Hundred Years' War. The church of St Nicolas by our house has traces of that war; it had been fortified, and the two front sides doors had been made smaller. This is still visible as they have never been reopened completely. This church lost its XII century windows, exploded in the 1940 German bombardments (in Blois, there were also US bombardments in 1945).

 

I lived in Poitiers for 10 years. The big battle of Poitiers, 1356, when the famous Black Prince led a victorious army, many of whose men had already fought in the battle of Crecy. I work in Romorantin, where in 1356 the same Prince of Wales Edward, conducted the siege of the town. He was the terror of the whole region where we live: Poitou, Touraine, Berry, Sologne, Gatinais... All the places of that war are very familiar to me and I have personal attachment for them, I feel for the people who lived there almost 700 hundred years ago and had to suffer for so long. The traces are still visible, very present. 

 

Sadly, for Jacob R-S, Azincourt, 1415, was the beginning of the end. Azincourt, like Crecy, Poitiers and that horror the Black Prince are nothing to be proud of for Christianly devoted Jacob. 

 

The name of Patay caught my eye because I work in Orléans' hospital with a radiographer who lives in nearby Patay. Orléans, the first big town freed by Jeanne d'Arc, still celebrates this event every first of May since then. Six weeks later, the English longbowmen were massacred before they had time to install all their equipment. Betrayed by a stag. They shouted when the stag came towards them, revealing their position behind bushes. John Falstaff arrived a bit late, John Talbot was made prisoner, freed later then died in the last battle of Castillon in 1453.

 

The kings of England claimed the title of king of France untill 1803. 

 

What we have left from this period is the earlier known french political song, called Le Carillon de Vendôme (the bells of Vendôme): " Mes amis que reste-t-il à ce Dauphin si gentil, Orléans, Beaugency, Notre-Dame de Cléry, Vendôme, Vendôme".  Jeanne d'Arc probably sung it. You can listen to it on YouTube, very moving. The "gentil Dauphin" was Charles VII, before he was crowned in Reims on 17 July 1429. At the begining of 1429 these places were all that was left of France, the English had taken the rest. The Bourdon (the biggest bell remaining) in Vendôme is the same as in that time, and we still hear it. 

 

Writing this text, I realise how the names of places have not changed, and how it resonates in my heart. Thinking about all that makes me understand a bit better the immigrants, post-colonial people who get touchy about all the suffering of their ancestors.

 

This story is not far from the one of WW2, when the Germans replaced the English as the invaders. The Germans have a saying: "as happy as God in France" which perhaps explains it. Except that in 1940, it was the French, not being able to fight in their own country (the Resistance had still to be created), who had to leave for London where they were welcome.

I should have mentioned the most famous 18 June : 1815. 

"Waterloo! Waterloo! Waterloo! morne plaine! "Victor Hugo. A french alexandrin, the easiest to remember for English people.

Napoléon, probably the most hated French man by European people in history.

French people are more divided, he created modern France: le "code civil" a body of law still in use even if updated, the départements (administrative division of France still in use), the numbers on houses in the streets making taxation more easy, the French Lycée and Baccalauréat (equivalent of A level), the modern organisation of universities, the domestic waste collection, the Arc de Triomphe and the Legion d'Honneur (Président Macron awarded it today to the City of London).  

Napoléon, in 1803, sold the French Louisiana to USA for 3 cents an acre, about a third of the present USA (geographically the middle third). At that time the population of this territory (not including native Americans) was 60,000, half of them were black - Napoléon had re-established slavery a year before the sale. A good deal President Trump will say, at today's price of 160 billions Euros. 

In the XX th century, Eurostar use to arrive in London in Waterloo station. Tactfully it was moved to St Pancras just before Boris Johnson became elected mayor of London.

Living in history: my colleague Jean-Marie is a descendant of one of the 25,000 British soldiers in Waterloo, called Bizet, who was not able to go back home and settled in France, like many of them. The son of Jean-Marie, now lives in London, married a English woman, expecting an English child, working in the City, a little Bizet back home two hundred years later.

21/06/2020

From the South Downs

Stephanie, Midhurst

A writer’s pastoral complaint 

 

In lockdown, if one man hears a mower, he goes to mow, then two men, three men, four men go to mow, and on and on through all the male neighbours who with all their dogs go to mow the meadow at the back, and the green in front and the path. And the car park, and the banks. Now the hedgerows are tight mown as are the cars, the postbox and the squirrels. They’re driving tractors up the trees and mowing the canopies, frightening the rooks and buzzards. They’ve mown the words out of my head, out of my mouth, out of my ears and they call their dogs by shouting, AND MY DOG! Repeatedly. If one man hears a mower, then ten men go to mow. I see them now with their mowers on the green staring at the sky planning to build a rocket so they can fill the hours by mowing the clouds into a flat lawn. My ears need to hide. I think they’re coming inside to mow the words off the page, the untidy ink off the paper, and the worst thing is they look so pleased with themselves as if we should all be grateful, and we probably should unless we love the wild. Do you hear that tell-tale cry? AND MY DOG! Then the judder and whine of the throttle on the diesel mower. Now I understand the danger of this song, the probable cause of addictive behaviours. When the men sleep, the dogs take over, their paws are on the mowers’ handles and off they go. One dog, two dogs, three dogs, four dogs AND THEIR MEN go to mow a meadow. Amen.

21/06/2020

From Twickenham

David Horovitch, Twickenham

Monday 15th June, 8am

I have had toothache for the last few days but only at night when I lie down. This coincides with the receipt of an email from my dentist telling me of his retirement. I had been thinking anyway that I should find a new, local dentist as he's in Holland Park and I don't want to travel on the tube. 

 

Dream that I am rehearsing a play in some posh drawing-room somewhere. I am, as usual these days, the oldest person in the cast. An elderly lady, older even than me, Margaret Rutherford type, takes me aside and says - "It's odd but your voice seems to be coming from another place than the other actors. We can't hear it.' And all the other actors nod and say 'No we can't hear your voice.' When I did a season at The RSC a few years back, none of the younger actors had ever heard of John Gielgud or Ralph Richardson. They knew who Laurence Olivier was but I don't think they'd ever seen him, even on film. They'd never heard of Orson Welles or Graham Greene either. This made me feel antediluvian. 

 

Non-essential shops are opening today (cigarettes, essential apparently - trousers not).

 

11.20pm

 

Lovely, crowded day. Two long and unexpected phone calls, one from someone I haven't seen or heard from since lockdown. Then Francis calls to say he can't come and see me on Father's Day next Sunday, could he bring a picnic and come today? Of course he can. Between the phone call and his arrival I manage to squeeze in recording sonnet 35 which is a real beauty, elegant and balanced. We have our picnic in the grounds of Orleans House and get caught in the rain on the way back. 

 

Tuesday 16th June, 10.45pm

 

Wake early, sit in courtyard, learn sonnet 36, feel buoyant about it. Just about to record it when fridge door falls off - call Adam, my handyman. While I'm waiting for him to come over I start trying to record the sonnet but inadvertently delete my beauteous no 35 from the day before. Before I've re- recorded that, Adam arrives, fixes fridge door temporarily, I call NEFF to order new hinges, take about 45 mins re-recording 35, break for a bowl of soup and set about recording 36 which takes another hour. Head humming with pentameters, I walk to Orleans House with Hesse's novel Siddhartha under my arm, sit on my favourite bench under the pale-leaved cigar tree and fall asleep. Caught in rain on way back again. You could set your watch by these showers. A friend calls in the evening and invites me round to coffee next Wednesday. The ferry across the Thames has re-opened so I can get to her place easily. Haven't seen her since lockdown either. Sense of things moving into another gear. 

 

Wednesday 17th June. 11.30

 

A dream that is an antidote to Sunday's - I'm really enjoying being in an out-of town theatre company (Manchester?) loved and respected by much younger colleagues, playing a good but not leading role. Only problem is I can't find my hat. Everyone is helping me look for it when I wake up. 

 

Have a regular Wednesday morning  meeting with a friend by the river. We sit on separate benches and, today for some reason, we talk about our mothers. I realise, as we do so, that it's my mother's birthday. Once back home, I record sonnet 37 which is a bit of a thorn bush and call my sister. We can't figure out whether mum would be 109 or 110 today. 

 

Thursday 18th June, 2pm

 

A little fringe theatre in London have asked me to record sonnet 129 as part of a fund-raising thing for their theatre. 'Do something whacky with it,' they say. Being antediluvian I don't really do whacky but since it's about post-coital shame -

"The expense of spirit in a waste of shame 

Is lust in action' - I record it in bed as a morning after thing, before I've shaved or had a cuppa. 

It's the nearest thing I've ever done to a nude scene. 

 

Going to send this now as I'm worried my tech incompetence might cause me to lose it.

21/06/2020

From Rural New York

Sandy Connors, USA

It has been an eventful week, in a quiet Gilbert White sort of way ~ Three different birds had made their nests on the house ~ messy starlings returned to lay their eggs in last year’s nest in a hole in the soffit, a lovely fat red-breasted robin made a very sturdy nest on the window ledge in the front of the house, and a very noisy cheerful wren wove a fine cocoon inside another window ledge behind a torn screen right by my bed. All the babies seem to have hatched and are now practicing their flying lessons with much ado. The two outside cats are watching carefully for any mishaps, as am I, but so far, it appears all is well.

 

Monday evening our local volunteer fire department came to supervise the burning of a large debris pile out behind my property where for over 20 years I have been putting broken limbs, weeds and cuttings, and tons of fallen leaves in the autumn. It was such an impressive sight to see 8 or so men and women, three fire trucks of varying uses, ignite and keep watch over the burning pile. It turned out that despite my having requested their assistance and my donation, the fire department was eager to use this as an opportunity as a drill for the newest members. My closest neighbors joined me from their properties as we stood and enjoyed the lovely bonfire without having any worries about safety. And the meadow is looking so lovely now with a clear view out to the larger farm field which are now full of beautiful green alfalfa ~ bunnies, deer, coyotes, all kinds of birds and small animals.

 

Tomorrow my hardworking helper is coming to begin scraping and painting two sides of the house after doing the mowing which he does each week. Many roses are still in full bloom, though some have gone past, while the annuals are just beginning to open up. There has been little rain in the past few days so tonight I shall water the long bed by the barn and enjoy another quiet evening here ~ still without any real visitors, but this week, at least, it didn’t seem too lonely. I was so very pleased to hear tonight that the ‘Dreamers’ bill did not get voted down as was expected by just one vote on the Supreme Court.  

 

That’s it from here. Looking forward to hearing how everyone else’s week has been on Sunday!

21/06/2020

Care in the time of Corona

Shirin Jacob, Ålesund, Norway

Gosh! What a week!

The best news was that I passed the Social Studies exam. In Norsk, no less. One of the few mountains I’ve climbed since moving here. 

 

The first was getting my degrees approved by ECFMG (the American educational commission that certifies foreign medical graduates for Norway), a year before I even moved. They were so thorough that they asked my medical school in Singapore to certify the number of hours I had done in Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry in 1978, forty years ago. My professors are long dead so I guess the University must have had records stashed away somewhere! I had a vision of working here but since I’m not from the EU and can’t claim to be a refugee, a different set of rules apply - I need to speak B2 level Norwegian, a higher standard of Norwegian, before I can start working. Well, that is not going to happen anytime soon. 

 

The next was getting my residency permit approved through UDI, the immigration authority. Whilst I was waiting for my visa to be approved, which took a few months, the lady behind the counter assured me that I could travel but failed to warn me to stay within Schengen borders. Well, I didn’t and ...we had the full German police experience on our return, whilst going through Immigration in Munich. I was detained for the day till both the Singaporean embassy in Germany and the Norwegian police in Oslo bailed me out and we were ceremoniously escorted to the waiting aircraft by two machinegun toting German policemen in front of the curious SAS passengers. A story for my future grandchildren. 

 

I also had to retake my drivers licence at the age of 59, both the theory and practical and paid 3000 pounds of special driving classes, as Singapore drivers clearly can’t cope with icy, slippery roads, long narrow country lanes and driving in the dark. I did protest but in retrospect, I admit it was such an amazing education that I am very grateful for doing it. So six months later, I finally got my Norwegian licence. 

 

The next hurdle was passing the written and oral Norwegian exams as well as the Social Studies course. This course which spans several weekends and takes fifty hours to complete, covers in depth the function of all government agencies, the importance of education and pursuing higher education as a means of earning a better pay which enables one to support the higher taxes. Personal and sales taxes contribute to the smooth running of the welfare state. It is expedient for immigrants to understand that the country values their children and stresses education for these future taxpaying citizens who will keep the welfare system functioning. Surprisingly, there isn’t a deep resentment about the high taxes because everybody understands that at some point in one’s life, the going could get tough and the state will step in and cradle you till you can get back on your feet. Admittedly, there will always be those who will exploit the system but the Norwegian work ethic is a cornerstone of this culture so there is a slight disdain for the lazy folk. 

On the medical front, I finally got an appointment to confirm my sleep apnoea. I am loath to see doctors and have put this off for ten years. My husband has found my snoring intolerable but I admit what pushed me over was an article my daughter wrote on a elderly gentleman in the UK who was sent home to die from Covid. Instead, his amazing son kept him alive with the help of a wonderful GP and a CPAP machine, which the old gent had at home for his pre-existing sleep apnoea. I’m not going to explain what a CPAP is (Google it) but I thought it might be a good idea to have one, given that Covid is partial to Indian doctors with medical problems. The ENT specialist diagnosed me with severe apnoea, 21 attacks an hour that causes my heart rate to go up rather alarmingly and scolded me for not knowing better than to have ignored it for so long. Good man. Dear reader, be aware that sleep apnoea contributes to cardio-vascular disease. So now, I am on a waiting list for a hospital appointment.

21/06/2020

Rural Norfolk

Chris Gates, Norfolk UK

At the start of the week Matt Hancock appears, very stern, warning that nothing significant is likely to happen beyond the opening of shops in the short term and by the end he appears again, flanked by Dame Dido who he’s dragged in to share the blame, still economic with the truth in trying to explain why we’re back to the drawing board with the app-based ‘track and isolate’ phone tracker (ie the Isle of Wight one) while the NHS ‘test and track’ one where you self-report and dob in associates is doing marginally better and is to be kept. Neither is what the PM had in mind when he trumpeted we’d have world-class tracking by June 1st. Apple and Google, who know a thing or two about mapping are to be recruited to help out.

Return to school is in chaos and largely abandoned for the remainder of the academic year, hoping (I guess) that come September something will have turned up.

 

Then, a miracle: amid the chaos the announcement we’ve improved from stage 4 to 3, allowing further relaxations under the ‘Road Map’ protocol. Stand by for mollifying gestures, most likely (after first-hand exchanges between Macron and Johnson at Downing Street) a move to Continental-style 1 metre distancing - paving the way for profitable pub and restaurant operation, and the green light for UK holidays, particularly self-catering.

So, the usual stick-and-carrot approach modified by cock-up.

Nothing much to do with Government, the real world provides comfort:


1) a widely-available steroid, Dexamethasone, is found to improve the chances of seriously compromised patients both ventilated and non-ventilated and

2) both the Imperial College and Oxford vaccine trials move at pace, the latter already in mass-production anticipating approval. Over 55’s will be prioritised. Coo.

We’re broadly OK, under the influence of drugs managed a gentle stroll along Gorleston prom today (pic), enjoyed a ‘99’ and some banter with other strollers, we have the first new potatoes from the garden with local lamb chops for lunch and a weekend of family Yurt-Raising in prospect to harvest some of that self-catering bounty when the green light of recovery appears!

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