Monday, October 19th
It’s strange being down here with all this going on at home. It’s like another world down here. There are just so few people about. Apart from Bristol, there are no big cities. Even Bath, where I went today, is pretty small compared to towns like Bury and Rochdale. No wonder infection rates are so much lower here. I went to the Pump Room and the Roman Baths – both pre-booked due to virus issues. The Assembly Rooms were sadly closed, again due to virus issues! There seem to be quite a few overseas tourists around, strangely, but nothing like as many as usual: there’d usually be coachloads of people, especially Americans, in the area, to see Stonehenge, the Magna Carta and Jane Austen’s Bath.
Still no definite decision on Greater Manchester. No-one seems to know what the hell is going on. When all the details of the financial wrangling emerged, it turned out that, having asked for £95m – perfectly reasonably, given that Merseyside, with half the population of Greater Manchester, got £45m – we were only offered £60m. We then asked for £65m, but they wouldn’t even agree to that. It is impossible for me to be objective about this. This is MY city. This is MY region. (And I’ve had a bit of a crush on Andy Burnham for years, although that’s rather beside the point!) But the financial “support” on offer is a joke. How are people meant to manage on 2/3 of their wages? And local lockdowns do not bloody work. We should know. We’ve been in one for three bloody months,
Meanwhile, Wales is going into full lockdown for three weeks, from 6pm on Friday. And the Republic of Ireland is going into full lockdown for SIX weeks, from Wednesday. And Northern Ireland is now in lockdown.
Tuesday, October 20th
I cannot believe what has gone on today. The upshot is that we’re being forced into Tier 3 from Friday – and with only around £20m on offer, although it looks as if we will get the £60m mentioned beforehand. But … the national government, which is supposed to represent us, has treated us like some sort of enemy. A high noon ultimatum was offered. What is this, 1939? People were gathering in town. I don’t know what they were expecting to happen, but that’s how big it was. And that idiot Robert Jenrick, the Housing Secretary, was saying that, if Andy Burnham wouldn’t agree to do what he said, he’d “report” him to the Prime Minister. Who does he think he is, the school sneak?
Then Andy Burnham, speaking in town, found out from a message on a phone shown to him by an aide about what was happening. Boris held a press conference at 5, and said that Tier 3 restrictions were being imposed on us. Like we’re a colony. £5m. It’s a drop in the ocean in terms of government spending.
I am so angry that we are being treated like this. I really did have faith in Boris Johnson’s government. Hah! And I am so worried about the state of the local economy. And I HATE the idea of travel restrictions, even if technically they are only “guidance”. Pubs are not important to me personally, but travel is. Now I’ll be going against “guidance” if I go to the Lakes. Or even to Blackpool, to see the Illuminations, even though that’s in Tier 3 too. So it’s OK to go from, say, Standish to Altrincham, which is over 25 miles, because that’s not leaving Greater Manchester, but not to walk from Standish to Chorley or Wigan to St Helens, even though they’re all in Tier 3.
I am so angry.
Meanwhile, I’ve been to Stonehenge, and to a lovely National Trust property called Stourhead. I’ve never been to Stonehenge before. And United have beaten Paris St Germain!
I suppose that I’ll technically be breaking rules if I stay away overnight on Friday and Saturday now, but it’s hard bloody luck. I’ve paid for the hotel for the week.
Wednesday, October 21st
South Yorkshire – Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster – is to move into Tier 3. No news yet on Nottingham, the North East or West Yorkshire.
Anti-government graffiti is appearing around Manchester and Liverpool.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner called another MP “scum” in the House of Commons today, in a row over Tier 3 restrictions. OK, she was bang out of order to use language like that, but feelings are running very high.
Gyms are to reopen in Merseyside. More chopping and changing.
Rather wet today, but I had a nice day anyway – I went to Cleeve Abbey, which I wanted to see because of its links to Elsie J Oxenham’s “Abbey” books, and to Dunster Castle.
Thursday, October 22nd
I went to Salisbury today – Old Sarum in the afternoon but, first, the cathedral, where I saw one of the four surviving original copies of the Magna Carta. I wore a Manchester bee face mask for the occasion. The Magna Carta’s in a little tent to protect it from the light etc, and you go in on your own: it’s quite a spiritual experience.
It doesn’t cover pandemics.
Then I went to Cheddar. Not to the caves, though – they’ve closed down because of the pandemic.
Slough, Coventry and Stoke are moving into Tier 2.
Parliament has rejected Marcus Rashford’s proposal to provide meal vouchers during school holidays for kids who get free school meals. It’d only have cost £20m, which isn’t a lot in terms of public spending. People are furious about it. There’s very strong support for it, and social media is now full of remarks about how the government doesn’t care about hungry kids. It’s not good.
Friday, October 24th
Greater Manchester is now in Tier 3. And Warrington is to move into Tier 3. People there are being asked not to leave the borough, which is ridiculous.
“SOS” has been beamed on to the side of Blackpool Tower. Loads of half-term bookings have been cancelled, and the Illuminations going on until January isn’t going to be much help now that there’s “guidance” against people going there. The Lake District’s also seen a lot of cancellations – and businesses there won’t get any help at all, because the Lake District itself is in Tier 1. It’s just a nightmare.
I’ve been to Wells today, and then to Nunney.
Saturday, October 25th
Went to Glastonbury today. I climbed Glastonbury Tor! Then went to the Chalice Well. Then to the Abbey. I drank a bit of the Chalice Well water, supposedly springing from where the Holy Grail’s buried. And I saw where King Arthur and Queen Guinevere were supposedly buried. Now would be a very good time for King Arthur to come back and save us all! Then I went to Farleigh Hungerford Castle.
The number of councils and businesses offering vouchers or free meals to children is soaring. One of the papers called it “the Duncook Spirit”. Hopefully it’ll genuinely help some of those in need.
It’s making the government look very bad indeed.
Infections are continuing to rise. Here and all over Europe. We’re not hearing much about what’s happening elsewhere, and it’s not as easy as you’d think to find information online .
Sunday, October 25th
I’m home! Via Witley Court and Stourport-on-Severn. Done the washing. Not done the ironing.
The motorway was certainly quieter than usual. But infection rates keep rising, especially in Oldham and Rochdale. There are rumours that a “Tier 4” could be introduced, which could include shutting restaurants and “non-essential” shops. Whatever a “non-essential” shop is – there is a row going on over this in Wales at the moment. Apart from Wales, the Republic of Ireland and the Czech Republic, nowhere else seems to be going that far.
So fed up.
Marcus Rashford has repeatedly said that he wants everyone to work together and is not trying to score political points, but tell that to all the vile people twisting his kindness and humanity into abusing the government for their own ends. So sick of all the nastiness – but so heartened by all the good-hearted people offering free meals for children as a response to Marcus’s campaign. We’re sticking together. Street food traders and sandwich delivery businesses are partnering with pubs, to enable them to serve meals and therefore be allowed to remain open. But anger at Westminster is growing.
And so I’m home. In Tier 3.