Monday, December 7th
Hooray! Two small Christmas markets are to open in town. I might go on Friday: I’m having the day off because they won’t let us carry our holidays forward, and, with cinemas, museums etc all closed, there’s very little else to do.
There were pictures of packed crowds outside Harrods over the weekend. How come so many people can afford to shop at Harrods?! Desperate cafe/restaurant owners in Tier 3 areas are demanding to know how come this is OK and yet they can’t have customers in to sit at socially distanced tables. The government, natch, couldn’t care less.
Infection rates continue to fall across Greater Manchester, hooray! But, worryingly, the rate of increase in our borough has slowed right down – it’s still down week on week, but actually up between mid-week and the end of the week. We’ve now got the second-highest rate of the ten boroughs, and are really letting the side down. It could be due to a particular factor such as an outbreak at a school, but nothing’s been said.
Prince William and Kate are touring the country on the Royal Train. Hopefully this’ll be a morale booster. Politicians are not welcome, but Royals are 🙂 .
Level 4 restrictions in Scotland are to end. Lucky Scotland! But infection rates in Wales, especially South Wales, are rising, and the situation’s also worrying in parts of Europe. We hear next to nothing about what’s happening in Africa, Asia or South America … except for the England cricket tour of South Africa having to end early due to members of both teams, and hotel staff, testing positive.
Tuesday, December 8th
The vaccine roll-out’s started! A 90-year-old lady called Margaret Keenan received her first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this morning, in Coventry. Hopefully this is the beginning of the end. (And not the end of the beginning.)
I know this is really exciting, but it’s hard to be excited when, after plunging for the last few weeks, infection rates in our borough have somehow started creeping up again. WHY is this happening? They’re down everywhere else, even Oldham and Rochdale which’d been struggling so badly. Hopefully it’s just a blip, maybe a cluster at a school or something, but we aren’t being given any info. With tier levels due to be reviewed next week, this is just the last thing we need. It’s like we’ve been progressing along the snakes and ladders board and have now slipped right back down a snake. Infection rates in Greater Manchester as a whole are down, and now below those in Greater London, but I’m really worried about what’s going on here.
William and Kate visited Manchester yesterday, and have now been reunited with the Queen, Charles and Camilla, Anne, and Edward and Sophie at Windsor Castle. Sadly, whilst they were welcomed by the people they met, the tour’s been marred by the ill-mannered Nicola Sturgeon and the equally ill-mannered Vaughan Gething (the Welsh Health Minister) pretty much saying that they weren’t welcome, and Downing Street failing to give the appropriate backing. You can’t do right for doing wrong, sometimes.
Scottish Higher exams have been cancelled.
So have trains from Switzerland to Italy.
And, following the affair of the Danish mink, we now have the Catalan lions. Sounds like a rugby team. But it’s not funny- four lions at a zoo in Barcelona have tested positive for coronavirus.
And I am off to finish writing my Christmas cards before watching United v Leipzig.
Later – oh FFS. We made such a great start to this year’s Champions League, and now we’re out at the group stage. Just like this year hasn’t been bad enough!
Wednesday, December 9th
Some statistics for infection rates per 100,000 head of population:
Coventry (Midlands) – 134
Bristol (West Country) – 141
Leeds (Yorkshire) – 144
Newcastle (North East) – 146
Greater Manchester (North West) – 159
All of these areas have been placed into Tier 3, with travel restrictions imposed and hospitality businesses forced to close.
London – 183
Luton (just outside London, airport named “London Luton”) – 287
Both of these areas have been placed into Tier 2, where travel restrictions have not been imposed and hospitality businesses are open.
Yep. That just sums up the Westminster bubble’s attitude towards anywhere outside the London area, doesn’t it?
The issues in our borough are apparently due to a cluster in one small area – obviously not good news, but at least it’s a cluster not a general thing, so hopefully things will improve next week. Things are levelling off in other areas too, though 😦 . So sick of the whole bloody thing.
A Russian health official’s said that people shouldn’t drink alcohol for 56 days after receiving the Sputnik vaccine. Other officials are panicking and saying that it’s only 3 days. The thought of 56 days with no vodka is not going down very well.
And today is Coronation Street’s 60th anniversary.
Thursday, December 10th
Andy Burnham’s suggested that Greater Manchester could be split. If I were in Trafford, Stockport or Tameside, I would certainly be very annoyed if I were kept in Tier 3 due to higher rates in Bury and Rochdale, but splitting the area would be a complete nightmare. What about town? And Salford? Gah, why does there have to be this stupid bloody cluster just now? Things were going so well until the middle of last week. It’s not even anywhere near us! It’s due to outbreaks in two care homes and a school in one small area: rates in every other part of the borough are falling. Just hope things improve. Please, please let Greater Manchester, the North East and West Yorkshire all be moved into Tier 2. And please don’t punish us because of a cluster in one small area.
Meanwhile, London now has the highest infection rate of any region (region, not county) in England. When Leicester had the highest rate, it was practically sealed off. When Bolton did, its hospitality businesses were closed down. When Blackburn did, some businesses there were not allowed to reopen when those in the same sector could everywhere else. When Oldham did, restrictions on people meeting family and friends were tightened, and the same with Liverpool when it did. But, in London, no additional restrictions – just extra resources chucked at it so that all secondary school pupils can be tested! I’ve got nothing against London itself, or the people who live there, but it’s one rule for them and one rule for everyone else, and it’s just not on.
And, just to add to the gloom, it looks as if the spiteful EU is going to ban British tourists “because of Covid” once the transition period ends on January 1st. It’s hard to believe that places like Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece, which desperately need to get tourists back in, will stick to this, but … well, it’s not very good, is it? Still no deal, and talks are due to end on Monday. FFS, this has been going on for 4 1/2 years. Even the negotiations to bring about the treaties at the end of the First World War, the Second World War and the Napoleonic Wars took nothing like this long!
Theresa May had a deal. The stupid, stupid MPs in the last parliament rejected it. I hope they’re pleased with themselves.
Secondary schools and further education colleges in London are to close again – online teaching only from Monday.
And Kay Burley, who more or less accused Andy Burnham of causing people’s deaths, and carried on as if Dominic Cummings committed the crime of the century by driving from London to Barnard Castle, has been taken off air for six months after going out to a restaurant with a group of friends and colleagues in London, then asking them back to hers. Inzy Rashid and Beth Rigby, who were also there, have both been taken off air for three months. But I bet they’re all on full pay. What a load of hypocrites! Having said which, it does seem a bit much, considering that people like Margaret Ferrier have done far worse and got off scot-free.
I’m doing a lot of moaning, aren’t I?! Just so fed up. Why does there have to be this stupid cluster just now?!
Friday, December 11th
We get so few days off, and I usually drive myself mad as to how best to use them. The 2 days I’d saved for December were meant to be for a Christmas market break abroad. Instead, I spent today at the “Christmas mini-markets” in town, and then having a quick look round the Trafford Centre. They were very mini mini-markets, but at least we’ve got something. The local economy’s shrunk by 15% since this nightmare began. Every little that people can earn helps. And it was nice to have a walk round.
Large swathes of the Trafford Centre car parks have been closed off, to stop it getting too busy. This might have been a good idea if they’d announced in the local media and in signs on the motorway that they were doing it. Instead, the first you knew about it was when you got there. I managed to park without too much trouble in the end, but I can see it being chaos tomorrow! It’s usually so crowded there in December that it’s hard to move, one of the reasons I much prefer town, so in one way it was nice to be able to walk round without all that, but obviously it’s not so great for the shops.
The national R rate is unfortunately going up again, because of the issues in London, Essex and Kent. The BBC website said today that schools in the North will be “irritated” that they’ve been left struggling to try to contain infections for months, whilst every stop’s being pulled out now that infection rates in schools in London are so high. This isn’t the Manchester Evening News, the Lancashire Telegraph or the Yorkshire Post talking. This is the BBC saying that London’s getting preferential treatment and the government’s discriminating against the North.
Dame Barbara Windsor’s died, aged 83 😦 .
Some better news – the self-isolation period’s to be reduced from 14 days to 10 days. Good!
Saturday, December 12th
What a damp squib of a derby match! 0-0, and very few chances. It’s over 9 months since the last Old Trafford derby, the last match I went to. When will I be back there? Still, on current form, most people were saying City would thrash us, so a draw’s not too bad!
This morning, I went to the markets at the Lowry, or the Quayside or whatever we’re meant to call it these days. The actual shopping centre was almost deserted – and this is less than a fortnight before Christmas! The markets were quite good – better than the ones in town yesterday, in fact. Unfortunately, though, it was raining. It’s very hard when the weather’s crap and you can’t go to the cinema, the theatre, a museum or a gallery, or even sit inside a cafe. It did dry up later, though.
I didn’t think that the Festival of Trees (to raise money for the children’s hospice) was on this year, but it was, so it was nice to see that.
I am SO fat. I lost a lot of weight when we were in lockdown, but it’s all gone back on and I can’t seem to get any off. Bleurgh. I walk and walk and walk, and still it doesn’t help.
The NASUWT (the schoolteachers’ union)’s asked why all this testing in London, Essex and Kent’s never been offered to schools in the North and Midlands, which have just been left to struggle for months. It’s also emerged that the SAGE advisory committee told the government months ago that Greater Manchester needed additional support … and that the government ignored them and hushed it up.
Sunday, December 13th
It has rained nearly all day. Oh, to be able to go to the cinema or the theatre, or even to sit inside a cafe. I’ve got loads of books to read and things to watch, but I can’t stay in all day, so I’ve been for a walk round Hollingworth Lake, and then for a walk to one of the local takeaways for a hot chocolate. There were a lot of people walking around despite the rain.
I’m hoping that the spike may have peaked. That’s very poor English, but I can’t think how else to put it! Even with the spike, our borough’s infection rate is way below the average for London, which now stands at around 240 per 100,000. Yet cinemas, theatres, cafes, restaurants and pubs are open there, whilst they’re closed in Greater Manchester, where the average rate is now around 160. And in Stratford-on-Avon, where it’s around 65. I know I keep going on about this, but so does everyone else.
Germany’s going back into full lockdown, until January 10th.
The deadline for the Brexit talks has been extended. Again. Come on, folks, sort it! Apart from that bloody idiot Macron, no-one wants a no-deal Brexit. Surely it must be possible to reach some sort of compromise?
And so endeth another week!