Monday, January 18th
Ten new mass vaccination centres opened today, including another two in the North West. Some areas, and I’m pleased to say that ours is one of them, are moving on to people in the 70-74 age group and younger people who are classed as clinically vulnerable. However, some areas aren’t going as quickly as others, which seems to be a supply issue. But over 4 million people have had their first doses now, and (not that it’s a competition) we’ve got the fourth highest per capita rate in the world.
I had a letter from the building society today, saying that they want to put my mortgage protection insurance up because they expect loads of people to be made redundant this year. Very cheerful! I’m not sure how much of it is a genuine result of forecasts and how much is just an excuse to try to get more money out of people.
Someone got fined for driving from Preston to Bolton to collect a takeaway. FFS. OK, I’m sure there are plenty of takeaways in Preston, but it’s hardly a long journey, and they were in their own car. Shouldn’t the police be concentrating on breaking up mass gatherings, or closing shops which are open illegally? And the press are tutting over pictures of lots of people walking in parks etc. This happened during the first lockdown. If you live in a built-up, densely-populated area, and are not supposed to leave it, how are you supposed to exercise without there being other people around?
And could someone please tell Novak Djokovic to shut up? It is obviously far from ideal that 72 players, and their coaches etc, are all shut in their hotel rooms, not even allowed to open the doors. Especially when they need to keep fit ahead of a strenuous two week tournament in the heat. Also, the food looks very poor, and we’ve all seen the pictures of the mouse in Yulia Putintseva’s room. But it is not helpful for Nole to demand that they be moved to private homes with their own tennis courts! He’s just annoying everyone and sounding like a spoilt brat. The situation is a nightmare, though.
Tuesday, January 19th
1,610 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test have been recorded today, the highest figure since the pandemic began. The figures have been much lower over the past couple of days and they probably do average out, but it’s still very, very distressing and worrying.
Infection rates are falling in 9 out of 10 Greater Manchester boroughs now. But not as quickly as the national average is falling, although I suppose rates are bound to be falling more quickly in areas which went into Tier 4 first. Things are improving, though. Infections and hospitalisations across the country are falling, but things are still grim. The lockdown in Scotland’s been extended, and there’s no sign of restrictions being lifted anywhere else either.
Figures show that there are five times as many kids in school in England as there were during the first lockdown. Whew! I think we’re all aware that far more kids are in school, but five times as many?! It’s been suggested that schools will reopen on a regional basis. I quite see that there’s no point keeping kids out of school in Devon because infection rates are still high in Carlisle, for example, but it’s going to mean kids in the hardest-hit areas being at an even bigger disadvantage.
Today, I have been to:
- Tesco, where some of the staffed checkouts have been replaced by self-scanner checkouts. Not self-service, which are bad enough, but self-scanner. No doubt, in 10 years’ time staffed checkouts will seem as outdated as going into a corner shop and asking a grocer for six apples and two pounds of flour, but I prefer the staffed ones!
- Marks & Spencer’s, where, amongst other things, I collected the free pineapple which I had been awarded for using my Sparks card. Life is so boring ATM that a free pineapple seems quite exciting.
- The frozen yoghurt shop.
- The office, to leave some files and collect others. There were loads of cars in the car park. Some of the people at other firms in the building don’t seem even to be bothering to try working from home.
- The park, in torrential rain. Thanks to Storm Christophe, the weather is utterly vile. I’m sure I should get double calorie burn-off for walking in that sort of weather.
And it’s Donald Trump’s last day in office. Thank heavens for that.
Wednesday, January 20th
Every time you think things can’t get any worse, they do. 1,820 deaths recorded today. Infections are falling, but the numbers of deaths are just horrendous. On top of that, research from Israel suggests that one dose of vaccine may not be as effective as originally thought in preventing infection, so we may have to give everyone two doses before things start improving significantly. Will this nightmare never end?
On top of that, the weather is horrendous, and there are fears that there may be flooding in parts of South Manchester and Cheshire, and maybe even in town. I got drenched in the park, despite my brolly. Then, during United v Fulham (luckily, we were away, and City played earlier), it started snowing. A lot.
It’s very hard not to turn to food for comfort.
Players in quarantine at the mice-infested hotel in Melbourne have been advised to “minimise interaction” with the mice, i.e. not to feed them. This is getting farcical. I know it’s a very difficult situation and Tennis Australia have gone to a lot of effort, etc, but surely it’s not unreasonable to expect hotel rooms which aren’t full of mice!
On a happier note, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been sworn in. I thought Biden spoke quite well, about the need to come together and work together. I wish them both luck. They’re going to need it!
And we’re back on top of the league, after a 2-1 win at Fulham. Leicester went top last night, then City after their win in tonight’s early KO, and now us again. It’s certainly exciting … just so sad that there’s no prospect of fans being allowed in this season.
Thursday, January 21st
It’s stopped raining, and, after two hours of heavy snow last night, there’s been no more snow. Thankfully, the flood defences in the Didsbury/Northenden area held, but homes and businesses have been flooded in Lymm, Northwich and other parts of the North West. Just as if things aren’t bad enough. Boris has been to visit. Not that there was much he could do, but at least he showed willing.
Northern Ireland’s lockdown’s been extended until March.
Concerns are rising over a low level of take-up of the vaccines in certain ethnic minority communities. It seems to be a particular problem in the West Midlands. Unfortunately, irresponsible people are spreading anti-vaxxer messages and frightening people.
There’ve also been reports that another new variant’s been found, this time in Liverpool. Hopefully it’s something and nothing. That really would be a nightmare.
Fines for attending house parties are to be increased. It sounds good, but all people have to do is say that they can’t pay.
Glastonbury’s been cancelled, for a second successive year. It’s not a surprise, but it’s a psychological blow, because it’s such a big event on the calendar, and it’s also yet another huge blow to the live music industry, and the events industry in general. And one scientist’s said that pubs, restaurants, cafes etc shouldn’t be allowed to reopen until May. The hospitality industry’s on its knees. The travel industry’s on its knees. A lot of sports clubs are on their knees. Obviously, things cannot reopen under the present circumstances, but … bloody hellfire, how much longer can businesses survive?
Friday, January 22nd
A load of people formed an orderly queue outside a centre in Timperley after it was reported that it was going to be turned into a vaccination hub. They hadn’t got appointments, and there weren’t even any doses of the vaccine there! But it shows how desperate people are to get vaccinated. There’ve been some reports of low uptake in certain areas, but I haven’t heard of any such issues in the North West.
The R number is now below 1, which is great news, but there were another 1,401 deaths today, and Boris has said that it’s feared that the mutant virus is more deadly than the original. People from other parts of the country are being moved to hospitals in Greater Manchester. There’ve been some calls to stop international travel completely, but I don’t know how practical that is when cargo still needs to be moved around.
There are reports that the Olympics could be cancelled. I don’t think that the mayhem over the Australian Open’s helping. Andy Murray won’t be playing in Melbourne because it just can’t be sorted in time. There are a lot of arguments going on on social media over the whole quarantine situation. It’s a nightmare.
Snapfish have reprinted my photos, but they’ve done the same thing again -jumbled them all up. You can no longer ring up, and my “livechat” with someone who barely spoke a word of English was a waste of time. Someone is supposed to be contacting me by e-mail. I’m still waiting.
And I am so tired of all the hatred. Why do people hate others so much, just because they vote for a different political party? And why do they feel the need to post that all over social media?
At least the weather’s cleared up …
Saturday, January 23rd
It snowed quite heavily this morning. When I got to the park – having stopped en route to pick up a scone 🙂 – there were lots of kids sledging and building snowmen. The snow’d gone by early afternoon, so it didn’t cause any problems, and it was a bit of fun. There are “Covid marshals” in the park at weekends, but a) they seemed more interested in messing with their phones than in watching people and b) no-one was doing anything wrong anyway. It was too cold to hang around in big groups like people were doing in the spring.
The animal centre’s been closed since March. Paying zoos opened up for a while, but the park centre didn’t. The animals look rather bored and lonely 😦 .
Everyone is fed up. I know we should be counting our blessings, but this is crap. And there’s no end in sight. Two months into the spring lockdown, you could go to Blackpool. We’ve now been under travel restrictions for three months, and there’s no sign of things changing. There was originally some talk of restrictions being eased by mid-February, but then it was early March, then the end of March, then Easter, and now there’s even been talk of it going on until the summer. I feel so trapped by work, and we get so little time off, that it’s really important to me to do something special at weekends and to plan holidays, and I can’t do any of that. People who live on their own are feeling lonely. People who live with others are getting sick of being with them round the clock. People are worried about money. Kids are getting behind in their education. And, of course, people are worried about the virus risk. It was bad enough in the spring, but, back then, we hadn’t been under restrictions for nearly a year already, and it was still light at the end of the working day, and the weather was nice. This is crap.
Scientists are disputing the reports that the mutant version of the virus is more deadly. It would explain a lot if it is. Things are bad in a lot of places, but the death rates here are just horrendous. Political points-scorers are saying that it’s all because Boris didn’t put us into lockdown soon enough in March, but that’s rubbish. Whatever mistakes were made in March, infection rates and death rates were way, way down by July. Something new is going on now.
The good news is that more and more people are getting their first shots of the vaccine. But scientists are now saying that leaving a 12 week gap between the first and second shots is no good.
Sometimes, I still can’t believe that all this is really happening.
And I am having nightmares with Snapfish. The “livechat” is a joke: the staff barely speak a word of English, ask the set questions on their script, and can’t cope if you go off the script. They’ve had the nerve to offer me 100 free photos as a “goodwill gesture” after ruining my order of 638 photos! And I can’t get any further reply from them.
Sunday, January 24th
United 3-2 Liverpool! Great Cup tie, and into the 5th round we go. But when will fans ever get back to matches?
6.3 million people have now had their first dose of the vaccination. That’s a higher percentage of the adult population than anywhere other than Israel and the UAE. But Matt Hancock’s said that we’re a “long, long way” from easing restrictions.
The virus situation in Greater Manchester doesn’t actually seem any worse than it was in October and early November. I may well be talking rubbish, because we don’t get detailed regional data on hospitalisations and fatalities, but that’s how it seems to me. But it seems unlikely that restrictions will be lifted until mid-March at the earliest … and, even then, it’ll be back to the Evil Tier System. I hope I’m wrong, but I can’t see schools reopening fully until mid-April, after the Easter holidays.
I wish different groups of people would stop demanding to be given priority for vaccination. There is only so much vaccine available. Clinically vulnerable people need to be vaccinated first. Why do teaching unions seem to think that teachers should take priority over those most likely to die>
I’ve been to Clifton Country Park today. Quieter than usual, but there was far more rule-breaking going on than there was at Heaton Park. No huge groups, but loads of groups which clearly consisted of two or three couples plus kids. I know there’s a risk, but I do think that way too much attention is being paid to people out for walks – the police have been lurking round some beauty spots and fining people who’ve come more than a few miles – rather than on Covid safety in workplaces. There are some offices round here where you see around 15 cars parked outside every day. What’s more risky, 15 people in an office together or 4 people out for a walk together?
I’ve also read two newspapers and part of a book, watched the match, watched a historical documentary, watched part of a film, written a post on my book/TV/film review blog, written some fanfic and done some house stuff. But it still feels like a waste of a day.
WordPress thumbnails have suddenly stopped displaying on the Facebook app. You just get a grey box with a bit of writing in it. The pics come up as normal on the browser and mobile browser version, so it’s clearly an app issue. Links to, say, the BBC website or the MEN website are fine. But the issue seems to be affecting Blogspot as well as WordPress. I appreciate that this is not the end of the world: it is hardly as if more than half a dozen people at the most ever click on to my posts through Facebook anyway, and those who do can always click on the grey box. But it’s annoying me like mad. ETA – ah, problem solved! The picture needs to be enlarged. Which is very odd, because it never used to display unless the picture was small!
However, I finally got some sense out of Snapfish. I’ve uploaded the photos again, so we can start from scratch, and they’re going to print them for the third time, free of charge, Fingers crosses1
The release of the new James Bond film’s been delayed again.
But sea shanties have become a thing, after a postman made a video of himself singing one, and it went viral! Maybe we can all bond over sea shanties 🙂 .