Monday, June 21st
There is a major war of words going on between Sturgeon and Andy Burnham. It should be noted that the Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Labour have both agreed with Andy. The Scottish government don’t even seem to be clear where exactly their own travel ban, announced with no discussion and no notice, covers. Is it central Manchester and Salford, or is it the whole of Greater Manchester, i.e. including Wigan, Stockport, Bury etc? They said “Manchester and Salford”, but then they said “Greater Manchester and Salford”, which doesn’t even make sense as Salford is in Greater Manchester. Rates in Burnley, Hyndburn and Rossendale are higher than they are in central Manchester and Salford, but apparently they aren’t covered by this ban. And infection rates in Dundee are higher than they are in Bolton, but it’s OK for people from Dundee to travel around Scotland but there’s a specific ban on people from Bolton doing the same. When challenged, all Sturgeon could do was accuse Andy Burnham of trying to get attention ahead of a possible Labour leadership challenge.
I am really fed up. I was seriously considering booking a tour of the Scottish Highlands.
Tuesday, June 22nd
Andy Burnham is to “hold talks” with Nicola Sturgeon – but I suspect that the stroppy cow will refuse to back down because she won’t want to lose face. I’m not sure whom I’d most like to smack, her or the people who brought the Delta variant into the area by travelling to the Indian sub-continent at a time when no-one was meant to be going anywhere.
I really am feeling despondent. We’ve had months of lockdown. We were told that everything’d be OK if we got vaccinated. And now Manchester, Salford and Bury are in the top 10 boroughs in the country for infection rates – and Blackburn’s is coming down, but our rates aren’t. And most of the others are also local – Burnley, Hyndburn, etc. I just can’t see a way out. Most of the cases are in schools, and there are no plans to vaccinate kids, so what do we do? Whatever this “extra support” is, I haven’t seen any evidence of it. Why have we been hit worse by this than anywhere else in the country? Having said which, rates in Newcastle and North Tyneside are sly-rocketing now, and the picture’s not good in Liverpool or Leeds either.
Italy’s called for the Euro 2020 final to be moved away from Wembley, “because of the Delta variant”. They’re only saying that in the hope that it’ll be moved to Rome, but, because of the bloody Delta variant, it feels like we’re a pariah state again, like we were with the Kent variant. As Mario Balotelli would say, why is it always us?
The good news is that, because of yesterday’s results, England are guaranteed to reach the knockout stages of Euro 2020, as a “least worst 3rd place finish” if nothing else … but we really could do with a win tonight.
Later – won 1-0! Top the group! The snag is that we now play either France, Germany or Portugal! Scotland are out – I’m sorry for my Scottish friends, and for Scotland’s players, most of whom we “know” well, but it feels a bit like the universe’s karma against that odious woman.
Wednesday, June 23rd
Depending on what you read, either:
- The pandemic is all over bar the shouting. Come July 19th, all domestic restrictions will be lifted, bye-bye to masks and social distancing, and anyone double vaccinated will be able to travel to amber list countries as if they were green list countries; or
- We are in a dangerous third wave, rates are about to sky rocket across most of the country, there is now a “Delta Plus” variant which is even worse than the original Delta variant, we will have to wear masks and observe social distancing unto all eternity, and we will probably go back into lockdown in the winter.
I’ve had a look at some options in case travel restrictions *are* eased … only to find that a load of options are no longer options because airlines have pulled flights. For example, there used to be several flights a day between Manchester and Zurich, and, both times I’ve flown there, I’ve arrived at 11am. Now, the only option is to arrive at 10pm, which doesn’t really work.
And, for all the talk of lifting restrictions, you can’t go anywhere, even school or work, without risking being told to self isolate for 10 days. In fact, it’s not so much “even school” as “especially school” – loads of kids are being sent home, again.
I am so fed up of all this.
Thursday, June 24th
Hairdresser’s this evening!
So sick of all the politicking. Andy Burnham has tried to get some sense out of Sturgeon, but all she cares about is trying to make herself look big – or else why would she have imposed a travel ban on “big names” like Manchester and Salford, but not on Burnley, Hyndburn and Rossendale, where infection rates are much higher? And Angela Merkel, evidently still bitter about Brexit five years after the referendum, wants all EU countries to impose quarantine on British tourists, and has had a go at Portugal for not doing so. Since when was it up to the German Chancellor to tell the Portuguese government what to do?
Meanwhile, it looks as if rates may be plateauing in Salford. But they’re sky-rocketing elsewhere, notably in Newcastle.
Friday, June 25th
The Pitcairn Islands (as in Fletcher Christian) and the British Antarctic Territory have been added to the green list, prompting an exasperated newspaper cartoonist to show a green list including Craggy Island and Tracy Island. The Balearic Islands, Madeira and Malta have also been added, a bit more helpfully, as have some Caribbean islands.
The whole thing is totally arse about face now, because, despite having the highest vaccination rates in Europe, we’ve now got the highest infection rates in Europe. Belgium has banned British tourists. Angela Merkel is busily trying to blame British tourists for the increase in the Delta variant in other countries, even though a) most of Portugal’s cases are in Lisbon, not Porto or the Algarve and b) how exactly can British tourists be to blame for the surge in cases in Russia?
I hate the f***ing Delta variant. I appreciate that it isn’t trying to cause problems for me personally, but it doesn’t half feel like it. I really fancied doing a tour of the Scottish Highlands: I’ve always wanted to go but, with limited holiday time, always opted for somewhere with better weather instead, but this would have been the perfect year for it. (Tours weren’t operating last year.) But, because Sturgeon has used the Delta variant as an excuse to declare war on the Manchester area, it’s no go. And it’s so bloody frustrating, because she hasn’t mentioned other places with high infection rates – Newcastle’s is now over 300. I hate Nicola Sturgeon even more than I hate the Delta variant. And I hate Angela Merkel as well. And, yes, I know that I sound like I’m about 12, and moaning about school bullies or nasty teachers, but it’s so frustrating!
And it feels like we’ve been sold a bit of a pig in a poke with the vaccines – they’ve reduced hospitalisations and deaths, which is obviously the main thing, but loads of people are testing positive despite being fully vaccinated, and, thanks to the bloody test, trace and isolate system, that means that you cannot get your life back. Once people are trapped in offices, it’s going to be very difficult to protect yourself, especially if you need to travel by public transport. And 1/4 million kids have been sent home from school.
Saturday, June 26th
Wales are out of Euro 2020, beaten 4-0 by Denmark. And Matt Hancock is out of the job of Health Secretary, after the Sun published pictures of him snogging a colleague, and pontificated about breaching social distancing rules. He’s an idiot and I’m not sorry to see the back of him, but I do feel very sorry for his wife. I also feel a bit sorry for Boris. It’s one thing after another, and, thanks to the bloody Delta variant, over 18,000 new cases were reported today. We’ve got to get past this obsession with infection rates, but it’s stopping us from being welcomed abroad. Sajid Javid’s the new Health Secretary. I rather like him. He was born in Rochdale, after all!
On a more positive note, I don’t want to speak too soon, but there are signs that things may be plateauing in the Bury council area, as well as Salford.
I went to Hardwick Hall today. Lovely place! The gardens aren’t the world’s greatest, but I think the house is my favourite NT house.
What a palaver, though. Give your name and show your card at the entrance to the car park. Give your name again and show our card again at the visitor centre. Scan your card in the tearoom. Scan your card at the kiosk, but only if you’re sitting at a table on one side of the path. Scan your card at the entrance to the house – which I wouldn’t have minded had they not refused to let anyone scan their card until they’d tried to persuade them to buy a guidebook or make an extra donation, holding up the queue and annoying everyone. And some bossy woman said that you had to “clear the desk”, as if it were an airport! Also, you still can’t get to the ponds through the gate by the gardens or the gate by the courtyard: you have to go all the way back round, walk the other way, and then walk across the fields. Why?? Does the virus care which gate you use? Sorry, moan over!
Sunday, June 27th
Twas the night before Wimbledon – at last! This is distracting me from being a huge fat blob with too-short hair.
Went to Clifton Country Park this morning, then, house stuff done, into town this afternoon. I think it was the busiest I’d seen town since this whole nightmare began. The shops didn’t look that busy, but there were loads of people sat out in Piccadilly Gardens and Exchange Square, and people eating out everywhere. Funny, there was some talk 30 years ago about getting into a “cafe culture” like in Barcelona, and people scoffed at it because of the weather, but Covid seems to have created it. Well, on a warm, dry day, anyway!
There’ve been some reports in the MEN recently about swarms of bees hanging around in town, and I actually saw one! In the middle of Market Street, of all places. Wouldn’t you think bees would hang around in gardens, rather than outside the Arndale Centre?!
Sajid Javid is apparently keen to end restrictions … which, unfortunately, is not much use as long as a) the test, trace and isolate system remains (how long after July 19th before a load of people are being locked up for 10 days because a colleague has tested positive?) and b) we can’t go on holiday abroad. Meanwhile, it looks as if the accursed Delta variant will delay “unlocking” in the Republic of Ireland.
Here’s to Wimbledon …