Bank Holiday Monday, August 30th
This is the last Bank Holiday until Christmas. That is frightening! And, although sadly without Rafa, it’s the first day of the US Open. Full house allowed, but spectators (apart from young children) have to show a vaccination certificate. However, players don’t. Rafa, Roger, Andy, Simona and various others have spoken out in support of vaccination, but many others, led by Nole and Stef, aren’t keen. I don’t know why they aren’t keen, but they aren’t.
I went to Chester today, for the first time in years. Cooler and cloudier today, but dry. Like here, the city centre was busy, but most people seemed to be eating rather than shopping! There are so few department stores left. But it was certainly busy. And I went on a boat trip!
One trend which I do not like, and which the pandemic seems to have exacerbated, is people taking their dogs everywhere, even into city centres. It’s bad enough listening to barking, snarling and yapping in parks and gardens, without having to put up with it in cafes and shopping streets as well 😦 .
Right, I am off to watch the tennis!
Tuesday, August 31st
I feel full of woe today. Mainly because, having been off diet for 3 days, I have someone put on 5lbs. 5lbs. In 3 days. I mean, it’s not like I ate 10 boxes of chocolates or anything. I just ate a bit more than normal. It could take months to lose 5lbs. And I was already upset because I look so horrendously fat on the photos from the wedding. This has been the story of my life. This is why I struggle with both depression and eating disorders. The one time I tried to get professional help, a well-meaning doctor gave me anti-depressants. Which caused weight gain. So I ended up feeling worse than I’d done to start with. Also, the weather forecast for September is vile – and SW Wales, where I’m going, is usually right in the firing line for Atlantic storms. And there’s talk of restrictions being reimposed in Scotland.
And I’m overtired because I was up late at the wedding on Sunday, then up stupidly late last night because the Andy v Stef match went to 5 sets. And then Stef lost. And then I had to get up early this morning to go to Tesco before work. And work is crap because I’ve been landed with sorting out a mess made by someone who takes no responsibility for their actions.
Some days are just crap. Today is one of them!
In other news:
- Fully vaccinated visitors from the UK no longer need to quarantine on arrival on Italy. But we still have to have the stupid tests. And there are still far fewer flights than usual.
- A number of people in America have been hospitalised after taking horse de-worming tablets to cure/prevent against Covid. I am not making this up.
- Someone’s set up a small memorial to local Covid victims, outside Tesco. Very poignant.
Wednesday, September 1st
2 of the 5lbs have come off. I feel a bit better now. And it was 20 years ago today that I moved into my house. 20 years! That is frightening.
- One of my colleagues, who refused to be vaccinated, has tested positive. This was on Friday, but I was WFH on Friday and Tuesday, and no-one bothered to tell me. The firm initially refused to pay to have the office deep cleaned, but, after an outcry, changed their minds. However, by the time they’d done this, and because of the Bank Holiday weekend, it’s not being done until tomorrow night, so it’s basically pointless.
- My elder nephew’s friend, whom he was with yesterday, has had a PCR test as he came back from Spain on Monday … and it’s positive. And another friend, whom both my nephews have seen, has been tested prior to returning to school and he’s positive as well.
Covid passports are being introduced in Scotland, for big events. The infection rate in Scotland’s currently double the rate in England.
Eeh, I am sick of all this!
Thursday, September 2nd
Most schools are now back. Let’s see what happens.
Meanwhile, in the middle of everything else, Hurricane/Storm Ida has caused mayhem at the US Open. And mayhem generally – very distressing scenes, with 14 people killed across New York and New Jersey.
And there is a huge row going on over Toiletgate. Much as I like Stef Tsitsipas, no-one needs to spend that long in the toilet unless they’ve got a medical problem!
Sarah Storey is now Britain’s most decorated Paralympic athlete.
And we beat Hungary 4-0 in our first World Cup qualifier … but there was some unpleasantness, with the Hungarian “fans” shouting racist abuse and throwing things at our players. UEFA need to do something about this.
Friday, September 3rd
The JCVI are saying that kids aged between 12 and 15 should only be vaccinated if they’re clinically vulnerable. So now the politicians and medics have either got to go against JCVI advice or else let the virus spread through schools – as it’s doing in Scotland – and possibly spread into the wider community, not to mention cause issues if we eventually get back to any sort of travel normality and other countries want proof of vaccination from over 12s. To be fair to the JCVI, their brief is to look at things from a purely medical viewpoint, but would it not have been better to have had them working alongside people looking at things from other viewpoints? Tomorrow’s papers are full of headlines about how the politicians are going to override what they’ve said, which isn’t a very fair angle to take because surely the wider benefits of vaccinating kids are pretty obvious.
Infection rates across England and Wales are fairly stable – and the average across Greater Manchester is below the average for England. Rates in Northern Ireland, whilst higher, are now falling. But rates in Scotland are way up. Is this because of schools, or is something else going on?
Saturday, September 4th
Like I’m not stressed enough about going to South Wales in my own, the infection rate in Carmarthenshire is 425, whereas it’s hovering in the 280s/290s here!
A decision on vaccinating healthy 12 to 15-year-olds will probably be made next week.
Carlos Alcaraz beat Stef Tsitsipas. Not sure whether or not Stef was put off by the crowd getting on his back over Toiletgate, but what a great performance from young Alcaraz. I feel so old!
And I met a friend at The Vienna Coffee House this morning. Such a normal thing to do – meet a friend at a cafe in town. But, for much of the last 18 months, it hasn’t been possible! Some weird-looking statues have appeared outside Central Library: this is the “Gratitude” exhibition, to thank the NHS. Photo below (just of one statue, because there were quite a few people there so I couldn’t get a photo of the whole lot without people in it, and I don’t know how to edit them out!).
Sunday, September 5th
Some thoughts on herd immunity.
Infection rates across “Greater Manchester” as a whole, whilst not low, are around the average for England – some boroughs a bit higher, some a bit lower. You would expect rates in such a densely-populated area to be well above the average. That’s certainly how it was last autumn and in the spring. Not any more. The highest rates nationwide are now mainly in the East and the South West, which had low rates throughout last year and the early part of this year. That’s partly due to rates being high in some tourist areas, but it was happening even before then. London, another very densely-populated area, was the first part of the country hit by Covid, and a lot of people there probably had it unknowingly before the first lockdown. Apart from when the Alpha variant first hit, it’s generally, since the early days, had rates well below average.
Coming back to “Greater Manchester”, Bolton was the area first hit and worst hit, not just locally but nationally, by the Delta variant. It had much the highest rate in the country for weeks. But, for months now, it’s had the lowest infection rate of the 10 boroughs. If we look at smaller areas, one of the worst-hit areas last year and early this year was Broughton Park, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish area of Manchester/Salford. People there typically have very large families, and, without wishing to cast aspersions, everyone knows that in-person religious services and big wedding parties were going on there when they were banned. Now, it’s got the lowest infection rate in the whole of any area within the 10 boroughs – and that’s despite having relatively low vaccination rates.
The health authorities insist that none of this is due to herd immunity, and that any reduction in infection rates is due to the vaccination programme. The vaccination programme is hugely important and no-one is denying that. But it’s hard to ignore what these figures are telling us, and they’re all pointing in the same direction.
Anyway! Vaccine passports are coming in from next month … not a surprise. England 4-0 Andorra. Paralympics GB have finished second in the medals table in Tokyo. Emma Raducanu has reached the last 16 at the US Open … and, rather than playing Ash Barty as expected, is playing Shelby Rogers. And we’ve had really nice weather today. I did think about going to Windermere, but I’ve had a lot of late nights with the US Open and wasn’t sure that a big day out was a very sensible idea, so I went to Speke Hall instead.
And such sad news about the death of Sarah Harding, aged just 39. Bloody, bloody cancer.