A Different Life, Week 1, December 27th 2021 to January 2nd 2022 inclusive

Monday, December 27th

Today was weirdly normal.  I went to Tatton Park.  I watched United’s 1-1 draw at Newcastle.

Sajid Javid’s said that there’ll be no more restrictions before the new year.  Infection rates locally are sky rocketing.  Salford’s now got the 4th highest rate in the country outside London, with central Manchester not far behind … after so many months of all the local boroughs being below the national average.

I am not processing things.  It’s like it’s happening in a book or on TV.

 

Tuesday, December 28th

I am still not processing things.  I tried the Macmillan support line, but it still felt like I was reading a book or watching TV.  I can’t take it in.  I only went to see the specialist about a fibroid and a cyst.  How can this have happened?  And how do I cope until I know more?

Covid rates are sky high.  Oh, and we’ve lost the Ashes.  Embarrassingly badly so.

Everyone is being so nice.  They seem to be taking things in.  I’m not.

 

Wednesday, December 29th

Covid rates are through the roof.  I’m going for a biopsy next week.  Nothing seems real any more.

 

Thursday, December 30th

I went for a pre-op today, and have got to go back for a Covid swab tomorrow.

I might keep writing this, but I don’t know whether I’ll keep posting it publicly.  I did not expect my life to take this turn.  11 days ago, my life was normal.  If anyone’s reading this, thanks for reading, and all the best.

 

Friday, December 31st

Back to the hospital for a Covid swab, but it just goes to the lab with all the other Covid swabs, so no idea how long it takes to process, and I’m jumping every time the phone goes.

Two weeks ago, my life was normal and I was looking forward to all the things I’d got planned for 2022.  But your life can fall apart in a moment.  I don’t know why I’m still writing this, but I’ll get to the end of the week because I’m tidy-minded like that.  I know that I’m supposed to think positively, but this is all too much.

 

Saturday, January 1st

I’ve kind of lost touch with reality.  I know about the football and the tennis and the cricket.  I know that boxing’s being suspended to avoid taking doctors away from other work.  I know about the New Year’s Honours.  But it’s all detached.  I know all sorts of horrific things I’ve read via Google, but my brain won’t process them.  I feel bad for writing this in case anyone reads it and finds it hard to read, but I’ll finish the week off.

People are being so kind.  I’ve had books delivered, and muffins and chocolate dropped off outside the front door, and videos sent via Whatsapp.

 

Sunday, January 2nd

Well, this is weird.  Two weeks ago, life was normal.  If you’re reading this, thank you, and all the best.

Here we go again? Week 3, December 20th to 26th 2021 inclusive

Monday, December 20th

Bleurgh.  Having tested negative for Covid all the way through Abu Dhabi, Rafa tested positive on his return to Spain.  He said he’d been feeling a bit rough but was hopefully improving, but he seemed doubtful about the Aussie Open anyway and, with the players due to head to Melbourne on the 27th, I can’t see him playing.  I’m so, so sorry for him: he’s been out for over half a year with this foot problem, and now he’s played all of two matches and this has happened.

And we lost the second Ashes Test.

One of my colleagues has also tested positive.  She hasn’t been in for a few days as one of her kids was ill, so it’s unlikely she’s passed it round the office, and she’s got no symptoms, but she’s very upset because her Christmas plans have been ruined.  Such a shame.  Callous boss’s response was “Shit” and to moan about how inconvenient it was – not a word of concern for her health.

There’s thankfully been no noticeable uptick in hospitalisations or deaths yet, but infection rates are sky-rocketing … especially in densely-populated areas, with half the ten Greater Manchester boroughs now above the national average for the first time in a long time.  The biggest immediate problem is the number of people off work due to self-isolation, and what that could mean for essential services.  And a lot of people are cancelling plans, leaving the hospitality and entertainments industries struggling.  Also, more countries are imposing travel restrictions … it’s hard to keep up with it all.

Boris has said no more restrictions *yet*.

And the Queen’s cancelled the Royal Family Christmas at Sandringham.  Such a shame for her.  She’ll stay at Windsor, and family members will visit her there.

 

Tuesday, December 21st

I have just had some very bad health news.  There was a very, very low chance of this happening, which was why my GP never even considered it, but it has.  I’m not quite sure yet whether to keep this as a Covid blog or to make it a Covid/health blog.  I don’t suppose many people read it, so it’s really just for me.  Writing usually helps, but I’ll have to think.  If you’re friends with me on Facebook, please don’t mention it as I haven’t told many people yet.  I’ve always tried to be so careful about everything.  Much good it does you.

I’m still writing about Covid for now.  Scotland and Wales are both making sports events more or less behind closed doors for now.  Rishi Sunak’s bringing back the SSP rebate scheme, and also providing support for the arts and hospitality industries.  New Year’s Eve events are being cancelled all over the show.

 

Wednesday, December 22nd

Will someone please tell me that I’m going to wake up?  My world fell apart yesterday.  And it wasn’t supposed to.  I’d been referred for a benign condition, but, somehow, the original scan missed something.  I can’t take it in.  Waiting to hear what happens next.

In Covid news:

  1. Wales is bringing back the rule of 6.
  2. Nightclubs in Northern Ireland are to close after Boxing Day.
  3. In England, the self-isolation period’s being reduced from 10 days to 7 days for fully vaccinated people who’ve tested negative twice.
  4. And vulnerable children aged 5 to 11 are to be offered one dose, and 16 and 17 year olds are to be offered a booster.
  5. Various European countries are reimposing various restrictions.
  6. Israel’s to offer a fourth dose.
  7. Tim Laurence has tested positive, so he and Princess Anne are self-isolating.

Thursday, December 23rd

Dunham lights tonight.

More tests today.  I need to stay off Google.   It keeps reminding me that this is very, very rare, which doesn’t really help.  I don’t know whether I should be writing this.  I suppose writing it won’t make it any worse.

Nightclubs in Scotland are to shut for 3 weeks.

People getting the Omicron variant seem less likely to need hospital treatment than those with other variants.

 

Friday, December 24th

The consultant said she hoped they could do a biopsy – and it took me ages just to type that word – on January 4th.  She was being optimistic.  January 18th at the earliest … and that’s if I don’t test positive for Covid in the meantime.  How do I deal with anything until then?  I feel like a bad soap opera plot.  How is this happening to me?  I’m meant to be keeping a Covid journal, not this.  It really is like a bad soap opera plot.  You get referred for a benign condition – fibroids are not nice,  but not serious – and then this happens, 4 days before Christmas.  I can’t process it.  Sorry if anyone is reading this and finding it awkward/upsetting.

More and more places are imposing restrictions.  There may well be an announcement here after Christmas.

 

Saturday, December 25th

Today was Christmas Day, and, unlike last year, we had a normal Christmas Day, everyone round to Mum and Dad’s for mountains of food.

I felt like the elephant in the room.  I don’t know if everyone else felt normal or was just pretending to be normal.

I am not processing things.  I feel like I’m in a bad soap opera.  With no prospect of further news for over a month, what do I do?

 

Sunday, December 26th

I wanted to do something really good today, but it was miserable and drizzly, so I just went to Dunham Massey.  Again.

New restrictions come into force in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland next week, but not England.  Yet.

I am still not processing things.  I started writing this week’s post when life was normal and I thought I had a fibroid and a cyst and that was it.  Even typing this seems unreal.  I don’t even know whether or not to post it, to be read by strangers.  Nothing seems real any more.

 

I have decided to publish this as I’m not processing the news at all, and maybe publishing it will make it seem real.  If anyone’s reading this, please don’t feel obliged to comment – just please don’t, if you know me in real life, on Facebook or anywhere else, mention it there.  Thank you.

 

 

Here we go again? Week 2, December 13th to 20th 2021 inclusive

Monday, December 13th

I am thoroughly fed up.  My new computer was supposed to be being delivered today, but now they’re saying “7 to 10 working days”, so it doesn’t look as if I’ll have it before Christmas, and the IT guy won’t be able to come in the first week of January because I need to self-isolate before my next-but-one hospital test.

Also, everyone at work is upset about how badly we are being treated.

And it sounds as if the United Covid outbreak’s in the first team, because the club have spoken to the Premier League about postponing the Brentford match.  Also, the Champions League draw was a fiasco and had to be redone, but we’ve ended up with Atletico Madrid.    And Emma Raducanu’s now got the lurgy.  It would just say it all if the Sports Personality of the Year had to accept her award whilst self-isolating.

Long queues are forming as most people try to get their boosters, but we’re being told that Omicron is spreading even more quickly than the original virus did back in March 2020, before anyone was vaccinated.  One person in the UK’s already died with it.  It’s more or less certain that more restrictions will be announced for Scotland tomorrow, and you have to think that the same may happen in England before long.

I’m sorry for all of us.   This virus is evil.

 

Tuesday, December 14th

11 days to Christmas.  My life’s up in the air anyway, until I get confirmation about the operation, but now it seems like life in general’s back up in the air because of the bloody Omicron variant.  The red list’s being scrapped again.  Which is good for some people, but very frustrating for people like my friend’s mum – she was visiting relatives in South Africa when all this started, had to come back because of work and spent thousands of pounds which she couldn’t afford on a quarantine hotel, only to find now that, if she’d waited another couple of weeks, she could have avoided it.

People in Scotland are being asked to limit the number of households with whom they socialise, and to keep their Christmas celebrations as small as possible.

The United v Brentford match is definitely off.  Just hope things are OK for the Brighton match on Saturday.  And a number of theatres have cancelled shows due to Covid outbreaks.

Everyone is so fed up.

The “Plan B” measures are being voted on in Parliament tonight.  They’ll pass, because Labour’ve agreed to back them, but up to 70 Government MPs could vote against them.  It’s just a nightmare – we don’t know how bad Omicron could be, so we don’t know whether these measures are necessary are not.

 

Wednesday, December 15th

United are back in training.  Fingers crossed for Saturday,.

I had my MRI scan on the wretched fibroid this morning – which was horrible, because the scanner makes awful noises and I’m not good with awful noises.  I wish miserable Chris Whitty would stop saying that hospitals might all close down in January.

Meanwhile, Omicron is spreading apace – particularly in London, but apparently now in the North West as well – even amongst people who are double vaccinated and boosted.  I just can’t believe that we’re right back in the sh*t again.   And, again, we have politicians squabbling instead of trying to work together!  78,610 cases today – the highest daily number on record.  That’s nearly double the level we’d been averaging for months.  This is not good, folks.  This is not good.

 

Thursday, December 16th

If it weren’t for the tennis, I really think I’d cry.

  1.  United v Brighton is off.  My nephews haven’t been able to go to Old Trafford since before the pandemic, and were coming early for Christmas so that they could go to this match.  They are so upset and disappointed, and so am I.  Not to mention the fact that there’s now a fixture pile-up.  The FA said yesterday that no more matches were to be postponed, but I have no idea why they said that, as Burnley v Watford was called off soon afterwards, followed by Leicester v Spurs.
  2. The Queen’s cancelled her pre-Christmas family lunch – this horrible virus is spoiling people’s Christmas plans for a second year in a row.
  3. France has banned travel to and from the UK, except for “compelling reasons”.
  4. My younger nephew’s school’s sent out information about what to do if schools have to go back on to online learning after Christmas.  Boris won’t close schools again unless he absolutely has to, but some schools have got so many teachers and kids off that they’re struggling.
  5. 88,746 cases today.  Bloody hellfire.
  6. 745,183 boosters were given yesterday, which is something.

I just can’t believe we’re here again.

 

Friday, December 17th

The good news is that Rafa came through his comeback match with no obvious problems.  The bad news is that Andy beat him, 6-3 7-5, but, OK, I suppose he was bound to be rusty.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at the Lowry last night was brilliant.  However, again there were issues with people not wearing masks.  Being a Thursday night, it wasn’t that busy, but it will be at weekends, and for the matinees once schools break up.  The review of the pantomime in the MEN mentioned how few people were wearing masks.  It really is frustrating.

Following the postponement of United’s match (and, incidentally, four more Premier League matches have now been postponed), the boys decided that they would like to go to Sale Sharks.  I don’t really get rugby union, but, OK, whatever.  However, it was a European match against a French team, and has now been postponed as that git Macron won’t give sports teams exemptions from the new travel rules.

Wales is closing nightclubs after Boxing Day.

Hospitality businesses and theatres are reporting huge drops in bookings, and are asking for the furlough scheme to be reopened.

A number of people, especially those with school age children, have said that their mental health really can’t take another lockdown.

As I said yesterday, I just can’t believe that we’re here again.

 

Saturday, December 18th

The computer guy has got my new computer.  Fingers crossed that he can get it sorted ASAP, because there are a lot of reports about a 2 week lockdown after Christmas.  The Netherlands has just imposed a lockdown.  And a “major incident” has been declared in London.

Yet more matches bit the dust today, but Salford City v Stevenage survived, so we went to that, then out to the Anatolian Grill later.

Rafa lost to Denis 😦 .  But only in a final set tiebreak.  You can’t expect too much too soon, I suppose.

 

Sunday, December 19th 

Went to Hollingworth Lake this morning.  Nice sunny day.

 

And I’ve got my new computer.

Restrictions have now been imposed in Denmark.  And Germany’s saying that anyone entering from the UK’ll have to go into quarantine for 2 weeks.  And there’ve been anti-restriction protests in Belgium.

We’re getting towards a million boosters a day … but infection rates are sky-rocketing.  Locally, they’re at the highest rates ever recorded, although that doesn’t mean much because not that many tests were being carried out in March, April and May 2020.   Hospitalisations are now ticking up in London, and there are concerns over what’s going to happen if large numbers of hospital staff are off self-isolating.

It does now look very likely that further restrictions will be imposed.  We could even be looking at at a two week lockdown after Boxing Day, although, TBH, I’m not sure a) what good that’d do and b) if people’d stick to it anyway.

When will this ever end?

On a happier note, Emma Raducanu is Sports Personality of the Year.

 

Here we go again? Week 1, December 6th to 12th 2021 inclusive

Monday, December 6th

I had my booster this morning.  It was Pfizer – they were actually using Moderna as the default one for boosters, but I was nervous about that because my friend was ill for several days after having it, so they said I could have the Pfizer.

I’ve got the dates for the scans and other tests.  I am really stressed about it all, especially the one in January which will be under anaesthetic, but at least it’s all been booked in.  I’m struggling badly with being at work at the moment – there is no privacy at all, nowhere to take a moment if you need one.  I assume that anything bad would have showed up at the first scan, and they wouldn’t leave it till January if they thought anything bad had been missed, but these things are always stressful, and I just want it over with.  A former colleague of mine, who sadly died last year, had an operation postponed twice and did his best to work every day whilst waiting, even though he was in a lot of pain.  Most people are obviously braver than I am!

 

Tuesday, December 7th

Boris has said that the Omicron variant seems to be more transmissible than the Delta variant.  And Storm Barra is about to hit us.

 

Wednesday, December 8th

The weather is vile, and the Ashes series has got off to a bad start 😦 .

There’s a lot of talk about imposing additional restrictions because of the Omicron variant.  There’s a press conference at 6, so maybe something *is* on the cards.   Meanwhile, there’s a fuss going on about whether or not staff at 10 Downing Street held a Christmas party last year.  It does sound as if they did, and obviously that’s not very impressive, but it was 12 months ago and we really need to be focusing on what’s happening now.

 

Thursday, December 9th

Well, we are now on Plan B.  So we are supposed to be working from home.  But my bullying employers have refused to agree to this, even though it’s government guidance.  I am so angry.  We worked from home perfectly well during lockdown.  They just do not give a s**t about people’s safety.  All through lockdown, everyone did their best, with no support, no offer to pay towards the gas, electricity etc that people were using, and not even so much as a Christmas card, and now this.  You are supposed to work from home if possible.  We have all got remote links set up, so it is perfectly possible.  There wasn’t even any discussion about it.

 

We also have to wear masks in theatres and cinemas, and other places such as hairdressing salons and banks, and will need Covid passes for nightclubs, indoor unseated venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people and any event with more than 10,000 people – so this includes Premier League football matches.

On top of everything else, my computer is playing up.  I think it’s time for a new one – this is Windows 7 – but am hoping the repair guy (who is coming on Sunday) will be able to keep this one going in the meantime.

Oh, and we drew 1-1 with Young Boys last night.  And Carrie and Boris have had a baby girl.

 

Friday, December 10th

We are now being told that there are signs of “vaccine escape”.  Why these silly terms have to be used, I don’t know.  It makes it sound as if a hundred doses of the vaccine have climbed out of a lab window and gone to the pub.  However, I think we get the idea, and it’s not good.   *But* – apparently you should be OK if you’ve had your booster.  So we’re back to the virus versus vaccines race – can we slow the spread of the Omicro variant

Sturgeon’s telling people in Scotland to cancel Christmas parties.  We’re not being told that in England, but I’m hearing from some friends and relatives (my miserable office, needless to say, wasn’t planning a Christmas party anyway) that their parties have been cancelled.  I’m desperately sorry for the hospitality industry, but I also understand the concerns of the people making the decision to cancel.  I do *not* understand the people whingeing that Boris is a liar for reintroducing restrictions when we were told that we’d got on an “irreversible road” out of them: it isn’t his fault, or indeed anyone else’s, that this wretched new variant’s appeared.   It’s just so demoralising.  Snakes and ladders, again … we’ve just gone right down a nasty big snake.

There are rumours that more restrictions could be on the way.  It’s expected that the Omicron variant will spread rapidly.  After weeks of new cases being around 40,000 daily, they’ve shot up to nearly 60,000 daily.  And yet my callous, uncaring employers refuse to let us WFH.

On a happier note, I went to Lightopia at Heaton Park this evening.  It was lovely.  And it didn’t rain.

 

Saturday, December 11th

Great.  The desktop has now packed up completely.  The IT guy has tried and failed to resuscitate it.  I’d already accepted that I needed a new one, but I was hoping it’d last out until then.  There’s never a good time for these things to happen, but a fortnight before Christmas is a particularly bad one.

I went to the pantomime today – Aladdin, at the Opera House.  It was a great pantomime, and I had a bagel and a scone (er, so healthy) at The Vienna Coffee House beforehand, and a walk round the Christmas markets.  Town was pretty busy, and, by the time I was heading home, the Christmas markets were heaving.

It’s now compulsory to wear masks in theatres, unless you are exempt for medical reasons.  And I think young kids are exempt, which is stupid as the highest rates of infection are in young kids.  Well, I thought 80-85% of people would comply, and 15-20% wouldn’t.  Wrong.  Only about 15-20% of people were wearing masks.  The theatre company had sent out e-mails, and an announcement was made before the performance, and staff were reminding people at the doors, but most people just took no notice.  I’m not sure what else you could ask the theatre staff to do – they could hardly challenge that number of people.

I get that a lot of people are fed up.  This has been going on for nearly two years.  We were told that restrictions had been lifted, but now some of them have been reimposed and it looks likely that more would follow.  And we were told that vaccinations would be our way out of this, but now we’re being told that two doses of vaccine may provide as little as 2% protection against the Omicron variant.  I do not envy the people having to make the politicians.  The scientists are shrieking that Omicron’s going to overwhelm the NHS and we need to go back into lockdown, but, in addition to the economic impact, I just don’t think people’d stick to it.

The good news – apart from United beating Norwich, 1-0 – is that, if you’ve had a booster, your level of protection against the vaccine should be fairly good, as much as 75%.  But Omicron is said to be spreading more quickly than the original virus did at the start, before anyone was vaccinated.  And there are big local discrepancies in the percentage of people vaccinated.

Eeh, I am fed up.  Everything was going pretty much OK, and, in the blink of an eyelid, we’re back to talk of another lockdown.

 

Sunday, December 12th

My new computer has been ordered.  Fingers crossed.

Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to the F1 drivers’ championship.  Bleurgh.

And Covid.  Ah yes, Covid.

  1.  My reward for being one of the minority of people who actually wore a mask all through yesterday’s pantomime was to be woken up several times in the night by horrendous catarrh.  I was OK after wearing a mask on the trains to and from Scotland, but I suppose modern railway carriages are rather better ventilated than Edwardian theatres are.
  2. I stayed in the fresh air when going out today – to Styal.
  3. The Covid alert level has been raised from 3 to 4.
  4. Anyone fully vaccinated who comes into contact with a Covid case is now supposed to take LFTs for 7 days.
  5. Some people are in hospital with the Omicron variant.
  6. I’m hearing about a worrying number of people who’ve tested positive despite being fully vaccinated and trying to be careful.
  7. Over 1/2 million boosters were given today.
  8. The trouble is that we’ve got no idea yet just how problematic Omicron is going to be.  It seems certain that it’s very infectious, but how many of those who catch it are likely to need hospital treatment, at a time of year when hospitals are under pressure anyway?  Where do you pitch things?  Impose additional restrictions, which will upset some MPs who are already objecting to “Plan B”, alienate some sections of the public – everybody is *so* fed up –  and probably risk non-compliance, especially if it affects Christmas, and risk sending the economy down the toilet?   Or leave things as they are, and risk hospitals being overwhelmed if Omicron turns out to be really bad?   It’s just a nightmare.
  9. There’s been a Covid outbreak at United.  And Spurs.  And Chelsea.  And Norwich.  And Villa.  And QPR.  And West Brom.

I am so sick of Covid.

 

Freedom? Week 20, November 29th to December 5th 2021 inclusive, reposted

 

 

Monday, November 29th

Ralf Rangnick has officially been appointed interim manager of United.

The snow has frozen.  Great.  But should melt overnight.

More cases of the Omicron variant.  Boosters are to be offered to everyone over 18, with the gap reduced to three months.   I’m due for mine next week, but I’m just too frightened to have it after all the problems I’ve had since the second jab.

 

Tuesday, November 30th

I’ve had a text and an e-mail telling me that I’m eligible for the booster.  I know.  But I tried to do the right thing by having the first two doses as soon as I was eligible, and things haven’t been right since and are now very wrong – and I’m not the only one.  I feel awful about all of it.

Kids aged between 12 and 15 are to be offered a second dose.

Mask-wearing is now supposed to be compulsory in shops and on public transport again, but a lot of people weren’t bothering in Tesco this morning – and that includes most of the Tesco staff.  Same story in Morrisons, when I popped in there briefly on my way to the dentist’s.

Switzerland has imposed travel restrictions on people returning from the UK, because of 22 cases of the Omicron variant, so there’s now talk of moving the United-Young Boys match to a neutral venue.  That hardly seems very fair.  Why should we lose home advantage?  No-one’s stopping Young Boys from coming here.  Also, it looks as if the 5th Ashes Test may have to be moved away from Perth, due to Western Australia’s quarantine rules.

Greece is to fine anyone over sixty 100 euros per month if they don’t get vaccinated, which I actually think is appalling – every case is individual and some people may have genuine fears about it.

 

Wednesday, December 1st

It feels like we’re gong backwards rapidly.  Although we’ve been told not to cancel Christmas plans, some people are nervous.  There’s talk in some countries of making vaccination compulsory.   And more and more travel restrictions are being imposed.   It’s thoroughly demoralising.  Will this *never* end?

And Jo Konta’s retired due to her ongoing knee injury, which is rather sad 😦 .

 

Thursday, December 2nd

Ralf Rangnick’s got his work permit, the Young Boys match can go ahead as planned, and we play Arsenal tonight.

Infection rates in southern Africa are rising markedly, and look rather high here today, as well.  However, it does seem that most cases are mild.  Could this be the Spanish flu moment when a milder variant drives out the more deadly variants?  Well, we can but hope, but, at the moment, all the talk is of more restrictions.

Germany’s going to ban unvaccinated people from shops and bars.  I’m really not comfortable with this.  Banning a section of the population from public places, especially in Germany … I really don’t like this at all.

 

Friday, December 3rd

I have to go for more tests and scans in January, then will probably be having an operation in late Jan/early Feb.  With 8 weeks’ recovery time.  This was not exactly how I planned to start the new year, but, if it needs doing, the sooner the better.   I appreciate that I’ve been lucky in not having had a major op before – I’ve had teeth, tonsils and adenoids removed, but you get over those in a few days’ time – but it’s quite hard to get your head round.   Shame it wasn’t last year – I wouldn’t have missed anything due to lockdown.

The Republic of Ireland’s closed nightclubs and tightened restrictions on the hospitality sector in general.

I suppose no-one’s life plan really includes operations, eh?

 

Saturday, December 4th

It’s now been announced that anyone entering the UK from abroad will have to take a Covid test before they set off.  TBH, I think this is a waste of time.   The number of Omicron cases in the UK, and indeed in a lot of other countries, is on the rise.   Maybe the thinking is that any new variant can be kept out, but that just doesn’t seem to work.

Had my hair cut this morning.  Then met up with a group of friends, for the first time in 2 years, which was lovely – we usually meet up a few times a year, but our mid-March 2020 meet-up was cancelled because some people were getting nervous, and it’s been one thing after the other ever since.  So lovely to be together again.

 

Sunday, December 5th

Nigeria is now also on the red list.  There are now 246 cases of the Omicron variant in the UK, which isn’t a lot, but, once the genie’s out of the bottle … .  Thankfully, unlike the Republic of Ireland, we aren’t having another big wave of the Delta variant, but case numbers are certainly well up this week.

On a happier note, we began Ralf Rangnick’s reign with a 1-0 victory over Palace.  And I’ve put my Christmas tree up – I usually do it right at the beginning of December, but just haven’t had time this year.

And this is the Prestwich Christmas tree:

I’m not coping very well with the prospect of horrendous pain, indignity and an 8 week recovery period, but am even more stressed at the thought that something in either of the forthcoming scans might prevent the operation from taking place, because I want it over and done with.   I just want it confirmed that it’s happening, and a date for it.  Well, no, I actually want someone to wave a magic wand and make the problem go away, but I do get that that’s not going to happen.

 

Freedom? Week 20, November 29th to December 5th 2021 inclusive

 

 

Monday, November 29th

Ralf Rangnick has officially been appointed interim manager of United.

The snow has frozen.  Great.  But should melt overnight.

More cases of the Omicron variant.  Boosters are to be offered to everyone over 18, with the gap reduced to three months.   I’m due for mine next week, but I’m just too frightened to have it after all the problems I’ve had since the second jab.

 

Tuesday, November 30th

I’ve had a text and an e-mail telling me that I’m eligible for the booster.  I know.  But I tried to do the right thing by having the first two doses as soon as I was eligible, and things haven’t been right since and are now very wrong – and I’m not the only one.  I feel awful about all of it.

Kids aged between 12 and 15 are to be offered a second dose.

Mask-wearing is now supposed to be compulsory in shops and on public transport again, but a lot of people weren’t bothering in Tesco this morning – and that includes most of the Tesco staff.  Same story in Morrisons, when I popped in there briefly on my way to the dentist’s.

Switzerland has imposed travel restrictions on people returning from the UK, because of 22 cases of the Omicron variant, so there’s now talk of moving the United-Young Boys match to a neutral venue.  That hardly seems very fair.  Why should we lose home advantage?  No-one’s stopping Young Boys from coming here.  Also, it looks as if the 5th Ashes Test may have to be moved away from Perth, due to Western Australia’s quarantine rules.

Greece is to fine anyone over sixty 100 euros per month if they don’t get vaccinated, which I actually think is appalling – every case is individual and some people may have genuine fears about it.

 

Wednesday, December 1st

It feels like we’re gong backwards rapidly.  Although we’ve been told not to cancel Christmas plans, some people are nervous.  There’s talk in some countries of making vaccination compulsory.   And more and more travel restrictions are being imposed.   It’s thoroughly demoralising.  Will this *never* end?

And Jo Konta’s retired due to her ongoing knee injury, which is rather sad 😦 .

 

Thursday, December 2nd

Ralf Rangnick’s got his work permit, the Young Boys match can go ahead as planned, and we play Arsenal tonight.

Infection rates in southern Africa are rising markedly, and look rather high here today, as well.  However, it does seem that most cases are mild.  Could this be the Spanish flu moment when a milder variant drives out the more deadly variants?  Well, we can but hope, but, at the moment, all the talk is of more restrictions.

Germany’s going to ban unvaccinated people from shops and bars.  I’m really not comfortable with this.  Banning a section of the population from public places, especially in Germany … I really don’t like this at all.

 

Friday, December 3rd

I have to go for more tests and scans in January, then will probably be having an operation in late Jan/early Feb.  With 8 weeks’ recovery time.  This was not exactly how I planned to start the new year, but, if it needs doing, the sooner the better.   I appreciate that I’ve been lucky in not having had a major op before – I’ve had teeth, tonsils and adenoids removed, but you get over those in a few days’ time – but it’s quite hard to get your head round.   Shame it wasn’t last year – I wouldn’t have missed anything due to lockdown.

The Republic of Ireland’s closed nightclubs and tightened restrictions on the hospitality sector in general.

I suppose no-one’s life plan really includes operations, eh?

 

Saturday, December 4th

It’s now been announced that anyone entering the UK from abroad will have to take a Covid test before they set off.  TBH, I think this is a waste of time.   The number of Omicron cases in the UK, and indeed in a lot of other countries, is on the rise.   Maybe the thinking is that any new variant can be kept out, but that just doesn’t seem to work.

Had my hair cut this morning.  Then met up with a group of friends, for the first time in 2 years, which was lovely – we usually meet up a few times a year, but our mid-March 2020 meet-up was cancelled because some people were getting nervous, and it’s been one thing after the other ever since.  So lovely to be together again.

 

Sunday, December 5th

Nigeria is now also on the red list.  There are now 246 cases of the Omicron variant in the UK, which isn’t a lot, but, once the genie’s out of the bottle … .  Thankfully, unlike the Republic of Ireland, we aren’t having another big wave of the Delta variant, but case numbers are certainly well up this week.

On a happier note, we began Ralf Rangnick’s reign with a 1-0 victory over Palace.  And I’ve put my Christmas tree up – I usually do it right at the beginning of December, but just haven’t had time this year.

And this is the Prestwich Christmas tree:

I’m not coping very well with the prospect of horrendous pain, indignity and an 8 week recovery period, but am even more stressed at the thought that something in either of the forthcoming scans might prevent the operation from taking place, because I want it over and done with.   I just want it confirmed that it’s happening, and a date for it.  Well, no, I actually want someone to wave a magic wand and make the problem go away, but I do get that that’s not going to happen.

 

 

Freedom? Week 19, November 22nd to 28th 2021 inclusive

 

Monday, November 22nd

From the BBC website:

  • In Belgium, rules on face masks have been tightened, including in places such as restaurants, where Covid passes are already required, and most people will have to work from home four days a week until mid-December.
  • The Netherlands has imposed a three-week partial lockdown after recording a record spike in Covid cases. Bars and restaurants must close at 20:00, and crowds are banned at sports events.
  • Germany is introducing restrictions on people who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 – they will be excluded from certain venues, amid a rise in cases.
  • In Greece, unvaccinated people are barred from indoor spaces including restaurants, cinemas, museums and gyms from today, even if they test negative.
  • Also from today, Slovakia is limiting restaurants, non-essential shops, shopping malls and events to those who have been vaccinated. In the areas with the highest rates, restaurants are restricted to take-away services and gyms are shut.
  • The Czech Republic is limiting access to restaurants, sports events and cultural events to those who have been vaccinated.
  • Only people who are vaccinated or have recovered from coronavirus can access most non-essential services, except food shops and pharmacies, in Romania. Shops close at 21:00 and there’s a curfew for those who’ve not been vaccinated.
  • Austria has returned to a full national lockdown because of a recent rise in infections.

There’s been another night of violent clashes in the Netherlands.  People have had enough.

I’m going to see White Christmas tonight – I booked it ages ago, at which point I was supposed to be going to Scotland in September, not November!   So the ironing will be being left for another night.  But at least it should distract me from all the stress about seeing the doctor on Wednesday.

Lots of rumours about new managers.

 

Tuesday, November 23rd

We beat Villareal 2-0, and are through to the group stages 🙂 .

Advice about WFH in Northern Ireland has been “strengthened” – but without an actual order/directive.  In my experience, most private sector employers couldn’t give two hoots about employees’ well-being, so I don’t think “advice” is going to achieve very much.

Here in England, the latest advice is to take a lateral flow test before you go anywhere busy, but, again, people aren’t going to do that because of work issues – people can’t afford to have 10 days off work, unless they work in the public sector and get unlimited paid sick leave.

Infection rates both locally and nationally are going back up, but this seems to be the pattern – up a bit, down a bit.

 

Wednesday, November 24th

This was meant to be a Covid diary, not a personal health diary, but I’ve now been referred to a specialist and am awaiting an appointment date.  I’m not coping very well.

In Covid news, Slovakia’s going into a two week lockdown, and Poland may be next.  There’ve been protests in Ukraine against restrictions.  And Israel’s said that around 40% of cases there are in kids below the age of 12: they’re to start vaccinating younger kids.

 

Thursday, November 25th

I was told yesterday, after a 40 minute wait to speak to someone, that I would get a message today with an appointment.  No message.  I tried to ring to ask what was going on, spent 59 minutes in a phone queue (thankfully, my colleague is WFH today, so I had the office to myself), and was then told that they hadn’t done anything about it.  I cried down the phone.  The man said he’d ring me back.  Someone did then ring me back, and offered me a phone appointment.  I said that that was no use.  He then got me a proper appointment.  So that’s progress.  But what a palaver.   But it’s progress.

Ralf Rangnick looks likely to be named United interim manager.

And there is a new variant, and apparently this is the worst one yet, with over 30 mutations.  It appears to have emerged in Botswana, and spread to South Africa.  Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini are being put on to the red list.

 

Friday, November 26th

Good job I’m not trying to get to Edinburgh this weekend.  Storm Arwen is threatening eastern Scotland and NE England, and a lot of things have been cancelled.  Let’s just hope that it doesn’t cause any injuries or major damage.

Several more countries have imposed bans on travel from southern Africa, but this nasty new variant is already in Europe –  a case has been found in Belgium.

It’s one thing after another …

 

Saturday, November 27th

Well, it’s all going on.  Not for me – I’ve spent most of the day clearing out the spare room – but in general.  Inevitably, two cases of the new variant, Omicron, have been found in the UK.  Four more southern African countries have been added to the red list.  And anyone arriving in the UK, from anywhere, will have to take a PCR test on arrival, and self-isolate until they get the result.  Contacts of anyone with the new variant will have to self-isolate for ten days.

It’s all happened so quickly.  People, including rugby teams, and indeed the mum of someone I know, are stranded in South Africa, trying desperately to find a way home.

Wearing masks on public transport and in shops, but not hospitality settings, is to be made compulsory again.  But, TBH, that’s a waste of time.  People who’ve stopped doing so will not start again, and you can’t expect bus drivers, waitresses, shop checkout staff etc to challenge people who could potentially turn nasty.

Hopefully, things aren’t as bad as feared, but we saw what happened with the Alpha and Delta variants.

Great :-(.

On top of all this, Storm Arwen’s brought high winds and snow.  It’s been quite windy here, but not as bad as in some areas, and we’ve had no snow, but there’s been some within about 20 miles.   Three people have tragically been killed, one of them in Ambleside, and there’s been quite a bit of damage, and disruption to transport.

Oh dear.  What a day.

 

Sunday, November 28th

On top of everything else, we now have snow.  Yes, it looks very pretty, but it’s on the roads and the pavements and will probably freeze up overnight.

Seeing as snow was not forecast, I went to Dunham Massey.  Then came home, in the snow.  Later, went out to the Flower Park, in the snow.  Then watched our 1-1 draw at Chelsea.

 

Cases of the Omicron variant are now popping up everywhere.  It was inevitable, but it’s not good.  Morocco’s banned all international flights for a fortnight, Israel’s not admitting anyone other than Israeli citizens/residents returning from abroad.  It’s like, here we go again.

 

Freedom? Week 18, November 15th to 21st 2021 inclusive

 

 

Monday, November 15th

Round Edinburgh Castle with the tour group today.  Lovely sunny day.

All over 40s in England are to be offered boosters.  And I honestly don’t know what to do.  I was really pro-vaccination until I had the second jab, and we keep being told how important vaccinations are and how it’s silly and selfish not to have them.  But I did have some problems after the second jab, which I now know that a lot of other women have had too, and that was when the medical problems which led to my being diagnosed with a large fibroid really started.  I appreciate that the vaccine cannot have caused a fibroid, but it certainly exacerbated the problems and I’m very nervous about what might happen if I have the booster.  I’ll probably have to have it eventually, but I can’t really deal with it at the moment: I’m struggling enough, especially as it’s been so difficult just to get an appointment with a doctor.  I do have more sympathy now with people who are nervous about being vaccinated – they’re being looked down on as stupid and ignorant and being taken in by conspiracy theories, but there are genuine medical concerns as well.  I didn’t feel comfortable writing about it at the time, but I really did have some very distressing and frightening problems after the second jab, and the fact that it’s so difficult to get any sort of medical help at the moment has made me even more nervous.

On a happier note, we’ve qualified for the World Cup!  Beat San Marino 10-0!

 

Tuesday, November 16th

We’re in Inverness!   We left Edinburgh this morning, and called in at St Andrews and Pitlochry, then drove through Culloden (sadly no proper stop there) and ended the day in Inverness.  I’ve never been this far into the Highlands before.   We had to have our temperatures taken before getting on to the coach to leave Edinburgh, but TBH I don’t think anyone took it very seriously, and you don’t have to wear masks on the coach as it’s not public transport.

The Republic of Ireland’s tightening restrictions.

 

Wednesday, November 17th

A day in the Highlands!   We drove past Loch Ness this morning, although sadly there was no sign of the monster, and we saw Ben Nevis in the distance.  We then visiting a) a whisky distillery and b) Glencoe.  Most people were very excited about the former.  I was very excited about the latter.  Then ended up in Oban, which is lovely – although probably a lot lovelier in the summer!

In Covid news, cases here seem to be falling at the moment, but they’re going up in a lot of places, especially Germany and Austria.

 

 

Thursday, November 18th

We drove down from Oban to Glasgow this morning, along the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.

Goodbye to the Highlands!   The Americans and Canadians in the group have now got to do Covid tests before going home … although we’re not sure whether the tests they did on arrival have actually been collected yet!   It seems that most cases here are now amongst primary school kids.  And there’s some talk of a new strain, which is rather worrying.

Friday, November 19th

Most of the tour group people have gone home, but I’m staying on till tomorrow, and have spent the day looking round Glasgow.  I went to the Willow at the Mackintosh tearooms!

Very worried about Peng Shuai, who hasn’t been seen since accusing a senior Chinese official of sexual assault.

In Covid news, Austria’s going back into full lockdown, the first “Western” country to do so this autumn.  Bavaria’s tightening restrictions, as are some other German states, and Northern Ireland looks set to bring back the WFH directive.  Cases in much of Central and Eastern Europe seem to be soaring.

 

Saturday, November 20th

I finally got to see Glasgow Cathedral just before my train home!   It was closed yesterday and this morning because of Walter Smith’s funeral.

We lost 4-1 at Watford.  Totally humiliating.  What a mess all this is.  Meanwhile, City’s match at Leipzig is to be played behind closed doors because of Covid restrictions being reintroduced in Saxony.   And there’ve been riots in Rotterdam, as anti-restriction protests got out of hand.

I am now home.

 

Sunday, November 21st

Ole’s been sacked.  It had to happen, but I feel kind of sad – we all love him.  We’ve got how City used to be, a new manager every five minutes and nothing getting any better.  It’s just a mess.

I went to the Christmas markets today.  Lovely sunny day.  Except that now I haven’t done the ironing.  I was naively expecting that, apart from Albert Square being closed, the Christmas markets’d be like normal, but they’re not – there are far fewer stalls than usual, and a lot of the old favourites, including the singing reindeer, are missing.  But at least we’ve got something, which is more than a lot of places have got, and it was nice.

Sascha won the World Tour Finals.  Olympic officials have spoken to Peng Shuai, who told them that she was OK.  I just hope that she genuinely is.

More anti-restriction protests in the Netherlands, and also in Belgium, Austria, Croatia and Italy.  Things turned violent in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Freedom? Week 17, November 8th to 14th 2021 inclusive

Monday, November 8th

I need to speak to the doctor about the blood test results, but it’s “routine”, not “urgent”, and will wait until I’m finally getting to see the doctor in person on the 24th.  I suppose it’s positive that they didn’t say “urgent”, they said I wouldn’t even be able to book a phone call until next week anyway, and I don’t want to cancel my week in Scotland.

Travel between the UK and the US (for fully vaccinated passengers) has resumed, at long last.

My elder nephew (aged nearly 13)’s getting his jab later this week.

 

Tuesday, November 9th

Covid vaccinations are to be made mandatory for all NHS frontline staff in England.  I don’t disagree in principle, but we’re already hearing that the NHS is having trouble recruiting and keeping staff, and what’s going to happen if people choose to leave rather than get vaccinated?  It’s already happening with some care home staff, and other countries are having similar issues.  Hmm.

 

Wednesday, November 10th

Infection rates both locally and nationally are thankfully now on the way back down.

However, things seem to have taken quite a turn for the worse in Germany, as well as in many parts of Eastern Europe.  Is there no end to this?!

And Gerald Sinstadt’s died, aged 91.

 

Thursday, November 11th

Today is, of course, Armistice Day,  This time last year, we were in lockdown.  This year, the usual commemorative events have taken place.

Meanwhile, things are really not good in Eastern Europe.  Bulgaria, with a population a tenth the size of the UK’s, recorded 334 deaths in a day earlier this week, and Romania 487.  It’s bad in Russia and Ukraine as well.  Will this nightmare never end?

FW de Klerk’s died, aged 85.

 

Friday, November 12th

Great.  I checked to see what time the Glasgow Christmas markets opened, only to find that one had been cancelled “due to Covid” (2 weeks ago, after I’d made by plans) and the other one (apparently not affected by the same Covid issues as the first one, even though the sites are only a few hundred yards apart) will now not be opening until the day after I leave.  It’s not like I was going particularly to see them, and the ones in Manchester are the best in the country anyway, but it meant I had to rejig my plans slightly.  Then I got an e-mail to say that, at a week’s notice, Glasgow Cathedral would be closed next Friday.  So I had to rebook it for the Saturday, reprint the tickets, reopen the suitcase to put the printout in, and rejig my plans again.   I have no idea why it should be closed.  It’s the Protestant cathedral, so maybe they’re praying that Rangers find a decent replacement for Steven Gerrard.  I can’t think what else can have changed at such short notice!

Also, why does the National Rail website have to put a huge warning sign next to trains from Manchester, just to tell you that the area may be busy due to the Christmas markets?!

Considering that I am the world’s most stressed person even when I’m not panicking about the fibroid trauma, I think I’m remarkably calm!

In Covid news, it looks as if the Netherlands may be going into a partial lockdown, and there’s talk of Austria introducing a lockdown for unvaccinated people only.

 

Saturday, November 13th

Travelled up to Edinburgh on the train this morning.  The train was quite busy, because of people going to Murrayfield for Scotland v South Africa, but very few people had masks on.   Lovely sunny day – hooray!

Edinburgh Castle, and, because it keeps tourists happy, a piper on the Royal Mile:

 

Sunday, November 14th

Remembrance Sunday.  Events have taken place as normal this year, after they couldn’t last year.  But, sadly, the Queen was unable to attend due to a bad back.  In Covid news, Austria’s putting unvaccinated people into lockdown.  Restrictions have been announced in the Netherlands too.  And Rafa’s been talking about vaccinations.  It’s still not clear what’s going on with the Aussie Open.

Meanwhile, I’ve had another nice day in Edinburgh – Holyrood Palace and Arthur’s Seat, and the Field of Remembrance:

I met up with the rest of the group this evening.  I was amazed to find that most of them were Americans and Canadians – evidently, all the palaver with testing (people get handed tests at the hotel reception, and are supposed to do them and put them in a collection box) isn’t keeping tourists away.