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 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 9, September 13th to 19th 2021 inclusive

Monday, September 13th

The UK’s Chief Medical Officers have recommended that all kids aged between 12 and 15 be offered one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.  Bring it on!   Several of my elder nephew (12, nearly 13)’s friends have tested positive, and they only went back to school last week.  Kids cannot keep having to miss school.  And, in the cases of those kids too young to be left home alone all day, parents cannot keep having to miss work.  And there’s all the general worry in case a kid tests positive just before a holiday, a family celebration or anything else important.

The deal between the UK and the Valneva vaccine company has apparently been scrapped, but no-one seems very bothered about it.

In other news, CADW, the Welsh equivalent of English Heritage, release tickets every Monday.  So the tickets for next week should have been released today.  But they weren’t,  Because they’re “implementing a new system”, I was told, and it’d gone wrong.  Try again tomorrow.  OK.  Later, I looked on their Facebook page, and it said – presumably news to their own staff – that the reason you couldn’t book online tickets was that they were upgrading systems at their sites and would be closing certain sites on certain dates.  I don’t believe this.  If it said which sites were closed when, I could perhaps try to rejig my plans, but it doesn’t.  It just says that the list will follow.  Well, when?  It’s now only 4 working days until next week.  How on earth could they have left it till now to say something?   I’m really, really annoyed.   You can’t just do this with no notice.

And OMG, what happened last night?   Well done Daniil Medvedev.  Did the pressure get to Nole, like it keeps gettiing to Serena?  Whatever, congratulations to Daniil.


Tuesday, September 14th

Lots of announcements today:

`1.  Booster jabs for everyone in the top 9 groups – i.e. frontline health and care workers, clinically vulnerable people and anyone else over 50 – and also for anyone else who lives with a clinically vulnerable person.   One Pfizer dose or half a Moderna dose.  Some talk of flu jabs being given at the same time, to reduce pressure on NHS resources, but I can’t see that happening.

2.  Lots of graphs showing how unvaccinated people are far more likely to end up in hospital, or worse, than vaccinated people.  Sadly, I doubt that anti-vaxxers will have been watching the press conference.

3. There’s been some talk about a “bonfire of Covid regulations” and also changes to travel regulations, but nothing’s been said about any of that yet.  What we were told was that, if things get worse, we’ll move to “Plan B”, which will initially involve a return to compulsory mask-wearing, the introduction of vaccine passports, and the reintroduction of the home working directive.

4.  Some moaning about the lack of clarity about exactly what would be considered bad enough to trigger a move to Plan B … but how long’s a piece of string?

5.  We’re being told that the number of people in the workforce is now back to pre-pandemic levels.  There are now over 1 million job vacancies, and we need to try to sort things so that unemployed people are matched to vacancies.

6. The Premier League’s said that people will need vaccine passports for matches, even though the vaccine passport plan’s been scrapped.  This is silly now.   Too many sets of rules.  And what about Cup matches involving PL clubs?!

In other news:

  1.  CADW’s website still doesn’t say which places will be closed next week.  I rang up, and was told that the people in the office didn’t know either.  This is just ridiculous.  However, I then tried Facebook Messenger, which seems to go through to a different department, and was assured that only Conwy would be closed.  So I should hopefully be OK – but loads of people on holiday in Llandudno, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Rhos-on-Sea etc will be affected.
  2. To add to my million and one other stresses – and nothing stresses me out like techno-stress – I’ve had an e-mail from BT, informing me that they will be disconnecting everyone’s landlines and that, to get your phone access back, you will have to connect your phone to your broadband hub.  I can see the hole, so hopefully it will be OK, but it might not be.  And thankfully my equipment’s up to date, due to the Great Lightning Disaster last year, but other people will have to get theirs replaced.  Medical pendants, panic alarms, security systems connected to phones, etc, will all be affected, and you’ll have to sort them out yourself.  And, once the digital thing’s set up, if there’s a power cut or a broadband outage then you won’t even be able to dial 999 on your landline.  Just like that.  When analogue TV was disconnected, we were warned months in advance, given helpline numbers, and given an exact date.  This was just an e-mail out of the blue, and all it says is “soon”.  Hopefully *not* whilst I’m away … but surely not as soon as next week, because they must realise that people may need time to get new stuff etc.  I am not happy at all.
  3. With all due respect to Young Boys, they were meant to be the weakest team in the group … but we (not helped by Wan-Bissaka getting himself off) managed to lose 2-1 in Bern, conceding a second goal in injury time, so the Champions League is already looking like a struggle.  That’ll teach me to say that we’d got a decent draw 😦 .


Wednesday, September 15th

I have had it up to here with CADW.  Having assured me that only Conwy would be closed, and then, when I asked if they could confirm that Chepstow and Caerphilly definitely wouldn’t be closed, assured me that Chepstow and Caerphilly definitely wouldn’t be closed, they have now said that Caerphilly will be closed.   FFS, I only asked yesterday!   It should be open again by Thursday, but they can’t guarantee it because their computer upgrades might go wrong.  So, rather than stress all week, I’ve decided to go to Caerphilly on Sunday, before the closures start.  But I had booked Dolaucothi for Sunday, so will now need to contact the National Trust and apologise profusely for cancelling at short notice, and explain that I’ve rebooked it for Thursday.   And I’ve now got a long drive on Sunday, after a long drive on Saturday and with a late start because hotel breakfast is late on Sunday.  I am not impressed.  Nor are several other people who’ve posted comments on CADW’s Facebook page.  4 1/2 days is not exactly a great deal of notice.

There’s been a Cabinet reshuffle.

And there’s a lot of talk going on about WFH.  Bring it on!!


Thursday, September 16th

Wa-hey!!!  The council have said that the Christmas markets can go ahead.  Details to follow.  Yay!!

The first booster jabs were given today.  That was quick!   Frontline health and care workers first.  Also, care home workers will be required to be fully vaccinated from 8 weeks from today, so today’s the last day for them to get their first jab.   This rule’s already in force in France and some other countries, and some anti-vaxxer staff have been suspended from their jobs.

Cases are actually falling a bit, with deaths and hospitalisations pretty much stable.

And Italy’s making it compulsory for all workers (well, all legal workers) to carry Covid passes.   I have to say that I think that’s a bit OTT.


Friday, September 17th

Hooray!!!   For fully-vaccinated people, pre-departure tests on returning from abroad will be abolished at some point in October.   Tests will still be needed on day 2 after returning, although it’ll be a lateral flow test, not a PCR test, but you’re home by then.  It’s all too late for me to arrange anything for this year, but fingers crossed for next year.  Of course, foreign countries have their own requirements, but we can’t do much about those.  And the “traffic light” system’s being scrapped – it’ll be red list and everywhere else.  Rules for non-vaccinated people are stricter, but you make your choice.

Covid passes are being brought in in Wales.  For big events, but I think the exact rules are different from those in Scotland.  So we’ve now got 3 sets of rules.  I do understand about the devolved administrations, but I also understand that, for many people living in Wales, their nearest big city or town is in England, and that all these different rules are very confusing.

Some financial news from Old Trafford – in the 12 months to 30 June, United made £254.8m from broadcasters, 81.7% up on the previous year’s £140.2m, whereas matchday revenues fell from £89.8m to £7.1m.

Well, fingers crossed, off to Wales tomorrow.


Saturday, September 18th

Day 1 of my “staycation” in Wales!   I drove to Powis Castle, then to Llandovery, then to Aberglasney Gardens, and then to my base at St Clears, near Carmarthen.

Powis Castle:

As much as I get the whole thing with the devolved administrations, it really is confusing having different sets of rules in different parts of the UK.   But anyway.  And your room doesn’t get made up during your stay, “because of Covid”.  I hate to be cynical, but *is* that because of Covid or is it to reduce the hotel’s workload?!   But anyway.  It’s a really nice place.  And, apart from one trip to a garage in Aberystwyth when I was a kid (long story to do with my dad’s car!), and a visit to the Millennium Stadium for the League Cup final whilst Wembley was being redeveloped, I’ve never been to South Wales before!

Some issues with gas supplies now.  It’s partly just bad luck – there’s been a fire at a pipeline, and also Russia’s being awkward.  But it’s also because of maintenance on North Sea platforms, which was delayed due to lockdown.  Obviously it’s easy to be wise after the event, but maintenance on gas platforms and tests for HGV drivers should really have been classed as essential, and carried on.


Sunday, September 19th

United 2-1 West Ham!    But very sad to hear of the deaths of Jimmy Greaves and of John “Boycie” Challis.

I went to Caerphilly Castle today.  Lovely looking castle!   It’s a ruin, but it’s the second biggest castle in the UK: only Windsor’s bigger.

Then to Laugharne, where Dylan Thomas lived.  This is another ruined castle, not his house!   Then to Pendine beach.

“Staycations” are still very much a thing – there are lots of people about.  I’ve heard accents from various parts of England, and also Scotland, as well as Wales.   And a gold star for the weather!