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.

 

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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 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.

Freedom? Week 16, November 1st to 7th 2021 inclusive

Monday, November 1st

It has rained.  A lot.

That’s about all I have to say about today.

Apart from the fact that Rafa says he’s hoping to play in Abu Dhabi.  Fingers crossed.

 

Tuesday, November 2nd

We drew 2-2 at Atalanta.  Thanks to Ronaldo.

And infection rates locally have shot up, even though they’re falling across most of Greater Manchester.  It’s not clear why, but … well, at one point it was Tameside, then Stockport, then Trafford which had the highest rate in the country not long ago, and their rates all came down again, so hopefully ours will too, but it’s not very good.

 

Wednesday, November 3rd

Jonathan Van-Tam’s been going on about needing to take precautions in the run-up to Christmas.  Then make mask-wearing compulsory, because hardly anyone bothers any more.  Someone I know tried to open a window on a crowded bus on which hardly anyone else was wearing masks, to improve ventilation, and was subjected to some very unpleasant verbal abuse.

I have finally got a face-to-face appointment with my doctor, on November 24th.  I asked three times if they’d definitely booked it with the right doctor.  Then, because I’m paranoid, I checked on the online thing, and they’d booked it with the wrong doctor.  So I had to ring up and wait in a phone queue to get it changed.

Going for the blood tests was horrible.  Going to the doctors’ surgery has never exactly been a barrel of laughs, but now you end up feeling like a criminal rather than a patient.  Arrive a second late and you’re liable to be told that you’ve missed your chance.  So I got there a few minutes early.  Eight minutes, to be precise.  Eight minutes, not half an hour.  They wouldn’t let me into the building and made me wait outside.  When they finally let me in, they barked at me to make sure that I didn’t let anyone else come in behind me.  I’m not sure what I was supposed to do if someone else waiting outside had tried to come in – fight them off?   I wouldn’t have blamed them if they had: some poor woman was trying to ask about a letter or a repeat prescription or something, and they wouldn’t let her in and made her yell her business through the intercom – which isn’t easy because it’s on a busy road, with lorries and buses going past, so it’s very hard to hear what’s being said.

I appreciate that doctors are busy.   But you never got treated like this pre-Covid, and they were busy then as well.

 

Thursday, November 4th

The first oral tablet to treat Covid symptoms has been approved for use in the UK.  It’s called molnupiravir.  You’d think they could give tablets snappier names!  In trials, it cut the risk of hospitalisation or death by half.

And Lionel Blair’s died.

 

Friday, November 5th

Bonfire Night.  The local councils have cancelled most of the communal bonfires “because of Covid”, although I suspect that that’s just an excuse to get out of clearing up the mess afterwards.

Infections seem to be very high in Germany, for some reason.

 

Saturday, November 6th

Oh dear!  At least it wasn’t 5-0 like it was against Liverpool, but we lost the derby 2-0, at home.  This season is going wrong with a vengeance.

 

Sunday, November 7th

Been down to London to see my sister and brother-in-law and the kids.

Picture of scone eaten in London!

It was the first time I’d been on either an inter-city train or the London Underground since pre-Covid.  Hardly anyone was wearing a mask.  But, hey, at least we can actually travel around and see our loved ones again!

Freedom? Week 14 – October 18th to 24th 2021 inclusive

Monday, October 18th

Sad to hear of the death of Colin Powell from complications of Covid.

And there was a very sad article in today’s paper about a young man who died after being refused a face-to-face doctor’s appointment.  He had four phone consultations, but, as you can’t look down someone’s ear over the phone, they failed to diagnose mastoiditis which, as it was left untreated, led to a brain abscess.   It’s absolutely appalling.

On a happier note, Cameron Norrie won Indian Wells!

 

Tuesday, October 19th

  1.  Some doctors’ groups are telling GPs to refuse to co-operate with Government plans to get back to face-to-face appointments.  Oh great.  First we had teachers’ unions being determined to feud with the Government and putting playing politics above children’s interests, and now we’ve got GPs’ groups being determined to feud with the Government and putting playing politics above patients’ interests … except that this could literally cost people’s lives.
  2. There is apparently a new variant of the Delta variant.
  3. Infection rates in Trafford have dropped considerably.  The highest rates in the country are now in Ipswich, Wellingborough and Taunton.
  4. The premier of the Australian state of Victoria says that unvaccinated tennis players are unlikely to be allowed to play at the Aussie Open.
  5. Unvaccinated over 60s in Moscow have been told to stay at home until the end of February!

 

Wednesday, October 20th

The doom mongers are demanding that “Plan B” be activated immediately.  The uber doom mongers are demanding that we go back into lockdown.  Given that most cases are in schools, this seems rather extreme.  However, there’s no doubt that cases are rising, and hospitalisations and deaths are edging up too.  It’s not just here: a lot of countries are in the same boat.  Morocco’s suspended direct flights to the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, which seems a bit overboard.  And Russia’s closing workplaces for a week.  Cases were bound to rise as people spent more time indoors due to the time of year, but it also seems that immunity’s wearing off as time passes since people were vaccinated.  The booster programme’s under way, but a lot of those eligible haven’t yet come forward.

I don’t think there’s any need to panic, but, TBH, I don’t think it’d hurt to tell people to go back to wearing masks indoors.  Fewer and fewer people are wearing them in shops, and, even though we’ve been asked to wear them on public transport locally, not everyone’s doing so.  More positively, Sajid Javid’s been talking about anti-viral drugs.

America’s to start vaccinating primary school children.  I understand that people are nervous about vaccinating little ones, but I think we’re going to have to do the same.   And is everyone going to have to have a booster?

On a happier note, we beat Atalanta 3-2.  Although it would have been better had we not contrived to go 2-0 down first.

 

Thursday, October 21st

I’m going to the theatre tonight, for the first time since February 2020, to see Bedknobs and Broomsticks at the Palace.

Meanwhile, everyone and their dog has been appearing on TV, giving their opinion on Covid restrictions, which is stressing and confusing people.  Why does Tony Blair have to be shouting his mouth off about it all?  How long has he been a doctor or a scientist?!   This is the trouble – people are using the situation to try to score political points.  But there’ve been over 50,000 new cases today, which isn’t good.

Latvia’s become the first European country to go back into lockdown, but their vaccination rate’s only 54%.  And all the local public bonfires have been cancelled 😦 .

 

Friday, October 22nd

I got asked to show my vaccine passport at the theatre last night!   First time.  The theatre was fine, but I wasn’t very impressed by the behaviour of people on the bus into town.  There were clear signs on the bus asking people to wear masks, Andy Burnham’s repeatedly asked us to wear masks on local public transport, and Sajid Javid reminded us on Wednesday night that we should be wearing masks in “crowded indoor spaces”, but only 1 in 9 people (yes, I was sad enough to count) actually had a mask on.  Come on, folks, make a bit of effort.   We reported over 52,000 new cases last night.   There’s no need to panic – contrary to what the political points-scorers in the media would have us believe – but it’s not exactly a brilliant situation either.

Meanwhile, I hope the Queen’s OK.  She’s spent a night in hospital for “preliminary medical checks”.  Hopefully it’s just her knees, but it’s still worrying.

And SAGE have said that everyone should be WFH.  Listen to ’em, Boris!   Tell people to close offices and let us WFH full time.  Come on …

 

Saturday, October 23rd

I am really sick of all the scaremongering in the media.  First, they were claiming that there’d be no turkeys for Christmas and supermarkets would run out of everything else as well.  Then, they caused a totally unnecessary fuel panic.  Now, they’re scaremongering about going back into lockdown.  Oh, and Sky News are claiming that the Russians are after us.  What year is it, again, 2021 or 1961?!   Exactly what is any of this supposed to achieve?!

 

Sunday, October 24th

Ugh.  This has been one of the most humiliating days of my life.  We lost 5-0 to Liverpool.  Words fail me.   5-0.  At home.  To Liverpool.

The day did actually start quite well, when I went to Kenyon Hall to pick a pumpkin, then to the garden centre to look at the Christmas displays.

It then got very bad.  Very bad indeed.

Freedom? Week 13, October 11th to 17th 2021 inclusive

 

Monday, October 11th

Today, I tried ringing my PMI firm to ask what the procedure was if the scan showed that I needed to be referred to a consultant.  This was even worse than trying to get through to the NHS.  Fortunately, I was WFH today, so I just put the phone down next to the laptop and at least didn’t have to worry about being interrupted, but it took 55 minutes for someone to answer.  The person who answered was very apologetic, and I got the distinct impression that they were constantly listening to complaints about how long it took to get through, and obviously it wasn’t their fault, and, as usual, you can’t get to speak to the people in charge, but I was nearly in tears by then.  I’d tried the online service but it just kept saying “no agents are available”.  And, after all that, all I got was that I should ring back when I’d got the scan results … which was fair enough, but, by the time I’d waited 55 minutes for someone to answer, then gone through all the rigmarole security questions, then explained the situation, it took an hour and a quarter just to be told to ring back.

FFS.

There’s been a large and rather violent demo in Rome against vaccine passports.  Italy’s rules are pretty draconian.  And Sydney’s lockdown’s ended, after 107 days.

 

Tuesday, October 12th

The official report into the UK’s response to Covid has said that things were handled very badly at first, but that the vaccine rollout was a great success.  A few salient points:

  1. We should have locked down earlier, although the Government did follow scientific advice on aiming for herd immunity.  I still think that herd immunity’s a thing, because the highest rates now are in areas which previously had low rates, and vice-versa, but the virus went for the most vulnerable people and that resulted in a tragic loss of many lives.
  2. Releasing people from hospitals into care homes was a tragic mistake, as was the lack of testing for care home staff.  At the time, the idea was to free up hospital beds, and I get that, but the death toll in care homes was terrible.
  3. There were failings over PPE.
  4. Some interesting comments about borders.  I’ve got no idea how they’ve worked this out, but the report says that 33% of cases during the first wave came from Spain and 29% from France.  At the time, the focus was all on the Far East, and then on Iran and Italy.
  5. The whole local lockdown was a shambles.  That’s putting it mildly.
  6. There should have been more testing early on.
  7. The pandemic response was based on plans for a flu pandemic, which weren’t appropriate in this case.
  8. There’s a lot of talk about “group-think”

People are busily using this to try to score political points, which isn’t helpful.  And what’s done is done.  All we can do is try to learn from it, although hopefully nothing like this will happen again any time soon.

Oh, and George Freeman, the “Science Minister”, has said that the UK’s had a high Covid death toll because we’re all too fat.

 

Wednesday, October 13th

The Covid app went down today.  It’s working again now, but apparently there was chaos at airports.  I don’t understand why people don’t print stuff out in case something like this happens!

Trafford’s infection rates are still sky high and getting higher.  Very odd how one borough is so much worse than the others.

 

Thursday, October 14th

Sajid Javid’s announced extra funding for GPs, but said that they’ve got to see more people face to face.  Good.   I wish he’d also tell them to bring back online booking and online triage so you don’t have to spend an hour trying to get through on the phone – although, to be fair, I think most surgeries are doing that anyway.  I just wish ours was.

 

Friday, October 15th

Due to holidays being cancelled because of you-know-what, I had a spare holiday day and, not having been to either Shugborough or Trentham Gardens this year,  I decided to find somewhere to stay in Staffordshire, and booking.com found me The Upper House, which used to belong to one of the Wedgwoods and is just off the Wedgwood Estate, and very close to Trentham Gardens.  I went to the Monkey Forest first, then the gardens, then the Wedgwood tea room (sorry, had to be done), and then came to the hotel.  How cute are these monkeys?!

Plus it’s kind of distracted me from this horrendously stressful situation of waiting for more medical tests and imagining all sorts.  It really is very, very, difficult.

Some awful, awful news, though – MP Sir David Amess has been stabbed to death during a constituency surgery.  What has the world come to?   Two MPs have been murdered in 5 1/2 years.  It would have been unthinkable a decade ago.  So much hatred.  What is wrong with the world?  That poor, poor man, and his poor family and friends.

 

Saturday, October 16th

FFS.  We lost 3-2 at Leicester.  This cannot go on.  On a happier note, Cam Norrie’s reached the Indian Wells final.

It now seems that the man who murdered Sir David Amess was an Islamic fundamentalist … only days after an Islamic fundamentalist murdered five people in Norway.  Awful.

Today, I went to Boscobel House and White Ladies Priory, where Charles II hid after the Battle of Worcester.  And this is the Royal Oak in which he hid!  OK, it isn’t, because the original was wrecked by 17th century souvenir hunters, but it *is* grown from one of the original oak’s acorns.  And then I had afternoon tea at the hotel.

 

Sunday, October 17th

Shugborough today, then home.

Freedom? Week 12, October 4th to 10th 2021 inclusive

 

Monday, October 4th 

Ugh.  Today has been really horrible.  I got so stressed out about the appointment with the nurse that I cried because my watch needed a new battery (yes, I know that that sentence is a non sequitur).  Then I was told to make an appointment for some tests, which involved ringing what seemed to be a central phone number for half of northern England and waiting for ages whilst an annoying voice told me that I was in a queue, then being asked for a reference which I didn’t have to hand because no-one’d told me that I needed it, then, when I found the reference, being asked what the tests were for.  Er, shouldn’t they have known that?

And now Facebook and Whatsapp, my two support mechanisms, have both gone down.  I thought at first that this was a problem with my phone and completely freaked out, but it turned out that it was a general worldwide problem.   Which has not yet been resolved.

 

Tuesday, October 5th

Hooray, Facebook and Whatsapp are working again … although notifications of new group posts on Facebook aren’t coming up.

In the middle of everything else, we’ve got these arrogant spoilt brats from “Insulate Britain”, none of whom appear to work for a living, blocking main roads and motorways.  Last week, they blocked the road’s near my elder nephew’s school, meaning that some of the school buses were stuck for over 4 hours.  Yesterday, they actually stopped an ambulance which was taking an elderly lady to hospital.  Angry people got out of their vehicles and dragged them away, to let the ambulance through, but where on earth were the police?   Later, the ringleader told a reporter that he wouldn’t have cared if the patient had died.  Priti Patel’s said that something’s going to be done about it, but when?

Back with Covid news, a report’s suggested that Covid was “spreading aggressively” in Wuhan in the summer of 2019, and that the Chinese authorities must have known about it because spending on PCR tests drastically increased long before they reported the issue to the WHO.  Nothing would surprise me, but it’s too late to do anything about it now.

 

Wednesday, October 6th

They said that my blood tests were OK but to have them redone in 4 weeks’ time.  But the receptionist didn’t know why, and you can’t get to speak to a doctor or nurse, and I was already stressed because it took so long to get through on the phone, so I’m even more stressed now.

Boris’s conference speech barely mentioned Covid.  Nor did Keir Starmer’s.  But Wales is introducing Covid passports for certain things, and this nightmare with tests for going abroad is still ongoing.

 

Thursday, October 7th

Not much Covid talk at the moment, but I really do think that there’s a herd immunity thing going on.  The city centre (where rates hit the national headlines a year ago), Rochdale (which sparked the original local restrictions last July) and Bolton (where all the Delta variant stuff kicked off) now have the lowest rates in the area … whereas Trafford, which was demanding to be put in a separate tier last autumn, has now got rates 2.5 times those of the city centre.  Looking further afield, Herefordshire, which was practically the last part of England to be in Tier 1, now has amongst the highest rates in the country.  Rates generally seem quite high to those in other countries, which isn’t great, but they’re not getting any worse.  More importantly, death and hospitalisation numbers aren’t getting any worse.

There is some talk going on about footballers not being vaccinated.  It’s not entirely clear why, but vaccination rates amongst footballers do seem to be quite low.

 

Friday, October 8th

I hate waiting for medical tests.  But it’s a position which an awful of people are in at the moment, due to the backlog caused by Covid.  There are also concerns about how many people could get flu this winter.  We’ll see.

The red list is being reduced to 7 countries, all in Central/South America or the Caribbean.

 

Saturday, October 9th 

I am really sick of the media trying to whip up panic over everything.  Didn’t they cause enough trouble with the petrol panic?   To watch Sky News for half an hour, you’d think that the end of the world was nigh!

Today has been a rather boring day, largely spent clearing out cupboards.  When I say “clearing out”, I mostly mean taking stuff out, reflecting on the fact that I’ve had it for 15 years and never used it, then putting it back in because it might come in useful one day.

And what on earth is going on at schools in the borough of Trafford?  Infection rates there have sky-rocketed, and are way higher than they are anywhere else in the area.

On a happier note, we beat Andorra 5-0.

 

Sunday, October 10th

Apart from the nightmare infection rate in Trafford, no-one’s talking much about Covid.

Today was a lovely sunny day, so I decided to go to Windermere: it’ll be the last chance I get for a while now.   It was totally irresponsible of me, because I am now behind with a million and one other things, but it was lovely!

Left to right – Bowness, Ambleside, then Sizergh Castle on the way home.

 

Freedom? Week 11, September 27th to October 3rd 2021 inclusive

Monday, September 27th

The head of the Petrol Retailers’ Association has said that the panic-buying’s been caused by someone from the Road Haulage Association leaking selected notes from a confidential meeting, making it sound like there were fuel shortages when there weren’t.  Grant Shapps has said the same.   The Mail on Sunday has gone further, and said that the leak came from an ex-BBC man, now at the Road Haulage Association, who’s an arch Remoaner and wanted to cause a crisis and then try to blame it on Brexit.  All this talk of conspiracies sounds like something from the 1670s, but, quite frankly, it’s probably true.  Could we please get past all this polarisation over Brexit?  The referendum was 5 1/2 years ago, for crying out loud!   The decision’s been made.  OK, some people don’t like it, but stop moaning and move on.  Meanwhile, I hope whoever’s responsible is pleased with themselves for all the trouble they’ve caused.

Mum and Dad are having their Covid boosters on Sunday, and probably their flu vaccines at the same time.  That’s all been organised very quickly and efficiently.

 

Tuesday, September 28th

A lot of my elder nephew’s friends have tested positive over the past few weeks, but he hasn’t … which seemed a bit odd.  The only logical explanation, unless he was a medical miracle, was that he’d had it asymptomatically in the holidays, when he wasn’t being tested regularly.  So he’s had an antibody test, and, sure enough, he’s got antibodies.  There’s no way now of knowing when he had it, and, from our point of view, it’s good news, because it means he shouldn’t get it again any time soon.  But it really makes you wonder how many other people have had it without ever knowing, especially in the early days when there wasn’t the capacity to test anyone unless they were really ill.  I still wonder if I might have had it early last year, when I felt rough for several days but, at the time, thought it was just AN winter bug, because no-one was really talking about Covid then.  Who knows?

We’re being told that the fuel shortages are easing.  However, the petrol station at Tesco was shut this morning, and the one opposite all the office has been closed all day.  The media are busily claiming that ambulances could run out of fuel, schools could have to close if teachers can’t get to work (can teachers not use buses?), etc etc, which isn’t helping.  Boris seemed to have gone to ground until he finally emerged this evening, and Grant Shapps does nothing other than bleat that everyone needs to stop panicking.  As for the Opposition, they seem more concerned with whether or not men can have cervixes than issues which actually bother the general public.  I’m not impressed with any of them.

And I really wish that I could go back to WFH full time.  Most of my anxiety symptoms have worsened considerably since being trapped in the office again.

Roger Hunt’s died.  So many iconic footballers have died over the past couple of years.

 

Wednesday, September 29th

FFS!   I tried to make a doctor’s appointment today.  The online system wouldn’t let you book anything.  It took me ages to get through on the phone, and a stroppy receptionist then told me that a) you could only book a phone consultation, not an in person appointment, and b) you could only book on the day, and there were no appointments left today.   WTF?   I wasn’t expecting an appointment today: I was expecting to book one for next week.  No.  You can now only book one on the day.   Er, why?   Because they can’t be sure if doctors’ll be in tomorrow or not “because of Covid”.  I have never heard such rubbish in my life.  The pingdemic is over.  Hardly anyone is off work because of Covid.  You may as well say that you can’t book an appointment in case the doctor gets run over by a bus on their way home tonight.  You can book appointments with dentists and opticians, and indeed with hairdressers, electricians, bank managers or anyone else – this is just a stupid excuse.  Ring in the morning and hope you get luckier then.  Well, I’ve got to go to work tomorrow, so I can’t ring first thing because I’ll be on my way to work.

And I can’t have a phone consultation at work: there’s nowhere private to go and I don’t really want to be discussing medical problems with other people wandering in and out of the room.  If they could guarantee that they’d ring at a definite time, I could go out for a bit, but they don’t – they say something like “after 11”, and then it could be any time.  Are people supposed to walk out of a shop full of people, or a classroom of young kids, or a meeting with a client, to answer the phone?  And that’s if there even is anywhere private to go.

I’m absolutely fuming.  It’s bad enough that organisations like energy companies are using Covid as an excuse for bad service, but for doctors to be treating people like this is a disgrace.  NHS England has actually told GPs that they need to offer face to face appointments, and the issue’s been raised in the House of Commons and the Health Secretary’s backed up what NHS England have said, but it appears that GPs aren’t listening.  If they’d at least guarantee a day, I could make a phone appointment for a day when I’m WFH, but they won’t.

I was so upset that I tried to submit a comment on the “contact us” section of the surgery website … only to get a message that the digital service was unavailable and that the only way to express concerns was to ring the number I’d just spent an hour getting through to and complain to the stroppy receptionist!

 

Later – wa-hey!!  Injury time goal!  Ronaldo, of course.  United 2-1 Villarreal!

 

Thursday, September 30th

I was so upset yesterday that I wrote a letter to the surgery “expressing my concerns”, left a stroppy note on their anonymous feedback section once it started working again, and even wrote a letter to my MP.  I’m actually rather glad that I did this because, coincidentally, figures were released today showing that people in many parts of the country are having significant problems getting to see a GP, and that this is having a knock-on effect on A&E because people are going to their local A&E in desperation.  The BBC’s interviewed some people on the subject, and, basically, patients want to go back to a normal appointments system but doctors don’t/won’t.

However, I tried the surgery again today, and got put through to a different receptionist, who was absolutely lovely and said that I could come in to see the practice nurse, in person, on Monday morning.   Well, why couldn’t the stroppy madam who answered the phone yesterday have said that?!

The local petrol stations seem to be functioning again.

And the furlough scheme ends today.

And it is raining.  A lot.

 

Friday, October 1st

My ticket for the musical I’m going to in three weeks’ time came.  Along with a note saying that you need a Covid pass to get into the Palace Theatre.  All theatres are making their own rules.  You do need a pass for the Palace Theatre and the Opera House, but you don’t for the Lowry.

Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi’s baby is called Sienna Elizabeth.  Not bad.

Covid rates are very high amongst secondary school kids, although less so amongst other age groups.

It is cold.  But it is October.

And Australia’s partially reopening its borders, at last.

 

Saturday, October 2nd

FFS.  Drew 1-1 at home to Everton.  Our league season is really going wrong with a vengeance.  With all due respect to Everton.

Petrol stations here have all got fuel again.  But those in South East England haven’t.

And the Australian state of Victoria’s making it mandatory for professional athletes to be vaccinated.  I haven’t heard any anti-vaxxer comments from any of the England cricket players likely to be in the Ashes squad, but it’s no secret that certain top tennis players aren’t keen on being vaccinated, and they’re now going to have to make a choice between getting jabbed and missing the Australian Open.  Interesting development.   Meanwhile, a pill which helps reduce the effects of Covid is sounding promising.

 

Sunday, October 3rd

Hooray, at last, we can see the new James Bond film, No Time To Die!  I went this morning, and it really was quite busy for a Sunday morning.   Let’s hope that this can revive the cinema industry.  Then I went to The Vienna Coffee House, and it was lovely to see it to busy after all its struggles last year.  Whilst I was so near the Midland, where Boris & co are staying for the Tory party conference, I went over for a nose, but there was nothing to see except a load of police and a few people waving placards about various things.

It’s the Manchester Marathon next week. and 80,000 people took part in the London Marathon today.  Rather odd having them in October, but better late than never!

Freedom? Week 10, September 20th to 26th 2021 inclusive

Monday, September 20th

Hooray!   The Americans are finally lifting their travel ban, for fully-vaccinated visitors from the UK and various other countries.  But still want a load of tests doing.  A new vaccine’s being tested … in Bolton.  And Princess Beatrice has had a baby girl.

Today, I went to Tenby, and over to Caldey Island on the ferry – very exciting due to the Chalet School connections, and I struck lucky and got a really lovely sunny day.

Lots of English tourists there, and lots of signs reminding people that Welsh rules are different.  It really would be a lot easier if we all had the same rules!

 

Tuesday, September 21st

Infection rates are down in all 10 Greater Manchester boroughs.  There are quite major variations even within the local area, but the panic merchants who were claiming that we’d be seeing 50 zillion cases a day within 5 minutes of lifting restrictions have gone quiet now.  However, the virus certainly isn’t going away, and … well, it’s going to be an ongoing problem.

I went to Pembroke Castle, birthplace of Henry VII, this morning, and then to the Bosherston Lily Ponds.

Lovely day again.  And I went in the pool and jacuzzi at the leisure club adjacent to the hotel.  Going again on Friday.  You have to book slots, but it wasn’t that busy.

 

Wednesday, September 22nd

Bah.  Lost to West Ham in the Carabao Cup.  1-0.  Took a chance and put the reserves out.

Booster jabs for over 80s are now being given.   Scottish tourism officials are hitting the roof because  Sturgeon’s refusing to drop the PCR tests.   And the German government’s going to withhold sick pay from people who aren’t vaccinated and have to self-isolate.  So they just won’t self-isolate, will they?   Stupid idea!    Not that I’ve got a better one, but still.

I went into Carmarthen today, then to Dinewfr Park, and Carreg Cennin.  There was some rain, but, thankfully, nothing major!

 

Thursday, September 23rd

A Covid row’s broken out over Strictly Come Dancing, of all things.  It seems that three of the professional dancers haven’t been vaccinated, and that their dance partners weren’t told about it and aren’t very pleased.   This really is a difficult issue.  It’s not compulsory to be vaccinated, and I don’t think anyone really wants to go down the Italian route of saying that people in pretty much any job need a Covid pass, but is it fair for someone working in close proximity to others to be putting them at additional risk?

It rained quite heavily this morning, but turned out nice later on.  I went to the Roman gold mines at Dolaucothi, then to the Welsh National Botanic Gardens.

 

Friday, September 24th

I went to Cardigan Castle this morning, then to St David’s, and then called in at Laugharne on the way back.   Nice sunny day.

Fortunately, I was able to fill my car up for the journey home.  Thanks to the media whipping up a panic over fuel shortages, after a very small number of petrol stations had to close temporarily whilst awaiting deliveries – due to the shortage of HGV drivers, not a shortage of fuel – , everyone’s panic-buying.  It’s the toilet roll saga all over again – people start panic-buying, the media show pictures of long queues (the irresponsible BBC, ITN and Sky are actually encouraging people to send in pictures of queues), everyone else then panics, places run out, the panic spirals …. .  There was a bit of a queue at the station near St Clears when I got back, but nothing major, but it’s really not good in more densely-populated areas, especially for those people whose vehicles run on diesel rather than petrol.  I believe that some garages at home are out of fuel, although others are open, and my sister’s said that it’s an absolute nightmare in London, with most filling stations closed.

 

Saturday, September 25th

I’ve filled up again … I had a long drive from St Clears to Chepstow (lovely castle, closely associated with William Marshal, and right on the border, with a sign on one side of the bridge over the Wye welcoming you to Gloucestershire, England, and a sign on the other welcoming you to Monmouthshire, Wales!), then to Tintern Abbey, and then on to Hay-on-Wye, where I’m staying overnight after a very nice afternoon spent looking round bookshops.  Hay’s on the border, too – most of the town’s in Powys, Wales, but the first bookshop I went to was in Herefordshire, England!    Wet early on, but dried up later, and tomorrow’s looking nice and sunny.

Anyway, there was a petrol station not far from Hay, with no queue.  I don’t think it had any diesel, but it certainly had petrol.  It’s quite bad in some urban areas, though.  And no-one’s doing anything about it.  Telling people not to panic buy doesn’t work.

And we lost 1-0 at home to Villa, to a late goal, after we’d missed a penalty.  The wheels seem to be coming off this week :-(.

 

Sunday, September 26th

I’m home!   Via Attingham Park, near Shrewsbury.  I’ve now got that awful post-holiday feeling of having a mountain of ironing to do and having to go and be trapped in a depressing office tomorrow, but it was a lovely holiday.

Infection rates are up again in most of the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs.   Ups, downs … but nothing’s changed significantly for weeks.  And there’ve been protests in both Australia and the Netherlands in relation to vaccination rules.   And the USA thrashed Europe in the Ryder Cup 😦 .

And the petrol crisis is getting worse.  Could someone please do something?