The road to freedom? Week 11, June 7th to 13th 2021 inclusive

Monday, June 7th

Rafa beat Sinner, 7-5 6-3 6-0 ūüôā .¬† I was expecting a much tougher match, so that was a relief!¬† Nole went 2 sets to 0 down, but won anyway.¬† So frustrating!

I feel like I’m in limbo.¬† I can’t send this e-mail until OK Boss gets back on Wednesday, and I still haven’t heard from the holiday company – with whom I am now beyond furious.¬† ¬†The people who answer the phones and e-mails are all terribly nice, but they can’t do anything until the wretched head office says so.¬† Having said which, I’m only going to get a load of abuse in response to the e-mail, and the Iceland trip can’t happen because of the quarantine rule, but I just want things sorted so that I know where I’m up to.

It’s still hot.¬† Everything seems strange and unreal when it’s hot.¬† Please, please do this when I’m in the Lakes!

People aged 25-29 will be able to book their first jabs from tomorrow.


Tuesday, June 8th

I could bloody well swing for whomever spread the Indian variant round Bolton.¬† Hancock has now said that everyone in Greater Manchester and affected parts of the rest of Lancashire should minimise travel into and out of the area (he can sod off with that) and avoid meeting indoors.¬† ¬†The good news is that the extra support from the military etc, which was provided to Bolton, will now be provided to everywhere else.¬† But why the hell wait until now?¬† ¬†The councils asked for extra help weeks ago.¬† Things would never have got this bad if it’d been done earlier.¬† The infection rate in Blackburn is now 546.

So now I’m stressed in case this becomes a full local lockdown just as I’m due to go to the Lakes – although hopefully it won’t, because things have improved in Bolton.¬† And Andy Burnham, who has now resurfaced, says that no-one needs to change existing plans.

But I am just sick of all this.  It seems to be never-ending.

Still no word from the holiday company.¬† I e-mailed them again, but got an out of office reply from the person with whom I’ve been dealing.¬† But she’s back in tomorrow.

In the middle of everything else, the EU is trying to start a row over sausages.  I am not making this up.


Wednesday, June 9th

I’ve cancelled my trip to Iceland ūüė¶ .¬† ¬†I finally got to speak to someone in the “customer services” department and they said that, as far as they were concerned, the trip didn’t start until the day after arrival, so you could spend the afternoon you arrived shut up in your hotel room, hope your PCR tests came through before going out the next morning, and hope you tested negative.¬† I really, really want to do this trip, but how can I take that sort of chance?¬† ¬†Especially given that Iceland trips are expensive.¬† ¬†You’d be very unlucky to test negative on departure and positive on arrival, but it happened to some people going to the Aussie Open and returning from the Champions League final.¬† And, even if it was only for the first evening, who wants to be shut up in a hotel room on holiday?¬† ¬†So I’ve rebooked for next year.¬† I know it was the only decision that I could make, but I’m very sad.¬† I booked this trip in September 2019, and it was a real bucket list thing.¬† And it’s on the green list.¬† And I’ve been fully vaccinated.¬† But I just can’t take those chances with the PCR test.¬† I wanted the holiday company to decide for me … but they didn’t.

Anyway, the decision’s made.¬† ¬†This was meant to be one of the trips of a lifetime … and it’s turned into 16 months of worry!¬† ¬†Oh, when will this ever end?¬† ¬†Will we ever be able to travel normally again?

I sent the e-mail asking about WFH one day a week.  No reply.  Not even an acknowledgement.  How bloody, bloody rude.

On top of all that, Rafa lost the 2nd set to Diego, before winning 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-0.¬† ¬†Desperately hoping that Matteo can beat Nole this evening, but not holding my breath.¬† The other semi’s Stef v Sascha.¬† Some line-up!¬† ¬†Whereas the ladies’ semi-finalists are all unexpected.

Very hot and muggy, but dry Рuntil about half 6 this evening.  But raining in the Lakes.

7,540 new cases today – the highest daily number since the end of February.¬† ¬†People are rushing to be vaccinated: over a million people booked jabs today.¬† ¬†A huge effort’s being made … but most of the new cases are in schoolkids and under 25s.

Sky News filmed the pop-up vaccination centre where my dad’s volunteering, yesterday, and Dad was on the news!¬† OK, it was for about 30 seconds, he was in the background, and you could hardly tell that it was him behind the mask and the cap, but still!


Thursday, June 10th

Still no reply.  FFS.

Very, very nervous about the semi-final.

Joe Salisbury and Desirae Krawczyk won the mixed doubles ūüôā .

Meanwhile … the snakes and ladders analogy’s been used before, and here we are again.¬† We were doing so well, and now we’ve slipped down another snake.¬† Over 7,000 new cases were reported today, for the second day in a row, and we’re being told that over 90% of new cases are of the Indian/Delta variant.¬† We really have had bad luck with these variants.¬† Why did the virus have to mutate in Kent, of all places on the planet?¬† And, as angry as I am that there seems to have been so much travel between Bolton and the Indian sub-continent at a time when no-one was meant to be going anywhere unless absolutely essential, and that rules on return don’t seem to have been followed, if the mutation had occurred pretty much anywhere else in Asia then it wouldn’t have affected us.¬† And why did it have to be us at the centre of it?¬† The North West?¬† ¬†Not that I wish it on anyone else, but why us?

But saying that isn’t going to help.¬† It is what it is, and we are where we are.¬† Infection rates in our borough are now over 200 per 100,000.¬† Only a few weeks ago, they were below 20 per 100,000.

Is there no end to this?

The vast majority of cases are in younger people, which does suggest that the vaccines are making a big difference.¬† Andy Burnham’s asked for hard-hit areas to be prioritised for vaccine supplies, but the powers that be aren’t having that.


Friday, June 11th

The match between Stef and Sascha went to a 5th set, before Stef finally won.¬† It would have been great, had I not been waiting anxiously for the match between Rafa and Nole to start!¬† It’s just got going.¬† And Euro 2020 also gets going tonight.

Over 8,000 cases today, and there’s no denying the fact that hospitalisations are “ticking up”.¬† ¬†And there’s such a backlog with everything.¬† Trying to get through to our doctors’ surgery is a nightmare.¬† Half the time, it’s engaged.¬† Then, when you do get through, you’re told that you’re number 5 or number 6 in a queue, and it can take so long to advance one position that you wonder if someone’s telling the receptionist their life history!¬† ¬†Then you’re told that you can’t see a doctor and will have to wait for a “phone consultation”.¬† Then they don’t ring when they say they will, so you’re stuck waiting by the phone.¬† And waiting times at A&E can be up to 8 hours.

It looks very likely that “unlocking” will be delayed by at least 4 weeks.¬† (I hope that horrible bosses respect this!)

Later – oh no ūüė¶ .¬† Until today, Rafa had only ever lost twice at Roland Garros.¬† Now it’s three times.¬† He won the first set, and had a match point in the third, but, hands up, Nole deserved the win.¬† 3-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.¬† At stupid o’clock on a Friday night, after Stef had beaten Sascha in 5 sets.¬† I’ll be cheering Stef on on Sunday, but I feel very sad and just crushed.


Saturday, June 12th

Oh dear.¬† Sat down to watch some of Denmark v Finland, and Christian Eriksen (now of Inter Milan, formerly of Spurs) collapsed on the pitch.¬† There was no-one near him – I can only think it must have been some sort of heart problem, like with Fabrice Muamba and poor Marc-Vivien Foe.¬† The physios and medics did CPR, but it really didn’t look good.¬† The players went off.¬† Thankfully, we’ve now been told that he’s stable and awake.¬† And the match has resumed, two hours later – surely they wouldn’t have played on if he were in any danger.¬† But it was just awful.¬† ¬†Desperately hoping that he’s OK, and thank goodness for the wonderful medical staff.

Until then, it’d been the sort of glorious sunny summer sporting Saturday that we missed last summer, trying to keep up with the tennis – Barbora Krejcikova beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to win the French Open ladies’ singles, the cricket – er, not good – and the football.

This morning, I went to Tatton Park, to find that both cafes were closed, due to “staff shortages”.¬† FFS!¬† I got a pot of tea and a nice scone at a nearby garden centre with outdoor seating, but it was a jolly good job that I hadn’t gone for a full day.¬† They whinge and moan about how hard it’s been, put up the already extortionate entrance fee, and then close both cafes on a very busy summer Saturday when they could have taken thousands of pounds!¬† ¬†However, the gardens were looking lovely!

Weather still glorious.¬† Please, please don’t tell me that this is summer and we’ll get payback when I’m in the Lakes!¬† Nice weather for the scaled back Trooping the Colour parade.

It now looks all but certain that “unlocking” will be delayed by 4 weeks.¬† ¬†Things are improving in Bolton, but are bad in Blackburn, which has spilled over into Rossendale and Hyndburn, and is spilling over from there into Ramsbottom – although the rate of increase in the borough of Bury overall is dropping.¬† Cases are sky-rocketing in Salford, mainly in the university area.¬† Things also seem to be spilling over into “Cheshire East” and “Cheshire West”, but, strangely, not into St Helens and not much into Warrington.


Sunday, June 13th

The good news is that Christian Eriksen’s OK.¬† He may not play again, but he’s OK.¬† And the other good news is that England began with a win ūüôā – 1-0 over Croatia.

And it was so nearly good news in Paris, when Stef Tsitsipas went 2 sets to love up … but Nole came back to win in 5.¬† ¬†No offence to him, but that so wasn’t the result I wanted.

It is very hot.

I went to Blackpool this morning.¬† I always go to Blackpool on the morning of the French Open final.¬† It wasn’t really right, without Rafa in the final, but it was a shame to waste a lovely sunny morning.

And we await Boris’s decision tomorrow.¬† And we await the response of horrible bosses to it.¬† ¬†I know that my mental health, which has been quite fragile over the years, is going to take a huge hit from being trapped in that office again, so I’m trying not to think about it.¬† ¬†Boris claims that they haven’t decided yet, but I think he’s just saying that to avoid diverting attention from the G7 summit – which is quite understandable.


Some statistics – now, how does this work?

Some statistics for infection rates per 100,000 head of population:

Coventry (Midlands) – 134
Bristol (West Country) – 141
Leeds (Yorkshire) – 144
Newcastle (North East) – 146
Greater Manchester (North West) – 159

All of these areas have been placed in Tier 3, with travel restrictions imposed and hospitality businesses forced to close.  These are just the figures for some densely-populated urban areas: in other areas under Tier 3 restrictions, the rate is far lower.

And now take a look at these figures, by comparison:

London – 183
Luton (just outside London, airport named “London Luton”) – 287

But both of these areas have been placed in Tier 2, where travel restrictions have not been imposed and hospitality businesses are open.


This is because the government wants to protect jobs in London.  Jobs in the rest of the country, apparently, are unimportant.

Is it any wonder that people are fed up?






Second Wave Week 9 – October 26th to November 1st 2020 inclusive


Monday, October 26th

Feeling rather glum today.¬† Now that the clocks have gone back, it’s going dark by the time I’ve finished work.¬† It’s also getting colder, and I can guarantee that the office will not pay a penny towards our heating bills.¬† And it’s rained for much of the day.¬† Warrington is moving into Tier 3 earlier than originally announced, and Nottingham and some areas close to it are also moving into Tier 3.¬† There are threats of even tighter restrictions.¬† It’s no better in France, Spain, Belgium etc, which are weeks ahead of us – in fact, it’s getting worse.¬† Everyone is so fed up.

Meanwhile, the row over what does and doesn’t count as “essential” during the Welsh lockdown is getting increasingly silly.¬† One man went shopping in nothing but his pants, as a protest over clothes being classed as non-essential.¬† And one woman was told that she wasn’t allowed to buy sanitary products!

I’m trying to be cheerful, but it really is difficult.¬† Things just seem to be getting worse and worse.

Tuesday, October 27th

367 deaths today, the highest daily figure since June.¬† OK, Tuesday’s always the worst day because of the catch-up from the weekend, but even so.¬† And infection rates keep rising.¬† The Manchester Evening News published a list of hotspots by ward, rather than by borough, and there was just no pattern or logic to it.¬† It all just seems to be random.

Protests in Milan and Turin last night turned violent, as Ultras infiltrated what were meant to be peaceful protests over restrictions.

Andy Burnham’s launched a “one GM fund” to try to help local businesses.¬† Gary Neville appears to be very involved with it.¬† ¬†And over 50 Northern Tory MPs have asked the government for answers on how we move forward.¬† They haven’t got any.

Wednesday, October 28th

Germany is going into “lockdown lite”.¬† Sounds as if France could be going into lockdown heavy.

The whole of Nottinghamshire is now going into Tier 3 on Friday.¬† Why didn’t they just say that to start with?¬† Why say it would be some areas but not others, and then change their minds five minutes later?¬† Shops there won’t be allowed to sell alcohol after 9pm.¬† Er, why is this a rule in Nottinghamshire but nowhere else?!¬† ¬†And all parts of Staffordshire still in Tier 1 will be going into Tier 2.¬† Meanwhile, social clubs in some Tier 3 areas have been told that it’s OK for them to sell alcohol without substantial meals, because the ban’s only for pubs.¬† Does anyone understand any of this?!

Bristol has created its own personal tier!¬† “Tier 1 Plus”.¬† Hey, let’s all create our own tiers.

An increasing number of matches are being called off due to virus outbreaks.  Football clubs are being allowed to postpone matches, but rugby league clubs are being made to forfeit them, which seems rather mean.

Marcus Rashford’s meal vouchers petition has now got over 1 million signatures.

Everyone is fed up.

But, on a happier note, we beat Leipzig 5-0 tonight!!¬† And Marcus Rashford scored a hat trick.¬† ¬†The club are calling for fans, albeit a reduced number of fans, to be allowed back into stadia, but I can’t see it happening ATM … but at least we’ve made a great start to the Champions League.

Thursday, October 29th

It has rained ALL day.¬† OK, that’s not the virus’s fault, but it hasn’t exactly made anyone feel any better.

West Yorkshire’s being pushed into Tier 3 from Monday, and it looks as if the West Midlands may follow.¬† Infection rates sadly remain highest here in the North West, but are now rising fastest in the Midlands and parts of the South.

Various areas are moving into Tier 2 – Telford and the Wrekin, the city of Oxford, East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, parts of Derbyshire, and Luton

The social club alcohol loophole’s been closed.

The G-Mex Nightingale Hospital’s now taking (non-virus) patients.

The new Scottish tiers have been announced.¬† Nowhere’s going into Tier 4 yet, but the Tier 3 rules are worse than they are here.

Bobby Ball’s died after testing positive for the virus.¬† Very sad news.¬† Such a lovely man.

In the middle of all this, the EHRC’s found the Labour Party guilty of anti-Semitic harassment and discrimination, and’s also found that there was political interference in complaints on the issue.¬† It’s absolutely the right verdict.¬† The likes of Harold Wilson and John Smith must be turning in their graves, and it really shames everyone that a mainstream British political party should have come to this.¬† The current leadership accepted the verdict and agreed to work to try to change things, but that vile anti-Semite Corbyn reacted by insisting that there wasn’t a big problem and that it was all a plot by his political opponents and the media.¬† Keir Starmer, quite rightly, has suspended him from the Labour Party.¬† ¬†So that’s giving the media something to talk about other than the virus and Donald Trump.

Friday, October 30th

Nobby Stiles died today.¬† Nothing to do with the virus, and he’d been ill for a while, but it’s very sad news.

I am miserable because I put on a load of weight on holiday and now weigh even more than I did before lockdown.

The number of cases in the North East seems to have stabilised.¬† Sadly, it’s still rising here, and elsewhere.¬† We’re being given no sort of info on where people are getting it.¬† OK, a lot of people may genuinely have no idea, but surely it must be possible to trace some sort of links/patterns within particular areas?

Traffic jams of over 430 miles have formed as people leave Paris … er, to spend lockdown elsewhere.¬† Where?!!¬† Has everyone in Paris got a holiday pad on the Riviera or something?! ¬†And Belgium is going into lockdown. ¬†No haircuts until mid-December.

People in Notts are being banned from going out for tea and scones/cake . ¬†‚ÄúSubstantial meals‚ÄĚ only. ¬†FFS.

There is a growing feeling here that a national lockdown is inevitable.¬† Not because anyone thinks it’s a good idea, just because no-one’s got any other ideas.¬† It’ll be interesting to see if the Welsh and Northern Irish “firebreaks” have done any good.¬† Wales is giving up on local lockdowns, but the powers that be here insist that the tier system is the way to go.¬† Not that we see much of them.¬† Boris is practically invisible, and Priti Patel even more so.¬† Even Rishi Sunak seems to have disappeared.¬† Dominic Raab, Matt Hancock, Robert Jenrick and George Eustice all pop up from time to time, but where is Boris?¬† I’m not keen on Nicola Sturgeon, but at least she’s visible.

A Swiss study claims that a new strain of the virus appeared in Spain over the summer and then spread across Europe.¬† And a South African study claims that infections are dropping there because they’re approaching herd immunity.¬† Who knows?


Saturday, October 31st

We’re going into lockdown.¬† On Thursday.¬† For a MONTH.¬† Damn, that means I miss the Dunham lights, unless I can rebook.¬† My hairdresser rang to ask if I could go on Monday, which is way too early but it’s needs must.¬† Yes, I know that my hair and the Dunham lights are not the main issues here, but my brain’s a bit addled.

Schools, colleges, universities and nurseries will remain open.¬† So will workplaces if people can’t work from home.¬† So it’s kind of “lockdown lite”, like in Germany.¬† Pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants have to close apart from deliveries and take-aways.¬† So will “non-essential retail outlets”, and entertainment places.¬† We haven’t got all the details yet, but gyms and hairdressers will have to close.¬† So will golf clubs (poor Dad!), although it’s not clear about other amateur sporting activities?¬† What National Trust places?¬† And can we go out by car for a walk?¬† That sounds really stupid, but I mean are we allowed to drive a few miles to somewhere other than our local park?¬† And presumably garden centres can stay open?

The furlough scheme will now continue for another month, which is something.¬† However, could someone please tell me why a 67% of wages “support” scheme is apparently considered adequate for the North West and Yorkshire, but, when the South goes into lockdown as well, it’s decided that it should be 80%?

This has all been decided because the latest lot of statistics suggest that the virus is spreading more quickly than expected, and the NHS is in danger of running out of capacity.¬† It’s not a surprise, but it’s all happened so quickly.¬† It was all over the papers, the TV, the radio and the internet this morning, and it seems that the plans were leaked.¬† I’ve often wondered if all these “leaks” aren’t deliberate, to give people time to get used to the latest restrictions before they’re announced officially, but this certainly wasn’t – they wouldn’t have planned to announce it on a Saturday.¬† And they clearly weren’t ready: we were initially told that the press conference would be at 4, then at 5, then at half 6, and it ended up being at 1/4 to 7.¬† This is ridiculous – surely the secret services should be able to find out where these leaks are coming from?

Bleurgh.¬† Is there no end to this bloody nightmare?¬† And, when this month of lockdown’s over, it’s back to the bloody tier system.¬† I’ve had an e-mail to say that my booking for Blackpool Illuminations has been cancelled, but I’d like to rebook if we’ll be able to go in December, but, if we’re still in bloody Tier 3, it’ll be against “guidance”.¬† Carlisle’s going into Tier 2, not that that’s very relevant for now.¬† But West Yorkshire is now not going into Tier 3.¬† Just to confuse everyone a bit more.

Went to Dunham Massey – the only NT place actually within “Greater Manchester” – this morning.

In March, people got really into walking, cycling, jogging, and online PE lessons with Joe Wicks.¬† This time, everyone’s, like, bleurgh, pass the vodka/gin/wine and the chocolates/biscuits.

So here we are.  Lockdown II.

In other news, a) Sean Connery has died and b) England have won the Six Nations (nearly 8 months late).


Sunday, November 1st

How many domestic problems have I had during this pandemic?¬† The toilet flush broke.¬† ¬†The toilet seat broke.¬† The oven broke.¬† Then there was the nightmare lightning strike.¬† Last night, I noticed a wet patch on the kitchen ceiling.¬† ¬†I barely slept all night.¬† Got the plumber out this morning, and he reckoned it was the toilet again.¬† How can a toilet cause so much trouble?!¬† He replaced a valve.¬† But the wet patch has kept getting bigger – I understand that the water already there had to come through, but it’s panicking me, even though I’m hoping it’s pretty much stopped now.¬† And the kitchen ceiling looks a mess.

I did not need this, on top of Lockdown II.  Several friends have said that their mental health is suffering now.

After that, I went into town, to get a new watch battery, do some of the “Windows of Creativity” trail (including this one, showing Emmeline Pankhurst, whom I sure would never have been fazed by a leaking toilet), and go to The Vienna Coffee House before it has to close again.¬† It was hard not to feel sad.¬† We should be getting ready for the Christmas markets to open.¬† And, of course, we should have the Remembrance Sunday parades a week today.¬† Instead … well, who knows how many businesses may never reopen?

Then it rained nearly all afternoon.  And  United lost to Arsenal.  What a terrible start to the league season.

And Bobby Charlton’s been diagnosed with dementia, which I’m very sad about.

Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram have both made it clear how narked everyone in the North is over the furlough scheme issue.¬† They’ve also called for schools to close.¬† There’s quite a debate going on about schools.¬† I can see both sides of it: it’s hard to know what to think.¬† And Michael Gove’s said that the lockdown may go on for more than a month.¬† He had to say that, when asked, because he couldn’t commit to its only being a month when no-one knows how things’ll go.

On a happier note, the rate of increase locally has slowed significantly.

So endeth a rather crap week.  Next week, Lockdown II.

Town before lockdown

I’ve been into town this morning, partly because I needed a new watch battery, partly to do the “Windows of Creativity” walk before we’re confined to barracks again, partly to lend support to my favourite cafe before it has to close again, and partly because I just wanted to be in my city centre, the centre of Manchester.¬† ¬†We’ve got through worse times than this – 80 years ago, Luftwaffe bombs killed nearly 800 people in the week before Christmas – but, oh, it’s miserable, seeing pubs with “Closed” notices on them, and knowing that restaurants and many shops will be closing for at least a month from Thursday, just when we should be getting ready to have a glass of gluhwein by the singing reindeer head at the Christmas markets.

Pretty much of all of Europe, and many other countries, are in the same mess that we’re in, so I’m not blaming the authorities.¬† The virus is just a lot cleverer than we are: it’s very difficult to defeat nature.¬† There isn’t really much option other than another lockdown, but the thought of what it’s going to do both to people’s mental health – I’ve got a long and unpleasant history of anxiety – and the economy is very worrying.¬† And we, in Greater Manchester, have now been under additional restrictions for over three months, and yet things have just got worse.

I’m a historian, so I am supposed to be an expert on the evils of bias and prejudice.¬† And I usually find them very annoying.¬† The Whigs said this and the Marxists said that and the revisionists said the other … just tell me the facts and let me decide for myself.¬† ¬†The same with media reports now: just tell me the facts, not your biased opinion of it.¬† ¬†But, now that I’m actually writing a first hand account of a major event in world history (even if I don’t suppose it’s of much interest to anyone but me), I’m finding it impossible to be objective, because it’s all just so close to home.

For whatever reason, Greater Manchester has been the epicentre of the pandemic in England since July.¬† As I said, we’ve been under additional¬† restrictions for over three months now.¬† And, at the centre of events, we have, as the people’s champions, United’s own Marcus Rashford, not only a United player but “one of our own”, Manchester born and bred and at United since he was a kid, and Andy Burnham, whom I’ve had a bit of a crush on for years ‚̧ .¬† I once wrote to Andy Burnham about something, and I got a letter back with “Dear [my name]” handwritten at the top, and “Best wishes, Andy Burnham,” handwritten at the bottom, and I was so excited that I kept the letter: I’ve still got it.¬† ¬† And don’t get me wrong, I’d have supported the children’s meals vouchers campaign regardless of who’d started it, but Marcus is one of our own.

Incidentally, could someone please tell me why a 67% furlough scheme was considered adequate for Manchester, Liverpool and other parts of the North, but, the minute London’s put back into lockdown, it’s announced that the 80% furlough scheme would be extended, something which Andy Burnham asked for and was told wasn’t an option?¬† ¬†It’s pretty hard to be objective when you’ve got good reason to feel that you’re getting a raw deal.¬† And it’s hard to be objective about anything when your city, your region, is at the heart of it.

Even with the 80% furlough scheme, a lot of businesses will inevitably have to make redundancies, or even fold completely.¬† And the mental health effects of another lockdown, especially at what’s always a fairly miserable time of year made bearable only by the Christmas stuff that won’t be happening this year.¬† This is going to take a hell of a lot of coming back from.

But we’ll get there.¬† We’ve got through worse.¬† It would just be very nice to see some light at the end of the tunnel.¬† And it would be nice to get back to feeling that we’re all in it together, that Spirit of the Blitz which we had in the early days.

Second Wave Week 8 – October 19th to 25th 2020 inclusive


Monday, October 19th

It’s strange being down here with all this going on at home.¬† ¬†It’s like another world down here.¬† There are just so few people about.¬† ¬†Apart from Bristol, there are no big cities.¬† Even Bath, where I went today, is pretty small compared to towns like Bury and Rochdale.¬† No wonder infection rates are so much lower here.¬† I went to the Pump Room and the Roman Baths – both pre-booked due to virus issues.¬† The Assembly Rooms were sadly closed, again due to virus issues!¬† There seem to be quite a few overseas tourists around, strangely, but nothing like as many as usual: there’d usually be coachloads of people, especially Americans, in the area, to see Stonehenge, the Magna Carta and Jane Austen’s Bath.

Still no definite decision on Greater Manchester.¬† No-one seems to know what the hell is going on.¬† When all the details of the financial wrangling emerged, it turned out that, having asked for ¬£95m – perfectly reasonably, given that Merseyside, with half the population of Greater Manchester, got ¬£45m – we were only offered ¬£60m.¬† We then asked for ¬£65m, but they wouldn’t even agree to that.¬† It is impossible for me to be objective about this.¬† This is MY city.¬† This is MY region.¬† (And I’ve had a bit of a crush on Andy Burnham for years, although that’s rather beside the point!)¬† But the financial “support” on offer is a joke.¬† How are people meant to manage on 2/3 of their wages?¬† And local lockdowns do not bloody work.¬† We should know.¬† We’ve been in one for three bloody months,

Meanwhile, Wales is going into full lockdown for three weeks, from 6pm on Friday.  And the Republic of Ireland is going into full lockdown for SIX weeks, from Wednesday.  And Northern Ireland is now in lockdown.


Tuesday, October 20th

I cannot believe what has gone on today.¬† The upshot is that we’re being forced into Tier 3 from Friday – and with only around ¬£20m on offer, although it looks as if we will get the ¬£60m mentioned beforehand.¬† But … the national government, which is supposed to represent us, has treated us like some sort of enemy.¬† A high noon ultimatum was offered.¬† What is this, 1939?¬† People were gathering in town.¬† I don’t know what they were expecting to happen, but that’s how big it was.¬† And that idiot Robert Jenrick, the Housing Secretary, was saying that, if Andy Burnham wouldn’t agree to do what he said, he’d “report” him to the Prime Minister.¬† Who does he think he is, the school sneak?

Then Andy Burnham, speaking in town, found out from a message on a phone shown to him by an aide about what was happening.¬† Boris held a press conference at 5, and said that Tier 3 restrictions were being imposed on us.¬† Like we’re a colony.¬† ¬£5m.¬† It’s a drop in the ocean in terms of government spending.

I am so angry that we are being treated like this.¬† I really did have faith in Boris Johnson’s government.¬† Hah!¬† And I am so worried about the state of the local economy.¬† And I HATE the idea of travel restrictions, even if technically they are only “guidance”.¬† Pubs are not important to me personally, but travel is.¬† Now I’ll be going against “guidance” if I go to the Lakes. Or even to Blackpool, to see the Illuminations, even though that’s in Tier 3 too.¬† So it’s OK to go from, say, Standish to Altrincham, which is over 25 miles, because that’s not leaving Greater Manchester, but not to walk from Standish to Chorley or Wigan to St Helens, even though they’re all in Tier 3.

I am so angry.

Meanwhile, I’ve been to Stonehenge, and to a lovely National Trust property called Stourhead.¬† I’ve never been to Stonehenge before.¬† And United have beaten Paris St Germain!

I suppose that I’ll technically be breaking rules if I stay away overnight on Friday and Saturday now, but it’s hard bloody luck.¬† I’ve paid for the hotel for the week.


Wednesday, October 21st

South Yorkshire РSheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster Рis to move into Tier 3.  No news yet on Nottingham, the North East or West Yorkshire.

Anti-government graffiti is appearing around Manchester and Liverpool.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner called another MP “scum” in the House of Commons today, in a row over Tier 3 restrictions.¬† OK, she was bang out of order to use language like that, but feelings are running very high.

Gyms are to reopen in Merseyside.  More chopping and changing.

Rather wet today, but I had a nice day anyway – I went to Cleeve Abbey, which I wanted to see because of its links to Elsie J Oxenham’s “Abbey” books, and to Dunster Castle.


Thursday, October 22nd

I went to Salisbury today – Old Sarum in the afternoon but, first, the cathedral, where I saw one of the four surviving original copies of the Magna Carta.¬† I wore a Manchester bee face mask for the occasion.¬† The Magna Carta’s in a little tent to protect it from the light etc, and you go in on your own: it’s quite a spiritual experience.

It doesn’t cover pandemics.

Then I went to Cheddar.¬† Not to the caves, though – they’ve closed down because of the pandemic.

Slough, Coventry and Stoke are moving into Tier 2.

Parliament has rejected Marcus Rashford’s proposal to provide meal vouchers during school holidays for kids who get free school meals.¬† It’d only have cost ¬£20m, which isn’t a lot in terms of public spending.¬† People are furious about it.¬† There’s very strong support for it, and social media is now full of remarks about how the government doesn’t care about hungry kids.¬† It’s not good.


Friday, October 24th

Greater Manchester is now in Tier 3.  And Warrington is to move into Tier 3.  People there are being asked not to leave the borough, which is ridiculous.

“SOS” has been beamed on to the side of Blackpool Tower.¬† Loads of half-term bookings have been cancelled, and the Illuminations going on until January isn’t going to be much help now that there’s “guidance” against people going there.¬† The Lake District’s also seen a lot of cancellations – and businesses there won’t get any help at all, because the Lake District itself is in Tier 1.¬† It’s just a nightmare.

I’ve been to Wells today, and then to Nunney.


Saturday, October 25th

Went to Glastonbury today.¬† I climbed Glastonbury Tor!¬† Then went to the Chalice Well.¬† Then to the Abbey.¬† I drank a bit of the Chalice Well water, supposedly springing from where the Holy Grail’s buried.¬† And I saw where King Arthur and Queen Guinevere were supposedly buried.¬† Now would be a very good time for King Arthur to come back and save us all!¬† Then I went to Farleigh Hungerford Castle.

The number of councils and businesses offering vouchers or free meals to children is soaring.¬† One of the papers called it “the Duncook Spirit”.¬† Hopefully it’ll genuinely help some of those in need.

It’s making the government look very bad indeed.

Infections are continuing to rise.¬† Here and all over Europe.¬† We’re not hearing much about what’s happening elsewhere, and it’s not as easy as you’d think to find information online .

Home tomorrow.


Sunday, October 25th

I’m home!¬† Via Witley Court and Stourport-on-Severn.¬† Done the washing.¬† Not done the ironing.

The motorway was certainly quieter than usual.¬† But infection rates keep rising, especially in Oldham and Rochdale.¬† There are rumours that a “Tier 4” could be introduced, which could include shutting restaurants and “non-essential” shops.¬† Whatever a “non-essential” shop is – there is a row going on over this in Wales at the moment.¬† Apart from Wales, the Republic of Ireland and the Czech Republic, nowhere else seems to be going that far.

So fed up.

Marcus Rashford has repeatedly said that he wants everyone to work together and is not trying to score political points, but tell that to all the vile people twisting his kindness and humanity into abusing the government for their own ends.¬† So sick of all the nastiness – but so heartened by all the good-hearted people offering free meals for children as a response to Marcus’s campaign.¬† We’re sticking together.¬† Street food traders and sandwich delivery businesses are partnering with pubs, to enable them to serve meals and therefore be allowed to remain open.¬† But anger at Westminster is growing.

And so I’m home.¬† In Tier 3.





The Harrying of the North, or The Two Nations

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been in the crazy situation of having my home city, my home region, involved in a stand-off with the national government which is supposed to represent us.¬† Last Tuesday, we were given a high noon deadline to agree to what the government said or have Tier 3 restrictions imposed on us without local leaders’ agreement – the latter being what eventually happened.¬† One the one hand, it sounded like something from 1914 or 1939 – here is an ultimatum.¬† Crowds were gathering in town, waiting to see what would happen.¬† On the other hand, we had Robert Jenrick saying that, if Andy Burnham wouldn’t do what he said, he was going to report him to the Prime Minister, sounding rather more like the school sneak than a member of the Cabinet.¬† It was so farcical that it would have been funny had it not been so serious.

None of this was political.¬† MPs and council leaders from both main parties stood side by side on this.¬† That seemed to be what threw the government – the City United response, and the strength of it.¬† It wasn’t about point-scoring.¬† It was about the need for fairness.¬† I’m sure we all accept that this is an extremely difficult situation, and that it’s one which no-one really knows how to deal with.¬† It’s no-one’s fault that infection rates are rising.¬† It’s happening right across Europe and beyond, regardless of the different policies adopted by different authorities.¬† It’s no use blaming the track and trace system, the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, the behaviour of different demographic groups, or anything else – and it’s certainly no use blaming people in densely-populated areas where infection rates are inevitably higher than those in sparsely-populated areas.¬† It’s just the way pandemics go.¬† There are always second waves.¬† This is where we are, and we need to try to deal with it.¬† We all want to get infection rates down.¬† But the methods being used are not working for the North of England.

There were two main issues involved in the “stand-off”.¬† One was the fact that local lockdowns just don’t seem to work.¬† We should know.¬† We’ve been under additional restrictions since the end of July.¬† The first lot were announced, with no warning, on Twitter, at around half 9 on a Thursday night, to come into force at midnight.¬† Parents due to be at work the next morning were told that they’d now be breaking the law if they left their children with relatives or friends.¬† We’ve had one set of rules after another – this lot for Bolton, that lot for Oldham, the other lot for Wigan.¬† None of them have done any good.¬† ¬†And then different rules were introduced for other parts of the North, causing more and more confusion.¬† The North East had three different sets of rules in ten days!¬† And leaders there were only informed of one of the changes five minutes before the details were released to the press.

And infection rates have just kept going up anyway.

The other main issue was the financial support, or lack of, on offer.¬† ¬£60 million for Greater Manchester.¬† Merseyside, with half the number of people, was offered ¬£45 million.¬† I’m not a mathematician, but it’s not difficult to see that that doesn’t work.¬† And we only asked for ¬£65 million.¬† In terms of public spending, it’s a drop in the ocean.¬† How many billions are being put into HS2, which not one person in a thousand actually wants?¬† I’m sure we all appreciate that the state hasn’t got a bottomless purse, and can’t borrow ad infinitum, but how are people in businesses being forced to close supposed to manage indefinitely on two-thirds of their income, which is all they’re going to get?

And that’s just for people in businesses which are having to close.¬† What about taxi drivers?¬† What about all the people running B&Bs and guesthouses in Blackpool, who’ve had all their half-term bookings cancelled?¬† An SOS was beamed on to the side of Blackpool Tower last week.¬† That’s how bad it is.¬† What about all the other businesses suffering as people have to tighten their belts?¬† Not to mention all the nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, lower league football clubs … the list goes on and on.¬† We know that the government can’t pay for everything.¬† But it can pay for a lot more than it is doing.

We’ve had three months of being told that we can’t meet our families and friends in any indoor setting, or even in private gardens.¬† Now, we’re only supposed to meet up in parks.¬† Or beaches.¬† Or forests.¬† Well, obviously there are miles and miles of beaches and forests in Manchester!¬† ¬†It’s horrible for everyone.¬† But it’s particularly worrying for those whose livelihoods are at stake.¬† Communities are pulling together, which is something: sandwich delivery businesses and street food traders are partnering with pubs, to enable them to provide food and so be able to remain open.¬† Pubs are offering beans on toast, chip butties, anything.¬† A small number of people find that irresponsible, but most people seem to be backing them, knowing that they’re just trying to stay afloat.

And, across the country, people have rallied behind Marcus Rashford’s campaign to end child food poverty.¬† ¬†It’s crazy, isn’t it?¬† Our 22-year-old striker, young Marcus who’s been at United since he was a schoolboy, seems to be the only person providing any sort of national leadership.¬† I started keeping a pandemic blog so that I’d have a record for myself that wasn’t in my illegible handwriting.¬† I never thought that I’d still be keeping it at the end of October, and I certainly never thought that Greater Manchester would become the centre of it all and that one of our players would be the one piling pressure on the government to do more to help those in need.

That’s a national thing, though,¬† But the Tier 3 restrictions aren’t.¬† So far, they affect much of the North West, and South Yorkshire, and, shortly, they’ll also affect parts of Nottinghamshire.¬† ¬†It’s possible that West Yorkshire and the North East may follow.¬† Yes, I know that we’re the areas with the highest infection rates.¬† But we haven’t bloody well done that on purpose, the areas affected include many communities which are already amongst the most deprived in the country, and we deserve to be treated better than this.¬† Back in the spring, there really was a “Spirit of the Blitz” feeling, epitomised by that wonderful “We’ll Meet Again” speech given by our beloved Queen.¬† That’s gone now.¬† Any sense that we’re all in this together has gone.¬† And the national government issuing an ultimatum to Greater Manchester, as if it were about to declare war … what is going on here?¬† ¬†We’re supposed to be fighting the virus, not each other.

In the words of the Conservative leader of Bolton council, “What a clusterfuck”.

No-one knows what the answer to this nightmare is.¬† But making people in the North feel that they’re being treated like second class citizens certainly isn’t it.¬† Ironically, this has united Manchester and Liverpool, Newcastle and Sunderland, Lancashire and Yorkshire …. that takes some doing.¬† But it’s united us all in feeling that we’re getting a raw deal.¬† And it’s not on.¬† Stop treating the North like this.




Second Wave Week 7 – October 12th to 18th 2020 inclusive

Monday, October 12th

Phew.¬† We haven’t got all the details yet, but Greater Manchester will be in Tier 2, along with the rest of Lancashire (excluding areas under Merseyside and Cumbria), some neighbouring parts of Cheshire and Derbyshire, the Birmingham and Leicester areas, Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire (I think?) and West Yorkshire.¬† London, natch, gets to be in Tier 1 ‚Ķ which I’m glad of for my sister’s sake.¬† But Merseyside is in Tier 3, so my friends and cousins in Liverpool and Southport (the Wirral, Knowsley and St Helens are also affected, as in Widnes even though it isn’t even in Merseyside) are now banned from meeting anyone outside their households/bubbles, and “asked” not to travel outside the area.¬† Gyms will be closing, as well as pubs, bars, casinos, adult gaming centres and bookmakers.¬† Restaurants, cafes and tea rooms can stay open, which is something. ¬† But what a nightmare.

Our restrictions seem to be much the same as before – and actually slightly easier, as we are now allowed to meet up in private gardens.

Some financial measures have been announced, but they won’t be enough.

Exams are to be delayed by 3 weeks.

I should therefore be able to go on holiday.  I usually start packing 2 weeks beforehand, and am now frantically trying to do everything at the last minute!


Tuesday, October 13th

Just when you thought you knew where you were up to … Boris has made it pretty clear that he wants to move us (and possible Newcastle and other areas too?) into Tier 3.¬† He can piss off.¬† Infection rates here are falling since they locked up the students in their halls of residence.¬† And Sadiq Khan’s said that London will probably be moving into Tier 2 next week.¬† FFS!¬† I thought the whole idea of this was to reduce confusion, not increase it.

One local MP’s resigned as a Junior Minister, saying he’s had enough.¬† I can’t say I blame him.

Meanwhile, because I thought we were going into Tier 3, on Friday I booked today off work to go to Windermere.  I am so glad I did.  It was a lovely sunny day, and I had such a lovely time.  Tighter restrictions are inevitably coming, so, as long as we are not doing anything to endanger ourselves or others, I suggest that we enjoy ourselves as much as we can, whilst we can.

To be fair to Boris & co, I do appreciate that pretty much every country in Europe is in the same mess.   And I do appreciate that this is the way pandemics go: you do get second waves.

Deaths with the virus are up.

So is unemployment.

Friends and relatives in Merseyside – and, as my grandad came from Liverpool, and NW Manchester is only about 20 miles from the Merseyside border, I’ve got plenty of them – are very, very upset about being in Tier 3.¬† It’s not the pubs and restaurants, it’s the being banned from seeing even your immediate relatives and closest friends, other than the people you actually live with.¬† Parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, brothers and sisters, aunties and uncles and nieces and nephews, cousins, partners who don’t live together, best friends … and this is for 4 weeks at the very least.¬† Although apparently it’s still OK to meet up in parks – I hadn’t realised that.


Wednesday, October 14th

I don’t half wish I’d booked this holiday for a different time.¬† But how was I to know that this was going to happen?¬† I booked it months ago.¬† There was supposed to be a meeting today about Greater Manchester and Merseyside, but nothing’s been said.¬† The North is united – Mancunians and Scousers, Geordies and Mackems, Lancastrians and Yorkshire folk, all of us – but we’re united against Westminster.¬†Against the government which is supposed to represent us.

Wales is banning anyone from high risk areas of England and Scotland from entering Wales.

Nicola Sturgeon is trying to blame the rise in coronavirus cases in Scotland on trips to Blackpool.

With the Ould Firm match this weekend, and pub closures in Scotland, we’re likely to see the biggest Scottish invasion of England since 1745.

Northern Ireland is going for the two week circuit breaker idea.

Keir Starmer, Ed Davey, Andy Burnham, Steve Rotheram and many others have backed the same idea here.¬† As have the scientists.¬† But Boris says that closing bars etc for two weeks would ruin the economic recovery.¬† Yet apparently it’s OK to close them in Merseyside indefinitely.

My bags are packed and I’m ready to go.¬† But I could yet be unpacking them and, if that’s on Friday, paying a penalty clause for cancelling the hotel.

Zillions of people are going away.¬† People were partying on the streets on Liverpool yesterday.¬† But, being anxiety-ridden, I feel guilty.¬† Why do I feel guilty?¬† I booked this ages ago. I won’t be going anywhere busy.¬† I’ll be outdoors most of the time, and on my own when I’m indoors.

If I go.

At least I’ve only got another two days of this horrible, stressful uncertainty.

And the Christmas markets have been cancelled.¬† It had to happen, but it’s very sad.¬† They were started in 1996 to help our city to recover from the IRA bomb, and have become such a huge part of the city and of Christmas.


Thursday, October 15th

I cannot believe what is going on.¬† It was announced all over the media this morning that Greater Manchester would be moving into Tier 3 lockdown tomorrow, and that this would be confirmed in a statement in the House of Commons at 11:30 am.¬† I prepared to cancel my holiday, but couldn’t do much at that point as I had to get to the dentist’s.¬† By the time I got back from the dentist’s, it was being said that no agreement had been reached.¬† And that’s where we’re at.¬† It’s been made pretty clear that the Government was all set to impose Tier 3 by force, but met with such hostility from a united front of Conservative and Labour MPs that they backed down.¬† Andy Burnham has made a furious attack on the Government, saying that the proposed measures won’t work and the financial support offered is inadequate, and leaders in the North East have said much the same.

It’s like something out of the Middle Ages.¬† The North is in open revolt against the Government, and the Welsh First Minister’s said he’s putting out patrols to look for suspicious (i.e. English) people trying to enter Wales.

How the hell have we come to this?

Meanwhile, after about 35 hours in Tier 1, the whole of London, along with Barrow, York, Chesterfield, Essex and several other areas have been moved to Tier 2.

My head is spinning.  I just cannot believe what is going on.

I have decided to leave tomorrow evening, and stay overnight in the Midlands.¬† Just in case there’s an announcement tomorrow.¬† I can’t take any more.¬† I suppose I’d still be breaking rules if we got moved into Tier 3, but I doubt anyone would blame me for not coming home once I’d left, and I can’t cancel the hotel any later than tonight without paying ¬£125.

And Margaret Ferrier, the MP who took a public train from London to Scotland after testing positive for the virus, has been let off without even a fine.

I want to cry.¬† How have we come to this?¬† I know she can’t, but I half-wish that the Queen could step in.


Friday, October 16th

Made it to the Midlands!¬†¬† Charlecote, near Warwick.¬† It’s like a different world here.¬† People can actually sit in a restaurant with friends and relatives!

1974 boundaries Lancashire (I really do object to saying “Lancashire” for an area which excludes so much of real Lancashire, but anyway) is to move into Tier 3.¬† So most of the Blackpool half-term bookings will be cancelled.¬† The Illuminations are on for an extra three months, to try to make up for some of the lost business … and now this.¬† Oh, what a nightmare all this is.¬†¬†And still no decision on Greater Manchester.


Saturday, October 17th 

The Government says that talks will resume tomorrow.¬† Andy Burnham says he doesn’t know anything about it.

Meanwhile, I am in Somerset!¬† Via Charlecote Park.¬† It’s so, so different down here.¬† So few people.¬† So few towns.¬† This is what is going on with the virus – it’s all about population density.¬† Anyway, at least I’m getting my break!


Sunday, October 18th

A group of snotty southern Tory MPs have written a letter urging leaders of Greater Manchester to agree to move into Tier 3.¬† Several Greater Manchester Tory MPs, including ours, have told them to mind their own business.¬† What a mess all this is.¬†¬† Honestly, it’s starting to feel a bit like the beginning of an American Civil War novel, with the country split between north and south.

I’ve had a lovely day, in Bradford-on-Avon, Norton St Philip, Great Chalfield and Westbury.¬†¬† But it feels as if the world’s gone mad.

So what happens now …. ?


What is going on?

I have tried to keep faith with this government, but enough is enough.¬† If this lot had been in charge during the war, the Nazis would have been marching down the Mall by the middle of 1940.¬† I have never known such incompetence. ¬† The announcement on tighter rules in Scotland, unpopular as it’s been in many quarters, was made last Wednesday, so people there at least know what’s going on.¬† We in Northern England have been left to deal with day after day of speculation in the media, leaving people distraught and anxious about their livelihoods, holidays, prospects of seeing relatives and friends, and many other matters.¬† Every newspaper and TV channel says something different, and all seem convinced that they are right.

Which areas will be affected? ¬† Definitely Liverpool.¬† But does that just mean Liverpool, or does it mean Merseyside, meaning that places such as Southport and St Helens would be affected too?¬† What about us, in Manchester?¬† My newspaper says we will be affected.¬† The BBC says we will not.¬† Sky News says that it hasn’t been decided yet.¬† And, again, does “Manchester” mean the city centre or does it also mean Bury, Bolton, Oldham, Stockport, etc?¬† What about Newcastle?¬† And Leeds?¬† And Nottingham?¬† Nottingham’s infection rate, albeit largely student-driven, is now over 800 per 100,000, yet no additional restrictions at all are in place there – even though they were imposed on Rossendale when its infection rate was 4 per 100,000 and Wigan when its infection rate was 7 per 100,000.

What about smaller towns and cities where the infection rate is equal to or higher those in larger cities?  Bradford?  Preston?  Burnley?

What will it mean?¬† Travel restrictions?¬† I need to know: I’ve got a hotel booked for this weekend and next week.¬† Are we to banned from leaving our areas?¬† What does “area” mean – borough or administrative country?¬† Does “non-essential travel” include going to the city centre shops or to a park not within walking distance?

And which businesses will have to shut?¬† The initial rumour was pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants.¬† Now they’re saying restaurants will be able to remain open, but that gyms, casinos and bookmakers will have to shut.¬† One newspaper even mentioned hairdressers.¬† These are people’s jobs and businesses.¬† They need to know what’s going on.

And what about the financial support?¬† We’ve been told 2/3 of people’s wages, but many people working in hospitality are only on the minimum wage as it is.¬† What about other costs, such as rent?¬† What about businesses which won’t be ordered to shut, but will be severely affected, such as hotels, taxi drivers, and those in the supply chain?

There are also rumours that shielding is going to be reintroduced.

And how long for?¬† Four weeks initially, but some rumours say six months.¬† There’s due to be a complete ban on household mixing.¬† Are people seriously supposed to go for six months without seeing their families and friends? ¬† There’ll be the worst mental health pandemic that’s ever been known. ¬† And the economy will be ruined.

From what’s being said, no-one really knows, because it still hasn’t been decided, even though we’re supposed to be getting an announcement in five hours’ time.

This is beyond appalling. MPs and local council leaders, from all parties, are fuming.¬† There’s talk of court cases.¬† Everyone is anxious and distressed.

And nobody knows WTF is going on.  Meanwhile, MPs have just bagged a pay rise of over £3,000 each.  And there are no additional restrictions in any of the constituencies represented by the senior ministers.   And the fates of millions of people across the North of England hang in the balance, as we try to deal with one rumour after another and have no idea what our lives will look like by the end of this week.

Get a grip, Boris.¬† This is a shit situation.¬† But the way it’s being dealt with is inexcusable.¬† I’ve got two newspapers, and each one says something different, and neither of them agree with either the BBC or Sky, neither of which agree with each other.¬† Friends have shared rumours they’ve read elsewhere, all of which are different again.¬† The only thing anyone can agree on is that the government is making a mess of things.

Second Wave Week 6 – October 5th to 11th 2020 inclusive



Monday, October 5th

What a bloody fiasco.¬† Over 16,000 cases were missed due to this “computer glitch” – which was apparently because someone couldn’t manage to use Excel properly.¬† The setting they’d used didn’t pick up all the rows.¬† I mean, seriously?¬† I use Excel myself every day, and I’m hardly an IT whizz.¬† It’s not exactly difficult to use.¬† We’re now on over 12,500 cases a day.¬† Rates have soared over the weekend, even without the missing cases.¬† And most of the missing cases were in the north, so infection rates in all the local boroughs are way higher than we thought.¬† Manchester city centre now has the highest rate in the country – although it’s nearly all students.¬† Newcastle’s got a similar issue with students, but it’s not clear what’s causing the problem in Liverpool.¬† I could cry.¬† Just when I thought I could start looking forward to my holiday.

The good news is that deaths aren’t rising.¬† Most of the cases are in low risk groups.

Paris has closed all bars.¬† I wish they’d do that here.¬† The Czech Republic’s closed schools.¬† Moscow’s told elderly people to stay indoors.

Everyone’s just had enough.¬† We’ve been in local lockdown for over 2 months.¬† Most of us are keeping the rules.¬† But rates keep rising.¬† A load of jobs are going to go when the furlough system ends.¬† Oh, and Arsenal have made Gunnersaurus redundant.¬† People’s mental health is suffering, and there’s no end in sight.¬† Iran reckons it’s having a third wave.¬† And that ties in with what’s happened with previous pandemics.



Tuesday, October 6th

Things are not good.¬† Infections are up.¬† Hospital admissions are up.¬† Deaths are up. ¬† New restrictions are to be imposed in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.¬† For all the balls-up with the Excel spreadsheet, I’m not really blaming the authorities.¬† Most countries are in the same boat – Poland’s struggling particularly badly this week – and no-one knows what to do anywhere.

Local leaders have complained that local lockdowns are doing no good and causing harm, but it looks as if Nottingham could be the next place to have restrictions imposed on it.  Maybe Oxford too.  Universities going back has been a disaster.

Donald Trump’s back at the White House.

Mesul Ozil has said he’ll pay Gunnersaurus’s wages.


Wednesday, October 7th

I do appreciate that the virus is not timing things to cause issues with my holiday, but it doesn’t half feel like that. Nicola Sturgeon has imposed travel restrictions on Glasgow, Edinburgh and various other areas, and closed all the pubs and licensed restaurants there for at least two weeks.¬† I don’t honestly think that Boris would do that here, but things certainly aren’t very good.¬† Universities going back has been a huge mistake.

The Manchester Evening News has published my letter asking it to try rallying the troops – “A City United”, “We’re all in this together” type thing – rather than its current negativity.¬† I doubt it’ll take any notice, but I tried.

Rafa is through to the US Open SFs, and will play Schwartzman, rather than Thiem.


Thursday, October 8th

Bleurgh.¬† It does now look as if there will be restrictions on travel, or certainly on overnight stays.¬† Coming in on Wednesday, and I was due to go on Saturday.¬† I’m SO upset.¬† I was going now because this was the time I’d booked off for my Japan holiday.¬† Then that was cancelled but they were supposed to be doing trips to France or Italy, so they were cancelled too.¬† Work won’t let us carry the time forward, so my holidays, of which I get so few and which I try so hard to make the most of, are ‚Ķ well, I don’t even know what I’ll be able to do at home.¬† I’ve spent hours working out where to go and how to get there.¬† I’ve booked tickets for things and, as they’ll still be open, I won’t be able to get the money back.¬† So, so near ‚Ķ and yet so far. ¬† And, as it’ll run into half term loads of families with young kids will be in the same boat.

I am sick of the virus.

I am sick of our area being one of the worst hit by it.¬† I don’t understand why.

I am sick of the Government.¬† They have completely lost the North now.¬† Details have been leaked to the papers before they were discussed with local council leaders, and the exact details are still unclear.¬† People don’t know whether to cancel holidays.¬† Businesses don’t know whether or not they’ll have to close, and what compensation there’ll be if they do.¬† People don’t know whether or not they’re about to lose their jobs.¬† N

Cases, hospital admissions and deaths are going up and up, so I accept that something has to be done, but I don’t see why I would be a danger to anyone in a hotel room on my own – especially as it’s apparently OK for me to be in an office with other people.

I know this sounds really self-pitying, but I am feeling very sorry for myself ūüė¶ .


Friday, October 9th

This is absolutely f***ing ridiculous.  Scotland had its announcement on Wednesday.  We are just being left in suspense, with people panicking about jobs, holidays and other things.

  1. ¬†Which areas will be affected? ¬† Most of the papers are saying Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.¬† But will that include the suburbs and satellite towns?¬† Sadly, the answer is probably yes, which is bloody ridiculous because it means it’ll affect us and other places like Stockport, yet Bradford, Burnley, Preston and various other places where the rates are no lower than, and in many cases higher than, here will not be affected.
  2. ¬†Is this a “circuit breaker” like in Glasgow and Edinburgh, or will it go on indefinitely? ¬† Given that Rishi Sunak’s just announced a SIX MONTH plan to support businesses affected ‚Ķ well, it doesn’t sound good, does it?
  3.  What will it mean?  Will it include a ban on holidays?  It seems all but certain that eating and drinking places will have to close, but where else?  Golf clubs?  Gyms?  Cinemas?  Maybe even shops?
  4.  Are we seriously supposed to go for 6 months with no contact with other households?
  5.  The rumours in the press, which are upsetting everyone, also include a return to shielding.  Is this being planned?

WTF is going on?¬† This is just ridiculous.¬† And the support for business is something, but won’t go anywhere near saving many businesses from collapse, if they have to close for months.

Meanwhile, Nottingham, which now has the highest infection rate in the country, at well over 600 – thanks yet again to an outbreak at a university, the latest place to be affected by which is Bristol – isn’t in local lockdown at all!¬† Nor are places like York and Barrow, where infections are soaring.

I’ve sent an angry e-mail to my MP about all the uncertainty, but he was only elected in December.¬† It’s like asking a first year to stop the prefects from bullying people.

I have had enough.

The only good thing is that Rafa’s into the French Open final ūüôā .¬† Although I’m not sure I can cope with yet another defeat by Nole.¬† The second semi has just started. Come on, Stef!


Saturday, October 10th

In news not related to the pandemic, Rafa will have to play Nole in the French Open men’s final, Iga Swiatek won the ladies’ final, and Marcus Rashford has been awarded the MBE.¬† And I have had my hair cut.¬† The hairdresser said that they were managing, but things were nowhere near back to pre-lockdown levels, partly because some elderly people are nervous about going out and partly because some people are trying to reduce their spending due to worried about redundancy.

I still have no idea whether or not I will be getting my week’s holiday or spending my few days’ annual leave hanging around.¬† Every newspaper and every TV channel has its own version of the restrictions coming in next week.

Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, has threatened to sue the Government.¬† OK, it’s easy to criticise when you’re not the one at the sharp end, but he’s quite right about the inadequate financial package.¬† Most people who work in pubs, bars and restaurants do not earn much anyway.¬† How are they meant to cope on 2/3 of that, indefinitely?¬† And, if the whole industry’s closed down, their chances of finding other work is going to be minimal.¬†¬† And many places may never reopen.¬† Liverpool’s said that half its council tax comes from hospitality places, and I’d assume the figure is similar for Manchester.¬† The Government says that local leaders are being consulted, but they say they’re not.¬† Even within Boris Johnson’s own party, people have had enough of the appalling contempt being shown towards Northern England.¬† MPs for northern constituencies have formed a pressure group.

I am very disappointed in Boris.¬† And I could wallop bloody Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary.¬† If he says one more word about “hard work”, I shall scream.¬† What does he think people in Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Preston, Burnley, Bradford etc are doing?¬† Going out raving every night?¬†¬† Hospitality workers in Scotland have dumped a load of ice outside the parliament building in Edinburgh.¬† I wish someone’d dump a load over Matt Hancock’s stupid head.

Back in April, when the Queen made that wonderful speech, there was a genuine “Spirit of the Blitz” feeling of togetherness.¬† Now, people in urban areas of the North are angry and bitter.¬† What a mess.


Sunday, October 11th

Bizarrely, just as the world’s about to fall apart again, this has been one of the best days of the year.¬† I always go to Blackpool on the morning of the French Open, so, being superstitious – and because the weather was glorious – I went today, even if it was October rather than June.¬† It was a lovely morning.¬† And then Rafa beat Nole, 6-0 6-2 7-5!¬†¬† I can’t believe it.¬† I wasn’t optimistic, and I thought that, even if he could do it, it’d be a long and tough battle, especially with the roof being closed.¬† But he was just incredible.¬† Absolutely wonderful.¬† It also means he and Roger have got the same number of Grand Slam titles, but I’m not so fussed about that – Rafa, Roger and Nole are all great, and I can live without all this “Who’s the GOAT?” stuff.¬† But I was definitely fussed about today, and … oh wow.¬† Wonderful.¬† Just wonderful.

Now we’ve got to see what tomorrow brings.¬† Five Manchester MPs have said that they won’t support Tier 3 restrictions, but Matt Hancock and Boris don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks.¬† If the travel ban’s advisory rather than mandatory, do I still go?¬† I won’t be going near anyone else, and I haven’t been in close contact with anyone except Mum and Dad, but … I’m kind of bothered people will think badly of me, which I know is an awful way of looking at things.¬† But I heard loads of Scottish accents in Blackpool today, even though people in Scotland are “advised” not to visit parts of England in local lockdown.

This whole situation is ridiculous.

But today’s about Rafa ‚̧ ūüôā .

Second Wave Week 4 – September 21st to 27th 2020 inclusive

Monday, September 21st

We are being moved back to “level 4”.¬† A briefing was held today explaining that, if cases keep increasing at this rate, we could be seeing 200 deaths a day by mid-November.¬† Spain, sadly, is already seeing around 250 deaths a day.

A COBRA meeting’s to be held tomorrow, and Boris will then announce what’s going to happen next.¬† I hope they do bring in this 10pm curfew – I’m sorry for people who own pubs and bars, but something’s got to give.¬† But what else?¬† We’ve also been told that this could go on for at least another 6 months. ¬† OK, I think we all knew that anyway, but it’s not very nice actually hearing it ūüė¶ .

Some Labour politicians continue to say that the whole thing’s the Government’s fault.¬† Other political points-scorers say that it’s all Dominic Cummings’ fault.¬† This is crap.¬† And unhelpful.

Several friends have had kids sent home from school.¬† In some cases, this was because another kid in their bubble has got the virus.¬† In others, it was just because a kid coughed or was running a slight temperature – in which case, schools are insisting that they’re tested, but there aren’t enough testing slots available.¬† There were loads of school-age kids in the park.¬† They shouldn’t really be out if they’re meant to be self-isolating ‚Ķ but it’s a big park and you can keep well away from anyone else.¬† Except that some of them were in the playground.

Four more areas of Wales have been locked down, and people in Northern Ireland may no longer mix indoors with anyone outside their household/bubble.

Everyone is getting a bit stressed and ratty.¬† And Nole’s just won the Italian Open.


Tuesday, September 22nd

New rules:

  1. Pubs and restaurants to close at 10pm, and offer table service only.
  2. Staff in shops to wear masks.  About time too.  I was in Tesco this morning, and there were loads of people stacking shelves without wearing masks, which just defeated the point of customers wearing them.
  3. Plans for fans to return to sports stadia put on hold.  This is a nightmare.   How will smaller clubs survive?
  4.  Rule of 6 extended to indoor sports.
  5.  Maximum of 15 people at weddings.
  6.  People to work from home where possible.

Scotland’s also banned all visiting between households, and the First Minister of Wales has urged people not to travel ‚Ķ which is not great, as I was planning to have a few days in Wales in November.¬† How I wish I’d used my holiday days in July, but how was I to know that this was going to happen?

I sincerely hope that this works, especially as I want my trip to Bath in mid-October.¬† However, as one MP for a northern constituency pointed out, the measures introduced so far haven’t worked.¬† Bolton is back over 200.¬† We’re now over 150, with the city centre and several other boroughs not far behind, and Rossendale and Hyndburn even worse.¬† Wigan is now over 100.¬† Liverpool is over 150.¬† South Tyneside 130.¬† And most people really are trying to keep the rules.¬† I don’t know what’s going wrong.

These restrictions are likely to be in place for six months.¬† Six bloody months.¬† It’s just a nightmare.


Wednesday, September 23rd

I’ve got over not being able to go to Iceland and not being able to go to Japan, so I’m sure I’ll get over not being able to go to Bath, if it comes to it, but we get so little annual leave that I hate the thought of not being able to use it properly ‚Ķ and, if I’d known how things were going to go, I’d have booked it for September.¬† But I didn’t, did I?¬† The uncertainty’s a nightmare.¬† The Budget’s been scrapped, because the Chancellor can’t make plans any more than the rest of us can.

Scientists say that the measures don’t go far enough.¬† Sports clubs, pubs, etc, are in despair.¬† It’s just a no win situation.¬† Cases have risen by 25% since yesterday, but ‚Ķ oh, who the hell knows?

One of my colleagues thinks she might have the virus.¬† Hopefully it’s just a bad cold or something, but we’ll have to see.

It has rained nearly all day.

And Donald Trump is blaming China.¬† Which doesn’t help anyone.


Thursday, September 24th

Rishi Sunak has announced that there won’t be a proper Budget, but that a series of new schemes are being announced for when the current furlough scheme ends on October 31st. ¬† More grants for self-employed people, although the amounts aren’t large.¬† For employed people, if someone’s working at least 1/3 of their usual hours, but not full time, the Government will pay their wages for 1/3 of the missed time, and employers have to pay the other 1/3.¬† He’s had extensive discussions with the CBI and the TUC, and I think we all have to accept that the state cannot pay 80% of people’s wages indefinitely.¬† However, people who are still off because their employers think that claiming the furlough money’s more profitable than bringing staff back (and I don’t mean that in a bad way, because I quite understand that places like sandwich shops in city centres just are not getting people through the doors, through no fault of their own), and people in sectors which can’t get going, such as event planning and live music, are out.¬† And, with the best will in the world, many small private sector businesses are not going to be able to pay people 55% of their wages for 33% of the work.

The much-discussed app is apparently now ready.

Infection rates continue to rise, here and in most parts of Europe.  Denmark, Iceland, and Slovakia are off the travel corridor list.  So is Curacao.  There are reports from Israel of hospitals having to turn away patients.

And the French Open draw is horrible.


Friday, September 25th

I had my first “autumn latte” of the year today.¬† I usually only drink tea, but I do quite like the spiced/gingerbread lattes which we get in autumn and in the run-up to Christmas.¬† This would normally be at Costa Coffee, whilst in town to go to the theatre or the pictures, but, this year, it was at the caf√© at the park.¬† Just another little sign of the times!

Leeds, Wigan, Stockport and Blackpool have been put into “local lockdown”. ¬† A load of areas in Wales have been put into strict lockdown, and support bubbles there have been banned, which I think it very harsh.¬† And there’ve been several outbreaks at university halls of residence.

People everywhere are getting fed up.¬† There’ve been big demos in Marseille against the closure of restaurants there.¬† An “I’m out” hashtag is being widely shared on social media in the Netherlands.¬† It’s very hard to try to find a balance, and I’m very sorry for the authorities.

On a happier note, Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank are expecting a baby.


Saturday, September 26th

I’ve had a really nice day out at Hardwick Hall.¬† The house has finally reopened at weekends, hooray!¬† It’s my favourite National Trust house, and I was rather upset when it initially reopened on weekdays only.¬† However, as at Bodnant Garden, the signposting was awful.¬† I understand that some areas are closed off, but the alternative routes just aren’t signposted properly.¬† Oh well.

Cases continue to rise.¬† Household to household transmission.¬† It’s so hard to monitor, short of having the police or the Army marching round suburban streets, which is hardly an option.

Universities going back has turned into a nightmare.¬† There are outbreaks at 32 universities, one of the worst being at Manchester Met, where over 120 students have tested positive and over 1,500 more are now confined to barracks.¬† And here we go again with the political points-scorers, who claim that this has all happened because David Cameron and Nick Clegg privatised student accommodation.¬† This is crap.¬† Halls had to open because students need access to labs, libraries, etc, which they can’t get over Zoom.¬† But, from my experience of my first year in halls, shared bathrooms, shared kitchen, communal dining room, shared TV room (although I doubt they have those any more), narrow corridors, etc, social distancing in a hall of residence is well nigh impossible.¬† And there’ve been numerous reports of parties.¬† This is now a complete mess.¬† You can’t even say that all students should go home, because they may then carry the virus to their families and local communities.

Meanwhile, Sadiq Khan, never one to miss an opportunity to stir up trouble, is claiming that London is missing out because the authorities have actually dared to pay some attention to testing north of Watford.

And Oxford United sprayed their coach (as in vehicle, not as in manager) with alcohol-based sanitiser, in an effort to up precautions.¬† Unfortunately, a detector on the coach picked up the alcohol and thought the driver was drunk.¬† So the coach wouldn’t start.¬† So the players had to drive all the way to Accrington in their own cars … where, rather embarrassingly for Accrington Stanley, they won 4-1.¬† We just about managed to win at Brighton, 3-2.

Things are not looking good for the French Open.  Crap weather and slower-than-usual balls.  Bleurgh.

No-one can see an end to the virus nightmare.¬† My cousin is due to get married next August, and is now worried that wedding parties still won’t be allowed then.


Sunday, September 27th

The weather is gorgeous here.  I went to Dunham Massey this morning.  It was lovely.

Sadly, it is not gorgeous in Paris.¬† It is cold, grey and damp, which won’t suit Rafa at all.¬† And the new balls are horrible.¬† Dan Evans, after losing to Kei, said that he wouldn’t give them to a dog.¬† And Andy was thrashed by Stan.¬† It’s not going well ūüė¶ .

I am so sorry for the students caught up in this virus nightmare.¬† These are 18-year-olds, away from home for the first time, and they’re practically being held under lock and key at the halls at Manchester Met.¬† There are police and security staff outside.¬† Meanwhile, there’ve been complaints that the 10pm curfew means that everyone is piling out of pubs and bars at the same time.¬† There are reports of splits in the government. Wales is going to close down completely if any more areas are put in local lockdown.¬† And does anyone know what “exponentially” actually means?