Lockdown III Week 2, January 11th to 17th 2021 inclusive

Monday, January 11th

It has rained on and off all day.  This at least meant that there was no queue at the park café.  However, Boris has been muttering about shutting park cafes down.  FFS.  Another option mentioned has been stopping people from exercising with someone from another household.  But some people, especially women, are nervous about walking on their own.  This may be the first time ever that I’ve agreed with Sadiq Khan, but he’s said that places of worship should be closed, and he’s right.  Hancock was asked about driving to exercise, but either misunderstood or sidestepped the question.  So he didn’t say that I couldn’t go to Dunham Massey or Hollingworth Lake.  TBH, I think he sidestepped it because there’s been (quelle surprise) some political points-scoring going on over Boris being see riding a bike 7 miles from home.  FFS, have people got nothing better to worry about?  He was on a bike, on his own, not having a party!  Meanwhile, Derbyshire police have apologised to the 2 women involved in the infamous reservoir walk incident, and rescinded the fines.

Hancock did say that support bubbles definitely won’t be banned.

On a happier note, 2.3 million people have now received at least one dose of the vaccine.  7 mass vaccination centres opened across the country today.   And the rate at which infections are increasing is slowing.

Rugby union cup matches have been suspended, because of virus issues.

United v Liverpool in the 4th round of the Cup.  Oh FFS!!

Morrisons and Sainsbury’s have said that people won’t be allowed in without masks, unless they’re medically exempt.  I’ve heard that before.  It’s very awkward: supermarket staff are afraid of being accused of discriminating against people with hidden health conditions etc.  To be fair, I rarely see anyone in Tesco or M&S without a mask, these days.

I’m so desperate to be able to plan something that I’ve spent a stupid amount of time thinking about which cakes to get as treats for my birthday.  It is 6 1/2 weeks until my birthday.  And I’m supposed to be on a diet.

 

Tuesday, January 12th

Another press conference tonight, this one with Priti Patel, a senior police officer and a senior doctor.  The police guy talked a lot of sense about the problems caused by people who are holding parties or going on coach trips, rather than mithering people walking round parks.  Someone from Sky News suggested that there should be more focus on the risk within workplaces, which is, as he said, likely to be far higher than that posed by people walking in parks. Another reporter just had to bring up the Derbyshire incident yet again.  Oh, FFS.  Enough.   I think the police guy was pretty narked that people were still harping on about it.   The media are being really childish, and it’s not helping.

But then nor are the police.  On top of the Derbyshire incident, police in Wales fined a woman and her husband for driving 7 miles to visit her 94-year-old mother!   How is visiting someone in their mid-90s not classed as a compassionate visit, which is allowed?  I appreciate that these are isolated incidents, but they’re making the police look stupid.  People are now teasing each other in the park about making sure you don’t get arrested for having a bottle of water and a packet of crisps with you.

The Republic of Ireland’s now got the highest infection rate in the world, and Portugal’s having a bad time of it as well.  And two gorillas at San Diego zoo have got the virus.  And Angela Merkel’s been going on about “the British variant”.  Whilst people have – quite rightly – got annoyed with Donald Trump for talking about “the Chinese virus”, it’s apparently OK for European leaders to talk about “the British variant”.  Quelle surprise.  Oh, and there’s now another variant – which apparently emerged in Brazil.

Nearly 697,000 deaths were registered in the UK in 2020, compared with an average of nearly 606,000 each year between 2015 and 2019.  That’s a difference of 91,000.  So that’s higher than the official death toll, but, unlike in Russia, not way, way higher.  It’s very hard to judge any of these statistics.  But they’re clearly not good.

I noticed that there was a guard by the entrance to Tesco this morning, but I didn’t see anyone going in without a mask anyway.  But I go early in the morning, when it’s quiet.  Tesco, Asda and Waitrose have now joined Morrisons and Sainsbury’s in banning people without masks, other than those who are medically exempt.  But wearing masks in shops has been compulsory since July.

Later, I had to go into the office for an hour, to put some files away, collect some other files, collect some post, and print some large documents which I can’t print at home.  There were a lot of cars in the car park: people in some of the other offices in the block are clearly making no effort at all to work from home.   And so many kids are in school.  Hmm.

On a happier note, we are top of the league after a 1-0 win at Burnley!!

 

Wednesday, January 13th

It has rained nearly all day, and more snow is forecast.  This isn’t making anyone feel any better.  Also, I am so, so sick of political points-scoring.  Can’t we all try to come together at this horrendous time?  1,564 virus deaths reported today, the highest daily figure yet, and all Keir Starmer can do is bleat that what Boris said before we knew about the new variant was wrong, and that “more restrictions” are needed but without suggesting what.  There’ve also been some very distressing pictures of wholly inadequate food parcels provided to underprivileged families whilst schools were closed.  Whilst government politicians bleated that they were inadequate, and Labour politicians bleated that this showed how evil the Tories were (even though the parcels came from an independent supplier), who was the only person who actually did something useful, i.e. contacted the suppliers and told them to up their game, and then contacted the Prime Minister?  Marcus Rashford.  Marcus is a wonderful young man, but why was it left to a footballer to take action about this?

I’m hearing a lot of confused reports about vaccination.  Some local surgeries have got supplies of the vaccine, but others haven’t, and there are reports about people over 80 trying to book appointments but being told to go to centres miles away.

On a more positive note, the rate of increase of infections does seem to be falling.  It’s still worrying high in our area, but the rates of increase is certainly down.  The situation in Merseyside and Widnes is very concerning, though.

 

Thursday, January 14th

What is going on with the vaccine?  My uncle, who is 75, has had his first dose.  Obviously this is brilliant news, but my mum and dad, who are also 75, and in the same health authority but with a different GP surgery, haven’t been contacted.  Nor has a family friend, who’s 80.   Why are some surgeries moving on to the 75-79 age group when others haven’t contacted people in the 80 and over group?

It’s rained again for most of the day, apart from when it sleeted, but at least we haven’t had heavy snow like they have in Yorkshire.  Some vaccination centres have had to close because of the weather.  The Pennines seem to be protecting us: a friend who’s only about 20 miles away, but on the Yorkshire side, sent me a photo of heavy snow at her house.

Andy Murray’s got the virus!   He’s not unwell, and hopefully he’ll be OK for the Australian Open, but still.

And arrivals from the whole of South America, plus Panama, plus Portugal and the Cape Verde islands, have been banned, because of the new variant found in Brazil.  Apart from British and Irish nationals, anyone else with UK residency, and hauliers.  Why are so many people travelling, anyway?  OK, obviously hauliers have to travel, and someone’s got to man cargo flights, but there still seem to be an awful lot of people moving around.

And my diet is a disaster.  It’s not working, and I’m getting demoralised and comfort-eating.  Today has not been a good day.  People say that the virus has changed everything, but it hasn’t.  It hasn’t changed the fact that I’m chained to an office computer, it hasn’t changed the need to do housework, and it hasn’t changed the fact that I put on weight for no reason and can’t lose it.  But it’s changed the fact that I can try to cope with that by doing nice things at weekends and going on holiday.

 

Friday, January 15th

Hooray!   Mum and Dad have been called for their vaccination first doses.  And they can go very soon – tomorrow, in fact, to the local walk-in centre.  Such a relief – I was quite emotional when Mum sent the message.  Goodness knows when I’ll get done, but progress is certainly being made on vaccinating the more vulnerable groups.

And the decorator’s been, to paint the kitchen ceiling where there was the leak.  Having to see that huge brown splodge every time I went into the kitchen was doing my head in.  So glad that it’s done.

And I’m glad that it’s Friday.  Being chained to the office computer, with no prospect of being able to go out and do nice stuff at the weekend or plan a holiday, gets you down.  All travel corridors are to end from 4am on Monday … not that anyone’s going far at the moment.  Mind you, I say that, but it’s amazing how much international travel does seem to be going on.  OK, obviously someone has to transport cargo, but there seem to be a lot of other people on the move too.

The economy shrank by 2.6% in November- much less than expected, probably because of people doing Christmas shopping online, but still grim.  The overall decrease since February is 8.5%.  On a happier note, insurers who’ve tried to get out of paying out on business interruption policies have been told by the courts that lockdown definitely classes as business interruption, and the rate of infection is now falling in parts of London.  Sadly, it’s still increasing in Greater Manchester, but the rate of increase has slowed down very significantly.   The situation in other parts of the North West’s very worrying, though.

 

Saturday, January 16th

Hooray, Mum and Dad have had their first doses of the vaccine.  I walked past the vaccination centre, the local walk-in centre, on my way to M&S: there was a queue outside, and there were signs up asking locals not to use the car park nearby as so many people are expecting.  Things are certainly moving in our area: most people aged 75 and over have either had their first dose or have got an appointment to have it soon, and some people in the 70-75 age group are now being called.

The rate of infection in our borough was only up by 6% week-on-week in yesterday’s figures, and falling in some neighbouring boroughs.  And it’s falling nationwide.  But there were another 1,295 deaths today, and over 37,500 people are in hospital with the virus.  It seems unlikely that those figures will fall significantly until the beginning of February at the earliest.  Things in the Republic of Ireland are very bad.  And Portugal’s in a bad way too – is this anything to do with the mutant strains from Brazil?  Brazil itself is also in a bad way.

The strain which the authorities in France and Germany delight in referring to as “the British mutant” is officially called “Variant of Concern 202012/01”.  Doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue, does it?  Or B117, which at least is a bit easier to say.

It rained first thing, but then dried up, so I got a takeaway cream tea from The Coffee Sack and took it to the park, and then had a long walk round.  There are lots of daffodil shoots around now.  So that was OK.

But the Australian Open is turning into a nightmare before it’s even started.  A total of three people on two flights to Australia, one from Los Angeles and one from Abu Dhabi, tested positive.  I thought you only had to self-isolate if someone sat very close to you on a flight tested positive, and apparently the players and their entourages did too, but they’re saying that everyone’s got to self-isolate.  So 47 players, plus their coaches, physios and anyone else travelling with them, are shut in their hotel rooms for 14 days.  They can’t practise, so will be going into a strenuous two week event in the heat with very little preparation.  And Yulia Putintseva found a mouse in her room.  On top of this, Australians wanting to return home for abroad but unable to get permission to do so are upset that tennis players have been given priority.  Oh dear.  This is not good!

 

Sunday, January 17th

We drew 0-0 at Liverpool.  Not a bad result!  So we stay top of the league … but City play tonight, and’ve got a game in hand.

Snapfish have totally mucked up my order.  I appreciate that this is not the world’s biggest crisis, but I’ll now have to wait a week and a half for the reprint, and hope that this one’s OK.  I have no idea what’s happened: they’re usually fine, but all these photos are jumbled up in completely random order, and I couldn’t get very much sense out of the “live chat” person.

Went to Hollingworth Lake this morning, then did some reading and wrote some book reviews.

The Daily Telegraph over-excitedly proclaimed that all adults would have been vaccinated by the end of June, but, as Dominic Raab said, the beginning of September’s more like that, and even that’s only for the first dose.  It’ll be early March before any restrictions are lifted, and, given how obsessed they are with reopening schools, that’ll probably be first, sending infection rates up again.  Hairdressers should so be given priority over schools 😉 .  And, even then, it’ll be back into the evil tier system, with the evil travel restrictions.

There’s now been a positive test from a third flight to Melbourne.  72 players, and all the other people on the flights, are now banned from leaving their hotel rooms.

All this business with the tennis players … travel is very, very important to me, and the thought of a second successive year without my lovely coach trips abroad is very upsetting, but I just can’t see them happening.  Even if travel corridors, i.e. no self-isolation needed at either end, are reopened, tests will probably be required.  However careful you are, until you’re vaccinated, none of us can guarantee that we haven’t got the virus, and how could you take that chance, spending a lot of money and booking some of your (in my case) very meagre annual leave allowance without being sure that you’d be able to go?  Or, even worse, doing all that, getting there, and then, like the tennis players, being told you had to stay in a hotel room for 14 days because someone else on your flight, who’d tested negative beforehand, had tested positive later?  How would that even work, if you were only there for a week?  What on earth would you do?

There’s been some talk about takeaways being unsafe, but I think people are just going for easy targets.  There have been pictures on the news of people packed into London Tube trains like sardines: services have been reduced, but a lot of people still need to travel to work on public transport.  A Sky News poll showed that 48% of people were still going into work.  OK, obviously that includes key workers, but concerns have been raised about unsafe workplaces.   Between 6th and 14th January, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) received 2,945 complaints about virus-related safety issues.  That’s a lot more likely to be causing problems than people stopping briefly to buy a cup of tea and a piece of cake.

And so endeth the first full week of Lockdown III.  Feels like it’s been months already …

 

 

Lockdown II Week 3 – November 16th to 22nd 2020 inclusive

Monday, November 16th

Since the start of the pandemic, the oven has broken, the toilet has broken, the toilet has broken again and damaged the kitchen ceiling, a lightning strike has knackered the router and the phones, and now the oven has broken again.  I mean, is it me?!  A new one will hopefully be coming on Thursday or Friday.  More money.

Went into town for an optician’s appointment today.  Very strange seeing everywhere so quiet, when the Christmas markets should be open.  I love the Christmas markets.  And that miserable git Matt Hancock’s said that it’s too soon to say whether or not the lockdown will end on December 2nd.  Retailers are getting really fed up: Waterstones (books) and Clinton (cards) have both complained about their shops having to close, when books and cards can be readily bought in supermarkets, garden centres and newsagents.

On a happier note, another firm, Moderna, have also got a vaccine which is over 90% effective.  And hopes are rising that testing will be made available to people with loved ones in care homes, allowing for visits.

Meanwhile, Boris is self-isolating, just at a crucial stage of the Brexit negotiations and in the middle of Lockdown II, after an MP with whom he attended a meeting tested positive.  Several other MPs are also affected.

And there’s been a worrying surge in cases in Hull and Grimsby.

 

Tuesday, November 17th

Superb match between Rafa and Dominic …  which, sadly, Rafa lost 😦 .

A load of virus cases in England have been “relocated”, because the addresses on the system were wrong.  Is this a joke?  Needless to say, they have mainly been relocated to urban parts of the north.  The area with the largest number of cases relocated away from it is the area which includes Rishi Sunak’s constituency.

Easyjet’s suffered the first loss in its history.

And Glasgow and various other parts of Scotland are being put into Tier 4 … which is basically the sort of lockdown that the whole of England’s presently in.  This is awful.  I know this is a horrible situation, but people and businesses can’t take much more.

I went to Tesco this morning, coming home at about 10 to 9.  The amount of traffic, considering that we’re meant to be in lockdown, was insane.  OK, the stupid council’s decision to reduce the main road to one lane each way makes it a lot worse, but even so.  Could have been parents returning from taking kids to school, but I’m not convinced.  Loads of people are working at offices, when they could be working from home.

And the police have been told to stop issuing the highest level of fines for breaking regulations.  TBH, I agree that the fixed penalty system’s stupid – £10,000 is a year’s net income to some people but loose change to others.  But why wasn’t this taken into consideration in the first place?

 

Wednesday, November 18th

I went to the office to drop some stuff off this morning.  Just after I arrived, the fire alarm went off.  I was tempted just to go home and leave the stuff I’d dropped off lying about on the desk where I’d dumped it, but decided that that wouldn’t be very fair, so I waited outside until it was sorted and I could go back in and put everything away properly.  Hordes of people came streaming out of the other offices in the block – and these are people whose jobs could certainly be done from home.  There were even people from a social group which uses one of the offices for meet-ups, and I’m pretty sure that social groups aren’t allowed to meet up during lockdown –  unless it’s some sort of emotional support group, which this isn’t.  FFS!

There’s talk of making restrictions in Tiers 2 and 3 even tighter when lockdown ends.  I have just had enough of this.  We’ve been under restrictions since July.  Rates in the North West are falling.  What are they going to try to do to us now?

In Scotland, police are to have powers to stop people travelling outside their own council areas in Tier 3 and Tier 4 areas.  Like they’re living in an open prison.  I understand that this is a really, really shit situation, but people have just had enough.

There’s been a big anti-lockdown protest in Berlin.

There is some talk of a Christmas truce here.   As long as you only hold small family gatherings, and only travel by car – which is a pretty stupid suggestion, given that a lot of people don’t have cars.  But maybe it means that my sister and brother-in-law and nephews will be able to come here for Christmas after all.

But there are concerns that the Australian Open may not be able to go ahead.  Players have said that they’re willing to self-isolate for a fortnight – which, given that that’d include Christmas and New Year if they were to be out of quarantine before the start of the warm-up events, is no small commitment.   But now the government of Victoria’s suggesting it won’t let players arrive until January.

And Boris has appeared at PM’s Questions by video link, as he is currently confined to barracks.

 

Thursday, November 19th

The new oven has arrived, hooray!

Rafa has reached the semi-finals, hooray!

Government funding’s been announced for some sports clubs, due to the effects of the virus.

Mink in Sweden have now got the virus as well.  What is it with mink?!

More bad news in the retail industry today – more firms going into administration.  And we’re only hearing about big firms – how many small shops have gone?

Infection rates in the North West continue to fall, which is obviously very good news, but infection rates elsewhere in England continue to rise.  It’s weird: it’s like we’re having a different pandemic to the rest of the country.   The infection rate across the 10 boroughs is down to 399.10, down 22% week-on-week.   The average across England is 265.5 and rising.  Over 500 deaths across the UK again today.  Italy suffered nearly 800 yesterday.  And New York’s closed schools again.

Hull is much the worst affected place in the country now, with Scarborough, Teesside, Bristol, Swale (in Kent), Stoke, and parts of Leics, Lincs and West Yorks also struggling.

Please, please, please let us out of bloody lockdown on December 2nd.  Northern Ireland’s going back into lockdown after next week.  So they’re coming out for one week.  Well, I hope everyone manages to get a hair appointment.  How bloody demoralising – practically straight back into it.

And Brexit talks have been suspended after one of the EU negotiators tested positive for the virus.  It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Michel Barnier had made the whole thing up to throw a spanner in the works, but I suppose we have to assume it’s genuine.

 

Friday, November 20th

It has rained nearly all day.  Despite this, there were still long queues at both the cafes in the park.

Not convinced about all this focus on Christmas.  Much as I want to see my sister and brother-in-law and the kids, we’re being told that 5 days of lockdown will be “needed” for every day for which restrictions are eased.  If we have 5 days over Christmas (the 27th and 28th are Bank Holidays, as Christmas Day and Boxing Day fall at the weekend), plus New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, that means a 35 day lockdown.  People’s mental health is suffering as it is, and a lot of businesses won’t make it through another 35 days of being closed.  We’re not in some sort of Hollywood film where everything revolves around Christmas.  I just don’t think it can be justified.  Which is extremely sad.

2 million people in Scotland are now back in lockdown, and businesses in Northern Ireland are furious that they’ll have to close again after only being able to reopen for a week.

The Serbian Orthodox Patriarch’s died with coronavirus, after attending a funeral for the Serbian Orthodox church’s chief cleric in Montenegro … lots of people, no social distancing, people even kissing the body.  It’s very sad, but there does seem to be an issue with people thinking that religious services should be exempt from the rules.  It’s happening here too.  I don’t understand why religious people seem to think they should be exempt.

Matt Hancock’s wittering on about how “we must keep our resolve”.  It might come across quite well if it was Churchill saying it.  Still, at least he manages to brush his hair before leading a press conference.

 

Saturday, November 21st

Oh no!!  Rafa lost to Daniil in the semis … after serving for the match in the 2nd set.  Just can’t win the World Tour Finals 😦 .   And it looks as if the Australian Open might be put back to March.  Tennis Australia’s idea was for the players and anyone accompanying them to arrive in mid-December, go into quarantine for 2 weeks, and then be ready for the warm-up events and for the Open to start on January 18th as scheduled, but it looks as if the government of Victoria’s going to put the kibosh on it.  That is a blow 😦 .  January’s a miserable time of year even in normal times, and the Aussie Open’s the one good thing about it.   And then that’ll muck up the calendar for the rest of the year

On a happier note, United beat West Brom, 1-0.

It’s five weeks to Christmas!   Doesn’t feel like it, with no Christmas markets … although some people are trying to cheer themselves up by putting their trees and decorations up.  Please tell me that the people over the road are going to switch their garish flashing lights off during the day – I love Christmas, but those lights flashing 24/7 will do my head in!

And it’s 5 days until Thanksgiving … and cases seem to be soaring in most parts of the US 😦 .

Managed to walk round Hollingworth Lake and have a mince pie 🙂 from The Olive and Pickle before the rain started.

I meant to go out for another walk later, but I had to make a start on clearing out the kitchen cupboards, and then Dominic and Nole’s match lasted nearly three hours and it was dark by the time it’d finished.

 

Sunday, November 22nd

We’re going to be told tomorrow what we are and aren’t allowed to do over Christmas.  It’d be vaguely comical if it wasn’t such a nightmare – it sounds as if we’re all being summoned into the school hall to be given a lecture about how reports will be handed out after the carol service and the Chanukah play, and you must give yours to your parents Or Else.

Then, on Thursday, we’re going to be told which tier we’re going in after lockdown.  This again sounds like being at school.  Some areas are being moved into higher tiers.  It doesn’t sound like we’ll be going into a lower tier.  The average infection rate across Greater Manchester’s below 360, which is well below where it was, but the national average is around 260.  Hull, by contrast, is up at around 700, with Swale in Kent around 650 and several other places over 500.  Worse news is the talk of tighter restrictions in each tier.  FFS, are things not bad enough?  But the 10pm curfew’s being lifted, which isn’t an awful lot of help when pubs and restaurants are closed anyway.

Finished clearing out the kitchen drawers and cupboards, but ran out of time, energy and enthusiasm so still haven’t done the fridge and the freezer.  I’ll try to get them done tomorrow.  Then that’s inside done.  My car urgently needs valeting, but all the decent places are closed due to lockdown.

Medvedev won the World Tour Finals.

Went to Tatton Park this morning – and there was a rainbow right over Tatton Hall!   You have to book to go round the gardens, which I’d done, but not for the estate, which was pretty busy.  It’s a big enough place to be able to walk around without going near anyone else, but the queue for takeaway food and drinks was horrendous!  It wasn’t too bad when I went, at about 11, but by half 12 it really was long!  Nice sunny morning, after all the rain yesterday.  Once we’re back in the evil tier system, I shouldn’t officially be going outside Greater Manchester into East Cheshire, but … well, we’ll see.

 

Lockdown II Week 2 – November 9th to 15th 2020 inclusive

Monday, November 9th

Big news today – Pfizer and BioNTech have got a virus which preliminary analysis shows is 90% effective in preventing infection.  It’s early days, but it’s certainly sounding hopeful.

Unfortunately, in a press conference tonight, in which Boris and Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam went on about bugle toots, arrows in quivers and penalty shoot-outs, Boris went on about the evil “Tier” approach, so it looks like we’re going to be stuck with these vile travel restrictions for some time yet.  So sick of it.  Wales isn’t doing this any more.  Why are England and Scotland?

A relation of mine has contracted the virus whilst in hospital.  This seems to be happening with a lot of people.  I understand that the virus is incredibly infectious, but surely, after all these months, hospitals should have better procedures in place.

And it looks as if we may lose a place in the Nations League finals due to the Danish mutant mink virus!   England are due to play Iceland.  A few days earlier, Iceland are due to play Denmark, in Denmark.  No-one is allowed to enter the UK that soon after being in Denmark.  UEFA say that the match in Denmark can go ahead.  Mink 1 – 0 England.   There are also issues over Danish players based in England, and also Swedish players based in England, as Denmark are also due to play Sweden.  And Liverpool are due to play Midtjylland away in December, but then any non-UK players wouldn’t be able to come back, and any British players would have to quarantine for 14 days!

Still stressed about the kitchen ceiling.

On a happier note, a) the park wasn’t busy today and b) Dunham lights has been extended into January and they’ve rebooked people who were booked for the lockdown period.

 

Tuesday, November 10th

GCSEs and A-levels in Wales have been cancelled for next year.  I wonder if England and Northern Ireland will follow suit.  I would have been completely hysterical if my exams had been cancelled, and am so sorry for the kids concerned, but, as the Welsh authorities have said, and Andy Burnham’s said, going ahead with exams is very unfair on kids who’ve had to miss time in school due to self-isolating.

Mass testing is to be carried out in more areas, although Greater Manchester hasn’t been mentioned.  And it looks as if the idea is to the roll out the vaccine ASAP.

I went to Tesco first thing, and then walked to the park just after 1 o’clock.  There was loads of traffic around.  OK, first thing, it was probably mostly people going to work or returning from collecting kids from school, but what were all those “essential journeys” at 1 o’clock?  I feel less guilty about going to Dunham Massey now.  Also, whilst there’ve been reports about supermarkets cordoning off “non-essential” stuff, ours hadn’t.  Cordoning stuff off is stupid.  It doesn’t protect small shops, because people just buy stuff from Amazon.

Matt Hancock has been drivelling on about how great it’ll be to get out of lockdown and back into the tiered system.  Yes, because that’s so great for everyone in Tier 3.  Talk about “I’m all right, Jack”!!

 

Armistice Day, Wednesday, November 11th

A grim milestone today – over 50,000 people in the UK have now died “with coronavirus”.  That’s the official figure, anyway.  We’ll never know the real one.  How many people died in the early days without being tested?  How many of the 50,000 people had serious health conditions and would sadly not have survived this year anyway?  But it’s pretty grim.   595 deaths today – and 53 of those were in Greater Manchester.  Why, oh why, are we being hit so badly?  One of those Stating the Bleeding Obvious official reports has come out today, saying that Northern England’s been particularly badly hit.  Yes.  We know that.  Rates are falling here, though – although, annoyingly, not by very much in our borough.

Northern Ireland’s supposed to be coming out of lockdown after tomorrow, but no-one knows if it is or not because the politicians still haven’t decided.  FFS.

Students are to be allowed home for Christmas – but will be given timeslots in which to leave.

And I am on holiday.  My nasty employers only give us the legal minimum number of days’ holiday, and make us take some of that on days not of our choosing, so holiday days are sacred and I tie myself in knots planning them.  So, so many times I’ve had to miss things I wanted to do as a result.  But, this year, I’ve got a week (3 days in Nov, 2 in Dec which I was saving for a Christmas market trip abroad – hah!!) with nothing to do, which is crazy.  I was supposed to be having 2 weeks in Japan in October.  That got cancelled.  But November trips were still on, so I was going to go to France.  That got cancelled.  Then I thought I’d go to Wales.  Until the local lockdowns in Wales came in.  Forget Wales.  Shropshire, then.  I’d made a list of places to visit there.  Then the Tier 3 crap came in.  So I thought I could go for a spa day, and go to some of the local attractions like the East Lancs Railway.  No.  Can’t even do that.  And they won’t let us carry our holidays forward.

Er, so I went to Dunham Massey.  Which is a non-essential journey.  Across town.  And I felt a bit guilty – but there were loads of people there, all in cars.  And I didn’t go near anyone else, and I was outside.  And it was nice.  Although, FFS, they are now letting dogs in the garden.  Bloody hellfire!  There are horrible dogs everywhere.  One couple were letting their odious dog bark so loudly that you could hear it across the entire Dunham Massey estate.  People were giving this couple funny looks, and some people even remarked about it, but they clearly didn’t give a shit that they were disturbing everyone else.  I’ve actually e-mailed to complain about dogs being allowed in the gardens.  I don’t normally do things like that, but enough’s enough.  NT gardens are amongst the few outdoor places which aren’t plagued with dogs.

Er, apart from the dog thing, it was very nice.

I was there at 11 o’clock – quite appropriate, as the house was a military hospital during the First World War – and most people did stop and observe the two minutes’ silence, which was nice.

Then I went to see the Christmas display at the garden centre.  Which was breaking Tier 3 bounds, as it’s a few hundred yards outside Greater Manchester.  Judging from the accents of other people, most of them were breaking Tier 3 bounds.  I’d stupidly thought it’d be quiet on a weekday, but I had to queue to get in, which was annoying.  Shops are going to go under if this carries on: people haven’t got time to keep waiting in queues, and what if it’d been pouring down?  The fact that there was a long queue  says a lot: no-one “has” to go to a garden centre.  But it’s better that people go there, where visitor numbers are restricted and you can’t sit around, than go to each other’s houses.

I seem to be writing an essay every day.  And this is nearly 8 months in!

 

Thursday, November 12th

Business Secretary Alok Sharma, “leading” a Downing Street press briefing this evening, was asked by a lady from Sheffield if everywhere’d be going back into its pre-lockdown tier on December 2nd, or whether the tiering’d be reassessed.  He completely sidestepped the question and just said, twice, that national restrictions’d be ending on December 2nd.  So annoying.  And rude.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s government thought that the lockdown there ended tonight, but it actually ends tomorrow night, because they got confused by their own definition of “midnight on Friday”.  Seriously.  And then, just as places were getting ready to reopen, they said that they were extending it for another week.

The number of new infections, which has remained at 20,000-23,000-ish for days, has somehow jumped from 22,950 yesterday to 33,470 today.  How the hell has that happened?  How can there be an increase of nearly 50% one day, when it’d been stable for the last week or so?

Holiday day 2 today, and back to Hollingworth Lake.  The Olive and Pickle had scones today, hooray!  Nice sunny day, too.

I then went to Healey Dell, a nature reserve not far from there.  It was absolutely beautiful, with waterfalls and all the autumnal colours, but there were very few people around and I felt a bit nervous, so I didn’t walk far.

Also, there were loads of signs up saying that the tea room was open from Thursdays to Sundays, but, when I got there, ready for another cuppa, there was a sign saying that it was only open on Saturday and Sunday this week!    After that, I decided to book Styal for tomorrow.  I’m not sure whether or not I’m meant to cross into Cheshire East, but I’m getting a bit past caring: I’m only going for a walk.  If the tier thing does apply this month, I crossed from one Tier 3 area to another today, because I genuinely hadn’t realised that Healey Dell, despite having a Rochdale address and being listed on Visit Rochdale, Trip Advisor and even Rochdale Council’s own website as being in Rochdale, is a few hundred years into the borough of Rossendale.  Well, part of it is, anyway.  Whereas Middleton, which is in Manchester, comes under the borough of Rochdale.  And we, also in Manchester, come under the borough of Bury.  And Failsworth, also in Manchester, comes under the borough of Oldham.  And we’re all Lancastrians anyway!!  Er, anyway, I’m going to Styal tomorrow.

The powers that be have agreed that the Icelandic football squad are to be granted exemption from the Danish travel ban, so the Nations League match can go ahead.  There’d been some talk of playing it in Albania!   But it can now be played at Wembley.

 

Friday, November 13th

I was going to get ten billion things done during these three days off.  How many of them have I got done?  Hmm.  I’ve done two shoeboxes for the Manchester Christmas Shoebox Appeal, though.  They’ve got to be in early this year, so that they can be quarantined for a fortnight.

Some people have put their Christmas trees up already, and supermarket websites are struggling to cope with advance bookings for Christmas week deliveries.

Lovely weather today, after heavy rain from about 5am to 7am.  The autumnal colours at Styal were absolutely beautiful.  I had a really nice time there.

I’m doing so much walking at the moment, but my weight is still a complete disaster 😦 .

Today’s figures, whilst still grim, are much better than yesterday’s – 27,301 cases, and 376 deaths.  The highest rate of positive tests by age groups is amongst secondary school kids.  Hmm.

And rates in the north west are definitely falling, touch wood, and the R rate could be below 1 here.

 

Saturday, November 14th

Hooray, week-on-week infection rates in Greater Manchester are down by 18%!   Although our borough annoyingly now has the 3rd highest rate of the 10.  But rates are down in every borough.  Unfortunately, rates nationwide are still rising, and another 462 deaths were recorded today.  And it’s worse across much of Europe.  Italy had over 40,000 new cases yesterday, and France had over 80,000 one day, both with lower populations than us.  Austria, with a population less than 1/7 of ours, had over 9,500 cases yesterday, and is going back into lockdown.  And the rates in America are awful.

Rishi Sunak lit oil lamps on the steps of 11 Downing Street today, to mark the start of Diwali.  It’s lovely that we’re now at a point where it’s totally cool for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be a practising Hindu, but sad that here’s yet another festival which people will be unable to spend with family and friends.  Plenty of fireworks have been going off nearby, though!

There was an anti-lockdown protest in Bristol today, but only a few hundred people went.  Most people do accept that something needed doing, but we’re all so fed up, and there’s a lot of resentment over the fact that bookshops, toy shops, clothes shops etc have had to close when you can buy books, toys and clothes readily in supermarkets and garden centres.

The media are making a huge big deal over the fact that Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain have been given the heave-ho.  We’re getting a load of melodramatic stuff about “power struggles” and “right hand men” and “factions”.  They’re making it sound as if Henry VIII’s about to execute Thomas Cromwell or there’s been a rerun of the Bedchamber Crisis. Advisors do come and go.  I just hope that Dominic from Durham and Lee from Ormskirk are not replaced by Home Counties public schoolboys.

I found a 3 mile walk through Worsley, only 10 minutes away, on Google, so I did that today.  It was dry at that point: it rained later.   After the Healey Dell thing, I decided to save this for a weekend, when there’d be more people about.  Part of it was along the historic Bridgewater Canal and through woodland, which was very pretty, but then it brought you back through a housing estate!  Oh well, it was somewhere different to walk.  I must sound as if I go out all the time, but I really don’t – I just don’t write about all the time I spend doing housework, which is more than usual at the moment as I’m doing my annual year end house clearout (which largely consists of taking things out of drawers/cupboards, cleaning the drawers/cupboards, then putting things back in, even though I never use half of them).

 

Sunday, November 15th

Haven’t been far today, just to the park, but I’ve made progress with the Year End House Clearout, and sorted out some photos whilst watching the tennis.  Rafa’s first match of the World Tour Finals is later this evening.  Fingers crossed!

One of the inventors of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine’s said that hopefully things will be back to normal by next winter.  Next winter?!  OK, OK, I’m sure we all know it won’t be a magic bullet, and there are already plans for next summer’s big sporting events to take place behind closed doors, but … just hearing it said out loud was scary.  Another YEAR of this.  “Non-essential” shops have already been shut for 15 weeks this year and, even when they were open, weren’t doing anything like as much business as normal.  The travel and tourism industries are in a mess, as is the live music industry, as are theatres.  Another year of weddings etc being cancelled?  Of not being able to go to football matches?  And I cannot take much more of these evil travel restrictions imposed on Greater Manchester and other areas.  And, most of all, FFS, we need to see our families and friends.  Yes, I know that my grandparents’ generation lived through six years of war.  But … bleurgh.

If we could just get back to where we were in July, I’d take that for now.

The Evening News has printed charts showing the rates of infection in each of the 10 boroughs since the start of August.  In every one, it started rising at the end of August, and sky-rocketing at the start of September.  Easy for people to blame “Eat out to help out” but, as rates have sky-rocketed right across Europe, it can’t be that.  So was it schools going back?  But it seems to have started before schools went back.  Or just people moving around over the summer?  It’s done now, but we could do with knowing.  Or was it just the way pandemics go?  There are always second waves.

But they do end.  Don’t they?

And, after all the fuss over the Danish mink, the Iceland match is now irrelevant, because we lost to Belgium and now cannot qualify for the Nations League finals.  Bleurgh.

 

Lockdown II Week 1, November 2nd to 8th 2020 inclusive

Monday, November 2nd

Oh great.  Got up to find that water was still coming through to the kitchen ceiling.  The stain is horrendous, and I’ve got no idea where to find a decent decorator/artexer or whether or not they’re allowed to work indoors during lockdown.  I couldn’t even do anything about it, as I had to get off to my “emergency” hair appointment.  The hairdressers are all working flat out for the next three days, but are very worried about the situation – although, thankfully, it’s been announced that self-employed people who can’t work due to lockdown will get 80% of their income funded by the state, as for employed people.

I got the plumber to come back later.  He said that there was a problem with the valve (which he put in), to do with condensation.  I hope this isn’t going to turn into a whole saga.  I have got to work at a client’s office tomorrow, and am hugely stressed about being out of the house all day with this going on.

There’s now a to-do over the possibility of people crossing from England to Wales to go to pubs, shops, hairdressers etc.  And Nicola Sturgeon has said that Scotland might go into lockdown now that the furlough scheme’s being extended.  This is just silly.  Why can’t we all stick to the same rules?

Cup matches involving non-league teams can go ahead, hooray.  And we’re allowed to make “short journeys” for exercise.  Whatever a “short journey” may be.

Ryanair are refusing to give refunds for cancelled flights, even though international travel has been banned unless it’s for business.  How are they allowed to get away with that?

And it’s emerged that Prince William had the virus in April, around the same time that Prince Charles did, but nothing was said to avoid worrying people.  Melodramatic types are claiming that people would have panicked in case the virus carried off both Charles and William, something happened to the Queen, and Prince George had to become king at the age of 6, which is utterly ridiculous as neither Charles nor William were seriously ill.  However, with Boris being so ill, I can see that it might have caused a panic if a second senior royal were known to have got the virus as well.

Opinion is divided over whether or not schools, colleges and universities should close.

And the North West Ambulance Service has said that it’s struggling to cope and may ask people to make their own way to hospital.  It seems that it’s due more to staff being off due to self-isolating than to an exceptionally high number of 999 calls, but it’s certainly quite worrying.

 

Tuesday, November 3rd

Hoping that no more water is coming through, but it’s hard to tell whilst it’s still damp.  Some of the artexing has come off.  Having a huge mess on the ceiling at the start of a new year will really upset my OCD.  Bleurgh.

The latest cunning plan is for mass testing of everyone in Liverpool.  Liverpool has apparently volunteered for this.   Some parts of East Asia have had great success with mass testing, so fingers crossed, but we’ll see.

I had to go out to a client’s office today.  First time since all this started.  I had to wear a mask … which obviously I don’t object to, but it was strange.  Then I went to the Cancer Research shop, to get my Christmas cards before it has to close.  Tough times for charities.  Tough times for everyone.  A lot of shops are opening late today and tomorrow.  This didn’t happen last time, because we got no warning.

“Short journeys” for exercise are allowed.  I’m defining “short” as meaning I can go to Hollingworth Lake.  I’ve had e-mails to say that my trips to Blackpool Illuminations and Dunham lights are off – fair enough, at least they’re contacting people.  I’d gladly rebook, but we don’t know what’s going to happen, and they were pretty fully booked for weekends anyway.

The Illuminations have been switched off.  The last time this happened was in 1939, so that they didn’t shine through the blackout.   But the Tower will remain lit.   Was it really only 3 and a bit weeks ago that I was there?

In the middle of everything else, there was a terrorist attack in Vienna last night.  Four people were killed.  I had four days in Vienna last December, little thinking that I wouldn’t be going abroad for the whole of 2020.  Such a beautiful city.  And now the UK’s on maximum terror alert too.

And the US is voting.  Joe Biden is hardly a dream president – there seems to be a chronic shortage of decent national leaders everywhere these days, with the possible exception of New Zealand – but he has to be better than someone who thinks people should drink bleach.

 

Wednesday, November 4th

The US election is too close to call, and we may not know the result today.  It’s like a Jeffrey Archer book.  It does look as if Biden’s going to squeak it, but nothing’s certain yet.

We do know the result of United v Istanbul Basaksehir.  We lost.  2-1.  FFS.  How can we beat PSG and Leipzig, then lose to Istanbul Basaksehir?  This season is already turning into a nightmare.  And Rafa made a meal of beating Feli, but got there in the end.

A lot of shops are staying open late tonight.  I’m going to be doing my Christmas shopping on Amazon.  I would dearly love to give struggling local shops the business, but we are where we are, and I never leave it till December.  Also, with Amazon Prime, I can have things delivered directly to family and friends at no extra charge.  My sister’s still hoping that we’ll be able to get together at Christmas, but, sadly, I can’t see it.  Infection rates here do seem to be levelling off, but are so high.  Nationally, 472 deaths “with coronavirus” today.  Grim figures.

Blackburn’s to be the trial area for a 30 minute test.

What classes as a “short journey for exercise”?  Dunham Massey is staying open.  It will be quieter than the park.  Dogs are not allowed in the gardens – Heaton Park, much as I love it, is plagued with dog walkers, most of whom don’t even keep their mutts on leads.  And the tea room will presumably be doing takeaway cream scones.   What’s “short”?  3 miles?  13 miles?  30 miles?   I think I’m going to class it as “short” and book it.

The weather’s turned nice, just as we go into lockdown.  Just like in March.  Stunning autumnal colours in the park.

Clinically vulnerable people have been advised not to go to work.  I hope employers respect this.  They can be furloughed.   It’s all very well saying in the guidelines that people will be entitled to SSP, but SSP is just ridiculously low – I’ve been saying this for years.

In the words of Tears for Fears, it’s a very very mad world …

 

Thursday, November 5th

Welcome to Lockdown II.  I’m trying to think of something very witty to say about Lockdown II and Bonfire Night, but not succeeding.  No organised firework displays this year, but I can hear loads of fireworks going off.

The tables outside the park cafes have been removed, but you can still sit on the benches a few yards from where the tables were.

If Boris says “a package of measures” once more, I’m going to scream.  It sounds like a bad 17th century play.  There was a press conference this evening, but I gave it a miss.  It clashed with Rafa’s match.  The furlough scheme is being extended until March, which is good news but also rather pessimistic.  And anyone made redundant since September 23rd can be re-employed and furloughed.  How many employers are going to do that?!

A lot of offices seem to be staying open, even though people there could work from home.  I’m not judging anyone, because working from home doesn’t work for everyone or every role, and enough businesses have gone under already, but, between that and schools staying open, I’m not sure how effective this is going to be.

Southport has been occupied by the Army.  OK,  Southport Pontins has been occupied by the Army.  In preparation for the mass testing of Liverpool.

And the University of Manchester bizarrely put fences round halls of residence in Fallowfield, with security guards at the only gaps in them, to keep students virtually imprisoned during lockdown.  I cannot believe that this has happened.  After a public outcry, an apology’s been issued and the fences are being removed.  But WTF?  I just cannot believe that anyone thought that that was appropriate or acceptable.

Still watching the kitchen ceiling.  It’s still a bit damp, so it’s hard to know what’s going on.  This is stressful.

And we still don’t know who’s won the US presidential election.   Donald Trump is making one unfounded allegation after another.  It’s embarrassing.  Both parties are fundraising to pay legal bills for when everyone sues over everything – as millions of Americans struggle to put food on the table.  I love America.  It deserves so much better than this.

 

Friday, November 6th

Some friends in Liverpool have taken part in the mass testing.  They said that loads of people turned up, which was good … but, because loads of people turned up, it all a bit chaotic, and people were getting stressed because they had to get back to work/had to collect kids from school/were just sick of waiting.  Oh well, it’s only the first day.

The park was much busier than usual today.  It probably was yesterday too, but I went early yesterday.  The queues at the cafes were so long that I didn’t bother having a drink: I hope it’s not going to be like this for the next month!   Most people were alone or in pairs, or with children, but it has to be said that there were some people in groups.

More of the artexing has come off the kitchen ceiling.

Italy has imposed a horrible three tier system.  Milan, Turin and Naples are amongst the places in tier with the highest level of restrictions.

There’ve been violent anti-lockdown protests in Slovenia.

The whole of Wales is coming out of lockdown on Monday, and there are to be no more local lockdowns there.  However, rates remain very high in the valleys in the south – the old coal mining/iron and steel areas.  I don’t know that part of Wales, but I’m assuming it’s got the same issues that we’ve got, with population density.    Rates here are still going up a bit.  And some non-emergency ops are being cancelled in Birmingham.

And we still don’t know who’s won the US election.  I’m sure it’d be easier to wait until all the votes in a state have been counted before declaring, rather than giving these running updates which just seem to get people riled up.  It looks as if Biden’s going to take Georgia and Pennsylvania, which will decide matters, but then Trump’ll call for a recount, and it could go on for days!

On a happier note, Rafa won.  And Wigan have finished top of the Super League.

 

Saturday, November 7th

Joe Biden has won the election, but Donald Trump is refusing to accept it.  It’s just embarrassing.  And I feel rather sorry for Kamala Harris: it’s a pretty big deal that the US has got a female vice-president at last, but all the attention is on Trump’s toddler tantrums.

Rafa lost to Sascha 😦 .  But United beat Everton, 3-1.

The kitchen ceiling is drying out, but the plaster/artexing is coming off and triggering my anxiety.

Lovely sunny day.  Just like last time – hello lockdown, hello sunshine.  I should, at this moment, be going round Blackpool Illuminations on a heritage tram.  But I’m not.  I have, however, been to Hollingworth Lake.  It wasn’t as busy as usual, but there were plenty of people around, and The Olive and Pickle was open for takeaways (although, tragically, it hadn’t got any scones).

Half the car park in the local precinct here’s been turned into a Covid-19 testing centre.  The borough “hotspot” is currently an area very close to chez moi, which is worrying, but it seems to be a different area every week.  Why are these “hotspots” occurring?  It’s not like the 1950s, when everyone was in and out of their neighbours’ houses all the time.

Local hospitals are now cancelling some elective procedures.

And people (unless they’re returning home) have been banned from entering the UK from Denmark, because of this mink business.

Oldham’s the worst hit part of the area at the moment, but it’s bad everywhere – our borough’s one of the ten worst in the country, although the rate here’s nothing like as bad as it is in Oldham.  Struggling to find details on what’s going on elsewhere, except that France is now seeing 60,000 cases a day, more than double the rates here and with a lower population.

And I have still not done some house jobs I was meant to do last Sunday …

 

Remembrance Sunday, November 8th

It’s not the 11th until Wednesday, so I’ll keep my poppy and my poppy brooch on my coat until then, but today is the Sunday … and there should have been a big parade in Whitehall, and events at war memorials all round the country.   As it was, people were asked to stay away, but the Queen, other senior royals, senior politicians and other dignitaries did attend a service at Whitehall.  The Queen was seen wearing a face mask in public for the first time, at the tomb of the Unknown Warrior.  It was suggested that people could display pictures of poppies in their windows, and stand on their doorsteps at 11am.  I did both, but, unfortunately, neither idea really caught on, and not that many people did.

There was a big anti-lockdown protest in town today.   People are entitled to protest, but Remembrance Sunday wasn’t the day for it, there was no social distancing, and, from what the Evening News says, some of the people there were drunk.  Similar scenes in Liverpool.

Infection rates are falling in 6 out of the 10 local boroughs, and only rising slightly in 2.  Unfortunately, they’re rising quite a bit here and in Oldham.  Hopefully it’s just a blip – this was happening in Stockport last week and Wigan the week before, and those trends have been reversed now – but it’s obviously not great.  I just can’t see how rates are going to come down whilst schools and so many workplaces remain open.   And, with it now being dark by the end of the working day, I suspect that a lot more people will be visiting each other rather than meeting up outdoors.

I am really stressed about the kitchen ceiling.  The initial problem was caused by a leak, and the rest by condensation.  The bits that only got wet later are pretty much dry now, but the part in the middle isn’t.  It stands to reason that it must have got much wetter so will take longer to dry, but, because it’s not dry, I’m panicking in case there’s still a problem … but, if there was, surely it’d be spreading?   It’s hard to cope with things like this when you’ve got an anxiety disorder.

The Christmas markets should be open now.  Gluhwein and hot chocolate, and that daft reindeer head singing carols and making everyone laugh.  In the summer, I was still pretty optimistic about getting a Christmas market trip abroad.  I went to Vienna last year, Munich the year before, and Cologne the year before that.  Such lovely times.

Made myself do the house stuff this morning, then, after the Remembrance Sunday service and before the tennis and football, I went to Clifton Country Park.  People on the paths were sticking to the rules about not meeting up in groups, but the playground was busy.

Some good news – meal vouchers for underprivileged children are to be provided during the Christmas holidays.  Apparently Boris rang Marcus Rashford to tell him!

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.

Bleurgh.

 

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 … 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 … 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 😦 .

 

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 … 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 🙂 .  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 ❤ 🙂 .

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 😦 .

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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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 café 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 😦 .

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?

 

 

 

Second Wave Week 3 – September 14th to 20th 2020 inclusive

Monday, September 14th

Rates here were unfortunately back up a bit yesterday, but the rate of increase has certainly slowed.  Both Liverpool and Birmingham have now got higher infection rates than Manchester.  I’m trying to make some sort of sense of the trends, but they don’t really make any sense at all.

I am annoyed with the Manchester Evening News, something which very rarely happens.  It should be appealing to everyone to pull together and stick to the rules, and, if it helps, publishing interviews with people who’ve been personally affected by the virus and want to make others understand how serious it can be.  Instead, all it seems interested in is slagging off the Westminster government.  Could we just stop all the political points-scoring, please?  This is a major crisis.  We need unity, not division.  Everyone’s very quick to moan and criticise.  No-one seems to be trying to do anything to help.

Lovely sunny day today.  The “Rule of Six” is now in force.  I did not see one group of more than six people in the park, which was hopeful … although it’s pubs and houses, not parks, where the virus spread.

And congratulations on Dominic Thiem, and commiserations to Sascha Zverev, after a crazy US Open final!  I got to bed at about half 1 this morning, but never mind.  And now it’s Rome.  In September!  Rafa plays on Wednesday.  At last …

 

Tuesday, September 15th

I’m getting very downhearted about the way that people, and especially sections of the media, are using the pandemic to try to score political points and promote division and conflict.  These are dangerous times.  There’s been a noticeable increase in hospital admissions in Bolton.  There’s also been a rise in infections and in hospital admissions nationwide – and also in deaths, although the numbers are very small.  In Bordeaux and Marseille, hospitals are beginning to struggle to cope.  The Netherlands is recording more daily infections now than it was in April, although that’s partly due to more testing.  We all need to pull together.  It is not helpful for left-wing newspapers and political points-scorers on social media to claim that different rules are being set for the upper-classes because grouse shooting is exempt from the “rule of six”.  It’s also nonsense.  It’s exempt because it’s a sport.  Whilst I don’t approve of people shooting wildlife for sport, football, netball, hockey, rugby, cricket and numerous other sports are also exempt.

Very warm today – over 80 degrees early afternoon.  Due to cool down tomorrow.

And unemployment is, inevitably, up – something that the I’m all right Jacks/Jills working from home on full pay and calling for a second lockdown might want to bear in mind.  The furlough scheme is due to finish at the end of October.  I take the point that some businesses, sadly, will never recover from this, and that it’d be better to help people to find new jobs than to carry on like this, but it’s a lot easier said than done.

 

Wednesday, September 16th

Waiting for the evening session in Rome to start.  It’s been nearly seven months since Rafa last played.  I just hope it isn’t a disaster.  But, oh, I will be so glad to see him back!

I would be glad to see him back anyway, but I need cheering up today.  I am so sick of all the grousing.  Pun intended!  This is the biggest national and international crisis since the Second World War, and the Opposition and the media are trying to score political points by mithering about grouse shooting.  All we are hearing is negativity.  Yes, there are major problems with the testing system not being able to cope.  There’s been a huge increase in the number of people wanting tests.  It’s not good.  But moaning and criticising will not help.  Has no-one got anything constructive to say?  And now the Archbishop of Canterbury’s stuck his nose in, saying that the rule of six (now also in force in the Republic of Ireland) damages family life.  Yes, we know that.  No-one likes it.  But has he got a better idea?

And I feel as if we’re being forgotten.  We’ve had these local restrictions in place for weeks, and they don’t seem to be doing any good.  Will we be put under even tighter restrictions, like Oldham, or even like Bolton?  As things stand, my sister and brother-in-law and the kids cannot visit unless they pay to stay in a hotel and meet us in the park.  And, even if they did that, they wouldn’t be allowed to see me and Mum and Dad together.  But, if we weren’t under these local restrictions, at least they’d be able to visit us separately, and I’d be able to visit my uncle and cousins.  And, if it gets worse, like it is in Oldham, Birmingham, etc then technically I’ll be breaking the rules if I pass someone I know in the street and stop to exchange pleasantries with them!   If it was London under local restrictions, it’d be the headlines of the news every day.

The council have finally moved themselves, but only to send out a text alert telling people to book a test if they feel ill.  Everyone knows that.  So many people want tests that the system can’t cope.  What they should be doing is warning/encouraging people to keep the rules.

On a lighter note, someone got on a bus at Salford precinct, about 4 miles from here, and used a snake as a face covering!  Seriously.

 

Thursday, September 17th

Rafa’s comeback yesterday evening went really well 🙂 .  He beat Pablo 6-1 6-1.  I was worried that he’d be rusty after 6 1/2 months away.  It’s about the only thing that is going well, though.  Oh, except that the decorator’s been, and painted the outside of the house.

The French government’s said that only 5,000 fans will be allowed on Chatrier, and none on the other courts.  At least the French Open’s going ahead, though.  That’s a positive.  “Pilot” events with 1,000 fans are to go ahead here, but the prospect of 78,000 of us being allowed into old Trafford looks a very long way away.

Infection rates in our borough have shot up today, after holding steady for a few days.  It’s like the Eurovision Song Contest – one set of results can send you shooting up the scoreboard 😦 .  Tameside, which’s been struggling, is now doing better.  But Bury and Salford are doing worse.

Kearsley – an area on the Manchester/Salford side of Bolton, about 5 miles from me – is now the coronavirus capital of the country.  Why Kearsley?  Why Bolton?

Two million people in the North East are being put under local restrictions.  No mixing with other households/bubbles.  Pubs etc to close from 10pm to 5am.  Food places only to offer table service.  The authorities there say that a lot of the problems are to do with late night drinking – people get pissed and forget to observe social distancing.  This has been said about other areas too.  So why hasn’t a 10pm closing time been brought in everywhere?   FFS, why should we all have to suffer because of people getting drunk?

This is a nightmare.

 

Friday, September 18th

Restrictions have now been extended to Merseyside – i.e. St Helens, Southport etc, as well as Liverpool and the Wirral -, Warrington, Halton (Widnes) and all parts of (the post-1974 administrative area known as Lancashire even though it’s only part of the proper historic county of) Lancashire not already under restrictions, other than Blackpool.  Why is Blackpool doing better than everywhere else?  Interesting.  Plus additional parts of Leicestershire, and Wolverhampton, and the bits of West Yorkshire which were in lockdown but were then taken out of it.  Not Wigan, Stockport or Leeds.  It’s all getting very confusing – people in these areas can only meet those outside their households/bubbles in outdoor areas which aren’t private gardens, like us, but are getting the curfew/table service rules, like the North East.

It does now seem all but certain that nationwide restrictions will be coming in shortly.  Apologies for being self-centred. but I’m panicking in case this puts the kibosh on my trip to Bath in the 3rd week of October.  As we are not being allowed to carry holidays forward, I’d then end up spending my week off hanging around the local park … which is pretty crap, given how often I’ve had to say no to meeting family and friends in other parts of the country due to not having enough holiday days, or been unable to do the coach tour I wanted for the same reason.  Maybe they’ll just close pubs.  Apart from selfish reasons, I hope they don’t close hotels because this is Blackpool Illuminations season, and they can’t afford to lose that as well as all the months lost already.

I wish now that I’d taken time off in July, but, when I was booking, it seemed more sensible to wait.   At least I got my week in the Lakes in August.

I am increasingly annoyed with the political points-scoring.  The Labour health spokesman was wittering on about how it’s all the Government’s fault that you can’t visit your grandma.  He sounded like a five year old telling the teacher than another kid started it.  Not one word of any sort of helpful suggestion.   Nicola Sturgeon, rather more sensibly, has requested a COBRA meeting.  No-one knows WTF to do, though.  France, Spain, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic …

I am so sick of this!!

 

Saturday, September 19th

Apologies for being self-centred, but work have said we can’t carry holidays forward, so I have limited rebooking options, and I am now panicking over rumours of a two week lockdown to include the week of school half term.  I’m due to go the week before half term, so I don’t know if it’d affect me or not, so I don’t know what to do.  And it may be OK … it could just be closing pubs and restaurants, so, assuming that the hotel stayed open (which it might or might not … presumably they could offer room service/packed meals?), I’d be OK.  But … I mean, what does closing pubs have to do with school half term?  No-one knows what the hell’s going to happen.  But, meanwhile, I’m panicking.

When our borough went into local lockdown, the infection rate was around 16 per 100,000.  It’s now almost 120 per 100,000.  Well, that’s really working, isn’t it?  Where are people getting the virus?  I appreciate that some people may genuinely have no idea, but some must.  And a Bolton councillor’s confirmed the reports that someone got the virus on holiday, didn’t quarantine when they got back, went on a pub crawl, and spread it all round.  They want locking up.  But then it shouldn’t have spread so easily – what is going on in pubs?

And we lost our first match of the season, 3-1 to Palace.  And then Rafa lost to Schwartzman in the Italian Open QFs.  In both cases, great performances from opponents, but that didn’t excuse the very disappointing performances …. bleurgh!

Until this evening, I’d had the most lovely day!  I went to Bakewell and Matlock Bath.  Both were quite busy – bearing out what’s been said about small town centres recovering more quickly than larger ones.  Buxton also looked busy, as I drove through it on the way back, but Stockport didn’t, and the infamous Trafford Centre traffic just wasn’t there at all … although I suppose people don’t tend to go to shopping centres on nice, warn, sunny Indian Summer days.  I had such a nice time! The weather was gorgeous, and the scenery was glorious … such a lovely, lovely day.  But now all this stress 😦 .

 

Sunday, September 20th

Another lovely sunny day, after a bit of rain this morning.  I went to Skipton and Grassington.  I hadn’t been to Grassington for ages, but everyone’s talking about it because the new All Creatures Great and Small‘s been filmed there!  Same story in the Dales as in the Peaks – everywhere’s quite busy.  However, the cafes/tea rooms were all, as they were in the Peaks, trying so hard – tables moved well apart, everything being cleaned after each party left.  But then there’ve been reports of mayhem in Blackpool.

Fines are to be brought in for people who don’t self-isolate when required to do so.  Why is this only happening now?  And it won’t work anyway.  People who can afford to pay won’t care, and people who can’t afford to pay won’t pay.

Cheddar Gorge and Caves are closing down, saying that they can’t see things getting better any time soon.  Some caves are letting people in on a limited numbers basis, but others either don’t feel it’s worth it or can’t set up a “Covid-safe” system due to the layout of the caves.  It’s the first well-known tourist attraction to go.

There’ve been major protests in Madrid over travel restrictions and other measures there.  People have had enough.  And, yes, I know that my grandparents’ generation lived through six years of war.  There was more sense of unity then.  Why can’t people keep the bloody rules?  I don’t mean people having a few relatives or friends round: I mean people having house parties, or some of the stories about crowding in bars.

Oh, when will this ever end?

 

Second Wave Week 1 – August 31st to September 6th 2020 inclusive

Bank Holiday Monday, August 31st

Back home.

We were able today to see some other relations who live in London, and whom none of us (i.e. Mum, Dad and I) had seen since before lockdown, so that was lovely.

After the under 12s cricket, we went out to eat … last day of Eat Out To Help Out!

And the US Open has started … minus a) Rafa and b) fans.  But it’s started 🙂 .

And there’s talk of Portugal being put back on the quarantine list, when it’s only been off it for five minutes.  This is ridiculous.  I understand the concerns about avoiding importing cases from abroad, but all this on-off-no-notice stuff is making it impossible.  Oh, when will I be able to go abroad again?  When will my lovely coach tours resume?

 

Tuesday, September 1st

The infection rate in Italy has apparently doubled in a week.  I just don’t get this.  I don’t get how the infection rate in Bolton can have gone up so much in a week either, but, OK, in one town, one cluster can have a big effect.  But across an entire country, with over 50 million people?!  The rate’s also up in Glasgow, where restrictions have been imposed.

We’re being told that footfall is being much slower to recover in big cities like Manchester and Liverpool than in smaller towns, but that doesn’t surprise me.  A lot of the footfall in big cities is from people going into shops before/after going to events (the weekend just gone should have been Manchester Pride), football matches, the theatre, the cinema, etc, and that just isn’t happening at the moment.

I had a problem with my car this morning, and had to go to Kwik Fit.  Luckily, they weren’t busy, and I was only there for about half an hour, and hopefully it’s now sorted – touch wood!  But, had I had to go and be trapped in the office, I wouldn’t have been able to get it sorted … and this is really stressing me out, because they’ll probably want us back in soon, and probably the number one reason I’ve struggled so badly with anxiety over the years is this issue of struggling to get things sorted because of being trapped in an office.

I’m also worried about my weight.  After months of struggling, I’d done much better since lockdown started, but then it all went back on on holiday.  I always pile weight on on holiday, because my metabolism’s so bad that any break from my diet leads to disaster, but the gym is still closed (and I’ve still not had my refund) and I will lose my long daily walk if (when) I have to go back to the office.

I know.  I’m catastrophising.  But not without good cause!

 

Wednesday, September 2nd

FFS!  Bolton and Trafford came out of local lockdown at midnight, and were back in it by midday.  My hopes of our borough being released this week or even next week are fading fast, after this.  So, so fed up.  And it rained all afternoon.  And Scotland and Wales have put Greece back on the quarantine list.  We’re supposed to be feeling cheerful because kids – sorry, “young people” (when did “children” become “young people”) are back at school, but I feel like this local lockdown’s never going to end.  Thank goodness for the US Open!

 

Thursday, September 3rd

The infection rate in our borough is 25 per 100,000, and we are in local lockdown with no suggestion that it will be lifted.  The infection rate in Middlesbrough is 35 per 100,000.  In Stoke, it’s 31.  In Birmingham, it’s 30.  None of those places are in local lockdown.  Why is the North West being picked on?  Also, why have I still not had my refund from the gym, and why are Sky refusing to answer the phone (on a number which they e-mailed me) unless you say you are in a vulnerable group?  Gah!   This has been going on for nearly 6 months now: using it as an excuse for crap service is no longer acceptable.

On a happier note, the sun is out today.  And my elder nephew started secondary school today.  Thankfully, he’s so excited about being at a big, grown up school and going on the bus that he doesn’t seem fazed by all the stuff with masks and bubbles and zones.  In some ways it’s easier for kids in the first year of secondary school, because it’s a new start so it’s not as if they’ve missed a whole term out of an ongoing syllabus.  Younger nephew goes back on Monday.

 

Friday, September 4th

Leeds has been added to the “watchlist”.  Rates here continue to fall, and are well below those in Leeds – and less than half those in Corby which, presumably because it’s not in the north, is being left alone – but there’s no talk of lifting restrictions here.  Rates are also falling in the city centre, but unfortunately are rising in most of the other local boroughs.  I’m so fed up of this.  When will it ever end?

Portugal’s been put back on the quarantine list by Wales and Scotland, but not by England and Northern Ireland.  The Greek islands have also been put on the list in Wales, and the whole of Greece in Scotland.  This is silly.  If you live in Chester but work in Wrexham, or live in Hereford but work in Hay-on-Wye, and you’ve just come back from Portugal, are you allowed to go to work or not?  Does anyone know?!

Andy Murray’s out of the US Open, beaten by Felix Double A.

I went to the office this morning, to collect some stuff.  Thankfully, they seem to have realised that being nice to people works better than the other way!  There was a form on my desk saying that, if I was planning to stay there all day (which I was not), I had to sign something to say that I hadn’t got any virus symptoms.  No-one does want to stay all day, though.  This can’t go on indefinitely, and I accept that, but I really don’t want to go back, and that seems to be the general feeling across the country.  For one thing, there’s the genuine fear of getting the virus at your workplace or on public transport, and also of then passing it on to a vulnerable relative or friend.  There’s also the fear of the sheer bloody inconvenience of having to self-isolate if a colleague or client with whom you’ve been in close contact gets the virus.

And there’s the fact that working from home is much better.  From my viewpoint, the main thing is that it takes away the terrible anxiety of how to cope if someone needs to be at home because a repair person or delivery person is coming.  And it takes away the horrible feeling of being trapped.  Also, if you need to make a personal phone call which can only be done during working hours, you can do so without everyone else hearing all your private medical or financial issues.  You’re not wasting time and money commuting.   And you’re not having to put up with other people coughing, sneezing, clearing their throats, bellowing down the phone on hands free, hogging the kettle, or opening all the windows in the middle of winter!

Who knows how all this will pan out?

Later – more changes!  Corby, Kettering, Middlesbrough and South Tyneside are now also on the watchlist.

Later again – why can’t they announce everything at once?!  Soft play centres, beauty salons, casinos etc will all be able to reopen here from Tuesday.  Except in Bolton.  And pools and gyms can reopen in Blackburn.

 

Saturday, September 5th

I went to Shugborough today.  The sun came out and it was lovely.  I posted on Facebook to say that I was having morning tea at the Queen’s cousin’s house 🙂 .  It’s the first time since all this started that I’ve been to an NT property where you’ve been able to sit inside the tea room, although I prefer to sit, and did sit, outside anyway.

People in Bolton have been asked to avoid mixing with anyone outside their bubbles, and not to use public transport unless absolutely necessary.  WTF is going on in Bolton?  In some areas, increased rates are due to clusters associated with one workplace, childcare centre, pub or indeed illegal party, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in Bolton.  One minute the rates there were right down, and now they’re the highest in the country.  It has been claimed that it’s due to someone who got the virus in Spain, didn’t quarantine, and went on a pub crawl.

Last night’s US Open match between Sascha Zverev and Adrian Mannarino was delayed for 4 hours whilst the State of New York decided whether or not it was OK for Adrian to play, because he’d been in contact with Benoit Paire, who’d tested positive for the virus.  Adrian had played two matches already, and no-one seemed to have an issue with that.  Today, Kiki Mladenovic, another of the “Paire 11”, was issued with a “quarantine order” by the state of New York, and forbidden to leave her hotel – meaning that she and Timea Babos, the top seeds, had to pull out of the ladies’ doubles.   Also, it was announced that the UEFA Nations League match between the Czech Republic and Scotland was off because some of the Czech squad had tested positive, but then it was announced that the match was going ahead, with “new players and new staff”.  No, me neither!

Boris says that civil servants should go back to their offices, so that everyone else will.  The words “non” and “sequitur” spring to mind.

And there have been anti-restriction protests in Edinburgh.

 

Sunday, September 6th

Local infection rates are up again.  I could cry.  Will we never get out of this?  Nationwide, there were 1,813 new cases yesterday, but 2,988 today, the highest number in one day since May.  It doesn’t make any sense.  How can there be such a big change in one day?   Portugal is struggling again, and Italy’s seeing an increase in cases.   But it’s infections, not deaths.

Jerusalem, of all places, appears to have the highest infection rate in the world.

I am sick of having to pre-book everything.  If you’re travelling to somewhere a couple of hours away, how are you supposed to know what the traffic’ll be like, or how long it’ll take to park, or, if you’re going somewhere first, how long you’ll be at the first place, and whether you’ll be delayed by waits in cafes or queues in toilets or anything else?  And you can’t book some places until a few days beforehand, which is stressful if you want to book accommodation.  Gah!

Went into town today.  I had a walk round, and went to my favourite café for a sandwich.  I was pleased to find that there were plenty of people in there … although, with tables moved apart due to social distancing, it perhaps looked busier than it was.  Most cafes were busy, but shops weren’t, which was interesting.  That seems to rule out fear of the virus or watching the pennies as a reason for shops being quiet.  Are people not going into town because cinemas, galleries etc aren’t open as usual?  Is it because there are no out of town visitors because there are no concerts or theatre events, and fans aren’t allowed into football matches?  Can people not be mithered with masks, queues (although only a few shops had queues outside them), and not being able to try on clothes?  The vast majority of people were wearing masks indoors, but a few idiots weren’t.  And there were loads of people selling masks from trolleys on Market Street – and no-one hassling you to do surveys or sign petitions.

The council have put up banners on King Street, saying things like “New normal, same Manchester” and “New chapter, same history”.  And “You are not alone”.  I don’t often praise the council, but I thought that that struck exactly the right note.  We are not getting this from Westminster at the moment.   Sort it, please, Boris.  And the media aren’t helping, promoting division rather than unity.  So much for all that “Spirit of the Blitz” talk back in March and April, eh?

 

A trip into town, mayhem at the US Open, and EastEnders returns

 

 

I went into town yesterday.  It wasn’t quiet, but it was certainly nothing like as busy as it would usually be on a Sunday.  Cafes seemed a lot busier than shops, which was interesting.  OK, maybe they looked busier (in terms of having few empty tables) than they actually were, because most had fewer tables than usual due to social distancing, but they certainly *looked* quite busy.  And is the Federal Café on Deansgate now the “in” place to see and be seen?  There was a great long queue of young people outside it.  I looked at the menu and didn’t find it particularly exciting, but seemingly it’s the cool place to go. I am clearly old and out of touch!   But the shopping areas were certainly quieter than usual.  So what are the reasons why?

BTW, I took this photo because I thought the Free Trade Hall (now the Radisson) looked nice in the sunshine. Then I realised that there were skyscrapers behind it, and decided that it was deeply symbolic because it showed the history of Manchester and the modern “Manctopia” (who thought up that ridiculous expression?!) thing together!  Ooh look, you can see the Peterloo plaque (the red circle), as well!

Also, the US Open gets more bonkers every day.  And EastEnders is back tonight.  “The Paire Eleven” sounds more like something from EastEnders – maybe a list of suspects? – than something to do with a tennis tournament.

This was a Sunday, so it was nothing to do with people working from home rather than being in their offices.  A lot of people, especially older people and those with medical conditions, are obviously nervous about going out and about, especially if it means using public transport.  And people are watching the pennies, given the effect of lockdown on the economy.  I’m not sure that it’s only, or even mainly, that, though.  People go into town because they’re going to the pictures, or the theatre, or a concert, or perhaps to galleries, museums or Central Library.  A lot of people, especially away fans, go into town before football matches.  People from out of town also visit to go to concerts or musicals, or to business conferences or private functions such as weddings.  None of that’s happening at the moment.   And maybe that helps to explain why cafes are so busy.  There aren’t that many other places to go to, if you don’t want to go for a walk.

And have we all got used to buying everything on line?   I was already buying a lot of stuff online.  When you’re stuck at work 5 days a week, it doesn’t leave that much time for shopping.  And, well before all this started, most shops had reduced their staff numbers so much that it’d become very hard to find someone to ask if you couldn’t find what you wanted; and don’t get me started on the queues at checkouts.  Lockdown’s pushed even more shopping online.  It’s a big problem for shops, and obviously there are small shops which just don’t have an online presence.

Are people also being put off by the hassle of having to wear masks and follow one way systems, and maybe having to queue to get into shops.  The only place with a really long queue, incidentally, was Zara, and that was all young people.  Must all have money to burn!  I don’t know that any of that’s putting people off, but I’ve heard plenty of people say that they don’t want to go to clothes shops whilst changing rooms are closed, because they don’t want to have to waste time taking things back if they don’t fit.

There’s also the issue of toilets!   The Arndale Centre’s got ladies’ loos only open in some places, and gents’ loos only open in others, which is a bit complicated if a man and a woman are out shopping together!

I’d like to see some more research done into this.  We usually get opinion polls about anything and everything, but there seem to be very few about why people are not going into city centres as much as they did pre-pandemic.  In particular, it seems strange that cafes – and, whilst there’s a lot more outdoor seating than there used to be, most of the seating is indoor – are so much busier than shops are.

There were plenty of people sat inside cafes with people who were clearly not part of their household.  That’s against local lockdown rules, but I’m not judging anyone for that.  We’re not talking about big rave-ups, just 2, 3 or 4 people sat together.  I’m not advocating rule-breaking, but we’re going to end up with a serious mental health pandemic if people are unable to spend time with their families and close friends.

Some people were wearing masks whilst waiting to order at the till in cafes … there seems to be a lot of confusion over this.  The vast majority of people were wearing masks inside shops and inside the corridors in the Arndale Centre. But there were still a few idiots without masks.  I accept that some people are exempt on medical grounds, but I can’t believe that they all were.  One man, on being refused admission to a shop because he wasn’t wearing a mask, asked if the shop had masks, as if it was everyone’s responsibility but his!  But we’re only talking about a small minority of people.

And, instead of the usual stalls selling mobile phone covers, football souvenirs and children’s toys on Market Street, and indeed the people trying to get you to complete surveys or sign petitions, there are now lots of street traders selling masks.  Very 2020.  But good for them, for adapting to “the new normal”.   There are signs everywhere reminding people to wear masks and observe social distancing, but there are also, on King Street, morale boosting banners saying things like “New Normal, Same Manchester”, “You’re Not Alone” and “New Chapter, Same History”.  Well done to the council for that.  Heaven knows that we could all do with some morale boosting.

As for the US Open … well, without Rafa, it’s not quite the same for me, and Roger’s missing as well.  So is Stan, and so are most of the women’s top ten.  And, of course, there are no fans.  Fans are supposed to be being allowed into Stade Roland Garros for the French Open but, given the state of affairs in Paris, I’m not sure whether or not that’ll actually happen.   But it’s been brilliant to have some live tennis, especially Grand Slam tennis, to watch at last.

However, it got off to an awkward start when Novak Djokovic decided to try to set up a rival players’ union.  There were some issues over the ATP at the start of the year, but, given what’s happened since, it’s hardly the time to be making waves.  Rafa and Roger both said as much.  The idea doesn’t seem to have got very far.  Then there was the saga of the Paire Eleven.  Benoit Paire tested positive for the virus.  He had to pull out of the tournament.  We were then told that eleven other players, who’d been in close contact with him, were now in a “bubble within a bubble”.

Then some of those players, notably Kiki Mladenovic, complained that they were being treated like prisoners and escorted everywhere.  Things got farcical when Sascha Zverev and Adrian Mannarino were told, just before their match was due to start, that they’d have to wait whilst the State of New York decided whether or not Adrian, who was one of the Paire Eleven, could play.  This was a third round match.  If they had issues with Adrian playing, why wait until the third round?!  And what about the rest of the Paire Eleven?  The match eventually went ahead, after a four hour delay!   And then Kiki was told that she wasn’t allowed to leave her hotel, meaning that she and Timea Babos, the top seeds, had to pull out of the women’s doubles.  Why wait until then?  And what about the rest of the Paire Eleven?   Does anyone know what’s going on?

On top of all this, Nole lost his rag after messing up the first set of his match against Pablo Carreno Busta, and hit a ball away in anger … and it hit a line judge in the throat.  Thankfully, the line judge seems to be OK, but a ball travelling at speeds can be dangerous.  No-one’s suggesting for one second that Nole meant to hurt anyone, but, under the rules, he had to be disqualified.  It’s not the kind of headline that the US Tennis Association was hoping for!

What it does mean is that someone is going to win their first Grand Slam men’s singles title.  Annoyingly, it will not be Stef Tsitsipas, who managed to lose to Borna Coric after being 2 sets to 1 and 5-1 up.  Dominic Thiem?  Sascha Zverev?  Denis Shapovalov (I would love him to win, but am not sure he’s mature enough yet)?  Felix A-A?  Frances Tiafoe to become the first American man in years to win the US Open?   We shall see.

And EastEnders is back.   Coronation Street and Emmerdale have managed to keep going all the way through, but EastEnders has been off for weeks.  But now it’s back. And Coronation Street and Emmerdale are going back to six episodes a week.  We’re getting there!   Could we have Casualty and Holby City back as well, though, please?

 

Moving on, or maybe not, Week 5 – August 3rd to 9th 2020 inclusive

Monday, August 3rd

  1.  People who let their horrible dogs bark all the time should be locked up.
  2.  The burglar alarm service man has been.  So much easier to sort these things when you’re working from home!
  3.  The tables outside the park cafes have reappeared, so that the cafes can qualify for the new “Eat Out To Help Out” scheme, by which food and drink is half-price on certain days, to boost the hospitality sector.  However, seeing as they hadn’t advertised the fact that they were in the scheme, no-one knew about it until they paid, so no-one ordered anything they hadn’t been going to order anyway!!
  4.  I’ve had a reply from one of my MP’s minions, claiming that the North of England was definitely not being “ostracized”.  I contemplated replying, to point out that a) “ostracise” was completely the wrong word to use in this context and b) he shouldn’t be using American spellings, but couldn’t be bothered.

I am so stressed.  I was really looking forward to this staycation, and now I’m on edge all the time, in case we’re banned from travelling or anything else happens.  Hardly anyone in the region’s actually in hospital with the virus.  Most of the cases are amongst young people who’ve hardly been affected.  I quite appreciate that they could pass it on to someone else who could have it very badly, but it’s bloody frustrating that we can’t visit our families and friends just because a few people have got a bit of a cough.  And how long can this go on?  More and more job losses are being announced every day.

It’s not just here.  Festivals planned in Malta have been cancelled.  There’s been an outbreak on a cruise in Norway.  And I am so sorry for people in Melbourne, who’re practically under lock and key.

 

Tuesday, August 4th

Headline of an internet article today – “Pub closed after worker tests positive for virus following trip to Greater Manchester”.  Where had this person travelled from?  Land’s End?  John O’Groats?  No.  St Helens!  Which is, what, five miles outside the boundaries of Greater Manchester?  So someone from St Helens has got the virus, and is making out that they must have caught it when they nipped to a shop or café in Wigan for half an hour or so.  And this is being used to make it sound as if the whole of Greater Manchester should be treated as some sort of leper colony.  I have never heard such crap in my entire life.  But it’s out there.  And people down south or in Scotland aren’t going to know exactly where St Helens is.  Meanwhile, the bloody Guardian is trying to turn this into some sort of class war, by blaming the increase in cases on people who live in big houses in Hale Barns.

None of this is helping.

It’s just getting me totally stressed out.  I am absolutely desperate for this break, and don’t know what I’m going to do if it’s ruined because of idiots in other parts of the region ignoring social distancing guidelines.

A guy refilling the shelves in Tesco this morning was wearing full Spiderman headgear.  It made me laugh!

The Madrid Open’s been cancelled 😦 .

Later – and now Rafa’s pulled out of the US Open.  I quite understand his reasons, but … bleurgh.

 

Wednesday, August 5th

I woke up at half 4 this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep, and then burst into tears because I dropped a pile of papers.  I was feeling fine before all these restrictions were imposed because of high infection rates in Oldham and Blackburn.  And Nicola Sturgeon has slapped a travel ban on Aberdeen, which has completely panicked me.

The latest statistics show that, whilst the rate of infections is still increasing – and our area is regrettably getting worse – it’s not increasing at anything like it was in the two previous weeks.  And the overall rate for the region is about 27, and Blackburn hasn’t been put under a travel ban even though the rate there is nearly 90.  So hopefully it will be OK.  But I am stressed and upset now, instead of looking forward to my long-awaited break.

Went into a café today, for a takeaway drink, and the lady in front of me wasn’t wearing a mask.  She suddenly realised that she should be wearing one, took one out of her handbag, put it on, apologised profusely to the girl behind the counter, and said that she’d just forgotten.  The girl said that it didn’t matter and she didn’t have to wear it if she didn’t want to.  I mean, FFS!

Rafa’s said that he still hopes to play in Paris.  The US Open, if it goes ahead, will be the first Grand Slam event without both Rafa and Roger since 1999.

Some places have cancelled pantomimes.  The one here hasn’t been cancelled yet, but I can’t see it happening.  I usually book in June … although that’s usually because that’s when the football fixtures come out.

Europa League resumes tonight.

 

Thursday, August 6th

The number of infections is continuing to rise.  And it looks as if the new measures could be extended to Preston soon.  Why do things seem to be so bad in our region?  The likely explanation is that, because the pandemic got going in London earlier than it did here, we were that much further behind London on the “curve” when restrictions were eased.  Nowhere else, with the possible exception of the West Midlands, has got the same level of population density.

There were only 8 deaths “with coronavirus” nationwide today, though.  The number of deaths is falling.  It seems likely that most of the new infections are amongst younger people, who are far less likely to be seriously affected.  So are we just going to have to roll with it, and accept that people are going to get the virus?  Yes, you could get it.  You could also have a heart attack or be run over by a bus.

Skating rinks, bowling alleys and casinos are now supposed to be reopening a week on Saturday.  It seems unlikely that that will happen.  So why not bloody well say so?  It’s not fair to let places spend time and money getting ready to reopen, and then tell them the day before that they can’t, especially when it’s already been done once.

It’s not just here.  Things in Spain are bad, and France, Belgium and Luxembourg are all seeing significant increases in the numbers of cases.  Even Greece and Germany, which had been doing OK, are having more and more problems.

Went to the office this morning, to take some stuff back and collect more.  All this talk of getting people back into offices, which Boris was very keen on a couple of weeks ago, has died away.

 

Friday, August 7th

Bleurgh.  Had a nasty e-mail from the office today, saying that they were considering forcing people to go back to the office, because people are wasting part of the working day collecting files and dropping them off!  WTF?  How are people supposed to get the files?  Teleport them?  Not one word asking if people were OK.

Meanwhile, the local restrictions were supposed to be being reviewed weekly, but we’ve heard nothing.  I can’t imagine that anything’s going to be changed after a week, because it’d be way too soon for the new rules to have any effect, but at least tell us!  And tell people who run/work in casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks whether or not they can reopen next week.  The communication is appalling.

Our MP has protested about the fact that the whole area’s been lumped in together.  At least he’s tried!

Belgium, the Bahamas and Andorra have been taken off the travel corridor list, and it looks as if France could be next.  The rules on Belgium apply from today for Wales and from tomorrow for England, presumably to give the Brussels gravy train brigade time to get back to Surrey.  Seeing as there aren’t any international airports in North or Mid Wales, anyone returning to there from Belgium today will be flying into an English airport.  How does that work?!  OK, I don’t suppose there are hordes of people from Wrexham or Bangor flying from Brussels to Ringway or Speke today, but the whole thing’s just so silly.

It’s all getting silly.  My mum and dad’ve had a mobile hairdresser round, touching their heads.  Yet, if my sister or my uncle went round, and stood 6ft away from them, in the garden, that would be breaking the law.  How does that work?!

Elena Svitolina and Kiki Bertens have both pulled out of the US Open.

 

Guidelines for meeting outdoors this sunny weekend:

England – max. 6 people from multiple households or 30 people from 2 (large!) households.
Wales – any number of people from 2 households only.
Scotland – max. 15 people from max. 5 households.
Northern Ireland – max. 30 people, no apparent limit on number of households.

Is it any wonder that people are confused?!

 

Saturday, August 8th

Nice sunny day today.  A bit too hot down south, but just nice here!  I had a lovely walk round Hollingworth Lake.  There were a lot of “We are at risk of lockdown” signs up, though.  Rochdale’s doing quite well with getting its infection rate down, but Oldham unfortunately isn’t, and, as Westminster seems intent on lumping the whole region together, it doesn’t look as if the restrictions’ll be lifted any time soon.  Well, I say “region”, but it’s done on council boundaries, which are so bloody arbitrary.  There’s no natural line between the areas covered by the councils of Stockport (included) and High Peak (excluded), Bolton (included) and Chorley (excluded), Wigan (included) and West Lancs (excluded) or Trafford (included) and Macclesfield (excluded).  The line runs right down the middle of particular streets.

It was finally confirmed yesterday evening that the restrictions will stay in place for another week, and that Preston will now also be included.  Leeds could be next.  But Swindon, Peterborough and Northampton, which have far higher rates than parts of our region, are being left alone.  It’s hard not to feel that there’s one rule for the North and another for the South.

The actual numbers are very low, though.  Our area looks bad this week, but that’s because of one cluster at one nursery.  The same for the city centre, because of one cluster at one postal sorting depot.  Headlines scream that rates in a particular area have doubled/trebled in a week, but, in these cases, there’s no real risk to the wider public.

A lot of new cases are now amongst under 30s.  This seems to be the same in other countries.  Younger people generally aren’t badly affected, and it’s usually younger people who don’t wear masks and ignore social distancing.  Yes, I know that it sounds as if we’re all looking for scapegoats.

Earlier, I had my hair cut … and was sorry to see that the café next door to the salon has had to close for a fortnight as the owner was unlucky enough to be in the Canary Islands the week when the rules were changed.  There are hardly any cases in the Canary Islands, but the whole of Spain’s been lumped together!

Sorry, I seem to be doing a lot of moaning, but it’s so frustrating. Although not as much as it is for the people in 3 Irish counties which have been put back into hard lockdown – no travel, restaurants closed, etc.

It has actually been a really nice day!   And we won the Test match.  Football, cricket, golf, rugby league … it’s all happening!  Except for tennis 😦 .

 

Sunday, August 9th

Outdoor café culture has really hit the Manchester suburbs – after all these years of it being joked about!   I’ve never seen so many outdoor tables.  Most of them are where they shouldn’t be, but who cares?  The weather’s about to change, but it’s been interesting to see in the meantime.

Boris is doing a lot of talking about prioritising schools going back and staying open.  I think nearly everyone agrees with this – apart from the teaching unions, whose priority is scoring political points rather than the welfare of children – but, if he really does shut down pubs again, there’s going to be a lot of trouble.

Stan’s pulled out of the US Open now.

Had a really lovely time at Erddig, although it was rather confusing that I *didn’t* have to wear a face mask in order to get my takeaway cream tea (although only one person was allowed into the small ordering area at a time, apart from the person serving, and they were behind a Perspex screen, so I suppose it didn’t make much difference anyway) because I was in Wales … whereas, had I been 10 miles or so nearer home, back inside England, I would have done!

It’s been a nice weekend generally.  Just hope the weather behaves for my staycation.  And also that work aren’t shitty next week and don’t try to bully us into going back.  I’m so disappointed, although not surprised, with the way they’ve behaved.

And it’s on to the next round of the Europa League tomorrow!  All go …