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 Meanwhile, Derbyshire police have apologised to the 2 women involved in the infamous reservoir walk incident, and rescinded the fines.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 …