The Curfew Tolls the Knell of Parting Day….
Since my last Corona-Blog on May 2nd, some 9,000 additional souls have tragically lost their lives to Covid-19 which brings the total within these fair isles to almost 37,000 deaths. There is little doubt that the number of deaths will be well north of 40,000 before this pandemic is over. (If it is ever over).
For some unknown reason, the UK ranks very high in the world table of corona-virus deaths. In pure numbers, the UK is second only to the USA, but to put it in proper perspective; on a per capita basis, the UK lies in third place behind Belgium and Spain. The USA is down in 9th place.
The UK’s lofty position in pandemic deaths will no doubt be investigated to the nth degree over the coming years, but there is little doubt it was the government’s failure to order the lock-down early enough that will emerge as the main culprit. Some scientists are saying that if the lockdown had been introduced a week earlier, thousands of lives could have been saved.
Will the historians point to Boris’s decision to delay the lock-down as the defining point of his maladministration? In much the same way as Tony Blair is held to be responsible for the decision for Brittain to go to war in Iraq – and in doing so, lit the flames for the conflagration of the whole Middle East, and ISIS in particular.
We shall see.
“Politics is the art of the possible”.
Whatever the outcome of any future enquires may be, it is becoming increasingly apparent that any goodwill that remained for Boris’s Tory government is rapidly fading. Obfuscation, muddle-headed thinking, confusing pronouncements, and outright deviousness have become the order of the day.
Since the start of the outbreak, the folks at number ten have held daily press conferences within those hallowed walls. Each day, one of the cabinet ministers accompanied by a representative from either the government’s scientific team or health team (or both) assail us with their words of wisdom and invite questions from the public and press.
These same ministers are forbidden to appear on “Newsnight”, a serious BBC TV news programme which is broadcast every weekday evening. The reason? Because they would be subject to probing questioning and the wily TV journalists would not let them get away with evasive answers.
Yet here they are – every afternoon – inviting questions from the media, on subjects such as: why isn’t there enough personal protective equipment (PPE)?; or why were hospitals sending infected pensioners back to care homes where there was minimal protection for other residents, to say nothing of the staff who had little or no PPE?; or why did the government persistently fail to meet their own targets on testing?…and so much more.
I mentioned in an earlier blog that these press conferences didn’t allow any follow-ups questions from the press in the event that the first answer was unsatisfactory or side-stepped. And then, lo and behold, they must have read my blog as they now permit follow-ups.
So problem solved? No, not at all. Boris and his senior henchmen realised that if they can side-step a tough question once, they can do it again and again. They simply bloviate away until we are all thoroughly bored with what they were saying. Most of what they say makes no sense and totally fails to answer the important questions, no matter how many times they are asked.
Then if a follow-up question is offered, they bloviate yet again before moving swiftly on to the next question. If they were on Newsnight, or Radio 4’s Today Programme, they would never be able to get away with this.
There must be an online course on the art of “how to answer a question without really answering it”. (As the sub-head says…)
The public isn’t stupid. The government’s popularity was at an all-time high when poor Boris was hospitalized, but all that goodwill has been ridiculously wasted ever since. There is hardly a day goes by when we don’t hear about yet another misstep or howler or disingenuous response to a key issue. They don’t seem to understand that the public would have given them a great deal of latitude if they had fessed up and admitted their mistakes.
As it is, we are all totally fed up with the government’s performance. We need a leader who knows what they are doing and will lead from the front. Unfortunately, since Boris went down with the virus, there has been a distinct lack of cohesion in government policies, and even though he has now re-taken the reins, he seems to be a mere shadow of his former self.
He leans heavily on this quixotic maverick – Dominic Cummings; an arrogant, uncaring advisor who breaks the lockdown rules as fast as he invents them. Anyone who seriously believes his account of going to Barnard Castle to test his eyes probably also believes that the earth is flat. There are howls from the corridors of Westminster and the press for Cummings to fall on his sword or otherwise be removed forthwith. At the time of writing, we are still awaiting the final outcome, and the government’s stock dips ever lower.
All Quiet on the Home Front
As for me and mine, well not much has really changed.
I still spend nearly all my time at home, save for a 50-minute daily walk with Olly the Dog along the highways and byways of rural Oakham. The only real difference between now, and pre-COVID life is that I cannot see my family, (although we do have occasional video link-ups), and I don’t go shopping with Lek (which is no bad thing).
Without the COVID rules, we would probably have taken the odd day trip to places near and far, especially as the weather has been so nice. Well, intermittent niceness, as we had 50 mph winds the other day which blew down yet another tree in our back garden.
The only real difference in my daily activities now and before the Pandemic, is the time I spend ‘tutoring’ Song in her daily school work. This can take up to 6 hours a day and really restricts my efforts to do a bit of creative writing and also write my blog.
The school usually sets three or four subjects each weekday, but the most subjects we can normally complete in a day is two. There were a couple of days when we manged three, but there again there have been days where we have only completed one.
This means that we try to catch up a bit on weekends and even on school holidays, such as this coming week. We never manage to do everything, so I just try to concentrate on English, Maths, French, Humanities, Science, and Art and Design, with the odd drama lesson from time to time.
Lek has quite an active day. She wakes up in the middle of the night to let Olly out for his nightly calls of nature, and then she snuggles down on the sofa while she waits for Olly to come in again. She invariably falls asleep and Olly comes back, jumps on the sofa, and sleeps with her. Early morning she has her breakfast and then around 8 p.m. she brings me up a mug of coffee, and climbs back into bed.
Lying in bed, she starts to play with Olly, who jumps up and down from the bed, chasing socks, which has the predictable effect of really shaking me from my slumbers. Then we both watch a bit of TV news before getting up at around 9 a.m.
Lek and Song then go out for their daily exercise. Lek runs and Song follows on her bicycle. They go about 15 kilometers out into the countryside and return about 2 hours later.
On their return, Lek starts cooking lunch, and Song starts her schoolwork. After lunch, if it is dry, Lek goes into the garden to tend to her Thai vegetables which are all growing in pots of various shapes and sizes, and do general garden work, mowing the lawn, etc.
By mid-afternoon she is feeling very sleepy and goes back to bed for a couple of hours, and wakes up in time to prepare the evening meals, including some very odd-looking cooked eggs.
When Song finishes her schoolwork, she has to do her housework (washing up etc.) and is then allowed to play on her phone for about 2 hours.
After dinner Lek and Song watch a bit of TV with me before going upstairs to my bedroom to watch Thai TV programmes on YouTube until it’s time to sleep.
There’s a lot more I’ve missed, such as the Oakham Thai community (including Lek) cooking Thai dishes and dropping them off on each other’s doorsteps in plastic bags.
Not very exciting, is it? But we’re all OK and not getting too bored.
I’m keeping quite well and fit, although my bladder problems have become quite a nuisance, as every time I want to take a leak, I have to climb the stairs which tends to exhaust me.
Only time will tell if I continue to remain free of any serious health downturns.
So a lot has changed in the lives of everyone, and even when the pandemic is over, our lives are unlikely to go 100% back to the way they were before.
But for me and mine, the changes have been fairly minor. Lek isn’t working and Song isn’t going to school, but that’s no different to normal holiday time, so we can just think of this as one, extremely long holiday.
What a Honker!
The only other medical problem I have is the nodules that are growing inside my nose. I haven’t had any sense of smell and not much sense of taste for nigh on two years. I irrigate my nose every day, but that is becoming more and more painful to do. I do have the benefit of not smelling some of Lek’s more pungent cooking odours.
Last year the specialist referred me to Nuffield hospital for an operation, but they cancelled due to my underlying medical problems. Back in the NHS, I had a CT scan in February, and in April I received a letter from the ENT specialist telling me I would be referred to a surgeon when the COVID crisis is over. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I actually got an appointment for next October, presumably in the hope that life will be back to normal by then.
Happy Birthday to Olly The Dog.
Yes, our much-loved little Yorkie-poo pooch is 2 years old, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that we couldn’t possibly imagine life without him. He is now a young adult, but I don’t think he will ever really grow up. He likes to play for hours on end and only stops when exhaustion overcomes him. There’s hardly a moment’s peace when he’s awake and he never stops running around the house, leaping into the garden, chasing the birds, and playing with his toys.
Sometimes he plays alone, but most of the time he enlists one or more of us humans to play with him. He is so fast that it takes two to catch him when he is trying to avoid us. In the evenings he plays upstairs with Lek and Song in the bedroom and then leaps down the stairs to rope me in for an hour before racing upstairs again.
Phew! It’s exhausting, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We all love him to bits.
As I spend so much time on Song’s schooling I have decided to devote any spare time that I do have towards working on a little writing project I have started. It involves resurrecting a short story I wrote some years ago which was intended to become one of the many sub-plots in my marathon novel “A Lust for Life.” In the end I decided to cut this character and his back-story from the plot as it was one sub-plot too many and the novel was already very long.
I have been re-working the story so that it becomes a stand-alone novelette. This involves almost a total re-write and will take some time to knock it into its new shape. So I have decided that this current blog will be the last one for a while. There isn’t really a lot to say, as the lock-down doesn’t make very exciting reading, and most people are no doubt fed up to the back teeth with the subject and the endless news reports in the press, TV and social media.
After a few months, I shall see where we are, and whether I feel like writing a new blog. Until that time comes, it is goodbye from me, and farewell from all the Mobi Clan.
Till we meet again.
Five weeks ago…
Three weeks ago…
More pics taken over the past couple of weeks