The Nightingale Hospitals and Covid-19

When the government spent untold millions converting and equipping various large indoor spaces to provide specialist intensive care for for Coronavirus patients, everyone thought is was well done indeed. Using the Armed Services, the buildings were turned into hospitals in record time, and it was promised that they would take all the pressure off of regular hospitals, allowing them to continue to treat non-Covid cases.

That didn’t happen of course.

As the pandemic continued, and the death rate increased, little mention was made of the once-lauded Nightingale Hospitals. Then time passed, and it was discovered that they were actually empty of patients.

When pressed, the government claimed they would be used as testing centres instead.

Then they were going to be used as vaccination hubs.

Some journalists investigated, and found them closed up, guarded by security officers. When asked about this, the government claimed that they were being used to store PPE. And they didn’t even look embarrassed when they said that.

The government was lying all along. The Health Minister was lying all along. As they dished out lucrative contracts to their friends to stock the Nightingale Hospitals, most thought it a necessary expense to provide the care needed. But nobody told us when all the equipment was later removed, after only a tiny number of patients had actually been treated. Where is all that expensive equipment now? And what about the public money spent on the whole fiasco?

I found an article today that brings the woeful story of these ’emergency hospitals’ up to date. It makes interesting reading.

A Lockdown Saturday In Beetley

Next Monday, the lockdown restrictions in England will begin to be eased.

All school pupils will return, depite some opposition from the teaching unions. One relative will now be allowed to visit the elderly who live in Care Homes, though they must wear full PPE, and be the only ‘nominated’ visitor.

On the 29th, outdoor gathering will be allowed, with the previous limit on numbers (six) applying, and outdoor sports such as Golf and Tennis will once again be permitted.

In late April, hospitality venues such as pubs will be allowed limited opening, restricted to outside service only. Not good news for businesses that have no outside space of course.

A full return to ‘new normal’ is estimated to happen by midsummer, but that might change if infection rates go up again.

Here in Beetley, Julie had her second Pfizer vaccination last night, and my second dose of Astra-Zeneca is due in May. We will continue to wear masks where appropriate or complusory, and keep any social mixing to the minimum.

Some people are rushing to book foreign holidays, in the hope that full international travel will be allowed again. I still think this is very risky, but it is up to those people of course. Let’s just hope that they don’t bring back new strains of the virus, and start it all up again. Just for the sake of two weeks on a beach in Spain or Greece.

For us, including Ollie, it will be a week on the Lincolnshire coast, 90 miles north. It is not until September, by which time travel in England should be permitted.

If all goes to plan, this will hopefully be my last lockdown report from Beetley.

Fingers crossed.

Why It’s Not A ‘Real’ Vaccine

Much is made of the Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and Astra Zeneca.

They give us some hope, but we have to remember that they are not a vaccine in the true sense.

I have been vaccinated against Smallpox, Yellow Fever, and Tuberculosis. That means I will not contract those diseases in my lifetime.

However, the vaccines offered against Covid-19 only claim to ‘reduce symptoms that could make you require hospitalisation’.

They are NOT a cure.

That doesn’t mean we should not have them. I have had mine. But it does mean that we will almost certainly have to have an annual booster jab, and that we might still get some symptoms of C-19. But hopefully, we will not require a stay in ICU. More importantly, we can still spread the virus if we unknowingly have it.

Just so you know.

This explains it better.

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Vaccine Snobbery.

I woke up today thinking about Covid-19 vaccinations. I had mine last week, and many other bloggers were reporting on those received by themselves or their loved ones.

But that wasn’t the reason I was thinking about it. It was because I encountered a dog walker recently who asked if I had already had my vaccine. When I said yes, he wanted to know what type of vaccine I had received. I told him it was the Astra-Zeneca, and he seemed pleased. He told me he had been given the Pfizer, which was the ‘better’ vaccine.

The NHS here gives you the vaccine that is available on the day. You don’t get to choose. You don’t get to debate which one you would prefer, or to argue about the statistics relating to how effective it is. I am more than grateful to have received any vaccine, free of charge, and delivered early, painlessly, and efficiently. Whether or not one drug company claims better results is of no consequence to me.

But in a country where many are somewhat obsessed with having a bigger house, or a better car, it seems that Covid-19 is supplying such people with a new version of one-upmanship.

Vaccine Snobbery.

Get over yourselves, please.


I am just back from the doctor’s, where I received my first dose of the Oxford Astra-Zeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

Although not in the current age group for this, I was ‘bumped up’ the queue due to many people cancelling their appointments because of the recent bad weather, and the local health authority geting their act together with a fast-paced vaccine programme in this area.

The best part was that I was injected by a nurse, and I didn’t even feel the needle go in. As someone who is usually terrified of receiving injections, that was a huge bonus.

The booster jab is due in around twelve weeks from now, or it may be sooner if they change their minds about that.

There are many possible side effects, according to the information leaflet. If I get any of those, I will let you know.

Lockdown Excess

Lockdown life has meant little change for me, to be honest. I cannot drive that far, so I am unable to visit relatives and friends. I didn’t do that much before lockdowns, so it’s not a huge wrench.

But with lockdown comes a psychological impact. Something I hadn’t really thought about.

I might die of Covid-19. That’s a real possibility. Especially when you are almost 69 years old.

The general reaction of others to this fact has mostly been positive. Oldies like me are staying healthy, keeping fit, and even getting fitter than they were before.

My reaction has been the opposite, I’m sorry to admit. Yes, I might die. That’s okay. I am old, and have had a good life, with no serious complaints.

So I can have that cream cake on a Saturday, maybe even a doughnut on a Wednesday. Why the hell not?

And wine makes me forget the possibility of an imminent, perhaps painful death. So two more bottles over the course of a week cannot hurt, surely?

I have embraced excess, without really realising it until now. My clothes still fit, and I feel alright in general. My walks with Ollie seem harder, but that’s easily explained by the constant rains turning our dog-walking areas into quagmires that I have to trudge through in difficult conditions. Or is it that?

Commonsense tells me that I have to stop all this. I have lived through the worst of the pandemic so far, and might survive. Then it would be ironic if a medical condition caused by my route down the road of excess killed me off instead of the virus.

But still, it has been quite enjoyable. So no regrets. 🙂

The Covid Passport

When someone receives the vaccination for Coronavirus, they are issued with a small card. Their details are also registered on the system, so it is recorded that they have been vaccinated.

Reading online about people who are going to refuse the vaccine, and knowing at least one member of my own close family who will not have it, I started to think about the potential repercussions of exercising your right not to be vaccinated.

That small card, and the computerised record that back it up, could well turn out to be your passport to a return to something like normal life in the not too distant future.

Imagine the restrictions that could be introduced on people who cannot prove they have been vaccinated.

Want to go and see a film, or a show at the theatre?
Show me your card.

Want to book a table at a restaurant?
Show me your card.

Want to use public transport?
Show me your card.

Want to book a foreign holiday, travelling by train, sea or air?
Show me your card.

Want to stay overnight in a hotel, motel, or B&B?
Show me your card.

Want to rent a car or van?
Show me your card.

Want to adopt a child?
Show me your card.

Want to register at a dentist?
Show me your card.

Want to have your hair cut, or a beauty treatment?
Show me you card.

Want to drink in a pub, or go into a nightclub?
Show me your card.

Want to take driving lessons or take the driving test?
Show me your card.

Want to apply for a job where you will be working with others?
Show me your card.

Want to study at a university, or college?
Show me your card.

I could go on. There are many more potential pitfalls of not being vaccinated.

Of course, none of this may happen. I have certainly not heard that is going to. There would need to be extra administration put into place, employment of more security guards and doormen, and then there will always be fake cards.

Nonetheless, if you are considering refusing the vaccine, I have some advice.

Think twice.

New Beginnings?

Tomorrow sees the swearing-in of a new President of The United States. Even allowing for the issues surrounding the recent protest in Washington D.C. and the risk of more disturbances during the inauguration, that must feel like a new beginning to most of my American blogging friends. (I know there are some who are not that happy about it.)

I don’t live in America, as you know, and I have never even visted that country. But everyone in the world lives under the influence of America in one way or another, like it or not. So I would like to see the USA heal its divisions, take care of its poor and unemployed, provide better healthcare systems, and try to do something to stop the constant shootings that happen there.

It would also be nice if they stopped using military solutions to try to solve problems in other countries, and to forge good working relationships with countries that they currently see as enemies.

Is any of the above possible? Well anything is possible, but it remains to be seen if it happens. Whatever the Biden and Harris team manages to achieve, one thing is sure. They are not Trump and Pence, so that gives them a head start as far as the rest of the world is concerned.

Could the worldwide vaccination programmes herald a new beginning too? Or more like a return to how things were. We can only hope so. But it is going to be a long time before we find out. Even in Britain with its relatively small population, it will be October before all the people over the age of eighteen have been vaccinated. Then there will be those who decline any vaccine, and cannot be compelled to have it. They will potentially remain a danger to the rest of us.

As it stands, I cannot see that 2021 will bring universal heath care in America, or that I will be able to enter a shop of any kind in England without wearing a mask.

But I live in hope.

Special Birthdays In Lockdown

(**Update**. I am aware that so many people are spending birthdays alone today, or worse still, in hospital. This post is not meant to suggest that either Julie or I are badly off, in any way.)

Most of us feel something different about birthdays that announce a new decade. Whether it is 30, 40, 50, or even 80, there is undeniably something special about them. When you are 20, you are no longer a teenager, and if you see your 90th year, you are doing pretty well even in this day and age.

My wife Julie is 60 today. Bad enough having a January birthday in winter weather and so soon after Christmas in any year. But in one of the worst periods in living memory, a lockdown birthday when you have to go to work puts the tin hat on it.

When I was 50, Julie treated me to a long weekend in Rome. It was mid-March, and we enjoyed exceptionally warm weather. When she was 50, I took her to Prague to celebrate. Cold but dry, and very interesting. A couple of years ago, we started to plan where to go for Julie’s 60th. A few days in a place neither of us had ever been. Perhaps Valetta in Malta, or Gibraltar. Our neighbour kindly offered to take care of Ollie in our absence. Our plan was to book that holiday in January 2020, a year in advance.

Well, we all know what happened.

On the 26th of December, the second lockdown arrived. I couldn’t take her into Norwich to choose her special gift from the jeweller’s shop, as it is non-essential. And the restaurant where we had hoped to celebrate can only supply a takeaway meal. The one we had chosen doesn’t offer that option.

That leaves Julie celebrating her big Six-O with no gift from me, and an Indian takeaway that we could have any other night of the week. And she has had to go into work. As she works for the NHS in a local doctor’s, it would have seemed rather lame to request holiday leave because it is her birthday.

And just to remind us that we live in Beetley, and it is January, it has been raining solidly for 24 hours.

Happy Birthday, Julie.

Second Wave? No, This Is Much Worse

From midnight on the 31st, 75% of the population of Great Britain will be under the high-level Tier 4 Lockdown.

This follows a huge increase in cases of Covid-19, and the fast spread of the new variant that began in the south-east counties of Kent and Essex recently.
In the last twenty four hours, 961 people have died after contracting Coronavirus, and more than 50,000 new infections were notified.

Not much of a start to 2021, but let’s hope the lockdown does some good.

Here is a full report from the BBC News website, in case those of you with friends or relatives in the UK would like to know more.