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.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-55489932

Thinking Aloud On A Sunday

Conspiracy Theorist.

I have been reading about the thoughts of those who oppose all lockdowns and restrictions introduced because of Covid-19. I have also had some conversations with good friends and family members who do not think any of the ‘Pandemic’ is real. Most of these writers and those I have spoken to are educated, intelligent people who have come to their conclusions after much reading, thought, and debate.

And anti-lockdown protests are increasing in England, with a large demonstration in central London just yesterday.

Much of the ‘anti’ argument seems to hinge on not knowing anyone who has either contracted Covid-19, or died from it. Given the high infection rates stated by governments all over the world, you might imagine that death rates would be astronomically higher than they have been. I have a friend who works in an environment with around 100 other people. They are in close contact, with no screens or masks, and the place is air-conditioned.

Yet since the start of the pandemic, not one has tested positive for Covid-19, and nobody has been hospitalised or died from it. Add to that the fact that none of the families and friends of those people have tested positive or been ill, and you are looking at a rough figure of around 3,000 people, with not a single one having any trace of Covid-19.

The theory seems to be that it is all about government control of the population, and a major ‘re-adjustment’ of the workforce and wealth distribution. This is overseen by ‘The Elite’, and ‘The New World Order’. Everything from closing entertainment venues to making mask wearing compulsory is designed to limit social interaction, and force family units into isolation.

I don’t buy into this, for a couple of reasons. For one, I lost one of my best friends to the virus in May. But in the bigger picture, I seriously doubt that ‘world leaders’ like Trump, Johnson, Merkel, and Macron (among others) are capable of pulling off such a stunt, and keeping it secret.

I woke up this morning thinking about all this, prompted by the sudden and unexpected increase in restrictions in London and the South-East, which amounts to ‘cancelling Christmas’ for millions of people.

Could those ‘conspiracy theorists’ have something?

At this point, I have to make a confession. I have been a conspiracy theorist in the past. Here are three of the ‘big ones’ that I still believe.

1) Kennedy was not shot by the ‘lone shooter’, Lee Harvey Oswald. I couldn’t care less what the Warren Commission said.
2) The 1969 Moon Landing didn’t happen. I watched it on TV, and never believed it then. Still don’t.
3) The 9/11 attacks in the US were organised by Saudi Arabia in collusion with some ‘Deep State’ people in America. I will always believe that.

There you have three theories of mine that millions of people would argue against. They would show me their scientific proof, the statements of those concerned, and even film footage that proves I am wrong. (I am not, of course)

So who am I to criticise those who dispute the existence of Covid-19?

Just a thought. On a Sunday.

Covid-19 and Face Shields

Over the past few weeks, I have noticed that many people are now wearing face shields in shops, instead of a mask.

Like these.

Look at the gap. Both under her chin, and at the sides, these shields allow any infection to spread easily as the wearer is breathing, coughing, or sneezing. In short, they do nothing to protect anyone.

Face shields are meant to be used as an additional safety measure, in conjunction with a proper mask.

Like this.

So to all of you who are only wearing a face shield on its own, stop doing it. It will not properly protect you, or anyone you come into contact with.

Happy Thanksgiving

I would like to wish a very Happy Thanksgiving to all my lovely blogging friends in America.

It will be very different for most of you this year, I’m sure.

So I hope you can celebrate as best as you can, given the social restrictions we all have to deal with in 2020.

We don’t have this holiday over here, so I usually give thanks for that fact.
One less thing to worry about. 🙂

My very best wishes to you all, Pete.

Lockdown Number Two

On the 5th of November, we begin a second national lockdown in England. Once again, bars, pubs, hotels, and restaurants will close. Only essential shops will remain open, and travel will be restricted to work, food shopping, child care, and some emergencies.

So far, it is planned for a period of at least 28 days, but there is no actual time cap if the current high infection rate continues.

To many, this is frustrating. Small business like hairdressers and beauticians have just got going again after the last time. Some entertainment venues were hoping to open in time for Christmas, but now that probably will not happen. Gift shops, toy shops, card shops, and many others reliant on the huge spending boom before Christmas are likely to go bust, with their biggest trading period of the year cancelled.

Some believe it is necessary, to slow the alarming increase in ITU admissions, and subsequent deaths.

But if so, why are schools and colleges remaining open? You tell people that they cannot visit an 80 year old grandmother, or go and have their hair cut on a one to one basis, but it is okay for your child to attend a school with perhaps a thousand other children every day, possibly bringing home the virus to the rest of the family.

To say that Boris Johnson has handled the pandemic badly is an understatement.

Thinking Aloud On A Sunday

Coronavirus: The Other View

After some email exchanges with a friend last week, I woke up thinking about the other side of the current pandemic. This only applies to the situation in Britain, as I am not writing about any other country here.

For every scientific opinion that warns about the dangers of the virus, there seems to be another that claims it is not as bad as any other seasonal illness. For every ‘solid evidence’ that masks reduce contamination, there is alternative evidence that they do not.

Government lockdowns and other restrictions like curfews did not work in stopping the spread, and mainly seem to serve the purpose of controlling the movement of ‘ordinary’ people. Influential people, rich people, and privileged people have blatantly moved around at will; without facing prosecution, and with none of them actually dying from the virus.

The mass unemployment caused by those same lockdowns has actually served the purpose of our right-wing government and big business. It has done this by creating a large pool of unemployed people willing to take almost any job at the minimum wage, with no real contract or the usual employment benefits. We only have to use one example, Amazon, to see how big business has been making untold extra millions because of people being forced to stay at home.

Yes, tens of thousands of small businesses have had to close for good, but big business never cared about its competition, did it? And who supplies most of the donations and funding to the party currently in power?

Then when the financial crisis hits hard next year, the government can blame the supposed debt for policies like cutting benefits, delaying pension payments, and any other ‘austerity’ measures they see fit to introduce. None of this will affect the rich of course.

Former colleagues of mine still working in the Ambulance Service report that they have not actually dealt with a single confirmed case of coronavirus, despite the 40,000+ reported deaths here. Those same reported deaths include anyone who ‘tested positive’ for Covid-19 up to 28 days before they died. Then if they died in a car accident, or from terminal cancer, or because of a heart condition or stroke, they were ‘included’ in the numbers of Covid-related deaths for that period. Even if they did not have a single symptom associated with the virus.

Meanwhile, deaths from ‘treatable’ illnesses have rocketed, because they have suspended medical treatment and surgical procedures that might have saved those people. They have done this because of the need to save beds for C-19 patients, and it has caused far more than 40,000 unnecessary deaths.

These are not the findings of mask-haters, or lockdown rebels. They are the opnions of sensible, hard-working people who work for the Police, and the NHS.

They are not my own opinons, just so you know. But I felt it was time to present an alternative view of the current crisis.

Had To Get Tested

After feeling ill with flu symptoms for some time now, I was up all night with a very bad cough, and what felt like a chest infection.

Checking with my doctor to see if I could attend to get antibiotics, I was told that I can only be examined at the surgery if I first have a negative Covid-19 test.

So we got online and booked a test for 4 pm today, in Norwich. Julie drove me there, and we have not long returned. Until the results come back, Julie is not allowed to go back to work, and we are supposed to both self-isolate until either the negative or positive test comes back.

Times are changing indeed, as before I could have obviously had my chest listened to by the doctor, been prescribed suitable medication, and hopefully have been cured within seven days. As it stands now, if the test is positive, I am not supposed to leave the house for fourteen days, and will not be able to see a doctor. That means if it is just a chest infection, then I am going to have to suffer it lingering on for two weeks, potentially.

As a result, I have not been online to look at anyone’s posts, and will not be able to do so tonight, as I need to eat something, and go to bed early.

My apologies for missing out on your blogs, I will hopefully get a negative test result soon, and get back to normal.