Guest Post: Gavin Marriott

Motorcycling Madness

With 5 deaths the other day – bringing the total now to 265 – the Isle of Man TT “race” again draws the shaking of heads from us normal of the species.
For those that don’t know much about this, it is one of the world’s most famous sporting events where a normal road is closed for “participants” to race over a 1,300ft high mountainous circuit of 37 miles with over 200 turns at over 130mph.

Any ambulanceman will tell you of the motorcycle crashes they’ve attended – well they won’t actually, they’ve attended so many they lose count and forget – usually fractured femurs. I have never understood the madness of putting my whole life on 2 wheels where the amount of rubber actually touching the road would surprise you (about the size of a matchbox) but the worst part is with cornering there is a gravity factor as well. On a motorbike, speed is necessary to counteract gravity.

For over a century the media and tourists flock to his wee island to see a glimpse (all you can see) of a flashing bike race past – to their often doom. Yes it is a basic human right to be free to choose what you do with your own body. The risks and the consequences are well known yet riders keep coming back. Why? To say “they’ve done it”.

By the way, there are 7 funeral firms on the island. Just saying.

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Opening up England.

Last Sunday evening, we ate out in a local pub. Our first restaurant meal since Christmas Day, 2020. There were disposable paper menus, table service, and the staff were wearing masks. Diners had to also wear masks until seated, and if they left their table for any reason.

In the nearby town, every shop is now open, although customers are still asked to wear masks inside when shopping. Despite the recent rise in cases of the Covid-19 ‘Indian Variant’ in some parts of England, it appears that the government is going ahead with its plan to fully ‘Open up’ the country on the 21st of June.

This will be good news for some companies involved in the tourist industry, also for service industries like wedding venues, and organisers of similar social gatherings. Nightclubs and other entertainment venues will be allowed to open with no restrictions on numbers, though wearing a mask will technically still be compulsory in many public places.

This new policy has made a lot of people very happy of course. Coming alongside a welcome change in the weather, England looks set to go a little ‘crazy’ as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

The lockdown rules have seemed to last for so long now, any break from the restrictive routines is bound to be welcomed.

But. There is always a but.

Having fun and adding alcohol to that doesn’t usually make for sensible behaviour, and keeping to rules like wearing masks. Being allowed to visit anyone, cuddle anyone, and to mix in large crowds of strangers may sound wonderful after so long, and the fact that so many have now been fully vaccinated will hopefully reduce any serious symptoms and cut hospital admissions.

But. Yes, another but.

There are still 8-12 people dying of Coronavirus every day here. That’s around 60-80 people a week, every week. And that is after all the vaccinations, and during the time when restrictions are still in force. In three week’s time, we could possibly see an explosion of infections once again, and a significant increase in the numbers of people dying.

Yes, I know we cannot remain locked down forever. Life has to go on. People have to go back to work, the economy has to start to rise from the pandemic slump.

But. The last but, I promise.

I for one cannot help thinking it is still too soon.

Another Relaxed Rules Saturday

One of my short reports about living with the pandemic in an English village close to a country market town.

I noticed a few changes since the last time I wrote one of these. A short trip into Dereham to go to the bank brought the surprise that well over half the shoppers there on market day were wearing masks now. They will be mandatory in any shop in England after the 24th of July, so I suspect that a lot of people have decided they might as well start earlier.

The bank still has a system of queuing outside, with entry through a side door, and exit on another street. And it is still only open for four hours each day, for the foreseeable future. Some of the cafes were open, one with extra tables out on the street, another with greatly reduced seating arrangements inside. Compared to a few weeks ago, shoppers appeared to be more responsible, and keeping their distance on the pavements and walkways. I was left wondering why they had waited so long.

The big supermarkets have abandoned the one-way systems and single checkout queues, though the two largest ones still have some form of door policy, letting customers out before allowing more in. I have a little concern that once every shopper is wearing a mask, many of the other safety measures will be abandoned. Whilst masks are good at protecting other people from your breath, so many users don’t wear them correctly, only covering their mouth with them, and not their nose too. Then there is the obvious fact that they are touching things and putting them back on the shelves, something that masks cannot protect us from.

They have also generated a new and more dangerous form of litter. I saw many disposable masks dropped on the street, and the supermarket car park had quite a few dropped next to car parking spaces. There will always be thoughtless and inconsiderate people, sadly.

All schools are set to go back to normal operation in September, and some hotels and guest houses have already opened for the summer tourist trade. Holiday parks are popular, as their lodge-style accommodation or static caravans can be used by a family without having to share any communal area. However, swimming pools are still closed, as are cinemas and play areas like Soft Play centres.

Yesterday, 114 people died in England from Covid-19. People with families, loved ones, friends, and colleagues. It is far from over.

We must never forget them.

Virus Deaths: Racism?

I am reblogging this from my other site, as I find the whole thing very worrying and disturbing.


I have been reading and watching the growing number of disturbing reports in Britain that claim the fact that virus deaths are disproportionate in people from backgrounds that include African, West Indian, and the Indian sub-continent are ‘deliberate negligence’. There is a Facebook group of British Muslims who openly accuse the NHS and the government of allowing their relatives to die, because of their ethhnicity. One member even called it ‘ethnic cleansing’.

Now I see on the BBC that the new Labour Party leader is calling for a public enquiry into this, and it is to be led by Baroness Lawrence, a black woman who is famous for campaigning for justice for her murdered son many years ago.

I have to say that I personally find these accusations to be appalling. I worked in the NHS for 22 years, and know many who still do, including my own wife. I…

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Another Covid-19 Saturday

A week has gone by in Beetley, with little of note to report. Next door has a man in fixing the roof, so Ollie is constantly barking at the hammering. The supermarket in town now seems to have abundant stocks of everything, including a whole aisle of toilet paper.

I haven’t left the village for more than two hours this week, and driving into town still feels like I am going back in time to when traffic and parking issues were unknown. But the setup at the pharmacy reminded me what is really going on. A queue outside, and a lady wearing full PPE asking why we were there. One customer allowed in at a time, and only her allowed to open and close the doors, wearing gloves. No browsing the cosmetics and toiletries, just up to the counter, get the medicine, and leave. Good to see that implemented.

I spoke to someone yesterday (across the river, on the opposite bank) who said it was good to have a dog, as it gave us a reason to go out every day. That made me wonder. If I didn’t have Ollie, would I bother to go out, to simply ‘exercise’? I can’t answer that, as because I do have Ollie, I will never know.

Having a dog is definitely helpful during this period of uncertainty. It gives me a structure to the day, and someone to play with when he wants ‘toy-time’ in the early evening. And it is a joy to see how he is completely unaware of what is going on, at a time when it is the only thing anyone ever talks about.

The Blue Tits are back in the nest box fixed to the oak tree, and the Wood Pigeons are fighting over available females, as well as any food I put out on the lawn. They wake me up at first light, clattering around on the flat roof of the extension, then crashing into the windows during their bloodless battles.

I watched some news reports, including one from America where people were demanding their civil rights to refuse the lockdown. One man said he wanted his barber to open so he could get a haircut. At first I thought it was meant to be funny. Sadly, he was serious.

China has a second outbreak of Covid-19 close to the border with Russia, in the north-east. They allowed their citizens to return from Russia by train, and the virus came back immediately. They now have a lockdown all over again, in a different place.

The US and UK should take note of that. We are still flying home Britons supposedly stranded on holiday or visiting relatives in places like India and parts of SE Asia. I want to know why those people thought it was okay to travel to those places in the middle of a pandemic, and then expect to be allowed home to potentially bring more infection back with them.

We cannot get anyone to take jobs involving picking fruit and vegetables here. So last week, 400 workers were brought in from Romania to work on farms. According to news reports, none of them have been isolated, or tested for Covid-19.

Do Britain and America have some kind of death wish? Do our governments know something they are not telling us? As death rates start to fall in Italy and Spain, they are still increasing in Britain and America. At least 15,000 deaths in the UK, and 33,000 in the US. Per head of the population, the UK figure is significantly higher than that in the US. That should tell us that our government is doing something very wrong in their feeble efforts to contain this virus.

Enough of that. The workman has stopped banging, and Ollie is no longer barking.

Peace has returned to Beetley.

Virus Deaths: One Story

I read something on a local newspaper website earlier this week. I went back to get a link to add here, but it has been taken down. Presumably to save the family from more distress.

We are all reading about deaths from the virus, all around the world. As the numbers get bigger, they stop becoming people, and are just numbers. I read that 1,000 people have died fom the virus in the USA. Can you imagine seeing 1,000 dead bodies laid out in a line? I once saw more than 20 bodies at the scene of a train crash. It looked like a lot of bodies. And I was an EMT, so used to seeing such things.

1,000 bodies arranged in a line would stretch almost 3,000 yards. That’s 1.7 miles. That distance would take almost 30 minutes to walk, at a normal pace. Hard to comprehend, I know.

So let’s just think about one person who died because of this virus, and the impact on his family.

A local man in his fifties had a mild heart attack last year. He had a stent procedure to open a coronary artery, was put on blood-thinning drugs, and sent home. He went back to work as normal, and returned home to his wife and two twenty-something children who still lived at the house. Just over a week ago, he woke up with a very high temperature, so stayed off work. The next day he had a very bad cough too. Covid-19 was suspected, and the call was made to the family doctor. That doctor decided to send an ambulance to take the man into the emergency department of the local main hospital.

He had to travel without his wife and family of course. They were not allowed to get close to him as he was taken to the ambulance, so no goodbye kisses. Then because they were in a house where those symptoms were found, they all had to self-isolate. Calling the hospital that night, they were told that he was ‘seriously ill’. The next day, someone called them to tell them he had died.

Imagine that. No goodbyes, no last moments together, no chance to comfort the man she had been married to for thirty years.

The funeral was just 24 hours later, a cremation arranged by a local undertaker. The family was informed that only ten mourners could attend. But as they were self-isolating, they were not allowed to go. Any relatives or friends that might usually have attended did not want to travel during this crisis. So the man was cremated in an empty facility. The undertaker sent a bill, adding that they understood it would be some time before payment could be made. The ashes would be sent to her in due course.

That’s it. Thirty years together comes down to three phone calls, and it’s all over.

Then the everyday problems begin. To get an official death certificate, you have to attend the appropriate department at the Town Hall, with the initial certificate given to you at the hospital. But you are self-isolating, and are not allowed out. Even if they could go out, the office is closed because of the lockdown of workplaces. And you would not be allowed into the hospital to collect their form, as you were too close to someone who died from Covid-19.

Without that death certificate, you cannot access the man’s bank account or savings. Cannot cancel his credit card, or any other payments still going out of his account. You cannot make a claim on his life insurance, sell his car, or do a dozen other things that have crossed your mind will need doing.

On top of your grief, you have to deal with all that stuff too.

Then there is the worry. What about me? What about the chldren? Will we get it now? You can’t seek comfort from relatives and friends either, because you are not allowed out. Anyway, it wouldn’t be a good idea, even if you were.

In the last 24 hours in Spain, 832 people died. Imagine that story above, mutiplied by that figure.

That’s the reality. Are you scared yet? You should be.

Yes still, social media is showing people, mostly young people and teenagers, who think it is funny to spit on food in supermarkets, or rub their saliva over the handles on public transport. Parcel delivery people spitting on parcels that they then hand to a recipient, idiots licking toilet seats, some deliberately touching things in shops then replacing them, and even claiming that Covid-19 is a hoax, and doesn’t exist. Some of those videos have been shared over half a million times, watched by giggling youngsters who think it is all a great joke.

Try telling that to the wife of the man who died near here this week.