Thursday, 14 January 2021

COVID

Yesterday, some 1564 people died of COVID, or were registered to have died.

That is the same as four fully loaded 747s crashing on the same day, or 16 Hillsboroughs.

Each one leaves behind friends, family and lives.

Most caused by Government inaction in November and December, and with the effects of the relaxed Christmas rules yet to be felt.

Today's figures have been delayed, and are 3 hours lte in being published, part of me expects them not to appear again, now that the Government is so world leading in that 1 in every 660 people in the UK has now died of COVID as the excess deaths total heads towards 100,000.

Vaccine roll out is excellent, as the UK had two weeks head start on the rest of Europe, due to the fact the UK sourced its own supply at an addditional cost of £600,000,000 over the Eu negotiated price.

But there are still to be firm plans how the vaccine is going to be further rolled out to beet the target of 13,500,000 by the 14th February. The Government is planning on giving members of the public basic training, while requiring retired GPs and health care officials having to provide 11 pieces of documented evidence.

It will be a top down roll out, ignoring the existing network of GPs and pharmacists.

Just like the testing program, and the not mentioned anymore tracing.

Why use existing framework when you bung your mates a few billion quid?

Wednesday 13th January 2021

Hello.

And welcome to Wednesday, the best day between Tuesday and Thursday we have.

Use it well, and enjoy.

The day began with exitement.

First of all, let me say due to a bad shoulder/arm, I am sleeping in the spare bed, as I struggle to get a comfortable position, I get the spare bed and Jools get the big one and most of the cats.

Oh well.

I mention this, as I woke up Wednesday morning, having felt I had had enough sleep, but being January, it was still dark it could be anywhere from midnight to after seven in the morning. At times like this, I lay in bed and listen, usually I can hear Jools in the kitchen even with the door closed, or a cat eating on the stairs, sharp teeth crunching on kitty kibbles or water running as Jools washes up.

Or something.

Or, he soft breathing from the other bedroom.

Some noise.

But there was none.

I lay there, dozing, listening to the rain being thrown at the side of the house. I felt it time to get up.

So I do. I check the time, by flicking the bedside lamp on and off. I had to do it three times to be sure, thus ruining my night vision. It was five past six. I walked to the top of the stairs, and could not hear any noise from the kitchen. Instead I heard Jools breathing deeply in the other bedroom, still fast asleep. She should leave home at twenty past, or does most days.

So I have to wake her up.

The alarm didn't go off, I stated the bleedin obvious.

I turned it off yesterday so not to wake you up she said.

So, I go downstairs to feed the cats, make tea/coffee, and get stuff ready so Jools could go for a shower, get dressed and be off as soon as possible.

The cats are not sure of me feeding them in the mornings, but are too hungry to car, with even Cleo jumping up on the worktop to hurry me along.

The kettle boils as Jools showers upstairs. And soon enough she is dressed too, and sitting drinking her tea as the clock ticked towards seven.

And she was gone.

Leaving me and the cats who now they had eaten, we upstairs in their various liairs, snoozing already. Mulder is on the footstool the other end of the living/dining room, and is soon gently snoring. Nothing better than a snoring kitty cat.

I get out the work computer and fire it up, hoping there would be some news.

Of course, the was none.

So to work, and preparations for the customer audit on Thursday, for which I should have been in Hartlepool all week for. But am not, thanks to COVID.

So here we are, exchanging e mails and heated phone calls on Skype.

By the end of the day, we were aligned and ready.

Meanwhile, outside the rain fell, not that hard, but enough to suggest a walk round the block, or further would be a silly thing. So I look out of the window as the bords still feeding in the garden.

Thirteen I make bread for lunch, with a mixture of white and brown bread flour, add seeds, and let it proove in the oven on the lowest setting with the door open. Tow hours later it had overflowerd the edges of the tin, so I start to cook it.

Mmmmm, fresh bread.

Once cooked and cooled after another meeting at which there was no news, I cut the crust and two slices. For the crust I butter and then smother in apricot jam, and the other I make cheap rubens, with salt beef, sliced pickle and the last of the Dijon mustard.

Yummy.

Man, I know how to cook and bake these days, it was wonderful, and almost tempted to have another slice with jam. But I don't.

Back to work.

And through the afternoon I make carrot and potato soup, an adapted recipe by me. With added beef stock, and curry spices to give it a kick.

Wednesday I whizz up the broth at four, and warm through at just gone five, butter some bread, and all is ready for when Jools comes back home.

Mighty tasty.

We eat all the soup and half the bread.

Lovely.

And somehow it was evening again. I mean, what shall we do?

Listen to the radio, follow football on the BBC website, drink coffee and have the rest of the chocolate bar.

And that was that.

Oh, and watching a video of the highest railway in the world, climbing from the Peruvian cost to the top of the Andes in about three hours, though shorter on video. Two photographers sat on the buffers all the way up, snapping away. I am jealous, precious.

And also following the impeachment process in Twitter.

Quite a night.

**

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

More project reality

Although there haven't been queues here in Dover so far, they are expected soo, with freight levels expected to climb next week as stores and warehouses use up the pre-Christmas stocks.

It has become clear that most UK freight companies are not even trying to do runs to the EU, I saw a Tweet from the owner of one company who posted a screen shots of the locations of all his vehicles, and most were in England, the rest in NI, and none in Europe.

Fisherment in NE England who have described the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) as a car crash, and are making increasingly louder calls for Ministers to do something, though there is little they can do, with the ink on the agreement barely dry.

If we look at this from the EU's point of view; they have an agreement that they pretty much wanted and allowed the UK to paint themselves into a corner with, with Johnson doing the painting. Four and a half years of talks and effort, that can now be used to fight the rise of the far right in Poland and Hungary, and battle with the effects of COVID across the Bloc. Brexit is now far lower down their list of priorities than it was before.

Just glad its all over.

But as I have said before, Brexit and reality are now in the same universe, there is no lies, no bullshit that will be able to hide the chaos. Its just not arrived yet.

Michael Gove floated the idea that in busy times, lorries returning to the EU could have a permit to allow them to jump to the front of any queues at the port or tunnel, to encourage firms and drivers to return to delivering supplies to the UK. It would be a sticking plaster on a decapitation, but it shows how bad Gove and his department think things are likely to get in the forthcoming weeks and months.

Things is, of course, these will not be teething troubles or bumps in the road, this is what Brexit and the TCA have done, this is what putting up barriers to trade, in the name of free trade (!), actually means. That the Government, Ministers and Johnson were warned every day for four and half years and did it anyway begs my often repeated question, what is in it for them?

Two stories yesterday on the BBC website of two small sellers from Suffolk: one who sells reproduction art deco posters, each one for about £80, says his customers in France, but applies all over the EU, have been presented with over £30 in additional Brexit costs to get the goods placed before Christmas. This will kill his business. As it will a small time fashion designer for oder ladies from Lowestoft reported the same thing. So, sellers on ebay and Etsy will not see costs for them, but wiill for their customers in the EU. Who will go elsewhere for their goods, where they can get for less money.

And a German haulier, a part of DB, has stopped all deliveries to the UK until further notice due to uncertainty over costs, paperwork and delays in the UK. So much winning.

Brexit was always going to be defined by the Irish Border, and as ever there were three choices, to avoid the second and third choices you would stay in the SM and CU, or you would have a border across Ireland so break the GFA or have it down the Irish Sea and break the Union of the United Kingdom. There was no other choice, just those, and each carried a heavy political price for the PM that made it. May chose 2 and she was removed from office by her backbenchers, now we have 3, what will Johnson's fate be? In the end, a seat on the Lords, I suspect.

And to return to another point, you can have lots of trade or lots of control. Not both. THe PM has to make a choice. He has, with control, so far, and there is little or no trade. Trade will only increase with less control.

Meanwhile Honda in Swindon is to close for four days next week due to supply problems, and the finsihed product have seen a 10% due to Brexit costs. I am old enough to remember Watchdog on BBC1 expaining how car manufacturers created a cartel to artificially keep UK car prices high until the EU was formed. NOw we will return to that, another one of those Brexit benfits we were not promised.

Tuesday 12th January 2021

I do pretty much the same thing every morning.

After getting up, I come down and there is a coffee either waiting or on the stove.

I sit down at the table to keep out of Jools' way, and I turn on the laptop to check the same websites:

Flickr for photography.

Facebook for I have no idea, I am trying to wean myself off it, but with the orchid group its hard.

I check the BBC website; news, newspaper front pages, sport, football gossip and finally weather.

Yahoo mail.

And finally to Twitter to check on the overnight news from the US and comments on the pictures I post there. As to counter the endless steam of dreadful news, I post an orchid shot a day, a Kent church a day and one of my favourite shots from the last 35 or so years.

For four long years I hoped that Trump would have done something so dumb, so stupid, he would have been removed. Nothing could have prepared me, or the US, for 6th January. So, he has been kicked off Twitter, Facebook and other platforms, but his party still can't bring themselves to face the fact he committed an act of treason. Most countries in the world have very harsh setences for that crime, and yet there are those who still cling to the cult.

But today is the day, when he will be impeached again, and he will forever have two asterixis beside his name. That will make him special. Forever. And yet the party that made him possible, and accepted every crime, every act against the Constitution, will not change, and the next Trump will be not as dumb. But that is four years in the future, and just maybe the GOP is no longer electable, once voter supression in the South is reversed.

Maybe.

I hope the US can heal, but first those who have sinned will have to ask for forgiveness.

But to Tuesday.

Jools was to go back to the factory, so she could take the files back she had been sorting through. She made coffee, fed the cats and was going for a shower by the time I dragged myself out of bed and went down the stairs to go through my usual morning habits.

Twelve She leaves, so I go for a shower then am dressed and ready for breakfast and work at quarter to eight.

Oh, the excitement.

It wasn't cold. Just grey and flat outside. Nothing to go out for, nothing really to do do much, other than work.

I catch up mails, and even do a task I have until the 29th to complete within 15 minutes of the notification dropping in my inbox. Though my in box is called "outbos", and the outbox is called "sent items". I have no idea.

Mulder I ponder on this as i do every day, as the morning slides towards the head office update meeting. And in news that shocks no one who reads these posts, there was no news. Life and work goes on, most working from home. But we are assured we are nearing the day when there will be news and clarity. A bold claim, that's for sure.

There is talk of new e mail addresses and maybe new work initials, whih will be good for those of us who have "humorous" initials. Saying that, there was a RANDI who I used to work with.

So, it could be worse.

Lunch is fried mash potato, a cold sausage cut in half and refried and a slice of fried bread from the bottom of the freezer.

And yes, its dirty food, but good, and washed down with a huge brew.

Into the afternoon, so I take to the sofa with the leptop to watch Only Connect nursing another brew.

Mulder The afternoon fades, I think about phys, but not too hard and think about dinner.

Dinner is to be fishcakes, curried rice and frozen corn. Which I do heat up. Which is probably for the best.

And Jools comes home half an hour early, she had to go to a shop for work, plastic bins and hand sanitiser, apparently.

So, I cook and we are eating within 25 minutes.

The evening has arrived. We listen to the radio. Drink coffee. Eat a little chocolate.

And watch football, Man Utd play, er, someone. And win.

And somehow its ten past ten, and way past my bedtime.

No free lunch

Yesterday and through today, the anger at shots shared on social media of the replacement food packages for vouchers have been shared many times.

Marcus Rashford, who in his daytime job set up the winning goal for Manchester United yesterday evening, then in his part time job, called Johnson and got the Prime Minister to do another u turn, and today we learn that the couchers are to return.

That is seems Rashford is now the leader of the opposition, and has the clout to shame the Conservative Part and Government into changing course.

At the root of this is the conservative belief that poor people cannot be trusted to spend the money given on what it was supplied for, that they might spend it on a carton of Bensons and half a lite of cheap vodka.

Companies were paid to provide food parcels for £30, and when the value of some of the parcels was added up, it came to just a fiver. A can of beans, two jacket potatoes, some died pasta, two slices of cheese, a tomato and three yoghurt tubes!

Needless to say, the contract to provide the packages was not put to tender, a Conservative Party doner got the contract and is making over £20 per family in clear profit, and without Rashford, nothing would have been done.

The Tories are happy spending our taxes with their friends, but not on the poor of this country.

“We need to cut foreign aid so we can spend it on our own kids”

“Can we spend it on our own kids”

“Here is a baggy of tuna and a potato, it is for 10 days”.

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Monday 11th January 2021

In the end, for the wrong and then right reasons, it would be memorable.

The weekend seemed long, longer than usual, but then we had just left the house once in order to go walking the whole two and a half days.

So, Monday came round, still dark at half five when I got up, coffee was waiting.

Jools was her usual blur of activity, leaving home at twenty past six, giving me just over an hour to get dressed. But then there was the podcast to listen to. I make a second coffee, an extra half spoon of sugar, and settle down to listen to two old duffers taking about decades old music. It is rather good.

At half seven I am online for the meeting. No new news. Obviously.

THen to work, where I have some reading to do, fix my time registration and look at the database, when the phone went.

It was half eight.

There had been an outbreak of COVID at the factory, two people from the office had tested positive, everyone who had been in close contact with them last week needed a test before they could work in the office. She was coming home.

Eleven I was to book a test too, but when I tried to, the truthful answers I gave lead to the advice to self-isolate.

So I carry on with work, waiting for Jools to come back home.

She arrived back with a huge laptop, after making us a brew, she settles down to log on. She had also brought a few dozen files to work through, so it felt like being in an office while being at home.

The morning passes.

She had booked her test for just gone six, so the plan was for us both to work thorough until about half four, me cook dinner, and she go into town. At least the internet connection held up this time, we both had enough bandwidth to work.

Cyclamen sp We had salt beef rolls with mustard and sliced dill pickles for lunch, which was rather good I have to say.

Dinner was bangers and mash with beans, the kids favourite, and mine. Or was. Not sure what my favourite meal now is.

Jools left at half five, driving to town, then going to the library for her test. I stayed home.

Just as she got back the result came that she was negative, but we must be careful and watch out for a loss of taste or smell.

But good news.

And to the evening, with it still being dark before four. Not much else to report, just we did stuff, listened to music then went to bed at nine.

Another day nearer to normal. We hope.

4956

Its odd that two people who left school on the same day, from the same school, and lived through the best part of three years od being on the dole.

Fast forward 35 years, and he is a not so young conservative, trainee gammon and Brexiteer, and I am who I am.

His conversion into a Thatcherite you Tory was quite swift.

I remember Simon as being a trainee punk, who quickly got into Oi, and maybe that explains it? Too many Angelic Upstart records, too many Oi compilations.

None of this I knew, until I took him to a Billy Bragg concert in Norwich in about 1984 or 85. I thought all young people on the dole were Labour supporters, but Simon was a Tory, who swore about Bragg's comments about Thatcher.

Simon got a job, selling safety clothing, or as a rep selling it, so got a company car, and when I caught up with him in 1995 when I was on leave from the RAF in Germany, he was so proud to have a new BMW on his drive.

We had a huge falling out in 1988, not through politics, but over money. I bought tickets for Michael Jackson in London, the four tickets cost £100, and he owed me fifty for his and his partner's tickets. He let me down, not answering the door when I called at his house.

That was the end.

We did bump into each other on New Year's Eve, and we let the past be the past, so had a few drinks.

Last time we met, he had this handshake thing, which I recognised as being a pwer thing. I laughed out loud. He meant well, I guess.

And today, he showed up on a friend's comment thread about Johnson and Brexit. I made a comment about how sit it all was. I suppose you could have negotiated a better deal, Ian? My cat could have done I replied.

Then he went full on gammon and tried telling me how democratic Brexit was.

Sigh.

We all get old, some just get gammon too.

Sigh.