Saturday, 28 November 2020

BACK IN THE COVID - The Lockdown 2 Diary, Day 24

DAY 23

Planning for the festive season has begun. There is no doubt that however it works out it will be unlike any other before or after although the latter sentiment is more in hope than in reality because we can no longer be sure of anything ahead. Not withstanding any government instructions which are confusing, self-contradictory and I suspect unenforceable, as a family we know how we intend to approach the whole thing. In fact throughout this pandemic we have, as a whole, behaved with intelligence and awareness. We have various vulnerabilities, clinical or age related, risks and attitude differences but overall we have tended to be wary of the virus rather than following the rules and looking out for each other. 

So far we have had near misses but no direct hits and with a viable vaccine about to be deployed we must not let down our guard for the sake of a little seasonal sociability which can be so painlessly deferred. Our intention is to behave so that when the next festive season comes along we are there to enjoy it and not be one of those to be remembered in the annual toast to the dear departed.

An added complication this year is shopping. We have been arranging weekly home deliveries but our last booking is the 14th December, there are no more slots available. This suggests that we will need to face the horrific idea of shopping in the week before the holiday at Tesco. This is going to be interesting. In the past I have taken a novel to read whilst waiting in the checkout queue. How it will work this year with distanced queues snaking all over the store is dreadful to contemplate. A novel, a portable seat and a light lunch might be called for this time.

In other news #diaperdonny is trending on Twitter in both the US and the UK and it surely is a national US humiliation in progress. A recount demanded in democrat heavy Winsconsin and paid for by the Trump Campaign ($3M!) has increased Biden’s lead! The dark neo- fascist forces that have chosen to sponsored popular but mendacious leaders, amoral showmen with distorted, elitist, domineering attitudes to the world and a total absorption with self advancement have made a strategic mistake with #diaperdonny and the johnson. These two have, it seems to me, caused their two parties (the GOP and the Tories now changed beyond recognition) to be so discredited that they will cease to exist in their new form. In both cases their undoing, perhaps their main undoing is that Covid-19 demands leadership with compassion, competence and confident reliance on scientific expertise to minimise its total impact in both health and economic terms. Neither the US or the GOP have such a leader. Even their cabinets, composed as they are of power hungry sycophants chosen for their loyalty rather than their suitability for office display nothing but laughable ineptitude.

History will record that the citizens of both nations were saved from the destruction of their democracy, an authoritarian dictatorship and a future in economic slavery by a virus. 

Back In The Covid - Lockdown Diary 2, days 18 to 22

Day 18 was a grey weather day calmer inside than out but that did not wholly prevent attending to seasonal work in the garden. As these last few days have progressed so the outlook has improved to frosty nights but gloriously peaceful sunshiny days. There is much beauty in the garden even now. This view through our recently flowered Fatsia japonica against bare branches of ash trees burnished by an evening sun thrills me every year.

But there is a beauty here of another kind altogether more precious to me than mere eye candy, a beauty that is freely available to all who would open their senses to it. It is close to impossible to put it into words. You either feel it or you don't. At this time of year, sitting out there for a few minutes peace and spiritual nourishment, it is like you have tucked up your own beloved, tangle haired child for her innocent sleep and are totally absorbed as you watch her drift off. 

I have been packing the greenhouses, clearing the plants and sweeping the patios. My Fuchsias have been inside for a few weeks already but there are a good few pots of tree seedlings and cuttings parked around the garden to prepare for repotting and a substantial Hydrangea anomola subsp. Petiolaris to cut back. This must be done before winter winds whipping across my neighbour's outbuilding roof do it for me. Once that thing becomes unstuck from the wall it will never go back and I prune it back to below roof height slowly and methodically to just under the eaves at this time every year.

It is  long repetitive task but restful and mindful. 

Tonight I worked right at the top and well after dusk into near total darkness, busy but intent, light peeping around an almost shut door, watching my child sleeping by me, random bits of clothing untidily discarded about her room and with her tousled, golden hair spread over the pillows, dreaming no doubt of spring. 

Sunday, 22 November 2020

BACK IN THE COVID - The Lockdown 2 Diary, Day 17

 DAY 17

For an actual Sunday today feels unusually Sundayish. With our quiet morning coffee I thought about why this should be the predominant feeling, today in particular, and I write this listening to the music of Eric Coates deliberately to enhance the mood. I have two excellent Coates CD’s on the Chandos label recorded by John Wilson.

The obvious starting point then is the question, “why Eric Coates in particular?”. Coates is not well   known generally and amongst those of us more seriously interested in music is placed under the “Light Music” heading and largely ignored. Notwithstanding this unfair (in my opinion) treatment of Coates he is however very important in the psyche of persons of a certain age, my age in fact and the generation before me.

Why? Well if I tell you that the introductory music to Desert Island Discs is a tune called ‘By the Sleepy Lagoon’ it might give you a clue. He also wrote another well known tune called ‘Calling All Workers’ which was used as the opening theme to the radio programme Music While You Work from mid 1940 up until 1967, a program of popular music played twice daily mid morning and afternoon on the BBC Home Service.

With very little other entertainment the radio featured in most households in the 1940’s and 50’s, my family for example acquired its first television in about 1951. The internet was a very long way off and X Boxes not even dreamt of. So on Sundays, to the odorous delights of roasting beef and spuds and already in a state of satisfaction brought on by early sandwiches made with Mr. Nicholl’s thick cut Wiltshire bacon from a pig farm just north of Devizes we would play card games or do jigsaw puzzles or simply read. These leisure activities were not regarded as fill-ins or time wasters or cures for boredom. There was intent behind them, they were purposeful, as purposeful as any other common household activity and an integral part of surviving the still quite difficult post war years.

And we were family. Dad would be at rest from his 50 plus hours working week and Mum would be similarly relaxed and away from sewing heavy forces uniforms at Comptons. There would be no rushing about, maybe a walk out in the sunshine, rarely a walk to a local pub and a bag of Smiths Crisps outside. Rest was taken seriously as it should be but was taken with significantly less background anxiety. Work for most people was secure and long term, ambitions and desires existed but did not drive most lives with great force and importance because second by second access to our lives through advertising and sales promotions did not then exist. Sunday professional sport was banned.

Although we were a mainly non-religious family our parents sent us to early morning Sunday School after we were grown enough to ask questions just to get some private time together. This no doubt worked in our favour to improve the atmosphere at home by the time we arrived there for bacon sandwiches after chapel invigorated by terrorising our teachers with ‘alternative’ views.

I suppose you would call this nostalgia. Often this word is used in a pejorative sense comparable to maudlin but I embrace it whole heartedly. 

I think of it as opening a door. A portal accessed by a key consisting of trigger events that in the right combination invoke feelings or memories of feelings which can sometimes lead to maudlin but at other times warm and comfortable like old slippers. I embrace both. Living in the present moment is all very well and fashionable but no-one can prevent their best (or indeed their worst) experiences that happened in the past from framing every present moment with whatever feelings those memories engender without descending into the purely hedonistic.

This morning was quiet and calm. Calm and without undue cares or difficulties or deadlines or plans. An autumn mist lingered over the playing field opposite and amongst the trees and shrubs around the garden. A promising sunlight peeped over the top and small birds were about everywhere. We had both, my wife and I, a better night’s sleep after a poor week in that department. Possibly this was due to a busy but satisfying day yesterday on the garden’s winter clear up and a couple of strong pain killers each to retire on later. For some reason neither of us felt any need, pressure or urgency to do anything and even locked down in The Covid (and therefore more or less continuously restricted) this is a rare state of affairs to allow ourselves to luxuriate in. 

I had descended the stairs whistling ‘By the Sleepy Lagoon’  to the smell of fresh coffee. Silent levers must have tumbled into place to unlock this Sundayish feeling which we have indeed been luxuriating in all day and we have so enjoyed it.

Friday, 20 November 2020

BACK IN THE COVID - The Lockdown 2 Diary, Days 13 to 16

 DAYS 13 to 16

Absent without giving a **** is no longer a capital offence as it was in feudal times and in exercise of  my inalienable rights I took a few days out. It is necessary to stand back a little on occasion, taking the time to refocus the telescope through which we tend to look at events around us, more than just necessary, sometimes this is vital especially when so much confusion abounds. I believe my ‘telescope’ was not only out of focus but the wrong way round and it was right to put it down.  

I can now confirm however that I do give a ****! I do care about a great deal. It matters to me passionately that so much in terms of values, standards, respect for the rule of law, freedoms and democratic government especially in public life are being eroded to the considerable detriment of my descendants.

Today we are subjected to another unedifying example of this  government riding rough shod through the standards we were once rightly proud of and respected for globally.

This is where we are today. Government has been run by unelected advisors, both notable bullies one of whom was successfully sued by a mistreated employee who had a key role in election wrongdoing and was in any case already found in contempt of Parliament. They are gone now but their attitude prevails in whoever is left behind to make decisions for the inept and unkempt 10 year old brat of a haystack that currently occupies the top office in the land.

A minister, already responsible for a number of expensive mistakes, spent £3M on an emergency ferry company that had no ferries.

An advisor who broke the governments own lockdown rules and lied about the circumstances was not sanctioned in any way.

The government attempted to illegally stymie Parliament by proroguing it which was only stopped by taking it to the supreme court.

We have a government which rushed through the Withdrawal Bill, denying scrutiny, which they then claimed was not fully understood because they never read the small print.

We have a government that is not only prepared to break international  law but introduces domestic legislation (still in progress) which would allow it to break international law without domestic sanction.

We have a government that hails the ending of Freedom of Movement in 27 European countries for 60 Million UK citizens thereby depriving them of their rights and identity as a great thing.

A government that builds huge lorry parks for delayed ferry traffic on a flood plain.

A government that can spend £16 billion on war machinery but not £3 Million to directly feed hungry kids.

A housing minister who rewards party donors with preferential planning permissions, is forced to admit it and allowed to keep his job although proven corrupt.

A government that has so mishandled Covid that 70,000 excess tragic deaths were incurred (with more to come) and who destroyed the economy by ignoring its own experts and by being indecisive and late with every action.

A government that has handed out £billions to private companies for a Track and Trace system which is not working and PPE equipment which was not fit for purpose, over priced and made using Korean Slave labour in China.

A government that overrides lawful processes and appoints mates and donors to high office and that demeans the House of Lords by appointing policy specific supporters including a Russian Oligarch.

A government that has exploited, legitimised and fostered racism and division for political gain.

And today a bully, The Home Office minister, identified as having broken ministerial guidelines by the governments own officer responsible for policing those rules, who becomes the first minister (ever as far as I know) to escape not losing her job because she bullied people but “didn’t mean to”. A minister who, by the way, had already been fired once for breaking Ministerial guidelines and they did all this in National Bullying Awareness week!

We are subjected to headline grabbing but unachievable promises such as bridges to Ireland, world beating track and trace, no second lockdown, mass Covid testing, it will all be over by the summer and lied their way through a Brexit referendum by promising sunny uplands ahead and telling voters we “hold all the cards”, “no-deal is not an option”, trade will carry on as now, red tape will be reduced, no border in Ireland, no effect on jobs, Britain will prosper! There is such a long list of outlandish claims that it is impossible to recount them all concisely. The government must be aware, every time, that they are making outrageous and deceptive claims some of which are all out straight and deliberate lies.

Cronyism is rife, tax revenues are being filched and squandered, corruption abounds, mendacity and secrecy are the norm. No-one loses their job however badly they have behaved. Journalists are marginalised unless they avoid the hard facts and lawyers not in agreement with the governments law-breaking are openly vilified.

All of this covered up with continuous shape shifting, lying, dissembling and deliberate distraction to confuse and cover up.

So yes! I most certainly do give a fuck. I do not hold any particular political allegiance, I have voted for all parties at some time in my life but I do care about democracy, stability, the rule of law, honour in public life, human rights and freedoms. Above all I worship the truth like some people worship their gods. Without respect for the truth our civilisation will decline and the world for my great grandchildren in say 40 or 50 years time, will be an actual  dystopian nightmare and not just a smoking, shattered and lifeless film set with the bad guys in power exploiting a population of broken and demoralised slaves. That I do care about intensely.

Telescope adjusted.

Monday, 16 November 2020

BACK IN THE COVID - The Lockdown 2 Diary, Day 11 & 12

 DAY 11 and 12

There has been a Covid exposure in the family. Friday 13th might not have been as entirely lucky as it usually is for me. Unfortunately at this stage in The Covid, and I am sure that this is a common experience, war-weariness is setting in, guards are being dropped everywhere. We are at our most vulnerable with a considerable portion of society now getting infected, more vulnerable now in fact than at any time in the first lockdown. Back then conscientious concern dominated and ignorance reigned yet the spread and case numbers for this nasty contagion were considerably lower compared to today. Today our greatest threat is complacency.

On a brighter note the brussels sprouts season proper has begun with UK produce now in the shops the size of mini-cabbages. Some plants in the garden are enjoying an extended season thanks to weather atypically warm for November. This shone out today, our Golden Wedding rose, now looking much happier in its new home and just fabulous up close. Ours is not the garden for roses or indeed any plants except the very hardiest being stony, dry and generally impoverished but especially for roses. This is a new deep dug bed at the front of the house in good sunlight, back-filled with garden compost, feed and leaf mould especially made for our three favourite yellows.

Today was windy and sporadically wet which always feels colder than it is so that when we took a walk out with family and one of their dogs I for one was glad to be getting off home to the warm. I must record here that today and for the first time in The Covid there was a distinct feeling of relief rounding the corner into our street, relief and comfort that the safety of our home had been reached. I take this to be a sign that a little fearfulness is creeping in which is an altogether unwelcome feeling.

Golden Wedding was still pristine when I drew the blind and I could not help wondering if there is a rose name Diamond Wedding. I hope we get to find out.

Day 12 came and went. The johnson found a convenient way to hole up in the Downing Street flat for 14 days by having been in the proximity of an MP testing positive for Covid. It is pretty obvious he cannot handle Prime Minister’s Questions on a Wednesday in the House so this is suspicious news at the least. Facing Sir Keir after the soap opera carry on in No. 10 must have been just too scary to handle and scandals associated with PPE procurement seem to all be hitting the fans at once. 

The Clementine Clown that lives in the now barricaded Whitehouse until January is making a massive success of ensuring that the GOP gets as much bad press as possible. 

Brexit looms large on every news channel except the BBC and in another bizarre twist the massive  lorry park built to buffer up waiting freight trucks at the channel crossing has flooded. They built it on a flood plain. Yes, I kid you not, on a flood plain. This government’s incompetence is of truly staggering and historic proportions.

Saturday, 14 November 2020

BACK IN THE COVID - The Lockdown 2 Diary, Day 10

 DAY 10

Daily confirmed cases are still high, today 26,860. Todays tragic death number of 462 brings the total UK death figure to nearly 52000. 

It is particularly grotty weather out there, to quote Ronnie Barker. The wind wapps up the side of our house at the best of times but today it is horizontal and carrying a continuous soaking of heavy rain which also pounds our windows at the front rather noisily.

It is wonderful, I love it. I am warm and cosy and already feeling the benefits of Thursdays Vitamin B12 jab. I have relished rainy days since boyhood camping weekends under canvas. It made others feel trapped and bored, I felt thoughtful and reflective and, though inside and protected, more connected with the woods and plants about me. 

So today was a nostalgic day, a cooked breakfast, light English music by Eric Coates and Earnest Tomlinson (*see below), a little reading, a little writing and regular supplies of my favourite tea, Ceylon, favourite because it brings me the heady odours of freshly cut meadow grass drying under the late summer sun of our courting days. Strictly Come Dancing is on the TV shortly and then another attempt at a starting strategy with this diabolical monstrosity of a jigsaw puzzle which for the record we started yesterday on day 9, lockdown 2, at 8:30pm.

For our TV dinner with SCD we had cold roast chicken with a warm lentil curry accessory together with a salad of mizuma, pak choi, spring onions and a topping of chopped pecans enhanced with a little balsamic drizzle and graced by a modest knob of organic cheddar.

Lockdown 2 day 10 has been a great day to be indoors so far but the invisible barrier at the edge of our property holding us captive is an ever present and menacing distraction that will just not go away however pleasant the day is.

*Tomlinson is almost unknown but worth investigating. He is responsible for a substantial body of mostly light music but other more serious works and some innovative symphonic Jazz compositions.

BACK IN THE COVID - The Lockdown 2 Diary, Day 8 & 9

 DAY 8

The tangerine tosser has finally arrived at the same conclusion as everyone else and as his denial and anger subside to be replaced with the misery of his reality he becomes one of the losers he loves to despise. The majority of Americans did not vote for more of the same divisive politics of hatred, racial discrimination and violence enabled by corruption and law breaking. His hair turning grey suggests that he has also been dumped by his stylist and it is rumoured that Melania might be intending to dump the charlatan too. Karma it seems is making the most of its moment.

Trumpty Dumpty is letting it be known that he intends to run for office again in 2024 on the grounds that two terms in office is permitted even if they are not served concurrently. Given the scale of his defeat I doubt whether the GOP will allow this to happen unless the party splits but demographic changes are much more likely to rally behind a less extreme candidate. Demographics is a wonderful and sobering force in politics, simple in operation but long term in effect. In 4 years time the older community who voted for Trump will have been replaced by the now 14 to 18 year olds who will not vote for him and who are also unlikely in sufficient numbers to vote for any GOP candidate remotely as divisive or contentious as Trump.

We also, in the UK, thanks in part to the bumbling ineptitude of a Prime Minister obviously out of depth, will benefit from the same forces. Interestingly both elections happen in the same year and probably at roughly the same time.

There is a definite inevitability about this moment in history. Our feudal past controlled by monarchies or religions (or both working together) has been whittled down over the years in spite of this elite establishment trying to keep feudalism in play. This power has been gradually diminished by better and wider education, communications and science through trench by trench warfare over centuries starting with our emergence from the so-called dark ages when religions dominated life and law. Ever wider admission into electoral franchises and the growth of alternative power bases necessitated these old establishment forces morphing into Conservative political parties condemned forever to maintain their support by appeals for stability and tradition but condemned to dissemble the fact that their very existence depends on a political system which allows an asset owning class to maintain and control a poor, indebted working class. I.e. feudalism in all but name or as I see it, economic serfdom or slavery.

But there seems to be (perhaps Iris Murdoch was right!) a dominating underlying force towards the good and away from evil which is, over time, weakening Conservative forces, religions and aristocracies, eroding their power and ensuring that at some point the battle would be obliged to move to open ground. 

Open ground is where we are today. The vestiges of feudalism are out of their final trench and it is hand to hand fighting now. Expertise is publicly vilified, corruption amongst the powerful is rife, governments are exploiting, confusing, spreading lies and diversions, flouting the law and testing the confinements of national legal constitutions and norms in a last trench attempt to avoid defeat and relinquish forever their power into the hands of the people. I believe that their defeat was always inevitable. I believe that time will record their defeat as coming earlier than it might otherwise have done thanks to The Covid.

The people of this nation needed the care and protection of those governing them but care and protection has not been forthcoming from those governments nearest in spirit to our feudal past. They have been visibly, sometimes corruptly, protecting and adding to their assets at the expense of the nation’s health, keeping workers at the rock faces of our economy whilst they hole up safely in their sequestered estates organising carts to collect the dead.


Friday the 13th. So this is the unlucky day that just keeps on giving. Trump is gone, the Corbyn faction loses its grip on the NEC, Cain is gone and the scumbag, Grima Wormtongue, the shitweazel in No. 10 has gone too. Something major happened and as usual we have nothing official so the speculation rife on social media is to be treated as a joke. The scrawny Gollumalike boldly left by the front door with a rather small box, retaining his security pass on a lanyard round his neck in a much too contrived theatrical fashion to be believed and even returned later for a photo opportunity, lonely and dejected at a wintry kerbside waiting for a cab, so I intend to restrain my joy until I see the next move. I personally believe that these events are all about Gove undermining the johnson with the aid of the scumbag and Cain (his boys from way back) and scumbags removal is a sign that Gove (and Murdoch) have lost this round. Next will be the removal of Gove from the Cabinet Office and the announcement of an extension to the transition period for leaving the EU. One or the other or both. 

You heard it here first.

On the whole it has been a very lucky day for us all.

We took a walk out today, four generations of us, to a local spot quite near to us with both historical and scenic interest but one we do not often visit. Luck is about how much of a fair share you win in this random lottery of an existence of ours but nature in all the chance events that characterise natural evolution and the world about us managed to do this at the Badbury Rings.

Surely, on the whole, it is a lucky day every day!

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

BACK IN THE COVID - The Lockdown 2 Diary, Day 7


It is the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
I am not a poppy wearer or indeed a supporter of the poppy idea. I do not need to advertise the fact that on this day and all others but especially this day I honour and remember those who fought on our behalf the evil that would have destroyed us had it not been for their brave sacrifice.

This man, my father, SAS 2 Regiment, lived to the end with indelible memories of apocalyptic piles of emaciated and naked dead humanity having been despatched in support of the Liberation of the Belsen death camp. Later he was to return after the war traumatised by working behind enemy lines so much that he kept a loaded Italian Luger pistol hanging over the bannister at home believing that he was watched and in terror of being captured for years after the war ended. 

He escaped with his life along with many others who escaped with their lives to suffer from their experiences and unrelenting memories but also to work for the repair of their country and the well being of everyone.

I remember them too. Bill and Jack who served in the Army but also Mum who served in the Women’s Land Army and Percy who was conscripted for work down the mines as a Bevan Boy.

I shall be remembering them with thanks honour and gratitude today and tomorrow and on every other tomorrow too. 

BACK IN THE COVID - The Lockdown 2 Diary, Day 6


These days in The Covid I hesitate to think ahead with thoughts such as when will it end, when will it be safe, will we survive or plan ahead. I believe this is the all pervasive influence of that contempt engendered by familiarity. It might also be influenced by the fact that we, my wife and I, now both 72, are a little reluctant to contemplate that this might be it and all there is until we both hobble off with our arthritic joints creaking, bickering as usual into  oblivion. I feel very sorry for our even more elderly citizens and especially for those younger folk tragically fighting terminal illnesses and for whom The Covid has potentially blighted and restricted what might be the final few months or years of their lives.

This is todays glorious autumnal anti-depressant but at the same time a stark reminder that in a few months time The Covid will have lasted for a year so far. Already, and even if vaccines are released before the end of 2020, we can anticipate a 6 months wait for a vaccine and another 12 months until life can return to unfettered normality with a more realistic expectation of 6 months beyond that. We shall be 74 perhaps. 

It is now 6 days into this new lockdown. We have altered in our approach, familiarity again, I suppose, we are not quarantining our shopping delivery for example nor are we washing  refrigerated products such as cheese, milk and frozen food with washing up detergent (yes we were!). We will shop if necessary, we are trusting our families instead of avoiding contact and accepting house visitors such as window cleaners, postmen etc as long as they keep their distance and wear masks. In fact in most regards nothing much has changed for us in the last 6 days except that we are more aware of breaking the law when we do. 

And this is not very clever! We are at least at 10 times greater risk than we were at the height of the first peak. The national death rate is nearly as high (getting towards the 500s a day) and cynically understated by a government that has changed it’s reporting rules to create a more favourable picture.

We are not alone. A Covid weary public is now following their own instincts and are now much less afraid when they should really be very, very afraid. A vaccine cannot come soon enough.

Off up the garden now for some more anti-depressant. 

Monday, 9 November 2020

BACK IN THE COVID - The Lockdown 2 Diary, Day 4 & 5


So never mind the Covid. Today is a day for history to record that humanity recovered its optimism. The future for our planet and our great grandchildren might be better than it seemed just a short while ago. 

Biden and Harris are now President and Vice-President elect of the USA. Trumpty Dumpty fell off the wall!

An interesting defeat too. It will not be lost on Trump that since the Republican party has kept the Senate so far and gained a few seats back in the House of Representatives. This election was not so much a rejection of Republicans but a rejection of Trumpty Dumpty himself, personally.

The Senate might still go to the Democrats but this will not be known until January when a run off for two seats takes place in Georgia. 

Bigotry, racism, nationalism, continual and blatant lies, illegality, fraud, media suppression, corruption, cronyism, division and hatred are no way to govern a country and the citizens of America have rejected them emphatically. 

To our modern sensitivities and attitudes it is remarkable that Trump was ever elected in 2016 but then again we did elect an identically unqualified and mendacious charlatan in the UK too. I think I might be in a minority in my now elderly baby boomer peer group but I am sufficiently well informed, detached and particularly more liberal minded to look beyond the narrow confines of generation politics which in my view is behind these events. My explanation for this aberration in human progress lies in the opportunistic capitalisation of events by what I tend to call the “old guard” to defend its domination, power and wealth in one concerted, last ditch attempt to retain all that power.

The constituency to which these forces and their client wannabe despots appeal is my own older, largely conservative (with a small c) generation which idealises tradition, exceptionalism and nationhood and which is so resentful of change. Such voters are easily roused to defend a past they see slipping away against cultural dilution, racial diversity and an instinctive, ingrained horror of behaviours that would have been deplored or even illegal in their own lifetime and are now “in their face” as it were.

These same voters would more likely than not deplore the behaviours of Trump and Johnson. Their erosion of law and order, vilification of the judiciary, their constitutional outrages, incompetence, pathological mendacity, media suppression, a lack of transparency, unfairness, nepotism and rampant corruption in normal times. But they are now under threat and willing to overlook blatant immorality, law breaking, corruption and undemocratic rule because they are under threat. Their world is dying out and this is fertile ground in which to sow the seeds of fear and hate of immigrants, foreigners, progress, science, gender equality, the demise of religious belief systems and above all change.

The “old guard” have sown their seeds of discontent. This “old guard” is the last remnant of a feudal, aristocratic or pseudo-noble, asset owning elite that is making its last stand. History records that prising power from this elite is a tough, slow and still incomplete political process. Whether that be in voter enfranchisement, education, taxation, land ownership, education, employment rights, health provision, any area we can think of the status quo has been fought over tooth and nail by this privileged elite in defence of their vested interest and almost total power over us. 

The slave trade is a good example. Moral objections were by-and-large circumnavigated with tacit acquiescence by a right wing, authoritarian Church whose very canon condones slavery. Even when it was eventually abolished provisions were made to compensate slave owners for their “losses” and slavery did not in fact immediately end. Today slavery still exists.  If you are employed on a wage too low to support your family or pay sky high rents and are forced to work long, unsafe hours for cruel bosses, to moonlight or do extra work in the gig economy or resort to criminality you are to all intents and purposes enslaved by a regulatory and tax framework formulated to benefit the “old guard. From this impoverished unhealthy servitude there is no escape other than into homelessness and it is still the fate of millions to be languishing there under mountains of debt yet working all the hours they can.

Maintaining this ancient feudal power is the motive behind the sponsors of populist figures like Trump and Johnson. There are dark, shadowy forces behind Trump, Johnson and others which are exerting real power over our lives through these two hapless figures who are merely dancing puppets. It is also no small thing that 80% of the British Press is owned by 5 billionaires and many, if not most of the UK’s cabinet are highly religious.

And if anyone is inclined to believe we live in a democracy, we do not. The last thing the “old guard” want is democracy, parliamentary sovereignty, scrutiny, accountability or checks and balances. They pay lip service to it but they hate it. Ask yourself why welfare payments are inadequate, why no-one can survive on the minimum wage, why taxation is anathema. 

We are at a ‘Y’ in the road to a civilised future. The forces of the “old guard” intent on containing democratic institutions, controlling the legal system, destroying checks and balances, maintaining a low paid workforce in captive servitude, controlling the media and minimising individual rights have met, and are ranged against, a liberal, educated moral, humanistic generation which dreams of a society in which their government legislates in the interests of society as a whole and for each citizen equally. A government that cares for and protects it’s citizens and their nation as equal individuals, with equal rights, opportunity and freedoms not as productive slaves maintaining a privileged elite.

These times then are existential for both sides, there is only one road forward. Trumps demise and his exposure as a mendacious, bullying charlatan fronting a right wing coup just might be the turning point into a new age. It happened on 7th November 2020 when the world slept through a night with apprehensive uncertainty and woke to a dawn of hope. 

As I wrote this little rant the sky outside modulated to a weird, ominous colour and an image sprang to mind of a huge incandescent orange freak exploding in an uncontrolled angry display of petulance which was bathing the whole world in a pervasive, distasteful afterglow.

Almost immediately it brightened up out there and the garden passed into a better mood.


Successful trials of at least one Covid 19 vaccine were announced today adding substantially more optimism to the global frame of mind. A 90% effectiveness is claimed which, to put it into perspective, compares favourably with the 67% effectiveness claimed for the flu jab. 

Speculation regarding the impact of Trump’s demise on Brexit negotiations has been rife today. We shall probably know more as early as this week. Interesting times indeed. 

Sunday, 8 November 2020

BACK IN THE COVID - The Lockdown 2 Diary, Day 2 & 3

 DAY 2

This will not go out today. Today I am too engrossed by events taking place thousands of miles and almost another world away. Except that it is no longer another world, their presidential election is taking place in the US, an event with such profound importance, it should command the undivided attention of all peoples of all nations. At present it is much too close to commit to unalloyed joyfulness without the fear that things might still go titties to take-off position. Restraint is required.

Little else however is able to exercise knackered neurons right now and in any case a level of weariness remains after recent busy matters nearer home. Lockdown 1 came to a close on June 28th. 130 days ago, an intervening period of ups, downs and sideways. We had a holiday here at Higher Rixdale Farm buried in the countryside near Teignmouth.

After Lockdown 1 we also had our birthdays, health issues, another great-grandchild and life carried on but it was all strange and strained, unrelaxed and abnormal. Around my birthday in September we courageously ate out for the first time since early March, an occasion which, apart from an appalling meal, served to teach us how government measures are so inadequate and which reinforced the perception that it really is everyman for himself. We quickly disappeared back indoors and did not venture a meal out again until October 3rd in Devon. Here in fact.

This is the view from our table in a restaurant in Shaldon looking across the Teign estuary towards Teignmouth taken at that crepuscular time of day when seaside life underwater, unseen and unheard, takes over from the now sleepy seagulls. The time when, in  my opinion, all harbours are at their most romantic.

And for our first day and our first holiday in fact for a couple of years it felt wonderful. Apart from our romantic perspective beyond the window we felt secure. The staff and their service were ostentatiously safe and doing all the right things.  I can report that my steak was exceptionally well cooked as I like it. 

An auspicious start to a relaxing two weeks away on a holiday deferred from March because of Lockdown 1 and just sneaked in before Lockdown 2. Of course beyond a Covid secure romantic table for two by the water much weirdness remained, people walking around each other in the street, strange coffee shop protocols, businesses each with their own interpretation of distancing rules and as usual far too much evidence of pure ignorance and confusion. Sometimes this could be humorous in a quirky way. Study this image. This is a seafront public convenience.

In the gents, according to the sign inside the gents, men and women must keep two metres apart! Similarly men must keep two metres away from women when using the ladies side. I excused this odd signage because in the gents you are warned that the attendant is female but then noticed that this attendant is male when cleaning the Ladies side. As you can see from the office window Martin was away so I could not confirm the logical reasoning behind these signs and the direction in which ‘Martin’ must have been transitioning.

Okay, I admit it. I get a little bored while waiting for my wife.


Matters in Trumpland seem to be coming to a conclusion. Most opinion seems to be positive for Biden. I remain restrained and it is fascinating that this is the prevailing attitude out there. So many people passionately hope that this nationalist, alt-right, racist, dystopian nightmare is about to end but everyone is afraid of the dejection that would result from a Trump win and are hedging their bets to save their feelings from the worst.

We are however, today, a little more willing to acknowledge that good news is on its way.

Friday, 6 November 2020

BACK IN THE COVID - The Lockdown 2 Diary, Day 1


The Lockdown Diary 2

Off we go again then. Entirely predictable, predicted but denied by many including our mendacious, incompetent, corrupt and manipulative government until they were forced to act by events.  There have been more than 70,000 excess deaths many of which could have been avoided by more timely action and which are therefore on the johnson’s hands and his odious arse licker of a Minister of Health,  Twat Wankcock together with the governments ideological decisions to bypass our NHS with contracts for billions handed to mates, relatives and party donors in the private sector which have spectacularly failed at all levels.

The UK is not in a great place and worse, it is becoming increasingly obvious that, at the expense of human life and lives, the governments Covid 19 responses are calibrated and timed to cover up the disaster about to befall the UK when the Brexit transition period ends at Xmas and the proverbial excrement hits the rotating wind and distribution machine.

I am going to say right now, at the very start of Lockdown 2, that there will be a third wave of Covid and possibly therefore a Lockdown 3. 


November 5th 2020. Presumably their jacuzzi next door has reached temperature because the mildly intrusive 50Hz hum has just this moment switched off. The garden reverts instantly to a serene kind of ambiance that only arrives on these chilly but sunny wind free days in mid to late Autumn. A coal tit pops in and is joined joined by a party of blue and great tits with two opportunistic goldfinches. They are all twittering around me amongst the part-clad, part-bare shrubs and trees as I stand statue still, camera cocked, observing the alchemy happening in the leaves as they turn. I reflect on how still and quiet their world is normally and that I can only experience myself how that  is when I am motionless in bothe space and time. The world that the birds enjoy is a special place and at this time fantastic fungi emerge, overnight magic to me but at nature’s thoughtful pace real and normal and fitted to their work. here is today’s fungal manifestation. A bracket fungus, Polypore type, not sure of the exact species but white and glistening like rivers of unglazed porcelain encircling and slowly strangulating the remains of an Acer platenoides.

Today, slightly more than 6 months since our first national lockdown, our second national lockdown has begun and it feels pretty odd largely because today my attention is occupied mainly with events over the atlantic. Today is turning into a day to remember for another reason. The US election is in progress. As I write, late at night, there remains no official result to what is a very tight race but the indications are that Trump will lose. Should this end in a Biden win it would be momentous, dangerous, unpredictable and political dynamite both for the US and for the whole world. It might even one day in the future be regarded as an epoch defining event in human history and of massive significance. I will expand on this subject as time goes on but first we must nervously wait for the hoped for and official event to have happened. 

On a more down to earth note, one of our young family members has developed a fever and sore throat and since we were with her only yesterday our first day in lockdown 2 has turned into a squeeky bum day while we wait the results of her Covid test. We might just have caught the damned thing the day before we entered our safe zone to avoid the damned thing. Life is such blast! But at least this Lockdown 2 commentary might just acquire some added interest beyond my impassioned tub-thumping.

We shall see no doubt, in the foulness of time.