Week 584

Sunday, 1st March, 2020

Happy new Month

Nice morning. Bright and sunny but cold. Political programmes and newspapers are made more interesting by the floundering of this government largely through lethargy but internal contradictions don’t help. These will become more apparent as Brexit negotiations develop.

We are already seeing fishermen who voted to Leave squealing about loss of their markets and fruit farmers who voted to Leave squealing about loss of their businesses because of stopping free movement of labour. Viral across the web are clips of cabinet ministers speaking before the referendum saying it would be madness to leave the Single Market and, of course, we don’t want any tariffs on trade and who are now gung-ho for a total breaking of all ties. Appointing people who are clearly flaky like Priti useless Patel, who was sacked for illegal and dangerously off-piste meetings in Israel and then bringing her back to the Home Office as if she can be relied on to maintain loranorder, as Denis Healey described it, is obviously going to blow up at some stage. That stage may have arrived already.

To return to something safer. The last month was wet. The Met. Office have released stats saying it has been the wettest February on record which go back 158 years. So, only Ruth will have known a wetter one. That’s why she can swim!

Finished off the arrangements for our French trip by booking the Tunnel crossing. A journey of just 35 mins is so delightfully comfortable that the cost of £74.00/€86.00 each way for the car and 2 people is negligible.

Monday, 2nd March, 2020

A lovely, sunny day thank goodness. Sun changes everything. We had to go down to the surgery to collect a ‘repeat prescription’. The carpark, which must take 100 vehicles, was absolutely packed. I had to drive round while Pauline went in. I hope it’s not a virus epidemic in our village already!

Size is essential.

We drove on to Curry’s to look at televisions. Curry’s wasn’t busy. In fact, at 9.30 am, we were the only takers in this electrical superstore. We have 6 televisions in our house, one is 55″, two are 42″ and three in the bedrooms are just 24″. We are retired. We watch quite a lot of television. We have also caught the ‘Greek’ bug of having the television playing in the background while we are doing something else. It is not a good look but we are old enough not to care what you think.

These things just get cheaper.

We have found that we spend a large part of our day when we are at home, in the Kitchen (42″ tv) and the Office (42″ tv). That has come as quite a surprise to us. The Lounge is used only to watch television and almost exclusively in the evening. It has almost become a television room. Because of that, we have decided to replace our ‘old’ (4 yrs.) television and buy a bigger one. The 55″ LG Smart TV that I bought 4 years ago as we moved in cost about £1,250.00/€1,460.00. It stands on a sideboard. I want a cinema-size television with sound bar wall mounted. To find the price has dropped so far is a joy. We will have to get a little man in!

Tuesday, 3rd March, 2020

The advice to combat COVID-19 infection is to wash hands thoroughly after contact with people and surfaces outside the home. One trip to the supermarket this morning illustrated the problem with that. As we walk into the supermarket, we pick up a trolley which has been used by scores of people recently and they pushed it with the HANDLE. 

Contact – trolley Handle

Then we go to sign in for a scan-as-you-shop HANDSET which has to be released by tapping a screen with your fingers where hundreds of fingers have already been.

Contact – Sign-in screens

Pushing the infected trolley around while scanning in the goods chosen with the infected handset sometimes means weighing, printing a barcode and scanning in loose goods like fruit & veg. Those weighing scales and attached screens will also have been touched by countless people.

Contact – Checkout screens

Finally, the Check-out process is fraught with infected contact points which are unavoidable. Because of this, we thought we would buy antibacterial wipes to wipe all the surfaces as we went. “We found that, not only is that almost totally impractical as we tried it with tissues, it is almost impossible to buy them anyway. Supermarkets told us that their shelves had been empty of these products for almost a month.

Wednesday, 4th March, 2020

A grey day. We went out to Asda and Sainsbury’s to stock up on staples for all eventualities. Toilet rolls, toothpaste, sanitising soap, sanitising wipes, packs of tins of beans, tomatoes, fish, and packs of dried milk, dried fruit, frozen fish, etc.. 

Be prepared …

Today, Italy announced that all its schools and universities and our Chief medical Officer suggested it was quite possible that UK would have to follow suit. We are continuing our life as normal although we are being much more careful in the public places we visit/human interfaces that we make. Particularly, our daily trips to the Health Club could prove very …. unhealthy. Every door, every locker, every exercise machine, every television screen on every exercise machine now needs to be wiped clean before and after use. 

Interesting article in The Times this morning about the wealth divide illustrated in its response to a potential pandemic. Home isolation is fine if you can afford to stockpile, get home-deliveries, afford Satellite TV entertainment/information dissemination, home heating and all the other things involved in shutting oneself from the world. Miserable if your isolation is like imprisonment without the comforts. It will certainly take a lot to stop us travelling this Summer.

Thursday, 5th March, 2020

When will it stop raining. It is belting down again this morning and we have to go out. I am having a blood test and then we are going to Tesco. One of the roads we have to drive on to get there is significantly called Water Lane. This lane feeds down to the village square. At the side of the lane runs a brook/stream/river. The actual description depends on the weather.

Angmering village square – 2013

There has been a fabled flood 3 years before we moved here. The square flooded and those lads who thought it would be fun to pose on the village memorial seat are probably married with kids by now. Since then, our local authority, West Sussex County Council, has spent a large amount of cash to increase flood resilience. The village hasn’t suffered since. However, the brook/stream has turned in to a river today as it struggles to channel the heavy rain. It is down here that I spotted a heron the other day fishing in the water.

Friday, 6th March, 2020

Wow! Lovely, sunny morning. We made the most of it. I took a urine sample down to the surgery prior to my annual review next week. (Fantastic sample, by the way. Definitely a winner!) 

You can’t beat a trip to Wickes on a sunny day.

With that success still in my head, we drove on to Wickes which is in  … Wick just over the river Adur. I was buying presents for Pauline – a pot of paint and a paint stirrer. She loves these sorts of thing. Well, they had the paint but no stirrer. 

We’re going to need a bigger tin …or a smaller stick!

As we walked out of the shop, I tripped over a piece of wood. Prescience is all. Here, the store is giving out ‘free’ paint stirrers with every purchase. Well it worked for me.

Good workout at the gym this afternoon. It is looking just as popular as normal currently. We came home and cooked outside in the sunshine of the back garden. It felt warm and Spring-like after yesterday. Unfortunately, it is not forecast to last.

Saturday, 7th March, 2020

One of my readers wrote to me today to say that he hadn’t read the Blog for a while because the he was sleeping quite well at the moment and had not needed it. I am not at all surprised nor do I blame him. Sometimes writing it is the only thing that keeps me awake and it can be a struggle to make the content interesting when it is fashioned from a quiet life of monotonous retirement. However, I will make a mental note to do more interesting things to keep my readership entertained to the degree they expect. 

I’m trying to write my Blog each day to the accompaniment of a piece of music from my past. Tonight it is Chopin’s Nocturne, Op.9:No 1, Larghetto in B-Flat Minor. I am barely able to see the keys to type as the tears flow from my eyes. This piece I associate with one of the saddest, most despairing times of my life.

I can see myself now, confined to a grubby little flat, sitting by an old, gas fire, writing notes for a University essay in the early hours of a work day morning. I would snatch 2-3 hours of sleep and then set off for another day at the chalk face. I was miserable and metaphorically self flagellating in acknowledgement of past failings. This piece I strongly associate with Descartes. It was early 1975 and I was reading Descartes: Philosophical Writings. It is on the shelves of my office now. Some things will never leave me.

As I grappled with Cartesian theory and the mind-body problem, I realised that I loved the philosophical process and I was relatively good at following it. I was fascinated by the clash of concepts of Idealism and Materialism which Cartesian metaphysics generated. It sowed the seeds of  my exploring Determinism and Marxism in future years. These were heady days for a 24 year old youth who believed anything was possible and yet worried that nothing was likely. Because it is so engrained on my memory, I can tell you that the Chopin Nocturne was followed on my cassette by the Étude in E Major, Tristesse which, as you will know, means sadness and completely reflected my mood. I am playing it now…..

As I finish writing, my Chopin Collection moves on to Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-Flat Minor, Op.35 which the cognoscenti will know is the celebrated Marche Funèbre. It shocked me the first time I realised that I was enjoying the Funeral March

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