Building A Wall? – Revisited

Have you ever checked your spam folder? I take a look at mine often, to keep it to manageable levels. It is also a source of occasional amusement and seemingly never-ending offers from young women to come and play with their cats. Well, I think that’s what they mean, anyway. One thing I’ve never understood is how these spam comments attach themselves to particular posts. In my case, it is often my About Me page or this post, which I’m resharing now.

I wrote this three years ago, when I was feeling gloomy about the UK’s post-Brexit prospects. In these pandemic days it is a reminder for me that there will at some point be a return to pre-Covid days. I’m sharing it again for a couple of reasons:

Firstly, it may come as a surprise to newer readers that I’m actually capable of thought and of producing a fairly coherent ‘serious’ piece, and

Secondly, that it was interesting to me to see how little has changed, in some ways.

History shows that May’s election gamble backfired in spectacular fashion, losing both her Parliamentary majority and, ultimately, her role as Prime Minister, after several failed attempts at getting agreement from Parliament on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Amidst all that we are currently enduring it is easy to forget that the UK did finally leave the EU on 31 January this year, and that we are now in a ridiculously short 11 month period of negotiation on the terms of that departure.

I saw a piece in the paper yesterday that said that trade talks with the US are due to take place next week – those will go well, won’t they! We are now less than two months away from the practical deadline by which the UK must ask for an extension to the transition period with the EU, and most member countries have been – and will be – too preoccupied to think about that. The likelihood is, therefore, that we will stumble into a no deal Brexit almost by default. Some, including me, suspect that this has always been Johnson’s aim, which is one of the reasons why he appears to be doing little to prevent it. Anyone with some common sense, who wanted to negotiate the best deal, would recognise that an extension would be the only sane course to take, given all that we and other countries are facing in these pandemic days. A conspiracy theorist might even suggest that Johnson had encouraged Covid into the UK to ensure nothing could stop a no deal Brexit. It has certainly provided him with an effective smokescreen – how else can he explain the Government’s initial lethargy and inaction when it was clear that the virus was coming? It’s a thought, at least!

Conspiracy theories aside, I am offering this post to you again as a reminder that events other than the pandemic will be affecting our lives in the months and years ahead. I retain the faintest of hopes that reality will dawn on those allegedly ‘leading’ our country, but I’m not holding my breath.

Take It Easy

With apologies to Pink Floyd:

“We don’t need no new election,

We don’t need no thought control;

No deeper schism in our country,

Leader, leave us plebs alone!”

I really don’t think of myself as a particularly political person, far less a political blogger, but for the second time this month I feel I just have to vent my thoughts on what is going on. A few days ago, our Prime Minister, Theresa May, called a snap general election. This was despite her saying publicly on five occasions that she would not go for an election any sooner than 2020, as required by law. May became Prime Minister after the debacle of our referendum last summer, and was anointed by her party without an election, as the other candidates engaged in collective self-destruction. She faced pressure at the time to hold a general election, to ratify her credentials to lead…

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National Blow A Raspberry Day

Sharing this piece from five years ago today, as a reminder of times when we could actually go out. Have a good day, and stay safe 😊👍

Take It Easy

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For the latest in my series of Dates To Note I wanted to find something a little different, like I did with American Pi. It took a bit of searching but I finally found something: today is National Blow A Raspberry Day. At least, it is here in the UK but I’m not sure about anywhere else. Do they have a Bronx Cheer Day in New York, perhaps?

Even the Royals are doing it! Even the Royals are doing it!

The Day was started a number of years ago by twin brothers Frank and Freddie Arter. As befits twins they were inseparable, which meant that from their earliest school days they were known collectively as the F.Arters. Worried about how impersonal modern life was becoming, they conceived the idea of blowing a raspberry at someone as a way of breaking the ice, of putting a smile on people’s faces. You can do it to colleagues when…

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Alone Again, Or…?

I posted this to my Facebook friends a couple of days ago:


I live alone and don’t have any signs of illness, but I could understand her precautions: as she said, the outfit was as much to protect me from possible infection as it was for her. But it was another gentle reminder of how our lives are being disrupted by an unseen enemy. In normal course, I would have been phoned by my GP practice to tell me that there was a blood test request form for me to pick up. I would then take that to the local hospital and join what always feels like half the population of our small town in the queue to be leeched. However, I had a text message on Tuesday from the practice telling me that they would only be doing telephone contacts for now, and the hospital closed all of its day clinics on Wednesday. The district nurse told me that their service had been tasked with taking on the urgent cases, which was a little scary: to be fair, she did say that I didn’t meet the criteria for urgency, but was nevertheless on the list for a visit. In all honesty it was much more convenient for me and saved me the return cab fare. But it got me thinking about how even simple tasks are being complicated, and how much we owe to those in the front line of caring for us. Would you want to be going into the homes of those who are potentially vulnerable to illness at any time, let alone in these Covid-19 days? I sure as hell wouldn’t!

The visit also got me thinking about my own precautions and care. One of the signs of Covid-19, so I understand, is a raised temperature. Time to dust off my thermometer, just in case. But then I realised that I hadn’t seen it since I moved flat nine months ago. Oh. No problem, it would be in the kitchen cupboard with my small stock of first aid stuff, wouldn’t it? Nope. Maybe it had been put away in one of the bundles of stuff that went straight into storage cupboards? Another nope. After all, thermometers are pretty small, so perhaps I’d moved it into one of the drawers in my lounge furniture – all three of them? Triple nope. Time for my usual response to this kind of situation: a muttered ‘oh bugger.’

Perhaps I could think of another way round this? More in hope than expectation I hit the websites of the major pharmacies, like Boots and Lloyds, and – no surprise – every single model was out of stock, even the ridiculously expensive ones which should really have been made of solid gold for the prices charged. Or would have been charged, if they’d had any. I then tried Amazon, to be met with a similar story. Most offered possible delivery dates from mid-April until well into May – I could be dead by then, ffs! Looking in more detail at the various offerings, I also noticed that, apart from their unavailability, they all had one other thing in common: they would all be sent from China. Now, I’m no Donald Trump (whose favourite band is presumably China Crisis), but that did seem a potentially unnecessary risk to take. So I did what any self-respecting (but not yet isolating) Brit would do in these circumstances: I made a cup of tea (not China) and sat down for a think.

As is so often the case the tea worked its magic properties. It suddenly struck me that, as this flat has much less cupboard space in the bathroom than my previous one, I had a small bag of bits in there that I hadn’t opened since the move. Hey presto! One thermometer complete with protective case! Joy unbounded! Well, ok, I’m a Brit, so I was a little bit pleased. A quick clean, to protect myself from my own ancient germs, and I gave it a test drive. All worked as it should, so I stored it carefully in the aforementioned kitchen cupboard in case I need it again. My temperature was right at the low end of the ‘normal’ range but there is no way I’m going to start worrying about that! That would be a tale for another day if there was any change, and I really hope I don’t have to write that one!

Returning to my starting point, I’ve also been spending a good bit of time thinking about those in the front line of caring for and supporting us. I worked for 20 years in the NHS and, whilst I wasn’t a clinician, I met a great many in my time there. One attribute they shared, as do all of those providing my own current care, was their dedication to what they do and to the people they treat. I didn’t laugh or scream at the nurse who came to see me: that would have been completely inappropriate. As I said earlier, I live on my own. I’ve agreed with close family that we won’t see each other until it is safe to do so: I suspect that I might be late for my granddaughter’s second birthday in June, but I’d never forgive myself if I caught something and passed it on to her, my daughters, or other family. I’m alone, not lonely. I will survive quite happily as long as I can get food and medications delivered, as now, and the nurses can work out a way to substitute my weekly bandage changes if, as I suspect they will, the premises I go to are shut down. Look back at what I said in my Facebook post: it’s good to feel looked after. However long this lasts it will be temporary, in the great scheme of life. I give thanks to those whose dedication is supporting me through this and will see me to the other side. We all owe them our gratitude.

I hope you are also taking care of yourself and, like me, feel well cared for and supported. And please heed the advice from the powers that be. They may, like ours, have initially been slow off the mark, but their advice is guided by science, which is critical at this time. Be well. Stay safe.