The Jaded Jedi

Journal and General Musings

Day 36 in the corona house: You’ve got to be carefully taught.

13/04/2020

Three dozen days in quarantine

Good morning from the heart of Peckerwell, that small unrecorded parish in south east London that has at least a split personality, possibly multiple personalities and the associated disorders that go with them.

The name describes that nebulous zone in which Peckham blends with Camberwell and vice versa. Of course there is no such zone, you are either in Peckham in the borough of Southwark or you are in Camberwell, also in the borough of Southwark. There is no demilitarised zone, no neutral zone or no man’s land but despite this Peckerwell most certainly exists.

Rather like Liverpool and Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow or Cheltenham and Gloucester, these places share or at least co-exist in adjoining grids on a map. However whether through friendly or less friendly rivalry, they have an interesting relationhip. It’s not close enough to be a love-hate relationship or distant enough to be animosity. To me it’s they are places that really deserve to be twinned with the other but would never elect to do so voluntarily.

To understand the parish of Peckerwell you need only consider the welcome signs to the two neighbouring districts. Peckham’s sign is loud neon, probably backed with some very funky reggae track and has either the confidence or irony to include the word fabulous. In contrast, Camberwell Green – note the addition of the Green even in areas of Camberwell that are not the green and you get a glimpse of their individual characters. Camberwell’s sign is ‘classy’ – well they will tell you that, though it’s classy in the sense a tombstone or a sign saying ‘public toilets’ are classy. It’s gravitas is marked by its funerial dullness.

There is also something of a we look up to the them and we look down on them history between the neighbourhoods. There is a reasonably well known comment about Camberwell that says:

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Half the residents of Camberwell are either Lawyers or Psychiatrists. The other half are either their clients or their patients.

In Victorian times, a much more pointed version was commonplace which said The residents of Camberwell are either Lawyers, Psychiatrists or Jailors, the residents of Peckham and Brixton are their clients, patients or prisoners.

The unofficial symbol of Peckham

Historically, Camberwell grew as a village around the church of saint Giles which still stands albeit now on Peckham Road. The local village and later market green known as goose green became the heart of the village. (Strage how goose green doesn’t have the same ring about it isn’t it?). The goose became the unofficial symbol of Camberwell.

As nearly every village had it’s own market space, Camberwell engaged in some early marketing and drew in the crowds with exotic wildlife – a mix of circus and tourist attraction. These included Chinese teal. fighting mallards and even Pelicans. Obvjously the smell and noise wasn’t going to be something Camberwell wanted, so they were hatched, raised and ‘farmed’ in nearby Peckham.

I can’t help but raise a wry smile when walking through Camberwell. There is no mention or sign of a goose to be seen there today. That part of their early trading days is seemingly erased from the district. In contrast walking just a little way beyong St Giles church into Peckham, I pass a cafe called the Peckham pelican next to the Pelican estate. Local addresses include Teal house, Kingfisher House and Heron house all on the sites that raised those birds for display in Camberwell. Irony indeed.

When you’ve finished buying your rustic bread and having your shoes resoled at the Peckham cobbler in SE15 you could walk a few streets to Camberwell in SE5. You might notice that the same bread is no longer a rustic loaf but is artisan bread from an artisan bakery. Similarly the cobblers is a traditional craftsman shoe repair. Additionally, you’ll have noticed your post code as increased by 10 and your house price dropped by between thirty and fifty thousand pounds for similar properties. So you can see for some, it’s very important which side of the Peckerwell expanse you land. I’m pleased to say most people rub along pretty well most of the time though that wasn’t the case this morning.

Decorated tree in Peckham

As I was walking Taz this morning (I’m convinced if you asked Taz he might tell you he was walking me) we came across that ever popular street activity – casual racism.

A lady was decorating one of the large trees outside her house with lanterns, streamers and the like. She looked south Asian in origin but I later found through a socially distanced check that she was adopted and had lived in the house for over forty years. She was a student of the green man and celebrated the old traditional seasonal festivals rather than take part in structured religion. The tree decorations were to celebrate the pagan festival of Ēosturmōnaþ (I had to look it up).

This celebration was clearly offfending a couple in the street (think Wayne and Waynetta or Shazza and Bazza) who were complaining at the rather festive decorations. I hung around in the adjacent shrubbery while Taz sniffed thinking she may need some support. I was wrong. At first, the complaining couple assumed the decorations were something to do with Eid until the woman hanging the decorations pointed out she wasn’t Muslim nor was it late May. (15-love).
Wayne and Waynetta complained that she was too bloody late for Easter. The woman unphased pointed out that Orthadox Easter was in fact next week were she celebrating it, which she wasn’t but it she were, she would be a bit bloody early (30-love).

Taz on a mission

Wayne and Waynetta then changed tack somewhat asking in terms whether this was something they did where she came from? Without much more than a momentary hesitation she replied “Haringey you mean? I’m not really sure dear” (30-love).

At this point I was at full leads length away and shouted over asking if everything was ok. “Fine thank you just discussing theology” came the reply. (Game – thank you linesmen, thank you ball boys).

At this point, Taz who was being entirely inoffensive shoved his head through the bushy grass which seemingly alarmed Waynetta sufficiently that both she and Wayne made their excuses and left.

I then had an entirely unexpected discussion (from about 12 feet) about pagan celebrations and their role in the early Christian Church and the influence the Anglo Saxon culture had on it. Hardly something I had expected for Easter Bank Holiday Monday, though stragely appropriate.

Now, I don’t know much about early Anglo Saxon pagan celebrations but I was able to dazzle with some insights into the morphing of Saturnalia into Christmas. I think I may have disappointed somewhat when I explained this didn’t come from a doctorate of theology but rather series three of the big bang theory.

Sheldon explains Saturnalia – The Big Bang Theory

During the following five minutes I learned a few things. Firstly, we’re about the only country that celebrate Easter using that word. Most celebrate an event stemmed from the latin Pascha referring to the aramaic and Hebrew word ‘pashac’ describing Jewish passover a few cases in point being:

  • Latin — Pascha or Festa Paschalia
  • Greek — Paskha
  • Bulgarian — Paskha
  • Danish — Paaske
  • Dutch — Pasen
  • Finnish — Pääsiäinen
  • French — Pâques
  • Indonesian — Paskah
  • Irish — Cáisc
  • Italian — Pasqua
  • Lower Rhine German — Paisken
  • Norwegian — Påske
  • Portuguese — Páscoa
  • Romanian — Pasti
  • Russian — Paskha
  • Scottish Gaelic — Càisg
  • Spanish — Pascua
  • Swedish — Påsk
  • Welsh — Pasgh
The Pagan Godess Ēostre

However, in England and Germany early Christianity had a tough time shifting the engrained pagan deities including one godess of fertility and renewal – her name being Eostre.

Many theological scholars point out that many pagan festivals were incorportated or borrowed into the Christian calendar and Easter (or at least the name Easter) may be another such example.

Symbols associated with her were the hare (March hares etc), garlands of spring flowers and eggs all signs of a renewed spring in Anglo Saxon northern Europe. As Vaughan has just broken open (and now I look more closely mostly eaten) the second Easter egg I’m glad that bit of pagan celebration was carried forward.

Strange to think it might be the Easter hare rather than the Easter bunny isn’t it? In any event whether you are celebrating the period for religious or non religious reasons, may you have a safe peaceful and joyful day.
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The title of todays post comes from a number of the same name from the musical South Pacific. For those who like to hear the tracks, it can be heard here sung by Mandi Patinkin in the control below.

Day 30 in the corona house: Getting out of town.

07/04/2020

.Today I can’t help but reflect on how quickly things change. How what was taken for granted and accepted as a norm years ago is now seen as increadible.

Whether it’s stock footage from the 70’s and 80’s with smoking thick enough to cut in pubs and restaurants or brick-like mobile phones change comes quickly.

A month ago, even three weeks ago, I wouldn’t have felt a need to justify travel, to prove its necessity. However, today, I am aware of the requirement to do so pressing on my social conscience. I merely note how quickly this has been true, I don’t seek to avoid it but my the times they are a changing.

Before I met my husband we each had our own house one in London and one is Wiltshire. For reasons of work and my having a border collie who doesn’t fit with living in London full time that’s an arrangement we’ve continued albeit we split time between the two. When we came back from Milan and self-isolated it was to London and partly due to building work there we have remained until today.

Over the past three weeks I’ve been aware that the lawn hadn’t been cut this year, the weather was getting warmer, the days brighter and that would undoubtedly lead to the grass getting longer.
Although it didn’t count as justification for a trip back to the Shire (it would be pushing it for the necessary management of a household I suspect even if only monthly) I was concerned that at some point I wouldn’t be able to find Taz if he crossed the lawn.

However, a more pressing need for me was the lack of medication easily to hand. My stocks were running low and because I had a plentiful supply in the Shire it was nearly impossible to get more and that assumes I could get the two trusts, my GP and an out of region pharmacist to collaberate. As a result, for the first time in 30 days, we left Gumnut by car and drove to the Shire so my medication could be collected.

While here I also managed to cut the lawns, share a very enjoyable evening with the virtual film club watching Company, replenish our food stocks at a supermarket (Vaughan went). He gave the whole setup at Tesco an Aussie seal of approval stating ‘They’ve got their shit together in the Shire.’ Tomorrow we have a local farm delivery of vegetables, and eggs – so rare in London many of the drug dealers now offer a side of 6 organic free range large ones – so I’m told. Then partly because the Shire is not habitable until the building concludes we’ll be back to continued isolation in Gumnut.

I had my confirmation from the NHS that I should be inside for 12 weeks so look forward to day 100 in the corona house in due course.

Our journey here was uneventful and necessary. You can manage so long on a bag meant for a holiday, but things needed for job applications, bill payments and just getting on with life were needed. We weren’t stopped, checked or questioned by anyone not that I would have any concerns had we been. The motorway was down in terms of traffic by about 90% and the Shire is quiet though the village is pretty much as it always is – we’re hardly the throbbing metropolis.

So tomorrow late afternoon we will return to Gumnut with food, medication, paperwork and fresh Shire air. I look forward to being able to return when the builders can get back on site but until then Taz has had a decent run for an hour or three and all is well with this little part of the world.

The title of today’s post comes from 42nd Street. For those interested in hearing the track, it can be heard using the link below.

Day 29 in the Corona house: And another hundred people just got off of the train..

06/04/2020

Day 29 in the corona house

Today’s musical track seems strangely appropriate for a number of reasons. It’s taken from the musical Company by Stephen Sondheim, a lyricist and musician who you’ll find towards the top of my personal list of favourites.

As a choice, it’s relevant as well as being strangely ironic. It relates to the constant churn of people in cities such as New York with it’s daily new arrivals and those who ‘go away’ as the lyrics mention. It’s unclear whether that’s merely a reference to leaving New York or something more fundamental, but it does emphasise the transient nature of a city as well as those who live within it.

In terms of the corona virus, the thought of a lively, bustling city with residents and workers jostling through it now seems strange. It’s like watching a film in which people were smoking in a restaurant – it’s something you know happened but it seems like a lifetime ago. How strange it now seems to see television programmes with liberal hand shaking, contact and interaction. I’m sure we will return to it, but those scenes seem almost mildly threatening when seen through the lens of the current emergency.

Vaughan suggested an alternative title – and another hundred people just got Covid in Spain but that needed too much explanation to avoid appearing crass which was certainly not his intention.

Analogy v. Metaphor

I admit to thinking twice about going with the choice myself. What was I suggesting the train is? A literal means of transport? Am I cheapening someone’s death by saying they just got off the train ? A potential minefield of how to offend anyone having lost someone or reading with a particular sensitivity to the words chosen. I could also hear a former English teacher, Mr Hector suggesting it may not be wise to confuse a reader with analogy or metaphor.

In the end, I’ve decided my readers (in as much as there are any) are bright enough to recognise either and open minded enough to go with the flow. It did start me thinking though – so the first train, the literal.

London overground, tube and bus travel are massively reduced

Despite the reports of thousands of Londoners flouting the regulations and undertaking all forms of extreme sunbathing, this isn’t the experience I’ve been living. Nor, in terms of transport is it supported by the statistics. The available figures are from the end of last week but show the overwhelming majority of people are correctly staying at home and avoiding unnecessary travel.

Transport for London are reporting tube use down by 90 to 95% based on the equivalent day/week the previous 2 or 3 years. In London that’s millions of journeys per day that haven’t been taken over the past two to three weeks. That significant reduction in terms of percentage reductions is also similar to figures from the RAC and AA both showing reductions of around 80% in routine vehicle traffic over the same period.

The Waggy finger of judgement.

Even with those good figures, I have heard professional level tutting and the wagging finger of judgement saying this is still not enough. I should say I fully support the stay in, don’t take unnecessary journeys message and enforcement where that is necessary, proportionate and not doing so would damage public trust or safety.

The current complaints are some people on the train or tube don’t look like key workers. Also, there has been a spike (a slight increase of around 5%) in vehicle traffic over the past week. Just before rushing to judgement could I make a couple of points to encourage a less sanctimoneous default position.

Not all people on the tube or train look like key workers: I haven’t been on the train, tube, bus (or in the car) for over 29 days, nor do I intend to. I’m also not supporting or apologising for those who think the rules don’t apply to them – we should all stay in, in line with the regulation.
However, those regulations permit me to travel for medical purposes, to travel to work (if that can’t be done remotely), to travel to provide care and assistance for someone who is vulnerable or to carry out certain legal obligations). Those doing so quite lawfully may well not look like a key worker – whatever they look like.

Dorothy “Dot” Brennan (formerly Cotton)

A former work colleague told me how she was on her way to deliver prescriptions (contactless) to relatives and felt most uncomfortable and as if she had to justify why she was on the overground.

I’m in favour of those kicking the behind out of things being dealt with. For others who don’t appear to look like they should to us, I would refer you to Ms Dorothy Cotton

Judge not lest ye be judged

Vehicle use has nudged up in the last week. As to the blip in vehicle use, it may indicate some breaches, though personally, I doubt that is happening on anything other than the edges. It may also be explained by the increasing amount of small businesses now offering delivery. The two week lag may well have given time for many to find ways to stay in business within the governmental restrictions. Let’s be driven by the data trend rather than any one or two days without knowing what may have caused or contributed to them.

In any event, if the train is taken literally we can say far far more than the hundred mentioned have got off it in recent weeks. But what of the metaphorical trains. I think and hope it might be a bit clumsy for me to refer to those dying of the virus as getting off the train. It might equally refer to those getting off the viral train by recovering from it’s effects.

For the purpose of this discussion, I have removed the US track from the chart as it is so dramatic in its exponential curve, that it squashes the European countries into the noise. However, if you look at the graphs tracking new cases, it does give some hope that the impacts of social distancing are starting to show in the data.

Italy has transitioned from exponential to linear in it’s increase and may even be starting to level out (in the sense that the daily increase is reducing its rate). It’s too early to be sure but the inclines for all European states mapped apart from Spain look as though improvements are starting to show up. For this reason, it looks unlikely that those social distancing and wider restrictions are likely to be relaxed any time in April. The current emergency regulations end on 16th April. That’s just after Easter, though my money would be on them being extended in at least their current form until the end of the month, probably until after the May day Bank Holiday weekend.
How we then scale back or transition into a state that is less restrictive is the big question, but thankfully not one for me today. Given the apparent slowdown in infections which in turn has slowed the intensive demand on the NHS to a less devastating level, I for one am happy to abide with the continued social distancing and sheilding however difficult and frustrating that is at times.
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The title for today’s post took comes from Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company. For those who like to hear the associated track, it may be heard on the control below.

Day 18 in the corona house: All I ask of you.

26/03/2020

Day 18 in the Corona houseDay

Day eighteen and Vaughan and I have realised that we’ve fallen into a Borg transwarp conduit. It’s the only rational explanation.

Time seems to be travelling at a different rate to normal, we’re unsure if it’s quicker or slower, it’s become a bit of a blur. Of course it could be the fuzzy duck cider but all things considered it’s looking like Borg territory to me.

I noticed an emerging trend among friends yesterday. Many of them noted an increase in their levels of non-specific anxiety. Some people expressed this as a wish to see something positive on Facebook, others just said they were feeling stressed or taking a break from all the doom and gloom.

Last night, Vaughan mentioned the current circumstances are making him feel a bit edgy and he asked me how I was coping. I explained I was the child of war parents, I had lived through flares, space hoppers, deedly-boppers, tamagochi, the Bay City Rollers, seaside special and three seasons of Tenko. I’m pretty much bomb proof.

However, I did suggest that having the humerously named news channel on as constant background might be a contributory factor and maybe we should try something else. Vaughan took me up on my suggestion today and I have to say so far I’ve had better ideas. A little news this morning then cold turkey with a range of customs programmes, the point of which seems to be how much food you can smuggle into Australia, it was fascinating.

The collision of man made fabrics that is ‘Doctors’

A short interlude at one o’clock wbere we caught up with the news headlines and swiftly onwards and downwards to something called Doctors. I have to say this was sixty minutes of back to back disasters, nothing medical as you might expect given the name, these were all wardrobe malfunctions of the highest order. Do the BBC not employ costume designers anymore? I for one thought Sirdar went out of business years ago, but it appears they are alive and well and shipping to Sandwell. If this is the future post redundancy, tomorrows episode will be brought to you by Morrisey and a bottle of voddy.

Could we suspend party politics (by the neck)

I did notice a style of commentary yesterday and again into this morning that I can understand but which is probably entirely unhelpful.

I get that lots of people don’t like Boris and didn’t want him in office. But could we put the sterile party politics to one side for just long enough to get through this shit storm? Some politicians from Conservative, Labour and SNP (Lib Dems have been silent it appears) are working across party boundaries and working in good faith. They are trying to hold the government to account for some areas where in my view, they rightly deserve criticism. Some however still can’t see beyond the tired blue, red debate. I for one think we can do better than that and intend to try.

I’ve been impressed with Jess Phillips as a powerfully motivated constituency MP though I disagree with many of her views. I’m even forming a view that I may have been wrong about Jeremy Hunt – but again that’s probably either the fuzzy duck or the transwarp conduits playing havoc with my reasoning.

We can all judge the government by our own criteria but is it too unrealistic to ask that party aliegence shouldn’t be one of them at this time. Three things I will judge this government and its response by follow – though I realise other people will have their own priorities. These are the three immediate things I would ask of Government.

  1. Personal Protective Equipment for front line medical personnel.
    This is the type of protection an A&E doctor in South Korea is issued with and uses when dealing with Coronavirus cases.
    Protective splash undersuit, paper suit sealed over that, double gloved a viral protection mask (higher filtering capabilities), face and eye screen protection in the form of a headguard. In contrast, most of our doctors have a plastic gown some gloves and a far inferior face mask.

If we are to make it though this crisis without significant losses among those seeking to look after us we have to ensure all front line staff are properly protected. MP’s on all sides have pressed NHS managers to guarantee PPE has been delievered by the end of this week. Of course supply isn’t enough, it needs to maintain replenishment supply lines.

I would also move to provide police with much stronger protective gear. They deal with a high volume of interactions with the public each day. They run the risk of being high profile super spreaders if they are not protected from the public and we are not protected from them and by extension their last dozen contacts. If PPE cannot be provided then I believe we should be looking for a different type of interaction with routine policing during this time.

Priority testing for NHS personnel: The Government has been promising to ramp up testing from roughly five thousand per week to approaching 20,000 per week.

It is fair to say we’re one of the better examples of countries testing (around sixth in the list) but are still dramatically behind those states that have mass testing. The UK had carried out around 64,000 tests by 20th of this month. In contrast, South Korea had exceeeded 317,000

Most importantly, linked to PPE, we don’t know how many of those treating us on the front line are already infected but asymptomatic. Promises to ramp up are fine but they are only that – we need to be testing much more than we are, even now.

The third and last element is food delivery. I and many others have been told we should consider ourselves in at risk groups and remain inside. We should order our food online and take home delivery.

I would love to as I know would others. Sainsbury (as a case in point) doesn’t know I’m at risk but offers to allow me to register as a vulnerable customer, let joy be unconstrained. Though don’t bother trying to register. In a catch 22 style roundabout the website sends you to the help centre, which in turn sends you to the call centre.

After over 60 calls to the call centre, each with 3 minutes of guff before telling you they are too busy to help you, it refers you where? You’ve got it back to the start of the spin cycle by referring you to the website.

I do appreciate the pressure businesses are under but a simple self reporting webform with an auto-responder to confirm receipt would have stopped 59+ of my calls and presumably the same for the other thousands trying to get through. If you can’t support a process you’re better off not offering it at all. A constructive note to the CEO of Sainsbury has been acknowledged but no substantive reply has been received.

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Today’s post title comes from Phantom of the Opera (at last). For those wishing to hear the track in question, it can be played by using the control below.

All I ask of you – Michael Ball (From Phantom of the Opera)

Day 14 in the Corona house: And the money keeps rolling in (and out).

22/03/2020

Day 14 in the Corona house

The last day in self-imposed quarantine and today’s blog entry takes its title from Evita. I’ve had a number of people ask whether all the daily updates in this series have been taken from song titles or musical numbers. Jules Phillips and Karen Young were the first to notice the linkage which was always an extra mental diversion on my part. It’s been quite fun finding a musical descriptor for the daily update. I hope you’ll excuse me sending multiple replies by answering here. They have all been songs, many but not all from musicals. The full list being:

  1. Turn a different corner – George Michael
  2. Tell me more tell me more – Grease
  3. Stuck in the middle with you – Stealers Wheel
  4. The Scientist – Coldplay
  5. A little bit of history repeating – Shirley Bassey
  6. How do you solve a problem ask Korea – Sound of music
  7. I am reviewing the situation – Oliver
  8. Hey, hey, I saved the world today – Eurythmics
  9. Empty chairs at empty tables – Les Miserables
  10. Let’s do the timewarp again – Rocky Horror picture show
  11. If I only had a brain – Wizard of Oz
  12. There’s got to be something better than this – Sweet charity
  13. One day more – Les Miserables
  14. And the money – And the money keeps rolling in (and out) – Evita

Looking at the list, I suspect I’ve over compensated by omitting my favourite musicals. Nothing from West Side Story or Phantom and two from Les Miserables (The Glums) which I can appreciate without really enjoying. I have seen Phantom over 50 times and could happily go back again whereas I’ve seen Les Miserables twice. The first time was harmless though I was largely underwhelmed. The second time was difficult although there was a lovely period in the middle when it stopped and I had an ice cream. If you’re off to see Les Mis, ice cream is the answer.

Today’s blog title chose itself. Well it chose itself in the sense that Vaughan only stopped singing it when I agreed to use it. But actually, it fitted well with the prevailing discussions. They seemed to be about whether the UK was doing enough for particular sections of the population.

Coronavirus rescue packages in £ (billions)

I’ve been reasonably happy with the response of the UK government although I don’t claim to be an expert. I’ve also revised my view of Boris Johnson since seeing his handling of the crisis. What’s not in doubt is the extent to which the money is flowing out of Government coffers. Ultimately it’s largely borrowed and at some point we’ll have to pay most or much of it back, but that’s not the priority at this time. But it is worth remembering, if only because it will come as less of a surprise when governments of whatever hue seek to recover it from us over the next five to ten years.
Without seeking to make a party political or EU point of any kind, it’s worth comparing our response compared to other countries.

Before being too critical and even allowing for the fact that some of the promised funding is in the form of loans rather than grants, the UK £330 billion is significanly more than the £41 billion of France or the £36 billion of Germany. All are dwarfed by the US who have a bill going through Capitol Hill requesting just short of $1.6 trillion, or £1.3 trillion pounds.

Looking at the current statistics on reported cases, perhaps it’s no surprise that the US is spending so much. It looks very much like the US is going to become the world epicenter of the pandemic within a couple of days as they look set to overtake Italy in terms of reported cases. Rather than paste a blurry graph here, I’ll leave those who are interested to open the graph showing the current situation across a number of countries. This will update a few times a day depending on what else we’re doing and how much cider has flowed.

Some of the spend in R&D is already starting to show promising results. Of course, we’re probably six to nine months at least from an effective vaccine in humans. However, some very intersting technological solutions from across the scientific communities. Rather than repeat them in text, if you have 20 minutes to spare and want a little encouraging news showing some hope for a way through the crisis, you could do worse than watch the most recent episode of the BBC technology programme Click.
I admit to having shamelessly copied it but hope that the potential benefit in terms of a positive message and boosting mental health may cause the BBC to overlook this matter. If not, I will of course take it down, but until I’m asked to click away. – If all else fails look forward to later updates from Brixton jail.

Some positive developements showcased by BBC Click

While on the subject of good news and wishing to reassure, I think it’s worth including one of the staff videos for a London hospital trust. It’s audience is intended to be hospital staff, but it shows the amount of work and effort being put into keeping existing, new and potential patients safe.

Just how prepared are our hospitals – A glimpse at St Barts, London.

Although I’m going to continue the blog for at least the next couple of weeks, I do need need to conclude the 14 day strand. So a few loose ends to tie off and a few words of encouragment for those who are just entering or in the early stages of self isolation.

It’s true that it’s tricky at times. Whether it’s keeping up your step count, wanting to visit friends, relatives, family or just go to the shops it does place a significant break on your personal liberty. However, the two important messages I feel I would make to anyone are these. Firstly, these difficulties aren’t major, they are merely temporary irritants and nothing compared to the traumatic times our grandparents and great grandparents lived through. It’s only 14 days for most people and it’s achievable without too much trauma.

The second and much more important is that it’s vitally important we do isolate or at least significantly reduce unnecessary contacts. I could rattle on about why, but I think most of us know why if we’re honest. In any case, I couldn’t beat this rather simple but highly effective graphic. Latest research shows the virus is more transmissable (easier to pick up) than at first thought. Instead of each person passing on to two or three people it’s now thought to be more like four or five. It’s too late to avoid the spread, but we can minimise and reduce the speed of it. Please think about each contact – they can and do make a difference.

Since yesterday’s installment, I have been mildly chastised for letting standards slip. Apparently ‘Billy the bog-roll’ jars and might even be described as course (heaven forfend). So with that in mind, may I update you with the final measurements of William the lavatory consumable. At the start of Vaughan’s experiment, we had a partial roll with a depth of 1cm remaining. William then entered the scene and will leave it with 1.5 cm remaining.
As a full roll has 3cm depth of tread the results of the Norweigan jury show that one roll of paper consumable product was used during the 14 days in question. – Now we need a comparison, over to you Jules and Leon.

Yesterday, I mentioned serendipity, defined as ‘the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way’. Having been chastised for the Billy incident you can’t imagine how pleased I was to see Sheila Harrod a very musical lady of my acquaintance post this little ditty.

One thing I’ve found over the last 14 days is that you pick up old hobbies and get around to projects or interests you’ve had on hold for some time.
In my case, returning to the blog is a case in point. Although I have yet to open any of the three books I’m hoping to read during this period of purdah, I have selected them and put them in order so it’s just a case of sitting still long enough to do the reading bit. As for Vaughan, he’s rekindled his interest in cooking where that’s more than merely a practical need. One side effect of this period in isolation may well be that my clothes shrink. They’ve done it before.

Had we been at the Acreage, I would probably have looked to work on my piano. I should have taken up the offer of a travel keyboard when it was offered for just such circumstances, but that’s something for me to look forward to and the neighbours to dread when we get back to the Shire.

Another example, a man who decided to pick up a guitar. His subject of choice was panic buying. It’s quite an interesting insight into what people do in quarantine but if you’re also a fan of the guitar (Leon) than you may also appreciated it for his ability to play the instrument.

I’m afraid I’m not responsible for the vertical video syndrome – it’s how it was recorded but I know it bugs some people disproportionately. So what of the serendipity? Well, that comes in the title of his ditty. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce Mr Bob Bowles and his bog-roll blues.

I have further developments to report in the tour of Somerset cider producers. Today we sampled the wares of Hecks cider.

Before too much concern is expressed about our livers, we are splitting the bottles between us so it’s merely a sample and we do toast Sir Osis of the Liver the patron saint of cider drinkers before partaking.

This was a winner in my view though a tad dry for the Mem’Sahib. For those who were disturbed by Billy the bog-roll, look away now. Today’s selection is catchily and probably descriptively named Slack-ma-girdle I’ve yet to explain the local dialect, probably best left unsaid.

Finally something that made me smile a little this evening. Vaughan made a very good meal for Sunday dinner. Roast leg of lamb. Though it wasn’t the subject of Grub with V-Dub yesterday, it most certainly could have been.

The issue was what to have with it. Looking through the cupboard we hit on an unexpected find. A show reserve Margaret River (Australia) Shiraz from 2005. I looked at it doubtfully – I think it’s too good for a Sunday dinner I suggested.

Vaughan looked at the label noted it was 15 years old.. “Oh well” he says “We could all be dead in four weeks – where’s the cork screw?”

Day 12 in the Corona House: There's got to be something better than this.

20/03/2020

Day 12 in the Corona house

In an attempt to fend off the criticism that this title isn’t a song from a musical I find myself calling on pantomime in saying “Oh yes it is”.

I have to say though that among my friends which has more than its share of theatrical lovies and musical theatre fans, only Bill Meehan in the States is likely to know which without falling back on Dr. Google. We’ve been fairly busy at Gumnut working out how to do new things remotely. I’m trying to manage recruitment processes when communication is impersonal and interviews though possibly remotely seem to be on hold at present. Things are still progressing albeit in fits, starts and with considerable uncertainty.

Those who know the speed of change active in the criminal justice system will recognise that Vaughan had a more significant work challenge today. In normal times, he would have been attending the High Court for an insolvency hearing. That would require a judge, interested parties, a quarrel of lawyers and enough paper to wrap the court to be present for the hearing. As of Wednesday, that was still the Court’s position.
They did move into the 20th century yesterday with the promise of an electronic hearing via Skype. However, neither the Court nor the parties concerned had done this before so it was a promise of a voyage into the unknown. What could possibly go wrong?

I returned from walking Taz to find Vaughan online at his desk infront of a neutral wall. The Skype meeting was underway. Vaughan was listening but had to be ready to activate video had, for example, the judge or counsel asked a question of him.

All I can say is although that didn’t happen, had it been necessary, I would suggest you thinks less of Legal Eagles and more of Will Ferrel in Anchorman. More than this I cannot say. However, the important point was that the hearing although not perfect took place electronically and ‘in person’ to the extent that Skype is in person. Further an order was made that service of papers usually necessary in person, could in the current climate be undertaken via email.
Having a professional interest in dragging the Courts into the 20th century, I was keen to hear how Vaughan felt the process went. His view (as an involved party rather than a casual observer) was that it might need polishing but it could be something that would be viable in the future.

Being alone isn’t nice shock

What surprised me this morning were comments within the wall to wall coverage from people in self-isolation.

All of them mentioned how 2-3 days of reduced contact had been increadibly isolating and how it has given them an insight into what is normal for so many people, especially the elderly in the UK. How they might feel if that reduced contact came with reduced mobility or independence, no Netflix/Amazon and lasted for years I’m not certain. However, I do hope some of them might reflect on the question. If anything positive could come out of this crisis it might be reducing the isolation and exclusion of the elderly or those without extended families. Hopefully some insight might influence future actions and priorities.

There are certainly some things that may come out of this situation that have the impact to make lasting social change. Some political theorists believe meaningful change doesn’t occur incrementally but is the result of revolution or crisis. If they are correct, this may be one of those times.

I’m suddenly able to work remotely and corporate finances can be found to enhance networks, upgrade servers or buy additional bandwidth. It’s disappointing (though not particularly surprising) that business can respond in these ways quickly and effectively to support an external crisis of this kind. These are, in many cases the same businesses that have been resisting such change on the basis of an improved work/life balance for their staff. Those who care to observe the difference in response may well question how genuine claims of social or corporate responsibility are and what their claims of valuing staff have been worth to date.

Other initiatives I would welcome lasting beyond the current crisis would include things such as the silver shopping hour, reducing the 24 hour shopping hours, moving the mindset further towards work being what you do not where you do it and digitisation of the criminal justice system.

If the insolvency hearing was good enough today in digital form and if service of documents was permitted by email why should this no longer be acceptable post Covid19. Of course some adjustments are likely to be necessary but it’s all too easy to think we’ll just slip back to the former status quo once this all ends.

The Che Guevara in me would urge us all to move some of these changes from being seen as an emergency solution towards it becoming part of the new normal. Some of the current crisis is pretty lousy, but in the mix are also some pretty positive changes if we elect to maintain and develop them – something to think about maybe.

In time honoured fashion, at least time honoured over the last 12 days, something to end that I hope prompts at least a smile. I couldn’t help but wonder how Sheldon Cooper might handle the current situation. Maybe this gives us a clue. (For those, if any, who don’t know Big Bang Theory – here is 1.30 to sample. Sheldon is in the blue, Leonard in the red. That’s all you need to know. Bazinga !

If you could imagine how Sheldon might be coping in the current climate.

The seventh day, so just under one week in self-imposed isolation where isolation means social distancing. While you ponder on what that means (has he been out of the house or hasn’t he), I hope you will forgive a slightly less content-rich edition of the blog. It’s Sunday and I’m taking it as a bit …

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Day six in the Corona house and with some time on my hand I’ve been brushing up my Excel charting and data analysis skills. It may not be exactly party animal territory but there’s plenty of time for that next week. In any event, tracking the declared cases in a few countries has shown most …

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I’m reliably informed that travel broadens the mind. I’m happy to accept this as an axiom but see no reason why self-isolation shouldn’t attempt to do the same. So in that spirit, may I introduce you to George Santayana philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist. Born in the 1850s in Madrid you might be forgiven for …

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It’s day two in the Corona house and we find ourselves dealing with some of the practicalities of being in self-isolation. It appears there is no real guide, I checked Debrett’s without success so we’ve made it up as we’ve gone along. However, I’m very happy with that position as it appears to me that …

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