The COVID Diaries (Weeks 1 & 2)

We are certainty living in “interesting times” and when writing in a newspaper in 1936, Sir Austin Chamberlain first coined the phrase, this was meant as a curse rather than a blessing. The world has seen pandemics before, but the last one was over 100 years ago and thus not part of my experience or that of my family for three generations. So, so as not to forget and to have something to pass onto Junior other than memes, I thought I’d keep a COVID-Diary.

Andrex Rear Gunner pic

Here is rural Lancashire COVID-19 had no obvious influence on life until the w/c 9th March (week one) when we all started washing our hands more often and with more care. (about the same care in my case because I work in a food factory) Apart from that, everything was running as normal at work, socially and at church. By the start of week two beer sales started to drop because of the uncertainty of whether pubs would be open by the end of the week, with our Boris asking that we stop going out to social venues. Work life as a vet for Mrs W remained as normal. Then in four days we went from normal to ‘all change’ with all the acceleration of a Bugatti Veyron. On Wednesday it was announced that schools would be closing, thus limiting my ability to work to two days per week (the days Mrs W doesn’t work – yes, I know we are very fortunate). This turned out to be OK with my workplace who wanted to reduce all of us to a three day week anyway. My two day week was agreed as I went home at 4pm on the Friday. Then an hour later, Boris announces that all pubs, restaurants and cafe’s are to close that evening until further notice. Over 80% of what Bowland Brewery makes goes into cask, so that put the tin lid on the business. We’ll be back, but no-one knows when.

Saturday left me feeling rather shell-shocked and melancholy. I tackled this by going out for a long walk in an unpopular part of the Yorkshire Dales to see plenty of hills and sunshine and very few people. I am reminded at times like this of the verse from Psalm 121

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help

Perhaps many would consider this a quote taken out of context, but given that I believe that God made and gave us a bounteous supply and variety of mountain-scapes, the hills speak to be of the creative generosity of the divine. I returned from my walk, without a post walk pint, but feeling a good deal better adjusted to the coming week.

All churches were closed for public worship, but again I was blessed. I was on the rota to drum in the band and had the privilege to be part of the first Live Streamed Service from our church.  It’s things such as this which I want to record.  It was very strange to be in a church with just a band, the Rector and a sound / video engineer. Mrs W and Junior watched from home and church started to prove itself to be a body of people, not (just) a building. At its peak Mrs W noted viewing figures of 120 (accounts) which given each viewing was probably from a group of at least two people suggests that the whole congregation was ‘virtually there’ along with a number of extra ethereal visitors as well.

So as I write this we are entering week three and I’ve been put on furlough (a term previously little used outside of missionary circles) and 80% pay. This is good news for us as a family, at least in the short term and for the business. It also means that rather than going to work to mark time I can look for opportunities to volunteer within the community for two days a week. It will be good to be continuing to directly enhance our community, albeit in a different way to making peoples Friday evening treat. Now also I can relax into the role of home teacher, even if this is not something I ever saw as my vocation.

I wonder what the rest of week three will hold for us…   …watch this space…

Does chocolate make you clever?

For a great magazine piece from the BBC News website today click here.  So it’s a lot of fun to read, and for any women in my audience who rush off for a bar of Dairy Milk before getting to the bottom of the article, beware.  Actually the main point is to show something we should all be aware of in an age of the news that is often telling us that… ‘A recent survey has shown…’ …all manor of odd conclusions.  The link between chocolate consumption and intelligence in this case is an example of the correlation of two effects of a common cause.  This is certainly an article I want to keep to show to some of my less  scientifically gifted colleagues who loudly announce they have discovered something wholly unlikely.

Also fabulous to hear Robert Grubbs (of catalysis fame, my old field) quoted in the regular media.

Get well soon Wiggo

Our very own Olympian hero, Bradley Wiggins was knocked off his bike yesterday, and has been reported  to have broken ‘a few’ ribs. Our thoughts and prayers are with you Wiggo – get well soon. I hope too you will get the chance to speak out against careless driving – the driver is noted to have been ‘not hurt’ – those in tin boxes should take extra care over those who are open to the elements – doing their bit for the planet and in Wiggo’s case for the pride of our nation too.

UK Eurovision Strategy – now I get it!

After reading about Spain’s Eurovision contender – BBC News – the reason we have chosen Humperdinck becomes clear. It’s a race for the bottom – no one can afford to win, so we need to do our best not to.  It will be just our luck that the UK will find itself as poor at losing (when we are trying to) as at winning.

So what can we do – all vote for the nation we want most to be kicked out of the Euro?!?