Covid-19 Diaries 20th November 2020

20 November 20

Posted at 3:54

Hitchin High StreetHitchin High Street

A week has gone by and two more vaccines have exited phase three and await approval with the AstraZeneca/Oxford university also expected to exit soon. This is all good news for the future but for the time being I personally feel more concerned and down than I have at anytime during the pandemic.

I went to a nearby town, Hitchin, earlier in the week. Usually a bustling market town but nowadays it is really depressing. Most shops are closed and of course pubs, cafes and restaurants are closed.

Hotel ChocolateHotel Chocolate Hitchin

In theory only essential shops are allowed to open but ‘essential’ is not clearly defined. Hotel Chocolate is open, why? But the sweet shop a few doors down is closed, why? It appears that large corporate chains are open at the expense of small independents. Take away coffee is on sale but again mainly from chain outlets. There are not many people around, supermarkets appear to be ticking over but most other places that are open are pretty empty.

Market SquareMarket Square Hitchin

There are a few folk around, sitting either alone or in theoretically social distanced groups or maybe in their bubbles (a bubble is a small group of people allowed to meet both outdoors and indoors for a small variety of special reasons). What is common is they all look glum or at least very serious, I observed an absence of smiling or humour. The town has an Armageddon feel about it.

We are now two weeks into the second lockdown. All the talk in the media is about what will happen when we come out of it on 2nd December, although it is now more like if we come out of it. The talk is very much about Christmas, can we have a few days of normality? There is even talk of the devolved governments agreeing a common plan (that’ll be a first). The reasoning is that large family groups will be able to get together over the Christmas period free from lockdown restrictions. Yes I am not joking, family members travelling from and to all parts of the UK to be indoors with others, partying as though there is no tomorrow. If this happens that will no doubt become true for some! It is also mooted that in order to facilitate this national seasonal virus spreading party we should enter an even stricter lockdown prior to Christmas and then a months further lockdown in January! What exactly it is thought this madness will do for the economy or the nations mental health is beyond me! 

It doesn’t appear that common sense will prevail though!

This does not surprise me after what I have personally experienced this week. I have a very good friend who is suffering from serious cancer. He has spent most of the year in and out of hospital, currently at home he is dependent on his daughter who does not live locally, for support. This week his daughter has had to self isolate because her own young daughter has Covid. What is so worrying is that the daughter caught Covid along with most of her class from a classmate who had tested positive for Covid but her parents still sent her to school. I thought to myself how awful but that is an unusual situation created by one set of ignorant parents. I then discover that the nursery school in my own village has had to take action because parents who themselves are self isolating still send their offspring to nursery. Then nationally there are reports of wedding celebrations taking place in the worst affected towns with hundreds of guests from all over the country, of shisha lounges being raided at one thirty in the morning with over one hundred customers present. There are also numerous cases of gyms up and down the country refusing to close and ultimately being closed permanently by police and local authorities. All this is going on whilst the death rate rises and while special hospital wards are opening to cater for ‘long Covid’ patients. Long Covid is an unexplained debilitating illness that some people develop after having contracted Covid, often only mildly. Long Covid affects all age groups so the cry that ‘I’ll be OK as I’m not old’ is no longer a justifiable reason for breaking the rules. Not that it ever should have been.

Face CoveringsFace masks from an enterprising retail shop - unfortunately closed as deemed not essential!

Watch this space to see what transpires next.

If you think folk in the UK, albeit a minority, are acting like morons a glance across the pond to the USA is akin to a seriously bad trip. The president, soon to be ex president Trump, continues to refuse to accept the result of the November 3rd election. It will ultimately be ratified I’m sure but for the time being Trump issues lawsuits on a daily basis attempting to reverse the election result. He fires anyone however senior who dares to disagree with him. Meanwhile over a quarter of a million Americans have died from Covid, hospitals are overwhelmed yet a substantial majority of American citizens believe the conspiracy theories tweeted by Trump on election fraud and Covid denying.

It feels to me that in November 2020 the lunatics have taken over the asylum. I sometimes wish I was a hedgehog and could hibernate until Spring when maybe there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Of course I can’t so for now I’ll look forward to being able to write a more positive post next week.



Covid-19 Diaries Second lockdown and vaccine announcement

10 November 20

Posted at 4:25

Beamish and MasksBeamish Living Museum

The image captures two realities of late summer 2020 in the UK. Wearing masks is compulsory as is social distancing (resulting in queues for everything). Both are intended to limit the tramsmission of the virus.

This photograph was taken in early September when along with some friends we took a weeks break on the Northumberland coast. We still had to break some rules to do that (six of us lived in one cottage for the week, strictly speaking that was not allowed at the time). We had to journey there in three separate cars. Eating out or visiting a pub or café was something of a chore and impersonal. We probably felt more comfortable in our cottage self catering and isolating in our, albeit illegal, bubble. Bizarre when you consider it. We did though enjoy the wide open spaces, the wild beaches and national parks. We had fun together as friends, something that had been all but impossible since February.


That limited freedom now seems like a distant memory as we are now six days into a further months lockdown. Different from the first lockdown in that schools and universities have remained open. It also doesn’t feel as serious as the first lockdown but all forms of hospitality and all non-essential shops are closed. Hospitalisations and deaths are rising again although deaths are not yet at the level seen in the Spring. It is Autumn now though, the days are shorter, the weather damp and chilly so it feels tougher.


Over the last few days there has been reason for hope and optimism. First of all in the USA elections Donald Trump has lost the presidency, to the joy of the vast majority globally. At this point Donald is not about to go quietly, he refutes the outcome and is using the legal system to query the result. The same legal system of judges that he has packed with his own cronies over the last couple of years. So the world looks on in anticipation. It is unlikely he will be successful but over recent months we have become used to the unlikely actually happening.


Yesterday we received the second good news, a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer has exited phase three of its testing with positive results. As ever the media has reacted disproportionately implying that it may even be rolled out by Christmas (it won’t be). I suppose it is nice to have some good news but we really do have a long way to go before we get out of this pandemic. Just last week it was discovered in Denmark that Covid had first of all spread into their vast mink population but now had mutated into a form transmitted back from mink to humans. The mink are now being exterminated (as happened in Spain earlier in the year), travel from Denmark to other countries, well at least the UK, is banned. Mink are bred in three or four EU countries for export to China for the fur trade, banned for instance in the UK years ago. So animals, or animal products, from a species that has been infected with Coronavirus and has mutated a strain back to humans is being exported to a country where a mutated form of Coronavirus jumped from animals to humans kicking off this whole global pandemic. There is an irony there!


Of course the vaccine developed is unlikely to have an impact on a mutated version spread to humans from mink or any other animal.