Tag Archives: UK

On the brink….

At the end of the first covid lockdown in August, our Prime Minister said that if the R rate (ie the number of people 1 infected person passes the virus on to) went above 1.0 he wouldn’t hesitate to go back into lockdown. Less than 2 months later the R rate is currently 1.6-2.0 in the north of England, yet a lockdown is nowhere to be seen. We economically can’t afford it. We’d rather let people die than close down the economy again. Tough choice. I get it. Though I probably wouldn’t get it if I died. Or my parents died. Or my best mate died just to keep my local pub open so everyone had somewhere to get pissed on a weekend when the pandemic is over. Just sayin’.

Instead, local areas are facing tougher restrictions, like closing the pubs at 10pm instead of 11pm (because the virus likes an early night) and not being able to mix in groups of more than 6 indoors (unless you’re in a pub filled with 100 people, all of whom are off their heads on drink and none of whom are wearing a mask).

The restrictions differ depending on where you live in the country and no-one understands them, not even our Prime Minister apparently. Consequently not everyone is obeying them, making them about as much use as a chocolate teapot.

Where I live in Cumbria, we are the only part of the North of England not on local lockdown. But it’s coming. It has to, because there is no ban on travel from nearby infected areas (fucking insanity!) and the virus doesn’t respect county line borders.

Last week, I rang my Mum for their weekly shopping list. “We’d like some loo rolls” she tells me.
“Er, didn’t I get you 9 last week?”
“Yes, but we want some more in case there’s a lockdown”.
“Mum, there isn’t a shortage of loo rolls and you don’t need any more”.
“There was a shortage of loo rolls during the last lockdown, so this time we’re stocking up!”
FFS.

Yesterday, we were talking about the 16,000 missed infections cockup which will inevitably lead to an exponential increase in cases. “And did you see on the telly all those people panic buying again?” Mum asks me, clearly frustrated, “it’s bloody ridiculous!”
And no matter what I said I couldn’t get her to understand that her bulk purchase of bog roll and UHT milk last week is panic buying and it’s because of behaviour like hers that the bloody shelves were bare during the last lockdown. It’s a self-fulfilling event.

Today I’ve done this week’s Tesco shop and there were only 3 types of loo roll available. My Mum has asked me for yet another 4 cartons of UHT milk and I’m delighted to say that Tesco said “not on your nelly!” and only allowed me to put 2 in my basket.

Far from bringing out the Blitz spirit and us all being “in this together” the pandemic has clearly shown that it’s every man for himself. Which makes me desperately sad.

I still don’t understand the whole bog roll thing. I could understand it if Covid-19 gave you raging diarrhoea but I’m fairly certain it affects your lungs, not your arse. Yet at my local Tesco this week there are 32 bottles of cough medicine and no Andrex 🤔. As Piers Morgan would say:

Covid-19: Second Wave

July 4th marked the end of lockdown in England (bizarrely, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have different rules and timescales) with the re-opening of pubs and cafes. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to know that infection rates would rise once we all started to mingle and sure enough, with a lag of several weeks, confirmed cases of Covid have shot up in the past 14 days.

The official infection figures from the Government are inaccurate. Testing facilities are still inadequate (shame on you Boris Johnson) and there is talk of rationing tests to hospitals and care homes only, so we have no clue what the actual infection rate is in the wider population. The best data appears to come from the Covid Tracker app from King’s College Hospital/Zoe which has 4.3 million users and has been in situ from the very start of the pandemic, so I’ll quote data from that.

  • When lockdown ended on 4th July there were a predicted daily 25,748 cases of Covid in the UK. It beggars belief there were any cases!
  • Within 2 weeks this has risen slightly to 28,806 which was to be expected.
  • However, by the 4th September (8 weeks after the end of lockdown) cases started to rise in earnest and as of Wednesday this week (16th September) predicted daily cases have nearly tripled to 69,687 and are rising fast.
Source: BBC. Official figures. Actual figures almost certainly higher.

So what’s gone wrong? You only have to look at people’s behaviour to see why Covid is once again on the rise.

  • Not observing social distancing. I had someone reach across me in the supermarket the other day for some bread FFS.
  • Wearing masks incorrectly. How stupid do you need to be to wear a mask under your nose? And the amount of people who don’t ensure their mask fits correctly before venturing out leaves me mystified. Surgical masks are too big for me, so I tie a knot in the ear loops so that the mask doesn’t bag on my face and I don’t have to keep pulling it up.
  • Breaking the rules. My new next door neighbours are intelligent, church going folks who allowed 15 of their sons’ closest friends to meet for a party in their garden a week after lockdown ended. Let’s ignore the fact there was zero social distancing going on, and concentrate on the fact that until this week although you were allowed a gathering of up to 30 people these people were only supposed to come from two households. It did not mean you could have 30 random bloody strangers in your garden!
  • But the biggest factor by far was opening pubs and clubs. Young adults are reckless at the best of times, but when they’re drunk they will act in ways they wouldn’t dream of when they’re sober. It’s no surprise that the highest rate of new infection by a million miles is in the 20-29 age group.

You only have to read our local Facebook noticeboard to see the attitude towards Covid of young adults. Each week, the FB page posts the latest news about coronavirus and each week hundreds of young adults post lots of these 😆. They think the whole pandemic is hilarious, a hoax or wildly exaggerated. Their most common comment is “yeah, the killer virus which you need a test to even know you have!”. Their level of ignorance blows my mind and even our Health Secretary is concerned. They’re aware that even if they catch Covid it’s unlikely to make them unwell, but the fact that while infected they are spreading to the virus to everyone they come into contact with is still not getting through. The R rate in some parts of the UK is now 1.7, which means that for every infected young person they are passing it on to effectively 1½ other people, who are in turn passing it on to 1½ other people, who pass it on to 1½ other people………….it’s no wonder cases are spiralling.

Even some leading medical minds in the UK have been downplaying the recent surge in cases, saying that although infection rates are up hospitalizations and deaths are not. You can forgive ignorance in young people, but not in the middle aged and certainly not when they are in positions of authority.

The UK has always been around 5 weeks behind Europe when it comes to Covid, so we only need to look at what’s happening in France, for example, to see what’s heading our way. On 13th September, France reported the highest number of daily Covid cases since the pandemic began in February. Both hospital admissions and deaths are rising sharply and doctors in Marseille revealed this week that the 70 intensive care unit beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients in the city and the surrounding Bouches-du-Rhone region were all occupied by Tuesday. The situation in Spain is even worse and they have now exceeded half a million cases, the highest in Europe.

Where the UK went wrong at the start of the Pandemic was in thinking that what was happening in Italy couldn’t happen here. Yet the UK has surpassed the Italian death rate by tens of thousands. To think that what’s currently happening in France and Spain won’t happen here is insanity. We’re not even in winter yet. The weather is still warm and dry and we are congregating largely outdoors. Everyone agrees that infection rates will increase once we are forced indoors with re-circulated air and social distancing becomes that much harder. My mind boggles as to where we’ll be by December.

Despite the fact that our Prime Minister stated at the end of lockdown that if the R rate went above 1 we would go back into lockdown, this will never happen. The R rate is 1.7 in some parts of the UK but he is putting money before lives and not even considering another lockdown because he knows the economy would once again grind to a halt. I can see his point, but what price life?

Various parts of the UK are in regional lockdown, or at the very least have increased restrictions. Glasgow and surrounds, most of the North East of England, Manchester and surrounds, parts of West Yorkshire and Lancashire, Birmingham and surrounds, south Wales……………come on now Boris! It’s lockdown by the back door for heavens sake. Restrictions on visiting hospitals and care homes has begun in many places throughout the country. There is also talk of a national lockdown during the school half term holidays, but it’s not children who are spreading the virus. It is, and always has been, the 18-40s. Stop them partying and half the problem would be halted in its tracks. But as the hospitality industry is a significant part of the economy, our government would rather keep pubs open and people dying. This despite the fact that problem drinking has increased massively this year and is going to cost the country a fortune in treatment in the long term.

The official death rate in the UK from Covid is nearly 42,000 however it is more likely to be nearer 60,000 and counting. How many people have to die before our Government gets a proper grip on this killer pandemic?

Covid-19: the New Rules

We all want the lockdown to end.  Our economy is suffering and we’re frustrated and fed up of the isolation.  However, we realise that the pandemic is far from over – in fact in some areas the curve has barely flattened let alone begun to subside – and so we, the public, know it’s too soon to leave our homes.

Our wise-Leader-with-the-permanently-dishevelled-hair, however, disagrees.  He is putting money before lives and has begun “slowly and gradually” to faze out lockdown.  We now have New Rules to follow:

  • We should continue to WORK FROM HOME.  Apart from those that can’t work from home who should be encouraged to go to work.
  • We can TRAVEL as far as we like, so long as it’s not to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and isn’t on public transport.  So basically in our cars.   The garages are shut so FFS don’t break down and whatever you do don’t have an accident and end up in a Covid-19 riddled hospital, but other than that cars rock.
  • We can do neither ^ until WEDNESDAY.  Cos Wednesdays are magic days when the virus isn’t spread.
  • We should continue to STAY HOME.  But we can leave home to exercise, travel, work and socialize.
  • The over 70s are no longer VULNERABLE and can go out as normal so long as they socially distance.  Praise be, it’s a miracle!
  • Non-essential shops will remain CLOSED.  Except off-licenses cos they are still essential, obv.  Oh, and now garden centres cos they are essential too, obv.
  • We can MEET UP with 1 person not from our household, but only in a public space and only if we stay 2m away.  But we can’t meet up with a family member in their garden, even if we stay 2m away  – the air in gardens is different to the air on pavements outside gardens, obv.
  • We should wear FACE MASKS when in confined public spaces.  But they don’t protect us from catching the killer virus.  But they do protect us from passing on the killer virus.  Masks that only work one way – interesting 🤔
  • Soon, we will quarantine anyone flying into the UK from abroad.  But not the French or the Irish cos they don’t harbour the killer virus.
  • Wait……you mean we haven’t been quarantining people flying into the UK yet?!  Interesting 🤔
  • Soon, 5 year olds can go to school because they are notoriously good at staying away from other children, washing their hands and not touching stuff.  But 14 year olds have to stay home cos they can’t be trusted.
  • The way to control the virus is now to track and trace via the NHS app.  That would be the app no-one has yet.
  • The Government are depending on us to “use our common sense” even though our Prime Minister isn’t using his, and the police stopped a couple from travelling 600 miles to the Lake District this weekend from London because they wanted “a loaf of bread”.
  • The police will be fining people who break the rules, even though The Rules aren’t laws so aren’t actually enforceable.

The New Slogan:

BE ALERT – because the country needs Lerts.

CONTROL THE VIRUS – you mean the invisible virus we can’t see, smell, touch or taste?  I can’t even control my dog.

SAVE LIVES – always preferable to killing people I would have thought.

Covid-19: confused.com

Either my one functioning brain cell is socially distancing itself from the rest and thereby not allowing rational thought, or there is a lot of confusion surrounding the pandemic.  Here are just a few of the mixed messages we’ve received from our government:

  • We should STAY HOME, unless we have to go out.
  • We should only make ESSENTIAL JOURNEYS, which includes riding a bike for 10 miles.
  • We must WORK FROM HOME.  Unless we can’t work from home, then we can go to work.
  • Only ESSENTIAL SHOPS are open, which includes non-essential off-licenses.
  • Cafes and restaurants are CLOSED, apart from the ones that are open and doing take-outs.
  • It’s OK to eat takeaway prepared and delivered by someone who hasn’t used gloves or a mask and may be infected, just so long as they leave it on the doorstep.
  • There are no food shortages, apart from all the items you still can’t get at the supermarket.  Or online.  Or basically anywhere.
  • There is no risk from pets, though we’re not sure about the Covid-riddled cat in Belgium or the dogs in Hong Kong.
  • The main route of transmission is by air droplets, or possibly aerosols.  But also surfaces but mainly indoors, or possibly outdoors if it’s dry, or wet.  Or on packaging, but only for 24 hours.  Unless it’s plastic then it’s 4 days, or is it 5?  Possibly via dogs.  Or cats.  Or bats.  We don’t really know.
  • There are no tests for care homes or health workers.  But there are tests for cats and dogs.  And rich people.
  • Masks should not be worn by the public, apart from in America, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bosnia-Herzegovina & Morocco where they must be worn by the public.  In Germany they should be worn, or shouldn’t be worn, depending which way the wind is blowing.
  • The virus doesn’t affect children, unless they die from contracting it.
  • The virus mainly affects the elderly, though more middle aged people end up in intensive care unable to breathe.
  • The main symptoms are fever and a cough.  Apart from when there is no fever.  Or cough.
  • You can have the virus with no symptoms.  Or be contagious with no symptoms.  Or contagious before you get symptoms.  We’re all basically fucked.
  • If you get sick don’t visit your GP.  But if you are sick, still visit your GP.  Or phone 111, but don’t expect anyone to answer.
  • Don’t visit the health centre if you are vulnerable or self-isolating.  But come and collect your prescriptions because we’re not delivering.
  • The army of local volunteers, shopping for and visiting elderly and vulnerable people haven’t been security checked, but none of them will con or rob you, apart from the ones that con or rob you.
  • You can’t visit your elderly, vulnerable parents even if you stay 2m away but you can chat to a total stranger in the street, from 2m away.
  • Keep moving when you exercise, apart from when you’re standing and chatting to total strangers you meet in the street.
  • It is vital that hospital staff nursing covid patients have adequate PPE.  It is not vital that home care staff nursing covid patients have adequate PPE.
  • There is no shortage of PPE for hospital staff, apart from when there isn’t enough PPE for hospital staff.  There is no PPE for care workers, we’re not even going to lie about it.
  • As of today, there were 87,022 cases of the virus in the UK.  But that doesn’t include people who weren’t tested, which is basically everyone, so who the fuck knows?
  • As of today, 13, 917 people in the UK have died from the virus.  But that doesn’t include anyone who died at home.  Or in a care home.  And there are no post mortems, so no-one knows who died of what.  So, basically, who the fuck knows?
  • It will be at least 18 months before there is a vaccine, but we will lift lockdown next month.  Maybe.  For some people.  We don’t know who yet.  Or some businesses.  We don’t know which yet.  Vulnerable people should stay at home until they die of old age.  Or boredom.  Or shrivel through lack of sunlight.
  • We’re all in this together.  It’s just that some of us, like health and care workers, are more in it than everyone else.

 

The Renovation Project

Due to my health problems, and thinking about the future and my old age, I’ve spent 5 years looking for a single storey bungalow to call my forever home.  I knew I’d probably end up with a renovation project because that’s all I could afford, and in any event as this will be my last house I want it how I want it rather than a layout which suits a family or couple, but there simply wasn’t much available in my area and I didn’t want to move too far because not only do I love where I live but I also have my parents nearby to consider.

So I was just about to give up hope when I had an offer accepted on a knackered 1970s ugly pebbled dashed village bungalow the week before Christmas, less than 4 miles from where I currently live!   I’m both excited and absolutely terrified, not only of the amount of work involved but the fact I am alone and chronically ill – a house move on its own would be hard enough, but to move into a house which has a mouldy, sinking concrete floor and an olive green corner bath is insanity 😉

My friends and family have asked to see the plans and pictures, but due to my lack of both time and energy I decided the easiest thing to do was blog about the project, so if any of you would like to follow along I’d be glad of the company 🙂  To see more about the background to the move click the About menu at the top of the page – the photos and plans are also there.

I don’t know whether I’m being extraordinarily brave, or extraordinarily stupid, but it’s happening so wish me luck!

 

 

The EU Referendum

As you know, I don’t discuss politics here on my blog but I’m going to make an exception for the EU Referendum because, whichever way you look at it, it’s a big deal.

I have agonized about my decision.  There are lots of reasons why we should leave and similarly valid reasons why we should stay (there’s a basic guide to the EU and the referendum on the BBC’s website).  I’ve taken everything the politicians have said with a pinch of salt: they have their own agenda and self-serving interests, none of which have anything to do with your average Joe in the street.  They lie mercilessly.  In fact, the propaganda surrounding the referendum has sickened me.  I’ve always liked Barack Obama but when he waded in with veiled threats about not doing trade with the UK if we leave Europe I went right off him.  How would he feel if Europe told him we wouldn’t trade with America unless they unrestrainedly opened their borders to Mexico and accepted the hundreds of thousands of immigrants that would flood in?  Citizens they didn’t need or could afford in a time of huge austerity?  He’d tell us to bugger off and that America’s immigration policy was none of our damned business, and that’s exactly what I wanted to tell him to do.

It’s been almost impossible to find non-biased information and even my friends are very firmly in one camp or the other, constantly on Facebook spouting the latest propaganda and their reasons for staying or leaving.  Many of which may be valid, but are often based on information fed from the camp they are in allegiance with.

Here would be my reasons for leaving:

  • Britain entered the EU, formerly the Common Market, in 1975 with the sole purpose of helping trade between member countries, which then stood at 8. The reasoning behind the formation of the Common Market is that you are less likely to go to war with countries with which you trade.
    The EU now contains 27 countries (soon to be 28 with the addition of Turkey) and the European Parliament makes laws on everything from human rights to the environment, monetary policy to safety at work.  Britain, as a nation, did not agree to this.  We agreed to a committee of 8 neighbouring countries making combined decisions on trade, nothing else.
  • The UK, like all the other EU nations, elect MEPs (Members of the European Parliament), to vote at the European Parliament in Brussels.  However, the job of an MEP is to represent the interests of Europe not its own nation or people.  So, although they are elected by the British people they do not represent the British people in Parliament, instead deciding on laws which benefit Europe as a whole.
  • Because we belong to the EU we have to accept workers from the other 27 EU countries.  We have no control over these workers.  They don’t need to be skilled or even speak English.  We are a tiny island.  Germany is 5 times the size of the UK, yet has a population of 80 million against the UK’s population of 64 million.  In order for Germany to be as cramped as the UK it would have to swell its population by 240 million.  It has the space for 2 million immigrants.  We do not.
  • As of today, the UK has 1.67 million unemployed people.  We don’t have enough jobs for our own citizens, let alone people from other countries.
  • We have a massive housing shortage in the UK because of our ever growing population and lack of land. One of the reasons for the horrendous flooding we experience in the UK nowadays is that we keep having to build houses and build houses and build houses……….on grassy fields which used to soak up rainwater.  The more people who live here the more houses we will need to build on an ever decreasing land mass.  You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that given this scenario the flooding is going to get worse.  Much worse.
  • Our health service is literally cracking under the strain of our current population.  Our schools have to do charity fundraisers to buy computer and gym equipment.  Our Victorian sewerage and drainage system is crumbling.  Our roads are without a top layer of tarmac because we are, effectively, skint.  We can’t afford to house and sustain the citizens we already have, let alone a few million more.
  • We fought 2 wars, and lost millions of our people, to not be ruled by anyone.  Especially Germany.  Enough said.  Would American agree to abide by laws made by Vietnam or Japan?  I think not.

So, for me personally, the main reason to leave the EU would be so that we can control our borders.  I’m not talking about immigration here, or asylum.  I’m talking about the free flow of workers (who can then also claim our welfare benefits, eg. weekly child allowance for children who are still living in Poland and have never even been to the UK) through EU countries.

Here would be my reasons for staying:

  • We currently have a Government who, this week, is being hauled up in front of the United Nations for abusing its most vulnerable citizens.  We, the 5th richest economy on the planet, have taken austerity out on sick, disabled and disadvantaged people to such an extent that we are being accused of violating human rights.  It’s sickening.  My Government has done this despite being watched by the European Court of Human Rights and the UN.  Can you imagine what they’d do to their citizens if we left the EU and no-one was watching?
  • We may have to abide by laws made by the European Parliament but this may be no bad thing.  My Government has tried for decades to abolish rights for blue collar workers, rights our ancestors died for, and without our membership of the EU would have succeeded.
  • Our seas and rivers were filled with raw sewage and our countryside decimated by environmentally disastrous farming practices until we joined the EU.  Membership of the EU has been hugely beneficial to nature and our environment.
  • I live in the north of England, an area completely ignored by my Government and left to rot for decades.  The north has received millions of pounds from the EU for regeneration without which it would be a wasteland.
  • UK farmers receive large monetary subsidies off the EU, without which many would not survive.
  • Europe faces a terrorism threat.  We are safer being part of the EU, with its inter-agency and police co-operation and intelligence, than standing alone.

My main reason for staying in the EU would be the watchful eye Brussels keeps on my Government and its violation of human rights.

Notice I haven’t once mentioned the Economy.  That’s because no-one knows what would happen if we left the EU.  Leading up to the vote on whether or not Britain should ditch the £ and join the Euro currency there was dreadful scarmongering about what would happen to the UK’s economy if we didn’t adopt the Euro and guess what?  We didn’t adopt the Euro and absolutely bugger all happened – life just carried on as before.  In fact, as a nation we all breathed a sigh of relief following the crash when first Greece went bust, then Ireland went bust and Britain stayed one of the strongest economies in the world.  So I don’t listen to a word that’s said about falling stock markets or bankrupcy should Britain leave Europe because it’s all bollocks.

So, which way will I vote?  It’s been incredibly difficult to make up my mind.  We simply cannot cope with the free movement of workers in the EU and our Prime Minister tried very hard earlier on this year to reach an agreement with Brussels on limiting the influx of European workers to the UK and failed.  However, I worry more about my Government’s austerity measures which have impacted the sick and disabled to such an extent they are using food banks for survival, yet have left the richest 5% of the country better off.  So I will vote to stay, reluctantly and with huge reservations.  I don’t know if it’s the right choice or not, only time will tell.