Thursday, 9 April 2020

Bees. Inequality. How to occupy your lockdown.

It’s another fine day, not quite sunbathing weather but bright and breezy. Phil was up earlier than usual. He was woken by a loud buzzing - had a bumble bee bumbled in through the open window? Whatever it was, he was out of bed in record time, opening curtains and windows all over the place, hoping that whatever it was would make its way out. We never saw it. We know that bees stray indoors at times as we had to rescue one from the bathroom window ledge just the other day. Judging by the speed of his awakening, I think we should adjust the alarm clock to sound like a bee, or maybe a wasp, or even a mosquito whine!

We didn’t see the start of BBC 2’s Newsnight last night but apparently Emily Maitlis began like this:

“They tell us coronavirus is a great leveller. It’s not. It’s much, much harder if you’re poor. How do we stop it making social inequality even greater?”

Quite so! In the poorer countries of the world social distancing is all but impossible. And in the richer countries, it’s the poor - and, like it or not, poor people there are - who will suffer most.

We did see a report about children at risk. School teachers who are aware of which of their pupils are the most likely to suffer from abuse of one kind or another are at their wits’ end trying to help these children. Schools remain open for the children of key workers and for children at risk. The problem is that many of the at risk children are simply not showing up. Maybe they choose not to show and their parents won’t enforce it. Maybe an abusive parent won’t let them leave the house. Maybe a frightened parent, scared stiff after being told of the dangers of leaving the house, won’t allow them to leave the house. And social workers and health visitors are not visiting because of the virus. It’s a horrible situation!

Emily Maitlis also commented on something that has struck me. Much has been made by Mr Johnson’s colleagues of his being a strong character, a “fighter”, the implication being that this will speed his recovery. Even I, a strong believer in the power of mind over matter in many health-related things, have had to accept that such an attitude is not really very helpful against this virus.

“You do not survive the illness through fortitude and strength of character, whatever the Prime Minister’s colleagues will tell us,” Emily Maitlis said.

There you go!

Here is a link to an article about the spread of the disease through social gatherings. It points out a correlation between coronavirus hotspots in various countries and social gatherings that have taken place, whether a carnival celebration in a German town or mardi gras in New Orleans or a religious gathering as at the Porte Ouverte Christian church annual two week prayer get-together in Mulhouse in France.

Frightening stuff!

The Manchester Evening News reported a fire that broke out on Saddleworth Moor - our moor, peat-based, in our neck of the woods - at 4.40 pm yesterday afternoon. Four fire engines and two wildfire units were scrambled to the scene. Fire crews remained at the scene tackling the blaze for two and a half hours, a Manchester Fire service spokesman said. Dave Swallow, station manager at Stalybridge and Mossley, said the fire meant crews were unable to attend 'life threatening incidents' elsewhere. I have not read anything about the cause of the fire but I remember that years ago it used to be the practice for farmers to burn off last year’s stubble at this time of year. Maybe this is still going on in some cases but it has always seemed a rather dangerous thing to do, especially after a couple of weeks of dry weather.

Here’s an interesting headline about New Zealand: “Sex toy sales triple during New Zealand's coronavirus lockdown”.

“They were warned by the officials against stockpiling toilet paper or flour. But that’s not all New Zealanders have been hoarding, according to the nation’s largest retailer of sex toys, which said sales of its products tripled after Jacinda Ardern announced a month-long lockdown of the country. New Zealanders are permitted to leave their homes only to access essential services or take walks during the national shutdown, which began a fortnight ago and will remain in place for at least a further two weeks.”

I suppose that not everyone will be satisfied with sitting down and reading a book or listening to music.

In the Guardian or the Observer at the weekend Tim Dowling asked various “experts” for advice on stuff you can do around the home while under lockdown. I’m not sure who the “experts” were or how “expert” in the areas mentioned. One of them was Siân Berry, co-leader of the Green party, a member of the London Assembly and a candidate in the now-postponedLondon mayoral election. It seems she is also the author of a book called “Mend it! 400 Easy Repairs for Everyday Items”.

She recommends sewing.

“I totally recommend sewing,” she says. “Replace those buttons, get those hems exactly the right length.” But what if you can’t sew? “Hemming is surprisingly easy,” she insists. “There’s a special stitch for hemming where you’re basically hanging the fabric off very tiny stitches which don’t go through to the outside. It’s a really good skill because you can get all your clothes to fit you perfectly.”

Well, as a person who has always sewn a lot, I find that advice rather odd. Some people are going to mess up their hemlines!”

And then there is this from an unidentified source ... oh, no, it’s still Siân Berry:-

Makeshift shelves can be produced with no tools, from scrap wood. “You can probably still find random bits of wood on your state-sanctioned walk,” says Berry. “Bits of wood and bricks make a lovely, sort-of-temporary bookshelf. At a pinch, you could use books for the uprights.”

I wonder where she walks. We live close to countryside and find no pieces of wood suitable for making bookshelves. We built our own bookshelves thirty-odd years ago. We carefully measured the alcoves and bought wood, recycled planks, I hasten to add, cut to exact sizes. The shelves are still there thirty-odd years down the line.

My daughter-in-law, in the southern branch of the family, has been involved in DIY, clearing a space in the garden to make an al fresco craft area for her daughter. Today she plans to paint the fence in rainbow colours, with the help of said small daughter.

Lots of people are baking.

Within the family group we share photos of cakes and pies. On the menu today we have left-over sweet potato tart, with more green beans and some salad. Lemon yogurt cake and fruit for dessert. 

Hanging washing out in our respective gardens, a neighbour and I have set the world to rights ... at a distance, of course. We sang the praises of cordless vacuum cleaners and laughed at our use of vacuuming as away of getting some exercise. In my case, this has been delayed by writing this as now by the One O’Clock News.

Life goes on. Stay safe everyone.

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