Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Nodding-acquaintances. Online lessons. Back to school. Fires. And scans.

 Out running in the damp this morning I met one of my nodding acquaintances walking her dogs. My teenage granddaughter exclaims whenever she walks around the village with me that I seem to know everyone. Well, half and half: I know a lot of people just to say hello to because our paths cross on a regular basis but I have no idea what their names are or what they do for a living. If we see each other out of context we sometimes struggle to place each other, especially if people see me in ordinary clothes instead of running gear. This dog-walking lady was one such acquaintance. She commented that her weather app referred to what we were experiencing at that moment as mist. “It feels like rain to me!” she went on. And indeed, although it looked like mist or at any rate very low cloud on the hill tops, close to it felt like fine rain, ‘that thin stuff that gets you really wet’ as my milkman described it recently. I wait to discover if the day improves as it goes on. Yesterday did not! The radio weather forecast does not give me much home for today.

I have bitten the bullet and decided to join the Zoom people. For years I have gone to an Italian conversation class, always with the same teacher, often with the same group of people, but in a variety of locations in or around central Manchester. We came to an abrupt halt in March with lockdown putting a stop to all sorts of activities. And now I have had an invitation to enrol in an online class. I hesitated but eventually filled in the form. We have the Zoom programme on the computer as Phil uses it for chess-related meetings; so the technology side is sorted. My thinking is that if we keep the class going virtually, at some time in the future we’ll be able to resume face to face classes, which are much more fun. Besides, we still have a visit to Sicily pending: the tour is paid for but we all need to wait for a safe date some time in the future.

Our teenage granddaughter has had news of how her sixth form college plans to cope with the new situation. The cohort is divided into two groups, meaning class sizes are reduced, and everyone has one week in college and one week of online teaching. Not ideal but it may be a good decision, given how many schools seem to be having Covid problems already.

Our daughter, back at work with a new class of eight-year-olds - “They are so nice - I love them already!” she enthused yesterday evening - has expressed amazement at how long it takes to organise a group of almost 30 eight-year-olds to hang their coats up, wash and sanitise their hands, walk safely along a corridor and settle into their spaced places in the classroom. No doubt they will get into a speedier routine as time goes by.

Out and about this morning I also met the landlord from the pub next door and asked him how business is going. Very well, was his answer, which came as no surprise judging by the number of people who make use of his car-park-converted-into-a-garden. The hotel side is very slow, however, he said. Businessmen, he told me, are still preferring to Zoom rather than come and stay in his pleasantly situated rooms.

On the radio news they have been saying that young people are perhaps being a little irresponsible and failing to observe social distancing measures and so on. Young people interviewed have protested that they are being scapegoated. Maybe so. 

in France it may be the other end of the age range who are ignoring advice. I read this:

“French people who reject mask-wearing are more likely to be older, educated women who support the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protest movement and the controversial virus specialist Didier Raoult, and would refuse to have a coronavirus vaccination if one were available, according to a study.

They also describe themselves as free-thinkers who believe the government is meddling too much in their lives, have a distrust of public institutions and often support conspiracy theories, it found.”

In Spain, where the number of infections have surged again recently, I read that they are requiring all students aged six or older to wear masks and they are urging them to wash their hands at least five times a day. It was unclear whether this means schoolchildren should wear masks in school, which would make for a very uncomfortable classroom experience. 

Here in the UK we are still seeing attempts to quell regional outbreaks. People have been told they cannot enter or leave Caerphilly in Wales without a reasonable excuse when new restrictions are imposed at 6pm today. There are apparently no plans to build a wall or set up roadblocks but the new rule is there. Pubs and schools and business remain open. And the lockdown there is expected to last until at least October, the Welsh health minister said.

But at least we are not on fire, not at all surprising in our damp bit of the UK. In California some 2million acres have been destroyed by wildfires. One outbreak I heard about yesterday was found to have been caused by an explosive device used at a gender-reveal party. Really!! I could rant at length about the nonsense of such parties but in this case in particular I do wonder about the brainpower of people who set off such devices in a time of wildfire problems. It’s not the first time this kind of thing has happened. 

“In April 2017, an off-duty US border patrol agent, Dennis Dickey, caused $8m of damage to 19,000 hectares (47,000 acres) of Arizona forest when he shot at a target full of blue-coloured explosive as a means of announcing the gender of his unborn child.”


“In October 2019, a woman was killed when a home-made device that was meant to discharge coloured powder exploded at a gender reveal party in Iowa.”


After this item was reported on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme yesterday, with a certain amount of holding hands up in amazement at the silliness of the Americans with those elaborate gender reveal parties, they went on to talk about pregnant women and scans. Some hospitals in this Coronavirus time have been denying partners the right to a company their pregnant ladies when they go for a scan. This means they do not have the chance to see their wriggling developing offspring at the point where it looks like a prawn or even later when you can see some features but not everything. However did we manage 40 years back when they did not give you a chance to have a printout of your scan, which by the way was not always carried out? 

So it goes.

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone. 

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