Thursday, 3 December 2020

The race for a vaccine -have we won? Some thoughts on competition. Going out in the weather.

Apparently we have to credit Brexit for the UK being the first country to clinically approve a Covid vaccine. I’ve not yet worked out quite what Brexit has to do with it. And I do know that some people are worried that after December 31st lorry loads of the vaccine will be held up at cross channel ports - isn’t that because of Brexit as well?

But never mind. Gavin Williamson says it’s because we have much better scientists than France, Belgium or the US. Does he single them out merely as examples or does he think other unnamed countries do in fact have better scientists?

He went on to say he was not surprised the UK was the first to roll out the immunisation because “we’re a much better country than every single one of them”. Well, I suppose he should know. He is the Minister for Education or Education Secretary or whatever, in charge of learning and being clever! 

I really do not like this jingoistic being better than other countries. One of the things I always hoped the EU was about was cooperation and working at things together. And in a case like this surely beating the virus is more important than beating other countries. Let’s hope we are on the way to beating the virus!

It’s not that I’m against competition. Throughout my school life - well, probably not in infant school - I remember us having twice yearly exams for everything and the class being put in rank order. We all became very good at working out averages. As we received our exam marks for each subject we would work out our average mark and by comparing with others in the class work out who was top of the class and where we stood in that rank order. And almost all of us went up and down like yo-yos, the average pushed up by the subjects we excelled in and pushed down by weaker ones. And mostly we didn’t get as worked up about it, and our parents didn’t get so stressed about it, as seems to happen with SATs. (Oops, that sounds like the exams version of ‘... insert something from the past that is disapproved of now ... didn’t do me any harm’.)

No, on the whole a bit of competition can spur things on but I still feel that some things need international cooperation instead of competition. Fighting the virus! Dealing with climate change! Sorting out the refugee/immigration problem! Just to mention a few.

When I was in secondary school, at a girls’ grammar school, our headmistress used to do a “mark reading” for each class. We sat to attention and she sat at the front and commented on each girl’s performance over the year. No matter that you had achieved “honours”, i.e. over 75% in the end of year exam, in some subjects, the fact that you had “failed”, i.e. less that 39% in the exam, in even just one subject gave her the right to make you squirm and feel like a worm. I always felt sorry for the girls in the bottom five or so places.

So maybe competition is fine in its way but you should be able to opt out of it if you so wish.

That’s enough of that. Today is dull and damp and dismal. One of my nodding acquaintances stopped her car this morning (usually I see her walking her dog) to ask what I was doing running in the drizzle!!?? Well, running... because it was only drizzle and not a serious downpour. It could be worse! The weatherman has promised us the possibility of snow. This has not prevented my brother-in-law from proposing another Diggle Chippy Hike tomorrow. He has looked at a detailed weather forecast and thinks he has found a “window” in the middle of the day when the weather should be cold but cloudy bright. We shall see! And we might see some interesting views!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone. 

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