It’s the end of May 2020, Spring has sprung, we are through the initial COVID peak and the lockdown is being eased. The earlier panic buying and public anxiety about Coronavirus is being superseded by a public vexation about the behaviour of ‘the social and political elite’ who lay claim to lead the country. A media frenzy was whipped up around the antics of Dominic Cummings. Against all advice and instructions from his employers, the government, he chose to drive his family to Durham (from London) to stay in a spare house on his parents property. He was seen by the locals driving his family out for an excursion to Barnard Castle, before returning back to London a few days later. Meanwhile, the rest of the UK population was in lock down, not even being allowed to visit dying relatives. Johnson, instead of sacking Cummings, was seen to publicly support him. Cummings got away with it and is still in office now. Clearly the rules and instructions for the proletariat to abide by do not apply to the social and political elite. A sense of injustice and outrage has surfaced. Sir Keir Starmer who took control of the Labour party last month, while making his objections clear about these behaviours, is not going for direct confrontation – yet. Keir Starmer has come across as the more considered and artful, politician compared to Boris Johnson, during his first few weeks in office.
The 1st May marked 57 days after the first recorded COVID death in the UK. I was curious to see how the UK had compared to other countries around the world in dealing with COVID-19 as it is widely reported that Europe and America have been taking the brunt of it. So during the first week in May a spent some time analysing and comparing death rates (at the 57day mark) between the UK and a group of well developed countries who were ahead of the UK in their virus spread. I’ve summarised my findings in the graph on the right. The differences are marked, they are off the scale. South Korea, for example, had it’s first fatality on 20th Feb, almost three weeks ahead of the UK (we had our first fatality on 6th March). South Korea went on to reach it’s peak of 9 deaths per day on 26th March. By this time, Northern Italy was in lock down with over 1000 infected. By comparison, here we are in the UK, we went on to peak at almost 1000 deaths per day on 1st May. I have more questions than answers from these observations. (table)
By the 8th May the UK had taken pole position in Europe as the country with highest death rate (31,241). But we are now a month past that peak (38,934 deaths in the UK yesterday) and into the process of unwinding the lockdown. Expectations have been set for further relaxations next week. The natural anxiety is that any return towards our pre-COVID normality will induce an increase in the spread of the disease with disastrous consequences.
9th May marked 75 years after VE day. The May Bank holiday was shifted to 9th so that the country could take time to remember. There was a minute’s silence across the UK at 11am. Here on our street, residence had gathered in front Marjorie’s house. Marjroie who has reached the age of 95 and has clear memories of the second world war. At exactly 11am some-one played a recording The Last Post played on a single bugle. A poignant moment.
May 2020 also marks another rotation around the sun for me. I took a proper lunch break on my birthday and we enjoyed a lovely high tea, and in the evening we had a fantastic Chinese take-away. Sonja bought me this fab garden swing seat as a birthday present, which I was constructing in the back garden while a socially distanced street party was taking place out the front of the house. Immy and Sonja joined the street party, but for some reason I just preferred to be away from people that evening. I am feeling a bit anti-establishment at the moment, unhappy about the way things are turning out for country due to mis-information, mismanagement and ill-informed choices; I’m not in the mood for small talk or big talk. Anyway, we were still in lockdown, so I abstained. I spent most of VE weekend celebrating my birthday in the back garden. The swing chair is a hit with everybody. Long enough to stretch out on, with a sunshade, it’s like being in a really comfy hammock….. the perfect place for an afternoon snooze. The shots were taken the day after I constructed it. Great memories of sitting in the garden for the evening with Sonja supping Gin and Tonics as the sun went down on the Saturday night. Peaceful
We had some late frosts this year …. through to mid month. We aren’t well equip[ed to deal with frosts, so put the fleeces we had out on the new plants that Sonja had planted. I held back from planting the first row of veg until around 20th. Sooooo satisfying to get that first row in. By the end of the month I had all the raised beds fully operational and into a new routine of watering them every day.
Another highlight this moth was watching SpaceX launch with Sonja and the kids yesterday and then seeing the command module docking with the space station today, all in real time. Beats the hell out of watching sci-fi movies!. Thinking back, the Space Shuttle may have been a bigger step in it’s time as it was the first properly re-usable space craft. Much of the Falcon rocket is also reusable with the first stage dropping back to earth after it disconnects.
The significance of this SpaceX launch however cannot be understated, as it was the first commercial flight made to the Space Station by the US. The programme was still under the leadership and overall direction of NASA, but the tech build and space operations are all funded commercially. It seems to be like this programme is putting us on the road to get to Mars, maybe within my lifetime! Yeh! I reckon, if I live until I’m 90, then I could be lucky enough to see images of humans on the surface of Mars. That would be a great news item to blog about!