I did very well out of Covid – plenty of time off with pay and found the whole thing relaxing and productive. Others had a very different experience.
Here’s a few thoughts that go beyond the NHS and teachers. Not saying that they aren’t heroes, but they do have a habit of telling us how hard they work, even in non-pandemic times and seem to have a well-tuned PR machine.
Bin men. Out is all weathers taking rubbish away. Take the bin men away for a month and you’d start to see rats in the streets and the breakdown of society.
Shop assistants. A couple of my sisters in law were in ASDA all through the pandemic, putting up with abuse from the public, risking infection every day and keeping us fed.
Bus drivers – several died from Covid as they kept our transport system going so people could get to work. Their deaths passed mostly unreported.
Postmen. Another profession that suffered Covid casualties but kept going through thick and thin. People were quarantining mail during lockdown because they were afraid of it bringing in germs, but the posties had to handle thousands of items a day. After the first lockdown, when we did close, they kept our eBay business going.
Street cleaners, meals on wheels, power workers, farm workers, police, firemen, railway staff. I’m afraid that I can’r even start to list everyone, because there are so many people who get taken for granted and I’m bound to have forgotten someone.
So, to all the people out there who kept the country running and didn’t get a proper thank you, I assure you I am grateful.
Finally, care workers. Not going to labour the point, but underpaid and unappreciated are words that definitely apply.
Last night we went out, I was too tired to post when I returned and, this morning, sat down to write a post at work, which I emailed to myself. It was quick, but not elegant and I have spent so much time editing I may as well not have written it. On the other hand, as there was no work to do, what else was I going to do? I could have cleaned the toilet or blogged. Not a difficult choice.
I’m struggling with the idea of getting out and about after 15 months of various lockdowns and wasn’t entirely comfortable about going. Despite my misgivings, it went well. It’s not so much that I’m afraid of catching Covid, as I’m now fully vaccinated, but after spending all that time isolating I don’t want to see the world blow it because people can’t think things through. After all that time, and all the alterations we have made to our lifestyle, it would be a shame if we spoil it now. There is still, in my mind, very little difference between a foreign holiday and a super-spreader event.
The main difference between Harvester now and Harvester fifteen months ago is that I am not allowed in one on my own. I don’t have Track and Trace loaded on my phone and even if I did, I don’t have the thing on it that allows you to use those pixelated square things you see around the place. It seems that unless you are tech savvy or in the company of young people you are no longer required. This is OK by me as I am resigned to being on life’s scrapheap, but it seems a little rough that a whole generation is written off just like that. On the bright side, it will enable me to save money.
Bee on Spanish Poppy
The steak was dry, the garnish was grudging (a few peas, half a tomato and two mushrooms the size of my thumb nail) and the massive portion of chips was a clear attempt to disguise the paucity of the rest of the plateful. The free salad had to be served by a member of staff and the choice was limited, as was the portion size. A shy person would have been seriously short-changed on the salad. They were happy to offer bread rolls, in fact they were happy to offer two bread rolls – see my previous comment on disguising small portions.
They also had no choice of bottled water – it was just still water in a large bottle – no sparkling or small bottles. There was no horseradish sauce. There were no condiments on the table so no pepper or vinegar for me. Like so many of the economy measures we see, it’s a cost-saving exercise dressed up as a health precaution. They had, however, salted my chips without asking me. I don’t add salt to my food. I haven’t added salt for around 30 years. It took a bit of getting used to, but I don’t need it and I don’t see why it should be added without my permission.
Apart from that, it was OK, though I’m not going to be tempted back by the quality of the dining experience.
The actual socialising was more relaxing than I had expected. It was nice to see people and it was good to get out and to find that I could relax in a social setting despite my misgivings about mixing. Even so, I’m not planning on more mixing for a while. That’s the thing about lockdown, I wasn’t very sociable before lockdown so I’m not suddenly going to become a people person just because the government tells me I can go out.
A lot of people put themselves at risk so that I could stay happy and healthy in lockdown, including members of the NHS (though not dentists, who have not been doing much apart from counting their money), emergency services, dustmen, bus drivers, postmen and, of course, Julia. I was lucky enough to be able to just treat it as one long holiday.
All that will be in vain if we start to act stupidly now.
Similarly, we have had cleaner air recently. If we all jump on a flight to Portugal it won’t be long before we are back to normal.
Hoverfly on Spanish Poppy
I’m with David Attenborough on this one – “The truth is: the natural world is changing. And we are totally dependent on that world. It provides our food, water and air. It is the most precious thing we have and we need to defend it.”
Covid has changed my life, and my way of thinking. Even now it is nearly over, the changes continue. And briefly, for just one post, it has made me serious and philosophical. I will try to be more light-hearted next time.
We had 24 poppies out yesterday morning – all gone when we got home. They are Spanish Poppies according to Clare Pooley, and when you look them up on the internet it seems quite obvious. I’d never heard of them until today – another gap in my knowledge. Mine are singles, rather than the pom-pom flowers on the RHS website. Thank you Clare.
It was a slightly surreal experience, leaving the house just after midnight to go for a vaccination. However, despite my misgivings about the lack of clarity in the time of the appointment, we were there for 00.20 and left at 01.00. It would have been quicker but there was, according to Julia, a lot of duplication of information (having filled in a form on-line you have to fill another one in when you get there and then answer the same questions again to a real person). It’s all very bureaucratic and time consuming, which is typical of the NHS.
The vaccination centre is in a building at the Forest Recreation Ground Park and Ride. I would post photos but when I turned my camera on I found I’d left the card in the computer after downloading the fish pie photos.
After the vaccination (which was administered by military personnel) she had to wait fifteen minutes to be released – having to give her details again before they finally let her out.
It seems that they were able to start vaccination of front line staff earlier than planned because they had an unexpected supply of vaccine. The original date had been the second week in February.
It was noticeable, from the increase in pinging on Julia’s phone this afternoon, that something was happening. She checked and found that the code had been released to allow front-line staff to book vaccination slots. The early adopters seem to be all the cowardly stay-at-home types who have been refusing to come into work at Mencap. They are keen to take the wages, but not quite so keen to actually go to work and help the people they are supposedly there to support. However, show them a vaccine code and they are on it like a pack of dogs. Because they stay at home they are actually at no more risk than I am, but they have all leapt in to claim their priority vaccination.
Two of the Mencap workers have already been vaccinated – one because they are also employed by the NHS and another because they exploited a loophole (now closed). I heard last week that two twenty-somethings had been given a vaccination because a friend rang to tell them there was some left-over vaccine at a local centre. I mention them here only as an example of how the vaccine is not been administered uniformly, as they did nothing wrong.
It is now a case of waiting to see if I get my first dose before Julia gets her second.
While I was waiting I noticed a number of cars with middle-aged men in them waiting for their womenfolk to return. It seems that we stick to certain stereotypes in the UK, even in the 21st century; the women work in the caring professions and the men do the driving.
I thought I’d add that so a 22nd Century PhD student of Pandemic Britain might one day unearth my blog and find a nugget of knowledge.