(Monday, 25th to Sunday, 31st May 2020)
Monday was a fairly ordinary day, as days on COVID-19 Lockdown and self isolation go. As I start to write this (on Wednesday) the only thing that stands out about Monday is that it marks the end of week 10 of our personal lockdown, which started for us the day after the announcement of the lockdown on Tuesday, 18th March. The lockdown officially began on Sunday, 23rd March.
From now this will be a weekly blog, because the number of posts down the right hand side of my front page is looking a bit overwhelming! I may also be more selective of Clemency Burton-Hill's daily choices of music from the "Year of Wonder".
|Cactus flowers in the greenhouse|
|Taz on the patio, waiting to run madly in all directions|
Now, an update is due on the ravages of COVID-19: the peak of the daily death toll was 1,260 on 8th April. Daily deaths have now halved and (seemingly) halved again to probably around 300 per day. I say 'probably' because there are ups and downs according to when in the week the death is registered, which is not usually on the day it occurred. Weekends always show a dip followed by a rise later in the week because deaths that actually happened on the weekend won't be registered till weekdays.
The rise in spread the case count and the case fatality rate was very steep through March to its peak after the first week of April. The decline, clearly with the aid of the lockdown and social distancing strategy, is clear but far more gradual. What happens next? As lockdown is relaxed, who knows what chances there may be of a second wave of infections, cases and deaths. Given also the addition of the Dominic Cummings factor (a senior bureaucrat at No.10 Downing Street), who apparently - well actually, without any real doubt, he did flout the lockdown guidelines on multiple occasions during late March and early April and has caused an absolute outrage of criticism of Boris Johnson's government, who have sent the Spinmeisters into overdrive, with statements like that he was within the rules, following the guidelines and that what he did was “understandable for a worried parent”! I’ll not go further into this incident, because it would fill this blog to tell the full story. Suffice to say it is absolutely clear that the elite so-called leaders of the present government have withdrawn into a tapestry of lies and deceit, led, as has become the pattern of the man’s behaviour, by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his cohort designed to ensure that all intelligent people now know for sure that it is ‘one rule for the masses and another for the chosen elite’. Many people are now using Cummings' flouting of the rules as an excuse to ignore the rules themselves. In summary, there is much stupidity abounding.
We shall probably have to wait for two or three weeks to see how the ‘relaxing’ of the lockdown and the Test & Trace strategy (if you can call it that) affects the statistics, but my fear, which reflects the fears of many, many others, is that there will be an uptick in the rate of infections and the number of cases and deaths. As we stand (at 10:10 BST on Sunday, 31st May), there have been 272,826 confirmed cases, with the addition of 2,445 new cases, and now a total of 38,376 deaths, which is just over 900 deaths in the past four days or an average of 220 per day, which does include half of this weekend and, as we already know, the number of registered deaths for weekends does not appear until the following weekdays. As a comparison, at 09:00 BST on Friday, deaths had risen from 37,460 on Wednesday at 09:00 BST to 38,161. That’s 350 per day ... and I have to pause and dwell on either figure every time and wonder how many more lives, how many multiples of that figure, are grieving. have been permanently scarred by the loss of those lives or are themselves affected by the longer term side-effects of infection by the Coronavirus, which in some cases has been revealed to have had a serious longer term effect on the body’s organs, making recovery very difficult for some.
Is it any wonder that so many thinking and compassionate people, particularly teachers, are worried that the relaxing of lockdown and a return to school as well as work for many. And, as I finish writing this on Sunday morning, a review of news of the week is such that the scientific and medical experts are now coming out in a united voice to say it is too soon; that there is a very real risk of a second wave of infections over he Summer, if we do not proceed with due caution. The Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jonathan Van-Tam even went as far as to criticise the government over Dominic Cummings’ breaching of the Lockdown rules. It is all coming out. If Boris Johnson does not do something decisive about this, particularly in the face of a serious dip in his and the Conservative’s ratings in the polls, then it will confirm my opinion that he suffering from terminal arrogance.
In the meantime, news just in from our son: a colleague of my daughter-in-law has tested positive for COVID-19. They are NHS staff, she, albeit in the labs of the Children’s Hospital, worked closely with the man. She is still expected to go to work! Concerning the new Test and Trace scheme, this begs the question what about front line NHS staff, who are in contact with the virus every day? According to the rules, they would have to isolate every day for fourteen days ... how does that work, for heavens sake?!
As we keep saying, these are worrying times.
|Waiting to get into the garden ... or chase a cat!|
Now, let us be cheered by some photos ...
|Our daily eggs in one basket|
... and some music that Clemency Burton-Hill’s “Year of Wonder” recommends for us this week: -
Monday: “Milonga” by Jorge Cardoso (b. 1949). This was Argentina Day. Clemency tells us that Cardoso is a multi-talented musician, guitarist, composer, teacher and prolific author - as well as being a qualified medical doctor. (Seriously).
Tuesday: ‘Waitin’ from Cabaret Songs by William Bolcom (b. 1938). Bolcom is a prolific contemporary American composer. A student of Darius Milhaud, Bolcom has a similar curiosity for every musical genre.
The lyrics to this song, sung by the gorgeous voice of Kate Royal, are achingly familiar (for a parallel, see the poem, “Waiting for God, Oh Happy Days”) ...
I’ve been waitin
Waitin waitin all my life
The light keeps on hiding from me
But it someday might just bless my sight
Waitin waitin waitin.
Wednesday: Symphony No.3 in C minor, Op.78 (‘Organ’) Poco adagio by Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921). This, Clemency tells us, is the more major piece the composer was trying to compose, when he became distracted by “a certain carnival of musical animals”. She describes it as “epic in scope ... a work of magnificence”. Saint-Saens admitted apparently that he’d given this everything to it that he could give ... “What I have here accomplished, I will never achieve again”.
Thursday: French Suite No.5 in G major, BWV 816 7: Gigue by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The Gigue was a highly fashionable dance in the Baroque era. I need say no more, except gird your loins for some very fast movement!
Friday: Le Sacre du Printemps - The Rite of Spring’ Part 1: “The adoration of the Earth” - Introduction by Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971). In its time this was controversial, avant guarde, pushing audiences to the limits of what they could accept or comprehend. Evidence these snippets of alleged conversations from two other notables:
“It’s terrifying” whispers Claude Debussy. “I don’t understand”. “If that’s a a basoon,” utters Camille Saint-Saens in a neighbouring box, “I’m a baboon!”.
Saturday: Overture from Candide by Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
Sunday: Piano Quintet No.1 in A minor, Op.30 1: Allegro by Louise Farrenc (1804-1875). Another, the fourth this month, woman composer of considerable note, who fought fearlessly against the bias that prevailed on muscially talented and literary woman of this age. She prevailed of course, but not without a fight. She became a Professor at the Paris Conservatoire but not on the same pay as her male counterparts, until, after producing many prize winning students, she eventually achieved financial equity.
However you may be affected by anything I've written here, do let me know by leaving a comment below or, if you prefer not to, share your thoughts with a trusted friend or someone you love.