We’re done . . .

A strange wet, foggy day in which to be going out. We turned up at the Pipe Band Hall, were met at the door and instructed to sanitise our hands and then ushered in to the hall proper which was set out in screened cubicles – I didn’t count, but there were probably about half a dozen. The Nurse to whom we were assigned was the same one that did our flu vaccinations a month or two back. She nattered away, bless her, but I couldn’t hear a word she said, and then remembered my “Live Transcribe” app on my mobile phone. I fired it up and put it in front of her and it worked a treat. The only slightly comic bit was that it occasionally put up a pink box with “Music” in it, and at times her conversation had the word “violin” inserted.

The vaccination it self was absolutely unnoticeable, and the Nurse opined that it might be most of the 12 weeks allowed before we got our second ones. That takes us up to the 13th April next. This dose is reckoned to be protective in two to three weeks time from now. So we continue to isolate as before, and will continue to do so util we have had dose No.2 and that has had time to take effect – which could mean early in the month of May. That would be a year and two months since we self isolated.

Before we were allowed to drive away home we were instructed to sit in the car for 10 minutes which we found a bit boring so we (I) was naughty and drove off after a little while, and so far have suffered no ill effects.  I think this is to allow time for anaphylactic shock to appear.

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To eat, or not to eat . . . ?

The following is also to be found at “Up the Strand”

A year ago were discussing fitfully whether we should try having groceries from Tesco via their home delivery service. We could both see that it would avoid the business of having a trolley load of stuff to unload and reload at the check-out, then to unload and put away once we got home. But somehow, in typical procrastinators’ fashion we just never quite got around to it.

Then came the coronavirus, and self isolation, and suddenly home delivery was no longer a labour saving luxury, but the lifeline by which we might live. There were initial difficulties because Tesco themselves were overwhelmed by demand, but also because we were novices to the web site, which like many web sites, does the job splendidly once you have learnt your way around it, but has pitfalls for the untutored. Fortunately for us, our son and his partner, miles away in Lincolnshire, were able to put us right where we were going wrong, and also to point us towards facilities that we did not know existed.

This morning, a few minutes ago, I booked our next delivery for the 11th of February on a chart of that week’s dates which was empty. This is a measure of the way in which Tesco reacted to the situation (nearly a year ago now) because back then we were sitting up till midnight waiting for Tesco to put up the next new day, and then jumping in to book a time and date wherever we could.

It is fashionable these days to criticise supermarkets for their alleged crimes against humanity, but few people seem to acknowledge that they are really the nation’s food suppliers. They feed us. There are of course those famous High Street shops, so beloved of journalists, but quite incapable of feeding a whole Nation, and Farm Shops, which also do a good job but whose total contribution to overall food supply is small. The other piece of this jigsaw, never mentioned, are seafarers. It is as though, living on an island we avoid anything which reminds us of that fact. At the moment lorry drivers and fishermen are getting lots of coverage, but shipping is never mentioned unless it is a supertanker going aground and leaking oil. The men and women who crew these things, and are often very badly treated by their employers might as well not exist.

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Covid Vaccinations . . .

Back at the start of January NHS Dumfries and Galloway posted as follows . . .

Vaccine approval provides campaign springboard
07/01/2021. By NHSDG

VACCINATION against COVID-19 is ramping up in Dumfries and Galloway, with those aged over 80 in line to receive their first jab before the end of January. The first doses of the newly-approved Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine were delivered to NHS Dumfries and Galloway on December 29 – setting the scene to rapidly scale up the vaccine delivery programme.

Interim Director of Public Health Valerie White said: “It’s fantastic that the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine has also now been approved for use. It does not have the same storage and transportation requirements of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine which was approved earlier in December, and this will really assist us in scaling up the vaccination programme in our communities.”

Vaccinations for those aged over 80 are set to begin next Monday January 11, and should mean that most people in that age group will have received their jab before the end of the month. From February 1, the vaccination programme will move on to those aged 75 to 80, with the 70-75 year cohort and those shielding scheduled for the second two weeks of February.

Ms White said: “GPs across the region are taking on the work of identifying all those eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination – as set out in the established Scottish Government criteria. Those people will be contacted directly, and invited to attend to receive their initial COVID-19 vaccination. Vaccinations will be provided in facilities such as town halls and community centres, which provide the adequate space to ensure safety.”

A total of 22 locations have been locked in to serve as locations for provision of COVID vaccinations, and these are spread across the region. Attendance is by direct invitation only, and people are instructed not to contact their GP or the NHS. Anyone with a question about the vaccination is invited to telephone the national helpline, which runs between 8 am and 8 pm seven days a week on 0800 030 8013.

Meanwhile, the vaccination campaign for those identified by the Scottish Government as first recipients has been proceeding well. Across health and social care in Dumfries and Galloway, 2200 people who work or volunteer will have been vaccinated by the end of this week. This number does not include all those residents and staff in older adult care homes in the region who received their initial vaccinations by December 24, with that combined total standing at 3710 as of today.

As set out nationally, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JVCI) who advise the UK government on all matters regarding immunisation and the Chief Medical Officers of all four UK nations have now recommended that the second dose of the vaccine is provided 12 weeks after the first.

Further information will be provided as the vaccination campaign expands.

Since then we have been contacted by letter and told to present ourselves at The Pipe Band Hall, on the 19th January to be “done”. A legitimate excuse to go out !

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Mint flavoured . . .

Linux Mint has recently updated to version 20.1. Not having used this laptop for a week or two I fired up the Update Manager and sorted out the existing set up. This installed the new version of Update Manager, and then announced that a new version of Linux Mint was available – something which I already knew from updates on the Linux Mint Blog. The Update Manager contained the necessary link to install the update which happened with no trouble at all. And once installed a set of up to date updates appeared and got done. The whole process was speedy and simple.

An hour or so before this I had been through a similar process on a Windows 10 laptop. It was not difficult, but tedious and slow in the usual Windows way. This laptop is now a better machine than the Windows one from the users point of view, and if the makers of “Family Historian” were to produce a Linux version of their programme my life would be all bliss. (A Linux version of Irfan View would be good too please.)

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A ridiculous swagger . . .

Just when I am thinking that I haven’t posted much lately, and what is there to say, along comes a foreign newspaper that sums up the current situation in a few words, and does it far better than many of our own.

How do you make a country smaller ? By trying to make it great again. As the curtain finally comes down on the long-running psychodrama of Brexit, reality sinks in. It is the creation of Lesser Britain, a country already reduced and in danger of shrinking even further.

In 1971, the British government published its White Paper, setting out the reasons why it wanted to join the European project. It imagined the country’s fate if it declined to do so: “In a single generation we should have renounced an imperial past and rejected a European future. Our friends everywhere would be dismayed. They would rightly be as uncertain as ourselves about our future role and place in the world… Our power to influence the [European] Communities would steadily diminish, while the Communities’ power to affect our future would as steadily increase.”

Fifty years later, Britain has done what it did not do then. It has “rejected a European future”. And even though fantasies of a new golden age of global mercantile power feature heavily in the rhetoric of Boris Johnson and his allies, no one really believes that its “imperial past” is about to return. Its friends everywhere are dismayed and it is uncertain not just about its place in the world, but about itself: what it is, what it wants. The counter-factual of 1971 is the reality of 2021.

During the COVID-19 crisis, there has been, from Johnson and his government, a constant drum-beat of superlatives. Every initiative it launched would not be merely – or indeed even – competent. It would be “world-beating”. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, explaining how Britain had raced ahead to authorise the (German-developed) COVID-19 vaccine before the EU or the U.S., boasted that: “Well I just reckon we’ve got the very best people in this country and we’ve obviously got the best medical regulators. Much better than the French have, much better than the Belgians have, much better than the Americans have. That doesn’t surprise me at all because we’re a much better country than every single one of them, aren’t we?”

As a slightly more intelligent Englishman than Williamson, William Shakespeare would have said: “Methinks he doth protest too much.” This need for hyperbole has barely disguised the profound insecurity of a country that fears if it does not constantly proclaim its greatness, it may finally have to confront the thing it has so long avoided: its own ordinariness.

There is nothing wrong with being an ordinary country. In fact, there is an awful lot right with it. Countries are much more likely to be at peace with themselves and their neighbours if they do not, to paraphrase W.B Yeats, “feed their hearts on fantasies” of greatness. We might go so far as to suggest that the best measure of whether a country has come to terms with its history is whether or not it insists on being a “much better country” than every other.

There is in England (and the current crisis is English, not British), a discomfort with the idea of being one among many. Some of this is indeed a throwback to an imperial mindset. Empires are dualistic– you are either the top dog or you are being suppressed. England, in particular, has struggled to transcend this binary mentality. If it is not dominant, it fears that it must be submissive. This was always a problem in a European Union that is constructed precisely to avoid the appearance of being in either state.

One way for the British to deal with this dilemma was to imagine itself as the dominant power within the EU. “If we couldn’t dominate that lot,” said the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson in 1966, referring to the original six signatories of the Treaty of Rome, “there wasn’t much to be said for us”. The other way was to magnify Britain’s role in the world by exaggerating its position as the one indispensable ally of the United States. There has been, in the words of the English historian Linda Colley, “a persistent inclination to pursue empire vicariously by clambering like a mouse on the American eagle’s head”.  

A ridiculous swagger

The quest for size has led to making Britain smaller. Is this the beginning of a development that will end with an English nation-state?

Ein Essay von Fintan O’Toole

See here

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Lloyd George and Ireland . . .

At the moment we have in this country – the UK – a Prime minister of whom it is said, with justification that he tells lies incessantly, and whose greatest material success is the fathering of children, both legitimately and illegitimately, some of whom have allegedly not survived to see the light of day. Nicer comments say that he is a narcissist and does not master his briefs, indeed it is frequently said that he does not bother to even read them. It is well to remember that he has his predecessors who have similarly caused similar disgust int their own day. You will find below an opinion piece from the Church Times about another Prime Minister who evoked strong feelings in his own day. Sir Edward Carson is mentioned, and if you do not know of him you can make up for your loss here.

The Church Times, October 15th 1920.

If the Prime Minister’s speech at Carnarvon on Saturday does not justify the belief that Britain is governed by the man Mr Lloyd spoke to last, it does afford yet another example of the readiness with which Mr George responds to his environment. Indeed as we read in the speech, with its air of irresponsibility, and its justification of police murders, it has all the appearance of the wild talk of an excited nobody. Certainly it has none of the qualities to be looked for in a considered utterance by the foremost statesman in the world on a topic that is exciting interest and perplexity wherever affairs are discussed. In Ireland the speech must be productive of even worse conditions than have lately prevailed, for short of formally sanctioning a policy of reprisals, the Prime Minister has made it perfectly plain that such a policy may be safely pursued so far as the Government’s connivance is concerned. The responsibility for the terrible state of Ireland rests more than ever before upon the consciences of two men – the one, Sir Edward Carson, possessed of a most dogged obstinacy, and the other, Mr Lloyd George, who cares for nothing so much as the avoidance of the inconveniences of the moment.

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In a few words . . .

Once upon a time I used to preach sermons. I don’t like the word “preach” – it sounds “preachy” but that is the language of the job. I meant well, I tried hard, but I never really felt I got anywhere near success. The Pope, however, and yes I know he may employ assistants, gets across home truths day after day (se Instagram) in very few words, and I am lost in admiration. He says so much in so little.

“Let us look around us, let us look above all to those in poverty: the brother who suffers, wherever he is, the brother who suffers belongs to us. It is Jesus in the manger: the one who suffers is Jesus. Let’s think about this a little. And may Christmas be a closeness to Jesus in this brother and sister. There, in the needy brother, is the crib to which we must go with solidarity. This is the living nativity scene: the nativity scene in which we will truly meet the Redeemer in people in need. Let us therefore walk towards the Holy Night and await the fulfillment of the mystery of Salvation.”

Here is a Link

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What did you do all day during the Covid pandemic, Dad ?

Doing not very much, and failing to finish it, just about sums it all up. Mark you, I vacuumed the kitchen floor just now. Interesting to see it again, but it kills my back. Never mind, eh ?

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Word Press Updates . . .

When I am being good and updating my Word Press Installation, it does not inspire me with confidence to read that ” the authenticity of wordpress-5.6.zip could not be verified . . . “

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Not dead yet . . .

Dear Internet,

We are not dead yet. There is a paucity of posts at the moment because there is very little to post about. I doubt you are very interested to know whether or not it is raining. You know that we have Government Ministers who tell lies and/or demonstrate their incompetency, and the fact that we are still isolating ourselves will hardly come as a surprise. The world however chugs along without us. Our local Hermes family deliver parcels speedily, efficiently and – if we see them – a cheery wave or three.

And just to show what I mean, here is a photo of the neighbour’s house and their new extension. Work has progressed beyond that which you see, but only inasmuch that the corners of the roof and the ridge are now largely completed. It seems bigger than we supposed from the plans, but no doubt we shall get used to it. It will be nice for the owners, who have a new baby (not so new now !) when it is all finished and habitable and when we see people coming and going, and lights on in there at night.

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