Friday, July 03, 2020

Struggling back

I wrote, a couple of weeks ago, about the strange decision made by the UK government to quarantine arrivals from countries with lower infection rates than here. They have finally seen sense (or been browbeaten by the travel industry) and announced that anyone coming here from one of 55 destinations need not quarantine. Nearly all destinations in Europe and quite a few beyond are on the list, thus saving part of the summer holidays for those bold enough to venture overseas.

Bold is the operative word. Lockdowns have been reimposed in some cities or regions abroad (and in our very own Leicester) that have experienced an upturn in infection rates, so anyone travelling may find themselves caught up in it at very short notice, and possibly having to quarantine there or on return. Being stuck abroad is no joke. For this reason Mrs C and myself will be staying on this island for the foreseeable.

Other signs of a return to some sort of normality are the reopening of almost shops with pubs set to follow tomorrow. Mass gatherings are still banned so some football matches and other sporting events are taking place in the eerie silence of empty stadiums and arenas. My local supermarket still restricts the number of shoppers so I go there early enough to beat the queues. Although shelves are pretty well stocked, a number of brands or varieties have vanished (we are beginning to miss Crunchie ice creams) and the deli counter remains closed, so there is no nice fresh-cut cheese or meat.

But the infection is still with us and people are still dying, thankfully at much lower rate than a couple of months ago, so we still do a slalom-like dance when walking down the local shopping streets as we dodge a couple here, a mother and children there and the queue outside the bakers. The two metre rule has been relaxed to one metre, if unavoidable, and for many this means there is no real need to observe social distancing at all. Therefore we must wait to see if the infection rate goes up or continues to diminish and meanwhile businesses unable to open or to operate normally are bleeding to death. It's all a bit bleak right now.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Stone me - They've done it again

6 years ago I had the pleasure of recording that the football team I have been supporting since 1973 - Wealdstone - won their league and were promoted to the National League South (or League division 6 in old money).

This season they have been regularly playing the best football I have ever seen them play, have been top of the league since August and have the best record in terms of points per game of any team in the English game in the top 6 leagues. But the season was cruelly cut short by the covid-19 crisis and the resulting lockdown. It has been a long and at times agonising wait as the various authorities decided whether to end the season early or hope for a resumption and, once that decision was forced on them, how to end it. They might have declared it null and void, wiping out the Stones' fantastic achievements. They might have declined to make any promotions or relegations.

Tonight after much deliberation the league had a vote of its member clubs and adopted a resolution to  - well, here is the how the news was broken by Wealdstone's chairman Rory Fitzgerald


So, for the first time since 1989, the Stones will be playing just below the English Football League and will be facing teams across the country rather than just from the south. Heady days indeed.

Monday, June 08, 2020

Quarantine and the flight from reason

Britain is, from today, requiring all visitors (subject to certain exemptions) from abroad to quarantine for 14 days. At first sight this may appear sensible, a way to prevent the resurgence of the covid-19 virus at a time when it appears at last to be diminishing. At second sight it appears utterly daft, gormless and another example of the ineptness of a government that is making it up as it goes along (although tirelessly claiming to be "following the science").

New Zealand also has quarantine rules. They are very strict. Nobody gets in, except residents. All returnees are taken to government controlled hotels and must remain there for 14 days. New Zealand has not recorded deaths from the virus for a while and has very few new cases.

Britain is going to require everyone to do the same, right? No. The scheme is self-assessed. It is up to the arrivals to provide the authorities with information about where they are staying and then to go there (themselves) and remain there. They are not taken to their accommodation so presumably it is fine that they travel there anyway they choose, cheerfully spreading the virus as they go. They may be spot-checked or they may not after that, it's all delightfully vague.

And those exemptions  Oh yes. Lorry drivers, seasonal workers and the like can come in freely. Also anyone travelling from Ireland. So what prevents someone going to Dublin first and then flying straight on here? Umm, nothing.

In any case New Zealand, which put in tough rules right at the start, has contained the infection. But only now, after three months of it, are we doing the same. Why is it now sensible to do this, at a time when the travel and entertainment sectors are being wiped out? Oh, because we don't want the infection rate to increase due to all those nasty foreigners spreading it. But - and this is a massive but - most countries have lower infection rates than we do. The probability of the virus spreading due to foreigners is less than it is from the domestic population. A German arrival at Heathrow was filmed making this very comment.
 

Now, if we were really following the science, then either we would have had a proper quarantine system in place weeks ago or we should allow in people who can prove they have been for a reasonable time in countries with significantly lower infection rates. We are in a different place altogether, putting in a washy-washy scheme that is full of loopholes and which will achieve nothing at all. Meanwhile huge gatherings of young people, protesting about racial discrimination, are probably going to trigger a second surge.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Setting My Teeth on Edge

I don't usually use Edge, the web browser supplied as part of Windows 10. Tonight, driven by some devil-may-care sense of adventure, I thought I'd have a look. No sooner had it loaded than it wanted me to update it. I had assumed I already had the latest version, given that Windows 10 has recently updated, but no matter. I clicked to update it.

I wonder what language this message is in


I carried on regardless (us Ruislip Commuters laugh in the face of danger, you know) and was rewarded with the next helpful missive


Soon after this the installation completed. Edge opened and asked me if I wished to import my settings from my normal browser, Firefox. I assented. It pretended to be doing something but did nothing at all. None of my bookmarks were imported.

I did a basic web search to see if others had this problem and found someone with the same issue back in January. Naturally the Microsoft professional who responded was unaware that there was a problem, looked into it, confirmed it and then said it was all a total surprise to everyone at Redmond (including those who presumably wrote and "tested" the import procedure) and why do not an export of the bookmarks out of Firefox to a html file and then import to Edge. Yes, indeed. Just as we used to do this sort of thing 20 years ago.

It's exactly the same as if I were to call up my garage
"Hi, my car is not starting, the computer is showing a couple of error messages"
"Oh yes sir, we get a lot of those. Funny things, these computers, aren't they? Now then, have you got your starter handle handy, plus two strong lads to give you a push start?"

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Nothing to See Here

During the covid-19 lockdown we have been urged (and required) to stay at home and avoid any unnecessary travel. It has emerged that the Prime Minister's advisor Dominic Cummings, closely associated with the strategy, himself travelled from London to be with his family in Durham. There has been much speculation about his position but Boris has stood behind his chum and, far from expressing regret that the Government appears to say one thing but do another, has instead told us all to forget all about it.

BBC News

This is a splendid way to deal with matters of public concern. If only men of such spirit had been around in the past then history would have been so much tidier and certain news stories would have been reported rather differently ...

-&-&-&-&-&

King shrugs off brutal murder claim
Knights exonerated - "They did nothing wrong" says Henry

A defiant King Henry II last night continued to back the men who had, on his orders, hacked to death popular Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas a Becket. Relaxing after a hunt and quaffing a tankard of finest Bordeaux wine, the monarch quipped
"He was getting past it to be Archbishop anyway, let's all look forward to Christmas and stop worrying".
Asked if he should be doing penance, His Majesty said "I am the law, God guides me, what on earth is all the fuss about?
    -&-&-&-&-&

    French army annihilated in Russia
    Emperor Napoleon flees back to France

    "I simply don't see this as a problem" the Emperor was reported as saying as he returned to his luxury apartments in the Tuileries "Yes, a few men died. Alright, a few hundred thousand. But what is that against my personal safety? Surely we can move on now, it's not as if their families are of the slightest account after all"



    -&-&-&-&- 

    Nixon re-elected for historic 3rd term
    Huge majority backs "Hero of Watergate"

    A triumphant Richard Nixon returned to the White House after securing a landslide in the 1976 Presidential election. 
    "I told the people it was time to put Watergate behind us" he said to the world's media gathered in the Rose Garden "I said time and time again that I knew nothing about any bugging or conspiracy to pervert justice and you know, if you tell the American people something enough times, it gets so they come to believe it. I'm gonna keep on running and come the 1980 election I know that I'll be the right man for the job"