Ron’s Rambles August 2020

 

Covid 19
It was a brave decision on the part of Boris and his team to ease as many restrictions as they did, it is too early to say if it was a wise decision but I imagine they are holding their breath waiting to see the data on infection rate etc.
At the end of June the UK death rate since the beginning of the pandemic for those with confirmed corona virus was 65/100,000 of the population. The death rate based on the number of deaths in excess of the usual number for that period was 96.8/100,000. Corresponding numbers for Germany were in single figures. There has to be an explanation for this outstanding difference and one day I hope we will learn what it is. Whatever the reason it does undermine our confidence in our government and civil service and forces us to realise that we are not as smart as some other nations and not as smart as we perhaps thought we were.
One minor aspect of our government’s behaviour has puzzled me throughout, and that is their reluctance to make the wearing of face covers in enclosed spaces mandatory. It is one thing that could possibly have reduced the number of infections
One can understand the need to get people back in work but I must confess the way in which the economy works is a mystery to me. How does people going to pubs and restaurants, hairdressers and beauty salons, gymnasiums and swimming pools and going on holiday in aeroplanes to foreign parts make us wealthier as a nation?
Can someone explain?
Housing
I don’t think there is any other topic that I have written about as much as housing. Successive governments have promised to tackle the problem, but it has got worse. House prices and rents have outstripped earnings for a long time. Before Covid 19 we were building a little over two homes per thousand of the population, Germany, once again, was building at three times that rate.
Yet again we have a prime minister promising to ‘Build Build Build’. Easing planning restrictions might help to remove one obstacle, it might be acceptable if the intention is to make it easier to convert existing buildings, change of use or build on new land and to prevent nimbyism from stopping building.
But if easing planning restrictions means lowering building standards that would be very wrong. Already homes are being built that are too small for family life with individual rooms uncomfortably small. In 1951 the Conservative government under Churchill declared “Housing is the first social service ……………… work, family life, health and education are all undermined by crowded houses. Therefore a Conservative government will give housing a priority second only to defence.” Certainly they did carry on the extensive building programme started after the war by the Labour government and very large numbers of homes were created. Churchill understood the importance of housing, Boris’s promises are nowhere near the scale required and do not suggest the required national priority that should be second only to overcoming Covid 19.

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Feast or Famine!!

 

The weather has continued to surprise us. After all the rain in February, March was relatively dry with only a little light rain, then absolutely nothing from 21st until 28th April.
The weather was fine and bright, fortunately, with so many people being stuck at home.
Just when the gardeners were beginning to fret, 20mm fell over the next three days.

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WHAT DOES THE DOCTOR THINK THIS MONTH? August 2020

AUGUST, 2020

We are still in lockdown, taking the view that, having been isolated for four months, it will not hurt us to hide up for a time longer while we wait to see whether or not there will be a recurrent “spike” following the loosening of restrictions. We are quite happy here, the garden is a riot of colour with 6ft hollyhocks on both side of the front door, and the garage is much clearer now. We do venture out occasionally to top up provisions but most of our food is being delivered by Morrisons.
The sheltered nature of our existence rather emphasises the importance of minor “life events”, one of which troubled me for a couple of weeks. My old 4S Iphone met with a fatal accident involving a flight from upstairs to downstairs followed by a collision with the tiled floor in the hall. The back of the ‘phone was smashed but the front seemed OK so I carried on unperturbed until a crack started to appear across the front screen and it became a bit unpredictable. Time for an upgrade! A chat around the family produced the upgrade. Calum gave me his old 5S ‘phone which had been “unlocked” so I could use it. However, it needed updating before it would accept my burglar alarm app (I am so advanced in technology that I can now switch our burglar alarm on and off remotely, even from abroad. I draw the line about drawing the curtains, setting the oven or turning lights on and off remotely). You update an Iphone by connecting it to a computer, hooking up to Itunes and setting the update in progress. I hooked it up ans set the update in motion. “This ‘phone cannot be updated- error message 4005”. No matter how often I tried, the same happened. Eventually, I spoke to EE who put me on to Apple where a very nice man enquired the age of my Imac (a super large all singing and dancing computer bought for me by Deannie in 2011). He was very polite, but his message was that my computer was so ***** old that it could not be upgraded sufficiently to enable it to carry out the ‘phone update. What to do? “Easy”, he said “Throw it away and buy a new one”. Gulp.As I recall, my Imac cost about £1.200. It should have been more but we had accidentally gone to Cambridge on Black Friday! A quick look reveals that a new one nowadays would cost between £1,750 and £2.250. As my current machine is more than adequate for my current needs (leaving aside Iphone updating) I decided to forget about changing the computer and visited my neighbours who have modern computers – no joy there as their machine would not accept a USB connection. Eventually, son Grant introduced me to a bloke who lives down the road from him and he sorted it out. Grant’s comment was that, for someone in no other way parsimonious, I had a remarkably negative attitude to mobile ‘phones. I responded that I need a mobile to make and take calls and, perhaps a few pictures and set my burglar alarm remotely. I do not need it to cook my breakfast or even to go on the internet, ‘cos I”m a Luddite!
RANT OF THE MONTH: One of the reasons I pay my TV Licence is to enable me to watch TV without adverts. However, have you noticed that most of the BBC programmes seem to end five minutes before the next programme is due; that time is spent screening endlessly repeated trailers for future programmes. For example, the comedian who calls his irascible father “Daddy” keeps appearing “We have all been missing sport” (I shout at the TV “Oh,no, we haven’t) before trailing his new sports programme. Repeated once an hour for about 6 weeks (or so it seems) this becomes really tedious. Many other similar trailers follow the same pattern. Even Deannie is getting fed up with them and they don’t come much more tolerant than her.

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COUNTRYSIDE NOTES BUTTERFLIES Aug 2020

 

BUTTERFLIES
Butterflies come in a wide range of beautiful colours and add so much to our enjoyment of the countryside. Appearing in sequence through spring and summer the first to emerge in early spring are the large yellow-green ‘Brimstone’ and the smaller ‘Orange Tip’. Later on ‘Large Whites’ are not such a welcome sight for they lay their eggs on brassicas which hatch into greedy caterpillars that defoliate our cabbage plants!
There are 57 resident species of butterfly in the Britain plus two regular migrants from Africa – the Clouded Yellow and the Painted Lady. Every ten years or so vast numbers of the latter appear across the length and breadth of Britain, the most recent being last year. Incredibly Painted Ladies, the widest spread butterfly species in the world, fly more than 4,000kms from Africa to arrive in May or June. They use the sun to navigate but are at the mercy of prevailing weather conditions.
Whether they migrate or not the success of butterflies is, in part, subject to the weather. The warm, damp summer of 2019 and exceptionally warm, sunny spring this year have been advantageous to a wide range of species. Their numbers are at the highest level for more than twenty years even though many have short life spans. Caterpillars of most species only feed on specific plants so the butterflies need to seek these out to lay their eggs on. A few have even more complicated life cycles. Those who require special habitats in which to thrive have benefited from positive conservation efforts and through some agri-environmental schemes, increased woodland cover and a slowing in the rate of agricultural intensification. Most species of butterflies hibernate in our gardens or the countryside but in different ways. Some spend the winter as eggs, others as small caterpillars among long grass and leaves, while others survive as chrysalises. Five species hibernate as adults, the Brimstone, Comma, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral, tucked away in dark, cool buildings, in ivy or even in our houses. Habitat management can therefore have an impact on the survival of many species. The Butterfly Conservation Organisation not only works to conserve butterflies but also moths and has 30 nature reserves spread across Britain. It also records and monitors populations, provides education schemes and an identification guide. Information is collected with the help of their ‘Garden Butterfly Survey’ by which the public are invited to record and report butterfly sightings in their garden over the course of the year. Check out www.butterfly-conservation.org Butterflies can be physically identified apart from moths by their long thin antenna and by keeping their wings closed when resting; moths keep them open. There are 2,500 species of moths in Britain the majority of which fly at night although there are a number that are active during the daytime. Moths play an important part in pollinating plants and are prey for bats and little owls. Most unwanted are the two species of clothes moths whose larvae feast on our woollen garments