River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Ron’s Rambles

May 2020

Covid 19 There is no doubt that, as a nation, the way in which we have confronted this pandemic has not been to our credit. Given where we were in early March it is possibly fair to say that the government has acted in a fairly sensible way, although it is clear that should have put more emphasis on ‘testing and contact tracing’ than they did. Without doubt, the large majority of the public have given the government their full support. The question that will need to be answered is why we were where we were in early March. Even then it seemed the government had not quite realised how serious this invasion was, they were still talking about the possibility of leaving it to infect sufficient numbers to create ‘herd immunity’. Dominic Cummings seemed to favour that idea. When Imperial College statisticians pointed out that there would be over half a million deaths before you could hope to achieve anywhere near that condition, they came to their senses, although even then, I think, they permitted a football match and Cheltenham to go ahead. Sadly, even after seven weeks of lockdown, at the time of writing, we still have over five hundred people dying every day, at that rate, if we are unable to bring it down further, it will add over 100,000 deaths to the total for the year. That total would be greater than the number of UK civilians killed in the six years of WW2. Attempts to restart businesses will make it difficult to simultaneously bring down the infection rate and subsequent death rate. Some time ago It was internationally agreed that a new pandemic was likely at some time and that nations should be prepared for that. It seems we did set out to prepare, we had a warehouse, so we were told, ready stocked with the necessary to combat any pandemic whenever it might appear. In the event we did not have one protective gown in that warehouse and practically no facility for testing with swabs. Boris tried to reassure the nation in his blustering and bumbling way. It was tragic for him that he should be struck down, we are all very pleased to see him back to health. Indeed, we are very pleased to see anyone recover after being attacked by the virus. At the moment anyone going into intensive care with Covid 19 has only a one in three chance of coming out alive. In Boris’s absence Dominic Raab stood in for him in many of the No 10 briefings and I was greatly impressed by the manner in which he handled that unenviable task. Those who criticise the government’s slow reaction may receive the sarcastic comment that ‘hindsight is a wonderful thing’. There is nothing very wonderful about hindsight, of course, but foresight can be wonderful. Foresight as shown by South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Germany saved thousands of lives. Future Impact of the Virus It is quite impossible to predict what the new normal will be. Many businesses will not recover, many jobs will disappear for a long time, the nation will struggle to produce the wealth that it had done before, there will be huge debts to repay. Nobody wants to see another period of austerity but it is difficult to see how we will be able to afford the public services and the welfare that we did. We are not going to be alone in this, the United States is likely to be in a similar situation as will many other nations. We hear about the enormity of the debt we are incurring but to whom will we owe this money? Are there people who will benefit financially. Didn’t Jacob Reese Mogg’s favourite investment company say that this was a golden opportunity? Can’t be right. The one nation that is beginning to look like the outstanding exception when the virus has been defeated and gone away is China. China has suffered a big drop in it’s GDP but it still has a GDP that we would have been overjoyed with even before the Corona virus, so, while every other nation is going to be poorer China looks as though it will be richer and will have even greater influence in the world and could replace the US as the world superpower. I remain afraid that the enormity of this disaster is not yet realised by the people at large. Sense of Smell I have seen or heard somewhere that dogs may be able to detect the presence of the virus by smell. Seems rather improbable and yet I believe that trials have shown that dogs can detect the presence of cancer, especially lung cancer and breast cancer. It is true that dogs have demonstrated how acute their sense of smell is in detecting so many things, drugs, bombs, cadavers, people, to name a few. I read recently that dogs are being used to detect smart phones inside packages, it seems the plastic casing has a unique smell. Scientists will tell us that dogs have up to 300million chemoreceptors in their noses compared to our measly six million. One must assume that dogs are able to detect things because those ‘things’ emit particles, how else? Yet those particles must be very small and few in number, but unique to the material, and must, therefore, be molecules. The technical term for these particles detected by the chemoreceptors is odorants. I believe that some seemingly solid materials may have a smell, at one time I believed some metals had a unique smell, certainly some leathers have a fairly strong smell, leather upholstery in cars goes on smelling for the whole of the car’s life. (I have an old car, twenty years old, each time you open the door the smell of leather is quite strong). It is surprising that these materials must be continuously shedding molecules. If this is so, it is surprising that, with all the advances in particle physics and such techniques as gas chromatography, we do not seem to be able to produce an instrument that could ‘smell’ substances as well as dogs can. If it is possible to detect and distinguish diseases by their smell one would think that there could be an instrument capable of performing the task? Such an instrument would be invaluable if indeed Covid 19 is detectable by smell. Someone will write in and tell me I am talking rubbish, just like Donald Trump. He doesn’t talk rubbish, disinfectants kill most germs. Just logical ennit. Sayings When I was young, if my grandmother heard some news that surprised her, especially if it was news about neighbours or friends, she would often say “Well I’ll go to the foot of our stairs”. Under similar circumstances, my mother would probably say “Well I’ll go to the pictures”. Both expressions struck me as very odd things to say and I just put them down to another of the eccentricities in a slightly nutty family. Quite recently, to my immense surprise, in a TV play I heard the expression ‘go to the foot of our stairs’ used to express surprise in exactly the same way. So, it wasn’t unique to my family after all, and it set me wondering where on earth the expression came from. It was sometime after seeing that programme that it occurred to me that the script writer might have been related. There are many sayings that seem odd today yet there is an explanation for them in history. Things that we say, often without thinking. Can’t think of any at this moment but I will watch out for them from now on.

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