Rugby in Bed?

One of the true benefits of this weird lockdown situation is the lack of football being played. Add to that the willingness of national sports organisations to allow YouTube to display full matches on its excellent video platform and my happiness is almost complete.

One of the first to broadcast national rugby union matches in full was New Zealand. Now this country is renowned for a number of things – the setting for the Lord of the Rings films, a Prime Minister with balls (Jacinda Ardern), being one of the first countries to fully lock down against the virus and consequently one of the first countries to declare itself virus free. The only snag is that it insists on televising matches where New Zealand win and often against the Pommies. While I can stand to see England losing – let’s face it we should be used to it – it begins to pall after a while. I was pleased, then, to find that England Rugby has followed suit and we can now watch our heroes batter each other into glorious submission. Add to this the absence of need to get up early (yes, I’m that lucky now) and my Sunday morning looks like this….

07:30slowly regain consciousness, wince as I realise I’m half out of bed in the freezing cold and my toes are touching the rapidly heating radiator
07:45mumble grateful thanks as MBH brings a steaming hot coffee to my bedside or… alternatively.
07:47 mumble gratuitous obscenities as I stumble downstairs to make coffee while MBH snores loudly in our warm bed.
07:56struggle to locate the remote which has in the night insinuated itself between quilt and sheet and is hiding in a fold of the bedding close to one of us – but who?
08:00persuade our smart Roku box to locate the YouTube app and search agonisingly slowly for ‘New Zealand Rugby Union – Full Match New Zealand versus England 2017′ typing each letter slowly and painstakingly on an alphabetically arranged letter grid.
08:05 lie back and enjoy England, or Wales, or South Africa, or Australia being royally whupped by the All Blacks in blurred low definition on our 4K super screen TV due to a poor internet speed.
08:06drink lukewarm coffee and snuggle under the warm quilt.
08:56dash downstairs at half time to make fresh coffee, crumbly toast and ever so sticky marmalade which will hide both crumbs and stickiness amongst our bedding for us to find again tonight.
09:30bemoan the inadequacy of English Rugby Union, the reliance on the charge by the forwards and the kicking game of the centres who are clearly frustrated footballers
10:30head downstairs at last for a BLT and more coffee and a plan to repeat the same next weekend.

Covid-19: It’s a Walk in the Park!

Thanks to all the friends and other social media addicts sharing the pictures of their wonderful country walks in the sunshine this week. As a doubly vulnerable person it’s unwise for me go out at all so I’ve been self-quarantined at home for the last 25 days and a further week before that in Spain. These pictures of sunny fields and dogs playing in the park bring me some real joy, tinged with anger at the unrecognised danger you may unwittingly be creating.

I know the Government has issued ‘advice’ to only go out for essentials and, for some reason this has wrongly been taken to include an hour of exercise but to treat this ‘advice’ as an inalienable right to go wandering far and wide isn’t clever and it isn’t safe. You can exercise effectively in your living room. Taking it outdoors is pure selfishness. The actual Government advice from it’s website is:

Enjoy your walk today. Just thought that I would let you know that the person opening the farm gate ten yards in front of you has just come back from Northern Italy. He has no symptoms but is carrying a massive virus load picked up accidentally at the airport, much of which he has left on the gatepost. Congratulations, you are now infected. Take a seat and wait, hopefully, for a test.

Later today the farmer will be coming to shut the gate which was left open by someone else. The farmer won’t die but his lungs will be so compromised that he will never work again and his daughter will eventually recover too but will have to sell the farm to pay for his care. The nurse who treated him is displaying symptoms so has been isolated from her family. She missed her son’s 21st birthday but there is an outside chance she will celebrate his 22nd.

The person coming after you some twenty yards away with a picnic basket in one hand will be opening the gate with the other and later today giving her elderly Nan a warm hug and a lethal gift of this horrific disease. None of her family will be allowed to attend Nan’s funeral and her granddaughter will not be able to comfort her young toddler hooked up to a massive ventilator. She cries herself to sleep but nobody sees it.

Please think about why you need to go for a walk in the woods or the park today. We kill this virus by not allowing it to breed. Without human help it would be dead in a week.

An excellent plot with woodland view

Some interesting facts:

  • Infections of Covid-19 in the UK still double very three days
  • If you are lucky enough to get allocated a ventilator then your chance of surviving are already less than 50%.
  • Current death rate from Covid-19 in the UK is marginally short of 13%. Across the world it is only 6% – we are not doing this well.
  • If the reproductive number (number of people infected by one person) of Spanish Flu was 1, the corresponding rate for Covid-19 is 2.5. So the people you infect could infect 1,500 others easily.


Making Hay Before The Sun Shines

Woke to a dark glowering sky with thick, heavy clouds gripping the peaks of the hills before us as if fighting to maintain its cold clammy hold on the landscape.

Two good friends had offered to drive us around the Welsh Brecon Beacons but the overnight rain and sodden atmosphere made the prospect a little dull. What could we all do to lighten the mood and raise our spirits? “I know,” said Phil, our guide, chauffeur and inspiration, “Let’s head for Hay on Wye for a wander round the shops and cafés”.

For those of you unfamiliar with Hay on Wye, it is probably the best town for books and reading in the country. We were going to miss the annual Book Festival by a couple of weeks but the town was still thronged with readers looking for that elusive inspirational tome. The town is filled with book shops, sitting cheek by jowl with cafés where you can relax and enjoy your literary purchase; or antique shops offering all things artistic and ephemeral.

MBH and I agree on one thing at least, we both love books. The format is unimportant, we read on electronic media or paper, hardback and paperback – it’s all the same to us. We seldom go into a bookshop without coming out clutching a treasure and heading to a comfortable corner to indulge our passion. On this occasion she was the first to spot a source of delight, a book of music by James Taylor in a quaint little store of vinyl records and music paraphernalia. I look forward to hearing her play some of the well known tunes when we return home.

The second bookshop we entered was like a library that time had forgotten. Meandering staircases led to rooms where the bookcases couldn’t hold all the books and they lay piled on the floor. Sometimes the subject was obvious, often less so and the handprinted labels on the shelves took some figuring out. Whole rooms dedicated to art, religion or the Welsh way of life. I meandered through the narrow rooms, the sunlight catching the waving cobwebs as I passed, the books themselves providing an insulation which deadened the sounds of the shop’s other customers. I spotted a Penguin first edition of an old favourite and a spindly chair by a sunlit window was irresistible. Were it not for a need to find MBH and take in sustenance I would be there still. Would you?

Is this the real life, is it just fantasy?