A.J. Walker



Andy Two Jabs; Or Is It Four?

On Saturday morning I had both a flu jab; in my left arm at my local medical centre (my GP’s)); and then my Covid jab in my right arm in my local hospital. The medical centre is all of 200m away from my house so I was back at home with a coffee within about seven minutes of leaving my house. Happy days (though shame my original booking two weeks ago was messed up).

My local hospital (where the Covid vaccination hub is) is within a mile and just one bus stop away. I was in and out of there in no time too. Think it was three or four minutes from registering my arrival, picking up my already filled in card to getting my jab and leaving. Brilliant.

The nurse said it was my fourth Covid jab. I’d kinda lost count to be honest. Glad I can get them too—one bonus of having MS hey!

Didn't notice any ill effects on the day either. Result.

Testing, Testing

I got a letter from the NHS a couple of weeks ago inviting me to take part in a Covid study being undertaken by Imperial College London & IPSOS Mori. I said yes to it; the more knowledge the better for everyone I reckon. Took a while to do on Friday: mainly due to the time it took putting the flat pack box together as some of the tabs weren't stamped out. It was like a Krypton Factor test (showing my age). Got there in the end. Packed it off and sent it away on Friday from a Priority Mail Box by the Aigburth Tap - as I was there mixing business with pleasure. I had no idea until last week that some mail boxes are Priority and others are Unimportant.


The result came through this morning (which is damn quick) and I am still officially negative. Huzzah! I don't know whether the test is any more official than the swab test you do at home but I guess it it feels like it. And there's a bit more data to be used by the powers that be. Job done.


Keep dodging the bullets and Onwards and Upwards.

What A Fudge Up

With Sajid Javid feeling “groggy” and then testing positive for Covid-19 the guys and gals who work with him (and presumably his wife and children) are at risk of contracting (or maybe already have) the virus from him. This morning we find that the PM and Chancellor have been contacted by Test & Trace as a close contact. Of course Twitter has gone wild saying variously that they’ve been “pinged” and contacted by Track & Trace. As it stands it seems to have been the latter and not the App.

According to the stuff I’ve read this morning getting the Ping from App is “advisory” - although having been pinged myself it doesn’t seem that when you get the notification: it seems a rock solid requirement. Now it seems getting contacted by Track & Trace which does equate to a legal requirement to self isolate doesn’t exactly if you know (or can get around the system).

It’s all so woolly. Is it any wonder people ignore rules/guidance when they don’t know what is required legally, what is advice, what’s sensible and what’s just nonsense. And this is far from helped by the PM and Chancellor saying they are going to carry on working and meeting people - on
essential things whilst having to “self isolate” for the rest of the time. I don’t think any of us really have belief that they would do the latter. This is the time they should stand up and say exactly how they are doing things this coming week (ie in accordance with requirements of law and/guidance). They need to show they are doing things correctly in order that others do too. *

They wont.

But of course it may not be the most important thing. Javid has contracted the virus having had two jabs (Astra Zeneca: like me and most oldsters). Apparently AZ is roughly 60% effective against the current Delta variant after both your jabs. From tomorrow if you get pinged having had two jabs you are no longer
required (whatever that now apparently means) to self isolate. How much more will the virus take off with these rules/guidance being loosened?

As I’ve said before I’ll continue to mask and largely social distance for the next months until the virus is under some more control. It’s not 100% effective but 60% (or 80% if you’re offered other vaccines) is better than 0%. Get vaccinated but carry on with being sensible. Assuming you are capable.

* Since writing this the PM & Chancellor have stepped away from their cunning plan to sidestep their legal requirement and have now said they will self isolate. Could mixed messages be any more mixed and fudged? The answer is No.


Oh Happy Day. Yesterday me and a friend were both pinged by the NHS App to say were near someone a few days ago who has subsequently tested positive for Covid-19. We were both told to self isolate for six days from yesterday (which means I can’t leave the house/garden until midnight on Wednesday. I’m not sure if that will change on Monday with the new guidance. That is anyone’s guess.

With it being six days and not ten it indicates that the contact was sometime last weekend. Which to be fair is the last time we were out together so that makes sense. That means it was either somewhere in Bishop’s Castle, where we were camping, or in the
Head of Steam on the Sunday watching the footy final. Ho hum.

Pinged to self-isolate for 6 days

The ridiculous thing though is that it is a legal requirement to self isolate (which I’m fine with: it’s a health issue for all). And I now know multiple people who’ve either had a similar notification or actually caught the virus this week. BUT from Monday no one will need to use the NHS App to sign in and scan as they visit hospitality venues. If they then subsequently test positive there can be no backwards tracing of their contacts - other than their personal recollection, home and family and work etc.

The App notification suggests I’ve been near to someone with a positive test and that has got to be a useful thing to know. I mean what if I was planning on visiting a vulnerable person this weekend? To be given the information is very desirable. I’ve now tested myself at home using one of the kits and reported the Negative result to the NHS website (not sure why you can’t use the App to report it?). The notification page states that I should continue to:
wash my hands, socially distance and wear a face covering. All of which I’ve been doing. But from Monday apparently I won’t need to. And because we won’t be scanning in to places no one will be able to back trace any close contacts we’ve all had any more. People won’t be getting told they’ve been near anyone who’s just been shown to have Covid, ‘cos no-one will know. This is straight out of the Donald Trump method of reducing instances of the virus by not testing for it. Led by the science, my arse.

Negative Test

So in a similar situation next week I wouldn’t know about my close contact and then I could happily pootle off to see a vulnerable person none the wiser. The mind boggles.

The changes just as so many people seem to be testing positive again is a ridiculous act. Since the notification and testing myself the Health Secretary himself has a tested positive (also after having two jabs). The App should be happily pinging his colleagues as you areas this. If he’d just got it a few days later they’d not be getting notified and would have happily been spreading it around their colleagues. Hope it makes them think (I suspect it won’t). Apparently in the last week half a million people have been pinged. FFS. Half a million!

Good luck to everyone trying to stay safe. We our having the tools of knowledge removed from us. And we are being left with common sense (which too many people have little of) and luck. Be good and stay safe, people. Understand the science (but good luck finding the details).

The New Normalish

So on Monday the times are changing - apparently. Things are returning to normal-ish. And to be fair it really is a bit of a mess. I can’t tell whether it is by genius design or manic ineptitude. I mean the Government have all the data and advice they could possibly ask for. So you’d have to think it is more by design than accident. Next week restaurants, bars and nightclubs can open “as normal” (along with everything else like theatres and cinemas etc) and not require scanning in, table service and the Rule of Six: just as the UK have the highest rate of Covid-19 infection in the world. Due to the opening up next week this can only accelerate.

It looks like the Netherlands will briefly overtake the UK tomorrow. And why? Because they'd opened up fully a few weeks ago and this damn Delta Variant has done its thing.


The vaccinations have been going well, which is great. But many of the people who have been vaccinated seem to think it gives them 100% protection and that once you’ve had it you’re okay to carry on as if the virus doesn’t exist; that they are walking around as if in some Iron Man protective gear. It doesn’t protect you 100% and you wouldn’t expect it to. Estimates of protection of the different vaccinations range between 60 and 80%. To put it another way if your group of four people at the bar or in the club on Monday are all exposed to the virus then one of them could be anticipated to contract the disease. It should make you think.

Of course the vaccination should make it much less likely that you would contract it with
serious effects and you are less likely to pass away or end up in hospital. Whoopee! That is great news. And all the data shows the deaths have continued to be low despite that major rise in the virus.

It is nice to know we are less likely to die. But the complacency about the virus now seems to be endemic. Cultivated by the Government’s attitude and push to open up. I of course can’t wait to be able to buy a pint at the bar rather than the whole “wait to be seated” and then be served at the table thing. And it’ll be great for the businesses not to have to employ more people to do the table service - just when there are fewer people in the place than they’d normally have.

Hopefully as everyone gets vaccinated the disease will fall away substantially, but that is not going to happen next week. In the meantime a lot of the younger people - including many of the staff who work in the hospitality sector - wont have had two jabs yet so will be more exposed than us old uns.

Then there is Long Covid. I actually don’t directly know that many people who’ve had the virus. But of the few I do know there are two who have bad Long Covid symptoms involving either losing their taste completely or worse still having an awful taste & smell replacing what they should be sensing. Neither of these two had severe Covid at the time (six months ago) but have now been suffering for months - and one is in their twenties.

Apparently other symptoms of Long Covid includes brain and heart damage. I mean both of those sound like things you don’t want. The Government seems not to want people to avoid the virus. They don’t want you to die (always good for a government I guess), but they are happy for you to go out and catch something which could be permanently life damaging (apparently okay for a government and seemingly okay for the majority of the electorate - go figure).

I for one don’t want the disease. And I don’t want anyone else to get it either. I’ll continue to try and drink outside or in the better ventilated or larger rooms of the pubs: and in the quieter pubs. I’ll be continuing to use a face mask too. Of course, wearing a mask is supposed to reduce the chance of you passing an airborne disease on; it is not the point of it to protect you
per se. So if I’m the only one in a mask then it really won’t be much use. But I’m expecting a lot of people will continue with them despite not needing to legally.

I really feel for the business owners and managers themselves. They've got horrible decisions to make now that they can legally not wear masks or ask others to. They are responsible for the health and safety of their staff - and themselves - and the government has now said legally they don't need to wear them, but the advice is on ever shifting sands. Being told you should but don't need to do something is a nonsense. How is a manager of a restaurant or bar going to feel exposing themselves and their staff right now to the virus when it's rising so precipitously? It's very much a Catch-22 situation for them with the Government washing their hands (or not washing them) of the whole thing.

Personally I think the Government should continue to persuade people to reduce exposure through wearing masks on public transport and in small and/or busy venues (especially in places of poor ventilation). I don’t want Long Covid and the Russian Roulette of what it can deliver to you. That said I'll be glad that all venues will have a better chance of getting a few more people through the door: a better chance to survive. I'll continue to venture out as I have been. But I'll also continue to try and make appropriate decisions too.

In the meantime get vaccinated as soon as you can AND remember it is not a 100% effective barrier to you getting the disease. Maybe think about wearing a mask - especially if you're ever on the No.17 bus into Liverpool. You don't want a damaged heart or brain damage because Boris and our representatives don't care. Stop and think a little.

Good luck to everyone for the duration of this medical emergency/experiment. Be good. Be careful. Support your local businesses as best you can.

It's A Holiday

It's A Holiday, Not A Bloody Staycation

There have been so many bad words and terms coined over this last 18 months or so of this pandemic - and I can probably complain noisily about many of them. But the worst of them all is that foul stench of an idea called: ‘
Staycation.’ For one slightly innocuous word it has so many slanted ideas crammed into it.

In a world full of The Entitled who feel the world owes them everything and the whole Pandemic is aimed at spoiling their day to day life it seems the word has been coined for them - the very idea of a staycation putting people out makes me want to scream. It is not a staycation. If you are going away for a few days in the UK you are on holiday. If you are sat at home watching Netflix and ordering food via Uber Eats then that may be termed a staycation - if you must - but if you are on a trip down to Cornwall, across to East Anglia, on a city break in London, or walking up hills in Snowdonia or the Western Highlands… It’s a fucking holiday. The fact you didn’t fly anywhere doesn’t make it anything less than that.

Growing up in the 70s and 80s my holidays, like so many of the people around me, were with my family in places as near flung as the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales, then down to such 'exotic' locations as Devon and Cornwall. We had epic trips to caravans and bungalows in Cricceith, Abersoch, and Morfa Nefyn and stays in guest houses in Ilfracombe and Torquay in Devon, and house stays near Padstow in Cornwall. All these holidays are indelibly marked in my head: and all of us who went on the trips. There was a week here, or two weeks there. The weather did what it chose to. The places we went while on these trips were variously brilliant, boring or average. There were nice meals, average meals, ice creams, ciders, sunburn and accidents. In short: they were holidays. We were away from home - we weren’t at school and we weren’t at work. They were holidays - plain and simple - not fucking staycations. Of course they weren’t.

So if you can all do one good thing for the rest of your life… if you are away from home on a break - and have not been abducted - just say you are on holiday. A holiday be it in Algarve, the Caribbean, on Route 66 (I know: it no longer exists), or in a tent on a wet peninsula in some lonely British extreme - or within ten miles of your house or beside the M62 - it is a fucking holiday.

Never utter that word again. You know which one.

Covid, Bars, Risk and Reward

As many of you know I do have as couple of Twitter accounts, namely: @zevonesque and @RealeLiverpool. And the latter one is almost entirely Liverpool and Real Ale related (there’s a clue in that name I think) whilst I mention beer and beer related trips on this website from time to time I haven’t really blogged about it much for years. Though if you look in the previous couple of months I’ve done a couple of blogs on the pubs that were open in Liverpool City Centre, both when it was outdoor opening only and just afterwards. I’m wondering whether to do a more regular blog, however short, on related subjects. Perhaps it’d need another section heading on the site to keep things all together; like my Health section - which I only introduced after my MS Diagnosis earlier in the year. We shall see. Could get a bit “samey’ though unless I come up with an effective list of subjects and plans for it. Or if samey turns out to be called for.

We are living in strange times and there appears to be such mixed views and reaction to the virus and all that it entails. This range of lockdown and post lockdown strategies has been messy. And of course it is warranted. There are too many people who happily write off ‘only the old’ or ‘at risk’ in the community. Bloody bastards the lot of them. And of course in reality we still don’t know what the actual long term affects of the disease will be - we can’t know what damage
Long Covid will leave us: people of all ages. Incidentally I know a couple of people (including fit people in their 20s) who got over Covid-19 in a few days: then Long Covid came out of nowhere around the corner and hit them and has left them with severe currently life affecting issues. But we can’t know how long these effects will last, nor if the current impacts will go away and then be replaced with different ones. The NHS could very well be dealing with this impacts of this pandemic for decades. In short, whatever age you are you don’t want to catch it and risk your long term health (including as yet unidentified impacts); or risk passing it on to one of your friends or family members

In the UK the currently rife
Delta variant has rapidly changed the situation here from one of finally being all sunshine & light to one of doom & gloom. The opening up of shops and bars & restaurants and the improvement on options for other social occasions beyond your single “bubble” has surely been a positive thing for people in terms of the return of some normality. But things haven’t returned to normality - and looking at how the current stats have been going (in the North West of England in particular) nor should they. Each step does need to be risk assessed on a global level right down to the individual person. You don’t cross a road without assessing the risks and addressing them and nor do you stand in traffic. And if you cross the road without doing what you should it’s not the government’s fault: it’s yours. Much of this is not “rocket science” but common sense. And while much of the UK has been vaccinated - particularly the older bastards like yours truly - not everybody has.

The opening up has in particular been good for the oldies who have been isolated to one extent or another: finally they can go out and meet & chat to other people (not everyone had or wanted to use Zoom). Meanwhile the youngsters who feel indestructible (we all did once you know) are certainly meeting in larger groups and without socially distancing AND without masks. I’m not saying that to get at the youngsters. I was young once and there are things I did when I was younger that I would think (and were) risky now (racing up scaffolding anyone?). But it is these very “indestructible” people who are told they don’t need to wear masks at school and then go on public transport without masks, then go shopping in Primark or in Next, then head to Maccy D’s and hang around town for a few hours before heading home on public transport unmasked again. Honestly I’m not getting at them. They’ve been told they don’t need masks in school with hundreds of people in: why would they think that they need one in an airy bus with twenty people on it?

Now the graphs for Covid-19 in Liverpool (for example) look horrendous in some ways - the very illustration of “exponential.” This largely comprises the younger people and either unvaccinated or “only vaccinated once” peeps. Us oldies aren’t getting it anywhere near as much - thanks to vaccination - but maybe also because we’re still trying to keep doing the distance thing and are following masking rules too (less so the over zealous sanitising hands and all that: it’s airborne and it’s indoor air, people). Hopefully these youngsters aren’t going to get too ill from it - either right now or in the months or years to come (but we can’t know). We should do all we can to limit the potential for this damnable virus to spread, whilst at the same time allowing companies to survive and ultimately flourish (or at least allow people to make a living out of it). Which leads me to pubs (yes, this was supposed to be a blog about pubs)...

My experience since pubs have reopened indoors has been good and bad in very different respects. Firstly the good: it’s good to go back to places that have been shut for five or six months and see (some) familiar faces. Been great to drink some nice beers; both local and national/familiar and unfamiliar. Been nice to increase the options of going to other places and having the different experiences on offer from them. And boss to have increased the options for meeting mates. All the real ale pubs I have been going to in town have been brilliantly run in terms of getting people to scan in to the NHS App or fill in contact details; wear masks when traversing around the pub; not letting too many people congregate or stand up in groups; and decent table service under difficult circumstances.

The bad: people... in terms of some robbing bastards either running away at the end of the night having accrued a bill on their table (horrible bastard chancers) or even lowlifes stealing glasses; these businesses (in your local community) don’t need another expense due to your obnoxious thievery. Then there’s the not letting too many people congregate or stand up in groups, and decent table service etc. Hold on, that was above in the positive bit, wasn’t it? Well yeah, it’s been good from a risk and fear factor and all that for potential customers. But the other side of that coin is that these things (just as much as stealing bastards) have significant costs for businesses just when they don’t need them (or can’t survive them):
you won’t be catching a virus in an empty pub, but they won’t be making money to survive either.

Quiet pubs may be good for me and others in the short term at least in terms of risk and getting served, but these hostelries and their suppliers can’t survive on almost empty “
but safe” rooms. The virus needs to be beaten by vaccination and short term sensible, risked-out, options, and ventilation (and maybe even masks for kids hey!?). But surely in the short term hospitality businesses need to be FULLY supported by the Chancellor. A business that can’t open fully can’t survive for long without it. There is no business model for an empty pub.

I can’t have a car accident if I don’t have a car, I can’t get a virus in an empty pub: I can’t get a drink in a pub that no longer exists: and the people who own the pub, the people who work there, and all their suppliers are out of a job too. That’s not risk management: that’s insane.

The government needs to support all these businesses. Meanwhile if you can, and are happy to, get yourself down to one of your favourite hostelries - or at least give them with good messages about going back when you are comfortable to do so. They need every bit of support you can give. Cheers and beers, people.

Long Long Covid and All That

As we aim to get out of this virus nightmare and we see things trying to get back to some sort of normality it leaves us in a strange position of being cognisant of the risks whilst continuing with life. As someone who along with a third of the population or so who is ‘double jabbed’ up (a member of the AZ Club) it is strange. I mean this protection has been afforded to us yet we must continue to wear masks and sit in smaller groups – and not hug uncarefully.

I am happy to do this. I bought more masks this very week (and will have to get more as the ones I got were shit) and am going to wear them everywhere that I should i.e. in enclosed environments when walking around and on public transport etc. And don't get me started on the
Covidiots and Plandemic people.

When you are out and about, especially on public transport, it is clear that many people - particularly the young - do not wear masks at any time and are not attempting any kind of distancing: be it outside or on the train or bus. Of course these are the people who are almost entirely unvaccinated at the moment. There are multiple reasons for this attitude and allowances that are made, but now of course as schools are back and there is a more virulent variant of the virus (and whatever ones are coming next) it should not be presumed that these young people around us are free to catch the virus if they want, or they don’t care. There definitely is complacency in a variety of groups of people.

We should be trying to protect everyone not just the old, who are more likely to suffer dire consequences of catching it, but the young too. The catch all term of ‘
Long Covid’ is an unfortunately bland and almost meaningless name. Of course it is early days and it is impossible to know what the myriad range of issues Long Covid may leave on people: both young and old. If a youngster gets the disease now and may not even know they have it, then they could pass it on to someone who very much does get impacted, but they themselves could end up suffering consequences not now but in the years to come. These unknowns should not be shrugged off. We owe it to the children, indeed everyone, for their well being - but also what will be the long term costs of dealing with these unknowns for the NHS? It is impossible to know.

The more virulent Indian/
Delta Variant currently doing the rounds and winning in all the big statistics leagues may or may not be of genuine concern but who’s to say the next variant wont be worse still. Complacency can only make the potential impacts on us worse.

My feeling is that while there has to be a ‘life goes on’ reality that doesn’t mean that it goes on without consideration of what we do to reduce the risks for one and all; we don’t light cigarettes up on a petrol forecourt and we dont smash up asbestos cement sheets in our homes. Everybody needs to be vaccinated as soon as it can be done - and that is the one and only thing we seem to doing okay at in the UK - but it’s not a matter of clicking our fingers and it happens, and in the meantime risks can continue to be mitigated. Clearly the main issues are not the cleaning surfaces rigmarole: there is next to no evidence of anyone picking up
Covid19 from a contaminated surface. It is an airborne pathogen and mitigation is through ventilation, masks and distancing. So please continue to wear your masks, open the windows & doors, and keep up with the distancing. AND get vaccinated as soon as you can, both for you and your fellow humans.

Things ARE getting better but that should not mean you are free to get complacent. Stay safe and don’t be stupid, people.

Some People Think It's All Over

Opening Up, Staying Apart and Being Dressed

I’ve not been sure about writing about Covid-19 as doesn’t everyone want to forget about it? But then again it’s what life is almost all about now, isn’t it? Or at least it should be. I’ve decided to put my twopence worth in on my view of things as they are now anyway.

Throughout the pandemic I have been working. At least it’s not affected me in that way. Listening to the radio on my delivery routes, and finding everyone in, it appeared that most of the world was furloughed. And delivering in North Wales means that this has gone on a few weeks beyond England. The roads in Wales this weekend though were back to normal summer weekend levels: the pandemic is over: huzzah! Not.

Some People Think It's All Over

In Towyn and Kinmel Bay I was stuck in traffic on the coast road on multiple occasions on a very cold and wet Saturday.  The caravan parks were open and busy again. It is understandable how people want to get away for a few days once lockdown has been lifted: my weekend camping last week was lovely for me and the group. But the issues were on the streets and shops where groups could be seen everywhere. I wanted to scream “SOCIAL DISTANCING!”

After the camping last week it was clear that people that have been in work throughout this time have been getting used to rules and PPE. Just the simple things: Keeping two metres apart, wearing a mask, using hand sanitiser. Of course people sat at home for weeks on end doing shopping once a week or getting deliveries haven’t had to get into these habits or mindset. Maybe the opening of the drawbridge now has simply made some people think it is all over. It is not.

The virus is still here and nothing has changed from when lockdown was declared. Well that is not entirely true. What has changed is we know more about the virus (but by no means all – it is an odd little fucker) and we know the ways that we can best protect ourselves.  

I was glad that the Government mandated face coverings for shops from this coming Friday. As much as anything for the psychological impact it will have on everyone. If you have to put on a mask it makes you think that the virus is still here and it is important. Maybe it’ll make people think about the other things - mainly social distancing and also hand sanitising. This is the key thing. Wear whatever your want as a covering. A bandana type does the least but still enough to cut transmission in terms of distance by more than 2/3rds. Personally as I have to wear it all day to over a hundred stops the bandana type suits me best - and I know that if I was putting a mask over my ears each stop then the back of my ears would suffer. Whatever you go for just consider it as an item of clothing – and if you're going out of the house you are not dressed without it.

Wearing a mask is no biggy even if you do find it uncomfortable. I don't like putting my glasses on but if I don't I am definitely a health and safety hazard on the road.

Opening Up

The economy needs to go on. Not for any greedy capitalist reasons, but if you want to eat and drink and get water and electricity in your house someone has to go out and make the stuff and deliver it. Maybe you have to pay for it too. And your favourite clothes shop, cafe, restaurant or pub need money coming in soon or else your favourite place will fall and when you finally leave your house it won’t be there for you.  

It’s easy with hindsight to say we should have closed on such a such date. But we are where we are and saying what can open when are horrendous decisions to make. Put yourself in the place of a decision maker who two weeks after saying “open business type-X”  finds hospitalisation and death rates rising in them. Horrible. At the same time the owners of those businesses are wanting to open them – safely for their staff and their customers.

The Government are walking a tightrope with winds gusting and a horrendous chasm beneath. Whatever they do there will be experts on either side saying they should do more, should do less, should do it later, should have done it before. Don't worry about that, it's a useless thing to argue about and doesn't help you and yours stay safe.

Ultimately you, me and everyone else have responsibilities for ourselves and whoever we may be meeting along the way. I for one went to pubs the day they reopened, as evidenced by a previous blog, and I went camping last week. I am doing my best to keep socially distanced, to wear a mask and to use sanitiser. It’s not rocket science. It’s to reduce your chance of getting and/or transmitting the virus. As a delivery driver in North Wales I’m seeing over a hundred people a day across a large geography, I don’t want to be delivering an extra unwanted package to anyone (or taking one from them – I don’t do pickups). Businesses too are all doing it differently as they are on a learning curve as much as we are. Wherever you go bear that in mind and make your own assessment of how they are doing things. Stick with their rules – as a minimum – and if necessary do more or swerve completely if you're not happy with what they are doing.

The pubs I’ve been in have been very aware of the issues and they have not felt normal at all (bear in mind I go to old men’s/real ale pubs and not bars you may see on TV though). But we are living in strange times and this is just a hardship we have to live with for now. Hopefully this will be the closest I get to being in a war. What our grandparents and great grandparent lived through is much worse than this. For fuck’s sake they used to have to go to school with gas masks and get sent out to live with strangers in the countryside during the Second World War. Putting on a bandana, cloth mask or a medical mask is not really a hardship let’s face it: we can do this! And then there’s keeping your hands clean... I mean how dare the government suggest you should be fucking clean! FFS just do it. 

The hardest thing seems to be the social distancing. Of course it is. Places are designed for people to be people. And people congregate in groups. We don’t stand two metres apart (or one meter apart with mitigation etc). We shake hands, hug, kiss, clap each other on our shoulders, we watch sport or music together, we shout, we cheer... whatever. We are social animals and we do things together. Anything else is odd. It feels wrong. And now whilst I’m travelling around the Welsh coastal towns I can certainly see social distancing just isn’t happening. Like I said before: “SOCIAL DISTANCING!”

Risk Assessments

Look, I know – we all know – that we will be seeing an uptick in the virus and maybe hospitalisation and deaths. And to some extent that cannot be avoided and shouldn’t panic – though some journalists and MPs will try to make us (we can stop car accidents by banning cars but we don’t because.. duh!).  What we have to do is to minimise the risk of catching and spreading the virus. And how do we do that? Well, we do our own personal risk assessment and use appropriate mitigation. It’s not something you need to do any training in to complete your own personal assessment. Oh, no. You can cut and paste previous risk assessments; and guess what you need to do... Yep. Keep your distance – keep your hands clean – use face covering where appropriate. I won’t say “stay alert”, but yeah kind of. 

We are living in strange times to be sure. And people are suffering and dying. Until there is a cure this will continue (unless Trump is right and it just goes away) and we need to remember this. The Government are in a Catch-22 in having to promote businesses restarting, wanting us to get out there and spend money to get the engine of the economy going again. Whilst at the same time telling us to be alert. They basically want us to “stay safe and carry on”.  It’s a difficult message to deliver. And they don’t appear to be selling the safety side of it very well at the moment – all the government promoted Tweets I’m getting at the moment are about going out there and having holidays, spending money in shops and all that: nothing about social distancing. 

So is it any wonder people aren’t keeping apart and continuing as they were before the pandemic? Personally I don’t blame the government or the current messaging for this. If you catch the virus because you went to a house party or had a barbecue then it is on you. I know the virus is still here, you know the virus is still here and you know how best to avoid it. Going to someone’s house for a party where social distancing is impossible is not a thing you should be doing and if you can’t understand that then I suspect you shouldn’t be allowed near water or electricity.

Whatever happens the economy here and around the world will be fucked for years. If margins are tight, which they generally are, then a few percent of people going out of their house less to spend money in their community is disastrous - and at the moment it is not a few percent. Then at the same time there are the groups going out like nothing has changing meaning the extent of the virus will go up . The two sides of this equation are a bloody nightmare. 

Keep On Keeping On

All I can say is that I will go out to places that I feel are doing the right things with respect to health and safety AND I will be doing my part. I will not be attending venues that don’t appear to care or worry and that includes house parties and barbecues. If I have to wait a year or two to go to a party or other social gathering so be it. If you can, and you feel comfortable about doing it, go out and support your local businesses (and the bigger ones too) and do it safely. We all want to get through this and I don't want you buggering it up for everyone.

You guys really should do better. At the moment I’m scoring you all an "E-" but it’s only little things you need to do to get up to a "B" (for pity’s sake don’t slip to an "F"). You know the deal; don’t say you don’t.

Not Exactly Prepping

I regularly buy what I am going to eat on the day. Only cooking what I’ve got in the cupboard as and when. I don’t have a freezer, just a small fridge. So if I do cook a meal with more than one portions I either eat it over two days - or worse over one extended night. Bad Boy! Cooking for one can be a pain; particularly if you don’t have a freezer.

The other day I noticed the only food I had in the house was a tin of peaches and some crackers (but no cheese!). A bit bad. But usually not an issue. At least I still had some coffee (but only enough milk for one coffee). I am out and about every day and often just get myself whatever is in the mythical section of the fridge of the Co-op or Asda: the Yellow Sticker bit. Usually I end up eating very well for not much money.

I am aware though that my eating has gone a bit haywire. Particularly since my dad passed away and I’ve had far too many take outs, which I didn’t use to do all that often. Clearly with an empty cupboard it is all to easy to justify getting a takeout on the way home. 

With the Coronavirus coinciding with my particularly empty (don’t think it has ever been that low) cupboards I decided I needed to get some food in. Stuff that will last weeks or months, just in case the shops do get empty for a day or two - or close. Of course, I’ve kept this quiet as I don’t want to be seen to be part of the problem by panic buying a load of shit. 

So today I went to a couple of shops and have got 80% of my planned stuff together now. Including pasta, rice, potatoes, tinned veg, tinned tuna, cheese, spices, cordial, cheese (for the oatcakes and everything else). And some Ibuprofen - always handy. And, accidentally, far too many sausages: I will be eating sausages for every meal this coming week. 

Of course the purpose of having this is partly not to have to rely on Yellow Sticker shopping, and cut back on take outs, whilst also leaving me not to worry about going hungry for a day. So I need not eat much of it, or if I do I need to backfill with the same. 

It sounds like I’ve gone mad, but I haven’t. I really did have empty cupboards. At the end of the day it was only two and half bags of shopping. Some people get that every week anyway. I’m not exactly digging a bunker yet. But I know I can have a decent pasta meal or a corned-beef hash - and I have some painkillers to boot, if required. I’ve got loads of reading to do and writing projects too. Bring on the end of the world (for a couple of days anyway).