I was musing with the Mighty Jessney about how we couldn’t drive anywhere nowadays without relying on Satellite Navigation. He countered about the astonishing emergence of the ‘miracle’ website back in the day where you could type in an address and get a route to it. From here you’d print it off as a map to help you. I think back to some of the car journeys I made shortly after learning to drive in the 70s, how the hell did I find places in Cornwall and London?
Similarly the resolution of small technical matters can now can be resolved easily. I was sat in Halford’s car park wondering about, the mystery liquid, AdBlue. I only took an interest in the stuff when the warning message came up on the dashboard. A quick Google answered all questions of what it is (a mix of urea and deionised water), what it does (reduces diesel engine nitrous oxide emissions), how much to buy, how to pour it in and a video providing advice on when the warning message would switch off. Frankly any hostile nation could bring the world to a grinding halt by switching off the internet: forget bombs, tanks or a virus.
On the subject of bringing the world to a grinding halt earlier this week I was out on an autumnal evening at a Chinese restaurant near Pocklington. I’d often driven past the Plough Inn but never realised it contained a delicious restaurant. The food and service were exceptional. This large establishment had many ‘covers’ but only five customers. I was glad to discover this place but I genuinely wonder whether I’ll go again. It surely cannot survive on such poor patronage? Its fate is simply a function of folk staying at home due to the pandemic.
Whenever I discuss Covid-19 then nobody’s complacent about the virus. They’re befuddled by what you can or cannot do but are all minded to respect the restrictions. However, like me they ruminate whether the tighter restrictions and the fatal damage to so many businesses, the elevation of mental health issues and the lack treatment for those with other chronic conditions is a price worth paying for the not inconsiderable risk of certain groups of people dying from the virus.
Maybe it’s easy for me to say that as I’m not ill with the virus or haven’t lost a loved one. But if I were to have any ‘skin in the game’ then I’d comment that I lost a hugely enjoyable job and impressive pay cheque when the 2008 Financial Crisis came around. Work wise my life never recovered. One might suggest that I was near enough to retirement and had so many other plans for the future that it didn’t work out too badly. That will not be the case with the many ‘casualties’ of closing down our economy again.
As a consolation it does provide moments of levity. BBC’s Charlie Stayt’s incredulity when interviewing Matt Hancock that the latest NHS App wouldn’t be available to people without smart phones! (No shit Charlie…) Also the ‘comedian’ who suggested that students wouldn’t be allowed to go home for Christmas.
With Anna we visited one of her ‘aunts’ in East Yorkshire. The lady and her husband are 87 and 92 years old respectively. Eric is writing up his life story by hand. Before I’d seen the hundreds of pages he’d already written I volunteered to type it all up. Maybe an error! However I’m currently engrossed in the life of a Cottingham schoolboy and his wartime experiences. During the war Hull experienced 1,200 deaths and around 3,000 casualties. On two nights alone in May 1941 around 400 perished. As a consequence 95% of the housing was damaged and 152,000 people made homeless. Obviously not a place for an eleven year old you’d think. In between the air raid terror he collected, during daylight, razor sharp shrapnel from all the bombs and shells that rained down on the city. These were taken to school for swapping purposes. Land mine craters became play areas and the procession of bomb disposal soldiers provided entertainment from the kerbside as they stacked unexploded ordnance near to his home. What’s clear is that today the government would be under immense pressure to pursue unconditional surrender from everyone on social media rather than experience one day of this hell.
We had a ‘staycation’ in East Anglia for a few days. Suffolk is largely a very attractive and unspoilt county. Lavenham was a great and unique place to stay with its ancient preserved houses. From this base we explored the coast and did this in the finest way: on bike. Anna rode the 55 miles brilliantly from Framlingham to Aldeburgh and then to Southwold before back to the start. It wasn’t very flat and she certainly gained her climbing legs. From here we relocated to North Walsham in Norfolk and cycled out to Mundesley, Cromer and Sheringham. This cycling trip was again in brilliant weather but the traffic and folk out and about was immense for a Monday. We know more about a part of the country I’d never properly spent any time in before.
Continuing with cycling I had a blissful three weeks watching the Tour de France. It was run later this year because of you know what. The scenery as it wended its way through France remained captivating.
As usual the weather was hot and sunny. I was lucky to spend nearly two weeks cycling up the country in July and it is a fine place to be whenever. My schedule was to watch the race live for a little while in the afternoon or watch the highlights in the evening with Anna. It was a terrific race ultimately between two Slovenians with the dead cert favourite, Primož Roglič, losing the race on the penultimate stage. I cannot imagine how crushed he must have been to have got so close but lost it. He had the best team and the man he lost to had no team! The way this works is that despite the individual’s talent they need a team to support them if they stand a chance of winning. Tadej Pogačar ripped up the rule book at the tender age of twenty one. There’s still the Grand Tours of Spain and Italy to watch next. Bring them on.