Another day

Elderly friend is phoning us at least six times a day from her care home bed, she’s fretting over trivialities because she’s got nothing better to do. Contrariwise I hear Bojo, the UK’s suspiciously unclownish PM has been admitted to hospital and thence ICU. Hope it’s for a treatment that works. I may not like absolutely everything he’s done, but he’s a lot better than many alternatives. That said, he’s in for a rough ride. Good luck to him. Looks like he’ll be hors de combat for the next week or two.

We’re okay. Just hunkering down and weathering the storm like any sensible people. We get out on the deck whenever the sun shines and work allows. I’ve had a minor morning cough, but nothing much. Just a seasonal snotty nose. No other symptoms. Mrs S says I need a haircut because I’m looking a bit shaggy around the edges and has threatened to stake me out on the lawn while she gives me a quick run over with the lawnmower. Unfortunately all the local barbers are shut, so it may well come to that. Am I afraid? Good God yes.

Out in the neighbourhood, every day looks like Sunday. It all looks so peaceful. Neighbours doing chores, mowing lawns, fixing odd bits and pieces, cutting wood. We’ve even sighted a couple of the older deer looking a bit unkempt, but the usual bucks, fawns and yearlings are conspicuous by their absence.

Oh well, another day, another crisis, another fix. This afternoon I was playing around with four man sized Kleenex, a bit of plastic packaging wire, some sellotape and a little twine. Result; twenty minutes later one perfectly adequate limited-use four layer pleated face mask. Not up to Operating Theatre or Intensive Care Unit standard, but good enough to keep the worst of the dreaded lurgi contained or at bay when out and about or in a shop. And comfortable enough to wear for a couple of hours.

Talking of the dreaded lurgi, a clue has surfaced regarding misleading Covid-19 figures from China. Now cell phones are used for everything over there. Even small transactions. Apparently even the smallest street vendor uses them. This being the case, a stat poked it’s head above the parapet recently saying that twenty one million cell phones have gone inactive in mainland China over the last three months.

Now AP says that this is a bit of fake news as it’s all about cell phone users with multiple accounts cancelling unwanted phone plans. Which on the surface makes perfect sense. Okay, it’s rather a lot to happen all in a relatively short time frame, but it’s probably mostly down to their travel ban. People are obviously rationalising multiple SIMs and cell phone accounts, but still, that’s a very high figure. We don’t cancel our phone SIMs just because we’ve had to miss a trip. What is actually interesting is that a total of 840,000 landlines went dead in the very same period. Which is also, upon first examination, a high figure. I have no idea what the usual phone line turnover is, so cannot draw any solid conclusions.

However, other news keeps popping up about mass deliveries of cremation urns being delivered within China, which look, and I’m choosing my words with caution here, look like there are a lot more deaths than official figures would indicate. Then there are the people who are just dropping off the grid in mainland China. The usual crop of dissidents, but still, it’s a lot more than would be expected, so maybe a fraction of those dead cell phone and landline accounts reflect a higher death count than we’re being told. It’s hard to make an assessment with such limited information but enough to flag up on the old bullshit detectors.

What might be useful, as a way of compiling a predictive model, is to reverse engineer the Covid-19 stats from Northern Italy which would give a better idea of what is happening behind the bamboo curtain and great firewall of China. Not that it matters. No doubt the Chinese Communist leadership will be reaping the gales of wrath behind their polite smiles in the very near future, as voices are already calling for a boycott on anything made in the PRC.

For my own part I’m watching the disease stats closely, as they may well impact the travel plans we have for September. We may even need some kind of permit to travel involving getting some sort of ‘we’re immune’ documentation that is recognised on both sides of the pond. That will be when the restrictions are lifted and a decent antigen test becomes available, not those shoddy ones currently emanating from mainland China.