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Deuteronomy 315/84 Corollary: Reflections on the Second Wave & Arrival of Vaccines September 25th 2020/ April 26th 2021

We were clearly full of optimism as this second volume begins; we blogged les choses ne sont pas contre nous/ cha robh cùisean sam bith nar n-aghaidh. Between September 5th and 25th we blogged not at all; we’d driven to and stayed in Weymouth, Ilkley and Prestonpans – dining out as we went, meeting family. In Scotland we’d conducted digitally shared socially distanced Commemorations of the 275th Battle Anniversary followed by lunch at The Gothenburg.
It became a worrisome false dawn. Weekly blogging began again from September 25th charting our Exodus; sadly by November 5th Boris Johnson had announced the Second Wave was upon us nationwide and we necessarily gave way to the constraints of Leviticus. We resumed daily blogs. Why such Old Testament headers? Quite simply we happened on the analogy with the well documented phases of the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt and their recorded journey in Leviticus, the final 40 [years] in Numbers until reaching ‘The Promised Land’ as charted in Deuteronomy – on conditions of good behaviour. Throughout there were Boris’ regulations and laws to be followed but it was all intended to lead by Spring 2021 to Freedom through Vaccination; as indeed it now has.
This second half has been an altogether different experience. Climatically the options changed. We experienced late autumn/ winter/ early spring. Outdoors was still an option but not as it had been in the first half. However, as soon as the vaccine discoveries were all realised the future beckoned, but how could we/ should we get there? As a family we recycled the advice offered in March 2020 – get a structure to our days and party as much and as often as you can. We began with Canadian Harvest Festival followed by the US, Guy Fawkes and the digitised Remembrance Day. Avril convened Stir Up Sunday to make the pudding - she had volunteered to do the Christmas Lunch for the family. December offered myriad family birthdays running beyond Christmas and then of course we welcomed the New Year. Then came Burns’ Night, Australia Day, Joan in Beckenham reaching 90, Valentines’ Day, our 54th Wedding Anniversary, Mathew’s birthday, Bryan’s birthday, Pancake Day, Mothering Sunday. Next the duplication of locked down events began firstly with Easter because that festival had moved earlier in 2021 than 2020; soon we began repeating ourselves post March 23rd and April 1st brought Avril’s birthday then Anne’s on the 9th . Anne’s 85th celebration coincided with Avril’s heart incident and stenting with flashing blues, a sojourn in Kettering Hospital then rehab began back at Milton.
There were seismic shifts. The UK ably staged its roll out of vaccinations whilst the EU made fools of themselves and are still suffering the lagged consequences; The Donald lost to Joe Biden as US President; HRH The Duke of Edinburgh died; the Duke & Duchess of Sussex committed their truly significant faux pas on US tv in interview with Oprah Winfrey; the Battle Trust took on the 5 year lease of Prestonpans Town Hall; we gave thoughtless backword both on Gaelic learning and Steven Poole … and in the final week Kathryn and Mathew in Ilkley announced they are both set to retire from fulltime employment as they reach 55.
Our family connectivities - next door with the Dolphinstouns, weekly by phone to Canada and via WhatsApps with Ilkley flourished throughout as did the monthly ZOOMing of the Battle Trustees. And Calum and Michelle at the Prestoungrange Gothenburg held rock steady and have reopened as these Reflections are penned ….
National Days continued to amuse and inform. The sequence of Days was once again extraordinary beginning with STE[A]M; then came Scrapple, Forget-me-Nots, Canada’s Red Mittens, Jukeboxes, Hawaiian and Panamanian Independence, St Andrew, UAE Foundation, Wright Brothers, US Space Guardians, Guatemalan Independence, Moorish Spain, Distaff and Plough Days, Crystal Palace, Marzipan, Stephen Foster, Fun-at-Work, Thank-a-Carrier, Keats, St David, Frozen Food, Commonwealth, Bagpipes, Bermuda, St Patrick, Stanley Cup, Blackbirds, Lobster Newburg, Fiorentina, Holography, Umbrellas, Socrates, Birkenhead Drill and finally Weeds!
Reflecting forward? The media are full of opinions on how society at large and we as individuals will pick up our lives again in the post-lockdown months. So it behoves me surely to offer my own … beginning with my dream of centennial re-enactment of The Roaring Twenties my mother and father enjoyed. Already every time face to face interaction is resumed the imperative need to hyper-talk is observably heard. It’s true for reuniting families and in businesses where talk of working-from-home increasingly gives way to, maybe, a four day week! Whilst it is clear to us all that ZOOM and digital devices have meant we could stay sane and maintain verbal and visual contact across lockdowns we all talk of missing the tactile and the multidimensional seeing we have been denied. Click and Collect tick boxes can never trump what browsing offers. This month’s repainting task is now complete at Milton – the garden furniture is ready to welcome everyone back; and our luncheon speciality has become Boiled Beef & Carrots – Yes, with the music hall song. We’re also booked in for Steak Night at The Gothenburg on June 3rd when the Battle Trustees’ plan to recommence face to face meetings …..

But ….. we also know that there are trends that were already present before the pandemic that have been accelerated. The most obviously salvational was our digital connectivity despite its endless facilitation of hurtful and evil gossip … I asked grandson Elliot Yr of Lochnaw how he thought we would have coped without as we all did in WWII. Without pausing he replied: “You’d lean over the garden fence and talk to your neighbour!” It’s also abundantly clear that lockdown accelerated the growth of online shopping with its concomitant destruction of High Street retailing as we knew it a decade ago. Whilst the doctors and nurses won our respect as exemplified in the outpouring of support for Capt. Sir Tom Moore’s walkabout, the NHS as an institution was caught totally unprepared and all too often unable to react suitably; and health’s Cinderella, the care home sector, Mathew's doctoral focus for the last five years, placed in the too difficult basket by politicians for the last two decades suffered the greatest blunders and humiliations of all. Finally, the media overplayed their hands throughout with their rerun of Project Fear seen earlier over Brexit played out on hospital wards, with grieving relatives and academic doom-mongers. It can clearly be seen to have a hangover effect for many of us in myriad different manifestations e.g.imagined side effects of vaccines and Jeremiah scientists, where every academic seems to be a professor these days.

Published Date: May 3rd 2021

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