Tier 2 (Day 1) Norwich

As promised, I book my match ticket, complete some chores in heady mood, then set off to town.

I meet a neighbour walking her cross-breed hound. We stand by the riverbank, a good distance apart and exchange views on the newly introduced restrictions.

She is upset that she is still unable to visit her very elderly father, resident just down the road. Although government restrictions make it illegal for her to visit, it is unlikely that she would visit him indoors for fear of passing infection to him. Even with looser restrictions I doubt whether she could visit him unless she knew she was safe to do so. How could Downing Street make that decision?

She is sceptical of the promise of effective vaccines. She refers to Thalidomide that was promoted as a wonder cure for ‘Morning Sickness’ (hyperemesis gravidarum) in the late 1950s. It prevented sickness, but tragically produced severe physical defects in many of the babies of women who had taken the new product. The court cases took decades to resolve.

She overlooks the many cures that have been produced subsequently for many ilnnesses. For example, the success of anti-viral drugs in reducing the health risks of HIV for those in countries lucky enough to be able to afford them are ignored. It is thought that the lessons from developing these formulae have contributed to addressing infections of Covid-19.

Patents will be an issue. Profits will be an issue. International and national health inequalities will be issues. None of these issues will diminish the effectiveness of any new drug, but they are part of the challenge in reducing the toll taken by Covid-19, as will be anti-vaccination campaigners.

As I make my way for a much needed haircut, I spot a poster outside St. Stephen’s on Rampant Horse Street. It suggests, “Try praying.”


CLP 02/12/2020

Lockdown 2 (Day 27) Morrison’s

Tuesday, 1st December, 2020

How long it took me to get out of bed, what I read, or wrote and listened to is unimportant. The crucial thing is that I managed to get myself out the door across the river to the supermarket to buy organic tomatoes, cucumber and fennel to go with my supper. I also needed more bread flour.

It was crucial that I made that step outside. In the supermarket there is always some interaction, whether a side-step, a step-back, a wave through, a nod of appreciation, a thank you, although the thank you may be from the automated voice of the self-service checkout machine. You may have noticed that the “Thank you for shopping at….” tends to be the greeting as you carry your basket to the automated checkout, as the previous shopper has already promptly departed. I wonder who had the job of calibrating the sound track for the machines. “Thank you for shopping at…” is always a falling echo as I leave the bagging area.

It took me less than twenty-five minutes to walk to the store, shop and put my shopping away in my kitchen. I was invigorated by stepping out under the bright waning moon, past the local football ground and across the car park. I subsequently enjoyed my evening after a drab day in doors.

Receiving an email telling me that I am in the group of supporters entitled to buy a ticket to attend a football match at the weekend played an important part in lifting my mood. My first task tomorrow will be to book my seat at the game. 

The last time I went to the stadium on 2nd March there were 18, 809 fans attending; on Saturday there will be a maximum of 2,000 of us well-spaced out, well-wrapped up. It is going to be cold.

My ability to concentrate on other matters will waver during the next few days.


CLP 2nd December, 2020

On Air

Skies no more filled by

loud mechanical birds just

precipitous clouds


n.b. Norwich airfield is being used as a parking lot for the excess supply over demand of aircraft. There are four English Airways planes here and many other brands parked up at the far end of the runway.

BA lost its right to be called “British” Airways when it took sides to support the England rugby team against Wales last weekend. Let’s be clear, the concept of a “United Kingdom” is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.


CLP 30/11/2020

Lockdown 2 (Day 26) Hellesdon

On my bike and out at nine o’clock under the overcast sky. Within minutes of making my way past the point of no return, it started raining. When the tarmac path turned to compact soil there was no noticeable change in the firmness or smoothness of the ride, not just yet.

The leaves are down, loosely heaped, brown papery and making the swishing and swooshing rustles that evoke childhood, when they piled up knee-high, over the top of Wellingtons, tickling the knees, falling into the lip of my boots. Soon the rain turns them slippery under my tyres. There are several trees down too.

The shallow roots of a fallen silver birch have pulled up a thin plate of hard soil, a disc of black earth standing on its rim.

A jay rises in diagonal flight from the trackside across my path. It carries an oaknut held in its beak as it heads home. Further on a sparrowhawk drops from an overhanging branch into a frantic low flight straight in front of my wheel. The hawk follows the track in front of me, before flipping right and flipping left and up into open airspace and then away into the shadow of the woods.

At the part of the old rail line where the trees are longer established, taller, denser, darker, there is a muntjac deer keeled over just to the left. It reminds me of the one I had seen in the spring on Salthouse Heath, caught in the wire fence. This one had simply been caught from behind. These deer have short, sharp horns and look as if they might be able to inflict some pain if confronted, but not this time.

Before I turn back to base I explore a woodland path on the bike. It opens into heathland before being fenced off. On the heath moles have been busy. A freshly built molehill of considerable size stands in the track. It is good to know the moles are active here. It signifies healthy supplies of earthworms and grubs that are good for the soil.

At the new outer ring road I am able to join a brand-new cycle path, which I naïvely assume will take me all the way around the city and back to base, but I have to turn onto an arterial road and am then directed past the airport. The red and green runway lights are on, but nobody is flying. A row of smaller passenger jets is lined up on the northern edge of the airfield. The tailfins are logoed with an image of the Union Flag. They look smart, brand-new. Redundant.

I get very cold in the heavy rain. I take the Holt Road, which becomes the Cromer Road, which becomes the Aylsham Road down the long slope toward the city centre. By now the enjoyment of two hours out on the bike has kicked in and I feel almost elated when I get in and strip for a shower.

In the mid-afternoon, taking advantage of the lack of commercial flights, the USAF or RAF carry out military flights over the city. The noise, as I have mentioned on several occasions, is close to unbearable.

My generally improved mood is easily sustained through the day due to the inner warmth from cycling and the hot water of the shower. I replenish by depleted reserves with the last steak from the freezer.

My eldest son called. All seems well there, as it is feels here today. I listen to the FA Cup 3rd round draw (Bristol City away in early January) and then spend a little time reading some of Pablo Neruda’s collection, ‘Residence on Earth.’ My playlist for the evening includes Tartini’s La Sonata del Diavola and then Fontaines DC’s latest album. I enjoy both.

A couple of leaves from the silver birch trees next to the balcony blow into the apartment. I leave them on the floor for decoration.

Lockdown 2 ends on Thursday, but as a Tier 2 location I do not think there will be any differences from these days in the second lockdown. The Foreign Secretary has indicated that Lockdown 3 will be on the cards to tighten things up again after Christmas.

I remember that Britain is an island and islands, even continental islands like Australia, have made good progress, even with a population there of 22 millions. Why hasn’t the British Isles been able to get a grip on the problem? Don’t answer that, please.


CLP 29th November 2020