I received a phishing scam email purportedly from the NHS about a vaccination.
Given my age this was a nice surprise. I am not on the priority list, but who am I to question an email from the National Health Service? No one knows quite what is going on, so I was quietly pleased about this.
Did I want to accept the invitation for a vaccination, or reject the offer? Why would I want to reject an invitation for a vaccination?
All the type faces / fonts and logos were good copies of the NHS official documentation. I was directed to enter all sorts of information:
Date of birth
Mother’s maiden name
MOTHER’S MAIDEN NAME?
This is not an NHS data requirement.
I checked who the sender was. Right click the mouse on the sender’s name and the actual address is revealed. It showed a private hotmail.co.uk address. The NHS does not distribute such information from a UK Hotmail address.
I called by my brother-in-law’s flat at his invitation. We haven’t seen each other for a while. We are each other’s half of a support bubble. We talked about end of life care. This was an important discussion to us for a number of reasons.
After we moved onto talking about football and cricket it was time to head for home. The rear tyre of my bicycle had suddenly blown while he was on the phone to one of his daughters. The pop came as surprise to him and disappointment to me.
It was close to midnight. There was just one other pedestrian on the street. No traffic. Light rain was falling. The rain was soft and cool. It felt like springtime.
A few blackbirds were issuing alarm calls from the wooded escarpment to my right.
I enjoyed the walk. There is a full moon somewhere behind the cloud cover.
Trip trap, trip trap over the bridge I went to explore the more urban side of the river. Crossing the bridge was the easy bit. After that the carefully salted pavements and cycle tracks had iced over again and reset as black ice.
The sapphire blue sky and dazzling sunlight was the cue for blue tits to sing. They have a delightful vocal salutation to the Sun and I find their constant movement a joy. I find it most remarkable that they are able to go from fleeting flight to stock still on landing.
Other birds that were about included a grey wagtail in close to the door at Morrison’s. A young man was able to get quite close to take a good picture of it – the bird even stopped wagging its tail for a moment to help the photographer.
I wandered down a side road, under an old railway line bridge and on towards Common Lane, but I decided not to pass across the Yarmouth railway, as a woman was returning after seeing how flooded the lane was further along. I then took a left that ran parallel to the Yarmouth Road and found myself in a little bit of countryside. Mud and ice notwithstanding, it was a delightful diversion, which led me past the local scout HQ with its St. Andrew’s shield on the gate. They seem to have a great set up there, with a green and various bits of climbing equipment by the wood.
When I got back onto the road towards the city I noticed that the church has a tiny campanile of its own just inside the arched gate to the churchyard. The footpath to the church door passes through the bell tower, which is not even as high as the church roof. The church itself is an impressive structure for this the first town outside the city on this side of the river.
There are a couple of bank side pubs, both which have riverside terraces that are always busy in the days when pubs were open. The train journey on this line gives a good view across the river to the south-facing pub gardens and they look very attractive prospects for better times ahead.
There is also a narrow public garden with plenty of benches, some arranged around a war memorial that has the look of an anti-war memorial, (to which I have no objection at all). There is a more traditional war memorial more centrally located at the back of the park with the names of the local men lost during the two world wars of the C20th. The poppy wreaths were ringed by luminous red, backlit as they were by the Sun.
There is a point where the road and the river are very close and a way to the water’s edge has been provided for horses to get a drink. This access is called Horsewater. Like all those Norfolk roads named The Street, one gets the sense that not a lot of time used to be spent on getting creative with naming things around here.
I passed a cut through between houses. Here it is known as a loke, something that is is known by the name twitten in Sussex.
Closer toward the city is a car park, opposite the Broadlands District Council offices. This is for visitors to the Cary’s Meadow. Again this was badly affected by flood waters and instead of plodding around the meadow I spent some time standing in the car park talking to a woman who I had waited to go through the wooden gates before me. She advised that the ground was not easy walking at the moment, at least not for my trainers.
She told me a bit about the meadow and we soon enough got onto the pandemic and life as we now know it. She had been allowed access to the cathedral to light a candle in commemoration of her late husband, whose second anniversary it was last Wednesday. She was the only visitor inside that massive, celebrated building at that time. It was an important quiet moment for her. Life goes on, just differently these days.
I walked home past the east side of the football stadium and its car park. Coronavirus testing continues there, or are they vaccinating there now too? I did not ask. There were as many staff there as people visiting.
Crossing the Novi-Sad Friendship Bridge I saw the last flash of sunlight from the weather vane set on the point of the cathedral spire. Is it one of those proud brass cockerels that were once all the fashion? From the distance, in that moment, it seemed like a golden star.
It would be ridiculous to file all the recorded music I have in alphabetical order until I have a settled home. I don’t know how long I will be living here, (no one knows how long Lockdown 3 will even last), but I know that I can’t put up any shelves in this rented property. So, what I have is in plastic boxes.
Today I decided to empty them all out and re-box the collection into categories then note where each box is stashed. So, if I fancy listening to some Godspeed You Black Emperor, John Lennon, Bela Bartok, or The Fall I will now know where to start looking.
I discovered one CD I remembered little about, which turned out to be by Saul Williams the title Martyr Loser King. I think that I had bought it in Rough Trade East from the sale rack. The title must have appealed to me and is indicative of the cleverly constructed lyrics, which you can download as a pdf from the website. The artist’s projects include poetry and film. Worth investigating, if you have some spare Internet time.
I recognised another bargain basement CD I had acquired, but wasn’t sure if it was blues, or country-rock, or what, because I had not played it recently. It turned out to be an authentic country and western album with lyrics so mournful it made me laugh out loud. It cheered me up no end, thanks, Mr Leach.
If you want to track it down it is Tom Leach’s eponymous album, Tom Leach. He produced all 16 tracks on a friend’s 4 track recording machine at home. The tracks Yesterday’s News and Mr Hang Up The Phone are just two of the gems on this album. The absolute winner is Ice Below You. The chorus includes the line “You’ve got so much ice below you; I’m falling through.” is a winter winner; ideal for these times of bad weather, covid confinement and misery.
Grief is The Thing With Feathers by Max Porter is a very clever and engaging book. If you have two or three hours to spare I can recommend it. The subject matter is potentially painful, but the way the book changes points of view from the dad, to his two sons to the crow, representing grief, is very well done. There is pain and humour and a sense of love within the whole family. I think that it is a book that is worth re-reading too, as there are plenty of moments worth savouring, particularly as grief is something I have had to address as life as ticked on.
The author has felt a need to acknowledge the debt to Ted Hughes for the crow character idea, which I understand. I don’t know about you, but it would be nice to read a book that doesn’t have to cross reference other writers and other books. Just tell the perfectly good story as best you can. No need to get all literary on your readers.
As an aside, there are words that I see in poems, for this book is part poetry, part prose (prose poems) that make me wince. If I see another poem that uses the phrase, “a lick of…” I may throw it out of the window, unless the licking is so ordinary, or extra-ordinary that it merits the use thereof. There are an awful lot of bones these days in poetry too, as well as throats and lots of tasteof… phrases.
I had some interesting comments on a poem I wrote recently that included the phrase “I caught a flash of frightened girlhood in your brown eyes”. Several of the other writers wanted me to jazz up the brown eyes. Well, I didn’t because they were very beautiful brown eyes and they were beautiful for their distinctive brown colour. Simplicity is poetic too, isn’t it? There was enough in that line already and I did want to distract the reader with ornamentation.
So, today has been a quiet day. Warm enough to have the balcony door open for most of it. Quiet enough to hear the blackbirds calling up the dusk as afternoon wore on.
It didn’t take long for the snow to go. Just pockets of compacted ice in shaded corners and the decomposing remains of snowmen on the lawns of the parks. The low Sun was wonderful. I walked with my face covering in place for most of the time, so am dubious as to whether I topped up my vitamin D levels. Just being out in the bright light was invigorating enough.
I was out a little later than yesterday, but most people seemed in good humour today too. Was it because it was Sunday, the blue sky and brilliant light, more obvious signs of spring, or the relative warmth? Or is Norwich just inhabited by good-natured pedestrians? Any or all of that might be true or false. The sample size is too small to verify the posited theories. The evidence too subjective.
The Great Clown has enjoyed a reduced presence in the media these past couple of days, which may be another reason why the populace of this fine city are in gentle humour. Who knows? I hope that the hospital teams are able to share in the elevated mood of the weekend.
The last report from Twitter on Friday was that around 600 people are being treated for Covid-19 in the county’s hospitals. The number of infected per 100,000 was recorded in the local newspaper as 628.9 for the past week for the city; now the highest in Norfolk The coronavirus needs host bodies to live in and this is the vicinity where there are potential host bodies in the greatest numbers.
The question now is whether the third lockdown will be sustained until infection rates are minuscule, or until the proportion of those vaccinated is such that we can start a revised social existence.
I understand that the Chinese government is vaccinating everyone up to the age of 50 years first, as these are the most economically active. In the UK it is the most aged and vulnerable groups first, as well as where possible, medical staff. The UK decision is based on cost-effective use of vaccines considering life’s saved per vaccination.
But are all lives equal in the UK?
The life of an 80 year old saved by vaccination provides +1.26 years of saved life.
The life of a 40 year old saved by vaccination would save +41.26 years of saved life, which is 32.75 times more saved life years than saving one 80 year old.
This assumes every one lives to 81.26 years of age, (the average life expectancy in the UK as of 2018 – which is falling apparently as a result of the decade of Tory cuts).
Like you, I am a little unsettled by considering these calculations, but these are the kinds of calculations that are being made to decide how to distribute the government funded vaccine.
Or might the vaccinations be distributed by employment categories? Of these which group would you vaccinate first? All the (low-paid) customer-contacting key workers? Yes! I say.
Another alternative might be to let the richest buy what they can afford and let everyone else enjoy the leftovers, which is how the “free” market works. This pandemic exposes the flaws in that system, I suggest.
Incidentally, this is what the richest countries are doing, leaving the world’s more impoverished nations to get to the back of the queue for vaccines, unless they magic up some of their own, or break the code and infringe the patents, as India had to do previously with other medications.