Clear, dry, cold. Temperature at 09:00 hrs is just above freezing. I meet with my cycling buddy from Norwich and we set off at pace toward the countryside through Thorpe St. Andrew.
Avoiding major roads we make our way to Acle. After a tea and bun from a café on the northside of the A47, we make the trip back under a sky that turns from blue to grey. We part after just over three hours cycling. We are close to frozen, but invigorated.
At one point on the route a skein of geese pass noisily overhead. They are heading south, calling to each other as they go, evoking winter.
Plans are being formed to vaccinate the populace. Some will refuse to have such a vaccination and continue to argue that the illness is a fiction, or a grand scheme to control free thinkers. A term, “sheeple” is amusingly coined by “free thinkers” to diminish any sympathetic connection with those keen not to add their friends, family or neighbours to the +50,000 victims of this coronavirus in the UK.
A friend and l discuss the difficulty of talking reasonably with people who espouse firm beliefs, evangelise their belief systems, put down those who have different perspectives. People use beliefs in order to be able to simplify the complexity of life.
As I get older I believe less. The world is a complicated place and for me that is what fascinates.
A message from my son, the elder who works in a huge hospital on the south coast. His spirits have been lifted by the news of three vaccines that promise relief from the pandemic.
This is the start of the third week of England’s second lockdown. 501 people are reported to have died today within 28 days of contracting the coronavirus. The Prime Minister announces £24.1* billions will be spent on modernising the armed forces, something that comes out of the blue to many people.
He suggested that the UK has been in “retreat” and this money will restore the country to a position of international military influence, he claims. This contrasts with a decision made a day or so previously in which international aid has been significantly reduced, “to help pay for” coronavirus.
The only retreat the UK has been engaged in has been the retreat from a peaceful European Union, membership of which is now over and with a transition period that is planned to end on 31st January, 2021.
I retreat under my bed covers.
n.b. *£24.1 billions (corrected from £16 billions. Source The Guardian, 19th November 2020).
n.b. Not a number as much as a label for the latest vaccine that is thought to be able to generate antibodies and T cells that will adapt to protect most of us from Covid-19.
The numbers are important: the 1 denoting the first iteration of the this vaccine, the 2019 indicating that it is a vaccine pertinent to the 2019 variant of a Covid coronavirus. We are advised to beware that these numbers will change as new vaccines will have to be developed as coronaviruses adapt and evolve over coming years.
What is most interesting is that the way the immunologists have identified the structure of this coronavirus and worked to use this knowledge in combination with understanding of the human immune system to find what might be an effective response to this coronavirus, which mirrors findings in Germany and the USA.
I have to add that the volunteers who take part in these trials are just as important to the success of this work as the scientists. It strikes me as a brave thing to do in this time of need. Thank you all.
n.b. Iain Cobain’s book, Anatomy of a Killing (Life and Death on a Divided Island) is an important book that helps explain why the Good Friday Agreement is important. One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter explained to a large extent, but also a balanced attempt to outline the complexity of that place. An important book of history, that is sadly relevant to the C21st too.