As the death toll now passes 28,000, I’m still appalled by Matt Hancock’s disingenuous and self-congratulatory spiel at yesterday’s Downing Street Briefing. Having made the arbitrary 100,000 tests a day target a key goal, ‘a massive achievement’ based on massaged statistics, there’s apparently still no understanding that this is only one aspect of an uncoordinated approach. Experts are saying it’s meaningless without contact tracing and an overarching approach focusing on local public health teams rather than being directed solely from Westminster. Despite much criticism, it doesn’t seem that the Health Secretary has yet been seriously challenged by the media on this misrepresentation. Another major claim, that we’re now ‘past the peak’, has been challenged by experts, on the basis that we don’t yet have the full set of figures from the Office of National Statistics which would lead to that conclusion.
You’d probably have to be of a certain age to fully appreciate this tweet. Some might even remember the advert’s tune!
‘Welcome to the #DowningStreetBriefing sponsored by Fudge, a finger of Fudge is just enough to fudge Covid19 the test figures’.
Meanwhile, the lockdown exit issue is attracting mixed opinions, sections of the population and businesses understandably champing at the bit to get going again, but many others appreciating the extra time and peace to not rush around, to enjoy reading, listening to music, meditation and the natural world around us. Research has shown that proximity to nature is good for our mental wellbeing, enabling calmness and tranquillity. This time of year especially lends itself to such experiences, as so many trees and plants are coming into bud and blossoming. It’s very pleasing to see three white and scented irises unfurling in my little garden, surviving yesterday’s downpours and hailstorms. For the past month, I’ve been visiting two pairs of nesting coots on a local waterway and it was marvellous today to see one lot had finally hatched, the tiny hatchlings peeping out from beneath the hen bird’s enfolding wings. Apparently, very few survive more than a few weeks because of various predators so I hope at least some of these do. It seems fitting, then, that tomorrow is International Dawn Chorus Day, ‘which celebrates nature’s greatest symphony around the world’, and BBC PM treated us to snatches of birdsong earlier – blackbird, robin and blue tit.
One of the things I like so much about Joe Wicks, the ‘nation’s PE teacher’ who hosts a daily workout during the week on his YouTube channel, is that he emphasises the mental health benefits of exercise as much as the physical ones, in an engaging and compelling way. I’ve come across so many people who’ve never exercised as adults because they were so put off by harsh and humiliating games teachers at school. Perhaps these live workouts (‘attended’ by so many all over the world’) might attract some of these people, as they were initially aimed at kids and now people of all ages are joining in, whole families doing it together. As Joe doesn’t do them at weekends, I’ve been catching up with the earlier ones I missed. There’s a surprisingly challenging exercise in the 24 March one I’ve never done at the gym – manageable but not easy. It involves alternately kneeling and standing at a reasonable speed, without using your hands. Harder than it may sound!
For a bit of light relief and if you’re not addicted to the Scandi noir on BBC4, you might like to catch up with this lovely film on BBC2 tonight, if you missed it when it was first released: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society. ‘In 1946 a London-based writer begins exchanging letters with residents on the island of Guernsey, which was German-occupied during WWII. Feeling compelled to visit the island, she starts to get a picture of what it was like during the occupation’.