A perfect, still, sunny day, had a good run, very encouraging email from MP in SA and JP in Wales. Coffee in the garden. In the evening went to UTube and found Harari speaking about the pandemic and saying that the app to test and trace is dangerous because it is a step towards AI gaining access not just to our locations, but to our bodies and feelings in real time and that it needs to be under medical and ultimately democratic control, but that in Israel it is being implemented by the secret police.
He also then spoke about Homo Deus to a London audiance packing out the Methodist Central Hall. Elizabeth joined me and was very impressed. His exposition of his ideas and his answering of questions was quite outstanding. He has to be described as brilliant.
Rather a cold, windy and thus decidedly depressing day not improved by the official news on all the websites that whatever the actual numbers (around 20,000, but impossible to be certain) there seems to be little doubt that the UK has the highest death rate in Europe. It also seems to be the case that it was lack of preparedness with no stockpiled masks and gowns and a shortage of available tests at the start which has caused this. Over self-confident Boris and his Tories whose only thought was BREXIT I fear. Deaths in the care homes continue to rise while the hospitals seem able to cope. The car homes though are still saying, despite “re-assurances” from the Government that many just do not have the necessary PPE kit.
Watched a rather boring presentation – very carefully and knowledgeably prepared -talk on Zoom on Greg’s U3A group. To work Zoom needs discussion unless it is a very topical subject and the volcanoes on Tenerife were not that. The next session will be on Free Will. Looking forward to that.
TV Netflix. Have discovered Heist just goes on and on for over 20 sessions getting ever more outlandish. Still gripping for the first 16.
With no binge and a good sleep I set off on my run and discovered that all the grass paths had been freshly mown. An impressive achievement. It was a beautiful morning and a great run and near its end there was the mower on his machine. I congratulated and thanked him and he told me that as a member of WFC he volunteered to cut the grass to offset the rent for their pitch. What a generous act which I will report on the Wincanton Window.
Late morning had a good Zoom session with JL and DW discussing how each of us had discovered and experienced Buddhist meditation, which we had never done before.
Phoned the health centre to ask if I would be judged in need of extended self-isolationas a result of my triple by-pass. They checked my records and phoned back that apart from age (and sex) if I was careful I did not need to self-isolate. Agreat relief. Now I can contact JM and take Dougle for walks. The garden is looking great. We get enormous pleasure sitting in it with a book or a drink.
Sunny, cold and windy. Andrew Marr at 9. It is increasingly clear that the Government got off to a slow start and has concentrated on saving the NHS at the expense of the care homes where residents and staff have been dying disproportionately and it is from them that a total of 20,000 deaths will be reached. Boris is now back showing appreciation for the way he was treated and how serious the pandemic is and of the need to look ahead after this lock-down,
Cooked a good lunch of sirloin steak and chips. Elizabeth had seen a cut-price single steak which she could not resist and between the two of us it was great. Our first beef steak in at least a year. Yes I know about beef, methane and the environment.
The weather did not encourage going out so we rather TV binged.
A cold and beautiful day. Caught up with my run as Thursday started on a Spanish netflix binge, MONEY HEIST with an incredibly original plot centred on the Spanish mint and involving a cast of amazing characters of ambivalent behaviour and attitudes – good in the bad, weakness in the good and endless complexities and sexual relationships – grabbed hold of me and wasted hours and today Elizabeth joined me for two hours.
Our garden again so beautiful. This really is a weird disconcerting time.
On returning from my run I was accosted by a woman with a trolly and all her worldly possessions packed on it. She spoke politiely and wanted to know where she could catch a bus to Shepton Mallet. I expressed sympathy but ignorance, and suggested our bus station. Back home I discussed with Elizabeth what we night do. Weirdly she (the woman) embodied the problem I had just been thinking about on my run, when does one act to avoid others suffering while living in a world surrounded by so much? Here was an immediate case and I felt I should do something. We drove to the bus station, found there were no buses to Shepton, but spoke to a bus driver who arrived from Yeovil who confirmed there were no buses to Shepton but despite her not being a needed worker, agreed to take her to Yeovil. We then found her sitting in a doorway drinking a hot coffee from the Co-op. I told her the bus to Yeovil was coming and gave her £40 (which by chance I had on me in cash) to get by with saying that if she needed help there was more to be found in Yeovil than here. We did not wish to do more and could not see anything more we could do. Giving her a lift with covid being not on. What would others have done?
Had an awful vivid dream about being back teaching only to be misunderstood and falsely accused of alcoholism – never one of my many real weaknesses. So far I have been sleeping particularly well. Elizabeth has been having far more dreams. We never tell each other the contents – except very rarely. She says that would make them worse. Of course their contents could and can often be hurtful for a partner when other relationships enter the dream world – I mean sex of course. We downplay dreams now, no longer seeing them as a gateway into the supernatural as much of Africa still does. All the same they can be so vivid.
Got together with Jane Langton and Dave Wrathall to try out a session on Zoom. It worked surprisingly well after a confused start.
In the afternoon we did our weeky shop and for the first time with a scarf around my face and gloves I entered LIDL which I always enjoy. We cannot continue with this total lockdown for ever. If we are sensible, keep social distancing, wash hands frequently that should be OK – though the awareness, if not an emotional fear – remains. A programme empahising what can be expected if you go down with it hard sounds really bad, for if one survives a strong dose recovery could be only partial and very drawn out.
Bit of a cold on-off rain and sun day. Spent the morning sorting old images after talking to Judith about the death of her sister Ann. Yes Covid got her in the end at 80. Glamarous as a young woman as her photos showed, she had difficult relationships and no children. A skilled designer of silver , she became an enthusiastic collector of first edition fine children’s books and the original illustrations in them – really intriguing and beautiful works. Last saw her a year ago and completed a portrait of her which I was looking for.
Off to Yeovil . Our longest drive since lock-down to have a denture repaired. Beautiful rich green countryside.
After supper Elizabeth joined me to watch Yuval Noah Harari speak to a packed out Westminster Hall on his then new book Homo Deus. Apparently without notes and completely without hesitation he mesmerised us for over an hour – Elizabeth was amazed and impressed. He was explaining the dangerous situation we are in as humanity approaches the loss of power and employment that the rapid growth of AI is bringing. Ideas and insights pour out of him, always carefully explained and backed up with examples. No PowerPoint used. He really is quite exceptional as a thinker who pulls together the arts, humanities, physical and social sciences and the study of religion and politics – he is basically an historian, and an exceptional speaker and communicator. Go to UTUBE and find out for yourself.
Got my run in just before the heavens opened for another cold, wet day. Completed article on Thea Dupays for Bruton Art Soc. Bulletin and website. Thea and Dorrie the editor both happy..
Cold, windy and quite a bit of rain as I prepared for the afternoon Zoom session of The Buddha Way. This took place after lunch and got off to a slow start as contributors got on line in dribs and drabs and kept pressing the wrong buttons. What was nice was that five ANVIL members including our new rector Alison Way took part. I spoke for 20 minutes followed by questions and answers. These showed no sign of having read the suggested paper of mine on the Buddhist world view. Alison asked the best question. How do you rate levels of suffering. Subsequently comments I have had have been pleasantly positive. It went on with a second session and I made an audio recording. We shall see if I get any follow-up emails from the U3A group.
Colder and cloudy with rain forecast. Bruton Art Soc committee practice Zoom meeting went very well. Followed by inviting SP, FR, and GC to join Zoom for my session on Buddhism tomorrow.
TV Watched ch 6 of DEVS on I player to hear again the most clear and convincing exposition of why free will is an illusion and everything has a cause. Very Buddhist. The three certainties, death, change and cause and effect. But the “illusion”? of free will.