After a morning start completing work painting doors and windowsills I settled down to binge-watch the rest of DEVS which is Deus in disguise. It really is remarkable in the way it integrates real philosophical/ moral and yes religious issues and our fears about where Google, Microsoft and Amazon may be taking us into a highly charged thriller with some of the most convincing dialogue I have heard for some time and excellent acting. Kept me going until 6.30 pm before Elizabeth and I, taking advantage of the perfect sunny weather, set off for a walk on the edges of the Stourhead Estate. Enjoy the pix.
Stared early with sitting, a run and a workout. Clear sunny day with biting cold wind. Also our 52nd WEDDING ANNIVERSARY. Both spent much of the day reading. Still on Dominian which continues to amaze as he retells church history. I need to read Spinoza.
Spent much of the day preparing and painting back and front door and windowsills. First occasion I have done this for many months.
Panorama TV showed Richard’s Warwick Hospital and how they are dealing with Covid-19. He was not on.
Saw a sad thriller with Elizabeth about a teenage murderer after a fine dinner, but was enthralled on the I player 9on my own of course!) with DEVS, an 8 session drama exploring in very dramatic thriller form Quantum mechanics, cause and effect and free will. Behind it is writer director Alex Garland whose sci fi AI film Ex Machina is also a must.
Back to a beautiful , clear, sunny day. Deaths now total 15,464 in hospitals and around 4,000 in care homes . Only England? Not sure. Curve appears to be flattening. 9 am Andrew Marr. Best politics and news of the week. Report in the Sunday Times that 38 days from Jan 1 of wasted time, failure of Boris to attend COBRA meetings and failure to stockpile and order PPE fast enough. Gove cam on later and did an impressive job repudiating claims and saying they had been on the ball and doing everything possible.
Prof. Sarah Gilbert of Oxford came on to say they were close to testing a vaccine which she thought could be strong and long lasting and ready to roll out from possibly Sept if the trials go well. The most optimistic thing I have heard. She needs volunteers to test it.
Interviewed David Attenborough who has completed a film A Life On Our Planet. At 93 his last throw and he was adamant our last chance if we are not to be overtaken by global warming, the melting of the polar ice, breaking out of methane and the end of us. He emphasissed that the virus could not be seperated from the other catastrophes humanity is imposing on the planet. It will be out on NETFLIX very soon.
Spent much of the day on DIY painting.
Another cold, damp day. The Government admitts there is a real shortage of gown for PPE, Un says there is currently no anti-body test and no certainty that those who are infected will be immune to re-infection either immediately or after a year or so. This all makes planning for the future and the re-opening of the economy very uncertain.
At last got through to Barbara on Whatsapp for 45mins. From her Kalk Bay home in Cape Town she has stunning views and is cared for by her daughter who lives near by and seems well. She knows lifr in the African townships is appalling.
Then had a long conversation with old political friend Nick Harvey who I photographed and supported in North Devon. Discussed my idea for a Pandemic and Climate Emergency Service. (see paper under Politics)
Started the day with an early run in what seemed good weather getting home at 8 am. Almost immediately it clouded over and the heavens opened for the first time in many weeks so we had got our garden shed cleared just in time. The temperature dropped and Elizabeth returned from shopping very cold.
Had an unsuccessful time trying to get through to Barbara Strauss in SA on Skype, but neither of us could make it work. Spoke to local friends and the daughters -as we do almost daily. Started work touching up the paint in the kitchen and around the house.
TV enjoyed the Master Cheff final. Addicted to it, but only the real competitons, the amateurs and the professionals – not the xxx celebs. Year on year it continues to fascinate. Watched the final hour of Wolf Hall when Anne Boleyn is framed and ends on the scaffold.
The day Dominic Raab, speaking for the Government, announced another three weeks of lock-down as the numbers dying appears to be nearing its peak, except for deaths in care homes and in the Intensive Care Units.
GP nephew Richard returned my call. He has just been drafted into a local Midlands ICU and has had just two days dealing with Covid-19 patients. He says they have more doctors than patients at the moment and are preparing for a wave to hit them.
On the news it had just been confirmed that twice as many men than women are dying, 50% put on ventilators die, and many more black and “ethnic minority” members are dying than whites, and that age – and the number of “underlying conditions” one has also increases risk. Why the figures are as they are is as yet not known. Richard said that if the symptoms appear you call 111. They asses on the phone if you need an ambulance to take you to hospital. This is based on the severity of your reported symptoms.
The hospitals so far are not overwhelmed and if symptoms spread to the lungs with incapacity to breath, they give oxygen for as long as is needed. The fight for breath can be tough and very unpleasant. If one continues to deteriorate they put you under anaesthetic, tube down the throat and onto a ventilator where you are continuously monitored. You are unconscious, have no pain and live or die. If you live you are taken off and sent home where you will take weeks or months to recover from a very weak state. He thinks since we are both unusually fit for our age, the chances of us having to get to the ventilator stage are low. So there we are.
It also seems to me that sooner or later, possibly not for weeks, months or even years, we will nearly all get it, though how seriously is anyone’s guess. It could have very mild symptoms.
Richard is extremely straightforward and confident and it was really good to speak to him. He thinks both he and Sophie have had it in a mild form.
Received a thoughtful and knowledgeable email from a friend about my paper on Special Divine Action (ie miracles) and my paper Is Wright Wrong by the theologian and former bishop of Durham N.T. Wright, who accepts SDA. I also received on line and replied to a paper by a Dr Gocke entitled The Many Problems of Special Divine Action – which he thinks he can explain away. He certainly does not answer my problems. I will place the correspondence under Religion. Will he reply to me? I doubt it.
After watching Wolf Hall with Elizabeth tried UTUBE and there was NT Wright at Yale. Encouraging to see that while I think he is very wrong, I do not misunderstand him.
Spent the afternoon clearing the garden shed of intrusive creepers and other rubbish. Satisfying. Our daily routine is to watch Channel 4 News with John Snow and Cathy Newman. It comes on at 7 pm. At 8 we went to our front door and clapped loudly in support of the NHS. Most but not all our neighbours did the same. Now the 3rd time.
A beautiful day again. Found my run and fast walk around the Sports Ground much easier, thirty minutes door to door, and was impressed to find the groundsman had mown the grass leaving a five foot wide path all around the entire perimmiter and most of the fields. Followed by exercise, shower, sitting and reading paper by a Dr Gocke of the IRC entitled The Many Problems of Special Divine Action an which he attempts to justify a Christian belief in supernatural miracles quoting the Crossing of the Red Sea and the Resurrection.. Sent him a brief refutation. Afternoon discussed theology on Skype with Sarah in Durham and the paper I have just read and responded to. I would be very surprised if the author will be prepared to respond to my criticisms. What a pity.
TV Watched the first of the next series of Killing Eve. Loved the first two series. This one looks doubtful.
Back to a beautiful clear day. Spent the morning phoning and and Skyping friends. . One family are getting over what they think are mild versions of the virus, another surveying what looks like the devastation of what has been a very successful international conference business, another facing a couple seperated by serious health problems made much worse by being in lock-down. Several either directly or with family facing acollapse of income. Really tough. Other calls simply a good chance to catch up.
After lunch Elizabeth had worked out a walk for us. Driving out to Stoke Trister we walked on to Cucklington. Up and down hill we followed a great hour and a half circuit keeping to the narrow country roads. We passed many very attractive homes that only the prosperous could ever afford. It was really enjoyable but again I thought of South London where so many are confined to small flats. Money certainly makes dealing with this lock-down so very much easier for those with gardens and space around their homes. Even now under lock-down I think we should all be encouraged more to make the most of country walks and the use of parks, and stopping people driving out of towns for country walks is I think uneccessary except for the big “beauty spots ” that have attracted crowds. Depriving those with limited space of easy access to common space does not seem sustainable and very bad for our health..
Finished watching all six episodes of Wolf Hall. Superbly done this sad tale of politics, religion, sex, cruelty, chance and unforseen outcomes permeated by a sense of melancholy makes a depressing yet somehow fitting background to what is happening at this time of thinning.
Monday 13th April
Started the day with a walk and a jog down our deserted streets, abandoned building sites and almost deserted Recreation Ground Smartphone snapping. Ending this tour passing our Primary School which received an excellent, well deserved OFSTED report just before lockdown. It has been closed ever since. The SOS anti plastic bottle message was orchestrated with pupils by our famous local environmental artist, Zac Greening. Weather: in marked contrast to yesterday, mainly overcast, windy and bitterly cold and it never warmed up
BBC putting on Wolf Hall again and we watched 3hrs of it. First time Elizabeth and I have done such a thing during the day! Now on Iplayer Mark Ryland and the whole production is mesmerisingly just brilliant. Also the last hour of The Nest, subtle and compelling to the end. We both called a list of friends. We now wait for the ghastly numbers to peak and reduce.
Started at 7 with Sunday, R4. Lovely spring morning and we cannot seem to sleep late. 8.10 Archbishop Welby in his kitchen. A good address focusing on the resurrection as a symbol of hope. Expressed as if literally true. The gospel texts are so powerfully dramatic and visualisable. He also said there should be no going back to the way we have been before the virus spread and that the economic consequences could be devastating without considerable change. Our interdependence is now so clear. No attempt was made to say the pandemic is the work of a punishing God or perhaps more plausibly a result of the accumulated cravings for more by mankind. No questioning of it being within the power of a loving God to stop it either. Still a warm appreciation of the humanity, compassion and heroism so many are showing .
With care I cooked us a late lunch which we had with wine in the garden. Steak pan grilled strips of breast of lamb, carefully browned onion and roast potatoes, courgettes, red pepper and sun-dried tomato with a lamb gravy. Yes food takes on an added importance as we take it in turns to cook for each other. Good face talks with Paul and Jo in Oxford and the whole Bond family in London. All seem in good health and spirits with Sam cooking the Bond evening meal. Inevitably, certainly for Elizabeth and me there is this unspoken – is this our last week, our last meal, our last night together, the last time we will talk to friends and family members. I remember the day in 2006 when Elizabeth and I had lunch together before I went into the BRI for my triple bypass. (see Take Heart) I am not being morbid. Such thoughts are simply inevitable, and we both really enjoyed the lunch, the wine and the sun.
This evening the newsreader said we reached 10,000 plus deaths today. The population of Wincanton is 5,400. The news also recounted the lives of doctors, nurses, bus-drivers, care home helpers and supermarket staff who continued working, knowing their lives were at risk caring for and supporting others. Is their kindness and unselfish consideration, which Boris described tonight as their love, something which is for them and for us a true “resurrection” of the human qualities which in the face of, through, and despite suffering, the virus fails to conquer. The figures for Somerset and the SW remain very low however. Our time, we must expect, will come. How to face it.
As alluded Boris also came home tonight (to Chequers!) loudly proclaiming that the NHS had saved his life and mentioning two nurses, one from New Zealand, one from Portugal who had been on duty right through the night when his condition was at its most critical.
For TV Escapism the BBC series THE NEST kept us completely gripped for an hour. The human brain it seems, desperately needs such things.