Coronavirus – Day #426

It has been a while since I did one of these, but I had my second vaccination today and I figured that was worth marking. For the record, I’m fine, other than being very tired, which may be a result of it being warm and muggy today rather than the virus.

Other than that, life on Plague Island is pretty much as usual. Not content with trying to be responsible for more deaths than Winston Churchill, Bozo is also trying to have more wives than Henry VIII. Here in the South West we are currently in a mostly COVID free phase, but elsewhere the new Delta Variant is running amok with the result that national infection rates have been rising for several days now. Those with long memories will remember that Bozo delayed imposing travel restrictions from India for many days because he was planning a visit to that country, and that’s the main reason why we are heading into a new wave of infections.

The big difference this time is that our vaccination rate is pretty good. As of today, almost 75% of the country has had one dose, and almost 50% has had both. It will be interesting to see what difference that makes to the spread of infection.

Anyway, we have sunshine, which is good. Also I still have plenty of work and don’t need to go anywhere. And if I have got through 400+ days of this I’m sure I can do a few hundred more if need be.

Coronavirus – Day #398

Slowly but surely, infection and death rates continue to fall, at least they do in this country. Are we getting back to normal? How would we tell?

Well, one of the potential signs is people feeling confident enough to hold coventions. Not here, just now, I hasten to add, but this year’s Eurocon, to be held in Fiuggi, Italy, has announced that they have permssion to go ahead. Their dates are July 15-18.

Data point: infection rates in Italy are currently four times what they are in the UK. That’s not huge. The USA and France are much higher, and India is off the scale, but it is still an interesting level of confidence from their government.

Currently us Brits are forbidden from going on foreign holidays (unless we are very rich or related to a Cabinet minister). We are due an announcement on the 17th about possible loosening of those restrictions. Whether Italy will be on the list of permitted destinations is another matter.

Am I going? I don’t have a clue. It would be lovely, but I haven’t had my second vaccination yet and I would not put it past our disaster of a government to suddenly stop second injections for anyone they deem expendable so that can save a bit of money. Ordinarily wild horses couldn’t stop me from taking a trip to Rome, but these days going anywhere still seems potentially unwise. FantasyCon in Birmingham in September seems like a more realstic goal.

Coronavirus – Day #376

Today there has been great celebration in England, because non-essential shops, restaurants and pubs have re-opened, sort of. Pubs and restaurants can only serve people sitting outside, and it snowed in many parts of the country today, but at least they are open. My hairdresser sent me a text this morning saying that they could take bookings again. I phoned after lunch and the earliest appointment they had was in early May.

So has Bozo “saved summer”? Well maybe. There were over 3,500 new cases of COVID-19 registered today. Thirteen people died from it in the last 24 hours. That is by no means zero COVID. The government is banking on the fact that a sigificant proportion of the population has now had at least a first vaccine jab. The assumption is that this will slow the rate of infection, and reduce the serverity of cases for people who do catch the virus. If that doesn’t work, we could be back in full Lockdown fairly quickly.

Thankfully I don’t need to go out much. Once a week to Tesco is still mostly all that I need. It does, however, make me more confident about just popping out for a walk. I’ve signed up to do the sponsored walk for One25 again in May, which means that for a month I will have to average 4 miles a day. Right now I am so unfit from a year of hardly leaving home that I’m struggling to manage two, so it is just as well that I have a few weeks to get in training.

Coronavirus – Day #370

Oh look, a year has gone by. Are we still deep in the shit? Why yes, so we are.

The good news is that all of the major COVID in the UK are still falling. Trowbridge is officially “suppressed”, but this does no mean zero COVID. There could be at least 10 cases in town.

More worryingly, the UK is still registering over 2000 new cases a day, and the media is talking about how the virus has been beaten and everything is going “back to normal”. Bozo is talking breezily about people being able to go on summer holidays abroad. We don’t really know how the vaccine will change things, but some sort of third wave seems inevitable.

Of course the likelihood of anyone from the UK being able to travel internationally in the near future is not very high. Bozo will doubtless blame this on the EU. The people who voted for Brexit still don’t understand that “taking back control” of our borders does not mean taking control of everyone else’s borders as well, and the freedom of movement whose ending they cheered so loudly included their freedom of movement as well.

Coronavirus – Day #337

Wow, it is a long time since I did one of these. Of course I was crazy busy during February, but to a large extent nothing much has changed. We are still in Lockdown and will be until April. Infection rates have been falling steadily for a couple of months, but are still scarily high. And locally they are not going down. Having had rates well below the national average over the winter, we are now well above the national average. If nothing else that shows that the Track & Trace system is not worth a dime, let alone the £22bn that the government spaffed away on it.

Meanwhile Bozo has ordered schools to re-open, and I’m already seeing claims that the infection rate is surging amongst young children.

We had a budget, apparently. It seems like no one is happy about it. And yet the supposed opposition party is doing such a bad job that the Tories now have a much bigger lead in the polls than they did when they won an 80 seat majority back in late 2019. It is almost as if refusing to challenge the government on any of its policies isn’t a vote winner. Who would have thought it?

In much less good news today I learned that the Loyalist Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland have denounced the Good Friday Agreement. That is, they are blaming the Catholics, and the South, for Bozo’s complete disaster of a Brexit agreement which saw a border created in the Irish Sea, something he had promised would never happen. It seems entirely in keeping with modern Britain that someone else is getting blamed for a government screw-up. But the outcome is likely to be renewed sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, which will please no one except a few die-hard survivors of The Troubles, and the Tory right wing who have always hated the fact that peace was declared.

Ah well, at least I still have work, which is getting me to talk to people, even if it is seriously interfering with my book-reading habit.

Coronavirus – Day #306

Greetings once more from Plague Island. I am pleased to report that Lockdown is definitely having an effect now. All of the major indicators are dropping. The national case rate is only 273/100k, and locally we are down to 137. Parts of Bath are being marked clear.

Of course this is normally the point at which Bozo announces that, thanks to his super-manly chromosomes (XYYY or something, I guess), he has personally defeated the virus and we must all go back to school, work, restaurants, pubs and so on. He’s never learned from any of his failures in life before, so I don’t suppose he will have learned from the “Saving Christmas” disaster.

Coronavirus – Day #301

Here in Plague Island we have passed the milestone of 100,000 deaths. Bozo says that he is terribly sorry, but he’s done everything he can so it can’t be his fault. His loyal newspapers are saying that it is entirely our own fault that we are dying because we are too fat.

In other news, a new anti-trans organisation has been founded here. It’s stated objectives are to obtain the repeal of the Gender Recognition Act and to “eliminate transgenderism”. They have immediately received enthusiastic support from all of the usual suspects. I’m looking forward to seeing film of one of their rallies. I will be very disappointed if they don’t all chant, “ELIMINATE! ELIMINATE!!!” in silly voices. At least that will give them a good excuse to be on the BBC.

Coronavirus – Day #295

Dearest readers, a terrible tragedy has occurred. Late yesterday, President Biden signed a number of executive orders. One of those was an anti-discrimination order that gave LGBT+ people in the US some protections. They are similar to, though not as wide-ranging as, those we have here under the Equality Act.

This morning it was revealed that this action by the incoming President had erased every single woman in America. (Well, the cisgender ones, I assume.) Just like that. Over 150 million people vanished, Thanos-like, from the face of the Earth. I know that it sounds unlikley, but just about every female member of the chattering classes here in the UK is repeating the same story, so it must be true, mustn’t it?

Anyway, our Thoughts and Prayers are with the American people. I understand that President Biden is planning a number of sweeping immigration reforms, which will be necessary if there is to be any hope of there being little Americans in the future. I can only hope that the effects of this executive order don’t linger, and that newly arrived women are not vanished as well.

In other news, Downing Street has denied reports that the Prime Minister wishes to rename our country Little Trumplandia in the East. Apparently there is already an existing town name of Trumpton that he feels would be appropriate for the country as a whole, and doesn’t include the word “little” which may cause offence in certain quarters.

Coronavirus – Day #294

And lo, Britain became a World Beater! There was much rejoicing in Westminster.

Yes folks, the word is that the UK now has more deaths per million of the population than any other country in the world. Bozo must be so proud of himself.

This achievement came courtesy of a couple of days of very high death counts. We are fast closing in on the 2000 a day mark. However, sad though this is, the long-term prognosis should be better as the death curve always lags a week or two behind the infections curve, and the latter has been dropping steadily for several days now.

Unfortunately the local situation is not good. Infections here are continuing to rise. There’s obviously some sort of local outbreak happening, and I’m planning on hunkering down for the duration. Even if that means having to do without a haggis for Burns Night.

Meanwhile, over the Atlantic, President Biden has been sworn in, as has Vice President Harris. Little Donny The Loser has thrown a massive sulk, and we are all waiting for him to finally be brought to justice for the significant number of crimes he appears to have committed. They got Al Capone for tax evasion. I’m sure something similar will work on Loser.

The word is that Biden will reverse many of Loser’s awful policies in his first week in office. Hopefully that means doing something about those poor kids in concentration camps. Both major UK parties have done the traditional thing of sucking up to the new US leader, but Bozo is doubtless distraught that his best buddy is no longer in power. Meanwhile Labour has accused Biden of being “woke”. Given that they are trying to reinvent themselves as the party of bigoted white men, this does not surprise me. We may have finally reached the point where both main UK parties are to the right of the Democrats, which is quite an achievement.

And finally, if anyone out there is a GP, or knows one who might be willing to take an elderly trans woman as a patient, please let me know because apparently I need a new doctor again. I’m willing to move home if necessary, but note that I can’t afford to live in Bristol, let alone London.

Coronavirus – Day #292

A piece of good news for once. I now have a new stock of hormone patches sufficient to last me another 3 months. Hopefully by that time the current surge of infections will have died away.

The not so good news is that I had to walk to Boots because, despite having been to Bath and back on Friday, my car would not start today. A battery should not drain from being fine to having zero charge in just 2.5 days. So there’s probably an electrical fault somewhere. The nice man from the garage is going to pick her up on Thursday and take a look.

The COVID data suggests that Lockdown is definitely biting at last. Trowbridge is still well below the national average, but the infection rate is still rising here so I’m in no hurry to go out unless I have to.

Politics is much of the same. I am looking forward to Andrew Lloyd Webber penning Brexit: The Musical, in which all of the cast are British fish suffering under the tyrannical rule of the evil giant squid, Cthul-EU, but are liberated by Brave Sir Boris and his Merry Men. It will, of course, end with a rousing rendition of Rule Britannia. Sadly the production will become embroiled in a massive lawsuit when it is discovered that all of the songs written for Rees-Smug have been filched from the catalogue of the HP Lovecraft Historical Society.

Coronavirus – Day #289

Well this has been a week. As I mentioned on Wednesday, I was expecting to drive to Bristol today to get a new hormone prescription. It turns out that I hadn’t had a blood pressure test in a while, and the doctor wanted to make sure I was OK, even if that meant me risking a long trip in the middle of a pandemic. So yesterday I look the car for a run, so as to give the battery a bit of a boost to make sure it would start this morning. Also I needed fuel. And when I got home the oil and engine service warning lights came on.

Fortunately I have a very good garage. The boys took a look yesterday afternoon and pronouced the car probably OK to drive. I came up with a new plan which was to drive to Bath and get the train from there. That way I would only be 10 minutes each way on a train rather than 45. It worked, and I note that the trains were practically empty. They may be busier in peak hours, but I very nearly had a carriage to myself both ways.

I don’t quite have the hormones yet. Boots didn’t have any in stock, but they put in an order and it went through, so presumably there are supplies in the country.

Meanwhile the FT, which is much more reliable than the government when it comes to COVID data, says that the number of cases in the UK is coming down at last. Where I live is still fairly safe. Our last reported number was 283 cases per 100,000 people, which is a lot less than the national average of 555, but well up from just over 100 at the turn of the year. Many parts of London are over 1,100.

Of course I still have to go out to get the prescription when it arrives, and to drop off the car for a service, but at least I don’t need to go to Tesco again for a couple of weeks at least.

Also in the FT is news that the government plans to rip up all of the UK’s employment protection laws. This, like the move to allow bee-killing pesticides, is definitely in breach of the withdrawl agreement that Bozo signed with the EU just before Christmas. Interesting times, eh?

Coronavirus – Day #289

Rejoice, fellow inmates of Plague Island. We are once again World Leaders! Today we achieved a new record for the daily death count due to COVID-19. We are now running at over one death per minute. Our government is so proud of us.

Yes folks, things here are steadily going from bad to worse. We are in Lockdown, but there are so many exemptions, and so little financial support, that loads of people are having to go to work anyway. Which means that they are having to send their kids to school. So Lockdown is kind of not a thing. But never fear. The government has come up wit a brillant idea. They are going to test people entering the country to make sure that they are COVID-free. I’m sure no one ever thought of that before.

(I remember well arriving in Melbourne when the SARS epidemic was just starting. The immigration process was terrifying. Australia knows how to do biosecurity.)

Just in case you were wondering, the Home Secretary says that this is all the fault of people being badly behaved, and that we all need more Discipline!

The nation’s fishermen are up in arms because it turns out the the great deal that Bozo made such a fuss of negotiating on their behalf is complete crap and they are all going bankrupt.

The nation’s musicians and performing artists are up in arms. Apparently the EU offered us a reciprocal deal whereby our people could go and perform over there without needing a work visa, provided that their people could do the same here. Bozo turned them down. Presumably he was worried about ABBA or Mozart doing a comeback tour or something. Surely crippling the British pop music industry is a small sacrifice to pay in return for keeping foreign musos from our shores.

It was Prime Minister’s Question Time today. Bozo, you will remember, did a spectacular u-turn on the issue of free school meals for kiddies during Lockdown. Poor families were going to get £30 a week. Then some smartarse suggested that if you gave money to poor people they would spend it on drugs and porn, and the kiddies would get nothing. So Bozo arranged for some of his mates to take the money, buy food and distribute it. The resulting food packages appear to contain about £5 worth of food. Everyone is wondering what happened to the other £25.

But not Bozo. No sir, he is concerned about the failings of the Leader of the Opposition. It has been pointed out to Bozo that a young footballer from Manchester United has been making our beloved PM look an idiot. Why can’t Mr Starmer do that, eh? Perhaps the Labour Party would be better off making young Marcus Rashford their leader. Then everyone will know what a fool the PM is.

It is, I think, the first time ever that a Prime Minister has attacked the Leader of the Opposition for failing to make clear what an idiot the Prime Minister is.

Closer to home, I braved Tesco today. I think I have enough food for 3 weeks. I’d like to say that I can now stay at home, but I’m almost out of hormones and for reasons I don’t want to bore you with I have to drive to Bristol on Friday to get a repeat prescription because the surgery is unwilling to do a video consultation. And then when I have the prescription I will have to go to Boots twice: once to leave it with them, and once to collect the medication. So much for Lockdown.

Coronavirus – Day #283

Well, yesterday was quite something.

Of course no one should have been surprised. Dear Leader was egging people on to do it for days in advance. The attempted coup was openly planned on Facebook and other right-wing social media. But despite having a lot of inside help, the supposed revolutionaries were extremely inept.

Part of that, I suspect, is because they were too middle class. My Twitter feed had several mentions of a woman called Eizabeth who had complained bitterly that it wasn’t fair that she’d been tear-gassed when all she was doing was starting a revolution. Many of the perps were going around unmasked, and even streaming on their own social media channels. If there is any will to bringing them to justice, it should be very easy.

Therein, however, lies the problem. I gather than one of them, a lawyer, has lost his job. Another has been identified as a Republican state legislator. These are not working class revolutionaries. They are “nice” wealthy white people who could afford a trip to DC by plane to have their little revolution. Will they be prosecuted? Remember that kid who shot a couple of BLM protestors?

As for Dear Leader, I suspect he’ll get away with it too. The 25th Amendment has to be invoked by Pence and the rest of the Cabinet. They might be very angry about nearly getting lynched, but they won’t want to antagonise the Trumpists any further. That leaves Impeachment, and I don’t think there are sufficient votes to get that through the Senate, given that it requies a two-thirds majority. Pelosi should probably do it anyway to force the Trumpists in the Senate to identify themsleves, but it won’t pass.

All of which is bad, because this is not going to go away. Dear Leader has made it clear that he intends to continue the fight. The next outrage will be better planned, and more bloody. And the next one after that will be worse again. Appeasing Fascists never works, but it sometimes takes a long time for people to learn that lesson.

Meanwhile there was a significant drop in the number of new COVID-19 cases in the UK today. One day does not make a trend, and the 7-day average is continuing to rise, but I hope that’s a sign of Lockdown begining to bite.

Over here we have our own insurrectionists. They are not attacking the government because they have the government they want. Instead they are picketting hospitals and abusing NHS staff, whom they believe to be perpetrating a hoax. Nigel Garbage has founded a new political party with the express intention of opposing all lockdown restrictions. And there’s a new far-right TV news station launching soon. I suspect it won’t be long before NHS staff start getting physically attacked.

Coronavirus – Day #281

Hello, and greetings from Plague Island. 2021, eh? Meet the new year, same as the old year.

Things here have been moving with some rapidity, mostly the number of new COVID-19 cases where the chart is looking steadfastly vertical. But politics, too…

On Sunday morning Bozo went on national television to reassure that nation that he had no doubt that it was safe for our children to go back to school for the new term starting Monday.

Later that day, Nicola Sturgeon announced that she was recalling the Scottish Parliament and having an emergency cabinet meeting about the ongoing pandemic crisis.

By Sunday evening Bozo had achieved the unprecedented result of uniting all of the UK teaching unions against him. Many schools were saying that they were refusing the re-open.

The Scots spent Monday deliberating and planning. In the afternoon Nicola Sturgeon announced new lockdown provisions.

On Monday evening, Bozo went on national television to explain that it was far too dangerous to send children to school and that a new national lockdown was being put in place for at least 6 weeks (i.e. until mid-February).

This morning Wormtongue Gove went on the radio to say that the new lockdown would last at least into March.

Today my Twitter feed has been full of people in England trying to find out what the new lockdown regulations are, who they affect, what government support there will be for affected businesses and so on.

Meanwhile it was leaked that Fake President Loser was planning to flee the US on the 19th and would be hiding out on his golf course in Scotland. Today Nicola Sturgeon announced that he would not be allowed into the country. Perhaps he will go and stay with his friend Bozo instead.

Politics, eh? The only thing anyone is certain of is that we have no idea what Bozo will do next, but whatever he does it is certain to be too late and the implementation will be bungled.

Yesterday I had planned to do a big shop before the virus situation got any worse. But my car wouldn’t start and the jump starter was out of juice so I figured I would go today instead. Then Bozo made his announcement. Tesco is likely to be mad right now, and definitely out of toilet roll. I have enough food to last at least another week, possibly two. So I’m going to hunker down and hope that a bit of sanity returns after a while.

Coronavirus – Day #275

It is a week since Christmas eve, and the effects of the holiday are starting to be felt. For the past two days we have had over 50,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day. Deaths yesterday were just short of 1000. I suspect it will get worse over the next week. Posts from NHS staff in my twitter feed are starting to sound desperate.

So what is the government doing? It is ramming through a bill to approve Bozo’s Bexit deal, which also happens to be stuffed full of various provisions allowing the government to create new laws without reference to Parliament.

Well someome appears to have taken back control, but it is certainly not us. And what they have taken control of is certainly not the response to the pandemic.

Croatian Earthquake Appeal

There was another earthquake in Croatia today. Thankfully this one had an epicentre some 50 km from Zagreb, so most of my friends just got a book shook up. However, the earthquake was a 6.3 and for the small towns close to the epicentre that was very serious.

My friend Mihaela Perkovic put out an appeal for donations for the relief fund. (It’s her birthday today, so it makes a nice present for her.) The campaign webpage is here (scroll down for English). However, the actual donations page is only in Croatian, so the easy way to give them money is via PayPal. The account is info@solidarna.hr.

Brexit and the Bookstore

Now that a Brexit agreement has been provisionally agreed (pending a possible massive rebellion by Tory backbenchers) it seems likely that new trading rules will apply to sales from the UK into Europe from January. Bascially we are back where we were before Juliet & friends did such wonderful work negotiating a Europe-wide VAT registration limit. As I do hope to continue to visit Europe in future years, I need to avoid intentionally breaking EU law and will therefore have to close to international sales as of January. I have been looking at doing UK sales of print books, so there might be a role for the store in future, but as far as ebooks are concerned I’m afraid it is back to Amazon, Kobo and B&N.

For the last fews days, I thought we might as well have a sale. This is mainly for Aleksandar who has been ill (not COVID). Last I heard he was in hospital, and he may have spent Christmas there, so it would be nice for him to get a bit of a present. For the next few days you can pick up As the Distant Bells Toll at a bargain price.

Also, of course, The Green Man’s Heir and The Green Man’s Silence are on sale at Amazon UK until the end of the month. I figured I should match that, and in our case the offer is good anywhere in the world.

And finally I thought I should extend the sale to those books that came out recently and whose sales have been impacted by my being unable to get to conventions. So you can get Unjust Cause and Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion II cheaply too.

For convenience, here’s a link to the entire sale.

Coronavirus – Day #268

Right on cue, Bozo has announced that after decades of failed negotiations, he personally has wrested the Best Deal Ever from the evil foreigners of the EU. Analysis of the deal suggests that it will leave the UK far worse off than we were as members of the EU, but we will have blue passports and we can stop a whole lot of foreigners from coming to these sceptred isles, so it is apparently all worth it.

There are two main reasons why the deal has been announced now. Firstly it is good for Bozo’s ego to be able to do so. It makes it seem like he was working hard right up until the last minute, whereas in fact all he had to do was decide which concessions to make. Of course he knows that his rabidly xenophobic right wingers will be furious at what he has done, but by announcing the deal so late, and over a holiday, he gives them no time to stir up a fuss. This is far more important to him than giving British businesses time to plan for operating under the new regime. As always, Brexit is far more about internal Tory Party feuds than about the good of the country.

The Labour Party has enthusiastically embraced Bozo’s deal. Brexit appears to be one thing on which both their centrists and far left agree on.

Meanwhile, for the last two days, we have had new infection rates in excess of 39,000. We are supposed to not notice that.

Coronavirus – Day #265

There is much excitement here is plague-ridden Brexitland. New cases of the virus are now running at over 30,000 per day, and the rolling 7-day average is up to 29,000. There is much talk of a scary new mutant version of the virus which has allegedly just been discovered. No one knows whether this new threat is a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, or an independent operative, but I fully expect Bozo to announce that he is seeking advice from Charles Xavier any day now.

The reality of the situation seems to be that there are many mutant strains of the virus, and that this one has been known about for weeks, if not months. The suspicion is that Bozo and his spinmasters are using the idea of a deadly new strain of COVID-19 as an excuse for the government’s manifest failure in ending Lockdown #2 too early in the hope of “saving Christmas”.

However, the idea of a deadly new version of the virus running unchecked in the UK has taken root elsewhere in the world. Other countries have accepted the narrative of the UK as a plague ship that must be kept quarantined. Consequently many countries have now banned travel to and from the UK. This includes closing the Channel Tunnel.

You may think that the Brexiter hordes would be cheering with glee. Huzzah! Britain is finally cut off from the Continent! We are safe from foreigners. But of course the Brexiters are Libertarians. Therefore they firmly believe that they should be free to control their own borders, but that equally no other country should be allowed to close its borders to them. There is much outrage.

All of which is largely irrelevant to your average Briton hoping to enjoy the holiday season. Londoners are already furious at new restrictions being suddenly imposed when they had been promised a free and merry Christmas. Now the entire country is worrying whether there will be enough food to last the holidays if shipments from the Continent cannot get through. Thankfully most people will already have stocked up on huge quantities of food by now, but it does look like we’ll be getting a taste of No Deal Brexit a few days early.

Talking of No Deal, we have now passed the point by which the European Parliament will be able to ratify any trade deal. Therefore No Deal has happened. Negotiations could still continue, if diplomats are able to meet, but there will at least be a short period of No Deal happening.

Given all of this, Her Majesty’s Opposition has swung into action. In order to stand up for the country, Kier Starmer has issued a demand… that under no circumstances should Brexit be delayed. There must be no extension of the transition period.

Hopeless, the lot of them.

Coronavirus – Day #262

Last week I wrote that by Christmas I expected the situation in the UK to be back where it was prior to Lockdown #2, if not worse. Well, it is no fun to be proved right, but…

Yesterday saw over 35,000 new cases, which is a record. Today was only 28,500, which is the third highest daily total since the pandemic began. The rate of deaths is now trended upwards. But Bozo has “saved Christmas” so we are all supposed to be happy.

Thankfully the local situation is still good, and I probably only need to make one more shopping trip this year.