Morning all and what a lovely sunny morning it is. I managed to get some window sill snoozing in over the weekend, the sun was warm, but in truth it was a bit manic here at times. The office has gone onto 24- hour shift working and they even woke me up, moving in camp beds! Over breakfast Bozzie looked very unhappy and had a whispered conversation with the Little Otter. I don’t know why, there was only me and the Mutt in the room. Perhaps he thinks the Mutt is a spy. Anyway, I did hear that he’s holding another Cobra meeting this afternoon. I don’t think the news will be good.
Today’s the first day of the reduced service on the London transport system because of people working at home due to corona virus. Lots of people are complaining that there was a lot of overcrowding. Bozzie was telling Dom that it’s all the fault of Sad Dick because he has cut back on the trains too much. I heard Sad Dick on the radio, complaining that too many people were traveling into London and should have been working from home. He said lots of people were traveling to construction sites and these mucky people would infect the lovely NHS people who had to go to work. It was said that on some lines the rush hour service had been reduced from a train every couple of minutes to one every 15 minutes. No wonder they were crowded.
The supermarkets are still struggling to cope with the demand of panic buyers and there are still lots of empty shelves. This is despite both supermarkets and Government Ministers telling everyone that there’s plenty of food in the system. The main problem is getting it to the shops quickly enough. Extra deliveries are starting to come through though. Yesterday some of the supermarkets had a special shopping hour for NHS staff who couldn’t get to the shops easily because of their shift patterns, consequently, when they did get there, there was little left to buy, Tesco gave some NHS workers a free bunch of flowers. This morning there were special shopping hours set aside for OAP’s and other vulnerable people. My ghost writer, WorthingGooner, went to one and tells me that they had put aside lots of things that have been in short supply, such as toilet rolls and eggs. Today’s press conference has been cancelled, Bozzie will address the nation at 20:30. I fear it’s not going to be good news.
This afternoon the Jury in the Alex Salmond trial returned its verdicts. He was found not guilty on all but one charge and, on that remaining charge, the verdict was Not Proven, which is Scottish for not being able to make up ones mind. Salmond walked away a free man, but hinted to the assembled press outside the court that there was evidence, not possible to present at the trial, that the whole thing was an attempt at a political fix and in time it would all come out. It’s common knowledge that he had a row with the Wee Krankie after the Scottish Independence referendum I wonder if we’re going to witness a war between them?
Bozzie appeared on TV this evening and, as I feared, it wasn’t good news. He said that in order to protect the NHS from collapsing under a pile of cases he was bring in a whole raft of new regulations to try to slow down the spread of the virus. Basically, starting immediately, he is asking people to stay at home and not mix with others unless absolutely necessary. People are only supposed to leave their home to go shopping for food or to pick up a prescription, go for a walk (once a day), travel to and from work (only if it is impossible to work from home) and for medical reasons. In addition, most shops, except food stores and pharmacies have to close, however there are a few exceptions. Garages, cycle shops, off licenses and newsagents can stay open. I want to know if the rules about going out apply to cats and dogs. The Mutt and I have agreed that if we have to stay in we’ll make a mess on Bozzie’s bed.
It’s oddly quiet in London this morning. There are no tourists at the gates to Downing Street and there are fewer buses than usual going past. Mind you, that means it’s easier to sleep on the window sill as it’s so deserted. However, inside No 10 it’s very hectic, with loads of people rushing around day and night, all trying to stay 2 metres apart. I hear that Dyson, the vacuum cleaner people, have had a team of engineers working around the clock on the design of a ventilator. They have an empty factory in Wiltshire, where they had until recently intended to build electric cars, which, if they manage to produce an acceptable design of ventilator could be used for manufacture. Another vacuum cleaner maker, G Tech, showed off a prototype ventilator which they said was made from readily available parts. I thought it looked like one of those Heath Robinson designs made out of old syringes and a plastic bottle.
Another big company, Ineos, the British chemical manufacturer, has turned its hand to a new product. They are to start making medical grade hand gel at a factory next week. They are already a manufacturer of isopropyl alcohol and ethanol, two of the major components, and have an empty building near Middlesbrough which is being set up for a production line, They’ll also set up another production line in Germany. They aim to be making 1,000,000 bottles a month within a week or so, both pocket size and full size. They’ll be supplying the NHS free of charge until the crisis is over.
People are still complaining about overcrowded tube trains. Surely it would only take a second for Sad Dick to issue an order to increase the frequency of tube trains. But then I suppose he’s backed himself into a corner and can’t or won’t back down. The press conference tonight was done digitally, with the team in Downing Street being questioned remotely by journalists. It worked reasonably well, with only one of the questioners being lost in mid question but they were quickly back on line. The Government Minister in charge was some nonentity called Matt Hancock, so it was obvious no major new news was going to be imparted. Three points of interest did however emerge. The Minister had a barely disguised go at Sad Dick for cutting back the tube so much that it was badly overcrowded and he called for a 250,000 strong army to volunteer for a scheme to help the NHS and those isolated at home. They’ll be used to drive people home from hospital, get shopping for the house bound and chatting on the phone to people in isolation.
The final revelation was that the army has been helping plan and build a new field hospital in London’s Docklands. They have been converting the ExCel Exhibition Centre into a temporary hospital for Covid-19 sufferers, it will open next week. It’s to be called The Nightingale Hospital and will only have two wards however each ward will have 2000 beds and army medics with help to staff and run it! Is this why the RAF has been practicing landing C130 Hercules Aircraft at the nearby London City Airport?
Yet another lovely morning in Downing Street. After breakfast I’ll be doing a bit of a patrol around the estate to make sure the mice aren’t getting up to anything, then it’s a snooze in the sun. Oh, and I might look up the “Dreamies” girl to see if she has any of those Felix cat treats! At breakfast one of the office people popped in to update Bozzie on the progress of the appeal for NHS helpers. He was amazed when she told him that overnight over 170,000 people had signed up. Originally they’d hope they might reach the 250,000 in a week, it looks like that’ll be easily done.
There was a significant reduction in the numbers of people travelling on the tube this morning compared to yesterday. Instead of doing as the Government asked and increasing the service Sad Dick ordered police to question people to make sure their journey was necessary, he also closed ticket barriers and turned off escalators to slow down access. He’s still complaining that too many people are travelling. Bozzie is definitely not very happy and I wonder if he will be taking on Sad Dick politically? I’m hearing a bit more about the Nightingale Hospital. It’s due to open next week, once it has 500 beds. Workers will carry on building the other 1500 bed spaces after it has opened. There are to be 2 huge morgues as well. The hospital will work on a conveyor belt principle, with incoming patients being triaged at one end and then moved to given areas depending how sick they are. As patients improve they will be moved down the building until they reach an area at the opposite end of the building and are ready for discharge. The location, next to the City Airport, is considered ideal as, if necessary, the RAF can fly in patients from other parts of the country should they become overwhelmed.
It was announced this afternoon that Old Jug Ears has got corona virus. It’s mild at the moment and he’s isolating at his home on the Balmoral Estate. Camilla, the horsey one, has tested negative so is self-isolating. Their “cottage” has six bedrooms so that should prove easy. It’s over a fortnight since he last saw the Queen so it’s unlikely he has infected her. She was pictured on the phone to Bozzie during his weekly audience, proving she’s OK. Bozzie had a unique PMQs today. As it was the last PMQs for a while, what with the Easter break starting this evening and MPs all social distancing, the Speaker organised a double session; the normal session starting at noon with the usual 6 questions from Steptoe and 2 from the Scottish Nazi Party, followed by general questions. At 12:30 all those present trooped out and another lot trooped in and Steptoe and the SNP had another go with additional questions.
Bozzie was back on duty at the press conference this evening. It was another digital one, it looks like it’s going to be the way forward now. There wasn’t a lot of news except for Bozzie announcing that the number of NHS volunteers had reached over 400,000. He also said that he hoped the Chancellor would announce help for the self employed in the next couple of days. He vowed to “put an arm around them all”. The usual idiots like “Toilets” chose to criticise him for this, saying he should know better than putting an arm around people when we should all be keeping 2 metres apart!
These sunny mornings are getting to be a bit monotonous, I never thought I’d say it but I almost miss the rain! I expect a drought to be announced any time now. I’m hearing more about the battle against corona virus. The army planners have been looking at sites for additional temporary hospitals. At the moment up to 10 more are being considered in all four of the home nations. I hear that among the first would be one in Scotland, but a site hasn’t yet been identified. The NEC in Birmingham and the MEC in Manchester are both being considered. There’s also talk of using the Millennium Dome. This morning I also heard the number of NHS volunteers has reached over 560,000 with people still flocking to register.
Earlier this week I reported that Dyson was developing a new design of ventilator, it now seems that the NHS has placed an order for 10,000 devices. James Dyson said that he intends to start production as soon as possible, the device will need approval, but he’s hoping to start production in a week or so. He’s setting up to build 15,000 units initially and will give away the other 5,000. He’s giving 1,000 to the NHS and will give the other 4,000 away internationally. The Dyson ventilator is to be powered by his digital electric motor, that has been re-engineered to suit the design. The production of these has already started in Singapore, they’ll need to be airfreighted to the assembly plant in Wiltshire.
I understand that a call has gone out from the University of Reading for help from people who are stuck at home and are fed up. They have many thousands of pages of hand written rainfall records going back to 1820 that they want to digitise. People will be asked to read the paper record and type it into a computer program. I’m never sure if this sort of thing is a good idea as I’ve read about digital temperature records being adjusted up and down to suit global warming “science”. While the records are on paper or micro-film it isn’t easy to fiddle the records.
You might remember the huge row when the Post Office brought in new IT software, called Horizon, and then accused many Sub-Postmasters of fraud, with many being forced to pay thousands of pounds to the Post Office, losing their businesses and some even going jail. A group of 500 Sub-Postmasters took the Post Office to Court and eventually the PO had to back down and admit that the software was badly faulty with a multitude of bugs. The Post Office has been forced to pay £58 million in compensation. Today the Criminal Cases Review Commission ruled that 39 cases should be referred to the Court of Appeal as the Post Office’s evidence was questionable and amounted to abuse of process. A further 22 cases are still being considered, 39 is already the largest number of cases from a single miscarriage of justice referred to the CoA. The CCRC is normally very careful to only refer cases that have a very high chance of success to the CoA.
Rishi Nic-Nak chaired another digital press conference tonight and it was another big one. This time he was announcing financial assistance for the self employed. His aim is to give them a taxable grant equivalent to 80% of their average monthly profit, up to £50,000 pa, for an initial three months with an upper limit of £2500 per month. This scheme will cover 95% of the self employed but of course there are plenty, mainly on the political left, who are critical of it. At eight o’clock tonight we were all being encouraged to open our doors and windows and clap for NHS workers. Bozzie and Nik-Nak went and stood in the street outside No 10 and clapped. Thank goodness I’ve got paws, not hands or they’d have had me out there embarrassing myself. Right I’m off to bed before anything else stupid happens.
Lots of fussing around in No 10 late last night. Bozzie, as I mentioned yesterday, wasn’t feeling too good and the Chief Medical Officer had got him tested. The results came back positive about midnight and I was slung out of the No 11 flat because Bozzie is going to self isolate there. I bet Little Otter moves out until Bozzie is clear, she still has her flat or could go to Chequers, just so long as she takes the Mutt with her. My basket and food bowl have been moved into a corridor. As long as they are near a radiator and the bowl is filled at mealtimes, I’m not too bothered, just make sure someone feeds me!
This morning someone has left an army document lying around in the office, wouldn’t they be surprised if they knew I was reading it and not just sitting on it? It looks like there are plans for 13 temporary hospitals in the UK. Phase 1 is the ExCeL 4000 bed Nightingale Hospital, which is already under construction. Phase 2 is a 5,000 bed hospital at the NEC Birmingham, Phase 3 is a 1000 bed hospital at the GMex Manchester and Phase 4 is the SSEC in Glasgow. Following that it’s a bit less clear with sites not yet positively identified. The problem is going to be staffing them. At the moment the London Nightingale is to be staffed by army medics along with doctors and nurses who have volunteered to come back into the service and St Johns volunteers.
Following on from Bozzie testing positive and being in self isolation, both the Health Secretary and the Chief Medical Officer have now tested positive. They’re both showing mild symptoms and are self-isolating. Gove chaired the digital press conference, along with the deputy Chief Medical Officer and the head of the NHS. Gove said that a new alliance had been put together between private companies, universities and the NHS to ramp up testing for front line workers. The first few hundred NHS staff would be tested this weekend and the number of tests would be doubled to 18,000 by this time next week.
The NHS man announced that he had reorganised hospitals to free up 33,000 beds. He said that some of these were made by cancellation of routine operations and some patients had been moved to the 12,000 beds that have been taken in private hospitals. He also said that although the main problem currently is in London and its suburbs it’s expected to get worse in other areas. Consequently, he’d today given the go ahead for the next two temporary hospitals to start construction. They will again be called Nightingale Hospitals. As reported earlier, one will be at the NEC and the other at the GMex. There will be more temporary hospitals to follow. I believe the next one will be in either Cardiff or Glasgow.
Tonight the number of NHS volunteers reached over 700,000 in England alone. Seeing how successful it has been both Wales and Northern Ireland want to set up a similar system or join in with the English one. It probably won’t be possible to have an integrated scheme, as health is a devolved issue meaning the NHS’s work independently. The Foreign Office has arranged to charter British Airways planes to operate several repatriation flights back to the UK for British nationals stuck abroad. At the moment there are four flights planned, one from South Africa and three from Peru. Because Peru has shut down all travel, including internal flights, the Peru flights have been very difficult to arrange. The F.O. had to negotiate with The Peruvians to allow the flights along with some internal feeder flights into Lima. More than 50 international airlines have suspended operations partially or completely.
Ginge and Whinge have skipped from their luxury rental home on Vancouver Island to Los Angeles. Whinge has recently landed a job with Disney, narrating a film, so she needed to go to LA for the work, just as the US / Canada border was about to be closed. Of course they had to charter a private jet to get them there, no mixing with the corona virus riddled public for them. I would have thought that Ginge would be looking to come back to the UK in this time of Covid-19, especially when his father is already suffering and his 93 year old granny and 98 year old grandad would be in acute danger should they succumb.
Second day of Bozzie’s isolation in the flat. Someone put his breakfast outside the door and left but they still managed to catch me before I snaffled a slice of bacon to supplement my Felix. I don’t think Bozzie can be that ill, porridge, followed by two fried eggs, two rashers, fried bread, a sausage, fried potatoes followed by toast, butter and marmalade with a pot of tea tells me he’s taking advantage of the Little Otter being at Chequers with the Mutt. She wouldn’t approve as she’s into healthy eating. The porridge is okay but it would have been scrambled or poached eggs, without toast.
I hear that a Brexit trade talks meeting with the EU is to take place on Monday. For the safety of the negotiating teams it’s going to be held via video-conferencing. As the two chief negotiators, David Frost and Michel Barnier are both in self isolation, I understand that Michael Gove will be leading our team and the EU team will be led by European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic (whoever he is). At least Gove is a Leaver. At yesterday’s digital press conference Gove announced that this weekend hundreds of NHS workers who were self-isolating would be tested as the start of a new initiative. It’s a trial of the introduction of wider NHS testing next week. I can reveal that this morning self isolating NHS workers are descending on the Chessington World of Adventure car park. Six lanes have been set up in the car park and drivers are queuing to be tested by health workers wearing PPE. The people being tested are all being asked to keep in their cars with the windows shut until they get to the test point, where they are swabbed. All those being tested must show their NHS id’s or a letter of invitation. Do they get a free go on one of the rides after being tested?
The Information Commissioner has this morning said the Government has the right to use your mobile telephone’s global positioning information to track you during the crisis. They state the example of someone collapsing in the street being able to be found easily. That scenario is ok, but it worries me that once given the power, agencies like the police will be tracking you every time you go out and arresting you if you dare to walk the dog twice a day. I’ve been chipped, will they be tracking me? Can I still go and visit that little she cat down the road? You can just leave your phone at home; I can’t leave my chip at home. The number of deaths from Covid-19 rose by 260 today to over 1000. I was reading that on average a person who dies actually started coughing 18 of 19 days earlier. Most people recover 7 days after they start coughing but if they get worse and get admitted to hospital many still recover after a few days on oxygen. We really need to hope that 18 or 19 days after the lock-down started, death numbers will start to plateau or even fall.
Finally for this week I hear the police have finally taken full leave of their senses. A famous blue lagoon near Buxton has been dyed black, they claim it makes it look so uninviting that people won’t want to go swimming in it. Have they been outside today? It’s cold and windy, nobody is going to want to go for a dip. A quick patrol every so often would have made sense, but spoiling a beauty spot is madness.
Nighty Night folks, I hope to be back as usual on Monday, recording my thoughts.
© WorthingGooner 2020
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file