Oh well, another lockdown week over and who knows how many still to come? Trying desperately not to be a harbinger of doom, though to be honest there is a pretty crowed field in that regard at the moment. One bright spot for me is that next Tuesday, all going to plan, I will move up to Group 7 (at the time of writing) of the Scottish Government priority groupings for the vaccination programme. I say bright spot, however, not exactly the birthday present I was hoping for! Though I'm grateful to be moving up the list, just in case you think I am being a bit of a brat about it. And I still expect that I might get some decent-level gifts, given the significance of both the milestone reached age-wise added to the circumstances around when it has fallen.
Despite the promise of the vaccine, it is sad to see how Covid has impacted on the already stretched retail marketplace and fragile economy, with the ultimate demise of another well-known High Street name. Sitting on the precipice as it already was, it was still sad to see yet another victim of asset stripping, with consequent job losses on a massive scale. Made me reflect on how my local neighbourhood store (well-known, mid-sized Edinburgh brand) was gearing up for survival. On visiting earlier today, I was pleasantly surprised to see safety and security controls very much to the fore. I was met with the usual courtesy, but perhaps just a wee tad over-zealously.
Though at all times ensuring I kept the requisite two metres distance from any other customer, in this store it has to be two metres behind the customer in front as dictated by the in-store, yellow tape markings, and definitely not the same distance to the side/adjacent. I was quickly brought into line, literally (but not laterally) by the manager. However, that was just a small blot on an otherwise very pleasant experience. As he handed me my change, the young salesperson almost imperceptibly mouthed the words 'no worries'. I was slightly taken aback. Was this a new caring outreach service being offered by the store? I was tempted, who wouldn't be? Times are difficult and even having someone volunteer to share your troubles seemed like a wonderful and kind thing. However, there were a number of customers in the store and it would be selfish for me to inconvenience anyone by accepting the kind offer, so I politely declined. The young man seemed confused by my rebuttal and held a perplexed look on his face as I bid my goodbyes.
I will now be able to apply for my concessionary bus pass next week too. I can go online and wrestle with the application process which I am convinced is designed to ensure that all those entitled to apply are, in light of the complexity of the process, discouraged from doing so. Also, it looks very much like it will be a long time before I would be likely to make use of any pass. But that isn't the point, is it? Really? Is it?
Happy Birthday Frank from everyone at SR!
These past 11 months have been really interesting. Lockdown has not proved particularly difficult, if increasingly tedious, and my mental state is unaffected – I am retired, well-pensioned, own my house, have no dependents, and some hobbies to pass the time – so what is there to worry about? Quite a lot when you think about it. If I drop dead in the night who will know? Facebook, that much maligned means of talking to friends, long standing or acquired, would not notice – there are lots of dead people on it quite apart from the brain dead. The other day I even sent a happy birthday wish to someone at Facebook's behest who had passed away. Since hardly anybody delivers, Amazon apart, milk bottles will not mount on the doorstep, the one-time sign something was amiss.
It is possible someone will telephone, but even then it won't be until they get the leave a message umpteen times that they might just think something was wrong – after all who goes out these days – and what would they do? Contact the police? Once there were friends I saw regularly who had a key to the house for emergencies and would have driven round to check, although at the moment there is nobody to do that. But at least I won't be getting eaten by the cat. I don't have one. So not really worried, although maybe the time when I should have a panic button is looming – I had a friend who used to press it just to chat to the people on the other end when he felt lonely.
Which brings me to the email from Sir Keir Starmer the other day about ways party members could volunteer to help in this time of crisis which included telephoning the lonely. Sounded like something I could do until I started on the process of registration the government have set up which demanded details of my life and status that I do not have and did not know I should have. Obviously one has to protect against the fraudulent exploiting the vulnerable, but enlisting as someone on the voters role, a house owner, national insurance number possessor, utilities user and council taxpayer should surely be enough, all of which could be checked out quite easily. If it was only me being inept online, which happens, I would dismiss it out of hand but after complaining on Facebook I found I was not alone – others had tried, failed to surmount the red tape mountain, and given up.
The lifelines that matter most are one's computer, iPad or laptop, so computer engineers should be among those getting priority vaccinations because when things go wrong that really cuts one off from the outside world. And don't get me started on my mobile phone. It is the little things that matter. In 1954, there was a lachrymose song hit called Little Things Mean a Lot
. I even recorded it but fortunately the record is long lost. Its time has surely come again – although not sure about blowing a kiss, even across the room.
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