It's that time of year again. The beech tree outside the window has young leaves on it and the birds of lockdown are returning to it. So far I've seen a Pica pica (magpie), a blue tit, and three collared doves (perhaps last year's hatchling alongside the previous pair?).
Wales has opened up vaccinations to 40-49 year olds so my wife phoned up the local number for the Mass Vaccination Centres (MVCs) a few times last Friday (patience needed before getting on the queue!) and we had our jabs yesterday! Very well organised so thanks to all involved with this!
We were in Canada visiting relatives when the screws started to tighten on the pandemic, both over there and over here in the UK. Cutting the trip short, we flew back on a much emptier than usual plane. That was over a year ago now and in the time since we've been less than 3 miles distance from the apartment.
Behold and rejoice! The vaccines are coming! Spread the good news in this season of joy and hope! The roll-out will soon start in the UK and across the world. One vaccine first then others to follow. It'll take time, starting with our most vulnerable and our front-line workers, then reaching the rest of the population as logistics allow. We will see how different countries proceed (e.g. China and Russia with their own parallel programmes), in the same way that they all responded differently to the global march of the pandemic.
...on the outcome of the US election, everyday life continues. I've just started 6 days of leave (10 days in a row including weekends), sorely needed after an intense period at work. It will coincide with Wales coming out of a period of national lockdown. It'll be an odd one, the first time since the start of the pandemic that Wales will have less stringent rules than England. I'm most looking forward to resuming our social bubble – while all these virtual tools have been great, I do like seeing people in more than 2 dimensions!
To some degree or other we've always lived our lives in social bubbles, except that they normally overlap. Family, work, different sets of friends. Venn diagrams with you in the middle. The pandemic has thrown this into starker relief. We have virtual/online social bubbles, in-person but outside and 2 m socially distanced social bubbles, and one officially sanctioned social bubble (a.k.a “extended household” in Wales) where we can meet in-person, inside and hug if we want to.
“Chirp chirp chirp!” says the industrious little sparrow, flying between the bushes and trees in the back yards and alleyway behind where we live. “Chirp chirp!” The resurgence of nature was a theme picked up on the world over during lockdown. Part of it real. Part of it a perceptual result of people spending more time looking out of their home windows during the day and hearing wildlife against a background of reduced traffic noise.
Climate Emergency. Black Lives Matter. Brexit (yes, it's STILL happening!). We seem to be at a juncture of history where multiple inflection points are converging, spanning local to global issues, sometimes spreading the world like the COVID-19 pandemic societies are currently struggling with. Individuals and communities are declaring that enough is enough! on a wide range of issues. There is a sense that by pushing the right levers now, a new, more just, more equitable, more sustainable world might arise as we emerge from lock-down. Or we might miss the chance altogether.
I'm fighting a multi-front war against cardboard boxes and the boxes are winning. Beer boxes. Baby boxes. Lockdown boxes full of home-office IT kit, toilet rolls, tissues and bulk eco-friendly toiletries. A Friday night pizza box in the kitchen. Boxes in the living room. Boxes in the bedroom. Boxes in the office. Boxes multiplying every time I turn around in the downstairs bathroom.
How much information do I need on a daily basis about this global pandemic? At the start of it all, I was following stats from John Hopkins several times a day. Checking news websites. Debating pros and cons of the different response options from different countries. Railing against the apparent sheer stupidity and ignorance of certain politicians and swathes of the public. Not everyone has the same level of education but distrust of experts, buying into conspiracy theories, and wilfully harmful spinning of facts to fit political and other world-views and narratives in the name of “freedom of expression” seems, to me, just plain wrong.