April 17th 2021

I’m glad the grand old Duke got a decent send off today. His death certainly sparked a change of treatment by the British press. He’s had nothing but abuse from the press for at least 30 years. I remember reading stories, written about him, in my 20’s and thinking ‘ Christ, this is out of order. This guy is married to the Queen of this country, and he’s being completely belittled again and again. I honestly thought that there might have been/ should have been a law against it ( an act of Treason to be so offensive to the Queen’s husband/ to be so offensive to the father of the next King ). But there obviously wasn’t, so the criticism was unrelenting. The fella was simply’ being himself’. He dared to have a personality, that’s all. He made jokes that pretty much any bloke in Wales would have made at that time, such as the danger of being eaten if you stayed in Papua New Guinea too long, or getting slitty eyes for staying in China too long. .. I mean c’mon, he wasn’t trying to offend, he was just making jokes, like almost anyone could have made at that time, and that’s all.
But true to form, once actually dead, he’s been praised to the skies – sad I think that he never lived to read anything positive about himself.

Two lots of socialising this week – ACTUAL MIXING WITH PEOPLE (!) – have meant drinking way too much on Thursday and almost being unable to say speak by 11pm – apologies to Chris Cats. Our Unfortunates night is loonnnnggggg overdue, and was a real laugh. Blind Paul actually managed to get to mine without Bolt the Dog, and Chris was last to arrive… so we had the paralysed fella and the blind man working as a team to kick the night off, which really isn’t the most productive combination when things actually need doing! 😂
Anyway it was a laugh.

And I’ve had lunch at a restaurant! With friends on Friday… despite my horrendous hangover… but Hair of the Dog saved me.
Tririding back through some of the most iconic parts of London in the spring sunshine, and it actually being fairly warm, was something I’ve missed a lot!

Sevenoaks tomorrow by train, and a few days down there in the woods to look forward to. I’m going to meet Lizzy’s parents ( that’ll be good ) and then my own parents are visiting Sevenoaks on Tuesday… Imagine that – it sounds like normal kinda life is returning ! My dad plays the piano, and Lizzy has a Steinway… ( which she can’t actually play, but her daughter does ) but my Dad is very excited about having a tinkle on the ole ivories.

Lizzy bought me a ( very )early birthday present – a drone … very cool bit of kit indeed, though it wasn’t long before I crashed it into a tree. Hmmmm. Thankfully no real damage done, but it did illustrate just how helpless I am in a wheelchair when it comes to rescuing a drone from a tree, so I shall take more care in future.

Oh and apparently you can catch COVID from your cat.

But don’t ask miaow…
💥😂

That sinking feeling?

Someone I know well went to a funeral last week. The deceased’s favourite piece of music was played as his coffin receded slowly through the curtain, to the incinerator at the crematorium.
He’d placed the arrangements in the hands of his widow to be..
Well she tracked down the piece of music as the one that was played by the on ship orchestra that was on the deck of The Titanic as the ship went down – in the film starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo di Caprio… and she got it from the soundtrack to the film, it seemed.
Because as her late husband’s coffin disappeared from view, to the strains of the ship’s orchestra.. could be heard the screams of the thousands of people soon to be drowned.

🤦‍♂️

Me, on tour.

I don’t know but it’s seemed like an eternity since I’ve ‘ done’ anything…

So yesterday was amazing! I caught a tube to Westminster, then another to Canada Water, and then wheelchair ‘d to Greenwich Park. I’d only been there twice before, both times to the start line for the London Marathon – obviously pre injury. You don’t exactly feel the need to look around at the views, such is your nervousness at the time.

Anyway, the park isn’t flat – it rises by hundreds of feet, and then you get AMAZING views of the city, and the river Thames, heading from Westminster and to the O2 Dome.
I had a coffee or 3 and then thought I’d try to find the Thames Barrier – that thing which keeps all of us in London from regularly being underwater – and I do mean regularly- despite it never being envisaged when it was built. It was a Doomsday Scenario that it would actually be used , but 25 years on and it’s been used dozens of times.

Then I spoke to my folks via FaceTime, and my Dad ( a font of all knowledge ) suggested I go see the Cutty Sark…. which I did…. and then went into a foot tunnel under the Thames, built in 1902 ( obvs there was a lift for me to descend ) and then I wheelchair’d along the river path ( they are trying to open a path in as many places along the bank as possible) all the way to the Dome… whereupon I got a Tube back. As all those stations on the Jubilee line are accessible, that makes life easier for the likes of me… rather than searching for the oddd accessible station amongst the tens that aren’t!

From Greenwich Park
Not much of the original left, since it caught fire!

The Observatory
From Greenwich Park
The entrance to the south side of the Dartford tunnel under the Thames

Easter

It’s Easter weekend again. For so many years Easter signified a canoe race, rather than eggs, or anything religious.
Try as I might.. and I DO try… my mind takes me to far more physically able times.
For sure, if I wasn’t paralysed, I’d still be entering the DW – possibly/ almost certainly the most extreme one day challenge in the UK.

If you don’t already know, it’s a race from a little town called Devizes, all the way to the bridge at the Houses of Parliament. What an epic finishing line.
The sense of absolute relief at finally getting there completely overwhelms the historic view and setting.
Eleven times I was in this race, without ever ‘ enjoying ‘ it, yet the pull to keep doing it is irresistible ( for many ).

Second place was my best result, only 10 minutes adrift of first place after 17 and a half hours… and you then think of all the little errors you made that accumulated the ten minutes… without which you would have won.

Too late now though!

Happy Easter folks!
❤️

And a response from my school buddy ( Jeff T ) who lives in Australia

Very good insight Russ in your last blog…I think your bang on about NZ and Australia…I was in NZ when they announced the restrictions, no messing around…within a week they had gone from no restrictions to Level 3 and Level 4…luckily I was out of NZ the Friday before the Level 4 restrictions came into play…I think that the decision by the NZ PM Jacinta Ardern was correct…go quick, go early…12 months later the proof of the pudding is in the eating and NZ lead a more or less back to normal pre pandemic lives…yes there have been short circuit breaker lockdowns there mainly in Auckland but nothing that really has disrupted the nation..it’s stance on closed borders is also testament to their success against the virus. In Oz we sat back for a short while, but as the number of cases grew, the decision to close international borders and also have the state governments implement state level restrictions was correct. A task force of the various states leading experts was established and the nation fought the virus head on with a collective goal. In QLD went into a 6 week Level 3 restrictions last year and then have had only circuit breaker 3 day lockdown since. Some state border restrictions are still in place..WA for example has its borders closed to people from QLD and there are still border pass requirements when entering SA. Victoria suffered the worst, but their lockdown prevented the second wave of the virus really jumping state containment lines. Contact tracing has certainly improved significantly over the last 12months as has the knowledge the virus and it’s mutations. At the moment life in Brisbane/QLD is in essence back to normal..everything is open, pubs, sports venues etc etc with contact tracing and social distancing. When I talk to my parents? you do realise that the UK didn’t take that hard line option when it should and now the community is paying for that poor governmental decision. It will take decades for the UK nation to recover, longer to pay the debt of the pandemic than the debt of the Second World War. There have been and will continue to be many learnings from this pandemic..the main learning for me is as you’ve outlined the virus needs a host with the main objective of the virus is to survive and spread as quickly as possible. Break that chain and you break the ability of the virus to propagate..it has to die then right?… Bill Gates was once asked in an interview what he thought would be the downfall of the human race to which he answered a virus..saying that we’ve just been put into a three day Circuit Breaker lockdown..due to a few new cases..anyhow a few thoughts mate 👍👍

I’m in a deserted train station and I’m reflecting on the last 12 months.

We had normality back then. My own normality was very altered from the first 4 decades of a proper normality – the one that a functioning human body at least gives you a shot at.
At first this whole thing was a mixture of ( for me ) disbelief, challenge, fascination and dare I say even a touch of excitement. Would the human race survive it? Would there be mass death in the streets… like a medieval plague for which we had no cure.
When it became apparent that the last part wouldn’t happen, it was then just a matter of time before it went away, most people seemed to think. Myself, I thought from the outset that it would be world altering.
Now I think that given the relatively few deaths ( in the greater scheme of things ) it’s caused an awful lot of chaos that was avoidable. Some countries got on it straight away – the Chinese for one. The other ‘ oriental ‘ nations, like Singapore and Japan for example, just didn’t give the virus a chance to spread. Others, like Oz and NZ immediately set up border controls, quarantine procedures, curfews, obligatory mask wearing.. and stopped it getting in. Life within those countries got back to normal, with extreme lockdown now and again to ensure any infiltration risk was contained

The European nations, supposedly the historic fathers of the world, along with the Americans, had no such stringent, hardline, viral spread beating measures, and just seemed to hope for the best until it was too late.. keeping borders open ( and still open now ) ensured their fate. The virus doesn’t spread itself, it has to be carried in the hosts – the people. Stopping flights seemed to be resisted keenly. Well obviously that’s how it got here in the first place, and ultimately that WAS preventable.
The sheer numbers of COVID deniers, and conspiracy theorists, and anti vaxers has really surprised me. I’ve wondered if, instead of causing respiratory distress and possible death, this virus would had caused all your hair to fall out… ( and that’s all ) just how differently society would have reacted. I mean baldness isn’t going to kill you, is it? Imagine the savings on shampoos and conditioners, barbers and haircuts, razors and hairdryers.
Surely we’d have carried on living our lives and also lived with the consequences of not having to worry about all that hair stuff. No one was going to die, or even be unwell. Hardly a drama then ..?
But can you imagine the TOTAL PANIC that would have ensued? And the absolute guarantee that people didn’t mix.
And the elimination of the virus.

And I’m pretty sure I’m right!

What does THAT tell you about the human race?

G

And I want to say hi to Gisela …that I worked with when I was 22..in Camden Contact Lens Centre ( ahhh the stories I could tell 🤦‍♂️ ) and is/ was a crazy Venezuelan chick – who now lives in Barbados.
She’s a tonic for sure, as my Nan would have said. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that talks so fast. And given that English isn’t even her first language, that’s saying something.
No such thing as a short phone call with Miss G, but always always entertaining !