The last day of Spring marks the end of a quarter the like of which no one living today has ever seen before.
The virus that escaped from somewhere around Wuhan in China has been devastating. Not in the way that the two world wars were – but in its impact on our economies and way of life. It has become the unseen threat that could be hiding on every person and point of contact. The silent bullet that is not felt until days after it has hit its random target.
The nature of the virus and its infection process has fed two contradicting fears – huge death tolls and – overreacting to a minor health issue. And even though the 38,000 UK deaths to date are a shocking statistic the economic impact of the government measures – such as paying the wages of millions to stay at home – will hold the nation back for decades. So arguments are rife that lock-downs are being lifted too soon or not quickly enough. And that the virus is either a major threat to the nation or nothing worse than seasonal flu. Arguments that have now taken on political dimensions. With Labour supporters generally taking the opposite view to the Conservative ones. Hardly conducive to achieving the best outcome.
But politics, rules and regulations aside Mother Nature seems to taken notice of the lack of emissions from factories, motor vehicles and aviation. With reduced exhaust gases and the absence of con trails clouding the skies Spring has been a new experience for everyone here in middle England. Record sunshine hours, number of dry days and above average temperatures have pushed the time at home to new levels of outdoor activity.
It’s just a pity that most of us have not been able to share the glorious weather with friends and relatives …
Question – what do these world cities have in common; New York, Ahmedabad, San Francisco, Hanoi, Mumbai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Tel Aviv, Cairo, Guangzhou, Bahrain, Amman, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Dhaka, Islamabad, Jeddah, Hong Kong, Delhi and Colombo?
Answer – they all still have direct flights into London Heathrow.
And that’s just some of the flights arriving today.
Now the experts sound convinced when they say this daily traffic has no significant effect on the Covid-19 infection rates in the UK. But there are two points that seem worth making.
First there are still thousands of new cases being reported each day (4,406 yesterday) despite 43 days of UK lock-down. They must be coming from somewhere – and places like New York are exceptionally risky locations to have on any flight path.
Second there is a notable absence of any flights from Australia and New Zealand. Places that normally would have lots of flights. And both are countries that have contained the spread of the virus very well. In contrast to the UK’s loss of over 600 more lives yesterday Australia has limited deaths to around 100 – in total – since the start of the pandemic. And popular tourist destinations like Queensland have recorded just 6 deaths in total while the UK is still averaging 6 deaths every 14 minutes – according to yesterday’s official figures.
So no scientific proof of anything – but where would you prefer your family and friends to be living today – London or Brisbane?
As the days of anti-virus lock-down drift into weeks and then months and the number of national fatalities grows by hundreds with every passing day the question Are you OK? becomes the new normal. Luckily our friends and family still are but there is that element of concern that one day our collective luck will run out.
So what are Grandads doing to fill their free time now that going out for leisure is off the agenda?
Judging by the queues at DIY stores there is plenty of catching up on home repairs and improvements in progress. While lots more have been boosting their domestic comms technology to contact everything from school lessons to government support schemes. And if the garden centres re-open (and if the public are allowed to visit) there will be a big boost in garden activity – perhaps with more grow your own fruit and veg efforts.
Additionally long neglected hobbies are being brought out of retirement to help fill the time spent in virtual house arrest. And status that could apply for all of 2020!
But to repeat the answer to that recurring key question – Yes we are still here …
Today the most important date in the Christian calendar seems to be played out in a sort of eerie silence – almost as if the whole population is waiting for some bombs to go off or some races to start.
Certainly in Rome the Easter ceremonies have been devoid of pilgrims and locals alike. A situation that may not have been experienced since before the reign of the Emperor Constantine one thousand seven hundred years ago. Even the Black Death and many plagues of the middle ages could not have such an impact on the attendance of the faithful.
Easter celebrations aside the ongoing restrictions mean that there is very little to report. Most Grandads have been limited to local travel for groceries and medicine – hardly newsworthy highlights. True our Prime Minister did have a brush with death but now seems to be on the road to recovery. And the Westminster Labour Party have appointed a new leader and shadow cabinet. Yet any chance of them being in power – or even a meaningful contributor – is years away at best.
As for that unseen enemy, the Covid-19 virus spread worldwide from Wuhan, it is still claiming a rapidly escalating victim count – and pushing many national economies to breaking point. There is little point in quoting today’s infection figures here as they are already widely published but it is worth wishing that we never experience the doomsday scenarios that some are predicting …
Two months ago at our first posting the Wuhan virus was a distant threat. Now it’s spreading all around the world; with Europe being the first directly impacted once the virus had left Asia.
Trying to keep up with the ever increasing counts of infections and deaths for make depressing reading – but for the record Italy has had at least 13,915 deaths, Spain 10,935 and the UK has now reached a total of 3,605 – officially. Sadly the figures for the USA seem set to dwarf those of Europe – and looking ahead much of Africa lacks the infrastructure to cope; especially if aid from developed countries is diverted into over-stretched health care services back home.
All the points about the financial impact have already been said – but the numbers just keep getting larger and larger. Businesses from the smallest trader to the mega corporation are facing complete collapse has virtually every sector outside of food, power and health care is shut down either by government order or by lack of customers. Everything from tourism to sport – pop concerts to voting – has been stopped. For example the mega-millions normally circulating in the world of TV broadcasting rights has evaporated. The Grand National, Wimbledon, even the Olympic Games will not happen until normality returns. If it ever does.
The year 2020 will be remembered for a long time – by the survivors …
Ten more days of spiralling into the corona virus black hole and many countries have already resorted to extreme measures. In Europe national borders and interests are back in control – along with extreme financial measures that are making the 2008 financial crash look like small beer.
And at the personal level the number of deaths continues to grow – despite the increasingly draconian restrictions on movement and personal contacts. With 6,077 deaths in Italy and 2,300 in Spain the figure of 335 for the UK seems low – but we face many more yet in the months ahead. And it looks like UK Grandads will be the demographic with the highest mortality.
Here the over 70’s are already in isolation until June. But when the survivors emerge the virus will not have disappeared. They will become victims then rather than now – unless a cure has been found. Since no one has a natural immunity the virus will continue to infect the population for years – possibly re-infecting those that have survived the previous waves. And we already have several strains of the corona virus indicating that it could adapt over time and evolve into something even worse.
Back at the international finance level the desperate measures are creating vast debts as governments strain to prop-up essential services – healthcare, education, police, fire, ambulance, military, public transport, fuel, water, etc – and the vast numbers of unemployed. All against a backdrop of collapsing government taxation income and falling asset values.
But it’s not entirely bad news. The huge falls in pollution and greenhouse gas emissions have already resulted in clearer skys and climate benefits – sooner than even the most ardent activists could have reasonably expected.
While on the political front the people of Scotland will be well aware that their country could not have faced the current challenge on its own. And those that want to extend the UK-EU trade negotiations are having to face-up to the fact that the world economy has already been reset. The trade agreement fine print has been reduced to irrelevance. The people that survive this will need the essentials of life to be traded as safely and efficiently as possible – with no room for artificial barriers created by bureaucrats and civil servants.
Five weeks on from Grandad’s last posting and the Wuhan Virus now has a new name – plus has expanded world-wide. In the UK Covid-19 has now claimed 21 lives but that may well have increased even before this posting appears online.
in Europe the situation has deteriorated rapidly with worst-case Italy
reporting yesterday that 1,016 deaths had been identified as Covid-19 related. And many of these were senior citizens.
the compounding growth rate of infections continues the next few weeks
will see the number of deaths grow every day – claiming mainly the
elderly and the already vulnerable. The short-term prospects are to
prepare for bad news.
even if the virus has no direct impact on your friends and family, the
financial chaos that is being created almost certainly will.
cities like Oxford, Cambridge, York and even Edinburgh that depend upon
tourism and overseas students for a large percentage of their turnover.
Hotels, restaurants, retailers, airlines, coach and train companies are
all going to experience drastic cuts to their incomes. Jobs will go and
businesses will fail – even if there is billions in government support.
And away from these high profile examples there will still be major
disruptions and life-changing events. Take football – where many clubs
below the Premier League depend upon gate receipts and local corporate
sponsors. If both income streams stop then closure can be the only
The hope is that the numbers of new infections will start to decline by summer – and allow some of the restrictions to be lifted; so letting trade slowly return. However the UK, along with other major economies, was far from being financially healthy before Covid-19 appeared. This is why we have had such low interest rates – and why the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, cut interest rates to 0.25% before the Budget last week. Quite a way to leave office – tomorrow!
How will this all turn out? Who knows. But Grandad is off to read-up about Spanish Flu and check that his will is still valid …
decade has started out with a roar – with threats of everything from
global pandemic to weather chaos; from stock market crash to royal
have no fear an intrepid junior reporter has emerged. One who will stop
the evil US president, outwit the scheming eastern dictator and mobilise
the youth of the free world to stop climate change before we and all of
the Earth’s animals starve, burn or are drowned.
Now Grandad remains unconvinced that Grintin
has any real solutions and can only act as a voice for others.
Hopefully those that have researched the issue in depth. But this leaves
the whole climate action programme vulnerable to being hijacked by
vested interests. And there are plenty who see their chance to make a
lot of money out of phoney climate initiatives.
there are some big issues that need to be faced head-on – with the ever
expanding human population being the key driver of almost all of them.
Now if Grintin can convince the world to act on that then there is a chance for future generations.
cynics will say that there is no money to be made out of population
reduction – so it won’t happen. Not by any human actions that is …
estimated that one deadly strain of avian influenza caused the deaths of
50 million people worldwide. In England it was named Spanish Flu. It broke out here in 1918 so towards the end of First World War.
The current outbreak of Wuhan Virus
is being taken very seriously but so far represents just a tiny
fraction of the human cost that the pandemic of 1918 incurred. However
the big issue that most commentators are not addressing is the
disproportionate impact that the quarantine measures are going to have
on world trade – and the global economy. In effect the entire world’s
factory has been all but closed.
week that a factory in China, normally producing goods for export,
remains closed around 2% of its annual production is lost. How many
factories in China are already closed? And how many more will follow?
How long before they can re-open?
we can all survive if the launch of the latest smartphone is delayed for
months or even years. But the mighty Apple will soon feel the icy blast
of recession if it runs out of products to sell. And it’s not just
factory products impacted. At the opposite end of the process raw
materials like coal, oil, iron ore, etc will experience a big drop in
demand. This in turn will lead to a drop in prices and lay-offs in
countries far away from the regions infected by the Wuhan virus.
is a serious risk that there will be a collapse in world trade – and
perhaps one big enough in scale to surpass the Wall Street Crash of the
1920’s … And that is yet another piece of 20th century history that no
one wants to see repeated.
scoreboard showing 1,314 days since the UK’s vote to leave the European
Union the chances of another failure to deliver seem vanishingly small.
And so just 3 more days remain for our country as a member. That in
itself will be a first time situation for many British people. But then
the 20’s seem set to be a decade of change in many ways.
at the top we have a monarch who has served for 67 years and will reach
her 100 years in 2026 while her consort the Duke of Edinburgh will
reach that milestone sooner – in 2021. A fact of human life is that it
is finite – and so we must face the possibility that the 2020’s will be
the last decade of the New Elizabethan era. So while Harry makes the headlines today it is the future of the monarchy that will come into question before too long.
the children of the 1940’s baby boom will reach their 80’s over the
next ten years and fade away in greater numbers than ever before. A
statistical fact used by pro-EU vote losers as a crutch to promote
rejoining after another vote. Sadly for them this will never occur as
both economic factors and bigger world issues will take priority over
political manoeuvres in Europe.
the biggest world issue will be climate change – along with the actions
we are required to take in response. But that needs a separate posting