A freeze serendipitously embraces the New Year period. A raw, bruised, brutal beauty embraces the ranch. A blanket of crystal white juxtaposed with menacing greys and occasional blue – temperatures rarely above freezing, then more snow. The smouldering menace is perhaps a herald of the year to come, as we experience a spate of break-ins on NYE and NYD. They leave a footprint and a CCTV image from a later robbery (with the same footprint).
Gardening-wise it’s perhaps the quietest time. Some guides say start planting certain seeds in January.
Not in the grim North. It’s too early. In fact, you can delay the advice of the posh Southerners by a month. This is Burnley mate, not Essex. If you plant too early, you just end up with weak spindly seedlings – they grow faster and healthier if you plant them later and they soon catch up.
That darned horse never stops shiteing – not even on New Years Day – how inconsiderate.
I’m not one for annual reviews. The heady, balmy exquisite spring springs to mind though. With an eerily silent town below, nature seemed to burst forth with a different kind of joyous abandon, made all the more poignant by an anxious fear of the unknown. The ranch was a secret paradise – a mind-saving haven from the deepening grim reality of the pandemic.
The other highlight was our big punk gig in February – a joyous anniversary celebration of our local punk scene. A coming together of friends and a renewal of that DIY, think outside the box, fuck the government mentality. Oh what a perfect subconscious testament to the year to come. And it was in the library! I’M IN THE LIBRARY! Check it out here.
I don’t do resolutions either. The trees, birds, bees and animals don’t. Nature doesn’t – so why should I?
There is however, a new flavour in the air, suggested by a year-change full moon, the raw freeze and a grim weariness, metamorphosing into a steely grey determination.
I’ll be doing the same as usual, but with more resolve and less doubt. Bollocks to being a shite gardener – it’s time to up my game and be a proper farming twat (what are you talking about? You already are a pseudo-farming twat. Hippy. Er – I’ve never been a hippy. I was in a punk band).
I’ve even mastered cooking my breakfast entirely on the woodburner (don’t hippies do that?)
Doctors, teachers, carers and independent business owners have all had enough. The wheat is separating from the chaff and hopefully, a new focused efficiency will guide the previously mild-mannered.
It wasn’t just New Year’s Eve. It wasn’t just Brexit Eve. It was the eve of the revolution of the reasonable.
As a symbolic gesture (I’m fond of those remember), I tidy all my screws into a little plastic carry-case that Linda’s builder gave me.
Meanwhile in the outside world, the polarisation deepens and there’s more anger and despair.
The next knob that suggests that hospitals are half empty, because an ex-nurse told them so, will be inviting a polite thwack round the ear with a wet fish – oh hold on a minute, that’s not vegan enough – er a wet … banana.
There’s a morass of uncertainty and conflicting information, but there are some islands of sanity and certainty.
A bit about medicine.
Since ancient Greek times diagnosis (from the Greek diagnōstikos ‘able to distinguish’) is arrived at following history, examination and investigation. That will never change. Take pneumonia as an example. Up until fairly recently it was a big killer of the elderly in winter. The history tells us that the patient is hot, feverish, short of breath and feeling unwell +/- a productive cough. The examination (a bit of a lost art these days), reveals crackles and altered breath sounds on auscultation (= listening with a stethoscope). Investigation shows consolidation on the chest X-ray and a raised white cell count in the bloods. The diagnosis of pneumonia is made. For the majority of milder cases, the treatment is doxycycline and penicillin. The bacteria is likely to be streptococcus pneumoniae. It’s not necessary to isolate the organism, although it’s possible from a sputum sample.
Now let’s take COVID.
EXACTLY the same process applies. History: Dry persistent cough; loss of sense of smell; exhaustion. ‘I’ve never felt so ill in my life.’ Examination: Temperature; abnormal chest sounds; decreased oxygen saturation. Investigation: characteristic x-ray and blood changes. A swab isn’t essential to make the diagnosis. It is however essential for isolation of the patient on a COVID ward or intensive care. All patients who are sick with COVID will have a positive swab and it’s a useful tool in the patient’s management. This is in contrast to the widespread PCR community testing of asymptomatic people, by dodgy inconsistent private companies and labs, which I still have very little faith in.
If, therefore a front-line hospital doctor tells you that a patient has COVID, they have COVID. Full stop. End of story.
Similarly, if a healthcare professional takes to the media to try and convey what’s actually happening in their particular area, out of a sense of duty to the public, then contrary to what any non-medical social media dicktard says it IS happening. Hence the intensive care units and hospitals of London and several other areas ARE overwhelmed.
Furthermore, you can find out precisely what’s happening in intensive care by looking at their research website ICNARC.
The minefield of science is difficult and reading papers is a skill that has to be taught and learned. Despite my medical sciences degree, I confess I’ve never been that brilliant at it.
I’m doing my best to evaluate it impartially.
Here’s what I think is factual and I’m happy to provide references if asked.
Viruses always mutate.
There is a new variant (accounting for about 80% of cultures in some of the big labs).
It is far more infectious than the original strain (meaning that there’s more transmission from children and teenagers).
It is spreading quickly and still causing severe disease.
Then there’s the f’ing vaccine.
I’m a loon because I think it’s bonkers to give a vaccine that hasn’t had long-term testing, to someone who already has immunity. It’s OK – I’m used to being a minority of one. I’m coming across more and more writer doctors who dare to challenge the mainstream narrative.
Even if I’m fully immune, I can still pick up some droplets on my fingers and pass them on. Will the vaccine be effective against the new variants?
Informed consent in medicine is stringent for very good reason. If you have informed a patient that they are getting a first dose on the understanding that they will get the second dose within three weeks, you are then duty bound as a doctor to give the second dose as promised.
Yes – it’s entirely possible that a second dose might be equally effective at 12 weeks but that’s utterly irrelevant. The licence was granted for 3 weeks and nobody knows for sure beyond that, because there isn’t a scrap of evidence. Even Pfizer objected. The reasoning is the presumption (again scant evidence) that a first dose will stop people being sick enough to need intensive care if they get it. Which brings me to:
The Revolution of the Reasonable
GPs and community carers are the unsung medical heroes of this shitshow – they’re dealing with more Covid than the rest of us put together.
Now they’re in an awful position. Either they do what’s ethically and medically correct or they break their patients’ trust and do what the govt tells them, theoretically leaving them answerable to the GMC.
It’s a no brainer isn’t it?
That’s why the tide turned on New Year’s Eve when the veg sold out at Aldi.
Reasonable people are now finding the courage to do what is best for their fellow people, defying the government in the process and the revolution begins. These aren’t loons. They are the pillars of our society. Today the teachers are defying the govt – good on them. Ditto business owners, other emergency services and so on.
There are two ways to end a pandemic – absolute lockdown and containment vs herd immunity through people catching the illness and developing immunity + those who already have immunity + vaccination where appropriate.
Poor old England never stood a chance, again thanks to the govt. Years of austerity have left entire swathes of the population in poverty and guess how much notice they’re going to take of the govt’s rules? They tend to live in concentrated areas such as housing estates (like the one across the road from me) where spread is inevitable.
Then there was the Cummings debacle, terminally distancing much of the rest of the population.
This is the worst government in centuries, responsible for a fuck up so astronomical that it’s difficult to comprehend. There’s a name for when a group of privileged twats kill off large numbers of the population. More and more people, like me, have less than zero faith in them.
New Year’s Eve
For over 20 years we’ve had a NYE party and they’ve become legendary. This year we tried to get a little family bubble thing going but it didn’t happen. I spent the evening changing the skins on our little house drum kit and polishing the cymbals. I’ve been getting inspired by Beatles deconstructed tracks where you can hear each track individually as it was recorded. It’s strictly a nerd thing – individually the tracks are slightly rough around the edges, but together you can see why they were the best band in the world. Check this one out. Harrison’s and McCartney’s vocals recorded live together are truly exquisite (starts at 12 mins).
At midnight, it was just me and Louise and tbh I was enormously relieved. I opened my windows and the back door and as usual played everyone’s favourite Northern Soul tracks at blisteringly loud volume (I put my earplugs in), starting of course with Jackie Wilson’s Higher and Higher/Sweetest Feeling. I’m feeling enormously grateful and paradoxically optimistic.
Then I watched Withnail and I and went to bed. I was up at 7:30 on NYD and was even more relieved – no extended hangover, no tidying up.
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Did I ever tell you about the time I was a whistle-blower? It’s all in the book. I only did it because they were bullying the nurses. I wrote a childish song with farting noises in it and references to them stealing the big telly. Lee’s on bass and Bish is on drums (playing the house drum kit of course).
Right I’m off to the ranch in the snow and ice.