Spring 2020

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Spring 2020 in New Zealand

Harmonieii


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Rainbow over Tauranga

Here in New Zealand the first day of Spring was September 1st and down in the South Island it snowed heavily, much to the delight of the holiday skiers who had flown down to Queenstown after being released from lockdown.

Auckland had been in lockdown since 12th August then on Monday 31st August the lockdown was lifted despite new cases of the virus still a daily event although all such cases have been linked to the one cluster or returning Kiwi's already in quarantine. The original source of the outbreak has still not been identified and household gatherings are limited to 10 persons (50 at funerals) in the city as the whole country is now at level 2 restrictions. Masks are mandatory on public transport throughout the country.

It seems to my simple logic that restricting Aucklanders to limited numbers at meetings yet allowing them to fly down to Queenstown (Air NZ flights were fully booked) where they can join larger groups is slightly crazy. Not only that but the South Island is completely virus free of community transmissions and allowing travel North to South risks spreading it.

Jacinda claimed that when it came to decision making on covid 19 that she was never influenced politically. How she squares her decision to postpone the election as non-political beats me? In Auckland political election meetings will still be limited in numbers so I am unable to see why the postponement made any difference to electioneering which was the excuse given.

Jacinda Joke

The NZ premier Jacinda Ardern walks into a BNZ bank to draw cash from her account. She is asked for proof of identity. She says "but I am the prime minister of New Zealand, you must know who I am" to which the teller responds " but we still require some form of identification."

To try and help her the teller says they had Tiger Woods in there the other day without ID so they gave him a golf ball and asked him to putt it into a cup 50 metres away which he did consistently so they gave him his cash. "Was there anything else Jacinda could do to prove her identity?"

"I don't know" says Jacinda, "I have no idea what to say or do".

"So how would you like the cash in 20's or 50's" says the teller!

That joke came from our pub quizmaster who apologised for any offence and explained it was only a joke! Our 'Norfolk-n-Chance' team came fifth with 91 points in the quiz, our highest score yet with the top three scoring over 100 points which is unusual. For much of the time we were in contention but in the final two rounds we slumped.

North v South

It was an annual event during the last century, the rugby battle between the North and South Islands, but has only been played twice since 1986. It gradually lost importance with the wealth of international fixtures and they even managed to lose the cup but it was found in the archives of Eden Park and polished up for the game to be held on Saturday 5th September at Wellington's Sky Stadium with no live crowd.

The players seem to have decided for themselves which island they will represent so you have for example Beauden Barrett representing the North and his brother Jordie the South although both were born in the North Island. So far the All Blacks have no international fixtures arranged so we are deprived of test matches for the foreseeable future.

Youth Unemployment

One of the economic consequences of the virus lockdowns around the world is unemployment and in particular those under the age of 24. If you are unemployed during those formative years it becomes increasingly difficult to get on the jobs ladder. Here in NZ the youth unemployment rate is currently estimated to be 11.23%. It reached a peak of 17.94% in 2012 and is forecast to rise again as the covid induced recession begins to bite.

By comparison the UK has a current youth unemployment rate of about 7.7% but the UK government is already concerned and has allocated some £2 billion to try and boost jobs for young people. The EU on the other hand has a rate of 16.8% but in some individual countries the figures are alarming. Spain is the worst at 40.8% with Greece 33.6%, Sweden 28.7% and Italy 27.6%. These are figures to be ashamed of and was one of the many reasons that I voted to leave the EU.

We have a completely different attitude to youth unemployment in the UK which requires government intervention the EU considers anti competitive and distorts their so called level playing field. This is one of the EU red lines that is holding up the post Brexit Free Trade Agreement as the EU refuses to negotiate other FTA details until this and other matters like fisheries are agreed.

Woke Proms and Rugby

Following my rant on the previous page about the BBC's decision not to sing the lyrics of Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory, the new director general has reversed the decision which gives me hope that he will now de-woke the organisation! The Beeb should reflect the views of all the license payers irrespective of their political, cultural, ethnic or religious beliefs which at the moment is not the case.

Here is a link to a video of a very funny Scottish comedian called Leo Kearse who tells how he researched how to become woke. IMHO this guy is as funny as Billy Connelly in his heyday but if you are woke you might be offended.

While on the subject of Wokery I also deplore the Rugby Union Premiership continually demonstrating its support for the 'Black Lives Matter' movement by all players wearing 'Rugby against Racism' tee shirts before the game then standing or 'taking the knee' (why can't it be called kneeling?) for a few seconds before every game. We get the message folks and we do not need to be continually reminded.
As a supporter I welcome anyone who has the skill set, yellow, green, spotty or purple skinned, but I would draw the line at a bearded transgender prop playing for the ladies XV! The sport has always traditionally been above politics although like any other it has had its fair share of racially prejudiced people. We probably have a few homophobes as well so perhaps the next campaign should be 'Rugby loves LGBT people' with players kissing each other like the round ball lot and the wearing of rainbow socks compulsory!?

I should mention the big game here in NZ with the once annual game between the North and South Islands being resurrected. It was a great game to watch with superlative ball handling, especially from the North but they let the South in at the death as Will Jordan went over for the winning try 38-35.

English Premiership Rugby

Premiership rugby is approaching the final rounds of the 2019/20 season much delayed by the corona virus epidemic. Games are being played in empty stadiums but the Quins v Bath game at the Stoop was played in front of 2,700 season ticket holders who paid a premium price to get access in a ballot.
The final round 22 is to be held on Sunday 4th October with the play-off semi finals on 10/11th and the final on 24th.

You can expand this page to see the English Premiership Rugby reports and current standings by clicking here.

New UK Covid restrictions.

Boris has now introduced a limit of six people that are allowed to socialise together legally. He has gone further by fining any transgressors £100, making the police responsible for enforcement and appointing marshalls to report meetings that break the law.

It seems to me not unlike a typical "'allo, 'allo" episode of that old soap set in wartime France. You have the majority of the population against the current rulers and the restrictive laws of the 'occupation'. You also have the 'resistance' and I can imagine the future scenario.

Quotes 'wot I like:
"To encourage the rest of us, the Home Secretary Priti Patel has told an interviewer that she would happily snitch on her own neighbours, should she catch them breaking the law. (British law, that is. Breaking international law is, of course, a completely different matter.)"
Michael Deacon 1980 - .

In my old home village in Somerset I expect the Friday night Brewers Arms drinkers will form the nucleus of the resistance, deflating the tyres of the marshall's cars, feeding them false information of 'rave's' in the surrounding countryside and ensuring they are treated as the social pariahs such people are.
Young ladies afflicted with the common flu could be recruited to seduce them passing on the virus in the progress which is currently killing six times more than covid 19 even with a vaccine.
The police are never to be seen in the village as they spend their time in lawless Crewkerne or swanning about in cars so they have not the first clue what goes on!

Unless there really is a big increase in covid 19 infections I predict that the Brits will not accept this new law and Boris will have to rescind it sooner rather than later.

New Zealand Covid developments.

The lovely Jacinda has now told us that the existing Auckland level 2.5 restrictions will now be extended until another review on September 21st while the rest of NZ will then drop back to level 1 on the same day. She also lifted restrictions on social distancing for aircraft passengers much to the delight of the airlines.

From simple observation I can assure Jacinda that Kiwi's round here have been ignoring level 2 restrictions ever since she she reimposed it. People are flocking to pubs and restaurants with no masks and not keeping any social distance. I go to a pub quiz every week and they begin by insisting we must be served at the table but they do not have enough staff to cope so eventually people go up to the bar and are served.
I watch Taranaki beat Bay of Plenty 36-29 in a Mitre 10 cup game last Sunday and there were plenty of spectators sitting next to each other with no masks.

Unless there is an outbreak of the virus in or near Tauranga I think the locals will continue to break the rules.
NZ Rugby had expected to host the rugby championship but due to the strict covid restrictions here they lost out to Australia. The All-blacks who are the current champions will now have to spend two months away from home with quarantine at either end because of the governments strategy of covid elimination.

European Cup Rugby.

I am deprived of watching European Cup Rugby as it is being streamed by Spark Sport (the BT Sport NZ equivalent) and am not prepared to fork out two subscriptions as Sky Sport screens all the European club rugby which is for me essential viewing. Those Spark bastards also have Ashes cricket this year.
The results of the Champions Cup quarter finals had Sarries beating Leinster 17-25 in Dublin and Racing beating Clermont at their home ground 27-36. Exeter beat Northampton 38-15 at Sandy Park which was predictable as was Toulouse beating Ulster 36-8 on French soil.
The upshot is that in the semi-finals on Saturday 26th September Racing beat Sarries in Paris 19-15 and Exeter beat Toulouse at Sandy Park 28-18. The final will be at Ashton Gate, Bristol on Saturday 17th October.

In the Challenge Cup Brissle hammered they Welsh Dragons running in 7 tries at Ashton Gate 56-17, the Beagles beat Edinburgh at Bordeaux 27-14 and Toulon beat the Scarlets at Stad Mayol 11-6. Not a good weekend for the Welsh. Leicester go though by default as their quarter final was cancelled due to covid infections in the Castre team.
The semi finals were held on Friday 25th Sept when Bristol beat Bordeaux Beagles at Ashton Gate 37-20 and the next day Toulon beat the Tigers at Stad Mayol 34-19. The Bristol v Toulon final will be played on Friday 16th October at Stade Maurice-David in Aix-en-Provence.

You can expand this page to see the English Premiership Rugby reports for the final rounds 21 and 22 and current standings by clicking here.

Sue's Birthday 23rd September

Sue and Roger in Coroglen 2016

My thanks to those of you who texted, emailed and phoned me on my late wife Sue's Birthday. She would have been 72 and these days are difficult emotionally for all those who knew her.

Quotes 'wot I like:
"I hope you don't mind if I put down in words, how wonderful life is now you're in the world."
Bernie Taupin 1950 - .
Maryanne and Fred came down from KatiKati and the three of us enjoyed a Fish and Chip lunch on the quay at Bobbies. It was our pub quiz night and the team asked me if I would mind if they raised a glass in Sue's memory. This they did and wished her a happy birthday which was strange and for me upsetting but I appreciated the gesture from people who had never met her apart from Kelly and Dave.

My Myeloma progress 24th September

The latest blood tests continue to show steady improvement in all departments.
The Free Light Chains Lambda cells have again reduced down from 12.3mg/L to 9.9. The Kappa cells are up slightly from 7.7 to 8.3 but the overall K/L ratio is again up into 'normal' territory increasing from 0.63 to 0.84 (Normal is anywhere between 0.26 and 1.62).
The other important cell information is a blood test the boffins call Band Quantitation which measure the amount of paraproteins in the blood. The objective is to reduce those to zero and the test shows a level of 1.1g/L. Down from 1.8 last month so continued reduction. This Cancer Research UK web page explains the various stages of Myeloma

Next month I will have another dose of Pamidronate which is a drug to reduce the bone damage that is causing pain which is given intravenously over a 4 hour period. I also have an appointment with Gavin, the renal consultant, to assess how my kidney's are doing.
All the other blood tests show most of the important indicators are stable. After the steroids of chemo day the pain eases during movement for a couple of days but then returns. With the new drugs I am taking for my hypertension I can now take anti-inflammatory pain killers but must use them carefully as they can harm kidney function. I tried taking two Voltaren prior to my daily 2.5 mile walk and it certainly reduced the discomfort to a more acceptable level.

I had my first ever heart scan as part of the programme to monitor my general heath during chemo. Don't know the results as Marie Haematologist did not want to see me this month which I interpret as good news. The scan takes best part of an hour and you lie on your side and watch your heart beating away on a monitor while the clinician takes loads of measurements and about 60 pictures which will be interpreted and analysed by a cardiac physiologist which is what my granddaughter Liza does. Fascinating.

UK Covid restrictions

Quotes 'wot I like:
Government policy on extramarital intercourse:- "Surely it should be the same rules as for any other social gathering: it's fine as long as there are no more than six of you... and you're all wearing masks."
Michael Deacon 1980 - .

Here in New Zealand, wether you agree with the government policy or not, at least we have a leader who is clear on the policy and communicates that to the electorate as do her ministers but in the UK at the moment the opposite is the case.

Even Boris doesn't understand his own rules and is not displaying any firm leadership. The government is acting like hares in the headlights, obviously panicking, not reacting logically, getting confused advice from scientists who should know better and acting dictatorially instead of democratically. They need to get their act together fast.

Web Site Update

Regular readers may have noticed I have mucked about with the menus. The format is the same with three categories available from the home menu but you now have just one drop down menu which is the only place you will find a link to the latest page. I did this because I know that over 30% of my visitors are using their mobile phones and not a 'proper' computer which you really need to get the full exotic experience!! A vertical menu is more easily read on a mobile screen but also on a proper computer my menu stays in place at the top of the screen as you scroll down but on my Android mobile it disappears and reappears as you scroll up and down.
Any road up that drop down menu is repeated on all the different category pages and includes links to pages which do not fit any particular category.

There is also a brand new page you will find on the History menu recording my life after I left secondary school at 16 to become a Marine Engineer Cadet with further education at technical college, at sea and in a shipyard. You can find it here.

Auckland visit

My neighbours Kelly and Dave were going to visit friends in Auckland and gave me a lift up to stay with my friends Terri and Byron. During my stay we visited Clevedon Farmers market where we joined queues to get in as they were limiting numbers entering with Auckland still at covid level two. A short drive around the area brought us to Paerata where they are building a new town of 4500 new houses. The land was all owned by Wesley College who sold it for megabucks and will now rebuild the college on a new site. The college is famous for having schooled Jonah Lomu.

Later we drove to my favourite Auckland suburb Ponsonby and found ourseleves in a nice little bar drinking Ashai lager with the beautiful people. It is one of the few places I could happily live in under different circumstances. We all watched lots of Rugby of course including the English Premiership crunch games of which you can read more above.

New Zealand General Election

I voted today for the first time in a NZ general election. Election day is the 17th October but you can vote ahead of then from 3rd October. They have to have this early voting as it takes so long to vote. I joined the queue 5 minutes after the voting station opened and had to scan the corona bar code, sanitise my hands, sign my name and write my telephone number, hand in my voting card sent to me by post and tell them my full name. The after much signing, rubber stamping, crossing my name off the electoral roll, sticking bits of paper to forms and much shuffling of different papers I was handed my voting forms. It took about 20 minutes, about 10 times longer than in UK elections.

You vote for a political party, I voted Labour, and a second vote for a local candidate who could be in a completely different party to the one you voted for. I haven't voted Labour since I voted for Harold Wilson in my youth but Jacinda is such a good leader she deserves another crack and the opposition is in disarray.
I also voted Yes for the Bill to legalise assisted dying and No to legalise the recreational use of cannabis. I fear though that Kiwi's will vote yes as the general view here is that cannabis is harmless. There has been little or no publicity about the evidence of harm it does to young male brains.

Yet another new page

I have now completed a second new history page covering the years between 1962 when I moved back to Somerset and 1996 when I moved to live in Edinburgh. You can see the page here.

Pub Quiz Success

At last our pub quiz team Norfolk-n-Chance won with 98 points out of a possible 120 points, well ahead of the runners up who were all in the 80's.
Two of our lady members were absent so I emailed them with the following quote:

"And ladies in Tauranga now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their womanhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon this victorious day."

Roger Biddle with apologies to William Shakespeare, Henry V

You can expand this page to see the English Premiership and Bledisloe Cup Rugby reports by clicking here.

New UK covid restrictions.

Covid & politicians

Boris has now introduced yet another scheme to try and restrict the spread of the virus.
The country is divided up into areas according to the levels of infections reported by the suspected inaccurate track and trace system.
There are three tiers. Tier 1 is just keeping to the government advice on distancing etc., following the rule of six and pubs shutting at 10pm.
Tier 2 adds a ban on households mixing and tier 3 closes pubs and restricts travel to within that area.

Quotes 'wot I like:
"Driven by fear and dodgy science, this was bound to end in tiers ."
Richard Littlejohn 1954 - .

Parliament will vote on these new measures before they are introduced on Wednesday 14th Oct but Liverpool will be the first to be designated tier 3 with a review in a month. Those areas put into level 3 will receive government financial help with 2/3rds of wages paid for those businesses forced to close but those in lower tiers get nothing.

So far the death rate has not materially increased despite the rate of infections having risen at an alarming rate but the stats compare apples with onions. In the original outbreak in March there was no track and trace in exisitance so nobody really knew how many were infected or how to deal with the virus medically. As an investor I am continually warned that historic results may not reflect current performance so perhaps Boris should take heed.

The New Zealand General Election

Well Jacinda won with 49% of the popular vote. With the NZ proportional voting system here that means that she will have a parliamentary majority of 64 out of 120 MP's which means she could rule without the need for a coalition with other parties, the first overall majority since PR was introduced in 1996.
The Greens also did very well with 10 seats and would like to be part of the new government. ACT (Association of Consumers and Taxpayers) is a right wing group who also won 10 seats but their potential coalition partners, National (equivalent to UK Conservatives), only achieved 35 seats. The NZ First party who were Labour's coalition partners in the last government failed to get any seats.

So Jacinda will not have any excuses for failing to carry out promises in the future. In the past she blamed NZ First for not introducing a capital gains tax and has a record of talking the talk but not walking the walk. I voted for her and hope she will now continue her firm leadership without the hindrance of a coalition partner moderating her party's policies.

New Zealand has suffered disproportionately in economic terms as a result of the stringent but successful covid19 restrictions which many say were excessive in relation to the risk. Jacinda has isolated NZ from the virus but it's population has not built up any immunity as a result and the challenge now is how to open the country up again to the rest of the world. I wish her success.

The results of the referenda will not be announced for two weeks.

European Rugby amd Bledisloe Cups

Congratulations to Exeter beating Racing 92 by 31-27 to become European Champions. Also to Bristol who beat Toulon 32-19 in the Challenge Cup. Two West Country teams at the top of their games with Exeter in the final for the English premiership double against Wasps.

The second Bledisloe Cup game at Eden Park saw the All Blacks restore their dominance in this event. They were much more self assured than in the first game and thrashed the Wobblies 27-7. Caleb Clarke was outstanding in his debut first start for the AB's and was given a standing ovation by the capacity 50,000 crowd when he came off in the second half with ex AB Dad Eroni watching on proudly.
Two more games in the series to be played in Australia to decide the cup which the holders, the AB's, now lead 1-0.

The History Pages

I have now completed the history page of my first years spent in Scotland between 1966 and 1970 and you can find it here.
The next page I write will cover the years in Australia between 1970 and 1974 and complete my history from leaving secondary school in 1956 to meeting my second wife Sue in 1974. The barging and living ashore pages bring you from then up to the present day.

My state of health on 22nd October

I had an appointment with the renal consultant who is now unconcerned at reducing the doses of pamidronate to protect my kidneys and I am cleared to accept the full dose the next time which is on Jan 15 next year. He does not wish to see me again. Dr Hughs now says she will change me over from pamidronate to zoledronic acid for my next dose on 15th January next year, which is the ongoing bisphosphonate treatment favoured in the UK and can be administered in 15 minutes rather than several hours.
My last chemo cycle was due to finish on 10th December but I asked her if we could finish a week earlier as my 80th Birthday is on the 12th and it would be nice to minimise side effects then. She agreed and said it would make little difference to the end result as I was now effectively in remission. The Band Quantitation which measures the amount of paraproteins in the blood shows a level of 0.4g/L down from 1.1 last month so a continued reduction. The objective is to try and reduce this to zero but only about 30% of patients achieve this which gives the best chance of long term remission.
The Free Light Chains Lambda cells have again reduced down from 9.9mg/L to 7.9. The Kappa cells are also down from 8.3 to 7.1 and the overall K/L ratio is again further up into the 'normal' territory increasing from 0.84 to 0.90 (Normal is anywhere between 0.26 and 1.62).

The heart scan I had returned positive results and it seems I have a strong healthy heart that is functioning normally. All other blood test were moving in the right direction and after I complete chemo I will only have blood tests monthly rather than weekly. They will then review all my other medication and write a new prescription for the new regime. Once I have decided the date of my UK return they will arrange treatment to fit in with that date so I am all ready to transfer to whatever the NHS have in store for me.

Patrick's Pies

Patrick's Pies sausage rolls

Tauranga Kiwi pie champions Patricks Pies have now won another national accolade. Over 600 bakers across the country entered their sausage rolls in a competition to find the best and in blind tasting Patrick's Pies won.
In a country where it is very difficult to find a good pork sausage I can personally affirm that his rolls are very good indeed and there is more money to be made making and selling fresh pork sausages with his recipe.

English Rugby Premiership Final

In an echoing Twickenham empty stadium in the pouring rain, Exeter met Wasps to decide who were the English champions. It was a close run thing and not the best game of rugby due to the conditions but the West Country European champions did the double and scored two penalty goals in the last quarter to win the game 19-13.

The last History Page

Quotes 'wot I like:
On Bill Gates; " If his vaccine is anything like his software, we're fucked."
Jeremy Pugh.
I have finally finished all the history pages from leaving home in 1956 to purchasing the barge Harmonie in 2005. The latest page is here or can be accessed from the above drop down menu.
While doing some housekeeping the other day to find broken links there are over 600 pages on this web site now. Happy reading!

NZ Referenda

They are only the preliminary results but are almost certain to be confirmed when all the votes are counted in a couple of weeks. Kiwi's voted for the assisted dying bill to be passed. 65.87% voted Yes (including me) so the remaining votes to be counted will not affect the resut and the bill will pass into law in 12 months. The vote to make recreational use of cannabis legal is not binding and was closer with 53.49% voting No (including me). It is possible that this result could change but about 70% of the remaining votes to be counted would have to vote Yes and that is unlikely.

The attitude amongst many Kiwi's towards cannabis seems to be that people are going to use it regardless of whether it is legal or not so why not make it legal. My answer is to protect young men from mental illness who do not know any better. Proponents would say that there would be an age limit on cannabis use but, just like smoking or alcohol, if it is freely available there is a greater chance it will be more likely to be used by youngsters. The lovely Jacinda voted Yes!

Dave, Me and Kelly

My Neighbours Kelly and Dave celebrated their joint birthdays last week and I took the children out for a curry as a birthday treat! Before we left and on our return we had celebratory Harvey Wallbangers which promises to be the drink of choice now the weather is getting warmer.

Rugby Union Test Matches

Here in NZ attention was focussed on the 3rd Bledisloe Cup game in Sydney. It turned out to be a humiliating defeat for the Wobblies which is always pleasing. The Blacks dominated the first half 0-26 but kind of lost the will to play in the 2nd until the final quarter when they finished 5-43, a record score against the Wobblies. Richie Mo'unga scored two individual tries and looks like taking over from Dan Carter as the perfect ten. NZ has now retained the Bledisloe Cup for 2020 having held it for the last 18 years. The match was also the first in the Tri-Nations series which includes Argentina.

Six Nations Championship
PosTeam PlW D L Pts
1 England 5 4 0 1 18
2 France 5 4 0 1 18
3 Ireland 5 3 0 2 14
4 Scotland 5 3 0 2 14
5 Wales 5 1 0 4 8
6 Italy 5 0 0 5 0

The Six Nations Super Saturday first saw Scotland beat Wales in Llanelli 10-14 for the first time in 18 years, on the 100th game for captain Alun Wynn-Jones. England had to get a bonus point against Italy to take the title from Ireland if they beat France in Paris but France needed a 32 point win points difference margin if they were to succeed.
England struggled in the first half but did manage a 5-34 victory in the 2nd which meant Ireland just had to win by 7 points against France. This they failed to do with France triumphant 35-27.
For me this French side are going to be world champions at the next World Cup. The half back pair of Romain Ntamack and Antoine Dupont were everywhere and displayed the panache we used to see from the French in earlier times while the overall inexperience of the side meant mistakes were inevitable, otherwise they would have thrashed the Irish. So England are champions on a 23 points difference which is the difference between the points scored by them and against them.

Fund raising in the Auckland Marathon:

Auckland Marathon

Jack Keey's father died from skin cancer in his mid forties when Jack was 12 years old. Now 25 he has been diagnosed with the same disease and so decided to run in the Auckland marathon in aid of Melanoma NZ and other aid charities. A slight difference in the challenge was he decided to do it in red wellies (gumboots in Kiwiland).

The novelty caught the imagination of TVNZ's programme 'Seven Sharp' who quietly arranged for him to get an award of $10,000 from ASB in addition to the $7,000 he had already raised when he completed the run with very sore feet.

HenryMatilda

Above are the latest photo's of my No 2 grandson Henry who is now 16 and newly invested Sea Scout No 2 granddaughter Matilda.

My Favourite Music

I was asked what I would do next on this web site so I gave the question some thought. I decided to do a series of pages to compliment the favourite poetry page of my favourite music and I have begun with four jazz composer/musicians, One Brazilian, one American and two French which you can find in the main menu above or here. All four are performing their own compositions.
My musical tastes are catholic so eventually the list will include everything from the classics to popular music. It will feature performers, composers and their compositions with links to recordings, videos and discographies where appropriate.

I will be adding to the list as time permits and it will be a page you can come back to regularly to listen to new additions.

Enjoy

Boris and the US election.

My No.1 web site groupie was surprised that I had yet to comment on Boris' latest lockdown and the results of the Presidential election. As you can imagine from someone so opinionated, I do have things to say on those subjects and would hate to disappoint my most loyal reader so if you would like to read about what I think you can expand this page by clicking here.

Covid vaccinations

Pfizer has announced that phase 3 trials of their Covid vaccine were successful and had 90% efficacy in preventing infection. I wonder just how much of this announcement was political and/or designed to boost their sales and share price.

Pfizer want ten times the price of the Astrazenica vaccine of which we do not yet know result of trials. Added to that the vaccine has to be kept at -78°C which means it will have to be transported using liquid nitrogen whereas the Astra/Oxford jab is stored at 2°C to 8°C so much easier to distribute.
We also have not been told by Pfizer the efficacy on different age groups but despite the reservations it is a tremendous achievement and if nothing else might bring a return to conditions of normality much sooner than anticipated.

Shares in Rolls Royce and airlines rose over 40% in some cases so investors think an end is in sight. Not so the doom mongers who say we will still have to observe restrictions for some time to come although the more optimistic are saying the panic will be all over by next Spring. My target of returning to the UK in April 20221 is now looking a good prospect.

Manuka

Since Pfizer's announcement, another American company, Moderna, has announced that their vaccine is 94.5% efficient and can be stored and transported at -20°C which is a normal commercial freezer temperature. This seems to me blatant commercialisation with profit in mind unlike Astrazenica who have said that until the epoidemic is over that their vaccine will be produced on a not for profit basis, assuming it works.

I walk about 2.5 miles every day and my route passes though a reserve where the manuka blossom is now at it's best. The common name of this plant is 'Tea Tree' and the honey bees make from it has medicinal properties. A jar of Manuka honey now demands a kings ransome.

Before the medicinal properties of manuka were realised the plants were considered something of a nuisance and were destroyed where they grew on farmland. Now they are being planted in their tens of thousands. I don't begrudge the producers making a profit but can not see how a jar of honey can be worth so much.

Latest report on my health on 19th Nov. 2020.

On 19th November I was still awaiting some lab test results but the para protein level is now down from 0.4 to 0.3g/L. The International Staging System (ISS) to determin the stage myeloma is at defines one of the stage 1 level test for the proteins to be below 0.35g/L. Another test is for the albumin in the blood to be greater than 35g/L. I am now at 36g/L so on those two measures only I am now at ISS stage 1 Myeloma. There are 3 stages and I was at stage 2 when I began chemo.
I will finish chemo in 3 weeks and we will see what the blood test results are a week later. The cancer clinic have said they can be flexible to fit in with my travel plans. After Christmas I will meet with Dr. Marie Hughs, my Haematologist, to discuss my continuing treatment.

I will have blood tests every month to monitor that the Myeloma remains under control and the plan would be to get one just before I head back to the UK, hopefully mid April if Boris gets his act together or perhaps Carrie!!?

Latest Covid vaccine news.

More good news from Astazenica on their two dose vaccine developed with Oxford University. Phase 3 trial results show 70% efficacy but if the first dose is reduced by 50% then efficacy increases to 90%.
We are told that the reason for this might be that the imune systems in younger people might overreact to the larger dose but there are obviously questions over how long immunity will last which can only be answered with time.

The efficacy is much better than the normal flu vaccine and even a 70% efficacy means that if 80% of a population are vaccinated you will prevent an epidemic. The UK government plans to vaccinate more than 80% but arguably more important is that Astra are supplying the vaccine at cost while the epidemic continues and will continue to supply third world countries at low affordable prices, necessary to control the virus globally.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can not be distributed easily due to low temperature storage/distribution requirements and are very expensive, outwith the reach of third world countries.

There is much commercial drum banging between Pfizer, Moderna and Astra whose shares actually dropped on the announcement as investors were disappointed in the 70% versus 95% efficacy rates. I predict that once the price and comparative ease of distribution sinks in amongst the cloth headed investors that Astra's share price will increase as will Britain's scientific reputation.
I also predict that my objective of returning to the UK in April will be met with unrestricted normality as far as covid is concerned, always provided the politicians keep their noses out of the vaccine distribution management and let the NHS replicate the flu jab.

New Zealand has purchased 1.5 million of the Pfizer jabs enough to vaccinate 750,000 of the 5 million population but are unlikely to get supplies until well into 2021. If Jacinda can acquire the Astra vaccine earlier then NZ could begin to open her borders to foreign tourists earlier which also means more flights to get me back home in April. I hope she is more trousers than her usual mouth on this subject!!

Rugby Union News.

Over in Australia the Pumas continued to defy predictions by drawing with the Wobblies 15-15 so that the Tri Nations championship remains undecided with the All Blacks still in contention. The Autumn Championship in Europe has France and England at the top of each of their respective pools with 9 points each. In the 3rd round on Nov 28/29 France will play Italy and England will play Wales so on current form it is likely those two teams will end up at the top of their pools and will play each other in the final on Dec 5th.
Round one of the English premiership began of which you can read more here

Fund raising in memory of Sue 4 different ways:

On my return to the UK I will be organising a sponsored walk to raise funds for the Macmillan charity along the Macmillan Way West. I am also a cancer victim and undergoing treatment in New Zealand but in the meantime, depending on your location, you can donate with this widget below directly to the Macmillan charity by subscribing to the JustGiving web site:

You can expand this page to see how you can donate by clicking here.

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