Issue 240: 2020 07 02: Time to Party!

02 July 2020

Time to Party!

Probably not.

By Lynda Goetz

Well, this weekend apparently heralds the next phase of this extraordinary year and the ‘The New Normal’ for most of us – apart from those in the city of Leicester, who, for reasons as devoid of meaning as those which prompted my article last week (Has Boris Lost his Balls?), have been put in lockdown again.  Toby Young, founder of Lockdown Sceptics, has crunched the numbers and questions whether it is really worth re-imposing lockdown to avoid 1 death/week, probably of people over 80 (with underlying health conditions), at such a terrible cost in all sorts of other ways to the majority of the Leicester population.

Will everyone else really have such a blast, though?  Dr Katherine Henderson, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, has expressed concern that A&E departments, whose capacity has been halved because of coronavirus regulations, will be inundated with those who ‘throw caution to the winds’ and end up with ‘alcohol-related problems’.  Given past experience (some A&Es had 75% of attendances after 11pm being alcohol-related) and the appalling behaviour of some of the football fans last week, this fear, sadly, is not exaggerated.  Surely now, though, people appreciate and respect the NHS more?  After all, they stood outside their doors and clapped them every Thursday for ten weeks.  As Dr Henderson is quick to point out, “more important than clapping the NHS is using the resources responsibly; and anybody who goes out and gets so drunk they need an ambulance and need to come to an emergency department is not supporting the NHS”.  A very fair point, but will it be heeded as many throw off the shackles of months of restrictions (with so many still in place) and attempt to move on to a post-coronavirus world?

For many, the appeal of socially-distanced pub gatherings or meals out is limited, but at least it means a few more baby steps towards a post-lockdown world.  For others, lockdown has been an agreeable pause in an otherwise madly hectic way of life.  Nigella Lawson has commented that she will make her new life 5:2, not as in the diet, but as regards people; 2 days of being ‘normal’ and 5 days going back to peaceful isolation.  Individual circumstances and characters have dictated massively how comfortable or uncomfortable our lockdowns have been.  As someone posted a while back on the subject, “We may all be on the same ocean, but we are not all in the same boat”.

Our boat in this rural part of Devon was well-equipped for the journey and comfortable, although at times it did feel more like an Ark than anything else!  We have had lots of company on board; before you all ‘tut tut’ at our selfishness, I hasten to add that this company has been of the furry or feathered variety.  In addition to the three squirrels and eight puppies I have written about previously (Town and Country and Time to say Goodbye), we have also hosted a fledgling starling and a young corvid.  Both these were with us for only a few days, but they certainly added interest to our particular version of lockdown.

Young starlings it turns out need feeding every 20 minutes!  This made the three hourly feeds for squirrels look like a stroll in the park!  To be fair, the starling didn’t, according to the information we were able to source, need feeding overnight – unlike the squirrels and the puppies.  Nonetheless, never having been into coarse fishing or the mother of a son who was, I haven’t hitherto had to live with live meal worms around the place.  I am not a fan of legless things which wriggle or squirm.  Meal worms do both.  They look like large pale brown maggots with rather harder carapaces.  To feed a young starling you need to pick up one of these creatures with tweezers, kill it by crushing its head with said tweezers, then chop it into two or three manageable bits and put those bits far enough down the throat of the bird for it to swallow; repeat; and then repeat again 20 minutes later and 20 minutes later throughout the day.  I have to confess that I was responsible for this performance for only part of one day.  My other half (who was also the one who got up most nights for squirrels and puppies) did it for two and a half before having a bright idea; how about getting the baby fostered by the sparrow family making such a noise in the roof above our kitchen door?  Our local vet thought it should work, so early one morning a ladder was put up at the side of the house and while the sparrow parents were on a food-foraging mission for their three young, we snuck in the ‘cuckoo’.  About five days later all fledged and the interloper could be seen in the garden talking ‘sparrow’ with its foster family.

Literally only a few days after that someone else rang up (my other half has something of a reputation in the bird and animal rescue department) to say they had found a young crow.  I groaned.  He went to collect it.  Having reared three young jackdaws some years ago, and a young crow only last year, this was, as far as he was concerned, a fairly straightforward job.  Just get rid of the louse infestation (ugh!) the poor bird had picked up, feed him some of those crawly meal worms we conveniently had around, plus some seeds, assorted nuts and berries from the store cupboard and the fridge, and with luck he should be able to fly away after a few days.  Several ‘touch and go’ days later, the cage was opened and yet another of our corvid (or do I mean Covid?) guests was on his way.  I think at least one person in this house will be catching up on lost sleep this weekend, so the chances of socially distanced revels are more than a little remote.  For those who cannot wait to get back to the pub or their favourite restaurant (if it hasn’t gone out of business), I will raise a glass from the peace and calm of my garden (with two dogs, one small puppy, no squirrels and plenty of birds – none of which I am responsible for).


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