I was recently asked to write about self-isolation for our village newsletter Menston News. I chose to expand a little on what I had written on this blog around Easter time. Here’s what I wrote for the village newsletter.

Twelve weeks isolation, or more?

When I’m asked about the 12 weeks confinement to our small flat, due to end mid-June but quite likely to be extended, I have to say that it’s not so bad. Both my wife Petronela and I have been put in the extra vulnerable class. For the first couple of weeks we had to keep 2 metres between us because, as a teacher, Petronela could well have brought the coronavirus home. That was the hardest part. Another difficulty for her is missing her students at Allerton High School.

Front cover of Menston News showing Menston park

Front cover of Menston News, showing in general the view in Spring from our sitting room window. It is now largely obscured by the multiple greens of trees in full leaf, equally beautiful.

Mind you, we are lucky. Our sitting room window overlooks Menston park. Our kitchen and bedroom windows look over the Wharfe Valley to the hills beyond.

The fine weather means we can have the windows open night and day. The dawn chorus, usually spoiled by passing motor vehicles or planes from the airport, can be enjoyed and the air coming through open windows is noticeably cleaner. We are in no hurry to go back to things as they were.

We do miss our walks, close to home through the park, around High Royds, down Bleachmill Lane, on the Chevin, and further afield on the moors. Fifty times back and forth across our sitting room, just about 1km, is not quite the same!

The problem with the current war is that the enemy is silent, hidden until it strikes you, but in other respects the problem has similarities to what many people endured in WWll.

I’m old enough to remember the whole family sleeping in a cage (Morrison shelter?). I think this was close to the Fleet Air Arm base at Sandbanks, Dorset, where my grandfather was some high-ranking officer. The shelter was in the cellar (my maternal grandmother refused to sleep in it, remaining outside of it).  Also, the sight of rows of houses without their front walls, revealing the lives of the former residents like dolls’ houses with their fronts open except the baths were hanging down on the lead drainage pipes, remains clearly in my memory. As does the sound of the air raid siren, which unusually sounded like a baby crying. I was then about 3 years old!

We’re also lucky to have wonderful neighbours; the young couple in the upstairs flat, Grace and Phil, knocked on our door well before the call went out generally for volunteers, asking if they could help. Since then they have done our shopping. We had other offers too.

We’re lucky in other ways. So-called social media means we’re not so cut off as we might have been. Petronela works on lesson plans and keeps up regularly with her teacher colleagues and her parents in Romania with video chats. I have more time to write, as a keen blogger (https://grumpytyke.com) with ‘friends’ in many other countries (over a dozen), as a member of our Menston based writers’ club – Writing on the Wharfe – which continues to ‘meet’ through video chats on Messenger, or just for enjoyment.

We are not complaining. We know many are in a worse situation than us, for many reasons.


Final word

If I ever had faith in our present Government, not only for tackling the covid-19 pandemic but in general, that’s completely gone now. The continued support by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Dominic Cummings is ridiculous and, as implied in my question in a recent post, if this ‘adviser’ is essential for this Government to govern then who is actually governing?

It seems to me that we are being ‘governed’ by an unelected person whose main attribute seems to be an ability to win elections (and lie). As a former communications consultant I say he has no idea about truly communicating, certainly not the truth; I could do a better job even now, in my dotage!

The PM says he want to move on; the quickest way to have done that would have been to get rid of this dubious ‘adviser’. It still is.

This is not my final word; my final word will be a letter to my local MP Philip Davies.

I have no intention of letting this blog become a ‘political’ blog but having watched yesterday the Press conference with Dominic Cummings then subsequently the daily Government Press briefing I was amazed how the media let the Prime Minister off the hook so have to say something.

I hope that this will be the final time I feel obliged to say something about this debacle.

The majority of questions just repeated the questions put to Cummings, allowing the PM to say repeatedly something like “… you had the opportunity to put those questions to Cummings so there is now reason I should answer them again …”

My question would have been:

“If this man Cummings is so important that you cannot govern without him, what on earth are you doing as Prime Minister?”


I have rarely seen the arrogance displayed by Cummings yesterday by any politician, refusing to apologise to the British public and saying he did not regret any of his actions.

As I feared. Not worth writing a post. Someone forwarded the following to me: perfect summary!


As I feared, people were flouting the lock down ‘rules’ in Leeds parks yesterday and, according the BBC, also in east London. I haven’t yet found out whether this was true in the Yorkshire Dales, places like Malham Cove being overrun at Easter.


It doesn’t take a behavioural scientist to say that substitution of ‘stay alert’ for ‘stay home’ would confuse the message, though at least one advising the Government has said it.


I will be extremely disappointed if Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirms this in this evening’s broadcast. It is even more stupid than the multiple hints that something might change after this weekend, magnified by the media.


We do not need a Prime Minister or Government which can be bullied by the media and opposition Parliamentary benches into changing the previously absolutely clear message.

I have little sympathy with the people using the lame excuse ‘the message is confusing’ for their errant behaviour. It was absolutely clear to anyone speaking English.