Captain Sir Tom Moore’s was indeed a ‘life well lived.’ It is sad to see him go - of course it is. But then again, his achievements of the last twelve months are in a way a good end to a long and happy life. It was his grit, and his enthusiasm and his dry humour that appealed to us all; and I suspect that he died a very happy man surrounded by his family.
Captain Sir Tom must also have been pleased by the news of the very successful start to the delivery of the vaccine in the UK. All residents of care homes, and most care home workers, 80% of the vulnerable over-eighties, some 10 million people so far, and every prospect of a significant proportion of the population by the Summer. It really is a phenomenal achievement- of commercial good sense by buying decent quantities well in advance, albeit taking a risk that they might not work; of logistical planning; and of mustering a volunteer army. I am especially proud of the St John Ambulance, of which I am glad to be a Commander, who are training up and deploying 30,000 volunteers in the effort. Top marks to my friend Sir David Hempleman-Adams, explorer and former High Sheriff of Wiltshire who has undergone the rigorous St John training, and is jabbing arms in Bristol as you read this. I wonder if his patients know who he is?
By comparison, EU countries are furious that their own slow-moving and bureaucratic approach of purchasing the vaccines collectively has meant a much slower roll-out across the Continent. The Germans in particular are furious; and Ursula Von der Leyden’s absurd attempt to block the Irish Border in retaliation, followed by a swift reversal of the idea, just makes the EU look silly. Having said which, even sillier is the spokesman who justified this about-turn by commenting that “only the Pope is infallible”- perhaps not a particularly happy analogy to use with regard to Protestant Northern Ireland.
We’ve been a month in lockdown now, and I hope that you are getting through it. Parliament is barely operating, with MPs being encouraged to work from home. I have been doing what I can remotely and have to admit to beginning to feel a bit ‘Zoomed-out.’ Zoom could be self-defeating if everyone seeks to justify themselves by yet another zoom briefing.
I walked four miles last weekend (not bad on two tin hips) and was especially glad to see so many families out for walks, skateboarding, ponies, all of course carefully maintaining social distancing from others exercising round Great Chalfield. It’s tough for so many people - of course it is. But the figures really do seem to be indicating that the Lockdown is working (leaving aside the worrying new variant spotted in Bristol and Liverpool), and that vaccine and lockdown together with better weather from March onwards really should signal the end of it. We all hope so; and if we rigorously stick by the rules, no matter how boring that may seem, then we are all making our own little contribution to that happy day.
The late and great Captain Sir Tom would be proud of us and doubtless exhort us all to yet greater efforts.