The echo of the 1966 football commentary resonated around the stadia of the Euros. But this time not to reflect the excitement of winning. There is a very different reason. Large crowds in stadia and in the streets, coming together from every corner of the country, teams travelling widely throughout Europe and thousands of delegates from around the world all coming together in close proximity to sing and dance and cheer and hug; not a mask in sight, created scenes no different from what would have happened before the pandemic or indeed in 1966.
The young and the irresponsible could now be excused for interpreting this as meaning that the pandemic is all over. Well it is now, in the minds of a whole section of the public. It took just the moment of a ball in the net for self-discipline and the last vestiges of adherence to the rules to be abandoned.
The government’s relaxing of the rules as the virus spreads rapidly, seems to acknowledge that a section of the population has grown tired of and reluctant to adhere to the rules. Perhaps the time has come when we will have to live with the virus just as we do with flu. Perhaps Government is right. We shall see.
Hopefully those of us who are vaccinated are in sufficient numbers to protect the rest. Hopefully also those of us who understand what being responsible when it comes to wearing masks will be able to avoid the illness. Far from a celebration of winning, thinking it’s all over may lead to quite the opposite if the majority does not make sensible choices.
The scenes at football and the celebrations afterwards will undoubtedly lead to claims of confusion. There could be an additional rule; if you are confused, wear a mask.
It is worth reflecting on what was said in Monday’s briefing by the Prime Minister.
The pandemic is not over.
Cases particularly with the Delta variant, are rising rapidly and following lifting of restrictions will rise further from the present 28,000 cases per day to 50,000 cases per day (the Prime Minister on Monday) or 100,000 cases per day (the Health Secretary Tuesday).
Hospitalisations will inevitably rise as will death. Further mutations are more likely.
Vaccination is however unquestionably effective once double vaccination has been achieved, in reducing both the risk of hospitalisation and death.
Vaccination is less effective at preventing infection, particularly with the Delta variant.
Infection is likely to be more severe in the immunocompromised and the elderly, and when time has elapsed since vaccination.
Transmission of infection is more likely to occur in closed indoor settings, less likely in open outdoor settings.
The principal defences against transmission remain hand hygiene, distance apart and mask wearing.
Wearing a mask does not just protect the wearer from acquiring infection but also transmitting infection to those in proximity; both in respect of droplet and aerosol transmission.
It is not possible to individualise the risk of acquiring infection, merely to indicate the groups and settings in which it is more likely.
It is a bold move to lift restrictions when case numbers are rising. If deferred however, the peak incidence of new cases would probably coincide with the onset of seasonal ‘flu, compounding problems for the NHS. The R number is currently estimated at 1.1 to 1.3, but higher in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Although the government is not producing an R number for the UK as a whole, it is higher now than when restrictions were lifted last year. It should be noted that the government is no longer using the word irreversible as applied to the lifting of restrictions.
350 riders from all over the South East weren’t deterred by the uninviting grey, wet weather from 7.30am on 4th July when they set out on their chosen 30, 50 or 70 mile circular routes. Aged from 9 to early 80’s, and including 2 penny farthings and 2 tandems, they tackled the quiet, fully marshalled roads through the picturesque Romney Marsh countryside. Fortunately, the weather picked up and the returning riders were greeted by bright sunshine. The Ride has been based at The Star Inn at St Mary In The Marsh for the past 12 years and it was a pleasure to see so many people relaxing in The Star’s garden for a well-earned pint and a bite to eat. This wasn’t a race day but everyone received a souvenir medal and there were some creditable times despite the early weather.
Many of the riders had very personal reasons for taking part such as the memory of family and friends who had been victims of Covid-19. Together, they helped us to raise over £7,000 much needed funds for South Kent MIND and other local charities.
The introduction of the 70 mile route proved very popular and drew many compliments from cyclists. We are keen to add a 100 mile route next year.
General feedback was excellent. The members of the Canterbury Bicycle Club emailed to say: “We just wanted to thank the organisers and all the helpers on the day for an extremely enjoyable ride. The event was well organised with very good signage and marshals who were friendly encouraging and good humoured (despite the early rain). Most of us have already made a note to come back next year and we will be spreading the word.”
Our grateful thanks to our sponsors FAS Financial Services and the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, Star Inn landlady Terri and Channel Rotary partners, family and friends for all their invaluable support.
I took a stroll outside our mass vaccination centre the other day. A cold wind blew through the precinct and rain was not far away but on the breeze was the warming hum of people enjoying a post vaccination coffee sitting in the open air. The few coffee shops were full but nobody seemed to care. They were just enjoying the freedom from lockdown that the vaccine promises and getting away from the depressing media for a while.
A Google search for: “news reporting makes me angry” brought 189,000,000 results in 0.61 seconds. The pandemic has affected TV news editors badly. They are not the most reasonable or happiest bunch at the best of times but success is anathema to them.
Our TV news programmes these days, if you can bear to watch, comprise a sequence of visual cliches: Research; a lady with a multipronged pipette. Vaccine; crowds of colourful little bottles mournfully progressing on a conveyor belt and the vaccination programme: a prolonged frantic, obsessive sequence of long thick needles penetrating arms, enough to make a needle phobic of the most pathetic drug addict.
Then there is the visual cliché of lockdown; an empty high-street. Each evening I shout out; ‘oh look, they are in Folkestone’ but no, it was somewhere completely different. But not completely, in fact not at all different. Every high-street in the country looks the same. Paved pedestrian areas of block and chewing gum, lined with a succession of national stores; well, just buildings with store names above boarded windows.
Then I Google searched; “Town planning disasters” which brought 24,800,000 results. Mind you it took 1.21 seconds so all cannot be bad!
Over the years there have been a series of money wasting exercises in managing town centres. Pedestrianisation, traffic calming and restricted parking, created a central ‘plaza’ with dead-end side streets into which no one dares enter. These changes cannot be called experimental as they were done in every town at once. Towns were slowly strangled by planners who had not a business brain between them.
One by one large chains closed. Disaster. The end of the High Street as we know it. The virus came and closed everything else. But not in Folkestone.
The vaccination programme has given the town an amazing opportunity for a new lease of life. The closing of Debenhams spelled real disaster but having been bought by the Council it can now be the focus of recovery.
Now a vaccination centre serving a wide area of Kent and beyond, the old store draws thousands of people to the town centre every day seven days a week. Many have not visited the town for years, some never before. When people say after their vaccination that they are heading off to explore the town I have felt a self-conscious shudder but I am wrong.
We took a stroll at the weekend by the sea. It was fantastic to see so many on the beach now that the sun has returned . We walked past the beautifully renovated beach huts on to the boardwalk, past the new building to the Harbour Arm and up through the Old High St. there were so many people everywhere enjoying our town; thanks to Sir Roger every step of the way.
But when we reached the town centre precinct there was a lone busker with few to enjoy her singing. Gone was the feeling of summer and of holiday.
On my journey there was so much to enjoy. The beach huts which are part of Triennial 21. The beach, the board walk, the High St and so much more. I have just Googled: “how many outdoor sculptures in Folkestone” 568,000 results.
I copied below from Creative Folkestone: 74 artworks by 46 artists – including Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, Yoko Ono, Mark Wallinger, Cornelia Parker, Bill Woodrow, Michael Craig-Martin and Ian Hamilton Finlay – offers an experience like nowhere else in the world: great contemporary art with an invitation to explore, examine and understand the town’s geography, history and potential future.
The Harbour Arm is so successful, let’s have a little healthy competition between it and the Town Centre precinct. Let us advertise all that is nice about Folkestone. Give the people what they want especially now when we have so many visitors who leave our vaccination centres in a great frame of mind in search of a little pampering.
What young talent do we have who could join the lone busker for example? What other entertainment could be provided to those who highly value their visit. Virus has brought an opportunity not given to many towns through the vaccination centres. An opportunity to aid our business recovery.
It is fantastic to seen Castle Hill Ave’s new installation this week. The Triennial starts in September on the same weekend as the Channel Triathlon by Channel Rotary. Two weeks later will be Folkestone Rotary’s Half Marathon. Rotary is doing its bit.
Rana Begum, No.1054 Arpeggio, commissioned for Creative Folkestone Triennial 2021 in partnership with Folkestone & Hythe District Council. Photograph by Thierry Bal
Channel Rotary Club is delighted to announce that Geoffrey Milsted has joined us as a member. Geoffrey brings excellent skills which will be very helpful in our charitable and other work in the Folkestone community and further afield. He was previously a member of Folkestone Round Table and then Folkestone Rotary Club which awarded him a Paul Harris Fellowship for services to the community.
Geoffrey originates from Maidstone and is a qualified Chartered Accountant. He oversaw the accounting functions of both Divisions of the Folkestone based family business, Alsted Group and ran the day-to-day operation of the filling stations. When petrol retailing ceased in the mid 1990’s, he continued developing new homes in Kent as Alsted Properties Ltd until his retirement in 2020.
He is married to Rosemary, lives in Folkestone and is an active memberof Sene Valley Golf Club.
Photo shows: Geoffrey Milsted (left) is welcomed to Channel Rotary by President Malcolm Stewart
There are now only 5 Weeks to go until the Channel Rotary Charity Cycle Challenge. Bookings are going well for this fun filled cycle ride and the more entrants we have the more money we can raise for local charities.
Choose your distance from 30, 50 or 70 miles, for beginners, families, clubs or experienced solo cyclists through the beautiful Romney Marsh. Probably the flattest cycle ride in the country.
Rotary has been coordinating volunteers to marshal at the two vaccination centres in Folkestone. There has been amazing support with 550 people giving their time for the 52 marshals needed each day.
As life returns to normal in every way following the success of the vaccinations, people have less free time to support the essential work. But the pace of vaccinations must increase. It is hoped that the Folkestone sites can vaccinate up to 3000 people each day 7 days a week.
Over the next 2 months until it is finished can you give even one session a week? This would ease the pressure on the volunteers who have given so much time over the last 5 months.
I am proud to say that this is the 20th year since I joined Channel Rotary in Folkestone.
Our clubs statement is so true, “We are serious about what we do but don’t take ourselves too seriously. Our foundations are strong fellowship, common purpose and a lot of enjoyment.”
Since our inception in 1980 we have raised around £1 million for local, national and international charities, including 30k in the last 12 months despite covid. We’ve achieved this by holding events including Santa runs, cycle events, golf competitions, triathlons, jazz festivals and many more.
I’ve totally enjoyed my time in Rotary and will continue to do so and would encourage others to consider joining their local rotary club to do something meaningful for the local community.
A recent news report told of how scientists have trained bees to sniff out Covid-19. Exactly how they got this idea is beyond me but some clever chap has managed to harness these poor little creatures and expose them to a variety of smells. When they sniff Covid-19 they are rewarded with a drop of sugar water. After a short while, in Pavlovian fashion, as soon as they smell Covid they stick out their tongue. You can see them here.
Now there is a number of ethical questions about this. Just think of where these scientists are getting the covid containing gunk from; deep in someone’s nose or around their rotting tonsils. No wonder these poor little bugs stick out their tongue in disgust.
And should they be forcing bees to become hooked on sugar. I have never seen a bee with teeth, I guess this is because they eat so much honey, so we cannot be concerned about decay but how about diabetes and obesity not to mention a myriad of other diseases. Do we what a generation of sick bees making our honey?
According to excited scientists, this is the most rapid response test there is for covid and almost 100% reliable. There will probably be a world shortage of honey now as all the bees will be conscripted and deployed around the world. I wish I had the contract to make the harnesses. There really are some weird scientists about.
There are these other guys who are training bumblebees to play football. See this video
If the bee gets the ball into a hole it gets a reward; sugar, you guessed it.
If you are going outdoors from now on, which is all we can do at the moment, you better take some sugar with you because if a bee comes near you and sticks its tongue out, God alone knows what he will do if he/she is not rewarded with sugar. But mind you, the sting will be the least of your worries after the diagnosis.
I think there is a solution here. What if the bee could sting vaccine?
These clever scientists have got carried away with little pests. The chaps up at Oxford have become power crazed with their genetic wizardry. This time they have been interfering with mosquitoes. 750 million of the little blighters have had their DNA altered and sent off to Florida so that when they have their evil way with the local females, (no need for a video here!). The female progeny of these genetically interfered with males die young before they mature to spread disease. It is only the females which draw blood for their eggs and in doing so, spread disease.
So I see a plan forming here. Mosquitoes are clever at painlessly drawing blood so we get their anaesthetic. Honeybees can locate Covid. Bumblebees have good capacity. Given lots of sugar they can be fattened up and, most importantly, they have a whopping big injector. With a little clever genetic engineering from these three little bugs and training, we could train the bumblebee to sniff out covid and painlessly inject vaccine. Problem solved.
That is of course if these footballing bumblebees are more accurate than their counterparts in the premier league.