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Today is Thursday December 9th, 2021. Kia ora!

Last night I read that Covid 19/omicron has been diagnosed in Victoria.  They are still having numbers of infections, and deaths there, from Covid 19.

This morning I went to my Thursday singing group. This was complicated by the fact that we on the desk needed to sight vaccine passports, and that most people now needed to pay for the remaining sessions of the year. As well, the Community Centre staff had to photograph vaccine passports. Apart from that, it was lovely, and everyone was very friendly.  It was also colder, and overcast – drizzling at times.

At 1 pm we heard that there are 103 community cases today.  There are new cases in Opotiki and in Canterbury, but these will be included in tomorrow’s total. A staff member at another elder-care facility in Auckland has diagnosed positive – a rest home in Mangere East.

In the US, Mark Meadows, former chief of staff to the former guy, has stopped cooperating with the January 6 Select Committee.  He’s written a very-enlightening book – and has perhaps offended his former boss.  His “fake news” is very interesting, telling tales as it does of Trump’s illness from covid 19. As reported earlier, Trump was much more ill than he let on.

Covid 19/delta is still killing 1,000 people a day in the US, according to Chris Hayes “All in” programme.

It’s now Friday December 10th – an overcast day, with drizzling rain and very low clouds. It’s not summery at all, although it’s not cold. Is this our punishment for having a mild winter?

This morning, or rather, at midday was the last meeting of our Art group for 2021, so I really wanted to go.  I sorted out what we wanted to take there, amongst the range of paints, paper and brushes, and we set off. However, we were quite late (Grrr! I hate being late), and we couldn’t find anywhere to park, so we went shopping instead. Again, there were no carols at the supermarket. Yesterday I noted missing the nice end-of-year gathering the lovely ladies at the  Khandallah Community Centre usually organise; tonight there is a carol evening at the church I go to, but the weather’s not great for that.

Thankfully at the supermarket they are more relaxed now. JD could come in without his own trolley; they packed my goods (very welcome), and they had lots of lovely Christmas fruit at great prices: I bought raspberries, strawberries and asparagus, fresh bread, and a chocolate snail. I really want to hear some carols, though: I miss them.

On the way home I stopped at the library to pick up a reserved book. Again, my vaccine passport was scanned.  I do find this hi-tech approach a bit scary.

Last night we had a chat with our son in the UK, He’s presently in Glasgow. He and his wife have cancelled their planned trip to Tenerife. Secretly, I’m relieved – the risks posed by the volcano on La Palma island, and the various Covid 19 tests required, to say nothing of the omicron variant, are just too great, in my view.  The British Government, reeling from the Downing Street Christmas Party (that wasn’t) allegations, has put in place a “work from home” order, which my son is not happy about.  Furthermore, their new house is actually very old, and quite hard to heat – although it’s been very cold and they’ve had snow already.

As the Covid times progress, about to enter into their third year, disinformation abounds – mainly about the vaccines. The national party has a new leader, the former CEO of Air NZ, Chris Luxon.  He is very bald, tall, and authoritative, in the way a right-wing guy would be. He has a smiling sidekick, I think she’s called Nicola. At least she’s  not blond. I haven’t heard her speak, or even that she’s been given an opportunity to do so. Judith Collins is now not on front bench. I guess that’s a relief, for now. Todd Muller, briefly a former leader of the Nats, until he had a nervous breakdown, undecided to retire from politics.  Chris Luxon has shown himself to be severely tone deaf over several issues; his worst gaffe, I think was admitting that he owns 7 properties – he’s the elected politician with the most property. He claimed that house prices should fall, but not by too much, since he owns 7. Many people are homeless, other struggle to buy a property, and we struggle to maintain our own house, which surely needs many things done to it.  Housing is a big problem in New Zealand. You’d think that in this wealthy, spacious country everyone could have a sound, warm home and enough good food to eat, but sadly, it ain’t so. Luxon’s apparent greed doesn’t help. He’s also claimed that the Auckland borders should be open, that Auckland should be Green, not Red, and that the traffic light system  “makes no sense”. To this, one is tempted to reply: “do  you need it explained to you in words of one syllable, then?”  The rest of us are quite nervous about the Auckland borders being open from 15 December; some will go to the Coromandel; evidently many will go to Queensland, and some will go to Hawkes Bay; the far North and the East Cape don’t want Aucklanders, and who can blame them?  I suspect (and hope) we’re too boring in the capital for many to come here, although they may wish for less humidity.

In other news, Barnaby Joyce, Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, has tested positive in the US for Covid 19. Omicron has advanced in many countries, although, one hopes, not here in New Zealand yet.  We still don’t really know how severe it will be; there is some talk that if you have the Pfizer vaccine, plus a booster shot, you’re well protected.  If it’s less severe – just like flu, really (I always found flu to be quite a severe illness, not usually requiring hospitalisation, but capable of making one feel pretty awful for several days), then presumably there’ll be less testing.  Up till now, I suspect contact, or feeling terrible and unable to breath, or taste things, had caused much of the testing.

Today there are 95 new community cases of Covid 19; there are 54 people  in hospital, and there have been two further deaths in hospital from Covid 19. In the press, there are more dire warnings about the capacity and ability of hospitals to provide care, and intensive care if required. Thankfully, so far, it’s been kept in check. There are 95 new community cases, across Auckland (75), Waikato (11), Bay of Plenty (5), Lakes (one), Nelson-Tasman (one), and two in Canterbury. A new case in Taranaki will be recorded in Saturday’s numbers.

It’s now Saturday December 11th – another grey-ish day, although not cold. Last night I watched the movie The Nest on Netflix. What a strange, sad film, I’m not a fan of Jude Law; the character he played conformed closely to my view of him.  The story was quite interesting, as it unfolded.

This morning’s paper’s front page says: Capital Waits to Welcome Aucklanders. Really? I suppose the tourism industry would welcome a boost (craft beer tours, anyone?) but many of us wonder why they’d want to come here. We have nice coffee bars, but so do they; they have to be double-vaxxed and have a negative Covid 19 test before they come, but even so, I’m pretty wary. There’s lots of research about the omicron variant of Covid 19, with most not wanting to down-play it too much. It’s agreed that it’s very contagious indeed; while it may not make you as sick as the delta variant, if it infects a lot of people who will be left to do essential work?  It also seems that you need a booster jab of an approved  vaccine to be considered immune; we aren’t eligible until February 2022, having had to wait for our jabs until the end of July. Let’s hope that omicron stays out of New Zealand.

Today there are 63 new community cases of Covid 19, and 60 people in hospital, with three in Intensive Care. This is the lowest number of community cases since October 20th. It’s very welcome news. There are no nasty surprises; the cases are located as follows: Auckland (53), Northland (two), Waikato (three), Bay of Plenty (one), Taranaki (one), and Canterbury (two).

In the US there is a lot of talk (podcasts, books, newspaper articles, discussions) about American elections, and the threat of losing what they are pleased to call “democracy”.  It’s true that the prospect is terrifying many folk, including me; Barton Gellman of the Atlantic magazine wrote a very scary article about this, which has received a lot of attention, but he admitted that he’s a journalist, and doesn’t know what to do about this situation. It’s maddening, for sure, and, by the way, why can’t the Democrats be more like Republicans? Many people are now asking whether Democrats realise the potential seriousness of the problem. Will Republicans take back control of the House of Representatives (the US Congress) in the id-term elections to be held in 2022? I won’t think about that possibility, for now.

There are always swings and roundabouts in US politics.  The January 6 Select Committee has received a lot of evidence.  All power to them, and their investigation.

In the UK, Boris Johnson is at last facing some pushback from various crises, the main one being the Christmas party held at 10 Downing Street in December 2020, when, for the rest of the Brits, Christmas was cancelled.  Daily revelations about this party, which may or may not have occurred, are deeply disturbing, especially to people who lost loved ones to Covid 19 at this time and couldn’t visit them. Apparently Boris has a new baby daughter – that might explain his rambling Peppa the Pig speech. Lack of sleep, and minding a toddler, will do that to you. In response to the omicron variant of Covid 19. Boris is trying to introduce some restrictions, but many Tory MP’s don’t support him in this.

What’s ahead? Better weather, one hopes, no omicron, and a steadily lowering total of Covid 19/delta infections.  That’ll do me for Christmas. Ngā mihi.

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