Sep 2020: update on a zero month, and on Q3

September saw some lovely weather. I found myself getting out around a lot of water, for some reason. London has a lot more water than just the Thames.

Not an elephant, this white stadium
Cheaper than the real Venice
Modern Wapping
The famous Thames

Autumn kicked in with a vengeance at the end of the month. Along with it, the surge in Covid-19 cases that has been occurring across Europe started happening in the UK too. The government brought in a ‘rule of six’ (people, maximum, except in workplaces / weddings). In London our lockdown remains relatively mild, but there is a definite question of how long that can last – while some pubs/restaurants are models of compliance, others aren’t – if I get covid-19 anywhere it will be from one of them, I am virtually certain. Most likely from some waiter leaning over me, with their mask not reaching their lower lip, breathing a dose-y viral load all over me in a confined indoor space.

I’ve been back in the office a few times. I’ve used quite a few Ubers, and been on the tube a couple of times. I’ve been out to quite a few restaurants/similar. My spending is definitely returning to normal.

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August 2020: Eat tech to help out your returns

In the UK, August was ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ month.

A whizzy gimmick by the government gave us 50% off at restaurants/cafes/pubs on Mondays-Wednesdays. This proved a big hit, with restaurants that have never before opened on a Monday doing a roaring trade. Allegedly 40% of covers were people who hadn’t eaten out since lockdown; if they keep eating out, then the scheme should definitely prove a success.

The UK was jostled off its place on the Covid naughty step in August. Most other European countries saw Covid-19 cases per person rise dramatically, with a bunch of hitherto golden children now scoring worse than the UK. Put simply, the UK has not deteroriated as fast as other places – Ireland, France, the Netherlands are all now officially ‘less safe’ than the UK. Even Greece, largely a collection of sunny disconnected islands, threatens to overtake the UK.

Have BoJo’s “world beating” policy measures finally given the UK its place in the sun? Or, whisper it quietly, has the UK’s travel quarantine policy proved surprisingly appropriate for the summer months – at deterring travel to/from virus hotspots. Are UK workers just too scared to return to the office? Or is the UK’s service-driven economy proving more capable of operating from home than the more traditional workplaces in Italy / Germany / etc? Time will tell.

Meanwhile, I didn’t use the tube or a bus once – though I did use Uber a bit. I don’t think I went into the West End, London’s historic centre, at all. I got around a bit though, finding myself in some enjoyably off-the-beaten track spots.

Deserted spot, North
Deserted spot, West
Angelic?
Famous park, East
Park I’d never heard of, East
Continue reading “August 2020: Eat tech to help out your returns”

July 2020: shambles and zombies

Lockdown continued to dominate the news in the last month.

Poor old Australia seems not to have escaped Covid so lightly after all. Victoria, at the time of writing, is bearing the brunt of it. With a population of just over 6m, i.e. about the same as Scotland, they now have 11k cases, with 116 deaths to date. Their new daily cases figure of almost 400 amounts to, by my calculations, around 60 per million – which would put Victoria in the worst quartile in Europe.

New daily cases in Europe, Tue 28 July. Source: The Times

BoJo would like us to think of these increases as presaging the ‘second wave’. His government is now adjusting the settings almost daily, across several dimensions. One moment, in Oldham a lockdown is applied; the next moment, people across the North West can’t meet others indoors. One moment, masks are now (finally) compulsory in shops; the next moment masks are now required in all indoor public spaces. Meanwhile across the country nobody can now get married, whereas as of yesterday they could.

One government policy, one shop, one day – two ministers.

This leaves everybody having no idea any more.

BBC Radio 4 Today program, as transcribed by FT Alphaville
Continue reading “July 2020: shambles and zombies”