Portraits : January 2021 – July 2021
“D.P.” 4 March 2021. A man of courage and ambition. He has “come home” to the east coast of Scotland to restore the historic sea salt industry. And, at the same time, he has been hospitalised with Covid-19. He is now almost at the point where he can start salt production, which is very exciting. His passion is for the local community and for building something sustainable for the future.
3/3/21 BUDGET DAY Furlough scheme to extend to September at 80%, and self-employed support, and also the £20/week top-up for Universal Credit. 95% mortgages for 1st time buyers. Corporation tax to increase. Eight “free ports” announced. £700m to support the Arts, Culture and Sports.
Nicola Sturgeon questioned for 8 hours in Alex Salmond sexual harassment enquiry.
“E.B.” 1 March 2021. E.B. lives in Pittenweem, on the east coast of Scotland. She has been trawling for langoustines on a commercial boat for several years. She has a fierce passion for the fishing life, and for the potential for women in that industry. And now…. the export rug has been pulled from under their feet, and the boats are tied up. She talks about her hopes and fears for herself, and for the whole industry. Her drive and energy is totally infectious!
28/2/21 Germany still saying AstraZeneca jab not to be used for over 60s. Large volumes of vaccine lying unused.
27/2/21 Unionist leaders send joint letter to B.J., pledging “unified and unalterable” opposition to the Irish sea border.
“A.C.-E.” 26 February 2021. She works at an export depot in Kent. It has been set up specifically to process trucks leaving the UK to cross the channel to Europe. Since Brexit, there is so much more to be done before a truck can load on to a ferry at Dover, or cross through the tunnel. To avoid congestion at the ports , everything is checked and processed a bit further back. Any problems can then be sorted out, and the hauliers know they are clear to board once they get to the coast. She talks about it all with a sense of calm efficiency.
“M.P.” 26 February 2021. A passionate advocate for leaving the EU. He talks about his vigorous campaigning in the lead-up to Brexit, and the 2019 election. He shares his hopes and hesitations for the future.
25/2/21 A-level and GCSEs to be marked by teachers this year, to avoid last year’s chaos.
23/2/21 Facebook being asked to pay for newsfeed in Australia. Honest news vs. fake news?
22/2/21 B.J. releases his “road map” to opening society up again. Last date is NOT BEFORE June 21st for everything to function again. “data, not dates” to be the decider.
19/2/21 B.J. says he will share the “majority” of our surplus vaccines with poorer nations at virtual G7 meeting.
18/2/21 Covid infections down by 2/3rds in 1 month due to lockdown.
“Perseverance” NASA’s Mars rover landed after “seven minutes of terror”.
14/2/21 Trump acquitted at his 2nd impeachment trial. Troops and tanks in Myanmar, live rounds being fired.
12/2/21 UK GDP down by 9.9%, but Bank of England says it will bounce back.
11/2/21 Amsterdam overtakes London as the main finacial trading hub for Europe.
7/2/21 reports of trade with the EU down by 2/3rds. Trucks going back empty. M&S stores in Paris running out of stock.
“I.A.” 3 February 2021. I.A. had to face the most sudden and desperate loss the day before lockdown last spring. Her world then stopped in every way. But, through her love of sea swimming, and the friendships around her, she navigated a path through the loss and inspired others along the way.
2/2/21 South African variant causing concerns. Major worries about Brexit and its effects on the Irish borders, land and sea.
1/2/21 Military coup in Myanmar. Aung San Suu Kyi detained.
30/1/21 Vaccine nationalism in a serious way. The EU says it has “no choice” but to restrict vaccine traffic across the Irish border into the UK, suspending Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Even Ireland didn’t know. EU reversed the decision later, after many national protests.
“C.C.” 28 January 2021. She has set up an incredibly successful initiative to supply refurbished donated laptops and tablets to families in need of IT for homeschooling, all supplied for free and forever. This is on top of homeschooling her own children, being a successful writer and being involved in local politics. A generous & passionate conversation about a very serious problem that many families face. So inspiring.
28/1/21 EU getting more aggressive about lack of supply of Oxford/AZ vaccine
“S.W.-M.” 27 January 2021. Living in the San Francisco Bay area, and originally from Ireland. She talks about her life with her husband and son during a turbulent time in US history. The Presidential Election, the riots, devastating forest fires, BLM protests, wealth & poverty, and guns – these all come in to the conversation.
27/1/21 Deaths in the UK go over 100,000!
“C.P.” 26 January 2021. She has achieved amazing international successes in her chosen athletics discipline, all SINCE retiring from a distinguished career. Her main drive however, has been to “give back”, especially during these COVID times. She tells if the special support network she has built up, and of how she galvanised her team of volunteers to man the local Covid vaccination drive-thru facility. Inspiring!
26/1/21 Vaccine supply becomes territorial. EU says that Oxford/AZ not delivering enough vaccines to Europe.
25/1/21 The top 10 people in the world have seen their wealth increase so much during the pandemic, that they could vaccinate the world!
24/1/21 Over 5m people given their first vaccination in UK.
Over 3,000 people arrested in Pushkin Square, chanting “down with Putin”.
23/1/21 Thousands of Russians protesting about the detention of Alexei Navalny.
“T.C.” 20 January 2021. As a GP in a busy practice near Bristol, she talks about the trials and pleasures of running a practice in a time of isolation and lockdown, while also caring for her family. Now that vaccination is proceeding apace, she still needs to give time to patients needing care from their GPs. Her faith in the goodness of human nature is clear, as is her determination to give everyone the care they deserve.
20/1/21 Inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Trump flies to Florida. Biden signed 15 Executive Orders straight away, many undoing previous Trump orders.
UK top of global league table for deaths per 100,000!
19/1/21 WHO announces “Catastrophic Moral Failure” as wealthy countries scoop up all the vaccines.
1,628 Covid deaths in UK today – a record.
Scottish & W. Country fishermen protesting in Whitehall over export problems with their fish – 40 pages of documents to be completed per variety exported.
Last day of Donald Trump.
“L.E.” 18 January 2021. A second year student at Manchester University, the centre of the initial student COVID infections and restrictions. She talks about the difficulties, and the emptiness of the city she loves, but remains immensely positive about her studies and the future.
17/1/21 Now over 70s and those who are extremely clinically vulnerable will be offered a vaccine (over 80s up to now). What about Police? Teachers?
Alexei Navalny, who had been poisoned with Novichok, returned to Russia and was arrested upon landing. UK, US and EU all protesting.
16/1/21 Travel Air corridors into UK are closed. Passengers can only travel with a negative Covid test, and then have to isolate for 10 days. New virus variants in Brazil and South Africa.
“R.B.” 13 January 2021. One of the unsung heroes. Working as a volunteer with a local Community Solutions charity supporting diverse community needs. Currently helping to set up “Virtual COVID Wards”. He has nothing but praise for the local Medical Practice and its staff, and for how they are handling the Coronavirus battle.
11/1/21 Supply chain problems related to Brexit. Supermarkets not getting stock in Northern Ireland because of check on trucks crossing Irish Sea. Fishermen in Scotland having to fill out 40 sheets of paper per load. Delays mean fresh food rotting in trucks.
9/1/21 COVID deaths in UK hit record high of 1,325 in one day. Ambulances queue outside hospitals. Temporary morgue built in Surrey woodland.
7/1/21 Trump condemned worldwide. Twitter & Facebook block his accounts. Impeachment papers to be drawn up.
6/1/21 Session of Congress at Capitol Building in Washington stormed by mobs of Trump supporters, who even entered the building. Trump speech incited this action.
4/1/21 First doses of Oxford/AstraZeneka vaccines given. 8pm. Boris Johnson announces new nationwide lockdown. All schools closed. GCSEs and A-levels cancelled .
1/1/21 New Year’s Day, and the UK will now have to abide by new trade rules when dealing with Europe. Debate about schools going back. Chief Inspector of schools says “chi;dren can’t be furloughed”.