This is no time to neglect the blog, with covid cases rising steeply in the UK, the first visible impacts of Johnson’s hard Brexit, Trump rallying his thugs to storm the Capitol on the sixth, and the prospect of worse in the next nine days. America is playing out all of my fears of four years and two months ago, and like much of the world I’m holding my breath.
But a new lockdown in Scotland has meant that the kids didn’t return to school on the sixth and probably won’t for another month and a half at least, and four of us are trying to make this a workplace and a school and a studio and a cinema and a home and a refuge and an escape under the same modest roof again. January is always a busy month, with new courses coinciding with marking last semester’s, and this year I have additional management duties and less time in the day to manage them, so I don’t have much hope of doing much here. But I’m posting this anyway, to put in place this month’s sidebar of this morning’s frosty window and leave the door ajar in case I feel compelled to vent about the state of the world.
It’s the end of the bleakest lead-up to Christmas that I can remember. Boris Johnson is touting his just-agreed EU trade deal as if it’s the best Christmas present ever, when in reality it’s the hardest Brexit short of no deal and will set Britain back for years. Thousands of lorry drivers are stuck in queues at Dover after borders were closed because of covid, when they were already racking up because of increased delivery traffic ahead of the end of transition. A new strain of the disease is spreading across the UK, with Scotland just over 24 hours from a new lockdown and UK covid cases approaching the peak of the first one. The prospect of widespread vaccination still seems a long way off.
I haven’t written much here about Pandemic Life for a while. Things have been busy since the start of August, when I started a new management role in my institute, alongside getting ready for the start of an unusual semester of teaching. As usual, until September we had no idea how many students would turn up, but with none of the predictability of normal times that would let us get close in our forecasting. At the back of everyone’s minds was the thought that all of our preparation for hybrid teaching, with online-only fall-back options for formerly face-to-face courses, might be for the benefit of half as many MSc students as usual. But as it turns out, our school has matched the record numbers of last year. Our Digital Education programme’s intake is up by half, and student numbers on my option course are up 60% on the previous peak. It seems everyone wants to improve their knowledge of digital education, and of its wider global context.
Europe’s post-lockdown rules. Telling detail: the UK has had by far the longest lockdown.
More madness: We can’t fight covid and Brexit at the same time. But as of midnight last night, we’ll have to.
The UK government’s coronavirus testing statistics are missing most of the current new cases.
Our kids have turned 9 and 13 during lockdown and have been trying to keep up with schoolwork on Microsoft Teams day after day after day, and this short film about lockdown life by Canadian teenager Liv McNeil felt so true that it reduced me to tears.
Covid-19 symptoms and illness classification. Every symptom we know. How exactly do you catch Covid-19? Thousands who got it in March are still sick. “I’ve been ill for months, but I still don’t know if it is Covid-19.”
It’s almost a month since I last posted any coronavirus links here, so I should do something with the dozens I’ve accumulated before events overtake them.
The kids and I went for a bike ride on Friday for our daily constitutional, along to the Meadows, across to Arthur’s Seat, and then back via the Grassmarket and the canal. In places it was quite busy with joggers and other cyclists, although everyone was well-spaced, but the roads were as unnaturally quiet in that part of town as in ours. Here are a few photos, along with one from a walk to Morningside this afternoon, where you can see people’s new habit of walking out into the empty road to maintain distance from other pedestrians.