Move along, nothing to see here

move along

The feeling that the world is splitting into two different societies is becoming overwhelming. I recently saw a photograph on social media of a few people on a beach and somebody commented, “They should stay at home, nobody else is going out, even to work.” It’s comments like that which remind you how far some people have drifted from the reality of the situation.

Yet in the world I live in, everybody has been going to work for quite some time now, even if they did have a week or so off at the start. This isn’t just farming, but all sorts of industries locally. The ones that are still shut are largely those shut by regulation.


Now the other afternoon I was talking to the milk tanker driver. The first thing that struck me was ‘social distancing.’ The World Health Organisation (whom we are told are the people government should always listen to) insist that


Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and others. Why? When someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person has the disease.


Avoid going to crowded places. Why? Where people come together in crowds, you are more likely to come into close contact with someone that has COIVD-19 and it is more difficult to maintain physical distance of 1 metre (3 feet).


Yet just watching people chatting, it’s rare people go nearer than that anyway. (Perhaps we’re naturally programmed?) When I see farmers and contractors talking, they’d both be leaning on something and were always four or five feet apart long before social distancing became popular. Being within three feet of somebody makes people feel uncomfortable and crowded.


But anyway, talking to the tanker driver, his comment was that the ‘good times’ have passed. Obviously he worked normally though the whole lockdown. He remembers the happy day when he glanced round and realised he was the only vehicle on the M6. He even had a brief moment of panic, “Have they shut it and I’ve not noticed the no entry sign?” But now the roads are back to close to normal round here.
We saw the same in our lanes. In the first few weeks we were quite busy with walkers. I was working on a gateway and in the hour I spent on the job, about seven walkers passed, most said ‘hi’ and I chatted to some of them. I lost track of the number of cyclists.

Now when it comes to walkers and cyclists we’re back down to pre-outbreak levels, people going for a walk are obviously getting in their car and going further, or more probably, they’re at work.

I think that people are being sensible. I was talking to one lady. She had got herself properly worked up. Her parents are elderly and neither enjoys good health. Indeed for the last three years they didn’t expect her father to see Christmas. (You buy his present in December and it’s something he’ll have finished by the end of January.)
She’d been talking to her parents through the window and her father had just commented, “I’m not sure it’s worth the effort of going on. What’s the point?”

Distressed by this, she’d discussed it with her husband and her brother, and had got both parents into her car and had taken them out round the lakes. They didn’t get out of the car but they stopped for a ‘picnic’ which was a drink of tea from their flask, and went home feeling vastly better.

People can do their research, they can see what is happening elsewhere in the world. They’ve noticed that other European countries are going back to normal and there isn’t a ‘second spike’. Indeed somebody told me that South Korea had a ‘spike’ and we ought to lock down more tightly. The South Korean spike means that today they have “39 additional cases of the coronavirus, all but three of them reported in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area.” Somebody else commented to me that ‘if that is a spike, bring it on.’

So the British Public are doing wild and dangerous things, if they visit friends and need the loo, they’re using it rather than popping behind a bush in the garden.

They are also noticing that, in reality, the lockdown is starting to do more damage that good. We’re starting to see major mental health issues, we have people who are literally terrified of leaving home. How on earth are they going to integrate back into society and live normal lives?

On a wider front millions of children are going unvaccinated. Vaccine programmes have collapsed because either governments have abandoned them, or where governments haven’t the collapse in air traffic means that there are no flights to fly the vaccines to the country.


Cancer specialists are pointing out that there is a huge backlog of cancer work that needs to be caught up on, people who normally would have contacted their doctor are still sitting at home unseen.


The lockdown is going to kill people, so we better make sure it kills fewer than it saves.


But we have problems. Too many people are scared. Yet some people aren’t, in parts of this country as many as 70% of children who could go back to school did go. They may have been encouraged by the Norwegian PM, Erna Solberg who is now saying she panicked when she shut schools and thinks that they should have been left open. The comment has been made in this country, that if the retail sector had insisted on the level of precautions the schools are insisting on for reopening, we would all have starved.


I’m beginning to think that the drift to opening up is inexorable. Government is slowly following the population at large. Dragging their heels firmly at the back is a lot of naysayers and critics who are in full lockdown mode. They’re still accusing the government of being wild and reckless. Personally I suspect some of them will never forgive the government if there isn’t a second spike. Still it’s been a brilliant few weeks for those who liked telling other people what to do and making sure they didn’t enjoy themselves.
When people start checking shopping bags to make sure you’ve only been making essential purchases you know that the control freaks have reached a whole new peak of ecstasy


There again, what do I know?

More tales from a lifetime’s experience of peasant agriculture in the North of England, with sheep, Border Collies, cattle, and many other interesting individuals. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is just one of those things.


As a reviewer commented, “I always enjoy Jim’s farming stories, as he has a way of telling a tale that is entertaining but informative at the same time. I’ve learned a lot about sheep while reading this book, and always wondered how on earth a sheepdog learns to do what it does – but I know now that a new dog will learn from an old one. There were a few chuckles too, particularly at how Jim dealt with unwanted salespeople. There were a couple of shocks regarding how the price of cattle has decreased over the years, and also sadly how the number of UK dairy farms has dropped from 196,000 in 1950 to about 10,000 now.
Jim has spent his whole life farming and has acquired a wealth of knowledge, some of which he shares in this delightful book.”

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24 thoughts on “Move along, nothing to see here

  1. Cathy Cade June 4, 2020 at 12:32 pm Reply

    Hear Hear! In spades.

    • jwebster2 June 4, 2020 at 12:41 pm Reply

      Thank you
      I might hide behind you when the rough children come along 🙂

  2. Cathy Cade June 4, 2020 at 12:43 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Writing Wrinkles and commented:
    I’ve recently started follow Jim Webster’s blog, although I know nothing of the farming life, having lived most of my life in an East London suburb. I’m finding his low-key common sense reassuring, among so much online hysteria.

    • rootsandroutes2012 June 4, 2020 at 12:53 pm Reply

      …and so say all of us, Cathy!

    • jwebster2 June 4, 2020 at 5:03 pm Reply

      I must admit I’ve grown more than a little irritated by the level of hysteria that has been generated. There are people who are genuinely vulnerable, who we must protect. But for most of us, it isn’t an issue. When they started testing they discovered 80% of people who had it had no symptoms!

      • Cathy Cade June 4, 2020 at 6:49 pm

        Well wer’e both over 70 and my husband has health issues, but a measure of sensible precaution is one thing. Predicting people will die because three family members are sitting on a beach or in a park with no one else in the picture is something else again.
        I’m reminded of a very bad horror film where one of the actors jumps up and down screeching “We’re gonna die, we’re gonna die!’ because a lift grinds to a halt between floors. (I don’t recall the film’s name.)

      • jwebster2 June 4, 2020 at 8:10 pm

        Basically people have to behave sensibly to protect themselves.
        The more other people get it and become immune the better for the people who need protecting

  3. rootsandroutes2012 June 4, 2020 at 12:52 pm Reply

    I’ve been booked for somewhere between thirty and forty funerals during the ‘lockdown’. A statistician would say that the proportion who died with a positive covid-19 test was well up into the ‘significant’ range. What has also been very noticeable is that (among my group, at any rate) the average age at death has been very much lower than it would be in normal times. Some have died directly of covid, usually with one or more co-morbidities. There have been others where I felt the death was indirectly due to covid – and not always even in one of the ‘indirect death’ categories that Professor Whitty used to talk about rather a lot.

    • jwebster2 June 4, 2020 at 5:04 pm Reply

      I suspect that there is going to be a lot of digging into the data when this is over, and I have no doubt people will say that ‘lessons must be learned’

  4. Sue Vincent June 4, 2020 at 1:23 pm Reply

    It struck me as weird this morning when everyone is social distancing in shops and you can see the fear in many faces, masked and unmasked… yet we still politely hold doors open for each other and pass within inches…

    • rootsandroutes2012 June 4, 2020 at 1:42 pm Reply

      Yes, Sue. Some of us are trying to work out how NOT to do that.

    • jwebster2 June 4, 2020 at 5:06 pm Reply

      It is difficult to overcome the habits of a life time. But is it worth becoming less civilised and more atomised?

      • Sue Vincent June 4, 2020 at 5:08 pm

        Not on my account. The amount of damage being done by the prolonged lockdown doesn’t bear thinking about…

      • jwebster2 June 4, 2020 at 5:14 pm

        I already know one (young) mother who is terrified of leaving the house. A friend of a friend had a breakdown early on, he couldn’t cope with just staring at the same four walls.
        It has to be said that hurling your computer through the window and down into the street then punching the policeman who comes to see what is up does at least get you out of the house and meeting new people, but I still wouldn’t recommend it 😦

      • Sue Vincent June 4, 2020 at 5:58 pm

        I know… the level of fear that have been imposed on so many people is horrifying. As is the rise in domestic violence.
        I’m going nuts here because I haven’t had a day off since this began and won’t get one till staying away from home overnight ceases to be a criminal offence. 😦

      • jwebster2 June 4, 2020 at 8:14 pm

        Yes, I do fear for people in the domestic violence situation, but even more for people in your position.
        Somebody who is abused can hope to get word out and get help, there’s refuges available.
        But for the sole carer there is no help

      • Sue Vincent June 4, 2020 at 8:16 pm

        Having been in both situations, I think there is probably more hope in the present than there felt like back then.

      • jwebster2 June 5, 2020 at 4:38 am

        Then we have to build on hope and make it a reality

  5. Eddy Winko June 4, 2020 at 1:42 pm Reply

    You are so right about the natural distancing most of us follow, we like our space, although it is easier for some of us than others.
    The school thing is a bit of a quandary for us, even with very low infection throughout Poland the restrictions that they have put on schools makes is less of a learning experience and more of a herding exercise and so our two remain at home until there is a point to going back, not so much fear of the virus.

    • jwebster2 June 4, 2020 at 5:07 pm Reply

      Some of it I can understand, teachers have a responsibility to protect children temporarily in their care.
      But I fall back on the comment I saw in the paper, if food retailers insisted on the same standards schools are demanding, we’d have starved to death long ago.

  6. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt June 4, 2020 at 3:21 pm Reply

    I don’t know what to do about anything any more – but stay inside because the reports from senior communities where the virus got loose are so horrifying.

    It’s all about, “Well, maybe there will be many deaths, and maybe just a few, but I’m not going to be one of them if I can help it.” Because I have that luxury.

    It is very hard to give up privilege, and I know the hole I leave will fill in within minutes. Someone else will live in my apartment (after a suitably messy period of completely obliterating my floor covering and wall color choices). Someone else will join this community – slowly. My children will mourn occasionally over the years, as I mourn for my parents.

    And I’m not ready to let go, however greedy and self-serving that sounds.

    We didn’t use to have to justify our very existence.

    • jwebster2 June 4, 2020 at 5:12 pm Reply

      I don’t think it’s about justifying anybody’s existence. All are equal in the sight of God. The fact that some of us may be discussing things with him in person sooner than others is irrelevant.
      I think we’re going to have to reconsider the way we offer care in this country (I cannot comment on the USA here)
      I’ve noticed from family members who have gone into nursing homes in the North as opposed to the South, they seem to get better care. It might be that even though the staff wages are the same, in this area it’s not bad money and you get people who can think of it as a career.
      Similarly is it worth considering a system where staff live in for a period, and are tested before they are allowed to mix?
      But then that would mean that residents would be trapped and would become inmates rather than guests.
      We have to provide the safety without devaluing the freedom of the people we are protecting.

  7. Doug Jacquier June 4, 2020 at 6:07 pm Reply

    I have been thinking along similar lines for several weeks now, Jim (e.g. An analysis made by Australian economists some 6 weeks ago calculated that each death avoided from Covid-19 had cost A$48m (GBP 26.5m) and since then Govt. spending has increased massively. Currently nationally we have had just over 100 deaths (overwhelmingly people 80 plus) and you can count Covid cases in ICU on one hand. Meanwhile unemployment has sky-rocketed and getting back to anything like the economy and social support systems we had pre-virus is going to take years.

    • jwebster2 June 4, 2020 at 8:12 pm Reply

      We are going to have to work hard to get things back on track, the problem is that we could hurt far more people with a slump than we have hurt now 😦

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