57 minus 30: So, I was pinged…

Posted: 18 July 2021 in 57 minus, covid
Tags: , , , ,

When I post these blog entries, I have a standard process. I’m sure I could automate it even more, but I kind of like the old-school feeling of doing it manually.

In rough order:

  • Then I copy the text of the tweet, go into my Twitter scheduler – I use Buffer – and set up two delayed tweets: one for the US crowd, to post at 11:30pm for the New York lot and 8:30pm for the West Coast, and another, an In Case You Missed It Yestersay, for 10:30am UK time the following morning.
  • And, finally, I’ll cross-post it to my Tumblr account. Not the goingcheep account, one named, simply enough, budgie’s blatherings. The former, you understand, is reserved for the daily brain dump.

Rarely, however, does any of that go in reverse.

Rarely do I cross-post from Twitter to here, for example. It happens, occasionally, but only very rarely. Rarely, for example, do I cross-post from Tumblr to here. Again, it happens occasionally, but only occasionally, and even then, it’s usually something from the blatherings account.

So, you appreciate, it’s vanishingly rare that I cross-post from goingcheep to here, yes?

OK, so here’s something cross-posted in its entirety from goingcheep yesterday.

Saturday 17th July: Pinged…

Y’know, when I read stories this week about there being so many people ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid app, and the then reported suggestion that the government was considering reducing the sensitivity, so that fewer people would be pinged…

…I thought it an unquestionably stupid idea. It sounded almost Trumpian to me; you know, the whole ‘we only have so many people ill because we’re doing so much testing…’ nonsense.

It’s astonishing how a single notification can change one’s mind.

And, as I tweeted Friday night, knowing that yesterday, a Saturday, I’d usually post a set of funny videos.

Now, I was only semi-kidding about both the tumblr entry and the tweet. I was genuinely but entirely unsure how I felt about being pinged, about what it could mean, what it did mean and, well, everything.

So, yes, there was a Saturday Smile yesterday, and yes, it had a very obvious theme.

Which left me another 24 hours to think about being pinged, what it means, and all of it.

And, 24 hours later, I’m still unsure about a lot of things. Some things I’m very much not unsure of, but yeah, some… I’m still very uncertain about.

Let’s start with the obvious.

I dislike being told what to do, even if I know it’s for the best. So, I greeted the lockdown(s) with about as much enthusiasm as you’d expect.

And despite my being neither the most social nor sociable of people, it grated not being able to go out and, y’know, see people.

But at least I knew that ‘everyone else’ was in the same situation. No one was getting away with it. Same with the mask mandates (as our American cousins call it.) While I don’t enjoy wearing a mask, I do so for all the usual reasons, and because, well, because everyone else is doing it.

(While I’m sure there are some abusing the health exemptions, I’m also sure that the number of people doing so are tiny. I think most people are doing what they’re supposed to.)

So, maybe you’d anticipate my reaction to getting ‘pinged’ to be ‘well, I know that half-a million other people have been this week, I’m not alone, so be it…’. It wasn’t. It really wasn’t. I hated the idea of being told I was stuck in the flat for the next week. I loathed the concept of ‘you see those four walls around you in your small flat? Get used to them because that’s all you’re seeing for the next week.’

But ok, I’ve been pinged. I know what that means.

It means… I’m stuck in the flat; I’m legally barred from leaving my flat for the next week.

It means… ordering food online for the next few days. It means I can’t enjoy my #DailyConstitutional like I usually do.

It means… I can’t see Laura (my ex-wife) for coffee and a catch-up. I can’t nip over to Richmond to spend the night with my closest friends, the people who were my social bubble.

It means… I can’t use the communal washing machine, but that’s ok, there’s no reason to actually get dressed for the next week.

It also means, I discovered a couple of hours ago, that I was wrong about much, about most, of that. But more about that in a moment.

Small sidebar: I woke up this morning, and for once, did not open Twitter immediately. For some reason, my devices hadn’t backed up overnight so I set my iPhone and iPad to backup and left them alone for a while.

By the time I got to them, the latest Tory/Government weirdness had broken, and done the rounds, and then been U-turned. I’m glad I only discovered the story after the U-turn had occurred because my reaction earlier might have gotten me barred from Twitter for obscenity.

OK, so yesterday, the news broke that the Health Secretary, one Sajid Javid, had tested positive for covid-19, and would be self-isolating immediately. Exactly the right thing for him to do, of course.

There was some small speculation as to who he’d been meeting and whether any other cabinet ministers would have to similarly self-isolate. By the time I headed for bed, it had come out that two of those were probably The Prime Minister (who had his own covid problems last year) and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak.

Now, there’s a pilot scheme at the moment, allowing people who get notified to NOT self-isolate but instead take daily tests, and only isolate if they test positive.

This morning, Robert Jenrick (Housing, Communities and Local Govt Secretary) was on telly defending Johnson’s and Sunak’s taking advantage of the pilot scheme. While he was on air, the PM and Chancellor announced they would not be doing so, and would instead be isolating.

That’s the U-turn I discovered. As always, with this government, it was incompetently done, incompetently managed, and – even when the ‘right thing’ was eventually done – it was accomplished incompetently.

OK, back to the ‘it means…’ and what I was wrong about.

I’ve mentioned my ex-wife Laura before. She’s one of my favourite people on the planet, and fairly drowns in that rarest of commodities: common sense. Even when I disagree with her advice, it’s usually sensible, rational and perfectly justifiable.

Well, she told me to call 119, the national covid helpline and ask them what the rules were if you’ve been pinged.

I’m very glad I followed the advice. Because some of it I was wrong about. And even as someone who pays attention, it’s fair to point out that I didn’t know some of this stuff.

I live in a small flat, in a small block of flats. There’s a communal washing machine/dryer and a communal garden area out back. I assumed that self-isolating meant they were out of bounds for the next week.


One conversation with a very nice lady at 119 later…

Main thing: If I live alone, am fully vaccinated, am not showing symptoms, and haven’t had a positive test… self-isolation – even from app notification – is “advisory only”. Not legally mandatory.

Now this surprised the hell out of me, I’ll be honest. Genuinely astonished me. Now, of course I am going to self-isolate. I mean, there’s a difference between what’s you’re legally obliged to do, and what you’re supposed to do, what the best advice is.

And I’ll take the latter, especially if it enhances the protection for me and others, every bloody day of the week.
Secondly, as long as I try to avoid people and don’t go near them (ideally, do it when no one else is present), I can do stuff like ‘go into back garden area of flats’, ‘go down to use communal washing machine’, and ‘throw my rubbish in the bins out back

So I can get some fresh air of an evening, if no one else is around. Which is very nice indeed. The nice weather and the sunset falling quite late? I can sit outside reading or watching some stuff on the iPad.
Finally, being fully vaccinated, and not showing any symptoms, there’s no real point in ordering any online tests. Given that self-isolation lifts Thursday night, and I can then walk in to get tested, might be worth getting tested afterwards, though, to see if I’ve had it at any point.

So, I don’t get to have my #DailyConstitutional every day, but neither am I locked into the small flat in the heat with no opportunity at all to get some fresh air.

Which is nice.
See you tomorrow, with… something else.



Fifty-seven days. Fifty-seven posts. One fifty-seventh birthday.

I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

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