When we left the UK on 30 December the country was in considerable turmoil with the Brexit deadline looming and a full-blown COVID-19 crisis and the perfidious Albion being described as ‘plague island’ by its European neighbours.
A lot has happened in nearly three months and I never imagined that the UK would now be the envy of Europe for rolling out a vaccination programme with the speed and efficiency it has shown.
Of course, Brexiters will argue that the UK became the first country in the world to approve a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in early December because it was no longer tied to EU regulations — and at the time of writing more than half of UK adults have had their first vaccination. In comparison, in the EU the proportion is less than a fifth.
As Andrew Rawnsley writes in the Observer: “How can the government of Boris Johnson, a byword for chaotic and mendacious populism when viewed from Paris or Berlin, be doing so much better than us?”
Macron, Merkel and especially Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, have not come out well in the EU’s chaotic attempt to run a centralised vaccine procurement programme, with UK infection rates dropping while European countries see cases rising at an exponential rate.
With a full-blown vaccine war on the cards after the EU’s latest threats to ban COVID vaccine exports to the UK, vaccination nationalism plays right into the Brexiters’ arrogance and will probably mean that the Conservative government will win another general election, particularly if it continues its success rate in keeping infections down and delivering vaccinations to the rest of the population.
Meanwhile, I somehow have to get back to the UK for my first vaccination and to arrange for our belongings to be shipped over, and pick up my Lotus sports car, which is also in storage.
With the pandemic raging uncontrollably through Europe and France going into severe lockdown I don’t know when I’ll be free to travel. The situation in France, although not in the area we live, is so alarming the British government are looking at putting it on a red list of countries, severely restricting entry and forcing those that do get in to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days at a cost of £1,500.
We get an update from Dave, The Friendly Estate Agent, and his wife, Di, who managed to to get in and out of the UK for urgent family business.
They also managed to have their first vaccination jab while in the UK and were full of praise for health service and rapid implementation.
Apart from the novel factor of having visitors for afternoon tea (there is still a 6pm curfew in Cher) it was good to see them, especially as Dave as returned the favour of us bringing him back cheddar cheese and marrow fat peas with a box of Yorkshire Tea.
For the past two weeks, I have been drinking what Carrefour labels ‘English Breakfast tea’, which tastes more like nun’s piss and has meant I have been drinking more coffee, increasing my hyper state of being and irritational thoughts such as will I ever see family and friends again.