Country Life,2. John Fielden

I suppose we must be optimistic now that some of the hundred possible COVID vaccines are shown to be 90% effective; however we know that there are many hazards ahead before we are summoned to our local surgery ā€“ even though my wife and I are both in the second priority category, being over 80. The government had a thankless task trying to pick winners among the potential vaccines, but we can be grateful that it risked money on six candidates. We know little about most of them as the press has been focussed almost entirely on the Oxford vaccine giving endless optimistic and erroneous forecasts as to when it might be available. Meanwhile life in rural Yorkshire potters on, with very few interruptions. The local church has managed to hold one live internal service since March and one very short and thinly attended Remembrance Day ceremony in the local country cemetery with its Commonwealth War Graves. There are 42 of these for RAF dead dating from 1939 to the Iraq war; all based at the nearby Church Fenton air base; one striking feature of the graves is the very large number from all over the Commonwealth and the tragic proportion from the very early days of the war. Church Fenton was a base for Spitfires and in 1941 there was a fatal collision on a training exercise of two Spitfires, only a few yards from the cemetery, killing both young Polish pilots. It is good news that many people are recognising the benefits of living in the country. My son owns a small semi -detached cottage in the country down a stony track which he recently restored. Three days after advertising it for letting he had 15 responses, nine viewings and six definite requests to take it. The lucky selected tenant works for the London Borough of Islington and will continue to do so from his rural retreat. In another case a local house was let to a family relocating from Hertfordshire from a viewing two hours after it appeared online. Who says its Grim Up North? One sad aspect of our new life is that some things have disappeared temporarily but may never return. The local supermarket has shrunk the number and range of goods it offers; no longer is there a deli counter and several favourites are just not there. The absence of cash is certain to be a continuing feature. If I do wish to pay in coins or notes (and this is very rare, even in this traditional part of the country) I nervously ask the shop concerned if they take cash. The rapid universal adoption of Zoom is amazing. I have just attended the AGM of the local U3A which to its surprise achieved its quorum of 60 people on Zoom ā€“ and these are the ailing elderly generation that has to rely on grandchildren to get anything technical installed. Perhaps optimism is in order after all, to confirm our adaptability and resolve to survive

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