I’ve been away from here for some time

It’s been quite a hard time for us all. It really didn’t feel like Christmas, probably the most un-Christmassy I have ever felt in my life, even when I was living in Japan and had to work on Christmas day. Yes, we went to my sister’s and ate a socially-distanced meal together and exchanged gifts, but even so, it was a strange time, with the windows wide open, no hugs or physical contact, no helping together in the kitchen, and for my sister and me, no mother, who had died at the beginning of August (it wasn’t from COVID, and my wife and I were able to be with her when she died).

And then New Year – I had deliberately been avoiding building up the excitement that 2021 would be better. If nothing else, we had Brexit looming over us, and it would seem obvious to almost anyone that a last-minute deal consisting of well over 1,000 pages, and unscrutinised by Parliament would be a disaster. And so it has proved to be.

Nor did I expect COVID to go away. Decisions which were made at the last minute (again) meant that the Christmas period was a super-spreader event, and the resulting lockdown has proved to be much less enjoyable than the others (not that they were that enjoyable to start with).

The good news is that the COVID vaccine is now available in some quantity, and is being distributed. I have been volunteering at Lichfield Cathedral which has become a vaccination centre, with hundreds of people vaccinated each day that it has been open. Not that I have been sticking needles into people, you understand, but helping with the queues and so on.

I don’t see it as being a particularly brave thing to do – most of the people coming in have been isolating for some time, and are unlikely to be suffering from COVID. We’re all wearing PPE, keeping our distance, and there are gallons of hand sanitiser, etc. around the place. But I do feel I’m doing something useful and it is wonderful to see people’s faces and their sense of relief.

Oh yes, and then I had a birthday early in January. Doesn’t matter which one, but there are some benefits for me being as old as I am now. Don’t feel that old, though.

Waiting for patients in Lichfield Cathedral.


But… on the plus side. I have taken up building model aircraft again. Plastic kits, after 50 years away. The techniques, and indeed the kits, are unrecognisable compared to what I used to build. I rapidly discovered that my eyes and my skills weren’t up to 1/72 to any appreciable level, but 1/

is (a) an affordable scale and (b) more suitable to older modellers. Here’s my latest, a de Havilland Vampire in 1/48 as made by Trumpeter:


And I’ve written four books since COVID started. Based on the Mapp and Lucia novels by E.F.Benson, they have been extremely well received. The ebook editions may be bought from Ye Signe of Ye Daffodil (the last one will be available from everywhere on March 1, so this is a chance to get in early.