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Friends of St Mary's Winkfield

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To keep spirits up, we will post a beautiful photo each day - press the [Picture of the day] button above. The hills above the south end of Derwent Water give a spectacular view, with the river Derwent below our viewpoint weaving its way past the Lodore Falls Hotel and through the flood-plain to feed the lake. Do email your own photos, which must be appropriate for the purpose for consideration to - please use 'POTD' (Picture of the day) in the Subject.

Bishop Olivia

Bishop Olivia has posted a Sermon for Pentecost, which can be found HERE.

Do attend the 11am livestream Sunday service that takes place each week. (You can join it any time after 10:45am.) This week, it is Morning Prayer in the St Martin's tradition. Please also join us for a live stream Evening Prayer/Compline service via Zoom to be held every Thursday evening at 8.15 pm.

We have put brief appreciations of Joyce Underwood, Mary Haynes and Marian Hopkins, who have recently died. Please use the IN MEMORIAM button above or click HERE.

Brian's jokes are HERE.



To return to the regular FOSMW pages, press the [Home] button above. For FAQS press HERE and watch for new FAQs.
NEW! For Brian Cox's unintended humour from Church bulletins, go HERE - at your own risk (though guaranteed virus-free!).

'We were glad' from Eton College Chapel Choir 29/5/20

Music will come through! Many people (including myself) have been involved with 'virtual' choirs and ensembles to produce some amazing music.

We have been pointed at a superb virtual performance of Parry's 'I was glad' (click on the link) presented by the Eton College Chapel choirs, under the direction of Tim Johnson, Precentor, and with David Goode at the organ. Local boy Harvey Lin may be one of the boys singing.

If you stay with the recording, it will then lead to another recording of the Headmaster of Eton explaining 'Eton 2020 A New Social Vision'. Eton College is a great educational establishment, and the vision is to spread the value of Eton education in various ways to wider sections of our community. This will involve spending £100M over 5 years, and has four strands: (1) increase means-tested bursaries, with at least 140 pupils on 100% fee remission; (2) Extend Eton's online education venture Eton-X, and make it more widely available, including free of charge to the maintained (State) sector of education; (3) Grow social outreach and open Eton facilities, including giving summer-schools to broaden access; (4) Work with government to aid 6th forms. All of this will be funded in part from endowment, but as much again by donations, and by income from non-State Eton-X users.

As a one-time Eton scholarship boy (KS) of 70 years ago this year (having taken the competitive scholarship exam in June 1950, and from a non-wealthy family), I fully support the Eton 2020 vision.

Anthony Hodson, webmaster and editor

The last clap 28/5/20

Today we joined in the last Thursday clap for NHS and other essential workers.

We should all be truly thankful for the way in which lockdown life, illness and (alas) death has been supported so conscientiously by the NHS and by other essential workers, and I record our own sincere thanks now.

Water issues

Water issues 28/5/20

South East Water has brought potential water-supply problems to our attention - they are having difficulty just now in pumping enough of it up - see the chart to right!

We need to be careful not to use water excessively.

That man ... 28/5/20

Allison Pearson of the Daily Telegraph wrote yesterday under this headline: I don't want Cummings to go, but I did expect him to at least say sorry

Let's leave it at that!

total cases Local cases Total local cases

Reported local cases 28/5/20

Let's face facts: the number of local cases within our six areas continues to rise, although not at the rate of early April. We are averaging about 10 new recorded cases each day. As we have surmised, these are expected to be in 'hot-spots' that are not identifiable from the data available. A routine visit to our surgery and an informal question did not shed more light on it other than that they are probably in the care-homes. How to bring this to the attention of the authorities?

The charts are created from local information on the government website: Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK. They have a 'feedback' email address that is unresponsive.

Officiousness, judgmentalism and hypocrisy 27/5/20

If you could help an injured man escape a burning car, would you do it, in spite of having flagrantly to break social isolation rules? Some people seem to think that the latter are more important.

Many people seem to feel that all the Covid-regulations are arbitrary restrictions that have morally to apply to everybody equally, without querying parity or necessity. Somehow, those who break the rules (even if there are zero practical consequences, and the rule-breakers are well within the strategy implemented by the rules they infringed) are 'cheats' (whatever that may mean). They are not playing by the rules. The police should see that they are punished. If they have a senior government job, they should be fired without compunction regardless of the consequences.

There was a time when the police used common sense to turn a blind eye to situations where the letter of the law was stretched or broken, but there were no ill consequences. I remember once the police asking me to drive with them to the police station to record details after my new wife's suitcase had been stolen from my father's borrowed car one evening in London. When we arrived at the police station, the police officer said: "Even if you are following a police car, you should have your lights on." And that was it. We were upset by the theft, and failed to turn the lights on.

Now police officiousness has taken over. And is not public officiousness gaining ground as a consequence? Be very careful when you support Change not to play into the hands of excessive public officiousness!!

Somehow, pedants take driving 250 miles as endangering lives and the NHS as much as infection risks by breaking isolation with a sick patient or by breaking social isolation by attendance of a loved one's funeral. Many of us have suffered the tragedy and sorrow of the latter, but is it not pure officiousness to compare the two as equal?

Rules are in place to restrict Covid and its horrible consequences. Following particular rules to the letter under certain circumstances may have no effect - not even a statistical effect - on Covid, but generally we follow the rules anyway. Everybody knows that some rules can be stretched without breaking the objectives, and many (perhaps most?) people are stretching or even breaking the rules in a small way while being 100% responsible within the objectives. Because the rules are overwhelmingly being followed well where they positively support 'Stay Alert! Save the NHS!! Save lives!!!' we are making good progress in slowing Covid, and we need not be over-officious. Officiousness is a form of power-grabbing, for good or ill.

People who are officious for political reasons particularly run the risk of being hypocrites, but we should be careful not to be judgmental of them. They may be right. They may be wrong.

How should we judge people who follow a rule in the face of a family emergency just because it is a rule even if breaking would have no outside effect?? How should we judge them against people who, in the same circumstance, would prefer to pay a police fine because they knew that that was a less important factor than doing the best for their family?

Reported local cases 26/5/20

The daily number of new cases shas dropped a little in the last two days (the previous posting of the charts was 2 days ago). This continues to reinforce the case that hotspot sections of the community have an R of about 1, while there is no significant infection elsewhere.

But where are the hotspots? The general sense is that one would really have to be unlucky to catch covid-19 in the area, but that isn't quite good enough.

The total number of cases since 10/5/20 has now risen to 2,387 and that means that 1 in 20 cases have been reported in the last 12 days. This underlines the outstanding need to identify and neutralise the hotspots by tracing and measurement in fine detail.The charts are created from local information on the government website: Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK.

The two last full graphs can be seen here: Local cases and Total local cases.

'Crazy Brits?' - New York Times summary 26/5/20

The balanced and detached headline from the NYT was: Johnson’s aide says sorry-not-sorry for breaching U.K. lockdown rules

The subtext is that the British and the British media are completely crazy to get carried away by a peripheral issue, when there are far more important things to be of concern.

The article continues, verbatim:

"In an unusual news conference on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s closest aide, Dominic Cummings, sought the public’s sympathy but did not apologize for breaking Britain’s lockdown rules by driving hundreds of miles outside London with his son and ailing wife in March.

"Mr. Cummings defended his actions as "reasonable under the circumstances," saying he went to his parents’ home in Durham to ensure his son would receive care should he and his wife both fall ill.

"The scandal has consumed the British news media for days, and most prime ministers might have cut Mr. Cummings loose by now. But Mr. Johnson is still supporting him, illustrating what analysts see as his deep reliance on the mercurial adviser.

"Mr. Johnson announced on Monday the relaxing of more restrictions, with outdoor markets and car dealerships to reopen on June 1, and department stores and small shops on June 15.

"Case study:

"The death toll in British nursing homes — 14,000, official figures say, with thousands more dying indirectly because of the virus — is becoming a defining scandal for Mr. Johnson. In one Scottish nursing home, nearly all residents were infected and more than a quarter of them died."

Please identify the hotspots. Public Health England 26/5/20

Editor's letter to the Public Health England Tracker Site

"Dear Tracker,

"I have been tracking 6 UTLA cases representing the Thames Valley either side of Maidenhead since 19/3/20, and have published the results daily on a webpage

"For the last two weeks or so, the number of new cases has been steadily increasing at about 10 per day.

"The steadiness of the rise, the relatively small number of infectious cases, and generally good adherence to social isolation implies that:

"(A) New cases-in balance old ones out (i.e. recoveries + deaths)
"(B) There is no geographic spread going on
"(C) Cases are concentrated in 'hot-spots'.

"Please acknowledge and advise where these hot-spots are in the 6 UTLAs: Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead, Reading, Bracknell Forest and Wokingham.

"Thank you"

Insanity outrage 26/5/20

Before I go quiet on the matter, let me, as editor, share my email to Victoria Derbyshire of the BBC. (She invited comment!)

"Dear Victoria,

"I am outraged by this insanity over Cummings.

"Whipped up outrage caused Pontius Pilate to crucify Jesus Christ. Whipping up outrage is a murder weapon. The British press and media have blood on their hands if anyone dies as a result of their actions over Cummings.

"As a locked-down but very active 83-year old, I use my common sense to support my community and myself by isolation, social distancing and by undertaking corona-journalism on a local website. What Cummings did/didn’t do, why and what people think about it makes zero difference to how I and most other people behave in these strange times, because there are far more important community things to worry about. I don’t like Cummings, either, but if everybody went crazy with outrage every time someone found an emotionally convincing reason to attack someone they didn’t like, civilised life could be distorted and endangered. Most people have the sense to live with the fact that there exist other people that they don’t like, even if they have to work with them or live with the consequences of their existence.

"Calm it and save lives!

Sanity 25/5/20

We will await sanity to return to UK government and others before making any furthere general comment. The charts for local cases will be updated every other day.

The good news about the local cases is that today (25/5/20) only 3 new cases in total were reported in the 6 areas that we have been following (and will continue to follow)

Local cases Total local cases

Reported local cases 24/5/20

The daily number of new cases seems yet again to be close to static at 10 per day. This continues to reinforce the case that hotspot sections of the community have an R of about 1, while there is no significant infection elsewhere.

But where are the hotspots? The general sense is that one would really have to be unlucky to catch covid-19 in the area, but that isn't quite good enough.

The total number of cases since 10/5/20 has now risen to 2,377 and that means that 1 in 20 cases have been reported in the last 12 days. So if the trend were to remain for 240 days, half of the cases woud have been recorded since the 10/5/20 day of policy change. This underlines the outstanding need to identify and neutralise the hotspots by tracing and measurement in fine detail.The charts are created from local information on the government website: Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK.

The two last full graphs can be seen here: Local cases and Total local cases.

A vaccine from China appears to be 'safe' 24/5/20

The New York Times reports that "An early-stage trial of a vaccine developed in China and tested on 108 people appears to be safe and may offer protection against the virus"

This vaccine, however, is based on adenovirus, to which some people may already have immunity.

Meanwhile, the Oxford vaccine development team is about to extend its testing from 1000 people to 10,000, aged from children to over-70s. Tests so far indicate that monkeys get some benefit, but it is not guaranteed that this will translate to humans.

The Moderna vaccine in the USA continues to look promising.

Mass production of any of the vaccines being developed may take months, despite huge effort and funding being thrown at it.

The Ascension readings

Sunday Virtual Service 24/5/20

To join this week's virtual service for Winkfield, press HERE. this will take you to the relevant page on the benefice website. This week, the service will be Holy Communion in the St Mary's tradition. The children of St Mary's church have provided the story of the Ascension in the form of a playlet - click on the image to access the Youtube!

Thank you to all the organisers and technical support - and to the children, too!

Lockdown dolphins 22/5/20

We liked this article in the Daily Telegraph of22/5/20, which we reprint with acknowledgements:

Dolphins take presents to "reward visitors" as virus clears Australian beaches
Kindly gesture shows how much the friendly sea creatures miss their daily routine, say researchers. By Giovanni Torre in Perth

DOLPHINS on Queensland's Cooloola Coast in Australia have reacted to the decline of human visitors to the tourist hot spot by lavishing those who do come with gifts.

One 29-year-old male humpback called "Mystique" was already known for taking occasional items to the shore, but in recent weeks he has become dramatically more generous.

Mystique has taken to bringing the volunteers at Barnacles Cafe and Dolphin Feeding Centre an array of items every day, including timber, shells, wood, and bottles.

Feeding volunteer Lyn McPherson told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that Mystique's activity had increased while the dolphin feeding centre was closed to tourists.

"He brings in objects on his rostrum, or beak, and then he carefully presents them to us," she said. "What we have to do is give him a fish in return. We haven't trained him, but he has trained us to do this.

"We swear he has a collection waiting to bring to us. Sometimes he will bring 10, one at a time, and he will line them up as he has to get fish.

Locals say other humpback dolphins are also bringing gifts, such as sponges, barnacle-covered bottles and fragments of coral to the feeding centre. "Nothing surprises me with dolphins and their behaviour anymore,"

Barry McGovern, a dolphin expert and PhD student at the University of Queensland, told 7News. "They do everything - they use tools, they have culture, they have something similar to names in signature whistles."

"In all likelihood, they probably don't miss humans per se ... They probably miss a free meal and the routine;" he added.

In 2017 researchers at the University of Western Australia (UWA) captured footage of male dolphins presenting females with marine gifts. They joined teams from the University of Zurich and Murdoch University in Australia in a decade-long study off the north-eastern coastline and found, for the first time, that the adult male humpback dolphins gave marine sponges to females Dolphins including a humpback called Mystique have dropped off dozens of presents in the hope of being rewarded with a fish supper. They also performed visual and acoustic displays, to impress potential mates.

Lead author Dr Simon Allen from UWA's School of Biological Sciences said the findings suggest an as yet unrecognised level of social complexity in humpback dolphins."We were at first perplexed to witness these intriguing behavioural displays by humpback dolphins, but as we undertook successive field trips over the years, the evidence mounted.

"Here we have some of the most socially complex animals on the planet using sponges, not as a foraging tool, but as a gift," he said.

Reported local cases 22/5/20

The daily number of new cases seems yet again to be close to static at 10 per day. This continues to reinforce the case that hotspot sections of the community have an R of about 1, while there is no significant infection elsewhere.

But where are the hotspots?

Tha total number of cases since 10/5/20 has now risen to 2,351 and that means that 1 in 20 cases have been reported in the last 12 days. So if the trend were to remain for 240 days, half of the cases woud have been recorded since the 10/5/20 day of policy change. This underlines the outstanding need to identify and neutralise the hotspots by tracing and measurement in fine detail.The charts are created from local information on the government website: Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK.

The two last full graphs can be seen here: Local cases and Total local cases.

Hot-spots - what the press will not publish!

Meticulously recording the official number of cases in a group of 6 contiguous Upper Tier Local Authorities, population 1M, in the Thames Valley area shows a very low proportion of active cases, but a steady rise of new cases, on average about 9 new cases per day just now. This persistent rise indicates an R-factor of about 1 on average in small subsets or 'hot-spots' of the community, scattered around the 6 Upper Tier Local Authorities, but perhaps centred around hospitals and care-homes. The implication is that (outside these community hot-spots) the whole area is Covid-19 free, or nearly so. Unfortunately, the publicly available source of data gives no data that would give any clues as to where these subsets are located, or what their makeup is, which is a pity, as contact with them implies much heightened risk.

The worrying aspect of this is that there is little sign of the rate of rise of hotspot cases actually diminishing - the numbers just go up all the time just now. Thia suggests that the hotspots are in 'steady state' - generating as many new cases as cases leading to recovery - or death. This is not encouraging at all.

Publishing the locality information would be very helpful to public confidence in safety as lock-down measures are relaxed. Why cannot the information be made available, so that this public confidence can be based on sound knowledge? You do not need testing to obtain the data, although testing has to be a more powerful tool to control the spread.

Long term effects 21/5/20

The Daily Telegraph Online has published an interesting article HERE on unexpected symptoms and longer term effects of Covid-19.

Not very cheering reading for people who (like us) have a longer-term sufferer, hopefully slowly recovering, among family and friends.

Reported local cases 21/5/20

The daily number of new cases seems to be close to static at 10 per day. This continues to reinforce the case that hotspot sections of the community have an R of about 1, while there is no significant infection elsewhere.

But where are the hotspots?

The charts are created from local information on the government website: Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK.

The two last full graphs can be seen here: Local cases and Total local cases.

Reported local cases 20/5/20

The diminishing number of cases is encouraging.

The charts are created from local information on the government website: Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK.

The two last full graphs can be seen here: Local cases and Total local cases.

Choral Evensong 20/5/20

The Rodolphus Choir, with Ralph Allwood (Musical Director) performed (virtually) a truly memorable Choral Evensong yesterday evening. It can be heard on YouTube HERE, after a short intro of music, bluebells and birdsong; but it is good to step back for the whole presentation including links to the service, description of items, etc., and this can be found HERE. Some familiar faces take part in the service.

Ralph Allwood will be known to many as the director of the Windsor and Eton Choral Society when he was Precentor of Eton College some years ago.

Facemasks 19/5/20

A useful web article can be found HERE.

New York Times report on vaccines 19/5/20

The New York Times corona briefing today carries a useful article on Covid-19 vaccine progress, which can be found HERE. This reports on early testing on human volunteers of the experimental vaccine by a company called Moderna, in which (A) the vaccine seems safe, and (B) the volunteers produces antibodies that prevent the virus from replicating. All this is good, but not yet good enough.

The article lists but does not comment on the Oxford vaccine. The current state there suggests that it may be good at preventing severe effects of the diseases, but rhesus monkey tests showed that the virus remained undestroyed in the nasal passages of the monkeys, so they remain infectious. So patients treated with the virus may still be able to pass it on, which is disappointing.

The careful wording of the Moderna tests does not indicate explicitly that their vaccine would have improved on the situation in a similar experiment, but even amelioration of the disease seems a step forward. Nobody really knows the facts about Covid-19 immunity after recovery or taking a vaccine.

Perhaps we need a combination of vaccines? Treatment by blood-thinning drugs seems a useful foil against lung-cell damage by mini-clots caused by the virus.

Reported local cases 18/5/20

Nothing new to add, except the bad news that the Oxford vaccine tests on rhesus monkeys have not been successful in preventing infection. Some human testing of the vaccine, with the hope at least that the vaccine may prevent deep virus infection. The most promising news so far is that treatment with blood-thinning drugs such as heparin could greatly reduce the severity of bad infections. We have to be patient.

The charts are created from local information on the government website: Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK.

The two last full graphs can be seen here: Local cases and Total local cases.

Brilliant French Horn girl

Yesterday evening the Brass category final for the BBC Young Musician series was screened. The winner was Annemarie Federle on the French horn, who made an impeccable performance of Schumann's very difficult Allegro for Horn and Piano, Op. 70., with other pieces.

The complete set of performances (two trombones, two French horns and a tuba) can all be seen on BBC iPlayer.

Next Sunday is the Percussion category final, which will be an amazing show of rhythm and dexterity.

Reported local cases 17/5/20

You can see that the rate if increase of new cases now is significantly higher than it was in March, but less than it was when the infection took off in April. This shows that there are hotspots with an R-factor of about 1 while the remainder of the whole area is almost Covid free. Government statistics need to indicate more clearly what is going on in these hotspots, and must locate them clearly in geography and function.

Interesting research shows that blood-thinning drugs such as heparin help in reducing the damaging effect of the corona-virus on lung-function, by reducing the ability of the virus to create micro-clots in lung tissue.

The charts are created from local information on the government website: Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK.

The two last full graphs can be seen here: Local cases and Total local cases.

What the statistics mean 16/5/20

The continuing fall of cases means that Covid-19 is not present in most places. Clearly, where Covid is completely absent, provided that there is no external source of Covid-19 (e.g. by infected people travelling into a Covid-free area), activity can be freer. Unfortunately we do not know the boundaries of areas with Covid-infection sources, nor do we fully restrict travel, so risks exist. Such areas, though small, may be numerous.

Pragmatic opening up is now in play. Golf and golf centres are open; you can now fly your light aircraft, and sail your yacht (there are marinas in our area), and there will be further openings.

School opening is hotly debated - the children may nearly all have no symptoms, or very minor ones, but they can infect households, some say, and for many families with children that are financially finely balanced this is a great concern. If we could better understand where Covid-19 isn't present, we could perhaps use the knowledge to have safe opening of some schools.

The statistics available are too coarse-grained to help very much. Care-homes and hospitals may (we learn) be the primary drivers for infected mini-areas with persistently-high R-factors. Unfortunately care-homes and hospitals are widely distributed, so the 'most-places' that do not have Covid are like swiss cheeses - full of holes.

It is good to see tracking beginning to take place, and also to learn about dogs that can detect Covid sufferers before they have symptoms. Vaccine development is hopeful, although politicians are saying 'don't count on it', perhaps to make a successful development even more of a joy to have.

Hug-time screen

How to hug grandchildren 16/5/20

Easy - acquire a hug-time-screen, complete with arm-gloves.

This great idea (which came from a Chattanooga, USA, news channel - WTVC-TV) was publicised in a video posted on Facebook. It could only happen in the USA!

Reported local cases 16/5/20

Today we are continuing with a new format. The two graphs will each be divided into two parts - the left hand part tables the first 12 days that we recorded, and the right hand part tables new cases since the PM's speech on 10/5/20.

The new cases since 10/5/20 are currently rising at a slow rate since the start of the sequence. Note that at the start of our new measuring period (10/5/20), the number of cases is reset to zero. The total number of cases for the first day was 2226.

These charts are created from local information on the government website: Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK.

The two last full graphs can be seen here: Local cases and Total local cases.

London cases are down 15/5/20

The day started with the good news that the Public Health England reported there were only 24 new cases in the London area. However, the suggestions that the Covid-19 outbreak in London is over seems rather fanciful.

Confusion about what is locked down and what isn't remains confused. Boris called for common sense, but that seems in short supply. We are sure that Sir Keir Starmer, with his keen lawyer's mind, could sort out all the combinations of people and organisation circumstances in no time at all - perhaps he could volunteer to the Government to do that and be helpful? It isn't yet clear with him and the unions whose side he is on. Balancing risk and necessity, and gaining everybody's confidence is the key issue, and everybody needs to be onside to get that right.

Antibody testing reliability is within sight, but nobody yet knows whether having antibodies means that one cannot catch the disease again. Knowledge here and on dozens of unknowns with the virus will be very useful, but progress seems painfully slow.

Cold calls and spam are said officially to be down. However, one day this week, the total value of lost inheritance that we were offered by (rather pathetically inept) spammers totalled more than $100,000,000!!! Yes, 100 million dollars! One had the cheek to ask us to send $475 in advance to get the money.

Useful testing startegies are being evolved for the Oxford University vaccine team.

Reported total local cases 15/5/20

(We are retaining this post for reference only, and it will go tomorrow.) Today we are experimenting with a new format. The two graphs will each be divided into two parts - the left hand part tables the first 12 days that we recorded, and the right hand part tables new cases since the PM's speech on 10/5/20.

The new cases since 10/5/20 are currently rising at a relatively low rate. If the outbreak in our area is under control, the slope of new cases will remain comparable to what it is at present, or flatter.

From past experience there will be variations in slope from day to day, so anomalous daily changes in slope will not be very significant.

Of course, we still have new cases, but note that at the start of our new measuring period (10/5/20), the number of cases is reset to zero. The total recorded number of cases for the first day was 2226,

These charts are created from local information on the government website: Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK.

How to be useful 14/5/20

As a nation we are, or should be, at a turning point, where each of us needs to come to terms with a new revised world. This is to a large degree a matter of regaining confidence, step by step, that we can regain some semblance of normal life, and help restore our fortunes as a country. This does mean taking personal risks, but not much more than the risks of daily life and its hazards.

If a politician complained that it was awful that more than 1% of the population died in the last year, some people would listen to him/her and complain about the performance of the government! Does that make sense?

That's the kind of line that the Opposition and too many others in the Press seem to be doing, when the job of all responsible commentators is to restore confidence, while not playing down the problems nor ignoring the mistakes made.

Boris' speech: was it useful?? 13/5/20

With further reduction of new cases in the area, yesterday's assessment seems solid.

Boris Johnson's speech (which can be found HERE) seems to be a valid plan, particularly for our area, and almost certainly for a great proportion of comparable parts of the country. The statistics that we have published each day shows how the Covid cases have gradually been contained. Today, in the 1M population of the Thames Valley area in which we live, just 6 new cases have been reported today, and it is reasonable to infer from the figures that (A) the number of contagious people among those 1M is likely to be less than 75 and (B) that the shape of the statistics indicates that those 75 are likely mostly to be clustered in small areas (otherwise the historic R would not be as observed). So that, taking sensible precautions, the chance of catching Covid-19 in this area is likely to be tiny. For the unlucky few the consequences are indeed serious, but, as we are advised, the virus could be with us for years, so we have to take the risks, while being sensible with our precautions, particularly if we are elderly/vulnerable.

It is difficult to understand the sense of the people in London who took to the Underground to go to work, the morning after Boris' speech. One can understand the desperation of those thousands of people otherwise unemployed, but restarting is not an instant job, and you need to be sure that you arrive at a functional place of work.

OK, it has been a bit muddly so far, but it is early days. We must realise that we have to get going again, and that, with the virus now essentially under control, not even counting as an 'epidemic', the job of influential people is, not to pick holes in how we try to move forward, in completely unprecedented circumstances, but, rather, to help build up confidence and to support our moving forward productively.

Here are good rules for newspaper articles relating to the pandemic:

We have no time for journalism that is prolix, waffle, illogical, opinionated or wise after the event. We regret to say that all the main newspapers are guilty of poor Covid journalism that wastes paper and time, and disseminates unnecessary fear and loss of confidence.

Ewan Millar BBC YM

Ewan Millar wins BBC Young Musician Woodwind Category Finals 10/5/20

We are delighted that Ewan won the Woodwind Category Finals with an amazing display of sensitivity and virtuosity, against strong opposition.

The competition can be seen on BBC iPlayer. It was an evening of huge talent from a flautist, a clarinettist, Ewan on his oboe, an amazing young recorder player and a bassoonist (an ex-pupil of Ewan's mum). They were all brilliant in their own ways.

Pianists are limited to the notes on the piano - the woodwind players showed how their instruments can be used to make notes and other effects that are off the scale, literally.

Photo with acknowledgments to BBC and the Young Musician programmes.

BBC Young Musician - Woodwind Category Finals, Sunday 10/5/20 7-8pm, BBC4

Today, 10/5, gives us the category final for woodwind, and we are 'rooting for' brilliant young oboist Ewan Millar, whose mother Catherine is Head of Woodwind with the Berkshire Maestros. Ewan's sister Madeleine was a soloist performer at our Music and Merriment concert in 2012, before studying at the Royal College of Music. The bassoonist category finalist, Alice Gore, is a former pupil of Catherine Millar, who has a well-deserved reputation for top-quality bassoon tuition.

The category final competitions are available on BBC iPlayer.

The first of the 'category final' competitions, for pianists, took place take place on Sunday 3/5/20 7-8pm on BBC4, including local boy Harvey Lin. It was a very exciting contest, between two girls and three boys, and the very varied repertoire ranged from Scarlatti to a study from the late 20th century with some formidable pieces from the romantic repertoire in between. The young performers showed great sensitivity and virtuosic technique. The competition was won by 16-year-old Thomas Luke from the Isle of Wight, whose excellent performance was described by the adjudicators as 'poetic' throughout. Harvey put up a performance that was highly musical as well as virtuosic. He has a stellar technique and he has a great musical career ahead. He is an organist and violinist as well as pianist.

The youngest performer was aged just 11, and put up a performance that was astonishing for one so young. A talent to watch out for.

New York Times: forming immunity to Covid-19 9/5/20

Here is some interesting information on immunity from the New York Times:

'Promising news on the immunity front

'A new study of 1,343 people in the New York area found that nearly everyone who has had the coronavirus — even those who experienced only mild symptoms — makes antibodies at levels that may confer future protection against the disease.

'There had been worries that some patients seemed to have few or no antibodies, but the new study suggests that it’s a matter of when the test is administered: People with meager results in the first few days after recovery often developed healthy amounts of antibodies later on. The researchers recommended waiting three weeks after the onset of symptoms.

'Scientists don’t yet know for certain whether the antibodies confer immunity. But if they do, the new study suggests that nearly everyone who recovers from Covid-19 will have immunity.

'Killing the virus with light:

'Special ultraviolet light fixtures installed on walls or ceilings could play a role in reducing the spread of the virus. The technology, known as "upper-room ultraviolet germicidal irradiation," is already used to disinfect the air in hospitals, but stores and restaurants could do the same to reassure jittery customers.'

The news of the USA's general handling of the pandemic is dire, both for spread of the disease and for the US economy. There is a lot of good sense about that is made use of by many people. Unfortunately many people are unable or unwilling to take social distancing seriously enough in conditions where it is essential to control the virus. Measures to control contagion are being limited for political reasons or because of 'people's rights' (e.g. in faith communities). However, some of the objectors to tough measures are right in condemning officiousness and unjustified inconsistency in rules.

Her Majesty's VE 75 address 8/5/20

Her Majesty's moving speech can be viewed on this BBC web page.

The full text of Her Majesty's speech is HERE as a pdf, with acknowledgment to The Independent.

St Martins

VE observances and Red Arrows fly-past 8/5/20

The Red Arrows flew over Buckingham Palace, and a few minutes later passed over Winkfield Plain. We could not see it, in Bracknell, with large trees in the way, but we heard it all right! Those of us in Maidens Green and Winkfield had a good view, we understand.

The Daily Mail has published several videos and some splendid photos - here is the LINK to these resources.

Closer to home, many people followed the programme of observances prepared by the Royal British Legion and the Parish held its own live service over Zoom as part of the activities. Thanks to all who decorated St Martin's church (right).

Thank you, from the depth of our heart, to the generation that won the war 8/5/20

When war broke out in 1939, my mother and father looked at each other, with terrible forebodings. They thought that the end of the world was coming, as it so nearly did, but for the heroism, sacrifice and devotion to duty of the generation that won the war. We now know all too well what hell England under the Nazis would have been - a hell already suffered by so many by the time the war ended.

I was 2 years old when the war started, and we, our parents and two boys, lived in a flat near Paddington station. My godmother and her family lived in Oxfordshire. and they invited us to move out of London and live with them in their large house. One of my earliest memories is of their son John showing me his rifle. All too soon he was killed in action, and my godmother's husband was killed by a bomb later in the war. My father worked for the government in London, and later in India, where for a time we all lived. Returning from India by slow convoy in 1942, under U-boat attack at one point (we were lucky), even at that age, we caught a sense of the wartime perils at sea, for the Merchant Navy as well as the Royal Navy, barely understood until much later. On return to England, my father worked (by day) for the Ministry of Production for the remainder of the war. At night, he was a volunteer air-raid warden and that brought him some terrible experiences. My mother was a volunteer nurse. Air raids and nights in the basement were all too common, although then much less frequent than during the blitz: from these I became fascinated by aeroplanes, as well as the sea, and these flowed into my later career.

The war ended 8 days after my 8th birthday. We were lucky as a family to have mainly missed the loss of life, and the fathomlessless fears, traumas, and concerns of combatants and their families, but, living in post-war London, it was impossible not to see the devastation of Hitler's bombs, with all the implied tragedies that they had brought. Later I had a school friend whose father had been involved in the war-crimes tribunals. What he told me cannot be talked about, but was seared into my mind: a permanent warning against the power of hatred.

Today we have heard many many well-deserved and moving tributes to combatants and non-combatants. We all of us must sincerely express our own 'Thank Yous' to this wonderful generation, on behalf of ourselves and our families, some of whom may not fully understand why. Everybody must recognise that these people made it possible to lay the foundations of the economically successful war-free Europe in which we live today. Covid-19 will have profound consequences, but we can overcome these. We know that we have the will and determination as a united people, as well as the skills and technology born of the peace created by defeating Hitler.

(Article provided by Anthony Hodson)

Mum and James

New life 7/5/20

At a time when the Corona-virus pandemic in the UK reaches a new phase, life doesn't just go on, it starts anew.

Congratulations to fellow-parishioner Anni Dixon, who announced today that her great-grandson Reuben had recently been born.

And we like this story of rapport between James (6) and his new brother Sam, as told by a fellow-musician friend:

Zoom worship!

Zoom Worship! 7/5/20

Bringing the Resurrection up to date. Humour is God-given particularly at difficult times like these!

Disappointing news on the Japanese Avigan drug (see below) 6/5/20

The New York Times reports some serious side-effects of Avigan today. Although it could prove effective (the results are said so far to be 'anecdotal'), it is reported to have some serious side-effects, including birth defects. Don't use for pregnant women - but news may turn up in UK trials for practical usefulness. Thorough safety testing is essential.

Isle of Wight trials on tracing app 5/5/20.

The following article is reprinted from the New York Times, which publishes detached, balanced and interesting articles on Covid-19 worldwide.

'The Isle of Wight, off England’s southern coast, is renowned for a beautiful coastline and balmy climate, drawing crowds of summer tourists from across Britain.

'And it is now at the forefront of national attention for a different reason: The British government is preparing to begin a trial there this week of a mobile app that will track the contacts of people infected with the coronavirus.

'The app uses Bluetooth to “alert people if they have been near somebody who is later diagnosed with having coronavirus,” Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said on Sunday. The tracking system will be rolled out by the National Health Service, and if the trials are successful, it will be available this month throughout the country.

'Other countries, like South Korea and more recently Turkey, have used such technology to curb the spread of the virus, and France is preparing to begin its own trial soon. But the apps have raised questions about whether privacy should be sacrificed in order to stem the spread of the virus.

'The program in Britain is voluntary. Mr. Shapps said the government would encourage as many people as possible to take it up, but experts question how effective an app can be if it relies on self-reported data.'


Communion Service by Zoom 3/5/20

It was good to see so many people in our three congregations 'attending' this morning's communion service using Zoom. Thank you, Revd Tracey Williams, for organising and leading, and thank you, Revd Roy Burgess for your inspiring post-Easter sermon.

It was also good to have the story of the disciples after the crucifixion, as they came to the realisation that Jesus was still alive, told by the children of St Mary's Family Praise service under the firm eye of Lesley Philpot.

As a friend wrote, we are so lucky to have the help of Social Media in this respect at least - which we would not have had if the pandemic had struck 20 years ago.

Japanese drug being trialled in London 2/5/20

We learn from a recently published Evening Standard article (transcript here) that the drug Avigan (favipiravir) that we mentioned in articles below on 30/4 and 28/4 is currently being trialled in three London hospitals, including the Chelsea and Westminster, with which we have very strong personal connections.

Professor Shah, who is in charge of the formal testing, is cautiously optimistic.

The Chelsea and Westminster charity CW+ is supporting the trials. If you feel you would like to contribute, as we have done, please go to their website HERE.

Oxford Vaccine team with AstraZeneca 30/4/20

On 30/4/20 'AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford announced an agreement for the global development and distribution of the University’s potential recombinant adenovirus vaccine aimed at preventing COVID-19 infection from SARS-CoV-2.

'The collaboration aims to bring to patients the potential vaccine known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, being developed by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group, at the University of Oxford. Under the agreement, AstraZeneca would be responsible for development and worldwide manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine.'

While the pandemic lasts, the cost of the vaccine (e.g. to the NHS) would be limited to costs of production.

The Serum Institute of India, worldwide the largest manufacturer of serums, also said, on Tuesday, that it plans this year to produce up to 60 million doses of 'a potential vaccine against the new coronavirus that is under clinical trial in Britain [by the Oxford vaccine group]'.

These are significamt and encouraging developments, but the roll-out exercise may still be many months away, and the vaccine, although very promising indeed, has still to demonstrate its safety and effectiveness.

Will lockdown ease for the elderly in our community? 1/5/20

There is great debate about 'protecting the elderly for their own sakes' by enforcing lockdown on them. There is a case for saying that there are many areas in Britain where the risks to the elderly from Covid-19 are, at this time, far smaller than those from accidents and other mishaps.

Our daily analysis of Thames Valley cases suggests that Covid-19 cases are almost all restricted to localised groups. So is lockdown for the elderly justified in the bulk of the area where no new cases are occurring? Testing for and evaluation of these new cases is increasingly urgent to give an answer to this question.

Prof Chris Whitty Gresham Lecture 30/4/20

Prof Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer and Gresham Professor of Physic, gave a live-streamed Gresham Lecture at 6pm on Thursday 30th April. His lecture is still viewable at the Gresham College website All Gresham Lectures are free.

Prof Whitty's clear and factual presentation of the facts is very important in understanding the characteristics of this terrible diseases. DO WATCH IT!

Infectious groups in the Thames Valley 30/4/20

The following article was prepared for media publication.

The Covid-19 case figures for a group of 6 Thames Valley regions with a population of just over 1M shows that the total number of Covid cases has steadily risen, in almost linear progression, for more than a month now, without peaking, at an average rate of about 60 cases per day.

Most people are isolating as required. 60 new cases per day is numerically incompatible with isolation and social distancing between the bulk of the population and the approximately 300 infectious people in the region. The steadiness of the rise implies that it is smaller groups of people within the region that are self-infecting with a steady reproductive-value R of about 1.

What are these groups? Where can they be found? It is clear that self-isolating people, particularly the older population, have very little numerical influence on the steady 60 cases per day rise.

All the same, these groups represent a hidden danger to the rest of us, particularly to older and vulnerable people, and will remain so until their nature and identity is investigated, exposed and acted upon.

Hurrah for Captain Tom Moore - soon to be appointed Hon Colonel!! 30/4/29

Congratulations to Capt. Tom Moore on reaching his 100th birthday! We are delighted that his Spitfire flypast took place, to celebrate the huge success of his appeal on behalf of the NHS, which currently stands at in excess of perhaps £30M. And his promotion is a very fitting gesture. What a wonderful man!

Outcome thinking for new drugs 30/4/20

The following article was prepared for media publication.

News from the Japanese medical community suggests that the ante-viral drug Avigan (also known as favipiravir) has been instrumental in 95% of cases of easing the severity of Covid-19 symptoms, and its use appears to have significantly reduced the death rate in that country. It is reported that the drug is now being more broadly devolved in Japan to less severe cases. The drug has been used in Italy, and, no doubt, is being evaluated in the UK.

It is now being evaluated in three London hospitals.

Anti-Covid-19 drug in Japan 28/4/20

We learn that a drug called Avigan or favipiravir (developed by Japanese company Fujifilm in 2014 against influenza) is said to be effective at reducing Covid-19 symptoms in 91% of severely infected patients in Japan, and the drug is being tested in Italy and other countries. No clear results on use in Europe are yet available, but it is likely that the drug is being considered in the UK. In particular, no blind-checked tests have yet been fully carried out on Covid-19 patients, as far as we can tell from currently available information.

New York Times on Oxford vaccine progress 28/4/20

The New York Times posted a most encouraging briefing this morning that we reprint in full HERE.

This article describes the state of the very promising work of the Oxford vaccine team. It is essential reading!

Prime Minister's speech 27/4/20

The full text of the Prime Minister's speech this morning can be found HERE.

Boris thanked the people of this country for their resolve in the worst crisis since the second World War. He promised careful move towards opening up the economy, but said that lockdown must stay until it was clear that the country would avoid a second and catastrophic second wave of infection

In our area, as the analysis below shows, we have not yet peaked out, and this underlines the importance of not taking premature action.

Today's scams 27/4/20

Every day we receive 15-20 junk emails, which are attempted scams of one kind or another. All go straight in the 'bin', without any response, and, particularly, without following any kind of link, however innocent it may seem to be, or opening any attachment.

By far the greatest number of these scams indicate that you have won, inherited or been awarded a breathtakingly large sum of money, often by a large and seemingly reputable body. Some are posed as a means of avoiding taxation, some are posed as sob-stories. They are all of the 'too good to be true' nature. In many cases the grammar is poor, and the email address of the sender often appears to have no relationship with the organisation supposedly making the offer.

Several of today's scams were attempts to entice one to invest in 'Binary' funds - following the Bitcoin bubble. Ignore - or you'll never see your money again - or even the quick award offered.

Several scams offered 'wonderful' investments in property. Do not touch these! Property investment is tricky enough, even without the near certainty of these being scam offers.

One scam offered an unspecified scheme to make money working from home, with one button to investigate further and another button to 'unsubscribe'. Ignore both options.

The last scam copied the distinctive logo and design of Office 365, a Microsoft messaging and office service, stating that some incoming messages had been rejected and would be permanently discarded unless action was taken, and offering a means to review these messages (by viewing an attachment). The sender's email address was suspicious, but in any case this kind of communication isn't Office 365 practice. Never attempt to access any attachment unless you are sure of its innocence!

Scam messages must be deleted permanently as soon as possible! Today's messages had been correctly identified as junk by our mail system - but be aware that junk detectors can treat a small percentage of valid messages as junk, and can fail to identify some kinds of scam. Take care!!

Bassoons against Covid-19 Day 27 27/4/20

To find Laurence Perkin's daily mini-recital on the bassoon, go to Bassoons against Covid-19 and enjoy the diversion!

Sermons for this weekend 25/4/20

The now-regular Zoom communion service at 11am on 26 April will be led by Revd Tracey Williams; however there is also a sermon available from the Revd Jane Kraft, who would have been leading the Matins Service at St Mary’s for that day. Jane has written for us a reflective sermon (follow the link) that underscores our need for faith in Jesus in these difficult times, and the comfort that He brings.

John Kimbell has also provided for us his fascinating address for Saint Mark’s Day (follow the link) which actually falls on Saturday 25 April.

Wiltshire Farm Foods deliver meals to your door 23/4/20

We have had a strong endorsement of Wiltshire Farm Foods, who provide a very useful service of providing complete frozen meals delivered to your door in Winkfield. The quality and variety is said to be excellent.

Do have a look at their website and consider trying them out.

New York Times on Re-wilding 23/4/20

The New York Times gives a refreshing relief to the hyper-emotional and confrontational tenor of the British press. This morning, we enjoyed their report on re-wilding - a trend that we have seen here with squirrels and foxes more boldly venturing onto our roads. NYT writes:

"With much of humanity stuck at home, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day arrived on Wednesday without many in-person celebrations but with a silver lining of sorts: The rewilding of some urban areas on a suddenly quieter, less crowded planet.

"It has taken many forms. A herd of shaggy goats was spotted running down desolate streets in Wales, and monkeys were seen taking over a plaza in Thailand. Coyotes have ventured deeper into San Francisco, and deer have wandered freely around Nara, Japan.

"Captive animals have benefited, too. Penguins have been allowed to roam the exhibits at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. And pandas at a Hong Kong zoo finally managed to mate after 13 years — perhaps thanks to a little privacy."

Prof Sarah Gilbert's team announce vaccine 20/4/20

Prof Sarah Gilbert and her Oxford team announced yesterday that they were planning to start first tests on a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of this week. This development is based on successful vaccine work with the SARS corona-virus. A lot of testing is required, and huge resources must be deployed to create large-scale production. Success is not guaranteed, but she was confident that her approach would work, and, remarkably, would be able to confer longer-term immunity than exposure to the virus itself.

The Prime Minister has announced a new vaccine Task Force to expedite devevelopment and mass-production of a vaccine, ultimately on a global scale.

Online justice systems 19/4/20

This coming Thursday, there will be an international online book-launch of 'Online Courts and the Future of Justice' by Prof Richard Susskind, who is an internationally acclaimed lawyer and Oxford University-based expert on the broad impact of IT. (He was Gresham Professor of Law some years ago.) It is clear that justice systems everywhere will of necessity be profoundly affected by technology; and Prof Susskind's book is a ground-breaking analysis of what will be necessary if technology is to cut through the needs of justice, and provide ways in which the weaknesses of current justice systems can be addressed by fundamental technology-based changes. Traditional lawyers will hate this book, but find it hard to argue against its logic, particularly in corona-virus days.

Police smash cyber-scam gang 19/4/20

It was good to read in today's newspaper that a gang working on people frightened by the corona-virus has been smashed. We hope that the smashing will be thoroughly accomplished - it is a little worrying that the justice system isn't working very well these days. We have reported on a number of scams that may have been perpetrated by the gang, such as SE Water scam, threatened fines, HMRC scams, Credit card scams, and we hope that none of us have fallen for the traps.

Prayer for a Pandemic 18/4/20

We are grateful to Pam for bringing us 'Prayer for a Pandemic', which was first posted on Instagram on 9 March by Dr Cameron Bellm, a mother of two young boys living in Seattle. This moving but uncompromising poem has travelled the world now, as it focuses the mind of those who are relatively safe and secure on those for whom Covid-19 is a catastrophe. It has been released into the public domain. We have used what we think is the original text (less an American spelling).

May we who are merely inconvenienced
remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors
remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home
remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips
remember those that have no safe place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
remember those who have no home.

As fear grips our country, let us choose love.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbours.


Bracknell Forest digital library services 17/4/20

Many will be very interested to know of the digital opportunities (click on the link) offered by Bracknell Forest library services.

Thank you, Mary.

Choral Flanders and Swann 17/4/20

Most of us will have enjoyed the Michael Flanders and Donald Swann duo of the 60s. Their humour and musicianship endeared them to audiences past and present, and some of their songs have enduring popularity.

Below are links to two of these, arranged for choirs by Paul Ayres, composer, arranger and choir director:

Finding Sainsbury's delivery-time slots 16/4/20

We saw a daily newspaper's response to an old person who could not find a delivery-time slot from Sainsbury's, and it was clear that the responder had no practical experience of what to do.

When you reach the delivery-time page, it will not show any free slots unless you are incredibly lucky. Stay on that page and refresh the screen every few seconds using the F5 button on your keyboard. You many have to do this for a quarter of an hour, or perhaps even as much as 2 hours, but eventually you will find that the screen has suddenly added a tranche of newly-available slots. Select one as fast as you can - they go in a few seconds, and you should have it confirmed after a short wait. If it isn't confirmed, you were too slow - keep trying and be quicker next time!

This works reliably, for those prepared to be patient.

Bassoons against Covid-19

For the 15th day, celebrated professional bassonist Laurence Perkins has put up some real virtuosity in his last piece of the day. His daily mini-recitals can be found on - just click the link.

Earlier days' recitals are still up on Laurence's site. They are brief moments of pure enjoyment

Check your Junk Mail folders regularly 14/4/20

These days our junk-mail detectors seem to be working like over-zealous policemen! We recently found that ours had designated as junk a kind message from Sainsbury's that confirmed the delivery of our grocery order. (What did it have in mind?) So do please look in your junk folder for messages that are genuine - but do remember that fraudsters often use reputable names to generate fraudulent messages. Junk-detection is about 95% accurate for us - but look out for the 5%! Check the detailed email address of any possible genuine mail - if it comes from another country it is usually a scam, but check carefully and never supply personal information unless you are absolutely sure that it is safe.

A message of Easter Hope

Our friends writing from NZ (he is a past-Master of the Cooks Company of the City of London) sent us this Easter message of hope, written by the Hon. Chaplain of the Cooks' Company. It gives a thoughtful and relevant perspective of the situation in which we find ourselves at this grim time. Do read and absorb it!

Easter Monday Special 13/4/20

Here is a delight for the day. It is a recent Youtube of a competition performance (videoed for the competition last month in these Covid days) of our super-talented young local violinist Sarah Aizawa, who was 11 last November. Many of you will have heard her perform at our Music and Merriment Concerts in St Mary's xhurch in December 2017 and 2018. Listen to her virtuosic performances of Telemann (unaccompanied) and Wieniawski (with piano) HERE.

An Editorial: Boris Johnson 12/4/20

Boris Johnson in some ways epitomises our country's dedicated struggle against Covid-19, starting with his clear motivation to listen to the scientific advice, make hard decisions on the basis of what the scientists are saying, and galvanise his team to make the necessary measures work, and moving on to his own nearly fatal brush with the disease. We wish him a steady improvement in his recovery, and patience in sparing himself at a time when he must focus on regaining his own health as a priority. We ourselves must be patient with a government trying to cope, for now and for the future, with huge problems and with a half-understood and ever-changing enemy, while its leader must take time off.

We are pleased that the leader of Her Majesty's Opposition has pledged to lead that body constructively.

It is also good to see the main public bodies reacting to the necessary new challenges and taking on new ways of working - perhaps not as quickly as one would like, but still with a high level of professionalism.

Lots of things have been slow to bring about, and mistakes have been made, but it is a bit pathetic to observe commentators who are so wise after the event. Learning from history is important, but history is not made by - not even documented by - commentaries formulated as the situation is developing.

A report from New Zealand 11/4/20

A friend of ours and his New Zealander wife Marilyn often visit New Zealand (where they have a small house) at this time of year. He writes:

'Marilyn and I are safely locked down in our little home in New Plymouth. The NZ government got on top of things quickly, so country wide there have only been four deaths and 1200 cases.

'However all our plans for travelling in NZ have been abandoned, and we have to stay in the house except for essential food shopping and a daily walk. It remains to be seen whether we can fly back in May when we intended to, but, given what we see and hear about the UK, I am inclined to think we might be better off staying put for a bit. Marilyn is all in favour of that plan!'

Easter service 12/4/20

There was an Easter service for us to attend that took place at 11am today, Easter Sunday, using Zoom. This was an excellent thing - and truly made our day. Thank you, Tracey, Huw, Lesley, and all who contribued to this moving occasion.

This Zoom service will happen each Sunday at 10:45 for 11am. Next Sunday 19/4/20, it will be a St Peter's service, and the following Sunday it will be a St Martin's service.

Joining instructions will be found on the Benefice website, which is accessible using the blue [Benefice website] button above.

Applause for the tireless work of the NHS on 9/4/20

We were pleased to join in with quite a lot of clapping at 8pm this evening, to celebreate the wonderful NHS people.

Sainsbury's delivery slots 7/4/20

We were advised by a Sainsbury message on Facebook that (for us elderlies) online delivery slots were periodically made available. Sitting on their Delivery Slot page and pressing F5 several times a minute (this refreshes the web-page), a set of slots were soon made available, but disappeared too quickly to grab one. After two more hours plus, more slots were posted by Sainsbury's and this time we were able to grab one, so that is taken care of for a week. Persistence and patience does pay, we learn!

Her Majesty's speech 5/4/20

Her Majesty made a speech to the nation which was broadcast at 8pm on Sunday 5/4/20, which thanked the NHS and all those working for a better outcome to a unique world situation, including those confined to home. She also expressed the belief that the spirit of the British people would shine through and be an example to future generations. The full text of Her Majesty's moving spech is HERE.

This came on a day when the Prime Minister was admitted to hospital, where he remains today 6/4/20, reminding us that the disease is no respecter of persons. We wish Boris a speedy and secure recovery.

Palm Sunday special 5/4/20

Some of the St Mary's children read a playlet about Palm Sunday, which was Sunday, 5/4/20. The Youtube link to it is HERE! Enjoy!!

Fraudulent email apparently from SE Water 3/4/20

We have received an email suggesting that people 'register for emergency services' by pressing a link. This link appears to be NOT part of the South East Water website.


Contact South East Water if you wish, but ONLY using web addresses, emails and telephone numbers that they supplied you in bills etc.

TSC (Telephone Support Club) 2/4/20

The Friends' TSC (Telephone Support Club) started operations yesterday. Some people were uneasy about being 'offered help' by the TSC, as their own arrangements are fine. They should not be uneasy, as the main purpose pf the TSC is, not to help directly, but to support the people in the isolation that they may well be feeling, and to create stronger bonds within our community.

The fact is that the TSC (with many elderly members) has very limited resources for physical help such as shopping, and could not possibly offer such things except in cases of emergency.

So please just join in and enjoy chatting between yourselves, whether or not you need assistance. So far, everybody has set themselves up sensibly to cope with things like shopping.

Scam emails threatening fines 1/4/20

Which News advise: "Don’t believe bogus text messages saying you’ve been fined for stepping outside during the coronavirus lockdown. It is the latest in a series of scams related to the virus that claims to be from the UK Government."

"This sinister scam claims that your movements have been monitored through your phone, and that you must pay a fine or face a more severe penalty."

You must ignore such messages. Read more HERE.

Vital Covid-19 advice 1/4/20

We have just reviewed and reissued our article on THIS LINK. Please refresh the versionif necessary by pressing F5. It is VITAL READING FOR ALL - PLEASE DOWNLOAD IT AND PASS IT ON!

Other tips:

* Delivered goods, and goods off shop shelves etc could be carriers of corona-virus for 24 hours: wash hands immediately after handling them, and try not to use them for a day.

* In any case, wash hands at least every two hours.

Our Sermon for Sunday 29/3/20

The Revd Roy Burgess sent us a sermon for Sunday 29th March 2020, with a covering letter. Click HERE. It gives some relief from Covid-19.

Scam emails pretending to be from 'HMRC' 26/3/20

HMRC have sent an email to the self-employed announcing measures to help self-employer. They also warn of "an increase in scam emails, calls and texts." They say "If someone gets in touch claiming to be from HMRC, saying that financial help can be claimed or that a tax refund is owed, and asks you to click on a link or to give information such as your name, credit card or bank details, please do not respond." They add: "HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for these details."

We all need to be wary of these things - do not automatically trust any email or text just because it says it is from a reputable source!!

For example we just received a message from 'Gas and Electricity' with subject 'What if you could save on your bill?' Is it junk? - no way of finding out, so into the bin it goes!!

Do not trust websites or sellers offering you scarce things like face-masks or hand-wash, etc. This is a scam that really is being applied by unscrupulous people, according to 'Action Fraud'.

Applause for the tireless work of the NHS on 25/3/20

We heartily endorse, and join in with, the praise for and appreciation of hard-pressed NHS workers all over the UK yesterday evening. They know how tough it will become in the next few weeks, and their courage in facing up to this is amazing.

Chief Constable' statement 25/3/20

John Campbell, Thames Valley Police Chief Constable. this evening spoke on YouTube - press the link - emphasising his force's determination to protect the public as they isolate themselves at home for the benefit of themselves, the NHS, and public safety. Enforcement will be by appeal to common sense, by pursuasion if at all possible.

All churches closed 25/3/20

The Prime Minister announced today that all churches will be closed until further notice.

Credit card scam

We encountered a scam hitting worried people today. A person knowing your name announced in a telephone call: "There is a dubious transaction on your Barclaycard account - ring this number to discuss". The number was NOT the helpline number on the card, and the scammer will try to persuade anybody ringing the number to secure their funds in some way - and will then steal them. Only ever ring the official help-line number or you can check your account online.

New curbs announced 24/3/20

The Prime Minister announces sweeping new curbs on life. Stay at home except for essential reasons. All non-essential shops will be closed - there is a list of shops that will continue to support daily life. Gatherings of more than two people, not counting those living together, will cease. The police will have new power to enforce the rules.

With these restrictions, the rate of spread of the corona-virus will be curbed dramatically. Without them, the rate of spread of contagion will be a lot worse. Let's do it!

Tip of the week

Nicky Gumbel: "Say the Lord's Prayer while you are (frequently) washing your hands!"

Choose Faith not Fear

This Youtube message from Nicky Gumbel gives a simple message yet clear and cogent. Click on Choose Faith Not Fear

Enjoyable adult education

Reprinted from the April/May Parish Magazine

Many of us will spend most of our time housebound over the next few weeks. Here is a splendid way of taking advantage of it!

Gresham College was established as a result of the will of the great Elizabethan financier, Sir Thomas Gresham, to give free public lectures to Londoners.

This amazing organisation is still going, with Gresham Professors who are the top of the class giving stimulating lectures that lay people can engage with. All lectures are streamed on Youtube, and all you need to do is visit the College website and select as many lectures as you like – and enjoy them for free!

Of particular interest are the lectures of Chris Whitty, the UK’s chief medical officer, and also Gresham Professor of Physic (medicine and biology).

However, you can be entertained and educated on a broad range of topics, from Astronomy to Law, and you do not have to be knowledgeable in any particular subject to become absorbed in the lecture.

The Queen's speech on 19/3/20

Her Majesty made a speech to the whole nation yesterday about its duty to pull together to defeat corona-virus, and particularly thanking all the people who most active in combating the crisis; scientists. medics and other people in vital public services. She said:

"As Philip and I arrive at Windsor today, we know that many individuals and families across the United Kingdom, and around the world, are entering a period of great concern and uncertainty.

"We are all being advised to change our normal routines and regular patterns of life for the greater good of the communities we live in and, in particular, to protect the most vulnerable within them.

"At times such as these, I am reminded that our nation’s history has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one, concentrating our combined efforts with a focus on the common goal.

"We are enormously thankful for the expertise and commitment of our scientists, medical practitioners and emergency and public services; but now more than any time in our recent past, we all have a vitally important part to play as individuals - today and in the coming days, weeks and months,

"Many of us will need to find new ways of staying in touch with each other and making sure that loved ones are safe. I am certain we are up to that challenge. You can be assured that my family and I stand ready to play our part."

Her statement comes after Prince William released a video stating that people in the UK "have a unique ability to pull together".

He explained the role of the The National Emergencies Trust and said it collaborates with charities to raise and distribute money to support victims during a domestic disaster.

Delivery and takeaway services 20/3/20

The heading is a link to news of local pubs and restaurants that are providing delivery and takeaway services that may be of interest to self=isolaters.

Social distancing

The heading above is a link that gives access to detailed Government guidelines on social distancing for the elderly and vulnerable.

Panic buying and the supermarkets

There are many empty shelves in our supermarkets as a result of panic buying, and this creates a real problem for shoppers, particularly elderly ones.

A letter from Sainsbury's Chief Executive Mike Coupe received this morning (18/3/20) contains the following statements:

... We will set aside the first hour in every supermarket this Thursday 19th March, for elderly and vulnerable customers. I hope that you can respect this decision and will work with us as we try our best to help those that need it the most. If you or an elderly family member, friend or neighbour would like to shop during this hour, please check online for your local supermarket opening hours.

... We will also help elderly and vulnerable customers access food online. From Monday 23rd March, our online customers who are over 70 years of age or have a disability will have priority access to online delivery slots. We will contact these customers in the coming days with more details.

... Following feedback from our customers and from our store colleagues, we have decided to put restrictions on a larger number of products. From tomorrow, Wednesday 18th March, customers will be able to buy a maximum of three of any grocery product and a maximum of two on the most popular products including toilet paper, soap and UHT milk. We have enough food coming into the system, but are limiting sales so that it stays on shelves for longer and can be bought by a larger numbers of customers.

On 19/03/20, Tesco's advertised similarly:

From today we will start to implement the following changes:

  • To ensure more people have access to everyday essentials, we are introducing a storewide restriction of only 3 items per customer on every product line, and removing multi-buy promotions. In order to allow Tesco colleagues to focus on stocking shelves, helping to provide the essential groceries you are looking for and to avoid waste, we will close all meat, fish, deli counters and salad bars.
  • To be able to ensure our stores are clean, that we can replenish stock, and allow our colleagues to rest, we will change our trading hours with all stores closing at 10pm.
  • To ensure we are doing everything possible to reduce the risk of infection for both our customers and colleagues, we will be introducing some distancing measures at the checkout and, to make it swifter, invite customers who can, to pay by card
  • To help free up slots for the more vulnerable, such as our elderly customers and those who are self-isolating, we are encouraging customers who shop online or choose Click+Collect for their grocery home shopping, to prioritise Shopping in-store where possible.
  • To ensure our more vulnerable and elderly customers can shop in-store, we will prioritise one hour every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning between 9-10am (except in our Express stores) and ask that you respect this.
  • Tesco store colleagues can't work from home and a good number of them will need to respond to personal or family challenges connected with dealing with COVID-19. So we would please ask that you. understand the challenging environment in which we are all working. If you do go in-store and want to say thank you, then I'm sure they'd appreciate it.

So, if you could help us by limiting demand of essential items and allowing us to focus on the core needs of our customers - we are confident that we can continue to feed the nation. We are delivering food daily to our stores, but this is a very challenging time and we will only get through this if we work together. .

Thank YOU for your support.

Other supermarkets will clearly put in similar measures.

Concerns that supermarket staff are increasingly exposed to the virus from shoppers, as well as enabling people to maintain stricter isolation, will result in increasing pressure for people to use online shopping. We should all consider online shopping as part of our personal plans to help keep our community safe, as infected supermarket staff will endanger everybody even if they display no symptoms.

Always wash hands after visiting a supermarket.

Lockdown by Brother Richard:

Brother Richard Hendrick, a Capuchin Franciscan living in Ireland, has penned a touching poem about coronavirus ...

Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.

They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.

So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,

Temper fear with reason

This advice from an infectious-diseases specialist doctor is well worth reading and digesting!

I'm a doctor and an Infectious Diseases Specialist. I've been at this for more than 20 years seeing sick patients on a daily basis. I have worked in inner city hospitals and in the poorest slums of Africa. HIV-AIDS, Hepatitis,TB, SARS, Measles, Shingles, Whooping cough, Diphtheria...there is little I haven't been exposed to in my profession. And with notable exception of SARS, very little has left me feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed or downright scared.

I am not scared of Covid-19. I am concerned about the implications of a novel infectious agent that has spread the world over and continues to find new footholds in different soil. I am rightly concerned for the welfare of those who are elderly, in frail health or disenfranchised who stand to suffer mostly, and disproportionately, at the hands of this new scourge. But I am not scared of Covid-19.

What I am scared about is the loss of reason and wave of fear that has induced the masses of society into a spellbinding spiral of panic, stockpiling obscene quantities of anything that could fill a bomb shelter adequately in a post-apocalyptic world. I am scared of the N95 masks that are stolen from hospitals and urgent care clinics where they are actually needed for front line healthcare providers and instead are being donned in airports, malls, and coffee lounges, perpetuating even more fear and suspicion of others. I am scared that our hospitals will be overwhelmed with anyone who thinks they probably don't have it but may as well get checked out no matter what because you just never know... and those with heart failure, emphysema, pneumonia and strokes will pay the price for overfilled ER waiting rooms with only so many doctors and nurses to assess.

I am scared that travel restrictions will become so far reaching that weddings will be canceled, graduations missed and family reunions will not materialize. And well, even that big party called the Olympic Games...that could be kyboshed too. Can you even imagone?

I'm scared those same epidemic fears will limit trade, harm partnerships in multiple sectors, business and otherwise and ultimately culminate in a global recession.

But mostly, I'm scared about what message we are telling our kids when faced with a threat. Instead of reason, rationality, openmindedness and altruism, we are telling them to panic, be fearful, suspicious, reactionary and self-interested.

Covid-19 is nowhere near over. It will be coming to a city, a hospital, a friend, even a family member near you at some point. Expect it. Stop waiting to be surprised further. The fact is the virus itself will not likely do much harm when it arrives. But our own behaviors and "fight for yourself above all else" attitude could prove disastrous.

I implore you all. Temper fear with reason, panic with patience and uncertainty with education. We have an opportunity to learn a great deal about health hygiene and limiting the spread of innumerable transmissible diseases in our society. Let's meet this challenge together in the best spirit of compassion for others, patience, and above all, an unfailing effort to seek truth, facts and knowledge as opposed to conjecture, speculation and catastrophizing.

Facts not fear. Clean hands. Open hearts.

Our children will thank us for it.

Abdu Sharkawy


My computer fails to complete payment with Sainsbury's online shopping

Can you sterilise facemasks?

Elderly & Vulnerable Priority Time - Tesco North, Bracknell

Elderly & Vulnerable Priority Time - Sainsbury's, Bagshot Road

When will the April/May parish mag be published?

My computer fails to complete payment with Sainsbury's online shopping

We have encountered an unexplained system failure to complete payment to Sainsbury's online shopping from our computer.

However, using our mobile phone to access Sainsbury's website and to complete the payment worked fine.

Can you sterilise facemasks?

There is no approved way of sterilising facemasks (FFRs - Filtering Facepiece Respirators) according to Centers for Disease Control an Prevention in a comprehensive article. FFRs are designed for single use.

However, if there is no option but to re-use, you can recycle (have five masks used one a day and carefully set aside a used mask as temporarily infected for four days) or you can sterilise in steam produced by boiling a cup of water in a microwave for a few minutes. Some masks will spark with their metal parts, and then this method should not be used. Other masks will degrade their seals and should be inspected after treatment. Try it as it is better than nothing. See the caveats in the article quoted.

Elderly & Vulnerable Priority Time - Tesco North, Bracknell

Sunday 22 March: Closed
Monday 23 March: 9am - 10am
Tuesday 24 Mar: Closed
Wednesday 25 March: 9am - 10am
Thursday 26 March: Closed
Friday 27 March: 9am - 10am

Tesco's opening times are 7am to 10pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sundays.

Elderly & Vulnerable Priority Time - Sainsbury's, Bagshot Road

Sainsbury's announced that from Thursday, March 19, stores including Bagshot Road in Bracknell, will set aside the first hour in every supermarket for elderly and vulnerable customers.

Sainsbury's opening times are 7am to 10pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sundays.

Sainsbury's have allocated a dedicated helpline for vulnerable customers: 0800 052 5500 opening at 9am.

When will the April/May parish mag be published??

The parish mag for April/May cannot be published and distributed in the same way as usual due to Covid-19 restrictions.We will print a small number of magazines for use by those who really need printed copies and to leave in our churches. The online editorial for April/May is already published on the Parish Mag website and has its own button at the top. We will shortly have a publication for the advertisers. We will review the situation as the Covid-19 situation develops.

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