OPINION: Covid could be Double Trouble! - Dave Griffin

covid 19

Covid 19 rates in East Devon - Credit: LDRS

Prior to New Year celebrations, I was alarmed to learn from a health professional’s TV interview that the case numbers of the Covid variant Omicron looked as though they could be ‘doubling every day’ until the end of January.

The interviewer didn’t seem in the least bit startled, but he ought to have been. If we base the calculation on just one person in North Devon suffering from Covid on January 1st, and two on January 2nd, then by following through his doubling process we arrive, at January 18th, with 131,072 people testing positive, which is nearly 33,000 more than those actually living in North Devon itself.

The area’s population normally hovers around 98,170. If we then apply our health official’s method of calculating Covid infections even further, say to January 31st, then by that time, the numbers affected by the virus across our part of Devon would reach 1,073,741,824, which is a little less than the combined population of the whole of mainland Europe and the United States.

By the February 5th edition of the Gazette, the medical man’s pessimistic prediction, if taken seriously, warns that more people will have been infected by Covid than there are human beings inhabiting the planet. Such a figure would be 34,359,738,368, which is an absurd forecast. So, Mark Twain’s famous and much quoted 1907 opinion about the unreliability of statistics, first published in the North American Review, rather holds up, doesn’t it? 

Carry On Clubbing 

After over twenty months’ of Covid hibernation, it’s time to start thinking about returning to our clubs. In Ilfracombe, dozens of meetings were cancelled thanks to the you-know-what, but there are signs of reactivation.

North Devon Coast u3a, which has supported members throughout the pandemic, announces that its suspended groups are gradually reopening, with French and Geology already revived. When it comes to clubs and associations, ladies tend to be more eager than we blokes. Ilfracombe’s Ladies’ Probus has been so popular that at one time it had to operate a waiting list. Meanwhile Torrs Ladies, who meet at The Lantern, is thriving, and welcoming back members old and new.

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Clubs inviting both sexes tend to be outnumbered by women, and that’s understandable in a town having a somewhat disproportionate number of over-60s.

Meanwhile, Men’s Shed, at which DIY fans have access to tools and equipment at its High Street location, has returned to life beneath the Chocolate Emporium. (I can’t even bang a nail in straight, guys.) A local casualty of lockdown has been Men’s Probus (Professional and Business).

Pre-Covid it met on the first Wednesday of each month at the harbour’s Yacht Club. One of Britain’s largest clubs for the retired, there’s a Probus in most towns, but Ilfracombe’s membership has fallen following infirmity, and not least, the prospect of tackling the staircase up to the bar. In its wisdom, the building’s owner, North Devon Council, removed the popular stair-lift, thus denying access to a social life for older people.

So much for inclusivity. Men’s Probus gives chaps who would otherwise be getting under their wives’ feet the chance to get suited up and indulge in a pint, or a coffee. Occasionally there’s a speaker, but always an opportunity to put the world to rights. The club is looking to revive itself after the long break. Fancy joining? Email Colin Knill colinck@tiscali.co.uk. 

Are you IMPS’ saviour? 

Can you tickle the ivories in the style of Eric Morecambe, who famously played, with all the right notes, Grieg’s Piano Concerto No. 1?

If you can, you’ll be warmly welcomed by Ilfracombe Musical Productions (IMPS) which may otherwise fold if a rehearsal pianist cannot be found. Under Lawrence Butler’s directorship, IMPS has for years staged summer shows at the Landmark and The Space, and raised thousands for local charities, besides giving tourists a great evening out with songs, sketches and dance routines.

IMPS isn’t expecting a Rachmaninov-style concert pianist. It’s more Daisy, Daisy, and Roll Out the Barrel. Check out its Facebook page, and please help save this group.

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