July 21 – Digest

July 21 – Digest


July 2021

“One of the many things nobody tells you about middle age is that it’s a nice change from being young” 

William Feather

The Outlook

By the time you read this normal service was planned at the time of writing.  In the face of sharply escalating infections I can only conclude that the government has faith in vaccinations and believes that there could be 100,000 new cases but they will not feed thru to hospitalisation and deaths.  The NPC has a different opinion.  This is their message:

The UK’s biggest campaigning organisation for older people is concerned that the easing of Covid-19 restrictions on July 19 could make many fearful about going out again.

The National Pensioners’ Convention says while we all long for a return to normality, the new Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s statement that we could have up to 100,000 new cases of Coronavirus per day by summer is frightening.

The NPC also fears the 50 deaths a day being projected by many health experts due to the ending of restrictions, are once again likely to be among our oldest and most vulnerable.

NHS Digital Data

If you have already  completed your form to prevent your personal data being shared and given it to your GP don’t expect an acknowledgment!  You will need to  take photo ID in to your doctor to digitally access your medical records, that is the only way to check.

You have until 1st September for you to opt out of your records being in the public domain.

National Pensioners Convention view is that the Secretary of State has done nothing to ensure that every patient is aware of the project, the deadline for opting out, and the crucial answers to third party access, safety and security of your data. We are trying to get to as many people as we can, especially those who are not digitally connected.

June Talk

Was by Kelly Marks of SBC on the relationship of the Council and the Community.  The context was the project how do you see Southend in 2050 but she concentrated on what are the objectives for the much more immediate future.

Bearing in mind that 2050 is the goal a lot of input was sought from the young.  Makes sense as they are the ones who will be around at the time.  They came up with five key objectives to achieve by 2023 even tho they are the same as sought for 2050:

  • Pride and joy
  • Safe and well
  • Active and involved
  • Opportunity and prosperity
  • Connected and smart

Each heading comes with four or five points to consider.  We must feel proud of the town there must be no more homeless people.  We need to bring communities together and the town centre must be really attractive to residents and visitors.  The transport infrastructure must cover the whole town and must be clean and green.

These are a small selection of the twenty three on the list.  If you want to read further I have several copies to give away.  What is more is each objective has been allocated to named Council staff members so this is not just a wish list but is an accountable list.

Lite Relief

From my “Could do Better” book.

Army Education exam on Norman Wisdom, “The boy is every inch a fool but luckily for him he’s not very tall”.

On Stephen Fry, “English, bottom, rightly”.

Magic Mushrooms

The joys of mushroom-hunting, the earthiest, most primordial form of foraging, are lyrically evoked in Colin Thubron’s Among the Russians (1983). 

On the outskirts of a forest near the Moscow-Minsk highway, he falls into conversation with a young doctor. ‘I wish I could express it,’ the doctor ‘ tells him. ‘You know instinctively if the conditions are right. You can sense the thrill of it. So you go forward into a light clearing, perhaps — and there they are!’

The doctor then elaborates on his favourites: delicate, pleated ink-caps with their umbrella hats; strong-tasting red-birch boletas; yellow chanterelles growing in huddles together; and small, dense clumps of honey-coloured rmillarias — best consumed, he insists, with a slug of vodka.

Despite this profusion of forms, colours and aromas, the magical enigma of the mushroom is that each of the thousands of species has the same absurdly simple structure — no more than a mass of tangled, interwoven filaments, or hyphae, readily discerned with a magnifying glass.

Those hyphae arise from a vast, subterranean network, stretching out in all directions. This network, the mycelium, is the body, as it were, of the fungal organism. The mushroom is its spore-bearing fruit — as if a vine were buried underground

and all that could be seen were its bunches of grapes projecting upwards. 

Those forest mushrooms are virtually the only evidence, to human eyes, of those ancient, seemingly primitive forms of life that, concealed in their tens of billions below ground, make our Earth habitable.

‘The more we know about fungi,’writes mycologist Merlin Sheldrake in his recently published, completely riveting entangled Life, ‘the less makes sense without them.’

Their defining anatomical feature —

the hyphae — are five times thinner than a human hair.  They grow ever longer as they burrow thu the soil foraging for minerals and nutrients.

Seemingly senseless the hyphae can detect subtleties of the composition and moisture of the soil.

Tho also brainless, they integrate this flood of sensory information to determine the optimal direction for their growth.   And so their communication and transport network expands ever outward.  They become a living labyrinth, by which much of the world is stitched into relations.

The most consequential of the many of fungi is their attribute is their ability to form symbiotic, mutually beneficial associations with other forms of life.

            Two billion or so years ago, when our planet was a most inhospitable place they entered into a pact with single cell bacteria to  form lichens.

            Together, these pioneering organisms can flourish in extremes of heat and cold, colonising and feeding on barren rocks.  The bacteria provide the energy for those hair-like hyphae to penetrate those hard, unforgiving surfaces.  Lichens accelerates the process of weathering 50-fold or more, transforming rocks into potential fertile soil.  The inanimate mass of mineral rock crosses over into the metabolic cycle of the living.

            The leaves of plants, thru photosynthesis, absorb carbon dioxide from the air.  Chemically transforming it into sugars and lipids.  It forms their tissues while also being the main source of energy for their fungal partners.  Meanwhile, the fungi around their roots reciprocate by abstracting from the soil those vital elements of water, nitrogen and phosphorous necessary for the plants growth.

            Without fungi, there would be no greenery – and no evolution of life on Earth.

Dates for your Diary

Ongoing:  Exhibition on the story of the Thames Barge at Priory Visitor Centre .  Free

25 July:  Fund raising afternoon tea at Porters for Leigh residents sponsored by Leigh Rotary Club.  Raffle and music by Ken Palmer.  2-5pm.  Tickets £15.

27 July to 7 Aug:  1000 years of Rochford history tapestry on exhibition at Ashingdon Elim church, Ashingdon Road.  Book at rochfordtown.com/heritage-tapestry

4 Aug:  Lunch at the Brewers Fayre , Eastern

Esplanade.  12 noon.  Tell Jean on 341047. 

7 Aug:  First of 3 markets in Rochford Square featuring antiques and curios.  Free parking in Back Lane car park.

18 Aug:  Members meeting, 1st floor Balmoral Centre.  2pm.  Penny Poppins on her life as a chimney sweep.

4 Sep:  Second Rochford market.  Artisan goods.

2 Oct:  Last Rochford market.  Crafts and cottage industries.

© JDS/ July 2021  Tel 01702 472670