360 days of plague

I've been sequencing these ten-day updates from St Patrick's Day last year, when the full lockdown was imposed, but the first inkling we got of how bad things would get was almost exactly a year ago on Friday 13 March, when the foundation where B and U live told us that we would not be able to see them until 3 April. We knew that it was unlikely that the situation would improve in three weeks; we didn't think that it would be more than three months before we could see the girls again (we next saw B on her birthday on 19 June, and U came home again a week later).

Thank heavens, we are now relatively unimpeded in our contacts with the girls; U has just come home for the weekend, and we visited B last Sunday and took her to the new park that I discovered for her in Landen in January. And if that was the worst thing that happened to our family during the pandemic, we can count ourselves lucky.

That morning on my way to work I took a picture of the relatively empty platforms at Ottignies station; from the perspective of a year later, it looks pretty crowded.

Back in those days, three months of lockdown seemed an inconceivable prospect. It's now five months since October…

Meanwhile the numbers for Belgium remain stubbornly in much the same place they have been since mid-December, with the mini-surge of late February having subsided. Vaccinations are still moving slowly, but surely; I went to the dentist for a checkup this afternoon, an appointment that had been postponed from yesterday because he was getting his jab done. My mother in Dublin also got hers yesterday.

I managed a couple more walks in Brussels last week with diplomatic contacts.

But the weather has turned nasty again and the forecast for next week is also miserable, so I'm going to leave it a bit longer before I return to the city. There are also reports that the authorities are checking offices to make sure that nobody is sneakily going to work. And I am kept quite busy enough operating from home anyway.

I haven't mentioned it much, but votes are rolling in for nominations in this year's Hugo Awards, a process that I am overseeing. We have managed to get a decent software solution in place for actually counting them using the peculiar system introduced four years ago. My current reading, however, is dominated by the extra long BSFA Award shortlist. Some good books there; one or two that aren't.

Anyway, we are promised that vaccination will accelerate next month, and that non-essential travel will be authorised after Easter. Here's hoping.

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