RogerBW's Blog

Returning to Barbecues 09 April 2021

I've been thinking about what it'll take to start running barbecues again.

I am not going to set out strict criteria, but I'm looking roughly for:

  • everyone attending has been fully vaccinated (I'm due in June, but I know people in London who haven't been offered their first shot yet);

  • the infection rate is low enough that it's reasonable to travel by public transport (both within London and on the trains to Beaconsfield);

  • gatherings of this size are officially allowed (which on recent form will certainly be true by the time the other things are true).

I shall make sure there's enough space for people to stay as clear of each other as they want to, and provide hand-cleaning facilities. (Not just fire, though fire is of course best.)

It may be unreasonable of me, but I feel a slight extra responsibility relative to getting a gaming group together in person: it's more people, but more importantly it's an event which people will want to go to even if it's not really a good idea yet, and I don't want to put that extra stress onto them.

But I don't think this is going to happen before August or September at the very earliest, maybe not even this year; and we can fit in at least one more infection peak and panicky restriction before then, maybe two, especially as we find out how well current vaccines work against the P.1 (Brazil) variant. Fortunately I do not have a whole bunch of terribly rich people telling me to hold a barbecue as soon as possible so that they can get back to their normal levels of profit.

Be assured. There shall be goatburgers. And beer.


  1. Posted by J Michael Cule at 12:39pm on 09 April 2021

    I look forward to it.

    I don't even know how to approach the idea of restarting physical meetings of my two gaming groups. We meet indoors and either around a table or around a living room. Social distancing isn't really practical or effective under such circumstances.

    My Monday night group are all within a few miles of each other (Wycombe, Chalfont St Giles, Maidehead) but the Wednesday night group though centered in Wycombe are coming from as far away as London, Milton Keynes and Leighton Buzzard. It's always been a big ask (and a big sign of how important the game is to its members) for people to commute that far on a weekday night. Maybe they won't want to revert to face-to-face... How do I even start to ask them?

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 01:57pm on 09 April 2021

    It's in my mind too; while Whartson Hall has been virtual since before I joined it, I have been in the habit of driving to Cambridge on a Wednesday evening. I think I was the last of that group to get vaccinated, which suggests that I should be particularly careful not to carry infections to them. (Also I can't help but notice that not driving 170-odd miles every week has saved me quite a bit of money, which I don't need but is nice to have.)

    I suspect the best approach is probably to tell your group what you're thinking at the time, which in my case would be "I'd really like to get back to face-to-face games, but I don't think it's a good idea just yet". I mean, you trust these people to roll dice and not cheat, so surely you can trust them to be honest about any reservations they have and to take yours as seriously as you take theirs?

  3. Posted by Owen Smith at 02:19am on 10 April 2021

    Talk of another peak is depressing. I've still got 2 river cruises booked in Netherlands, Germany and France in August and September. My mum is almost tearing her hair out in desperation to go on them. One would suffice, but if both get cancelled I don't know how she's going to cope. Dad on the other hand wouldn't care less if he never left the house again, I think he's in training to be a hermit. Barbecues are pretty far down my list of priorities, if they happen great provided it's safe to do so at the time.

    If RPGs remained virtual forever and I never got any more in person sessions, I'd probably stop playing altogether. I find remote play quite unsatisfying so everything else about the game has to be working really well for me to make it worth taking part. It's a significantly higher bar than for in person games.

  4. Posted by Nicola Zealey at 05:30pm on 11 April 2021

    IMO, it is likely to be feasible to safely gather outside for a barbecue in late June or the start of July. The infection rate in Bucks is looking very good (despite Wycombe being higher than the average for Bucks). Steve and I would be up for a barbecue at Roger's and are both very much looking forward to it.

    Roger is right there will be further peaks and, I'm sorry to be a killjoy, but IMO these peaks will be driven by new variants brought in by foreign travel. The issue is not the single known Brazil variant but the many Brazil variants. It may be this Summer is the only chance we get before the new variants start to have an impact combined with the double whammy of Winter.

  5. Posted by RogerBW at 05:35pm on 11 April 2021

    Among the options I'm considering is "only for people who don't use public transport". Which is obviously going to be a bit less beerful than the usual affair.

  6. Posted by Owen Smith at 12:03am on 14 April 2021

    The vaccines are 100% effective in preventing death and serious illness against all known variants. That sounds like success to me. Some people seem to be saying no-one must ever get ill from covid ever again, but that is a pipedream. So long as people don't die and don't get long covid, does it matter if people are ill for a few weeks? I had flu once, I know it wasn't just man-flu because I lost a stone in weight and I looked and felt awful for a couple of months. As long as covid with vaccines is no worse than that I don't see the problem with people getting it.

    I am aware that some people can't be vaccinated for medical reasons. The difficulty is going to be getting enough of everyone else vaccinated given the idiocy going round in a small proportion (in the UK) of people.

  7. Posted by Chris at 05:58pm on 14 April 2021

    People die of flu. In 2014-18 deaths attributed to flu in the UK varied between 11,875 and 28,330 per winter season -- which is why "oh it's only like flu" was such a fatuous thing for Trump to say in an attempt to minimise the importance of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and why I have a flu jab every autumn.

    I am reassured to some extent about the likelihood of herd immunity to SARS-CoV-2 by the fact that 61% of adults in the UK have now had their first jab and 14% their second, and people under fifty only started to be invited to book some time last week; I think people actively refusing it is a smaller proportion of the population than the media panickers would like to suggest. Everyone who knows any volunteer helping to deliver vaccinations hears of the guy who made and appointment and turned up to tell them he won't take the vaccine, but they don't bother to mention the two or three hundred in the same day who simply bare their arms to the needle without any stupid grandstanding.

    England, on average, has vaccinated 94% of those aged 50 and over, with the South West reaching 97% of people in that age group and London 86%. Scotland is at 94%, Wales and Northern Ireland at 88% of the same age-group.

  8. Posted by RogerBW at 06:02pm on 14 April 2021

    Numbers would seem to suggest that most people who claim they'll refuse the vaccine when asked by a reporter, i.e. making an anonymous performative statement with no consequences, are quite happy to take it when given the chance actually to do so.

  9. Posted by Nicola Zealey at 08:20am on 16 April 2021

    IMO restricting the get-together outside to "only for people who don't use public transport" seems to me overkill. But due to new variants coming in from abroad (or possibly discovering an existing variant is nastier than it seemed) the situation could change rapidly. I doubt very much the next wave will be anything like as bad as the last but who knows? Few thought the last wave would be as bad as it was.

    Between the previous and last wave, Steve and I had a very nice holiday in Devon and we were glad we did. A get-together (outside) for everyone in Summer seems to me a good thing.

    Make hay while the Sun shines!

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