Monday, 8th June, 2020

[Day 84]

There are certain dates that stick in one’s memory and today’s date is one of them. It was the date, exactly two years ago, in which I had a bowel cancer operation (technically a ‘low anterior resection‘) to remove a polyp that had turned cancerous. At the same time, I was given an ileostomy, subsequently reversed about four weeks later. Well, here I am to tell the tale – the survival rate over 5 years is about 80%. The one incident that sticks in my mind is as follows. My surgeon asked me, just before the operation ‘Now Mr. Hart – are there any questions you would like to ask me just before the operation?‘ I replied ‘Yes – I just have one question: when you are holding the diseased portion of my bowel in one hand and the rest of my body in the other, can you make sure you throw away the right bit!‘ To which, the surgeon replied,’I’m sorry, sir, but I don’t know what question you are asking me?‘ I replied saying that it was all meant to be a joke but it had backfired. But that is enough of that.

Today, the weather had brightened and Meg was particularly looking forward to her walk to the park as she had missed yesterday. I left Meg on the park bench whilst I went to collect the newspapers and noted, upon my return, that about a dozen young mothers with attendant 2-4 year olds had assembled in the open air or in the park’s bandstand and were organising the children into ball throwing games. (This seemed to involve throwing a ball into a large sheet which was then pulled taut so that the ball was propelled into the air and children then had to chase after it) The whole affair had evidently been organised but whether it was spontaneous or part of a pre-school group, I couldn’t really tell.

This afternoon, after lunch and a rest, I decided that the lawns needed their weekly cut, although to be honest, they had hardly displayed any growth after the dry spell we would have had for the last few days. But things do look a little neater now. I had intended to start painting my newly erected fence/handrail into Mog’s Den but I was suddenly beset with doubts that the paint I had been recommended by our decorators could turn out to look awful. So as to not ruin it, I had decided that it might be better to paint a spare timber that I have to see how it looks and whether the natural grain of the wood is enhanced (which I want) or disguised (which I don’t want). But I never got round to this because we had a long chat with our next-door neighbour who is recovering from some angina pains and with whom we have not had a chance to catch up on his latest news for several days now.

One of the really big political stories is the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol by ‘Black Lives Matter‘ protestors over the weekend. Although this was undoubtedly an illegal act, it is fascinating to see how our political leaders have responded to it. Instead of an ‘illegal but understandable’ tone, Boris Johnson and Priti Patel’s first instincts have been to condemn what they have termed ‘thuggery‘. But would the citizens of Bristol really want to see re-erected a statue of a man who was responsible for the transportation of 84,000 slaves of whom 19,000 died in transit? I turned to the web to see if there was any legal opinion as to whether or not you find a jury that would actually convict anybody in the climate of today. One wonders whether the government actually has thought of the embarrassment that would be caused by pursuing a conviction in the post ‘Black Lives Matter‘ days. I did find the following legal opinion (which with I concur, actually) but it will be interesting to see what transpires. The leader of the Bristol City Council hit an interesting tone when he suggested that the statue might be fished out of the Bristol dock but the council had many other priorities at the moment! Here is the legal opinion:

Anyone prosecuted for causing damage to the Colston statue is likely to be tried in Bristol. Even if the case were to be transferred away from Bristol my view is that, whatever direction a trial judge might give, it would be extremely difficult to find a jury with at least 10 members willing to convict them for the destruction of a symbol of slavery.