Wednesday, 18th January, 2023

[Day 1038]

Today has been an interesting day. On Wednesdays, our domestic help calls around and we are always pleased to see her and exchange news with her. Last night, we had listened quite carefully to the weather forecast and although the weather was still freezing, it looked as though there was going to be quite a gusty wind which, at this time of year, equates to an icy blast. So we decided to give the park a miss for today and perhaps wait for the weather to improve a little. As it turned out, our domestic help had walked to our house (to make sure she had plenty of exercise) and informed us that it was quite a beautiful day to walk so we revised our plans and then determined to go for a walk around the lake in the park but not engage in a sojourn on a park bench. After our walk we make straight for home and warm up on some soup. Meg and I dived into the chest where we keep scarves, gloves and similar items and discovered a beautiful warm scarf for Meg. At the same time, I located my University of Manchester scarf at the bottom of the pile which I had not worn for about 20 years but today was surely a good time to press it back into service again together with a good pair of gloves which are also sorely needed. So Meg and I had quite a pleasant little walk in the park and muffled up to the eyebrows, we did not allow the cold to penetrate too far. We got back in time for the Wednesday ritual of Prime Minister’s Questions which was full of the usual knockabout stuff and one gets the feeling that both the PM and the Leader of the Opposition have their attack lines well rehearsed and it shows. After the initial exchanges, there is always the cringeworthy spectacle of government MPs asking self-congratulatory questions which are not really questions at all but very often contain an invitation for the PM to visit their constituency which request is always granted (but I wonder how often honoured) Just before we went out, we had a delivery from the postman which was meant to be the complete Mozart Piano Sonatas that I had bought for 99p + postage but what turned up was very different. It turned out to be a complete box set in 10 CDs of Mozart’s 50 symphonies which was actually a surprise to me as the last one he wrote is No. 42. However, I did see an explanation on the web to the effect that Mozart actually wrote 41 symphonies but No. 17 was written by his father, No. 18 by another composer and a third was one to which Mozart only added a few bars to a Michael Haydn symphony. This makes 38 but if we add in 14 early sinfonias this brings the total to 52. In any case, this was evidently a mistake by the well-known firm who specialise in selling off ‘job lots’ so I have accepted the complete box set with a degree of pleasure.

We are contemplating where to go tomorrow for a little trip out. We have been recommended a magnificent local restaurant which sounds good for a special occasion but we are still deciding whether to splash out on it or not. We may well go to our usual haunt in Droitwich where I can can call in the TV shop that sold us our TV kit a few years ago so ask some advice on the Firestick buffering problems we have been experiencing (which, incidentally, our son has also experienced but our domestic help has not)

Today in the Hpouse of Commons, Keir Starmer pressed the PM on waiting times for ambulances, starting off with a hypothetical question (looking at the Commons clock, if a person had heart attack symptoms now, how long would they have to wait for an ambulance at various locations throughout the UK?) The PM response was to attack Keir Starmer for not supporting the Government’s attempts to force Minimum Service Level agreements – the legislation for which has only just started its journey through the Commons and the Lords and may take months to come into force. Then Keir Starmer followed up his attack by mentioning the case of a 26 year old cancer sufferer who died before she could be transported to the hospital which was only a few miles away. The House of Commons heard this in complete silence and I wonder how much the clip will be replayed on the news bulletins later on today. Whilst the Government appears to be desperately playing for time, public sympathy is still with the striking nurses and ambulance drivers so the stalemate may well continue right throughout February and March. On 1st February, teachers will strike to be joined by other public sector unions. But today, a junior transport minister has admitted that settling the rail dispute would have cost less than the costs to the society of the strike. Having admitted this, I wonder how long the Rail minister, Huw Merriman, will keep his job as it seems true that the strike is being prolonged just for the government to ‘hold the line’ on pay.