Sunday, 5th February, 2023

[Day 1056]

Today we knew that we were going to see our University of Birmingham friend later on in the morning so I did not feel the complusion to leap out of bed and walk down to get the newspaper early on in the day. So we had a fairly leisurely breakfast before we hit the road this morning. After we picked up the newspaper, we had a little bit of time before we were due to meet with our friend so we paid a quick visit to the hardware store that I visited yesterday as I could do with one more of the little containers that they had in stock. I thought that this was going to be a quick ‘in and out’ job as I knew exactly where the little baskets I wanted were shelved. Hoever, that was yesterday and today I could not immediately find them as the store had already re-shelved some of their stock and therefore they needed a bit of hunting around for them. However, they were located at last and I purchased what I wanted. We then spent the best part of an hour with our friend in the Waitrose coffee bar and the store was particularly full of flowers and related ‘romantic’ items as Valentines day is early in the week just after next. Then it was a case of getting home and having some quiet time with the Sunday newspapers before we started to cook the Sunday lunch. This was simple but tasty affair of ham, primo cabbage and a baked potato but although it was simple lunch, we nonetheless enjoyed it. In the afternoon, we tuned into the France vs. Italy match which everybody, including ourselves, assumed would be a walkover for the French. But the Italians were enterprising in the extreme and about ten minutes before the end, the Italians were leading by a single point. Then the French scored a try which was not surprising and the Italians needed to score a try to overhaul them. They were awarded a penalty at the very end of the match and ‘all’ they had to do was to kick for touch right next to the corner flag and then in the resulting throw-in organise a maul to get the ball over the line (a frequent tactic) But the Italians made rather a mess of their kick for the corner, made a bigger mess of their own lineout and so the French ran out as winners. But for Italy to push the French as hard as this was amazing and made for a really exciting afternoon of rugby. As the Italians are to play Englnd next weekend, then this match too might be too close to call.

In the political sphere, Liz Truss the ex-Prime Minister who trashed the British economy (for which many of us are now paying in the form of higher mortgages) has written a long, 4000 long article to which the Sunday Telegraph has given prominent position. Liz Truss is arguing that ‘a left wing economics establishment’ foiled and frustrated all of her plans to borrow a lot of money to give handouts to the rich, hoping that this would kickstart the economy. All kinds of media outlights are giving Liz Truss as much time and spce as she wants to defend her premiersip, reckoned to be on of the most incompetent in British political history. It is an interesting reflection upon the media in this country that if Jeremy Corbin had tried a similar defence of his economic philosophy and politics, nobody would have given him the airtime or the print space. The Liz Truss polemic was discussed on the Andrew Neil Show (which has as part of its regular contributors George Osborne and Ed Balls) where it received a predictable mauling. As was mentioned on the programme, the Tory party believes in the operation of free markets and it was the bond market that ‘did for’ Liz Truss when the economy tanked. Professor Danny Blanchflower, who was previously on the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, was more damning in his criticism as he said the article was the ‘most appalling nonsense I have ever read’ and rubbished her claim nobody warned her the economy would suffer under her plans. After all, she did sack the senior civil servant in the Treasury who had decades of experience, refused to put her plans before the Office of Budget Responsibility and implied that the Head of the Bank of England had no crediblity. So although Liz Truss claims that ‘nobody warned me’ that is because she had sacked, ignored or sidelined them all.

Tomorrow will see tens of thousands of NHS workers including nurses, in England, and GMB union ambulance workers, in England and Wales, taking industrial action in a dispute over pay and conditions. It is being billed as the biggest strike of NHS personnel in history and there is not the slightest sign that the government will follow the lead of the devolved government in Wales in an attempt to resolve the crisis. It may be that we all have to wait for Budget Day, which will be on Wednesday, 15th March when the rate of inflation may have reduced somewhat and the government feels it can make a pay offer.