Sunday, 12th February, 2023

[Day 1063]

Today being a Sunday is the day upon which I used to get up early and walk down to collect my Sunday newsaper. But we have changed our routine slightly on Sunday mornings so Meg and I have a more leisurely start to the morning but we make sure that we are sitting down in front of the TV for the Lorna Kuenssberg ‘Sunday’ program. Today there was quite a significant part of an interview because the DCMS select committee (Digital,Culture, Media and Sport) Select Committee have recently called as a witness before them Richard Sharp who is the BBC Chairman. The committee were questionning whether there had been complete transparency in the evidence given to the committee as he had had some influence in the arrangements by which a distant cousin to Boris Johnson had acted as a guarantor for a loan of £800,000 to be arranged whilst the latter was Prime Minister. Richard Sharp himself argues that he was only acting as an intermediary, had nothing to do with the financial arrangement as such and reported the same to the Cabinet Secretary. But the cross-party Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has said in a report that Mr Sharp should ‘consider the impact his omissions will have’ on public trust in the broadcaster and has also said his actions ‘constitute a breach of the standards expected of individuals’ applying for prominent public appointments. A very significant part of their findings is that Richarp Sharp had made a ‘serious error of judgement’ On the face of it, whatever the dancing on the point of a pin is made by Richard Sharp and even members of the government, the ‘optics’ of the affair look incredibly sleazy. To cut the story down to its bare essentials, someone who has donated £400,000 to the Conservative Party is then named by the government as a ‘preferred candidate’ and then helps to arrange a loan to the serving PM of £800,000 whilst he is in the later stages of his application to chair the BBC. The Labour spokesman, Lisa Nandy, the opposition DCMS spokesperson was on record as saying that the position of Richard Sharp is ‘increasing untenable’ which is about the nearest to a public call for his resignation as it is possible to get.

After our early morning shot of Sunday politics, it was time to wander down to Waitrose, which we did after we had picked up our Sunday newspaper. No sooner were we there but we were soon joined by our University of Birmingham friend who we were especially pleased to see because we had missed each for a few days. The flower section of Waitrose was absolutely bursting with banks of flowers and particularly with roses not to mention accompanying boxes of chocolates, all in preparation for Tuesday which is St. Valentine’s Day. I had always assumed that this was an over-sentimentalised 19th century innovation but the earliest mention of it in Englnd was by Chaucer. Writing in 1382, Chaucer celebrated the engagement of the 15 year-old King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia via a poem, in which he wrote: ‘For this was on St. Valentines Day, when every bird (fowl) cometh to choose his mate.’ Of course origins of this can be traced back to some ancient pagan ituuals which were then taken over by the Christian church, sanitised from rather bawdy traditions and sanctified by the celebration of the Feast of St Valentine, declared by then Pope to be an offical feast day in 495. We joked with the staff about the various activities associated with St Valentine’s day and I wonder how many of them send cards and presents to each other. Meg and I and our friend discussed some of the programmes that we particulatly enjoy on Radio 4, or current favourite probably being ‘More or Less’ which is a program about statistics in our lives and how they can be interpreted, properly utilised or more often mis-used these days. The program manages the difficult task of taking what might be a dry-as-dust subject for many (except for a few of us geeks) and making it both informative and entertaining. After about 45 minutes of chat we parted to go on our various ways, our friend for another coffee date and ourselves to cook the Sunday lunch.

This lunchtime, we treated ourselves to a traditional Sunday lunch of roast beef (done in a slow cooker) but complemented by some parsnips finished off in the oven, broccoli, Yorkshire pudding and a glass of red wine. We knew that we had to get everything over before we settled down to watch the England-Italy 6-Nations Cup match. England secured an anicipated victory with an improved performance over that of last week when they were defeated by Scotland. But having secured a good lead in the fist half, the Italians came back strongly in the second half and I got the feeling that the England team stepped off the gas a little. We shall now have a break of two weeks bfore the competition resumes. I have often wondered whether a two gap is put into place at this stage so that players on both sides can ‘lick their wounds’ after the intensity of the collisions which they have dealt out, and had to endure, since the competition started just over a week ago. This break is actually coming at quite an opportune time because next week after Church, we are going into the Parish Hall for a little bash as an auxiliary bishop is due to make a visit and the message has gone out that our attendance is expected.