Tuesday, 14th February, 2023

[Day 1065]

Today being a Tuesday, it is the day when we pop into Waitrose to see if any of our regular acquaintances turn up. We were not disappointed because one of our pre-pandemic regulars turned up and we were pleased to see her. We got talking about things musical and in particular, Brahm’s German Requiem, myself as a mere listener but our friend as a performer in it until quite recently. On the way out, we had a word with one of the dog walkers that we used to see quite regularly in the park when the weather was a little more fair. In the past, when we had time for more conversation it emerged that she was a native of the former Yugoslavia and she certainly knew of the towns that we had visited in the halcyon days before Yugoslavian society seemed to implode. One acquaintance that we met whilst we were staying in a beautiful hotel in Dubrovnik used to write in the morning and then go out on trips in the afternoon. Only towards the end of our stay did it emerge that he was a Professor of Areonautical Engineering and together with a colleage was part of a two-man team that designed the whole of the Fokker Friendship aircraft between them. This was a turbo prop that seated about 25-30 people and regularly did short hop trips e.g. across the North Sea to Amsterdam and Meg and I actually flew in one when we went on our honeymoon to Amsterdam in September, 1967. When we got home, we had plenty of chats with our domestic help whose day is normally a Wednesday but came to us this Tuesday as a ‘one-off’. Our domestic help had kindly loaned me a pair of bright red, extremely high heeled ladies shoes which I needed for a little practical joke about which more later. Then it was time for me to change into my Pilates gear and walk down to our session which was going to be a bit special this week. I need to explain that last week as we were lying on our backs and doing some floor stretches, we could hear some heavy footsteps that may have been from the floor above. We joked with each other that it was probably the ghost of Joe Pilates (the guru and founder of Pilates in the 1930’s) One of our number (and not me!) suggested that he may have been walking in red high heel shoes and so for a dare, I indicated that I would emulate the ghost of Joe Pilates when our session had ended the following week. So when our instructor had her back turned to us, I tottered onto (rather than into) a pair of exceptionally high-heeled bright red stilettos and made my way across the studio floor before handing out some little high quality, Belgian chocolate bunnies to my fellow class members. Our instructor was worried to death I would fall over and injure myself and wondered what on earth she was going to have to write in the accident book if I were to be injured (but it was not going to happen) and we had a few moments of collective mirth to help us celebrate St Valentine’s day.

After Pilates, we get home to a delayed lunch. This week I had forgotten to purchase our customary fish cakes but instead I had bought for ourselves some rope-grown Scottish mussels in a white wine and cream sauce. We had this on a variety of carbohydrates (toast for Meg, rice cakes for me) with a sprinkling from those packets of microwavable vegetables that cook in about three minutes so the whole dinner only took five minutes to prepare. I found this to be quite a delicious change and although mussels are often used just as a starter, it seemed enough for lunch for us today. After lunch, I pottered about getting various bits of audio cabled up and eventually succeeded in what I was trying to achieve.

The Work and Pensions Secretary has admitted that ‘it was taking a bit of time’ for businesses to benefit from Brexit and it is now said that the ensuing political turmoil has hindered investment in the UK. Moreover, the former head of the Confederation of British Industry also blamed former prime minister Boris Johnson’s threats to breach international law over Brexit and his unlawful prorogation of parliament as issues which have scared businesses away from the UK. There was also an interesting high level meeting the other day which Michael Gove attended speculating about the ways in which Brexit might be made to work. An influential study by the LSE argues that evidence of the UK’s economic performance since the EU Referendum is clear: GDP growth has slowed down, productivity has suffered, the pound has depreciated, purchasing power has gone down and investments have declined. This kind of analysis is now broadly accepted by practically all of the non-ideological commentators. But whilst most of the analysis shows that Brexit has ‘not worked’ at least not as intended, the way forward is considerably less clear. The America economy is progressing in leaps and bounds by massive investment in ‘green’ technologies under the impetus provided by the Joe Biden presidency so this may represent one possible way ahead.