Saturday, 18th February,2023

[Day 1069]

Today dawned a little gloomy and overcast but nonetheless we were determined to make the best of it. Next week is going to be rather a strange week as it is a half-term week over most of the country. Consequently, many of our friends are drawn into grandparenting duties or similar and domestic arrangements are probably adjusted in many households. Last night, we texted our Italian friend who happens to live down the road and were delighted to get a reply back quite rapidly accepting our invitation to coffee next Wednesday morning. Apart from bumping each other as we walk down the road (my mother used to call these quick encounters ‘like ships passing in the night’ but I am not sure why), we have not had the chance of a good chat for quite some time now. We have quite a lot to catch up on as I am sure things have happened in our respective families that we would like to share with each other. At the same time, we also texted one of Meg’s cousins from whom we have not heard from some time and we know, via a Christmas card, that she had a serious operation last year. So we are anxiously awaiting some communication that all is well and that perhaps we can meet up for a lunch in the near future. It is always slightly ominous when one doesn’t get a reply within a day or so, but I am sure there is quite an innocent explanation.

This morning, we decided to give Waitrose a miss so that we do not get over-habituated to it and made for the park instead. The weather was quite mild and a little blowy but as soon as we started to drink our coffee, a very fine drizzle started to descend upon us. In the distance, I saw a figure that I could have sworn was one of our friends from down the road but as he had a little dog on a lead, I dismissed him from my thoughts. But spotting people in the park is a little like aircraft recognition in WWII where the population was taught to quickly recognise aircraft shapes to work out if it was ‘one of ours’ and therefore wished the equivalent of ‘Godspeed’ or an enemy aircraft in which case it was prudent to dive for cover. But as the figure with a dog approached, it turned out that it was our friend from down the road and hence my recognition of his shape and gait had been quite accurate. The dog belonged to his son and whilst the younger members of the fanily were off skiing somewhere, our friends were left dog sitting. The weather very gradually cleared up but we had a good long chat over a whole variety of topics which proved to be very pleasant. Eventually, we felt impelled to go as we were a little cold and wet and had acquired ‘square bottoms’ from sitting too long on the park bench. Once we got home, we partook of the obligatory cup of tea and then proceeded to cook a fairly typical Saturday lunch of mince and onions, a baked potato and some broccoli. Then we had a quiet afernoon reading before we start to prepare ourselves for the outing to church in the late afternoon and a little ‘do’ in the Parish Hall immediately afterwards when we will be meeting with an diocesan bishop.

Although I do not follow football affairs at all closely, two footballing items have attracted my attention today. The first is the fact that the Quataris have emerged as potential bidders for the club of Manchester United at a price which may be in the region of £5 billion. I must confess, I am uneasy about one of our iconic football clubs becoming the plaything of extremely rich men and not even English investors either, if that does not sound too xenophobic. I am sure that in some sports, the governing bodies demand a degree of local fan involvement so that the ‘fan base’ is sold as as a commodity like the football club itself. Another footballing story is that Brexit may mean that the UK clubs cannot bid for promising yoongsters until they reach the age of 18 but European countries have no such restriction upon their activities and can therefore snap up young talent at will. Whilst on the subject of Brexit, it was interesting that on the ‘Any Answers‘ program broadcast as a follow-on to ‘Any Questions‘ on Radio 4, some prominence is now being given to voices of callers who admit to voting Brext in the referendum but are now starting to realise that this was a terrible mistake. Normally, the BBC tries to keep clear of voices like this but the issue was raised in connection with the Northern Ireland protocol which Rishi Sunak may be inching towards a resolution. It is also interesting that pressure groups on the extreme right want the Sunak initiative to ‘fail’ as if it were to succeed, then Rishi Sunak will gain immense credit for it and those on the extreme right really want him to fail so that Boris Johnson (or someone similar) can be recalled as Leader of the Conservative Party.