Thursday, 23d February, 2023

[Day 1074]

Thursday being my normal shopping day, I arrived at my local (Aldi) supermarket expecting to see the shelves denuded of tomatoes, peppers and the like. To my amazement, the supermarket was better stocked with these products than normal and there were no signs informing custmers that they should limit themselves to only two of the shortage items per customer. The supermarket appeared to me to be better stocked than usual, which is amazing under the cirumstances. One does not think of Morocco as having early falls of snow at this time of year so the TV images are quite dramatic. There was a discussion of the reason for the present shortages of certain food stuffs on Radio 4 this morning and I was surprised that the correspondent who was discussing the supply chains that were under pressure mentioned of course the adverse conditions affecting Northern Africa and Southern Spain but also mentioned the contribution of Brexit to collapsing supply chains. I heard one government minister when asked to comment upon the shortages of foods in British supermarkets argue that this was a great opportunity for British suppliers to step in. One can only imagine the world on which certain government ministers must live of they imagine that there is a ready supplier of English tomoto growers who can step in (with sufficienty large and ripened tomatoes) within days. Then it was a case of collecting the daily newspaper, getting home to cook the breakfast and finally unpack all of the shopping.

We had decided yesterday that as today might be a bit of a wet and windy day that we make a small excursion to Droitwich as we quite often do as it is just down the road from us. We frequented our favourite coffee bar and indulged in one of their enormous teacakes which we evidently shared between us. Then we paid a visit to the charity shop which is just next door and we were quite fortunate on this occasion. We found a very elegant lined skirt for Meg which she is yet to try on but is the right size and tomorrow morning will be soon enough. I was also fortunate in acquiring a shirt in my size and favourite colour. Finally, by way of a bonus for both of us I perused the supply of CDs and acquired a double album collection of Maria Callas which cost me the princely sum of 50p. This has 2 x. 12 tracks on each of the two compact disks and we happen to know practically every piece. They were recorded between 1953-1956 when Callas was probably in her prime and aged in her early 30’s. After lunch, we played the first of these disks to ourselves and really enjoyed the clarity of the performance. We had a lunch of quiche, leeks and tomatoes and then settled down to a little cleaning and restoration job that I had scheduled for myself. In the late afternoon, we entered into a Skype video discussion with one of our former University of Winchester friends and, as we had not chatted for a bit, we had quite a lot to share with each other. Our friend’s wife is due to undergo surgery in about ten days time so the couple are making sure thay are not exposed to any COVID which would delay the operation. All in all, we chatted for about an hour and a half altogether, some being political discussion and wth the recounting of amusing incidents that we had both experienced in the course of our teaching careers. Naturally, we are full of hope that the surgery will assist my friend’s wife to get back more to a degree of normality and we are keeping our fingers crossed that none of the disputes affecting the NHS will cause the operation to be cancelled or delayed.

There is news this evening emerging from the Tory party which may well be a sign of the times. Senior Tory MP Damian Green has been rejected as the candidate for the newly created Weald of Kent constituency. The move has fuelled speculation that grassroots Tory campaigners are targeting parliamentarians seen as responsible for Boris Johnson’s departure from No 10. Mr Green was effectively deputy prime minister under Theresa May until she sacked him in 2017 after an investigation into claims that pornographic material was found on his Commons computer. An MP for Ashford since 1997, he currently chairs the One Nation caucus of centrist Conservative MPs and has been critical of Mr Johnson. If this tendency is repeated across the country, it means that any moderate or Centrist MP may find it difficult to retain their seat. Constituency associations are always on the extreme wing of their respective parties – the left in the case of the Labour Party and to the right in the Conservative Party. Eventually, the Tory party will become a more and more anti-European, Brexit inclined party and the ultimate outcome of all of this might either be the re-instatement of Boris Johnson as the Tory Party leader and another period of sleaze-ridden and incompetent government (as ministers will be chosen for their ideological purity rather than native ability). Evidently, the lesson of the Liz Truss experiment for which we are still paying has not cut much ice with the Tory party faithful.