Sunday, 5th March, 2023

[Day 1084]

Today the weather is turning noticeably colder and we need to get ourselves braced for a cold blast which may be the last that we have to endure this winter. The weather forecast is indicating a snowy belt that is going to afflict some northerly and easterly parts of the country but how quickly it is going to spread is an open question. Meg and I got upselves up and prepared to watch the Lorna Kuennsberg program which is part of our Sunday morning routine. Boris Johnson was being defended to the hilt by one of his acolytes but some other influential conservatives were not convinced by the linkage of the Sue Grey appointment as Keir Starmer’s Chief of Staff and whether this might cast doubt upon the integrity of her report into ‘partygate’. I do not normally comment upon my television viewing but last night after we had returned from church and had a little supper, Meg and I channel-flipped to see what remained for the rest of the evening. We stumbled across the PBS (American) network that was running a big feature on ‘Hiroshima – the Real Story’. Although we got to bed later than intended, this documentary was riveting to watch. I learned that the Americans knew that Hiroshima was not a military but a civilian target (nowadays a war crime in itself), that the Americans moved heavan and earth to make sure that the suffering endured by the Japanese people did not see the light of day and even set up a special research facility to study the effects of the radiation (but not to attempt any treatment regimes). This is just a handful of the issues explored in the programme but I felt much better informed after the programme than before it.

In the late morning, we popped down to see our Irih frinds who live down the road and who had invited us round for coffee at midday. We were also delighted to be joined by a near neighbour who is French and very jolly and we repeated the good time that we had had at Christmas time. As a group we were all glad to be getting the winter behind us and to be rejoicing in the extra daylight that presages the start of spring. We all know that we have a bit of winter yet to experience but the end is in sight. We discussed some local affairs including a house along the road that had just gone on sale recently. This stimulated a disscussion between us that in decades gone by, when we were so much younger, then there generations of children that we were collectively raising and who formed a type of natural community. But now that the children have fled the nest years or even decades ago, such a sense of community is being lost and we face the prospect of all of us growing older gracefully (or disgracefully) together. We particularly remembered the good ten years that we had in Hampshire where there several children aged about 4-10 years old and became almost the collective responsibility of us all. Meg and I evidently no children of that age when we lived there but we were regarded as quasi-grandparents by the younger generation and baby-sitting was no real chore for us. But, of course, those days have gone as sixteen years have passed and the children of yore have grown up, gone to university and are not living in the locality any more.

In the various politics programmes that we have seen today, two little ‘facts’ stand out in my mind. The first of these was a graph shown I think on the Sky News programme which showed that whilst the Conservative party earnestly desire the ending of the immigration of asylum seekers and others in the small (and dangerous) boats that cross the channel. The graph that was particualy striking was since the Conservatives had been in power, the number of deportations had shrunk from 10,000 to about 2,000 whilst more and more legislation hs been passed in an attempt to ‘solve’ the problem. Next Rishi Sunak is going to annoounce even more legislation to ‘end’ the Cross-Channel immigration in small boats but declaring everybody illegal and instantly deporting them (even though this is contrary to international law) So judging by the evidence of the past few years, passing more and more legislation is not going, by itself, to solve the problem. The second statistics concerns the release of 10,000 WhatsApp messages which emanated from Matt Hancock and which has found its way via a biographer/journalist into the eager arms of the Daily Telegraph. The Andrew Neil show reported that the total number of words in the messages was equivalent to 2.5 times the entire collected works of Shakespeare. The Daily Telegraph is a long standing opponent of the policy of ‘lockdown’ to combat the COVID pandemic and so is milking this hoarde of emails and releasing one damaging story after another for as long as the story will run. I must say that using social media such as WhatsApp for policy discussions and the like does not strike me as the most appropriate vehicle, even in this modern age, by which policy discussions should be conducted.