Thursday, 9th March, 2023

[Day 1088]

We knew from the weather forecast that we could expect a fall of snow overnight. Sure enough we did have a few centimetres but it was not quite bad enough to deter me from doing the weekly shopping. Admittedly, I did not feel inclined to get at the supermarket door on the dot of 8.00am so I delayed everything by about half an hour. The main roads were fine but the traffic was horrendous with lots of delays on a journey of a couple of miles. Whizzing around the supermarket when I know where everything is was straightforward and then it came to the journey home. For whatever reason, the journey back seemed choked up with traffic although the other lane of the dual carriage way seemed almost deserted. But this was one of those occasions when I was really pleased to get home with a carload of provisions for the forthcoming week. Before I attempted to unpack, I immediately got busy preparing a bowl of porridge after which I unpacked all of the shopping. When I picked up the nest of tables from the Age Concern furniture shop yesterday afternoon, I did a very quick perusal of their CD section and picked the six classical CDs that they had displayed. This is primarily because I really wanted the empty cases rather than their contents but eventually I finished up with six CDs for the princely sum of £1.25. One of these was a recording of the most well-known of the Beethoven piano sonatas and we really enjoyed playing this and savouring it whilst we were doing the unpacking. Then we got Meg ready to face the world and we got busy with our little project for the rest of the morning. By this stage of the morning, the snow flurries had finished for the day and there was some pale winter sun in evidence. I sat Meg down in our Music Room and put on a CD disk which we both enjoy tremendously entitled: ‘Ave Verum’ This is a CD of sacred choral favourites and was recorded at St. John’s College, Cambridge. It contains some of our especial favourites with pieces by Fauré and Brahms so whilst I had Meg (and myself) at peace with the world, I set to work putting the finishing touches to my restoration of the suite of nested tables. This consisted of a judicious polishing of the yew woodwork and a final cleaning of the glass inserts with some wipes especially formulated for the cleaning of glassware. Once this was all done, I had a bit of a brainwave and positioned the tables in the corner of the room recently occupied by my last renovation but one, which was the mahogany table whose bad ‘white ring’ stain I had all but eliminated. The effect was incredibly pleasing because now all of the furniture in lighter colours (maple, yew, perhaps walnut I would guess) are now on the same side of the room and the tonalities are nicely consistent with each other. Meanwhile, the mahogany table now looks quite handsome on the other side of the room where it sits besides one of the two comfortable armchairs. I raided the bottom drawers of a large unit in our dining room to see what bits of linen and ‘table dressing’ we could liberate and whilst this was largely Christmssy type things, we did remind ourselves where we kept a supply of scented candles and I liberated one small table decoration that we can immediately bring into use.

As is often the case when the government tries to avoid the fallout from making an unpleasant announcement, the Transport minister has announced a sigificant delay to a section of the HS2 line by making a written statement. The section from Birmingham to Crewe and then onwards to Manchester is to be delayed for two years in what appears to be a desperate attempt by the Treasury to save money. Long term critics of the HS2 project will be emboldened by this announcement and will still attempt to get the whole project dropped. In the meanwhile, it looks as though the concept of ‘levelling up’ will have received a severe knock by this announcement. But we know that similar projects e.g. in Spain, tend to benefit the capital city rather than the more distant cities served by the line. But in the London area, we have had both CrossRail and also the Elizabeth Line. Although these two projects were subject to significant cost overruns, the prospect of cancellation or deliberate delays was never on the cards. Meanwhile, in the murky world of Westminster politics, it has emerged recently that Boris Johnson is understood to have privately warned deputy prime minister Dominic Raab about his conduct. This long running investigation into allegations of bullying may well report fairly soon and Raab has suggested that he will resign if the complaints against him are said to be substantially correct. At the risk of a bit of ‘pop’ psychology, I wonder whether Ministers who feel intellectually inadequate are liable to resort to bullying behaviour in a desperate attempt to appear to be in charge of events. Senior civil servants tend to be highly educated and long standing in their positions and it is no wonder that ministers who may, in the famous words of Sir Robin Day, be ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ privately feel their inadequacy.