Friday, 10th March, 2023

[Day 1089]

The weather this morning still showed flurries of snow but not quite the intensity of yesterday. Our domestic help had to switch her day this week to be with us this morning so I messaged her to offer to pick up up in our car if that would make her journey to us any easier. But she showed up at the appointed time so evidently the snow had not been sufficiently severe to make her think twice about the journey. As always, it was nice to see her and she had brought along a little present of a uniquely shaped colander that she had seen in a kitchen shop. For my part, I tend to buy cooking oil in bulk from a little company that grows its own rapeseed and then processes it and sells it on bulk containers which I then bottle and put into my own bottles on arrival. I then encourage our domestic help to take a bottle from our stock whenever she needs it. Today being a Friday, we anticipated that we would see our University of Birmingham friend in Waitrose which is becoming a Friday morning tradition for the two of us. Our friend is particularly fond of the ‘Moral Maze‘ programme broadcast every week on Radio 4 and one issue that emerged this week was whether it was legitimte to ‘break a confidence’ and report serious nefarious activity to the police. I wondered out loud whether a Catholic priest hearing something in confession could refuse to divulge something heard in the confessional to the police in serious cases. I always understood that what was heard in the confessional was in absolute confidence and should never be disclosed even under the pain of imprisonment or death in the most extreme of cases. But it may well be that things have ‘moved on’ since I was at school and taught the rudiments of theology because the more modern position seems much more sensible. On consulting the web, it appears that the church’s guidelines say that if someone discloses in confession that he or she has committed a serious crime such as child abuse, ‘the priest must require the penitent to report his or her conduct to the police or other statutory authority. If the penitent refuses to do so, the priest should withhold absolution.’ After a brief while, we were joined by one of our pre-pandemic acquaintances who has a lively sense of humour. I reminded her of the response that she made to one of my observations a month or so ago. I asked her whether she would like to live in a society where she was married to three or four husbands at the same time (technically known as ‘polyandry’ which is still to be found in Bhutan, Nepal and parts of Tibet) Our friend thought about this for a moment and concluded that she did not think she would enjoy living in a society such as this. When I enquired why, her reply has resonated with me for a long time as she stated that she did not think that she could ‘handle more than two men at once’. The part of this reply which tackled my fancy was the implications of the phrase ‘more than’ and the imagination can only boggle. Eventually, the elderly lady had to leave us to engage in sone chauffering duties and after she had left, another lady who we did not know passed us by and observed to us that we had evidently had a good time as so much laughter was emanating from our table. So then we left for home and cooked some Basa fillets for lunch. As Basa has only the mildest of flavours, I made a mixture of some seafood sauce and 1000 Island dressing which I heated in a glass to provide a hot sauce to accompany the fish and this worked out as intended.

An argument has broken out this afternoon over the ‘Gary Lineker’ affair. Lineker opined on social media that the tone of pronouncements from government ministers (particularly Suella Braverman) were redolent of the type of language which reminded one of Germany in the 1930s (in other words, the Nazi era). Opinion is quite sharply divided on this issue but the BBC feels that it cannot have a very prominent broadcaster (although on a freelance and not an employee status) to issue opinions that appear to compromise the duty of the BBC to strive for complete impartiality. Actually, I think that the BBC are handling this quite well and are saying that Gary Lineker is to step back from his role as presenter on ‘Match of the Day’ until such time as there is an agreed and clear position of Lineker’s use of social media. Actually, I think that both parties can learn from this episode. Lineker had used language that was capable of misinterpretation and was probably unwise. On the other hand, the BBC probably needs to refine its policies to make it clear to even freelance presenters that they have to ‘have regard’ to the BBC quidelines on impartiality. The wider point here is that Lineker is a sports presenter but should not be using the prominence afforded by his position to let his views be known (however morally correct or praiseworthy such opinions might be)