Thursday, 13th April, 2023

[Day 1123]

Today being a Thursday, I get up early to get some money out of an ATM and then get to the supermarket about one minute before it opens. This morning, all went to plan and I did a normal weekly shop-up, frustrated only by the fact that one or two of the regular items that I buy each week seem to be missing from the shelves. As I am in that particular part of town, I swing by the newspaper shop to collect my copy of The Times before arriving home to unpack the shopping and then cook breakfast. It was a beautiful fine day but rather windy as the weather forecasters had pre-warned us but we thought we would make the best of the morning with a trip to Droitwich, only seven miles down the road. We had our elevenses in our favourite coffee shop and then went next door to the cancer charity shop where we bought a couple of plain skirts for Meg. Then it was quick whizz through Wilko, our favourite hardware store, buying some grass seed which I think I can utilise in the next week or so. The communal grassed area which I mow once a week has a patch damaged a bit by the hot sun of last summer because there seem to be more weeds than grass plants so if I treat it quickly when the growing season is intense, this may help to alleviate the damage. After that we reparked he car, had a whizz around another charity shop where there was nothing that took our fancy and then popped in to Waitrose to buy some hosiery for Meg that she particularly likes. After that, it was a case of getting home and getting a curry cooked which used to be a regular dish of ours from our student days but one we make a little less frequently nowadays.

The death has been announced of Mary Quant, the iconic fashion designer of the 1960’s. Why this has a particular significance for us is that for our 50th wedding anniversary, I managed to digitise all of our (black-and-white) wedding photographs and I have these on my mobile phone. Quite often, when the occasion arises, I tell whoever is interested that Meg wore a ‘Mary Quant’ style wedding dress. Bur the full story is this. Meg’s mother was an excellent seamstress and before her marriage had her own shop. In preparation for our wedding, Meg sketched out a design which owed a lot to Mary Quant and then she and her mother bought the materials and Meg’s mother made it up. So the story is that Meg wore a Mary Quant style dress, although not one one actually designed by her but with the passage of time since then, the uninformed viewer of the photo would not be able to tell the difference. For the record, the wedding dress was worn just above the knee. It is being said today that Mary Quant ‘invented’ the miniskirt but this is not strictly true. Mary Quant popularised the miniskirt and helped to make it accessible to all and the consensus view today is that Mary Quant’s influence upon the UK fashion scene is hard to over-estimate and her influence lives on.

The Joe Biden visit to Ireland is evidently dominating the media at the moment. The US President has addressed a joint session of the Irish parliament – the first US president to do so since 1995, before the Good Friday Agreement was signed. However, despite the fact that all of the leaders of all of the political parties both north and south of the border were invited to the session, the DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson chose to absent himself. The ‘optics’ of this look terrible as it rather reminds one of a child in a temper tantum who takes away his bat and ball and refuses to participate in a game if he cannot get his own way. The fact is that the Northern Irish Assembly has failed to operate for a year because the DUP will not join the power sharing executive which was one of the key provisions of the Good Friday Agreement. There is an ‘elephant in the room’ here because despite all of the diputes over the DUP not liking the Brexit trade agreements as renegotiated by Rishi Sunak, it is fairly obvious to all and sundry why the DUP is failing to cooperate. This is because the Nationalist vote now exeeds the Unionist vote in Northern Ireland which means that the first minister would be the leader of the Nationalist party, Sinn Fein. The fact that the DUP would have to play ‘second fiddle’ to Sinn Fein and would not automatically supply the First Minister means that Unionist domination of Northern Irish politics is well and truly over – and this fact is so unpalatable that it cannot be countenanced. I have a feeling that the DUP will never join the power sharing executive again until after fresh elections after which support for them may have dwindled even further.

There is the slightest glimmer of hope in the junior hospital doctors dispute this evening. It may be that that doctors will not hold fast to a pay claim of 35% and it looks as though ACAS (The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration service) may now be allowed a role in the dispute but I have a feeling there is a long way to go yet.