Tuesday, 8th April, 2023

[Day 1128]

Tuesday morning is always a day to which we look forward because it is the day when we normally meet up with friends in the Waitrose coffee bar. The day dawned bright and clear, although a trifle cold, but it was enough to lift the spirits after the gloom of yesterday. Sure enough, there was quite a gathering of the clans as there were three of our pre-pandemic friends gathered together in Waitrose together with Meg and myself. I think it is the case that when we gather it is always quite an uproarious occasion because I am generally telling a story or anecdote which is more true than untrue. Today I told a story that was essentially correct but I got some of the details badly wrong. It concerns a conversation with Madame De Gaulle whose command of English was rudimentary. I thought that the whole point of the story came in a BBC interview kept very much under wraps and only revealed on special occasions such as comical outclips played at Christmastime for example. But this is the full story with details I did not know but in many ways it makes it even funnier. I got the whole story from an account of it accessible via Google and here it is.

The Queen’s quick-witted sense of humour once saved her from a potentially awkward situation with an important guest, a royal author revealed. According to Adam Helliker, Her Majesty, 93, was hosting Charles de Gaulle – the former French president – and his wife Madame Yvonne De Gaulle at Buckingham Palace back in April 1960 when the cheeky quip was made. A guest asked Madame de Gaulle what she was most looking forward to in her retirement, which was imminent. With great elaboration (as she didn’t speak much English) she replied: ‘A penis.’ An awkward silence ensued for some time, until the Queen herself came to the rescue, and she said with a broad grin: ‘Ah, happiness.’

Our little group do not just meet for a coffee but we supply a little mutual support to each other. Three of us have partners suffering from dementia, two at home and one in residential care. We exchange little stories and hopefully, some helpful tips with each other but in the main we just enjoy a good laugh with each other. I think we are all agreed that the point in the day when we require most help is late in the day, getting our respective partners to bed and this is precisely the point at which we have to manage on our own and just get on with it. Occasionally some of us meet up on a Friday as well as a Tuesday so that is another day to which to look forward. We then had to do a bit of shopping from the supermarket shelves and then race home so that I could get ready for my Pilates class. It was still a beautiful day in which to walk down and to walk back to town and my Pilates class went well. Then after lunch, as the weather was fine, I intended to get the lawns mowed but it was not to be. Meg had another of her little falls and I found her on the kitchen floor after I had taken our post-prandial coffees into our lounge. After I had hoisted Meg up from the floor (not easy these days as I am a but worried about putting my back out which would be all too easy), I judged that I had better not leave her whilst I did this outside job so I shall just have to squeeze it in at some other time – perhaps tomorrow morning when Meg might be somewhat more stable.

There is a massive political scandal of sorts just waiting in the wings. According to Sky News, hundreds of thousands of people could be denied their right to vote unless new compulsory voter ID rules are delayed, a former Conservative cabinet minister has warned. Raising the alarm about the impact of forcing voters to produce ID in England for the first time at May’s local elections, Tory grandee David Davis urged the government to pause, or risk disenfranchising the poor and elderly. The former cabinet minister told Sky News that the uptake of free photo ID among those who do not already have one – such as a driver’s licence, a blue badge or a passport – was worryingly low. The government’s own data shows just over 48,000 people have registered online in the past two months, compared to estimates of between 925,000 and 3.5 million people without existing ID. ‘The system they put in place to deal with the problem of those with no ID has not worked,’ he said. The government is arguing that photo ID will have to be produced in the local elections due to take place in early May. But this is a ‘solution’ to a problem that does not exist because the amount of fraud associated with ‘personnation’ is incredibly low – at the rate of about 1 or 2 people in each election. But the government has been told repeatedly that there will be a massive detrimental effect upon those who do not have, and have not needed to have, photo ID such as some of the elderly, the poor, the disabled, ethnic minorites and the like. In short, this is rather like the trick that the Republicans in the US used to suppress the effect of the black vote and to swing things their way in tight elections.