Sunday, 23rd April, 2023

[Day 1133]

This morning was a fairly normal Sunday morning for us as we got up, breakfasted on cereal and then watched the Lorna Kuenssberg Politics program, which turned out to be rather unremarkable. After this, though, we made our way down to Waitrose where we met again with our friend from the University of Birmingham. Here our conversation ranged over the humourous to the serious which is about par for the course and then we made for home so that we could cook Sunday lunch. Before we went out this morning, we had a quick glance to see if there were any films that we might want to watch this afternoon. Channel 5 was showing ‘Ladies in Lavender‘ of which the theme tune receives a fair number of plays on ClassicFM What particularly intrigued us was the reviewers spoke of two stunning performances by Judy Dench and by Maggie Smith and although the story line was said to be a bit thin, the performances by the UK’s leading ‘grand dames’ of theatre and film was not to be missed. In the event, the story was a poignant one (as you might almost have inferred from the theme music) and Meg and I felt it well worth a watch.

Late last night, I consulted the web to see if any train journeys to Winchester were remotely viable. In particular, I wanted to see if going via Warwick Parkway rather than Birmingham International gave me any more options. But there were no viable trains available to me which did not involve 2 changes (including traversing London by tube) or three changes to get to Winchester by a circuitous route. Although I now have got a refund from the fact that Cross Country trains have decided to miss out Birmingham International, it now looks as though to get a train from the Midlands to Winchester in one hop is going to require booking about a month ahead which is not an option for me. So we are still considering whether to both go by car which would be a journey of 123 miles each way be car and may be somewhat wearing. If we were to go down this route, I think car parking in central Winchester might prove to be a bit of a nightmare but I haven’t completely made up my mind as yet. Tomorrow afternoon, we are having some acquaintances that we met through the club activities that we met about ten days ago,to pop round for some afternoon tea so we are thinking through some of the little ingredients to have. If the weather is fine (which I doubt) we can always have tea in the garden but April is such a variable month so we may have to retreat to the dining room.

The political agenda is dominated this afternoon by the veteran Labour MP, Diane Abbott, apparently saying that Jewish people do not experience racism in the same that black people do and then having to ride the storm of protest from all sides of the political spectrum tht subsequently arose. She immediately retracted all of her remarks and claimed than an ‘early draft’ of her letter to the Observer had been sent ‘in error’ but it strains credibiity to the utmost that anyone should believe that ‘the dog ate my homework’ type of excuse. One wonders what kind of world Dianne Abbott is living to even contemplate remarks as she originally made which only reignites the idea that the far left of the Labour Party are actually anti-Semitic. Abbott has had the Labour whip removed from her (i.e. de facto suspended from the party) and her status is now one as an ‘Independent’ Labour MP, just like Jeremy Corbin. The maverick Tory MP and classics scolar, Enoch Powell, in his famous ‘rivers of blood’ speeach used the phrase ‘those whom the gods seek to destroy, they first make mad’ and the phrase (but not the context in which it was first uttered) seems quite appropriate to the Abbott case.

The Sudan conflict which has flared up as two military leaders are attempting to fight out it out for supremacy recalls to mind a book that Meg and I were encouraged to read within the first week or so of arriving at University. Manchester University had a Department of Social Anthropology which liked to claim world status for itself. So we were encouraged to buy and to read from cover to cover all 690-700 pages of ‘Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic amongst the Azande of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan’ The pedagogic theory behind all of this was that we needed to be shocked out of our eurocentric and western-rationality mode of consciousness by being exposed to the anthropological studies that revealed how other societies had alternative philosophies of causation and social cohesion – hence witchcraft beliefs were involved to try to discover why one’s crops had failed, illness descended upon the family and similar misfortunes. Whether this theory of exposing undergraduates to this literature within a week or so of arriving at University was valid is an interesting point but I can reveal that Meg and I used this very thick tome in order to prop up the low wooden frame of our bedstead which was in imminent daner of collapse so it proved to be useful after all.