Monday, 8th May, 2023

[Day 1148]

Today started wet and gloomy, exactly as the weather forecasters had predicted. Meg and I watched the Coronation Concert broadcast from the grounds of Windsor castle yesterday evening and we rather enjoyed it. One of the opening acts was the choir put together by Gareth Malone from amateur singing groups all over the country who had had only one rehearsal together before they performed live on stage. Having seen a preliminary programme about the formation and instruction of the choir in a programme on Friday evening, it was actually quite exciting how they would perform live in the Coronation Concert itself. They performed magnificently and, in my view, much better than some of the established acts such as Lionel Richie. Bryn Terfel and Andrea Bocelli sang a piece together which to my ears sounded under-rehearsed and did not really come off – so it is interesting when amateurs might be said to out-perform the professionals as it were. Meg and I got ourselves ready and then popped down to ensure that we collected our newspaper before the newsagent closed up later in the morning (as it is a Bank Holiday) We also took the opportunity to pop some ‘thank you’ notes through the doors of those who had expended a lot of effort in making yesterday such a successful and enjoyable coronation party. Being so wet and gloomy, we busied ourselves with some tidying up jobs and took the opportunity to peruse and throw out some newspapers that had been waiting for an occasion such as this.

The Metropolitan police are coming under renewed critiscism this afternoon for what appears to be heavy handed tactics when it came to dealing with those who wished to protest (peacefully) against the Coronation. According to some acconts, the police had already been told by the protestors what they were going to do, how many banners they had and what was written upon them but were were still arrested as the banners were being taken out of the van. They were then detained for up to 16 hours. Some 64 people were arrested on Saturday but only 4 people have been charged. Rather strangely, volunteers who were handing out rape alarms to keep women safe in the early hours of Saturday morning were taken into custody, even though they were part of an operation sanctioned by, and wih the cooperation of, the police. To put the best possible construction upon all of this, it is possible that the potential protesters were speaking to one unit within the police but the actual arrests were made by others so it may be a case of the relevant information not being properly shared within the Met. On the other hand, it does appear that the right to peacefully protest has been effectively denied and apparently, the arrests have taken place under legislation rushed through and only put into effect the week before. One imagines that the Chinese and the Russian police might have acted with the same degree of alacrity (but probably a lot more brutality) It will be interesting to see the attitudes of the courts in these cases. The police are saying that the arrests were necessary ‘in the context of the situation’ and evidently what has to be balanced out are the desires of the vast majority to witness a coronation for the first and perhaps only time in their lifetime, against the time honoured right to protest, lawfully and peacefully, upon such occasions.

Last year about this time, the Eurovision song context was won by Ukraine and that country would normally host the competition this year. But because of the war situation in Ukraine, the competition was awarded to the UK as our song had (surprisingly) come second last year. The City of Liverpool was awarded the competition within the UK after a bidding process and the competetion culminates next Saturday evening, But there are semifinals being held during this week and the British media are giving a lot more attention to Eurovision this year. Of course, it is is impossible not to have the most outrageous of outfits and some of them are being paraded in Liverpool this week. The UK only a year or so back received the dread ‘nul points’ i.e. scored zero and this happened once before just after the Iraq war when the UK was perceived in a very negative light. This year may well be different and perhaps the UK entry will do moderately well rather than extremely well but we shall see next Saturday.

The Government announced todate that some £240 million is being devoted to improve access to a doctor as the difficulty in getting an appointment has been mentioned so much on the doorstep in the recent local elections. The money is to be devoted to better telephone systems with some training for staff but I fail to see how this will help if theere are not enough GP’s or ‘physician associates’ around to cope with the increased flow of appointments which is likely to result. I tell myself that nothing much will change for months and, even then, I would be surprised if there was going to be much help in seeing a GP within a day or so (rather than a week or so) which as been the situation until now.