Sunday, 14th May, 2023

[Day 1154]

Sunday morning dawned, being the night after the Eurovision song finals held in Liverpool on behalf of the Ukraine. By all accounts, Liverpool seem to have done a very good job in staging the contest and, from what I could tell, things seemed to go without a hitch, electronic or otherwise. Needless to say, the bookies favourite (Sweden) won by a country mile and the UK entry was humiliatingly badly placed – not quite bottom place which was awarded to Germany but second bottom. Meg and I preferred to watch the Thomas Hardy film on another channel for the first two thirds of the show but what we saw of the last portion of it, each entry seemed a facsimilar of the other. I suppose we cannot put the clock back and put the accompanying video presentations back into the box but these seem and more elaborate on behalf of each of the contestants as the years roll by. So the final result came after a two part voting system which has been refined over the years. The Swedish victory was their seventh in the competition as a whole and the Swedish singer was a previous winner so this, too, made history.

This morning, we met with our University of Birmingham friend and spent a happy hour or so chatting. We were bemoaning the fact that in our professional lives and elsewhere, we seemed beset by procedures in which the process has to be followed (presumability to remove elements of variability) but the concomitant of this is that the area for what used to be the area of professional discretion has been reduced and reduced over the years. We particularly discussed an area common to us both in the discussions that were held by Boards of Examiners to award final degree results. This whole area has been so beset by algorithms of various kinds that the discretion that we used to aply based upon years of experience seemed to reduce year by year. Then our friend received a telephone call which meant that he needed to leave us a little more rapidly than planned so we made some arrangements to meet as usual next week.

This afternoon, Meg and I saw saw quite a heart-warmnig film (‘Tea with Mussolini’) in which Maggie Smith and Judy Dench played principal parts. We quite enjoyed this and then flipped over channels to watch the Womens FA Cup Final in which Chelsea scored the one and only winning goal against Manchester United (this being their third victory in three years). This was all too predictable. The men’s FA Cup Final is delayed from mid-May until the first week of June as the World Cup Final in Qatar in the winter has caused quite a bunching of the rest of the football schedule.

For dedicated followers of politics, civil war has broken out in the Tory party. We had the local election result a week ago which was disastrous for the Tories but then of course, normal politics was suspended whilst we had the Coronation of Charles III, the subsequent partying and concerts and the Bank Holiday. But now we are back to politics with a vengeance and the immediate source of the discontent is that Kemi Badenoch, the Trade Minister, has reneged upon the promise to repeal at least 4,000 pice of legislation before the end of the year. In theory, the civil service should have been combing through all of the legislation seeing what could be safely repealed and that which could not – in practice the enormity of this task was such that vital legislation protecting both workers’ rights and the environment could have been lost as the ‘baby is thrown out with the bathwater’. A little appreciated fact is that as part of our membership of the EU, the UK and the Germans, with the tacit acquiescence of the French effectively ran the EU – if there was legislation to which both Germany and the UK were opposed then the policy would be quietly ditched. So a lot of the 4,000 pieces of legislation we actually had a hand in framing and were not sufficiently unhappy with to occasion a veto. And, of course, the UK had negotiated a whole series of opt-outs across several important policy areas. I heard one Brexiteer infuriated that the UK government was not now going to ditch the 4,000 pieces of legislation claim that a lot of the legislation was ‘benign’ which begs the question whether they actually need to be repealed in the first place.

When I survey the planning board that we use to book forthcoming appointments, I observe that next week is going to be quite a busy week what with routine hospital appointments and visits to the house by our hairdresser and chiropodist. Over the years, we have built up a network of these services which are immensely useful to use but occasionally, as next week, all of these appointments tend to crowd in on top of each other. I am hoping that we have a spell of better weather so that I can get out and start to attack the areas of the garden that are crying out for a weeding and a tidy up but we seem to have had so much wet weather in the last few weeks that has prevented me from getting on top of these gardening activities.