Friday, 2nd June, 2023

[Day 1173]

We had our normal extended chat with our treasure of a domestic help who calls around to us on Fridays. We texted our University of Birmingham friend to see if we could meet in Waitrose but did not receive a reply – nonetheless, we still called in there and met with two of our regulars, one of whom was going off to participate in a bowls match and hence she was all in her ‘bowling’ uniform. When we got home, we persuaded our domestic help to join us for a simple meal of sea bream, which is cooked in five minutes or less and then served on a bed of salad. We try to have some capers in store to cook with the fish but I had run out but we had a little spicy sweet chili sauce which is always welcome.

This afternoon, I thought I would try and access Worcestershire Adult Social Care department as I had read recently that as my wife’s sole carer, I am entitled to a certain amount of support on my own account. I always suspected that this process was not going to be especially easy and I was not wrong. Firstly, I tried to access services over the telephone but here the ‘system’ was to indicate that nobody was available to take your call, that someone would call you back and that the message would be repeated five times. Nobody called back although it was still within the normal week’s office hours and then you are cut off and told to ring back later. I did this on three occasions and got nowhere so after 35-40 minutes I had made no progress. I then tried the recommended ‘portal’ service to which the tepehone message had directed any callers but here no progress could be made until the caller had registered with their service and had their registration verified. Having got through this hurdle, I then tried to request a formal needs assesssment using a fairly complicated form and I did this get submitted. If the form is monitored as it should be, then I should have been successful in making an application for a Carer’s Assessment but of course if there is nobody at the other end of the portal to receive and monitor the information supplied, then one is no further forward. It was for this reason that I wished to speak to someone rather than just submitting a form which may just disappear into a ‘black hole’. Of course, none of this was a real surprise to me. Adult social care has been in crisis for years and are struggling to provide even the most rudimentary of services as local authority spending has been savagely cut back over the past decade. I suppose you could call this ‘rolling back the frontiers of the state’ and that local authority services have been cut to the bone. So now we have the prospect of local authorities appearing to be offering help but in practice there is practically no one to man the phones and instead refers callers to websites.

Boris Johnson has now agreed to hand all of the required messages and diaries to the COVID enquiry. But this offer is not as generous as might be thought because after a security leak following the disclosure of Boris Johnson’s personal phone details on a website, he was issued with a new (and presumably more secure) phone. But messages from the early part of the pandemic including some of the early lockdowns may not be available, following advice from the security services. But a certain amount of pure politics is in play here as Boris Johnson is giving unredacted material directly to the enquiry and is thereby bypassing the Whitehall machine which is refusing to submit the entire tranche of WhatsApp messages to the COVID enquiry. Of course, things start to get very murky at this point – should Boris Johnson ignore the advice of the security services to access his old messages? But surely, there is a simple solution to all of this. The old phone, complete with whatever passwords were used at the time, should be handed to the police who can then use their own IT specialists to access the material that they need and they must do all the time when investigating criminal activity. The police could then hand over what material is recovered directly to the enquiry.

There is so much attention being given to the Philip Schofield affair at the moment that I am, quite frankly, bored to death with the whole issue. But when the media starts to turn attention to he media itself, a sort of feeding frenzy seems to take over. There are certainly some questions to be asked such as the extent to which those in dominant positions in organisations can exert illegimate power relationships over others. But this happens in many areas of our social and political life in any case. If I were Philip Schofield, why not retire to a a quiet part of the UK assuming that a certain amount of money has been put by and then develop a new life style and interests totally apart from the media world? This might sound easier said than done but John Profumo after the massive national scandal in 1963 worked in the East End as a social worker and after several years managed to rehabilitate himself.