Wednesday, 21st June, 2023

[Day 1192]

Today is the longest day/shortest night and I am quite happy to go around telling everybody that Autumn starts tomorrow! I know this is not climatologically correct but the equinox seems to have crept up on us incredibly quickly this year. It is the birthday of our domestic help today and so Meg and I were happy to hand deliver a couple of birthday cards for her. We knew we were going to have a fairly foreshortened morning because our hairdresser was scheduled to call round at 11.30 so we had our elevenses at home. We just started to watch PMQ (Prime Ministers Questions) but our hairdresser called, a little late, so we missed this. Mind you, so many of the questions are pre-prepared and/or rehearsed that PMQ is only a shadow of its former self.

To assist me in my very slow attempts to improve my keyboarding skills, I have managed to locate and to download a free virtual keyboard for my smart phone. I did install one app until it was evident that ‘free’ meant for a few days before the standing order kicked in so that this got quickly deleted before it could even see the light of day. But the app I have managed to locate is free in the sense that it is advert-supported which I can live it if I never click one of the buttons. The app does have quite a pleasant long lasting piano sound together with a guitar and another strange instrument option. But more to the point, it extends for two and a half octaves from the ‘C’ on the ledger line below the normal treble clef to the ‘G’ which is located four ledger lines above the treble clef. This I think will suit my needs perfectly as I can just whip my phone out and have a quick practice and of course this means that I can translate quickly onto the full keyboard when I am in serious practising mode (generally a few minutes either just before or just afer breakfast) So with one thing or another, I have got nearly note perfect and committed to memory the ‘Largo’ from the Dvorak ‘New World’ Symphony and this is only about 16-20 bars long which is more than enough to convey the essence of the piece. After the hairdresser had turned up and made us both a little more presentable, I threw together the elements of a lunch from the remains of the beef meal from the weekend and then my thoughts started to turn to lawn cutting. My weather app told me that there was a 50% chance of rain in the next hour and a 40% chance in the hour after that so Meg and I decided to have an icecream and eat it on the bench at the front of the house. It was particularly hot and humid this afternoon and no rain was in evidence at all but I did eventually start to cut the lawns at about 4.00pm and got them all done before the end of the afternoon. Then it was the ‘bins’ day when our domestic bins have to be dragged to the kerbside – I tend to take both my own and my neighbours and he reciprocates by delivering them back again.

Tomorrow interest rates are predicted to rise yet again and today’s 8.7% year-on-year inflation rise is a painfully long way from the governor’s 2% target. Core inflation is rising in the UK, but dropping in the US and Germany, making it harder to maintain this is all a global problem. There is no doubt some Tories are looking for a scapegoat in the face of a looming political nightmare. Yet it is also true the charge sheet that many cite against Bailey is long: the Bank starting interest rate rises too late, not raising them fast enough, doing too much unnecessary quantitative easing during the pandemic and for too long, and for not being clear enough in his communications. The anger felt by some Tories towards the governor is palpable. Having said all of this, as a General Election comes into sight, probably at the end of next year then raising interest rates is about the only weapon that the Bank of England and the Government can deploy. Of course, there are at least two if not three or four by-elections to be held in July and a massive rise in mortgages is enough to make many otherwise committed Tory voters stay at home. Part of the problem is that we had low interest for so long that there is a generation of mortgage holders who did not fully appreciate that interest rates could not carry on being low as this for ever.

We got a phone call from our University of Birmingham friend whose company we have missed whilst he has spent some time in hospital. But it now looks as though discharge day may be on Friday so we are making some tentative plans to see if we can see each other over the weekend. On Saturday, as it happens, we are having a concert of ‘bite size’ classics in our church starting at 3.00pm – this is part of the Bromsgrove festival and we enjoyed the contributions made last year. This is to be followed by tea and sandwiches in the parochial hall and then our normal Saturday evening service.