Monday, 26th June, 2023

[Day 1197]

Today turned out to be quite a full day, what with one thing or another. This morning after Meg and I had breakfasted and then picked up our newspaper, we made our way to a local centre called ‘New Start‘ whose niche in the market is to recycle furniture and white goods. We have in the past donated excess household goods to this project and have occasionally found the right small piece for which we have a need. Today we were on the lookout for something that would serve as a piano stool but we knew that the height was a critical value because to play a keyboard one needs to be absolutely at the right height. We did find one piece that was delightful but too small and another piece of furniture that would serve but was just slightly too large. We received some useful advice from one of the volunteers who works there that they have a huge turnover of stock and that Monday mornings are quite a good time as the delivery vans that they have have not been loaded up and sent on their way, so the choice is good and things are generally quiet. We made a mental note of all of this and may well return next Monday to see if we can find something to fit our needs and decor. On our way home, we decided on the spur of the moment to see if some of our church friends were at home. In practice, the husband was in and his wife turned up a few minutes later. We did see them at church and at the concert last Saturday but only had time for some brief snatches of conversation. But we took the opportunity this morning to catch up on a lot of our news as we had quite a lot to impart what with one thing or another. Naturally, we told them about our keyboard experiences and they were telling us about an instrument they had had for years and eventually passed it to their son. We also got some news about a local gym which had just been sold for some millions and I think it had been bought by Bromsgrove School (a large private school) as the gym was fairly adjacent to one the school’s campuses. It looks as though some of the long serving staff had been kept in the dark until the very last moment but it all seemed a very tangled tale to those of us on the outside. When we got home, we had a ham joint cooking in the slow cooker, held over from the weekend as we have been having salads whilst the weather has been so warm. But today was a fairly conventional meal in which the ham was served with a baked potato, some broccoli and a cooked tomato.

After lunch, there was a little gardening job that badly needed doing. Just around the corner of the house and a little hidden from us was a little area in which the weeds had gone absolutely mad with some tall thistles amongst other weeds. Fortunately, these weeds were of the kind that are quite tall and discrete and easily removed so I spent a half hour getting this corner of the garden tidied up. Then it was a sunnny afternoon but a littl blowy so Meg and I thought we would have a quick spin in the park, having missed out this morning. Fortunately, we had taken along some snack bars and a bottle of water and located ourselves on our normal bench for a little repast. The clientele of the park changes quite a lot in the afternoon compared with the morning. The very young and pre-school children are probably at home and the dog walkers have usually done their turn as well. But the park has got a lot of school girls in it after school and there are normally mothers with babes in prams who often form a twosome and are chattering as they go. We bumped into one of our ‘park friends’ who we have not seem for some time and she seemed to be suffering quite a lot with her legs that seemed to be heavily bandaged and evidently causing her some grief. We enquired about past acquaintances who we used to see regularly but who well now be moving in a different orbit as we do not seem to coincide as much as we used to.

The aftermath of the rebellion in Russia is playing out in the media. The general consensus seems to be that Putin has been weakened by the whole episode. But what is delighting commentators in the West is that Putin’s whole narrative as to why the Ukraine war was necessary and how it is actually being prosecuted has been shot to pieces by the Wagner chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin who in theory has been banished to Belarus but who has not actually been seen recently. One can imagine that quite a lot of double crosses are being played out at the moment. In the midst of all of the speculation, it may be that this is the beginning of the end for Putin and the military equivalent of the ‘men in grey suits’ may be deciding in Russia that Putin is becoming more of a liability to them than an asset.