Thursday, 6th July, 2023

[Day 1207]

Thursday is my shopping day so I was up bright and early to do my weekly shopping. In common with a lot of the population, I think I tend to rotate across the normal range of joints to have for our principal Sunday meal and thereafter in the week. So the choice revolves between beef, pork, ham and bacon joints, chicken and lastly lamb. I mention this last because it maybe a result of the supermarket in which I shop but lamb seems to be becoming a luxury item having been a staple meat for UK households over the decades. Today, just out of interest in the freezer sections of the supermarket I decided to make a quick mental note of the range of meats available. I did find some lamb shanks at quite an expensive price but adjacent to it, I found 17 manifestions of chicken in a variety of guises and, no doubt, with all kinds of gunk added to them to make them relatively more palatable. I suppose all of this is quite evident when you explore how long it takes for the various types of animal to mature before slaughter. In the case of chickens the modern factory farming gets from a chick to slaughter in 40 days whereas lamb takes five or six times as much with a minimum of 210 days. Also you cannot ‘intensively farm’ lamb: sheep eat grass and need a lot of space and sheep require lots of looking after compared with chickens. I had not really given this topic too much thought but I am pretty sure that most supermarkets used to have freezers full of lean New Zealand lamb and this seems in equally short supply, these days. Once I got the shopping unpacked and Meg up and breakfasted, the day was rather gloomy so we decided not to go out this morning. Instead, I cooked a fairly early lunch, not having cut the lawns yesterday, and I wanted to have a go today before things get out of hand. I consulted my weather app and no rain was forecast and so after we had lunched, I set to work with a vengeance and got everything cut in accordance with my schedule.

There are interesting stories today that Russia may be on the brink of a civil war. Speculation started once the Wagner leader, Prigozhin, is now rumoured to be in St. Petersburg rather than in Belarus where he was supposed to be in some kind of exile. These kinds of stories are always speculative in the extreme and it can be difficult for us in the West to read the runes of what is actually happening in Russia but I think it can be said that cracks are appearing in what used to be thought of as a state in which Putin was in absolute control. Naturally, the Ukranians are immensely interested in any evident weaknesses in the invading power but there is still a lot of hard fighting to be done in the Ukranian war and the promised advance seems to have been a very slow and difficult affair. But I have a suspicion that if the Ukranian military keeps its nerve, there may well be a tipping point in which the morale of the Russian soldiers suddenly collapses. There was a story told in the early days of the war that the Ukrainians, when they had captured young and very frightened Russian soldiers, used to sit them down with a cup of tea and then toss them a mobile phone with the ‘order’ that they telephone their mothers and tell them exactly what had happened to them. This story must have ‘had legs’ as the journalists used to say, because Russian families seemed to be fully aware of what had happened even though to organise anything like a protest movement would have been incredibly dangerous.

Tomorrow our domestic help is due to call round, having postponed her day from last Wednesday until tomorrow. As it happens, we both have little surprises for each other and I have been given a hint that tomorrow may be a bit of a culinary treat for us, but I have no real idea what it is apart from the fact that our domestic help is the most excellent of cooks. In turn, I want her honest opinions on our recent furniture acquisitions and I value her opinion highly. Our domestic help and I tend to share a common weakness that if we something that we like in a charity shop, naturally at a reasonable price, then we cannot resist making a purchase. In particular, we both rather like buying things that, with a bit of restoration, can be really turned around and we both take pleasure in seeing the results of our labours.

Since I acquired my electronic organ, I have tended to scour eBay for the kinds of books that have been put together for the benefit of learners and are usually simplified classics. I got my latest, and very last, book through the post today and it looks incredibly well used over the years – and well worth the £3.39 I paid for it. Today’s booklet details 100 ‘classics’ which have been simplified somewhat and abridged such that one gets the principal theme of the piece on one double page. I think I can recognise the vast majority of the pieces in the latest book so as my skills develop (and if they do), I will have a lot of material to give me pleasure over the months and years ahead.