Thursday, 13th July, 2023

[Day 1214]

Today is our shopping day and I paid a visit to an ATM before filling the car with petrol and finally getting to my preferred store before 8.00am. Having completed the shopping, I picked up our newspaper, unpacked the shopping and then cooked breakfast for Meg. After we had had breakfast, I treated Meg to a rendition of my latest practice piece of Offenbach’s ‘Barcarolle‘. As the melody is relatively uncomplicated, I have learnt how to repeat the principal phrases by using a left hand to complement the melody an octave lower. This, together with the ‘Synth’ instrument selected on my Casio keyboard, make for a very pleasant and, dare I say, soothing sound and I actually find it quite relaxing to perform a little piece like this. As the notes are comparatively simple, I have also learnt how to linger just a little on each note to produce a nice, dreamy feeling and it is not hard to remember that this style of music was first performed upon the gondolas in Venice (presumably not by the oarsman himself). I find that I have now had my little Casio for about seven weeks and I quite like to alternate between both this instrument and the organ purchased about three weeks ago. I was expecting a telephone call later on this morning so Meg and I did not go for our normal walk in the park – besides, the weather was really rather inclement so we were quite happy to stay indoors until I had received my expected call.

Today has been rather dominated by a series of political stories. The one that has dominated the media, ad nauseam, for several days is the affair of the celebrated presenter Huw Edwards who is currently suspended by the BBC but ill in hospital. As the police have found no evidence of criminality, the spotlight really ought now to turn upon the role of the tabloid ‘Sun’ in all of this which, as a Rupert Murdock attack dog, takes every opportunity to have a go at the BBC. On the other hand, the real criminality which is Boris Johnson failing to produce his phone to provide evidence to the Covid enquiry in defiance of what, is in effect, a court order is receiving no media attention at all. This behaviour of ignoring the Johnson criminality whilst pursuing a vendetta against the BBC is certainly being linked by some commentators, not least by Alastair Campbell, the ex-Labour Press spokesperson. The latest news on this front is the UK’s official Covid inquiry has no immediate plans to take further legal action against the Boris Johnson for failing to hand over his WhatsApp messages, openDemocracy understands. Families of the bereaved say the inquiry ‘must be prepared to take legal action’ against Johnson if his WhatsApps are not disclosed in their entirety. Under Section 21 of the Inquiries Act, individuals must hand over any evidence demanded by the chair, with the failure to do so a criminal offence. The other major political story is the fact that the Government has, one imagines reluctantly, agreed to meet all of the Pay Review Bodies recommendations (varying from 6%-7%)in full. The teaching unions will probably decide to call off all their intended strike intentions – but what the junior doctors may decide is another matter. The government is saying that the pay awards, particularly for teachers, will be fully funded but that taxes will not rise and that borrowing will not increase. But this does make one wonder from where the money will be found and there is always the sneaking impression that our old friend ‘efficiency savings’ will be called into play again. Evidently, departmental budgets will have to be raided and it might be a day or so before it becomes clear where the funding will actually come from. One does get the very strong impression that there are only a few Parliamentary days left before the Government in effect packs up its bags and gets ready for a longish summer vacation. Of course, government as such must carry on but there is a real feeling that ministers are rushing to clear up their desks before going off on vacations, presumably with their families, perhaps for several weeks until the Conference season starts again in the Autumn. The last thing that ministers want is to have to man thir desks whilst industrial disputes linger on so I should not be at all surprised if there is generally an ‘end of term’ mood and the political elite wants to get on with the serious business of holiday making.

Last night, there was nothing much on the TV which attracted our attention so I idly went onto YouTube and we started watching a production of Mozart’s ‘Cosi van Tutte’ This turned out to be a particularly good production with some fine singing, produced by generally a cast of English singers but performed in Paris. As the whole opera is well over three hours long, Meg and I split it such that we watched half of it last night and, hopefully, will conclude with the rest of it this evening. Although we have got out of the habit of watching ‘Question Time‘ on Thursday evenings, it is always quite interesting to take the pulse of the nation, as it were, so we will probably give it a viewing this evening.