Friday, 14th July, 2023

[Day 1215]

The weather forecasters were absolutely correct when they predicted that it would rain practically the whole of the day, as indeed it did. This morning there were three little errands to make whilst we were on the road. Firstly, we picked up our newspaper after which we paid a visit to our local hardware store to purchase a common sink plunger – this latter to assist a slow draining sink to drain somewhat more quickly. Then I popped into a local carpet store in place of either a mat or an offcut which I can pop under the piano stool which I have to complement my Casio keyboard. I waited until a previous customer had finished buying £100’s worth of carpets after which I explained my need for a little mat or off-cut. The shop proprietor showed me a little bound offcut, formed into a mat but I really did not want to pay £15 for it. Eventually, the proprietor took pity on me and let me have a large 2′ x 2′ sample in a mingled black and white shade for nothing as they were going to throw these samples away shortly. This just happens to tone in with the colours of the keyboard (black surround, white keys) so it was very gratefully received. We had planned to meet a couple of friends in the park at midday but at 10 minutes to the hour the heavens opened so we surmised that our friends would think the better of an assignation in the rain. We got a telephone call from the one and a text message from the other to the effect that we are going to try again in a week’s time, assuming that the weather has had a chance to settle down by then.

The saga of the Boris Johnson phone continues, with a new twist. It transpires that Boris Johnson did remember his password but is not completely confident that he has remembered it correctly. A ‘version’ of the password has been found in a drawer somewhere in the Cabinet Office but the story now unfolding is that security officials are wary about using it because after a (small) number of incorrect attempts to unlock the phone with the PIN, it is possible that the phone might lock out and erase the whole of its contents automatically. Security experts seem fairly confident that the contents may be retrieved, even if only back up versions of the text messages but an additional complication is that as phone entrusted to the Prime Minister, additional security features may have been implemented which makes it tricky to access even for the industry professionals. How much of all of this saga is Johnson attempting to obfuscate and how much is a genuine security of access protocol is hard to tell at this distance. But it does seem to be a particular irony that some of the most incriminating evidence just happens to be on a mobile phone which is hard to access. It has been pointed out that one could go through the list of Boris Johnson’s contacts (available from somewhere) and acquire the ‘de facto’ list of messages by this indirect route but we shall have to see how the story unfolds in the days ahead.

This afternoon, we played host to a friend we have made via the Age Concern cafe which meets monthly. Our friend’s husband had been taken quite ill and his already fragile health status seems to not have been helped by a particularly adverse reaction to an antibiotic. Our friend could not stay with us long because her husband fretted in her absence but nonetheless we managed to pass onto her a range of useful telephone numbers for which she was grateful. The rest of the weekend is likely to be quite a disrupted affair, however. Tomorrow is the designated day for the Bromsgrove carnival when there are a going to be a lot of floats and processions. The High Street and much of our local highway down into town is liable to closed for most of the day so that means that our anticipated visit to Waitrose where we can meet up with friends is is going to have to be cancelled for the simple reason that we cannot actually get to the store (except, of course, on foot) The rain itself is probably going to mean that tomorrow’s festivities are liable to a washout and whilst there are some who may relish walking and parading in the rain, no doubt many others will be deterred. In order not to get tangled with both crowds and diverted traffic, Meg and I may well spend the day completely at home but we will probably be able to venture out in the early evening to attend the church service.

The heatwave affecting southern Europe has been building for months and is predicted to get much worse. Temperatures have been consistently above 40C since mid-April in many areas. But on the Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia they are expected to climb to 48C in the coming days, and could even break the continent’s record of 48.8C set in August 2021. These temperatures are likely to contribute to a ‘spike’ in excess deaths as some people do not appreciate the risks associated with such extremes.