Sunday, 16th July, 2023

[Day 1217]

Today is proving to be an interesting Sunday. After we got ourselves up and dressed, Meg and I watched the politics programs on Sky News and BBC 1 whilst we had breakfast on our knees (a Sunday morning tradition). We knew that we had arranged to meet our University of Birmingham friend at 11.00 so after we picked up our newspaper, we made for our venue only about three miles distant. This is best described as a reservoir or at least a man-made lake in wich there is a variety of birdlife as well as various boating activities and other water-based sports for a younger clientele. Meg and I had a coffee and then met up with our friend as we migrated towards an outside bench which afforded quite a pleasant view over the water. The weather was quite variable with some bouts of sunshine interspersed with some showers – weather which we suspect is shared with a lot of the country. We spent a couple of hours with our friend and discussed ‘the meaning of life’ as well as other matters of mutual interest. Eventually, we departed and we made our home for a lunch of meatballs where, fortunately, I had done some vegetable preparation earlier on so it was quite easy to get our lunch underway. This afternoon is the Men’s Final at Wimbledon and neither Meg nor I have a tremendously emotional investment in the outcome but it looks as though it is going to be a classic of the youth of the Spaniard, Alvaraz against the experience of the Serb, Djokovicz. All the indications are that a tense five-setter is in prospect.

Tonight is a Promenade concert broadcast on BBC4 which promises to be interesting and innovative. It starts with a review of the life of Vivaldi but continues with an innovative approach to a performance of the ‘Four Seasons‘ in which the well known pieces are interspersed with some folk songs and perhaps some poetry. The Proms always tries to be innovative to keep its appeal alive and these innovations sometimes work and sometimes they do not. Several years ago, they did have Norah Jones playing both some traditional sitar music like her illustrious father, Ravi Shankar and also some fusion of jazz, pop and country music. This, I thought at the time, was quite riveting stuff and I enjoyed it tremendously. When Meg and I were students at Manchester University, Ravi Shankar came along to play the Free Trade Hall but unfortunately I did not get the opportunity to see him then, which I wish now that I had.

On the political front, there has been a slight surprise that our defence secretary, Ben Wallace, has announced his intention to resign at the next reshuffle and moreover, to leave politics altogether by not standing as an MP in the forthcoming election. What is surprising about all of this is that Ben Wallace is considered to have been one of the most competent of the present clutch of ministers and was even spoken about as a contender for the job of Prime Minister. It is unclear whether he has just been worn down by one of the most demanding jobs in modern politics, particularly as we have a ‘hot war’ taking place upon European terrain. Certainly, Ben Wallace was in contention to be the next Secretary General of NATO but the Americans very evidently took against him and it looked to outside observers that a big sulk was taking place when the it became evident that he was out of the running for this top job. He certainly committed quite a ‘howler’ when he informed the Ukrainian president that he ought to show more gratitude for the military assistance that was flowing in his direction and, if he was not already damned in the eyes of some, then this unfortunate remark certainly finally put paid to any lingering hopes that he might have had.

Meg and I have an interesting social week in prospect for ourselves this week. On Tuesdays, of course, we have our normal weekly Waitrose session with our regulars, followed by Pilates. Then on Thursday all being well, we are going to make a trip to Oxfordshire to see some of our oldest friends for a meal with them. We always enjoy these trips to Oxfordshire even the trip is quite a long one and we just have to hope that the M40 does not have any unfortunate jams on it to delay us. Then on Friday, we intend to have a meeting in the park with two of our park friends, delayed from last Friday because of the poor weather. What with one thing or another, we do not visit the park with the some frequency that we did at the height of the pandemic. But the next time we do go, I have just purchased for Meg what is techically called a ‘Rollator’ which is a three wheeled device to assist with her walking. I am hoping that this device may well assist Meg’s walking by taking larger strides. I have ensured that the actual model I have purchased is the aluminium rather than the steel version which makes it so much lighter and thus easier to get into and out of a car boot and I have checked that this actually the case.