Monday, 17th July, 2023

[Day 1218]

This morning, I started to learn a new piece for my organ which is the simplified version of the introduction to J.S.Bach’s ‘Wachet Auf‘ (Sleepers Awake )This piece is very well-known to the UK public, particularly after Lloyds Bank decided to make it their signature tune for an advert in the 1980s, featuring the famous black horse. This piece also long been a particuar favourite of Meg and myself since our earliest days and we even had it as the organ solo to which Meg walked down the aisle on our wedding day in 1967. What I think is so distinctive about this particular piece is that it is well and truly underway, the right hand plays one melody and the left hand plays another both of which harmoniously complement each other. I have always been full of admiration at the way in which orgnists can play this piece keeping two melodies going at one and the same time i.e. not just the main theme with chords as accompaniment but independent melodies whih blend harmoniously with each other. So far, I have only learned one half of the simplified chorale so I must practice the second, and trickier half, before I can stitch the two together. This chorale is played slightly faster than some of the other pieces I have learnt to date so there will be some challenges ahead of me – but I am sure I will find it very rewarding once I have accomplished it. I can only find time to practice in short snatches, though.

Meg and I had a little venture planned for ourself. Last week, my son had his car serviced in a dealers in nearby Redditch and to assist him getting the car dropped off, Meg and I went to a very large Morrison’s superstore at which our son treated us to an excellent breakfast. Whilst there, I noticed that they had some wheelchairs provided near the entrance for the use of clients and I made a mental note of this. This morning, Meg and I made a trip to the same supermarket and, given Meg’s mobility issues, I popped her into the wheelchair so that we could make progress throughout a large store with the minimum of stress. All of this worked out very well and I bought a bag of groceries of the type of things where you think it might be useful to have something in reserve for when it was needed (a good tin of ham springs to mind) This all worked out incredibly well and Meg and I treated ourselves to a hot chocolate in the cafe which was really excellent, as I remembered from a week ago.

This afternoon, I had arranged a Skype call with one of my University of Winchester, Hampshire colleagues. After some initial difficulties, we got ourselves connected and then had a wonderful chat for the best part of an hour and a half. As it happens, both of our wives are suffering some health problems so my friend and I are eager to share information with each other as to how we might perform our ‘caring’ roles. Of necessity, we are both handling a mix of medical appointments plus interactions with those parts of local authorities who may be helpful sources of help and advice. Inevitably, we are both finding that we have to negotiate our way through some of the complexities involved but we are hoping that we may be able to offer practical advice and support to each other.

The political scene this week is rather ‘on hold’ as Parliament may shortly be entering a recess for the summer but Thursday is likely to be a critical day in the body politic as it is the day in which there are to be three by-elections held. One of these is Boris Johnson’s previous seat and, even before his resignation, this seat was considered as being winnable as the majority was only 7.000+ But the other two seats have Conservative majorities of about 20,000 (Selby and Ainsty, Somerset and Frome) so the wee small hours of Friday may prove to be fascinating. If the Conservatives were to lose each of these three seats, then a similar result in a general election would reduce the Tories to a complete rump in Parliament. In private, many Tories regard the next election as already lost and not many of them relish the prospect of five years (or even ten years) in opposition, without the ministerial cars and the perks of office that the Conservatives have learnt to take for granted over the years.

The extreme hot weather in Southern Europe is no doubt a blow to the climate change deniers although, I understand, there are still many of this breed represented in the US Congress. Apart from the danger to the human body caused by some of these extreme temperatures, of course what tends to follow are the massive fires across heaths, woods and moorland. These fires themselves devastate communities as well as livelihoods and the hot weather is due to continue for a predicted two more weeks. It is also having an impact upon holiday destinations with many in the UK wondering whether it is worth visiting the southern halves of Italy and Spain with temperatures as extreme as these.