Tuesday, 18th July, 2023

[Day 1219]

Today being a Tuesday is the day to which we generally look forward as it is the day when ‘the gang’ generally meet in Waitrose for our weekly, or even twice weekly, natter. Today, though, we were confined to just one friend in the café as one of our number was having her boiler serviced and another had a bad bout of rheumatism that was keeping her confined to the house for a day or so. We were just on our way out of the house when we received an important telephone call from Worcestershire Social Services. As it is difficult to make the appropriate contacts, I did not want to do anything that discouraged the call so we did delay our venture out of the house whilst I received some inportant information. It looks as though one referral has led to another referral who, in turn, are suggesting yet another referral and navigation of an online form before you eventually get through to the heart of the service that you require. I suppose all of this makes sure that trivial enquiries do not get beyond the first ‘fence’ as it were and we know that Social Services are under the most pronounced of pressures but it certainly ensures that to make the contacts that are needed, it takes a certain amount of patience, persistence and comprehension of the system in place all in equal measure. I have, though, received an email with some important contact details contained within it so tomorrow morning I shall attempt to get the wheels in motion. Incidentally, my Waitrose friend who herself is suffering from a long standing health problem and is caring for an aged husband with dementia, informed me that if I was expecting some help from an occupational therapist, I might have a wait of several months and it was probably best to approach them with very low expectations that anything much might be provided.

After my Pilates class this midday, we always have a fairly swift lunch of fish cakes and easily microwaved vegetables but typically we do not eat until about 3.00pm so the afternoon is often quite attenuated. This afternoon, there was nothing on daytime TV to attract our attention but a day or so ago, there was a late night repeat of the story of Georgiana, Duches of Devonshire (‘The Duchess‘) We saw this when it was broadcast several years ago and it was released as a film in September of 2008. Even after 15 years, the story was gripping in places, poignant in other places and in the best traditions of a costume drama (but I think the original film was based upon a book of that name and the portrayal of events was probably pretty accurate) So Meg and I were quite diverted by this offering this afternoon which I accessed via the BBC iPlayer. In practice, we have to make a mental note of things that we want to watch and use the iPlayer to view those programmes that are generally broadcast late or in a clash with something that we do want to watch.

I read an item with a wry smile late on this afternoon. Two giant cruise ships that were set to house 1,000 asylum seekers were unable to find anywhere to dock and have been returned to their owners, a senior source told Sky News. In June, Rishi Sunak announced the government acquired two more vessels, alongside the Bibby Stockholm barge – which arrived in Dorset today – as part of continued efforts to cut down on hotel bills of £6m a day for those coming to the UK via small boat Channel crossings. There is a bit more to this story than meets the eye but ‘being unable to dock’ sounds interesting. Wherever ships, barges or what have you are commandeered by the government to house asylum seekers, there is always an enormous amount of opposition by locals who argue, with some justification, that other local public services cannot cope with the additional strain. Sometimes, though, the opposition is unadulterated xenophobia. There was a rumour that a hotel local to us might be used to house asylum seekers and there were local voices to the effect that the barricades had to be manned to prevent the incursion of what was said to be ‘murderers’ and ‘rapists’ Meanwhile the government’s flagship bill on ‘Illegal Migration’ has passed through the Lords and will shortly receive the Royal Assent. But already the UNHCR is arguing that the Act when it comes into force will be a ‘de facto’ breach of international law so no doubt, before any asylum seekers are actually removed, there will appeals to the international courts to test out the legalities of all of this.

From ‘across the pond’ comes the news that Donald Trump has been notified that he is a target of investigation into attempts to overturn the 2020 election. This notification often comes before an actual indictment and a trial, if any, may well be months or even years away. Meanhile, Donald Trump is becoming the firm favourite of the Republican party and the more legal challenges that appear, the more it seems to build up his popularity with sections of the Republican party. But this there is no evidence that the ‘middle ground’ of the American electorate will be convinced by Trump on a second occasion were he to be actually to secure the republican party nomination.