Wednesday, 19th July, 2023

[Day 1220]

Today our domestic help called around after a break of about 12 days and we were particularly pleased to see her and seemed to have a lot of things to chat about on both sides. Meg and I breakfasted fairly late, having spent a lot in chatting before we actually got around to eating after which I made a lightning visit to the supermarket whilst our domestic help was busy working around the house. We are doing things in a slightly different order this week as tomorrow, Meg and I are due to make a trip to see our friends in Oxfordshire and as this is a longish journey, I did not want to make a long day even longer by shopping first thing tomorrow morning. We are quite well provisioned at the moment so I only needed to do a light shopping. To take down to our friends tomorrow, I intended to take down a chilli plant laden with developing chillis until an email revealed that our host already has masses of these already so I thought I had better move onto a ‘Plan B’ So instead I bought a little bay tree which can always be tucked into an odd corner of the garden and is useful (in cooking) as well as being ornamental. I also bought some Uruguayan Albariño which might be excellent or mediocre. Albariño is a wine grown in North Western Spain and is drunk in great quantities to accompany the abundant seafood in that part of the country. Meg and I do not have well developed tastes in white wine and have never rated in highly when we drank it in Spain. But a year or so back, we bought a bottle in Waitrose (in the UK) and it was stupendous so we will have to see how this Uruguayan version shapes up if our host offers us some tomorrow.

Having got the shopping done and then our lunch cooked, I decided to make a telephone call to a part of Worcestershire Social Services to which I had been directed in an email. At this point, though, a familiar story unfurled. The email indicated that any referral had to be through a specified route and then one was given the (preferred) option of the ubiquitous website and then a telephone number. Trying to contact the person whose name I had been given sent me to a telephone number which automatically redirected to a personal phone which then went straight onto a voicemail. So having given my message and followed the instructions I was faced with complete silence so whether my message has been received is a moot point. So then I tried the website and filled in a form which then informed me that my application to make a direct referral had been received – but no indication whether it was acceptable or when I would get a reply. Later, though, I did receive a reply to my registration form trying to sell me someone I may not need – so I am not a happy bunny at the moment. Incidentally, one sometimes hears that when particular cases of child neglect and cruelty hit the media, it is sometimes said that ‘concerned neighbors heard the baby’s cries and relayed their concerns to social services’ I ask myself how on earth they ever got through to talk to a human to express their concerns because under the pressure of low and diminishing resources and soaring demand, our welfare services seem just to erect barriers to bounce off demand.

On Wednesday evenings, I take the refuse bins out to the end of our access road so that the refusal disposal vehicles can empty them first thing in the morning. I usually take out my neighbour’s bin as well and he reciprocates by bringing them both back in the afternoon. Today, we just happened to coincide and spent some time in discussing the outcome of a public consultation exercise which some building developers were hosting in order to gather opinions on a huge new housing development. This is going to be 430 houses and the intention is that they re-route the major lane that connects us to the Kidderminster Road with a meandering curvy road, making its way through the yet to be built estate and full of chicanes and traffic calming measures to reduce speeds down to 20mph. Whether all of this is actually going to happen or not, I do wonder. When we lived in Leicester we were frequently told that the broad green area separating two lanes of a dual carriageway was the designated route for an inner ring road – but this was planned in the 1930’s and they only got round to it about 80 years later on. However, the bad news from our point of view is that the next phase of development is scheduled to start absolutely at the back of our present house and one shudders to think about the noise and disruption whilst this takes place around us. I suspect that nothing will happen for a year or so but I am refusing to get too upset about these developments because there is very, very little that can be done about it. Local residents can object as much as they like but the local authority is always thinking of the potential increase in the rateable revenues that extra housing might bring as well as potentially extra revenues to be spent in the town itself.