Sunday, 23rd July, 2023

[Day 1224]

Today being a Sunday, Meg and I usually get up and watch the political programs whilst having our breakfast on our knees. But we both overslept a little this morning, so the politics programs got a miss. Instead, we breakfasted in the kitchen and then prepared to go out for our morning assignation. We picked up the newspaper and then headed for Webbs which is a large garden and I suppose what you might call a domestic furnishings centre. We always used to have a Webbs member’s card and this we used to use typically at Christmas time when Webbs run a scheme to offer members a Christmas tree at a heavily discounted rate. The scheme is that you pay the ‘full’ price of the tree but are then refunded with the cost of the tree in Webb’s vouchers. On addition, Webbs run a recycling scheme once the Christmas tree is ready for disposal. I hunted around for my card which I had not used in ages but eventually found it. When we got to Webbs, I approached the Customer Services Desk to work out whether my card was still current. As it happened, it had expired last Autumn but I quickly got it renewed with the bonus that a Member’s coffee card is offered to you with a dozen free drinks available on it. We met up with our University of Birmingham friend, exactly as planned and had a very pleasant coffee and chat. Neither of us had been to Webbs for quite some time but we have to say that the service we received was excellent. For a start, our next door neighbour was on duty on the Customers Services Desk and promptly got my card renewed for us. The restaurant staff were very welcoming and attentive so we felt that we had a good customer experience and will probably return on other Sundays. We discussed when we might meet for a luncheon date with each other and then departed for our respective Sunday lunches. After we got home, I made some onion gravy in which I heated some of the slices of a ham joint I had cooked last month and saved half of it after cooking. This we had with some green beans, tomatoes and baked potato before we settle down to a conventional Sundy afternoon of newspaper reading and occasional sessions watching athletics on the TV.

The fallout from the surprise victory when the Tories retained the Uxbridge and South Ruislip parliamentary seat last Thursday continues. It now seems that the Labour party high command have met with Sadiq Kahn the mayor of London and architect of the now infamous ULEZ (Ultra Law Emissions Zone) and a policy rethink is underway. The next few days will reveal whether the policy is to be completely abandoned (unlikely) or radically refined (more likely) but this, by itself, is not the particular source of worry to the Labour Party. But what is concerning them is the fact that the Tories successfully focused on one key issue to the exclusion of everything else (the so called ‘wedge’ theory defined as a political or social issue, often of a controversial or divisive nature, which splits apart a demographic or population group.) The Labour Party fears that despite all of the concerns about the cost of living, mortgage increases, the fragile state of the NHS and so on can effectively be sidelined if a political party finds one particular issue in a particular constituency which really manages to divide and confuse the opposition. The feeling is that this may be unlikely across the whole country but if sufficient ‘wedge’ issues are found on a constituency by constituency basis then this may be sufficient to deny the Labour Party victory at the general election whenever it comes.

Meg and I had been looking forward to watching the final day of the Test Match at Old Trafford where England were in an extremely dominant position but needed some time to complete the job – which was almost a foregone certainty. We are now left in a situation where the rain-affected match is technically regarded as a draw which means that England cannot now win the series and thus the Aussies have won the Ashes. Even at this stage, there are mutterings that this is the most unsatisfactory to end a match. In County Cricket, where the rain in England can affect many county matches there is a complex method known as the ‘Duckworth-Lewis’ method for determing who the winner ‘ought’ to be in the event that a match has to be abandoned. Named after the pair of statisticians who came up with it—Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis—the system is a formula designed to calculate corrected totals after an interruption. I am wondering whether this – or a variant of it – might be used to determine the outcome of Test matches when so much time is lost because of weather or other conditions. Tonight, Meg and I will no doubt watch ‘Today at the Test’ with a heavy heart knowing that there is no exciting cricket, or indeed an England win, in prospect. On the other hand, there may be some very informed discussions with commentators and ex-captains (such as Michael Vaughan) whose discussions tonight might set a climate of opinion as to what might happen in the future.