Friday, 4th August, 2023

[Day 1236]

Today, we had our domestic help to look forward to but so as not to disturb us, she had not rung the front door bell but crept in quietly at about 7.30 in the morning. So when we emerged from our ablutions at 8.30am and ready for our breakfast, our domestic help was already busying herself in her tasks. Needless to say, various cups of tea always help to keep us going in the morning and, as usual, we had quite a lot to talk about. I gave her her a burst of two of three of my favourite organ pieces with which to start off the day – needless to day, the first of these has got to be the opening bars of the J S Bach cantata, ‘Wachet Auf‘ or ‘Sleepers, Awake’ (as it is known in English translation). Then she admired the work of my beeswax restoration of the piano stool which I purchased from her next door neighbour and then we exchanged little gifts of cleaning equipment with each other. We knew that we had an assignation in the park with our University of Birmingham friend and we had hoped that our another park friend would pass by but it was not to be. Instead, we were the attention of several friendly dogs who assumed that we would be sources of food or titbits but we tended to know all of their owners, at least by sight even if not more intimately, so that it did not look as though we were kidnapping their animals. Eventually, though, we struck out for home but our neighbours were having builders in to get a porch built as well as their routine gardeners so there were vehicles everywhere and we found it difficult to access our own house. But at least one of the annoyances that has made our life troublesome over the past few days has disappeared as the gas utility company have finally filled and tarmacked the hole which was occluding our driveway – or at least making life difficult – so we appreciate being able to drive in and out of our own driveway without the need for complicated manouvres.

After lunch this afternoon, I have acquired a little restoration project at which I am trying my hand. Our domestic help had a bamboo stype chair, of quite good construction that had seen better days and she was going to dispose of in the domestic tip. But I thought this was rescuable, given my recent attempts at furniture restoration, so I persuaded her to let me have it for the week to see what I could do with it. It just so happens that I have some Rustins ‘Scratch Cover’ for light woods and reading the list of ingredients (beeswax, carnauba wax as well as a stain) I thought this was well worth a go. So far, I think I have effected some improvements but I will persist with a few more treatments before our domestic help and I will give the whole little project an assessment to work out where we go from here. One idea that I have is that stretch-style chair covers are available at a very reasonable cost so this might be one way in which we can make this piece serviceable once again. I should have taken a photo so that I can assess the ‘before’ and ‘after’ effects so I shall rely upon our domestic help’s memory of how it was before I started work on it.

We have plans to visit our local ‘Wilko‘ store next Monday afternoon as there are rumours that the whole chain, which started life in Leicester, is about to hit the buffers. It has always been one of my favourite hardware stores although I do admit that in the stationery department the shelves seem to have been left understocked on the last few occasions when I have visited the store. But I have always found their kitchen and gardening equipment to be reasonable quality at a fair price so I will be very sorry to see its demise. I am hoping to pick up a few things that we need that can only be bought reasonably there and I am hoping that it does not go belly up within the next day or so.

There is another political scandal which is brewing. Apparently, one in five Afghan refugees being evicted from their hotel accommodation will be homeless and we be presenting themselves as such to the local authorities. The UK promised a safe haven for thousands of people who had to flee their home country as the Taliban swept back into power in August 2021. The majority of those who came over worked for the British government and armed forces in Afghanistan as translators or similar aides and have been living in hotels since arriving. It has hard to see how the government can get any sympathy for denying accommodation to these Afghan refugees, particularly as their lives were under a direct threat when the Taliban came to power and we offered a legal route of immigration to them.