Monday, 7th August, 2023

[Day 1239]

Meg and I know that we had to make an early start this morning, which we did for a couple of reasons. The most important of these was an an occupational therapist was due to call around with a supply of aids that would help Meg’s mobility and related health issues around the house. We got ourselves breakfasted and then settled down to watch the England vs. Nigeria football match in the Women’s World Cup. This started at 8.30 and we watched most of the first half until the occupational therapist arrived with her gear. We then went around the house, trying out a variety of aids – some we thought might well be useful and we are going to retain whilst others did not look as though they were going to work so we passed them over. The occupational therapist was very conscientious and diligent in her approach and the three of us worked collectively to identify those practical aids that would work and those which would not. So it was quite a satisfying morning and then we settled down to watch the last 15 minutes of the England-Nigeria match. It seemed to us (and, eventually, to the commentators in the TV studios) that the English team were outplayed in nearly every department of the game – the Nigerians just appeared sharper, created more opportunities and looked dangerous near goal although their finishing was not of the highest. Then towards the end of the match, one of the hitherto English stars – Lauren James – got into a tangle with her Nigerian opponent and whilst she was on the ground, trod on her back. Initially a yellow card was issued but after a video review, this was upgraded to a red card which meant instantly leaving the field and missing the next match. There is also the possibility that in a further review, Lauren James may be found guilty of ‘violent conduct’ which, if proved, will be a three-match ban and exclusion from the rest of the competition. Eventually, after extra time, the English team limped through to penalties and promptly missed the first one. But the Nigerians missed their first two and, after that, the English women all put their penalties away with aplomb and hence England were through, not really deservedly, to the quarter-finals on Saturday. I rather felt for the Nigerians who played really well and did have a shove in the back of one of their players in the penalty area not even considered for a penalty, so I think the Nigerians could feel aggrieved about all of this. I suppose they could return home wih their heads held high and reflect that the better team on the day does not always win.

In the odd few minutes I have had in the day, I have consulted the web to see if I can discover anything about the provenance of the two richly decorated ceramic jugs we bought from Age Concern the other day. So far, I have consulted all 124 pages of an online guide to pottery ‘marks’ without any success. I have also trawled through about 20-25 eBay pages of decorated jugs to see if I can find anything even vaguely similar and the answer is that I did not find a single item that even came close to the specimens we have. I have a slight clue in the little monkey heads with a lion type full mane which is a repeated motif on one of the vases might tend to suggest something of an Asian extraction. Another clue is that I think on the reverse is an ankh symbol atop something that might be a chemical balance but it is all a bit difficult to say. I have discovered a Nottingham-based form of auctioneers who say that they will give you a free valuation on the basis of a photograph although you are asked to supply as much provenance as you can which would be difficult in my case. But when I have a chance I will take some photos of the two pieces and see what they have to say about things.

After a period of several wet days, I did feel I must seize the opportunity to get the lawns cut and this I did, successfully, this afternoon. It always amazes me that for every day I leave the grass longer than a week, the grass seems to grow disproportionately so today’s cut was timely. If we have a ‘normal’ rather than a very wet July weather, you can rely upon the rate of growth moderating somewhat but not this year.

The big political issue today has been the way in which asylum seekers are being relocated onto the floating barge, Bibby Stockholm at Portland Port, Dorset. The first 15 asylum seekers are now on board the controversial barge, according to the Home Office – although the government was unable to put another 20 on the vessel. And, contrary to earlier reports that the stay in this ‘barge’ which really resembles a floating prison, would be limited to a few days, the latest news this evening is that the stay may be between six to nine months. How ‘free’ the asylum seekers will actually be is an interesting question and I wonder how many will try to abscond and what will happen to them once they get caught?