Friday, 8th September, 2023

[Day 1271]

We are always pleased when Fridays come around and this Friday in particular because our very good Italian friend was due to pay us a visit for an 11.00am coffee. I had done a certain anount of record keeping work during the night and so we allowed ourselves the luxury of a mini lie-in this morning and were about an hour later getting going than is normal. Then I shot off into town to quickly pick up our copy of the daily newspaper, getting back just in time before the arrival of our friend. I had great delight in showing her the various bits of furniture in the Music room some of which we have enhanced since purchase and, of course, our keyboards. I managed to play our friend about three pieces, not quite note perfect but near enough and of course, they were recognisable. Then we had coffee and chocolate biscuits and I recounted some of the transactions that we had with the various parts of social services. We had a wonderful natter with our friend about all kinds of topics including family news fron our respective families. One topic of conversation with which we shared a common viewpoint was whether we should, as some economists have urged, sell the larger houses that many members of our generation are now inhabiting to release this housing stock for younger generations with growing families. But we both suscribed to the counter argument that we had worked hard all of our lives for the accommodation that we were now enjoying and if we wanted to retain our larger houses so that we had space for members of our family who might be visiting, our own friends or even to devote to alternative activities such as a craft room, then so be it. Just after our friend left, I received a wonderful email from the one member of our Pilates class that I know least well, offering her sympathetic support and I invited her round for a tea/coffee any afternoon that she was free, and to listen to a few musical offerings. It also gives me the incentive to try to perfect the few pieces of music that I do know and to try to hunt out some new pieces as well. After our friend left, I started to prepare lunch which was our usual fish pie with some appropriate green veg and baked tomatoes. I am resolved to give my wife slightly smaller portions than myself as she is smaller than I am and her energy needs are less – however, it is hard to abandon habits of a cooking lifetime in which I tend, after cooking the food, to serve up practically equal portions.

Whilst I was starting to write this blog in the afternoon, there was a programme on the TV about the industrial lives led by female factory workers in the 1960’s. This called to mind experiences that Meg and I had whilst we were at the end of our second year in university. We had the good fortune to be employed in factories which were absolutely next door to each other, which was a cardboard box factory in my case and the McVities biscuit factory in Meg’s case. She used to recount to me her experiences on the ‘Home Wheat’ production line (and I think Meg has had a revulsion against chocolate biscuits ever since) There was quite a rigid division of labour between the sexes and the work of handling the huge vats of hot and molten chocolate was the province of male workers. To the female worker on the production line, all that was ever wanted was that she could capture the attentions of a ‘chocolate man’ with a view to eventual matrimony. With the kind of innocence for which we were renowned in the 1960’s, Meg used to recount the story of how a young production line worker used to exclaim that all she wanted was a ‘chocolate man’ and if she were ever to capture the attentions of one she wanted to ‘cover him all over in chocolate and to lick him all over’ No further comment is required at this point.

The escape from Wandsworth gaol of the soldier who was about to be tried on terrorist charges is exciting a tremendous amount of media attention. There seems to have been a massive display of incompetence to perform elementary research procedures (not to mention counting how many staff were in the prison’s kitchens). One suspects that to cover up this incompetence and poor decision making, a ‘counter narrative’ is in the offing. There are two strands to this. The first strand indicates that as the escape seems so complete and there is no trace of him, then he must have had accomplices perhaps even within the prison itself. A second counter narrative runs that as UK trained soldier, he is full of initiative and perhaps low cunning that must explain his success so far. it is possible, of course, that both of these counter-narratives turn out to be the case but I find it slightly suspicious that these explanations are being pressed so hard, probably as a way of diverting attention from the evident failings of that particular gaol. There are persistent rumours that he may already be out of the country or have gone into ‘underground’ hiding to avoid detection by remote TV cameras but the fact remains that as long he is at large and remains uncaptured, the government is busy wiping egg of its face the whole time.