Monday, 18th September, 2023

[Day 1281]

Monday morning is always the start of a new week to be sure but we do not have a routine associated with it. I am sure that a century ago, it used to be the case that one wore one’s Sunday best and consequently Monday was often ‘wash day’ so that items could be washed, cleaned and ready for the next weekend if need be. Last night, whilst Meg was in bed during the later evening, I came to watch the rugby and also explored some of the facilities available on our newly acquired second TV. But, first of all, the rugby. It should never have been in doubt that England should eventually beat Japan in a game of rugby but the Japanese put on an extremely spirited performance. In fact, by half-time, if memory serves me correctly, England were only leading by a single point. As the BBC Sports channel revealed, England edged closer to the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals, but did little to impress in a scrappy 34-12 win over Japan in Nice. Lewis Ludlam forced his way over from close range for the only try of a first half littered with England errors. Early in the second half before a fortuitous try from captain Courtney Lawes, after the ball had bounced off the head of Joe Marler, gave England some breathing space. This was a truly remarkable incident and one I have never witnessed before in the years since I have been following rugby. As England were making advances towards the try line, there was a very evident ‘forward pass’ and this was so self-evident that both teams seemed to stopped playing for an instant. But what had actually happened is that a backward pass had bounced off the head of Joe Marlar and this is not regarded, within the law of the game, as a forward pass. An England player touched down and after consultation with the video referee, the pass was awarded. After this bonus try, England really did seem to play some more imaginative rugby to the extent that they actually secured a bonus point for scoring a total of four tries, the last in the dying seconds of the game. So we have now had our fill of rugby until Wednesday at the earliest. The second feature of the evening was a degree of experimentation with what is now available to us on our new (and for that matter, existing, telly) I had initially resisted all thoughts of taking out a subscription to YouTube in order to get rid of adverts but was then tempted by the fact that one could get a ‘free’ month before taking a subscription which then amounted to about the equivalent of one cup of coffee a week (which is how I measure things these days) One thing that YouTube does, probably as it is owned by Google, is to keep a record of recently watched programmes so that they can be accessed again. High on the list is a really outstanding Glyndbourne production of Mozart’s ‘Marriage of Figaro’ with some outstanding singers such as Benjamin Luxor, Ileana Cotrubas, Kiri te Kanawa and Frederica von Stade who I always think of as the absolutely definitive ‘Cherubino’. I have discovered some comedy programmes (and stories behind comedy programmes) and am currently playing one of those really ‘relaxing’ slow videos of beautiful countryside vistas whilst a soothing piano is being played in the background. I am experimenting a little with this to see if Meg can have a sleep each afternoon because I am petty sure that her body needs this and anything I can do to induce a state of relaxation and natural rest can only be a bonus.

I must say hat I particularly enjoy the contributions of Ed Conway on Sky News who often reports on economic issues but whose official title is something like ‘data analyst’. Certainly, his reports are data rather than opinion led which is surely a good thing. Today, the ex Prime Minister, Liz Truss entered the political fray again arguing that getting rid of Boris Johnson was surely a bad idea. But the Ed Conway analysis runs as follows and is certainly more nuanced. The economy was still recovering from the pandemic, from lockdowns and the supply chain disruption that ensued. The public finances were in a particularly weak position, with the national debt having rocketed higher to finance the furlough scheme. Britain, in other words, looked vulnerable. There were bombs buried throughout financial markets. But here’s where things get less flattering for the former PM, because there’s little doubt that what pushed the UK over the edge was the behaviour of Ms Truss and her team. Tonight, though, we are due the second instalment of the Laura Kuenssberg series ‘State of Chaos’ (and yes, I quite like the ‘double entendre’ in the title) This is detailing the Brexit imbroglio and the second episode is broadcast today. Although not a great fan of Kuennsberg, I thought she did an incisive job in the first episode which whets the appetite for the second. She interviews many of the key players which includes advisers, civil servants and several others regarded as key players and although one has already lived through these times, it is still quite revealing to understand how events unfolded, even though it is all still quite recent political history.