Wednesday, 20th September, 2023

[Day 1283]

Today started seemingly raining like cats and dogs and, indeed, it appeared to be like that for the rest of the morning. We had made a fairly early start to the day getting up and breakfasted but as the weather was so bad, we were not really tempted to go for a walk or a venture anywhere. I did brave the elements in order to make a quick dash out both to get a newspaper and to get some supplies from Waitrose. Then Meg and I had a lesiurely elevenses-at-home today. On a day like this, there are certain features of the day to which we look forward and one of these is the Politics programme broadcast at 12.15. To a large extent, this programme was anticipating what is expected to be a major climb down on several key ‘green’ targets such as the date upon which all petrol only driven cars will be phased out. The discussions are rather akin to that which you get on election nigt before any results actually roll in. But there is a strong suspicion that both Downing Street and perhaps Conservative Central Office have got their defense lines prepared in depth. The kinds of arguments that are being deployed go as follows. As a nation we have to be severely pragmatic and not saddle people with costs (e.g. for a heat pump replacement for their gas boiler) which they cannot afford. Also, it is necessary to take into account what the popular support for green measures to likely to be. There is masses of pure politics at work here. The Tories have consistently been about 20 points adrift in the opinion polls and are desperate to find policies with broad appeal which will claw back some of the lost ground. ‘Rowing back’ upon a green agenda, the Conservatives believe, will appeal to would-be Conservative voters and particularly to the ‘red wall’ seats (one time traditional Labour held seats which the Tories won at the last election with the promise that ‘Brexit means Brexit’) But where this cynical advantage of electoral advantage will come to pass, I am not so sure. It it true to say that the full costs are adopting greener policies have only been hinted at by both major political parties and certainly not spelled out in any detail. Industry is a lot more equivocal about the proposed changes. It is said that industry wants (and needs) is a long term and stable investment climate in which long scale decisions are to be taken. For example, the modern car industry which is predicated upon electric cars as the only direction of travel are not throwing up their hands with joy at the prospect of delaying the date when petrol cars are to be phased out for another five years from 2030 to 2035. But as I write, Andy Street, the Conservative elected mayor for Birmingham and the West Midlands in general is not agreeing with the latest rowing back on green targets. It looks as though the Labour Party may well decide to reverse wharever ‘reversals’ the Conservativees put into effect just before the forthcoming election.

Today after we had lunched, we tuned in the James Martin program which featured the way in which paella is cooked in industrial quantities in Andalucia (and, I believe near the town of Nerja which Meg and I know quite well) The paella is cooked in huge pans over open fires (fuelled by ex pallet timbers) and the featured restaurant, 600 meals a day were provided (as a cost of about 6.5 Euros per head and you could actually ask for seconds if you were not full after it) In the James Martin program, it showed the elderly proprietor overseeing each part of the cooking process and the overall quality was pronounced to be excellent. If Meg and I ever get to that part of the world again, this will be something for us to try. After this, we watched a rather silly but still enjoyable ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’ after which it was time for me to attempt to get Meg settled down so that she can have a good rest to soothing images and music on YouTube.

At 4.00pm in the afternoon and by prior arrangement, one of my ex-University of Winchester colleagues and myself had arranged a ‘Skype‘ chat with each other. By an extraordinary coincidence, we are both caring for wives who seem to share a similar set of medical problems although the causes vary in each case. My friend and I share a lot of infomation with each and attempt to give each other mutual help, support and advice. But we also have shared experiences dating from the time when we both started off our teaching careers in Manchester (in different institutions and timescales although the colleges in which we both taught were only about a couple of miles apart). After our video call was terminated, Meg and I enjoyed watching the Italy-Uruguay rugby match in the World Cup. Uruguay was 10 points in the lead at half time but the Italians (‘Azurri’) quickly overtook them in the second half and eventually won by quite a handsome margin of 38-17. I really did want Uruguay to do well against a ‘first tier’ team such as Italy and they put on a brave show but their inexperience was bound to tell in the end.