Tuesday, 26th September, 2023

[Day 1289]

Today being a Tuesday, Meg and I were looking forward to the little chats we have with the Tuesday morning in the Waitrose cafeteria. One of our number was there and we were joined a bit later by one of other friends but a third friend was off doing her bowling and hence couldn’t meet us this morning. It was fortunate that I had my mobile with me because I got a telephone call halfway through our coffee from Social Services with whom we are organising some support for Meg. Today is the day in which I normally attend a Pilates session but I judged that I could not make the session this week. Also, every so often we have a committee meeting in our local church which I am required to attend but I sent an ‘Apologies for absence’ and an email of explanation for the fact that I was not able to attend this evening. On consulting my emails this afternoon, I have have received a very sympathetic and heart warming response from the chairman to whom I sent my apologies and it is always a little reassuring to know that you are in other people’s thoughts.

We normally like to tune in to the daily Politics programme each day on BBC2 and today was an examination of some of the issues facing the Liberal Democrats who are in conference this week and also the Conservatives who are in conference next week. The interesting thing about the whole HS2 cancellation row, which is rumbling on, is that it might not be possible to announce any cutback in the programme just yet as the Conference is going to be held in Manchester which is not the best of venues in which to announce that the Manchester to Birmingham leg was about to be cancelled. It used to be said that ‘middle of the road’ Tory MPs hated going to the annual conference because they needed to rub shoulders with members of constituencies whose political stance is always far to the right of their own. They had to ostensibly pay obeisance to overtly right wing viewpoints with which they were not naturally in sympathy but they did not dare not attend in case they were sanctioned by their own local constituency association. The fringe meetings outside the main conference used to see dominated by the those of the likes of Boris Johnson at the time he was garnering support from those interested delegates before he eventually became the Prime Minister. So the Tory party conference is always reasonably interesting for those interested in the political process and whilst one is well used to the Labour Party having lots of internal splits and divisions, the same is also true of divisions in the modern Tory party particularly over Europe and Brexit and is not supposed to be true of the party who like to think that they are singing from the same hymn sheet. In practice, the divisions in the Tory party were bitter and deep but Boris Johnson tried to put an end to all of that by withdrawing the whip (ie throwing out of the party) all of the moderate and Remain minded MPs.

After lunch this afternoon, Meg and I thought we would catch up on one of the most interesting Prom concerts which was a rendition of Mozart’s Requiem but with a ballet accompaniments. I am not sure that this really came off because whilst the choreography and individual performances seemed well enough, the various balletic movements seemed somehow to jar with the essential spirit of the Requiem. One has to experiment in the Arts, I suppose, but sometimes it doesn’t really quite work. But afterwards, there was a follow-on programme on the BBC’s iPlayer called Making Music English. In this, historian Amanda Vickery and broadcaster Tom Service unearthed the fascinating story of the lifelong friendship between composers Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst. A lot of the music was familiar to Meg and myself but having it contextualised in the time period of just pre-WWI to the 1920s was absolutely fascinating. The programme documented the forging of a distinctive musical genre that was both backward looking and evocative – probably the best known piece from this time period is the Vaughan Wlliams composition of ‘The Lark Ascending‘ which practically always topped the ClassicFM charts when listeners were allowed to vote for their favourites.

Sometimes, I take the long range weather forecasts with a pinch of salt but this year, things may be a little different. A mini heatwave is being predicted for us in mid-October so it might just be that after a truly terrible summer, we are getting something that compensates us a little. It is making me wonder whether it is worth contemplating a few extra long days out somewhere before the clocks change and whilst we have the promise of some warm, autumn sunshine. I have always quite enjoyed the autumnal period because in the course of my life, I have always started either a new job or a new venture in September/October. As the year progresses, though, I do count off the days until the shortest day in December 21st because I feel happier when I know that the days are getting longer rather than shorter. One has to live through ‘Trick and Treat’ first, though, which to my mind I rather deplore as a quasi-American import.