Thursday, 28th September, 2023

[Day 1291]

We have to treat each day as it comes these days. Yesterday afternoon, as Meg had not been out for all of the day, we went for a little trip out in the car to see if our newsagent was still closed (he was!) and also to pay a flying visit to our friends down the road. We had surmised that they may have delayed in Ireland somewhat when they paid a recent visit and indeed, such was the case. Amongst other things, they had a bereavement in the family with which to cope and had stayed on for the funeral, which explains why our paths had not crossed for several days. I gave them a quick update on my news (explaining my non-attendance at the recent church committee meeting) and we agreed that we would have a get-together as soon as we could see our way clear. I explained that on Saturday, they would not see us at church because we would visiting Meg’s cousins in Cheltenham. I have been in contact with Meg’s cousins by text today to update them on Meg’s frailties and to make final arrangements for Saturday.

Last night, and as a consequence of our YouTube membership, we decided to play for ourselves one of our favourite operas which is the Glyndebourne production of Mozart’s ‘Marriage of Figaro‘ This is a 4 Act opera and is all a bit much, however enjoyable, for a single viewing. So we decided to watch the first two Acts yesterday and then get Meg ready for bed and this all worked out, as planned I am pleased to see. We reserved the final two Acts of the opera for a showing this afternoon and we still haven’t come to the end of it. The plot is convoluted but has some hilarious moments. One of them comes in Act III when Dr Bartolo and his old housemaid Marcellina arrive looking for the Count as they they want to stop the wedding of Figaro and Suzanna. Marcellina has a contract which states that Figaro must repay money that he owes her or marry her himself. But after his protestations it emerges that Figaro is actually the long lost son of Marcellina and also of Dr. Bartolo and the hilarity of the scene comes about when members of the assembled cast sing in amazement upon the discovery ‘Su madre’ (your mother) and eventually ‘Su padre’ (your father) all of which has to be explained to Susanna and this gives the opportunity for a repeat of the ‘joke’ If this sounds convoluted, it is, but adds to the pleasure of it all once you have your mind around the plot and the glorious harmonies which build up from a duet to a trio to a quartet to a sextet of voices, all with thir private thoughts and emotions which none the less blend into the whole. Hence the magic of Mozart (for some of is, that is, but I recognise it is not to everyone’s taste)

There was an interesting letter in ‘The Times‘ the other day which was a practical joke played at a funeral. The man who had died, and with his wife’s full knowledge and consent, arranged for a very elegant and tastefully dressed young woman, dressed in a stunning hat and dark glasses to attend the funeral but to sit somewhat apart from the other mourners. The young woman (actually an actress) played her part and much of the discussion after the funeral was the identity of the young woman and whether she was actually a mistress of the deceased. Most of his work colleagues were taken in by this deception, so no doubt the deceased person had a good giggle from whatever vantage point he was now observing the proceedings. But this reminds me of the occasion when I was employed at De Montfort University in Leicester. One of our lecturers died, I believe of liver cancer which I think can take people away quite quickly in their middle age. In the church service, though, there were four women who were crying their eyes out, one of whom was his wife and the other three of whom were women with whom he had significant affairs – some of us (myself included) could not work out who was who.

The debate over immigration is raging just before the Conservative party conference. Our Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, has appeared before a very small right wing think tank in the United States arguing that the United Nations convention on refugees was no longer ‘fit for purpose’ Quite apart from her leadership ambitions, this whole venture is designed to fire a warning shot across the bows of the International Court before whom the legality of the ‘Removal to Rwanda’ policy is to be tested, with the implicit threat that the UK will leave the Convention unless it gets the result that it wants. Braverman claimed that’many’ would be migrants were claiming asylum on the grounds of persecution of their sexual orientation (although this is only mentioned in about 1.5% of cases) When rebuffed by the evidence, Braverman and her supporters claim that ‘many’ others use the ruse of persecution on the grounds of sexual orientation but when challened on actual numbers, answer comes there none but the argument shifts to a claim the import of which is that migrants will do anything to lie and cheat their way thrpough the system. All of this is of taken for granted by members of the Tory right, who may well push for her to become PM after Rishi Sunak’s almost inevitable defeat.