Friday, 29th September, 2023

[Day 1292]

We always look forward to Fridays not only because it is the end of the week but we also have the chance for a long chat our domestic help who is also so useful to us on a Friday. We were not sure what our plans were going to be this morning because normally we see our University of Birmingham friend on Friday mornings but we did not have anything specifically planned for this morning. After a quick telephone call, we established that he had another commitment this morning but we would meet for afternoon tea this afternoon. On the recommendation of our domestic help, we decided to make for Barnt Green which is a suburb of Bromsgrove with a range of good coffee shops, charity shops and independent stores (including one of those old fashioned ironmongers where you go inside and wonder how you had ever managed for so long without this gadget or that piece of pottery) We found a parking place which was quite unusual because parking is always at a great premium along this particular High Street and then got Meg safely bundled into a wheelchair, which we tend to use quite a lot these days. The pavements were at a bit of a camber and not particularly well maintained so pushing the wheelchair was not the easiest of jobs. Nonetheless, we found a coffee shop where people were enjoying the weather outside the shop whilst they drank their coffee and we found one unoccupied table at which we ordered a cappuchino coffee and a toasted teacake. We spent a pleasant few minutes here and then made our way along the High Street, in search of charity shops. But we were fortunate to find a Tesco Express where I could dive in and get my daily copy of ‘The Times‘ and next door to it there was an ATM and for both of these facilities I was well and truly grateful as it saved a lot of searching around. We did locate one charity shop which had quite a small frontage and I doubted tht I could Meg over the threshhold. So whilst Meg stayed outside, I shot inside and located quite a very tasteful ‘per una’ top which Meg can wear tomorrow when we visit cousins and I also took the opportunity to buy a birthday card in anticipation of next Tuesday. Then Meg and I had a bit of a rest before I persuaded our domestic help who was a photographer in an earlier life to take a little video of us on her iphone. I wanted the video to show the various pieces of kit which now populated our music room whilst I was playing a piece (the ‘Barcarolle’ from ‘Tales of Hoffman’ on my Casio keyboard) and this all worked more or less perfectly apart from the fact that my fingers hit a couple of adjacent keys at the end causing a discord. But by an extraordinary piece of good luck, our photographer had just managed the sequence of shots I had wanted her to video when I finished my piece so we established a perfectly synchronised ending to both of our activities. I wanted this to show to Meg’s cousins tomorrow when we visit them on the presumption that a picture, and even better a video, is worth a thousand words.

We had our normal fish pie lunch for a Friday and then we allowed ourselves a burst of the ‘James Martin’ cookery programme which tends to show interesting shots of Spain en route. We had to leave this early because we had planned to meet for our afternoon tea in Waitrose at 3.00pm but were a little dismayed when we found the cafeteria had closed up for the day when we arrived. So we trecked over to another coffee shop which was quite pleasant and where we indulged in tea and some cakes. We got into converation with a couple we have often met in Waitrose before but typically on a Sunday. They regaled us with a long and involved story concerning their beloved little dog who had some very neurological condition and upon whom they had spent what to me appeared to be a small fortune. We had an interesting afternoon out and then returned home where I played some relaxing music and videos for Meg’s benefit. Tonight is going to be the New Zealand vs. Italy rugby match and although this ought to be a walkover for the All Blacks, unpredictable things can happen in this World Cup.

Meanwhile, the waves from the Braverman speech rumble on. Around a dozen Tory MPs, including ministers, have complained to the chief whip about Suella Braverman’s recent speech on immigration and refugees. Some have told the BBC her remarks were offensive, divisive and inaccurate. It is not the first time, MPs say, that there have been concerns about the home secretary’s tone. It is unclear exactly what will happen as a result of the complaints but it is expected government Chief Whip Simon Hart – who is in charge of party discipline – will relay the concerns to the prime minister. This is always going to be a dilemma for the Prime Minister as he is loathe to do anything that might offend the right wingers within the modern Conservative party. This was the wing of the Conservative party that John Major called ‘bastards’ and eventually made them back down with a pledge to ‘back me or sack me’