Tuesday, 3rd October, 2023

[Day 1296]

Today has been a very interesting day with quite a lot of ‘out of the ordinary’ things happening. As it was Meg’s birthday, we knew that today was going to be out of the run of the ordinary and so it proved. After we had got up quite early and breakfasted, Meg opened her cards and the presents we had received to date. Although we do not normally attend church services midweek, today was going to be an exception. It had been announced that today was going to be a special annointing of the sick and elderly known formerly as the ‘Sacrament of the Sick’ In Catholic theology, this sacrament used to be known as ‘Extreme Unction’ or more popularly the last rites but today seemed to be a special mass annointing day, as it were. Normally there would be about a dozen members of the congregation attening church on a weekday but today the church was pretty full with numbers similar to a Sunday morning congregation. The priest moved around all of the members of the congegation giving a special annointing to those who required it which was practically everybody in attendance. After the service was over, there was going to be a special bun-fight in the parochial church hall and it was a marvellous experience to feel part of a community again as we have worshipping more or less regularly over the past four years. Our absence for the last week or so because of Meg’s frailty had been noticed and so we received a particularly warm welcome. We renewed contact with a particularly vivacious Liverpudlian (Catholic Irish) who can talk the hind legs of a donkey but who made the very welcome offer to perhaps come along and visit Meg in the future. If my memory serves me correctly, she knows exactly where we live because I think that she used to be friends of our former next door neighbours, both of whom have now sadly passed away. On our way home, we popped into some of our friends along the Kidderminster Road and received from them an invitation to come around for lunch tomorrow. This invitation we gladly accepted as we have got quite a lot to catch up on and we always enjoy their company tremendously. When we got home, there was yet another goody bag stuffed full of presents for Meg so this makes three in total. In addition, Meg had some jewellery from me bought yesterday and we also unpacked the large ornate jug and the flower vase which we were tempted to purchase yesterday and which have already found homes on our fireplaces and window shelves. We lunched on a simple lunch of fishcakes which is our normal Tuesday fare but it was just as well to have a lighter lunch as we had rather indulged in some rather nice cake in the parish hall earlier on this morning.

We tuned in to Sky News as is customary and the Conservative party conference is being covered in great detail. We listened to the speech given by the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, whose every utterance is designed to further a future leadership challenge after the next election is (probably) lost by Rishi Sunak. As one might expect, the audience gave almost rapturous applause to every piece of rhetoric which was deployed to the full. One thing that struck me as particularly funny (or depressing) was her diatribe against the ‘liberal’ left intent on destroying the country where it was declaimed that they even tried to call Margaret Thatcher a racist. In view of the fact that Thatcher’s views pronouncements were often characterised as racists when she claimed that the indigenous population was being ‘swamped’ with migrants. I found the following commentary on the Thatcher observations when I was trying to provide evidence for my observations on Thatcher. Her 1978 intervention did not mark a change in policy – the Conservatives had taken a hard line on immigration since she became leader in 1975 – but it had an immediate short-term effect on public opinion. After her comments, a survey by National Opinion Polls recorded a dramatic surge in support for the Tories, who jumped to an 11-point lead over Labour, who they had previously been trailing by two points. A year later, the Tories won the general election, while the National Front, which had stood a record number of candidates, failed to win a single seat and collapsed amid bitter recriminations.

Yesterday, I was tempted and did actually buy a small cassette player which was not only cheap but had good quality speakers and had BlueTooth installed. I find that I can play tracks from my iPhone as well as getting almost anything that takes my fancy from Amazon music (after a search). This is proving to be quite a useful little addition to our supply of musical devices and despite the absence of an instruction manual, it will do anything that I want it to do for the price of a couple of cups of coffee (which is my unit of currency these days). We have a shrewd suspicion that our next door neighbours might have returned from holiday after their venture around ports Hispanic (including our favourite of La Coruña) so we must grab the opportunity when it presents itself of sharing experiences over a cup of afternoon tea.