Wednesday, 11th October, 2023

[Day 1304]

Today dawned with a band of rain sweeping across the country as the weather forecasters had predicted so we quickly ruled out plans to go very afar afield and instead settled on somewhere local. Our minds were made up for us by a text from AgeUk reminding us of the monthly meeting held in a local village hall. So we made our way there and were entertained, for over an hour, with ‘Memories of Old Bromsgrove‘ which was a topic with which we felt we would not have a great deal of resonance. But the the topics that we tended to centre around were more of the kinds of goods (and sweets) that we remembered from our childhood and evidently there was a lot more common ground in this. We got back at about 12.30 and busied ourselves preparing an early lunch. We had previously been in contact with our University of Birmingham friend who was unexpectedly free later on today so we decided to meet for an afternoon cuppa early on in the afternoon as we have matters of mutual interest to discuss. We did meet in the Waitrose cafeteria only to be greeted by a massive squall of rain when we emerged in the late afternoon, so we were glad to get home out of the wet weather. We discussed with our friends some possible trips out in the days, and possibly weeks, ahead and then went on our own merry ways. There is quite an autumnal feeling in the air at the moment but having July style temperatures in the early days of the month has got ourselves lulled into a false sense of security, no doubt.

Meanwhile, the BBC is involved in a new culture war with the government about whether it should use the word ‘terrorists’ to describe the Hamas militants who have been responsible for the latest Israel/Gaza conflict. A BBC spokesperson said: ‘We always take our use of language very seriously. Anyone watching or listening to our coverage will hear the word terrorist used many times – we attribute it to those who are using it, for example, the UK Government. This is an approach that has been used for decades, and is in line with that of other broadcasters. The BBC is an editorially independent broadcaster whose job is to explain precisely what is happening on the ground so our audiences can make their own judgement.’ John Simpson, the veteran BBC war and foreign corresondent has argued ‘British politicians know perfectly well why the BBC avoids the word terrorist, and over the years plenty of them have privately agreed with it. Calling someone a terrorist means you are taking sides and ceasing to treat the situation with due impartiality. The BBC’s job is to place the facts before its audience and let them decide what they think, honestly and without ranting. Among other broadcasters, neither Sky News nor ITN – which provides news for ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – have fixed policies and let their newsrooms decide on a case-by-case basis. Stories on the Sky News and ITV News websites mainly refer to Hamas militants or fighters, although ITV has also described them as terrorists. So we have a case here which is depressingly familiar that the BBC is attacked by politicians on all sides by those who wish it to use a different terminology – but other broadcasters such as Sky News are following almost exactly the same policy as the BBC without attracting opprobrium. It does appear that the government of the day always seems to want the BBC to toe the government line and therefore have no desire for a truly independent medium – perhaps turning them into the UK equivalent of the ‘Pravda’ and ‘Izvestya’ infamously associated with the former Soviet Union and now carried on under Putin.

Meg and I are trying to settle into a new pattern of spending our days to ensure that Megs frailties do not impinge too much upon our daily lives. We are trying to ensure that each morning, there is a venue (often, but not invariably associated with cups of coffee) after which, if we return home just after 12.00 there is always the Politics Today program on BBC2. We always lunch in the middle of the day and then try to pick some relaxing/entertaining/diverting TV for the afternoon. In this we have been considerably assisted by taking out a subscription to YouTube in which there are often a selection of programs tailored to our own tastes and past preferences. For example, at the moment we are listening to a superb performance of some of the Mozart piano sonatas. During the afternoons, I am encouraging Meg to have a nap or extended rest but this does not happen as often as I think would be good for her. After watching the early evening news, we have our little bits of supper and have then started watching the Sophie Ridge Politics Hub programme which has replaced the Channel 4 news on our preference list. We are then into a pattern of getting Meg ready for bed some time between 8pm-9pm and, if there are any good programmes on after the watershed of 9.00pm, we start to watch that in the chairs we have in our bedroom. That way, if Meg is particulartly sleepy I can quickly get her into bed or she can watch the programme through to its natural conclusion. I would not say that I was completely rigid about these routines but a certain amount of predictbility and order in the day makes Meg’s condition somewhat easier to manage.