Tuesday, 24th October, 2023

[Day 1317]

Tuesday is the day when, traditionally, we turn up to the Waitrose cafeteria to have coffee with the regulars. These days, I park in our usual spot and transport Meg into the cafeteria on her wheelchair, coinciding with three sets of friends at the same time – in other words, the regular Tuesday crowd. We had a jolly time and I dredged up a couple of amusing operatic anecdotes the most famous of which happened, I think, to Dame Nelly Melba. In the final scene of Tosca, Floria Tosca having killed the villanous chief of police, Scarpia, in order to evade capture flings herself over the battlements. In real life, of course, singers do throw themselves over the scenic representation of a battlement but in the case of Dame Nelly, a whole series of extra bouncy foam was put into position to soften her fall whereafter, having thrown herself over the battlements, she kept bouncing up and down to the general amusement of the audience. After our little session, I felt so much better than I did before I entered the store and wondered how much weight to give to the argument that laughter releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and whether this is ultimately better for you than all manner of pills. We returned home in time to watch the daily Politics Live program which gives airtime to the issues of the day. Top of the agenda today was whether the shouting of ‘Jihad’ constitutes an offence as, according to the government, the police ought to ‘do their job’ and arrest and charge the offender. Meanwhile, the Met. are advised in real time by the Crown Prosecution Service that no arrestable or chargeable offence has been committed and therefore refrain from action. One has to feel for the police under such circumstances because the politicians have one agenda, appealing to what they believe to be public clamour and sentiment whilst the real professionals (the CPS in this case) are advising against. We then had our conventional haddock fishcakes and microwaved vegetables which we really enjoyed. The fishcakes have a quick ‘zing’ of Thousand Island dressing and some sweet chilli sauce to add a bit of zest. After lunch, we watched a bit of the latest news headlines, treated ourselves to the latest outrageous episode of ‘Outnumbered’ in which Pete is castigated by his head and the Chair of Governers for massaging the statistical data of the exam results (as he was encouraged to do in the last episode) One of the killer lines is the swarmy head declaimimg ‘That I take full and complete responsbility for a transgression such as this, performed by my incompetent staff’ We then followed this up with a Youtube video of the Bach B-Minor Mass which was a sort of follow on from yesterday’s programme of Bach works.

I had a little project in mind for this afternoon. When Meg and I were students and sort of setting up house together, we needed to furnish the whole of our maisonette (two of the rooms being ‘paid for’ by rent from our two former erstwhile flatmates) We were considerably aided in the task of furnishing a house on a student income by making extensive use of the Richard Law auction rooms, located about a mile away from the maisonnette. Richard Law himself was a kindly older gentleman ably assisted by his daughter and, of course, we wused to pay visits to the auction rooms to see what was on offer before the weekly auction night itself. Mr Law looked after his customers and made sure that one way or another, his gavel would come down so that customers could generally get a piece that they had set their hearts upon. This is how we acquired the ‘Captain’s Chair’ which, if it were made with leather upholstery, would sell on eBay for anything between £100-£200 but the wood only version is probably only a third of that. I seem to remember that I paid 25 shillings for this (£1.25) and I did a sort of re-upholstery, not very expertly, in some red velvet type material. So this has been part of our household since it was purchased in about 1967 and has not really had much attention, apart from my own reupholstery, since then. Today I decided to give the top half of the chair the Grade0000 steel wool plus beeswax treatment, which is probably the first polish it has received for over half a century. I am quite pleased with the results I have achieved today and tomorrow I will finish if off by doing the legs of the chair. The spindles, in particular, have polished up to a beautiful lustre and the back and the arms look more than presentable which is more than can be said for the back of the chair (not really noticeable in any event)

We have been anticipating a ground assault on Gaza by the Israeli Defence Force almost every day now. But the Israelis face a massive dilemma because any such venture is fraught with risks. One of these is that there are still something like 200 plus hostages held throughout Gaza and their lives would be put at risk by an Isreli assault. In adition, there are likely to be booby traps and hidden dangers all over the place. Hamas are arguing that they will release hostages if the Israelis, for their part, agree to cease their bombardment of Gaza. But, all in all, an attack at some point of time is more likely than not, whereupon a bloodbath will ensue (with blood spilled on all sides)