Friday, 27th October, 2023

[Day 1320]

We got going eventually this morning after a somewhat delayed start but are always pleased to see our domestic help arrive on Friday mornings but we suspected that we might well be out later in the morning. Once we had got breakfast out of the way, we set forth to pick up our daily newspaper and then to make for Droitwich some miles away. The normal route was blocked by roadworks – whether routine or a consequence of the latest bout of bad weather I cannot say – but eventually we got there. However, we made a stop en-route to our local Age Concern charity shop because our domestic help had tipped us off that they had a practically new light wheelchair available for sale at a very reasonable price. Thinking about my back and whatever I can do, both now and in the future, to minimise the strain upon it and thinking that there may well be occasions when Meg will need to resort to a wheelchair around the house, we decided to make a phone call to see if it was still available. It was, and I promised to get round there by 11.00am this morning to pick it up. Naturally, these light wheelchairs are designd to fold almost flat to get them into the boot of a car. Talk about the kindness of strangers – someone I did not know wandered over from his car and, observing me struggling a little with the newly purchased appliance, showed me how the handles came off and how it folded flat to get it into the boot. Naturally, I thanked him profusely but did not want to bring the chair into commission in Droitwich if I could help it as I felt I needed to get it home first and give it a good examination and ‘once over’ before bringing it into regular use. We were very fortunate in finding a parking space quite near to our favourite cafe and this meant that I could walk Meg into the cafe with the minimum of effort. Once inside, I enquired whether that actually did any bacon butties (which I quite fancied) On being told that they did I ordered two, on for Meg and one for myself but this turned out to be somewat optimistic as they were enormous and came on great chunks of brown bread. In practice, and we shall know next time, one of these would have been quite sufficient but we consumed these with gusto and a huge pot of tea to go with it. After we had left, I was keeping an eye out for Worcestershire Association of Carers charity shop just down the road because I have always been impressed by the quality of their offerings. I did not leave empty handed either as I came away with a pair of boots with a kind of furry top of a kind I had years ago and these were just my size. I also picked upm a smart leather/leatherette type briefcase (always useful if you have to take a bundle of documents along to a hospital or a solicitor) and finally a cushion for which I think I can find an immediate use. So all in all, it was a very productive morning.

The latest Middle East conflict is causing all kinds of tensions in the body politic. For a start, the United States looks as though it is trying to restrain the Israelis from all out ground offensive into the Gaza strip. If such an full-bloodied offensive takes place, it is going to be bloody in the extreme on both sides. The Hamas fighting units have a whole series of tunnels in which the Israelis will have to engage and fighting may well be hand to hand. Every mission is fraught with danger. If the Israelis attempt such an assault then some of the 200-odd Israeli captives may well have been placed in the tunnels to prevent an incursion. And, of course, there may well be booby traps everywhere. The Americans will be equally anxious to not ignite a wider regional conflict but they have already bombed positions in Syria so one can imagine that not only Israel but Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Iraq could be drawn into a regional conflict. So far, the Israelis have confined themselves to a couple of deep incursions into Gaza rather than a full scale incursion but the world is watching and waiting and one feels that it can only a question of time. Meanwhile back in domestic politics, the Labour party leadership is getting itself impaled upon a terrible hook. By defending to the right of the Israelis to defend themselves, does this give a green light to the indiscriminate bombing of the civilian population in Gaza of whom some 40% are estimated to be children? It is quite possible to endorse Israel’s right to self defence but at the same time to condemn a bombing of the Gaza population which looks as though it is an act of collective punishment even if this not the intention of the Israelis. But the UN Secretary General and other influential actors regard the actions of Israel as a war crime. Meanwhile, the initial assault by Hamas is also a war crime but where do we go from here? The Qataris are trying to broker some kind of hostage release in return for a moderation of the ground offensive into Gaza but the negotiations are tortuous (and may not get anywhere)