Tuesday, 14th November, 2023

[Day 1338]

Today, as always on a Tuesday, we look forward to seeing our friends in the Waitrose cafeteria. We were not disappointed and had a good old natter talking about things we had done in our youth (skinny dipping) as well as more current preoccupations such as the preparation of Christmas cake. Incidentally, many of the publicans in Yorkshire in my youth used to hand around portions of Christmas cake served with a slab of Wensleydale cheese which is a superb combination. I was keeping a fairly anxious eye on the weather because I had a job in mind for later on in the day and after I had Meg esconced in front of watching ‘Politics Today’ at midday, I set to work giving the lawns their last mow of the season. This was about 9-10 days later than my normal deadline at which I aim for November 5th for the last cut. The point here is that after the last cut, the mower has to be prepared for several months of inactivity and this means that the remaining petrol has to be completely drained out of the system as well as the old oil taken out. So I was organising today like a military operation and managed to get the front lawn cut (one cut lengthwise and the follow up cut width wise) before our normal Tuesday lunch of fishcakes. Then, after lunch, I started on the cut of the lawn to the rear of the house timed in so such a way that I would finish everything just before the time that we had arranged for our University of Birmingham friend to call around with his own lawnmower. We got mine given its normal end-of-season routine and it really was a case of two hands being better than one because draining the old petrol and oil out of the system needs one person to handle the machine and the other to put a suitable receptacle in place to receive the fluids that are drained out. Old fuel and oil left within the system are likely to result in gooey deposits which can only spell trouble at the start of the new season. Once my machine was successfully put to bed, we turned our attention to our friend’s machine which had been refusing to start. So to turn it around, we drained off the old fuel wich may have been the source of the problem. Then we put in a small amount of good fuel, well stabilised with a special Briggs and Stratton ‘fuel fix’ preparation, designed to solve the problems caused by ethylene in modern fuel. Then we cleaned the air filter and tried to start the recalcitrant machine. Our efforts did not meet with any success but then, as a desperate last fling, my friend put in a new sparking plug. This seemed to have done the trick so we were delighted when eventually our efforts were crowned with success and the machine (a good Honda) sprang into life. We ran the engine for a few minutes, sufficient to make the engine oil less viscous and then knowing that the machine was now in a functioning state, we drained off the fuel, emptied out the oil and give everything that needed it a good dosing of WD40. We were both delighted to succeed in our efforts, particularly as it looked at one point that defeat was staring us in the face. We organised a strategy for ourselves such that I store the machine alongside my own mower. Then in the spring, our friend and I can refuel our machines with premium and well-stabilised fuel, get them oiled up and make sure that they both work before the machines are located back into their respective homes. Our friend took it upon himself to dispose of the old oil and stale petrol for the two of us and then we had a celebratory cup of tea and biscuits, together with Meg, in our kitchen enjoying each other’s company. I must say that at the end of the afternoon, as I suspected, my back was complaining somewhat after an hour of mowing and then a good half hour hauling machines around so I think an early night with the benefit of the electric blanket may well be called for.

As we had been promised, the late afternoon saw the publication of Suella Braverman’s bitterly critical resignation letter. In it, she indicates that she writes to that Rishi Sunak that ‘Someone needs to be honest: your plan is not working, we have endured record election defeats, your resets have failed and we are running out of time’. In short, the unleashed Braverman is making clear she will make life as uncomfortable as possible for Sunak and as soon as the Prime Minister resigns after an expected election defeat, she is planting her flag as the standard bearer of the right with the anticipation that she will become the next party leader. To a large extent, this reaction was expected and although the Right are furious with Sunak, it is fairly obvious to most of us that the Right has had its day. Having secured the Brexit of their dreams, the tides of public opinion are evidently turning against their agenda and they are probably vastly over estimating the influence that they can and will have in the remainder of this Parliament. If, as expected, the Labour party wins the next election with a landslide, then it takes a landslide to reverse a landslide and the Tories may be out of power for ten years. After that time, the Right may well have lost the chance to regain power ever again and they probably are feeling that after years of the political tides running in their favour, that their chances of power are rapidly receding and they are lashing out in complete desperation.