Wednesday, 22nd November, 2023

[Day 1346]

Last night, I spent a certain amount of time (probably too much) getting my IBM ThinkPad up to scratch and managed to solve the lack of access to emails problem (the date had been set a week too late and this causes a certificate to indicate invalidity) But then I encountered some frustration installing some antivirus which would not work on this old version of Windows before a certain of ‘chat’ argument with a script monkey eventually involved me being promised a refund and a cancellation of the subscription. So I could do with a bit more sleep tonight. On the more positive side, I have the feeling that my session at Pilates was beneficial as my back seems a little less ‘locked’ and a tad more mobile so perhaps a regime of some stretching and some gentle exercise is just what is required. Today we decided that we go out for the morning to the quaint little market town of Alcester and I had made a booking yesterday in our favourite hotel on the high street which offers an incredible value pensioner’s lunch and where the staff know us well. Our venture up and down the High Street with Meg in a wheelchair was interesting. I must say I had not noticed the number of high kerbs, difficult entrances to shops and, in one case, an entrance that was practically too narrow for us to get in. Still, I managed using the little ‘tip’ levers on the back of the wheelchair which will raise the front wheels a few inches to help you get the front wheels on the kerb. After that, there is a degree of brute force required to get the whole wheelchair and its occupant on to the pavement. I have also learnt that it is often advisable to tackle things backwards rather than forwards – this way, the occupant of the wheelchair can only fall backwards into the chair and not forwards (and potentially out of it) Having said that, I found passers-by to be immensely helpful if they sensed that I needed some assistance. But just to show how unexpected things can occur, we made our way to our favourite coffee bar only to discover that the entrance step was so high and steep there was no way we could use this favourite haunt. So we patronised another one that we have used before and this had the advantage of a huge loo for such a small cafe which was a bonus for us. Then we came to my favourite hardware store but the entrance to this was so restricted and the passage ways so narrow that I had to leave Meg outside whilst I made a quick dash inside to get the black tape I wished to purchase. So our experience of the charity shops was somewhat mixed today although I did find that shoppers inside seemed incredibly accommodating and did not seem to exhibit any annoyance when Meg had to be circumnavigated past them. And so we made our way to the hotel where we knew there was a small flight of stairs but we left the wheelchair at the bottom and navigated the way to our table on foot. Meg had some haddock fishcakes and I had a beef lasgne, both served with salad and they were as delicious as always. The lady who is the regular waitress in there knows us well by now and offered some assistance with doors and the like whilst we getting in and out. So although I was not counting on receiving such help, it was very welcome when it was provided and was always gratefully received.

After we got home, the news channels were devoted to the Chancellor’s Autumn statement, about which there had been quite a degree of speculation. The headline figure was a 2% cut in the National Insurance contribution, in effect a tax cut, to be effective from next January. This seems to point towards an election in May – or at least keeping some options open for a May election. There was some financial support for industrial investment to help to grow the economy but quite unusually these days, this is quite a long term project and the full effects might not be felt for 5-10 years. Actually, the amount taken by the state in taxes is the highest it has been since 1948, which is particularly ironic for a Tory government. The interesting question is whether people will feel better off after a reduction in the National Insurance – afer all, inflation whilst falling is still an indication that prices are still rising. In the late afternoon, it was our day to get our wheelie bin pulled out to the end of our access road ready for emptying first thing in the morning. I have a particular dislike of doing this in the absolute dark and hence like to get it down before nightfall which is about 4.00pm these days. On my way back, I was greeted effusively by Miggles, our adopted cat who followed me down the road and into the back of the house where he can receive his normal treats ouside the back door. If I had been female and the cat hd been an all over black, the mediaeval mind would have cast me as a witch and the cat as her ‘particular’ or a demon in disguise. I am not sure if cats typically trot around after their owners but Miggles cetainly does in my case (even though we are not the owners)