Sunday, 26th November, 2023

[Day 1350]

The day started off somewhat better than yesterday as we both had a relatively undisturbed night last night. A quick look out of the window revealed that there had not been a frost to speak of overnight so the car would not need any special remedial attention this morning. We got ourselves up and just about ready for breakfast in time to watch the Lorna Kuenssberg politics program but I don’t recall much of it since I was busy doing a range of household tasks. Once breakfast was well and truly over, we received a phone call from our trusty University of Birmingham friend and we arranged to meet at 11.30, together with his new lady friend with whom things seem to be going along quite nicely. Meg was not getting along particularly well this morning so some extra medication was called for but eventually, we got ourselves to the Waitrose cafeteria and awaited our friend and his newly acquired friend who arrived some minutes later. As our friend had visited La Coruna in the last week and he had travelled there via Barcelona, he had plenty of photographs to show us both of the hotel in which he stayed in Barcelona and also of La Coruña itself. He seemed to have seen a lot of the worthwhile sights when he was there and the hotel, by the side of the sea, was absolutely to his liking. When our friend showed the photograph of Meg and myself to the reception staff, they exclaimed ‘Ah! Los senores Hart’ recognising us within the instant and even went back through their records to determine the last time we were there, which was four years ago now. This must have been the autumn immediately before the pandemic but it seems like five or six ago to me rather than four. Our friend had enjoyed the various Spanish meals he had consumed and practiced quite a lot of his intermediate Spanish at which he felt he did quite well. Mind you, it is always a good idea to travel on one’s own because if you are travelling as a couple and one is more proficient in the language than the other then the less proficient tends to duck out of conversations and this does not help the learning process. Altogether, we spent a couple of hours in the cafeteria and it was practically 2.00 pm when we returned home. We had a gammon joint slowing cooking in the slow cooker and in order not to delay lunch by quite some time, I hit upon the expedient of carving two large slices of the cooked ham joint and eating them between two quite large slices of toasted crusty bread. This way round, we both had a fairly instant and filling meal and and we recouped some of the time. Whilst we having our coffee, I received a phone call from our Irish friends to confirm our arrival time for the meal with them tomorrow, which is to be 12.00pm midday. We have got quite a lot of news to impart, probably in both directions, as we have not seen them for some time and I know that have been back in Ireland, organising funerals apart from other things. When the weather was finer and Meg had more mobility, we used them to see them regularly when we used to walk up and down daily to the park but now, times have changed!

It is rather a relief to see that the Israel/Hamas exchange of hostages/prisoners is continuing into its second day. There are last minute hitches, of course, where Hamas thought that the Israelis are reneging on the agreement on the number of trucks of aid that can enter Gaza. There is so little trust between the two sides but both Egypt and Qatar are acting as honest brokers to keep both sides on track, as it were. The agreement to exchange prisoners is meant to run for four days but there are a few hints that this might extend to a fifth day. If it carries on like this, it is just possible that we might stumble into a quasi-ceasefire which both sides say they do not want but perhaps, secretly, they do. Whilst there appears to be overwhelming support for Israel externally, there may well be all kinds of internal pressures to which it is subject. Netanyahu is largely perceived as having taken his eye off the ball and thereby allowed the Hamas attack to happen under his nose, as it were. A recent opinion poll put support for the present Netanhayu led government at only about 20% and whereas most Israelis support the ground invasion of Gaza, there is a feeling that Netanjahu is not the premier to be in charge of this operation. Also, there is a massive pressure to release the hostages at almost any cost and this may mean that Israeli public opinion are prepared to tolerate something less than a fight to the death with Hamas as a price worth paying for getting many of the hostages returned. Also, the suffering on the Palestinian side is almost unimaginable with operations having to be performed, in some casers, without anaesthetic. This was revealed recently by the chief of the World Health Organisation (WHO) who also revealed that half of the Gaza Strip’s 36 hospitals and two-thirds of its primary health care centers are not functioning at all, says the WHO chief, adding that four hospitals had been shut down in the last 48 hours alone.