Sunday, 3rd December, 2023

[Day 1357]

We thought that the weather might not be very good today so we had two plans projected for the morning. If the morning had been bright, crisp and clear we would have wrapped up warmly and then gone for a venture in our local park, armed perhaps with some soup in a flask and some comestibles. But the weather was dull, overcast and raining, so we had no hesitation in adopting ‘Plan B’ This involved going to Waitrose in Droitwich some seven miles distant. The advantage of this was that we could park with no charge, pick up a copy of our Sunday nespaper and then get a ‘free’ coffee which is a service Waitrose offers to its cardholders. There was a certain degree of debate whether my exchange of the voucher for the Sunday newspaper constituted a purchase or not. I argued that it did as the value of the voucher gets passed through the tills as though it were a cash purchase but on checking, it seemed that the Waitrose policy is that this is not the case. Nonetheless, the staff stretched a point for us so we proceeded to the very basic coffee drinking area. Although pre-Covid, this store had its own little cafeteria, this did not survive the lockdown so we had to make do with perching on one of the three or four bar stools in front of a shelf which passes for the coffee facility. We got into a friendly Christmas style conversation with another couple having their repast and, rather surreptitously, ate a banana and some biscuits to go with our coffee. Then we had to make a fairly smart progress towards home as our chiropodist was due to call today at 11.45. But she turned up an hour late as she had forgotten the time of our appointment, her own phone being almost out of action because of a broken screen. So this made things even after we had a mistaken appointment time last Monday, I think it was. The minute we got back from Droitwich, we put the ‘breast of chicken in a tin’ into the oven suspecting that it would take well over an hour to cook. When everything was ready, we dined on chicken, roast potato and broccoli leaving enough of the chicken left over for two further meals.

Meg and I had come to a decision to give ourselves the experience of watching ‘The Way’ on Amazon Prime. We first saw this film over a month ago but thought it was well worth an extra watch. The plot consists of a son with a distant relationship with his American father who died in the French Pyrenees whilst undertaking the ‘Camino de Santiago’. The son is cremated and his father decides to complete the Camino on his son’s behalf leaving a few of his son’s ashes at each important staging post. En route, he encounters variuous travelling companions so the journey as a whole has its little escapades. Watching the film for a second occasion was full of little surprises and delights when there are little details that escaped you the first time around. The film is also incredibly poignant and Meg and I felt watching the film again was quite an emotional experience. We know Santiago de Compostela pretty well but never in our younger days considered doing the Camino do Santiago officially but as well as this particular film, there has been at least one TV series based upon pilgrims’ experiences as they undertake the journey via one of the several routes all of which are several hundreds of kilometers in length.

We have not had much time today with our TV viewing to read the Sunday newspapers in any real depth but we know that next week, Boris Johnson is due to evidence for at least 1-2 days to the COVID-19 enquiry. Witnesses who are called to give evidence to the enquiry have already supplied a fairly lengthy written statement and these are always self-justificatory. But one wonders how penetrating the questions from the barristers in the enquiry are likely to be. It is by now fairly well documented and admitted by Matt Hancock, at least, that if the lockdown had been initiated some three weeks earlier then thousands of lives would not have been lost. This bald statement seems dramatic in the extreme and it is probably the case that the COVID-19 may well have shortened the lives of many elderly and infirm people who might have not had a great deal of time left to them in any case. But when Meg and I walked down to the local park during the pandemic, we witnessed old and sick people being ushered into the back of an ambulance whilst tearful relatives waved a goodbye to them as the ambulance departed, probably knowing that they would not see their aged relatives ever again. This was true also of Clive, the aged gentleman we know very well from our daily walks who even played ‘Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring‘ on his trumpet on the occasion of our 50th wedding anniversary celebrations.

Politically, Keir Starmer has come out in praise of some of the reforms of Margaret Thatcher, to the astonishment of many of his MPs. Whether this gain him any extra votes from previously ‘soft’ voting Tory voters is uncertain but I have a feeling that this praise of Thatcher was both unnecessary in purely vote winning terms and also, more seriously, likely to badly misfire.