Wednesday, 13th December, 2023

[Day 1367]

Today we got up rather late and it was one of those days where we had to pack quite a few things into the morning. Having got ourselves up and breakfasted, we immediately made our way to Finstall village hall where there is a meeting organised for us by AgeUK, meeting as we do on the second Wednesday of every month. The activities organised for us were quite jolly really because it was a kind of musical 'bingo' where Chistmassy type songs and tunes were played and we had to guess things like the year of the recording, identifying the title of the film from the music clip and so on. This was to the accompaniment of cups of tea/coffee and some mince pies. All in all, we had a very successful day because we seemed to win three of the mini-competitions and won some token prizes of chocolate but we promptly gave away two of these as a run of success like this is not very natural for us. We finished promptly at 12.30pm and then made a couple of detours in order to pick up our copy of 'The Times'. At 1.00pm we were due to be visited by the couple of nurses who specialise in Meg's condition and they were due to make a scheduled visit today as, indeed, I hope that they will continue to do on a monthly basis. I had run off some little biographical notes for them both which I believe will help them to understand Meg's condition. These two healthcare professionals work in adjacent offices and evidently liaise with each other about Meg so that is really joined-up care. When they call at the house, as they have a couple of times in the past, we have a routine where one of the nurses sits with Meg and gives her some care and attention whilst the other consults with me (out of Meg's earshot, in another room). Today, we had what I consider to be a particularly helpful little session. One of the nurses was able to give me some practical advice how to cope with Meg's condition whilst the other was offering some practical assistance to Meg. Between the two of them, I am gradually learning a few new little things and acting upon some of their suggestions so that between the four of us, we are getting to a situation in which caring for Meg becomes a tad easier.

This afternoon, Meg and I started watching a film but quite recently, switched to some music which was a little more to Meg's mood this afternoon. One piece that was played, of which we never tire, is the 'Barcarolle' from Offenbach's 'Tales of Hoffman' The rendition that we are offered on YouTube is, I believe, a performance by a full French orchestra and the 'Barcarolle' is sung by a couple of sopranos, one a mezzo, whose voices blend together absolutely perfectly. Also captured is the wonderful slow rythmn of the waves lapping against the gondoler (as that is the origin of the Barcarolle in the first place) It never ceases to amaze me how Hoffman who one would normally rate as amongst the first rank of composers, could have composed such a stunningly beautiful piece. In fact, the beauty of it absolutely moved Meg to tears on this particular playing of it and I must say that I know how she feels.

After all of the hype and anticipation of the vote for the revised Rwanda legialation last night, in which Rishi Sunak was practically putting his premiership on the line, the government finished off with quite a sizeable majority of 44. It looks as though not a single Tory MP voted against the bill (as several had threatened) but a goodly number of some three dozen looked as though they probably abstained. The major battle for this legislation is now to be at the Report Stage. This is normally delegated to a smaller committee but in view of the importance of this legislation, there is going to be a 'Committee of the whole House' At that stage, several quite critical amendments will be tabled which many of the diverse groupings on the right of the Tory party will vote for but which the 'One Nation' group of centrist MPs have indicated would be totally unacceptable. In short, the 'can has been kicked down the road' and the real battles are going to re-commence in the middle of January. One can only speculate whether between now and then, opinions will harden or whether they will soften. As MPs often take the occasion over Christmas to consult with their constituency parties (who often themselves hold a Chtistmas 'party' for their own faithful) and Tory constituency parties are always to the right of the parliamentary party, then I suspect that the battle lines are being prepared for the resumption of hostilities. It rather does put you in mind of mediaeval battles, or even the war in Ukraine, when all the fighting stops amidst the fog, mud, slush and snow of the winter time whilst the armies prepare for the resumption of the real hostilities in the spring when the weather improves and the days lengthen.

Today, one of the songs played that we had to identify was 'Que sera, sera' or, in translation, 'What will be, will be' This song has a particular resonance for me because it was popular in the summer of 1956. At that time, our family was contemplating a temporary dissolution whilst I went off to boarding school in Bolton (Lancashire) whilst my mother was going to Newcastle to train to be a teacher, my sister was to attend the Bar Convent in York as a boarder and my grandmother was to stay behind in Harrogate. So at that time during the summer, we all wondered, in our own ways, what the immediate future was going to bring.