Friday, 15th December, 2023

[Day 1369]

Meg and I woke up relatively early this morning and we imagined that we would feel pretty shattered after the long journey of yesterday. However, we both felt OK under the cirumstances and so by the time that our domestic help called round, which she always does on a Friday, we were all breakfasted and ready to go. I did not go shopping yesterday but this week is going to turn out to be quite a light week so I was contemplating the minimum that we could get away with, although we know that we are out of milk for a start. Then we received a telephone call from our University of Birmingham friend and we set up a coffee date in Waitrose for later on that morning. As we now had a spare three quarters of an hour, this was a good opportunity to make a venture into the loft to bring down all the Christmas gear. We do make a habit of always storing all of the Christmas goods in one neat, discrete pile so we know that everything in the pile is to be brought down. Fortunately, our son was in the house so whilst I put our steps into place, I relied upon him to locate and hand down the various items which were a large silver Christmas treee, a little bijou one with interesting glowing fibre optics which we locate in the corner of our sitting room and must be at least twenty years old by now. The silver tree comes in three sections and has to have its various branches unfolded before we start to think about decorating it. I remember well the trauma that we had with Christmas trees last year – I ordered a particularly nice from Wilko that people raved about but it seemed to get ‘lost’ in the distribution warehouse and so Wilko, apologetically, refunded my money but by that stage I had wasted a critical week or so and now all of the really good trees were out of stock. So I was thrown onto the wilds of the internet and thought to myself that it would be better to have a sophisticated looking silver tree rather than a cheaper, not to say ‘naff’, green plastic version whose resemblance to a real tree was only passing. Anyway, our domestic help helped us to drape the coloured LED set over the tree and then to dress it with a supply of baubles that we happened to get as a job lot at the end of last year’s Christmas season. I have to say that the end result is absolutely stunning and lights up a dark corner of the hall and so looks particularly good when day gives way to evening and then to night. After we had done this, we went down into town and met up with our friend and we spent a happy time in each other’s company whilst I updated him with the events of the week. We dashed around the store to get some milk and other supplies before returning home.

After we returned home, we made ourselves a risotto with mackerel and really enjoyed it – it is some time since we have made ourselves one and therefore was much appreciated. Then I realised that in my rush around this morning, I had forgotten to pick up my copy of ‘The Times‘ So we made our way to the garage where we normally pick up a copy of the newspaper but they were sold out. So we popped into the local AgeUK shop to see what they had to offer as one never knows what bijou items might appear. Finally, we called in at Waitrose to locate a copy of our preferred newspaper for which we have a token and joked with the staff about whether they have the same feeling about Christmas as do the turkeys that they sell. To be honest, they gave me their impression that they know the week ahead is going to be frantic and getting more so as Christmas approaches – I must admit that only being 10 days away has made me appreciate how much is to be done, not least by locating the Christmas card lists and getting on with this particular job. Although I have a computerised list, it is a little out-of-date and I know that I need to locate a little sheet of amendments that I compiled last year but never made its way onto the computer as it should have done.

The media has been dominated today by the judgement in Prince Harry’s favour in his court claim against the Mirror Group newspapers. The judge ruled that in at about half of the cases presented by Prince Harry to the court that there was evidence of illegal phone tapping and has awarded the Prince some £140,000 in damages. The judge also indicated that the then editor of the Daily Mirror, Piers Morgan, must have known about the phone hacking. A furious row has broken out this afternoon as Piers Morgan denies ever having hacked a phone and launched a tirade of invective against the Prince. It does now appear that witnesses to the important Levison enquiry into the press may well have lied under oath and many of the recommendations to the Levison enquiry were never implemented in any case. What is being said today is that Prince Harry has won in the High Court – but has he won in the court of public opinion? I think the full ramifications of this judgement are still to unfold.