Friday, 5th January, 2024

[Day 1390]

Today is not quite the twelfth night of Christmas but certainly the day before and the time when we had scheduled our Christmas decorations to come down. Our domestic help calls around on a Friday and as she helped us to put up the decorations a fortnight ago, we enlisted each other’s help to take them all down again. Principally, we have to ‘undress’ our silver Christmas tree and then put it and the baubles safely away. This does involve eventually accessing the loft where all of the Christmas decoration is stored in a nicely accessible time, ready for the same thing again in 50 weeks time. After the Christmas tree and other decorations were removed, we had two little cribs (one we have had for years, the other a traditional set which we bought just before Christmas) and these are now all put into away in the bottom of a wardrobe in our spare bedroom, again easily accesible for when we need them again. I always have the same rather conflicting feelings about this time of year, the first of which is a certain amount of relief that Christmas and Christmassy things have all been out away for another year. But it is also true that our hall which provided a home for the Christmas tree looks rather stark at least for a few hours once it gets restored to normality. Actually, it is not actually the case that Christmas type things are absolutely over because we still have our Epithany/Reyes Magos/Galette des Rois little party tomorrow evening with three sets of friends (plus ouselves) joining forces for a little fiesta celebrating Twelfth Night in a very continental fashion. As we had spent a fair proportion of this morning putting away our Christmas decorations, we decided just to have a quick visit down the road to the Waitrose cafeteria to pick up a newspaper and to have our morning coffee. None of our regular friends were there but we would not expect to see them there until tomorrow morning in any case. On the way down into town, I popped into my newsagents to enquire if there any details about the funeral we wish to attend on Monday. The young lad in the shop was an employee of the new owners i.e. not family, and did not know anything about the funeral arrangements. But he phoned the owner for me and I spoke with her, giving her my mobile number and requesting to be kept informed about what time the funeral was due to be.

Over the past four days, ITV has been screening a docudrama entitled ‘Mr. Bates vs.the Post Office’ illustrating in 4 one hour episodes one of the biggest scandals and miscarriages of justice in modern times. Basically, the Post Office introduced a new computer system called ‘Horizon‘ which was not fit for purpose and when shortfalls were wrongly identified by the system, the sub postmasters had to make up the deficit from their own savings. This caused many of them to lose their business, their houses and resulted in a plethora of wrongful convictions and some suicides. After the series of four programmes had been transmitted, ITV published a documentary (rather than a docudrama) to show ‘the real story’ This was shown last night but I thought it would be good idea if Meg and myself could view this on ITVX this afternoon. But it was not yet listed on the schedules so Meg and I started to watch the final and concluding episode, first shown last night. But then the doorbell rang and it was our hairdresser calling round for a routine appointment. Although we had her on our planning board and I reminded Meg that she would along this aftenoon, we both forgot that she was coming. She has many clients of a similar age and health status to ourselves and we always receive sympathetic treatment from her hands.

One little job which Meg and I can do together relates to the Christmas cards we have received over the festive season. We used to throw them away quite quickly but this year we have retained them all and we think that a re-reading of the various bits of family news would be a pleasant task for the days ahead. One thing that we often do at this time of year is to work out which relatives and friends we wish to see and in which order. Then we need to make a little planning calendar so that we can schedule who we go and visit in the weeks to come. Of course, we are assuming that the weather will continue to be kind to us but I am always sustained by the fact that the days are getting longer by a smidgeon every day. But the factor that may prove problems for us in seeing friends and relatives is the local flooding situation. Worcestershire and Gloucestershire seem to be particularly prone to flooding and although some local flood defences are in place, these are often tested to (and sometimes over) the limit. To illustrate this, a town quite near to us, Bewdley, is very prone to flooding and a TV report showed some local residents who where arguing that an extra course of bricks (or even two) on the local flood defences could make a dramatic difference for them.