Saturday, 13th January, 2024

[Day 1398]

Today turned out to be rather a quiet Saturday. We knew that we were going to receive a visit from a Eucharistic minister from our local church but she was not due to arrive until after 10.30 am so we played some good music from YouTube until she arrived. After our little service this morning, we realised that we really needed to call into Waitrose to collect our weekend copy of ‘The Times‘ During the week, we sometimes call in at a local garage to pick up our copy of the newspaper but bitter experience has taught me that at the weekends, some of the supplements tend to be missing from copies supplied to the garages and although we throw some supplements away on sight (such as the ‘Style‘ section) there are others such as the ‘Culture‘ section that details all the radio/TV programs for the week ahead together with some book reviews so this is quite important to us. So we popped into Waitrose and afterwards paid a visit to our erstwhile local newsagents to see what progress they were making with reinstalling the supply of newspapers. The employee looking after the shop did not seem to know much about anything and I was given the standard ‘wait for two weeks’ reply which I was given last week, so I shall give it another week to try to reestablish my regular order. The previous newsagent always kept of a copy of my newspaper in the back of the shop for me so that I never run short as I am hoping to establish a similar system with the new owners.

After we had a lunch of chicken and mushroom pie, bought as a new line from ‘Aldi‘, we settled down to an afternoon of TV watching, principally trying to access catch-up TV. But it proved to be one of those frustrating afternoons where nothing quite worked. We tried to watch some past episodes of ‘Yes, Prime Minister‘ on BBC iPlayer but it was subject to constant buffering pauses which eventually made the whole episode unwatchable. In frustration, we turned to ITVX to watch the ‘Mr Bates and the Post Office: The Real Truth‘ but this, too, was full of buffering problems so we had to abandon this after a while as well. I suppose it must be our internet connection that might be to blame but it might be massive demand on a cold winter afternoon causing the problems and who can say? So, in some desperation, we trawled up and down the available channels hoping to find a half decent film and settled on ‘Shirley Valentine‘ which I might have seen decades ago and am not convinced that I really want to watch again but beggars cannot be choosers. I suppose every once in a while, one gets a really chewy type of day and so it was today. Meg had a rather unsettled afternoon which did not really help things along but tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow morning, we are going to meet with our University of Birmingham friend in Waitrose and we need to brace ourselves for what is going to be quite a cold, hard week. There is snow threatened next week with some creeping from the North and more advancing from the South but here in the Midlands, we might just escape the worst of it.

The Post Office scandal story continues to evolve and one where it is actually going to end. Apparently, it is the case that any fines that have to be paid to regulatory agencies cannot be regarded in conventional accounting terms as a tax deductible expense but the Post Office have been doing this, thus enhancing the size of declared profits (and also the bonus of the chief executives which is based upon this level of profits) The Post Office argues that its dealings with HMRC, they were under the impression that any fines liable were a tax deductible expense. The point is being made is that if the Post Office were a private company, the chief executives’ heads would have to be served up on a platter to appease outraged shareholders but in the case of the Post Office, there is only one shareholder, namely the Government. As is nearly always the case for these type of scandals that emerge at the end of a working week, one looks to the Sundays for a more in-depth exposé so I will look forward with particular anticipation to tomorrow’s editions. I must say that the more I think about the Government solution to this problem, the less convinced I am that another solution could not be sought. If one were to recruit, say, ten retired High Court judges and give them each a case load of about a hundred, surely the thousand cases could be processed in just a few weeks. I may be wrong in this but I seem to think that if the Government wished to pursue a large number of miscreants (e.g. the poll tax, football hooligans ‘en masse’ and other demonstrations,the Northern Ireland Devlin courts and so on) then it has in the past instituted a large number of special procedures to cope with this. It seems possible that governments can create special courts if a large number of prosecutions are required but acquittals seem to be a different matter altogether.