Tuesday, 16th January, 2024

[Day 1401]

Today being a Tuesday, we enter into our normal routines but today was going to be a little different. Although we generally meet with our friends in the Waitrose cafeteria twice each week, we knew that one of our number who has recently lost her husband was probably going to be heavily involved in the sequelae following a death in the family and when we met with her yesterday, she let us know that she might not make it today. Neither did any of our usual companions so Meg and I had our coffee alone, which is quite an unusual experience for us these days. We knew that today the airways were going to be full of the investigations of the Post Office scandal as well as the ongoing debates about the Government bill to expedite the transportation of refugees and asylum seekers to Rwanda. Although the transmission of some of these investigations started off early, we knew that we would have to wait until later to get to the juicy bits. When we returned from our morning excursion, the care worker turned up but about 50 minutes too early but I did manage to go and attend my Pilates session, albeit for only 45 minutes instead of the allotted 60 minutes. I left Meg in the care of the Peruvian-born care worker, listening to Joan Baez (the Mexican-American folk singer who made her reputation in the 1960’s) One of her signature songs, which I must admit I do not really know that well, is ‘Diamonds and Rust’ which is said to be a commentary on her relationship with Bob Dylan when it was breaking up. The symbolism lies in the fact that diamonds are meant to ever-lasting and indestructible whereas rust is the absolute opposite. Meg and I did go to see Joan Baez in Birmingham when she was staging one of a host of farewell concerts and we bought one of her earliest CDs which her ‘roady’ was selling in the foyer. One of the outstanding tracks upon this is her version of ‘The House of the Rising Sun‘ which many will know from the raucous ‘Animals’ version. But this version is sung by a 17-18 year old Joan Baez, accompanying herself on a guitar and singing (in Spanish) with the utmost precision and clarity. How many realise that the full story of the ‘House of the Rising Sun’ is the lament for a sister who falls into prostitution, the ‘House’ in question actually being a brothel. When I got back fom Pilates, the YouTube had given rise to other folk singers of a similar ilk, including I think Mercedes Sosa- I think that Meg and the care worker had had quite a good time together but of couse I was not present to witness it. Then it was a case of getting our lunch prepared of fishcakes and microwaved vegetables before settling down for the afternoon. But we had an phone call from our social worker and this necessitated emails that needed to be forwarded as well as a host of domestic jobs that could not wait any longer.

Meg and I caught some snatches of the proceedings of the House of Commons committeee that was cross questioning some of the Fujitsu executives. An apology of sorts was issued but in response to detailed questions, the Chief Executive of Fujitsu and of the Post Ofice were both tending to say the some thing along the lines of ‘It was before my time.. I have no direct knowledge…There are a mass of complex documents through which we are trying to wade to make sense of the past…’ and so on and so forth) Although not directly questioned on this, it does appear that the Post Office knew of the errors and bugs in the software for quite some time but were of such a mindset that it looked as though they could not believe that the software that they had commissioned was at fault. But two little nuggets did emerge from the questionning. One was surely that the senior executives at the Post Office must have noticed that there was suddently a dramatic rise in the number of ‘deficits’ in the sub postmasters’ accounts but the (now) chief executive argued that the number of prosecutions and investigations had stayed fairly constant over the years, which surely be the most blatant lie. Another fact to emerge is that crucial documents are either said to be ‘missing’ or even ‘shredded’ which either suggests the utmost venality or else incompetence in equal measure) No doubt, this will run and run.

Yesterday, I stumbled across a website that I found intriguing. A tester of laptops was making a comparison between the old, but incredibly sturdily built IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad laptops on the one hand and a modern, but cut-down-to-a-price Dell laptop on the other. The commentator could not hide his disdain for the more modern Dell laptop which was constructed using not very high quality plastics that flexed and creaked when leant upon whereas the Thinkpad was built like a tank. The thrust of his argument was that an ‘old’ machine built to high standards and with high quality components would prove to be a ‘better’ machine than its more modern counterparts that, despite more recent processors, chips and other components may well fail before the much older machine. Certainly, to a journalist who was bent on bashing out his/her 1000-2000 words a day the legendary quality of the keyboard on the older Thinkpads would make the journalist reluctant to abandon their ‘older’ and ‘inferior’ machine in favour the ‘newer’ and ‘superior’ one.