Friday, 19th January, 2024

[Day 1404]

Today was meant to be a degree colder than yesterday but the weather station in Pershore, Worcestershire registered a low of -9.7 degrees yesterday which was one of the coldest (if not the coldest) in the country. The temperature here when I went shopping yesterday was -6 degrees and today it was -5 degrees but it actually felt colder. Fortunately, my windscreen protector had done its job and the car was relatively easy to put to rights before we set off this morning. The carers arrived on cue but one of my regulars had had an accident, probably weather-related, and so another carer was sent in her stead. Three of Meg’s carers have suffered five accidents in the last fortnight which must have put a lot of pressure on them as they have to dash from appointment to appointment and are given hardly any travelling time, the situation being exacerbated of course by road works on the one hand and rush hour on the other. Our domestic help calls around on a Friday and she is always a joy with whom to chat but we were quite keen to try and get into the Waitrose cafeteria by about 10.30. We were particularly pleased to have done so because we thought that there was a 50:50 chance that one of our regular friends (the chorister one) was celebrating her 90th birthday today. We were particularly pleased to give her a birthday card where I had managed to find one not liberally adorned with glasses and bottles of alcohol which, I suppose, reflects the fact that the card designers imagine that you spend your birthday boozing all day long. But we had also bought a little gift for our friend which we saw in Droitwich yesterday and she was very pleased to receive it, after ripping off the layers of protective bubble wrap and wrapping paper in which I had sellotaped it. They say, in popular parlance, that it is ‘better to give to receive’ and it certainly gave me a great deal of pleasure to able to able to hand over a gift to our friend who had achieved the ripe old age of 90. In fact, whilst she was bobbling around the shop, I had a word with the counter staff and left a tenner with them to provide our friend with a donated coffee when she came to order but the counter staff insisted on giving me back my money and giving my friend whatever she wanted ‘on the house’ (that is Waitrose for you)

This afternoon, Meg and I watched in real time as the Japanese attempted to land their ‘sniper’ module on the surface of the moon. We watched the descent, monitored through instruments in real time, and it did appear that the craft had indeed made a soft (i.e. not a crash) landing on the moon’s surface. But the Japanese are still trying to establish contact with their craft to establish its exact orientation – it could, for example, have toppled over or slid down a slope. For reasons that are not entirely clear the Japanese were attempting to land on a slope (was it a crater lip or something?) but it looks as though we may have to wait a couple of hours before the Japanese and the rest of the watching world may be able to ascertain exactly what has happened. Immediately after touchdown one would have imagined whoops of delight from the scientists monitoring their craft from Japan but there was instead an ominous silence, so we shall just have to exercise some patience for a little.

Some further news has dribbled out of the Post Office scandal enquiry and from the revelations today, it looked as though Fujitsu itself was editing out some of the negativities about the software (bugs and the like) before the Post Office were informed. But Fujitsu are admitting that the Post Office knew of the presence of bugs and even the ability of Fujitsu to enter the individual accounts of sub postmasters and informed the Post Office of this. So the Post Office may well have been prosecuting in the knowledge that the software was problematic. From this distance, it appears to be hard to ascertain where the major degree of culpability might lie but we have unfolding before us two large corporations engaging in behaviour which protects their own interests and seeks to pass the blame onto the ‘little’ men i.e. the sub postmasters. One wonders how one starts to calculate whatever compensation might be due – what is the price to be put upon the fact that the aged parents of sub postmasters will probably have died thinking that their sons and daughters were guilty of a fraud? Similarly, the children of the sub postmasters would have had their lives blighted by the reaction of school friends not to mention the fact that their parents had lost their livelihoods. Just to add fuel to the flames of this story, Rishi Sunak to appease his (rabid) right wingers over the Rwanda bill is intimating that he may appoint 150 additional judges to fast-process claims of asylum seekers – but no such offer of additional judges seems to be available to offer an acquittals or compensation to the sub postmasters. The two little bits of news may not have connected in the public’s mind but a half-decent opposition should have been shouting it from the roof tops.