Thursday, 1st February, 2024

[Day 1417]

Today is a shopping day and I managed, unlike last week, to get this done quite early in the morning. We had been anticipating a call from a carer later on the morning but were rather relieved when she did not show up. Later I got a telephone call apologising for the fact that the agency had some staff reporting as ill but, by mutual arrangement, we did not mind a miss on this particular occasion. So Meg and I decided to go off to the Coffee Bar in the Methodist Centre, exactly as we did yesterday, wondering whom we might meet. After supplying ourselves with our morning ration of coffee and teacakes, we did get into conversation with a couple of people that we know by sight and we were mainly discussing the books (and novels) that people liked to read. I must confess that I cannot remember the last time that I actually read a novel and I generally prefer books with a historical and/or scientific theme these days when I have the chance of a casual or relaxing read which is is rarely these days. Then a delightful couple joined us who had been married for 61 years and there quite a lot of jokes along the lines of ‘Have you discussed divorce ever?’ to which the response is ‘Divorce? never- Murder – often!’ I must say that they both looked remarkably well and in good spirits and I suppose that they must have been in their mid to late 80’s. By way of contrast, the lady sitting next to me had been married for only two thirds of this time and her husband ws a dementia sufferer in residential care. Nonetheless, Meg and I like the concept of the ‘chatty table’ in the Coffee Shop. By sitting down at this particular table, it is anticipated that you can chat with almost anybody about anything and it does not take long to find some topics of mutual interest to enjoy collectively, much as we did yesterday when we were discussing family histories. After we returned home, I cooked a fairly conventional lunch for us and then we settled down for the afternoon. Meg was not feeling well this afternoon so I eventually persuaded her to get into our lounge where I put on the fire, drew the blinds and was pleasantly surprised that she feel into a deep sleep. This is quite unusual for Meg in the afternoons but I was delighted that she had actually done so on this occasion. This is because I took the opportunity to write a fairly full and comprehensive email to one of the nurses who is helping to care for Meg’s condition as I was quite keen to get some advice on some practical questions of care management.

The Labour party at the moment is cosying up to big business and presenting itself as a ‘business friendly’ party after the Corbyn era and the infamous Boris Johnson outburst (expressed as an expletive) to ‘**** Business!’ which seems incredible to come out of the mouth of a Conservative party leader. But one of the Sky interviewers, Kay Burley, asked a question of, I think, the Labour party industry spokesman along the lines of ‘So you are going to cap Child Benefit – but not banker’s bonuses?’ The politician looked, in the vernacular, absolutely ‘gobsmacked’or in other words was speechless and absolutely stuck for words. All of this arises because in their attempt to appease the banks, the Labour Party are not going to impose or to reinstate the cap on the huge bonuses that bankers had been awarding themselves. The exact exchange has made it into the media outlets and was easy to find and I reproduce it below. Burley asked: ‘Just to clarify, Labour is happy to cap child benefits but not bankers bonuses?’ Reynolds then squirmed, before responding: ‘Well, I would not make that comparison.’ ‘I just did’ Burley nudged. This little exchange is fascinating for a whole series of reasons. Firstly, it shows that the values of the Labour party seem to be more akin to a softer version of the Tory party than a socialist party – in other words, the Labour Party is arguing that it can run capitalism better than the capitalists. The truth of the observation could not be denied but is shocking to think about the implications – the Labour Party is going to be friendlier to bankers than to parents who could be defined as ‘feckless’ if they have more than two children. As the Sky political correspondent was forced to observe, wryly, ‘This must have been a stomach churning moment for those in the Labour movement’. The other important talking point of the day is the fact that Rishi Sunak seems to have pulled off a Northern Ireland fudge that seemed to be impossible which is to satisfy the EU, the Northern Irish, the Brexiteers and even the ‘European Research Group’ (hardine Brexiteers) simultaneously. The Labour Party is endorsing the deal enthusiastically and even though some of the DUP (Northern Irish ) are talking about a sell-out, it does look as though the deal is working at least for now. How much credit Rishi Sunak manages to garner for all of this is unclear – it might be one of these rare events when a politician has achieved a reconciliation between opposing factions but hardly gained any credt for it at all. These moments do occur in our political life but they are quite rare.