Friday, 28th August, 2020

[Day 165]

Today was a day on which Meg and I were left to our own devices, so we had already decided that we spend some of our free time in Chester. To access the city centre, it is best to utilise the city’s ‘Park and Ride’ scheme which we did, finding to our relief that the bus was very under-populated with only about four other couples on the bus. Naturally, we were all masked up and sitting with at least one empty row of seats between us and with maximum ventilation so we did not feel any imminent COVID-19 threat. We needed to negotiate some blustery rain but discovered that in our favourite little cafe hard by the city walls, we needed to have booked at least an hour beforehand. But we did find another little more down-market cafe which was open and served us our morning coffee and toasted tea cakes, all of which were delicious. We then bought our daily ration of newspapers and went in search of a restaurant where we thought it prudent to book a mid-day meal. We did not find what we were looking for so decided to go to the cathedral -but right in its shadow, we found an Italian restaurant which accepted our booking for an hour and a half later which just gave us time to take a tour of the cathedral.

In the cathedral, we wondered if we could repeat the experience of several months ago and attend the mid-day service. But as luck would have it, the services are not yet being offered on Friday’s so we had to choose some alternatives. We spent some time browsing in the cathedral shop and treated ourselves to a CD of ‘Essential Organ Classics’ (played by leading concert organists on seven famous organs, accosting to the splurge on the CD cover note.) How many of them we will recognise remains to be seen – we will treat ourselves tomorrow morning on the way home in the car. We like Chester Cathedral – it has the minimum of what I call military clutter which adorns (?) walls of so many Anglican cathedrals. They had an exhibition of the work of Graham Sutherland ( the designer of the huge backdrop in Coventry Cathedral) but we have to say it didn’t exactly get the pulses racing.

The journey home seemed quite extraordinary. No sooner had we strolled down to the bus station but an empty bus awaited us and we drove to the Park and Ride depot as though we were in an individualised taxi (to be fair, we did pick up the odd passenger on the journey through Chester). And so to bed for a siesta and then packed up nearly all of the things in our suitcases ready for our departure in the morning. I mapped a slightly different route on the way back to maximise the motorway component and minimise the ‘driving around roundabouts’ component.

The political news of this evening is that ‘failing Grayling’ (the incompetent ex-minister who failed to be elected as the Chair of the Security and Intelligence Committee) has resigned from the committee. God knows what kind of a mess the country would be in if Boris Johnson had had his way and Grayling had been elected as chair of the committee. One of the most perceptive of comments on the British political scene came from a Tory grandee, Nicholas Soames, who commented on the fact that civil servants are being sacked left, right and centre but no politician has yet resigned: ‘Either this government has had the worst luck in the world – coming to power just as the civil service produced a freak crop of uniquely hopeless leaders – or the worst cabinet in my 36 years in Parliament may have found an alarming way of covering up its inadequacies’