Thursday, 10th September, 2020

[Day 178]

Today was very much the ‘day after the day before’ i.e. everything seemed a bit of an anti-climax after the excitement of yesterday. Nonetheless, we ventured forth and collected our newspapers as well as calling in at a cut-price cosmetics store before settling down for our coffee and biscuits. In the park we met with one of our park friends who had previously lent us her book on trees – in return, I had shown her how to access my blog on her phone. She had not been particularly successful in this so I took over her phone for a few minutes and loaded the blog onto her in-phone browser (and everything seemed to work OK) Then we walked home in quite pleasant sunshine where the clouds had cleared somewhat to give us quite a pale sunshine. After lunch, I entertained myself by getting some file listing programs and empty web formats into one folder, instead of scattered in various places. I also refined the footer that I like to copy over into the bottom of each new web page indicating the day/date in UK format/time that the website was updated, made a little bit prettier with some in-line styling to get it the way I wanted (basically a smaller but italicised font in a pleasing but non-intrusive text colouration) This sounds quite straightforward but actually, the different ways of displaying a date in Javascript have to be seen to be believed so it took some web-searching to get exactly the format I wanted without an enormous volume of coding.

Tonight, we witnessed an extraordinary Promenade concert played, without an audience, in the Royal Albert Hall. Tonight was quite an extraordinary night because the principal work was Beethoven’s Seventh symphony. This was first dissected theme by theme and section by section of the orchestra – almost like taking a piece of machinery apart to see how it is constructed before it is all put back tother again. The second extraordinary part of tonight’s performance is that the members of the orchestra performed standing up and, obviously, socially distanced from each other. To my mind, the fact that the orchestra performed standing rather than sitting allowed the members of the orchestra to use their bodies more expressively (and much more so than if they sitting in a conventional way). The other musician who performs this way is Gustavo Dudamel who has forged an outstanding, internationally-renowned youth orchestra in Argentina – their performances are always enthusiastically received not least because the performances demonstrate so much vivacity and excitement. So it was tonight and, to my mind, the members of the orchestra were not also concentrating hard but really enjoying themselves in what is really a most exciting piece with a myriad of paces, colours and timbres. (In case, you think I am waxing lyrical it is because I was the leader of the second violins in my school orchestra at the age of 14 – then I changed schools to a school with no musical traditions at all and all of that investment and pleasure in my musical education came to an abrupt end)

As might be expected, there is a massive stand-off between the EU and the UK tonight. The EU is in effect saying ‘Withdraw this Bill in the next 20 days and/or we will sue you and the trade talks will be at an end‘ On the other hand, the UK is saying an absolute ‘No‘ What is making the EU apoplectic is the fact that the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill lists all the legislation that can now, once this is approved by parliament, be ignored by ministers. This includes, not only, as expected, the Northern Ireland Protocol, and “other provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement” but also – incredibly – “any other EU law or international law“. There is no further detail why this is necessary in the accompanying explanatory notes. Or why it doubles down a few lines later that this law can override “any other legislation, convention or rule of international or domestic law whatsoever, including any order, judgement or decision of the Europe Court or of any other court or tribunal” There is so much discontent amongst traditional Tories that a wrecking amendment may well be forthcoming when the Bill is presented to the House of Commons next week. The House of Lords may well be minded to reject the Bill – after all, their constitutional duty is to act as a brake on a maverick House of Commons. In addition, Nancy Pelosi. the speaker and ‘de facto’ leader of the Democrats in the USA Congress is, in effect saying to the UK that if you press ahead with anything that threatens to wreck the Northern Ireland peace deal, then forget about any trade deal with the USA (the Brexiteer’s long-cherished wish’)