Saturday, 14th November, 2020

[Day 243]

Today we slept in for a bit and consequently, I decided to go and collect our newspapers in the car so that this would shorten our eventual journey into the park and this also has the bonus of making sure that we get all of the Saturday supplements before they get sold out. Today was the kind of day for which the word ‘blustery’ might have been coined – we did get rained on somewhat on our journey down the hill but by the time we got to the park, the rain had abated. We went into our daily routine of flipping the water off the park benches with a tea-towel which we keep in our rucksack for this very purpose but we also took the precaution of using some of the excess plastic bags (in which our weekly shopping order is delivered) to keep ourselves dry as we sat down for a coffee. The wind started to get a little cold after having eaten our comestibles we were keen to get walking again and get home. As it happened, we were going to be treated to two international rugby matches today. There is a new competition which is theoretically the eight nations (the conventional six plus Georgia and Fiji) but as a result of COVID-19 the competition has had to cancel the France-Fiji match as some players have tested positive or are in isolation so the eight is already reduced to six. We first watched the Scotland-Italy match in which the Italians played quite well and seem generally the better team but could not quite overhaul the Scots who won in the end. Almost immediately after this was the England-Georgia match which seems like a bit of a mismatch except that the Georgians have a fearsome reputation for the aggressive way in which they scrummage. In the event, the English used the tactics of using their own scrummage whenever they could to make a point to the opposition and won the game easily 40-0.

We had an unexpected burst of pleasure in the early evening when there was a broadcast of Mozart’s requiem played by English National Opera (ENO) at the Coliseum. I wondered to myself whether the spacing of the members of the orchestra and the chorus would give a slightly enhanced and stereophonic effect. In the event, I felt the performance was a little disconnected at first but later morphed into something more successful. I do not wish to sound critical of the practical difficulties in trying to stage any kind of concert under present conditions and I was delighted that they felt it worthwhile to make the effort.

Meanwhile, things are not going well for the beleaguered Donald Trump who refuses to concede the election despite the fact that the votes available in the Electoral College are the mirror image of how he won in 2016 : 306 to 232. The court cases that he has tried to bring have all been thrown out fairly quickly with the judges showing no sympathy for claims brought without a shred of actual evidence (hearsay evidence, is evidently not allowed to be adduced in such cases) There are several more cases scheduled for next week but it seems likely that they will all bite the dust next week and the Republicans might then, bit by bit, concede the election having let Donald Trump have his way in the courts.

If American politics seems to be living in a parallel universe, then British politics seems also to be living in a complete fool’s paradise. At a time when the second wave of the COVID-19 is striking new heights (27,000 new cases yesterday and 462 deaths) and we only have one week to conclude the most critical trade agreement with the EU unless we leave with no deal at all, then what is occupying the British government? Why – an internecine conflict throughout Downing Street as ex-Vote Leave, ardent Brexiteers are being thrown out of Downing Street mid-afternoon (for having, apparently, briefed against the Prime Minister). Apparently, there has no progress whatsoever in the EU negotiations in the last week (when every day is precious) as the government tears itself apart and waits for the results of the American election to emerge (when we made alliances with the ‘wrong’ side i.e. Trump and have built up no relationships at all with the Democrats) One wonders if the Sunday newspapers will be replete with even more stories from the inside. The quote that I read recently which I rather liked was ‘The Vote Leave mob, drunk on their success in the referendum and the election, believed they were untouchable‘‘ and of course they act as a strange type of religious sect in which no criticism was ever allowed – however, as with all such sects they tend to ‘splinter’ and the various groups brief against each with an intensity that has to be seem to be believed. Truly , never was the expression ‘rats fighting in a sack‘ more apt.