Monday, 30th November, 2020

[Day 259]

We always knew this was going to be a busy day and so it proved. We started off in the outpatients department of our (very) local hospital where Meg was attending for an outpatient’s appointment – all masked up and hand-gelled up as you might imagine. After a fairly long and quite satisfactory appointment, Meg was prescribed some new medication with might prove to be efficacious. Once we had concluded the outpatient appointment, Meg and I went to our little local newsagent where we sympathised with each other because we both had experienced computing difficulties in the past day. And so on to the park where we partook of our coffee on a blustery not particularly cold day. Fortunately, the park was much less busy than yesterday as you might expect on a dull autumn day. Then we jumped in the car and made our way to the Webb’s department store to collect our Christmas tree voucher (available only to club card holders). When we got to Webbs the queues were absolutely horrendous and must have snaked over at least one hundred yards with crowd control barriers that one got used to at airports in the days when we used to fly. Fortunately one of the Marshalls indicated that those wishing to seek Customer Services (as we were) could bypass the queues for which we were truly grateful as otherwise we might have queued for an hour just to get in. So we eventually got our precious Christmas tree voucher and made for home. In the early afternoon, I decided I would make a trip out to the pharmacists in order to get Meg’s new medication prescribed. Whilst it was being dispensed, I took the opportunity for a quick ‘whiz’ around Asda to get one or two things that I know that Waitrose does not stock and a few things that are so much cheaper at Asda. Then I picked up Meg’s medication and made for home. In the early evening, my daughter-in-law and I made a tip to the afore-mentioned Webbs store so that we could pick up our Christmas tree, as we always do. Normally, it takes us about 1 minute and 20 seconds to choose a tree but on this occasion, we did take two minutes and went seconds. Then we met with our next door neighbour (who happens to work in Webbs anyway) and she had very kindly arranged to transport our tree home. This was because both my daughter-in-law and myself have changed our cars in the past few months and as they are both shorter than the Honda CR-V we have used in the past, there as a severe doubt whether we could get the tree home by ourselves. (The problem does not occur in reverse because we chop up the tree into manageable ‘bits’ before we take it back to Webbs for recycling) So we got our tree home and it is now firmly in its stand but now ‘resting’ i.e. we are allowing its branches to settle a little before the act of decoration starts in earnest in a day or do. Although we do put some decorations around our living room and have our own little ‘fibre-optic’ Christmas tree, I have taken the view over the years that the fewer the decorations we use for adornment and the less elaborate is their deployment, then the easier it is to clear them all away on or before the traditional ‘Twelfth Night’.

The economic news tonight is that Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia retail empire has collapsed in the worst single corporate failure of the COVID-19 crisis to date, leaving 13,000 jobs hanging in the balance. Even though he was given his knighthood by Tony Blair, modern commentators are being far from kind to Sir Philip. The consensus view of him now is that he was not a natural retailer but he was very good at asset stripping. Apparently with many of his stores, he sold off the properties they occupied to a property management company domiciled overseas (where they paid hardly any tax) but under the control of Philip Green and his family. The stores, meanwhile, had to pay rent for he premises they occupied which reduced their profitability (and the amount of tax they had to pay) but the net effect of all of this was to make Sir Philip Green obscenely wealthy. It is said that Sir Philip Green’s wife once was awarded a dividend payment in excess of one billion pounds (but I have yet to check on the veracity of this story)