Wednesday, 9th December, 2020

[Day 268]

Meg had a visitor this morning who was a little delayed in getting to us and so most of the morning seemed to be taken up with these activities – whilst we were waiting for our visitor to arrive I spent some time quite productively getting my household accounts up-to-date. So we needed to alter our daily routines a little and decided to do things a little differently. We got to the newspaper shop in the early afternoon and wondered whether our favourite newspapers might be sold out. However, we happened to be in luck and got our copy of The Times and The Guardian with no problems at all. Now that we have been customers of the same paper shop for the best part of nine months, I was speculating to Meg whether or not we could ask the proprietors to always hold back a copy for us. As I was busy handing over my tokens to the boy in the shop, I indicated that I thought that I was lucky and the newspapers might have been sold out. ‘Well – we will put a copy on one side for you, if that’s what you would like‘ was the comment made to me and it felt as though my prayers had been answered. From there, it is just a short stroll to our local Waitrose so we thought we would pop in and replenish our supply of mince pies which is in danger of being depleted. Whilst there, we bumped into one of our regular staff who we remember from months past. We asked how she was keeping and were informed that she had been quite ill and just had a gallbladder removed. As the local hospitals were all concerned with COVID-19 cases, she had the operation performed privately and had only just returned to work in the last few days. Anyway it was good to see her again after all of these months. That remind’s me – I generally buy all the staff in Waitrose a huge box of chocolates for their staff room (and they, in return, tend to make us gifts of running-out-of-date flowers, sandwiches and cakes so there is a rough kind of equality involved!)

Later on this afternoon, I was exploring WhatsApp which I have installed on my iPhone and quite often use to send text messages, photographs and even video clips to friends. Evidently, I hadn’t explored this app to its full potential because as soon as my one of my Hampshire friends suggested that we share some communications over WhatsApp, I decided to test it out and, of course, it worked like a treat. I’m sure it doesn’t have the range, facilities or sophistication of a FaceTime or a Skype but for a quick chat between friends, it is more than adequate (as well as being free) As my friend had just sent me a WhatsApp message, I knew he was at the end of a phone, so organised another quick video call between us. Afterwards, I was sent some hilarious clips of video (which I am sure is probably the main use of the app so that amusing clips can quickly be shared across the globe)

Tonight is the night when Boris Johnson is in Brussels for a critical dinner with Ursula von de Leyen, the president of the Commission. All of the ‘mood music’ tends to suggest that the differences in philosophy between the two sides is so great (the EU wanting to keep the integrity of the market, the UK insisting that UK’s new sovereignty is to be respected’) that we really have reached the end of the road. The only slight prospect that some might hang onto is whether the two sides are inclined to give a little compromise to the other leaving the way open for further negotiations. If Boris Johnson really wanted a deal, it would not have been impossible to have engineered one. But where we stand tonight is a complete clash of ideologies in which neither side feel they can give an inch. My Hampshire friend was speculating whether Boris Johnson dare return from Brussels waving a piece of paper in his hand (redolent of Neville Chamberlain) but we are both agreed, gloomily, that we are on an irrevocable path to a ‘no deal’ by now. Even if we were to get a deal, it would be so thin and minimal, we would still remain outside the Customs Union and times ahead look bleak. Apart from anything else, the hard core Brexiteers seem to drive the whole business of government and nothing short of a complete withdrawal will appease them (I have a mental image of the British government on a sledge being pursued by a pack of ravenous wolves – the ardent Brexiteers) Even throwing them chunks of red meat from the back of the sledge will not satisfy their appetites and they will keep pursuing the sledge for even more – in short, they refuse to be satisfied by anything.