Monday, 14th December, 2020

[Day 273]

Today started quite early – actually in the middle of the night. I had a wakeful period so I decided I would get up and do something useful. I thought I would apply myself to my Christmas card list problem (yesterday’s blog) and I thought of a solution.Basically, I made a copy of the original file (always a good idea in case you do irrevocable damage to the original) Then I put up two copies of the file side by side and basically cut and pasted from one file to another until I had two functionally working files. At least things are now OK for next year and I can always run off the entries from the later section as and when I need them. Tomorrow, I must concentrate on getting the overseas cards written and posted and I fear that time might already be running out as now there are 10 days to go.

After the rain and bluster of yesterday, it really was quite a pleasant walk into the park. We collected our newspapers as per usual and then, on our trip into the park, noticed a group of ‘oldies’ sitting around in their portable chairs and having a coffee and a natter.This was OK in itself except they were breaking the ‘only meet with 6’ rule as there about eight of them altogether. Hence we made our way homewards, not meeting anyone we know en route (not really surprising for mid December, I suppose). When we got home, I started the give the car its fortnightly wash – I knew that I would not managed to get it all done in time before lunch but I thought I could finish off the interior (quickly) after lunch. En route, Miggles our friendly cat made an appearance, accepted one or two strokes and then wandered off. As he/she doesn’t get fed (by us) first thing every morning, the visits to our garden are much more sporadic than we got used to.

After lunch, Meg had another video consultation with the hospital and this worked out much as we had anticipated. I finished off the car before activating the video link with about one minute to spare. This took a fair amount of the afternoon (at least whilst it was still light) after which I busied myself with a little urgent task. I have got used to buying rapeseed oil five litres at a time, produced and processed entirely by a small family firm. This then has to be poured into smaller bottles which are then easier to handle. We always encourage our domestic help to grab a spare bottle of this in the garage where it is kept (to keep in dark and cool). We tend to use this oil because it contains half the saturated fats of olive oil but a much hotter ‘frying’ point. So it gets used every morning when I prepare the omelette of red onions and cherry tomatoes which constitutes Meg’s cooked breakfast.

There are conflicting signals coming out of the Brussels talks to agree a trade deal. According the the British side, no significant movement has taken place in the talks where negotiators are trying to find a formula to ensure that if the UK uses its ‘sovereignty’ to lever an unfair commercial advantage, then automatically sanctions in the form of tariffs will apply to attempt to keep the playing field level. On the other hand earlier, an EU diplomat had told Sky News there ‘might now be a narrow path‘ to a Brexit trade deal ‘visible', but only ‘if negotiators can clear the remaining hurdles in the next few days‘. Having agreed to extend the deadline which should have been yesterday, there was even some speculation that the talking might continue right up to New Year’s Eve. I have the feeling myself that there may well be some sort of papering over the cracks that might appear in the next few days but before Christmas. Parliament is then going to have a special sitting (for one day?) to approve the deal and give legal force to the provisions contained in any agreement before 1st January, 2021.

As a footnote, today is the day when the College of Electors meets (in various state capitals) so that the 538 electors can formally translate the voting patterns in each state into the votes necessary to gain the presidency (270 votes is the magic number and Biden should have 306 i.e. well in advance of what he needs) Meanwhile, Donald Trump is refusing to concede and rushing through a series of executions from prisoners who have been a long time on death row. It has been the convention that outgoing presidents do not avail themselves of the facility to allow the executions to go ahead but Donald Trump has broken the traditions of the past 130 years.