Wednesday, 21st April, 2021

[Day 401]

Today started off as quite a gloomy and overcast day and the temperature seemed to have dropped markedly since yesterday. We had plans to make a little trip this afternoon so we hoped that the weather would gradually improve in the afternoon. Knowing that we were going to make a trip out, having collected our newspapers we popped into our local Waitrose for two purposes. We had made some online clothing purchases for Meg from John Lewis and organised delivery (at no charge in our local store) Although the order was theoretically ready for collection on late Thursday afternoon (and hence, Friday morning actually) I got a text to say it was ready for collection this morning, which was very welcome. At the same time we picked up some sandwiches and biscuits ready for later on in the day. We had organised a fairly early lunch for ourselves and set off for Coughton Court (a nearby National Trust property) by 2.00pm, having had to call off and fill the car with petrol. As it happened, we got to our destination, guided by SatNav about 25 minutes before our timed entrance but we were still greeted with open arms and allowed in. By this stage of the day, the weather had brightened considerably and once having negotiated our entrance we went straight to the outdoors cafe, not least for the pleasure of having an outside snack once again conscious of the knowledge that we were helping the National Trust finances anyway (admission being gratis for National Trust members) Then we went on a most pleasant woodland walk, encompassing a walk by the river Arden and feeling ‘at one’ with nature. A particular feature of Coughton Court which has impressed us greatly is their use of natural materials to enhance the nature of any walks you undertake. Thus at various information points, the message was provided by the expedient of writing the message (black paint, white background) on the ‘slices’ taken from a large tree which had fallen (imagine slicing a carrot and you will get my meaning) Also, any large branches are used to provide natural edging materials for the paths in the woodland walks so the whole experience is an incredibly naturalistic one. Having got most of the way through our intended trip we espied a strategically placed bench upon which we gratefully sat ourselves. We had taken a couple of portable chairs with us because we know from experiences in the past that suitably placed benches can be short supply so we had equipped ourselves not only with portable chairs but also a tarpaulin in case we needed to camp out on the grass. So we sat and drank coffee, ate some absolutely delicious rice cakes coated with an orange and dark chocolate topping and observed the distant rooks – and a flight of birds that seemed to soar a little like raptors but which we couldn’t really identify. So we had a delightful day out, only encountering the normal rush hour when we returned to Bromsgrove at about 5pm in the afternoon.

As indicated in last night’s blog, the two crucial decisions that I was expecting today actually came late last night. Looking firstly at the collapse of the plans for a European Super League for elite football clubs, it looks as though ‘fan power’ from below has caused the whole project to collapse – demonstrations at grounds all over the county displayed the sentiment that the ‘beautiful game’ was being expropriated from them. The government having said that it was going to create an enquiry into the whole affair, it is not going to abandon it but is probably using this as an occasion to engineer some changes in the structure of the industry in the UK. It is interesting to note that no German clubs were involved, nor could they be, as fans are entrenched much more in the ownership of their clubs. Whether any of the elements of the German model can be used in the UK is a moot point as so many British clubs are now owned, or controlled, by oversees companies, owners and entities. (As an aside, the Brexit slogan of ‘take back control‘ is particularly apposite here but not from European institutions but from other varieties of an aggressive and rootless capitalist model that can buy and sell football clubs whatever the ultimate wishes of their fan base. Who ‘owns’ a football club – the fans ‘morally’ or the large commercial interests ‘legally’?)

The second interesting question is the ramifications of the ‘Guilty’ verdicts in the George Floyd case in the USA. The view is being strongly expressed that this court case is only the start of a very long road for the institutional racism which permeates American society (or at least American police forces) to be addressed. Of course given the American legal system there is still a long process of appeals to follow and a gap of eight weeks before sentencing so the verdict is one one battle in the course of a very long war. Some of the ramifications of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement are washing up onto UK shores as well because black people in the UK justice system are probably not treated as well as they should be.