Thursday, 2nd September, 2021

[Day 535]

We knew that today was going to be quite a day out of the ordinary, what with one thing or another, and so it proved to be. It started off well at 1 minute past midnight when my son and I turned to our National Savings Premium Bonds app to see if we had won any ‘prizes’ (in lieu of interest) this month. We were delighted to have won three prizes totally £75.00 which was particularly welcome as it has come at the end of what seems to have been quite a lean period for us. Some years ago, my son and I decided to pool some of our savings and buy Premium Bonds and if we win anything, then we share the proceedings between us. I think the ‘lean’ period we have had can be explained by the absolute collapse of interest rates in the last year. The current rate for some of my savings accounts seems to be 0.5% and I suspect that people all over the country have been coming to the same decision, reasoning that as interests are negligible, they might as well pile their savings into NS&I where you get no interest but there is always the (remote) possibility of winning quite a big prize. As the pool of National Savings has got so much bigger, so one’s chance of getting a prize had diminished. In fact £8 billion has been piled into National Savings in the last 5 months, £1.8 billion in July alone. Meanwhile, the Government is quite happy to act as home to a mountain of people’s savings (no foreign holidays to go on – do you need a new car when you are working from home so much?) The second bit of good financial news came when I checked my account details of my new energy supplier which will become active in 11 days time. My new combined fuel bills are going to be £75.00 a month cheaper than my existing supplier – I get a £25.00 bonus for switching and a two-week cooling period should I wish to return to my old supplier and pay £75.00 a month more. Thursday is the day when I started to shop in person at Waitrose in Droitwich but I was 15 minutes later this morning and the store was starting to fill up. Nonetheless, I got everything on my list (and a few extras that I really had forgotten about) Then Meg and I put on our ‘funeral going’ clothes for which we were going to attend our neighbour’s funeral today and had already agreed to take along our Italian friend who knew our neighbour as well. The funeral service was fine with long recollections of our neighbour’s life and then some photographs of various stages of her life. As the head of midwifery, she had a lot of professional colleagues and I suspect that as many 50-60 people turned up for the committal.

Afterwards, we had been invited to attend a local golf club with large catering facilities. But this is the point where things started to go a little wrong. We had a little fishing about to do even with our SatNav to get to the venue in plenty of time. When we got there, all of the tables were full up (after all, the locals knew how to get there quickly and bag the available spaces) – or worse, empty seats whilst friends were queuing for food. As there was nowhere to sit and we knew no-one in the reception, we decided to cut our losses and strike straight for home. We dropped off our friend and got home to a treat ourselves to some good homemade soup that we already in stock. Then the rest of the family came home and as we had variously had a rather trying day, we treated ourselves to a family meal of fish and chips (which we do occasionally)

Throughout the course of the day, Meg and I have been thinking about our brother-in-law in Yorkshire who has just been diagnosed with prostate cancer that has now spread to his spine. We will understand a bit more tomorrow when I am in touch with my sister again because her husband is going to be the subject of a case conference where his various specialists will discuss his conditions and treatment options. My brother-in-law will remain in hospital for about another week and, I suppose, that gives the family just a bit of time where they can work out collectively what degree of support they are able to give to their parents. All that I can offer at this stage is a degree of emotional support but I have in mind to write my brother-on-law a long letter (as he is profoundly deaf and a letter might be a different kind of reading matter for him).

The international news apart from Afghanistan is rather dominated by the the various floods and fires which are raging across different parts of the USA. If there can be a brighter side to all of this, it might be that American society finally wakes up to the challenge of climate change and puts in place some policies which help to avert, or at least postpone, the impending crisis.