Wednesday, 8th September, 2021

[Day 541]

Today may well have been the hottest day of the year so far. It looked as though temperatures around the whole of the UK were about 30° which is in the mid 80’s. However, the weather forecasters had warned us that this was going to be a short-lived heatwave as the whole weather system is due to break down tomorrow and it looks as though cooler and stormier weather will spread over the whole of the country spreading from the south west. First thing this morning, I spent some time getting my accounts up to date and then I texted one of my friends to get the telephone details of another – Meg and I were anxious to know how our friend who had been hospitalised after heart problems was doing. I managed to make contact and got some up-to-date news (and quite by accident ran into him in the paper shop as well) They are transferring his wife to a more specialised coronary care unit in Worcester and to be in the hands of specialists and with better equipment must be a good thing. They have diagnosed some problems with her heart valves and I just hope that with some modern treatments and drugs our friend will be able to get a new lease on life. She is a really avid gardener and organised a lot of the flower decorations within our local church so she is bound to be missed for a little while now. When I bumped into her husband, I told him to forget about the normal clothing things that you take into hospital but just take along some perfume to wear. In the park, we had quite a long conversation with one of regular park regulars. Knowing that we meet several times a week, he had asked me to get a specialised product from Amazon which I was happy to oblige. The package arrived yesterday so it got handed over (and I was repaid) so that worked out well. We were joined by Gloria, our wheelchair friend, and spent some time chatting but to be honest, whilst there was a pleasant breeze, the temperature was steadily arising as the day wore on. We walked home fairly slowly as we did not want to ‘push it’ in the extreme heat. Once we got home, our house was delightfully cool after the heat of the midday sun outside and we adapted the quiche we were due to eat to make it into a salad-type meal.

This afternoon, Meg and I spent a certain amount of time watching some of the debates in the House of Commons over the Health and Social Care proposals. The Labour Party MP’s were generally arguing that the government proposals to spend over £12 billion supporting the NHS and finally addressing the funding problems was little better than a sticking plaster on a gaping wound. Also, there was very much a feeling that ‘ordinary workers’ would bear the brunt of the cost through National Insurance contribution increases but the very wealthy (and their houses) would emerge almost unscathed. The reaction of many Tory MPs was fascinating. They absolutely loathed the concept of spending a lot more money on the NHS (needed to address the backlog after the treatments cancelled to cope with the COVID crisis). Also, as one or two them argued with a degree of passion that once you had a temporary ‘NHS’ tax it would become permanent as to go to the electorate saying ‘let’s get rid of the NHS tax‘ would be electoral suicide. So they felt that they were being asked to support and to vote for the kind of proposals that might well have been advocated by a Labour government – if there was no difference between themselves and a socialist government, why would any one vote Tory ever again particularly in view of the manifesto pledges (at least two that had been broken) But despite all of the ‘chuntering’ and grumbling, the Tory MP’s voted 'en masse' for this huge extension of the role of the state and the highest taxation levels seen for 70 years whilst the Labour Party actually voted against. I have a feeling that there may well be quite a cleavage in the Tory party which is difficult to resolve. It is being said, though, that these spending increases sets the tone and the terms for the next general election and signals what type of prime minister Johnson he wants to be. The wager is clear as he believes voters will grudgingly forgive him for breaking not one, but two manifesto commitments if it means a huge increase in spending on the NHS and social care.

In the later part of the afternoon, I spent some time preparing some of the documentation (largely form-filling) before we go off to see the building society which is hosting our savings accounts. Although the branch is closed to the public from about 2.30 we have been told to turn up at about 3.00 next Monday so that our documents can be processed – naturally, we are having to take along lots of ID at the same time.