Saturday, 11th September, 2021

[Day 544]

Today was a typical Saturday morning – we seemed a little delayed as we did not have rush too much as we were not due to meet anyone in particular in the park. I left Meg on our usual bench chatting with a couple of our park regulars whilst I went off into the town to gather our newspapers and collect one or two bits and pieces. At the newsagents, I received a pleasant and unexpected surprise. Yesterday, I had dropped off a card and a bottle of bubbly to help the newsagent and his wife to properly celebrate their 45 years of successful marriage. Today, Meg and I were the recipients of a very interesting looking bottle of rosė bubbly and card as well (as it was our 54th last Thursday) so we have both helped each other to celebrate our respective good fortunes. En route, I also passed a hardware stall where I bought as a speculative purchase a large adjustable spanner. This was bought as much for the fact that being a tool of not-recent manufacturer, it is quite heavy as it is made from drop-forged steel and consequently is reasonably heavy (and so useful for weighing things down as occasion demands)

When we got home, it was pretty late so we had to ‘make do’ with an instant meal. On occasions like this we tend to make use of a tin of corned beef which can be made into an instant mince when added to some fried onions and a bit of instant gravy. To this we added a baked potato and some petit pois – well, I have tasted better and tasted worse, but at least we rustled a meal together in just over 10 minutes. We treated ourselves, though, to a specially concocted ‘sweet’ which starts off with a banana and after some ice-cream, yogurt and a Waitrose special choc-ice special topped off with a drizzle of honey. It sounds (and is!) indulgent but has to be tasted to be believed.

This afternoon, we were more than happy to have a lazy afternoon because we knew that we were going to go to church leaving the house at 5.30. When we got to the church car park we ran into one of the friends whose wife is in hospital. We were delighted to get some good news that our friend’s angiogram proved negative and we are hoping to see her home fighting fit as soon as she can be discharged – they are waiting for the artery into which the angiogram is inserted to heal somewhat before she can come home again, hopefully before new Thursday which just happens to be her wedding anniversary.

Tonight, as I blog, I am half-listening to the ‘Last Night at the Proms‘ as it is that time of year again. I feel deeply ambiguous about this programme now that we are living in a post-Brexit era. I used to enjoy (if that word is not far too strong) the eccentricities of the English letting their hair down once a year in order to be straight-laced for the rest of it. But now in these post-Brexit, English-nationalist type days, I feel deeply unhappy about the rampant xenophobia, flag waving and generally denigration of foreigners (‘Britons never, never will be slaves‘ etc.) I think it would be more appropriate now to sing not ‘Britain rules the waves’ but rather ‘Britain waives the rules’) I always suspected that all of the xenophobes and English nationalists used ‘Last Night‘ as an excuse for their posturing but now it seems to have received official endorsement from the establishment. Incidentally, I think the BBC does a magnificent job not allowing too much attention given to the extremes of flag raising and the hunting out of spots of rampant xenophobia and they do try hard to focus on a few non-UK type flags being waved to try and present some ‘balance’ The traditional medley of songs etc I shall avoid but I do enjoy listening to how witty the conductor chosen for the last night can prove to be.

Last night, we did listen to the whole of Bach’s ‘St. Matthew Passion‘ and really enjoyed every minute of it (broadcast from 7.00pm until 10.00pm. I first heard it when I was about 14 and in the school music room in Thornleigh College, Bolton, getting prepared to travel home by train for the Easter vacation. The very last cantata (‘In tears of grief, we leave thee Lord‘) in English translation, held me absolutely transfixed, as it does to this day – if you listen careful to the cadences of the music and it is skilfully interpreted you can almost hear the sobbing of grief played out in long cadences. Incidentally, to any musicologists out there, does the very, very last chord of the cantata end in a deliberate mis-chord (like an ‘E’ and an ‘F’ played next to each other) – written by Bach (who was a deeply religious man but although a Protestant, his music and I think much of his religious work was performed in catholic cathedrals such as Leipzig), I think he may have been a very subtle point in writing the discord right here (but of course, I could be wrong)