Thursday, 16th September, 2021

[Day 549]

Today has been a generally fine day – although a little cloudy and overcast this morning,we knew that we would be in for quite a long fine afternoon. This morning, I engaged in my new routine which is to leap out of bed, get dressed in a hurry and than wait, panting, for the Droitwich Waitrose to open at 8.0 in the morning. I must admit I was about five minutes late this morning but the store was practically deserted when I got there. As we are going away on Monday, I needed to shop for what is only half a week. I had not made a list but relied upon memory to buy only what was needed as there is no point buying stuff only for it to go ‘off’ and then have to be thrown away later. The Waitrose staff are always very friendly and as my checkout operator came from Monmouth, so we were soon reminiscing about wet Wales could be and generally was. This morning, we were a little delayed by some routine jobs but eventually made it to the park where we met with two of our park regulars. I’m not sure how we got onto the object but we ended with a long and intense discussion of our experience of working in organisations and the qualities that people bring with them which makes them successful (or not) in an organisational world.The discussion might not be everybody’s cup of tea but half way through, we were regaled by a round of chocololates which one of our regulars had brought along – I can’t quite remember the occasion they were meant to celebrate. Eventually, though, we were so late that we had to send a litle text to our chiropodist who was due along at 2.00pm to say that we might be delayed by five minutes (even though it was two or three) After we had our feet done, I set to stripping the carcass of a chicken of the fragments of meat which we were going to make into a curry. We do not seem to have done this for ages as we seem to have got out of the habit of having a weekly curry – a tradition that dates back to our student days which is, of course, more than half a century ago.

After lunch and the invitable post-prandial snooze, I knew that I needed to do about three things which was to go by car and collect a copy of the newspaper, do a tour of the local supermarkets to find the cheapest price for 6 litres of gin (or 3 of gin and 3 of vodka, in readiness for my damson gin preparation) and finally mow the lawns which seem to have put on a sudden growth spurt in the last few days. Something had to go and it was the gin-seeking ventures was abandoned – I started to get the lawns done and finished them all off by about 6.30 (in other words, our teatime) We treated ourselves to half a punnet of strawberries just bought this morning and settled down to watch a pretty naff night on th television this evening.

Now that the cabinet reshuffle is into its second day (and into the ranks of more junior ministers), several commentators have put their minds to the task of working what what the sackings and new appointments mean for the current government. One can quite understand why rank incompetents like the ex-Education secretary, Gavin Wliiamson, were removed without ceremony. According to all accounts he started saying his ‘goodbyes’ before he was actually sacked so that must have taken all of 30 seconds to do. But some sackings today have raised eyebrows – Nick Gibb and John Whittingdale were two competent, middle-ranking ministers who had performed competently but still got the push. The analysts are starting to put forward the following scenario. It is looking as though Johnson is getting rid of anyone at least vaguely allied to the chancellor – Rishi Sunak, who may be a challenger to Johnson’s own position. Also, it is now increasingly clear that anyone towards the top the the Conservative Home website ‘popularity of ministers’ poll has either been promoted or retained (such as Priti Patel) whilst anybody towards the bottom has been sacked. It look as though Johnson has his eyes very much on the next election and wants to surround himself with ministers who look as though they might be effective but will constitute no leadership threat to him. It has been noted that Liz Truss, appointed Foreign Secretary on the strengths of negotiating several trade deals has actually just done a ‘cut-and-paste job on the deals that were originally negotiated with the EU – in others, with no net effect but good ‘optics’ as regards the Tory grass roots. Another analysis is showing that the proportion of the Cabinet who have attended public schools (two thirds) is twice the proportion (one third) in Teresa May’s cabinet – interesting but predictable?