Sunday, 19th September, 2021

[Day 552]

Today, according to the weather forecasters, it should have been a rainy day in which waves of showers swept cross the country. Instead, we had a glorious autumn morning although it turned a little cloudy in the afternoon – not that that bothered us a great deal. I leapt out of bed at a fairly early hour this morning in order to pop down to pick up our copy of the ‘Sunday Times’ (our regular newspaper now on a Sunday morning) Then it was back in time to watch the Andrew Marr show – another fixed feature of our Sunday mornings. After this was over, Meg and I had a pleasant walk down to the park where the local branch of the Bromsgrove Literary and Philosophical Society were soon quorate with their four members (others get membership by invitation) To be fair, there was a lot of joshing today and not a lot of discussions of things cosmological or political – but we did try and remember who was starring in what film of yesteryear. We announced to the group that they would not see us around around for a few days as we would going on our jolly holidays to the Brecon Beacons in mid-South Wales. So then we returned home to a quick lunch of quiche and the kind of ‘day-before-you-go-holiday’ raid on the fridge where you try and eat everything up and ensure that you have nothing left in the fridge to go off over the next few days. Meg and I are looking forward to our holidays starting tomorrow and if we have no traffic jams, or parking difficulties we should have a restful time – but there is always a potential for things to go wrong even when holidaying in England. Also, after our last experience of AirBnB in North Wales, we trust that this experience should turn out OK as it is a conventional guest house attached to a farm but we shall seen find out. The owners have been in touch with us which is always a bit reassuring and, in addition, we now the app installed from so that all of the details of the booking are actually stored on our phone which is useful to have. Our domestic help has very kindly said she would pop in just before our departure tomorrow to give Meg’s hair a ‘tweak’ before we set off so that she looks her best for the journey. We engaged in a new style of packing today in which we put everything that we intended to pack into neat piles on the double bed before eventually packing them away into the suitcase.

I know that almost anything can be reported in a survey but one was reported on Sky News with the following findings. This is that 20% of the adult population would be prepared to participate in the pornographic industry if the price was high enough – this figure increased to a third of the 18-34 year olds if they were paid enough. All I can say about this is that I think that I have ‘lived too long’ but then there are apps which almost facilitate our engagement in the porn industry if that is what you ‘want’ to do.

A big story is brewing politically on the subject of cuts to Universal Credit. The government at the start of the pandemic had given a £20 a week rise in the UC rate to help people cope with the worst ravages of the pandemic. Anyway, this was always meant to be a tempory measure and the time has now come for its removal. The sum of £20 a week might not sound that much but it could be half a week’s food shopping for some people – and there are fuel rises and the end of the furlough scheme to cope with as well. It looks as though some 800,000 people may be affected of whom 320,000 (40%) are in work and another 30,000 in a mixture of full-time and part-time work. A coalition of senior Tories are planning a Commons motion tomorrow which is only advisory but which could reverse the cut. My guess is that the Governmemnt will press ahead with the cut but ‘stage’ it in such a way that there will be a cut of £10 a week this year and other further £10 next year. The big problem, politically, for the Tories is that some of the voters worst affected witll be the ex-Labour voters in the so-called Red Wall seats who abandoned Labour and voted Conservative to help give Boris Johnson his 80 seat majority. But the whole of the ‘levelling up’ agenda might be put at risk because of the numbers involved. The extra benefit has been claimed by 800,000 people of whom 320,000 (40% are in work) and a further 300,000 in a mixture of full-time and part-time work. These voters could abandon the Tories very rapidly if the UC credit cut affects them very badly.