Monday, 4th October, 2021

[Day 567]

Today we had to make a fairly early start because we had a routine appointment at the dentist. Actually, we have a six-monthly appointment wiuth the dentist ‘proper’ as it were and a six-monthly appointmnt with the dental hygienist who we have been to for years and we lag one by three months compared with the other. This arrangement actually works extremely well because it means that our mouths, gums and teeth get looked at every three months rather than every six and any incipient problems can be nipped in the bud. This actually happened to me today as one of my fillings had developed a bit of a rough edge and the hygienist was able to ‘burr’ it down for me (it sound a bit less agressive than ‘file’ it down but the result is the same). Afterwards, I spent the morning helping our son sort out a communications problem he was having with his phones and we think at the end of the morning we are nearer to a resolution of the problem. Then we had a lunch of chicken thighs which we bought as part of a pack last Thursday in lieu of a joint.

In the afternoon, Meg and I spent a certain amount of time sorting out some of the contents of our (storage) chest of drawers in our bedroom. Over the course of a few years, things have got a little jumbled and out of place so we spent the afternoon having a fairly good sort out. In the fairly near future, we intend to have a much more comprehensive sort out and this will involove being ruthless about the things that have not been worn for a few years which need either to be salvaged, donated to a charity shop or even thrown away. Some things, of course, never get thrown away – I have tried to persuade the women of the household never to throw away used tights, as once washed of course, they make magnificent ties for things like stray branches on errant trees and bushes in the garden. The thing about tights is that not only is the material strong particularly when twisted but there is just a little bit of ‘give’ which can mean that shrubs, trees and particularly rose bushes do not get damaged in the process.

This afternoon, we watched, in snatches, some of the Conservative party conference (which I observe wih a kind of fascinated horror) Today was almost a master class in the art of dissimulation on the part of the Chacellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak. Several ‘messages’ were being sent out, seemingly woven like a tapestry into the same narrative, namely – I believe in fiscal responsibility as do all of you (= public spending will now be cut where possible), I do not intend to raise taxes but refuse to rule them out, spending will be kept severely limited (except just before the next election) even though this policy as espoused by George Osborne bore down most heavily upon the already poor, I am a true Brexiteer but I deny that Brexit has anything to do with current crises, I swear complete loyalty to Boris Johnson but know how to distance myself from ‘Uncontrolled spending pledges’ which are ‘Un-Conservative’. Absolutely all of this is nothing to do with the current problems that the country faces but absolutely everything to do with Rishi Sunak positioning himself as the darling of the Tory grassroots so that as as soon as Boris Johnson makes the most enormous gaffe and may (nearly) lose the next election, so a new leader is ready and waiting in the Conservative wings, ready to take over at a moment’s notice.

Another political story tonight is the so-called ‘Pandora papers’ (named after Pandora’s Box of Greek mythology). The Sky website reports:

The secret wealth and dealings of world leaders, politicians and billionaires has been exposed in one of the biggest leaks of financial documents. Some 35 current and former leaders and more than 300 public officials are featured in the files from offshore companies, dubbed the Pandora Papers. They reveal the King of Jordan secretly amassed £70m of UK and US property. They also show how ex-UK PM Tony Blair and his wife saved £312,000 in stamp duty when they bought a London office. The couple bought an offshore firm that owned the building.

I suspect that this story will not cause much of a political furore in the UK. Perhaps the public feel that all political leaders are to some extent corrupt and the fact that Tony Blair was involved in dodgy (but not illegal) shenanigans is hardly going to raise an eyebrow. But one point that should concern all of our policy makers is the way in which the City of London has become the laundering capital of the world – all kinds if dodgy money, probably quite illicitly acquired, has been ‘laundered’ into expensive mansions, costing millions, which are enoyable consumption goods as well as quite an investment for the rich and famous.