Tuesday, 5th October, 2021

[Day 568]

Last night we heard it raining cats and dogs during the evening and the weather was really gloomy this morning with a constant threat of rain all morning. We understand that the weather may improve lightly from mid-week onwards but, in the meantime, we have to content ourselves with living through these dreary days. But to lighten our gloom, we got a phone call from our University of Birmingham friend whon we arranged to meet in Waitrose. The last time I was in our local building society, they had a little table with a few donated books upon it for which you asked to donate £1 to a local hospice. On the table, I discovered a copy of a book which I already own by a science journalist,Ben Goldacre called ‘Bad Science’ According to the publisher’s blurb:

“Ben Goldacre’s wise and witty bestseller, shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, lifts the lid on quack doctors, flaky statistics, scaremongering journalists and evil pharmaceutical corporations”

I bought this especially with my University of Birmingham friend in mind and was more than happy to give it to him when we met for a coffee.We spent a happy half hour or so together before I had to go shopping for a few provisions in the Waitrose store itself, before departing by car in order to get home promptly. I then put on my tracksuit bottoms and gather up a few things before I set off for my Pilates class (as I do every Tuesday) at 12.40 prompt. The Pilates session lived up to its usual promise although ‘as a treat’ we are allowed to have a few minutes ‘relaxation’ at the end of the session in Week 6. As I generally fall almost completely asleep during this relaxation period, there is a running joke that the quality of the Pilates teacher is always to be judged by how quickly they can send me asleep. My other class members swear that I always end up snoring but I think this is a leg-pull as a part of me is still conscious even though I was well on the way to being fast asleep. When we got home, I cooked some crispy cod fish fingers, just bought at Waitrose, which I attempted to microwave. I must then confess to cooking the worst meal of my 54 years of married life. The crispy cod fingers were as hard as iron – in fact, so hard that knife could not possibly cut through them. Even raising them to one’s lips and attempting to eat them like sausages was not much better as we were in danger of cracking our teeth into little bits were we to persist. So eventually, all of these wonderful cod fingers were consigned to the bin before we did any damge to our dentition or our gastrointestinal tracts.

We always have a bit of a foreshortened afternoon on a Tuesday and in no time it was 5.00pm. This is the time of the week when we usually FaceTime our ex-Waitrose friends and we have a general natter about the things that have happened to us in the last week. We detailed the way in which we had driven 110 miles and achieved 55mpg on our journey up to Lancashire about which we feel immensely proud.

One of the stories hitting the headlines tomorrow is the fact that healthy well-tended pigs are being sent to slaughter and then dumped – all because there are not enough staff in the abbattoirs to process the carcases. After Brexit, many of the workers from eastern europe as well as elsewhere have returned home leaving the UK 20% short of staff. So far today, 600 pigs have been slaughtered and then dumped but there are fears that this figure could rise to as many as 150,000 in the weeks ahead. Many of those responsible for the rearing of the pigs are said to be in tears at this needless slaughter. Whereas temporary visas have been offered in the case of HGV drivers and poultry processing workers, this facility has not been offered to those in the pig industry. The official government line on all of this is that we should expect, post Brexit, some transitional problems as we progress from a low wage, immigration-fuelled economy to a high wage, indigenous work force. As it is the Conservative party conference in Manchester at the moment and the convention centre is buzzing with journalists, there is a lot of oppotunity to question ministers over these economic transitions. One particular line of questioning (I am think of Beth Rigby interviewing Boris Johnson) is to ask ‘Where is the plan?‘ for this transition given that Brexit itself was six years ago now. It is becomingly increasing clear that there really is no plan at all and the governnment are just ‘muddling along’ The latest attempt to recruit extra HGV drivers from continental Europe has yielded 127 drivers so far.