Tuesday, 12th October, 2021

[Day 575]

Today turned out to be one of ‘non’-park days. Meg and I had been invited down to our Irish friends for a mid-morning coffee and more. As it happened, yesterday as I was cutting the grass I noticed that our clump of delphiniums seemed to be in full bloom again. Whether they have bloomed once, died away and come back again or whether they just stay throughout the summer I cannot say. I made a mental note to cut some tomorrow morning to take to our friends down the road. We also had a few apples that I had gathered as ‘tasters’ to see if the rest of the apple crop is worth harvesting and these I took down together with a little ‘something’ courtesy of our local Waitrose. Our friend had put quite a little spread for us and we really enjoyed both the natter and the food before we had to have for Mike’s Pilates class, which is a regular fixture on every Tuesday. We were running a little late so I cheated a little and went down in the car, parking some way from the centre but saving myself a vital 10 minutes or so.

After lunch, I needed to get my printer working again which I did by tweaking a printer driver. I think that when the Mac operating system updates itself, it seems to knock out my printer driver on the grounds that it is not the current 64-bit ( or is 32-bit version?) Anyway, I know how to tweak the printer so that it now works which is a relief. Then I set to scanning a document of which I needed a permanent copy as a pdf. I use a piece of free software called VueScan which has an interesting providence. A computer expert in the US had worked that literally thousands of quite serviceable scanners all over the world were being thrown away because there were no drivers available for them. So they started a company which distributed a programme that would work with any scanner and I am the happy recipient of this. Hover, I do not scan very often and scanning a single page is child’s play. Scanning a multi-part document seem a bit more problematic and eventually I found how to do it and got a .pdf of the document I wanted prepared.

This evening, we decided to do something we have not done for a very long time. We have abandoned the TV as there seemed to be absolutely nothing that took our fancy. Instead, we raided our collection of CD’s and discovered one that is ‘Carreras, Domingo and Paravarotti in concert‘ (they being, of course, the Three Tenors in the classic concert that everybody remembers.) The trio began their collaboration with a performance at the ancient Baths of Caracalla in Rome, Italy, on 7 July 1990, the eve of the 1990 FIFA World Cup Final, watched by a global television audience of around 800 million. When our son and daughterin-law were away one Christmas, we played this incredibly loudly on the kitchen stereo system as though it was a live performance in the house and had a wonderful time. There is something about performances recorded ‘live’ complete with audience applause because I do not mind the slight musical imperfection compared with the sense of participation you get by listening to a live recording. One of the sad features of our high streets is that the ‘good’ charity shops have been replaced by lower quality charity shops. In Bromsgrove, we used to have an Oxfam charity shop which I frequented frequently for a variety of things, principally classical CD’s sold off for about £1 each, a wonderful supply of books (to which I used to contribute as well as occasionally buy from) and a collection of little knick knacks such as high quality porcelain dishes that I used as coasters for drinks and cups of tea. Unfortunately, this went ‘belly up’ at the start of the pandemic and although there is more than the usual assortment of charity shops, one one to be very discerning. I have noticed that really good little pieces do get snapped up by the cognoscenti very quickly though.

The interesting political story tonight is the report from two (combined) select committees of the House of Commons into the whole of the COVID pandemic. The report is very frank about some of the terrible mistakes that the UK government made particularly in the early days of the pandemic when lockdowns were being ruled out (even as other countries were introducing them) and relying upon a theory of ‘herd immunity’ The scientists do not come out of completely unscathed either. The net result is that the dithering cost the UK thousands of lives. A government minister (Stephen Barclay) was pressed very hard on the media but refused on eleven separate occasions to issue the word ‘sorry‘ – which is illuminating.