Wednesday, 3rd November, 2021

[Day 597]

Today started off with one of those irritating little things that come along to try us. I was expecting a small package to be delivered to us from our doctor’s surgery as they had previously told me it was ‘in the post’ But instead of the package, I received a little note to indicate that insufficient postage had been paid and ‘inviting’ me to pay the missing postage and organise a new date of delivery. So I negotiated the Royal Mail system to pay them the £2.00 which they reckoned they needed and now I can expect delivery not today but on Friday. This I could do without. It was one of those when it was touch-and-go’ whether we went down to the park by car or on foot. We took a gamble and went on foot and were glad we did. On the way down, we had a chat with our Irish friend which was welcome as we had not seen her a few days. Then we bumped into one of her near neighbours, a French lady, who we are getting to know quite well and we thought we would seize the opportunity to have a coffee together as soon as we can see our way forward. After we had collected our newspaper and made our way to the park, the weather, although cold, was starting to brighten quite a lot leaving the park trees looking tremendous in their autumnal colours. Then we walked home slowly enjoying the sunshine and wondering how long we were going to have a few fine days like this.

One is very conscious, particularly in November, to do what one can before the natural light fades. Knowing that I was running short of petrol, I went off fill the car up before I go shopping in the morning. Then, as it was adjacent to the petrol station, I availed myself of one of the new ‘Home and Garden’ type stores so that I could buy some bits and bobs. One little thing I bought that our chiropodist had told us about and actually used was a little hand-held device made entirely of copper and zinc which enables a person to key in values on a public screen or even to pull a door shut behind oneself without actually touching the offending surface. Although the immediate need is probably much less now than in the months gone by, there will no doubt be instances when it will prove its worth. I also bought a few tiny little glass bottles into which I can put coins of various denominations. Then when I am dashing forth and know that I need money for a carpark or whatever, I grab the coins that I think I will need and this obviates the need to carry around a purse or lots of spare coins. I also took the opportunity to buy some cheap toiletries and one or two household things of which we were running short.

Tonight, we have seen one of those things that really brings the whole of the House of Commons into disrepute. A Conservative ex-minister (Owen Paterson) had been found guilty by a House of Commons Committee of flagrantly breaching parliamentary rules by being a paid lobbyist without declaring his interest. He had been paid more than £110,000 for these activities and a two year investigation into his conduct concluded that there had been a flagrant breach of the rules. The House of Commons, following precedent, would normally have voted for a 30-day suspension.But as Boris Johnon has a majority of 80, they decided to abolish the committee that had adjudged Owen Paterson to be guilty and were going to set up a new committee, with a Tory majority to judge his case again, the first ‘guilty’ verdict having been set aside. Opposition MPs are incensed and are refusing to serve on the new committee which means that we will have the ultimate in Tory sleaze in which Tories break the rules, but then members of his own party rescue him by changing the rules after the event in a committee composed only of members of his own party. Whether this plays badly in the country or not, who can say? But the net result is that all politicians, not just Tory MPs, are adjudged to be guilty of sleaze and the reputation of the House of Commons as a whole sinks further into the mire.

A very interesting telephone call came my way in the early evening. This was the senior partner in the medical practice that looks after Meg and myself and he was telephoning to ask a favour. He conducts some training sessions with trainee doctors from the University of Birmingham and he wondered if he could use me as a resource for the students to question of a patient on the brink of diabetes who ‘hauled themselves back’ by radically reducing their weight (which I did four years ago) So I am standing by my phone/ipad to participate in this training session tomorrow. Quite exciting really!