Thursday, 4th November, 2021

[Day 598]

Thursday is the day which we have decided to make our main shopping day. Accordingly, I set off in plenty of time and arrived at the door of Waitrose in Droitwich two minutes before the doors were due to open – and third in the queue. As always, shopping is quite a pleasant experience at this time and, apart from one or two of the shelves being somewhat understocked, something to which I quite look forward. So all the shopping having been done, we treated ourselves to the first breakfast of porridge of the winter (suitable when the weather is pretty cold outside). As I wrote this, I pondered which spelling is correct: porridge or porage. What I discovered was this. The conventional spelling is porridge but Scotts, the firm behind the famous breakfast oats cereal devised a unique spelling as a marketing trick to distinguish themselves from their rivals and they combined the spellings of porridge and potage – a French word for a thick soup – and ran with it from 1914 onwards. I think it is by now common knowledge that a bowl of porridge is very good for one first thing in the morning as it provides a source of slow-release carbohydates right throughout the morning. Furthermore, as regards the health benefits, scientists at Harvard University’s School of Public Health in 1984 have been following the dietary habits of around 100,000 people and have now come to the conclusion that those of us who regularly eat whole grains, such as porridge oats, can expect to live longer and healthier lives. Just one small bowl of porridge a day can increase life expectancy by 5 per cent, and reduce the risk of death by heart disease by 9 per cent.

Eventually after a slow unpacking of the shopping, Meg and I realised we were a little short of time. So we took the car down into town to hand deliver a form that we needed to hand in to Bromsgrove District Council. This having been done, we collected our newspaper and then popped into the park for a reduced walk and a quick burst of elevenses (although, strangely, I had made up the flask and then forgot to put it in the rucksack). We met up again with our octogenarian daily hiker as well as Seasoned World Traveller – but as the cold wind was starting to blow, despite the sun and a blue sky, we did not tarry too long but were keen to get home. I needed to strip the carcase of our chicken of little bits of chicken meat which I made into a kind of risotto with some quasi-rice I had manage to get hold off which claimed to be exceptionally low in carbohydrates. This having prepared, I gave Meg her portion but left my own to eat after the training session I was scheduled to have with medical students.

Promptly at 2pm I receivd a FaceTime call from a young female Asian student who was going to be my contact for the day. The conversation flowed freely – and I must admit I probably was speaking too much. We started with what our GP had wanted us to act as a discussion point (how individuals via diet and exercise could reduce over-high blood sugar levels which is used as a marker for the onset of diabetes) but after that the conversation becaame quite wide ranging and what should have been a chat for about 20 minutes became 40. I am not sure if I fulfilled the aims of the whole training exercise but I am sure that the young student at the other end of the FaceTime camera would go on to make a very good doctor).

It has been a day of great political drama today, not to say screeching government U-turns. After the government had seen the hostile reaction from all of the opposition parties and many on their own side to their ‘rewriting of the rules’ to save Owen Paterson, the determing factor may have been the uniformly hostile press, with even the Daily Mail joining in to give them a good kicking. So William Rees-Mog, the Leader of the House of Commons was desptached to announce a government reversal of yesterday’s policy. It became evident within minutes that as the government majority on a whipped vote was only 18 last night, then an ‘unwhipped’ Conservative party would surely despatch Owen Paterson to oblivion. It was quite evident that he could not survive and, later on in the day, he resigned as an MP (he could well have been subjected to a Parliamentary recall and thrown out if he hadn’t resigned) He claimed that he was standing down as a result of his children persuading him to go – disingenuous in the extreme and to the end because having accepted emoluents of £110,000 a year and then lobbying ministers for ‘favours’ towards his paymasters, he was clearly in breach of the rules. I look forward to the completion of the evisceration which well happen in NewsNight tonight at 10.30pm (BBC2)