Friday, 5th November, 2021

[Day 599]

Today started bright and cold and it was truly one of those days when one needed to reach inside the store cupboard and have a steaming bowl of porridge (complete with syrup, of course) Today we shared out breakfast with our son who was hard at work in his little ‘office’ upstairs and for whom the porridge was especially welcome. Our domestic help was a little delayed this morning but eventually we got off into town and picked up our newspaper before making for the park. There we were delighted to be joined by our University of Birmingham friend who we had not seen for several days as, very conscientiously, he was nursing a heavy cold so had kept hmself out of our vicinity lest he inadvertently infect us. Fortunately, his cold is not of the extremely ‘heavy’ kind that seems to be sweeping the country and laying people low. As we sat together (or relatively near to each other) on adjacent park benches, we commented to each how beautiful the park looked in its autumn colours, how fine and almost warm the day had turned out to be and how few people there were in the park today to enjoy it all. I think, though, that the high pressure system giving us this fine weather is going to slide away so we have to enjoy the last days of summer (or autumn) whilst we can.

Lunchtime today had been desgnated as ‘risotto’ day, which we were going to share with our domestic help as a special treat (and she was supplying some white wine to perfectly complemnt the meal) I used to make risotto regularly each Friday but I have rather got out of the habit since I tried to cut down on carbs as part of a weight reduction programme (but I thought once in a while would not hurt) I had made sure that I had bought some ‘arborio’ rice for the risotto and, from Waitrose, I had purchased some smoked trout. Although thrown together, the meal turned out fine and I was pleased that I not lost the knack. I knew, however, that we could not tarry long over lunch because I had designated this afternoon as the final lawn-cut of the season. For this to be successful (i.e. possible) one needs a fine afternoon and hopefully the absence of rain for a few days so that the grass-cutting is not incredibly soggy. The grass-cutting itself was uneventful but in the last cut of the season, I need to run the petrol down to absolutely zero so that no ‘gunk’ is left in the tank. So I engaged in the by now traditional rite at the end of the grass-cutting of keeping the mower running whilst I walk up and down with it muttering under my breath ‘Die! Die!’ until, as the daylight fades to practically nothing, the petrol tank runs dry. Then the final task, difficult to perform to perform at the best of times but more difficult in the practical darkness, is to get the old oil drained out (whilst it is still hot) into a tin saved for the purpose. So I was particularly pleased to get this done on the traditional day I designate for the last cut of the season (November 5th) whilst the first is my son’s birthday on March 25th. Several years ago, I heard a tip from Alan Titchmarsh (the gardening guru’ but now with a new career on Classic FM and several other TV shows) His tip is always to mow the lawn at the end of the season even though there is no grass long enough to cut but assuming there has been a leaf fall. The mower will shred the leaves into smaller pieces making it easier for the worms to drag them down into the soil and hence contributing to its overall fertility.

The fallout from the Government ‘U’-turn continues as Tory MP’s turn on each other (particularly the recently elected, recent generation of MPs compared with the old school veterans) Personally, I think Boris Johnson should have sacked the Chief Whip, Mark Spencer. The conversation could have gone like this, assuming that Boris Johnson might have been the ultimate author of the policy -‘Even though you were carrying out my instructions, you should have warned me of the possibility of masses of abstentions or even members of our own party voting against us. The fact you didn’t warn me of this means that you were not in touch with back bench opinion and mis-read the mood of the House. This has led to one of greatest debacles in modern parliamentary history for which I hold you responsible. I will give you two minutes to consider your position…‘ Of course, none of this is going to happen (is it?) but I suspect that there may be all kinds of fallout from the recent debacle. Not least, is that fact that the younger generation of Tory MP’s may be very unwilling to act as ‘lobby fodder’ and follow their Whip’s instructions without question for the rest of this Parliament.