Wednesday, 15th December, 2021

[Day 639]

Although Meg. and I had a fairly good night’s sleep, we slept in just a little this morning but enough to make sure that we were running somewhat behind our normal morning schedule. By the time we had breakfasted and showered, we were getting ready to go down for our normal walk when we glanced at our ‘planning board’ only to discover we had an appointment for later on that morning. Our ‘planning board’ is a large whiteboard divided into 49 daily ‘slots’ i.e. 7 weeks worth and we have this so that we can put on it the things for a few days and even a few days ahead so that we do not forget about them. This is worth its weight in gold but, of course, you have to remember to look at it daily. Today we realised with about a quarter of an hour to spare that it was the day for our hairdresser to call around. So we took our ‘elevenses’ that we had prepared for the park and immediately had our coffee and biscuits at home waiting for the hairdresser to arrive. Whilst we waiting, we tuned into ‘PMQ’ – Prime Ministers Questions- because yesterday was a most extraordinary day in Parliamentary terms. Although Boris Johnson has what would seem to be an incredible majority of 80, yesterday 100 Conservative MPs rebelled and the measures to put ‘Plan B’ into effect were only passed because of the support of the Labour Party. So this means that we have the most extraordinary spectacle which I do not think I have witnessed since the time I have been closely following politics for nigh on sixty years of a government not relying upon its own MPs to get legislation passed but having to rely upon the votes of the Opposition. So PMQ turned out to be an extraordinary event where Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, could accuse Boris Johnson of having lost control of his own party if he has to rely upon the votes of Opposition members. As I blog, Channel 4 News is reporting some rumours that the depth of the revolt might have been 120-130 MPs but Boris Johnson promised, behind the scenes, to recall Parliament during the Christmas period if any more measures were planned. We also had the extraordinary event of the Prime Minister denying that it was true that the government measures were passed with Labour support saying that Conservatives ‘passed’ the legislation last night. Such an outright denial of the absolutely obvious left the Labour leader practically lost for words – but then Boris Johnson has lied consistently to everyone since he was a child (and has a record of being sacked for it).

When our hairdresser did arrive, Mike had his hair cut first and then started off for a daily walk to pick up the newspaper and to buy a few things. At the newsagents, we handed over a Christmas card to the proprietor and his wife and his two ‘trusted’ regular employees, one of whom we think goes back even further than the current owner of the shop i.e. she has worked there for years and been ‘inherited’ by the current owners. We also tend to exchange a few token gifts with each other a little bit nearer to Christmastime itself. Then it was ‘onto’ the road to buy some apparently simple things. One of these is to buy supplies of powdered potato which Asda sell in sachets for about 25p – needless to say they were sold out. The other thing that I needed was the ‘C’ size of batteries to put inside our house doorbell. We didn’t hear the doorbell when the hairdresser arrived so thought we had better get them replaced as soon as possible. I tramped up and down Bromsgrove High Street attempting to buy some ‘C’ size batteries. Many retailers do not stock them and the one that I did had almost run out as I bought the last two but I really needed four. Eventually, I bit the bullet and bought some Duracell ones at a fabulous price but I suppose that once a much needed commodity becomes in short supply, shoppers such as myself scour the local shops and they soon vanish.

The Omicron virus figures are now in the realm of the truly, truly scary. The number of new infections has risen by nearly 20,000 in a single day (from 59,000 to 78,000). At this rate, the virus seems to be doubling every couple of days which could mean that by Christmas Day, the rate might have risen 16-fold. BBC news reports that Prof Chris Whitty has said: ‘Records will be broken a lot over the next few weeks’ adding Omicron is spreading at an ‘absolutely phenomenal pace‘. Earlier, Health Secretary Sajid Javid refused to rule out the prospect of fresh measures over the coming weeks. All of this is happening as a backdrop to the fact that we are travelling up to Yorkshire tomorrow for three nights to attend my brother-in-law’s funeral on Friday.