Sunday, 19th December, 2021

[Day 643]

Today we were scheduled for departure from our stay at ‘The Crown‘ hotel in Harrogate. We both woke up relatively early and I always find it to be a much easier job to pack to come home rather than to pack when coming away. We got most of the job done in about an hour and a half and I transferred most of our ‘funeral’ clothes into the body of the car where they could be hung up without creasing. Breakfast ran a little later in the hotel at the weekends (so people could have a lie-in) and there were only two other couples in the dining room when we got down. At the end of our breakfast, we have a chat with our friendly waitor and then with two reception staff at the entrance to the dining room. We explained to them that we had had a very pleasant stay and may well be back and then shared some experieces of hotel work with them, based upon my earlier Old Swan experiences. As it turned out, the very blonde female was from Poland and her older colleague was from Lithuania but if I had been forced to guess, I would have each coming from the other’s country. What was quite interesting was the lady from Lithuania and I agreed with each that hotel work seemed very diffierent from other types of work and it was not unusual for people to have had a variety of jobs within the hotel. I recounted my experiences of starting my hotel life by washing dishes, then washing silver, then working in the still room, then washing glasses for the bar, finally working as a cocktail barman as well as some portering jobs (including night portering) and even a spell in the laundry. The hotel worker from Lithuania, too, had done many different jobs in the hotel and this was actually quite common. I mentioned that the highlight of the Christmas proceedings occurred on Christmas Day lunch when the head chef donned his best (newly laundered) chef’s clothing and then a huge plum pudding was set alight with brandy and was then carried aloft over his head in a darkened dining room in which all of the lights (apart from candle light) had been extinguished. The spectacle was amazing and brought gasps of astonishment and applause from the assembled diners. I asked if anything like that took place at the ‘The Crown‘ these days – they both laughed and said it would not be allowed under current Health and Safety legislation! So we left at about 10.30 and received a telehone call (via the car’s audio/bluetooth system) from my niece when we had just about hit the M1. We had a stop half way down and enjoyed some Costa coffee and some of our own mince pies and then got home some time before 2.00pm. We were delighted to be home and did a bit of gentle unpacking (including the washing, which we bundled into the washing machine) and then gradually starting picking up the pieces again.

The Health Secretary, Sajiv Javid, is reported as saying that the COVID situation is being reviewed ‘upon an almost hourly basis’ which I am sure is probably correct. I am sure that given the overwhelming scientific advice and the amazing spread of the Omicron variant that the government have probably decided ‘in their heads’ to produce radical new measures but are puzzling how to sell it to the libertarian wing of the Tory party and when to do it. My guess would be that the government is relying upon the fact that a few days before Christmas many are ‘voting with their feet’ and staying away from large crowds and parties so we have a semi-lockdown in all but name. Then new measures might be announced that will take effect one day after Boxing Day i.e. let the population have their Christmas dinner and then hit them with new restrictions whilst their gaze is diverted by Christmas jollities.

I have just read a story on BBC News that a pet monkey, a Marmoset, was found which had been fed cocaine and then flushed down a toilet. The monkey has survived and the owner is being prosecuted. When I first read the story, I assumed that it was either a joke or a story of the ‘Freddie Starr ate my hamster‘ genre.

On the political front, Nadine Dorries has just tweated that “I’m aware as someone said today that regicide is in the DNA of the Conservative party, but a bit of loyalty to the person who won an 83 majority and delivered Brexit wouldn’t go amiss.” As a result of this she has just been removed from the (right wing) Tory MP’s ‘WhatsApp‘ group – which may be an indication of the way the wind is blowing and that Boris Johnson’s removal has been decided in principle – it’s just a question of when!