Thursday, 6th January, 2022

[Day 661]

Today was a day to which we had been looking forward for some time, although it was going to be quite a busy one. Initially, it was a case of getting up early and then making sure that I could set off in good time to get to the supermarket before it opened. It was one of those mornings where we needed to resort to our well-established routine of pouring a watering can of hot water, equipped with a long spout (designed for treating inaccesible plants and hanging baskets) over the car windscreen and windows to defrost it. Although the car was frosted, I have known worse and we were quickly (and safely) on our way. I made sure in my shopping that I bought some Cava and some houseplants for Meg’s cousins who we were shortly to motor off and see in Derby. We set off only 15 minutes later than the time we had set for ourselves and had to make a slight detour to get our newspaper from Waitrose as our regular newsagent was in a ‘self isolation’ COVID mode for the next few days. We got to Meg’s cousins just about on time but the SatNav whch is normally very reliable finds it difficult to cope with the last 100-200 metres where we have to navigate a sort of semi-made up road. Using a combination of the SatNav and our own memory from over two years ago, we managed to get there only a minute or so late to see Meg’s cousins and her daughter and husband. We had quite a lot of news to catch up even though we have ‘Zoomed’ each other quite a lot over the months – news is so much easier to convey face-to-face, though, rather than electronically. Once we admired the masses of decorations, we sat down to a magnificent meal of beef-and-game-stew with masses of beautiful vegetables (some home grown and retrieved from the freezer) This was followed by a rhubarb pie and lashings of custard so we felt replete after this magnificent meal. Naturally, we talked a lot about family members and there was opportunity to tell the odd story as well. My cousin had moved up from Cheltenham to be nearer to her daughter last summer but because of COVID restrictions we had not managed to pop over and make contact before now. Now we admired the bungalow which is a tad larger than the house Meg’s cousing had had in Cheltenham and I think will suit her needs down to the ground. She had more kitchen space and ‘utility’ space in an adjoining utility room so we were amazed at how well settled in she was in her new home. We had not wanted to pay a visit whilst she was busy settling in – it is always a slightly odd experience when you see furniture and pictures you associate with a former house now in place in a new location. Meg’s cousing had done a grand job in making it really festive (even down to ‘Santa Claus’ toilet paper which I had never seen before) and then we set off for home. Although bad weather had been forecast and indeed a flurry of snow passed overhead whilst we were busy eating, the journey home was mainly rainy but tolerable. In the dark, despite the SatNav we made a slight error but quickly corrected ourselves and got back on track quite quickly. When we got home, it was a case of a quick bowl of soup and then ‘passing out’ in front of the TV for the night.

Today is the anniversary of the days that the mob (what other name is appropriate) of Trump supporters who invaded the Capital building. What seems absolutely amazing to us on this side of the ‘pond’ is the act that a majority of Republicans (53%) believe Trump’s claim that the election was ‘stolen’ from them against hardly any Democrats who believe this (3%). These proportions have not moved a great deal in the last year which is a sign of how divided American politics has become. ‘Republicans did not conclude from the 2020 election that the experiment with Trumpism had failed. On the contrary, most Republican elected officials and the clear majority of Republican voters consider Joe Biden and the Democratic presidency as fundamentally illegitimate and they remain united behind Donald Trump‘ argues a German observer of the American political scene, Thomas Zimmer.

The PM came under fire from Lord Geidt for not being clear about how his Downing Street flat refurb was funded and has tonight issued an abject apology, claiming that his requests for money to refurbish the flat were ‘on an old phone’. All of this comes just a month after the Conservative party were fined nearly £18,000 for failing to declare the contributions to the Conservative party (to pay for the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat).