Saturday, 15th January, 2022

[Day 670]

Another day dawned under our current wave of high pressure where the skies are generally clear and the nights cold. This morning, we had evidently had a frost overnight but not an incredibly heavy one and we prepared slowly for our walk down into town. We walked down as far as the newspaper shop, now thankfully reopened again after the proprietors had negotiated a quick burst of having tested positive. We were trying out a little experiment this morning in which Meg used our portable stool as a type of walking stick when negotiating the downhill sections of the route (which is most of the journey down into town) This seems to have worked as intended because Meg managed all of the journey down to the newsagent without undue difficulty. We then made our way into the park to our usual bench and no longer had we consumed our coffee than our friend, Seasoned World Traveller, hove into view. As we both had had medical consultations in the last week, we swopped notes and travellors tales but didn’t tarry too long as we were all in danger of getting a little too cold. Towards the end of our chat, our Catholic friends from down the road popped along the path as they were evidently having their own ‘constitutional’ as well. Compared with the balmy days of summer and even the autumn, we did not linger too long though as it was quite piossible to get chilled if you were standing still (talking) instead of walking briskly. When we got home, we treated ourself to a curry that we have not made for ourselves for quite a time but used to be a regular once-per-week part of our diet ever since our student days. Today, I tried a slight variation and instread of using the more conventional curry powder we used a Chinese curry paste which our home help had kindly let us have. This was delicious and slightly unusual – I suspect there may have been slight less chilli powder which made the difference. This afternoon, we settled down to watch a little post-prandial TV and tuned into the second half of the second half of a really exciting rugby match (between Wasps and Toulouse), made all of the more enjoyable because Wasps were narrowly in the lead but Toulouse always looked threatening and one wouldn’t have been surprised if they not managed to snatch a victory in the last few minutes. However, Wasps played some brilliant defensive rugby and made one or two key intercepted passes which made all of the difference. There are reports that emerged today that Downing Street staff held ‘wine-time Fridays’ throughout the coronavirus pandemic, with alcohol fetched from a nearby Tesco Metro in a wheelie suitcase and kept in a specially bought £142 fridge. All of this is adding to the steady drip-drip of ‘partygate’ news that is dogging the Tory Party. As it is the weekend, MPs have returned to their constituencies and many (if not most) of them are consulting with their constitutency parties to assess the state of public opinion. Most of these are ‘true blue’ i.e. quite traditional Conservative voters (as opposed to the ‘red-wall’ Tories only elected from ex-Labour seats at the last election if 2019) and by all accounts, they are utterly dismayed by the constant shenanigans emerging from Downing Street. One influental MP, Andrew Bridgen, who represents North West Leicestershire and used to be one of Boris Johnson’s most ardent supporters has indicated that he had had 150 emails expressing dismay about the behaviour of Boris Johnson but by the time these had been responded to by midday, another 168 had arrived (a total of more than 300) This has led Andrew Bridgen to conclude that Boris Johnson has lost his moral authority to lead and that his position is now ‘untenable’. The response from Downing Street has been amazing. A special operation to save Boris Johnon’s own skin in the event of an adverse report from the civil servant Sue Grey (charged with investigating the numerous ‘parties’ in Downing Street) under the code name Operation Save Big Dog. Apparently lists of officials are being drawn up to see who should be sacked and which order once the Gray report is published. It looks as though the strategy might be to blame civil servants and other Downing Street officials in order to protect Boris Johnson and his immediate coterie. One view is that Boris Johnson might just about manage to save his own skin if he can deflect the criticism from himself onto others. It is being pointed out that as a civil servant conducting the investigation, Sue Gray does not have the power to suggest that crimes have been committed and she may be inhibited from a full investigations if officials have destroyed evidence by deleting incriminating emails and the like. All of the pronostication at the moment is that the Gray report will be as factual as possible – the only person who issue sanctions against an individual breaking the Ministerial Code is the Prime Minister himself. In the case of his own misconduct he will be the judge and jury of himself (as our current conventions tend to assume that the Prime Minister is a man of the utmost integrity)