Friday, 21st January, 2022

[Day 676]

Today dawned as a somewhat raw and cold day so Meg and I did not exactly leap out of bed with alacrity. Our domestic help arrived getting on for half an hour late because there had been an accident somewhere in the Bromsgrove road system and when this occurs during the rush hour, it does not take too much for the whole town to get absolutely gridlocked. As a matter of planning, if Bromsgrove were to build the number of houses in the places that they intend to build them without improving the road system (which is the responsibility of the County Council, not the District Council) then it is quite possible that the town will soon be gridlocked with normal rather than abnormal traffic. In recent planning applications, the District Council is arguing that it is assumed that many people will walk or cycle whereas it is much likely than Mum, Dad and 2-3 children become eventually a four car household. Of course, these assumptions are built on ‘pre-pandemic’ work and travel patterns but it is possible that, as the government hope, we will quickly revert to these patterns but I doubt it somehow. Being a bit delayed this morning, we popped down into town by car and then made a visit to the park hoping to see our University of Birmingham friend. In the event, we met no-one we knew in the park which is hardly surprising as the weather was cold and miserable (as were we) and the park was pretty deserted today. So we came home and had lunch of pollock as I have just bought a 1kg pack of Alaskan pollock from Waitrose. I had purchased some parsley sauce in a packet but I think I will look out for some garlic and chilli sauce which I suspect I may be able to buy in a bottle (or at least something similar) Pollock as a fish is like a poor man’s cod and has the reputation of lacking in flavour but I am sure that nowadays it is possible to add some flavour whilst also preserving the health benefits of 1-2 potions of fish per week, which is our aim. Next week, though, we may well revert to our treat of seabass which is always available as a fresh fish in Waitrose. Last time I was in the supermarket, I treated myself to some of theose ‘instant’ packets of porridge oats which you can prepare with a 1-2 minute ‘zing’ in the mircowave in the days when I tend to leave the house early and need something hot inside me.

A former Cabinet Minister, Rory Stewart, is tonight reported as saying that ‘Boris Johnson is a terrible prime minister and worse human being‘ which is quite a quote when you come to think of it. He goes in, in an article published in the Financial Times to accuse Johnson of ‘mendacity, indifference to detail, poor administration and inveterate betrayal of every personal commitment‘ and argues that as a majority of Conservative MPs and party members had voted for him that he, Boris Johnson, was not an aberration but a product of a system that will continue to produce terrible politicians long after Boris Johnson is gone. This is quite an interesting line of argument in that Rory Stewart is condemning not just an individual politician but a political scene in which the lies and evasions of our current Prime Minister will be overlooked so long as he manages to deliver winning seats for the Conservative party but whose MPs are likely to dispose of him if Boris Johnson is seen as a liability. We have seen the same mindset with the supporters of Donald Trump in which his manifest failings are overlooked so long as he delivers a victory to the Republican Party. If you follow the logic of this analysis through, it is extremely depressing to come to the realisation that in our modern democracy, incompetence and malevolence are set at nought provided that electoral victory always ensues. By this token, there are no moral values or standards of probity any more at the highest level of our political life – one can only wonder what the private thoughts of The Queen, Theresa May, David Cameron, Gordon Brown (and Margaret Thatcher were she still to be alive) might be on this state of affairs. There are persistent rumours a few days in advance of the Sue Gray report into ‘partygate’ that ‘smoking’ emails have been discovered which show that the Prime Minister, or his immediate aides, had been informed of the probable illegality of the planned parties but they were ignored. My best guess is that Boris Johnson will try to ride out what the Sue Gray report says or does not say about him but that the letters will go in to the 1922 committee and Boris Johnson will have a real fight for his political life (which he may well win but only in the short term) towards the end of next week.