Sunday, 23rd January, 2022

[Day 678]

You never know what a day will bring and so it proved today. We did not get to a particularly brilliant start today because no sooner had I arrived at the newsagent than I realised that I forgotten to bring my pre-paid token along with me. I know I could have asked to get the newspaper ‘on tick’ until I could go down and supply my token but I thought I could probably collect the newspaper later in the day so I turned on my heel and walked straiught back home. After Meg and I had watched the ‘Sunday‘ (politics programme) we made our way down to the park hoping to see our University of Birmingham friend today. However he texted us to say that he had to help out a friend in distress who had just experienced a flood so he was going to go over with some heating devices and help to dry him out. Instead, we had our coffee and were than approached by a chap who seemed rather garrulous. It transpired that he had a brain haemorrhage a few years ago and was the the surgeon’s knife for hours and could well have died. Anyway, it appears that by perseverance, he had managed a fair degree of rehabilitation and although he still had some balance, coordination and concentration difficulties, his speech was totally regained. We complemented him on the remarkable recovery that he had shown – and hope we could do the same if a similar event occurred to us. Just then, our friend the Seasoned World Traveller hove into sight and, despite the cold, we stood and chatted for a bit about politics, recent TV viewing and the like.Then we started back home, not least to rescue some vegetables that I had roasting in the oven and were pleased to meet up (by accident) with our Irish friends who are off on holiday to Tenerife in a few days time so we were pleased to have a chat before their departure.

This afternoon, I set myself the task of going through a pile of newspapers which I have kept in case there was anything of interest I wished to retain. Most of this pile eventually got junked but I did find something quite useful which I had overlooked. Each year, towards the end of the year, The Times publishes in its colour magazine a series of cartoons generally picking out the newsworthy highlights of the year. The Times cartoonist does tend to tie two current events into a single cartoon so sometimes the actual cartoon fails to amuse as much as was intended until it is decoded by the background knowledge of the year’s events. This particular edition of the colour magazine is well worth keeping for the brilliance of the cartoons and the acerbity of the political comment. Having got this quite onerous task disposed of, I then started on the more pleasant task of soup making. I am used the Waitrose ‘Soffrito’ mixture but I complement it with a lightly fried onion and 2-3 desert spoonfuls of a Balti sauce to add a little, but not too much, piquancy. On this occasion, I am going to split the soup into two halves so that we are not overwhelmed today and have some left for later on in the week.

The political news today is dominated by the claim by the UK’s first female Muslim minister (Nusrat Ghani) that she was not reappointed to her ministerial job (sacked?) because ‘her Muslimness made colleagues uncomfortable’ After her sacking, she apparently had an an unpleasant meeting with the Chief Whip and subsequently with Boris Johnson, both of whom indicated that she should take matters of concern like this to the Tory party’s own complaint procedures. Her counter-argument is that this is a Government matter, not just a matter for the Conservative party – but you can see here where both sides are coming from. The interesting thing about this is that some fellow Asian (and Muslim?) ministers like Sajid Javid and Nadhim Zahawi have spoken generously in her support whilst the Chief Whip has implied that her account is a fabrication. Not attempting to arbitrate in this tangled story, it does appear that Boris Johnson has not demonstrated a firm and decisive hand in this story and current fractures within the existing cabinet must be the last thing that Boris Johnson needs at the moment. Dominic Cummings is to be interviewed by Sue Gray tomorrow before the compilation and presentation of her report on or about Thursday. Cummings has argued that he will swear on oath that his account is true – would Boris Johnson do the same? Certainly his evidence looks damning but is it just words – or is there anything approaching proof that his account (that he informed Boris Johnson of the illegality of drinks parties) is to be believed? There may be a straight conflict of evidence here (Cummings said one thing whilst Johnson says another) Will Sue Gray be able or willing to adjudicate between two conflicting accounts? We shall see in a few days time.