Friday, 4th February, 2022

[Day 690]

Well, the weeks roll by and here we are at the end of the week i.e. Friday again. We have the usual chat with our domestic help and exchange news with each other. I needed to get an urgent form in the post so I popped down to Bromsgrove by car and then got my form into the Post Office which I wanted to send as recorded delivery. Then I collected our newpaper from the newsagent, telling him one of my favourite jokes in the process and then drove home. Then, with a slightly foreshortened journey Meg and I walked down to the park and claimed our usual bench. We had just about finished our coffee when our University of Birmingham friend accomapnies by our Seasoned World Traveller so this made the Bromsgrove Literary and Philosphical Society quorate and we contunued to debate some of our favourtite scenes from films. I have to point out that Seasoned World Trdavellor is an inveterate film watcher and there does not seem to be a significant film in the past 3-4 decades which he has not seen so the rest of us have to work hard to compete with his encyclopaedic knowledge.

Today has been a day with some culinary successes in it. For a start, prepared our normal-for-a-Friday fish dish where we raided our deep freeze stores of pollock. To make this more tasty, we marinaded it with a Sweet Chilli and Garlic sauce (courtesy of Waitrose) and then cooked it on a bed of capers. The end result was a tasty fish where you would be hard put not to identify the meal as cod and we served this with a good helping of Calabrese (broccoli) – so this as success No. 1. This evening, I decided to make some soup in our soupmaker with some vegetables I had got in the freezer for a week and were well chilled. The main ingredients were basically parsnip and carrot in approximately equal proportions, complemented by a few sticks of celery and one large onion almost caramelised. Then to make the soup especially nice, I added about a third of a tin of coconut milk and about 3 soup spoonfuls of a Balti cooking sauce. The result was a beautiful creamed soup with just a hint of spice to it but I always serve it with a good dollop of Greek yogurt (which helps to cool it down from boiling) and some croutons. This was so delicious that I was glad I had only used up one half of it and still the rest ready for a meal with in the next day or so.

Most members of the population need to get braced for a severe blow to their household budgets from April onwards. Those in work have got rises in NI contributions as well as a non-indexation of income tax brackets which is always the government’s sneaky way of raising income tax without saying so. Those in receipt of Universal Credit will have to accept jobs outside the spheres of employment for which they are qualified. But the real killer is going to be energy prices which will now rise by about 50% for everybody. In order to alleviate the ‘sharp spike’ the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that suppliers will be offered taxpayer-backed loans to knock around £200 off the more than £600 expected jump. But this is only a ‘loan’ so each of us will have to pay the £200 back in the next five years so we are, in effect, being bribed with our own money. And inflation may well have risen to 7% by then as well. And I forgot to mention that there are council tax rises as well. So the overall effect of all of these increases is that Britons will experience the biggest drop in living standards since the present set of records began – probably fifty years ago.

In the political arena, Boris Johnson has lost one more adviser from his policy unit and another MP has sent in a letter expressing his lack of confidence with the Prime Minister. Also the backlash from the disastrous slur sent in the direction of Keir Starmer at Prime Ministers Questions last Wednesday continuing to reverberate with Sajid Javid now distancing himself from Boris Johnson’s remarks. A few cabinet ministers have tried to defend the Boris Johnson lie (Nadine Dorries springs to mind, who made herself look absolutely ridiculous) but this is going to be like a running sore for the Johnson entourage. An interesting statistic with which to round off the week – three cabinet ministers are now isolating because they have COVID (Grant Shapps, Nadhim Zahawi and Liz Truss)