Sunday, 6th February, 2022

[Day 692]

Today being a Sunday, I fell into my normal routine of setting the alarm a little early and then walking down before breakfast to pick up my copy of the ‘Sunday Times‘ As it was likely to be quite a chilly morning, I regaled myself with one of those little packets of ‘instant’ porridge oats that you can do in the microwave for two minutes- I had previously bought myself a little packet of these instant oats for just such as occasions as these. Then I treated myself to some Bach and Mozart via my headphones and ancient iPhone retained for its music playing facilities. I thought the Sunday Morning politics show was OK without having especially penetrating interviews but Sophie Raworth seems to be doing a reasonable job in following Andrew Marr without exactly setting the world on fire. After we had breakfasted and I had made some preliminary preparations for lunch, Meg and I went down to the park by car (principally to save a bit of time) and there we met our University of Birmingham friend as well as Seasoned World Traveller. Knowing that the latter was quite a film buff, I asked him if he remembered a film made in the early 1950’s I would think, that portrayed Rommel in quite a sympathetic light – he had, as it happened. What is so interesting about the film is when it was made ie. 1951. I suppose in the late 1940’s there were a host of war films always exploring the daring-do of the heroic British and these had to run their course before the film makers turned their attention to Rommel. According to Wikipedia: The movie played a significant role in the creation of the Rommel myth: that Rommel was an apolitical, brilliant commander, opposed Nazi policies and was a victim of the Third Reich because of his participation in the conspiracy to remove Adolf Hitler from power in 1944. So perhaps it played into the Anglo-American narrative of WWII after all.

This afternoon, I settled down to watch the France v. Italy ‘6 Nations’ rugby match, played in the pouring rain in Paris. Of course, one always suspected that the French would win such a contest but by half way through the first half, the Italians were actually in the lead. Naturally the French overhauled them, getting gradually stronger and stronger but with the typical British respect for the underdog, one always hopes that the Italians might actually win a match one of these days.

There is an interesting political story emerging at the moment which is that Carrie Johnson, the ‘power behind the throne’ has been instrumental in leading Boris Johnson to decisions that often turn out to be flawed ones. One of the most repeated stories is that she was the motivating force behind the decisions such as the refurbishment, at great expense, of the Downing Street flat. The flat refurb, involving gold wallpaper and a £112,000 price tag, has seen critics brand her ‘Carrie Antoinette’, a label she is known to dislike. There are two narratives currently circulating and I shall not attempt to arbitrate between them. The first one is that attacks on Carrie Johnson are ultimately sexist and misogynistic and are being used by critics of Boris Johnson in order to bring him down. The alternative narrative derive from Downing Street insiders, quoted in an explosive new biography written by Lord Ashcroft, which have suggested that Ms Johnson wields huge power within Whitehall and warned that ‘if she doesn’t like you, there can be big consequences’. Among her alleged scalps include Ellie Lyons, a one-time advisor to Boris Johnson during his leadership campaign, who was reportedly dubbed ‘the sexy spad’ by a handful of people in Westminster. It has been said that Carrie was instrumental in getting rid of her because she was an attactive red-head and intelligent and therefore could be seen as a rival for the PM’s affections.

Today is quite an interesting day historically because on this day 70 years ago, the present Queen’s father, George VI died and Elizabeth ascended to the throne. This 70 year span is unparalled in British history. She has intimated that she would like Prince Charles’ second wife, Camilla, to eventually become the ‘Queen Consort’ rather than the ‘Princess Consort’. At the age of 95, it appears that discreet preparations are already being made for the accession of Charles as I imagine that the Queen who has had some bouts of ill-health recently is not immortal and as my family doctor said to me when discussing the health of a 90 -year old uncle of Meg’s that in his experience a person of that age could be blown away by a puff of wind. I suspect that the Queen is going to relish the prospects of several Jubilee events, timed for when the weather will be better in the early summer, but once these are over and done with, she is ready psychologically if nothing else to gradually ‘let go’.