Sunday, 13th March, 2022

[Day 727]

Today being a Sunday, I got up fairly early and hd a quick snack of one of those ‘instant’ sachets of porridge that can be prepared in two minutes in the microwave. Then it was off, just after 8am in order to get our copy of the Sunday Times before I get back to watch the Sunday Morning (politics) programme from 9-10. Meg and I breakfasted and then slowly wandered down to the park, being in no particular hurry this morning. Then we met up with our two friends and treated ourselves to a cappuchino and a slice of toast with a mountain of grated cheese on it which the cafe does rather well and cheaply. We chatted on a variety of social and political issues, as is our wont, before the wind started to get the better of us and we judged it time to go home. I had a gammon joint cooking gently away in the slow cooker at home, so lunch was fairly easy to prepare. After lunch, I was prepared for a nice lazy afternoon but it turned out not to be. I have over my desk one of those ‘Anglepoise’ lights, popular in the 1970’s but less so nowadays, whose great virtue was that it was adjustable to almost any height or orientation that you wanted – very useful if you were engaged in a tricky little job. Anyway, I noticed that the fitment inside the shade had loosened and there was no way it could be evidently tightened up. As any bulb was at a crazy angle the whole thing was a heat and appliance disaster and I felt that it had to go. The trouble was that the extended flex went round the back of a filing cabinet and god knows what other things I had stored around the filing cabinet so it almost took a reconstruction of my study to get the whole flex located and removed. It gave me the opportunity of a mini tidy-up and I discovered one or two things that might come into useful to me now that I know where they are. Then I started work on the light itself to see if I could perform a quick repair on it or not. The answer is that after an hour, I came to the conclusion it was not reparable and decided to salvage some bits of pieces. Everything semed so engineered, though – even the flex extender I had put on it to give me an extra long flex had four screws on one side and two on the other, so even this took some time to deconstruct. So a quiet afternoon ended up with screwing myself into incredibly tight corners and then doing a lot more sorting out and tidying up than I had bargained for. So I am looking forward to a quiet evening.

The news from the Ukraine is simultaneously horrifying but, at the same time, there is some prospect of peace. The Russians really do seem to be tightening their grip on several cities and they are getting ‘all of their ducks in a row’ before threatening Kyiv itself. However, the slightly more optimistic reports of negotiations indicate that the Russians are adopting a more constructive attitude – perhaps they are beginning to realise that hnd-to-hand fighting street by street is not what they had anticipated. Perhaps they are also realising that ‘capturing’ cities in the Ukraine is one thing but holding them quite another thing altogether. For example, in one town where they had arrested the local mayor and installed one of their own, they had not anticipated thousands of people coming out on the streets, unarmed and standing in front of their tanks to demand the release of their mayor. Also, the Russians must also realise that an anti-war movement can only grow in Russia itself and the prospect of another Afghanistan and the prospect of an eventual ignominious retreat is bringing them to the negotiating table. There is some optimistic talk that talks leading to a settlement could be arrived at ‘within days’ but, of course, there is often a false dawn before we can allow ourselves to be optimistic.

Meanwhile the goernment is to announce a policy tomorrow in which it looks as though individuals will be offered £350.00 a month for members of the great British public to provide some accommodation for refugees from the Ukraine. It will be fascinating to see if these ideas come to fruition and how many places are actually forthcoming. The interesting thing about all of this is that it appears that the public is way ahead of the government in this and takes a relaxed view about large but short-term immigration from the Ukraine as the horrors of the crisis have made a deep impact on public opinion. It also looks as though Priti Patel (Home Secretary) who theoretically is in charge of all immigration issues is being completely sidelined by Michael Gove. One does wonder if some members of the government are quite happy to ‘diss’ some of their cabinet colleagues