Wednesday, 20th April, 2022

[Day 765]

Although today was a cooler day, the weather was set fair for a fine day. So having collected our newspaper, Meg and I walked down to the park. Once on our normal bench, we were joined by an acquaintance together with his cross-breed dog, Alfie, who is a labradoodle (a cross-breed beween a labrador and a poodle) Apparently, they were first bred to have a dog that was hypoallergenic and also a good guide dog. But now that so many breeders have got in on the act since the 1980’s, we now have a generation of labradoodles that are neither hypoallergenic nor good guide dogs – and they may be prone to more health problems as well as the parents were mated as they were less than perfect specimens of their breed in the first place. The point of this story, though, is that quite by accident we suddenly had an ‘aggregation’ of labradoodles all of whom seemed to know each other and some may have been related as well. When their owners let them off the leash, they raced around full of the doggy equivalent of ‘joie de vivre’ but I was very impressed that when their owners called them, they came immediately to heel and let themselves be put back onto the leash again. So Meg and I made our way back home and started to watch the later stages of Prime Minister’s Question Time. Some of the commentators felt that Keir Starmer was really starting to needle Boris Johnson, not that he cares much anyway as he was shortly to fly off to India. There is to be a vote tomorrow to refer his conduct to the Committee of Priveliges but the Conservative party as a whole has been whipped to vote against this. The only slight smidgeon of interest at this stage is how many Tories will abstain as an indication of their displeasure with the whole ‘partygate’ affair. The consensus view seems to be that Boris Johnson has bought himself some time (which is quite a typical story) but there are more dangers ahead in the form of further fines that may be forthcoming and, of course, the local elections in about three weeks time. But the local elections are for London, Scotland and Wales – in England, most of the seats will be contested in London – 1,817 seats across 32 boroughs – where Labour controls the vast majority of councils. Outside the capital, a wide variety of councils are up for election: 33 metropolitan borough councils covering 904 seats; 21 unitary authorities, with 627 seats; 60 district councils (1,011 seats). Six mayors will also be elected in London boroughs, and one in the South Yorkshire Combined Authority. So the upshot of all of this is that the seats that are up for election this year are not particularly representative of the country as a whole.

This afternoon I finished off the bit of gardening that I needed to do. In a rather overgrown bed bordering the back lawn, I have laid some lawn edging supplemented by heavy Victorian bricks dug out of the garden at various times. Then I cut back some of the creeping ground covering vegetation whose name I do not know and have constructed a short of ‘channel’ into which I have planted some leaf beet seeds and topped off with a covering of top soil. These plants should be quite easy to tend if/when they germinate and provided I keep the slugs off them as they grow.

On Sunday next, it will be the second final round of the French presidential election. The two candidates who came top of the poll in the first round were the existing president, Emmannuel Macron and Marine le Pen. We have the possibility when the second round of voting takes place on Sunday next that France might elect a far-right President who is on record as wanting to withdraw France from the EU. Hence this course of action has been been dubbed as ‘Frexit’ (the French counterpart of Brexit) Tonight, there will be a face-to-face stand-off between the two candidates – at the time of the last presidential election, Marine Le Pen fared extremely badly and the TV interview was judged to be one of the reasons why Le Pen lost the election. Macron’s projected lead for Sunday’s decisive second-round vote now averages eight or nine percentage points across all polls, with the latest, published on Tuesday, suggesting the gap has widened from eight to 12 points since Friday. It looks as though the Le Pen camp are claiming already that the polls are ‘rigged’ in Macron’s favour. Presumably, if Marine Le Pen was ahead in the polls her supporters would not be making these claims so there is plenty to play for this evening. We shall have to wait until the 10.00 news programmes are broadcast tonight to see who wins or loses in the presidential debate this evening and Channel 4 are promising full coverage in the few days remaining.