Saturday, 11th June, 2022

[Day 817]

Today was a fairly typical Saturday but the day started off fairly bright, albeit breezy, so there was no reason for us both not to enjoy our walk onto the park. I popped into town to collect our newspapers by car and then we were ready for our walk. Before I left, I had exchanged some emails with our erstwhile colleague from the University of Winchester who is coming to stay with us in about 12 days time but in the meantime, we are getting a little more focused on our trip to North Wales starting next Wednesday. I did a quick web search and discovered a pub in Old Colwyn that seems to offer good but reasonably priced meals in the middle of the day so if we do not find anything else locally, we always have the postcode of an eating place that we might visit. The thing about pubs that offer food is that they typically have a reasonably sized car park which can make life easier than having to find a car park adjacent to a restaurant. We walked down into the park and enjoyed our coffee on the park bench and were soon joined by our University of Birmingham friend. After we had chatted for a few minutes we were joined by our Seasoned World Traveller friend but then it started to spot with rain so we all repaired to the shade of a nearby tree which afforded us some respite. Then we had quite a discussion about the accuracy of blood pressure monitors and whether they should be deployed before or after taking blood pressure medication. All three of us males had been given somewhat differing modes of advice by our various surgeries and clinicians so we attempted to pool our knowledge and best practice. After all of this quasi-medical discussion, we walked slowly up the hill and prepared a salad for ourselves that was fairly easy to throw together. Then we had a quietish afternoon, knowing that we were going to attend our normal church service in the early evening.

According to Sky News, the government are shortly to intervene in the nation’s food habits. This is always a particularly tricky area for government because if they leave things to the untrammeled operation of the market (which is the natural default state for members of the Tory party) then we will be fed a diet high in salt, sugar and junk foods which are cheap to produce, profits are high and the nation’a health suffers dramatically (with increased incidences of diabetes, cancers and othet degenerative diseases) Intervene in the market, though, and the government’s critics will decry the operation of a ‘nanny state’ and the regulation of a market place which looks and feels somehow more ‘socialist’. A report due to be released on Monday contains recommendations to expand free school meals, impose a long-campaigned for salt and sugar tax, and introduce GP prescriptions for fruit and veg. At the same time, we will be urged to increase our consumption of ‘responsibly sourced venison’, increase the consumption of food from algae proteins, and encourage technology to help cattle produce less methane. This all sounds well and good but I suspect that some of the wilder recommendations (eating not just venison but ‘responsibly sourced venison’ however we are meant to ascertain that on the supermarket shelves) will be absolutely trashed by the Tory supporting ‘middle-brows’ of the Daily Mail and the Daily Express. Then we will be left with a policy which is high on aspirational details but low on any practical policies. All of this is happening at a time when most of the population are cutting back on food in order to fund sky-high energy bills and the temptations to fill oneself with cheap but junk food must be considerable for the poorest parts of the population.

In the Ukraine war, there is intense street fighting in the strategically important city of Severodonetsk. It looks as though the Ukrainians are rapidly running out of ammunition and the Russians are fighting in the only way that they seem to know how. It is reported that Moscow is using 1960s era 5.5-tonne anti-ship missiles against land targets. When employed in a ground attack role with a conventional warhead they are highly inaccurate and can therefore cause significant collateral damage and civilian casualties. The conventional military opinion at this stage in the war is that the Russians are likely to be successful in their policy of blasting their way into urban settlements but at the cost of many losses both to themselves and also to the Ukrainians. It may be that Russia is resorting to older technology because it is running hort of more modern and more precise missle systems. On the other hand, overwhelming and occupying a city is one thing, but holding on to it for any length of time is much more problematic and may take many more troops than Russia is prepared to commit.