Tuesday, 16th August, 2022

[Day 883]

I know that I am the creature of habit but nonetheless it is pleasant to drop into our ‘normal’ Tuesday morning routine. The weather is going to break today and we shall expect showers at random intervals throughout the day. But we had a fairly leisurely breakfast and then popped down into Waitrose by car so that we can pick up our copy of The Times and also bump into some of our Tuesday morning regulars. First of all we met up with Seasoned World Traveller and after my experiences with the phone provider yesterday, I managed to pass a few tips about the tariff that he needed to request after he had installed the SIM that I had ordered for him. Then, seated at one of the tables was our Knowledgable Gardener who used to come along on a monthly basis and do the heavier ‘trimming’ work in the garden before he was taken ill. I enquired about the progress that he had been making in his recovery and it was reassuring to know that he is being monitored quite regularly by various clinicians i.e. not just abandoned to his own devices. Then I started chatting with one of pre-pandemic acquaintances who we often meet on a Tuesday. Her husband had recently been admitted to long term residential care but it appears that both ‘partners’ to the couple are adjusting reasonably well to their changed circumstances. Finally, I was delighted to espy ‘Bromsgrove School Teacher’ who often used to freqent the Waitrose coffee bar in the pre-pandemic days. She and I were both teachers of politics and I had actually given her some of my politics textbooks in the hope that some of them might be useful either for some of her young scholars or as an addition to the school library. I have only seen her once or twice in the past couple of years so we had we had an enjoyable chat and ‘catching up’ today. Her baby which was pretty young in the pre-pandemic days is now a boistrous three-year old but was in pre-school this morning. I managed to pass on the bad news that if her child had got into the habit of waking every morning at about 5.00am and he was anything like my own son, then this early riding habit would probably persist right throughout his working life. So all in all, as last Tuesday, it was a conversation filled morning. I walked down to my Pilates class in slightly muggy conditions but when the class finished at 2.15, it was announced to the class that it had rained and was, in fact, sill raining. In practice, it was the lightest spattering of rain that could be imagined and I am sure that the water would probably evaporate again the minute it touched the sun-scorched earth. Elsewhere in the South and the Midlands, it may be that the long expected rain was more like the deluge that some of us have been hoping for but all the rain has done for us so far has been to add to a general feeling of humidity.

In the latest political news, it has been revealed that eleven Government whips have now come out collectively in favour of Liz Truss. The fact that this expression of support has come so very late in the day speaks more of the fact that MP’s are positioning themselves for jobs in a new administration. It could well be that the race is already both won’and ‘lost’ as most of the Conservative party members will already have submitted their votes and there is almost no way in which the enormous lead that Liz Truss has in the polls is likely to be reversed. There is quite a wicked story doing the rounds that Boris Johnson is convinced that Liz Truss will prove to be so incompetent in the job that it is only a matter of time before the Tories say ‘Come back, Boris! All is forgiven!’ The first part of this proposition is almost certainly true – but who knows whether Boris Johnson will ever worm his way back into the affections of MPs? Meanwhile, the Labour Party and Keir Starmer have put forward a policy to combat astronomical fuel bills and inflation at the same time by suggesting that the ‘cap’ on fuel prices should not be lifted in October. This policy will be expensive (in the tens of billions) and may even rival the costs of the furlough scheme but it is a policy which even meets the approval of three out of four Tory voters – will this prove to be a game changer? Certainly, it makes the policies of the two Tory leadership contenders seem a little anaemic, not to say indecisive. But the interesting thing about the Labour policy is that telling people that Labour believe they shouldn’t pay ‘a penny more’ for energy over the winter than the current cap – an average saving of £1,000 – is easy to understand and promote. Also, whilst some may ask for a more targeted approach, the point about a universal policy is that there are no administrative costs in applying complex rules as to who may or may not qualify which always creates anomalies.