Tuesday is a day to which Meg and I increasingly look forward as it is the day upon which we traditionally meet with a clutch of our pre-pandemic friends in the Waitrose coffee bar. The day was one of those in which showers were quite frequent and there was quite a lot of rain ‘in the air’ but nonetheless, having picked up our newspaper, we made it to Waitrose by before 10.30am which is the time at which we conventionally meet. When we first arrived, I had a few political discussions with Seasoned World Traveller who is often there on a Tuesday morning together with our previous gardening guru. After that, the three old ladies plus Meg and myself formed a jolly little group – the Waitrose staff themselves said how much they enjoyed hearing the gaggle of voices because it reminded them a little of the pre-pandemic days. I took the opportunity to get some much needed supplies from the supermarket as I was there anyway including some cakes that I intend to share with others and consume on Friday. Once we got home, I changed into my Pilates track-suit trousers and attended my normal weekly Pilates session, after which I walked home and we had lunch. Walking home was quite an interesting experience as it was quite bright and sunny but nonetheless many leaves were falling off the trees as though it were later in the autumn. So we had the combination of a late summer’s day sunshine but with the leaf-fall associated with much later in the year. Once I get home after my Pilates session, we have a lunch traditional to us for a Tuesday of haddock fish cakes (warming in the oven whilst I am out) accompanied by those veg which can be quickly microwaved and only take a few minutes to prepare.
This afternoon the news, and the terrestial media, is dominated by the transfer of power as Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street for the last time, Boris Johnson flies north to Balmoral to see the Queen and formally tender his resignation, Liz Truss flies a little later in a separate jet to Balmoral to formally ‘kiss the hands of the monarch’ and to be asked to form a new government and finally, Liz Truss flies back to London destined for Downing Street in a separate jet. Apparently Boris Johnson and Liz Truss have to fly on separate jets for ‘security reasons’ but the unworthy thought occurred to me that if they on the same jet and it were to crash, then we could simultaneously get rid of two troublesome politicians at once. One suspects though that the reasons are slightly more prosaic than this – the fact that an ex and an incoming Prime Minister might be on the same flight might give rise to friction or even fisticuffs between the two. Then, a rather farcical staging of events took pace. When there is a transfer of power, traditionally the incoming Prime Minister is photographed on the steps of 10 Downing Street and then has to be seen to be entering the building (only through the front door but not through the back door) There were several MPs and anticipated cabinet mnisters huddled around the door of No. 10 but as the car bearing Liz Truss approached, there was a tremendous and fierce shower. To those who like to stage manage these events, it would have been unthinkable to have a symbolism of Liz Truss arriving in the pouring rain and, even worse, giving her first speech in the pouring rain. So the umbrellas went up and the lectern for the PM’s address was adorned with a black plastic sack in the vain attempt to keep it dry. Meanwhile the Liz Truss limousine kept circulating around the London streets until the worst of the shower had passed by so that the occasion of Liz Truss symbolically entering Downing Street was not accompanied by a shower of rain – the symbolism might have been prophetic. Then we had the normal incomer’s speech, but shorn of rhetoric with the first priority being not to do anything about the rocketing costs of living but to ‘grow the economy with tax cuts’ If it could be shown that the super-rich funnel tax cuts into productive investment, then this argument might carry some weight. But the weight of evidence, and of history, is that such tax funds tend to be squirrelled away into expensive consumption goods (country houses, yachts, tax havens) and goes nowhere the deprived communities that desperately need the inward investment.
Now for some slightly more cheerful news. When I was at work in the University of Winchester, many moons ago, a group of five of us had birthdays in May so we decided to have a collective birthday meal. Since then, we formed a group called ‘The Old Fogies’ and we used to meet at least twice a year to have a chat about how good things were when we ran them! But the pandemic has rather attenuated all of that but now there is a strong feeling that we should get together again. We are just in the process of trying to coordinate dates when all or most of us can meet so, hopefully, in a few weeks time we can all meet again for a meal in Winchester and renew old friendships. Most of us are saying that we cannot wait, so hopefully, we are sitting by our email boxes to see what emerges.