Saturday, 5th November, 2022

[Day 964]

It was just as well that we got the lawns cut and the mower put away yesterday because today was gloomy and overcast with the occasional shower. We had a provisional arrangement to meet with our University of Birmingham friend in the park today but after a swift telephone call between us, we both concluded that Waitrose coffee bar was a far better place in which to meet and so we did. After we had said our farewells to each other, Meg and I had a brief saunter along the High Street in which we met a couple of our Kidderminster Road friends who were in generally good heart, except that that the local authority had ordered them to cut back some of the conifers fronting their garden on the basis that they were occluding the pavement. They were not best pleased about this as, in strict legal theory, their conifers did extend across the line adjudged to be the pavement border but in no ways could the vegetation be said to be an obstruction. I wondered to myself if an envious or malicious neighbour had telephoned the council to lodge a complaint but we shall never know. Just to demonstrate how we are entering a sort of ‘silly’ season, I saw in my local supermarket when I went shopping on Thursday an advent calendar for dogs – no doubt there is a big pent-up demand for this amongst the barking mad. For their part, ClassicFM are putting on a special service of quiet and contemplative music this evening so that household pets are not unduly distressed by the sound of fireworks going off this evening (perhaps) They even have listeners emailing in with stories of how calming the ClassicFM policy has been in the past at bringing sanity to their pets but methinks that they might have a pruduction assistant in one of their back rooms busy composing emails (much in the same way that it is said that people fake but glowing reviews of products on Amazon).

By this morning’s post, the CD arrived of ‘Rigoletto‘ which I had ordered from Ebay at the incredible price of £2.99. But when I totted up the cost of the postage of the chap who had sold it to me, it had cost the sender about £2.55 so he only made about 45p on the deal. The CD,though, was wonderful and I enjoyed listening to it whilst I prepared our elevenses for later on in the day. After we had lunch, we entertained ourself with the Rugby League quarter-finals in which England were playing Papua New Guinea, often abbreviated to PNG. In theory, this should have been a very close contest but in practice the English team through some excellent play absolutely ran away with the first half so I did not bother with watching the second half. I decided to do some soup ready for when we return from church later on this evening – fortunately, I already had some root vegetables prepared and already frozen in the freezer, so it was qute a simple job to fry up some onions and then put the parboiled vegetables into the soupmaker.

The enquiry into COVID-19 and the nation’s preparedness for it hs just opened – no doubt this will take months and perhaps evn a year or so. What, though, is interesting is that the enquiry has asked to see Boris Johnson’s WhatsApp correspondence. If our memories stretch back that far, Boris Johnson did not even bother to attend the first COBRA briefings which was examining the seriousness of the pandemic shortly to hit the country and this delay may well have cost hundreds or even thouands of lives. A more contemporary narrative is that Johnson got the pandemic ‘sorted’ and takes massive credit for getting the vaccine programme under way. One has to wonder whether more comprehensive and balanced judgements may hold sway once the enquiry report is published but an awful lot of water will have flowed under the bridge by then and the public may not be particularly interested in attributing praise or blame to Johnson for his role in the pandemic.

Tonight is Bonfire Night but there is not much evidence of celebrations anywhere. If the weather is clear, then this is generally an occasion when youngish children can enjoy a bonfire and some fireworks but tonight is wet and squally. Furthermore, I suspect that family finances are a little too stretched to let some of them go up in a puff of smoke. There were a few fireworks last night when the weather was better and some families may be hoping for better weather tomorrow. But as a sign of the times, Waitrose were selling their pumpkin carving kits marked down to 15p a throw. In the little village where I lived in Yorkshire from the ages of 9-14, the whole village contributed towards the communal bonfire whilst the menfolk brought along (and drank) beer whilst women were expected to povide some homemade parkin (sticky gingerbread?) We kids had a fantastic time seeing if we could trace where the rocket staves had landed once they had ‘whooshed’into the sky.