Sunday, 4th December, 2022

[Day 993]

It really was quite bitterly cold when I got up this morning, but nonetheless I thought I still persist in my usal routine of walking down early to collect the Sunday newspaper. I did take the precaution of wearing at least two jumpers and an extra pair of socks and I put on my boots rather than my usual walking shoes. When I got back, it was time for the Laura Kuennsberg politics show which was focused almost entirely on the ‘Online Safety Bill’ which is being introduced back into Parliament tomorrow, having been several years in the drafting. The bill is likely to have a rocky passage through both the Commons and the Lords because some of its provisions smack of censorship and are bitterly opposed by the libertarian lobby whilst others feel that provisions that have been dropped to make internet companies responsible for ‘harmful but not illegal’ have certainly weakened the bill as a whole. So, we shall have to see how this bill progresses and whether it will prove to be a toothless tiger.

Meg stayed in bed whilst I was getting the newspapers this morning and slept in somewhat so the rest of our morning was a bit delayed. Whilst Meg was eating her breakfast in front of the TV, I was busy trying to stitch together some music .mp3 files into a composite whole. I had prevously downloaded some bits of Mozart piano sonatas which I assumed would play as a group once I had the files highlighted and put in the direction of the Mac’s Music Player but for some reason, the list of files stopped playing after the first. I tried two online resources that advertised that they would ‘stitch’ together .mp3 files into a composite whole and both of these appeared to fail (i.e. they did produce a composite file which did not actually play). But my efforts were rewarded with the third source that I chose so I now have achieved what I wanted, which was a continuous play of the sonatas. We then pressed ahead with cooking the Sunday lunch of gammon, cavolo nero and baked potato and settled down for what I thought might be quite an entertaining afternoon. I had seen a 1940’s film advertised which was ‘The Life and Times of Colonel Blimp‘ and we thought that this might be quite entertaining – in the event, it was completely ‘missable’ and we abandoned the TV altogether and had a search for some films tht we could watch during the afternoon. I should add that most of the population are in effect waiting for the England v. Senegal match which starts at 7.00pm this evening (and where I have some foreboundings that England might be dumped out by a more innovative style of play)

This afternoon, we have been watching some clips from the ‘Yes, Prime Minister‘ series which is still funny despite being made years ago. There is a story that many of the episodes which are the most memorable for this series have more than element of truth about them. Apparently Marcia Williams, later Lady Falkender and another policy wonk whose name I have forgotten used to meet with the scriptwriters over a liquid lunch each Monday morning. The guts of the story having been communicated to the scriptwriters, they then wove a story around them and the rest is history. One of the most famous, of course, is when there was a visit to a middle eastern country where alcohol was banned – but the civil servants kept a secret supply of ‘hooch’ hidden away in the outer office. When the occasion demanded, they would burst in on the British minister explaining that the Russian Ambassador wanted an urgent interview – a Mr. Smirnoff. Another favourite was to say that an aide-de-camp sought an urgent interview with the Prime Minister and when asked about his name, the PM was told that a Mr. Walker, a Mr. Johnny Walker (or additionally, A Mr. Gordon) was available outside the office.

We learn from the weather forecasters that there is going to be a sharp drop in the temperature next week with cold blasts of about -8 degrees in the middle of the week. I must say that I am not looking forward to this with a great deal of enthusiasm but if the temperature falls to this low level, then it might be too cold to snow which is a sort of bonus. Of course, we have had cold winters before and I remember 1963 because at that time I was travelling on a scooter between Leeds and Boston Spa (near Wetherby) and came off my bike almost everyday. In fact, one got quite used to sliding down the road and then picking up the pieces and proceeding on my way. The first house that Meg and I bought was a terrace house in Fallowfield, Manchester and that had no central heating but we did have a sort of coke stove in the kitchen downstairs and, I think, a couple of gas fires downstairs. The upstairs bedrooms had no central heating at all but we did have a stone hot bottle which regularly dropped out of bed in the middle of the night, waking us both up.