Thursday, 8th December,2022

[Day 997]

Today was a really cold day with temperatures at the start of the day some way below freezing. It was a day when before I went shopping, I had to engage in the really cold weather routine of pouring a watering can full of warmish water over the car windows to melt the ice and then driving off quite quickly before the water has a chance to freeze again. I got to my local supermarket a few minutes before it opened and then did a more or less routine shop conscious of the fact that next week is going to be a little forshortened as we are to see our friends on Tuesday and depart for Harrogate on Wednesday next for a little pre-Christmas break. Once breakfast had been eaten and the shopping put away, we prepared our elevenses and then made a trip to the park as things have intervened in the last day or so to interrupt our normal pattern of walks. It was particularly cold out in the park today but there were clear blue skies and hardly any wind and we made our way to our normal bench. For the first time ever, we had to spend some time removing ice from the bench before we could dry it off and then proceed to (eventually) sit down. The minute we had finished our elevenses, we were glad to retreat back to the car and then decided to drop by some of our church friends who had kindly supplied us with a couple of wreaths for our front porch. We were delighted to see them because, apart from actually paying for the wreaths, we had not actually seen them for a week or so and so we were delighted to catch up with some news. We exchanged quick updates about our respective plans for the Christmas period and we mentioned the fact that we were due for a short break but promised each other we would get together once we had got our immediate commitments out of the way.

The media this afternoon hs been dominatd by the sentencing (broadcast live in this country) of former US spy Anne Sacoolas. She has been sentenced to eight months imprisonment suspended for 12 months for causing the death of teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn by careless driving. Whether she was a spy’ or not is unclear but she was certainly the wife of an American CIA officer who was working on an airforce base in Northamptonshire in 2019. The facts, which are not disputed, is that the American woman drove out of the base and immediately started driving on the wrong side of the road – shortly there was an encounter with a young British morotcyclist who died of his injuries. Mrs Scoolas seemed to be granted immediate employment status by the US base and she then fled the country back to the USA within a day, claiming diplomatic immunity. The American system is that very, very rarely if ever, does the USA allow its citizens to be extradited in order to be charged. So Americans do not convicted of any crimes that are committed abroad and Mrs. Sacoolas refuses to return voluntarily to the UK, even though she admitted her guilt. After protacted legal wrangling, she was charged in a UK court and appeared by videolink from the United States where she was received a suspended prison sentence. We have come to expect this lack of symmetry in the relationships of USA with the rest of the world – the Americans cannot conceive of any of their citizens, however guilty, being extradited and then interred in a foreign gaol. So much for the special relationship! What was particularly galling was that after the video appearance, Sky News reporters tried to question Mrs Scoolas and her lawyer to which the galling response after the admited manslaughter of an innocent UK citizen through dangerous driving was to reply ‘Have a nice day’. No wonder the British family of the young man who was killed are absolutely incensed.

The country as a whole seems to be in a parlous state as there are strikes threaned wherever one looks. There seems to have been ongoing train strikes for months now with many more planned over Christmas. Of much more concern to the general public are the planned strikes by the ambulance service which would mean that if an elderly person were to sustain a fall at home, no ambulance would be available. However, a suspected heart attack and stroke victims could still request, and perhaps receive an ambulance service. Nurses on the NHS have voted to go on strike as have border control staff at our ports and airports. Trying to avoid a miserable Christmas could land you with an even more miserable Christmas stuck in an airport with massive queues and cancelled flights. The root of the problem is that for years and years, public service workers have received pay increases less than the cost of living (and therefore real wages have been cut) This year, on top of these cuts, they have been threatened with an even more savage cut as inflation hits anout 10%-111% and the government are trying to offer about 4%. Public sympathy has been mostly with the striking workers but thus may soon dissipate as the strikes bite really hard.