Assiduous readers of this blog might realise that this is ‘Blog No. 1,000’ which is about two and three quarters of a year’s worth of scribbling. I have never been a diary keeper as such but when I was in Madrid, I did write a daily bulletin (‘Carta de Madrid’ or ‘Letter from Madrid’ vaguely based upon the veteran broadcaster Alistair Cooke who used to write ‘Letter from America’ for a weekly broadcast on the BBC. I did a similar thing when I spent a month in Jakarta, Indonesia teaching IT on De Montfort University’s distance MBA program. Whether anybody ever read any of these documents I cannot say but as the years roll by, it can be reasonably interesting to remind oneself of the practical day-to-day concerns that you had probably decades ago. So perhaps the same will happen (or perhaps not) to this blog in the years to come.
Today being a Sunday, I get up early and make sure I am warmly attired before my walk down into town to pick up the Sunday newspaper. As I got out of the house, I checked that the couple of wreaths that we had commissioned from our friend down the road and which were delivered to the house the other day were securely in place in our porch. These are the only Christmas-like decorations that we have put up this year and some time in the next few days, I am going to make an excursion into our loft area to rescue the Christmas tree. We generally keep all of the Christmas stock in one place so that they should be quite easy to locate when the moment comes. When I returned from town, I settled down in front of the TV with a bowl of cereal to see what the politicians on the Laura Kuennsberg program have to say for themelves. When asked to justify why the Secretary of State refused to talk to the nursing union, due to go out on strike shortly, the response was to hide behind the mantra ‘It is for NHS Management to negotiate, not the Government’ which is sidestepping the issue that the Government of the day holds all of the purse strings which could be loosened if they were so inclined. By prior arrangement, we met two of our park friends in the Waitrose coffee bar – I think that we had decided that in this particularly cold spell, we were going to meet in the relative warmth and comfort of the coffee bar instead of shivering in the cold park. Naturally, we talked about last night’s football and then onto a ridiculous discussion about our little techniques in our day-to-day to save pennies (if not pounds)
After lunch, it was time to start thinking about the annual task of writing the Christmas cards. The first thing I had to do was to see if I had any of the sheets of labels of the requisite size and type and fortunately, we had enough in stock to run off this year’s supply of labels. Whilst I was at it, I ordered an extra supply of labels so that next year I will not have to beat about the bush but I will have the materials I want to hand. I also have a page of ‘news’ largely updating family nd friends about the changes in Meg’s health and finally I have yet another set of labels which extends the details on my normal address labels by showing a mobile number, web home page and blog addresses. So every card I write, particularly if I have not been in touch with people for a year, have an individual message as all as the three sets of labels mentioned above. I made a start on this quite large task because we really need to get cards into the postal system quite early on this week as we are away seeing friends the whole of Tuesday and then off to Yorkshire the first thing on Wednesday morning (weather permitting) The first tranche of cards did not go particularly well as people had moved and I did not have an up-to-date address or in the case of Meg’s uncle died. Incidentally, it is always quite a poignant moment when you come to the actual task of crossing people off your Christmas card because they have died in the last year – this does tend to happen once or twice a year at this stage in our lives.
A fairly terrible accident seems to have occurred in a local lake in Solihull. Although reports are still emerging, it looks as though people were ‘playing’ on the ice on a local lake and the ice, which could not have been very thick, had given way and several people were dumped into the freezing cold water. The emergency services have pulled various people out of the water and they required medical attention and some are reported to be in a ‘critical condition’ but whether there any fatalities at this stage has not been reported. By the way, it seems to have been a particularly foolhardy thing to do to skate on the ice which could only be of sufficient thickness to sustain people’s weight if it had been below freezing temperature for several days now.