Monday, 26th December, 2022

[Day 1015]

Well, we survived Christmas Day all right. As the results of most of terrestial TV were so poor (and for some indiscernible reason our television refused to let me have access to any programs over the net), we finished off on the Drama Channel watching ‘The 39 steps’ adventure film. Although we had seen this twice before, the plot is full of twists and turns and also worth a look even for the umpteenth time. Today, the sky was beautiful and clear but there was quite a sharp nip in the air. We collected our newspaper and then made for the park. Meg was feeling the cold somewhat so although we had prepared a hot drink for our elevenses, we did one circuit of the park and then retreated home in order to enjoy our comestibles in the comfort of our own home. Lunch today was very easy to prepare as I had a lot of vegetables cooked yesterday that just required a re-heating in the oven and we had the remains of the beef to work our way through. After lunch, I actually quite enjoyed one of the many black and white war films which the channels are wont to show at this time of year. This one was ‘Sink the Bismarck’ and it was quite an interesting watch. Much praised for its historical accuracy when it was made in 1960, it focussed as much on the background planning as it did the actual operations in the theatre of war. Several of the actors who featured in the film had actually seen service during the World War II. One thing, in particular, that struck me about the film was that at the moment of destruction of the Bismarck, there was no overt triumphalism either amongst the crew of the attaching British frigates nor in the backroom planners, directing the operations. The film also portrayed that the conflict was not without loss as HMS Hood, then the biggest British warship, was sunk in the early stages of the conflict. Also, I had not realised that aircraft carriers were deployed during WWII and they carried a big cumbersome biplane called the Swordfish which, nonetheless, proved quite effective in softening up the Bismarck before the warships moved in for the final kill.

Almost inevitably, when the days are short and the nights are still long, the festive period is still quite reliant upon the TV to provide the population with some entertainment. Tonight, though, is is going to be the first of the Royal Institution Christmas lectures aimed at teenagers but still of interest to the adult population. The series of three programmes are to be given by a forensic scientist so these might prove quite interesting given the advances that have taken place particularly in the fields of DNA analysis. The newspapers at this time of year are inevitably a little on the thin side but one particular feature in ‘The Times’ caught my eye. Readers had been asked to send in alternatives to the King’s message and the published contributions were hilarious. The ones that particularly caught my eye were the contributions from Larry T. Cat, the resident Downing Street moggie wth gems such as ‘That man and his dog had to go. They were loud, feckless and sometimes flatulent’ Other contributions were published from Paddington Bear, Dylan the Dog, Meghan Sussex and Vladimir Putin amongst others. There was also a fascinating article which also gave one pause for thought. There was an account of a British biotech firm which is attempting innonative new approaches in modern healthcare. They take as their starting point that often in medical science, one has a person has become sick then there is an attempt to explore what it is that is making them ill in the first place and then search for a cure or a remedy to combat the disease/illness. The approach of the biotech firm was to turn this paradigm on its head,as it were, by posing the question ‘What is it about those are who are long-lived or well into their old age that keeps them so fit?’ They raise the possibility that they are attempting to explore that perhaps some infection that they had acquired earier in their life had so tweaked their immune system that more serious illnesses, even including various cancers, can be repelled or mitigated? This appears to be an extremely interesting and novel approach and I wish the firm every success if it starts to nibble away at what might be said to constitute ‘the elixir of life’ There is also the paradox that some people lead particularly unhealthy life styles instead of diet and exercise and survive into ripe old age whilst yet others try to look after themselves but fall at an early age.

At this time of year, there are often ‘review of the year’ type programmes and Sky News, for one, is attempting this kind of analysis. There used to be a programme broadcast called ‘photograph of the year’ or something similar and month by month the photogapher who had taken a particularly iconic photo explained the circumstances that lay behind their fortune in being at the right place at the right time to capture the mood or story of the moment.