Tuesday, 10th January, 2023

[Day 1030]

Last night, Meg and I had been invited out to have some ‘nibbles’ with our Catholic friends who live down the road and it turned out to be quite a gathering all in all. We have three sets of friends who live in close proximity to each other and another acquaintance who lives half way down the Kidderminster Road and with whom I have often discussed all things relating to Honda (principally cars and lawn mowers) So we formed a jolly little group and our hosts had laid on the most wonderful spread for us – I joked with her that if this was nibbles, I did not know what a full scale banquet would look like. So we spent a wonderful three hours with good company, good food and good drink – it was the kind of evening to which one looks back with a glow of pleasure. This morning we breakfasted as normal and having picked up our newspaper went for our regular Tuesday morning Waitrose coffee bar treat. Whilst we were there, we were soon joined by one of our pre-pandemic friends who is a Tuesday morning regular and finished off having a fascinating conversation with her. In the course of our conversation, it transpired that we both have a love of Brahm’s ‘German Requiem’ and then our friend told us some fascinating things about her own musical history. She had been part of a regular choir in Kidderminster until only few years ago but told us an interesting story about her son who had a career as a music editor with Decca. When Decca was winding up that side of the music business some years ago, her son had acquired a fair quantity of classical CDs which found their way into the possession of his mother i.e. our friend. She also let slip a fascinating story about her brother who served in Germany at the end of WWII – presumably BAOR (British Army of the Rhine) There her brother was friendly with a young Welshman who had a very good singing voice and to to whom he gave every encouragement to have some professional training and subsequently to pursue a singing year. This young Welshman was Geraint (later, of course) Sir Geraint Evans who was one of the most outstanding singers and teachers of his generation. I vividly remember a master class that he gave to young singers of one of classic Mozart operas – probably Don Giovanni but I do not remember exactly which opera it was. On our way out of Waitrose today, we met with a couple of ‘park’ friends with whom we often used to chat when they busy exercising their dog. We have not coincided for several weeks now as our park walks have diminished a bit from the everyday affair that they used to be. But we had an interesting little chat and a joke or so – so much that the Waitrose staff knew that we were back in town (and actually quite liked the sound of people laughing and enjoying themselves in the vicinity of the cafe as they reckon it reminds them of the pre-pandemic times and is good for business).

Today is my regular Pilates day which is only one hour in the whole week, I know, but one that I very rarely miss. Our instructor is quite gentle with us and once or twice in a six weekly session we have the luxury of a complete session of relaxation for the last five minutes. I generally succeed in almost falling completely asleep but a just a little of my brain keeps watch over the rest of me so when the five minutes is up, I know it is time for the session to end. The receptionists in the centre where the Pilates session is held let me know how much they enjoyed the damson gin so kindly provided by Fr. Christmas at the last Pilates session before Christmas and word has been passed down the line that at least one of my Pilates class members who has moved to a different day would quite appreciate some gin which she always used to get each year. So there are now at least two extra people who have let me know how much the gin is apprciated so I may always have a bottle or so kept ‘spare’ in my rucksack in case I happen to bump into people who would appreciate it.

The ambulance workers are due to strike tomorrow and some talks are proceeding in the HQ of the TUC to have some degree of coordination of all of the public sector strikes. This might mean that we are heading for a general strike in all but name. Meanwhile the Government is pressing ahead with legislation to ensure minimum levels of service agreemnt, in effect denying the ability to strike of certain groups of workers. William Rees-Mogg was interviewed in the House of Commons but refused to admit the proposed legislation would lead to nurses, ambulance workers and junior doctors getting the sack which is the whole point of the sanctions that lie behind the legislation. This legislation may never see the light of day but ‘timing is everything’ so it is pretty evident that the government is trying fairly crude tactics to bully the striking workers into submission which is only likely to inflame the situation and not bring it to an early end.