Sunday, 15th January, 2023

[Day 1035]

Today being a Sunday, I got up reasonably early and ready for my walk alone down into town to collect our Sunday newspaper. But I had a special reason for looking forward to this morning as I was going to test out out the CD player for which I had constructed a special little carrying case attached to a spare belt. So I put in the two AA batteries that are needed to make it truly portable and set off on my journey. The reviews that I had read of this particular piece of kit ranged all the way from ‘Brilliant’ to ‘The worst thing I have ever bought’ but with many more favourable than unfavourable reviews. One of the more negative reviews opined that the volume of the player did not drown out the noise of passing cars and this quite a bad fault. But with my rather limited experience of listening to music on the go, the very last thing that a sensible pedestrian needs to have is a unit that drowns out sounds of an approaching car and I would have thought that this is a recipe for a disaster in the making if pedestrians were to cross road oblivious to the sound of an oncoming car. Anyway, I found that the player worked beautifully and its claims to be ‘jog proof’ were fully justified as it dod not skip or miss a beat. I thoroughly enjoyed Brahm’s ‘A German Requiem‘ which is not really similar to the traditional requiem which follows the format of the liturgical mass for the dead. In the case of ‘A German Requiem‘, the text is written in German and draws from texts from a Lutheran Bible and does not follow the more usual format of a requiem at all. In the main, though, I shall deploy this unit by by bedside attached to a DC power supply and loaded with a favourite CD for when I need it. This morning we did have a plan to meet up again with our University of Birmingham friend in Waitrose, but we got a text before we set off saying that he could not make it this morning. So being all prepared to go somewhere, we made for the Lickey Visitors centre to avail ourselves of a little walk. This was not a bad idea in itself but being a fine day at about 11.00am on a Sunday, the car parks were full to bursting and we only manged to get parked, afer some peregrinations, when another car conveniently left a space for us. So we decided that this would be a reasonably place to visit (and the large cafe adjacent to it) but only on a nice quiet day.

We lunched on some chicken thighs which I had previously seared in some hot oil and then cooked in the oven supplemnted with a tin of chicken soup and some white sauce. When we have a meal of chicken thighs like this, we always cook them ‘whole’ but then remove the leg bone and the fatty skin before we dish it up. Although the skin can be delicious, I prefer to keep our meal relatively fat-free and today, the meat seemed full of flavour so I will do the remainder of them tomorrow. I had also bought some sprouts but after a parboil, I popped them into the oven with a drizzle of cooking oil and some poured-over honey to make them a little less ‘sprout like’ and these, too, fulfilled their potential. Tomorrow I intend to experiment with a bottle of some honey mustard which I bought on spec to tart up a chicken meal somewhat.

Although not receiving a great deal of publicity, I was intrigued to come across the following. A former Conservative minister has quit the party and thrown her support behind Sir Keir Starmer’s ‘competent political leadership’. Claire Perry O’Neill, who was part of Theresa May’s cabinet and an MP between 2010-2019, said the Tories are too ‘beholden by ideology and self-obsession’ to deliver the change the country needs. I suppose the story has not received much publicity as it did not come from a serving cabinet member or even an MP. But is is an interesting reflection of the fact that the Labour Party has a large lead in the opinion polls and many Tories are now resigned to the fact that there is no way in which the government can ever claw its way back sufficiently to win the next election which must take place within the next 18-24 months. I find her comments interesting in that the Conservative party has not, until recently, been an especially ideological party and you could say had at their heart a type of pragmatic managerialism. But with various sensible MPs being driven out of the party by Boris Johnson and their place being taken by those of a proven Brexit purity, the present Conservative government seems to be a UKIP party in all but name, having adopted the hardest of all hard Brexits. Research by the Centre for European Reform, a think tank, estimates that over the 18 months to June 2022, UK goods trade is 7% lower than it would have been had Britain remained in the European Union. Investment is 11% weaker and GDP is 5.5% smaller than it would have been, costing the economy £40 billion ($48.4 billion) in tax revenues annually.