Sunday, 19th February, 2023

[Day 1070]

Today being a Sunday, we enter into our Sunday morning routine which is to get ourselves up and showered and sitting in front of the Lorna Kuenssberg program by 9.00am. Today’s program revealed nothing particularly startling and Penny Mordant was evidently the face to go round the TV studios this mornimg. I do not know whether the Sky News and BBC studios are adjacent to each other but whoever is designated to speak for the Government, or the Conservative party, seems to pop up on one channel and then the other at lightning speed. Last night, Meg and I had an entertaining evening as after the church service we trooped into the Parish Hall to chat with other members of the congregation that we knew and also to have a word with the bishop who was visiting the parish. I was not at all sure what topic of conversation I could enter into with the bishop but in a moment of inspiration I told him that we had one son whose patron saint was St. Martin de Porres who was one of the first Latin American saints (although he was actually of mixed race being the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a woman of mixed African and Native descent.) Our son spent a year in a Mexican University, having been awarded an international scholarship before he attended his university course in this country. He informed us that the mothers of girls to whom he was particularly well disposed were always incredibly pleased that their daughters were friendly with our son because they assumed that someone whose patron saint was St Martin de Porres could only have the best of intentions towards their daughters. In any case, our Spanish friends used to inform us with a wry smile that illustrations of this saint who had to accept a lowly position as a cleaner in a monastery before he was accepted into the Dominican order in Lima, Peru always showed him with a sweeping brush in his hand. From this, there was always an assumption that any house with a devotional aid to St Martin who be kept free of mice. Whilst we were at the reception in the parish hall having a cup of afernoon tea with the bishop, Meg and were cajoled into being part of a rota (one week in four) to act as ‘meeters and greeters’ for the evening service on a Saturday, which we attend regularly. Evidently, we shall have to see how this works out.

This evening there is going to be a broadcast of ‘La Bohème‘ which is one of our favourite operas. We met up with our University of Birmingham friend in Waitrose coffee bar as we had agreed and then gave him a brief synopsis of the plot of the opera, as well as locating and playing a rendition of ‘Your tiny hand is frozen’ on our iPhone so that our friend could recognise it. Althpugh not a fan of opera, we told him at which point in the first Act this aria is likely to be sung so that he could tune into it and see if he enjoyed the rendition. We also got into an extended discussion of some classic films that our friend had seen (one about Saladin and story of the Crusades) as well as aspects of French culture. Our friend has a French conversation class once per week and I suggested several topics that might prove interesting, one being the term given to those who supported the Vichy government during WWII and also the famous film about Martin Guerre. He was a French peasant of the 16th century who was at the centre of a famous case of imposture. Several years after Martin Guerre had left his wife, child and village, a man claiming to be him appeared. He lived with Guerre’s wife and son for three years.The false Martin Guerre was eventually suspected of the impersonation. I thought that this might be an interesting film to attempt to track down and see as being a topic of conversation in the French class.

This afternoon, the media has been dominated by the discovery of a body in the River Wyre in Lancashire and there is a very high probability that it is the body of the missing woman, Nicola Bulley, which has attracted so much media attention since she seemed to have vanished without trace some three weeks ago. No formal identification has yet taken place but no doubt the story will drag on for several more days whilst formal procedures (identification, followed by a post-mortem) will have to be undertaken. When all of the media interest had subsided, which it surely will, Lancashire Police will still have some difficult questions to answer to a variety of bodies why they decided to release quite sensitive medical details into the public domain when such details did not seem to be relevant to any further searches. Many commentators are saying, and with justification, that analagous medical details would not be released if the missing person were to be a male rather than a female. Given that the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister have all jumped in to comment on the police procedures in this case, I would not be surprised if resignations or ‘early retirements’ will not ensue quite shortly.