Wednesday, 22nd February, 2023

[Day 1073]

Our plans for the day had to alter somewhat after we received a text from our Italian friend down the road who was due to come around mid-morning for a long-delayed coffee. But our friend had got a very bad cold and (thoughtfully) did not want to come into the house and infect us so we had to devise a Plan 'B'. The weather was rather inclement today with rain and a blustery wind and we did not really fancy a walk in the park. So on the recommendation of our domestic help, we sought out a new hardware store on the outskirts of Droitwich some seven or so miles distant where we thought we might be able to purchase the items that I was unsuccessfully looking for the other day. As this store was bigger than its sister store in Bromsgrove, we assumed that it might have in stock what we were looking for. But Sod's Law seemed to be in operation as they were restocking parts of the store and what we were were looking for, they did not appear to have in stock anyway. So it turned into one of those shopping expeditions in which one says to oneself that it may be useful whilst we were there to buy x,y, and z so our trip out was not entirely wasted but not particularly successful either. I busied myself sorting out some audio when I got home and then we made ourselves a curry from leftovers. Neither of us was particularly hungry but we had a satisfying meal of some chicken in its sauce prepared the other day and served on a bed of rice with some petit pois. I think I might apply for a job as a leader on the 'I' newspaper. My reason for saying this is that yesterday's blog echoed the 'I' front page when I suggested that Rishi Sunak should call the bluff of the hardline Brexiteers in the so-called 'European Research Group' and first sack them and then withdraw the whip (in effect, throwing them out of the Conservative party) if they subsequently do not support the government. One or two of the ministers who were threatening rebellion and resignaton might have discerned the way the wind was blowing because although they are fighting their corner hard, they are now starting to intimate that they might not push their opposition to the point of resignation after all. The important thing about such scenarios is that nobody really knows how much 'power' they have or do not have until it is put to the test - rather analogous to putting oneself on the labour market and to seeing if you are hired or not. Once the bluff is called of some of the extreme Brexiteers, it may well be that they are only 'paper tigers' as they contemplate no ministerial job, losing their MP's salary and effectively being out of power for many a year once the next election is won and then lost. Although he may not like doing it, Rishi Sunak can always face down the rebels and rely upon the votes of the opposition parties to keep the Northern Ireand protocol more or less intact after the recently negotiated refinement are put into effect. This year I thought it might be quite useful to announce to the world that I have made several resolutions for the six week period of Lent, when traditionally one does without one or more of life's comforts. This year, I have decided and announced, that I intend to give up the following things for Lent. The list includes fast cars, loose women, drinking and gambling. To this list I have also added chocolate as well to give my Lenten abstinence a bit more bite, as it were. I have often thought, with a wry inward smile, that if you look at both Islam and Christianity the periods of both Ramadan and of Lent just happens to coincide with the times of year when foodstuffs are at a natural shortage before the newly sown crops of the current year mature. So periods of necessity when food is short are clothed in a religious precept to cut down on one's normal intake of food and drink - which is very convenient when you come to think of it. The war in Ukraine is now approaching its first anniversary - hence Joe Biden made his clandestine trip to Kyiv and Putin has been talking to a flag waving Russian audience. Incidentally, some commentators are now saying that Joe Biden the veterate politicin has actually 'played a blinder' and is successfully refuting many of the more outlandish claims being made about Nato by the Russian leader. But I must feel that I always feel a shudder whenever I see flagwaving cheering crowds showing their adulation for a 'strong' leader. Evidently one is reminded of rallies during the Nazi era but one is also reminde of it during American party conventions when a presidential candidate is chosen. Even 'Last night at the Proms' which I used to enjoy leaves me feeling uneasy in these post-Brexit days. The BBC for its part has to be incredibly careful how it manages the filming of such events and tries to dilute the evident nationalism by focussing cameras on flags other than the Union Jack.