Thursday, 30th March, 2023

[Day 1109]

Thursday is my regular supermarket shopping day so I was happy to liberate some money fron an ATM before I go to my regular supermarket before it opened its doors at 8.00am. Today seemed a heavier shop up for one reason or another but then it was a case of picking up our newspaper and trekking home. Here I cooked breakfast for Meg and myself and then started the unpacking process which seemed to go on for ever with five bags of shopping. It always amazes me that two little people can consume so much over the course of a week although we tend on the abstemious side. Meg and I had intended a little trip out today but thought we would wait until we got the shopping unpacked and ourselves all showered for the day before we made a final decision. Eventually, we just had a quiet morning in the house but I did engage in doing a long delayed job which was to gut a pile of newspaprs for some interesting articles so that we could have a throw out of old newspapers and a tidy up before our domestic help arrives in the morning. We lunched on the remainder of the beef left over from the weekend, together with a baked potato and some ‘primo’ cabbage. We thought that the weather looked as though it might improve in the afternoon so we aimed to get our post-prandial tea out of the way before we ventured out this afternoon.

This morning as I was shopping, I bought a greetings card with no message inside with the intention of writing a ‘welcome home’ message inside which would then be dropped into our new Asian neighbours who have spent the last couple of months back in India. The minute they had returned, they were having heir inherited kitchen ripped out and a new one installed. Meg and I thought we would try and undertake a riverside walk at the Webbs garden centre just down the road and would drop the card off at our neighbours on the way out. After we had rung the doorbell we were warmly invited inside so we quickly abandoned our initial plans and accepted the offer of a cup of tea and a biscuit and a chat. They told us of some of their interesting visits within India – the knowledge that we have of India is confined to what we have gleaned from various novels like Passage to India and Midnight’s Children as well as films and TV series such as Gandhi and Jewel in the Crown. Of course, our knowledge base is likely to be incredibly fragmentary based upon our reading and viewing history plus litle fragments of what we may have learned at school. In primary school in the 1950’s we were told about the ‘Black Hole of Calcutta’ which must have been an incredibly partial and one-sided account of history. The English are not very good at revealing past atrocities (the Amritsar massacre come to mind) and when we taught about the ‘Black Hole of Calcutta’ we were not informed of the antecedents for which the ‘Black Hole’ was a reprisal. I wonder if modern curricula are much better at explaining these darker periods of our colonial history but I have my doubts. In my teaching days, when the opportunity arose, I asked students if they had ever heard of the (now infamous) Triangular Trade. I don’t think that any of the students that I taught had ever heard of this so I explained how the British used to export manufactured goods even including railways to the West coast of Africa, then of slaves from here to the West Indies and finally sugar and molasses back to Britain. This, of course, is why sweet making manufacture was located in Liverpool as supplies of raw sugar were transported across the Atlantic. It goes without saying, of course, that the British made a profit on every leg of the triangular trade. However, it is true to say that towns such as Bristol in particular as well as Liverpool are coming to terms with the uncomfortable fact that a lot of the prosperity that they had once enjoyed were a direct consequence of the slave trade.

Meg and I received our notification the other day that we had postal votes for use in the forthcoming local elections. Normally, it is said that performance in local elections is no real guide to what would happen in a general elction. But this time around, it is a little different as we know that a general election has to be fought by the end of 2023. There is plenty at stake for both sides. For the Labour party, the local elections may well be a big springboard for an eventual push towards a general election campaign. For the Tories, it will be an opportunity to judge whether Rishi Sunak is actually turning the Conservative vote around after the traumas of the Johnson and Truss regimes. The interesting question here is one of momentum and the ability of local elections to motivate one side towards further campaigns or to dishearten the other side to campaign in a general election. It can be difficult to campaign wholeheartedly for a party if the local party has just been trashed in the local polls.