Monday, 24th April, 2023

[Day 1134]

Today dawned somewhat wet and gloomy but it could be that some better weather will be with us in a few days. After we had breakfasted, Meg and I made a journey along the High Street because we needed to pay a brief visit to the bank and we also, en route, collected one or two stationery items that I need. Then we popped into Waitrose to buy some provisions for our little tea party this afternoon. After we had bought a basket of goodies one of the shop assistants well-known to us pressed a bunch of roses into our hands to help to make the party go well (if there is any doubt why we continue to shop in Waitrose, perhaps all is now explained). When Meg and I got home, we treated ourselves to a big bowl of tomato soup, anticipating that we might be chomping on some tea-time goodies half way through the afternoon. I spent the latter part of the morning preparing some dainty little sandwiches (beef, tuna, cheese) that I made the centrepiece of our tea-time offerings, supplemented by some cake, biscuits and other treats. Then our friends arrived just after 3.00pm as arranged. We had a very interesting afternoon, as it turned out. The daughter of our friends had lived both in Spain and also in Mexico – as our son had spent a year’s scholarship in Mexico before he went to university in the UK, we had a lot to chat about. We explained how a series of accidents had, in essence, led to the interests that Meg and I have in all things Hispanic and a couple of hours seemed to speed by so rapidly. It may well be that we will have further meetings in our garden if and when the weather improves.

The news is still dominated by the terrible conflict in the Sudan which seems to be being torn apart. It appears that the French, Germans, Italians and Spanish have all managed to evacuate all of of their citizens but there are many, many British citizens in the Sudan and they number about 4,000. The official government advice is for them to ‘stay indoors’ as the streets are so unsafe which is understandable but the government is tight-lipped about whether there are plans afoot to try a mass evacuation. One can see a disaster of Afghanistan type proportions starting to build up here. If the government do attempt a mass evacuation, it will logistically be incredibly difficult and no doubt many will be left behind to fend for themselves. On the other hand, to do nothing would appear to be the most enormous dereliction of duty by a state towards its own citizens and one is left with a feeling that not for the first time, the Foreign Office will be shown to be completely negligent.

The Coronation of King Charles III is to take place on Saturday, May 6th and there is an increasing momentum of interest in this event. It looks as though much of the population will follow the events of the day in TV but there are some parties and communal events planned around the day of the Coronation itself. Speaking for ourselves, some of our close friends who live down the Kidderminster Road are planning a Coronation party for friends and neighbours, probably out in their garden if the weather is as fine as the weather forecasters seem to think that it might well be. To some extent, this is quite a communal event because we are sharing the costs of all of the food and will be responsible for bringing along some of our favourite tipples. Today, I called in at our neighbour’s house to the way back from town to make sure I was up-to-date on some of the final arrangements for this get together. Almost inevitably, my mind goes back to the events surrounding the coronation of the late Queen in 1953 when I was only eight years old. In those days, only 14% of the population had a TV set in 1952 and this proportion increased very rapidly to 21% in 1953. But as these bald statistics show, four out of every five people did not have a TV but I imagine that lots of family, friends and neigbours invited others inside their houses to watch on little 14″ black and white sets. My own family circumstances were such, at that time, that I think I probably listened to the Coronation service on our family radio. My memories at the time were that at school we seemed to spend an awful lot of our time colouring in cardboard cutouts of the coronation coaches and the uniforms of some of the various ceremonial guards in the procession. But about a week or so afterwards, all of the schools were taken to the cinema so that we could then see all of the glories of the coronation in full colour. Also announced on Coronation Day was the news that Everest had been climbed for the first time by Tensing and Hillary. A film was also shown called ‘the Conquest of Everest’ so this made our cinema visit doubly exciting. Each child was also given a special Coronation Mug and we used ours as a daily piece of crockery for years into the future. I am sure that many of these coronation mugs, of which there must have been millions, are lingering at the back of some kitchen cupboards but I must admit that I have not actually seen one for a long time.