Tuesday, 30th May, 2023

[Day 1170]

Today is normally my Pilates day but we have a week ‘off’ this week as my Pilates teacher is taking a half term break as the Bank Holiday was on Monday. So Meg and I made for Waitrose where we met up with our normal three Tuesday friends – the staff have learnt to look out for us on a Tuesday. One of the long established staff told us that one of the staff who we have known for the last six years is leaving today as she is going to work in a branch much nearer to her own home. Naturally, we are sorry to see her go as she has been a good friend to us over the years but we have to get used to times changing. One of our number was going to go to a concert in the nearby Bromsgrove (public) school and she told us that she made a regular donation to the school after which they gave her concert tickets at a special price. The season is fast approaching, now that June is almost upon is, for the Bromsgrove festival. Certainly the large Anglican church which dominates the town (on a hill overlooking it) is always host to a good concert so Meg and I will certainly look out for this. Sometimes, though, the events are not heavily advertised and one finds out almost by accident. I know that our own church is going to host a ‘Bite Size’ Classics at it did last year and it was very popular but I suspect that it is towards the end of the month.

I got a rather unexpected statement from a building society in which I used to have some savings accounts – the statement showed a mass of zeros i.e. no money in it but is was evidently still regarded as ‘live’ So I decided to resurrect it as a pot for odd bits of savings and this led to a merry dance. The credentials that I used years ago were unrecognised so this necessitated a phone call where I was informed that I would have to log in as a new customer. As part of the verification procedures, it wa necessary to get confirmation from a telephone number which happened to be a landline that does not accept SMS messages. Eventually, after several attempts I managed to re-register only to discover that I had about five savings accounts all with about £1 odd in each one. Some of these went back some 15-20 years. It was evident that I had all but emptied then save for £1.00 but tiny bits of interest had accumulated over the years which explained why they all seem to be £1 and then some odd pence. When I have a moment, these will get rationalised and put to a good use.

I read something in The Times today that gave me pause for thought. The newspaper article indicated that the large building firms that had donated millions to the Tory party had gone ‘on strike’ and were refusing collectively to give any more money to the Tories because the present government has got worried about the hostile local reaction to building developments particular on ‘green’sites, even if not technically green belt, in various parts of the country. Locally, Tories on the ground are in a bit of a bind becaus they want to be shown to be providing more housing for local people. On the other hand, we have the development of a site of 390 houses just down the road from us massively opposed by all of the local people who probably took their vengeance across the local Tories who lost their overall majority on Bromsgrove council for the first time in about 25 years. So the large building firms are fulminating against local people saying things such as ‘people who with their grey haired cronies want to draw up the drawbridge because their view is I m all right Jack.’ So what we have here is a massive conflict between large donors who give money at the national level and expect the government to do their bidding and the local Tories on the ground who have to suffer all of the unpopularity. Many MPs are similar conflicted but with a general election not too far off are thinking about the voters who may be turned off them by their approval of local projects against those who may feel more favourably disposed towards them.

At a national level, Boris Johnson and the Cabinet Office have been handed a two day extension to the request by the COVID enquiry chairperson (a respected judge) to hand over unredacted diaries and WhatsApp messages to inform the enquiry. If Downing Street prevails and fails to hand over what might be crucial and incriminating evidence to the enquiry, then its integrity might be threatened from the very start. But a more informed view is that if it comes to a tussle in the High Court between the politicians and a judge-led public enquiry into the lessons to be learnt from the COVID pandemic, then the courts are likly to back the enquiry chairman rather than Downing Street. Incidentally, it looks as though George Osborne, the ex-chancellor, may be questioned whether the austerity cuts imposed upon the NHS accounts for the lack of preparedness of the UK when the pandemic came to strike. Interesting!