Saturday, 1st July, 2023

[Day 1202]

So here we are starting the second half of the year - I am sure that time passes so much more quickly once one gets older. Today we were due to see our University of Birmingham friend in the park for another long chat but we had a bit of a rush around at first. I am trying to extend my repetoire of classical (one hand) tunes and found in a little book for beginners I had purchased recently the 'Ode to Joy' (from Beethoven's 9th) This was so simple, only being a few notes all of which were practically adjacent to each other, so it was no surprise that I learnt the first half of it very quickly indeed - the second half is going to need a bit more work on my part but not much. Eventually we got to the park just about on time and had a long chat with our friend. Then as we departed for lunch, I knew that I needed to pick up our Saturday newspaper and then make our way to the local comprehensive hardware store. I was on the lookout for about a metre and a half of that golden-brown lighting flex as the standard lamp that we acquired recently had evidently been rewired with some white fittings and white flex and the latter looked completely inappropriate. At the hardware shop I managed to buy a stake to provide some more support to our Lavatera ('Mallow') which is bending over somewhat and needs support so that it does not end up horizontal rather than vertical. The hardware store is normally completely comprehensive but they did not stock the shade of cable I needed. They recommended a small, specialist electrical shop which is in the centre of town and somewhat difficult to access - nonetheless, I got there,managed to park just about only to find the little shop closed. So Meg and got home and heated up our fish pie which was not consumed the other day and I tried an innovative little vegetable mix to go with it. I happened to have half a packet of French beans in the fridge, so I took these and threw in a handful of petit pois and then did them in the microwave.Then I did a quick toss with some slices of chorizo ham in a saucepan and complemented these with some of the little plum tomatoes which I microwaved and then popped into the oven together with the fish pie. All in all, it was very enjoyable meal.

After we had had a bit of lunch, I searched a little in my 'electrical' things in the garage and was fortune to find just about the right length of some brown lighting cable. So then I set to work, rewiring the plug with a more appropriately coloured flex and then I spliced the flex onto the existing flex using techniques that I often deployed as a teenager but had not deployed for about sixty years. But this all worked out just as I wanted - the job went without a hitch and I was fortune in that my new installation was just what I wanted but with 4"-5" of flex to spare. After this, we had a little rest as in the late afternoon we go off for our weekly visit to the church service. The TV this evening seemed to be full of the kind of things that we did not particulaly want to watch so we may treat ourselves to a bit of an opera located on YouTube.

There is a lot of concern about Thames Water which seems to combine a toxic mix of terrible service to customers, all kinds of pollution discharges with enormous levels of debt, huge payouts to investors and an ownership conglomeration that includes OMERS - an prive equity company (23%), the Universities Superannuation Scheme, (19.7%) BT Pension Scheme (13%), the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (9.9%), the China Investment Corporation (8.7%) and the Kuwait Investment Authority (8.5%). Even a right-wing Conservative government is prepared to consider nationalisation as a solution but this raises questions as to whether the existing investors should be rewarded with UK taxpayers money. I am left wondering whether public ownership for once is not the panacea to all of this mess. The prime problem appears to be an out-of-control private investment mix hardly supervised by a very weak regulatory regime in OFWAT. So I am left to wonder whether it might be better to considerably beef up the powers and performance of the regulatory agency with sackings if necessary and with a remit to force the investors to increase the levels of investment and reduce the levels of dividend dramatically to realise the results that privatisation was meant to achieve when the water industry was first nationalised. The 'nationalisation' solution seems to be receding a little into the background this weekend and no doubt some tough things are being said in private to the owners and management team of Thames Water but will the tough words be enough to secure the necessary result? After all, supplying water is a natural monopoly and to receive a good water supply should almost be considered a human right but it rather shows what happens to predatory capitalism if not carefully supervised and regulated.