Friday, 7th July, 2023

[Day 1208]

Today we were particularly intererested in the arrival of our domestic help becase I was anxious to get her opinion on my newly acquired piano stool. Her opinion was that it was a beautiful piece of craftsmanship and I had probably acquired quite a bargain – so to celebrate this I played her the part of ‘Lead, Kindly Light’, the Cardinal Newman hymn which is actually incredibly easy to play once realises that the key of F has a ‘B flat’ in it so you have to remember to press this black key when needed. I had to have quite a quick conversation with our domestic help because I had an appointment with a nurse in the doctor’s surgery. This turned out just to be just the routine taking of a blood sample but I also handed in a series of blood pressere readings that I have been keeping on the instruction of the surgery and which will be scanned and appended to my record. I have a little book in which I (sporadically) make a record of things like blood pressure readings and when I glanced back over some of my historical records, I discovered that my blood pressure is lower than it was about eight years ago so this is quite good news. As the appointment at the surgery hardly took any time at all, Meg and I made up a flask of coffee and made our way to the park where it was certainly pretty warm compared with the last few days. We drank our coffee but did not linger as we might have got uncomfortably hot in the midday sun but instead came home to coook dinner. Our domestic help had very kindly made a special tuna paella for us so we were more than happy to add a variety of salad ingredients to this and to enjoy a communal meal, once I had heated up the paella in the oven.

This afternoon, we had a pleasant surprise half way through the afternoon. Our domestic help had left us and then called in at her favourite little charity shop, not on the High Street and not too far away from us. There she had found an incredibly useful tool for the bathroom which is actually called a ‘safety step stool with handrail’ These devices are evidently to be used to assist people getting into/out of a bath or shower but I also gather they have another use which is to help people negotiate quite a steep step in a caravan. Our domestic help thought it would be tremendously useful to assist Meg and I getting into the shower and she grabbed it for us whilst she could. Naturally, we have accepted this with a profusion of thanks and got it installed in our bathroom where we can give it a good roadtest tomorrow morning. It was a brilliantly sunny afternoon so we had a line-full of washing left out until it was well and truly dry and then it was a case of folding it all up and putting it all away. I know that some people put their washing outside almost whatever the weather and we are not quite as assiduous as this but evidently we must make use of the sunshine whilst we can.

Surveying some of our social committments in the next few days, tomorrow is going to be a definite Waitrose day. This is because we will in all probability see our University of Birmingham friend tomorrow morning. We also think that several of the gang that meets on Tuesday mornings may well be there tomorrow so we are looking forward to all of that. Of course, in the late afternoon, we go off to church and then it will be a case of racing home and installing ourselves in front of the TV in order to see ‘Today at the Test’ as the England v. Australia is very finely poised and could go either way although the pessimistic side of my nature tells me that the ability of the English cricket team to throw away a potentially winning situation by rash shots or failing to hold catches is unparalleled. Next Friday, we are going to have the daughter of some of the friends we recently made at the Age Concern club (which we attend on a monthly basis) to call around so that we can give each other a bit of mutual support in the care that we can offer to our family members (parents in her case who are getting a little frail)

There is a now infamous incident in which a Berkshire headteacher with an unblemished record when her school was suddeny regraded from ‘outstanding’ to ‘unsatisfactory’ committed suicide. Her family believes stress associated with the inspection was a major factor in her death. The tragedy prompted many teachers to call for changes to the inspection system and the end of the one-word grading system. The school was reinspected on 21 and 22 June and assessed as good in all categories, the second-best rating. But the whole point of the controversy is whether Ofsted is justified in giving a ‘one word’ overall categorisation to a school such as ‘good’ or ‘unsatisfactory’ I am sure it is possible to do what was done in Higher Education quality assessments a few years ago in which the course was given a quality score (from 1 to 4) across each of six dimensions, 24 being a ‘perfect score’ (and anything in the range 22-24 being regarded as excellent)