Sunday, 20th August, 2023

[Day 1252]

Today almost inevitably was going to be dominated by the fact that England were due to meet Spain as finalists in the Women’s World Cup. This was due to start at 11.00am and our University of Birmingham friend had very kindly invited us to watch the match wih him. But first, we needed to pick up our Sunday newspapers and whilst I was in the newsagents, I thought I would buy a box of chocolates to take along for our host. But the newsagent has sold out of boxes of chocolates so I just grabbed several packets of chocolate biscuits and we trusted to the SatNav to find the way to our friend. In practice, between us we got a little lost and we arrived a about two minutes late with the match already having started when we arrived. It is always interesting to watch a match like this with friends and the match was certainly an underwhelming event for English viewers. Spain deservedly won the match 1-0 and could well have added two or three more, one of them being a penalty for handball in the penalty area. But the penalty was poorly taken and England survived but as the match progressed, there seemed to be no way that the English women were ever going to win this match and if, by a quirk of fate, they had done so, it would have been a massive injustice. If I were a sports writer, I think I would agonise over whether to write that the England team was ‘outplayed’ or ‘completely outplayed’. As we watched the match and saw the English defenders back off the Spanish forwards, it is pretty obvious that the Spanish were being given the time and space to score and when the goal came after about 30 minutes, it was no surprise to either of us. The English coach was gracious in defeat and evidently when the match ended, there were tears all round – the Spanish with joy and the English with disappointment. I must say that I did not find the result particularly surprising as they had very tight matches against both Nigeria and Colombia that could well have been decided the other way. Perhaps the confident perfomance against the hosts, Australia, had lulled the English team into a false sense of security but the bookies were perhaps evenly divided over the eventual result so perhaps they called it right. At least, we have got all of that out of our system and we shall a little less of the xenophobic rantings to which commentators are prone. After all of that, Meg and I got ourselves home and having had coffee and biscuits thoughout the morning, neither of us felt particularly hungry. It was a fairly humid day so we contented ourself with a meal of bananas and icecream instead of our normal lunch.

Sunday afternoons never have a particular pattern but this afternoon, Meg and I spent about an hour in our Music Room where we could relax to our normal repetory of soothing classical music. The TV this afternoon was dominated by an athletics competition from Budapest which seemed relatively interesting and exciting, so we watched this in intervals whilst reading the Sunday newspapers. As one might expect, there is a lot of analysis of the Lucy Letby affair and whether senior management could have done more to have prevented some of the deaths once the nurse had commenced her killing spree. There are repeated calls for a judge led enquiry so that witnesses can be compelled to attend and then to give evidence under oath. By all accounts, it does seem that the ‘frontier of control’ had passed somewhat from consultants to managers as managers were particularly concerned about ‘reputational damage’ to their hospitals/trusts if the Letby suspicions would prove to be true. There is an awful lot of being wise after the event going on at the moment and I am not sure that Letby was actually ever caught in the act of administering insulin/injecting air into the bloodstreams of babies that caused their demise. The suspicions were always circumstantial in that Letby always seemed to be on duty when the babies died. What may have been the clinching evidence came from Letby herself, of course. Once finally arrested, her premises were searched by police where they found scribblings and ramblings with words like ‘I am evil’ and practically an admission of guilt on its own. What safeguards to put in place are not easy to say. I would not like to be in the position of a critical care nurse in a premature unit where if two babies were to die in quick succession for quite understandable medical reasons then any unfortunate nurse may find herself investigated to within an inch of her life.

During the athletics showing this afternoon, there was quite a dramatic end to one of the competitions. In the World Athletics Championships,Katarina Johnson-Thompson won her second world heptathlon gold medal by only by a margin of about 20 points. In the very final 800 metres, she was was trailing an American competitor but needed, according to the commentators, to be no more than three seconds behind the American. In the event, she was about two and a half seconds behind and therefore won the gold mdal with one of the tightest of margins imaginable.