Tuesday, 12th September, 2023

[Day 1275]

This morning I awoke to the sound of gently falling rain which was pleasant to experience. It reminded me of an app I once accessed which was an audio track used as an aid to relaxation or sleep of heavy tropical rain which I also enjoyed. Last night, I watched the first part of Lorna Kuenssberg’s history of the Brexit adventure which was called ‘State of Chaos’ in which she interviewed many of the leading actors, including civil servants and advisers. I found it quite enthralling, as it happens, with some memorable quotes and I am going to look forward to the next few parts when they are broadcast. Even the ‘Daily Telegraph’ was quite complimentary about the series which is interesting in itself. Of most interest to students of political history, is that Brexit tested our constitutional checks and balances almost to destruction and it is interesting to reflect how close we actually came to a melt-down of the UK’s constitution.

As I was listening to the ‘Today‘ programme on Radio 4, there was a really disturbing account of a recent investigation. This showed that in the last five years, two thirds of female surgeons had experienced episodes of unwanted sexual advances, often in an operating theatre whilst a third had actually experienced instances of a sexual assault up to and including rape. This points out the massive asymmetry in the gender balance in surgery and the fact that female surgeons are often having to be in in a position to learn their craft from senior surgical colleagues who are typically male. This assymmetry and imbalance across the genders evidently led to a rampant culture of abuse. One does not have to be particularly ‘woke’ not to be horrified by this story.

Today being a Tuesday, Meg and I made our usual trip to the Waitrose cafeteria where we made contact with one of our regulars – our other two regulars had been rather deterred by the showery weather. As usual, we had a jolly chat about this and that and I amused our friend with the story about friend’s disappearing (and reappearing) hat, the other day. Then we did a bit of shopping for essentials before we made for home and I started to prepare for my Pilates class where I hope that I may be able to make a half rather than a whole session. Once I had made Meg comfortable, I made haste by car to my Pilates class which is the first I have managed to attend for two to three weeks. I informed my tutor and fellow students that I would only attend for half an hour and, I must say that each exercise seemed doubly precious to me as I knew that my time was limited. After half an hour, I got home as fast as I could and found Meg waiting for me with some trepidation so I had got home just about in time. We had our ‘normal’ Tuesday lunch of haddock fish cakes and easily cooked steamed vegetables, after which we settled down for a restful afternoon.

Half way through the afternoon, we received a visit from one of my fellow Pilates classmates who indicated that she might call round to see us. Our friend brought a beautiful bunch of gladioli for Meg and we then entertained our guest in the music room, after treating her to a rendition of a couple of the pieces that I have been practicing. Then we had a very pleasant chat for about an hour and discovered that we had some aspects of our respective biographies in common as we both had experiences of working in quite specialised libraries – the National Lending library for Science and Technology in my case which had a name change into the British Library Lending division. We were very grateful to receive this visit from our friend and I hope that it helped Meg to pass the afternoon with something other than the TV with which to entertain her.

Sophie Ridge is presenting a programme called the ‘Politics Hub‘ on Sky News which, as it happens, is competing directly with Channel 4 News at 7.00pm which Meg and I used to watch. Sophie Ridge is making a pitch for viewers at the moment with some interesting observations on the political scene. She is making the point that in the run up to a General Election, practically all government policy will be ‘bent’ towards that which please voters, both core supporters as well as marginal voters, but this is a terrible way to run a country where long strategic economic decisions are ditched in favour of that which is politically expedient. This is felt in a particularly acute form considering the ‘triple lock’ whereby pensioners are guaranteed whichever is the higher of the annual inflation rate, the rise in wages or 2.5% This year, it looks as though the triple lock will give pensioners an extra 8% on top of the 10% they received as a result of the last year’s settlement. Most politicians would argue that it is time for the triple lock to go but in the run up to an election, there is no way that any government is going to disadvantage such a large part of its core support and so the ‘triple lock’, which may well have outlived its usefulness, is to stay with us until the next election is won and lost.