Today after we had got up, it was evident that Meg was in too frail to attend the craft centre nearby to us where we intended to meet up with our University of Birmingham friend for a Sunday morning coffee. But then at just before 10.30 we received a text from one of my nieces who had intended to attend the baptism of two of her grandchildren (one of them delayed because of the COVID pandemic) But fate had intervened in a cruel way because although she had intended to visit the ‘happy, clappy’ Anglican Church in Gateshead where the baptisms were scheduled to take place. But courtesy of the primary school where my niece teaches, she contracted COVID and a journey to the baptism was now out of the question. But the church itself had made available a live feed of its services over YouTube and so it was possible for my niece (and also my sister and Meg and I) to witness the baptisms which, as you might imagine, was quite an emotional experience for us. Afterwards, my sister and I had quite a long FaceTime chat which we will probably do most Sunday’s and exchanged news about the types of services provided by the churches where the church ‘comes to you’ rather than the other way round, as it were, as ministers visit the house every so often to provide a miniaturised service for the sick and housebound.
We had a fairly traditional Sunday lunch of roast beef (cooked in the slow cooker), with the complement of a baked potato and some broccoli. Afterwards, Meg and I knew that we were going to watch the rugby and the evening but we decided to treat ourselves to a film which we pretty sure we had available to us as part of our Amazon ‘Prime’ membership. This film was called ‘The Way’ and it was a story filmed from a book, about the journey made by an American doctor who had lost his son who had met with his death whilst travelling along the Camino de Santiago in the French Pyrenees. His father decided to complete the Camino (and hence the title of the film) on his son’s behalf carrying his son’s ashes with him. On the way, he acquires some travelling companions and whilst these might be slightly larger than life, the things that happen to the travelling companions en route were quite credible. The journey has an incredibly emotional ending which I will not specify for anyone who wants to view the film for themselves and see how it ends but suffice to say that I actually wept buckets at the end. So Meg and I have quite an emptionally charged day what with one thing or another but we are currently enjoying Scotland getting the better of Tonga in the World Cup. But the match to view today is undoubtedly Wales vs. Australia and I would have normally backed Australia but who knows in this particular World Cup. We are now approaching the end of the pool stage and will be moving towards the quarter finals in which every game from now one will be a knockout game. One great source of disappointment for all rugby fans is that the outstanding French fly-half, Dupont, sustained a cheekbone injury in a recent match and has already had some corrective surgery. This will keep Dupont out of the competition for several more rounds and perhaps for the rest of the World Cup.
The big political news today is the story that the Tory government of Rishi Sunak is thinking of abandoning the HS2 High Speed line which means that if the Birmingham to Manchester leg is not completed, then we could have a high speed line that only covers a half of its intended length leaving the North completely adrift. Of course there are cost overruns but there were in the case of Crossrail across London which did not stop the project and there now even talk of a Crossrail2. I heard Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, furious with anger that big infrastructure projects affecting the North are regarded as problematic, so we could end up with a nation with updated rail projects in the South and a basically Victorian railway infrastructure in the North. Whilst all the signs are that HS2 will be ditched by the Tories, the Labour party is being a little coy about whether it still fully supports the project – for example, there is not a commitment from the Labour Party to immediately restore the abandoned Birmingham to Manchester link were they to gain power. There are even hints that a mjor Tory donor is reconsidering his support for the party if a major infrastructure is abandoned, despite the costs.
A NASA capsule carrying the largest sample ever collected from an asteroid has returned to Earth. The capsule, which landed in the Utah desert at 3.52pm, contained around 250g of rocks and dust collected from asteroid Bennu as part of NASA’s Osiris-Rex mission. The significance of all of this is that materials gathered from the asteroid may give some clues about the formation of our own earth and solar system. If there is any evudence of any organic molecules, this would prove to be tremendously exciting and could point to the fact that the origins of life itself might have been brought to earth by a visiting asteroid – not a scenario out of science fiction but a hypothesis actually entertained by some astronomers and astrophysicists.