Last night, we watched the Ireland vs Scotland rugby world cup match in which Scotland did not play particularly badly in the opening stages until they were overwhelmed by the technical brilliance of Ireland who were clinical in their execution of how rugby ought to be played. The Irish won the match with great ease and it was not until half way through the second half of the match that the Scots managed to get any points at the board at all. This sets up a quarter final in which Ireland will play the All Blacks which, pitting Northern hemisphere against Southern hemisphere may well be one of the best matches of the whole tournament. This morning, Meg and I ensured that we we were up and breakfasted, absorbing some of the terrible news emanating from the latest war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza strip. What is absolutely amazing about the whole of this conflict is how it ever managed to occur in the first place. The border between Gaza and the rest of Israel is one of the most fortified on earth, bristling with razor wire, defences in depth and electronic sensors beyond count. But the Hamas fighters had somehow broken through in several places (using paragliders in some cases) and then invaded several small towns in Israel taking hostages in the process, including some Israel Defence Force troops. The psychological shock of all of this is immense and is the greatest offensive movement made against Israel since the 6 day war in 1967 in which the Israeli and Egyptian armies were pitched against each other in what now seems to be quite a conventional style of warfare. The military analysts are puzzling over how the Israeli intelligence services can have taken their eyes off the ball so much that they seemed to have no inkling that an attack of this magnitude was imminent. No doubt, some elucidation will occur in the next day or so but it may well be that there will be unbelievable savagery wrought by each side on the other.
Meg and I had made a prior arrangement to meet with our University of Birmingham friend at a local museum called Avoncroft and we intended to meet in the coffee bar there. We were both somewhat dismayed by the fact that we were denied admission to the cafeteria only and not the other facilities which in our friend’s experience they had been able to do for years but now wanted to charge us £14 entrance fee, so naturally we got into our respective cars and drove away. I was slightly amused by all of this but our friend was annoyed and suggested that the personnel on duty indicate his displeasure to senior management and they revert to their previous policy. We made instead for the sporting centre that overlooks a large lake used for water sports purposes which has a simple cafe but where we can overlook a stretch of water. We must say that we were almost uncomfortably hot this morning in the direct sunshine but nonetheless had a very interesting chat, including opinions on the current war in the Middle East, before going our respective ways for Sunday lunch. After lunch, we watched the last half hour of the Argentina vs. Japan rugby match which was quite entertaining with good rugby played on both sides. Tonight we have the Fiji vs. Portugal match in which my money is actually on Fiji although my sympathies will rest with the Portuguese. After this weekend’s matches, we shall be moving to the quarter-final stages of the tournament in which the quality of the games should improve as the weaker teams have been removed and, of course, everything is a knockout from this point onwards.
Now that I have got Meg’s iphone fully functional again, I am determining how much data I need to buy as I will probably do a fair bit off music streaming on it, not least because I am delighted with the little CD player complete with BlueTooth functionality upon it and so acts as a pair of ‘de facto’ larger speakers. Also I can control which items of music I want from the iphone which is excellent. I have been trying to work out what amount of data I need to buy and fortunately there are some websites and utilities available on the web that allow you you to specify how much time you spent on various phone related activities after which you can make a more informed decision. My best guess at the moment that I may be needing anything between 6GB-8GB of data a month. As Tescomobile is selling me bundles of data which, once the special offers are taken off, should cost me about the equivalent of three cups of coffee a month (my new unit of currency) for 10GB, I am quite content with the SIM I have installed and the facilities offered. I asked our University of Birmingham friend about his own experience but he felt that he was locked into far too expensive a contract until next May which is the earliest at which he feels he can exit it – an experience shared by many, I would think. This afternoon, Meg and I are enjoying a really excellent concert which is Mozart’s so-called ‘Great Mass’which is really enjoyable, whilst getting through the Sunday newspapers and enjoying the bursts of late afternoon sunshine on what is turning to be a brilliant Indian summer for October.