Thursday being my shopping day I engage in my normal routine which is to get to the shops just as they open and then home as soon as possible. It must have been a lighter week this week because I managed everything so much more quickly and then it was a case of getting home, getting Meg up and dressed and breakfasted before we ventured forth this morning. We thought that we make a visit to the drop-in centre provided by the large Methodist chyurch in the centre of town – we visited there for the first time last week and found a couple of faces that we already knew. They have a wonderful concept which they call a ‘Chatter and Natter’ table which is part of a national scheme. Chatter & Natter tables are where customers can sit if they are happy to talk to other customers. Hundreds of venues offer Chatter & Natter tables, in cafes, pubs, libraries, hospitals – anywhere that people can sit and chat over a coffee. The concept is explained on a little information stand which they have on the ‘Chatter and Natter’ table and the whole idea is that instead of individuals being seated at a table by themselves (which of course, you are quite at liberty to do if you want a bit of peace and quiet) then you occupy a place at the ‘Chatter and Natter’ table. I found that this concept works exteremely well even though this was only our second visit because when people joined the table, we found something to talk about in no time at all. We were quite rapidly joined by one of our Waitrose Tuesday crowd who we had a fair idea may well have been there on a Thursday so we carried on where we left off last Saturday. Towards the end of the morning, we were joined by yet another person that we knew who is a fellow parishioner at the church we normally attend each Saturday evening. She, like us, had crossed a denominational divide and seemed to be a regular member of the cafe. To cut a long story short, we are resolved to make a visit to the cafe once or twice a week, hopefully on a regular day each week. Attendance is also encouraged by the fact that a cup of coffee is available for £1.00 and a round of buttered toast for 30p and of course costs are kept low because the whole is staffed with volunteers. There are two parallel halls, one large and one small in which there are ‘Keep Fit’ classes, Mother and toddler mornings and the like so the whole centre is actually quite busy. There is a very large local authority car park immediately adjacent to the Centre if all of the spaces in the Centre are occupied by cars as they were this morning. Meg and I felt that we had a pretty entertaining morning and came home to cook a conventional lunch of quiche and green veg. Afterwards we had a ration of the James Martin cookery programme, today visiting Norfolk and I learned one or two things such as shredding parts of a lettuce to add to a pan of other ingredients bubbling away – that would never have occurred to me.
I do not wish to sound very po-faced about all of this but I read recently of two court cases that really made my blood boil. The first of these was the case of Bernie Ecclestone, the millionaire F1 boss, who has admitted lying (i.e. concealing) monies held in trusts and escaping the attention of the Inland Revenue. Anyone else would have been gaoled but Bernie Eccleston was given a suspended sentence because of his age. I think he eventually had to pay £653 million to the Inland Revenue but I wonder how much of his wealth is still intact, despite the fines that he had to pay. The second case was Captain Sir Tom Moore’s daughter who has admitted keeping £800,000 from the three books he wrote before he died – despite the prologue of one of them saying the money would go to the charity in his name. It seems that the richer and more famous one happens to be, the less proportionate the eventual day of reckoning eventually becomes. It was not uncommon for judges to remark to miscreants in the lower levels of the class structure that ‘an example has to be made of you’ whereas higher up the class structure, an offender might be told ‘You have already suffered enough’ There are now quite strict sentencing guidelines to avoid such rampant discrepancies but one is still left with the feeling that the very rich, even though found guilty of fraud, do not always receive the penalties owing to them.
The Israel-Gaza conflict is absorbing a tremendous amount of media attention, as you might expect. There is no doubt that the most severe atrocities have been committed by Hamas but the thought occurs to me that may well be that the Israelis have a vested interested in exaggerating the atrocities committed. For example, it is probably that in at least case an Israeli baby has been beheaded but I heard a spokesperson for the Israelis claiming that this had happened to 40 babies, a claim which it it almost impossible to verify. The thought that occurs to me is whether such exaggerations are given the prominence that they are in order that ground offensive currently in an advanced state of preparation by the Israelis can be unprecedented in is savagery?