Friday, 16th February, 2024

[Day 1432]

We always look forward to Fridays because it is the day when our domestic help calls around and we always seem to have a lot of news to exchange with her about the comings and goings of the past week. So we got ourselves up and breakfasted but our domestic help arrived a little late as she has an ailing little dog which is keeping her up at nights. It was a beautiful and mild, almost spring-like day this morning so we had no hesitation in deciding that we make a little trip to Droitwich, which we often do on Friday mornings. Our University of Birmingham friend had a domestic commitment and so could not be with us this morning but we are always happy to get to Droitwich and enjoy our bacon butty and a pot of tea. After we had our fill, we made a slight detour to one of our favourite charity shops in the town but there was nothing to particularly take our fancy so we were quite happy to get home. We had a few things we wanted to discuss with our domestic help and I then busied myself with making a rather different kind of lunch. The fish pie I normally purchase in our local Aldi was not in stock so I was tempted to buy some mackerel fillets which came, pre-cooked, in their own plastic film. We heated these fillets up by the simple expedient of soaking them well in some boiling water – the alternative of popping them in the oven can occasionally make the kitchen smell decidedly fishy which we wanted to avoid. We ate the fish with a horseradish dressing and some baked potato and fine beans and a delicious lunch it turned out to be. After lunch, we thought we would treat ourselves to a Prime Video offering of ‘Peterloo‘ which we are going to watch in two halves, with the second half tomorrow. Today’s part of the film was full of the rhetoric of the Lancashire people crying out for electoral reform with the cry of ‘One man, one vote’ Tomorrow’s half is no doubt going to be filled with scenes of the bloody massacre of Peterloo but as both Meg and I are graduates of the University of Manchester, the events of Peterloo are still commemorated by the fact that one of the large squares in Manchester behind the town hall is called St. Peter’s Square.

Last night when Meg was in Meg I had set myself the task of solving a computer problem that had been bugging me for several days. When I purchased my new laptop, I paid as part of my purchase a subscription to the McAfee anti-virus program. This was not included so I requested the installation code which the supplier sent back to me by email. I had downloaded a trial copy of McAfee and there was no way I could find of getting it to accept the authorisation code as the system was just designed to make you pay for it first. So I got on to the McAfee support website which took you all around the houses but did not actually solve the problem. I got as far as installing the program for some seconds at which it then ‘stuck’ or hung. The automated technical help desk which I requested on two or three occasions promised a chatline response within a minute but all that happened was that the McAfee chatline cut me off after some moments of nothing happening. I then had a bit of a brainwave because I have used McAfee products before and I vaguely remembered that there was something called a McAfee Customer Removal Tool which was a piece of software that removed all traces of previous installation from the system. I managed to locate a copy of this, downloaded it and then ran it and it took several minutes for it to do its job. But this proved to be the right thing to do because, after that, the installation routine link which the supplier had given to me worked and the whole program installed itself rapidly and in only a few minutes. So the unsuccessful ‘messings about’ took over an hour and a quarter but once I had a ‘clean’ machine, life became very straightforward. Heartily relieved that I now had a system that was fully protected, I wondered to myself how many other consumers had run foul of this system and did not know how to put it right. I only use the laptop in the Music lounge for emails and for writing this blog and precious little else but I did not want to venture far into the internet unless I had a fully protected system. Having got McAfee installed, it now informs me that it will scan each and every file ever downloaded onto the system and will update itself automatically at regular intervals which is, of course, just what I want.

In the wee small hours of the morning the results of the two by-elections held yesterday came through and the Labour Party made two stunning victories in both Wellingborough and in Kingswood with much higher than predicted swings. The Tories are attempting hard to console themselves by saying that their ‘core supporters’ had just stayed at home but would come out to vote for them in a General Election, now only months away. But it is fairly evident, displayed in the audience members in ‘Any Questions‘ last night, that the population as a whole are just fed up to the back teeth with the present government and just want it to be got rid of. The full political consequences of these two defeats are widely interpreted as nails in Rishi Sunak’s coffin and will no doubt receive a lot of detailed attention in the days ahead. In particular the Reform (ex UKIP/Brexit) party is making a sturdy showing and is helping to splinter the rightmost extremes of the right wing vote. The Tory party itself is said to be split (again!) between those who want to fight Reform at every opportunity and those who want some kind of accommodation between Reform and the Conservative party. The Reform party itself has an interesting agenda as it seeks to stand against the Conservatives in every constituency, force the defeat of the present government and then argue hard for a form of PR in whatever configuration of parties shows after an election.