Sunday, 25th February, 2024

[Day 1441]

Between us, we had rather a disturbed night last night which may have been a delayed consequence to the fall that Meg had in the mid-afternoon of yesterday. Meg had a restless period but eventually I got back back to sleep having lost a valuable hour or so of sleep time which both of us will find it hard to replace. Two carers turned up this morning on cue and although Meg was rather on the wobbly side, we got her up and dressed and ready to face the world. As is usual on a Sunday morning, we had the Lorna Kuenssberg program remarkable if only because of the presence on the show of Oliver Dowden, the deputy Prime Minister. He said the outspoken MP for Ashfield, Lee Anderson, used the ‘wrong words’ to hit out at the mayor of London, and that ‘words matter’. However, Mr Dowden refused to condemn recent remarks by former home secretary Suella Braverman, who said the ‘Islamist mob’ had now ‘taken over’ communities in Britain. In trying to defend the indefensible, we have our deputy Prime Minister refusing to disown former colleagues and resorting to a formula such as ‘they used the wrong words’ This sort of denial is implying that the words used may have been Islamophobic and the sentiments almost certainly were but refusing to endorse the exact form of words used. One is driven to conclude that if the Labour Party had issues with anti-Semitism – which it undoubtedly had – then the present Conservative party has similar issues with regard to Islamophobia which they refuse to acknowledge. After the show had finished, Meg and I made our down to Waitrose for a Sunday morning coffee and pastry but without meeting anybody in particular. When we got home, we indulged in a bit more coffee and once I had got Meg settled, engaged in the preparations for Sunday lunch (ham, baked potato and some sprouts) Today I am preparing lunch a little earlier than usual and we are even forgoing the Six Nations rugby match between France and Italy for a particular reason. This is because there is going to be a showing of ‘Doctor Zhivago‘ which is one of the favourite films of which we never tire which is to be shown between 2.00pm and 5.00pm this afternoon. For the same reason, I am writing the bulk of this blog somewhat earlier than would normally be the case so that we have an uninterrupted afternoon of pleasure (so to speak). Meg and I watched the whole film (of over three hours) and reminded ourselves that we the first time we saw it was in Leicester Square in London in about 1966 or 1967. The film has always been one of our favourites and in common with other David Lean films, the cinematography is superb. Of course, many people will know the theme tune ‘Lara’s theme’ which has part of popular culture for the last half century. The film has an incredibly poignant ending. Torn between the two loves of his life, Tonia and Lara, Zhivago was separated from both by the cataclysmic events of the Russian revolution. Eventually, Zhivago finds himself on a Moscow tram and thinks that he sees one of the loves of his life, Lara who has borne him a child, walking along the pavement. He desperately scrambles off the tram and desperately tries to run after her again after a forced separation of several years. But he does not quite reach her as a few metres short of catching up with her again he suffers a fatal heart attack before he can catch up with her again. Sorry if I have spoiled the ending for any reader who has not seen the film. I think that film ranks alongside ‘Amadeus’ (the life of Mozart) as one of my two most favourite films of all time.

There are reports this evening that a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas might be forthcoming in the next few days. Israel’s war cabinet has been briefed on a potential ceasefire deal with Hamas following negotiations in Paris. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gathered ministers late on Saturday night after Israeli envoys returned from meeting US, Egyptian and Qatari mediators.The Americans are cautiously optimistic that some kind of deal might be attainable. Of course the critical thing for the Israelis is to work out how many Israeli hostages will lose their lives if a further Israeli push is made deep into the territory of Gaza. The Israelis must know that many of the hostages would be abandoned to their fate if the Israeli push went too far and, of course, by attacking the tunnels that the inhabitants of Gaza have dug for themselves and in which many of the hostages are being held, then the Israeli defence forces might be responsible for the death of their own citizens held hostage. In addition, the public opinion in Israel is strongly in favour of ending the conflict now and saving the lives of as many of the hostages as they can. I find it noteworthy that the phrase ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ which one associates with some of the bloodier passages in the Bible is meant to refer to a proportionate response. Latest figures show a Palestinian death toll of 30,000 in retaliation for the 1400 Israelis killed in the initial attack (a ratio of 25:1). In addition, practically 90 journalists have lost their lives as well.