Thursday, 29th February, 2024

[Day 1445]

This morning started off with two carers plus a ‘shadow’ who turned up fairly promptly and I had just about got Meg up by this time. I always like to try to establish a relationship with all of the carers and this morning, I asked the youngest of them if she had any particular hobbies or interests. It turned out that she had been playing the (baritone) euphonium since the age of eight and was currently a member of a brass band who had performed in several quite prestigious venues. This reminded me that before I went to university, I had a good friend who played the ‘flugel horn’ (a sort of cross between a cornet and a trumpet) in a brass band in Leeds. My friend invited me along to a performance and I was initially reluctant because I did not think it was practically my scene – however, eventually I was persuaded to go. This turned out to be quite an eye-opener for me. Many members of the band seemed to ex miners (hints of the film ‘Brassed Off‘) and they were an incredibly friendly and hospitable crowd as I remember. They seemed to drink like fishes even before a performance and I remember being bought a pint of Tetley’s with the advice ‘Get this down th’ neck, lad!) After having imbibed what seemed quite a quantity of beer quite quickly they went on to perform flawlessly in what seemed to be like a choir of angels and, of course after the performance, there was quite a lot more drinking as well. When I was at my first secondary school at Bolton in Lancashire, the school had a reasonable musical tradition and I was part of the school choir and the school orchestra. But the school was best known for its brass band which regularly took part in the ‘Whit Walks’ processions which were quite a feature of Lancashire life in the mid 1950’s but I think that only remnants of it survive until this day. As it happens, I have a print of an L S Lowry upon my study wall that reminds me of my days spent in Manchester and in the background, there is an illustration of the Whit Walks taking place. A story that I was told about L S Lowry is that he was rather a curmudgeonly old soul and he used to hire a taxi into the Pennine hills overlooking Manchester with only green fields around him. Then he used to paint from memory the industrial scenes with which are typical of Lowry. Today the carer came to look after Meg whilst I went off to my shopping and in the course of getting there almost had a collision in the car. There is a traffic light controlled junction with the A38 dual carriage way and this junction is always difficult to negotiate. You have to get to the centre of the road and then try to peer past any large vehicles that are stuck in the junction and might obscure one’s view but trust there is no oncoming traffic bearing down at a great speed. Of course, the evident thing to do would be to have a filter system but as I know from encounters in the past, the traffic officers attached to the local planning authority will not authorise this because, as they say, ‘we must not do anything to impede the flow of traffic along the A38’ At present in Bromsgrove there appear to be major roadworks on practically every major road system throughout the town and even the main Kidderminster Road is blocked off for about a month whilst the water authority is upgrading something or other. So at the moment, the residents of Bromsgrove seem to be suffering from all of the delay, congestion and inconveniences of the various ‘improvements’ that are taking place, including widening of the A38 at a cost of millions which will have the net effect of moving a traffic jam about one half of a mile along the road. I do not know if the conjunction of the period of austerity following the financial crisis followed by COVID has led to a massive backlog of maintenance that needs to be done. But is all does add up to the impression which is widely shared in the community that the whole of our social and political life is falling apart.

This afternoon, I received a welcome phone call from the Occupational Therapy team after is had contacted them after Meg’s recent falls (on Saturday and yet another today) It is possible that they are able to supply some equipment that may enable me to move Meg from one place to another more quickly than we are managing at the moment and, if they have the piece of equipment in stock, it may arrive as early as tomorrow. On the face of it, this sounds good but is essentially a piece of sticking plaster which cannot address the long term needs that Meg does have. But in general terms, apart from today which is a slight exception to the rule, we get Meg and myself out most days for a coffee and comestibles and to enjoy some social contact as well. The wheelchair that I bought for Meg and which lives in the back of the car has actually proved its weight in gold and after I replaced a nut that fell off, has seen some sterling service.

There is some rather disturbing news from the other side of the Atlantic. It appears that the US Supreme Court have ruled that it will eventually adjudicate upon the claim that Donald Trump was the instigator of insurrection because of the attacks upon the Capital building some three years ago now. The upshot of this is that Trump’s trial will be so delayed that it might not take place until after the next presidential election which means that the American people will be asked to make a president of a man accused of violent insurrection before the presidential election takes place. One can only assume that if Trump wins the presidency again, he will be able to avoid a trial and probable conviction. All of this is incredibly bad news for the normal operation of democratic and legal processes within the US.