Monday, 11th March, 2024

[Day 1456]

Last night, after Meg was safely tucked up in bed, I started to do some of the outstanding tasks. The most important of these was to respond to a communication from DVLC to renew my driving licence – this has to be done every three years once one has passed the age of 70. Fortunately, I am able to tick the box that requires you to certify that you can read a number plate at the requisite number of yards. We go to the opticians on a regular basis each year and whereas a few years ago, our optician informed me that I met the standard due to advancing years and the long sight that comes with it (presbyopia) I now easily meet the standard. Most of the online form was easy to complete as I have my NI number off by heart for decades now but my passport number, I have only just committed to memory. So I had to creep into our secret cupboard to retrieve my passport number half way through the exercise but at the same time gave permission for any of my organs to be used for whatever reason when the appointed day arrives. The form submitted OK and although DVLC informed me there were still some validation checks to be done, I am reasonably confident that all should be plain sailing from this point on. As time goes by, the various government agencies seem to talk to each other reasonably well and in this case, the DVLC can retrieve the digitised photo which appears on my passport to also appear on my driving licence. All of this was done at no charge as well.

This morning has been a rather frustrating experience but we all occasionally have days like this. Making some preparations for the eventual installation of a chairlift, I found the address of an organisation that seems to act as a managing agent, managing the transactions between the local authority on the one hand and the supplier of equipment on the other. The address seemed to be near our usual route into Droitwich so I thought I would make this the prime focus of our visit this morning. Ominously, the SatNav did not give me the chance to enter a house number but in my search for a No. 22 I found 21 and 23 and no idea here 22 might be (as there were no other houses on the other side of the road) So Meg and I went off to for our normal cup of tea and a bacon butty and then resumed our search afterwards. During our coffee break, I consulted my notes and realised that I should have been looking for a No. 9 which you would think was straightforward. But in the row of retail outlets, generally unnumbered, I found a Chinese takeaway with the number ‘7’ put on the door with some yellow insulating tape but the Asian run fish-and-chip shop next door told me they were number 13 so what had happened to Nos. 9 and 11, I have no idea. After I had got home, I telephoned the two numbers which a website had given to me. The first resulted in my call being terminated with a a few seconds whereas the second resulted in an automated BT message telling me that I had dialled an incorrect number (which I had not, as I checked on the internet) So we gave all of that up as a bad job and I returned home, a little grumpy and frustrated and commenced to cook the dinner (largely pre-prepared for yesterday’s meal and so easy to rustle up).

The political news this afternoon is rather taken up by the defection of Lee Anderson to the Reform party, thus completing a journey from the centre (where was a Labour councillor) to the far right, where he is the first MP of the Reform party (i.e. ex-Brexit party) Nigel Farage has welcomed him with open arms and many Conservative MP’s are shuddering with fright. If the Reform party stand in every single constituency, which is their stated intention, then they will probably not gain a single seat as their support is spread too thinly. But by peeling off votes that would otherwise have gone to the Conservative party, this opens the door for a Lib-Lab candidate to take the seat. To some extent, we have seen this before decades ago because Margaret Thatcher was successful by having the opposition to het split between the Labour Party, the Liberals, and the newly formed SDP. Margaret Thatcher, who is still revered today, regularly gained about 40% of the available vote but if the turnout was about 70% then the maths indicated that only about 1 in 4 of the electorate actually voted for Margret Thatcher at the height of her power. The Reform party have an interesting long term agenda which is to splinter the Conservative vote so they undoubtedly lose the next election and then push as hard as they can for PR in whatever political situation emerges. This argument only works if the electoral arithmetic means that any incoming administration such as a Labour one has to rely upon the votes of smaller parties. But if the Reform ‘strategy’ is successful, then the Conservative party will probably be out of power for at least one election so we are taking about ten years in total. So we live in interesting times!