Saturday, 16th March, 2024

[Day 1461]

So Saturday dawned and Meg and I almost overslept a little before our two carers made an appearance. We have now been supplied by the care agency with a schedule so that we know who we might expect and this morning it was a couple of sisters. I always like to establish some kind of relationships with the carers and asking about families never seems to be intrusive. The two sisters each had three children and they each worked closely with the other so that one or other of the threesome was under the care of their aunt if not their actual parents. This arrangement seemed to work pretty well as the cost of childcare would have wiped out a goodly part of their wages otherwise. Once we were breakfasted, we knew that we had Waitrose to which to look forward. Indeed, our friend, the veteran fell walker, was already there at our table waiting for us and we had a jolly old chat, made all the more worthwhile because we had not the opportunity of our normal Tuesday morning meeting. We always find a lot to chat about and after we updated each other of the events of the last few days, we amused ourselves by speaking of the very first jobs that we had when we first entered the labour market. In our friend’s case, it turned out to be working in a cake shop (which I informed her explained quite a lot because she still has a penchant for cup cakes). The first real employment as a Saturday job I had was as a chemist’s delivery boy – I was equipped with a boneshaker of an old black bike with an enormous basket on the front. I had to cycle over some of the immediate suburbs of Harrogate in Yorkshire to deliver medicines to a very aged clientele. I might point out that firm of chemists was very old and established and I think was only one of two in the town that still provided such a service. How I found my way around without a map I cannot honestly remember but I think that most of the clients were such old established regulars that it was quite easy to remember the route one had to take. When we were not busy and we were waiting for the prescriptions to be made up, I seem to spend my time stacking toilet rolls which I think was my very, very first paid job. We popped around the store to pick up a couple of items and bumped into our Irish friend who told us the rather unwelcome news that her neighbour, the French widow that we know well, was currently in hospital. She had some kind of leg problem which occasioned a fall but the medics are still in the process of making a diagnosis so meanwhile our friend is languishing in a local hospital. Our Irish friend was looking after her ‘marmalade’ cat who I know is rather suspicious of strangers so I wonder how he will take to that. Mind you, when Miggles (the cat who had adopted us) saw us, he stopped what she was doing in the centre of the lawn and made immediately for the back door with a little ‘Meow’ of welcome, knowing some food was in the offing.

After we had made the journey home, I started to think about a lunch that we wanted to have fairly expeditiously so that we would be all washed up, rested and waiting for the first Rugby match of the day which was to be Wales verses Italy. This match was so disappointing to watch as I tend always to support the Welsh team. But today, they played so badly it was unbelievable and made error after error, both straightforward handling errors, needless penalties and strategic errors as well. By three quarters of the way through the match, the Italians who were so much better organised and crisper on the ball were deservedly well ahead and the Welsh did not have a single point on the board. The Welsh started to get their act together but it was all too little and too late so the Italians, who are a much improved team, turned out to be the deserving winners and the Welsh finished off with the ‘wooden spoon’ i.e. at the bottom of the championship table. The Irish do not have to do too much to secure the championship for the second season in a row and they should quite easily secure this in their game against Scotland but England beat them last Saturday which was unexpected and unexpected things happen in Rugby. The really interesting match in this final weekend of the Six Nations competition is going to be England vs. France in France. This game is really a little too close to call at the moment and I believe that the 2nd place in the championship awaits the winner.

I keep an eye on my previous sector employment in a university and the news coming from that sector is not good at the moment. The universities have not been able to rely upon the income that they receive from domestic undergraduate students and increasingly have had to rely upon overseas students to keep themselves solvent. But the number of overseas students is reportedly some 37% down next year, so many universities are having to take drastic measures to reduce costs to stay solvent. This is always a dangerous move as cutting courses and reducing the number of students is also also reducing the university income. Some universities are considering mergers with nearby institutions but this does not reduce costs in the very short term. My previous employer, the University of Winchester, is considering cutting several humanities courses and as these used to be the mainstay of the university, perhaps their financial situation is somewhat perilous. I might send off an email to one or two of my colleagues stories to see if they can give me any inside information as to what is actually happening there.