Monday, 15th April, 2024

[Day 1491]

Today was the day when our previous set of carers were due to take over again and one of them, a Polish lady who we respect very highly, duly turned up just before 8.00am as planned. Between us, we got Meg up and ready and just then the ReAblement duo turned up, no one having told them that their contract had finished the evening beforehand. Today was always going to be a bit of a funny day because the lights were flashing on our BioDisk system, meaning that there had been an interruption of power supply to the unit. We had phoned up the maintenance company last Friday and the lights had been flashing for at least a day before I notified the company – in the event, they turned up today at about 2.00pm and found nothing wrong of any significance, I was glad to be told. It might have been that we had a power outage and the unit had failed to reset itself but all seems fine now. However, Meg and I did not feel that we could go out anywhere until the engineer had called around and done his stuff and hence we were reconciled to having to stay in for most of the morning. However, the morning did have a compensation which came from a most unexpected quarter. Meg and I tuned into ‘YouTube’ and watched a performance of Beethoven’s 9th (the so-called ‘Choral’ Symphony) As a follow-on, a programme was advertised called ‘A World with Beethoven’ which I think is one of a series of three films made about four years ago to celebrate an anniversary associated with Beethoven. This film turned out to be one of the best pieces of television that I have watched in years and both Meg and I were enthralled. It was presented by a French horn player, Sarah Willis, and she posed the question of what the world of music would have been like if Beethoven had never lived. The film took a series of themes, the first of which might called the development of the ‘riff’ or the motif beloved of guitarists and rock bands. The argument ran that the iconic first three notes of Beethoven’s 5th is recognised the world over and the notes can be represented in Morse code as dot. dash or a ‘V’ and were used as a shorthand of ‘V’ for Victory deployed extensively during WWII. The argument then developed arguing that Beethoven’s music led to the development of the concert hall as we know it today, that it was first used to propel a political agenda, that it created a bridge between the traditional and the innovative, that it broke new ground by getting music to evoke specific images (as in Beethoven’s 6th symphony, the ‘Pastoral’), that it pushed forward the concept of exact timings by utilising extensively the timings of the recently metronome and finally that the use of complex rhythms (think of the left hand followed two beats to the bar and the right hand three beats to the bar) were a precursor of syncopation and some of the melodic forms that were to be fully developed in the jazz era.

I was reflecting upon the crisis that the world as a whole faces in the Middle East with Iran and Israel. The terrible paradox here is that Israelis think they are ‘strong’ by retaliating hard against Iran and ‘weak’ by doing nothing i.e. not retaliating. But the rest of the world, led by the USA, thinks that Israel would show strength in a policy of non retaliation and weakness by lashing out at all and sundry. I remember one or two key things from my undergraduate days and one that sticks in my mind is a book by Lewis Coser called ‘The Functions of Social Conflict’. Coser made the point over half a century ago that right wing governments always pursue aggressive and belligerent foreign policies in order to try to ‘unify’ the nation that would otherwise be rent with internal conflict as a result of their policies. So right wing leaders (and in the case of Israel) extreme right wing leaders such as Netanyahu will automatically hunt for enemies. As one military analyst said on the radio this morning, it is hard-wired into the DNA of the Israeli military that after any blow the only response is to fight back hard. For this reason, I am not hopeful that Israel will refrain from further military action against Iran or its proxies which will almost certainly ensure a ‘tit-for-tat’ and so the conflict will escalate, possibly completely out of control.

This afternoon after Meg had a bit of a doze and as we had not had the opportunity of a walk this morning, we decided to go for a spin in the car. We popped down the road to see if any of our friends were around and then went on to our favourite charity shop located in a street some distance from the High Street. Quite unusually, there was nothing there that took my fancy so I contented myself with buying a glasses case and then we returned home and watched some of the Parliament channel to guage the reaction of MPs on the strike on Israel.

The last time Meg and I went to the Age UK club, we were seated next to a lady who hails from Leeds and who was attending as a carer for her father. We exchanged email addresses and have exchanged some practical tips and hints with each other as to how to cope with our caring functions. These kinds of mutual support friendships are incredibly valuable and I am a firm believer in the principal that ‘1+1=3’ i.e. that we can always learn something from each other. I am hoping in the fullness of time and if the weather remains anything like fair, we can tea together in our garden and I can share our list of notes (and useful contacts) with each other. We are also looking forward to another meeting group like the one organised by the AgeUK charity but to be held in the Methodist centre down the road, of which we are patrons generally on Wednesdays of each week.