Wednesday, 17th April, 2024

[Day 1493]

Our friendly and hard working Polish-born carer turned up this morning absolutely on cue so we are always pleased to see her and it helps to get the day off to a good start. She is having a couple of days off now so we shall have to see what her replacement is going to be like tomorrow morning. This morning, we were absolutely delighted to see our domestic help back again after an absence of about 10 days, during which time she has to cope with the euthanasia of her pet Jack Russell dog which, at 17 years old, was part of the family. I am pleased to say that she was coming to terms with the loss of her pet which I think had struck her quite hard (and coming on the heels of the death of a close family member as well) In the middle of the morning, we were happy to see the Eucharistic minister who tries to call on us at weekly intervals if this is possible. She and I are both complete aficionados of Mozart but I told her all about the fantastic programme I had seen on Beethoven recently courtesy of YouTube so I hope she manages to get a sight of this. Although we had our mid-morning coffee at home, Meg and I still felt the need to get out this morning. I managed to find a car parking space fairly near to an accessible ATM and I was pleased to get our living money out as I am going shopping for our weekly shop tomorrow morning. We did whizz around Waitrose and I bought some things like milk that I really did need for today. After that, we got home and I got on with our lunch which was our last full meal of the chicken we had for last weekend, complemented with some mange-tout peas and baked potato. After a tasty lunch, I encouraged Meg to have a good long doze but it was not to be. By the mid afternoon, the weather looked quite sunny and Meg expressed the desire to go for a walk in the park. This we did but as soon as we got to the park, quite a bitterly cold wing sprung up which meant that we had to confine our stay in the park to the bare minimum. Needless to say, the minute we got back to the car, the sun seemed to shine brightly once again so we were just a little unfortunate in our timings.

As I write, the parliamentary game of ping-pong between the Lords and the Commons is still proceeding. The Lords has whittled down amendments to the last two which are deemed critical – one of them is trying to guarantee the rights of Afghanis with a substantial connection to the British Army should not be deported to Rwanda whilst the second is seeking to strengthen an oversight committee, designed to ensure that Rwanda really is a ‘safe’ destination. It is possible that many of the almost sleeping members of the Lords might be encouraged to come up to London and to vote in favour against any amendments but the results of this last ditch stand is a bit difficult to call at this stage. If the Lords does pass further amendments, then the Royal Assent night be delayed until Monday whereas if the two Lords amendments are not passed, then the Bill could actually receive the Royal Assent tomorrow. The news is developing as I write and it now looks as though the Lords have passed the amendment concerning Afghans who have assisted the British army which means that the final vote will be delayed until Monday. The Opposition estimates that the cost per refugee is £2 million pounds, that less than 1% of asylum seekers will de deported to Rwanda under the scheme and the costs are in excess of £500 million (0.5 of £1 billion)

Whatever one’s politics, the veteran Labour politician, Denis Healey, used to say ‘In war, the first casualty is truth’ and this seems to be true in the case of Russia and Ukraine. A recent report has put the number of Russians killed at 50,000 and when this figure is put to the Russian military they would neither confirm or deny it. The official figure is about 25,000 but the true figure has been compiled by counting up the number of new graves dedicated to soldiers across the country which is proof indeed. The American military when in a conflict in Vietnam were desperate to maximise the numbers killed in the conflict to try to sustain public support for the war. A strategy that was used was to look at the population of a village surveyed by the French in 1954, increase the number by the putative birthrate so that 500 became 750, for example, and then bomb the village. If 4 people were seen running away, the death toll was then put at 750-4= 746. Two assiduous journalists looked at the figures published in very small print in the ‘New York Times’ and concluded that the population of VietNam must have been killed about 10 times over. So this immediately blew the pieces the claims that were being made of the ‘kill rate’ and, of course, public support for the war drained away and eventually the Americans were forced into a humiliating withdrawal. I knew that Donald Trump had dodged the draft on one occasion but I did not know until I checked that this was done five times. On four occasions it was because of attendance at college and on one famous occasion it was because of his bad feet. Whether this fact is well known to his avid supporters is interesting to know but the American elite made sure that their sons did not serve by using one draft dodging ruse after another, leaving the unskilled and poorly educated to beat the ultimate costs for the war.