Sunday, 21st April, 2024

[Day 1497]

We got up in plenty of time this morning aware of the fact that our carers were timed to appear at 8.00am this morning but aware that yesterday they actually turned up one hour earlier. So we we were well prepared this morning and I had Meg up and ready to receive their ministrations by the time that they turned up on time today. Being a Sunday, we normally watch the Lorna Kuennsberg Politics program but were more than happy to see Trevor Phillips on the Sky equivalent which starts half an earlier as the BBC slot was taken over with coverage of the London Marathon. In fact, I found it rather refreshing to hear Trevor Phillips say to a government minister ‘Yeah, yeah, we have heard this all from you and your colleagues lots of times before’ when the spokesman for the Tory party goes into the script which seems to have been prepared for them before they are unleashed on the media. I only wish that more interviewers would do this these days but of course both politicians and interviewers need each other and, almost deliberately, run interviews with an agenda known between the two of them. Too aggressive an interview means that no more interviews will ever be held with that interviewer. I think that the Tory party has a very ‘iffy’ relationship with Channel 4 hardly ever agreeing to be interviewed on that particular channel whose interviewers are judged to be too aggressive – or in other words, to the point. After breakfast, Meg and I mapped out how we thought we would spend the morning. We intended to obtain our newspaper, make a visit to a local Aldi store and then go and have our coffee in the park. Our University of Birmingham friend phoned up so we were delighted to make an assignation a bit later in the park. We were actually a bit later for our meeting in the park than we intended because calling in at Waitrose, we were surprised to see they had no copies of the ‘Sunday Times‘ Assuming that if Waitrose did not have a copy of the newspaper, then no one would would, we bought a copy of the ‘Observer‘. But then armed with this, we decided to call in at the local BP garage not expecting to see any copies of the Sunday Times but secured a copy (for which we already paid, via the voucher system to which we subscribe) Then it was off to the park where it was a beautiful day but a little on the cold side. We occupied our normal bench and our friend was there waiting for us, having brought along his own flask of coffee and we spent the most enjoyable hour of conversation enjoying the spring sunshine. Before we parted, we made some tentative plans to have a day out together in Alcester, a charming little Georgian town, quite accessible for us. When we got home, we had some ham cooking in the slow cooker but quickly rustled up our lunch which I think I made in record time. Then it was time for Meg’s afternoon doze which did not last that long but was better than nothing.

When we awoke from our semi-slumbers, Meg and I tuned into the second half of the film ‘Ladies in Lavender’ which we had actually seen before. ‘Ladies in Lavender’ is a 2004 British drama film directed by Charles Dance and is based on a short story actually written in 1916. It stars Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith as two elderly sisters living in a small Cornish fishing village in 1936 who befriend a young Polish man who I think is washed upon on the beach and turns out to have a prodigious talent for the violin. The film is very emotionally charged and has some wonderful cinematography and although we had missed the first half, a lot of this was scene setting so we did not feel as though we had missed a great deal. On Channel 5, they followed this up with a detailed examination of the life of Maggie Smith who seems to have a penchant for acid one liners and an ability to play women of whatever age even from the earliest age. One of her finest performances was, of course, playing Miss Shepherd playing the part of ‘The Lady in the Van’ in the largely true story of the lady who camped on the property of Alan Bennett but latterly, she is better known for her performances as the dowager in ‘Downton Abbey’

Yet another Tory MP has had to resign in disgrace, after being kicked out of the party (i.e. the Conservative whip was withdrawn) Mark Menzies, the MP accused of misusing campaign funds has quit the Tory Party and will not stand at next election. A Conservative spokesperson says the party will now install a whistleblowing helpline and retrain MPs on how to manage certain financial accounts. This is rather a case of closing the stable door since the horse has bolted since the number of Conservative MPs seem to appear at the rate of one a month. 100 Tory MPs are standing down at the forthcoming general election, knowing that hey will almost certainly be defeated and a life in opposition, perhaps for as much as 10 years, means that their opportunities to take on lucrative second jobs will have diminished sharply. The argument is often made that MPs need to have second jobs in order to keep their current professional links alive and vibrant but this argument would have so much more force if after a modest amount of retained earnings, all of the rest of the money should be devoted to charities (and not a charity of their own choosing, either) Our local MP, Sajiv Javid, who is standing down at the next election has secured a remuneration for about 4 times his parliamentary salary for about a quarter of the work but this is not untypical for ex-Tory ministers.