Tuesday, 23rd April, 2024

[Day 1499]

Today has been one of those days which I describe as ‘chewy’ We did not get off to the best of starts where the carer, not the one I was expecting, turned up about 20 minutes late but I do understand that there are staffing difficulties. Nonetheless, we had our Tuesday crowd in Waitrose to which to look forward. Only one of our number turned up but as a 90-year old, I never cease to marvel at her energy and mental acuity and I constantly wonder if I can be like that if I ever reach that age. We popped around the store knowing that there were a few things that are only sold in the store and then returned home to wait for our carer before I went off to my Pilates session, which is a norm for a Tuesday. Meg was having a bit of a bad spell this morning and knowing that the allocated carer was the lady from Peru who had recently been taken by her husband to watch ‘La Bohème‘ on YouTube, we watched the first two of the four acts and then waited patiently for the carer to turn up but she did not materialise. So I went ahead and cooked our lunch of fishcakes and microwaved vegetables. We had just about finished eating all of this when the carer turned up, three quarters of an hour late according to the schedule on her phone and an hour and a quarter late by the schedule on our own spreadsheet. I had to (patiently) explain that as the sitting visit was timed in such a way that I could attend my Pilates session, there was really no point in turning up so late when she was not needed. Each carer has to file a report at the conclusion of each visit and so the latecomer duly filed her report but whether any action will ensue from this, I cannot say.

After Meg is put to bed at about 8.00pm, I generally do a few domestic jobs and then look in the TV schedules to see if anything watchable is being broadcast at 9.00pm. Incidentally, I have often speculated that there seem to be rubbish programmes in the schedules between 8.00pm-9.00pm because I suspect that BBC and ITV executives are busy putting their children to bed at these times and so good programmes, as well as the watershed, starts at 9.00pm. I have been watching ‘Pompeii – the new dig’ and today, searching the BBC iPlayer, Meg and I started watching the series from the very beginning. As it was the first programme in the series, several fascinating facts were revealed. The eruption, of course, was in AD79 and was observe first hand by the Roman historian, Pliny, which must be one of the few first hand accounts of an ancient disaster ever recorded. The ruins were discovered in the 1740’s when excavations were first started. Typically, the whole city was covered with five metres of a pumice/ash which descended upon the town and the weight of this ask upon primitive roofs caused them to collapse killing the inhabitants within. But about the third of the original site of the town has never been excavated so after years of planning, this ‘new dig’ has just started. For its time, Pompeii was quite an elite town and the excavations often reveal large villas decorated with frescos, workshops and other commercial buildings. It always amazes me that archaeologists manage to reconstruct the past based upon the most fragmentary of evidence but I wonder sometimes whether tiny bits of evidence are used to construct an elaborate theory or imaginative reconstruction that might turn out to be utterly mistaken. Nonetheless, the programmes are still worth watching again as it is the first time for Meg (but the second time for me). Meg and I went around Pompeii decades ago and even ascended the slopes of Vesuvius and, even then there were occasional fissures in the rock emitting clouds of sulphur dioxide and other volcanic gases. Some of the frescos that have been uncovered are portraits of an almost photograph quality that give the most accurate depiction of the faces and apparel of some of the inhabitants. I think that Meg and I may well watch an episode a day for the next few days and Meg found it especially fascinating – we both enjoyed Latin when we were at school and so Meg has a particular love for, and insight into, things Roman.

After the Rwanda bill finally passed through Parliament last night, a crucial concession having been made by the government over the treatment of Afghani asylum seekers who have assisted the British armed forces, the media is speculating about what happens next. It does appear that the Government are going to round up several migrants from wherever they happen to be and will put them in detention centres awaiting the final preparations for the flights to commence. I wonder, though, how many intended ‘deportees’ get wind of their intended fate and just disappear into communities around the country. I am not convinced that the government has got accurate records of exactly who is meant to be where, at this point of time. Meanwhile, it has become clear that in Rwanda itself, some or all of the housing originally built to house those being sent to Rwanda has actually been sold off. And all of this speculation has been overtaken by the very sad news that at least five bodies have been discovered in the Channel after a perilous journey has evidently failed. Journalists have been keen to hunt out would be migrants in the dunes on the coasts of northern France and it does appear that for the vast majority of them, the existence the Rwanda scheme is not going to have a deterrent effect.

Little snippets are starting to appear about the Trump trial in New York at the moment. Although it is early days yet, it appears that the Trump defence team is making a disastrous start to his defence. Meanwhile, Trump is sounding off whenever he possibly can through his own social media channel about the perceived inequity of the proceedings and vituperative attacks upon the judge in the case. As for judge himself, he still has to rule whether all of these outpouring actually constitute a breach of the gagging orders that have already been made but of course the trial has to run for weeks yet.