Wednesday, 24th April, 2024

[Day 1500]

Meg and I generally look forward to Wednesdays because it is the day when our domestic help calls around and we always enjoy a good chat with her. We had to make do with one carer this morning whilst the agency is having its temporary staffing difficulties but this worked out all right for us. After we had had breakfast, we started watching a YouTube offering and this morning it was the renowned pianist Horovitz giving a piano recital in Vienna. He started by playing approximately five pieces of Mozart which he did without having a score in front of him. Judged by his appearance, he appeared to me to be in his 80’s and so I consulted the web to find a bit more information. I discovered that the 82-year-old pianist Vladimir Horowitz played his first recital in 52 years, and music lovers said his reception was one of the most rousing they have seen in the Austrian capital. Horowitz delighted 1,700 fans who paid up to $250 each with a performance of works by Mozart, Schubert, Liszt, Schumann and Chopin in the Great Hall of the Musikverein. A standing ovation greeted the finale, Chopin’s Polonaise in A flat major (Op. 53). Evidently, Horowitz had escaped persecution at the hands of the Nazis which must explain his long absence from the Austrian capital. No doubt, he has been playing these works for decades but I still marvelled at both his memory by playing so much without so much as a score as an aide-memoire and also at the physical dexterity of his hands, which seemed unaffected by arthritis which must be quite common amongst 80 year olds. Our friend from our local church called around mid morning and we have a mini-service, followed by a chat. Afterwards, as the morning was fairly advanced, Meg and I decided to go down to Waitrose. As I was getting Meg out of the car, I had a slightly awkward moment as the spot where I had parked is on a slight camber and getting Meg into her wheelchair can prove a little problematic on these occasions. But suddenly a helping hand appeared just in the nick of time and apparently out of nowhere and it was our Irish friend from down the road. She explained that she and her husband had been off to Ireland and that explains why we had not bumped each other for a week or so but no doubt we will get together quite soon to exchange bits of news with each other. Once we got home, it was a case of finishing off our ham with a baked potato and some fine green beans. The ham tasted particularly tasty today and I think it must be the onion gravy that I make afresh and in which I heat up the slices of ham before it is all served up. Meg had a little doze this afternoon and then we amused ourselves with a catch-up of ‘Have I Got News for You?‘ followed by a David Attenborough wildlife programme.

This week is a fairly quiet week for Meg and myself with no appointments or other commitments in prospect. But on Friday we intend to pay a visit to Alcester which is a charming Georgian town with an excellent range of charity shops from which we rarely emerge empty handed. There is another attraction, also, because there is a very old fashioned hotel at one end of the High Street that offers a mid-day meal to pensioners at pensioner prices – as it is always home cooking at its best, we tend to always enjoy their offerings, even though the menu is necessarily limited. I managed to make a booking today and we anticipate that our University of Birmingham friend can come with us to enjoy the delights of the town. The highlights of next week for us is going to be the local election results to be held on May 2nd and then the following week is going to be intensely busy for us. We will be attending the funeral of Meg’s cousin in Derby on one day, followed by a family meal in Cheltenham the next, followed by my birthday when, quite fortuitously, there is going to be a concert in one of the local churches that we intend to attend. I suppose social arrangements follow the rules followed by buses i.e. nothing seems to happen and then at least two come along at once.

In the late afternoon, Meg and I casually turned on Sky News only to receive some of the latest news about the Post Office Horizon enquiry. Just when you thought that things could scarcely get any worse, there was revelation in the enquiry today that there were other accounting scandals concerned with other parts of the Post Office business. The news today was that the ATMs in Post Offices were subject to error on occasion and one case was highlighted where the sub postmaster had to fund the Post Office with tens of thousands of his own money. The convictions were always upheld by the Court of Appeal as there was always a presumption that the Post Office system was sound so the sub postmaster must be fraudulent. Because some of the cases are so dated, then some of the people affected have died and their families have had to live with the stigma of having a member of their family convicted and regarded as guilty of a criminal offence. I also read in the last few days that another arm of government, i.e. the Home Office is dragging its feet concerning the payments that it indicated that it would make to the victims of the Windrush scandal. It seems that Suella Braverman had instituted a policy of ‘going slow’ on the Windrush payments so here we have two parallel cases where past wrongs have been admitted but the State is proving to be exceptionally tardy in putting right the wrongs that have been committed.