Saturday, 25th May, 2024

[Day 1531]

Meg and I spent a reasonable night last night in our new sleeping arrangements with Meg in her hospital bed and with myself sleeping beside her in my camp bed arrangement. I am actually very comfortable in this new mode although I do tend to wake up in the middle of the night with my blanket on the floor. But after the carers had got Meg up and we had breakfasted, we both felt in a reasonable shape to see if we could venture out in a wheelchair, the first time since the almost calamitous experience of last Tuesday. This time, though, I was determined that we should make some adjustments to ensure that we had a better trip out. Firstly, I decided that we should use the slightly smaller wheelchair that we traditionally used to keep in the boot of the car and to which Meg is well adjusted. I had put the footrests into a position one notch higher so that we had a little more ground clearance than on the other wheelchair. I also ensured that we do not use the support cushion that caused us so many problems on our last trip out when Meg tended to slip forward and fail to maintain a proper seating position within the chair. I also made a type of thigh support which was a small cushion put into a pillow case and used to put under Meg’s thighs in such a way that her body would be inclined towards the back of the chair rather than the front of the chair. But the principal adaptation I made utilised some ankle straps which I had bought on the web. These are elasticated type strappings that are designed to wrap above below either the knee or the ankle to provide additional support for I imagine people playing a sport where they are likely to strain ankles or knees. I utilised these straps to wrap around Meg’s ankles and attach them firmly to the footrest uprights to ensure that her feet stayed in position and did not slip either off or forwards. The combination of all of these factors worked exceptionally well, probably in combination with each other and the net result was that we managed to transport Meg up and down the hill with the minimum of trouble and no untoward incidents. We had coffee with two of our Waitrose friends, one of whom I intended to make a present of the last piece of my birthday chocolate cake which I had promised her but forgot at the last moment to take with us. But it was a beautiful day and we enjoyed our little trip up and down the hill, having been inside for days not least because of the intense rain of the last day or so. We took the opportunity to buy some supplies in store and when we got back Meg’s carers had actually been awaiting our return for a couple of minutes.

This afternoon was the FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Manchester United. When I was at my boarding school in Bolton, in Lancashire the pupils as a whole divided their football loyalties between Bolton Wanderers and Manchester United. In fact, these two teams met each other in the Cup Final in 1958 which Bolton went on to win. This match is regarded as one of the best ten FA Cup Finals of all time and is noteworthy for the fact that Manchester United had fought their way back after many of the team members were killed outright or severely injured in the Munich air disaster of February, 1958 in which the aircraft carrying the Manchester United team crashed on its third attempt to take off from an ice-laden airport in Munich. But when I was at University, the digs that I occupied were within half a mile of the old Manchester City ground of Maine Road. At that time, Manchester United carried all before them and Manchester City were the decided underdogs so I switched allegiance to the team around the corner. We occasionally watched sparsely attended mid-week matches, sometimes in European competitions, as getting to the ground was easy and admittance quite cheap. Today, though, I am supporting Manchester United because Manchester City have won the League and been so successful this season and Manchester United have started very much the underdogs. But they scored two good goals in the first half, conceded a goal to City in the last few minutes but ran out as deserved winners with a score of 2:1. I am not the greatest of football fans but as well as the treat today, tomorrow we shall see Leeds play Southampton to see which team will return to the Premier League next season. I shall certainly be supporting Leeds tomorrow and the match may well be as tense a match as the Cup Final itself.

The interesting news politically in the last 24 hours is to to witness various Tory ‘big beasts’ who have decided not to contest the forthcoming election. In particular Michael Gove who has been one of the more competent performers in the last few governments and held a variety of ministerial positions. Also Andrea Leadsom, one time Leader of the Commons has also decided to quit. One wonders whether these politicians actually have an eye on the House of Lords because retiring ministers who have devoted a lot of their political life to the House of Commons often end their days in the House of Lords. Today, Keir Starmer has indicated that he intends to lower the voting age to 16 from the present 18 so it is possible that this may give the Labour party some slight electoral advantages in the years to come. Having said that, the Tories thought that they were being very smart when they legislated for voter ID to be compulsory for voting in elections and this may well hand the Tories the seats where the contests are particularly tight. It could be that the Tories unintentionally disenfranchised some of their natural and older supporters when they introduced the new voter ID rules. There have also been several boundary changes this year which may make the results of particular electoral contests a little more difficult to predict as the parliamentary constituencies are adjusted to better reflect the geographical spread of the electorate. After Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, announced the election when it was pouring with rain, one particularly amusing newspaper headline has been to call our centre of government ‘Drowning Street’ which seems more than usually appropriate.