Sunday, 26th My, 2024

[Day 1532]

When we woke up this morning, we were greeted by a generally gloomy day so perhaps it was just as well that we did not intend to make a trip out this morning. The carers arrived at the appointed time and we were just about place for the start of the two politics programmes which are our normal fare of a Sunday morning. Evidently, during an election campaign, these programmes take on a particular significance and sometimes there are big stories that break on a Saturday evening, timed to hit the headlines of the Sunday newspapers. The item to hit the headlines this morning was the Tory idea (wheeze? gimmick?) to re-introduce National Service in either a straightforward military form or a voluntary service equivalent. This idea is bound to ‘fly’ with the older generation and with that section of the electorate who might be tempted to vote ‘Reform’ but I wonder what the younger generation will make of this idea? After we had breakfasted, we were paid a visit by the Eucharistic minister from our local church. The parish is facing a certain degree of turmoil in the coming months as there is going to be a local reorganisation of the local deaneries and there is a suggestion that the number of services might be reduced from three each weekend to one. Were this to occur, then the congregation would fall dramatically and the income of the parish reduced by something approaching a half which, in practical terms might mean the ‘death’ of our local parish. Whether all of this is going to happen or not is not at all clear at this stage but loyal members of the congregation are fearful that they church they have known for decades might be about to crumble before their very eyes. This is an immense source of sadness for all of us. I showed our friend the new sleeping arrangements with Meg’s hospital bed downstairs and she very kindly offered me the loan of one of her two ‘Z’ beds as she thought that one of these would be much better for my back in the long term than the present arrangement of a folding foam mattress on a camp bed.

This afternoon, Meg and I watched ‘The Dam Busters’ shot in back and white and made in 1955. So I was probably aged about 10 or 11 years of age at the time when I was taken to watch the film. Viewing it again, I was particularly struck by two particular practical aids that the pilots needed to deploy to drop the famous bouncing bomb at the precise height and distance from the dam wall. As Barnes Wallis, the inventor of the bouncing bomb discovered in numerous trials across I believe the Ladybower dam in Derbyshire, if the height was too great then the bomb casings would burst on impact so the bombers had to fly at about 50 feet (the height of one and a half houses). At that height, conventional altimeters do not work so the first innovation was to shine a couple of spotlights from the bottom of the aircraft, angled in such a way that when the two pools of light touched, this was the correct height. The next problem was to release the bombs at the precise distance of yards so that the bomb would bounce over the surface of the water, skipping the dam’s defences and then come to rest against the dam wall and then sink to the correct depth for a detonation that would breach the dam wall. To achieve the correct distance, a very single ‘Y’ shaped piece of wood with nails inserted in the two arms. Then this had to be lined up with the precise watchtowers at the side of the dam for the release distance to be correct. I think that the principal dam was weakened but not breached by the very first bomb but I think it was the third bomb that occasioned the catastrophic damage. The film documents as well as the skill of the bomber pilots, the correct mathematics of the bomb’s designer, Barnes Wallis, which eventually turned out to be practically correct. What I rather liked was the way in which two essentially practical solutions were found to the problems in hand, without resorting to high technology or practically any technology at all. Along a similar theme, it is reported that the Americans spend a considerable sum of money developing a pen whose ink would flow normally when astronauts were in space. The Russians are reported to have solved the same problem by providing their astronauts with pencils (which illustrates the point made above)

There is some fascinating political news emanating from the side of ‘the pond’ in other words, the USA. Apparently, Donald Trump’s attempt to reach out to Libertarian voters could hardly have gone worse after he was chased from the stage 34 minutes into his speech, exiting to boos and jeering. That is the opinion of the Guardian’s David Smith, who called the former president’s appearance at the Saturday night gathering at the Washington Hilton a ‘rare humiliation’ for Trump who is used to adoring MAGA crowds. Pointing to the response to Trump as he spoke where he was cursed, booed mercilessly and called a ‘wannabe dictator,’ the analyst suggested the reception was illustrative of the former president’s uphill battle to expand his voting base less than six months before the November election. This is the week in which we may get a decision from the New York court case in which he has forced to attend court eery day rather than campaigning and it is reliably reported that he often fell asleep during the proceedings.

I was rather disappointed that the Leeds-Southampton match was only going to be shown to suscribers of Sky Sports but as I am writing this blog, it looks as though Leeds are heading for a 1-0 defeat. The highlights of this match are going to be shown at 1.00pm on ITV4 which I doubt I will bother to stay up for unless Leeds pull off a miraculous and surprise victory which seems unlikely – in the event, the final score remained at 1-0. One of the treasons I prefer Rugby is that dramatic events do occur in the last few minutes of a rugby match whereas in football, one side tends to get ahead and then play defensively until the end of the match which is not a particularly good spectacle. Mind you, Leeds have a track record of losing important matches, including two Cup Finals against much lower ranked teams as I recall.