Thursday, 6th June, 2024

[Day 1543]

Today is the day when our friends from Hampshire are due to drop in to see us and we have been looking forward to their visit for a week or so now. Meg had a slightly disturbed night last night which meant that it took us some time to come round this morning but we managed to get ourselves up and ready for the carers’ early morning call. Then after breakfast, it was time for the ‘sitting’ carer to call so that I could get out and do the weekly shopping. The carer who sits with Meg on Thursday mornings is a pleasant girl and she and Meg generally get on pretty well. I left them both watching the ‘Post Office’ enquiry live feed until the YouTube froze and we had to tune onto something else. I got my shopping done at my usual Aldi store and then the carer and I started to unpack it slowly after I had treated myself to a little coffee break. Then it was time for the carers to make their calls and to depart and I busied myself preparing some vegetables that we could alongside the quiche that we were going to have for lunch. In between the kitchen and the Music Lounge, I witnessed some of the celebrations for the 80th anniversary of the ‘D’ Day invasions that are taking place in Normandy. One particular celebration was the fact that the president of France, Macron, was awarding the ‘Legion d’Honeur’ to some of the particular aged veterans, probably averaging about 100 years old, who had managed to travel to France for the occasion. After the French president had embraced each old soldier, the award was pinned onto their costumes followed by a handshake with Jo Biden, the American president, who was also present for the celebrations. I found that this was a strangely moving experience and Meg evidently felt the same about the schemes that we were witnessing. Then we had quiche accompanied by the mixture of fried vegetables (onions, peppers, tomatoes, petit pois and some onion gravy). After this, we needed to prepare for the arrival of our friends from Hampshire who we were expecting at about 2.30. They turned up on time and stayed for a very pleasant couple of hours, accompanied by their very amiable dog. I had bought some cake and some little mini-byte type titbits and this was fine to accompany or coffee. Our friends needed to depart, not least to claim their room before the very end of the afternoon and they were anxious not to get blocked in by the cars of the carers who were due to arrive in the late afternoon. As it happened, our friends departed and the carers for Meg turned up in the late afternoon with only about 30 seconds between the departure of one and the arrival of the others. Once settled in our normal lounge, I found a program on YouTube which was basically a biography of Mozart and although we had seen this once before, I hope that Meg would find this sufficiently diverting.

By tomorrow, Friday. most of the candidates for the various political parties should have been selected. In every single party, there seem to be various shenanigans going on. For the Tories, it can be quite a scramble to secure a nomination when there have been several re-drawing of the boundaries of constituencies by the Electoral Commission. The Labour party seem to be doing their best to ensure that any Corbyn supporting would-be MPs are excluded from shortlists. And the Reform party say that they are going to put candidates into practically ever constituency in the country. When there is an unseemly rush like this, there is always the prospect that candidates who would otherwise have been weeded out by a more rigorous selection process with appropriate due diligence get selected almost by accident. We have seen in the last Parliament one or two individuals who one wonders how they ever got through a selection process – in short some ‘oddballs’ may end up getting elected. Almost inevitably in times of general election campaigns, the question arises as to how the electorate takes decisions. We know from the referendum that there were several ‘big lies’ that might have swung the result and one wonders whether the Tories ‘£2,000’ tax bombshell might resonate with politically uninformed voters and gain the Tory party some seats. When Meg and I were on holiday in Yugoslavia, we had an interesting discussion about democracy with one of the quite young Yugoslav tour guides (who spoke her three national languages before learning German, Italian and then English as her sixth language) We were informed that the hotel in which we were lodged was run by a director who had been elected by members of staff (had he actually made enough profit in the last year) And the senior school pupils and the teachers elected the headmaster of their local school (on the basis of whether the exam results were good enough) In short, Yugolavs did not live in a democracy and could not change their government but they could, and did, have a lot of day to day control over the institutions shaping our lives whereas in the UK, of course, we do live in a democracy but only ‘demock’ for a new government every 4-5 years and do not have the same degree of control over local institutions that the Yugoslavs seemed to enjoy. So I believe that the question of how we exercise our democratic freedoms is quite important. I am quite impressed by the way that the Irish, for example, used the discussions given by Citizens’ Assemblies to achieve some degree of consensus over abortion law reform which could eventually be passed into law. So Citizens Assemblies could be an experiment which might help us cope with difficult questions such as Climate Change and Assisted Dying both of which are huge questions are not particularly well dealt with in our current political institutions.