Tuesday, 20th October, 2020

[Day 218]

We really feel the season these days as the weather is getting quite autumnal. The leaves are gradually turning yellow and in the case of the acers and the maples a brilliant red so the park is quite a sight to behold at the moment. We made a reasonably early start this morning and so having collected our newspapers we sojourned for a little in the park but knew that we did not have to tarry too long. That is because Tuesday’s is my Pilates day and I need to do a certain amount of food preparation before I venture forth again for my Pilates session. I have inherited a very stout Korean leather jacket (found in the next door neighbour’s garage when it was being cleaned out). I thought I would use it solely as a gardening jacket but that seemed a waste of an exceptionally tough and warm jacket so I had it renovated and it has proved excellent on these bright cold days. Whilst it will stand a certain amount of water, I am not sure how it will fare in an absolute downpour so I need a waterproof jacket which is big enough to cover the leather jacket as well as myself. Fortunately, the second last time we were in Conway we had purchased an outsized jacket and this I now pressed into service. It proved excellent and – as the Scandinavians say ‘There is no such thing as bad weather – only inappropriate clothing‘ and never was a truer word said. The trouble about the UK weather is that you can look weatherwards and get a little streetwise about the likelihood of rain by combining your own knowledge about the height, colour and direction of movement of the clouds with a little bit of assistance from the weather app on my phone. I needed to get into town a little earlier on my Pilates day as Bromsgove holds a street market on Tuesdays and Fridays and there is a lady who runs a bag stall who also sells watches and belts and will fit a new battery for you. But on the day I need her, she wasn’t there so I availed myself of one of the local cobblers who fitted a new battery as required. I also did a quick dive into one of the local charity shops and bought myself a cheap leather/plasticky belt as well. I tend to buy things for an unconventional use and hence my purchase of a belt. As wearers of rainwear-plus-rucksacks will know, the straps have an annoying habit of constantly slipping off one’s shoulders but with a belt, suitable cut down to size, I can ‘tie’ the carrying straps together across my chest so the shoulder slipping problem does not reoccur. This gives me two hands free, one to carry my little lightweight stool that I use as a table for our victuals in the park and the other to link onto Meg to ensure that she does not trip over a kerb. I must add that Meg has form in this respect and a couple of years tripped over a kerb causing a ‘FOOSH’ injury (‘Fall On Out Stretched Hand’) that required surgery to correct and that we do not wish to repeat it unnecessarily.

This afternoon was dominated by the news of the stand-off between the Greater Manchester Mayor,Andy Burnham and the UK Prime Minister,Boris Johnson. Basically, Andy Burnham supported by all of the leaders of the local authorities in the Greater Manchester area was demanding that if the Manchester Region was moved from Tier 2 to Tier 3 then some kind of support package was needed – more than the two-thirds of the minimum wage offered by the government. The whole thing came down to a haggle over money and the amount separating central and local government may have been as little as £5 million (small change to the Treasury when they have spent £12 billion on ‘Test-and-Trace’ i.e. 2,400 times as much) The whole episode is basically a tussle between an authoritarian inclined metropolitan government which feels that it knows best against the level of devolution which having a policy of elected regional mayors suggests. How this will end is unclear at this stage – but the resentments between ‘The North’ and central government may well reverberate for years. Some informed commentators are saying that a clash like this would be inevitable sooner or later and that a policy of devolution-lite had not been really thought through.