Saturday, 3rd April, 2021

[Day 383]

Well, today has been a most interesting day. We keep on expecting the weather to drift colder and, although it was a little cooler, the skies were clear and the spring sun was shining. So Meg and I had a very pleasant walk down into town. Having picked up our newspapers, we knew that we were going to make a flying visit into Waitrose, primarily to buy Easter eggs for the kiddywinks (son and daughter-in-law) before tomorrow. Then the bottom dropped out of our worlds when we were told that not only had Waitrose sold out of Easter eggs but so had every other store in Bromsgrove. Some of the assistants who know us well guided us towards a substitute telling us knowingly that we would get a lot more chocolate if we followed their suggestions. So we bought some miniaturised boxes of Cadbury Creme Eggs but complemented this with a good thick bars of some exotic dark chocolate. This will have to suffice under the circumstances but I never confess that in a month of Sundays I never thought actually that the stores would run out – normally they are teeming with stock at this time of year. We met with several of our groups of friends and as the spring sunshine was so pleasant, we spent longer than perhaps we should in conversations with each one of them.After all of this chattering it was pretty late when we actually did get back home. Fortunately, I had taken the foresight to buy a Chicken and Leek pie from Waitrose and all that this needed was to be popped into the oven and complemented with some green vegetables.

We knew that later on in the evening, we were booked in to attend an extended church service (an especial liturgy for Easter Saturday) so we had a fairly lazy afternoon and a put-me-on tea knowing that we were going to attend church at 8.0pm and we needed to leave the house at 7.30 to secure a parking place. Bu this afternoon, after an early BBC News, there was a special rendition of Handel’s Messiah (one of our favourites) and this was staged in an most interesting way. Instead of being in a church or the Royal Albert Hall, the performance took place in the London Coliseum. All of the orchestra was ‘socially distanced’ upon the stage and the conductor who was also playing some harpsichord continuo was conducting from the harpsichord standing up (so he could be seen by all of the members of the choir) The choir, meanwhile, were socially distanced across the whole of the normal audience space whilst many of the soloists performed their pieces from within one of the boxes. The way it was filmed made each soloist appear as though they were performing in their own miniaturised theatre and the whole effect was stunning. The choir was the chorus of the English National Opera who also provided the orchestra. I noticed that many of the instruments used were either originals or copies of originals e.g. some of the trumpets were side valve and looked remarkably different from their modern counterparts. The quality of the imported soloists as well as the choirs was superb and whilst it must have taken a certain amount of planning, I did wonder whether the experiment might be repeated (although, of course, they generally need a paying audience to finance the whole lot)

When we got to church, we anticipated rather a long and perhaps drawn-out service. In the event, the service lasted 1¼ hours which was a little shorter than we had been led to expect and there were several special liturgical insertions as well as music to make the whole service seem different. Before the service started, I merged to sneak into the presbytery and have quick chat with the priest as the first bottle of damson gin seemed to have gone missing.Anyway, I had brought along another one but apparently he had taken possession of the first so now he has two bottles to make a merry clergyman of him.The service was conducted briskly but with all of the necessary decorum so we think that the congregation and priest should get along fine together.

Yesterday, the new battery arrived for the IBM ThinkPad and it seems to be working OK. The little instruction sheet indicated that on first use, you shouldn’t charge it up from its semi-charged state but rather run it down to about 2% (but not lower) and then immediately attempt a recharge up to 100%. I wonder if this indicates its is an ‘older’ generation of battery (nickel-based ? and not a modern lithium-ion that should have this kind of memory effect) Last night, getting fed up of the Chrome browser telling me it could not be updated, I went on the web and found a browser specially dedicated to older computers particularly XP which first saw the light of day about 19 years ago. I installed a blindly fast browser called K-Meleon (which I only to use for internal file browsing purposes anyway). Their own blurb maintains:

‘K-Meleon is an extremely fast, customizable, lightweight web browser based on the Gecko layout engine developed by Mozilla which is also used by Firefox. K-Meleon is Free, Open Source software released under the GNU General Public License and is designed specifically for Microsoft Windows (Win32) operating systems

This sounds ideal for my purposes as it is small, fast and functional (for what I want to do)