Thursday, 6th May, 2021

[Day 416]

Today seemed quite a nice bright day, albeit showery, in the morning. We were a bit delayed, as we are often are on a Thursday with our Waitrose delivery and the arrival of our domestic help as we always seem to have a lot of news to catch up week by week. So eventually we got to walking down to the park and, for a change, the weather was very pleasant although a tad cold for us. Whilst Meg sat on the park bench, I went off quickly on my own to collect the newspapers – in the meantime, when I returned, Meg had been joined by our friendly octogenarian who walks at least 10km a day come hail or shine. Then on our way home, we bumped into our Italian friend who we have not seen for quite a long time (but she had seen the backs of us as we beetled down the hill one morning) Anyway, more pleasant chats for us both but it was very late when we go home for lunch. Fortunately, I managed to raid my store cupboard for one of those tins (chicken, steak) that we tend to keep in the cupboard to raid ‘in case of emergency’. So we managed to make a pretty fast risotto which was just as well as we tend to share a little of it with our domestic help. After lunch and a doze, the weather looked set fair so the lawnmower beckoned as it is now a couple of weeks since the last mow. Fortunately the rains held off and the grass got well and truly cut -as the gardening books often say ‘Choose a fine day to…‘ (as though one could)

The political news last night and again today was quite interesting, particularly if you are of cynical frame of mind. There are the Tories 10% ahead of the Labour Party the day before some of the biggest elections which we are holding today (some having been held over from last year, postponed because of COVID-19). Suddenly, eager to make a mark with the more Brexit and xenophically inclined sections of the electorate in the so-called ‘red wall’ (i.e. Labour seats in largely declining industrial areas) and handed to them on a plate was a fishing dispute with the French off the territory of Jersey. The British government immediately sent two warships to the area, which immediately generated headlines such as ‘Boris sends in the warships‘ and similar headlines. It is a well known ploy of right wing governments to have an aggressive foreign policy, almost deliberately picking fights with enemies to ‘unify the nation’. But in this particular case, it is evident that Britain sending warships to defend ‘our’ fishing industry against the French is bound to create waves of approval, particularly from the more Brexit-inclined portions of the electorate. You could not have handed a ‘gift-wrapped’ bonus to the Government on the very eve of an election if you had tried. I am trying to fully understand the rights and wrongs in this situation. As I understand it, no Jersey fishermen have been allowed to land any of their catch in France so they are one casualty of Brexit. The French, on the other hand, have traditionally fished all around Jersey (it is only 14 miles from the French coast). However, under the Brexit agreement, their rights are guaranteed but the Jersey authorities are demanding proof from each particular trawler skipper that they have ‘traditionally’ been fishing in the area which sounds a bureaucratic nightmare. However, after a flurry of ‘gunship diplomacy’, it does look tonight as though the Jersey authorities and the French are sitting down to thrash things out in a relatively cordial fashion but I suspect that this is one of these loose ends from Brexit will rumble on and on.

Whilst I must admit to being an ‘election junky’, tonight is going to be an exception. Normally, I stock up with several bottle of Newcastle Brown ale which it is always my intention to slowly consume throughout the night as the election results roll in. The theory is that I will be celebrating if the party I support is winning or gaining seats or to console myself if the parties I support are actually losing. But this evening, there will be nothing to keep me from my bed. In the first place, the Tories are about 10% ahead and reportedly 17% ahead in Hartlepool which I think has only been Tory on one occasion in the past century. Anyway, 17% behind on the day before the election makes the prospects utterly dismal for the Labour Party. Many of the councils will not start counting until Friday morning and some are even delaying the start of the count until Monday (because of the difficulties that COVID-19 creates for the count, presumably) So I suppose when the polls close at 10.00pm tonight and when the political analysis programs start at 12.00pm, probably there will not be much meat to chew over apart from some exit polls that may well have been conducted.