Thursday, 20th May, 2021

[Day 430]

We knew from the weather forecasts that today was going to be a rainy and a blustery day all day so we made our plans accordingly. Earlier in the morning, I had telephoned one of our favourite restaurants in Droitwich, just down the road, in order to make a booking for lunch. This was accepted with alacrity – I imagined that this popular cafe and restaurant might be bursting at the seams but it is difficult to tell in these immediate post-lockdown days. We went by car to collect our newspapers and then made our way to Droitwich where we managed to park in our usual spot. We had intended to make a little shopping trip around Boots and also Wilko (a popular hardware store in the Midlands) but as we walked up through the town we were diverted into one of the charity shops that has now reopened. I treated myself to a box set of National Trust coasters (can one ever have too many?) and Meg espied a high-quality skirt,lined and made with a brocade fabric which seemed to be just about the right size. Once we got to the cafe, just about at our allotted booked time, the cafe was almost deserted. I suppose the weather might not have helped. Meg and I had a delicious meal of home-made salmon fishcakes which we consumed with salad and some baked potatoes (which we ask to be substituted for the chips that were on offer) So we had an enjoyable meal and then slowly sauntered back to our car, popping into the local Waitrose to buy one or two things that I knew we were short of and had missed the update of the order which I did yesterday. We knew that when we got home, our Waitrose order would be delivered in the next hour after we had got home. Fortunately, we coincided for a few minutes with our domestic help (and style guru) who admired Meg’s recently purchased skirt and suggested some colours and styles of tops to go with it. The dress was an absolute perfect fit, by the way, which is a bonus when you don’t have any fitting rooms. As it was so windy this afternoon, one of the plants pots on my tall display stand outside my study window had blown over but nothing was damaged. So I availed myself of quite a heavy brick which, when placed in a strategic position, may forestall any more plant pot adventures.

Late on this afternoon, I went down to the end of our access drive to rescue my ‘green bin’ which has to be placed near to the main road for the convenience of the refuse men. After being emptied, the bins are left by the side of the road so I rescued ours and the one belonging to my neighbour who I bumped into as the bin was being delivered. My neighbour told me the good news that he had recently had a medical procedure which had helped alleviate the blood vessels near his heart and this had improved his health considerably. So that was good news for us to share. He also told us that he was planning quite a large birthday party for his wife’s 70th and this would involve marquees and the like in the garden and all of us were invited. Naturally, I offered to help with anything that might be needed e.g,. spare outdoor chairs but we are both hoping that the weather might be fine for us on that particular day.

On the national front, I am actually getting interested in the fact that Boris Johnson wants to give the Australians a zero-tariff trade deal but apparently the cabinet is split down the middle on the issue. If the Australian deal goes ahead as Boris would like then both the Scottish and the Welsh beef and lamb trade would be massively impacted. There is no way we can compete on cost with the Australians for whom land (and pasture) is plentiful and whose welfare standards do not match our own. The cabinet dilemma is this. If the ‘free market’ solution is adopted, then this would be at the expense of our domestic industries that would be decimated. If, on the other hand, we protect our own markets somewhat, then the rest of the world will not find trade deals with the UK so attractive if the UK industries are going to get a measure of protection. So the Brexit slogan of ‘take back control’ means that we lose control of our businesses which cannot compete, or do we keep control of our own industries to the detriment of any prospective trade deals? Is this what is called a ‘wicked problem’? and can the circle be squared? The ardent Brexitreers in the cabinet are conscious that the rest of the world is watching this deal with the Australians and ‘where the ball lands’ may well provide the pattern for trade deals (or the absence of them) with the rest of the world.