Friday, 27th August, 2021

[Day 529]

Today started off as a gloomy day and we hoped that later on in the day, perhaps in the late afternoon, we would get a burst of late afternoon sunshine – but it was not to be. When we eventually got down to the park, I left Meg with a copy of yesterday’s ‘Guardian‘ whilst I knew that I needed to make my way to an ATM to replenish our supplies of cash.This having been done, I popped into Waitrose because I needed to buy some extra bits of seasoning to accompany the sea bass that I bought yesterday. This having been done, I was delighted to see that Meg and not been left on her own for long as our University of Birmingham friend had decided to make a trip to the park in the morning as his customary tennis was postponed until the afternoon. We were delighted to meet with him and we are going to pass onto him a Spanish course that he may well be able to make use of as he is busy teaching himself the language at the moment.

When we got home, we had a minor domestic issue with which to deal which could have turned nasty but everyone was all right in the end. We had noticed that our bathroom wash basin was draining quite slowly so we decided to ‘have a go’ at it using both a conventional plunger and also a wire ‘drain unblocker ‘I had purchased from Poundland yesterday , thinking that I might need to us it. I think the source of the problem is that during the pandemic, we have been using conventional soap rather than hand wash as we had read (somewhere?) that ordinary soap was much more effective pitted against the COVID virus than other agents. However conventional soap leaves quite a lot of scum, as we know, and therefore a build up of deposit is only to have been anticipated. My initial plunging attempts resulted in the slightest of improvements and then I tried my wire drain unblocker to no effect at all. If anything, I think we might have made the problem worse as the sink had turned from a very slowly basin to a never draining basin. So we turned to ‘Plan B’ which was to use a combination of soda crystals and kettle fulls of boiling water. After a strange gurgle about a metre or so away, the water started to flow and so I think the problem is resolved, for now. To prevent this happening in the future, I think I need to avoid conventional soap from now on and to give the wash basin a soda crystal treatment fairly regularly (once a week or once a fortnight) from now on. Having got over the plumbing traumas of the morning but also having eaten a magnificent meal of sea bass, our domestic help informed us that the local Asda was selling a particular type of casserole dish complete with a glass lid on a half-price offer. So I shot off down to Asda to get one of these before they sold out and was successful. The manufacturers claim that the non-stickiness is 5 x stronger than their competitors and they are giving a warranty on it which is meant to be a ‘lifetime’ guarantee but only subject to ‘normal and tear’. I doubt many people will claim under this provision but I wonder what a court would make of something as vague as ‘lifetime’?

One wonders how the Afghan situation is going to play out in the next few days. It seems to have dawned on the American and British military leaders that an absolute deadline of August 31st for the withdrawal of ‘occupying’ troops is fast approaching.Given that 3 days are required to remove all of your own troops not to mention equipment, then counting backwards means that all non-military personnel must be removed by Saturday at the latest. The word on the street is that the Americans are having to leave behind vast quantities of military equipment including attack helicopters and night-vision goggles and therefore the Taliban will be grateful recipients of all of these once the Americans have actually left. There is also a story that the Russians have left behind quite a store of military equipment but without a regular supply of spares, not to mention manuals, then a lot of this is unusable. Imagine having to translate Russian military manuals e.g. for helicopters both to fly them and to service them, into the two official Afghan languages Pashto and Dari. Somehow, I feel this is not going to be done. I also get the feeling that once the actual withdrawal of the UK forces has been undertaken, there will be a long slow fuse of resentment about the military blunders involved. Will there be an official enquiry into the conflict to parallel the Iraqi war enquiry – I think not!