Wednesday, 1st September, 2021

[Day 534]

I suppose to start off this blog saying ‘yet another gloomy day’ is not saying very much – I suspect that the whole nation is getting rather fed up with this weather pattern. Of course for schoolchildren, it is their last week of ‘freedom’ before the new academic year begins. For the rest of us, it is the start of another month and one is beginning to sense that autumn will soon be upon us. This morning we had a morning punctuated by telephone calls and text messages. I had sent a text to my favourite niece in Yorkshire, asking when was a good time to have a chat with her about the health problems of both her mother (my sister) and her father (my brother-in-law) who was currently in hospital. I felt my niece, as she is the eldest of my sister’s four children, would be in a good position to assess what domestic changes might need to be made once her father is discharged from hospital. She texted me to say that she on the way to see her mother and we should expect more news later on in the day. Then my professor friend from South Oxfordshire phoned for a friendly chat. He and his wife had spent a few days in the city of Liverpool and were extolling its virtues to me. They had found a place to stay near to the waterfront and were incredibly impressed by the various museums they had visited there aa well as the two cathedrals. I know that the new-ish Roman Catholic cathedral being built in a circular shape is known to the locals as ‘Paddy’s wigwam‘ But our friends told us that the footfall in the Anglican cathedral was actually much greater than in the Catholic rival. From the glowing picture of Liverpool that our friends painted (and it had, quite recently, been a ‘European Capital of Culture’ in 2008), we think that it may well be worth a short break of about 5 days or so. Later on in the morning, I got an extraordinary phone call from my sister whose birthday it was yesterday. I had bought her a card in Waitrose and then addressed it and posted it in the local Post Office. What actually arrived was an envelope, correctly addressed but unsealed and with no card inside. It looks as though in my haste to get the card off and into the system I had put a message inside the card and then forgot to put it into the envelope unless it came out in transit. Another of life’s little mysteries.

When we got home from our daily walk, we had lunch and then I contemplated the tasks for the afternoon. After lunch, I got a phone call from the energy company from which we are purchasing our gas and electricity but from whom I am moving to another company which is offering me a deal which is £50 a month cheaper and with no price rises guaranteed for the next three years. My existing company are evidently desperate to retain my business but when they kept offering me ‘new deals’ I argued back with them that they were offering too little, too late and if they had really valued me as a customer they would have offered me a better deal before I threatened to take my business away. Eventually, when I insisted I was certainly going to move my account. they go so frustrated with me that they put the phone down. As we are going to a funeral tomorrow, I felt as though I needed to give the car a quick wash. I always have a feeling that is a mark of disrespect to turn up to a funeral in a dirty car so it had a wash for the first time in a month or so. We are picking our Italian friend up tomorrow and we are making our way as a threesome to the cemetery and then to the refreshment afterwards. I also needed to fit the car up with petrol, nothing that out the first day of the new E10 regime where ethanol constitutes 10% of the petrol that you buy. The government argues that most modern cars will comply with ease to the new fuel and, altogether, the government argues that doubling the proportion of ethanol from 5% to 10% will reduce emissions to the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the roads. Having got the car filled up with petrol I then popped into the local ‘Home and Garden’ stores to buy one or two bits and pieces.

In the late afternoon, we got a call from my niece which did not contain welcome news. Her father’s prostatic cancer had now spread to his spine and had actually cracked some of the vertebrae. After a case conference on Friday, they may well be offering some targeted radiotherapy which I hope will relieve some of his symptoms a little. All I could actually do was to say that I would phone or FaceTime my sister much more regularly to giver her whatever kind of emotional support I can in these difficult times.