Monday, 6th September, 2021

[Day 539]

According to the newspapers, we are due to have a mini heatwave over the next day or so and today the weather was certainly even warmer than yesterday. Tomorrow is going to be a really hot day with a temperature of 28º which is 82ºF in the ‘old’ system. Then, on Wednesday, the weather is due to break probably with thunderstorms and some much needed rain. Meg and I were a little delayed because we were in telephone conversation with our building society getting some details of our accounts regularised. As you might expect, this is still a complicated business as it involves going through a series of apps to get at your accounts online, then we have to send them a secure message (presumably to prove who we are), then they are going to send us some forms which we have to fill in and finally we have to go in person, together with two kinds of ID to see them in person (which we will do next Monday) to get the account details altered to our satisfaction. I suppose one can see the point of all this to overcome potential fraud but you still have the feeling that a genuine fraudster might be able to circumvent the system a little more easily. Eventually, and a little later than planned, Meg and I wandered down to the park which, as you might expect, was particularly quiet as it was both Monday morning and also it was the day when all of the schools returned after their long summer break. One did wonder, though, why the occasional young adolescent was to be seen on the skateboard board and even on the swings for the younger children. We had an enjoyable time and I left Meg to enjoy the late summer sunshine whilst I went to pick up the newspapers.

When we returned home, it was fairly easy to prepare our lunch as we had cooked our ‘main’ joint yesterday. Today, we had pork, Cavolo Nero (kale) and a smidgeon of baked potato and it was delicious. After we had our post-prandial nap, we decided not to avail ourselves of one of the rolling news programmes that we generally watch at about this time of day but throughout we take the feed live from Parliament to see what Boris Johnson had to say for himself. The session started at 3.30 and carried on until 4.45 so the Commons organised itself in such a way that a greater number of MPs then usual could question the PM about Afghanistan. Boris Johnson put on a fairly typical performance for him. Most of questions from MPs (on both sides of the house) put fairly direct and pointed question, mainly entering upon the plight of those still trapped in Afghanistan or their relatives. Boris Johnson’s replies were a typical mixture of bluster, political point scoring, evading the question and often avoiding the main point of the question altogether. Of course, all politicians do this particularly on the media – to the frustration of many, including myself, the interviewers often do not pursue the point that the question has not been answered and move onto the next question in their schedule. The politicians know this and often fill up the available space by always starting an answer with a preamble that is only generally loosely related to the question and then going on to answer half the question or quoting a statistic in their favour that does not really answer the question that was asked. Because all politicians do this (I make an exception for Nigel Farage whose politics I detest but who generally did answer the question that he was actually asked) I wonder whether they engage in this evasive mode almost by force of habit. So I found the questions asked by the MP’s generally hit the point but the answers do not. So, for example, many MP’s asked why so many emails remained unanswered in the Foreign Office system. The response was that all emails would be ‘attended to’ by the end of this evening – which in practice meant that they might have been opened and then immediately ‘filed’ in a kind of pending folder without the substantive point ever being addressed. Another case in point was a very intelligent question asked why there was no coordination or cross-referencing between the various schemes of headings under which people could apply for admission to the UK – the reply from Boris Johnson just stressed how many people had been aided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in the last few days which, of course does not answer the question.

In the late afternoon, I undertook a task I had been meant to do for days. I had an old adjustable spanner soaking in a tub of white vinegar for several days to loosen/get rid of the rust. Then it had a good hard scrubbing with a wire brush, several rinses with cold water and finally a drying off and a good treatment of WD-40 before it will get put carefully away.