Wednesday, 9th February, 2022

[Day 695]

Wednesdays are quite good days for us to have a day out as it is sandwiched in between my Pilates day on a Tuesday and our usual shopping day on a Thursday. Today we had promised ourselves a day trip Malvern which we had visited only once in the last fifteen years and was well worth another visit. So having picked up our newspaper this morning, we headed straight off for Malvern and we got to the vicinity of the theatres reasonably easily. However, a cold drizzle had settled upon the town so it was not exactly the weather for casual wanderings about. Nonetheless, we felt that a coffee shop was destined to be our first stop and avoiding Costa and the other national chains we managed to chance upon an empty but tastefully fitted out little coffee bar-cum-bistro where we enjoyed a very nice cappuchino and toasted teacakes. The proprietor and his assistant were very chatty and told us that Malvern had the highest proportion of independent business (and therefore the lowest proportion of chain shops) of any comparable town and this we could believe. We suddenly realised that we were maskless so we returned to the car and reparked it so that we start another two-hour slot. Then we made our way up one of the major streets and encountered an Oxfam shop which was magnificently stocked with CD’s, books and knick-knacks. We availed ourselves of some spectacular bargains. The most dramatic of these were two boxed sets of ‘Spectacular Classics’ tracks, each box containing 10 CD’s which were on offer for £0.99. Naturally we bought both of these together with a double CD set of ‘Best of Opera’ also £0.99. Then we splashed out on three more CDs – a Bach, a Mozart and a Bryn Terfel for which we paid the lavish price of £1.49 per CD. I reckon that I have purchased about 175 tracks of music at an average of 7½p a track. Some of these CDs can be left in the car to play on long journeys and the rest we can gradually sample over the next few weeks at home. Then we browsed in the book section in which we could have browsed for hours. The book selection was in effect an adjoining shop and was divided into sections as if it were a library but we confined ourselves to buying ‘The Pedant’s Revolt‘ which we can reserve to ourselves or use as a future birthday present. Then it was lunchtime and we managed to locate the type of cafe which serves light lunches. Meg and I both indulged in the same lunch which was a home-made quiche with a baked potato and salad together with a huge teapot of Earl Grey tea. On our way out of the cafe we noticed in a little niche a couple of photos of Edward Elgar. When we read the attribution on the photos, we discovered that this little upstairs cafe happened to be one of Elgar’s favourites so this seemed to a suitable subject for a quick photo on the mobile phone. As we wandered slowly down a very steep street towards the car, we encountered the charity shop associated with a local hospice, again which we could not resist. We bought a box of quality coasters and a few kitchen knick-knacks. I also found a set of four elongated glass dishes which I believe are actually corn-on-the cob dishes but whose size and shape makes them ideal for storing pens on a desk top. One would have been sufficient but what was on offer was a complete set of four. Then we returned home and watched a little of the Winter Olympics.

If we had been at home in the middle of the day, we would have watched Prime Minister Questions at midday. One of the revelations today was a photo from the so-called ‘Zoom’ Chrustmas quiz held in Downing Street. The photo shows Boris Johnson, one of the Downing Street staff wearing tinsel, a bottle of champage and some party food. The Met had apparently considered the case of this ‘Zoom’ quiz and had concluded that the available evidence did not merit further investigation – but in the light of this photo they said that they would reconsider their previous decision. It certainly looks damning enough as the elements of a ‘party’ seem to be in place but not a quiz. Boris Johnson’s retort to all of this was that Keir Starmer was ‘in error’ whilst Dominic Cummings was letting it be known that were many more and even more damning photos than this one available. Whether he has these in his possession or merely knows that they exist in an interesting question. In the last 24 hours, a major Tory party donor who has donated more than £3m to the party and £½million since Boris Johnson became party leader has indicated that he feels that the PM has ‘past the point of no return’ but how many more of the current batch of Tory MPs agree with him?