Saturday, 12th February, 2022

[Day 698]

Everything today was to be dominated by the rugby matches that were to be played this afternoon. Accordingly, we breakfasted in plenty of time and then I went down by car to pick up our copy of The Times. Once this was safely delievered home, Meg and I set off for the park as we had a sort of loose arrangement that we were to meet in the park about 10.30 – which is a little earlier than our normal pattern. We made a rendezvous-vous with our friends and we teased each other a little over our known proclivities – but this is fairly normal for us these days. There was quite an icy blast and the wind chill factor made the air temperature seem colder than it really was, so after we had all drunk our respective coffees we decided to go on our way. We needed to get lunch well and truly out of the way and all of the washing up done before the rugby (Wales v. Scotland) started at 2.15. This, as it transpired, was a pretty tight match with the lead changing constantly between the two teams and for most of the time one team was leading the other only by a margin of about three points. At half time and three quarters of the way through the match, the scores were absolutely level but I surmised that as the Welsh were playing in their own Millenium Stadium for the first time in two years and with a passionate capacity crowd urging them onwards, the Welsh might have the slight edge and so it proved, winning by three points. The other really big match today is been Ireland v. France and whoever wins this particular contest will probably take the championship. I have set the video recorder to record and if I have set it up correctly (which I may not have done) then we can watch this match when we return from our trip to church this evening. As it turned out, i managed to view the recording and it was a really pulsating match from start to finish, as we suspected it might be. The Irish could never quite catch the French but made a valiant effort to do so.

There is an absolutely horrific story that has hit the headlines in Sky News this afternoon. As evidence of the so-called ‘canteen culture’ (instituonalised racism and misogeny) which has characterised the Met in recent years, an image has surfaced of a black recruit whose face was painted white with shoe whitener before telling him ‘Now you fit in‘ The black recruit admitted that he was ‘complicit’ in the abuse (did he have any option to resist I ask myself) and therefore did not report the abuse to his superior. Many of his fellow recruits then went on to have lengthy careers in the Met. In many ways, I find this image to be particularly shocking.

As always on Saturday, I find it quite interesting to see what kind of stance on the week’s political events is taken by the Sunday newspapers. It is possible to have an indication of this by lookimg at the BBC/Sky News report on the next day’s first editions as they come in at about 11.00-11.30 each evening. We know already that Boris Johnson and more than fifty Downing Street staff politicians and staff in total have been issued with questuionnaires by the police and these have the status of the written equivalent of police interviews under caution. At least three ex-Tory leaders and two ex-Prime Ministers have intimated that if Boris Johnson were to be issued with a fine, this would grounds for his dismissal or resignation. No 10, on the other hand, is trying to tough it out. The questionnaires have to be completed and given to the police by next Friday and if the Met then have a couple of weeks to decide whether or not fines are to be issued, then this would constitute about three weeks, I reckon, before some kind of crunch point comes. In the meantime, Boris Johnson and No. 10 are broadcasting the opinion that the PM was elected with a huge majority and corresponding democratic mandate – and therefore it would be the negation of democracy to remove a PM, even one who has acted illegally.

The situation at the Ukraine-Russian border continues to dominate the news headlines and it is an interesting question whether this is just a game of Russia and the West sabre rattling and playing ‘chicken’ with each other. One interesting perspective which was viewed on Newsnight the other night was that even if Russia did overwhelm the Ukraine, then the Ukrainians would fight to the last man against an army of conscripts whose heart might not be in the conflict. In other words, Russia might occupy the Ukraine but could it hold it? That is to say, the Ukraine could prove to be another Afghanistan Mark II from the Russian perspective.