Saturday, 7th May, 2022

[Day 782]

It was a most beautiful day today so Meg and I were keen to get a ‘normal’ walk in whilst the weather was set fair. We did not quite get up at the crack of dawn, recouping somewhat some of the sleep that we had lost by staying up for the early election results on Friday morning. So when we had breakfasted and showered, we went together by car to collect our Saturday edition of ‘The Times‘ which is always stuffed full of a variety of supplements. Then dropping the car back home, we started a gentle walk down to the park which was generally in its spring greenery. I had noticed with a certain amount of satisfaction that the hornbeam tree I planted about a year ago and which looked pretty dead only about two weeks ago had now burst fully into leaf which proves, I suppose, that it is in a certain amount of health. It was planted on a slope in ‘Mog’s Den‘ and so is not the easiest of locations to ensure that it has an adequate water supply whilst relatively young as water tends to drain away quite rapidly. In the park, we met with our University of Birmingham friend briefly but he had to leave us quite quickly to lend his expertise to a type of community repair service. I think that the idea behind this is that anyone can bring along an appliance of any type that needs fixing and the volunteers can bring their experience and skills along to see what they can do. I suppose you could call it a type of recycling as otherwise relatively useful appliances might be consigned to landfill or wherever else they go. When we got home, we had a midday meal of mince and veg before listening to ‘Any Questions‘ and ‘Any Answers‘ on Radio 4. I can listen to this program whilst preparing lunch and it sort of keeps me in touch with ‘Middle England’ but the panellists are generally quite sensible (Matthew Parris who writes for ‘The Times’ being one of them)

After lunch, I decided that I really needed to tackle the weeds on the patio outside the kitchen window. The most eye-sore weeds had already been removed but I decided that the remaining moss and weeds in between the paving slabs had to be tackled. This proved a much bigger job then I had first anticipated. Eventually, I worked out that for each slab I needed a three stage process. The first involves a gloved hand to remove or pull out whatever weed was easily graspable. Then for the second stage, I had a spcial tool designed to remove weeds from in between paving slabs and then finally, the most useful tool of all is a wire brush which does a magnificent job in removing all remnants of even the tiniest of weeds from between the slabs. I also found an old washing up brush quite useful to be pressed into service to make things neat and tidy. Of five ‘lines’ of slabs, I have managed to do two of them so I am 40% of the way through the job – more tomorrow if the weather holds good.

There is a rumour doing the rounds of the media this afternoon. Next weekend, the Eurovision Song Contest is going to be held in Italy. But certain interesting rumours are alreasdy circulating: in particular that the song from the Ukraine is bound to win. I suspect the European song contest has got more and more political as the years have gone by but this year, the Ukrainian band, will use their presence at the contest to ‘remind’ the audience of the war in Ukraine. I think that people have surmised that all of the Baltic countries and countries neighbouring the Ukraine will vote for it (rather than for each other). In addition, there may be massive sympathy votes from all quarters of the continent and, if you add all of these factors together, one can predict an out and out win for the Ukraine. Russia is banned from the contest (if they had not been, can you imagine a Russian jury voting for the Urainian entry) So this is not exactly a fix but an infomed guess as to how things will work out. I will watch it with a particular interest this year (rather than having it on in the background which is normal)

All this afternoon, the elections in Northern Ireland have been unfolding. I say ‘unfolding’ because in the system of proportional representation adopted in the province, the voters number preferences 1 to 5 in groups of constituencies each group generating 5 MLA (Members of the Legialative Assembly). In the Northern Ireland context, any member gaining 1/6th of the vote is automatically elected but that is when it becomes interesting. The person who gets the fewest vote in a round is eliminated and the second preferences are allocated. This process proceeds until all of the seats have been filled. It now looks certain that Sinn Féin will have the highest portion of seats and of votes, beating the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) Whether the DUP will participate in the process whereby the Sinn Féin leader becomes First Minister and the Leader of the DUP becomes their deputy remains to be seen – I suspect not.