Today started off in rather a gloomy manner and we suspected that whatever day we were going to have would be rain bespattered. I walked off down into town firstly to get my trusty black leather hat – my constant companion – picked up after its repair and also to have the battery replaced in my car’s remote control. Whilst near the High Street in Bromsgrove, I allowed myself to be tempted by a shirt I had seen in one of the charity shops which I then tried on the minute I got home. It was one of those items that looks better on than off and was absolutely the right size for me. Afterwards, I picked up our (fat) Saturday newspaper and then walked home for breakfast. Meg and I decided to brave the weather and, having got dressed in slightly warmer clothes, we then made for the park. Whilst there, we had to endure a bit of gentle rain but we soon shook it off. Then, on our way out of the park, we ran across our University of Birmingham friend and exchanged notes about what we had been doing or were about to do in the next few days. As we passed our long-established Irish friends wer were hailed inside and were then given an impromtu lunch of soup followed by strawberries and cream. We had a wonderful chat for well over an hour and then made for home when, fortunately, the rain clouds had swept away.
Saturday afternoons are always rather quiet affairs as Meg and I know that we are going to leave the house in the early evening to attend the Saturday evening church service. However, I made one important telephone call during the afternoon and I was glad that I had. When our domestic help called round in the last few days, she told us the sorry tale of the person who used to come along about once a month to do the kind of gardening for which I normally do not have the time nor the inclination. Several months we received the message that he collapsed in a garden (whether his own or a client’s I cannot say) and then had a long period of illness in hospital having to receive several blood transfusions. Evidently, this put paid to his gardening activities and to be honest, I did not know whether he was in the land of the living or not. Our domestic help informed us that she had seen our gardener in the streets of Bromsgrove and was told a story of a whole series of domestic tragedies which had befallen him and which made feel that the whole of his world had collapsed. I made the telephone call to invite our gardening friend to the house just for a cup of tea, a chat and a shouldier to cry upon. He was tremendously grateful to receive my call and we have arranged one day in the afternoon next week when we can have tea in the garden.
In the late afternoon, I took some of the excess vegetables from the last time I made one of my special soups (courtesy of the soup maker) This was a blend of carrot, parsnip, swede and celery put upon a base of fried onions and then supplemented with some coconut milk, an onion gravy stock and a touch of balti sauce to make a really delicious but somewhat spicy vegetable soup. I got the soup prepared and put some into a container for our friends that we we knew we were going to see at church later that evening. Then when we returned, we had our portion of the soup which we really enjoyed. If it had been a failure, then I would have owned up to that but I have tried this combination of root vegetables before so I know it is pretty reliable. When we got back from church, we looked at ‘Today at the Test’ which is the highlights of the day’s play in the cricket Test of England versus New Zealand. Today’s play had everything you could wish for and suffice it to say that the day started with England facing a potential defeat but ended with England in sight of victory if they continue to play as well as tomorrow as they did today. Tonight, there is a special ‘Platinum Party at the Palace’ being performed on a specially constructed stage in front of Buckingham Palace. Although popular music is not really ‘my scene’, I have to admit that from what I have seen this evening the atmosphere seems to be electric and the excitement practically contagious. It must have cost millions to stage and I wonder (cynically) if the government is funding it all on the ‘bread and circuses’ principle. Those who know their Roman history will know that when the Romans were faced with incipient revolts from the population, they bought them off with a free suppy of bread (help with gas bills?) and a free show in the ampitheatre – hence bread and circuses. Nothing changes!