Thursday, 23d June, 2022

[Day 829]

Today has been the most interesting of days as we suspected that it would. I awoke our University of Winchester guest, who has been staying with us, with a very welcome cup of tea at 7.00am and Miggles, the cat, dropped by for a fishy breakfast. Then I set to work on cooking a couple of monster omelettes of red onion, tomato and mushroom upon which we all dined well. Then our son dropped by and it was not too long before he established with our guest that they were both rail enthusiasts and, in no time at all, they were swapping stories of railway memorabilia, locations of interest to rail enthusiasts and some interesting stories about our guest’s grandfather who was commemorated for his railway work in the station at Okehampton. This was quite amazing becuse we had no idea that this was a shared enthusiasm. The conversation then progressed to shared interests in natural history and in no time at all, we were into the various images of moths, butterflies and caterpillers that had been captured in the past on mobile phones and then put onto websites. So it was a long time since we have had such a detailed and intimate sharing of subjects across the breakfast table. As soon as we felt able, we went by car as far as the local park and I showed our guest the vistas that Meg and myself are used to appreciating every morning. Then, and particularly pertinent in view of our long conversations across the breakfast table, we took our guest to view a special type of memorial which is situated in the churchyard-cum-park of the large Anglican church dedicated to St. John the Baptist. This particular mounument consists of a a large and moving tribute paid to the driver of a locomotive who was killed when his locomtive engine boiler exploded in about 1842. I suppose that might have been a fairly common occurrence in these early days of steam locomotives. There was a long and poignant poem engraved into the monument and it looked as the fireman died the day after his companion and workmate. It is only when you reach the very end of the inscription on the monument that it was revealed that the monies provided for the erection of the monument was provided by the locomotive crew’s workmates (and interesting that any management contributuon to the cost of erecting this monument is conspicuous by its absence) Our friend took a photo of the monument to share with a cousin who was also an avid rail enthusiast. I first spotted this monument which was in rather a run down condition when I first moved to Bromsgrove some fifteen years ago but in the last few years the monument has been removed and restored off-site before being reinstalled. It is perhaps interesting to note how few people in the town seem to know of this monument and traversing the park several times each week, I suspect that the memorial does not receive very many visitors.

After this interesting little venture we repaired to the solace of the coffee bar in Waitrose which we know so well. Our friend is a real Waitrose devotee so this was much appreciated and we just missed seeing Seasoned World Traveller who was on his way to the park. Then after a brief pit stop at home, we journeyed on to Droitwich where we all intended to lunch at one of our favourite eating places in the town. We experienced a certain amount of disappointment, though, as the establsihment that we know well seems to have changed ownership and the menu is somewhat more restricted than we have been used to over the years. Nonetheless, the meal was adequate enough for us in the middle of the day so we returned home after a very hot morning in the sun. We were quite content to rest in the cool of our lounge at home and chat before we ventured out into the garden. Here we refreshed ourselves by drinking either cordial or tea – in my own case, I was delighted to try a beer local to Berkshire whih our friend had thoughtfully brought along for our enjoyment. Then we had a simple ‘nursery’ style tea of bananas and custard before we went indoors to catch up on the Channel 4 news programme.

There is depressingly disturbing news emerging from the USA this evening. After the latest recent episodes of mass shootings with a school and calls for some degree of gun control, then the US Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution gives people the right to carry a gun outside their home, in a significant new ruling for gun rights. The decision is expected to allow more people to legally carry firearms in some of America’s biggest cities – such as LA, New York and Boston – and is the court’s first major decision on gun rights in more than a decade.

We are all eagerly awaiting the results of the two by-elections held today but it may be 2.00am before we get a glimmer of either of the two contests. The Main Street Media is full of speculation but we will just have to be patient to see what the electorate thinks in these two critical by-elections.