Today was always going to be one of those fairly ‘full’ days and so it proved. Tuesday morning is a morning when traditionally we go down and meet with people we know who turn up for a coffee in the Waitrose café. True to form, there were three sets of people there that we know and we actually bumped into a fourth as well – the only difficulty is that I feel I need to spend a little bit of time with each acquaintance, some of whom already know each other but some of them do not. I had taken along with me a double page spread from The Times which both carried a message from The Queen declaring that the success of the ‘lionesses’should be an example to all young women and girls. But on the other side of the two page spread was the dramatic and iconic image of Chloe Kelly who, having scored the winning goal, whirled away, whipped her England shirt off and twirled it over her head until she was embraced by the rest of her teammates. Incidentally, this was amazing and totally free advertising for Nike Sports Bras and, indeed, sales have really taken off since the incident last Sunday. I showed two of the more elderly ladies both what the Queen had said and the example of the young footballer and said that I expected them, in their moments of triumph, to rip off their tops and go dancing through the local parks. The laughter was heard all of the way throughout the store, so much so that the regular staff knew that the Tuesday crowd were back in action again. I then needed to go round the store and buy quite a few things which I knew we needed because having been away last Thursday we had not done a normal weekly shop last week. Principally, one of the things that I needed to buy was a ‘double sandwich’ One of these was for Meg and the other I was going to consume later on. Immediately after my normal Pilates class had ended at 2.15 today, I also had a special eye clinic appointment that I needed to attend at 3.00pm. There was no time to go home in between the two appointments so I made my way to a local park and ate my sandwich. Then I got some money out of a local ATM and also popped into Asda to pick up one or two forgotten items and then went on to my eye clinic appointment. This was was one of these routine monitoring appointments that I have once a year but I was not really looking forward to it. This is because a technician puts drops into your eyes which massively dilates the pupils and then photographs are taken of the back of the eye with a very specialised camera. At tne end of all of this, though, your eyes are sensitive to light and everything appears fuzzy and this effect can last for as long as 4-6 hours. So I walked home in some dark glasses that I had purchased years ago especially for occasions such as this one and then I just to mooch around at home until the effects of the drops wears off. I find this all a little disorienting for the few hours that it lasts but at least it is only a procedure that takes place once a year.
The Truss regime has suffered an embarrassing blow today. It all started off last night when the foreign secretary said she would save £8.8bn by introducing regional pay boards instead of national ones to set salaries for civil servants, reflecting where they lived. This figure was always an obscure one as the total civil service bill is only 9 billion. But this would mean paying government employees in poorer parts of the country less than their counterparts in more affluent areas, such as the South East and London. And experts warned to reach the sum, the plan would have to branch out further than government departments, with the likes of teachers, nurses and police officers also facing lower wages than workers in the South. However, there has been an instant uproar from Conservative party members and MPs who are arguing that this is the absolute reverse of a levelling up policy. Employees in the public services who are living in the less affluent parts of the country would then effectively receive a paycut in addition to the fact that their pay is being ‘de facto’ cut by any pay rise less than the rate of inflation. When this double pay cut on public workers throughout the country was denounced, the Liz Truss team did the most screeching of ‘U’ turns saying that the policy had been ‘misrepresented’ and it was very promptly abandoned. One has to wonder what the quality of a potential prine minister is going to be when they advocate an ill-thought through policy in the first place and then abandon it within hours.