Wednesday, 10th August, 2022

[Day 877]

Needless to say, the day started off hot and sultry and is probably the start of a series of 4-5 days until a thunderstorm might cool us all down. In the 1970’s, we all got used to lawns that were scorched yellow and it is almost the same all over again, although I suspect that the temperatures now may be hotter and more extensive than they were fifty years ago. It is evident that we need to save whatever water we can in the few days and weeks ahead so I am trying to do my little bit by not throwing away washing up water but letting it cool down and then throwing it over some of the plants (in pots) outside our back door. We had a morning filled with one of the minor frustrations of life. After we had collected our newspaper, we then repaired to the park and had our coffee and were it not to be for the slightest of cooling breezes, we would have been burnt to a frazzle. Then we toiled to the far end of the High Street in seach of a branch of Barclays Bank with whom we have some financial affairs to settle. As soon as we got there, the branch looked closed as indeed it is every Wednesday and, as from October, we were told that the branch was going to be closed completely and those who had dealings with Barclays Bank would need to travel to Redditch, a neighbouring town some 7 miles away. When I talk with neighbours and friends, I am constantly given horror stories about how badly banks treat their customers these days – I suppose since ‘quantitative easing’ when shedloads of mony was pushed by the Bank of England towards the Banks, they do not really need customers like us any more and we just represent a cost or even a nuisance. Not everything you want to do can be handled online but the banks do make it harder and harder for ‘ordinary’ customers.

This afternoon, our hairdresser called round and so we are both duly shorn. We were also expecting our chiropodist who failed to turn up which was no surprise as we had misread our own planning board as she is not due to come until tomorrow. After the shopping is done first thing tomorrow morning, we might go the large M&S store in Longbridge (ex-site of the ‘Austin’ factory, aka British Leyland) It is a little kmown fact that during World War Two, over 3,000 aircraft were also produced at Longbridge – including the famous Hawker Hurricane, which won around 60% of air victories in the Battle of Britain.) I happen to have a particular fondness for the Hawker Hurricane ever since I made a model of one when I was a boy in about 1960. There was a firm called ‘KeilCraft’ who printed out designs on balsa wood. To construct the model of your coice, you cut it out with a craft knife, glued it altogether, covered it in a tissue paper to which ‘dope’ was then applied to shrink it over the frame and finally it got painted in the authentic colours of the originals. Needless to say, it took a lot of patient hours of work and one wonders if there is any equivalent in the toys and handicrafts of today.

Today, it looks as though the seriousness of the crisis facing the British economy is finally starting to strike home. A Treasury minister has confirmed that a package of measures is being worked upon in the background and despite denials from the politicians, whoever wins the election for the party leader will no doubt implement a lot of what officals have decided. Liz Truss,in particular, has always maintained that tax cuts plus removal of the ‘green levies’ on fuel will be her principal policy choice – but she has no answer to the fact that this alone cannot bridge the massive increase in fuel costs. The average fuel bill was £1,400 in October 2021 but after fuel ‘caps’ are removed, this is expected to rise to £4,266 next January. The government is committed to giving everyone £400 towards this increase of £2,800 which is about one seventh of the anticipated increase. There is now sheer panic sweeping the nation as many Direct Debits are already in place that will anticipate this rise in fuel prices. Martin Lewis, the well-known and respected financial guru, was practically apopletic on Radio 4 this morning claiming that ministers’ claims they can’t do anything until a new PM is in place are “simply not true”. It is rare to find anyone so respected and authoritarive as Martin Lewis so angry which may help to explain why Treasury ministers have been spurred into action. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has said that any new PM will probably hand out more money to consumers and even Lizz Truss is starting to hint that despite her opposition tom ‘handouts’ that she, too, will change policy and support some sort of package of measures. But so far, it is all smoke and mirrors and everything is on hold until September 6th (days after the new cap on fuel prices has been lifted)