This has been quite a day, what with one thing or another. I went shopping to my local supermarket as I always do on a Thursday and then collected the newspaper. On my way into my driveway back at home, I reversed into the drive but unfortunately reversed into the corner of my son’s car as I was parking. I must admit I was a little proccupied with the sequelae of the demise of Meg’s one surviving relative, her uncle Ken, who was a ripe old age but who we have tried to see as often as we can over the years although we live 130 miles away. The damage to my own car which was a little scrape was quite ‘liveable with’ once I had given everything some attention with a sponge cloth but the damage to my son’s car was a bit more extensive to one bumper and possibly involvig one of the rear sensors as well. We wondered what was to be done and we decided to leave my car alone for the time being. In the meanwhile, my son drove his car to the garage from where he had bought it only to be told that they did not have a body workshop and the regional workshop only covered warranty repairs. Eventually, I got onto my own insurance company since I had dug out the details and ‘fessed up to the accident caused by more inattention (Incidentally, I absolutely hate reversing and I swear the sensor at the back of the car only sounded for less than a second before the collision occurred.) After feeling more than upset about all of this, I told myself that nobody had been injured, my sons car was in the system whereby the insurance company would take to the relevant repair garage and perhaps offer a hire car if necessary and things could have been a lot worse. Needless to say, I will not repeat this mistake again in a hurry.
The principal political event of today was the statement that the Prime Minister was going to make on assistance with rapidly rising fuel bills.The announcement in Parliament had been massively briefed in advance and therefore nothing was actually a great surprise. The support package is due to last for two years and although the total cost has not been mentioned,most informed estimates put it in the region of £130 billion.
In the middle of the Commons statements, tweets and notes were seen as being hurriedly passed around and the Speaker made an intervention that the Queen ‘ was under medical supervision and resting in Balmoral’ A air of despondency descended on Westminster and all of the current news channels (BBC, Sky) have immediately concentrated on the Queen’s health. Evidently something quite significant has happened to which we are not party but all of the members of the Royal Family, moreorless wherever they happen to be, are immediately making their way to the Queen’s side. Nobody is daring the use the verb ‘dying’ but the reaction of all of the members of the Royal Family in itself speaks legions. As this news is being broadcast all day long and commentators are anxious to fill up the space, as it were, then we are having things like reports of which aircraft bearing which Royals are within how many minutes of the nearest airport which is Aberdeen. Meanwhile, whilst the handshake between the Queen and Liz Truss was widely disseminated,it has been noted that the Queen has a large purple bruise on her right wrist/hand. This could have been the result of a fall or could be some trauma after receiving some medical intervention of some sort. So as the hours pass, we are receiving sources of concern from many parties such as all of the major religious leaders as well as political leaders from different parts of the realm. Still, all that we really know at this stage is that the Queen is 96, that her doctors are ‘concerned’ about her health, that members of the Royal family are rushing to be by the Queen’s side and there is a general agreement that this is a ‘significant moment’ – the seriousness of this is underlined by the fact that Buckingham Palace that does normally comment on the Queen’s health felt the need to issue a statement half way through the morning.
Returning now to the Liz Truss statement, there are lots of unknowns emerging. We do not know the total cost of the support, different arrangements apply in Northern Ireland but we know not what, the support package for business is vague. There is a promise for ‘equivalent support’ for businesses, charities and schools for six months based on a government guess of the excess they would have to pay because of the gas price increase, but it is unclear how or when further details will emerge. Beyond six months, only vulnerable industries will be helped – but will this turn out to be every industry? Evidently, a lot had to be worked out at short notice but there are an awful lot of loose ends which may take some time for us to learn.