Friday, 21st October, 2022

[Day 949]

Today was, as predicted, a really gloomy and rainy day so after we had got ourselves showered and breakfasted, we surveyed the weather and thought that we treat ourselves to a coffee in Waitrose café. This turned out to be an inspired choice of location because just as I was getting my car parking token, our University of Birmingham friend turned up in his car, evidently with the same thought in mind. So we spent a very pleasant hour having a coffee together and, at the same time, we bumped into one of our pre-pandemic aquaintances as well. Whilst in the café, I received a phone call from one of my oldest (in every sense of the word) friends (who is 95 years old). We worked together in the Central Office of Information in central London (now abolished by a previous Tory government) during 1964-65 so our friendship extends back some 58 years! Before the pandemic, we used to meet, together with family members, in central London but evidently got out of the habit in the past few years. However, we now want to see if can get together some time in November so we need to try and arrange a day and a date, probably on a Saturday, when we can meet again with our friend, her son and daughter-in-law and of course my own son and daughter-in-law. To make life a little easier on the organisational front, my friend has now moved from Devon to be within a mile or so of her son in Surrey. As a link with history, my friend who has had the most interesting of careers one worked with (well, in the same room as) Alan Turing, the legendary mathematician and WWWII codebreaker. I must encourage her, when I see her, to make a tape of some of her reminiscencies as her history goes back such a very long way.

When we eventually made it for home, we decided to have a rather experimental fish lunch which turned out fine in the end. I had bought some Basa fish fillets which I cooked in the oven in tinfoil and then finished off adding to a heated lasagne type white sauce in order to give it some flavour. Together with a baked potato and some cavolo nero kale, this provided a very nutritious Friday midday meal. However, I had not heard of Basa fillets but when I did a bit of research, I discovered that it was fish farmed in South East Asia and perhaps liable to industrial contaminants. Therefore, it might be a bit too cheap so I think that in future I may avoid this and revert back to the sea bass we generally eat on Fridays. This afternoon as it was so gloomy, I decided it was probably a good idea to bring our trusty soupmaker into use. Fortunately, I had a supply of frozen root vegetables stored in the freezer so it was quite a simple job to get these parboiled and then added to some fried onions, coconut milk, lasagne type sauce and some curry sauce to finish off in the soupmaker.

This afternoon has been dominated by feverish speculation as to who will run for the now vacant Tory party leadership (and Prime Minister) The bar has been set deliberately high by the 1922 committee as each candidate must have 100 nominations to enter the first round of voting. This limits the number of candidates to 3 as there are 357 Tory members at the moment. The front runners are Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt and, of course, Boris Johnson. As I write, only Penny Mordaunt has formerly declared her intention to stand. It may be that Rishi Sunak has more support at the moment but it is difficult to tell as there is a lot of ‘spin’ and false optimism in evidence. The arguments in favour of Boris Johnson are that he is the only one of the three with a clear mandate having won a huge majority for the Tories in the 2019 election and, of course, he has an almost mythological characterisation as a vote winner. But even his supporters admit to his flaws (partygate, lying to parliament, acting unconstitutionally in attempting to prorogue parliament to mention but three) but are prepared to overlook these. If Boris makes it to the final two, he will probably win with the wider Tory party electorate. But on the other hand, there is a ‘leak’ from the Privileges Committee which is investigating a claim that Johnson deliberately misled Parliament which points towards a conviction. Were this to happen, then he would be suspended from Parliament and his seat would be liable to a potential ‘recall’ vote by his electorate in Uxbridge and South Ruislip. Here he has a majority is 7,200 which, on present voting intentions, he would almost certainly lose. So will the Tories elect a leader who they have previously rejected and may well within a week or so of winning the race to PM have to resign? The support for Boris is so rabid amongst some that many Tories would be prepared to take the risk whilst significant others are absolutely appalled by any chance he may regain office and are wondering about strategies about how he may be upseated.