Thursday, 22nd October, 2022

[Day 955]

Thursday is my shopping day so I got up early, got some cash out of the ATM and then stayed in the car whilst it was raining heavily until it was time for the supermarket to open at 8.00am. Then it was the normal whiz around and I collected the newspaper on the way home and finally made it home just after 9.00pm. After we had breakfasted and unpacked the shopping, the weather started to brighten somewhat so we made up our coffee and elevenses snacks and set off for the park a little later than normal. As today was quite a wet day, we had not expected to bump many of our regulars and indeed we did not but nonetheless we appreciated the fresh air, the walk in the park, the changing autumn colours and so on. I suspect that the full glory of the autumn colours may well come in a week or so after we have had some frosts. Yesterday afternoon, our University of Birmingham friend called round with an offer of some cake which may well have been some birthday cake – we made an arrangement to meet in the park tomorrow, weather permitting, but if the weather is absolutely terrible we do have a favourite coffee bar (not necessarily Waitrose) to which we can repair as we have done on Fridays in the past.

The Suella Braverman saga rumbles on, as you might expect. In Parliament, requests are being made to the Speaker that Suella Braverman attends the Commons to answer questions about inconsistencies in the accounts that have been given of the security breach. In particular, was there was one breach or multiple breaches? Were the papers that were shared totally to do with immigration or did some of them involve security matters? Did the Home Secretary volunteer the breach (as she indicated in her resignation letter) or was she hauled before a group which included the Cabinet Secretary as well as the Chairman of the Conservative Party? There is a little twist in the story this afternoon as David Blunkett, a one-time Labour Home Secretary, is of the view that members of the security and intelligence services may feel disinclined to share secrets with their nominal ‘boss’ if they fear that these secrets may leak. This worry is shared by some Conservative MPs as well and the smattering of Tories concerned about Braverman means this is is not simply just confined to the opposition parties. The point is being made that some of our allies and information sources may be reluctant to share information with us if the Home Secretary has a poor reputation for probity. Another question that I have asked myself is this. Surely at the time of her appointment some senior security staff have given her a briefing (read ‘tutorial’) on how to conduct communications when you yourself are in charge of Britain’s intelligence and security communities. Was this initial briefing, refused or waved aside? Assuming that Braverman was properly briefed upon taking up her post, then has she either forgotten it or has she chosen to ignore it? The Bravermans and the Patels of this Conservative party have in the past shown a scant regard for the niceties of ministerial behaviour and they may both have been promoted beyond their competence. In addition, reports have emerged (on the BBC website) suggesting that, as attorney general, she was investigated over the leak of a story involving MI5. So it looks as though she may have ‘form’ in this respect. But the ultimate protective factor is that they belong to the extreme right of the Conservative Party and therefore Sunak may wish to hang on to Braverman in order to appease the right of the party.

This afternoon, I decided to repeat my recent soup making activities and so I have made some carrot and basil soup. I was a little short of coconut milk but have substituted some soya milk in it place. I have just had the briefest of tastes of this and am moderately pleased with it but despite starting off with some fried onions, as most recipes suggest, I feel that it is a little on the thin side. So having transferred it from the soup maker into a saucepan, I think I am going to try a little powdered potato as a thickening agent and see how much of a difference this makes. When I went shopping this morning, I bought some celery as well as a swede so in the days ahead I know I can prepare a traditional ‘winter root vegetables’ soup which I have tried often in the past and where I have always achieved good results. If I see any celeriac on the supermarket shelves, then this has a wonderful reputation as a warming winter soup. Also, of course, there must be masses of pumpkins around ready for the autumnal festivities so this is something else with which to experiment in the days ahead. If I want to be more adventurous, there is also a pumpkin and ginger soup for which Jamie Oliver has a recipe which I have seen on the web.