Friday, 9th December, 2022

[Day 998]

So we survived another cold night aided, of course, by an electric blanket, but Meg and I ensured that we had plenty of warm clothing on as we still have several more days of this really cold spell to survive. Before we breakfasted and at the most inconvenient time (I was dripping wet having just emerged from the shower) I got a call from the Fraud department of the company of the one and only credit card that I possess and only use occasionally. I was asked to verify whether the charge to the card from an organisation whose name was a jumble of letters and numbers and which turned out to be a ‘dating agency’ was genuine or not. The charge to the crdit card had been attempted at 8.29 this morning and was for £31.92 in total. This had so many ‘dodgy’ elements to it that it was no wonder that the Fraud department had managed to pick it up and refused payment. After ensuring that neither myself or anyone else in my household could have used the card to pay this organisation and for this amount, the credit card company immediately put a block on that number and are going to issue me with a new card immediately. Naturally I was both relieved and intrigued. I was pleased that the credit card company had intercepted this payment and prevented it quickly but I asked myself what kind of services one could possibly buy from a dating agency for £32, whether it included VAT or not. On the other hand, I was intrigued how it was possible for my card to be ‘scammed’ by whoever and how they managed to pick up whatever details they did possess. The last time I used the card was to pay for a Pilates group of sessions so I hope that it was nothing to do with that physiotherapy clinic where the Pilates sessions were held. However, this delayed us somewhat this morning.

After we had breakfasted, we made a quick telephone call to our University of Birmingham friend to consult where we might have our customary coffee together. We settled on the Waitrose coffee bar and had our customary friendly chat for nearly an hour, treating ourself to some discounted mince pies en route. Then it was a case of getting home and thinking about our Friday lunch – rather than having sea bass as we generally do, we had some cod in parsley sauce that was cooked in the oven for us. This afternoon we knew that it was going to be one of the first World Cup quarter-finals matches, nmely Brazil vs. Croatia. We tuned into this match about 15 minutes before the end of the first half and it seemed a pretty entertaining match – not the slow, patient build ups that we have witnessed in teams like Spain and even England but rather long range, adventurous passes upfield with plenty of brave runs at the opposition. This being so, we decided to watch the second half of the match which we did in its entirety. At the end of full time, it was a score of 0-0 so extra time was evidently called for. Brazil managed to scored quite a dramatic goal towards the end of the first period of extra time but the Croatians came to the match with a ‘never say die’ attitude and scored an equally good equaliser towards the end of the second period of extra time. And so it came to penalties in which Brazil missed their first but the Croatians missed none with the result that Croatia dumped Brazil out of the World Cup and march on towards the semi-finals. They will be a hard team to beat because in the face of adversity, they never, ever give up. The critical match for everyone here in England is the England-France game tomorrow night which starts at 7.00pm, just about the time that we return from Church but we will watch the match in any case. Tonight, we are going to watch the Netherlands-Argentina match which may well prove to be entertaining.

It is very, very rare for politicians to admit that they were absolutely wrong but that has certainly happened tonight. The former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has admitted he and Liz Truss ‘blew it’ and got ‘carried away’ with bringing in sweeping economic reforms (from which we are suffering the pin, even now) Apparently, as soon as she became Prime Minister, Ms Truss said she did not want any opinion polling as she felt politicians were obsessed with ‘optics’. But despite advisers warning her and Mr Kwarteng that their plans would be seen as a ‘budget for the rich’, they were ignored. I do find it an extraordinary mindset to be surrounded by all kinds of intelligent, well-informed and knowledgeable people who tell you that you are mistaken but you think that you actually know better than all of them and press on regardless (with the dire consequences from which we are all now suffering) I suppose ideologues always think that they have all of the answers but the arrogance of it all still amazes me.