Week 735

Sunday, 22nd January, 2023

Glorious day of beautiful sunshine and blue sky. The car is gleaming like a new machine outside as the sun glints off its sparkling metallic paint. The leather seats have been completely restored with a rich cream and the tyres look like new. The valet has taken me about 3 hours but I actually enjoyed it. Probably have to do it again before it is officially valued.

My whole, adult life I have been interested in Poetry and Politics. In fact, PPE would have been the perfect University course for me. Normally, it means Politics, Philosophy and Economics but I would have had to add an additional P for Poetry. It would have helped me understand all the little wrinkly people of the world as well. We have been going through the most exciting and challenging times in political life over the past decade and it is culminating in the total decay of the Tory government. 

The cartoon above from the Tory supporting, Murdoch owned Sunday Times, makes a trenchant comment on the Sunak government and the Tory governments it has succeeded. If you need any help, Pork Barrel Politics originated in the USA and refers to bribing the electorate with a barrel of pork, for example, to support/vote for the provider. Cleverly, the cartoon suggests that, with one hand the Tories are trying to bribe the electorate with ‘Levelling Up’ cash while covering up the Tories individual avarice with a tissue of lies. It is quite typical of a decaying of power.

When political power deserts a government, they find themselves fighting on multiple fronts – some trivial and some very serious. Boris Johnson tried to bury the Russia Report but it is about to hit him as the country becomes aware of the sheer duplicity of his actions. Of course, they will also become aware of the dodgy relationship between Johnson and the man he appointed to Chair of the BBC as he helped him to a £800,000 loan.

We have a Deputy Prime Minister – Raab – who is currently being investigated for multiple instances of bullying in the workplace …

… and a Prime Minister who has received two fixed penalty notices from the police. Nobody in that office has done that before. These things are unprecedented but we also have a former Chancellor who is now Chairman of the Tory Party who was found to have claimed public money to heat his horses’ stables during the MPs’ Expenses scandal which he said was a careless mistake and now he is being fined by the Tax Authorities for another careless mistake as he failed to pay millions of pounds in tax on an off-shore investment designed to avoid paying tax.

It hasn’t been explained how it is possible to be so careless that you set up an off-shore investment to avoid paying UK tax without knowing but that is the defence. It is tired and a sign of resignation. They are on their way out and they know it.

Monday, 23rd January, 2023

Cold night down to -2C/29F. Frost this morning under crystal clear skies but with early sunshine melting it quickly. Don’t need to go out today. It’s correspondence day. I’ve got three people to phone – Brian in Royton, Dave in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, John in Yorkshire. Looking forward to that.

I’ve written before about my love of Mail, even Junk Mail which we still get by the ton. I am always the first to the Mail and I open all the mail whoever it is for. My wife is perfectly happy to indulge my excitement. In fact, she prefers me to get any bad news and to break it to her gently.

Daily Excitement!

Pauline believes my phone is permanently attached to my arm. It is the first thing I look at in the morning and the red number disks on phone apps. Here, this morning, I have a Whatsapp message from North Yorkshire in Social Media group, 3 newspaper reports in the News group, 11 alerts about things I’ve been searching on Google apps. Down at the bottom, I have a mystery text, 3 emails and an item message from our online calendar which turns out to be a reminder that I have to put all three bins out today.

Most of my email is junk mail as well. Any company I have bought from or even made an enquiry with bombards me with daily emails. I could block them but I don’t because I like to see what they are offering. Does this make me appear to be one sad man? Probably but who cares? I am too old to be self conscious about it.

My whole life has been centred around words, concepts, ideas and communication. I love to connect and to get connections. Who is that text from? Well, of course, I’m not telling you.

Everything comes to an end ultimately and 7 years seems to be a trigger. So many things have been breaking down in the past couple of months. Today, it is the cordless vacuum cleaner. I bought a Gtech and it has been fine but it finally died. We have ordered a Shark even though the obvious one would be a Dyson. We could never buy one of those because of his fervent support for Brexit as he moved his production abroad. I don’t even like using Dyson hand dryers in public toilets. Now sharks I’m all for!

Tuesday, 24th January, 2023

Up early because we have an electrician arriving at 8.00am to fix a problem that has developed with the garden lights. It will only take a half an hour. Fortunately, it is dry and mild. It is just starting to become apparent that the days are lengthening. It is definitely lighter earlier. Thank goodness for that!

Driving up to Surrey this morning with a coffee cake that Pauline made yesterday. It is to celebrate the 58th birthday of Little M. The first time I met her was in 1978 and we played hopscotch together. I don’t think she does it any more.

Around 58 years ago or more, Pauline was learning to play the piano. She says that, although she enjoyed it, she wasn’t very good and has always had a hankering to try again. We have talked about it many times without following it up. I always thought that it would be a two minute wonder and any piano we bought would then gather dust for years.

We have decided that she must have a keyboard and we have chosen a ‘starter’ kit which can be set up in the Ironing/Sewing room for her to practice. It’s only £130.00. Headphones will maintain my sanity and she can play away to her heart’s content. If it proves a success, we can move on to something bigger and better. We will see.

Wednesday, 25th January, 2023

Not a good day. Grey, cold and slightly damp. The Hospital phoned to confirm that they had found something on the prostate in my MRI scan and told me I had to go in for Biopsies. No prizes for guessing what they found. I just have to hope that it is one of the slow growing, non-invasive cancers that take so long to kill me that I die of something else first. Suddenly feel very alone. Even so, Pauline is immediately supportive and Kevin phoned to say he knew I would be alright.

Went out to Littlehampton to collect the digital piano and then on to Chichester to collect the vacuum. As an old hand at this, I photograph the unpacking at every stage. It makes re-packing and returning so much easier. The vacuum turns out to be excellent but the piano is rubbish. Perhaps it is my fault for not reading the advert carefully enough but it seems to be less about piano and more about synthesizer. The sound and tone was very poor – for £150.00. We set it up, tried it out , repacked it within a couple of hours.

As we prepared it for return, I realised it had come from Middleton in M24. Nothing reliable ever came out of that postcode. I will look for something better tomorrow. The budget will have to be increased considerably to get a quality machine.

I use IT for almost everything. I love its universality. I can control my lights, cameras, heating, etc from anywhere in the world. Of course, it is fine until something goes wrong and then everything is thrown out of kilter. I use Hive to control everything until I can’t and then I feel lost. Today, I really feel lost and then Hive went down.

At first, I resorted to analogue. I phoned the company. They told me there was a 30 mins minimum delay. Eventually, I learned that there was a nationwide problem and, at 7.00 pm, there is still a connectivity problem. It is really difficult although not as bad. Can you imagine, Dear Reader, having to walk to the wall control to switch up your heating manually? Nightmare!

Thursday, 26th January, 2023

I gave over a few hours yesterday to getting our digital platform, Hive, back up and working. It turns out, the problem was not just mine but national. I found a number of newspapers running articles about it. Everyone was screaming that they couldn’t put their heating on from the train home from work or couldn’t monitor the security of their homes from the camera systems and alarms.

It reminded me of an event we experienced in Athens when a lightning strike cut the power supply to the shopping streets. Pauline was just in the process of paying for clothes she had chosen and the shop just refused to proceed because they couldn’t just take cash in the hand. Everything relied on credit card payments and stock control databases which were shut down at the time. We take these things for granted until they go down and illustrate our reliance on them. That’s when the wrinkly, old people scoff and feel justified in not entering the modern world of IT. I am determined never to enter that stage.

David’s isolated home.

Had a phone call from a man who played quite a significant part in my life growing up in a small and very insular village. David, moved to live in Wales 40 years ago. Actually, I haven’t seen him since 1969 when he was only 28 but seemed so much older to me. Now his wife is dead and he lives alone in this isolated, beautiful but bleak place in Blaenau Ffestiniog. I certainly couldn’t live anywhere so remote or so wet. Wales is so WET. I wouldn’t even consider it.

The hospital paperwork has just arrived. Sounds horrendous. They’re certainly not going to stick needles and instruments where they think they are. It would be unspeakable! It says: Prostate biopsies are taken through the perineal skin. I’ve just had to look it up and IT’S NOT NICE! Phoned my little brother, Bob, in Maidenhead. He has already been through all this. He sounded fine and was enjoying my utter ignorance about my own body. I suppose that’s what brothers are like. Talked to Kevin who was all sloppy but very supportive.

Friday, 27th January, 2023

Lovely morning of bright sunshine – 11C/52F. Strange how it can be darkened by events out of one’s control.

You know you’re on your way out when you get something like this and it colours all your activities. I found it difficult to exercise. Is there any point? Well, my addictive nature forced me on but these thoughts play across one’s mind. Will there come a day when I can stop talking about health, doctors, hospitals? My Blog reflects what’s in my mind at the time. I’m only 71. Grow old with me!

Suddenly, politics feels hollow and pointless just when the political scene is becoming so interesting. Imagine when that senior political spokesman, Rod Stewart, phones in to a discussion programme on Sky and tells the audience that the Tories are destroying the NHS and they should vote for Labour instead. We’ve only been screaming this for years: turn, turn, turn and now the times they are a-changing.

On this day 13 years ago, we finished our final Ofsted inspection with the damning verdict of Satisfactory and I was going for a heart scan which found Atrial Fibrillation. I’m not sure if the two events were connected. Now, my heart could not be stronger or healthier. If only the rest of me would keep up!

Saturday, 28th January, 2023

Cold start to the morning – just 4C/39F but feels colder. It is a day at home doing jobs …. well, for my housekeeper. We love new houses but can’t move too often and so maintenance is all important.

Our house has to be pristine and as good as new. Even two old codgers leave their mark on a house over a number of years. This morning I have had to instruct my housekeeper to address some of the grubby marks and scrapes on the walls and ceilings where life has left its imprint. I opened a bottle of red wine yesterday and the cork went straight in leaving a fountain of red which sprayed the kitchen floor. Unfortunately, two drops hit the ceiling and need to be painted out today. Perfect opportunity for her to get rid of marks around light switches, etc..

I am more a gadgets person. I love learning what they can do to make life easier. I’m not very practical so it is always a challenge. It even took me a while before I could get the best out of my coffee maker but now we’ve got a new kettle which has flashing lights and lots of different temperature choices. Boiling water has never been so exciting.

The Florida pool design.

Life is all about self improvement, moving forward and making one’s position better. M&K in Florida have only been in their new house a matter of months and already part of the garden is being dug up and a pool with jacuzzi installed. M sent us this enticer yesterday. Who would not be happy with this?

Work has begun already.

My self improvement today will be back in the Gym. My fitness is coming back but it is slower than I’d hoped. I’ve got to be more consistent and more determined. I have so much to live for. I have aims to pursue and targets to meet. It is important to remain focussed!

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