What a week! Busy and full of exciting events as well as those which should have been exciting which, in fact, turned out to be not quite so exciting.
On Sunday afternoon Nick and Lucy came by to join Pen’s folks for the celebration associated with Beryl’s 87th birthday. Clearly 87 is not nearly as significant as a 60th birthday and so the feast which Ms Playchute prepared was almost inconsequential after the one she prepared for my birthday. Still, there was enough to feed an army for a week or so and I think everyone enjoyed themselves.
On Tuesday evening Ms Playchute and I set off at about 5.00 to make our way to Oxford to see the film “The Fighter”. I have to confess, this was probably not a film we would have opted to see except that it was another of these free offers from our satellite provider and, since we can combine the outing with a meal out, we thought we’d give it a go.
Normally, it takes about an hour to drive from our place to Oxford and, with the film starting at 6.30 we should have had plenty of time. That was before we spent thirty minutes in a traffic jam waiting to get off the M40 motorway and on to the A34 to Oxford and then certainly before we spent another forty-five minutes waiting in stationary traffic on the A34 itself. The hold-up was due, as you might have guessed, to a significant traffic accident which completely blocked the A34 and, since it is what’s called a “dual carriageway” in this country, i.e., a divided highway, by the time we had become stationary we had passed the last opportunity to get off the road and try an alternative route. The film was probably about half way through by the time we crept up to the next exit where we turned around and headed home again. We did, at least, stop in Banbury for our meal out and, since I had a voucher we were able to indulge ourselves with two pizzas at Pizza Express for the price of one! So, my intention of entertaining Ms Playchute with a new film and a slap-up meal ended up being stuck in traffic for more than an hour and a half-price pizza. Boy, do I know how to show a girl a great time!
On Thursday, we had the first bye-election of the current Parliament – an early opportunity for the voters to indicate their first perceptions of the work of the coalition government so far. Interestingly, the bye-election had been called because the result for this particular constituency had been over turned and a rerun ordered because it was deemed that the Labour candidate, who won by 103 votes over the Liberal Democrat, had lied about the Lib Dem candidate in his campaign literature. Forgive me, but I thought that was what politicians did. You will all be familiar with the old joke: How can you tell if a politician is lying? His lips are moving.
In any event, after the general election in May the Liberal Democrat went to court with the offending literature and it was judged that the Labour candidate had, indeed, lied. So, the bye-election was ordered. Goodness me! If they are going to insist that elections are re-run whenever a candidate tells a lie we’ll never have any form of government.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out too well for either the Liberal Democrat or the Conservative candidates as the Labour candidate won fairly easily. It seems that the voters reckon that the Conservatives and Lib Dems have done quite enough of their own election lying. In the election campaign, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Cameron and other Conservative candidates all recited the mantra, “We have no plans to raise VAT [Value Added Tax or sales tax].” Hey presto, VAT went up from 17.5% to 20% at the beginning of January. During the election Osborne said that, if elected, the Conservative government would ensure that no banker received more than £1000 in bonus payments. Hey presto! It’s just been announced that the banks will be paying out something in the region of £7bn in bonuses and the chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland (41% owned by the taxpayer after the bailout) is in line to receive a bonus payment of £2 million.
The biggest opprobrium seems to have been reserved for the Liberal Democrat pledge to resist any increase in university tuition fees. Hey presto! The coalition has just agreed to increase them threefold. Poor old Nick Clegg must certainly regret his decision to announce his intention to oppose any increase in tuition fees and even more for allowing himself to be photographed having signed the pledge.
Finally, finally – a bit of great news which I had neglected to relate previously. Our very dear friend Joe Jefferies and his lovely wife Amandine had their first child, a daughter named Jeanne, just before Christmas. You will remember that Joe is the middle son of our very dear friend Jan who we lost to cancer some years ago. We are delighted for them and can’t wait to visit and give her a squeeze or several.
And finally, finally, finally, Dad sent the cartoon below to Ms Playchute. I’m afraid I don’t quite get it.
Much love to you all,