Thursday, 4th July, 2024 [Day 1571]

And so, at long last, election day has dawned at last. Having said, I was mildly surprised that no comment of an overtly political nature was allowed by OFCOM rules on Election day itself, to try to ensure a completely level playing field across all the political parties. There is an argument which is gaining currency today, though, that if there is an evident interference for example through Russian ‘bots’ to display fake news about the election, then the BBC and other broadcasters should be allowed an instant rebuttal of the same. I had always thought that the newspapers, in particular, used Election Day itself to urge the electorate to use their votes in a particular way but it looks as though the application of the OFCOM rules means that all overt political comment must cease by the end of the eve of the election itself, only dates from a few years ago. This has led to a situation in which the really dramatic eve-of-election poll as published by YouGov last night can only have the most limited of impact. This particular poll is predicting the biggest majority for any political party since 1832 (about which claim I am sceptical by the way) but I suppose that any discussion of this result must be squeezed in the time slot between publication on the one hand (5.00pm on Sky News) and the timing when the Ofcom rules comes in to effect which I think is polling day itself i.e. 12.00 midnight. So the impact of any poll is subject to a seven hour window if my reading of the situation is correct. However, I have trawled the web using American search engines and they are reporting polls predicting a Labour victory in the greatest of details. There is even one detailing the seats in my immediate locality which are likely to ‘go red’ including the neighbouring towns of Redditch, Stourbridge and Worcester whilst Bromsgrove itself is predicted to be (just) a Conservative hold. David Dimbleby is reported as saying that election night exit polls are the worst thing ever to befall elections as all of the fun and excitement is removed from the night itself. I am inclined to agree but only partially – the pleasure that remains is seeing hated figures of the party that one did not vote for gradually losing their seats one by one throughout the night. It seems as though the whole world is waiting to see Liz Truss bite the dust but this might not happen and is scheduled for very late at night (i.e. about 4.00am) for when it is likely to happen.

Thursdays are my shopping day but when the carers arrived, Miggles our adopted cat, spied his opportunity and speeds like a greased lightning though the opened front door. So a topic of conversation with one of the carers this morning was household pets and I asked if she had any. The list started off with two dogs and then proceeded onto two ferrets, six ducks, one snake.. after this, I rather lost the will to live. I asked the carer if she had a small holding to house these animals but she had not so I have to assume this menagerie is housed within a normal domestic house. After I had got Meg up and I had got her breakfasted, we did not have too long to wait before the (Asian) carer came along to do her sit with Meg whilst I go shopping. We got onto the subject of Ravi Shankar and sitar music – Meg had the opportunity to go to see him play in Manchester when we were students but Meg had ‘flu’ at the time (and I scarcely knew Meg) But I do wish I could have known about and seized the opportunity to see Ravi Shankar whilst I could – I am talking about late 1965. So I left the carer and Meg listening to sitar music broadcast on YouTube whilst I went shopping and was amazed to see they had not had too much of it by the time I returned home from my shopping. Then it was a case of a gentle unpacking and more conversations with the carer. I generally ask the question to which I already know the answer, the question being What is your children’s favourite meal? To children of all genders and ethnicities, the answer always seems to be ‘pasta’ and we found the same to be the case when we were having a meal with our Spanish friends in Stratford, as I remember.

The weather is pretty variable today, making it somewhat difficult to ascertain whether or not we should have a walk outside this afternoon and if so, to where? We decided to resolve the situation by treating ourselves to an opera this afternoon and forgetting about a walk altogether. So we are currently listening to a version of Verdi’s ‘Rigoletto‘ with astoundingly good singing. This is a very modernistic production with a minimalist set but very clever use of lighting and a few clever stage props. Now I am a bit divided about this. On the one hand, I do recognise that a minimalist set forces the attention onto the quality of the singing without any distractions, as it were. On the other hand, I am rather a traditionalist. The main scenes are meant to be set in a plush palace on the one hand and a run down inn by the water’s edge on the other and it is rather difficult to imagine these with a minimalist set. Also, whilst the heroine (Gilda) who is Rigoletto’s daughter is meant to be appear young and virginal, the soprano playing the part I suspect is east European but she rather looks as though in a previous career she might have thrown the discus in the reconstructed East Germany as she is so large. I do not intent to detract from the quality of her singing which is divine but opera is visual as well as auditory and one would hope that there is some semblance of connection between the two. Nonetheless, I am really enjoying the singing, conflicting though my emotions might be.

Fascinating things across the Atlantic are about to unfold. All kinds of pressures are being brought upon Jo Biden to persuade him to withdraw as candidate for President but he is receiving support from some quarters. There is a report late this afternoon that if Michelle Obama could be persuaded to stand, she could beat Donald Trump quite easily but she herself has long expressed the desire not to enter party politics. On the other hand, I wonder if the great and the good of the Democratic party could persuade her to stand to save the nation?

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