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My weather forecast turned out to be 24 hours premature as this morning we woke up to yet another stunning day with wall to wall sunshine across the valley, so I decided to make the most of it in yesterday’s fashion. Dawn and I were up early and after a meditation and unhurried breakfast we both cracked on with the day. I kept to the pattern of yesterday, mixing picture scanning with regular breaks to exercise with a brisk circuit around the local roads. It’s not as exciting or as scenic as venturing further, but I’m achieving what I want – a combination of work and exercise with the promise of being able to have some time relaxing in the garden and baking in the sun as a reward.

Of course I’m still catching the rays as I’m strolling and the strength of the sun is really noticeable right now. I’d love to know if lockdown and the lack of vehicular pollution’s making a difference to the intensity of Sol’s rays. It certainly feels that way sometimes.

Because there was no reason to go shopping or travel anywhere it was very much a binary day. For me, Work/Walk was what it was all about. I wonder, is this what it’s like when you’re incarcerated and you become a model Prisoner by embracing the routine?

What wasn’t routine was keeping a watchful eye on events in Parliament and the embarrassing pantomime that was being played out. It made the Victorians look cutting edge. The Government – in the shape of the MP for the 19th Century – Jacob Rees Mogg had decided that MPs couldn’t vote electronically and had to turn up in person to vote. It was a farce, an utter farce, and it made us a laughing stock in more modern countries where electronic voting is part of politics. Rees-Mogg is everything this country shouldn’t be. He’s the modern embodiment of Sourdust from Mervyn Peake’s ‘Gormenghast’. The role could almost have been written for him.

The result of this planned farce was that many MPs were disenfranchised as they were either self -isolating or in one of the vulnerable groups! And the only reason for this? Forget the excuse that it was about ‘democracy’ it was anything but. This was so that our Prime Minister didn’t have to face the Leader of the Opposition on his own! Gone are the days of useless Corbyn. Now Johnson’s having to face his worst nightmare – Keir Starmer, a man with the intellect and arguments to hang him out to dry. Time after time Johnson trips himself up with his own empty promises and vacuous rhetoric – and Starmer skewers him with it, so Johnson need a baying back-up on the benches behind him to attempt to disguise the fact he’s the Emperor with no clothes.

Suffice it to say that If I really wanted to describe the dangerous political farce that’s been inflicted upon us by this shower of shits my invective would be off the Richter scale. I can no longer be bothered. I’ve come to the conclusion that the only antidote to Emglish exceptionalism is a hard dose of reality. The difference being – I’m prepared for it. Some poor suckers think that it’s all hunky-dory and we really did ‘take back control’.

So, my world feels almost schizophrenic at the moment. I’m watching these surreal events in our body politic unfold whilst immersing myself in reliving 1999 and the build up to the millennium in pictures. God, what a different place the country felt then! The optimism of Tony Blair’s first term. I could go on at length, but now’s not the time…

With the stunning weather staying with us for the day I was glad to be able to take a break from the past and the present to just sit in the garden and ‘be’ – listening to the birds, hearing the wind in the trees and feeling the sun on my skin. Simple pleasures but ones that mean so much as they can’t be taken away from you.

I’ll finish with just a taster of all the old slides I’ve been scanning. Because I was living in North London at the time that was the focus of many of my pictures. Here’s one…

07274. 37047. 37055. Sandite train. Harringay. 03.11.1999crop

It’s autumn leaf-fall season and a pair of Class 37s were working one of two trains that patrolled the London end of the East Coast Main Line to blast leaves off the line with water or apply a substance called ‘sandite’ to stop trains slipping. Here’s 37047 and 37055 reversing at Harringay, which was 10 minutes walk from where I lived for many years.

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