I was talking to Toastie. This is not uncommon, of course. We were back up the hill behind the library. He had been recovering from an operation on his right hind leg. It was an operation to repair something that went wrong following an earlier operation. He’s been through the mill, has our Toastie. He remains ever-positive. Though, like all dogs, he’s been a little sad following the funeral of that great canine champion Paul O’Grady.
During the recovery period Toastie had been doing a lot of lead walks, and was now building strength back up and starting to rev again the way springers do. On this early evening, he was trotting beside me. This is uncommon, so I sensed he wanted a chat. I asked him what were we, all of us, to do. The ongoing hardening cement of crisis continues to be poured.
Almost three million essential food parcels were handed out by the Trussell Trust between April last year and March this year. Coincidentally, at the same time that dark stat was revealed, the Bank of England’s chief economist Huw Pill said that people in the UK just had to accept that they were poorer than before. And that all of us are in a way to blame for seeking something better. It’s a view, I suppose.
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Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove said similar at the end of March. We were warned then that it could take six years to bring the UK living standards back to where they were pre-pandemic. Richard Hughes, head of the Office for Budget Responsibility, at least didn’t blame us all, but rather the double-headed impact of the pandemic and Brexit.
All around are markers that illustrate all is far from well – NHS dental provision in England at critical point; the crisis and confusion around voter ID; the government’s utter lack of compassion and good sense in its migration plans; Ronnie O’Sullivan failing to get past the quarters in the World Championships. And it goes wider.