My toast popped right out of the toaster this morning and straight onto the floor.  Somehow, I knew that was going to happen.  I picked it up, anyway, checked for blueberries – a long-time addiction and prone to wander – and continued to spread with my favourite marmalade.  A metaphor for life?

Why?  Three letters constituting a little word of huge importance.  For without curiosity, there would be no understanding; no learning.  Often, however, ‘why’ is rhetorical; a statement of frustration or dismay.  Becca was back from Rome for a few days this past week.  She left a beautiful city awakening, once more, to greet the spring.  The warm, golden hues of the ancient ruins, the terracotta and pastel shades of the buildings, many adorned with climbing greenery reaching up to flowers in bloom; my favourite ‘umbrella’ trees lining the familiar streets, buzzing with life now, whose silhouettes against the orange and pink skies of the sinking sun effortlessly manifest into perfect pieces of artwork, nature’s brush strokes on her unique canvas.  Rome is alive!  I miss it.

Becca flew back to the Eternal City early this morning, leaving me with a stinking cold!  So many plans cast aside by the diabolical weather.  There is no spring here; no awakening.  No cherry blossom on Greyfriars, no walks on my beach benefitting from an apricity which would seem consigned to the distant past.  The trees are still bare and the wind biting as the grey mantle of winter refuses to loosen its grip.  There are rare glimpses of yellow as the defiant daffodils strive for their moment … but that is it.  The land is soaked after months of never-ending downpours, the plants in intensive care, struggling for life.  Nature sucked the enjoyment from a week which should have been one of reunion and renewed optimism.  As the strong winds of Storm Kathleen batter the garden, is their solace to be had in their ability to dry the stripped bedding?  Becca left spring in Rome to return home for a few days – to the never-ending winter of April 2024!  Forgive me if I utter that little/big word, why?

In a world of increasing disparity – and one which has simultaneously consigned merit to the past – that same little/big word comes frequently to mind.  Who doesn’t remember Huw Edwards, that upstanding pillar of the BBC who, for so long, commanded the respect of a nation?  The ship who steered all key Royal events; nay, the very anchor of an institution?  That same Huw Edwards who shocked this very nation when he was, quite literally, caught with his pants down?!  Who knew then that, as the highest paid newsreader, he was commanding a salary in the realms of £450,000 – and, apparently, continues to do so?  Astonishing.  How can this be?  Why were there no criminal charges brought against a man in his sixties accused of paying a teenager for intimate photographs, of breaking lockdown rules in the quest for a meeting with another individual and of sending inappropriate and sometimes threatening messages to colleagues and others?  Yes, of course, mental health was cited and the whole thing was strategically orchestrated by his wife but, moreover, this is Huw Edwards.  A big name with big contacts – and there’s the rub!  Contacts.  No need for merit any more, it’s all about who one has in one’s pocket.  Suspended for months on a salary in excess of £400,000, though?  It is claimed he is suffering from severe mental health issues following his exposure (excuse the pun). No blooming wonder!  What of the trauma of his alleged victims, however?  The teenager whose mother first reported his inappropriate behaviour to the BBC?  In the shadow of a ‘giant’, regardless.

In a similar vein, what of Jeremy Hunt, our Chancellor, who yesterday had the audacity to praise Conservative MP, William Wragg, for apologising after he admitted giving the personal numbers of several of his colleagues to somebody he met on a dating app?  Apparently, he was ‘scared’ because said individual had ‘compromising things’ on him …  Definitely worthy of praise, then.  What’s more, William Wragg has neither lost the Conservative whip nor been suspended.  No prizes for guessing why.  What a wonderful world!

Becca and I had a conversation about Stella McCartney the other day, in relation to the price of her handbags …  Extortionate.  Beyond the realms of most.  There is a contradiction here, surely?  For the Stella McCartney brand is known for being admirably cruelty-free.  Committed to not using leather, fur or any other animal products in her ethical fashion, why then does she not make the prices accessible to all in her bid to combat animal suffering?  She, of all people, can afford to.  Then, I would most definitely doff my hat!  This is Stella McCartney, however, the daughter of Paul McCartney and, yes, she – along with her siblings – was educated at a state school.  No fancy education for her.  Just one of the people!  No, her name is McCartney, for goodness sake.  She could have ‘designed’ a bin bag and it would have made millions …

Trapped in the eternal winter of last week, Becca and I finally watched the last four episodes of Designated Survivor on Netflix.  Not watched it?  Compulsory viewing.  Starring – and most definitely worthy – Kiefer Sutherland as the protagonist, following a mysterious attack which kills the President of the United States and wipes out everybody in the line of succession, Thomas Kirkman – a two-bit cabinet minister – is the designated survivor who must step up and lead the country out of chaos.  An ordinary family man with a degree in History of Architecture and Urban Development who became Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, at first, he lacks both the confidence and the respect required; however, his courage, dedication and, most importantly, his heart soon win him the support he deserves from colleagues and the public alike.  Tom Kirkman’s life as President is not one to be coveted, rather one of unrelenting pressure, potential danger and extreme loneliness but, in the end, realising he has the power to make a difference, he decides to run as an independent candidate at the next election.  Trusted for his unwavering moral compass and honesty throughout, the ending, then, is both unexpected and extremely poignant.  The eternal battle between good and ego.

What profits a man who gains the whole world only to lose his soul?’

Taken from Designated Survivor (Netflix), in turn, adapted from Mark 8:36.

Be true to oneself, always.

This is Trish, signing off – missing, only, the pulpit!