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Yesterday’s events

I was out of bed early yesterday morning.

I walked down to the Metro station, where I waited longer than I used to for the train: so many of the 43-year-old trains have fallen apart that the timetable had to be altered some time ago to remove some services.

I alighted at Newcastle station, intending to travel to a hospital for a meeting. The train was badly delayed, and eventually terminated early, before my stop. I took a taxi the rest of the way, arriving about 45 minutes later than planned.

As the taxi pulled in to the hospital, it passed a picket line of striking healthcare assistants.

After my meeting, as I huddled with patients in the small station shelter waiting for the delayed return train, they talked amongst themselves about how they couldn’t afford train tickets. The trick, they said, is to buy a ticket for a single stop, and to get off at the nearest station to your destination that has no ticket barriers. The hospital always talks about people not turning up for appointments, they observed, but who can afford to travel to hospital in a cost-of-living crisis?

Back in Newcastle, I trudged in the pouring rain from the station to the office, asked three times by homeless people for money. The broken paving splashed muddy water up my legs over and again, and I witnessed one nasty fall on poorly repaired, uneven surface.

As I walked past boarded-up shops, I reminisced about the times Wendy and I used to pop into them.

I cut through Eldon Square and M&S, where a ‘store protection’ staff member chased a member of the public out into the rain.

Once I’d restarted my work laptop a couple of times, I sat and listened to another online meeting about another reorganisation of a government body. I wondered about the point of it all, and pondered who would possibly think that this was the best use of my time.

As I trudged home in the rain, I listened to the radio. A bloke standing in the street outside his house in the pouring rain, having failed to equip himself with an umbrella, complained about another bloke’s inability to plan.

The Prime Minister told us that he’d spend the ‘next few weeks’ earning our trust. He made the same promise in the same location in October 2022, but has perhaps made less progress than he’d hoped—polling suggests his trustworthiness has fallen over that period.

The man who once promised to ‘to put your needs above politics’ chose not to stick around long enough to see through the smoking ban he claimed would ‘save thousands of lives and billions of pounds’—because politics got in the way.

As he talked about how his plan is working, I couldn’t help but reflect on the day and wonder: Which plan? What’s working?

And just as the Prime Minister reached the end of a particularly rambling 53-word sentence, the broadcast cut to John Pienaar.

“We may… we may have lost the sound there… oh no… no… I think that’s it. Yes, the Prime Minster has turned his back. He’s finished.”

It’s hard to disagree.

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