DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN

- John Copeland -


Friday 19th September - Thursday 25th September, 2014


Oaks

The avenue of oaks at the bottom of our garden. At the present rate of tree felling in the bailiwick, they will soon be the only trees left.


"A brawl involving up to 500 youths broke out in Blackpool resulting in three police officers being injured.
Police were pelted with missiles, including cans, as they responded to reports of disorder in Bank Hey Street and Victoria Street at about 21:00 BST on Friday."

Life in the Disunited Kingdom today. Report on BBC News website, 21st September, 2014


FRIDAY 19 SEPTEMBER

I finished reading "Storming the Eagle's Nest" yesterday evening. I was interested to see that BMW (the fine German motor cars that always seem to be driven by aggressive and sometimes nasty people) stands for "Bayerische Motoren Werke". Not many people know that, probably least of all the drivers of the vehicles. I have now made a start on "Another Great Day at Sea - Life aboard the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier", written by Geoff Dyer, a journalist who sent a period observing and writing about life on board the massive ship.

He makes the point that he chose an American ship as he did not want to have to endure life on a British ship, having to live with all the snobbishness - "the accents, the audible symptoms of the top-to-bottom, toff-to-pride hierarchy that is so clearly manifest in the British military... My heart sinks when I hear a substantial concentration of British accents." I know how he feels about the horrible toffee-nosed accents of the posh British class, not to mention the snobbery and lack of co-operation with other services that has always been such a dreadful characteristic of the British Army.

The author also tells us "It's striking how many of the world's little problems - and many of its big ones too - are eliminated by the simplest of solutions: having women around. Just over a fifth of the ship's company were women". I find this difficult to accept, for it seems to me that there are invariably the horrors of sexual activity in such mixed company on board the confines of a ship. Perhaps not surprisingly, a woman captain of a ship in this country was recently dismissed because of an affair with a fellow sailor.

Mrs. Copeland and I sat drinking wine until 1.30 this morning. We seem to have developed these enchanting sessions recently, doing a world of good for connubial felicity, while I believe that alcohol is good for you, lubricating the body, rather like oil in a car - a bottle a day keeps the doctor away. The other benefit is that the sessions help me to get to sleep, for I often have problems with insomnia, worrying about the British economy. In order to deal with the insomnia, the doctor prescribed "Zomorph" - "sustained release of morphine sulphate", but I found the tablets (two an hour before going to bed) did not do a scrap of good in helping me to get to sleep; indeed, I might just as well have taken some Smarties.

As expected, there was a NO result in the Scottish referendum, the figures on an 84% turnout being 55-45. I have to admit that I saw a YES vote as an opportunity for the Scots to escape from this broken down and indebted nation that gives every appearance of being in terminal economic decline, probably having to be bailed-out by the IMF and Germany within the next ten years (I would put a 100 wager on that happening, but I may not be here in 2025)

Not surprisingly, amidst all the bad news about the economy of the Disunited Kingdom I read yesterday that UK exports "have fallen to their lowest level in 20 months", presumably providing further proof that we have a politically motivated Potemkin recovery.

The question is: "How much longer will the Government be trying to fool us that we are enjoying an economic recovery?" The answer, I suggest, is until next year, when any incoming Government will have to raise interest rates and impose extensive austerity measures to prevent the economy from spiralling out of control. Watch this space.

It nevertheless made me laugh to see a report saying that interest rates were not likely to be raised until next year - in other words, the Treasury will never allow the Bank of England to raise interest rates before the general election in May of next year. Anybody who believes in an independent Central Bank obviously has fairies at the bottom of their garden. Presumably the result of the referendum leaves Scotland as a bitterly divided country.

Although the referendum is now confined to history it could be argued that the United Kingdom had more to lose than Scotland if there had been a YES vote. This is no doubt why the panicking Cameroons offered all manner of devolutionary proposals if the Scots would stay with us. Ironically, the referendum must make us understand how President Putin feels about Ukraine breaking away from the Russian Federation. At least we would not have sent in the tanks if there had been a YES vote, not that we have many tanks left after the recent defence cuts.

It had been predicted that, with the NO vote, the FTSE would rise by 100 points, but in the event it only rose by a meagre 18 points, presumably there being more important things to worry about in a deteriorating economy, the smoke and mirrors no longer able to conceal the relentless decline.

Later in the day I saw on the BBC news website that Mr. Salmond had announced that he is taking his bat home as a result of losing the referendum. I cannot say that I blame him, for I know that I would have similar feelings were I in his position, saying that I tried to help the Scots but to hell with them if they want to follow the rest of the kingdom into economic and social decline.

To town in the morning to purchase rump steak for Sunday's dinner from our excellent butcher, who was telling me today that trade is picking up, presumably as a result of recent research saying that there was no harm whatsoever in eating red meat - another of the falsehoods perpetrated by the food fanatics who do not seem to know their posterior from their elbow, changing their recommendations every few years. It really is time that the Food Standards Authority, which seems to come up with a food frightener every month to justify its worthless existence, is abolished, along with the Health & Safety Executive that is making it too dangerous to get out of bed in the morning.

On Fridays we have fish for lunch - lunch being the main meal of the day. Mrs. C. chooses to cook her own with fish from Waitrose, but I prefer a chippie, going out to purchase fish and chips from a delightful Chinese couple in Lincoln. As I was placing the order, the husband said: "You look very fit. Have you been on holiday?" I replied not recently, but I assured him I never took any exercise and did not eat vegetables, and therefore managed to survive to 80. The old, tiresome remark! I must think of a new script.

Spinach

Spinach that I am growing from seed. I fear that this is the wrong kind of season to be planting, but it is worth a try as home-grown spinach is so much better than the tough variety in the shops.


During the day I transplanted the spinach seedlings, but I am beginning to realise, albeit somewhat belatedly, that this is not the right season to be growing the vegetable, so that was another fine mess. Perhaps next year I will purchase a small greenhouse.

The evening was spent reading some more of the book about life aboard an American aircraft carrier. The author has a splendid sense of humour, and not only when he suggests the presence of women can solve many problems. Amazingly, quite a lot of the crew are devout Christians, whereas the author speaks of his contempt for religion: these days you don't get so much as a dial-tone to God.

SATURDAY 20 SEPTEMBER

I am finding my "Morning Book" - Martin Amis's latest novel "The Zone of Interest" all very weird, the story dealing with life in a German concentration camp during the Second World War. So far I have read 128 pages yet nothing seems to happen, other than the Kommandant speaking to his officers. Yet according to a review on the back of the dustcover "The Zero of Interest in a tour de force of sheer verbal virtuosity, and a brilliant, celestially upsetting novel inspired by no less than a profound moral curiosity about human beings. It's stunning." Perhaps I am not bright enough to understand it, but I will continue reading, hoping that I will be aware of the "sheer verbal virtuosity".

One of my neighbours, who had been looking through the "Appeal Decision" of the modern house that is proposed for our historic community, showed me a section in the report that said: "The use of contemporary architectural design is a principle supported by English Heritage, as evident from the advice in the publication 'Building in Context - New Development in Historic Areas'".

In other words, no consideration can be given to our neighbouring buildings dating from the beginning of the 19th century, formerly the stables of the nearby Hall. I have never thought much of "English Heritage" and if these considerations are correct I think even less of it now. Perhaps the members of that august body ought to see how European countries have regard to the environment, not building eyesores that are totally inappropriate and bugger up the area.

Much to my disappointment, a fine tulip tree, shown in the photograph below, is to be felled to make way for the new house. I suppose, though, that this is something we have to accept. The fact that the tree has a "Tree Preservation Order" on it means absolutely nothing, just as defined conservation areas are not worth the paper they are printed on, anything going in this country where there is absolutely no concern for the environment.

Trees

The tree in the middle, a splendid and rare tuliptree, is to be felled to make way for the ultramodern house to be built in our historic community. A terrible shame, but at least we have enjoyed 44 years in the community before it was spoilt in this sad manner.


As the Disunited Kingdom's National Debt continues to grow, making this country by far the most indebted land among the G7 nations ,I saw in today's "Times" that Mrs. C. brought home free from Waitrose, a think-tank has warned that "George Osborne will have to sanction 46 billion in tax rises or spending cuts after the election to meet his plans to balance Britain's budget", research having shown that "austerity will continue whatever party or parties form the next government" - the very point I have been making in this diary, indicating once again you read it here first.

In other words, 2015 is going to be one hell of a year, seeing the like of cuts that we have never seen before as austerity returns with a vengeance. With all the social insensitivity for which they are notorious, no doubt the Cameroons will hit the poor and the sick the hardest, possibly even bringing the prospect of revolution in the country. It is going to be a very nasty and very worrying time.
Meanwhile, the Cameroons want to see the housing market continuing to boom, thereby ensuring that interest rates are not raised until after the election. No matter that this means even more debt, for it gives the false impression of an expanding economy, which is rather like saying that a man who gets into more and more debt on his credit card is becoming richer. It is all a sham, but all politicians, whatever their colour, are guilty of deceiving the public at election times.

Today's "Times" had large banners on the front page saying: "Eat! Ottolenghi's new cookbook"; "How to Keep weight off over 40" [eat less?]; and Caitlin Moran saying "It's my face and I'll gurn if I want to" ["gurn" means making idiotic faces]. Although it is interesting to read the book reviews and the economic news, I think we will stop having the paper on Saturdays as it is so dumbed down, not suitable for geriatric gentlefolk.

I continue to feel very disappointed with our local Parish Council. Although I recognise that, in the context of planning applications, the Council has no power or influence, the authority could at least do something about the present untidy and scruffy overgrown state of the village. In my days as Chairman of the Council we had a litter-picking team, and would cut the grass on a piece of land at the top of the village, but nothing is done today, the Council having become a talking-shop, hardly any money seeming to be spent on the village.

However, this is the way of modern life, nobody caring a bugger about anything, least of all the appearance of the village, so why in my old age should I worry, giving myself stress with the upset? Why, for example, does the Council not appoint an "Environment Officer" among the councillors - somebody who could check on the parish environment from time to time? Several of the councillors are old and retired, probably having little to do with their endless spare time, so it would give somebody something to do.

However, maybe I just have to accept that for most of my life I lived in better times, when there was care in the community, even a regard for the environment, but not any more. Under the circumstances 'tis probably as well to pull up the drawbridge, saying to hell with everything, accepting that old adage: "Cheer up, the worst is yet to come."

From the early afternoon until midnight, we could hear the unbelievably awful din of pop music at a concert on the Lincolnshire Showground, the noise being carried many miles on the wind. This raucous and incredibly loud, ear-splitting musak, presumably a fine example of modern renderings, no doubt has to substitute its lack of artistry by excessive volume. We could even hear the din within a double-glazed room.

For about ten hours we therefore had to hear the boom boom of this overemphasised bass music that I find so horrible, so vexatious to the spirit. However, I gather that the youngsters like such events, and perhaps I would also have liked it in my Young Conservative days, so perhaps it does not do to be too critical. Indeed, my granddaughter said she would have liked to have attended the event, but tickets cost 100.

Apparently the event was packed, so it really does seem as if consumer expenditure is bouncing back, even if it is mostly on credit cards. Each to his own, as Mrs. C. reminds me from time to time. Nevertheless, I think I will write to the Chief Executive of the local District Council to suggest that any future licence should insist on a lower sound volume throughout the proceedings, thereby saving us from the horrible noise.


It was good to read on the BBC news web site that the Government "is to provide 12m to help France tackle the problem of illegal immigrants trying to enter Britain from Calais." No doubt, in the usual political manner, this means locking the stable door after the horse has bolted, but at least it is a start. It makes you wonder why these immigrants are so keen to come over here when the country is in such dire straits, but perhaps they have read somewhere that we have the fastest economic growth in the world. What a disappointment when they arrive!

Having finished the excellent book on life on an American aircraft carrier, a book that I thoroughly enjoyed, I have now made a start on "Dear Leader - North Korea's senior propagandist exposes shocking truths behind the regime" by Jang Jin-Sung, published this year by Ebury Publishing at 20. The book details the horrors of the latest leader Kim Jong-il, a weak and spineless little man who tries to be tough. Such men are dangerous, invariably totally mad. Reading the book is to remind me that some pigs are more equal than others.

"Animal Farm" is a book that all children in secondary schools should read, along with the works of Shakespeare, including the wonderful Sonnets. At least the latest educational reforms, brought in by the splendid Michael Gove before he was dismissed for trying to improve our schools. will make children read two Shakespeare plays, so that is a start, for which we will always be grateful to the magnificent Michael, the best Education Secretary since 1945.

SUNDAY 21 SEPTEMBER

On the news I heard that poor little Miliband, desperately clutching at straws in a pathetic attempt to formulate some policies, has come up with the unbelievably silly plan to raise the minimum wage to 8 per hour in the most unlikely event of his party winning the election next May.

In other words, Labour with its enthusiasm for spending other people's money will completely bankrupt us, just as the last Labour administration nearly managed. It makes me wonder how Gordon Brown, who got us into a really fine mess, ever dared to raise his head in the Scottish referendum. His presence must have been worth thousands of votes for the YES campaign.

An American friend has commented on my entry last week in which I mentioned that I did not want to have knee replacement surgery to deal with my painful arthritis: "I think that you are doing the right thing to avoid knee surgery as long as you can tolerate your arthritis pain. I have several friends here who have one or both knees replaced. Most of their surgeries succeeded (two did not), recoveries were painful, and one friend, after 15 years, is unable to walk on stairs. None of us knows how they would have fared without the surgery, but it certainly is no panacea."

He also commented on the ultramodern house that is to be built in our historic community, saying that in his country there were "strict limits on the size, design, even the colour of houses, so that everything is anodyne and visually blends int. No appurtenance (e.g., a satellite dish) is allowed if it is visible from the street or a neighbour's home." How I wish we had such a concern in this country, but those days have long since gone, Packemin Developers plc being allowed to build where and whatever they like, all in the interests of housing the immigrants who pour into the country, you will understand.

Autumn

Autumn leaves


Mrs. Copeland and I went to the Club at 3.30 p.m., where I greatly enjoyed some pints of a very dark beer from a nearby brewery, called DA, almost like a mild. Our excellent chairman has proposed having a quarterly newsletter, giving details about the Club and forthcoming monthly social events in the hope that more members may join. The sadness is that there is a marked social divide in the village, between the rich residents, whom we call "The Quality", and the rest of us.

What is so annoying is that the Quality contingent only attend the "Harvest Supper" at the Club put on by the Parochial Church Council, never joining us at any other time. Additionally, most of the newcomers to the village, especially the urban refugees, never come to the Club, raising the question why they bother to come to a village when they are not prepared to enjoy the social life of the community. I have therefore decided to stay at home, Mrs. Copeland attending the event with the neighbours.

As might be expected, members at the Club were complaining about the noise from the Lincolnshire Showground yesterday, one villager saying that even though he took out his hearing aid, he could still hear the noise of the thumping bass accompaniment. It really was appalling, a most definite infringement of our right to have peace 'n' quiet. Even with our double glazing, we could still hear the din.

After a magnificent dinner of rump steak, I read some more of the book on the appalling conditions in North Korea, where all manner of repressive measures have to be taken against the populace to prevent them from seeing the far better economic conditions in the south. Indeed, the contrast between the north's economic failures, poverty and starvation, and the increasing prosperity of the south is the essential difference between communism and capitalism.

MONDAY 22 SEPTEMBER

As mentioned earlier. I am finding it very difficult to understand "Zone of Interest", the latest novel from Martin Amis, set in a German concentration camp during the Second World War. Take, for example, the following sentence in which the camp kommadant is describing his errant wife: "She puts me in mind of Marguerite, of Pucci, of Xondra, of Booboo. It isn't so much the sheeny make-up and the sections of extra Fleisch on view (and the shaven Archselhohlen!). It's the look in the Augen - the look of artful calculation". Obviously I am not bright enough to understand such passages, which is a pity.

Rather unwisely, I have been contributing to a Facebook, recently commenting on the unbelievably awful noise of a musical event at the Lincolnshire Showground. One contributor complained about my likening the event to the sound of drum-beats from darkest Africa, angrily saying: "With a quote like 'How can anybody dance to music that sounds as if it is coming from darkest Africa with its monotonous drum-beats?' it really does beggar belief. Regardless of how loud it was."

I could not understand the nature of the complaint, for surely pop music with its frenzied and loud beating of drums owes its origin to early tribal music in Africa, when the natives would dance round the camp fire, becoming more and more manic and distraught, rather like pop audiences today. I certainly did not mean to upset his delicate sentiments, having made what I thought was an interesting and inoffensive historical association. Nothing wrong with that, surely, though I obviously struck a raw nerve about the percussionists. How careful you have to be these days not to upset people, especially those with a chip on their shoulder about modern music with its undefined structure and lack of symphony.

Of course, if you critcise this frenzied music you are immediately condemned for not understanding it, the argument being that the loud modern renderings are every bit as relevant as classical music. How then do we define standards in music, when to liken the importance of pop music to a Mahler synphony might seem to be a matter of comparing a fly with an eagle.

Survivors

Summer survivors


I had to go to the bank this morning to withdraw some money and to purchase "The Times". It always upsets me that we no longer have a newspaper delivery in the village, for it would be pleasant to read the paper at breakfast, as I used to do many years ago. Nowadays, no youngsters want to undertake this work, so I have to go to town each morning to purchase a copy.

On the news I heard that Tony Blair has advocated that the West should not rule out sending ground troops to the Middle East to fight Islamic militants. I just hope that the Cameroons will not commit our forces in the battle, wasting further millions of pounds when our public finances are in such a mess, even poor little Miliband saying that his party will have to restrict child benefits payments to an increase of 1% if we are to tackle the enormous debt.

There was also the news that the Shadow Equalities minister in the ailing Labour party had said that if elected the party would make employers reveal the social background of employees, the aim being to reduce the present predominance of the middle classes in these professions. In other words, the Socialists party do not want to have people who have worked hard and made a success of their lives. Instead, they prefer to have those who believe that the world owes them a living, forever moaning that they are poorly treated.

When I hear about such daft socially-envious proposals, it makes me loathe the Labour Party that dislikes any concept of excellence, believing it to be elitist. Yet when I hear about the Cameroons hitting the poor and the sick while doing nothing about immoral bankers' bonuses and power companies ripping us off with their indecent profits, I also dislike the Tory party. Probably the best thing is to ignore the politicians, for all of them, whatever their party, only make life worse for us, wasting our money. What, for instance, have the Cameroons ever done for us?

On the BBC news website I saw that, "More pictures and videos which seem to show celebrities naked have been posted online." At least this is something to really worry about. It might possibly be asked why these so-called celebrities prance around naked in the first place, knowing that there are rude people who will spy on them with their cameras. And why is it, I wonder, that we are so worried and obsessed with nudity? Is it because the British people have never really grown up about sex, unlike the French?

There was also an item saying: "The first episode of Downton Abbey's fifth series was watched by an average audience of 8.1m on Sunday evening. It beat the debut episode of five-part BBC One army drama Our Girl, which attracted an average audience of 3.9m." I gather that "Downton Abbey" is a period piece, and as the old saying has it - "Every Englishman loves a lord." A reviewer in "The Times" said: ""Lord Fellowes, who may yet get through a series without resorting to murder, rape or sudden death, is filling his plots very enjoyably with sex instead." Every Englishman also loves sex, always providing he does not have to take part in the messy business, seeing it as a strictly vicarious exercise to be smug about.

During the morning I duly wrote a letter to Mrs. Manjeet Gill, the chief executive of our local District Council, to complain about the noise from the concert last Saturday, saying that while I appreciated "that there are many people who enjoy such concerts and I would not want to spoil their pleasure, I would nevertheless suggest that any further licences granted for similar events should impose a restriction on the sound level, thereby enabling villagers to have some peace and quiet at the weekend."

In the afternoon post, amongst the other junk mail, there was a copy of the Lincolnshire County Council's quarterly "County News" publication, distributed to every home in the county, most of the residents immediately throwing away the unwanted publication that wastes our council tax. However, I looked at the latest issue, seeing in the "Leader's welcome" column that one of the elected councillors "counts igloo-building and catching coins off his elbow among his many skills!"

It is good to know that we have such representatives looking after our multi-million affairs. Perhaps there could additionally be a councillor who does handstands during the Council meetings, making the proceedings far more interesting. How you have to laugh at this empire-building organisation that we could well do without. Indeed, it would probably be many month before we realised it had gone. Nevertheless, we can still hope that the day will come when we have unitary authorities, doing away with this hotchpotch of local authorities that usually fight and vie with one another, never having any co-operation and co-ordination.

Not the most energetic of days, for I seem to have completed all the work assignments from Mrs. C. I therefore spent some time trying to make head-and-tail out of Mr. Amis's novel, hoping that I would soon come to the end of it. During the morning I went in to Waterstone's - the splendid bookshop in Lincoln, seeing that they had several books I would have liked to have bought, including a biography of Lord Halifax - "The Holy Fox", and a book on survivors' recollections on Dunkirk. Unfortunately, the ever rising cost of living means that I am having to cut back on my expenditure, so the books were not purchased. Oh, that the Government could show such restraint when so eagerly spending our money.

Another scam at lunchtime today, but we had the answerphone on and the call was thereby rejected. This is certainly the way to avoid all those calls from India.

During lunch I enjoyed a half bottle of New Zealand "Orca Bay". It is now being said that New Zealand white wine is the finest in the world, eclipsing the offerings of the arrogant French who seem to have rested on their laurels, not that I have ever cared much for the French wine.

Afterwards, I had wine with a neighbouring couple. They put their house up for sale a month ago, but have not had a single inquiry. There is no doubt that the housing market in these parts has stalled, as can be seen in so many of the advertisements saying "Reduced price". It is in London and the south-east where all the action is, certainly not up here.

In the evening I at last finished reading Mr. Amis's novel, not having understood a word of it, but at least I got to the end. The novel was either extremely clever or downright stupid. I have now made a start on "The Girl Who Saved the King of Scotland" by Jonas Jonasson, published in America last year, the book having been recommended by a female neighbour.

There was a big fall on the FTSE today, falling 64 points, presumably as a result of the unsatisfactory and muddled result of the Scottish referendum, the Cameroons not knowing what to do about home rule.

TUESDAY 23 SEPTEMBER

According to the front page of today's "Times", "Cameron is to ask Iran for help in war against Isis." Yet only a few months ago we were imposing sanctions on the brutal regime for developing nuclear weapons; now we are pleading cap-in-hand for help. How the Iranians must be laughing, totally having hoodwinked our barmy politicians. When you think that we are being ruled by politicians who change their minds with the wind, it really is quite frightening. I suppose, though, it is characteristic of a country in terminal decline. When you accept that, everything is explained.

Amongst the morning's e-mails I had one from a 70-year-old gentlemen who was worried that in his old age he never dared go out in the evening, spending his days watching television, "but even on the news and weather the women always seem to shout so loudly. Do you remember how the BBC speakers had to be respectable in appearance and voice long years ago, and they had to be well mannered. I often wish for those times?"

Although I still go out in the evenings, though never into Lincoln on a Friday or Saturday evening, I can well understand the comments about the BBC speakers, especially when I hear the awfulness of local radio with their jingles before the news bulletins, and readers who sound as if they are suffering from nasty colds, their diction appalling. I was reminded of the days of the splendid Patricia Hughes whose lovely voice on the Third Programme was such a delight, and of the better television days when the news readers wore evening dress.

As a further comment on the dreadful social state of this rundown country, there was a headline in today's "i" saying: "Parenting crisis: most of five-year-olds not ready for school. Too many unable to communicate or hold a pencil". Presumably this is a consequence of them being dumped in bootie camps from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. under the control of dim-witted young girls, while mummy goes off to work to provide the family with a high living standard.

One of my friends sent me an e-mail saying that there was to be a 3-part television programme starting tomorrow on an interpretation of the First World War. At first, I thought that this was one of those dreaded historical revisionist reviews, usually written by young academics who want to turn the traditional view of history upset down by way of making a name for themselves.
But later I gathered that the historian was, thankfully, an older man who "seems to be saying that the 'history' written in the 20s and 30s was more correct than the amendments made by historians in the 60s with, presumably, the benefit of hindsight." This raises that old question: Is history better written by people who experienced the events at the time, or by the broader view at a later date,

Another e-mail from a correspondent in Cheshire, commenting on our failure to prevent the horrible house soon to be built in our, saying: "I see that you are having similar problems with the new development in your area. We have tried without success to have this monstrosity blocked photograph attached from website] . It is outrageous that town planning has given approval."

I replied: "I have every sympathy with you. We live in a unique historic environment, the stone houses dating from 1901, formerly the stables of the nearby Hall, yet despite all the residents opposing the monstrous development; the Parish Council voting against it; and the District Council unanimously opposing the development after a site visit one man, namely an Inspector, went against all the planning rules and regulations in a conservation area and allowed the house on appeal.
"Work is about to start on the house, which will completely ruin our environment. What happened to democracy, we might ask, and how can one man, apparently having no regard to history or the environment, allow such an out-of-character development? It is all very upsetting, and I know only too well how you feel.
"Other than going to the High Court, which would cost us thousands of pounds, we have to accept that we lost the battle. At least future generations will be able to see that we tried so hard to protect our heritage, always assuming they will be bothered."

Wine

Mrs. Copeland pouring herself a glass of wine - something she can do with her eyes closed.



After lunch I telephoned the chimney sweep to have our chimney cleaned on the 1st October - cost 30. It is a reminder that we will soon be sitting beside blazing log fires. I have thought about having a woodburner, especially as some friends are about to have one installed, having to pay for dry wood at a cost of 70 a load. There is no doubt that these stoves are far more efficient than an open fire, but I think I will struggle on for another year with the present set-up, so enjoying seeing the burning logs on a cold and frosty night.

The evening was spent reading some more of the book on the horrors of life in North Korea. At the end of the evening I had finished the book, dealing with a couple of high-ranking officials of the regime escaping to China and then to South Korea to freedom.
I felt rather unwell during the morning, feeling as if I had just come out of a Parish Council meeting, but after a half bottle of wine at lunchtime I perked up. I remain convinced that wine - preferably white - is the very elixir of life, solving so many problems when the doctors have not a clue what is wrong. As I say, a bottle a day - half at lunchtime and half in the evening, keeps the doctor away, far better than those sour apples that are difficult to chew when you are old.

In the newspaper today there was research saying that people sleep more easily in cities than in the countryside. Not having lived in both I cannot contest the finding, but I can readily agree with the suggestion that women go to sleep quicker than men. This is certainly true in our household, where Mrs. C is asleep the moment she touches the pillow, whereas I stay away for at least an hour, worrying about the condition of the country, and about the utterly horrible house that is to be built in our community, totally spoiling it.

I was amazed to read in the newspaper that "Apple sold ten million iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus handsets in three days after last Friday's launch". It must be the most successful commercial appliance ever marketed, everybody having to have the latest model, spending their time tapping away instead of talking to people face-to-face and reading. The appliances cost 99, so there is obviously no shortage of money. Whenever I go in to Lincoln, I see every third person with a mobile telephone to their ear. A funny old world to be sure.

A private courier delivered a copy of Dennis Skinner's recently published reminiscences, all books now being delivered in this form instead of by Royal Mail, which must be a huge loss to the Mail. Unfortunately, there was an immensely hostile review of the autobiography in yesterday's "Times", describing the recollections as "random, maudlin and dull...it is puerile, fractious and unimaginative, a book of vanity." It made me wonder whether the review had been written by a High Tory who understandably loathed the cloth-capped working classes. I have always liked the Beast of Bolsover, even if I did not agree with this political views, and it will therefore be interesting to see what I make of the book.

I tend to take absolutely no notice of reviews, especially when I think of the high praise for Amis's latest novel that I found completely incomprehensible, not to say downright pretentious. I suppose the trouble is that all reviews are biased, subjected to all manner of political and social prejudice. In the past, when I took "The Sunday Times", Mrs. Copeland and I never went to see a film that was highly praised, knowing that we would never enjoy it, whereas a film that was condemned would be greatly appreciated. I tend to think that the reviews in "The Literary Review", to which I subscribe each month, are somewhat pretentious, the reviewer showing how clever he is.

It is rather like the selection of the "Best Books" of the year that we see in December in the press, each reviewer selecting the most obscure and eclectic books imaginable, presumably by way of indicating his/her high intelligence. We therefore see selections such as "Roman Baths & Prostitution, 25-29 BC", or "The History of Lincoln shire Windmills in the Early 19th Century."

Every time I switch on my computer these days, I have a message saying that all manner of updates are necessary for Windows, there being another 6 today. When I agree to download them it takes about half an hour before they are all safely gathered in. It makes me wonder what happens if I do not download the updates. Will the computer suddenly pack up? How blissful it was back in the mid-1990s when I started computing, having the wonderful Windows 95 that has never been bettered. I suppose that was before the riffraff came onto the Internet.

WEDNESDAY 24 SEPTEMBER

Mrs. Copeland and I sat up drinking wine until about 1.30 a.m. This alcoholic intake usually helps me get to sleep quite quickly, but last night I spent hours awake. In the end, I got up and went downstairs to start reading Denies Skinner's Reminiscences, reading about 80 pages for the next two hours. Alas, I am not enjoying the book, finding that I somewhat agree with the critical review.

Mr. Skinner is a great character, a devout and honest Socialist, but his charm does not seem to come out in this rather arrogant and self-satisfied book. Maybe all autobiographies suffer from this fault. To read John Major's memoirs you would think he saved the country from terrible troubles, assuring sweetness and light ll round. It made me wonder what Mr. Skinner ever managed to achieve as a politician, not that many of the tribe ever achieve very much, other than spending our money on wasteful projects.

On the news I heard that Parliament was to be recalled on Friday to discuss the possibility of Britain joining in the airstrikes agains the Isis insurgents. Oh, dear: more money down the drain, but at least, as I mention so many times, this bunfight takes the mind of the electorate off the mounting debt and chaos at home. I gather that we even donate foreign aid to China, which they have just spent on a rocket to Mars. How we are taken in!

Apparently there was much merriment among the Cameroons that little Red Ed. in his speech to the Labour Party conference missed out part of his speech dealing with immigration and the indebtedness of the country. He would, wouldn't he, though it might be argued that the Cameroons do not have a very good record on either of these subjects, especially now that the immigrants are fighting their way over to these shores from Calais.

When I first retired some 26 years ago I used to listen avidly to the Party Conferences, though not the Lib-Dim ones, of course. Now, however, having belatedly realised that these conferences are all woffle and wind, I never take any interest in them, knowing that all the participants live in a world of dreams where reality and reason never penetrate.

In today's "Times" there was a report in the Business section - the man part of the newspaper that I read, saying that, "George Osborne's deficit reduction plan suffered another setback in August as the public finances deteriorated despite an improving economy....In March the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast that borrowing would fall by about 10% in the current financial year. Instead, it has risen by more than 6% to date, the Office for National Statistics said yesterday."

In other words, the so-called "improving economy" is based on ever more debt, giving the totally false impression that it is economic growth. This dreadful state of affairs can be likened to a man spending more and more on his credit card, getting in debt beyond his credit limit, yet believing that he was becoming richer. What seems so strange in that little Red Ed. does not point out this falsehood, preventing the Cameroons from saying in their election campaign next year - "Don't let Labour spoil our increasing prosperity."

I was very saddened to receive an e-mail saying that one of the members of the Retired Headteachers' Luncheon Club, which I attend most months, had died. He was a headmaster I worked with when I was Divisional Education Office for Lincoln and district, finding him to be a highly cultured and respected gentleman. I believe he was nearly 90, having been ill for some time, no longer attending the luncheon gatherings. A sad loss, and a reminder that I am moving up a peg. It was Mark Twain who said: "Heaven for the climate; Hell for the company."

recession

Another casualty of the recession.


After a brief visit to town to purchase a "Times" and to look in at W H Smith to see the latest model in the series "Giant Warplanes" - a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, which I decided not to buy, I spent the rest of the morning cleaning the conservatory by using a stepladder to clean the ledges between the wall and the roof of the conservatory, having seen to my horror yesterday that it full of dead flies and spiders. By the end of the morning I had completed two-thirds of the work, but decided to complete the cleaning tomorrow, which will also involve cleaning the exterior of the roof panels. Going up and down on the ladder today hurt the arthritis in my knees.

In today's "Times" I saw that there was a news item saying that people statins should exercise more as there was a risk of developing diabetes. I was prescribed these controversial tablets many months ago, but on mentioning the prescription in my diary I received several e-mails from America and three from this country saying that on no account should I take them, unless I had a history of heart problems. When there is so much controversy about statins, and in view of these comments, I decided not to take them, not wanting to risk them.
when I had blood pressure of 130/76.

In the evening Mrs. Copeland and I went to the Venue in Lincoln to see the film "Boyhood". As I have mentioned before we no longer go to the Lincoln Odeon, finding that the bad manners of a young audience completely spoil watching the film whereas at the Venue there is a well-mannered and sophisticated audience, mainly of middle-aged and elderly people who know how to conduct themselves in public. There is also the advantage of the Venue that there is free parking, and we can have a drink of wine before the film starts - and the staff are extremely pleasant. So as one door closes another opens, as granny used to say.

The American film about dysfunctional life and the failures of successive marriages, was far too long at two-and-a-half hours. Knocking off 45 minutes would have made it a thoughtful film, whereas in its prolixity it seemed to wander aimlessly.

THURSDAY 25 SEPTEMBER

An American correspondent has referred me to a website at www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics giving details of the UK's ever increasing debt, showing that "The latest revisions help bring the UK in line with European accounting standards, but they don't make great reading for the Chancellor. According to the figures, Britain's debt mountain is 127 billion bigger that we first thought. To provide some context, that's more than the government's annual budget for education and housing put together. In total, the government owes its creditors 1.4 trillion as of this year."

How can we possibly say that we have recovered from the recession when we are becoming more and more in debt, far more than any of the other G7 nations? Yet with an election only a few months away, the Government certainly does not want to cut back on this debt by raising interest rates and taxes. Oh, the dishonesty of politicians, but they are all the same,a nd we should never put our trust in them.

Kind

Peace in our time. Item sent to me by a correspondent. It was Dr. Johson who said that: "That is the happiest conversation where there is no competition, no vanity, but a calm quiet interchange of sentiments." A noble aim for all Internet discussion groups, especially Facebooks that can often become very virtiolic and unpleasant.


I saw in the newspaper today that our Prime Minister is making out the case for this country's involvement in the fight against the Isis insurgents, joining the Americans in the fight. I find this so depressing, especially as all the lessons of Vietnam, Irag, Libya and Afghanistan have shown that we can never win when confronted with a guerilla war, not knowing where the enemy is, or where they are, many of them sheltering behind "innocent" civilians.

As we know from bitter experience, politicians in our time love going to war, giving them a sense of importance that they are being brave and decisive, making up for the chaos at home. I gather that the psychologists call such a tactic as a "displacement activity", move away from a more troublesome topic. This latest foreign foray will no doubt in the usual tears after thousands of pounds have been wasted.

With a neighbour I attended the monthly meeting of the village's Retired Gentlemen's Club at a very pleasant Italian restaurant - Marino's - set up lst April on the large estate on the outskirts of the village. There were only 7 of us present, but this has become an acceptable number, meaning that we can all sit round a table and talk to one another, whereas a larger group tends to break up ito two or more sections. Mrs. Copeland's Ladies Lunchein Club has also found a decline in membership, obviously a sign that we are all getting old. I had an excellent siroin steak, which went down very well with the Italian white wine, the cost per perdon being a reasonable 20.

The evening will be spent reading some more of Dennis Skinner's "Sailing Close to the Wind". I have found some of the early chapters, except the one describing his childhood days with a mother who was always singing, despite her poverty as being rather dull and uninspiring. All the details of Clay Cross Counil's battle to give cheap housing for the residents are immensely boring, but then local government is generally vexatious to the spirit.

E-mail: johncopeland@clara.net
Lincolnshire 25th September, 2014
Comments welcomed.
No.867
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