DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN

- John Copeland -


FEBRUARY 2020


Snowdrop

Snowdrops in the garden. They have not been quite so good this year.


"Trump emerges stronger than ever after impeachment saga".


Wonderful news item in "The Times" 6th February. By way of a joyful celebration I bought a bottle of "Highland Park" whisky, trebles all round. Thank heavens that America now has a resolute and courageous leader in charge who, not being a politician, does what he says he will do. He was in India during the month, formulating friendship and trade with that country. It reminds me of the time President Reagan visited China. Somebody suggested he should see the pagodas, to which he replied: "I'll ask them to dinner".


EU

Item sent to me by a reader, certainly expressing my feelings in the joy of leaving that hateful Union into which we paid billions, receiving little in return.


What a wonderful joy it is that we have been freed from that hateful European Union, no longer paying out billions every month and receiving nothing in return. As might be expected the Rt. Horrible Barnier, as well as the French (never the best of friends) are making our trading conditions as difficult as possible, knowing that our departure is going to seriously weaken the Union, especially as we are one of only three major net financial contributors.

Already it is being reported that the economies of Germany and France are weakening sharply. Barnier knows that other countries, notably Italy and Spain, will soon follow in our glorious wake, like ourselves wanting to free themselves from the excessive burdens of an undemocratic and bureaucratic organisation. Fortunately, our Boris will sort out those unpleasant people, with whom there is no reasoning, no hope of any compromise in their bitterness, but why did we ever get mixed up with them? Ted Heath has much to answer for. It is surely better for us to be more involved with America, the leading country in the world, with a splendid President, rather than with countries that have spent the last century fighting one another, and still do not work well together, there now being squabbles about the Budget

I just hope that, instead of bowing and accepting unreasonable demands, our Prime Minister walks away from the negotiations, slapping a 20% tariff on all imports from the European Union. We have an extensive adverse trade balance with the EU, so who is going to lose?

On the 24th February I read on the BBC news that the ghastly and often downright misguided European Court of Justice had ruled that owners of sit-on lawnmowers must have an insurance policy. Apparently we may have to abide by this crazy legislation, but there is ever hope that later on we will be able to avoid the endless and useless rules and regulations made by the bureaucratic army in Brussels. Oh, the joy of getting away from that hateful Union that, in all probability, will be dead and gone within the next five years.

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Crocus

Crocus in the garden. Spring is on the way after a dreary, rain and gale-swept winter.


My only worry about our welcome departure from the European Union is that our relentless economic decline has gone too far for any revival, making it impossible even for a right-wing Conservative Government to restore us to financial health. We have become a lazy and indolent country, having the worst productivity of the G7 nations, the work ethic having almost completely gone. It means that, in order for the lights to stay on and to receive any kind of service, we have to rely on immigrants, none of the natives, especially the younger contingent, wanting to do any difficult or dirty work. Under new arrangements, unskilled immigrants will no longer be allowed into our country, bringing anguished cries from employers wanting immigrant carers, waiters and waitresses.

Sadly, our country goes from bad to worse. Crime is rampant; there is massive unemployment among the poorly educated 16-23-year-olds who have nothing to do all day. Our local authorities have no money for any services, the streets are littered and seldom, if ever, cleared up; and we cannot see a doctor for a month. This month one of our sons-in-law, having parked his car in a street near his house while he went to have a drink in a pub, returned to the car to find that the windscreen had been smashed and his web cam stolen. How can anybody do such a thing like that - somebody who will never be any good to the community? One real benefit would be to bring back National Service for two years, providing these moronic thugs with discipline, probably knocking something into their thick heads. A pity we cannot export them.

That awful woman Pritti Patel, the Home Secretary, has been accused of bullying her staff, the Home Office consequently in turmoil, while that dreadful Rebecca Long-Bailey with her ghastly northern accent (why does a northern accent sound so uneducated?) is making a complete fool of herself in the leadership election stakes. Why do these women go into politics when they are all so hopeless, none of them having the right temperament or qualities? Significantly, both our female Prime Minister have to be deposed. and there is that disagreeable Sturgeon who keeps rabbiting on about having another independence referendum, not having agreed with the first one that rejected a breakaway,

Then there is Diane Abbott who cannot do her sums or answer any questions, while over in America there is Nasty Nancy Pelosi who is leading her Democratic Party into the political wilderness. Admittedly, there have been some dreadful male politicians, Blair, Brown, Corbyn and Cameron being among the worst, but there has never yet been a successful woman politician. Interestingly, there are 16 men and 5 women in the Government, only Mrs. Patel having a senior post amongst the females. That is probably about the right balance. I just hope that nobody will accuse me of sexism in disliking female politicians. All history, as I have shown on many occasions, indicates that they are no good.


Buds

The buds of Spring


Emphasising that some male politicians are equally awful, it made me laugh out loud, falling about in helpless laughter, to read in the "i", that truncated newspaper with its appalling letters page, more left-wing biased than the Bloated Broadcasting Corporation, had a comment that Comrade Corbyn will be regarded "as one of Labour's and Britain's greatest leaders", being thought of as Britain's "Favourite Uncle".

A woman in the audience of the BBC Television programme "Question Times" unwisely dared to express the truth that we were already too overpopulated in this country to take in any more immigrants, our schools overcrowded, the roads a living hell, and having to wait a month or more to see a doctor, so much of our Englishness being lost in the interests of diversity

As expected, she was accused of "racism", the term given to anybody who dares to criticise immigration, just as it is an offence to criticise Islam, even though some of its crazier adherents go round killing people. It has also become an offence, bringing forth accusations of "sexism" if a man so much as looks at a woman; even worse it is sexism to query some of our silly sexual ideas, especially the offensive nonsense of same-sex "marriages" and the biologically muddled transgender issues. In our universities the students shout down any speaker they do not agree with, making a nonsense and travesty of a university education.

During the month, a busybody quango (and why on earth doesn't the Government get rid of these useless troublemaking organisations?) sent out letter to all the top companies in the FTSE saying there must be a better gender balance of top executives. What utter nonsense this is. As with politicians, the best person should be appointed, the arrnagement being on the basis of brains not biology. The fact remains that manywomen, especially those with family commitments, do not want such top jobs.

Free speech, daring to express the truth, is therefore in danger of no longer being permitted in this country; indeed, we are increasingly becoming like Nazi Germany where anybody who did not toe the official ethos was in serious trouble. The lady in the audience was therefore quite right; indeed, had I been in the audience I would have stood up and clapped her resoundingly for her brave and accurate comments, For most of my life I lived in an England for the English. To label her brave comments as racism and right-wing extremism is as foolish as it is inaccurate.


Sanders

The elderly Bernie Sanders, the leading Democratic Party contender for the Presidential election in November. As an ardent Socialist, he does not stand a chance of election, meaning another welcome impressive win for Donald Trump.


Over in America things are not much better. That horrible and spiteful old woman, Nasty Nancy Pelosi, has ended up with egg all over her face in the failed impeachment, completely humiliated, having consequently improved President Trump's popularity rating, thereby ensuring his splendid and decisive victory in November. As mentioned before, his great advantage is that he is not a politician, actually doing things that he says he will do, something the political establishment just cannot understand.

Meanwhile, it seems that the 79-year-old Bernie Sanders, looking like death warmed up, probably lasting no more than three weeks in the most unlikely event of him ever entering the White House, seems to be among the foremost quarrelsome Democratic contenders, the party not unlike our gormless, out-of-date Labour Party. Apparently he has admitted that he has no idea how much his policies will cost, but then that is true of all extreme Socialists. According to the bookies, who nearly always get their predictions correct, Donald Trump is rated 8/13, while Sanders is 9/2. What with the 79-year-old Nasty Nancy and Bygone Bernie also at the same age, it looks as if the Democratic Party is getting its leading players out of an old folks' home.

Still not being able to accept that they hopelessly lost the Presidential election four years' ago (Electoral College: Clinton 232, Trump 306), the Democrats are still trying to make life difficult for the worthy President Trump, wanting to return to the indolent and ineffective days of the Obama administration. What celebrations we will have when Donald Trump romps home in November. Trebles all round, the country saved from those bitter Socialists

It mae me laugh out loud (LOL, as they say on the Internet, that the Scialst newspape, the equivalent of our ghastly "Gurdian", had an item saying: "Berne Saders can beat Trump.. Here are the maths..." An item for the scrapbook of predictions, always completely wrong..

Conversey, I was saddened and angry to learn that a changed rule in the House of Commons will allow women members to breast-feed in the Chamber. What a horrible, selfish and unsociable gesture! These mothers ought to be at home looking after their babies, not making disgusting and unacceptable scenes in the Commons. What a selfish people we are becoming: a society with no consideration for others, having no manners. And don't let some pathetic snowflake accuse me of sexism, for this is strictly a determined biological issue.


Union tie

The Union tie I wore to celebrate our departure from the European Union, free at last to manage our own affairs.


In terms of the present obsession with climate change, our Government will be banning coal fires from 2023, and was hoping to have a third runway at Heathrow, but a Judge, interfering in the work of the Government, as the Judiciary is doing more and more these days, rejected the proposal, the Government saying it was going to appeal. Meanwhile the "Red Arrows", that noisy and expensive aerial acrobatic team, fly round and round our village all day, causing massive pollution.

Fortunately, there is a substitute fuel for household coal, but it is expensive and does not burn all that well. Wet wood is also banned in favour of kiln-dried wood which burns far too quickly. However, if the wood is left out in the rain it burns well again, so all is not lost in the ridiculous decision. Oh, that politicians would leave us alone, buggering up everything they touch.

I still feel undecided about climate change, tending to take the view that it is climate development rather than change. One thing I feel certain about: that the measures being taken in this country and elsewhere will do absolutely nothing to solve climate change. There are too many people in the world, and consumer consumption is far too high in affluent nations, while China and America will not adopt any measures at all. What concerns me so much is the type of people who are snow o obsessed with climate change, veritable snowflakes the lot of them, hardly people of discernment and reason.



Chancellor

The new, ever smiling Chancellor, the previous one having resigned in a huff.


We now have a new and happy Chancellor who looks as if he has just come out of short-trousers, but then that expresses my great age when all the policemen seem so young. Laughing Boy Rishi Sunak, who probably has about as much idea of economics as he has of nuclear physics, will soon be preparing the Budget, having the traditional arrangement of giving with one hand and taking away with the other. Then there are our incompetent local authorities who, in their inefficiency and gross incompetence, will be raising the council tax by around 4%, well above the rate of inflation, no doubt giving the councillors a hefty remuneration increase. The utterly hopeless Highways Department of our County Council cannot even repair some deep and dangerous potholes in the road through the village. It is a pity the Romans are not still here, for they would have been easily able to fix the problem.

I laughed when, in an e-mail from our excellent Parish Clerk, there was a communication from an officer of our local District Council, calling himself the "Democratic & Civic Officer". What wonderful titles these local authorities give to their officers these days, especially to posts that merely add a fifth wheel to the coach. Sadly, in my working days long ago, I was merely given the job title of "Divisional Education Office". I should have been the "Cultural & Academic Progressive Development Officer" - something along those lines.

Meanwhile, Royal Mail not surprisingly in deep financial trouble, will be raising the price of first class stamps from 70p to 76p, an increase of 8.5% on the 23rd March. So much for the ONS (Office for Nebulous Statistics) saying that inflation last month fell to 1.3%. Oh, if that were true! Our postal deliveries Monday to Saturday consist almost entirely of junk mail, catalogues and charity appeal, all of which go into the recycling bin without being opened. I will buy 12 of the 1st class stamps and 24 of the 2nd class before the price increase on the 23rd March, and those stamps will last me until the end of year and beyond.

The Office also tells us every month that there are more people in work than ever before, yet every day brings announcements of massive job losses in Tesco, Waitrose, banks and building societies, and all manner of retail shops in the High Street. Somehow the ONS figures do not make sense.


Car

The new Seat Ibiza that we take delivery of on the 6th March 2020.


Perhaps somewhat unwisely in view of our old age and poor medical conditions, Mrs. Copeland recently having developed "polymyalgia rheumatica" for which she has been prescribed steroids, we have ordered a new 2020 registration Seat "Ibiza" for delivery on the 6th March with the latest registration plate, changing Mrs. Copeland's 6-years-old Peugeot 208 that has seen its best before years. Amazingly, we had a very good deal, paying far less than we had expected for a new car, but then this is probably due to sales of new cars being well down. We have always had new cars in the past, and although I realise that we lose a lot of money, I have never liked buying second-hand cars, not even one-year-old ones, fearing that the owner has got rid of the car because of some fault or possibly didn't like the vehicle. It will be no doubt be our last car.

Meanwhile, I have decided to keep the Scorpio on the road between March and September, licensing and insuring it, and then subsequently putting it under SORN registration, not taking it out on the road and therefore not paying the licence fee or insuring it until the following Spring. Now that the better days are not so far ahead I am resolved to use the vehicle more. Last year the car only did 172 miles, which isn't good for the vehicle. Use it or lose it. This latest arrangement seems a reasonable compromise, better than selling the car as Mrs. C advises, regarding keeping it as a complete waste of money.

On account of my worsening arthritis in my knees, hardly able to get up the stairs, I telephoned Stannah Stairlifts on the 25th February, the call being unswered by a most unhelpful female who, after asking my name, wanted full details of my address, which she looked up on her computer, subsequently telling me that there was no such address. Despite telling her that I had lived at the address for the past 50 years, she insisted that there was no such address, so I terminated the call and telephoned Acorn. They were most helpful, the call being answered by a man who immediately found my address, saying that the likely cost for a straight run would be about 1,500, saying he would send me a brochure, How can Stannah be so inefficient?

This excessive expenditure has been partly prompted by the announcement that, as from next month, the interest rate determining Premium Bond prizes is to be substantially reduced, one of the 10,000 prizes being removed, along with 145,000 of the 25 prizes. Mrs. Copeland and I, although both having quite a good holding of the bonds, never ever win anything other than 25 prizes, not that I know of anybody who wins any bigger prizes. With even less change of winning a 25 prize, the bonds have become a poor investment. Accordingly, I might as well spend the money and try to make myself happy, difficult though that assignment will be in my present medical condition and melancholic state of mind.


Helibore

\hellebore in the garden.


As I have mentioned before, I have a system to stop the endless scam telephone calls we have each week, using a recorded message on the answerphone saying "This telephone has a device for recognising scam calls. If you are a genuine caller, please call back." It works splendidly nearly every time, the caller quickly switching off. However, it does not work for recorded incoming message. For example there have been five occasions during this month when we have received calls purporting to come from Amazon, saying that my banking account has been debited with 79.99 for Amazon's Prime membership. "If you do not wish to renew please press 1." The recipient is then asked to see if a refund has been made to the banking account, having to give full details of the account. One person, having stupidly followed these directions, reportedly lost 15,000.

We heard during the month the utterly terrible news that a fellow we know who is 60 years of age has been diagnosed with oesophagus cancer. How on earth do you deal with such a death warrant? There can be no greater misfortune than that.


Thugby

England's thugby team. No problem with diversity there.


According to a report in "The Times" for the 3rd February, the England thugby manager, a chappie called Jones, was quoted as shamefully saying that the French "would never before have faced the level of brutality and violence that England would bring to the Sade de France." Thank heavens that England, having carried out this ignominious threat, was thoroughly thrashed by the French, losing 24-17. Trebles all round.

Watching the horrible proceedings with me, a member of the Club put forward the interesting and plausible theory that the game, having originated in those vicious boot camps known as public schools, allowed the confined and restricted inmates to release their pent-up aggression in a brutal and barbaric game that does not involve any skill, the game thereby being suitable for the thickies. I tend to agree with that contention. In an age when there is so much concern about health & safety, it seems incredible that this game, a descent of Roman games, is still allowed in all its brutality and harm

Flower

Flower in the garden.


The annual television licence is to go up 3 to 157.50. On the 1st May those of us over 75 years of age will therefore no longer have the free licence, Prime Minister Johnson, not surprisingly being a politician, having reneged on saying he would save us old-timers from paying the licence. It means that I will have to dispose of the set, for under no circumstances am I going to pay all that money for the endless rubbish. The idiot's lantern is hardly ever switched on in our house, both Mrs. Copeland and I loathing its intrusiveness. We would far rather spend the evenings reading by the fireside.

BBC Radio is not much better, the dumbed-down news bulletin at 5 o'clock on Radio 4 being a disgrace, obviously intended for listeners with a low mental age, presumably for young views who want to be entertained The headlines are broken up with comments/speeches and the entire bulletin tries to be jolly, The 8 a.m bulletin on Radio 3 is often a rushed affair, especially by some of the male news readers who do not pause between each item, making it all sound like a lot of gobbledegook. Some of the music on the station is just unbelievably nauseating, especially the modern rubbish.

During the month I received in the post a questionnaire marked "NHS GP Patient Survey", conducted by Ipsos Mori, no doubt sent out at a considerable cost. The questionnaire had 69 questions, including asking me about the ease of making an appointment with the doctor; about my own health in terms of problems with mobility; enquiring whether I took more than 5 medicines on a regular basis; and whether I had any long-term physical or mental disabilities.

Even worse, far more personal questions, marked "Some questions about you", involved questions about my age, my ethnic group, what I "am doing at the present", whether I give support to any other member of my family, my smoking habits, whether I was a deaf person who used sign language, my sexual orientation, and what was my religion. The questionnaire was marked by a number and reference, so it could easily be traced to me, providing a veritable databank to store up all my personal details. As I did not want all these details put on file, I refused to fill in the questionnaire, returning it in the SAE uncompleted and the reference numbers cut out.


Books

Books read during the month. The book on the bombing of Dresden was a big disappointment.


I read three books during the month, not reading so much these days as I tend to fall asleep while sitting by the living fire: "Checkpoint Charlie - The Cold War, the Berlin Wall and the most dangerous place on earth" by Ian MacGregor; "The Gravediggers - The last winter of the Weimar Republic" by Rudiger Barth and Hauke Friederichs, and "Dresden: The Fire and the Darkness" by Sinclair McKay

The first book described the appalling behaviour of the Russians, along with the terrible social and economic conditions of East Germany under the brutal and barbaric horrors of communism, the author commenting: "For the 17 million East German citizens penned up in their country, with their everyday lives monitored, assessed and manipulated, and directed by a concealed and malevolent a force as the Stasi, it was a form of daily humiliation." Eventually, like all communist countries, East Germany fell apart, united with the West, having failed completely, just as communism in Russia fell apart, As undoubtedly China will fall apart, the recent plague hastening its welcome demise.

"The Gravediggers" was a strangely written book, all very homely, making it difficult to understand in parts, somewhat muddled and confusing. Somehow it took me a long time to read the book, so many parties and characters being introduced.

The bombing of Dresden is now condemned by the snowflakes as a war crime, but this is a nonsense - history, as so often happens these days, being taken completely out of context. Although the bombing occurred during the final stages of World War II, it was a time when the terrible concentration camps were being discovered, prompting the Allies to teach the Germans a lesson they would never forget - and they have never forgotten. The Russians had also asked for the bombing, making it difficult for German resistance.

In reading the Dresden book I have to admit that I was horrified that such a magnificent, cultured and artistic city was obliterated, indicating the cruelty of man to man. I suppose, though, that we can blame the Germans for starting the war. Today, as masters of the European Union, the Germans do not need to start another war, so that is some consolation. In May of this year we will be celebrating the end of WW2, serving as a reminder of the horrors of the Germans. How humiliating that joyful event will be for them!

Rather surprisingly, and somewhat to my disappointment, over a third of the 322 pages of text was taken up with the history of Dresden, explaining the beautiful and cultured city with its scientific and medical innovation, including the innovating camera firm Zeiss Ikon. A chemist by the name of Karl Lingner, obsessed with hygiene, invented the mouthwash. A most disappointing book. Unfortunately, the book was written in a very flowery style, redolent of a female romantic novelist, such as: "In the thin cold wind of winter, there was - by tradition - a day of the brightest colour: green wool, purple and silk ribbons , gingham and rich embroidery, scarlet devil horns, huge yellow bows." A most disappointing book.

I had earlier resolved to buy just one book a month on account of inflation for household items, now at the realistic rate of 5.5%, the 1.3% CPI being merely a fairy tale. I therefore bought "Hitler - Downfall 1939-45" by Volker Ullrich. the 2nd volume of the biography, the earlier one "Hitler", already being on my shelves, having thoroughly enjoyed it. I am therefore looking forward to reading this latest volume amounting to 632 pages of text. Although I buy most of my books from the excellent service of Waterstone's in Lincoln, the 30 book was priced at 19.25 by Amazon, so I used their services, the book being delivered the next day of ordering, even though I am "hopefully" not on "Prime Amazon

I liked the letter in "The Times" for the 25th February: "Rather than persevering until chapter 2 with a book you should take the advice Ford Madox Ford , the author: Open the book at page 99 and read and the quality of the whole book will be revealed to you". I must try that with future purchases.

Pools

Pools on the lawn after the heavy rain, some of it torrential. There were 55 mm during the month. We probably have enough water to supply half of Europe - not that we would want to.


On the 8th and 9th we had to endure the frightening Storm Ciara, which brought winds of up to 60 m.p.h., the strong gales subsequently lasting for several days, along with days of heavy rain. The endless wind, roaring around the house, became very worrying and frightening, the danger being that it would bring down trees, especially in the avenue of oaks that were planted back in 1801. On one occasion, at about 1.15 p.m. there was torrential rain lasting for about 20 minutes, the like of which I have never seen before in my lifetime, quite incredible,, seeming as if it was going to smash the conservatory roof. The seemingly endless rain brought great pools of water on the lawn.

Another storm, Storm Dennis, arrived on Sunday 16th, bringing gales and heavy rain yet again, the gale continuing unabated until the end of the month . Fortunately, the month brought no snow, half an inch invariably paralysing the country. It is the lack of sunshine, having to take vitamin D tablets every day, that is so depressing. It is such an awful climate, storm-tossed and rain-soaked, the sun so rare, We don't really need any weather forecasts. All the forecasters have to say is: "More rain and gusty winds". At least we had no snow, the old countrymen's adage that if here was no snow before the 15th January there would be no substantial falls thereafter, having been correct for the past two years. Duing the month there were 61 mm of rain.

The trolls condemned the Prime Minister for not visiting the flooded areas in Wales and other parts of the country. What on earth would be the point of him going, not being a Canute? Far better to remain in Downing Street and sort out those horrible people across the English Channel. It is better for Royalty to make such visits, giving that Kate something to do instead of prancing around in a new frock every day, displaying a clip-on smile. It makes me wince when I see the endless photographs of her in the press.

As always. I enjoyed our monthly meeting of the village Retired Gentlemen's Club, this month at a tapas bar in Lincoln on the 18th February. Sadly, our numbers are down to 4 each month - "The Gang of Four". With Mrs. Copeland I also enjoyed a gathering at our house of the Rector and his wife, along with a villager and his wife. Our excellent rector, Indian born, has a Ph.D, a most clever and interesting priest, visiting his flock every few months.

My trouble with religion is that although I somehow believe there is a divine Creator, I cannot accept the concept of a caring god. I therefore found it most offensive that last year the Church of England put out a leaflet that included thanks to God for rescuing us at Dunkirk. The real reason for our enforced departure was Hitler stopping his tanks. Of course, the believers will argue that God made Hitler stop the tanks, but the Fuhrer did not have much to do with religion

Alexa

The Alexa appliance that I bought during the month. A big disaapointment, the news a day old and only useful for the weather forecast and reminders. A waste of 89. The appliance is mainly suitable for youngsters liking pop music.


Despite the need to cut back on account of the ever rising inflation mentioned earlier, I treated myself to the latest Echo 8 Alexa, Mrs. Copeland saying that the purchase from Amazon was quite unnecessary, that it would be a 9-day wonder, merely a toy. What is annoying in buying items from Amazon is that it is very difficult to avoid paying the 7.99 a month for "Prime", having a next day service that I do not need, only occasionally ordering items from Amazon.

Unfortunately, in trying to avoid the expense of "Prime", I inadvertently ordered two Alexa items, subsequently having to return one, Hermes collecting it for a return costing 6. Granddaughter Chloe fixed up the system for me, and I liked it initially, being able to hear the weather forecast and see Sky News (mercifully, the awful BBC televised news is not available), as well as being able to make reminders and alarms.

As Mrs. C. rightly predicted, the appliance has quickly become a 9-day wonder, and I have tired of it, wishing that I had not made the purchase of 79.99. Alexa seems to be aimed principally at a younger, poorly educated group that enjoys pop music, sport and the sordid life of so-called stars. At least it is useful for showing reminders, which seems to be my only use. Sadly, the news is well out of date.

Snowdrops

Snowdrops in the garden and the avenue of oaks byeond, as yet not showing much signs of growth.

and -215 on the 28th. Starting the year at 7,542, the FTSE ended this month at 6,580.61, down nearly 1,000 points.

The coronavirus was spreading like wildfire during the month, not surprisingly also arriving in this country. All very worrying, the religious people no doubt arguing that it is God's intention to reduce the population on earth and punish people, especially the hateful communist country of China. People in affected countries are wearing face masks, but medically it is said that they do little to prevent infection other than stopping hands touching the mouth. A more effective safeguard is frequent hand-washing. A friend was telling me that it is essential to use disposable gloves when buying fuel at petrol station, which I now regularly do.

Not surprisingly, the Pandemic, as it is now likely to be called, caused widespread problems for the stock markets around the world, the FTSE falling 247 points on the 24th February and a further 246 on the 27th.

One of our relatives, having a water meter, had a leak that was probably not discovered for several weeks, the leakage going underground until it eventually reached the surface in a large pool. Subsequently, when Anglian Water warned that a leak had been identified, our relations received a bill for 18,300, but Anglian Water allow one leak a year, so the cost was reduced to 450.

Luckily, I have so far managed to avoid a water meter, an Anglian Water's chart showing that it would cost me an additional 28.50 a year. With rain every day, having enough water in this country to supply the whole of Europe, there is hardly any need to have meters, though the water companies want them as it reduces the demand for water, thereby avoiding the expensive need to build new reservoirs.

Watch

The wristwatch that Mrs. Copeland gave me as a wedding present. I wore it on the 23rd when we celebrated our 52nd wedding anniversary.


Mrs. Copeland and I celebrated our 52nd wedding anniversary on the 23rd of the month. Unfortunately, the event was on a Sunday, so we were not able to go out for a meal, the Sabbath Day being a hell on earth in restaurants, undisciplined, free-ranging young children, running all over the place. We therefore had just had a normal Sunday at the local Club between 4-6 p.m., afterwards having a steal dinner and celebrating in the evening with a goodly measure of alcohol - I enjoyed some Laphroaig whisky - wonderful stuff to restore the spirits. Trebles all round again. During the day I wore the clockwork wristwatch that Mrs. Copeland gave me on our wedding day. Unlike us, the watch is still going strongly, along with the rubber plant that I was also given.

Ours was a generation that stayed married together, but maybe it was more difficult for a woman to escape an unhappy marriage in those faraway days; now, by way of contrast, divorce is all too easy after the first hiccup. There is an old music hall song: "Will you love me in December as you loved me in May?" Certainly not, is today's answer, the more expensive the wedding, the greater the likelihood of the failure of the marriage.

Daffodils

Daffodils in the garden. Most of them have yet to come out in bloom


I was amazed that the Prime Minister has stupidly approved the massively expensive and unnecessary High Speed 2 railway to Birmingham and Manchester. Who on earth wants to go to those redundant parts, though possibly the railway will allow the Northerners to commute to London, and the construction will provide a lot of labour, Keynsian economics personified. There was also the immensely disappointing news that the Prime Minister is allowing the Chinese company Huawei to set up the 5G network, much to the annoyance of President Trump was says the Chinese, never reliable at the best of times, will be able to spy on us. Accordingly, the President has therefore understandably and rightly threatened to block our links with Huawei. Maybe our new Prime Minister is not as good as I initially thought, not thinking things through, though he cannot be as bad as the disgraced and deposed Corbyn.

Equally disturbing was the announcement in "The Times" on the 13th February that the old sleeping fogies in the House of Lords had increased their daily untaxed remuneration to 325. This is the Upper Chamber that, over the centuries, has desperately tried to protect feudal England, opposing any measure of social improvement, having earlier supported slavery. Mercifully, their powers have been severely restricted, and now they can only delay a bill for a a year, but they remain unnecessary. Hopefully the day will come when the Lords are swept away, along with the monarchy that has ceased to serve its purpose, especially with the utterly hopeless siblings, while Prince Charles is not in this world.

During the month I heard of a planning application for a small housing development that was approved by our District Council, despite being on a greenfield site and in a area that was extensively flooded during recent rains. I subsequently learnt that the managing director of the building firm who would be undertaking the development, and who spoke at the Planning Committee that approved the development, had previously been the Planning Manager of the District Council, and that the building firm's secretary before her recent resignation was the present District Councillor for the constituency.

No accusations are made, but maybe it leaves a rather nasty impression. I liked the comment from one of the protesters that there were a "lot of old crones on the Committee, most of whom you wouldn't trust to look after a rabbit." I suppose the meetings are an opportunity for old people to get out of the house, having a coffee with like-minded people, and even getting paid a large sum of money for their attendance. The poor quality of many of the councillors in local authorities has been a problem ever since they started being paid, few busy people wanting to take on the immensely boring committee work. Back in the 1990s I served on the local District Council, and the councillors then were unbelievably awful, especially the Labour Party contingent. Such is democracy.

Although my blood pressure is down to 129/69, which is reasonably good for my great age, I am having increasing pain with the arthritis on both knees, hardly able to walk. My mother ended her life in a wheelchair suffering from arthritis, and it seems that I have inherited similar genes. For a long time I have been taking Zapain tablets, 30 mg codeine phosphate and 500 mg paracetemol, but they no longer do any good; indeed, I might as well take a couple of Smarties. Fortunately I have an excellent female English doctor (and how rare are English doctors these days!) who has nevertheless tried so hard to help me. Although I cannot accept female politicians, women are far better than men as doctors, invariably showing more concern and empathy. This is also true of dentists.

Not the best of months on the home front. As the months go by I seem to become more and more depressed, saddened by the relentless social and economic decline of a country I once loved and respected, its Englishness well in the past. At least I can console myself that, for most of my life, I lived in the best of all possible worlds.

I am having more and more trouble uploading this diary onto the Internet, the 8-year-old computer being worn out, just like its owner. Last month I could not make a connection, and this month I discovered that all the paragraphs had not been separated. Somehow I do not think the diary will last much longer; indeed, like most readers, I am becoming heartily sick of it.

Pavement artist

Pavement artist in Lincoln, managing to escape the seemingly endless rain


Comments welcome - especially critical
e-mail: johncopeland@clara.net.
Lincolnshire 29th February, 2020,

No.1064





Diary of an Octogenarian<BR>



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