DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN
- John Copeland -
Friday 14th November - Thursday 20th November, 2014
"I fear that the day technology will surpass our human interaction. the world will have a generation of idiots." Albert Eistein. That day has surely arrived, seen here at a dinner party..
"No pleasure is worth giving up for the sake of two more years in a geriatric home in Weston-super-Mare."
FRIDAY 14 NOVEMBER
Yesterday evening Mrs. Copeland and I decided to accept an invitation to go to the local Club to join in the celebration of the two solar farms proposed for the village having both been rejected by the Planning Committee of the District Council - a rare example of democracy working. We were so grateful that our ward councillors fully supported our extensive opposition that was excellently prepared by ladies in the village - all ladies, I have to shamefully admit. There is now a real possibility that there will be appeals on the part of the two applicants, but it is generality regarded that these are likely to be unsuccessful as it is Government policy to discourage solar farms in the countryside on much needed agricultural land.
What I found rather upsetting in the saga of the solar farms is that the planners of the District Council recommended their approval to the Planning Committee, as they did when supporting the horrible modern house, totally unsuited to our historic community, on which work is said to be starting soon. On these two accounts we must presumably be grateful to the councillors for having what might seem to be a better understanding of the needs of the environment.
It might be asked, though, without making any form of condemnation, why the planners so often support unwanted plans. Is it because they are frightened to make their case at an appeal? Or is it that they want to save the Council a lot of money by not going to the expensive business of an appeal? I merely ask the questions.
I have not been feeling all that well lately, having feelings of nausea and generally being out of sorts, not even feeling like grumbling about the appalling state of the country. The trouble seems to be that I take far too many of the Zapain tablets (30mg Codeine Phosphate and 500mg Paracetemol) to lessen the pain of the extensive arthritis in my knees and spine, but it is becoming increasingly evident that this medicine is causing me stomach troubles. The tablets, about 8 taken during the day, certainly lessen the arthritic pain for about two hours at a time, but I begin to think it would be better to have this pain rather than the subsequent discomfort. This seems to be the trouble with the medicine men: their pills and potions always have some nasty side effects.
There has been quite a lot of comments about the Governor of the Bank of England warning that the UK could be going into deflation. I have a theory, not as yet finely tuned and finished - and probably never will be - that deflation is a form in which an unbalanced and unsustainable economy (which we now have) ultimately manages to correct itself. Prices fall, but this fall means that firms fail in terms of profitability, so unemployment therefore rises, resulting in reduction in consumer expenditure.
At the same time the £ plummets, as we are now starting to see, which helps exports by making them more competitive. So, with falling consumer expenditure at home associated with falling prices, and exports rising, this lessens our indebtedness. An example can be seen in the New Deal in America during the deflation of the 1930s, though I suppose in terms of Keynsian economics it was the re-armament of the Second World War that supplied the ultimate multiplier effect, ultimately making the US the leading country in the world. That's as far as I've got so far with the theory, probably about to find a stumbling block.
Mrs. Copeland is going to say that there is far too much about economics in the diary, and so there is, but the "dismal science" interests me, especially in seeing the utterly confusing state of the UK economy.
I have decided to delay the installation of a wood-burning stove as I enjoy the open fire so much.
Mrs. Copeland went off in pouring rain to motor down to Essex to stay with her mother until Sunday lunchtime, leaving me on my own again. I'm surprised that Social Services are not involved, helping out an abandoned old man who is increasingly finding that he cannot understand the world any more. How on earth, for example, can Ed Miliband survive when it is said that 34% of his party do not support him. A poll in yesterday's "Times" showing "Unpopular leaders' negative ratings six months before an election". put Brown on -25%; Foot -38%; Kinnock -8%; and our Ed on a massive -44%..
At 1.05 p.m. Mrs. C. sent me a text message saying: "Arrived! First hour dreadful but not too bad after that. Lorries appalling. Be good x". I can well understand the reference to the lorries, for in days gone by the lorrydrvers were the "knights of the road". Now they are the "Nightmare of the Road", about 70% of them foreign drivers from all over Europe who appear to have no understanding of the British Highway Code, certainly not wanting to implement it as they pull out onto the fast lane without any warning, as well as spending ages trying to overtake other lorries. At least they drive on the left-hand side, so that is some compensation.
The good old "Daily Mail", which really stands up for this country, had a front-page headline today saying: "There are too many immigrants", quoting "Ex-premier John Major telling Brussells that unless our frontiers are tightened there is a 50% chance that Britain will leave the EU". Unfortunately, the "Times" columnist with a foreign-sounding name and Matthew Parris do not seem to understand, or want to understand, the anger and frustration that Englishmen feel about the uncontrolled immigration that is now swamping some of our cities.
Even here in this backwater of Lincoln, I heard several foreign languages being spoken when I went along the High Street this morning, giving the impression that there had been a meeting of the United Nations. The sadness is that with our limited public facilities, continually being cut back by the Government, we just cannot absorb these numbers especially as there is hardly any employment in a city that would have depressed status were it not for the introduction of the University. Today I saw that a hairdressing salon and a cycle shop had closed down, joining the long list of city closures. Hardly a month goes by without another pub closing down.
Amongst the day's junk mail, mainly charity catalogues that go straight into the recycling bin, was a circular from the "Pensions Service", saying that as I was over 80 years of age I would be receiving £200 within the next three weeks "to help meet the cost of the winter heating bills," the payment having gone up by £100 as I have reached such a great age, never having taken any exercise or eaten any vegetables. But the payment "is paid at a shared rate because there was another person living in the household also entitled to this payment." Still, even if I have to share it with Mrs. C. it will help towards purchasing some more oil at the end of December, so thank you Government for looking after us geriatrics.
Rather than cook, I went in to Lincoln to purchase fish and chips, returning home to eat them with a bottle of wine. I cannot abide the thought of having to cook when I am left on my own, so this is a good arrangement. Tomorrow I will go out to a pub to have rump steak and a couple of pints of beer, not having to do any washing-up .
At 4 o'clock I took wine with a neighbouring retired couple. The wife is an ardent supporter of the Labour Party, but she agreed with me that Miliband would have to go as leader of the party, having lost the confidence of the party and the electorate. Obviously it has to be recognised that the furore over him is being orchestrated partly by the very nasty Tory press, but even without this clamour poor Ed. just not fit the bill. As we all knew right from the start, the party should have appointed his brother, though Ed was appointed on the basis of his renowned support for the unions who put him in as leader.
The problem for the Labour Party, as a correspondent pointed out to me today, is that "unlike the Tories, Labour has no mechanism for removing its leader except at the party conference so his chances of survival are good. Besides that, the Labour Party lacks the ruthlessness of the Tories when they are threatened. Just remember how quickly IDS was dismissed as Tory leader and much good did it do them at the subsequent election..... The other thing in Miliband's favour is there is no obvious replacement. Whenever I see the people on the front benches on either side of the Commons I am reminded of Disraeli's description of the gentlemen on the Treasury benches resembling a distant range of extinct volcanoes." Perhaps the only chance of getting rid of him will occur if Labour does appallingly badly in the Rochester by-election this coming Thursday.
It amused me that I was told during this afternoon's gathering that the couple had a relation who had recently received very high marks for a dissertation he had completed for the M.A. degree, his thesis being "Intestinal Ravages in 14th century England." I suppose this included the Black Death, meaning that all down the centuries there have been plagues - and wars - presumably to limit population growth, though the Black death rather overdid the decline.
The evening was spent by the fireside, reading some more of the book on "Dunkirk", which I am not enjoying all that much, especially as the flowery journalistic style makes me wince at times. Mrs. Copeland, down in Essex with her mother, was preparing supper for an all female gathering at the flat, no men present, so I was not unduly upset to miss that.
Even so, it seemed very lonely at home, the place very quite apart from the flickering of the logs, the idiot's lantern remaining switched off, as it is every night except the other evening when I switched it on for the first time in about 2 years to watch the pictures of the robot landing on a comet. Unfortunately, I gather that the batteries could fail. I can understand that, for the batteries I have in all manner of appliances never seem to work for very long.
Bed about midnight. Fortunately I felt somewhat better this evening, which was a great relief. I think that, in addition to having taken too many pills, I may have been overdoing things recently, ending up with a touch of stress. Were I in work the doctor would have signed me off for a month. When I was in work I had a colleague who was always going off with stress, other members of staff, including me, having to take on his workload. I take the view that in such an instance, stress was a measure of inadequacy and he should have resigned. Lame ducks never fly again, even if those crazy psychologists would have you believe otherwise.
SATURDAY 15 NOVEMBER
When sitting on my own by the fireside yesterday evening, I thought of the immense changes that have taken place recently in the village, and not always for the better. The old professional, well mannered and cultured folk have passed away, their place being taken mainly by riffraff, most of whom take no part in the social life of the village, and whom I never see or speak to. And next month work on building the horrible house aforementioned will be starting, ruining our environment.
I suppose, though, it could be argued that the local Church is much better. The Old Guard who represented the Tory Party at prayer in the past, and who only spoke to us if we were daft enough to go to the Sunday services, have long since gone, and we now have people in charge who genuinely represent the care and love of the Christian religion, sadly lacking in Victorian days when the dear old C. of E enforced the social scale, the rich man in his castle and the poor man at his gate, God bless the squire.
I suppose I have to accept that the world is changing, no longer upholding the values and the mores that I was brought up to respect and honour. What upsets me so much is that we seem to have become a very embittered and spiteful society in which the tyranny of political correctness holds sway, eliminating free speech. I read in today's "Times", for example, that Jeremy Clarkson, who has a television programme about motor cars, was hauled before the Governor of the BBC for making some alleged racist remarks - remarks that in my younger days would have brought no comment, and certainly no upset.
Additionally, we have all these sexual cases in which women suddenly remember that they were touched by a man 50 or more years ago, charges brought possibly either for revenge or money in some instances. Obviously indecent assaults on children need to be firmly punished, but it seems that we are a more intolerant, and certainly more narrow-minded society these days, despite having sex thrust down our throat in nearly every advertisement. Are these the characteristics of a country in terminal decline that has lost its way, needing all manner of ruthless legislation to bring in charges of racism, sexism and political correctness if there is the slightest offence having been caused?
This morning Mrs. C was going shopping with her mother, ending up in a farm shop for lunch, surrounded by cabbages and new-laid free-range eggs. For some reason I loathe those farm shops, seeing them as the pretentious retail units for those people who drive Chelsea tractors and BMWs. Presumably it is necessary to wear green wellies and a Barbour.
Daughter Kate called in to see me during the morning, telling me that the town was "heaving", presumably with Christmas shoppers. What a nonsense it all is - and we have the misery of the Lincoln Christmas market in three weeks from now. I am planning to buy all the things I may need in December during this month so that I do not have to go in to the city after 30th November, except on the outer fringe to buy a "Times" each day. At my time of life I could not face those crowds, seeing the most awful people.
This evening Mrs. C. said that she was having to watch a programme on the idiot's lantern that had something to do with strict dancing, whatever that may be. Earlier there had been a dreadful quiz, and on another channel there was a thugby match of that brutal and barbaric game that is all brawn and no brain. It made me thankful that I was sitting by the fireside at home.
The avenue of oaks at the bottom of our garden, still with their leaves on.
I mentioned last week that I applauded the Kent County Council for setting up a grammar school. I greatly value grammar schools, taking the view that they have enabled many working class lads to benefit from a splendid education. A correspondent said that he agreed with these sentiments, having come from a working class background and having had an excellent education at a grammar school. It makes me wonder why Labour had always opposed these schools. Presumably the opposition is to do with Labour's nonsense of social engineering, and the great hatred that the party has for excellence, preferring the common denominator of a lowly egalitarian baseline.
Despite my loathing for the commercialism of the season, I am resolved to really enjoy Christmas this year as never before, aware that at my great age it could be my last. I ordered the turkey earlier in the week as we will be playing at home again this year on Christmas Day. For several years we have had the turkeys from a small farm where the birds roam free-range, and they are a true delight, so much better than the specimens in supermarkets or the plastic-tasting variety eaten during those dreaded Christmas parties in pubs and restaurants.
I went in to Lincoln shortly after breakfast to purchase a "Times" and to withdraw some money from a cashpoint, returning home to do some house cleaning. Then, not wanting to cook for myself at home, I went to our excellent local pub/restaurant "Woodcocks", having a sirloin steak and beer, the alcohol always being in excellent condition.
The weather was unbelievably ghastly: quite misty and a raw damp cold that seems to sink into your very bones, the temperature not rising above 8 C all day. We have another 4 months of this dismal, sunless weather. Much as I do not want to go abroad on holiday ever again now that I am so old, I would not mind flying first class to South Africa at the end of this month, returning home about the 15th April, thereby avoiding all the foul weather in this country. I suppose, though, there would still be something to complain about over there.
On the front page of "The Times" were various banners advertising columnists inside, one of them reading: ""Kim's bottom speaks". I found it incredible that "The Times", the newspaper of record before Murdoch and his empire devalued its seriousness and culture, could rsort to this lowly level. I looked at the suppoesdly funny column in question, which was about as amusing as a meeting of the Security Council. The newspaper has a brilliant cartoonist in Edward Brookes, but is let down by the poor quality of the columnists, not one of them managing the wit and wisdom of Bernard Levin.
Maybe I have lost my sense of humour, something that is said to happen in old age, when surprisingly life becomes more serious, usually lamenting a lost age. Nevertheless, I gather that there is hardly any humour these days on the lantern, there being nothing to match "Dad's Army", "The Two Ronnies" or the truly splendid "Till Death Us Do Part", the latter not allowed to be shown in an age dominated by the tyranny of political correctness and feminism.
At least there was an encouraging item in the paper telling us that "Relaxing before a roaring fire lowers blood pressure". According to the journal "Evolutionary Psychology": "Results indicated consistent blood pressure decreases in the fire-with-sound condition, particularly with a longer duration of stimulus, and enhancing effects of absorption and prosociality." I took my blood pressure with a recently acquired arm monitoring device, finding that it was 136/81, meaning that I was absorbedly enhanced and expressing prosociability , even if Mrs. C was not with me. The reading convinced me, as I keep mentioning, that the goodly level is due to taking no exercise and never eating any vegetables, other than potatoes and home-grown runner beans. I worry about all the harmful pesticides that are used on vegetables.
Maybe, though, it has to be admitted that health is largely a matter of inherited genes rather than anything to do with the minor considerations of exercise and food intake. My father lived to the age of 95 without any maladies, and would probably still be alive today had he not done some strict dancing with nurses in the retirement home, breaking a hip when undertaking a rather frenetic Gay Gordons, the surgeons subsequently killing him off. That is why I never dance these days, certainly not all that the jumping up and down like a demented savage that now passes for dancing, a far cry from the ballroom steps of my younger day when you held a woman closely in your arms. Good old days!.
After a siesta in the afternoon and a light tea, I settled down by the fireside in the evening to read some more of the book on "Dunkirk." The author mentions the hateful class snobbery that existed in the armed forces, especially in the army, only public schoolboys initially being allowed to become officers. As I mentioned earlier, there are times when the style makes me wince, as for example when the author writes: "Bombers swooped over aerodromes, which blossomed into flowers of flames. The pilots dived on Brussels' terrified families, their houses shaking in the pre-dawn dusk." Flowery writing indeed. Pass me the sickbag, if you will.
We are told that Neville Chamberlain was really a caring chap, having done everything to avoid a war that he loathed. In his earlier years "he had been sent out to the remote Bahamas by his family in an effort to replenish their fading fortunes. He was on an island with a difficult workforce trying to grow sisal. The experience was long, exhausting and unsuccessful", promoting Churchill to say: "What a pity Hitler did not know when he met this sober English politician with his umbrella at Berchtesgaden, Godesberg and Munich, that he was actually talking to a hard-bitten pioneer from the outer marches of the British Empire." As the old saying has it: "Good men come last."
Mrs. Copeland sent me a text during the evening, confirming that she was having to watch the idiot's lantern with her mother, including a dancing programme. I cannot imagine a more unpleasant way to spend an evening than watching all the rubbish on television, nearly all the programmes aimed at a culturally-challenged working class audience. Thank heavens that, being over 75 years of age, I do not have to pay the annual £145 licence fee.
Before going to bed about midnight I saw on the BBC news website that "The Philae comet lander finally loses power and drops into standby mode, but is able to send back a crucial batch of scientific data just in time." Apparently it has landed by a cliff preventing it from getting any sunlight, rather like solar farms in the north of England. Nevertheless, what an incredible and worthwhile achievement that has been, indicating that there are some very clever people in the world. It is another instance of scientists and engineers making the world a better place, while the politicians make it a damn sight worse.
Of course, there are the flatearthers who believe that money on space flight is wasteful at a time when we are in such a muddle down here on earth, especially in this country. I suppose similar sniping was heard, expressing wasteful expenditure, when Columbus set sail to look for parts of the world, including America.
SUNDAY 16 NOVEMBER
In today's e-mail post I had a communication from a representative of the Methodist Church Hall in Llandow. At first, I thought it might be a scam, or one of my friends trying to fool me, but I decided to take it seriously, believing it to be genuine, very helpfully giving me some advice, saying: "Mr Copeland, I wonder if I might advise you about the benefits of becoming a member of the Welsh Methodist church. In our little village near Cardiff I have helped a lot of people like yourself who were troubled with alcohol and were non believers. I showed them by living a clean life like I do, I never touch drink or smoke, for I believe they are evil, a better life will be enjoyed until the day when you are called. If you wish I can send you some booklets from our church to show you the way to a better life."
I replied: "Thank you for your e-mail suggesting I should become a member of the Welsh Methodist Church. Initially, I feared that this was a spoof, or one of the tricks played upon me by my friends, but I will accept that it is genuine and thank you for your concern.
"However, as I have said in my diary this week, quoting your letter but not your name, I do not feel that I have the drink problem that you appear to believe I suffer from. I greatly enjoy drinking wine/beer at lunchtime, our main meal of the day, and with friends at our local Club. For me alcohol is an added delight in life, not an evil as you suggest. Obviously taken in excess, alcohol can cause problems, but according to my reading of the Bible, Jesus was not averse to having a glass or two of wine. As it says in Ecclesiastes: "A man hath no better thing under the sun , than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry." That is the creed that I try to live up to.
"While there are excesses in alcohol, there can also be excesses in religion, as we are now seeing with the Islamic creed, when worshippers lose touch with reason and reality in what becomes a bigoted and bitter approach to the scriptures.
"Furthermore, I am not a non-believer, for I believe in a Creator. Where I tend to express disbelief is in the belief in a caring God. I take the view that God gives us freewill and effectively tells us to get on with our lives, not bothering Him. To that extent, I take the view that prayers are a negation of that freewill. Additionally, I cannot believe that there is a Deity who listens to our individual prayers at bedtime. That surely is wishful thinking.
"I cannot therefore accept the Methodist religion as I believe it takes a negative view of life, seeing evil where there is none. However, I would be delighted to have further discussions with you, thanking you in the meantime for your obvious concern. Regards...".
I do not believe that I lead an ungodly or wicked life - Mrs. Copeland sees to that, though I may be guilty of a certain lust, though as Shakespeare said in "Henry IV, Part 2: "Is it not strange that desire should so many years outlive performance?" I am not materialistic or greedy, having enough money to cover my needs, and I live in peace with my neighbours. My only regret after a splendid life is that I am seeing my country in terminal decline.
On the BBC news website I saw that "A video released onto the Internet claims to show that Islamic State militants have killed the captured US aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig." And this dastardly and cowardly deed has been made in the name of religion
There was also the news that the BBC's flagship worship show, "Songs of Praise", is updating its programme as part of a relaunch, the head of religion and ethics, Aaqil Ahmed, having said that a 'different form of Christianity' had emerged in the UK. With mass immigration into the country, unlikely to be stopped until we come out of the circus of the European Union, I suppose it has to be admitted that the dear old C.of E. is becoming a minor religion, and that the day will come when Islam will rule. Change, as one of my friends says, is inevitable. A shame you might say.
The avenue of oaks, probably about 1900.
It made me laugh, possibly indicating that I have not completely lost my sense of humour, still finding the Rt. Hapless Harriet Harman a laugh a minute with her fierce feminism that is anything but feminine in its ruthlessness, to see that one of the judges in the dancing programme - and it is called "Strictly Come Dancing", not "Strict Dancing" had been heard to use a swear word while "praising the performance of Blue star Simon Webbe and his partner Kristina Rihanoff ."
Dear, oh dear: somebody saying a swear word on air, can you believe it. Clearly that warrants a full inquiry, just as Mr. Jeremy Clarkson was had up for saying allegedly racist comments in his motor car programme. Nowadays the Thought Police cannot allow that sort of thing to happen, certainly not before 9 p.m., which is the supposed dividing time when children are all in bed - not that many of them are these day, still up at midnight with their iPhones.
At least there was no doubt abounding joy throughout the land on the announcement that "Celebrities from previous series of Strictly Come Dancing will return for a special Christmas edition of the show," probably meaning that the show will be presented on Christmas Day along with "The Great Escape" and "The Two Ronnies." In former times there was a circus programme that was always shown on the day, but I suppose this would upset the Animal Rights Brigade, and besides the elephants are probably all dead..
Rather annoyingly, I found that we had run out of milk, so I had to travel in to Lincoln to purchase a litre of the full-cream variety. I was hearing that there has been a surge in the demand for full-cream milk, a recent survey having shown that the horrible semi-skimmed stuff that has most of the goodness taken out, has no beneficial consequences for the body. Indeed, one of my sons-in-law showed me an article saying that the semi-skimmed, and certainly the skimmed milk, can even be harmful. So for a lot of people it is back to the proper milk, meaning that I have to go in early to be able to obtain some before it is all gone.
In yesterday's paper I was reading that there has also been a return to old fashioned and simpler dishes in restaurants up and down the country, diners rejecting all the fussy and f****d recipe food that has been so fashionable and so silly in the past. As we go downhill in this land, it seems that we are at least returning to more sensible arrangements, enjoying a simpler way of life - something that is obviously to be commended.
Mrs. Copeland, having gone to Waitrose for the week's provisions on arriving back in Lincoln, came home about 2 o'clock, so that was a relief, for I always worry about her driving on the murderous A1 where there is an abundance of foreign lorries bringing goods to this country, returning empty.
Mrs. C. brought back a free copy of "The Sunday Times", which I gave up buying two years or more ago, saving the £2.50 each week instead. I briefly looked at the cumbersome paper of many parts, finding that it was so awful, page after page of materialism and all manner of catalogues advertising Christmas items. It made me realise, albeit only briefly, that there may be something in the Islamic religion after all. As always, I disagreed with the "Economic Outlook" by David Smith, in which he tells us in the heading to his column: "Bank helps lucky George to hit the sweet pot", the incredible implication being that the Chancellor is on course to lead us to the promised land.
On the other hand, by way of apparently hedging bets both ways, Mr. Smith rightly tells us that "the budget deficit remains close to £100bn.... stronger growth in wages will help to reduce the debt, but low inflation will depress other tax receipts, notably VAT". In other words, the Chancellor is not doing much to reduce our spiralling deficit, the worst among the G7 nations.
At 3,30 p.m. we went to our local Club, hearing that the chairman of our Parish Council, who on Wednesday had his solar farm rejected by the Planning Committee of the District Council, is now proposing a new 4-bedroom house in the old part of the village that is regarded by nearby residents as being totally unsuitable, so another battle is in store. Not the best of times in the village, finding that we are increasingly under pressure. Thank heavens for the ladies who are fighting the good fight, having been immensely successful in dealing with the unwanted solar panels.
I read some more of the book on Dunkirk in the evening. The style is awful at times, like something out of "Three Men in a Boat" or "Under Milk Wood"., though it is otherwise quite interesting.
MONDAY 17 NOVEMBER
Prime Minister David Cameron warns of a "dangerous backdrop of instability and uncertainty" in the global economy, "which could risk the UK's recovery." As the excellent Nick Robinson, the BBC's political editor, explained: "After some difficult political news will come some testing economic news when the chancellor has to explain away official economic forecasts that look set to show that despite recent good economic news - higher growth, lower unemployment and, at last, an increase in real wages - government borrowing may well go up." In other words, we are now in an even bigger indebted mess than ever before.
Obviously Mr. Cameron has seen the writing on the wall: that with the housing market starting to fall, having been the main prop of our supposed economic growth, the economy is about to return to recession, along with the eurozone, Japan already having experienced this fate. Even without the troubles abroad, our recovery was unbalanced, unsustainable and unbelievable, yet it is clearly a good idea to blame others on our coming downfall. As John Betjeman said: "When things go wrong it's often quicker/to blame things on the vicar."
Had it not been for that wicked old eurozone we would have been the most successful economy in the whole wide world, reminding us of that old Cockney song: "If it wasn't for the houses in between/You could see to Bethnal Green." Oh how we have to laugh, and in our merriment we have to ask when the collapse of the UK economy will arrive. I still believe it will be in the fourth quarter of 2015. That is what I have put my money on, though it could be somewhat sooner.
What seems so surprising is that Ed. Miliband does not point out the Government's failed economic policy, the original aim to encourage exports by reducing consumer expenditure at home having been abandoned for fear that it would cause unemployment close to an election. Now that the Cameroons are seeing the housing market starting to fall apart, the Prime Minister obviously realises there are problems ahead - yet Miliband makes nothing of this. Extraordinary.
Still, I continue to believe the Miliband will have gone by Christmas if Labour does badly - as is expected - at the Rochester by-election. The party will then belatedly realise that it can never win a election with Miliband at the helm, so there is every hope that he will do the decent thing and fall upon his sword. The Party must now be ruing the day when it failed to elect his brother, who would have been a far better leader. Sadly, it was the power of the trade unions, believing that Red Ed would actively support them, that put him as leader - a terrible mistake.
Sheep in the village. This is the scene we would lose if a proposal under the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan 2011-2036 to allow Lincoln to encroach upon our village is ever implemented. The Plan is an appalling, badly written document, lacking any statistical evidence to back up the pipe-dream. Lincoln already has a massive surplus capacity in industry and housing, so why is there a need for this urban sprawl?
I mentioned last week that I was interested in one of the "Pebble" appliances in which a wristwatch enables you to receive e-mails and other items. A correspondent very kindly told me that I had to be careful in purchasing one of these items, saying that there were all manner of technical complications, and that I may not have had the necessary backup. He therefore advised me to go in to Currys in Lincoln to see the appliances, which I did this morning only to be told by an unhelpful male assistant that they had none in stock, and would therefore have to be ordered. I therefore went to PCWorld nearby, hearing the same pathetic story.
This, of course, is typical of Lincoln and Lincolnshire: a backwater where life has yet to enter the 21st century. Even so, it is a delightful environment for old people, always providing we do not want anything up to date, and do not expect to see the latest, more intelligent films. I certainly would not want to live anywhere else, yet I have to accept the manifold disadvantages.
In the post, which comes about 1.30 p.m. under privatisation, I received a copy of "Snow & Steel - Battle of the Bulge 1944-45, an 850-page book by Peter Caddick-Adams, published this year by Preface Publishing at £25, £17. from Amazon. It is the last book that I will order this year as I do not want to incur any further expenditure during the Christmas rush, having bought 76 hardback books this year at a cost of £1,022. Not only that: I really must cut back my expenditure on books as it seems that there is going to be a terrible time next year in terms of the economy. Time to batten down as the UK economy collapses. At least I may benefit as the country descends into deflation.
The evening was spent by the log-burning fireside, reading some more of the book on "Dunkirk." The reality of that battle is that the British Army was no match for the Germans. It is only with overwhelming forces, albeit with help for the second time by the Americans, that we managed to win. We went to war when Poland was invaded by Hitler; at the end of the war we gave the country to the brutal Russians -a country that still causes trouble in the world, and always will.
As I mentioned earlier, I do not like the journalistic style of the book, In one chapter we are told about the "shattered soldiers" who were brought back to this country: "For them, this was not a narrative of death, or delirium, or defeat [!]. Instead it was a story of great men forged in the fire, laced perhaps less consciously with a particularly English streak of eccentricity that would find its artistic apotheosis in the later Powell and Pressbuger films."
What utter codswallop. The BEF (Back Every Friday) was thoroughly beaten and ran away in the face of a far superior German army that was better equipped and better led, and it is pathetic, as Eeyore would say, to regard the humiliating withdrawal as a kind of victory. What is interesting about Dunkirk is that at the time the RAF was severely criticised by the men waiting on the beaches to be rescued for failing to ward off the Luftwaffe fighters and bombers that were present in large numbers, causing chaos and extensive injuries and deaths. Apparently it was argued that our Spitfires and Hurricanes were needed for the coming Battle of Britain, not to be wasted on the shores of France.
Before I went to bed, I looked at the BBC news website, seeing that the "Church of England formally adopts legislation which means its first female bishops could be ordained next year." Ah, well. Better not to comment in this age of political correctness, not wanting to be accused of sexism. At least the Catholic Church counties to abide by its Biblical tenets. I therefore get to like the Catholic Church more and more, seeing it as the last stronghold of religious fervour, especially as there is now a more enlightened Pope.
TUESDAY 18 NOVEMBER
Although I have to be careful about mentioning economics yet again, Mrs. Copeland saying that far too many entries are dominated by the dismal science - a viewpoint no doubt expressed by other lady readers, I was interested in an article in today's "Daily Telegraph" under the heading "Can Britain survive another European crash?" The answer seems to be an emphatic NO on the grounds that fiscal and monetary reserves are exhausted here as well as across the Channel, it not being possible to lower interest rates any further to ward off the collapse.
The article goes on to say: "We [here in the UK] are experiencing what might be called 'competitive deflation' abroad, while Britain keeps piling on the debt. It is the economics of the thirties we seem to be returning to rather than those of the late 19th century. Hardly anyone could argue it is sustainable in the long term....Britain is indeed still attempting to borrow and spend it way out of trouble...Our current account [trade] deficit will be far and away the biggest in Europe."
This is one of the best analysis of the troubled UK economy that I have so far read, effectively liking our economy to that of a fellow spending well above his credit card limit, and then believing that he is becoming richer. Such a state of affairs cannot continue, which is why we will have to batten down to an even worse recession that, in all probability, will begin in the Autumn of next year.
There was the worrying report in today's "Times" that "George Osborne has cut the welfare bill by only £2.5 billion in this Parliament, a tenth of what he had planned." The Chancellor had hoped to reduce the welfare provision by £19 billion, but has come nowhere near this figure. We all know what this means - namely, that there is going to a massive cutback in public expenditure, especially in welfare provision, whichever party wins the election next May. We will see an austerity we have never seen before.
It undoubtedly means that I will lose the £200 winter fuel allowance and the free television licence that costs £145. However, as I have mentioned before, as we never watch television I will throw out the set and purchase a home cinema system. Nevertheless, the loss of the fuel allowance will be a blow, losing £16.55 a month. Still at least I do not have to worry about losing a job, as thousands will towards the end of next year when the economy falls apart.
Mud in the village after the rains
Somewhat incautiously, bearing in mind the erosion of free speech in this country following the ascendancy of political correctness, I am including the above picture, sent to me from a correspondent abroad, illustrating the contempt and the laughter that people overseas have for our overgenerous welfare provision for immigrants. Unfortunately, I have had to exclude an additional remark that could result in this diary being in trouble.
It is far better to say that we all believe that we live in a happy and harmonious multicultured society, and that the "Times" correspondents, Matthew Parris and a fellow with a foreign-sounding name are quite right in saying that immigration is wholly good for us, there apparently being room on top, than to risk another visitation from the police. already having had one in connection with the diary entries.
Nevertheless, it "has to be said" that migration is going to be one of the principal issues in the Rochester by-election on Thursday, when Ukip are expected to go romping home. It made me laugh to read that the Cameroons have warned the people in Rochester that the price of their houses will plummet if Mr. Farage's candidate wins. Surely this is a good thing, for when was it a Good Thing for something to rise in price? Falling prices will benefit first-time buyers, even if the middle classes at their dinner parties cannot boast of this week's rise in their property.
I scooted in to Lincoln to purchase a "Times" during the morning, seeing that today's "Guardian" had a headline saying that the police rejected one in 6 of the sexual cases that are now continually being presented, presumably those relating to women having their bottoms pinched. What has happened in this country now that we have all these sexual offences? Is it a spin-off from the Savile business, or is it because liberated women no longer tolerate the groping that their predecessors before female independence had to endure? Or is it that there are some women, vindictive and vengeful, are somehow jumping onto the bandwagon for financial benefits? Do other countries suffer from this sexual problem, or is it because we in this ailing land have still not managed to escape from the wickedness of sex in Victorian days?
At noon I went to the local Retired Gentlemen's Club to a tapas bar in Castle Square in Lincoln, having some excellent food and a really splendid time. I will have to take Mrs. Copeland there next week. The evening was spent finishing reading the book on Dunkirk. A poor book by any standard. Written in a flowery journalistic style that is nauseating at times when writing about our brave men, it almost seems as if the humiliating defeat of the British Army represented a great victory.
Every time I read about "The Dunkirk Spirit" I felt like reaching for the sickbag, presumably meaning that we were cheerful in a accepting a terrible defeat. To that extent, I suppose it could be said that we are now seeing "The Dunkirk Spirit" in the falling-apart British Economy, cheerfully believing that getting into more and more debt represents economic growth. Within the chapters little is made of the fights that occurred among the troops to get onto the boats, and although the courage of the Royal Navy and the "little ship" owners is to be commended, overall it was a disaster, a massive amount of equipment being left behind, as well as thousands of men.
According to the author, the number of casualties " commonly cited is around 68,000; that is, the number of men in the BEF who were killed, wounded or captured. Other figures suggest that of that number, some 3,500 were killed in May and June." Although we have to be patriotic, even though Dr. Johnson suggested that "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel", Dunkirk presumably represented another glaring failure of the British Army, its poor performance also being seen in Singapore, and even today there has not been much success in Afghanistan now that our troops are having to withdraw tail-between-their-legs, the Taliban victorious.
It was only through Montgomery having overwhelming forces that we managed to win in the desert. The sadness is that the American Army was far better than the British Army, especially as it was not so socially dominated by public schools, giving its troops in the front line the power to make their own decisions, instead of all decisions having to be relayed back to Divisional HQ, as in the instance of the British Army.
I made a start on reading "The Holy Fox - The life of Lord Halifax" by Andrew Roberts, published this year by Head Zeus at £30. This is a well-written book, making the subject interesting, unlike the book on Dunkirk. I liked the comment of Churchill made by Baldwin: "When Winston was born lots of fairies swooped down on his cradle with gifts - imagination, industry, ability - and then came a fairy who said, 'No one person has a right to so many gifts'; and picked him up and gave him such a shake and a twist that with all these gifts he was denied judgement and wisdom".
Halifax was amongst the appeasers who wanted to come to terms with Hitler, thankfully having been overruled by Churchill who was made of sterner stuff. It is a frightening thought about what would have happened if Halifxax had been made Prime Minister, as King George VIth wanted. It makes you realise that history rests upon a very slender thread.
WEDNESDAY 19 NOVEMBER
I meant to mention yesterday that Mr. Milband has woken up - yes, actually woken up and even put forward a proposal, namely that immigrants should not be able to claim benefits for a certain period. "Well I never did!" as my old granny said. Presumably he has just realised that there is a by-election in Rochester tomorrow, likely to be won overwhelmingly by Ukip, so he must try to avoid Labour losing its deposit.
Nevertheless, I still think he will be gone if there is a bad result for Labour, though the Party has no official means for making him resign, suggesting that he could end up going down with the party, selfishly refusing to depart.
I mentioned last week that I was interested in one of the "Pebble" wristwatches and that earlier this week I went in to look at the appliances at Curry, only to find they did not have one in stock, neither did PCWord. However, I went in to O2 this morning, seeing that they had one on display, but I was told that it has to work with my mobile telephone. As the telephone relays e-mail messages and the like, I therefore cannot see the point on having them in a much smaller scale on a watch, so I have given up the idea.
Whilst in the store I looked at the upgrades that I could have to my mobile telephone, whose 2-year contract ends next month, only to see that an upgrade would cost a minimum of £27.95 a month instead of the £14.36 I now pay, so I will not be upgrading. I had even thought of cancelling the telephone as I seldom use it and because I will have to cut back severely as the recession develops, so that is also off. Not only that, a corespondent has advised me to keep going with my existing elderly laptop as the new ones are not nearly as good. So one way and another I have saved about £600 today, plus £`13.65 a month. Next year, as the UK economy collapses, the slogan is going to be SAVE! SAVE! SAVE! and I have started already.
In today's "Times" I saw that inflation had risen last month from 1.2% to 1.3%, largely due to "price rises for computer games." What a nonsense it is that such items are included in the inflation index, making it totally worthless. As I have said tiresomely on umpteen occasions in this diary, the CPI should monitor prices for essential household items such as food, transport costs, heating, insurances, telephone, council tax, electricity and gas, while the RPI could include mortgages.
Item sent to me from a correspondent abroad. I include this item not because of any Ukip racist feelings, but because it illustrates the contempt and the laughter abroad for our overgenerous welfare benefits for immigrants. There are no such benefits in France, which is why immigrants fight at Calais to get to our shores. The item has an additional comment that I am not allowed to include on account of the erosion of free speech in this country, probably having the Thought Police visit my house if the remark is included.
Mrs. Copeland was having lunch with the Village Ladies Luncheon Club, so I invited a friend to join me at 12.45 p.m for wine and a baguette. The meeting, during which we discussed current events and the increasing threats to the village, made for an interesting time.
I saw today that Royal Mail is losing money, whinging that it is facing competition from other firms, especially Amazon that has set up its own delivery service, saying that it is having difficulty maintaining a delivery to every house in the kingdom. We know what this means: within the next few months deliveries to remote areas will be stopped, and in all probability there will be no deliveries on a Saturday. As we all know, privatisation means a worsening service, usually associated with ever rising charges and a reduced service.
In the evening Mrs. Copeland and I went to the excellent Venue in Lincoln see the film "The Most Wanted Man", based on John Le Carre's post 9/11 espionage thriller, written up in programme notes as "perfectly calibrated twists." I found it totally incomprehensible, ridiculously far-fetched, and it was difficult to know whose side who was on. The film lasted for 2 tedious hours, having hardly any action, excitement or tension, and after the first hour I had had enough, falling asleep for about ten minutes. A big disappointment, especially as there were times when I found it difficult to hear what Philip Seymour Hoffman was saying. Perhaps my hearing is going.
THURSDAY 20 NOVEMBER
The photograph below, sent to me by a friend, shows "a Coast Guard who has intercepted a boatload of people off the coast of Suffolk today. This placed the Coast Guard in an awkward position, as the boat was not heading to , but away from the UK, towards Europe. Another surprise finding was that they were loaded with white English people who were all seniors of pensionable age.
Their claim was that they were trying to get over to Europe so as to be able to return to UK as illegal immigrants, and therefore be entitled to far more benefits than they were receiving as legitimate UK pensioners. The Coast Guard it is believed gave them food, water and assisted them on their journey". I suppose it could be said that this is too true to be very funny at a time when we have columnists in "The Times" welcoming immigrants to our shores - "Come on in, there's room on top."
It is certainly going to be interesting to see the result of the by-election in Rochester, the political commentators saying that Ukip will romp home. If Labour does badly, as is expected, it could be the end of Ed Miliband, the party cogently realising that he is the greatest hope of the Tory Party, the Cameroons no doubt praying that Labour does not remove him or that he has the decency to resign.
In today's "Times" I saw that inflation had risen last month from 1.2% to 1.3%, largely due to "price rises for computer games." What a nonsense it is that such items are included in the inflation index, making it totally worthless. As I have said tiresomely on umpteen occasions in this diary, the CPI should monitor prices for essential household items such as food, transport costs, heating, insurances, telephone, council tax, electricity and gas, while the RPI could include mortgages.
English pensioners fleeing the country, returning as immigrants for the welfare benefits.
According to the report in today' "Times" "A rural school has missed out on an outstanding rating from Ofsted, partly because it has too many white pupils. Middle Rasen School in Lincolnshire has very few black or Asian children and no pupils who speak English as a foreign language. It was rated 'good' in the latest report but Ofsted said it could not be graded outstanding because pupils' cultural development was limited by a 'lack of first-hand experience of the diverse make-up of modern British society.'"
With the disgraceful erosion of free speech in this country, and the enforcement to accept that we are a happy and harmonious multicultural society. I have to be careful what I write, for there is the fear that any discussion on immigration could become a punishable offence, if not already. Nevertheless, it might possibly be argued that Ofsted, probably under pressure from the politicians, has gone barking mad, not realising that in this remote and rural part of Lincolnshire the only immigrants will be those employed on the farms by gangmasters who pay them a pittance and keep them in appalling accommodation, probably not one of the newcomers' children speaking a word of English. The mind boggles, but then as I say, this country has gone completely mad in its relentless economic and social decline.
It makes me hope that there is a resounding victory in Rochester today in the by-election, seeing Ukip romping home because of the increasing anger and anxiety about massive immigration into this country, giving the indolent Mr. Cameron who does nothing about anything, being all wind and woffle, a real smack in the eye, while encouraging other Conservative Members of Parliament to jump off the sinking ship.
Apparently, there were 240,000 immigrants coming to our shores up to the year in March, representing three times the size of Lincoln every year. Those of us who are concerned about immigration are not bigots or racists, as Matthew Parris and that columnist in "The Times" with a foreign-sounding name offensively label us, neither are we nationalists.
Our concern has everything to do with population pressure. Significantly, there was a report today that "Half the UK's local councils are at risk of collapse, the government's official auditor has said, warning that one in six may be unable to provide basic services this year." This is what the trouble is all about, and that here in Lincolnshire it can take up to five days to see a doctor, public services already being overstretched Sadly, this is something that our Matthew, who so often seems to get the wrong end of the sticks in his polemics, seems unable to understand.
The offensive and disgraceful nonsense of Ofsted was compounded by news in another part of the newspaper that Angela Merkel has said that Germany would not grant the UK a temporary brake on EU immigrant numbers, while the chairman of the Bundestag's European affairs committee has said that "Free movement of persons - this cannot be negotiated. This is a clear message". In other words, the only way out for us is to leave the circus of the hopeless European Union at the earliest opportunity. Mercifully, if the Tories win the next election, as they no doubt will if Miliband remains as leader, we will assuredly come out in a referendum, possibly about 85% of electors wanting us to leave a Union that has brought us absolutely no advantages, swamping us with immigrants.
I was also hearing that areas of north-east America have had heavy snowfalls, some parts being five feet deep in the stuff. It is often said that American weather subsequently comes our way which is all very worrying. The thought of being five feet under snow is too awful to even think about, for even 5 cms brings total chaos. Goodness knows what will happen to our outstanding economy growth if we have such a snowfall.
I had somebody in to clear up the leaves in the back garden this morning, finding that the clearance hurts my arthritis in my knees and spine too much to undertake the work myself. I find it upsetting that I can no longer do this work, but at 80 years of age you have to accept reality.
This evening, after a quiet day at home apart
from a brief visit to town to purchase a "Times", Mrs. C and I will be going to the "Beaujolais Evening" at the local Club - an event we have each year to celebrate the new season's wine. The wine varies in quality from year to year, sometimes being excellent, at other times tasking like paint stripper.
I realise that the diary is far too long this week, having too much emphasis on economics and politics. I really must cut out these items in future, but then what else is there to talk about, except possibly American foreign policy in which nothing much seems to be happening these days, the President having been cut down in his prime by the recent Republican successes.
Lincolnshire 20th November, 2014
Diary of a Septuagenarian
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