DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN

- John Copeland -


Friday 22nd August - Thursday 28th August, 2014


Ale

A splendid glass of ale at the Beer Festival & Summer Fayre at our local Club. The 4-day event was a great success, most enjoyable.


"Crime fall hides huge rise in bank card fraud. Total up 50% if millions of offences included."

Headline in "The Times" 26th August, 2014. It makes me thankful I still use cheques.


FRIDAY 22 AUGUST

I enjoyed Ken Loach's film "Spirit of '45", which I watched on DVD yesterday evening with a neighbour. The film, obviously very biased in favour of Labour, set out the tremendous achievements of the Attlee Government immediately after the Second World War, undoubtedly the finest government this country has ever seen. Tracing the extreme poverty of the 1930s and the appalling attitude of employers, especially the brutality of the mine owners, it is easy to understand why the electorate did not want to have Churchill in 1945, not wanting to go back to the old order that he represented.

With incredible politicians such as Bavan and Bevin, mighty politicians who make our present politicians seem mere pygmies who have not a clue what they are doing, the Attlee Government brought in the National Health Service and rightly nationalised the public service industries. Subsequently, Thatcher the Terrible with her catechism of greed and selfishness and a little shopkeeper's interpretation of economics, undid much of the good work that had been achieved, bringing back the disasters of privatisation and freeing the financial market that was to lead to the Credit Crunch as capitalism in its ruthlessness surpassed itself with banking irresponsibility and incompetence.

This yo-yoing between the political parties, Labour building up the welfare services and then everything being pulled down by the Conservatives in measures of financial restraint, probably explains why we never make much progress in this country that lives in stop-go, while everything is sold off to foreigners for a quick buck, hardly any of our public services now being under UK control.

Last week I mentioned that our Chinese-made kettle had failed, necessitating a replacement with one made in the Netherlands, which should be more reliable. A correspondent in an e-mail said that he had also encountered a similar problem with a kettle made in China- "Ours have a failure of some sort every year or less or a little more. I tell the wife they're all made in China. She manages to get money back or swaps for them, but, with the passing of not much time, the new ones fail."

Every day now brings further grim news about the appalling state of the UK economy becoming more and more in debt. According to an item on the BBC news website: "Government finances showed an unexpected deficit in July for the second year running, according to official figures. The Office for National Statistics said the deficit was 239m, missing many economists' forecasts for a small surplus. For the financial year-to-date, borrowing was 37bn, up from 35.2bn in the April-to-July period last year. July has historically been a month when tax receipts generate a surplus."

One economist, quoted in yesterday's "Times", said that "it is astonishing that public sector net debt , excluding financial interventions, is 978 billion higher than 18 months ago. If left unchecked, this has the potential to severely impact on our economic recovery in the medium term". This is the very point that I have been making in this diary, showing that yet again you read it here first, at least as far as economic analysis is concerned.

There is no doubt that, in the interests of psephology, the Cameroons want the economy to rip, giving the unwary the impression that the economy is booming, whereas the Potemkin recovery, unsustainable, unbelievable and unbalanced, is due largely to all the quantitative easing pumped into the economy, and to the buoyant housing market in London. Significantly, consumer expenditure fell last month, presumably as a result of the ever rising cost of living with inflation in excess of wage increases, while exports are falling. The question therefore becomes: "When will this artificial recovery collapse?" The answer is probably late 2015 after the new Conservative Government has brought in an even severer austerity programme in an attempt to control the mounting debt, or possible early 2016.

River

River Witham in Lincoln


About 4.15 p.m. yesterday afternoon I had yet another of those scam calls purporting to come from the Windows Technical Department, saying that there was a virus on my computer. In the past I have gone along with these scams, pretending that I am on the computer and carrying out the instructions, the purpose of which is to put a virus on my computer and then charge me 56 or so for its removal.

This time, however, I told the chappie to bugger off in no uncertain terms, not feeling like playing these silly games. In the past these calls have come up with "International" on the caller-display unit, thereby easily recognisable as scams, most of them from India, but this time there was the number 02075841312. I subsequently dialled the number, hearing an announcement "The number you have dialled has not been recognised." Clever little blighters, but not quite clever enough!

I have been having trouble with my mobile telephone operating on O2 (Spanish-owned, so I believe), and having written to the correspondence centre I received a reply suggesting that I should take the telephone to the O2 shop in Lincoln to have it examined, which I duly did this morning. I was served by a very helpful young "Guru" who told me that the masts were currently being modified for 4G, which could explain the poor reception in many areas. If I still had trouble after a month, he would consider providing me with a new telephone, which seems to be a fair arrangement.

Perhaps rather stupidly, knowing that her writing annoys me in my old age, I looked at Caitlin Moran's "Celebrity Watch" in "Times2" in which she rates people who have gone up or down in the week. Today, among the celebrities who have gone down is a woman who has named her new-born child "Summer Rain", which brings forth the comment: "Although CW [Caitlin Moran] is all for mothers giving their children fanciful and creative names - its rule is, if it comes out of your startled and put-upon vagina, you can call it anything you damn well please." Hmm.An interesting comment on today's literary standards.

At least there was an interesting article in the main section of the newspaper, saying how awful iPhones and iPads are: "These devices make the owner selfish and oblivious. You will know this from hearing people shouting trivia into their iPhones on buses, out of ignorance, self importance or spite." Amen to those sentiments about these hateful appliances, which I so wish had never been invented. To use them in public or at any social gathering is downright bad manners.

This morning I had a book from Amazon - "Disobeying Hitler - German resistance in the last ear of WW2" - which was delivered by a private carrier. On the basis of recent orders it seems that Amazon has stopped using Royal Mail, having these private firms instead. Rather annoyingly, an invoice is no longer included with the delivery, presumably all part of the relentless cost-cutting.

The local club is having a 4-day "Beer Festival and Village Fayre" beginning today, and at 2 o'clock Mrs. Copeland and I went to the barbecue, joining a village couple, the excellent sausages being prepared on a gas barbecue appliance by our good chairman of the Club. Alas, we were the only people there, making for a most enjoyable private party. A few people arrived about 4 o'clock. The gas appliances are very efficient, but I rather miss the aroma of the charcoal-based ones that would remind me of our recent days in Spain

Unfortunately, Mrs. Copeland was badly stung on her lower lip and her tongue by a wasp that she had not noticed was downing her dark ale, subsequently drinking the beer and the wasp. Not wanting to spoil the gathering, she made no comment but rushed home, telephoning the superb NHS help-line to ask if it was all right to take an antihistamine tablet, being told yes. She returned to the Club, obviously feeling a bit under the weather with her badly swollen lip. I take the view that although well intended, it was unwise for her to have gone home on her own, for the sting could have become serious. Thank heavens she did not swallow the wasp, for that could have involved hospital treatment, having difficulty in breathing.

It was getting cold by 5 p.m., so we went home. The evening was spent reading some more of Hillary Clinton's memoirs of her years as Secretary of State, spending her time rushing round the world. Mrs. Clinton seems very pleased with herself, but I suppose this is an essential requirement for high office, always trying to kid yourself that you are doing good and making a big improvement in the world. Because of all the beer I had consumed during the afternoon I had to have an early bedtime.

SATURDAY 23 AUGUST

On the 8 o'clock news summary on Radio 3 this morning there was a female presenter who rushed through the news in a flat monotone voice, not stopping for breath between the various news items. I suppose it has to be said that times change, the BBC wanting to get away from the toffee-nosed announcers of years gone by, people nowadays having to speak "common". Nevertheless, I thought of the wonderful Patricia Hughes, a Third Programme presenter who diction was so splendid, and whose voice was such a delight to listen to. Alas, she is no longer with us, having died about a couple of years ago.

Before getting up this morning I finished reading "The People's Republic of Amnesia - Tinanmen Revisited". I skipped over the later chapters, finding them extremely boring with details of the fate of numerous protesters who had been badly beaten, jailed and then exiled, subsequently having difficulties returning to that miserable country. The author - Louisa Lim - makes the point in the "Aftermath chapter":-

"Today, environmental issues are becoming the biggest cause of social unrest, outpacing political demands or land disputes. With air that is often hazardous to human health [people sometimes have to wear face masks to protect themselves], water that is largely undrinkable, and a range of toxins in foodstuffs too numerous to even track, environmental concerns unite Chinese across the divides of rich and poor, rural and urban."

The point is also made that while protests today are essentially localised and not very effective, there is gathering national resentment within the country likely to see a future mass revolt. This certainly seems likely, for a hateful country in which interrogation by the ruthless security forces are referred to as "drinking tea" will ultimately destroy itself, just as Russia did, now pathetically trying to regain it former power by attacking Ukraine.

I have now made a start on the recently published novel "The Narrow Road to the Deep South" by Richard Flanagan, published by Chatto and Windus at 16.99, the theme being a Japanese POW camp.

Mrs. Copeland was telling me this morning about people we know who, in the interests of losing weight, are on what is called a "Five-two" diet, which involves eating normally for five days, and then having hardly anything for the remaining two. The result is that the dieters are looking very poorly with their shrunken faces, putting years on them. I would like to see all these diets banned, along with those daft dieticians, most of the recommendations doing immense harm to the body. If you want to lose weight, eat less each. It is as simple as that, not going onto damaging diets that have no medical or scientific worth.

Mother-in-law

Mother-in-law on her 97th birthday. A remarkable lady who can still complete a difficult corssword.


It amused me to read in yesterday's "Times" that "Hundreds of teenagers began posting online abuse aimed at Michael Gove after collecting their GCSE results yesterday as many blamed him for poorer than expected grades." This is not surprising as Mr. Gove, by far the best Education Secretary we have had for many years, had attempted to make examinations more difficult and therefore more worthwhile and "meaningful".

As might be expected, his first-rate attempts to improve the appalling standards in our schools, among the worst in the world, met with a bitter response from the teaching unions who want no tests at any age, no quality control in the classroom, and nothing to identify poor teaching. Mr. Gove was trying to bring back the better standards of another age, when children learnt to read and write, even being able to spell and know their multiplication tables, but it proved to be a hopeless task. Maybe it is impossible to turn the clock back to better standards.

Granddaughter has moved into a rented flat on her own, and this morning I went with Mrs. Copeland to see the apartment. People have been very kind to her by giving all manner of items, so a start has been made in making the rooms look quite presentable. I was most impressed. There is still quite a lot to be done, but she is getting there, as they say.

Mrs. Copeland wanted to go to the Club this evening, attending the second day of the 4-day event, but having been yesterday, and going again tomorrow and on Monday, I preferred to stay at home, so Mrs. C. went with the neighbours. The problem is that Mrs. C. is far more sociable than I am , and although I enjoy social occasions, even on rare occasions mixed groups, I felt little like going out this evening, enjoying being at home so much.

Indeed, in my old age I prefer spending most of my time at home, reading being one of my great and lasting joys in life. Having every wall of the parlour lined with books - and more bookshelves are on the way - gives me tremendous pleasure, the only problem being that my passion for book-buying (only hardbacks of course, for I never read those ghastly poor man's paperbacks) costs me a lot of money, already having spent far too much this year at a time when I need to economise on account of the rapidly rising cost of living.

I suppose my other absorbing interest is following the relentless economic and social decline of the Uncaring Kingdom, studying the fascinating subject of "The economics of decline", being thankful that I am no longer in the unstable workplace, being relatively protected from Government policies in my retirement, and probably managing to survive the new and more extensive austerity programme that will have to be brought in next year when the Conservatives win the general election - and there is still every sign that they will win, Ukip seeming to have peaked.

Therefore, instead of listening to a noisy band that made any discussion of American foreign policy quite impossible, I read some more of the 600-page memoirs of Mrs. Clinton. As remarked earlier, she seems to think the world of herself, yet like most politicians on the international scene, nothing ever gets better.

Just look at the state of Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan, yet for all the Western meddling, the multitide of meetings involving a great army of advisers and officers, nothing has been achieved, those countries now being in a worse condition than they were under powerful tyrants. For all the long-term good she did, Mrs. Clinton might just as well have stayed at home.

SUNDAY 24 AUGUST

As mentioned earlier, I have started reading the novel "The Narrow Road to the Deep South" by Richard Flanagan. The book jumps around a bit, as modern novels tend to do. On one page the British soldiers are fighting the loathsome and treacherous Vichy French in the Middle East, dodging their shells, then a few pages later they are prisoners of war in a Japanese camp. I suppose these things happened to the British Army.

I saw that "BT has warned millions of customers it is increasing its prices by up to 6.5% from December this year. It will increase the line rental for direct debit customers by 6.25% to 16.99, and the rate for calling UK landlines by 6.44%." I find this quite unaccetpable given that inflation is said to be only 1.5%.

Perhaps it is a reminder that it was a terrible mistake to privatise the telephone service, just as it was a dreadful error to put all our other public services into private hands, many of the companies subsequently being sold off to foreigners so that my electricity supplier and Anglia Water are foreign-owned. Sadly, it seems that the Regulators are totally ineffective.

We had our windows cleaned by a firm last week, but I noticed today that one of the windows had apparently been missed, or had been badly done. Still, this insouciance and poor workmanship is something we have come to accept in this rundown country.

A friend in the nearby large village of Saxilby was telling me that the bailiwick is under threat from developers wanting to build hundreds more houses. The Residents' Association is therefore holding a public meeting on the 4th September in an attempt to stop the unwanted and unnecessary development, there already being an excess of houses in the county. An item on the agenda deplores the unacceptable recommendations of the unelected Central Lincolnshire Joint Strategic Planning Unit, quoting the local member of Parliament as having referred to the "wild exaggerations" of the Unit that will forever destroy the character of the villages surrounding Lincoln.

The Central Lincolnshire Joint Strategic Planning Unit - and what wonderful names they give themselves to make them sound important! - seems to live in a Mathusian dreamworld, even believing that 42,800 new houses are need in a county already overstocked with housing and where there are few employment opportunities. Perhaps it was a typing mistake - that they really meant 4,280, which would still be on the high side.With few jobs and poor public services, the building of so many houses would be an utter disaster for the county, virtually creating future slums.

Nevertheless, I am sure that the developments in Saxilby will be upheld on appeal, the Inspectorate now giving permission for every new house to be built, as we discovered to our immense disappointment in the appeal approval of a modern house that looks like a container in our historic and unique community, totally spoiling the environment.

It begins to look as if the two solar farms proposed on the outskirts of our village will be successful, these Sunshine Farms having recently been approved in other counties. The farms have been bitterly opposed by scores of residents; opposed by the Parish Council; and in all probability the District Council will throw out the proposals, but the Inspectorate will allow the development. Such is democracy in this country. Rather like free speech, democracy departed years ago from this Uncaring Kingdom.
Loaf

A loaf that Mrs. Copeland made for one of the stalls at the Club today.


At 3 p.m. I went to our local Club, attending the third day of the 4-day Beer Festival & Village Fayre, which so far seems to going reasonably well, despite the new urban refugees in the village - the ones who want all the trees felled, not supporting the joyful event. Earlier Mrs. Copeland had gone to the Club to help run a stall of home-made foods, including bread that she had made, along with some cakes. Thankfully the weather, although not exactly warm at 17 C, was sunny, so we were able to sit outside, probably the last of the summer wine.

The Club had extended its licence to enable members of the public to attend the event, and this brought in several people, most of whom entered into the spirit of the day, causing no trouble. However, there are always the nasty few who spoil things, among them a father who was watching his son with a water pistol playing with other children, including a young black lad, on the Bouncy Castle. Mrs. C, who was standing nearby, heard the father say to his son: "Squirt the n*gg*r."

I found this appalling, especially thinking that this dreadful father was bringing up a child with totally distorted and unpleasant views. In all probability the father came from one of the sink council estates in Lincoln - hopeless estates that indicate that Socialism can never be successful, never managing to overcome this appalling ignorance. However many welfare benefits you give them, they will never be able to enjoy successful lives. There was another couple, presumably also from one of these sink estates who were cheating on the Tombola, unwrapping the items to see what they represented. Thanks heavens we are normally a private club, able to keep out this riffraff.

While drinking some of the splendid "Pheasantry" dark ale, I noticed that there was a wasp swimming around in the glass, possibly having the time of his life. As I mentioned yesterday, Mrs. C had one in her glass of dark ale, but had not noticed when she took a sip, subsequently being stung badly on her bottom lip and tongue (she is better now). Fortunately, I was well aware of the wasp's presence on this occasion, and I took him out and squashed him. At least he had a few moments of fun before an untimely death.

The forecast for tomorrow for these parts is heavy rain throughout the day, possibly with strong winds - the default setting for a Bank Holiday day, the temperature likely to be down to 14 C. It seems remarkable that nearly all Bank Holiday Mondays are wet and miserable. Presumably in the very unlikely event of the country running out of water, having had ten days without rain, the Government only has to declare another Bank Holiday and the heavens will open.

Back home, I read some more of Mrs. Clinton's Memoirs after a dinner of splendid rump steak, runner beans from the garden, and roast potatoes. Not for us any of those ghastly recipes that are seen in the press and in the Waitrose weekly newsletter, many of which make me feel sick to even look at them. I dislike anything made with a recipe, preferring simple English food, none of that foreign overspiced stuff

I find the Memoirs difficult to accept. There is no doubt that Mrs. Clinton was a splendidly conscientious Secretary of State, working so hard to bring about world peace, sometimes using her charms as a woman to gain her aims, but she was seldom successful, never removing the underlying bitterness that exists in so many troubled parts of the world, no amount of dialogue displacing the deep-down bitterness and the racial and tribal disputes. One possible view could be that America interferes too much in the internal affairs of other countries, serving to exploit markets while being accused of promoting - and big business - under the guise of democracy.

MONDAY 25 AUGUST

A Bank Holiday, so it was already raining, as forecast, when we got up about 8.30 a.m.

To town in the morning to purchase a "Times", there being no delivery in the village, nobody wanting to do any work. The newspaper had a report of latest research that has indicated "one in six schoolboy players suffer a serious rugby injury... Over a season the average risk of serious injury to a player is 17%, rising to 33%," involving serious eye injuries, smashed cheekbones and spinal problems.

It seems amazing that when there is so much concern about health & safety these days that this brutal and barbaric game, involving about as much skill as snakes & ladders, continues to be played, principally at public schools. The thoroughly nasty game was played at my grammar school, but I managed every Wednesday afternoon to dodge off home. I would rather have faced detention than a serious injury. I just wish that the game could be banned.

On the news-stand I saw a headline in "The Independent" saying that "Screens are damaging family life", parents no longer spending any time talking to their children, dumping them instead in front of a television or giving them an iPad as early as 5 years old, even putting the very young ones in a bootie camp all day where they learn to become aggressive and insecure according to recent research.

I gather that there are some very rough families in which meals are taken while watching the idiot's lantern, effectively preventing any discussion. When our children were at home we always had meals around the dining table, but those were the happier days before those loathsome iPads and iPhones. We really did live in better and certainly more civilised times.

Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, warned yesterday that "the economy is still on life support and could be further endangered by an overheating housing market" - the very point I have been making week after week in this diary, indicating that once again you read it here first. It is the inflated housing market and millions being pumped into the economy by the earlier quantitative easing that has given the false impression of an economic recovery, while actually getting the nation further into debt.

Sand

Bank Holiday fun in Lincoln. "Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside". Not that many people seemed to have turned up.


After a relaxed morning, during which daughter Caroline and her husband called in to see the old folks at home, I went with Mrs. C. to the fourth and final day of the local Club's "Beer Festival & Village Fayre", having a barbecue while sitting in the large tent the Club committee bought on account of the summers becoming colder and wetter. I had some more of that splendid dark ale, all very health-giving, fortunately with no more of those beer-supping wasps who seem to like the drink almost as much as I do.

A most enjoyable event, being able to talk to intelligent people - and what a difference that makes. Overall the 4-day event has proved to be a success, thanks to a lot of hard work on the part of the good chairman, some committee members, our splendid stewardess who is a real credit to the Club, and some of the wives. I must write a letter of thanks, a departure from all the letters of complaint I write as the country steadily falls apart.

Back home I saw the film programme of "The Venue" in Lincoln for September and October, noting films that we will probably go to see, including "Mr. Morgan's Last Love"; "Boyhood"; "Lucy" and "Before I go to Sleep." We no longer go to the Odeon in Lincoln as it seems to have become a cinema for the teens and twenties, not offering anything intelligent for old people.

In the evening I read some more of Mrs. Clinton's Memoirs as Secretary of State. I am up to page 320 of the 600 pages, and as yet there is no mention of the UK, making me realise how insignificant we have become in the world, no longer of any account in our relentless decline and fall. In the chapter on the troublesome Israeli/Palestinian crisis, Mrs. Clinton makes it very clear that the thoroughly nasty Natanyahu was the main stumbling block preventing the peace process, taking no heed of President Obama's request not to build further Israeli homes on Palestinian lands.

Mrs. Clinton also records that President Obama, apparently no great friend of Natanyahu, unlike his predecessors, believed the only answer to the problem was for the establishment of a two-state set-up, presumably meaning forcing the Jews back to the established boundaries in 1948, or at least those in 1967.

TUESDAY 26 AUGUST

Heavy rain in the night, taking the total rainfall so far this month to 110 mm, which must be a record for August - a month that has also been miserably cold, yet those crazy climatologists told us we were going to have a blazing hot summer. Those people ought to be put to work on repairing the roads, doing something useful instead of making all manner of silly pronouncements and predictions that never come to pass.

I ordered some more heating oil this morning, the price being 54.30p a litre, whereas my previous supply back in February was at 56.15p, so there has been a slight fall, something to be welcomed as the cost of living races ahead. No wonder consumer expenditure fell last month, seeing a big fall in food purchases for the first time in many years, thousands of people in this country now being unable to afford a decent meal. So much for an economic recovery!

Among the morning's e-mails was one from a Mr. Jeffery Hurst at hurst.jeff@nycmail.com, saying: "the retired gentlemans [sic] club huh, i [sic] see a bunch of manual workers at a union meeting. who are you trying to kid..!" I replied: "I readily agree with you. I have always said that my colleagues should follow my example by wearing a tie, thereby indicating that we are not a working class assembly."

Fortunately, another e-mail, from an American, wrote in more positive terms: "I enjoyed seeing the Retired Gentlemen in last week's diary. You are lucky to have such a good group of friends." Yes, indeed: that is something I have always appreciated, especially as I am the poor relation,

I had another e-mail, this one from an irate lady who was commenting on my entry last week that "Feminists are invariably ugly women who cannot establish relationships with a man", saying: "How dare you... Just what have you got against lesbians?" I replied: "I have nothing at all against lesbians, often finding that they are highly intelligent ladies. I just wish, though, that they were not so fiercely opposed to men, for the sexes need one another and could do without all this animosity. Maybe it does not help that it is unfairly still very much a man's world."

Sky

High summer sky


I heard on the news that a poll in the "Guardian" had indicated that Mr. Salmond had conclusively won last night's debate with Alistair Darling on the issue of Scottish independence. Mercifully, all the indications are that there will wisely be an overwhelming NO vote, the more intelligent Scotsmen realising that independence would be a disaster for their small country, cut off from the British currency, Nato, and the Royal Family. Still, the English taxpayers would save a lot of money by not having to prop up the country, millions of our taxes now being spent on Scotland.

On the BBC News website there was a a mention of the Lib-Dims latest policy: "All children in England's state schools should get lessons about sex and relationships from the age of seven." What an utter nonsense! It would be far better if the children at that age learnt to read and write and know their multiplication tables, having spelling bees every day, instead of having an extensive playtime that now seems to be on offer in Primary schools, especially as the splendid Mr Gove has departed.

In America there was the news that, "White pupils in state schools in the United States are set to be in the minority for the first time when schools return for the new term. According to official forecasts, enrolments for the 2014-15 school year will mark the threshold when ethnic minorities become the majority. This demographic shift has been driven by rising numbers of Hispanic pupils." Presumably in another 20 years or so there will be a similar proportion in this country as the immigrants continue to flood in

Yet another report said that 1,400 children in a home in Rotherham had been sexually abused. Accoding to a press report, the culprits were Pakistanis, but nobody dared stop them for fear of accusations of racism. Dear, oh dear: have we gone completely bonkers in this country. Nearly every day brings further details of sexual offences in the witch-hunt that is now seems to be taking place and is full spate. In the 16th and 17h centuries they used the ducking-stool for witches, asking them to repent as they went under the water for the third time. Perhaps we ought to bring back the stools, selling the ducking rights to television companies as the offenders go under the waters of the Thames. It would make for very popular programmes, just as public hangings would.

Braving the dreadful weather, though it had at last stopped raining, I rode in to Lincoln soon after breakfast to buy some items for Chloe's flat, as well as "The Times". Although it is the peak holiday season, seeing a large amount of traffic in Lincoln, the Highways Department have chosen to improve paving in one of the main streets, causing massive delay. It would have been better if the potholes had been filled in. What is so worrying is that these roadworks take weeks to complete, whereas in America they would be done in a few days. No wonder we have such appalling productivity in this country.

Mrs. Copeland is going on a week's holiday with a female neighbour to Lake Garda on Saturday, flying from Cambridge International Airport. Mrs. C applied for a car parking permit, parking being free, subsequently receiving an A4-sized pass. On a compliment slip enclosed were the hand-written words: "Hi, Angela. Please find enclosed a car parking permit for Cambridge International Airport. Just ensure this is on display on your dashboard when you park up. I hope you have a great flight and holiday. Regards, David." What a delightful communication, obviously a small airport that really cares, quite unlike the major ones where everything is so massive and so impersonal.

More disappointing news on the UK economy today, suggesting that the so-called recovery is coming to an end, much earlier than expected: "The speed of the recovery in the services sector [which constitutes about 87% of the economy] has eased in the three months to August, according to the CBI." Deloitte has warned "that the prospect of political upheaval over the next year will hinder economic growth", the worry presumably being that Labour may win the general election next May, and that really will screw everything up.

In the post, which included three charity appeals that went straight into the recycling bin, there was a communication from my bank headed "Annual summary of your account charges." During the year I had incurred no charges at all, not even on my credit card, though this is probably not surprising as I use it only infrequently, believing that such cards encourage bad housekeeping. There is no doubt that I could teach the Chancellor a thing or two about money management, but then I do not live beyond my means, as the Government and the rest of the country does.

A siesta after lunch to avoid stress as I had been rather busy in the morning. A friend called in during the evening and we had a bottle of Californian wine together, which made for a pleasant diversion form reading the Memoirs of Mrs. Secretary of State Clinton. Afterwards I resumed reading the book, learning about the lack of gratitude that America received in granting aid to many countries. It makes you wonder why the US wastes this money.

In one chapter she asks the question: "Can we successfully influence the internal problems of other nations and nurture democracy when it has never flowed before, without negative unintended consequences?" The answer, judging by the entries in the book, is surely a decisive NO. Mrs. C makes the point that her country had "championed democracy and human rights that have been at the front of our global leadership for more than half a century", to which she might have added: "All to little, if any, effect. I liked the comment that Mrs. Clinton uses to describe failed negotiations - "Being taken to the woodshed".

WEDNESDAY 27 AUGUST

I rode in to town shortly after breakfast to purchase a "Times", as well as posting a parcel. I have to go in early as the newspaper is sold out by about 11 a.m., apparently being the most popular broadsheet. I have tried all the daily quality papers, finding that "The Independent" was deadly dull; "The Daily Telegraph" horribly biased, believing that what limited sun we get comes out of Mr. Cameron's posterior; while the "Guardian" lives in the dream and make-believe world of Socialism. At least "The Times" presents varying political views, even if it is essentially supports the Conservatives.

I gather that Nigel Farage of Ukip will be standing for Parliament in the May 2015 election at Thanet, while Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, will also be seeking election. All things considered, I will probably vote for Ukip, believing in most of its policies, including stopping all foreign aid; bringing back grammar schools; persuading mothers with young children to stay at home to look after their offspring instead of dumping them in nurseries; and cutting income tax. I suppose these are the better values of my generation. Sadly, I have been very disappointed with Cameron. What has he achieved? we might ask. Er..... The do-nothing Prime Minister.

He was going to reduce the number of quangos, but they are all still here. He vowed to restrict bank bonuses, but nothing has been done to stop or even reduce these immoral earnings; and he was going to put a brake on immigration, but the immigrants continue to flood in unchecked, any cutback in the numbers not being helped by a Home Secretary who gives the impression of being hopelessly out of her depth. Still, at least he has recently promised to do something about bad families, though just how or what has not yet been established.

Beans

Runner beans in the garden. There has been an excellent crop this year, probably the best ever, but now they are nearly over. Winter draws on.


There is a new craze going the rounds, presumably for the teens and twenties, involving the tipping of a bucket of iced water over the head, challenging others to follow suite, all in the aid of charity. Mrs. Copeland was telling me that a Scottish lad who undertook this foolish practice, subsequently being dared to jump into the bitterly cold water of a lake, in which he died, possibly of a heart attack. The nonsense should be banned before there are any further casualties. Oh, the follies of youth!

A correspondent drew my attention to a report in "The Independent" showing that the latest evidence had found that saturated fats were in no way harmful; that there was no evidence that the fats caused heart disease. So yet again all that nonsense from the Food Standards Authority about the need to lessen fat in food has been shown to be completely wrong - as I have always suggested. Once again you read it here first.

The important point to remember is that the medicine men, and certainly most of those daft dieticians, have not the slightest understanding of what food is good and bad for the body. Two years ago there was even research conclusively showing that those butter substitutes were actually harmful, the vegetable oil clogging up the digestive system. possibly actually causing heart attacks. Therefore eat what you like and be merry, albeit eating in moderation.

On the cover of "Times2", the supplement for worried women, there was advice on "How to age-proof your life," involving "Get a pet" [presumably ending up with the rip-off fees of vets]; Have more sex; avoid status anxiety; buy new jeans [and look scruffy] live close to work; keep an open mind, and eat less - or wear black." In fairness, I suppose such advice is not to be taken seriously, just a lot of silly fun, for everything depends on character and temperament that cannot be changed or even modified. You are as you are, and always will be. My glass is always half empty, desperately needing refilling. Not for me any Panglossian optimism, especially about the UK economy.

I read that a retired female Judge, obviously a lady who talks a lot of common-sense, daring to say things that we are forbidden to mention, has said that "Rape conviction rate will not go up until women stop binge drinking." As might be expected when somebody dares to tell the truth, there has been an enormous outcry, especially from "Rape Crisis England" that has bubbled over in its fury, proclaiming the Judge's comments as being "potentially very harmful."

A Spanish Mayor is in similar trouble for saying "Imagine you get into a lift and there's a girl trying to get it on with you. She gets in the lift with you, takes off her bra and skirt, and then runs out screaming that you've tried to assault her". What a thing to say, understandably causing lots of women to get their knickers in a complete twist over the foolish statement, though maybe, let it be quietly admitted, it has just a grain of truth, recognising how dangerous it is to have anything to do with a woman whilst this witch-hunt is in full spate. Oh, what trouble sex causes, almost as much as religion: those two curses of the world

In "Times2" there was also the advice that "100-200 belly laughs a day is the equivalent of a high-impact workout." Surely even the Chancellor's economic policy will not bring that amount of laughs, though I suppose it will also help to read the fantasy proposals of the Central Lincolnshire Joint Strategic Planning Unit, full of make-believe in its cloud-cuckoo land where reason and logic never enter. It is also suggested that "married couples enjoy healthier, longer lives than their single peers." Perhaps it just seems longer, as they say.

A quiet afternoon at home. Mrs. Copeland went with a female neighbour to The Venue in Lincoln to see a musical film. As such offerings are not to my taste, I stayed at home, finishing reading Mrs. Clinton's depressing memoirs. On two pages there are actually a brief mention of the UK, but otherwise it is clear that we are no longer regarded as an important partner in our relentless decline, which I suppose is not surprising. You cannot blame the Americans for not wanting to take on a limping partner, its best before days long since have passed.

Sadly, despite all the conscientiousness and frenetic activity rushing all around the world, the memoirs are a depressing record of failed initiatives, there never being any agreement or even any possibility of a discussion with China and Russia, or with most of the countries in the Middle East, definitely not with Natanyahu, whom Mrs. C. refers to as "Bibi". The book made me think that America would be far better if it retreated into itself, having a glorious isolation from the rest of the world, instead of trying to be the world's policeman, possibly putting a 15% duty on all Chinese imports to build up its own industries and therefore not being dependent upon the rubbish from that hateful Communist country. Ultimately China and Russia will destroy themselves with their repression and extensive corruption, so leave them alone, and let the Middle East countries continue to tear themselves apart, as they are determined to do

I skipped most of the chapter on women's rights, my generation not being able to take all that stuff, though I saw the quotation: "Women are like teabags. You do not know how strong they are until they get into hot water." As teabags are subsequently squashed and discarded, that did not seem to me to be a very good analogy. At the end of the book, Mrs. C. quotes her mother's philosophy: "I have loved and been loved; all the rest is background music." Pass the sickbag, if you please.

In one of the chapters Mrs. Clinton records how the Chinese pinched the technology of an American company making screens for iPads and mobile telephones, apparently unable to make the items themselves. It is yet another insance of the pitiful Chinese being totally dependent upon American inventiveness and technology. Take away those items and China would revert to a peasant economy within a year. At least it gives the American immense power over that hateful Communist country.

Having finished the book, I made a start on "Operation Sealion" by Lee McKinsky. In the introduction he quotes a Cockney who was asked what steps he would take if he saw a German parachutist, replying: "Bloody great big ones!" The author makes the point that it was not only the splendid gallantry of the RAF in preventing Hitler from having air supremacy, but also many other aspects of English life that were well organised to prevent an invasion, presumably "Dad's Army" with their brooms and sticks". It is going to be a difficult premise to accept, but will no doubt make interesting reading as revisionist history.

Before going to bed I saw in the Business section of "The Times" that Amazon had managed "a near-billion dollar take-over of an online newcomer that had turned the playing of video games into a global spectator sport", apparently called "Twitch". A subheading said that "books are becoming a footnote."

A photograph with the article showed two young children wearing earphones when playing the games on a screen. Presumably because I am old and over the hill (which in some ways seem to be a better place to be), I find this development very upsetting, for it presumably means that young children will be denied the wonderful library of literature, playing these entertaining games instead for hours on end.

This, though, is the way the world is moving, departing from the delights that my generation had in reading and actually talking face-to-face t people. Still, although we are now creating a generation of morons, at least I can give thanks and eternal gratitude that I escaped these ghastly times, not spending hours staring at a small screen, having lived in a far more civilised and gentler age. Within the next decade I suppose books, certainly hardback books, will be gone, but I will also be gone, so it will not matter. Meanwhile, at least I have my collection of 2,162 hardback books all around the walls of the parlour, an oasis in a country that is steadily falling apart in its social and economic decline.

I gather that the Royal Bank of Scotland, which is 81% owned by the taxpayers, is being fined 15 millions after the Regulator found that the bank could have mis-sold thousands of mortgages to its customers, some as recently as last year. Bearing in mind that we own the bank, aren't we fining ourselves? However, I suppose this is all part of the crazy world we now live in, so I must not be surprised or critical.

In recent weeks I have been having trouble getting to sleep, something that always bothers me. Hearing about this insomnia, a friend gave me some pills that had been prescribed by his doctor for promoting sleep, but they made not the slightest difference. Instead, I have started having some Limoncello (27%, which is very health-giving), finding that this did the trick, having no trouble subsequently in getting to sleep after several glasses of the delightful elixir. Moral: Keep away from doctors and enjoy a merry nightcap with alcohol, the benefits of which should be obvious to everybody.

THURSDAY 28 AUGUST

I have started receiving scam calls on my mobile telephone, not that I have it on very often. During the past week I have had two calls from a law firm purporting to deal with the mis-selling of mortgages and other credit facilities. Yesterday at about 4.45 p.m. I had one of the calls, during which I told the woman that I have never had any such deals in all my life. "Never!?" she exclaimed in wonder, then abruptly ended the call.

That is the way to deal with these nuisance calls, most of them scams from India. Nevertheless, it is nasty stuff, for it would be very wrong to get tangled with those people who will no doubt charge excessive fees for any successful recovery of a mis-selling. The general rule is that if you receive any unsolicited offer in a telephone call, it is a scam, to be avoided at all costs.

I liked the e-mail I received yesterday: "There's an annual contest at Bond University in Australia, calling for the most appropriate definition of a contemporary term. This year's chosen term was 'Political Correctness'. The winning student wrote: 'Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and promoted by mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end.'"

I heard on the news at 8 a.m. that the Police Commissioner in Rotherham was refusing to resign over the cases of sexual abuse involving hundreds of children in a care home. These Police Commissioners have not been one of the Cameroon's greatest successes, putting somebody with no experience of policing in charge of a county's police force. I suppose this is also part of today's nonsense that we have to accept.

Nevertheless, there are claims still being made that in this country we have the fastest economic growth of any nation. I receive news items from various newspapers on my mobile telephone, and today there was one proclaiming this extraordinary economic growth, while the next one said that thousands of people in the UK were no longer able to afford a full meal. There was also an item saying that the housing market was slowing, likely to see considerable falls next year. All a bit contradictory, you might say, not that anybody with anything between their ears believes there is any economic growth in this country,

Scots

The dangers of leaving the door open. Photograph sent to me by a reader.


So far this month there have been 117 mm of rain, but this is not exceptional for August, which is normally one of the wettest months of the year. I recall the days long ago when we spent holidays with the children at the salubrious seaside resort of Frinton-on-Sea in August. As we sheltered in the hired hut we could see the North Sea whipping itself up into a furry, the waves crashing down on the children's lovingly made sandcastles, while the rain beat relentlessly down on the hut roof. Mother would say that she could see a patch of blue sky just above Clacton pier, "sufficient to make a cat's jersey", assuring us that this meant the weather would cheer up. But it never did.

I had to go in to town to renew my 10 monthly top-up for "3" mobile broadband. The reception of broadband in the lower part of the village just manages a speed of 1.8 bps, whereas the "3" consistently gives me 3.5 bps, so there is obviously no point in going on to BT broadband on any of the other networks. I gather there is not likely to be any broadband improvement in our area until late 2017, so that is another reason for staying with "3".

Indeed, even if there is an improvement in speed, I think I will stay with "3" as I do not have to pay by diabolical direct debit. As long as I live I will not have one of those awful transactions in which you totally lose control of your banking account, enabling firms to take out as much money from your account when they wish.

As I mentioned last week, extensive roadworks are currently being undertaken in the centre of Lincoln, at the busiest time of the year, which presumably makes some kind of sense to the officers. I went past the roadworks this morning, seeing only two workmen present, one of whom was sitting in his van, the other leaning against a vehicle. No wonder we have the lowest productivity per man hour in the industrialised world.

Here in the Uncaring Kingdom nobody seems to care, nobody bothers, almost as if the country has given up the ghost, knowing that things can only get worse, as they surely will, especially when the extensive austerity programme begins after the general election next May, whichever party wins.

In the morning's post - or rather, the afternoon's post following privatisation that is now providing a far poorer service (my guess is that Saturday deliveries will soon be discontinued, before the service is sold off for a song to the Germans) - I had a communication from my bank saying: "From 10 November, we're replacing the 25 informal overdraft set-up fee with a 5 fee for each day your current account is in informal overdraft". In other words, in the rampant greed of the banks, the charges are to be increased.

Fortunately, I will not need to worry, for I have never - ever - been overdrawn in all the many years I have had an account with the bank. The only problem I had with the bank was when there was a failure to credit me with some money that I had been paid in. The mistake was quickly rectified when I pointed it out, but I suggested that they should pay for a good bottle of white wine for their carelessness. Subsequently, they credited my account with 10, which was fair enough.

There was a resport in today's "Times" that "The top professions remain a deeply elitist cosy club, dominated by the affluent and privately educated, according to the Governmnet's social mobility adviser." The sadness is that these people are not always of the best quality, as we have seen in the officers in the public school-dominated British Army over the years, and currently see in the very poor Eton-dominated Cabinet. No wonder we are in such a muddle with this terrible social divide.

Another report said that lawyers were demanding compensation of 100,000 for each of the 1,400 children allegedly sexually molested in a Rotherham children's home. It is as well to make no comment, keeping our thoughts to ourselves.

The rest of the day was spent at home. This evening we will be going to the local Club for a drink as we will not be going up over the weekend, Mrs. Copeland being far away at Lake Garda.

E-mail: johncopeland@clara.net
Lincolnshire 28th August, 2014
Comments welcomed.
No.863.

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