DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN
Formerly "Diary of a Septuagenarian".
- John Copeland -
Friday 25th July - Thursday 31st July, 2014
"Only one in five families fits a traditional structure with a father who works and a mother who stays at home to raise the children."
The sad farewell to family life in the UK. Report in "The Times" 30th July, 2014
FRIDAY 25 JULY
Yesterday evening we sat outside drinking wine with the neighbours until about 8.30 p.m., making me realise what a splendid community and environment I live in, having intelligent neighbours, several with degrees - and proper degrees of long ago, not the Mickey Mouse ones in media studies, jazz, and other such nonsense that passes for higher education these days.
Today's "Times" had a headline: "Britain's recovery outstrips the world", the Office for National Statistics having said that the economy grew by 0.8% in the second quarter. Oh, dear: how you have to laugh! On what is this recovery based when exports have fallen sharply; when consumer expenditure fell in June; and when our indebtedness massively increased? Presumably the heading should really read: "Britain's debt outstrips the world." Significantly and appropriately, the Governor of the Bank of England warned yesterday that, "An increase in household debt levels could tip the economy back into recession."
Robert Preston on the BBC news website puts the growth figures into perspective, saying: "So we are certain that the service industries, which dominate our economy, are already producing more than they did before the great crash, whereas manufacturing is still generating considerably less - 7.6% less in the first quarter of this year, on those questionable official figures. The vaunted rebalancing of the economy between intangible services and tangible making has not remotely happened - and probably never will."
The major worry is the extensive fall in exports, the Chancellor having hoped to improve exports instead of shuffling money around at home, thereby creating real wealth. And there is no doubt that our debt, both national and private, is rapidly increasing, nothing being done to reduce the burden because of political reasons, it being left to the next Parliament to make the necessary widespread cuts. The latest GDP figure is a splendid example of how you can prove anything with statistics, it all depending upon the baseline that is used.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the FTSE fell nearly 30 points on the announcement, investors presumably not having been fooled.
Another item in the newspaper had a headline saying "Over-65s most likely to drink at home every day", the Royal College of Psychiatrists being quoted as saying that "it was worried that older people were drinking to alleviate loneliness, boredom or even depression following retirement." What an utter nonsense, as is anything and everything to do with the pseudo-science of psychiatry, absolute bullshit. I am not lonely, bored or depressed, the reason I drink at home being because (a) I greatly enjoy drinking, taking my mind off the appalling state of the UK economy, and (b) this is the first time in my life that I can drink a lot at home. Were I in employment I would have to be careful about the alcoholic intake.
Other considerations are that geriatrics are less likely to go to a pub in the evenings, and it is a good deal cheaper to drink at home, something that has to be taken into consideration when you are on a pension. The problem with these psychiatrists, as well as the even dafter psychologists, is that they get a fixed idea in their little heads - an "idée fix" - and then wrap this up on its own without considering the many diverse and conflicting ramifications, making the surveys quite worthless.
Yet another survey - it is all surveys these days in our neurotic society - has said that watching the television can make you even more miserable. Surprise! Surprise! Mercifully, I never switch on the set, except for showing DVDs, much preferring to listen to the radio, especially for the news bulletins, the "World Tonight" offering a splendid coverage with a detailed analysis. On the lantern, no news item can be longer than about 4 minutes, which is the attention span of the culturally challenged.
Sadly, many of the columnists in "The Times" are not worth reading. Today, for instance, a little chappie heads his polemic: "Human shields are to blame, not Israel." How can anybody write such biased, utter twaddle? I like the newspaper immensely, certainly seeing it as being by far the best on the market, but it is spoilt by the silly columnists - and as for that Caitlin Moran....but then I am an old man, not liking such juvenile stuff so popular today.
A correspondent has asked me whether I am trying to increase the number of "hits" on this diary and on my Facebook by including photographs of granddaughter Chloe. I suppose I have never been all that bothered about the hit rate, though I suppose if the number fell below 200 it would hardly be worth writing (the weekly average is about 350, which is probably about the right number). Presumably it raises the question why I write the diary, presumably arrogantly believing that anybody is even slightly interested in my fairly mundane life, reminding me of the comments of a friend: "You are very lucky, John. Nobody cares a bugger what you think!"
Maybe the diary provides a form of catharsis as I rage against the dying of the light. My comments are, of course, mere whistling in the wind, of no significance, though it nevertheless gives me some satisfaction in pointing out the nonsense of our Potemkin economic growth, And I greatly enjoy the comments from intelligent people around the world on the diary entries, only occasionally having some rude and illiterate criticism, as happened when a correspondent leapt to the defence of the hopeless Mrs. May, her supporters being known as the "Mayniacs".
Trees in Mijas, where we had a week's holiday en famille .
I spent much of the morning cleaning the scooter, having rather neglected the vehicle during the past few weeks. I have certainly enjoyed riding it during this wonderful weather (another sunny day today), delighting in the splendid sense of freedom in being on two wheels, even better than driving in an open-topped sports car, especially as you weave in and out of the gridlocked traffic at this time of year, having no problems in parking, thereby managing to avoid the excessive and ridiculous parking charges in Lincoln, presumably designed to drive traffic and trade away from the city.
I mentioned last week that a book I had ordered from Amazon, had been delivered to the wrong address. Apparently, Amazon is now using their own couriers under the heading of "Amazon Logistics", rather than Royal Mail Subsequently, having received a refund for the incorrectly delivered book, I ordered another book, somewhat worried that it would also be delivered to the wrong address, but the book arrived today after the driver telephoned on his mobile to ask the location of my house. Presumably he will know in future.
The plumber was to have come today to supply and fit a replacement mixer tap for the kitchen sink that has been leaking and causing a loud rumbling noise. As he had not arrived by 2.30 p.m., I telephoned him on his mobile, only to be told that he could not come today, having been "held up on a job". There was no thought of letting me know he would not be coming, but then that is in the inconsiderate nature of all plumbers. Because of a "big heating job" all next week, he could not come until the week commencing 4th August. Fortunately, it is not an urgent matter, so it can wait. Even so, it was annoying, but then any concept of service is totally alien in this ailing little island, having to plead with firms and promising to pay in cash for them to undertake any repair.
A relaxed afternoon, and in the evening I read some more of "Mammon's Kingdom" , describing how the UK moved away from collective government under Labour during the years after the Second World War, subsequently changing to a ruthless, capitalistic economy, especially under Thatcher the Terrible, who cherished greed and selfishness, the dreadful woman arguing that there was no such thing as society. It therefore seems that UK now stands for Uncaring Kingdom.
Much of the change from a community spirit to the selfish individualism that we are now seeing stems ultimately from the hateful right-wing extremism of Friedrich Hayek, whose writings no doubt represented the bible of Thatcher the Great Destroyer.
What worries me so much, as I frequently mention, is that another period of right-wing government under the Cameroons, hitting the sick and the poor, could see extensive rioting in the streets. As electors next May, we are faced with two main parties now that Ukip has faltered, representing a choice between revolution and total bankruptcy. It makes me wonder who to vote for, though since this country has overshot a political solution, maybe it is a waste of time voting.
Any rioting will not come from the sick and the poor, but from young people who have no hope for the future and who have nothing to lose in clashes with the police. As in France, university students will no doubt join in the protests.
The author makes the point that, associated with the greater inequality in this country, there has been a relentless decline in democracy. Amongst their many pathetic proclamations, the Cameroons have said that they want to give people more say in their local affairs, but we have yet to see the implementation of this hallowed policy. We had an example of the lack of any kind of democracy in an ultramodern house proposed for our unique historic community.
As I have mentioned on several occasions, the plans were bitterly opposed by house-owners in the area; opposed by the Parish Council; and unanimously rejected by the Planning Committee of the District Council following a site visit. Yet on an appeal, an Inspector, disregarding all the planning rules and regulation in a conservation area that is supposed to be protected from such unsuitable and unpleasant developments, allowed the development, which will soon be starting, greatly to our disappointment. Where was the democracy when one man can go against all that opposition?
SATURDAY 26 JULY
As my "Morning Book" I am reading "The People's Republic of Amnesia - Tiananmen revisited" by Louisa Lim, published this year by Oxford University Press. The book describes in detail the brutality of the Chinese Communist regime in dealing with the protests in Tiananmen Square in June 1989, all traces of the brutality of the army now being suppressed. Presumably the day will come, though possibly not until well into the second half of the century, when China will go the same way as bankrupted Russia.
Coming downstairs in the morning I saw that there was a bird in the conservatory, flapping hopelessly around and damaging the blades on my helicopters. After I had opened the conservatory doors the bird flew out, leaving me to put back the blades on about ten helicopters - a really fiddling job. However the exercise did enable me to clean out the dead flies on the ledges, so it was presumably a beneficial happening. Now in my 80s, I try to think more positively, though I still cannot accept that we have the strongest economic growth in the world. That is a porky one too far.
A correspondent has sent me an e-mail commenting on my criticism of Israel's attack on hospitals and civilian shelters in Gaza, asking: "I have recently returned from Israel, my flight having been delayed by rockets from Gaza when we were ushered into shelters. The question is, what do you expect Israel to do when 1,500+ rockets have been fired at their cities, deliberately targeting civilians? Aid agencies have supplied building materials to try to help to develop Gaza but Hamas has stolen them to build tunnels into Israel, from which to attack civilians. Nice people."
It is better that I do not comment on these statements, consoling myself that every Englishman I know regards Israel as a brutal occupying power, having extended its boundaries massively since the terrible mistake in setting up the state of Israel in 1948, based on a Biblical fallacy, thereby resulting in everlasting and not surprising opposition from Palestinians who have been ruthlessly forced off their land.
There was a meeting of our local Parish Council last Tuesday, during which consideration was given to the two solar panel farms that are proposed for fields surrounding the village. Unfortunately, the Parish Council has no powers and no influence, a mere talking shop, a sop to supposed democracy. I therefore did not attend the meeting, knowing that it would be a total waste of time, though of course the councillors just love talking endlessly about the issues.
Before the meeting of the talking shop, there had been a public meeting called to oppose the Sunshine Farms, when the usual irrelevant points were made, including the "potential adverse visual impact"; "damage to nature conservation"; and "impact on the community", none of which is related to planning considerations, especially as there is no regard whatsoever for the environment in this country, anything being allowed, particularly if it can create jobs and generate facilities.
My reckoning is that the Planning Committee of the District Council will reject both proposals, but they will subsequently be approved on appeal, I suppose it can be argued that the ugly and dominating panels will at least stop housing development, and who can blame the two farmers who will receive thousands of pounds every year for 25 years, (possibly as much as an annual £250,000 for one of the schemes) if they are ultimately approved, surely better than battling in the mud all day and having to worry about crop prices.
Mrs. Copeland wanted me to write a letter to the Planning Committee to oppose the development, so I duly did as requested during the morning, making the main point that Government ministers had said back in April of this year that they did not want to see a proliferation of these solar farms in the countryside, preferring to see the solar panels on government and other public buildings. At a time when we have to import so much food, it seems ridiculous to be lessening the land for crops, especially on the good quality land that surrounds our village. However, politicians are about as reliable as small-town solicitors and backstreet second-hand car dealers, and we must not put our trust in them.
Significantly, "The Daily Torygraph" had a headline today saying: "Minister: Nimbys [Not in my Backyard] have had their day." In other words, those of us who are concerned about protecting our environment from unsuitable developments must now follow Government guidelines in having absolutely no regard for the environment. I suppose it makes political sense, for there is no doubt that the thousands of immigrants who flood into this country unchecked every month will need houses. Therefore every parcel of land must be developed, anything being allowed as the Government allows its developer chums to have a free hand.
Not surprisingly, "The Times" had an editorial pointing out that the UK economy is still very unbalanced, the service industries now worryingly constituting some four-fifths of the economy. Manufacturing output continues to fall, now some 10.7% lower than six years ago. Yet all history shows that the powerful manufacturing nations, such as China and Germany, are the most successful and wealthiest, especially in their export industries that bring real wealth to the country.
The service industries, including the dominant financial sector in the UK, are extremely vulnerable, as recent years have shown. Furthermore, most of the service industries depend upon female labour, seeing an unbalanced labour market. And such industries require very little capital investment, presumably why they are so popular in this mean-minded little island where investment is anathema to so many firms. In so many ways, it seems we are following a similar route up the garden path that led to the recent credit crunch.
Sitting reading in the garden this afternoon. I thought of the airports with screaming children of the hoi polloi, a hell on earth. How fortunate I am to enjoy such civilised and peaceful surroundings.
A lady who lived in our little community some years ago returned on a visit today, when the ladies put on a lunch for her. I was invited to join them for the meal, but decided to join them after the meal, subsequently greatly enjoying their company. Before joining them I spent some time in the garden, reading in the peace and tranquillity or our splendid environment. I thought of the airports at the height of the holiday season, the Great Unwashed with their screaming and badly behaved children running everywhere, totally uncontrolled.
Nobody of any culture or merit would venture overseas at this time of year. Later on I joined the ladies, having a very pleasant time with much laughter and alcohol. Alas, I have to admit that they can be every bit as enjoyable and cultured than the average male, and sometimes much more fun. I really must get over this dreadful prejudice about women, presumably a hangover of my generation.
The evening was spent in the conservatory finishing reading "Mammon's Kingdom". I was hoping that we would have a further gathering for wine outside with the neighbours, but with Mrs. Copeland they went to the monthly quiz at the local Club. What a waste of a wonderful evening, when the temperature was still 26 C. Next week the forecast is that it is going to get much cooler.
In one of the chapters the author comments that "Britain is one of the least egalitarian societies in Europe with one of the highest levels of poverty; partly because of this , the level of public trust has fallen precipitately. Britain is still a democracy, but in fact the policy-making process is dominated by an oligarchic elite of rent-seekers."
As mentioned earlier, the author rails against untamed capitalism that has destroyed so many of our former values, the community spirited days of the Attlee government having been replaced by the greed and selfishness of the individual under the hateful Thatcher catechism. It was Thatcher who freed the financial market, which ultimately led to the credit crunch, there having been no restrictions henceforth on the incredible greed and avariciousness of the banks.
Untamed capitalism has not made us a happy society, for as the author points out we do not seem to know now who we are in our selfish individualism. Above all, we are a neurotic society, expressed in all the nonsense about health, none of the recommendations, especially the recommended need for exercise for a so-called healthy living, having an iota of medical or scientific backing. We also worry ourselves silly about what food to eat, and our insecurity is to be seen in the great army of psychiatrists, psychologists, management consultants, dieticians and counsellors who prey on our neurosis.
The author could also have mentioned the break-up of family life in this country with its divorce and separations and babies and infants being dumped in nurseries from 8.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. so that mummy can go out to work. Gone are the days when the family would have meals together, not sitting in front of an idiot's lantern as now seems to happen in so many households. As recent surveys have shown, parents are spending less time with their offspring, preferring to give them an iPad to keep them quiet, love being measured by the expenditure on toys rather than time spent with the children. No wonder there is so much disruption and disobedience in the classroom.
I have now made a start on "Everything is Wonderful - Memories of a collective farm in Estonia" by Sigrid Rausing, published this year by Grove Press, New York.
Before going to bed about midnight I saw on the BBC news website that, "The death toll in Gaza has passed 1,000, Palestinian medical officials say, 19 days after Israel launched an offensive against Hamas militants." It makes you realise the incredible bravery of the Israeli Army, firing into hospitals and civilian shelters while the world helplessly looks on. As I have remarked on many occasions, nearly all the Englishmen I know fully support the Palestinians in their determination to resist a brutal oppressor that ironically has many of the hateful characteristics of the Nazis.
As Ahron Bregman says in his recently published book "Cursed Victory - A history of Israel and the occupied territories": "It is clear that Israel was - and in the time of writing is still - a heavy-handed and brutal occupier.....By forcing them [the Palestinians] to live in squalor and without hope, Israel hardened those under its power, making them more determined to put an end to the occupation, by violent means if necessary, and live a life of dignity and freedom." I wholeheartedly agree with these sentiments, even if it is dangerous to express them.
SUNDAY 27 JULY
There was a woman reading the news summary on Radio 3 this morning, rushing through the 3-minute bulletin in a flat monotone voice, not even pausing between items. It made me think back to the days of the lovely Patricia Hughes who had such a glorious voice, one to charm the birds off the trees. Obviously times change, and the standards of my generation have been disbanded for better or worse.
With the world becoming increasingly angry at Israel's renewed killing of civilians in Gaza, I was pleased to see on the BBC news website that, "The Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK is holding a rally in central London to protest about Israel's offensive in Gaza. The group said about 15,000 people had gathered outside the Israeli Embassy in Kensington before marching to Parliament Square."
Grapes growing in the villa we rented recently in Mijas. It made me wonder whether I could have a vine in the conservatory.
I was recently asking a retired banker, whose views on the economy I greatly value, about his thoughts on the announcement that we now have the strongest economic growth in the world. In an e-mail he responded: "Not sustainable in the medium term. Strong exchange rate will start to bite and rising interest rates will reinforce that rate and at the same time take the steam out of the housing market and put mortgage payers into difficulties.
"On the other hand rising interest rates, even if modest, will put a little extra in the hands of savers.....trouble is savers don't spend! I hope I am completely wrong in my reading of the situation and hope that new IT, bio and fracking can take us forward. The country continues to increase debt on a daily basis despite reducing the deficit, albeit insufficiently. We continue to live beyond our means."
Apart from cleaning Mrs. Copeland's car during the morning - a typically suburban job, it was a relaxed day, my productivity being lower than that of a British worker - well, almost. At 3.30 p.m. Mrs. C. and I went to the local Club for the usual Sabbath Day alcoholic intake, being able to sit outside, even though it was not quite as warm as of late. Even so, at 22 C it was a pleasant temperature - just right for an Englishman.
It is good to be able to record that the Club is going from strength to strength under a new chairman and a much better committee than the former one. The chairman, a businessman, has an excellent "hands-on" attitude, which is just what the Club needs. A chairman must always lead, taking the committee along with him, and that, thankfully, is what is now happening. Nevertheless, we must not forget that that previous chairman did a truly excellent job in having the Club refurbished, doing a lot of the work himself, a good foundation on which the Club can now go ahead.
Sadly, though, a lot of the newcomers to the village do not come to the Club. I suppose many of them are urban refugees who never know their neighbours and for whom any community spirit is anathema. Among the absentees is the wealthy contingent - the group we call "The Quality", who pray for us in church but have nothing to do with us for the rest of the week. Interestingly, not one member of this wealthy group has a university degree, suggesting that higher education does not higher your income.
When the Club closed at 5 p.m. we adjourned for further refreshment to the courtyard around which the four houses in our community are grouped, some other villagers joining us for what was a most enjoyable occasion, making me realise yet again what a delightful place this is to live in - such a wonderful community spirit, almost unknown elsewhere. In my old age I would hate to live in isolation, not having any neighbours, but then they need to be good neighbours, as ours are, only one couple not joining us, the wife not drinking which is a terrible social affliction.
I had hoped to listen to some of the Promenade concerts, relayed on the splendid Radio 3 channel that shows that there are still a few standards in this ailing land, but the past few days have seen mainly operas, and I cannot abide the sound of shrieking women who sound as if they have caught their mammary glands in the mangle. As far as I am concerned, opera represents delightful music spoilt by the ghastliness of the human voice.
Mrs. Copeland is going away for a week's holiday with a female neighbour at the end of August, saying today that it is the last time she wants to fly, now seeing flying as being far too dangerous, and I certainly agree with her. I will certainly never be going in an aeroplane again, no longer having to face the crowded misery of airports and all those security checks, not wanting to be blown up by a missile.
It nevertheless amused me to hear about the experience of a villager at an airport. Before boarding the plane, he had bought some chicken sandwiches, putting them in a knapsack on his back as he went to towards the plane. As he approached the aircraft a security guard with dogs came up to him, the animals barking furiously as they sniffed at the knapsack, the guard telling him to take off the knapsack as the dogs were trained to detect illegal banknotes. Subsequently, I gather that the dogs ate the sandwiches, the guard insisting that this was not the reason there was a challenge.
Our local District Council employed somebody today to deliver a letter from the Electoral Services department, saying that "The way you register to vote is changing." Apparently, there are to be two registers, one of which you have to choose: (1) The electoral register which lists the names and addresses of electors, used principally for electoral purposes, and (2) The open register, which "can be bought by any person, company or organisation", presumably for sending junk mail I have opted for the former register, not wanting to be swamped with junk mail and scam telephone calls. Indeed, I cannot believe that anybody would opt for the second alternative.
MONDAY 28 JULY
As if there is not enough laughter about Britain having the strongest economic growth in the world, making us LOL as they say on the Internet as well as helplessly falling about in uncontrolled mirth, I laughed at the e-mail I received today:-
"Doug Smith is on his deathbed and knows the end is near. His nurse, his wife, his daughter and 2 sons are with him. He asks for 2 witnesses to be present and a camcorder be in place to record his last wishes, and when all is ready he begins to speak:
My son: "Bernie, I want you to take the Mayfair houses."
My daughter: "Sybil, you take the apartments over in the West End."
My son: "Jamie, I want you to take the offices over in the City Centre."
"Sarah, my dear wife, please take all the residential buildings on the banks of the river."
"The nurse and witnesses are blown away as they did not realise his extensive holdings, and as Doug slips away, the nurse says, "Mrs. Smith, your husband must have been such a hardworking man to have accumulated all this property".
"Sarah replies: 'Property? .... the incompetent old fool had a paper round!'".
Mrs. Copeland has been thinking of purchasing an IPad, but I have advised her against the acquisition, saying that it would be far better to upgrade her mobile telephone with a bigger and better one - an iPhone that would do everything an iPad will do, and more beside. She does not use the Internet all that much, probably only once a week at the most, so she does not need to carry around a bulky and cumbersome appliance.
The garden, with the avenue of oaks in the background
I was interested to see in the business section of the BBC news website that, "Profit warnings from UK companies have hit a three-year high despite the continuing recovery in the wider economy, a report has found. Listed firms issued 137 warnings in the first half of 2014, 9% up on a year ago and the highest number since the first half of 2011, consultancy EY said." Little by little the truth will out about the real state of our unbelievable, unbalanced and unsustainable economic growth, and I continue to believe that the last quarter's GDP figure will show "a surprising fall." No economy can continue rising when it is in such dreadful debt.
"The Times" had a front-page headline: ""Millions shut out of doctors' surgeries", presumably as a result of the massive overpopulation of this small island as immigrants flood in unchecked, 606,000 officialty having arrived last year, not counting the many additional thousands who came in illegally, our Home Secretary, who gives the impression of being totally out of her depth, doing nothing to stop the arrivals. We have presumably reached the stage when we can no longer afford our public services as a result of this massive influx, whose members are breeding rapidly according to all accounts.
Although I nowadays never read the columnists in "The Times", knowing that they are nearly all bigoted and sometimes quite barmy, I did at least see when scanning through the pages a column written by a woman headed: "The West is leaderless and Putin knows it. Russia is able to act with impunity because Barrack Obama refuses to be the world's policeman." Thank heavens for that, for what benefit did America or the UK gain from interfering in Iraq and Afghanistan, other than spending billions of dollars and pounds that could have been used to better effect at home.
Let the West leave these countries alone, including Russia, for there will never be peace as they eternally quarrel and fight amongst themselves. Let them therefore exhaust themselves in their bitter struggles. The important thing is to build up defences in America and this country. The Americans destroyed the Russian economy in the build up of armaments during the Cold War, and it can do so again, also mounting a defence against the pathetic Islamic attacks that are never going to amount to much. Leave well alone. Impose every possible sanction on Russia and have nothing to do with the country, for it is a lousy nation, and has been ever since 1917 (and not much better before then) and always will be.
It might help, of course, if America stopped interfering in Israel, supplying weapons for the Jews to attack Gaza. Not surprisingly, the letters in "The Times" today fully deplored the brutality of Israel, one saying: "Israel's claims that the only reason that it has killed so many women and children in Gaza is that they are being used as human shields. Even children playing on a beach. Now a Red Crescent hospital is bombed and the Israeli's claim Hamas did it. I despair..." .
Instead of worrying about Iraq and Afghanistan, it might have been better if United Nations forces had been were put in Israel and in the surrounding Palestinian areas that are brutally occupied by Israel, thereby ensuring that the peace was kept by not allowing the Jews to extend their boundaries beyond the specified areas set out in 1948. Of course, Israel argues that it is only protecting itself by occupying Palestinian lands, which is a similar excuse used in Hitler's invasions, especially the fear of Russia.
Today's "Daily Torygraph" had a fearful warning that Ukip could let in Labour at the next election. I think this is unlikely, for it seems that Mr. Farage and his angry boys have peaked, and are now on the way down. I voted Ukip in the local elections, but will vote Conservative if I vote at all next May. In all probability I will not bother to vote, taking the view that the state of the country is beyond any political solution from whatever party.
Yesterday there were some "live bands" rendering pop and pap music on the massive estate in the village. Mercifully, the wind was in the right direction, so we did not have to endure the dreadful noise and the total lack of any musical artistry, the music consisting of a singer yelling into the microphone while the bands played the few chords they know. Had the wind been in the "wrong" direction, it would have been utterly awful for us in the genteel part of the village.
Still, I have to accept that the teenagers and those in their twenties enjoyed the music, as did granddaughter Chloe, nobody over 50 years of age being able to withstand the raucous noise. Give me Mahler or the big band sound of Bruckner any day in place of this trite music, but then I am over the hill and past it. As the old saying has it: "Surrender gracefully the things that belong to youth." Alas, at my age, raging against the dying of the light, it is one long surrender.
I did some cobble-weeding during the day, clearing the weeds that grow so profusely and quickly amongst the cobbles at the front of the house. I used a long-handed device, which was quite useful, presumably not made in China as it did not fall apart. A siesta in the afternoon after half bottle of German wine for lunch (our main meal of the day, which is far healthier than eating in the evening), and afterwards I sat in the conservatory making a start on the 600-page book "Capital", which I find very difficult to understand, even with a degree in economics. In the evening I read some more of "Everything is Wonderful", a book dealing with the terrible vicissitudes that Estonia has suffered over the centuries.
At one point, before invasion by the Nazis,
there is a glorification of the former peasant economy when everybody worked and lived together in a supposedly happy and harmonious relationship. I suppose it represents the rural idyll, albeit the myth that smallscale agrarian communities, not spoilt by the ravages of capitalism, are the happiest societies. Presumably it is part of the "happy savage" myth.
TUESDAY 29 JULY
I heard today that the IMF is insisting that Britain should raise interest rates and taxes to prevent the national debt spiralling completely out of control. Already the debt amounts to a record £1.3 trillion, representing 77.3% of national income, equivalent to around £52,000 per household - a terrible figure.
The Foundation, in a further criticism of the UK economy, makes the point that "House prices in Britain are almost a third overvalued and the economy is too dependent on property." Easy credit has driven up prices much more than in other leading economies, and "that rising prices encouraged UK households to take on more debt. Prices were overshooting as the housing market recovery remains unbalanced." In other words, the very points I have been making over the past weeks in this diary, showing that yet again you read it here first.
Nevertheless, it "has to be said" that it makes good political sense to let the country's economy rip ahead, giving the very false impression of economic growth. Already you can visualise the Tory election posters: "Britain is booming again. Don't let Labour spoil it." In vain will poor Mr. Miliband, having about as much charisma as a dead rabbit, argue that it is an economic growth based on a credit bonanza, being largely smoke and mirrors, completely unsustainable. You can fool a lot of people a lot of the time, especially when it comes to readers of "The Daily Mail" and the "Torygraph" who believe that the present sunshine is shining out of Mr. Cameron's posterior.
Even so, the advice of the IMF is not helpful in suggesting that interest rates should be raised, for this means an increase in the already grossly overvalued pound, making exports even more expensive and uncompetitive. Raising taxes is therefore the only possible measure, but this is nit the policy of the Cameroons. It can therefore be argued that we are in such a muddle with the economy that there is no possible economic or political solution.
Of one thing we can be sure: interest rates will not be raised before the next general election, for any increase would severely affect the thousands of mortgagees, costing them a lot more money in monthly repayments when they are already struggling to cope financially as the cost of living relentlessly continues to increase, despite what the Office for National Statistics may say. To raise rates would be political kamikaze, and let nobody believe that there is such a thing as an independent Central Bank.
Runner beans in flower in the garden, promising a fine crop this year - and how wonderful it is to have freshly cut beans, so much better than the commercial products in the shops.
Mrs. Copeland's computer has given up the ghost, a message coming onto the screen when she switches on the 8-year-old desktop: "No signal." I therefore contacted the excellent computer firm I use for repairs, asking if the fellow could come out to see what is wrong and whether the computer could be repaired. He said he would come out after tea today, and duly arrived about 7.30 p.m. On taking off the cover, he said that the problem was either with the graphics card or the motherboard or both, which he could replace. He thought that the computer was worth repairing as it was still "quite modern".
Tuesdays are Mrs.Copeland's social worker day, visiting two old ladies in homes, one in the morning who is in a nursing home in a very poor way, and the other in the afternoon. Mrs. C was telling me that the former inmate now has a Polish carer who is so much better and more efficient than her English colleagues, showing every kindness and consideration. I moan about the unchecked immigration into this country, but maybe it has to be recognised that the country would fall apart with these better educated and disciplined workers who are actually prepared to work.
The business section of today's "Times" had a photograph of the good Richard Branston posing with four scantily-clad females by way of celebrating the clearance of his American airways float. A delightful picture, making me very envious, but how can we say that females should not be treated as sexual objects when they willingly deport themselves in this manner for advertising purposes. Add why do the females spend so much time in painting themselves to attract the male at a time when we complain that there is so much sexism around? Humbug, you might say.
There was a front-page item on the newspaper today saying "Diesel drivers face new charges to cut pollution." It makes me so thankful that we bought a petrol-engine Peugeot 208 for Mrs. Copeland. I suppose it is prejudice, but I have never liked diesel engines, regarding them as being very noisy, though I gather improvements have been made in recent years. Some things we do right, but not many.
I noticed today that our Parish Council notice board in the village has several advertising items, yet it has always been the policy of the Council not to have any charity or commercial advertisements. The fellow who normally looks after the board is in Canada, but has asked me to sort things out in his absence, removing the offending items, which I did this morning, putting in a notice saying that any unauthorised items would be removed. The problem is that the locking device for the board has failed, so I will have to look for an alternative locking device.
Rather than risk visiting the doctor, probably having to wait over a week for an appointment, flood in, I undertake some checks at home with the various items of testing equipment I have. At rest my blood pressure was 148/89, pulse 79, so that is perfectly all right. My blood /sugar level after 2 hours of a meal (one of the recommended measurements) was 5.9, again being very acceptable, and nothing to worry about. I dread visiting the doctor, being put on a diet and told not to drink so much, making my life a misery. At the age of 80, never touching vegetables except potatoes, spinach and home-grown runner beans, I do not have to worry about all that nonsense of eating five-a-day fruit and vegetables.
Today there was a report that the revised recommendation of 7-a-day brought no advantage over the earlier recommended 5. To have 7 fruit and vegetables a day would surely block up the digestive system, making for great discomfort. The point is, though, that 5-a-day, said to prevent heart attacks, has to be reviewed in connection with all the other considerations governing health, including genes, work, and the environment. So much of this health nonsense seems to disregard this important bigger picture, presumably because we have little understanding of what is good and bad for the body, merely clutching at straws in our ignorance.
So to hell with the recommendations. . With such a miserable recommended diet I might as well go and jump in the river and have done with it. Were it not for my arthritis, which seems to becoming steadily worse, I would be quite fit, though I suppose this is rather like saying that were in not for the houses in between I would be able to see to Bethnal Green.
In the evening we invited a retired couple, the husband a retired rocket scientist, to have a nightcap with us. For my birthday they had very kindly given me a bottle of brandy, of which we partook during the evening, having a most enjoyable time. What a delight it is to be with intelligent people!
WEDNESDAY 30 JULY
On the BBC news website I saw that a tank belonging to the Israeli Army Tank had hit "a Gaza school being used as a refuge by thousands of Palestinians, killing at least 15, the UN says." What a brave Army, killing defenceless women and children while the world looks on, the impression being given that the Americans have created a monster they now cannot control.
A correspondent, whose intelligent and well-expressed views I greatly respect, said in an e-mail toddy: "I'm ever more appalled by the situation in Gaza, where the civilian population is being driven into despair and ruin by Israeli aggression. It is natural that the Jews retaliate against constant attack by rocket fire from Hamas fighters, but one has simply to ask: "What the f*** do they expect?" For fifty years they have been pushing the Palestinians into utter poverty; the persecuted (as the Jews should know from their own recent history) will fight back against overwhelming odds. We rightly honour the memory of all those Jews who fought back against the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto. Now we should honour the Palestinians in their resistance to the Jewish oppressors. Israel, the refuge of the victims of the Holocaust, has become the SS of the Middle East. And that seems to me the great tragic irony of modern history. The victims of the jackboot now strut around demanding lebensraum and stamping on their own victims.
"No doubt many Jews would accuse me of anti-Semitism. I'm not in the least anti-Semitic: I've had both friends and indeed lovers who were Jews. I still have close Jewish friends. I admire the Jewish contribution to culture, thought, and science. But I can't imagine Einstein or Menuhin or Jonathan Miller or Lord Winston applauding the shelling and bombing of Palestinian children in their homes. It is the brutal policy of the Israeli government and forces that is an utter disgrace and an affront to every right-thinking person – not Jews per se. What's more, it is a policy of complete futility, recruiting more and more fighters for the Arab cause."
A better analysis of the brutal warfare would be difficult to imagine, certainly a good deal better than the mealy-mouthed excuses that are offered by that hateful Netanyhau.. In any review of the war there is a return to the statement that it was a terrible mistake to set up Israel in 1948 - a mistake that will probably never be remedied, Like my correspondent, I have every respect for the Jews, seeing them as a cultured and clever people. It is the ones in Israel who support the nasty Netanyhu who cause all the trouble.and so discredit the peace-loving Jews around the world.
The beach near Mijas. Photograph by granddaughter Chloe.
A peaceful day at home apart from a brief visit to town to purchase a "Times". In the newspaper there was a report saying that the new Deputy Governor of the Bank of England had said that Britain's current account deficit last year, of 4.5%, was the second highest since the Second World War and significantly higher than during previous crises." He acknowledged "that the deficit would weigh on GDP, revealing that it partly explained the Bank's forecast that the recovery would slow in the months ahead". This is the very point that I have been making in this diary. Once again you read it here first.
Not surprisingly, a recent opinion poll has shown that "Britons now think the economy is going in the right direction." Deceitful and sometimes downright dishonest though they may be, you have to admire the Cameroons in their political approach to the economy, letting everything rip, everybody getting even more into debt, incredibly believing they are getting richer and it is economic growth. The propaganda of Mr. Miliband and his boys comes no where near matching this stance. Perhaps Labour is more honest, though honesty is out of fashion these days, or completely lost.
A friend has sent me an issue of "Penny Sleuth" in which one of the contributors commented: "I'm staking my entire reputation on this money printing experiment leading to a monumental crash", the comment being made: "Why this "recovery is terrible news". Of course, we all know that this pretentious economy will come crashing down, the main question being "When". I originally thought it would be the end of 2016, or the spring of 2017, but I now think it ill come towards the Spring of 2016.
During the afternoon I read some more of the 600-page "Capital in the 21st century" by Thomas Piketty, much of the text relating to an historical review since 1800. I am enjoying the book despite finding it somewhat difficult to understand at times.
The evening was spent listening to a performance of Mahler's 5th symphony played by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra under Juanjo Mena, the wonderful music having been used in the film "Death in Venice". When you think about this splendid music and then compare it with the honky-tonk bands with their three known chords, volume triumphing over artistry, it makes you realise the incredible diversity of music. Presumably the same is true of sex.
Sadly, Mahler had a very unhappy life. Although his wife Alma was unfaithful to him, having several serious affairs, she stayed with him throughout his life, tending to him during his many illnesses, especially heart problems, while he had to endure the shameful anti-semitism that was rife at the time. During his lifetime the musical Establishment never accepted his work, condemning the symphonies as being too overblown and excessively sentimental. It was not until 1968 that his 5th symphony, disliked when it was first performed, was played at the Promenade concerts, his music now being widely popular.
Nevertheless, despite its initial condemnation, Mahler's music represents the wonderful artistry and splendour of the Jewish culture, a far cry from the brutal thugs around the Rt. Nasty Netanyahu who is currently promoting extensive anti-semitism throughout the world with his cowardly and excessive attacks on Gaza.
Later in the evening I read some more of "Everything is Wonderful", a memoir of life in Estonia - and what a troubled country it was, in turn occupied by the Germans and the Russians.
Before going to bed I saw on the BBC news website that, "At least 15 people are killed and 160 hurt as an Israeli strike hits a market crowded with shoppers near Gaza City, Palestinian officials say." How I wish we the European Union would impose sanctions on Israel, rather than bothering about Russia.
On the BBC1 television schedule, I saw that nearly the entire evening was taken up with the Commonwealth Games, yet I do not know anybody who takes the slightest interest in the proceedings.
THURSDAY 31 JULY
Just before 9 a.m. I had one of those scam telephone calls purporting to come from Windows, the Indian chappie telling me that a virus had been reported on my computer. At times I go along with these thoroughly criminal scam that come up with "International" on the caller-display, pretending that I am on the computer and following the instructions, my record being 9 and a half minutes. Today, though, after a very late night when Mrs. C. and I sat up drinking wine until 1.30 a.m., I felt little like going along with the scam, so I told the little fellow in no uncertain terms what he could do and where he could go.
It is criminal stuff, for the aim is to put a virus onto your computer and then charge (I believe it is about £56) to remove it. I have already had this scam four or possibly five times so far this year, and last week, before Mrs. C's computer packed up, she had an e-mail purporting to come from the Inland Revenue, saying that she had a refund on her tax and could she respond by giving full details of her banking account, including the password, so that the money could be paid into her account. The message was quickly deleted, for Inland Revenue and any Bank would never correspond in this manner, a letter always being sent.
In "The Times" I read that, "The United Nations has accused Israel of committing a war crime after 20 refugees sheltering in a UN-run school in Gaza were killed by Israeli tank fire." Not that the pariah country of Israel will take any heed of the United Nations, world opinion, the World Court, the Geneva Convention, or President Obama. In fairness to the President, although understandably he has no time for Netanyahu, he cannot afford to accept his country's extensive Jewish vote at home.
There was also a report in "The Times" that "Energy firms double profits - Huge falls in costs of oil and gas not being passed on to consumers." So much for the supposed benefits of privatisation, being ripped off all the time, while the Government, not wanting to upset its wealthy supporters, does nothing to stop the relentless profiteering.
Mrs. Copeland brought home a copy of our local newspaper (£1). Normally I cannot face reading a paper dominated by advertisements, but today on flicking through the colourful pages I saw headlines such as "The paw little kitten with a wonky leg in need of an operation": "Women left scared after man licked legs and face"; and "Pooperman is unmasked, but his doggy-doo days are over." At a time when we have such appalling educational standards, amongst the worst in the world, I suppose it makes commercial sense to write in this juvenile style.
A massive extension now under construction to a house that goes close up to one of the houses in our community. The house is to have 8 bedrooms, making me wonder if it is going to be turned into a guest house.
Apart from a brief visit to town to pay in money to the Bank, it was a day spent at home. For lunch, our main meal of the day, far healthier than eating in the evening, we had the first picking of the home-grown runner beans in the garden, and they were delicious, so different to the large stringy versions in the shops. In the evening I will be watching a DVD of the film "Don Juan" with a neighbour who is about my own age. I always enjoy these sessions, usually additionally with my two sons-in-law, but we are having a summer recess for the full gathering.
I had intended cutting back the length of this diary now that I am an octogenarian, but it is as long as ever. Once on the subject of the ailing British economy and the bad behaviour of Israel, there is no stopping the prolixity. I really must try next week to at least halve the entries.
Lincolnshire 31 July, 2014
Diary of a Septuagenarian
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