DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN
- John Copeland -
Friday 23rd September - Thursday 29th September, 2016
The Strait, Lincoln. I continue to regard Lincoln with its wonderful Cathedral as the finest city in the UK. Fortunately, the national press has never heard of Lincolnshire, though the delightful backwater is now seeing the influx of scores of immigrants.
"Corbyn's end is nigh. A civil war has begun within Labour - and the leader cannot last long".
Matthew Norman in "My View" in the "i" for the 14th October, 2015. Clang! How can a columnist be so wrong?
FRIDAY 23 SEPTEMBER
Yesterday was the official start of Autumn, and presumably by way of heralding the new season the temperature at 7.30 a.m. was a mere 7 C. I suppose the summer was reasonable, certainly better than last year, but June was awful, raining so much of the time. It will therefore not be long now before I am sitting by a living fire, a book and a bottle of wine to hand. As Joe Gargery said: " Give me a good book, or a good newspaper, and sit me down afore a good fire, and I ask no better. Lord!"
It seems incredible that there is hardly any mention in the press about the Liberal Party Conference that is taking place this week, the impression being given that the Party is dead in the water, along with the defunct Ukip. They have their entrances and their exits, leaving only the troubled Labour Party to oppose Mrs. May. Tomorrow, the Labour Party announces the winner in the leadership contest, and we must all hope that Jeremy Corbyn has a decisive win, even if he is not the most active of politicians. A victory for that man Smith would mean an end to the Party for all time, and we do not want a one-party state.
On taking a parcel this morning to a Post Office in a shop in Lincoln, the proprietor was telling me that he will probably be closing down. Trade for the cards and stationery items has declined considerably, and the Post Office is about to bring in a new contract that will cost him an additional £1,200 a month. Understandably, he was not going to accept that reduction, and as he owns the building he intends to close down and sell the premises, joining so many other shops that have shut up their shutters in the City. Yet they continue to build more shops, meaning that others close. That, to the City Council, presumably represents economic progress.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that the mail service under the horrors of privatisation aims at closing down all post offices, everything in future being done on-line. Already you cannot purchase Premium Bonds at a post office, and soon it will no longer be possible to renew the road fund licence. The next step willl presumably be to stop deliveries on a Saturday, but this will not matter as our daily mail consists almost entirely of mail-order catalogues and charity appeals, all of which go straight into the recycling bin. In other words, the snail-mail is no longer of any importance or relevance, killed off by the Internet.
I have now obtained the Amazon ordered copy of "The Real Sterling Crisis" by Roger Bootle and John Mills, in which it is argued that "the UK needs a policy to keep the exchange right down".
Today's "i" had a quiz to see whether you were middle class, having to answer a series of questions with triple options. Alas, I had never heard of many of the items, such as using a "Brampton bike" for transport; having a hi-fi "Smeg line"; and owning a "Samsung smart fridge". No true middle class person would say "fridge" instead of" refrigerator", just as good class people never say "loo" or "uni". The quiz is really for the Mark II middle classes who put materialism before culture, owning a BMW, a telephone toy called an iPhone; and live on an estate with a rural sounding name, not the cultural and well-mannered middle class of my generation.
A £12m bridge has been built over the level crossing in the middle of Lincoln, but it seems most people still wait at the gates until the train has gone through, rather than climb up the massive number of steps over the bridge. Possibly the biggest white elephant so far in Lincoln.
When in town this morning I saw that most people were waiting at the level-crossing gates as a train went through, rather than using the newly built £12 million footbridge, the biggest white elephant so far in the City. According to the local press, a woman and her baby were trapped in the lift for an hour, the alarm button bringing no help. The woman eventually had to call the Fire Brigade on her mobile telephone. That must have been an awful and frightening experience. Presumably there will be a notice on the lift saying that it doesn't always work and that no liability is accepted for getting trapped for an hour. I gather also that some of the steps are falling apart, presumably made from Chinese wood.
At 1.00 p.m. we met daughter Kate in a pub during her lunch-break from work, As there was no food provision, we subsequently went to a cafe in which all the customers were foreign. As the weeks go by, Lincoln has more and more immigrants coming into the city, even though there are few jobs available, it being said that there are 400 applicants for even the most menial job. Presumably it is the outcome of Mrs. May as Home Secretary having allowed 330,00 immigrants to come into this country last year, and presumably every year before that. A dreadful Home Secretary, who cut police forces at a time of rising crime and disorder.
I mentioned last week that the physiotherapist who cured my sciatica pain had said that she could probably do something about the painful arthritis in my knees, either with acupuncture or ultrasound, but I would need my doctor to make a further referral. I therefore sent a fax to the surgery asking for this referral, but was subsequently told that it would be necessary for the doctor to examine the knees before a referral was made.
Earlier, the doctor was wrong about the hip trouble, having failed to identify the problem as sciatica, and I am rather worried that another wrong diagnosis will be made, especially as I do not have much faith in doctors. Indeed, I often believe it is better to discuss a malady with a pharmacist, many of whom seem to be more on the ball than doctors. The worst thing is to have private medicine, as I have remarked so many times. With private provision I would probably unnecessarily have both knees replaced - £20,000 please. Money rather than medicine is the mantra of private health provision, and it is a complete waste of money, having inferior services to the NHS.
There was the grim news on the BBC news website that "MG has announced it is to stop making cars at its Longbridge plant and will be moving production to China - ending manufacturing in the UK." Soon there will be no manufacturing at all in this country, everything being either closed down or sold off abroad. We will be known as UK (China) Ltd. What a departure from the days when I was born in 1934. Thank heavens I haven't got another 40 years of this relentless decline. How lucky I have been, having seen the best of times - something that I keep reminding myself about as I see everything closing down and falling apart in this yobbo country.
I finished cutting the grass on returning home, and the evening was spent reading another 80 pages of "Hitler's Soldiers", now nearly halfway through the 635-page book.
SATURDAY 24 SEPTEMBER
Each morning before I rise I listen to the 8 o'clock news summary on Radio 3, a station on which correct Received English is still spoken. I usually switch off after the news, not wanting to hear wailing women and morbid music, but today I kept the wireless on, listening to a rendering of "Sweet Thames Flow Softly". In my old age, when I no longer like the music of Mahler and Bruckner that I enjoyed in former days, I prefer tuneful, cheerful music, especially the Irish contributions, "Wild Rover" by the Dubliners being among my favourite music.
Wanting to hear the song again I "Googled" it, selecting the offering of Christy Moore and Sinead O'Connor, and it was splendid. That is now my idea of good music, harmonious and tuneful, albeit with just a little touch of woe. I heartily commend listening to the piece. Maybe, though, there is no hope for my musical appreciation.
I suppose in contradiction to this liking for cheerful music, I conversely like gloomy, thoughtful films that leave you thinking. I offered such films when, some years ago, I ran the local Club's Film Society, but the selections only appealed to a very select audience, many people saying that they wanted films that cheered them up, leaving the Club feeling happy. The Film Society has been started up again, members selecting the films, the first film is to be shown this evening
However, there is the requirement that all films selected must be cheerful, nothing thoughtful or gloomy, certainly nothing more violent than that terrible film "The Sound of Music", in which I always wished the Germans had turned up earlier to take them all away and lock them up. I suppose this triviality is the same theme that governs the idiot's lantern, the light-hearted offerings of commercial television having dragged down the former better standards of the BBC.
The excellent Clerk of our local Parish Council has sent out a notice saying that, as councillors, we can attend consultative sessions to consider the "Central Lincolnshire Local Plan" that is now under review. As we all know, these meetings are a mere sop to democracy, not the slightest notice being taken of any objections that may try to prevent the proposal to build thousands of new homes in a county that lacks jobs, transport, and any public services, thereby creating new slums. I will therefore not bother to attend any of the meetings, knowing that they are a total waste of time.
There was the splendid news today that Jeremy Corbyn had won a massive majority over the excessively left-wing Welsh windbag, Owen Smith, gaining 61.8% of the votes, even larger than his previous election. I hold no candle for the Labour Party, knowing in my old age that Socialism is so many pipe-dreams, going against human nature that, in revised Hobbesian terms, is nasty, brutish and goes on a bit longer these days, but as I mentioned yesterday we need an opposition, and there is no doubt that Smith would have killed off Labour for all time.
So much for Matthew Norman predicting in his "My View" column in the "i" for the 14th October 2015 that "Corbyn's end is nigh. A civil war has begun within Labour - and the leader cannot last long." Not the best of soothsaying. Perhaps they should move him to the extensive sports section - a section that I never look at.
I mentioned last week that I have a problem on my credit card, having an entry that does not appear to relate to anything. Last week I tried telephoning the bank's helpline, but every time there was a recorded message saying: "We are experiencing a high call volume at present and customers are having to wait in excess of 25 minutes." I tried again on two occasions this morning, only to hear the same recorded message, so instead I delivered a letter to "The Manager" (there probably isn't one) when I went to the bank in Lincoln this morning to withdraw some money.
Increasingly I find that it is useless telephoning any large organisation. Invariably you either cannot get through, the line continually engaged, or you have to go through endless menu options, ending up listening to youth club-style music. It is therefore better to write, eventually receiving a reply, BT being among the worst offenders. The trouble is, of course, that staff are cut down to a bare minimum so that it is no longer possible to provide any kind of customer service. To think that in the old days you could go into the bank and speak to the manager. Not today. Everything has to be done impossibly on-line.
Mrs. Copeland went to Waitrose in the morning for the week's provisions, bring a free copy of "The Times", and paying 60p for the "i". The "Times" magazine had Caitlin Moran's dreadful column headed: "I'm on the toilet," says Pete. "I don't mind!" I say. "We're spending quality time together". Has this once great newspaper, formerly a paper of record, really come down to this base and juvenile level? I find it so very sad, but then I find so many things sad these days - that characteristic of old age.
In the "Weekend" supplement in today's "Times" there was a front page headline saying "Why walking really does make you healthier and live longer. At least 12,000 steps a day, better than running". The photograph showed the legs of somebody in running shoes, and just to make the item even more absurd, there was an accompanying dog also in running shoes, Inside the supplement a demented woman tells us that "I walk 12 miles a day. I'm hooked." Oh, dear: what an utter load of cobblers, there not being the slightest medical evidence that you live a minute longer if you undertake this crazy and unnecessary exercise, life just seeming longer as 12 miles are walked, probably wasting 4 hours of a day in what becomes an unhealthy obsession, a form of mental illness.
Admittedly, most office workers today, spending their days staring at a computer screen, are far too sedentary, but there are so many other considerations about healthy living, including hereditary factors, genes, environment, work, and even the mental outlook. There is no doubt that future historians, writing about this period 50 years from now, will be amazed at the primitive state of medicine, the doctors having little understanding of what is good and bad for the body, having to grasp at straws in their ignorance.
I have never walked any distance, loathing such a slow and dreary activity, and I have reached 82 years, 12 years in extra Biblical time. And my father, who also loathed walking, lived until he was 95, only dying when the surgeons killed him off trying to mend a broken hip that he suffered when dancing with nurses in a retirement home. Billy Butlin, who died in his late 70s, had the right idea, saying when he felt in need of exercise he would go and lie down and have a rest until the feeling passed. That is excellent advice, far better than unnecessarily walking miles every day, wasting an enormous amount of time and energy.
I liked a letter in today's "i" in which the Governor of the bank of England is criticised, as he was at a recent Commons Committee for over-reacting during the referendum, having unwisely opposed Brexit in biased political terms. The correspondent, saying that Carney had said that the economy was "flexible", showed that he "did not know how it will perform", adding: "This is a refreshing change from the Governor who has never hesitated to pontificate on subjects varying from forward guidance, through unemployment and inflation to Brexit - which are linked to the common factor of his being wrong."
There was also criticism of Calamity Carney in "The Times" today by the excellent columnist Alistaire Osborne, saying that the Governor was "always wrong", quoting Lord Lawson, the former Chancellor, who had commented that Carney "behaved disgracefully [during the referendum] and the sooner he stands down from the governship the better". It cheers me up that I have, in my 'umble way, made similar criticisms of a very disappointing Governor. How I wish that Mrs. May could sack him, for there is every possibility he will lead us into further trouble with his unhealthy obsession with interest rates.
Period houses in Lincoln's High Street, mercifully saved from the planners.
A quick visit to the bank this morning, seeing the most awful people in the city: fat, ugly and scruffy, most of them presumably having been inoculated against education, serving as a reminder of how far this indebted, drunken and divorced country has declined over the past decade. I suppose this rabble, never wanting to do any work, constitutes one of the fears about leaving the circus of the EU, wondering if we can ever manage on our own on account of our poor productivity. However, there is the hope that Mrs. May will scrap all the endless Brussels legislation that prevents our workers from exerting themselves, so they may be forced to work harder.
I was hearing today that a private dentist had charged £600 for replacing a tooth, presumably meaning a rate of £300 an hour, which is more than one of those useless small-town solicitors charge, or even a plumber. We condemn bankers for their greed, yet seem to ignore the disgraceful charges of private medicine, especially dentistry that does not seem to have advanced much in recent years.
During the day, not feeling like doing any work (just like a British worker) I spent some time reading the book that was delivered yesterday by the splendid services of Amazon: "The Real Stirling Crisis" by Roger Moore and John Mills", in which the authors argue that unless things change, the UK economy is heading for the rocks, Brexit having nothing to do with the crash. "Every year we are borrowing and selling assets to the tune of 5% of GDP. This is rapidly increasing the amount of our economy that is owned by foreigners. This would not matter so much if we were using the money provided by foreigners to invest in productive capacity. But we are not. UK investment is extremely low. We are borrowing and selling assets in order to maintain our standard of consumption".
In other words, with low investment and incredibly poor productivity, we are, as Harold Macmillan suggested, "selling the family silver", taking no heed of the future. It is a fascinating book and well worth purchasing from Amazon at £9. I just wish our disappointing Governor of the Bank of England, now saying he saved us from Brexit (!), would buy a copy, for he and his MPC (Muddled Policy Committee) seem to believe that the only answer to our unhealthy and unbalanced economy is to continue lowering interest rates until they are zero and throwing away quantitative easing to the speculators. How wrong it was to create an independent Central Bank.
The evening was spent reading some more of "Hitler's Soldiers", which I am greatly enjoying, even though at 635 pages it is so long and heavy to hold. In the chapter on the Desert War, the author tells us that Montgomery had 195,000 tanks, whereas Rommel, deprived of supplies by Hitler and the Royal Navy, only had 60,000.
So much for the non-drinking, non smoking, apparently asexual Monty being a great general, the Americans loathing him, regarding him as being far too cautious and timid. At 9.30 p.m., having a break from reading, I joined Mrs. Copeland and three female neighbours who had been to see the film "Swallows & Amazons" at the excellent Venue cinema at Bishop Grossteste University, formerly a Teachers' Training College, the ladies subsequently adjourning to the Club for drinks.
Mrs. Copeland and the ladies were telling me that at the cinema there were a lot of children in the audience, many of whom made an awful noise rustling sweet packages throughout the performance. No doubt the parents are to blame, not having told their offspring how to behave.
Not that it is only children who do not know how to behave themselves. When I was at the Club this evening, I heard that a new member of the Club, balding, bespectacled, belligerent, and badly dressed, had recently behaved in a loud and uncouth manner at the bar, understandably bringing complaints from other members present who did not want to put up with the dreadful ignorant noise he was making.
I am just thankful that I was not there to hear the unacceptable behaviour, for I would have quickly asked the steward to have him removed from the premises, subsequently hoping that the Management Committee would ban him altogether. The Club is short of members, but we can do without such nasty little men like that. It would not be so bad if, in his loudness, he was amusing and funny, but he has about as much wit as Mrs. May. As they say, an empty drum makes the loudest noise.
Rather disappointingly, the Club was not able to show the first film that was to have been shown this evening by the recently reconstituted Film Society, the projector not working, so most people went home. Another fine mess, though there is no doubt somebody who will be able to see what has gone wrong.
SUNDAY 25 SEPTEMBER
Looking at the review of the Sunday newspapers on the BBC news site, I saw that the Muslim Mayor of London has said that "Corbyn purge could kill Labour." What utter nonsense. The only hope for the Labour Party is that Corbyn, representing the more right-wing and intelligent section of the party, can succeed in ridding the Shadow Cabinet of the loony left that wants to "soak the rich." Maybe, though, there is a deeper problem: namely, that Labour's work is done, having brought in the National Health Service and, with the aid of technology, having somewhat generally improved the condition of the working classes.
Now all the party can think of, having no understanding of the economy, is the pipe-dream of creating a more equal society. Unfortunately this can never be achieved, principally because of differing brains and intelligence, not to mention marked hereditary considerations. Consequently, there will always be a wide division in any society, the wheat separating from the chaff. Over the years communist Russia has clearly shown what happens when equality becomes the dominant theme, not all animals apparently being equal. The main hope of Labour, lacking any comprehensive policies, is to oppose the more extreme right-wing measures of Mrs. May and her feudal Cabinet, though it is beginning to look as if the SNP is going to be the main Opposition Party.
A spider's web in the garden covered with rain drops. Not much food there.
After a late breakfast I sorted out some of the photographs for this week's diary, finding it increasingly difficult to provide 8 photographs each week now that I do not go very far in my old age. I also spent quite a lot of time cleaning the scooter, then spent a few hours reading "The Real Sterling Crisis", by Roger Bootle and John Mills, feeling very cheered up that so many of the authors' points about the UK are the very ones I have regularly made in this diary, having indicated that a sound economy needs a substantial manufacturing base, and that the £ has in the past been grossly overvalued.
In one of the chapters the authors state: "The countries which offer all their populations the best outcomes and which appear to have the most secure prosperity are those whose economies are based on a wide variety of manufacturing industries supporting a thriving service sector [not the other way round, as happens in this country], with increasing demand in the economy unconstrained by balance of payments problems......With slow grow goes increasing inequality. It is no coincidence that relative slow growing, heavily service-orientated economies, such as the USA and the UK have some of the highest indices of inequality and that these have become more pronounced in recent years."
As I have said before, it makes me so glad that I attended the London School of Economics, even if it was way back in the 1950s. I had left school at 16, and subsequently had to study on my own for 5 "A" levels to be accepted, but the lonely studies, difficult at times, were well worthwhile. Being in the centre of London, just off the Strand, was a wonderful experience as a young man, frequently listening to speeches in the House of Commons; going to the theatre most weeks (in the Gods); and vicariously visiting the delights of Soho - far better in those less priggish and narrow-minded days, though as a student the offerings were far too expensive.
I would not have had that wonderful experience at Oxford or Cambridge, but then I was not bright enough to enter those august universities, probably still having a bit of a shoulder chip as a result. At least LSE remains number 3 in the university league tables, and is in the top 10 of international universities.
During the early part of the afternoon, I sat in the sunlit conservatory reading some more of the book on the sterling crisis, reading an item in which it was said that lowering the value of the £ would obviously benefit the export trade, but what I could not understand is why quantitative easing could also lower the value of the £ , having been "deployed across the exchanges, that is to say, the Bank of England could purchase overseas assets (This is good old fashioned intervention in the foreign exchange market)."
At 4 p.m. we went to the local Club for the Sabbath Day alcoholic refreshment. During the discussions I had with male members who like talking about politics and economics - subjects that are an anathema to most women, I mentioned my problem in having failed to understand the concept of quantitative easing serving to lower the exchange rate. One of the members suggested that buying foreign assets would lower the £ against these investments, but I was not sure that this is the full answer. Help needed.
I also heard at the Club that Mrs. Clinton is still marginally ahead in the opinion polls, though it has to be said that the opinion polls are always wrong, probably meaning a decisive win for our Donald. I was told that Mr. Trump had won in the state in which Obama was elected, obviously a smack in the face for that weak and spineless President who has done virtually nothing during his 8-year administration. I gather that history shows that he who wins Ohio becomes the President, and that Donald has won the state.
What upsets me so much is that such a great country has two third-rate, unbelievably awful candidates for the Presidency: one who is temperamentally unsound, and the other devious and disliked, said to be a criminal woman who does not seem all that well, and who has made such an appalling mess of foreign policy in Libya and Syria. God help America whoever wins. I nevertheless still believe that Trump will win, principally because the Americans know that he will impose law and order in a very troubled, racially prejudiced country, while sorting out problems abroad, probably nuking that nasty little man in North Korea.
While at the Club, the excellent new steward exchanged my old £5 note for one of the plastic presentations. The new note is a little smaller than the previous one, but I was amazed and disappointed to see that the picture of Her Majesty the Queen had not been updated, still giving the impression that she is 20-years old. I gather that the new notes are being made in Australia, not in this country, obviously further reflecting our manufacturing decline. At least there is a picture of Winston Churchill on the back of the banknote - the politician who saved us from the Establishment who wanted appeasement with Hitler during the Second World War.
Presumably the failure to update the Queen's picture is all to do with vanity, possibly even cost considerations, yet even the grumpy old Queen Victoria had her image changed on the coinage in old age. I'm therefore surprised that Winston Churchill is not shown in short trousers while at Harrow. All considered, the new note looks rather pathetic and washed out, presumably to match the impression of a country in relentless decline.
During the session at the Club we were talking about the University of Lincoln wanting to sell land it owns in the tiny nearby village of Risehome for building 200 houses. It is a development that would totally ruin and overpower the village, but even if is wisely thrown out by the District Council, there is almost a certainty that the development will be allowed on appeal by an Inspector faraway in Bristol, no doubt arguing that we need more houses for the 330,000 immigrants that flood into this country every year. As somebody asked: "Is this democracy?"
This was the problem we had, as I tiresomely mention in this diary so many times, with the unbelievably ugly eco house that we call "The Shed" in our community, a horrible unsightly edifice that is now weathering badly, looking even worse with the stained woodwork. All the neighbouring householders opposed it, as did the Parish Council, while the Planning Committee of the West Lindsey District Council threw it out unanimously, but one little man in Bristol upheld the appeal. Disgraceful!
After a duck dinner, the evening was spent reading yet more of "Hitler's Soldiers". I am beginning to wonder if I will ever finish the 635-page book.
MONDAY 26 SEPTEMBER
A correspondent has sent me an e-mail of an Internet site showing Anderson shelters that were used in private homes during the Second World War. My parents, living in Colchester in Essex, had one of these shelters in the dining room, and I can still remember it. I can also remember seeing a Doodlebug flying directly over our garden, sounding like a poorly tuned and noisy motorbike. Additionally, I can also recall feeling very frightened as a child when we heard the roar of German bombers overhead.
My father was in a protected job during the war, and I can still think of the great big fat Air Raid Warden called Bert Slack, who would come waddling along to our house during a raid and drink father's declining stock of whisky. Whenever planes were heard overhead, Bert would say to my mother: "Don't you worry, Edna. They're some of ours." And then, a few minutes later when there was an almighty nearby explosion, he would reassuring say: "Don't fret Edna. Our boys will get the little buggers."
We had the commandant of the nearby POW camp compulsorily billeted with us - a Captain Atkins, and he would take me to the camp to see the extremely reasonable conditions the German prisoners lived in, even having built their own theatre. His presence in our household meant that we never went short of food, and I suppose it can be said that my parents had a "good war", if there is such a thing when so many people were being killed.
The Sym 125 cc scooter that I greatly enjoy, especially as so much of Lincoln is now gridlocked with cars as a result of road closures for building works, including a new omnibus station. Does anybody use 'busses?
Much to my disappointment, when getting out the Scorpio this morning I somehow managed to scrape it against a post, causing a deep cut on the near-side mudguard, though quite low down. I had to spend quite a long time during the morning touching it up, but I think I have done a reasonable job. Even so, it was very careless of me, finding that I seem to become more and more careless in my old age, and forgetful.
To town to purchase an "i", the rest of the morning being spent cleaning carpets. At 12,30 p.m. the postman brought a copy of "County News" in the post, along with some mail-order catalogues that went straight into the recycling bin. The postman was telling me that he gets up at 5 o'clock in the morning, now finding that all the streetlights have been switched off as one of the endless economies and cutbacks of the appalling Lincolnshire County Council, creating a burglars' paradise, thefts having not surprisingly risen alarming.
It really is a terrible authority that makes more and more cuts in its services, yet the Leader of the Council receives an annual remuneration of £32,704, and the Deputy Leader £21,462 for what presumably amounts to a few hours of work a week, manly spent in committees deciding how to cut and/or reduce further services (I refer to the posts, not the people). This wasteful and unnecessary "County News" costs the council taxpayers £207,000 a year. An indication that few people who ever read the publication was to be seen in a survey that asked readers what they thought of "County News". Only 800 bothered to reply in a county with a population of 543,000 in 2014, obviously not all adults.
I normally throw the worthless publication straight into the recycling where it belongs, but today I scanned through it, seeing an item on "Staying winter well", which advised "Seek advice from a pharmacist at the first sign of illness", not a doctor. It is probably wise advice as I have in the past found pharmacists to be far more helpful than a doctor. As it is, you would probably be dead by the time an appointment has been made with the GP. What worries me so much about health in old age is that one of my friends, now 81 years of age, has recently been diagnosed as having Parkinson's Disease. I suppose it had been coming on for some time, but it suggests that even when you are in your 80s there are all manner of illnesses still to come, none of which can be cured by the medicine. It is a frightening concept.
When Mrs. C. went with female neighbours to the Venue cinema last Saturday, she brought home the film programme for October. In it I saw to my delight that the film "Anthropoid" was being shown on the 19th and 22nd October. The film deals with the assassination of Reinhart Heydrich who, as head of the Secret Service and Gestapo and known as "Hitler's Hangman", had thousands of Jews murdered during the "Final Solution" in the Second World War. Heydrich was attacked in Prague on 27 May 1942 by a British-trained team of Czech and Slovak soldiers who had been sent by the Czechoslovak government-in-exile to kill him in "Operation Anthropoid", hence the title of the film. He died from his injuries a week later.
I heard on the news this morning that 4 out of 5 adults now have a telephone toy known as a
"Smart Telephone, and that many get up in the middle of the night to switch on the appliance to see if there are any messages. I used to look at my telephone toy while still abed in the morning, looking at the BBC news and weather, and downloading e-mails, but I found that it used 70 mb every day of my 500 mb allowance, meaning that I ran out of allowance after 7 days.
As I was not prepared to pay another £5 for additional 100 mb allowance, I now only use the appliance for emergency telephone calls, accessing all the other items on my computer, having the advantage of a decent sized screen. Yet I see that the latest iPhones cost "from £37 a month". How can anybody pay such an enormous amount for such toys?
Fortunately, there is no mobile reception inside the local Club, so members can still talk to one another. To get any reception, especially with the appalling O2 that I am on, they have to go out in the garden, probably having to climb up one of the trees and point the appliance in the direction of Lincoln.
On the 6 o'clock news on Radio 4, now listening to this bulletin rather than the 10 o'clock "The World Tonight" that has been so dumbed down, I heard Labour's Chancellor in his dream-world saying that if the Party is elected the minimum wage will go up to £10 an hour; austerity would be abolished; and workers' rights would be increased, along with more powers to the trade unions - in other words, a recipe for total economic disaster. Fortunately, Labour will not win the next election, and possibly not the one after that with its cloud-cuckoo ideas, so it can keep on making fanciful, totally unrealistic policies. Perchance to dream.
Later in the evening, having a lot pain with the arthritis in my knees, usually worse in wet weather, there being drizzle all day today, I read some more of "Hitler's Soldiers", a fascinating book, though possibly not telling us anything new about the Second World War.
TUESDAY 27 SEPTEMBER
The general impression seems to be that the Clinton woman won the first Presidential debate, remaining calmer and cooler than Trump, despite her poor health. I looked at clips of the debate, and there was no doubt that Trump was very unbalanced. There is therefore the belief that Clinton will become President, but then I still do not believe this will happen. However, I am always wrong about politics, never having won a political bet. Even so, I could be right this time, having bet with a neighbour who has throughout the campaign believed that Trump would win.
Although I like to believe that I am a monarchist, regarding the institution as an expensive irrelevance, I nevertheless become increasingly sickened by the endless photographs in the national press of the Duchess of Cambridge, grinning broadly in a new frock. I suppose, though, this is at least better than a President Blair, and maybe it is good to see someone enjoying life on our taxes, said to amount to only £2 a week for every person in the UK. The couple is now visiting Canada, where nothing seems to happen, other than lumberjack accidents and unwary people being eaten by bears, though I believe they recently had a punch-up in Parliament.
Whilst she was out, there was a telephone call for Mrs. C from the doctors' surgery (she is with a different one to mine), saying that the influenza injections were now available, and did she want one? I have never had one, and never will, believing that they are not all that effective as there are many strains of the virus. No doubt the doctors receive a nice little earner with each injection. "Ah thang yow", as Arthur Askey used to say.
At 12.30 p.m Mrs. Copeland drove me to a gathering of the village Retired Gentlemen's Club for a meal and also alcoholic refreshments at "The Royal William Fourth" pub by the Brayford Pool in Lincoln. As I wanted to have a drink I did not want to drive, so Mrs. C kindly offered her delivery and collection services. There were seven of us present, including two dentists, a doctor, and a rocket scientist, so it was quite a formidable gathering - and me.
I find it interesting that I was the only member present wearing a tie. Obviously ties are now well out of fashion, yet I am surprised that the designers do not make a more attractive collar, possibly something more rounded to do away with the open lapels that expose an old men's wrinkled neck.
Raindrops in the garden
The rest of the day was spent at home, reading some more of "Hitler's Soldiers" in which the author uses the term "Ostheer". I have not come upon this word before, the term not being used in the hundreds of books I have on the Second World War. I gather, though, that it refers to the 3rd Axis Army, literally meaning 'Army of the East'.
The author makes the very valid point, often disputed by armchair historians who have never been anywhere near a bomb or a bullet, that "Bomber" Harris's thousand-bomber raids on Germany did actually have a very damaging effect on Germany, taking away resources from the Eastern front to defend Germany. Although the Germans managed to increase production of armaments, the output was ultimately reduced towards the end of the war when rail communications were destroyed by the Allied raids. Additionally, the shooting up of the Luftwaffe meant that the Allies had marked air superiority during "Operation Overlord" - a highly important consideration.
WEDNESDAY 28 SEPTEMBER
It seems sad, though possibly welcome to a lot of the more intelligent electors, that the Labour Party continues to be in self-destruction mode. Today's "Daily Mail", not necessarily the organ of reliable journalism, nevertheless had a front-page saying: "Now Mr. Corbyn is in La La land on migrants - Labour Leader defies Brexit vote to back unlimited EU immigration." What is the matter with that party that seems bent on ensuring it is never elected again, apparently not knowing that the referendum was fought almost entirely on wanting to stop 330,000 immigrants coming into this country?
I find it amazing that whenever I go along the High Street in Lincoln I hear all manner of foreign languages being spoken, and the immigrants do not seem to be doing much work. This cannot continue, having nothing to do with accusations of racism, but everything to do with an already grossly overpopulated country.
Last week in the diary I mentioned that because I did not feel all that hungry at lunchtime, our main meal of the day, as it was for most of my working life when I went home for and hour-and-a-half at 1 o'clock, we had changed to having the main meal at 6 p.m. However, after a week's trial I found that I did not like the arrangement, so we have now reverted back to having the main meal at 1 p.m.
There is no doubt that this is the healthiest time of day to have the main meal. Yet it is said that office workers now only have a sandwich at lunchtime, which probably explains all the inefficiency these days, Give the workers an hour - or even better an hour-and-a-half, and productivity and efficiency would shoot up - as in France, so I understand.
Mrs. Copeland keeps the garden tidy at granddaughter Chloe's house, and this morning I went to help the gardening by cutting the small overgrown lawn with a battery strimmer. Whilst waiting for Mrs. C. to arrive I spoke to a group of Jehovah Witnesses who were "doing" the street. I suggested it was a nonsense for them to oppose blood transfusions, relying on a creed written over 2,000 years ago, taking no heed of scientific and medical progress,. I said that I believed in a Creator, some kind of God, but did not believe in a caring Deity, there being no evidence, bearing in mind the state of the world, that He cares a hoot for us, letting us get on with our own muddles.
One of the women (no men) who seemed to be the spokesman (spokesperson or spokes) said that everything was the fault of man for messing things up in life, not following God's will. The Witnesses had a very attractive blonde with them - a really stunning woman. Had I been 40 years' younger I might even have been converted - well nearly.
After the strimming I went on to Waterstone's to purchase some novels for Mrs. Copeland who had run out of books to read. Then it was back home to clean a rear porch that had become covered with cobwebs, subsequently having to repaint it, but that will be a job for another day. So quite a busy day, at least by my standards and those of a British worker.
Not surprisingly, in the "i" I saw the usual lament about the demise of British manufacturing industry. Wolseley, the heating and plumbing giant, was cutting 800 jobs, while Irn Bru maker would be shedding 90 jobs. It is grim news as our manufacturing continues to slide, making us more dependent upon service industries, especially the financial sector whose greed and irresponsibility lands us in a muddle every few years.
The window cleaners we have had for several years seem to have packed up, presumably another casualty of Brexit. Fortunately, we have found another cleaner who will come either next week or the week afterwards, costing £12. He is probably an immigrant, obviously explaining why Labour wants to keep immigrants coming in, even though they take the jobs of the natives, most of whom don't want to work anyway.
The changing colours of Autumn - not a season I like with its decline and decay, even if it has mellow fruitfulness.
At 2 p.m. I kept an appointment with my doctor - a young Chinese woman still in her training period who wanted to see me regarding my further request to have another referral to a physiotherapist for the arthritis in both knees. I certainly do not want to have knee replacements, having heard that three people in the village had had this operation within the past year, two of the replacements not having worked, one of the casualties now being confined to a wheelchair. It is far too risky at my age to have a complicated operation that is apparently not all that successful for people over the age of 70, spare parts not being for my generation. Under that age the operation seems to be successful in most cases.
I was so pleased that the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, won his battle with the Junior Doctors who wanted to work office hours, not coming in at weekends. They are well paid, most GPs earning over £100,000 for admittedly a miserable job, and it never pays to pay the Danegeld, for they would then not want to work Friday afternoons. Well done, Jeremy. We need a few more Ministers with such resolution and courage.
I mentioned in an earlier entry that I had written to the bank about problems on my credit card. This afternoon a female officer from customer services telephoned to explain what had gone wrong after going through various security checks. However, I could immediately tell that it was not a scam as the caller display unit showed a genuine telephone number, and the woman calling had a Scottish voice. Nearly all scams are either men or women with an Indian voice.
During the evening I at last finished reading the 635-page book on "Hitler's Soldiers" in which the author argues that the German Army was more than a match for the British when there were equal numbers. The author argues that the Germans had a far better manoeuvrable strategy, whereas Montgomery was slow and ponderous, not taking advantage of victory in battle. His real failures were to be seen in operation "Market Garden" that was badly planned and executed, Montgomery taking no advice of the dangers of a nearby tank regiment.
I have now made a start on "Code Black" by Mark Evans with Andrew Sharples, published this year by Coronet at £18.99. Why don't they say £19?. How right the Governor of the Bank of England is to say that the penny coin should be withdrawn. At least he is right about something, but then a stopped clock is correct twice a day. It is an excellent book by a soldier who served in Afghanistan in Helmand Province, ending up with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The book illustrates that there could never have been a victory over the Taliban, and that so many of the Afghans, especially the police, were very treacherous.
THURSDAY 29 SEPTEMBER
In the latest monthly issue of our local Church Newsletter there is an editorial suggesting that we should grow vegetables to distribute them to the poor, a pathetic poem being quoted that says: "Plan four rows of lettuce Lettuce be hardworking/Lettuce be kind/Lettuce be patient/Lettuce really love one another." A rather better injunction would be: "Lettuce mind our own business."
I think of a previous vicar, alas no longer with us, who wrote editorials in splendid, mature English, not thrusting religion down our throats. In a January issue he wrote: "For us this is a dark time, of short days, of cold and fogs, a time for spending more time indoors. But it has always been a season of light - originally with the idea of persuading the sun to come back and bring the earth to life again." There's positive thinking for you.
After breakfast Mrs. C. went off with a female neighbour to deliver some of the Church Newsletters, but my reckoning is that the delivery is a waste of time, few people bothering to read the publication. Even on a good Sunday there are only about a handful of worshippers, making us wonder how much longer the Church can survive, especially as few people under 70 years of age attend the services. Still, it is good exercise for my spouse and her neighbour. Always look on the bright side.
On the 8 o'clock news this morning on Radio 3 I heard that this month's scaremongering frightener is Ibuprofen, said to have a 20% risk of heart failure. Bearing in mind all the firghteners that are issued ever month, it is a wonder that any of us ever managed to survive. Fortunately, there is not an ounce of evidence in any of the frighteners, but then there is always the worry that neurotic people may heed the dire warnings.
I have taken Ibuprofen in the past, finding that it is one of the few medicines that upset me, giving me an awful stomach ache, which cannot be good for the body. Maybe it is wise to take as few pills and potions as possible, every care being taken to avoid those worthless supplements that represent what granny would have called "Two pennyworth of tea and faith."
There was also the news on the BBC website that: "The most senior lawyer working for the independent inquiry into historical child sexual abuse in England and Wales has been suspended from duty." What an incredible muddle! Do these Inquiries ever achieve anything - what about the Chilcot Inquiry costing us about £10m and taking a decade to complete, yet Mr. Blair is still walking around as free as all the birds in the air, despite having been so heavily criticised.
In today's "i" there was a report that Calamity Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England who politically warned that leaving the EU would be disastrous for the UK economy, is now saying that the economy will be all right after all. Dear, oh dear. The Grand Old Duke of York's hill climbing manoeuvres seem to be logical compared with the Governor's pronouncements, saying one thing one day and something completely different the next. All very disappointing.
During the morning I painted the rear porch, getting paint all over me. How I loathe painting, the proclaimed non-drip stuff never living up to its name. The painting meant I had to perch on a stepladder, which isn't good for the arthritis in my knees. Eventually, after much swearing and cursing, the job was finished, and I rode in to town to purchase an "i".
I was seeing a leaflet today advertising a Christmas dinner at an hotel, £69 per person, 12.30 p.m. to 2.20p.m. If I treated my family (7 of us) to one of these meals the cost would be about £550 with wine, suggesting that if people can afford this amount for a couple of hours' entertainment, maybe Mr. Corbyn is right in saying there ought to be a transfer of wealth. I would not want to go free, for Christmas should be a family affair at home, having a meal together and then playing games around the log-burning fire, not missing listening to our gracious Queen's message to the empire, not with families you do not know, their children probably running wild all over the place. New Year's Eve was £89 each.
Shops being demolished in Lincoln for making way for new ones - yet every month sees numerous shops closing down. This is what the City Council calls economic progress,
I had hoped to curtail this diary even farther this week, but this resolve has not been successful this week, the entries as usual being far too verbose. In a way I suppose this proclivity does not matter, for the "hits" on the diary are falling faster than the electorate's appeal for the Labour Party. I am now at the 970th edition, never having missed a week in all that time, but am planning to give up at the 1,000th mark. So it is not long to go, no more endless discussions about the ailing UK economy, and no further photographs of the avenue of oaks. There is no doubt, though, that I will miss the comments of many contributors.
One of the big problems is that I am finding in my old age that it is becoming more and more difficult to type, nearly every other word being wrong. For example, if I wqrtie this sentcence it willcome up lookng like tihs, meaning that the spellchecker has its work cut out. I am just too old, and should accept the Shakespearean concept that the bright days are gone, and that I am for the dark. Gone are the days of wine, women and song; now its wine and a good book in the last scene of all.
There are times in my life, this being one of them, when I feel that at 82 years I have had enoug, that it is time to go, though the problem is that you never know how you are going to go, usually in a very painful manner. One of my friends died in his sleep. What A wonderful way to go.
This evening, trying hard not to feel so depressed, I will be watching two further episodes of "House of Cards" with a neighbour - a series that, in our opinion, is so much better than "Game of Thrones". This is obvious, "Thrones" having won an award, which is always a bad sign.
Lincolnshire 29th September, 2016
Diary of an Octogenarian
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