DIARY OF A SEPTUAGENARIAN
- John Copeland -
Friday 10th May - Thursday 16th May, 2013
Grass mowing has meant the cutting of the delightful bellis perennis, but they will soon be back to give a wonderful display on the lawn.
"British housegolds' incomes have plunged in international rankings during the economic downturn. Disposable incomes dropped from fifth place to twelfth between 2005 and 2011....The UK has climbed the tables of national debt, rising in the rankings of gross public debt as a share of GDP from fifteenth to seventh place between 2000 and 2011."
Life in Lax Britannica today. Report in "The Times" for 15 May, 2013
FRIDAY 10 MAY
There are times when I despair of ever getting anything done in this ailing island. I asked a joiner to put up some new bookshelves three weeks ago, but there has been no response, and a leaking gutter still has to be repaired. I suppose these are small jobs, the firms not being bothered. At least there was some good news - the massive potholes in our village road were repaired this week, presumably on account of the Lincoln Cycling Club having a race through the bailiwick next Sunday. Perhaps there ought to be cycle races in other parts of the county, where the roads are little better than in turnpike days.
By way of cheering me up, I had an e-mail with a wonderful photograph of gollies. You are allowed to call them gollies, but not gollywogs, as we did in my childhood days, instant arrest following the use of the politically incorrect and racist term. I gather that the leader of the UKIP clowns wants to have the gollies put back on Robertson's jam. During my childhood days I used to collect the gollies, but in our increasingly intolerant and tale-telling society they are no longer permitted. There are times when I think this country has gone barking mad in its pretence that we living in a happy and harmonious multicultural society
My correspondent also recalled his own childhood days, saying: "I have lovely memories of staying at my grandmother's house in the sixties and seventies. She had no central heating and the smell of the coal fire in the parlour is still with me today. Waking up to the sight of frost on the inside of the bedroom window and the smell of proper porridge being cooked on the stove. What wonderful childhood memories".
Yes, indeed: days when mother stayed at home to look after us; when our parents did not split up after the first sign of connubial trouble; and when we had holidays at an English seaside, not being dragged to some horribly hot country over the seas and far away. Admittedly it was a bit cold in those days. I, too, can remember frost on the inside of the windows, and the Aladdin heater in the bathroom that reeked of methylated spirits. They were also the days when we were allowed as children to wander off all day on our own, there not being a paedophile (or paediatrician, as the "News of the World" used to call them) behind every post-box.
It seems that Mr. Cameroon is in deep trouble with his party, Boris Johnson, together with David Portillo, having come out of the woodwork to recommend withdrawal from the European Union. It has to be recognised and understood, however, that the Prime Minister is in a difficult position, caught between Scylla and Charybidis.
On the one hand, the party and the majority of the electorate wants us out of the EU, whereas the employers, whom the Cameroons represent, want more immigrants into this country as a form of cheap and disciplined labour, unlike the workshy average Englishman. If the immigrants are illegal, so much the better, meaning that even lower wages can be given to them by gang masters, as happens in the Lincolnshire farming Fens.
There was also the good news that the price of heating oil had fallen. When I ordered a supply this morning, the price was 57.25 pence a litre, whereas back at the beginning of January it was 66.25 pence. This decline will enable the Office for National Statistics to show that there has been a tremendous fall in the CPI for May, possibly down to 2%. Oh how we are deceived!
In "The Times" there was a report that the pariah country of Israel that takes no heed of the resolutions of the United Nations; ignores the Geneva Convention with the use of phosphorous shells against unarmed civilians; shuns world opinion; and rejects the verdicts of the World Court, continues to build 300 new settlement homes in Palestinian territory, regardless of the requests of President Obama not to do so.
I also saw in today's "Times" that the chief executive of a county council had been paid £600,000 last year, and that "more than 2,500 council staff received six-figure payouts." Bearing in mind the limited functions of local authorities, especially county councils, it is a shameful business, indicating that local government has become a nice little earner for officers and members, involving very little work. The need for a reorganisation is desperately required, though there are probably far too many vested interests for this to happen.
Inside the newspaper there was a supplement on strokes, quoting a professor saying: "The most important risk factor is high blood pressure, as it can damage or narrow the arteries. If everyone had well-controlled blood pressure below 130 mmol/80 mmol, it would prevent 60% of strokes." I tested my blood pressure, which read 127/82, pulse rate 84, so that presumably is all right, as long as I do not think of Thatcher the Great Destroyer, which sends the pressure soaring up.
I cut the grass during the morning, feeling somewhat sad that all the bellis perennis were cut down. As Mrs. Copeland pointed out, the daises will soon grow again. The grass had become quite long, and I found it hard going with my arthritis in undertaking the mowing. One of our neighbours likes to have a manicured lawn, and recently she had had moss killer applied that has also killed much of the grass, making it look like a vegetable patch.
Some years ago my late father applied moss-killer to his lawn, only to find that it took nearly three years to start to recover. Dreadful stuff, which ought to be banned.
Children's soft toys, bearing no resemblance to any person alive or dead. How careful we have to be in our intolerant, tale-telling society!
At noon, after trying to seal the leaking gutter, having been unable to employ a firm to repair it, indicating that not only is necessity the mother of invention in this country, but essential as a form of self-help, nobody wanting to work, I went to have a pint or two with two friends at "Woodocks", our local pub/restaurant. A most pleasant occasion, when we talked about the problems of this country and the difficulties at our local Club.
Back home, Mrs. Copeland told me after lunch that there was "a furry creature scampering around in our bedroom". I dreaded the thought that it could be a rat, but on investigation I heard chirping, eventually managing to catch hold of a baby blackbird. I held him in my hands arms as I carried him out to the garden, feeling his little heart beating, though he did not try to escape, even though I held him quite loosely in order not to hurt him. On putting him out onto the grass, he immediately flew off, and I saw the mother bird fly towards him. A successful rescue, his mother chirping away as if to say: "Where the hell have you been?"
On the BBC News website, I saw that on our County Council the Lib-Dims and the Independents had sided with the Tories to keep them in power, even retaining the present leader who has been such a big disappointment to so many people. Nevertheless, we do not have to worry about the shenanigans of the County Council, for the authority seems bent on reducing and even eliminating its few remaining services. As council taxpayers we just have to accept that the officers and members give every impression of existing entirely for their own benefit, not providing any kind of services. Things are done TO us, rather than FOR us.
The evening was spent reading some more of "Deserter". The author records that in various theatres of war, the British and American troops were also guilty of pillaging and raping after liberating various countries. This is something we do not usually read in the history books, in a similar way we do not read in the official histories about how poor the British Army was in combat, no match for the Germans on numerous occasions. Thanks heavens the Americans saved our bacon.
SATURDAY 11 MAY
Following the site visit of members of the District Council's Planning Committee, we are now waiting for "The Warehouse", as we call the proposed house for our enclave, to go to the Planning Committee. If it is turned down, there will no doubt be an appeal, the worry being that the Inspectors approve everything these days. In the right setting, the modern house would probably be fine, but in our area it is totally out of character and keeping with out neighbouring stone built properties dating from 1801
An American correspondent, commenting on "The Warehouse", said in an e-mail: ""I live in a city that abounds with older homes. Thankfully, when new construction is raised, every attempt is made to emulate the style of the older homes that will surround it. With ten years of aging, the new homes blend right in with their neighbors." Oh that such principles were applied in this country, the impression being given that there is little concern for the environment.
There was a clay pigeon shoot in the village today, the shooters banging away with their little popguns for hour after hour. A more senseless activity would be difficult to imagine, though I suppose it is better than killing living creatures. Still, we are living in the country, and must put up with these activities. The problem is that I am a townie at heart, not understanding how countrymen can enjoy chasing foxes for hour after hour, or shooting pheasants in cold blood. Perhaps I need counselling
Nevertheless, for all the noise of these shoots and the raucous roar of motor mowers, Lincolnshire, even in the countryside, is still a good place to live, halfway between the horrors of the unemployed north and the materialists south. Essentially it is a backwater, and long may it remain so, though there are obviously problems for the young in obtaining a job, long queues of youngsters being seen at the employment exchange. The one disappointment is the Lincoln Odeon, which seems to become more and more of a children's 3D cinema, few of the more intelligent films being shown.
Obviously this lack of better films is commercially understandable, for whenever Mrs. Copeland and I go to see a thoughtful film, there is hardly anybody in the audience, Lincoln not being noted for its cultural aspirations, despite having a university. I had hope that the recent films "A Late Quarter"; "The Look of Love"; and "A Hijacking" would come, but they never will, and they will probably not be shown at the Lincoln Film Society as that Society only shows obscure subtitled films from faraway countries that nobody has ever heard of . However, I can show these films at the local Club's Film Society when they become available in DVD, so all is not lost.
Rhododendron in the garden - a magnificent bush
On the advice of a friend I started taking Saw Palmetto tablets two days ago to prevent any prostate problems. Since taking the tablets, 2 at a time, I have felt awful, feeling nauseous and faint. This must be due to the tablets, for I cannot think of anything else that could have caused me this very unpleasant trouble. We were having a dinner party this evening, and having had two attacks during the morning, Mrs. C. felt we ought to cancel the gathering, but I soldiered on. I will stop taking the tablets to see what happens.
A fortnight or so ago I had resolved to give up taking all tablets as they did no good and had unpleasant side effects, but I unwisely relented on this occasion. I cannot help feeling that these supplements are one big confidence trick, involving a complete waste of money - a triumph of hope over experience.
I mentioned yesterday that I could not get anybody to mend a gutter or put up some more bookshelves, nobody seeming to want to work in this country. Today Mrs. Copeland was telling me that the local Church had asked people to provide flowers for a festival this weekend, but only one person bothered to do so. Said Mrs. Copeland: "The apathy in this village is appalling!" I readily agreed with her, for nobody wants to serve on the Club Management Committee, now not having a full complement, and nobody wants to stand for the Parish Council.
Yet it is not just the apathy in the village, for this inertia and indolence is seen throughout the land, explaining why we are never going to see prosperity in this indebted island, however much the Office for National Statistics may adjust the GDP figures. It is as if the very heart has gone out of the country, nobody wanting to work and nobody caring a damn in our self-first society, and to hell with everybody else. I dread to think what this country will be like in ten years from now.
Although I still felt a bit under the weather, we had the dinner party with two village couples whom I like immensely - highly intelligent and cultured people, and what a difference that makes to any social gathering. Inevitably we had what is known amongst the elderly as an "organ recital", cataloguing our various maladies. For my recital I mentioned the Saw Palmetto tablets that had made me feel so ill, vowing never again to take any so-called supplements - indeed, I should have kept to my resolution to avoid all pills and potions.
What I enjoy so much about these gatherings is not only the plenitude of alcohol, but also all the laughter, and not just about the very funny clowns in the UKIP who think they will become the next government. Laughter, alcohol and good friends: can there ever be a better combination than that? There is also the consideration that intelligent people do not talk about holidays, home improvements and other such ghastly subject.
After the party I helped Mrs. Copeland wash-up, not having a dishwasher - indeed, we have never wanted one, being a Darby & Joan on our own for most of the time, and there is the disadvantage that they use a tremendous amount of water, though luckily we are not on a water meter, which would cost a small fortune. Unfortunately, I felt so tired halfway through drying up that I had to go to bed. Mrs. Copeland, being made of stronger stuff, soldiered on on her own.
SUNDAY 12 MAY
Perhaps not surprisingly, I had a bit of a hangover on waking up about 6.30 a.m., though mercifully it soon went off, and at 10 o'clock we watched Lincoln's annual cycling race through the village. This year there seemed to be more accompanying cars and outriders than competitors, probably something to do with the recesison or the declining interest in the race.
Last year one of the cyclists hit a pothole along the 6:1 hill that leads down into the village, ending up sprawled across the highway, badly injuring himself. Fortunately, there were no such injuries today, most of the potholes having been filled in by the Highways Department, albeit not all that well as the surface was very uneven.
My main interest in the race is seeing the police accompanying the race on their superb motorcycles - powerful machines that dwarf my 125 cc scooter. I always wish that I had had a powerful motorbike years ago, though I suppose I would have ended up killing myself. As it is, I have not passed the motorcycle test, and am limited to a 125 cc machine, having to sport L plates. At least I can get up to 55 mph with a following wind.
Afterwards, tiring of the race that went through the village in several laps, nobody falling off, possibly much to the disappointment of the spectators, I went to the local church, having been asked by one of the church wardens to take photographs of the kneelers that were on display. The church was open as part of the West Lindsey Churches Festival in which various churches were open on two weekends in May, the event being described as "a wonderful celebration of a rich architecture and heritage of beautiful tranquillity and spirituality and a warm welcome from all our participating churches."
One of the police motorcycles accompanying today's cycle race through the village.
At 3.30 p.m. we went to the local Club for the usual Sabbath Day tipple. There was further concern expressed about the failure of the Management Committee to send out a newsletter for April and also this month to advertise the various social events at the Club. Alas, this is the worst management committee we have had, there being none of the members present in the Club today, the only exception being a trustee of the old school. If these people are not prepared to support the Club, why do they stay on the committee? It is all very disappointing
Admittedly, some of the members of the management committee have done a great deal of work to refurbish the Club, and for that much thanks to them. However, there are others who seem to do very little, never organising any of the events, there apparently being little understanding of the cogent need for good communications with the excellent new stewardess and the members.
One of the younger members who works for a Lincoln firm was telling me about its abysmal management, the firm losing money and no doubt soon to be sold, probably inevitably to a foreign investor. Why is it that British management is so appalling, unable to organise any firm in this country, yet when a foreign firm takes over, as in the car industry, there is soon a successful and profitable concern? We even have had to appoint a Governor of the Bank of England from Canada.
I finished reading "Deserter" in the evening. I had not realised that so many military personnel had deserted during the Second World War: "About half of Britain's 20,000 deserters lived in London. Another 20,000 men conscripted to work in the coal mines had also deserted, a crime then equal to desertion from the army."
I have now started reading "Among You - The true story of a soldier broken by war", by Jake Wood, published this year by Mainstream Publishing at £14.99. The book deals with a soldier fighting in Iraq and in Afghanistan.
MONDAY 13 MAY
I liked the comments in an e-mail today, pointing out that the UKIP was going nowhere, the recent county council elections with their low turnout having distorted the party's successes: "Numbers suggest that only 1 in 12 of the electorate support to the extent of voting for them – in other words, 11 in 12 electors don't like them enough to go to a ballot box."
My correspondent goes on to say: "What a hopeless pickle our democracy is in. The Tories are falling apart and unfit to govern, Labour has a leader who inspires like a dead haddock and convinces nobody that he could run a whelk stall, and the utterly discredited Lib-Dims seem likely to strengthen their position in government in consequence."
Indeed, it really is a muddle, possibly a characteristic of a nation in terminal decline. One of the problems of the Tory Government is that Mr. Cameron begins to look an indecisive and weak leader, U-turning whenever there is opposition to his poorly thought out policy, and seeming to have no idea where his party is going. All spit and no substance, you might say. For a party that believes in the sanctity of marriage, it seems unbelievable that it is supporting the biological nonsense of same-sex marriages. Presumably the Coalition with the daft Lib-Dims has not helped, poor little Clegg not knowing which day of the week it is. 'Tis said that a country deserves the politicians it has, but surely we are not that bad?
The worry is that the continuing rancour in the Tory party will bring in Red Ed and his band of near Communists, and this would be the end of this country. Maybe, though, it might not be a bad idea to have this collapse, starting all over again as Germans successfully did after 1945. The only difference is that the Germans work hard, and the employers do not pocket all the profits instead of investing for the future, as happens in the short-termism of this sad little island.
At last the joiner arrived at 10.15 a.m. to measure up for some more bookshelves in the parlour. He told me that the firm that had previously provided the timber has gone bust, so he has had to find a news supplier, not sure of his quality. It seems amazing how many firms are now going out of business as the full effects of the recession are starting to become apparent. The firm that supplied our conservatory is no more, and several other firms we used have all gone down the river.
One of the kneelers, depicting the local church, on display in the local church, which was open on Sunday for the Open Churches weekend.
On the BBC News website I saw that, "The latest food scandal in China - which has seen rat meat passed off as lamb - has raised more questions about food safety in the country." What a country, from whence cometh all the rubbishy products that we stupidly buy, hardly any of the badly made products lasting for more than a few months.
It begins to look that the weather forecast I made last week that there would be plenty of rain in May is proving to be right, the last few days having seen lengthy showers of rain, with more forecast for every day this week. It seems that we are running a month behind with the weather, now seeing the April showers. There is just a remote possibility that we could have a good June. Meanwhile, the temperature at noon today was only 10 C. Whatever happened to global warming?
I went in to town on the scooter after breakfast to have the photographs I had taken of the church kneelers yesterday printed by an excellent firm in Lincoln. Unfortunately, I was told that I had taken the resolution down too far, so I had to take back the memory stick and set out the photographs all over again. Still: one thing I am not short of is time, though it does not take much to make me busy, sometimes in danger of having a touch of stress.
Later in the morning I had to take my new scooter for an oil-change to the garage proprietor in Lincoln, collecting it at 4 o'clock. I am certainly glad that I changed the scooter for a new one, for it is such a pleasant form of transport, especially in Lincoln where the City Council in its dubious wisdom allows building on the car parks in an effort to drive cars - and trade - away from the city.
The evening was spent on reading "Among You" - a book I think I will enjoy. The author shows, as all war correspondents have indicated, the utter hopelessness of the struggle in Iraq, similar considerations applying to Afghanistan where we will be leaving, tail between our legs, as we hand over to the Taliban in 2015. At least we have had the good sense not to intervene in Syria, suggesting that maybe we have at last learnt the lesson not to interfere in the affairs of these utterly hopeless countries, whose natives have no conception of honesty or decency.
During the evening I looked at the television programme schedules for today, seeing absolute rubbish, obviously all the programmes being aimed at the Great Unwashed, there being nothing for people who can do joined-up writing. In fairness, I suppose people are out an about and in their gardens during these light evenings, and obviously do not want to watch the lantern, except for sporting events.
TUESDAY 14 MAY
The oil delivery arrived at 6.45 this morning, which I thought was a somewhat unreasonable time, but at least the oil was delivered, so for that I must be thankful, even having been told by telephone yesterday that the delivery would be made today instead of tomorrow as originally scheduled.
On the 8 o'clock news summary on Radio 3 - and thank heavens there was a newsreader with a decent voice, unlike the female earlier in the week who always sounds as if she has a nasty cold, having no understanding of voice modulation or the need to pause between each item - a dreadful presentation - I heard that our hesitant Prime Minister has reluctantly decided to have an IN/OUT referendum in 2017, apparently having kicked the problem into touch, presumably realising that he will not be in office then.
The issue has shown what a weak and ineffective leader Cameron has become - indecisive, hesitant, and doing more U-turns than a London taxi driver. Maybe it can be said in mitigation that he is dealing with a country that is steadily falling apart, horribly in debt, its workforce bone idle, and with no recognition that we are no longer a world power. Another spell of Labour and we really will be in Third World status.
There is no doubt that we will have to come out of the European Union, having been sidelined by the Germans and the French, receiving nothing in return for our massive financial contribution to the Union's budget, other than receiving all the immigrants who are allowed to flood into this already overpopulated country. There is, of course, a slight problem over our exports if we come out of the Union, but as these exports are rapidly declining it will not matter all that much. A few more billions on the trade deficit will hardly be noticed.
The Cameroons now have a wonderful political opportunity to call for a referendum on the EU next year, thereby spiking Labour's guns, poor little Red Ed. having no policy at all on Europe, just as he has no idea of how to deal with the economy, other than by spending other people's money to excess. With a probable vote of 85% for coming out of the Union, he would have a splendid electoral advantage, one that would ensure his success in the next general election. Alas, he is not bold enough to seize the rare opportunity.
I am greatly enjoying my "Morning Book" - "The New Recruit", by Andy McNab, set in the hopeless war in Afghanistan, where hundreds of our troops have pointlessly been killed by the Taliban. The author, described as a former "covert ops commander of the SAS", tells us that the British soldiers were not in the least bit concerned about the grand designs of our politicians for the hellhole of Afghanistan. Instead, as one of the soldiers comments: "You begin to realise that the only good thing that has come out of any of this is that you get through each day and each night, then go home in one piece to a pint of beer, a warm bed and, if you're lucky, a shag."
Mrs. Copeland went to a coffee morning in a house in the village during the morning. I cannot abide these gatherings, having to make pointless chit-chat to tedious women who only seem to be able to talk about their next foreign holiday and home improvements. You usually come home from these events with a dying pot plant, an out-of-date box of chocolates, or an unwanted Christmas gift.
I therefore stayed at home, especially as I am not very keen on supporting charities, particularly when I see all the money they waste in sending me free pens and noteletes. Most of the charity communications go straight into the recycling bin. I suppose it can at least be said that the expensively produced leaflets provide work for the printing industry.
There was a forecast of heavy rain throughout the country, especially in the rain-ridden West country and here in the Midlands, and it duly arrived about 6 p.m., raining throughout the rest of the evening, and was still raining when we went to bed about midnight.
The Canadian weatherstick on the porch of our house that accurately predicts the weather. When it is up, there will be fine weather; when it is down rain will be forthcoming.
Whilst Mrs. Copeland was helping to raise funds for "Christian Aid", I rode in to Lincoln to collect the photographs of the church kneelers that I had had commercially printed. I also bought an album to put them in, thinking that I might put a note in the inside cover saying: "Photography by John Copeland. Photography for all occasions, except weddings". I loathe weddings, especially as the happily smiling couple at the altar will be at one another's throats within a few months. The old song asked: "Will you love me in December as you loved me in May?" whereas today most couples would not make August, separating at the first sign of connubial trouble.
On her return home from the charity event, Mrs. Copeland said that only three villagers, including herself, had bothered to turn up for the event. As Mrs. C. said. the apathy in this village is appalling, principally because hardly any of the newcomers bother to take part in any village activity, being more concerned with their own welfare, and sod everybody else. This is why, because, of the inertia and indolence of the new generation, the local Club will probably be closing down within the next ten years when my generation is serving as sunbeams
In today's "Times" I saw that there was an item saying: "The cost to the taxpayer of free TV licences for the over 75s has risen to £600 million and the ageing population means that one in six homes now receives the benefit." It is, course a nonsense to say that it is a cost; instead, it is lost revenue. Instead of penalising poor pensioners, as that horrible failed party leader Ian Duncan Smith seems bent on doing, it might be better if the fees paid to BBC third-rate performers and newsreaders were at least halved.
I will certainly never pay £150 for all the rubbish, especially as I never switch on the idiot's lantern, and never will do so, not wanting to see the cheerful mediocrity. The set will be thrown out, unless Mrs. Copeland is daft enough to pay for the licence. It might be an idea to close down BBC television completely, leaving the rubbish to commercial stations, concentrating instead on the BBC radio programme, especially Radio 3.
As it is, I cannot believe that the Cameroons will ever cancel the benefits as pensioners represent a significant part of the electorate, and they are not going to like seeing their few perquisites abolished while there are massive handouts to the indolent fraternity of the Great Unwashed.
In today's "Times" there was an interesting article in the business section by - the only section worth reading in the paper - that an article by the excellent Sam Fleming was headed: "This dash for growth is fraught with danger. The Coalition wanted an export, manufacturing-led recovery , but we may be seeing an old-fashioned housing boom." In other words, because the weak-minded Cameroons are becoming worried that the necessary austerity is becoming an electoral problem, they are about to go round the same circle of a housing boom with the attended borrowing on rising equity.
It is a classic example that a democracy, always supposing that it what we have in this country, can never solve its economic problems, the Government of the day always having one eye on the next election. Irresponsibly, Labour will say to the electorate in 2015 that they will spend ever more of other people's money, thereby exacerbating our indebtedness. According to Mr. Fleming, "The UK this year will run the highest budget deficit in the EU."
The newspaper carried a warning that there was going to be heavy rain throughout the country today, especially in the west and here in the Midlands, saying: "The deluge will cap one of the longest stretches of wet weather in memory. The miserable middle of the month is likely to ensure that this becomes the eighth season in succession to suffer higher than average rainfall." It means that I was right in forecasting last month that May would see a lot of rain. My other forecast is that June will be a fine month, followed by a very wet and chilly July and August.
I liked the letter in the newspaper: "Commas would have improved your report of November 10, 1993 'Whitehall was thronged with sightseers when most of the royal family arrived for the ceremony in a striped canvas marquee'". In fact, there is a need for a comma after "ceremony" with the added word "held." The letter nevertheless emphasis the difference that punctuation can make, never being taught in schools these days. I like the comment: "The butler stood at the door calling the guests names." If guests is not marked as guests' there is a completely different meaning, the first one being most offensive.
Although we are not allowed to mention certain words in these intolerant and tale-telling days, Lynn Truss in her delightful little book "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" quotes an American graffiti saying: "Nigger's out", to which somebody had added underneath: "But he will be back soon."
Whilst in town I saw many unemployed youths in the streets, obviously with nothing to do all day. It is a worrying spectacle, for any society with thousands of unemployed able-bodied youth is in deep trouble. Perhaps significantly the police have ordered some powerful water-canons, fearing that there could be extensive rioting in the big cities this summer.
One of my daughters, having found her National Health dentist to be quite useless, barely able to speak English, transferred to a private female dentist. I also moved away from the NHS dentist and went to another dentist who luckily seems to know where the molars are to be found. The trouble for my daughter was with a damaged tooth, and in order to undertake a repair, the new dentist stupidly drilled excessively, subsequently damaging a nerve, causing lasting pain.
It seems that the woman has not a clue what she is doing, yet is charging hundreds of pounds for apparently worthless treatment, her fees being even larger than those useless small-town solicitors whom I would not want to defend me on a parking ticket, or those plumbers who never turn up at the appointed time. Still, it is not unusual these days for people not to know what they are doing - a consideration that stems all the way down from our hopeless Prime Minister to all sectors of the population.
A new bedroom window is being fitted on Friday, so I must stay at home to ensure that it is not fitted the wrong way round. Not so long ago we had a new front door, and that was hung the wrong way. As my old grandfather used to say: "If you have workmen in the house, make sure that you stay at home to supervise the work, for most of them are as thick as two short planks."
A quiet day at home for the rest of the time, my productivity being lower than a Lax Britannican worker. One of my neighbours has had an operation on one of his immovable fingers, finding after the operation that he still cannot wriggle the finger. It convinces me, as I so often express, that we should keep away from doctors and surgeons, as well as dentists, probably being far better if we allow nature to provide a cure. The fact remains that, in our present age, we have little understanding of the workings of the body.
The evening was spent reading some more of "Among You" - a really splendid book. The book relates to a banker who was seconded to fight in Afghanistan, seeing the fighting against the Taliban as a pleasant diversion from the horrors of the banking industry in which all day was spent relentlessly staring at a computer screen, hardly having any involvement with the rest of the staff.
Written in the first person, the book is beautifully written. Before setting out for Iraq, the soldier spends the night with his girlfriend - "I kissed her tenderly, then deeply. And we held each other tight into the night, savouring every second of those close moments before the darkness of sleep and the cold fingers of dawn that would separate us once more." And relating to his former boring banking days: "I caught myself thinking of my long-lost colleagues from my former life, tucked up asleep beneath the orange murk of a city sky with only another dumb day in the office to look forward to in the morning."
It made me realise how awful it must be working in a City bank, possibly making the immense bonuses seem a reward for a humdrum job, staring at a computer screen all day. There was also the reminder of how awful it must be to live in London. In a recent issue of the "Bricks & Mortar" supplement in the "Times", there was an advertisement for an apartment costing upwards of £710,000 in a 25-story block, the residents presumably living lives not unlike chickens in a broilerhouse. It made me appreciate that I do not have to face such terrible misery of a life spent in the darkening shadows.
WEDNESDAY 15 MAY
I finished reading "The New Recruit" as my morning book, which was set in the war -torn scenes in Afghanistan - a book I great enjoyed. I have now made a start on "Apache" by Ed Macy, also set in Afghanistan. I seem to have moved away from reading about Hitler and the Second World War to concentrating on the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Out of the frying pan into the fire, you might say, but there is nothing that I enjoy than reading about violence. Perhaps I need counselling.
The Labour Member of Parliament, Diane Abbot, the Shadow Health minister, in a proposed talk to an organisation called "Demos" is arguing, according to a report in today's left-wing "Guardian" with its daydreams of a Workers' Paradise, that there is a "British male identity crisis, resulting from rapid economic change with rising youth unemployment, spurring machoism and heartlessness and misogyny".
The woman then goes on to say, mixing feminism, political correctness and support for the single family, that she "challenges the idea that a family unit should have two parents to be able to function." Alas, she fails to understand that it is the break-up of family life, no longer having a mother and father, that is the root cause of the trouble, as well as babies and infants being dumped in bootie camps so that mummy can aspire to her career aspirations. Latchkey kids are now to be seen everywhere.
To some extent the woman is right in suggesting that economic change, having seen the loss of our manufacturing industries that offered jobs for young men, has meant that service industries mainly employ women - and immigrants with no skills. Go into any restaurant or shop these days, and you will be served by a foreign young woman, while gangs of youths, unemployed and with no hope for the future, waste the hours away. Add in the consumerism advertised every night on the idiot's lantern, as well as the violent programmes and films these days, and you have the ingredients of the problems facing young men.
Yet there is nothing that the politicians can do, whatever their party, to remedy this problem. As we have seen on so many occasions, the state cannot create jobs. Perhaps the only possibility would be to bring back National Service, at least providing discipline for young people, giving them something to do. though it is a short-term expedient.
In our relentless decline, this country has become unbalanced in terms of its economy and social structure, all following from mistakes made in the past that began with Thatcher the Great Destroyer, and these economic errors and the belief that there was no such thing as society will be with us for ever more as we steadily head towards Third World status during the next twenty years.
Meanwhile, it would be helpful if politicians, especially the muddled and confused Ms. Abbot, adopted the Tar Baby stance by saying nothing, recognising that family life, now riddled with divorce, separations, the nonsense of same-sex marriage and working mothers, will never recover, certainly not in the happier form that I knew in my childhood days.
Dandelion in the garden - a splendid array this year, adding a great touch of colour.
The joiner, having measured up for new bookshelves last Monday, arrived with the shelves this morning, duly fitting them up. They will probably serve for two years of books, which should see me out. I could, of course, have one of those unbelievably horrible e-books, staring at a tiny strongly-lit screen all the evening, but I would rather give up reading altogether than resort to one of those grim appliances, intended mainly for people on holiday or on the move all the time, not for stay-at-home geriatrics such as myself.
Mrs. Copeland went out with the Village Ladies' Luncheon Club, meaning that I had to provide my own lunch. As there seemed to be nobody available to accompany me at a restaurant, I rode in to town to buy some ham and bread rolls for lunch at home, together with a bottle of wine. I arrived home frozen with cold, the temperature only being 8 C. Presumably I just have to accept that our climate is becoming colder and wetter, the very reverse of what those crazy climatologists have indicated. Those people really ought to be locked up
There was a report in today's "Times" that "A quarter of British workers are so busy that they eat an evening meal at their desk at least once a week. Half said they do not get a chance to get out for some fresh air." What utter nonsense - busy doing what? Spending ages on the Internet during office time, sending saucy e-mails to one another, or is it that they do not want to go home to the misery of what remains of family life these days? And if they are so busy, why is it that a recent OECD report indicated that the UK had the lowest productivity per worker of any industrialised country?
Another report said that a survey had shown that "a majority of those aged 17-24 would like to see a driving test retaken at 63." Another nonsense, for it is this young age group that causes all the accidents on our roads with their racing and inexperience. A better idea might be to restrict a driving licence to those over 25 years of age, thereby probably halving road accidents.
On the subject of the season of superannuation, an American correspondent was telling me that he was greatly enjoying his retirement, now in its 18th month: "In retirement I have enough money to live the way I want to, and I don't have to sell the days, weeks and months of my life to obtain it. That is what retirement means to me: for the first time in my life, I have my time to do with as I wish. Money is no longer a factor, and I am indeed rich, and free."
I would agree with that, though I found retirement, having finished work at the age of 54, difficult to accept for the first five years, for there is an immense difference between "freedom from" and "freedom to". In the early days of retirement I would say to myself: "I' am free to do whatever I want to do! So what will I do?.....er". Essentially there is a need to have some stimulus for the mind, for walking round a golf course all day, having to listen to extreme right-wing views being expressed by bores in the Club house is not a sufficient stimulus.
I suppose my mental stimulus is in this diary and the e-mails commenting on issues that I have raised, all of the communications coming from highly intelligent and courteous men and women. This is something I greatly enjoy, as well as trying to figure out American foreign policy and laughing at those clowns in UKIP who are keeping us amused as the country descends into chaos, saying that they are going to send all the immigrants home and bring back smoke-filled pubs.
Apparently one of the recently elected council members wrote some very rude things about immigrants and Jews on his Facebook, and had to resign. Nevertheless, it seems that there are many other members of the Clowns' consort who share his very right-wing views, giving the impression that the is becoming the BNP's successor.
I am just thankful that I am no longer in the workplace, not knowing from one week to the next whether I would retain my job as everything falls apart. Today it was announced by the Office for National Statistics that between January and March of this year unemployment in the UK rose to 2.52 million, with more unemployment among the 16-23 age group. There is no doubt that something is going to snap in this country, possibly within the next five years, indebted, overpopulated, and politicians who have not a clue how to deal with the "ongoing" crisis.
Another correspondent sent me a quotation attributed to Winston Churchill during a visit to America: "At a White House dinner during the war, Churchill was sitting between Roosevelt and some bellicose woman who kept haranguing Churchill about the harsh treatment of the Indians and asking him to do something about it. After listening to this harridan for some time Churchill said, 'Pray tell me madam, to which Indians do you refer? Is it the Indians of the sub-continent whose numbers and prosperity have increased under the benevolent rule of the British Raj, or is it the North American Indians who have been almost wiped out by your countrymen?'"
Where are the politicians today lacking in such repartee and wit, many of them seeming more concerned about fiddling their expenses than running the country? Today we have a bunch of zombies for whom wit is a form of weakness, the women Members of Parliament having absolutely no sense of humour at all. When did anybody ever see Thatcher the Great Destroyer ever laugh.
I usually pay by cheque to the local District council for the excessive council tax 10 monthly payments, a receipt being sent to me. Today, however, I received a communication for the little authority saying that receipts would only be sent in future if a stamped addressed envelope was enclosed.
One of the alternatives was to pay by diabolical direct debit, which I refuse to do. Having managed for half a century without one of these direct debits in which you lose control of your banking account, allowing a firm to take out as much money from your account whenever they please, I am certainly not going to start now having that terrible payment scheme. I would be prepared to pay the whole year's payment rather than have a diabolical direct debit, having heard of so many occasions when payments have gone wrong, usually being taken too early.
At 4 o'clock I called in to take wine with a neighbouring retired couple. The evening was spent reading some more of "Among You" - one of the best books I have read for many years. The author writes about his unreliable girlfriend who, as so many women do, believing that the grass is greener elsewhere, goes off with another man when h is about to fly off to the conflict in Iraq: " I know that the candle she burns for me at its dark end will be nothing more than a will-o'-the wisp's promise of predestined floundering gloom. Its dancing light on my horizon will drift further away. Then it will splutter out and die. Ad I will be left alone in the dark - deep quagmire of Iraq."
For some inexplicable reason I felt somewhat depressed today, and not just about the deteriorating social and economic condition of a country I once loved and respected. Perhaps tomorrow will be better. These "dog-days" come and go, especially with the thought that my days are running out, though Mrs. Copeland says I am unlikely to become a sunbeam; possibly more like a threatening dark cloud.
Mrs. Copeland went to "The Venue" at the Teachers' Training College to see the film "A Late Quartet". It is good to have this facility, for it seems that the Lincoln Odeon is becoming a children's 3D cinema, seldom putting on the more intelligent films.
The film reminded me of one of my neighbour telling me that he went to a concert given by a quartet when he worked in the Social Serviced department in a northern city. At the end of the concert, the mayor stood up to thank the players saying: "Well done! We've had whip-round so that you can get yourselves a bigger band".
One of my daughters is still in considerable pain as a result of a dreadful dentist having tried to repair a broken tooth, now having to wait to see a specialist for a root canal filling, probably taking another week. It seems awful that nothing can be done for her, despite being in such pain, unable to eat, but then this is the way it is in this Broken Britain.
Over the past few days there have been reports in the press that the Accident & Emergency departments in our hospitals are in a state of chaos, unable to cope with the ever increasing demand on the service.
This is obviously due to our stressed-out doctors who, as a result of political so-called reforms in 2004 in a deal allowing them to ditch evening and weekend work while at the same time receiving a 45% pay increase, are now having a much easier life with their six-figure salaries.
I think of my doctors' surgery where there was a recent recorded announcement at 11 a.m. when I telephoned to ask for a repeat prescription for my arthritis saying: "There is nobody available at present". And it takes 48 hours for a prescription to be issued, and about four or five days before an appointment can be made to see one of the doctors. No wonder frustrated patients have to go to A & E. How the politicians bugger everything up!
I suppose it can be argued that the doctors cannot cure anything, so what it does matter? Nevertheless, it is an indication of how life has declined in this rundown country. I half expected the recorded telephone announcement to add: "So bugger off!" If you live in a country in terminal decline, steadily heading towards Third World status, presumably this is what you have to put up with.
THURSDAY 16 MAY
Daughter Kate's birthday today, though the family celebrations were somewhat marred by her still being in awful pain as a result of the duff dentist. Fortunately, as a result of Mrs. Copeland's intervention, an appointment has been made for Kate to see a dental specialist in Sheffield tomorrow, so at least something has been arranged, and thank heavens for that.
The outcry about a referendum relating to our membershi of the European Union continues to cause immense trouble for the Cameroons, the party tearing itself apart in becoming ever more strident in the demand that we should leave the Union, principally on account of stopping the immigration into this country.
This wish to stop immigration and to send many of those in this country back home has nothing whatsoever to do with racism or political incorrectness, not even a refusal to accept that we live in a happy and harmonious multicultural society, as the Stasi, the discredited Commission for Equality & Human Right, s would have us believe (we don't hear anything about that useless organisation these days. I wonder what has happened to it?).
Instead, as I repeat so many times, it is a question of being unable to accept more incomers as the country is grossly overcrowded already, unable to provide decent public services, and to that extent it is neither in the interests of the newcomers nor the natives to come into a nation in deep financial trouble with serious social problems. It is therefore far better that they stay in their own lands.
There was good news and bad news on the UK economy today. The good news was that the outgoing Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King, has said that the economic recovery is in sight, Britain finally heading into a sustained recovery. The bad news is that the Governor has been consistently wrong in his predictions over the years.
At a time when unemployment is rising significantly, as shown by yesterday's figures, and when it was announced today that the Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation was shedding 14,000 more jobs, the question might be asked - What is going to take us out of our recovery as our manufacturing industries have almost gone, and when we are not even managing to repay our mounting debt? To be fair to our Mervyn, he was obviously not going to say on his departure that the economy was in an even bigger mess than when he came in. You have to be a little considerate in these tempestuous days.
There was a splednid cartoon by Peter Brookes in today's "Times" (the paper being worth buying for these superb cartoons alone), showing the Governor of the Bank of England giving the kiss of life to a skeleon labelled "Economy". That just about says it all.
On the same page these was an article headed: "Work on into your 70s. It will be good for you. Putting off retirement is good for the economy. And people will be happier, healthier and wealthier too". I readily agree with those sentiments, having been retired since I was 54 years of age,amounting to nearly a quarter of a century, having initially found it so difficult to adapt.
It is, as I have mentioned so many times, the lack of stimulus, and having too much time to think about yourself in the dodrums retirement, rusting away up a siding, of no more use to anybody. The problem today, though, is that retaining a job as unemployment steadily mounts is not all that easy or likely. All leisure makes Jack an ill boy.
On a rare sunny morning I rode in to Lincoln to purchase some more ink cartridges from Staples. These cartridges cost me a fortune each week, never seeming to last very long, but there is no escaping the cost. They are a few pence cheaper from Internet firms, but I then have to wait for them to be delivered.
I am certainly glad that I replaced the 3-year-old scooter, for the new one goes like a dream. I have always believed that any vehicle, whether a car or scooter, should be replaced after three years from new. After those three years there are usually all manner of repairs and replacements, involving new tyres and exhaust. These are not only costly, but there is the nuisance of having to take the vehicle in for repair. Accordingly, we will be buying a new Peugeot 208 in September.
Spring flowers. Photograph sent to me by a reader
I find it annoying that our mail now arrived about 1.30 p.m. each day, whereas in the past it arrived at breakfast time. However, Royal Mail is soon to be privatised, no doubt sold off to the Germans as Deuchshmail, so there should be an improvement. Watch this space for further selling of our industries down the river.
At 1.15 p.m. Mrs. Copeland and I went to an Italian restaurant in Lincoln to meet one of my former work colleagues for lunch. I had an English breakfast, not caring all that much for foreign food. My former colleague was telling us of all our former work colleagues who had died, and those still left behind, most of them suffering from serious maladies. It made me somewhat grateful that I only have arthritis, albeit at "this moment in time".
This evening n we will be celebrating Kate's birthday, which will no doubt be an enjoyable occasion, despite her dental problems.
I liked the e-mail I received this week, showing a gorgeous woman drinking a glass of wine: Having already downed a few power drink with a fellow, "She turns around, faces him, looks him straight in the eye and says: 'Listen here, good looking. I screw anybody, anytime, anywhere, your place, my place, in the car, front door, back door, on the ground, standing up, sitting down, naked or with clothes on; it doesn't matter to me. I just love it!' Eyes now wide with interest, he responds: 'No kidding, I'm in banking too! Who are you with?'"
Lincolnshire 16th May, 2013. Comments welcomed.
Diary of aSeptuagenarian
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