DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN
- John Copeland -
Friday 17th October - Thursday 23rd October, 2014
Cows amidst the avenue of oaks at the bottom of our garden - a wonderful bucolic scene. Twenty years from now the trees will probably be felled for housing for the ever rising population.
"I have decided to keep a full journal in the hope that my life will perhaps seem more interesting when written down"
FRIDAY 17 OCTOBER
I was rather alarmed to read in yesterday's "Times" that "drones will soon fill in the skies", and that within the next decade there will be "a revolution in the way we shop." As yet, I am not sure how deliveries by drone will work. Presumably I will hear a buzzing noise overhead, prompting me to say excitedly to Mrs. Copeland: "Here come my books from Amazon!" How, though, does the delivery actually take place? Are the bomb bays of the drones opened and the books fall from the sky, possibly landing among the hollyhocks or on the roof, or do the drones land and we have to take out the package? As yet all this is not very clear.
I greatly enjoyed watching the DVD of the film of "Till Death Us do Part" with two male neighbours yesterday evening. The 90-minute film based on the television series served as a reminder of the high days of the idiot's lantern, when there were actually funny instead of smutty comedy programmes being offered. Alas, those days have long since gone, replaced by all the rubbish that is screened today, principally for a working class audience and those who are culturally-challenged. I think I will buy the complete series, showing them to male neighbours during the dark days of winter.
Looking at the film I can understand that the series could not be repeated in our narrow-minded and humourless age. It makes me wonder what went wrong, why we have become so bigoted and self-righteous. Why is it that we have all this nonsense about political correctness and accusations of sexism, the Little People seeming to have taken over our morals and mores? Presumably one answer is that we now have supposedly become a multicultural society, all manner of fiercesome legislation having to be introduced to protect the newcomers. Additionally, with the rise of feminism and the independence of women, legislation has to be brought in to prevent accusations of sexism.
The irony is that, far from creating into a more tolerant and civilised society as a result of these developments, some people regarding them as retrograde steps, there has been a deepening resentment about immigration, and the break-up of traditional family life on account of the rise of feminism and female independence, the latter possibly explaining why there are now so many divorces and separations in a society that is ill at ease with itself.
The film ends with the former streets being pulled down to accommodate the working classes in the massive tower blocks, replacing one slum with an even worse one, serving as a reminder of the horrors and the damage that town planners have done over the years to our towns and cities.
While I was watching the DVD, Mrs. Copeland went with two female neighbours to the Club to make arrangements for the forthcoming "Beaujolais Noveau Evening" next month. Mrs. C was telling me on arriving home that both women she was with expressed concern that they had missed programmes on television, which made me so thankful that my spouse loathes the lantern as much as I do. How awful it would be if she wanted to watch "Downton Abbey", the "X-Factor" or that unbelievably silly "Strictly Come Dancing." It would mean that I would have to go into another room to escape the nonsense.
Autumn leaves. I now have the miserable task of clearing the fallen leaves from the lawn. Still, it is good exercise, far better than working on a treadmill in one of those horribly fetid gyms and leisure centres.
I gather that the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England has spoken out against the European Union proposal to curb the immoral bonuses of the bankers, incredibly saying that capping bonuses "is the wrong route to go." When it is recalled that the bankers recently landed us in a fine financial mess, from which we have still not fully recovered, largely because the bonuses encouraged the bankers to take irresponsible risks, this defence seems wholly unjustified, unreasonable, and verging on being offensive. When staff are already paid such massive salaries, why do they need a bonus for doing their job properly? It might be a good idea if all bonuses were banned, not merely capped.
Providing the usual gloomy news about the worsening state of the UK economy, it was announced yesterday that "The UK deficit had ballooned £48 bn above the 2010 forecast, the estimates by the Office for Budget Responsibility having been completely and utterly wrong, as they nearly always are. What a worthless organisation that is, being far too optimistic about the true state of the economy. No wonder their forecasts are regarded with laughter and derision.
By way of providing even more evidence that the so-called recovery has stalled and we are back on the way to recession, joining the eurozone, the chief economist of the Bank of England has said that he has become "more gloomy" about the state of the economy, saying that there is not likely to be any increase in interest rates at least until the Autumn of next year - the very points I have been making in this diary. This time next year the UK economy will be in deep recession, just you wait and see.
The problem with the British economy, as I tiresomely mention each week, is that there is no known way of mending it. If interest rates stay low there is inflation; if interest rates are raised it cripples our exports, upon which any genuine recovery depends. And it is no good pumping in more quantitative easing, for this only leads to more indebtedness, as recent months have so cogently shown. Keynsian economics therefore no longer apply to a country deeply in debt, becoming more indebted every month. The only possible way out is to have an even greater measure of austerity, but that creates unemployment and ultimately deflation. It's a no-win situation.
I rode in to town after breakfast to withdraw some money from the bank, and to purchase several 3.5 floppy disks from Staples. I was told that these would be the last of the disks, so I bought up the remaining stock, hoping they would last me for a couple of years. I use the disks to store each edition of this diary, finding that the pages just fit onto the disk, much preferring this arrangement to the cumbersome CDs.
Back home I swept up the fallen leaves in the back garden - a job that I loathe as it always hurts my arthritis. Fortunately, I am finding that the application of "Flexiseq", the gel having recently been recommended to me by my daughter Kate, has helped to relieve the pain. The £18.95 gel has to be applied twice daily, once on getting up, and on going to bed. I have ordered another tube as it is well worth the money. Highly recommended.
I mentioned last week that the Planning Committee of our local District Council had deferred consideration of the two massive solar farms proposed around our village until the November meeting, saying that further details were needed about landscaping measures. I learnt today that the "Heritage Officer", whoever he is, and the "Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust" had supported the solar farms. I find this utterly incredible, though I suppose I find most things today beyond belief, especially "English Heritage" supporting the monstrous new house proposed for our community that will stand out like a very nasty sore thumb, never blending in with our stone properties dating from the early years of the 19th century.
I suppose my lack of understanding is a characteristic of old age, not being able to appreciate modern life. In my early days there was a genuine concern for the countryside, whereas today anything, however ugly and unsuitable, can be approved, certainly on appeal to the Inspectorate. In those faraway days very real attempts were made to have new buildings fitting in with the old, and whenever possible we tried to protect trees - considerations that no longer apply. We even had something called democracy, when elected members would take note of our views, even though they were representatives, not instructed delegates as in America. It is all very sad, but change has to be accepted, life not yet being able to be put on hold. As the old saying has it: "The little dogs bark, but the caravan moves on".
When she was at the local Club on Thursday evening, Mrs. Copeland heard that one of the firms that is proposing to put in the solar panels for a local farmer (he is chairman of the Parish Council, but obviously takes no part in the discussions, having rightly and properly declared an interest) had written to the Parish Council asking for its support for the proposals, apparently saying that if the plans did not go ahead the village would not benefit from the annual grant of several thousand pounds a year to the community.
As one of the protesters remarked, we have managed so far without this money, and we would prefer to have neither the solar farms nor the grants. Nevertheless, it begins to look as if only one of the two proposed Sunshine Farms will be approved, the reasoning being that two would be too much for the local energy generation. No doubt the one that is rejected will be upheld on appeal, the impression being given that the Inspectorate approve everything and anything in these overpopulated times.
Mrs. Copeland has bought a new lavatory seat from B & Q, purchasing one that lowered the seat and lid automatically. I strongly advised her to make sure that she did not buy a Chinese product ("Buy Chinese, buy twice"), and to my joy she selected one made in Germany - and what a difference that makes from the shoddily made Chinese offerings. I just wish we could put a 10% import duty on all Chinese products, using the money to develop our own manufacturing industries, thereby proving employment at home and better made items.
I was reading in "The Times" earlier in the week that there is now a massive cruise liner, made in Finland, having 6,296 passengers and a crew of 2,296. A hell on earth, if you ask me, but then I would loathe the confinement of cruising, thinking of Dr. Johnson's comment that being on board ship was like being in prison with the added risk of getting drowned. It made me wonder how 8,500 people would all get off the ship if there was an accident at sea. There would presumably be a lot of lifeboats.
During the evening I read some more of "Six Weeks of a Blenheim Summer - An RAF Officer's memoir of the Battle of France 1940". in one of the early chapters, the author describes how his Bristol Blenheim Mar IV was shot down. Managing to escape from the burning wreckage, he took a car from an abandoned property, only to be machine-gunned by a Junkers 87 as he sped along the road. Although he was not harmed, "just in front of us a woman carrying a baby was hit in the back, cutting her nearly in two. As she arched back, the baby flew over her shoulder and landed on the paved sidewalk. Its head was split open." Oh, the horrors of war!
The author describes the sullen resentment and often hostility of the French civilians he encountered during his flying days in France, their countrymen running away in panic from the advancing Germans. The book certainly gives a very poor impression of the French, though I suppose it can be asked how we would have behaved in this country if we had been overrun by the Germans. Following tradition, the Establishment would no doubt have sought Vichy-style appeasement, coming to financial terms with the occupiers, while the working classes carried on the battle. It is only necessary to think of Lord Halifax and R.A.Butler to realise that the upper classes would have sold us down the river to the Germans.
Sitting reading an excellent book by the blazing log fire, a bottle of wine to hand and the idiot's lantern switched off (as it always is), this was surely the height of all earthly felicity - the perfect life, making me wonder how anybody can watch that rubbish on television when so many wonderful books are being published.
SATURDAY 18 OCTOBER
Mrs. Copeland went off to Waitrose in the morning for the week's provisions. However, as we have found the wine to be so expensive there, Mrs. C. now goes to Asda for the alcoholic refreshments, finding that she can buy six bottles (all of good wine) for five at Watrose. I suppose it is an example of the need to shop around, even if a lot of time can be wasted in moving between different stores.
At Waitrose there is a free copy of "The Times" if you spend more than £10, so we qualified for that free issue. Other newspapers are also available, but over the years I have found "The Times" to be by far the best presentation. The one paper I cannot abide, showing the incredible awfulness of Johnny-come-latelies, is "The Daily Telegraph", usually referred to as "The Daily Torygraph" in its excessively right-wing bias. "The Times" at least provides differing viewpoints, and the wonderful cartoons by Peter Brookes are alone worth buying the newspaper for.
On Thursday Mr. Brookes had a cartoon showing a grinning large-toothed Miliband on a psychologist's couch holding Ed Balls in the form of a dog, Freud saying: "And when, exactly, did these delusions of being Prime Minister begin?" The detail in the drawing and the fantastic colours for a splendid representation of the ailing Leader of the Opposition. Although I arrogantly pride myself in my economic forecasting, I am nearly always wrong in predicting elections. If I had to bet on next May's general election, I would wager a hung Parliament with the Cameroons clinging to power, not having managed to form any coalition.
Meanwhile, it made me laugh to read that Ian Duncan Smith, who represents the last of the Thatcher the Terrible species, a yesterday's politician who wants to hammer the sick and the poor by taking away their welfare benefits, is off to Rochester to support the Tories against Ukip in the by-election. Smith's presence must be worth at least 2,000 votes for Ukip. Why on earth didn't they send Boris, who would at least made everybody laugh, instead of somebody who was not bright enough to be party leader?
In the post today, which nowadays consists almost entirely of unsolicited mail-order catalogues and charity appeals, there was one catalogue and two charity communications addressed to Mrs. Copeland. The catalogue went straight into the recycling bin, but instead of throwing away the charity items, as we always do, I decided to open them and see what was being said. One was from the British Heart foundation, asking Mrs. C to complete a survey.
Among the questions were: ""Do you do half an hour exercise (e.g. swimming or walking) at least five times a week?" Do you eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day?" and "Did you know that eating oily fish can help reduce the risk of heart disease?" I felt like giving the answers, saying that there was not the slightest medical or scientific evidence that exercise is good for the heart; indeed, I take the view that for those of us over 70 any form of exercise, other than the normal moving around during the day, is actually harmful, like running an old car at speed. Furthermore, they are now saying that you need seven portions of fruit and vegetables, apparently because five did not work.
These questions are far too limiting, for health depends on so many varied issues, including hereditary considerations, genes, environment, and lifestyle - and of course age. Nearly all my friends, many of whom exercised regularly and ate all the supposedly right food, have died before the age of 75, and I am therefore not convinced about their approach to health.
My slogan is to eat, drink and be merry, albeit in moderation, keeping away from doctors, and to follow the advice of Billy Butlin who said that he went to have a lie down if he ever felt in need of exercise. My blood pressure is currently is 134/84. If it starts getting above that level, maybe I will start gobbling up carrots and rhubarb - though I doubt it. The problem with the medicine men with their present limited understanding of the body, is that they do not know what causes heart attacks, strokes and cancer. Hence all this clutching at straws and these worthless and silly questionnaires whose main aim is presumably to persuade you to donate some money.
The other charity communication was from Diabetes UK, asking questions such as "Did you know the following are symptoms of diabetes? - blurred vision, going to the toilet a lot, tiredness, and weight loss." They might as well have added "voting Ukip". A donation of £12, £24, or £36 was asked for, saying that Mrs. C could win £250 for completing the survey. It ended up in the bin. My latest blood glucose reading is 5.6 following 2 hours after a meal. This is about right, an impaired value being 7.9 - 11.0. There is no doubt that diabetes is a worry, especially as I know of several people who have the malady. Being a bit overweight is a problem.
Among the many other things that annoy me these days are the seemingly endless customer satisfaction that have to be completed after nearly every purchase or work undertaken. I regularly receive e-mails from Amazon asking for feedback on books and other items that I purchase from the excellent company, but I never respond. It is presumably all part of the pretence of customer care with some organisations, nothing probably ever being done about the responses received. When Mrs. C. was working at the County Hospital she regularly had these questionnaires, some amounting to several pages, but al the time the service worsened.
A morning and afternoon at home, the weather being dull and cloudy, threatening rain, the temperature 17 C. I spent some time during the morning sorting out some photographs for this week's diary. The problem is that, in my old age, I do not go very far these days, and it therefore becomes rather difficult to find suitable photographs. This is why representations of the avenue of oaks appear so often, along with flowers in the garden, most of which are now dying as winter approaches.
Somewhat unwisely, I read a very offensive article by Matthew Parris under the heading of ""What do the anti-immigration lot really want?" with a sub-title: "Those demanding curbs on foreigners entering the UK may suffer from irrational fears they dare not admit to themselves," using such terms as "rabble" to describe those people who do not want to see their town and cities dominated by immigration. In the past I have always enjoyed our Matthew's columns, seeing him as a highly intelligent and cultured writer, even if he tends to be excessively right-wing. Now, however, he has bees in his little bonnet, that buzz around his head making him come out with some extraordinary ideas, some of them offensive, as in the case of this latest polemic.
The fact remains that this country is already grossly overpopulated, unable to properly finance and contend with the demand for public services. We hear that the National Health Service is struggling, billions of pounds in debt, and that our schools are overcrowded, while the roads are choc-a-block. We hear of whole streets and areas in large cities being dominated by immigrants, and that the birth rate among these immigrants is far higher than that of the natives. Why, we might ask Mr. Parris, are immigrants fighting at Calais to come here? Why are other European countries not taking their share of immigration? Answer: we are a soft touch, generously handing out welfare benefits to all those who come to our shores.
The argument cannot be set aside by referring to those who want England for the English as a "rabble", and declaring the views to be racist are totally out of court. The entire issue is that it is neither for the benefit of the newcomers nor the natives to have this massive influx, amounting to thousands every month, in our overcrowded midst. I do not know where Mr. Parris lives, but in all probability it is not in an area totally dominated by immigrants, hardly an English face to be seen. In such areas the indigenous natives may be angrily out of place.
I can understand that some of the immigrants provide needed skills, especially in the National Health Service. I have a female Indian dentist who is very good (when I asked her where she came from, she replied "Grimsby"), and the doctors' surgery I use has only one English practitioner among the seven doctors. They are excellent, but whey do we not train our own doctors, dentists and nurses, instead of relying on foreigners? So come on, Mr. Parris. Open your eyes to the reality of immigration, asking yourself why Ukip has become so popular and successful.
What is additionally so worrying is that the country, without any doubt, will be going into deep recession next year, creating widespread unemployment and thereby leading to friction between English workers and the immigrants over the remaining jobs. My reckoning is that 2015 is going to be one of the worst years that I have seen in my 80 years of lifetime, seeing rioting in the streets and racial troubles. It will soon be time to batten down.
It can be argued, of course, that Ukip can never form a government, therefore it does not have to display any of the responsibility of a serious political party. Nevertheless, the great merit of Ukip is that it has woken up Cameron to the Englishman's concern in seeing his country being swamped with immigrants. Without this prompting, Cameron would never have done anything about immigration (not that he ever does much about anything), for he would not have wanted to upset his chums in the Confederation of What's Left of British Industry who see immigrants as a cheap and hardworking labour force. If the immigrants are illegal, so much the better, for then they can be paid ridiculously low wages, as happens in the fields in Lincolnshire with ruthless gang-masters.
One of my friends told me that "Under Milk Wood" by Dylan Thomas was being broadcast on Radio 4 at 2,30 p.m. I duly listened to this magnificent work, as always finding it funny, sad and sometimes rude - "Captain Cat is crying now" and "Let me shipwreck in your thighs". It always amazes me that the late Rees Mogg said in one his columns long ago that he did not like the work, but then it seems that he had a rather poor sense of humour, obviously not understanding the work - or didn't want to, being a bit narrow-minded.
In the evening, I went with Mrs. Copeland to the "Venue" to see the film "Lucy", enjoying a glass of wine in the foyer before the film started - always a civilised arrangement. Although the film, dealing with a woman who has an implant to use the full capacity of her brain (most of us apparently use 20%, the politicians probably far less), was far-fetched, I nevertheless enjoyed it. In one scene the brainy woman drives madly through the streets, scattering cars all over the place. I therefore decided to drive home instead of Mrs. C., fearful that she might have picked up a few driving hints.
Afterwards we called in at the local Club to a 70th birthday party of one of the members. It was obviously a very successful and enjoyable event for those attending, but I found the loud music of the band too excessive, making conversation impossible. So after one drink we went home. I had thought of having a similar celebration for my recent 80th birthday, but I am glad we decided instead to go with the family to Mijas. Had I arranged a party at the Club there would have been no music, thereby enabling people to talk about American foreign policy.
SUNDAY 19 OCTOBER
On the 8 o'clock news on radio 3 I heard that Catholic bishops at their synod in Rome yesterday had rejected calls for acceptance of homosexual people and for the re-marriage of divorced couples. Although I do not suffer from homophobia in any way, believing that people have a right to lead their own lives in the way they choose in their own homes, I fully agree with the Catholic Church's approach. A religion, if it has any credibility, surely has to accept Biblical teaching, as the Catholic Church does, obviously having regard to the scriptures of Leviticus, rather than having the pick 'n' mix approach to morality as seen in the dear old C, of E. that is blown around by every social whim.
Were I a deeply religious man instead of being a luke-warm one, I would certainly choose to convert to the Catholic Church, taking the view that there is discipline and a true regard for the Bible. Of course, the Church of England argues that it is a more compassionate Church, saying that God loves everybody, even those who sit on the wrong side of the omnibus, but if this is the case why does He allow such terrible happenings in the world, presumably bringing in Ebola to punish us? I can believe in a Creator, but not a caring God. That, to me, verges on wishful thinking and superstition.
On the news I also heard that there was chaos again in Libya, all the millions of pounds we spent on trying to restore peace and order having gone up in smoke, just as we wasted millions, probably billions, in Iraq at a time when our public services are falling apart. Why cannot we accept that these countries will never be at peace, their tribal and religious rivalries causing endless trouble as they cut one another's throats. Yet here we are bombing Iraq again, presumably by way of taking the electorate's mind off the gathering financial chaos at home.
There was also the news that the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, is to introduce a new law whereby people who post abusive messages online could face up to two years in jail. I wonder about the wisdom of this, for although I deplore such abuse it seems to be yet another measure to reduce freedom of expression. Who, for instance, decides what is abusive, prompting us to ask with Juvenal: ""Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" From time to time I have been subjected to very unpleasant abuse relating to this diary, being called all manner of nasty names, some of them doubting the authenticity of my birth. Yet rather than feel angry and hurt, I have felt sorry for these unhappy people who feel the need to write such spiteful comments, something having gone seriously wrong in their lives.
Presumably the next step will be to ban any adverse comments on politicians, and so the erosion of freedom, which began with the abolition of Habeas Corpus, steadily advances, some of it in the interests of protecting us from terrorists, you will understand. The things that are done in the name of freedom - and religion - are quite frightful and alarming.
To no great surprise, I was hearing recently that our Home Secretary at a time of rising crime, especially of rapes, has cut the police forces throughout the country, presumably affecting recruitment. I suppose this makes some kind of sense to a politician, whereas we can find millions of pounds to ineffectively bomb Iraq, hanging onto the coattails of the Americans by way of trying to kid ourselves that we are still with the world's big boys. There is also money to be found for protecting us against terrorism, yet can anybody seriously believe that we are in such danger, especially at a time when our politicians can do far more long-term harm to the country than any terrorist with a few home-made bombs?
However, I am trying to be in positive mode, one of my resolutions being that I am going to thoroughly enjoy Christmas this year, and not just because it may be my last. In the past I have always greatly enjoyed the family Christmases, having much laughter and alcohol, but this year I am also going to enjoy fully the ten-day shutdown in this country. I fear it would be too much to attend the humbug of the Carol Service, but I will attend all manner of social events to celebrate the birth of Jesus, not that we are allowed to have him on the postage stamps any more for fear of upsetting the massive number of Muslims in our midst.
I will even try not to become upset when Mrs. Copeland drags a large tree into the parlour - a practice that I believe was started by Prince Albert. It makes me wonder what Queen Victoria said when Albert burst in to her bedroom, saying: "Come and have a look what I've put in the throne room, Vicky". Today he would be certified.
I have even made arrangements through a friend to have some printed Christmas cards, showing the delightful community in which I live, soon to be ruined by a fine example of modern architecture that will stand out like a nasty sore thumb in our historic community. Unfortunately, Mrs. C. says that the cards are pretentious, possibly indicating that I am the owner of a BMW motor car. Nevertheless, the card is shown below.
My Christmnas card this year, showing the historic community in which I live, soon to be a spoilt by an out of character modern house that was allowed on an appeal by an Inspector who went against all the planning rules and regulations.
I was reading last week that the property market is falling back, even in London, the bubble presumably having burst. What bad luck for the estate agents. and just before Christmas, too. It begins to look as if we will have to start up FODEA (Friends of Distressed Estate Agents) again, giving them something to ensure that they have a decent Christmas. Donations for a turkey and decorations will obviously be greatly appreciated. The estate agents have recently had a right bonanza with an inflated housing market, but now the bubble has burst they have probably not save for the rainy day.
Interestingly, following many days of a plummeting market, the FTSE rose by 114 points on Friday, the Dow Jones seeing an even bigger rise of 263. It will therefore be interesting to see what happens to the index during the forthcoming week, observing whether it is a genuine recovery, or the traditional "dead-cat's bounce" in which silly investors take advantage of lower prices, blissfully unaware that it is a trap that subsequently sees even lower levels.
In recent weeks we have been bothered by field mice in the loft, scrambling around at night, sounding as if they had a football match. We and the neighbours therefore employed the services of a rodent officer, who came during the past three Sundays to put down bait, finally checking on the situation today. The fellow, now in his late 70s, was telling me that he started work with a District Council but later set up on his own when the local authority was cancelled, having thoroughly enjoyed working for himself over the past three decades.
Without any prompting form me he was saying that "people today just don't know how to work. They don't know the meaning of work," and I nodded with agreement, often making a similar assessment to Mrs. Copeland when discussing the rundown state of the country. "In my early days we worked a 44-hour week, and only had a fortnight's holiday", and I nodded dome more, saying that these days they have flexitime, enabling them to come in when they liked, when they felt like turning up for work. Proper little Alf Garnetts we are.
Granddaughter Chloe wanted a wall mirror put up in her flat, so this morning I went with a drill and rawl plugs to put up the item. I was most impressed with Chloe having made the flat look so pleasant and friendly, though she could presumably have done with a few model tanks and helicopters to make it even more interesting, not that Mrs. Copeland likes these depictions in our house, saying to people that "You would never believe a woman lives in this house."
Later in the day we went to the local Club for the usual Sabbath Day alcoholic refreshments. An elderly woman who moved from the village a year or so ago, going to live near her daughter down in the deep south, has returned for a brief visit, coming to the Club today. I was telling her that she was wise to move away, for the village is changing significantly, and not for the better, there being some quite unpleasant people who have moved in. Whereas in the past we had mainly professional people - doctors, a dentist, consultants and suchlike, today there seems to be a lower element, and not a very pleasant one. I suppose, though, we have to accept change, and at least I saw the best of times in the bailiwick.
A year or so ago, when a Victorian clock failed, I let the Club have a radio-controlled clock that I thought was excellent, totally accurate to a second over a century. However, I noticed today that the original clock - a antiquated clock that never keeps the correct time, was back in place, my clock having been shunted aside. I therefore told the stewardess that I would like to have my clock back, which was readily agreed.. It made me feel quite upset, for in my opinion my timepiece was so much better, but then I am obviously in the minority, my problem being that I loathe antiques, believing that their day is done.
After a dinner of duck back home, I lit the fire in the parlour and finished reading the book on a Blenheim Summer, which I enjoyed, even though it was somewhat insubstantial. What I noticed particularly was that the British Army's presence was often resented by the French, who showed no gratitude, usually a sullen dislike. What difficult people they have been, and in the eyes of many Englishmen, are still troublesome. No wonder the chief executive of the John Lewis Partnership said the country was finished.
I have made a start on "Agent Storm" - My life inside al-Qaeda" by Montel Storm with Tom Lister and Paul Cruickshank, published this year by Viking at £16.99.
MONDAY 20 OCTOBER
As my "Morning Book" I have started reading Andy McNab's latest novel set initially in Afghanistan - "Fortress: On the streets of Britain a new battle is being fought" - and not because the Cameroons have won the 2015 election. The literary snobs will regard this as lowbrow reading, but what does that mean? The book is exciting and the story well put together, so why should it be regarded as inferior reading?
I would nowadays certainly prefer reading Mr. McNab's offerings to the long-winded and often tiresome works of Tolstoy and Dickens that I read in my younger days, believing such works were important. In other words, who decides what is culture? It seems to me that there is a great deal of snobbery in the literary world, having all that dreadful pretence of the pseud.
The first-rate novel deals with a British Army Officer who is sent home after tackling a member of the ANA whom me suspected of sabotage, the officer subsequently being discovered to be working for the Taliban. Instead of being praised, the officer is sent home in disgrace, reminding me of that disgraceful case in which a British Army officer, having faced cowardly fire and IEDs, had shot and killed one of the Taliban prisoners that had been taken, is now facing a lengthy prison sentence.
The lily-livered fraternity, probably Guardian readers who have never been faced with actual warfare in which soldiers are trained to kill, were ashamed about the shooting, whereas I can fully understand how a soldier felt after seeing his colleagues being killed by the cowardly insurgents. In such circumstances, I would gladly have killed all the prisoners, showing them the kind of treatment we could expect from the Taliban.
Amidst the quotidian news about the faltering state of the UK economy, there was a report today that hiring of staff had started to fall. Additionally, there was the news that consumer expenditure had fallen 0.9% last month, yet another indication that we are now returning to recession, I would be prepared to bet £100 that by this time next year this country will be in deep recession.
It makes me wonder if I could have a bet on this with Ladbrokes, though I suppose as always I have missed the boat. Had I bet three months ago when I started noticing the recession symptoms, , the odds would probably have been 20-1, whereas now they are probably 5-8, making the gamble hardly worthwhile.
For the past three months I have cut out items dealing with the UK's economy and put them in a scrapbook, the aim being to chart the return of the recession. I began the collection at the start of the year, when we were hearing that joke about the UK having the fastest economic growth among the G7 nations, even higher than Germany. This was all very redolent of the optimistic pronouncements that were made before the great crash of 1929, President Coolidge saying that "shares were cheap and the country is sound." And a Mr.Andrew W. Mellon proclaiming: There is no cause for worry. The high tide of prosperity will continue." Clang!
As I have remarked earlier, 2015 is going to be a terrible year in this country with rioting on the streets and racial problems as the economy steadily declines as the austerity programmes take hold. By this time next year there will be evidence of the recession having truly returned, being confirmed in greater depth in 2017. With the country in even more debt than during the credit crunch, this return to recession will be far, far worse.
Son-in-law Phil kindly came to cut back the creepers in the front of the house, as well as a hedge around the garden. The weather forecast said it would be dry in the morning, possibly rain in the afternoon, whereas it rained in the morning, halting the work until tomorrow, and was sunny in the afternoon. There are times when the weather forecasting is about as accurate as the economic predictions for the UK. There were lots of wires in the creeper - telephone, television and hi-fi. and I dare not trust the cutting to one of those tree surgeons, most of them not giving much evidence of intelligence in their rough and hurried work.
A meal that I recently saw in an advertising journal, consisting of seared red mullet, with spinach flan, La Legumen Oliver, vegetable Ravioli, and Beurre Monte saute. Yum! Yum! but give me sausages, egg and chips any day. I don't like anything made from a recipe, preferring plain and wholesome English food, the best in the world.
The day's post that now comes much later,. usually about 1 p.m. following privatisation, brought five catalogues and two charity appeals, all of which went straight into the recycling bin without being opened. It seems such a terrible waste of resources. On the other hand the catalogues and appeals provide a good deal of work for the printing industry and revenue for the postal services, so all is not lost. I suppose you could liken the issues to the Keynes Multiplier Effect, whereby his lordship recommended digging holes and then filling them in to provide work for the unemployed during a recession.
It seems strange how the day's post has changed in recent times. In early times I look forward to the postman arriving, having letters from friends, postcards from holidaymakers, and all manner of parcels. Now the post is only mail-order catalogues and those nauseating charity appeals, while nearly all parcels, especially those from Amazon, come by private courier - soon to be delivered by drones aforesaid.
As might be expected, all manner of lame excuses are being presented to explain the UK faltering and about to return to recession, the latest lament coming from "EY Item Club", saying: "Uncertainty surrounding the general election, constitutional reforms after Scotland's vote on independence and the prospect of a referendum on Europe will deter investment in Britain and slow the recovery next year." The chaos in the European Union is usually blamed, so this is another excuse, reminding me of the old musical song: "You could see to Bethnal Green, were it not for the houses in between." How pathetic, whereas the real reason is that with the stalling of the housing market, there is nothing left to sustain any recovery.
After a siesta in the afternoon, I sat by the blazing log fireside reading some more of "Agent Storm" - a book I think I will enjoy. In one of the early chapters, the author, who turned to Islam after a troubled teenage existence that saw him serving prison sentences for assaults, later rejecting the cruel religion and serving as a doubt-agent, explains how many unemployed young men in London , with no hope for the future and no companionship in a land that cherishes greed and selfishness, tuned to Islam:
"It was clear even in 1999 that London - especially the mosque at Finsbury Park- was becoming the clearing house for dozens of militants intent on acts of terrorism. And they often had similar backgrounds: with difficult or violent childhoods, little education and few prospects, unemployed, unmarried and seething with resentments."
When I look through the articles and advertisements in the Magazine of the Saturday "Times", seeing all the emphasis on materialism, and obsession with sex and health, there are times when it really does seem that the West is decadent with its greed and incredible selfishness, certainly on the way down.
TUESDAY 21 OCTOBER
Although it was quite windy and was raining when we got up this morning, it seems that here in Lincolnshire we have escaped the worst of the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo, as often happens with these storms that sweep in from the Atlantic, hitting the south-west of the country and then moving diagonally across the land, lessening by the time they reach Lincolnshire, thanks heavens.
Braving the rain I took my scooter the for servicing after breakfast, The cost was £80.40, which I thought was a bit on the steep side. Mrs. Copeland taking me home from the garage before going off to undertake her social work on Tuesdays. Subsequently, I took the Scorpio to a privately owned emporium in a nearby village to purchase 6 bags of kindling wood @ £2.50. It really is a delightful store, offering nearly everything you could ever think of. Very wisely, no credit cards or cheques are accepted. It makes one realise how much we have lost in having these gigantic DIY stores replacing these small privately- owned family businesses with their excellent service.
A family-owned DIY emporium, reminding us of what we have lost with the enormous and impersonal stores we have these days.
With two neighbours I attended the monthly meeting of the Retired Gentlemen's Club at an excellent pub in Lincoln - "The Stag's Head". I had rump steak with Theakstone's beer - a really wonderful combination that I enjoyed immensely in the company of highly intelligent people including a retired banker, a dentist, and a consultant. We do not, of course, have any women in the Club. As it was, there were several women at a nearby tables, and oh the noise and screeching they made. sounding like the parrot house of the London Zoo.
In the evening I discovered that I had lost my Swiss "Victorinox" penknife that I have had for amy years. I spent at least an hour-and-a-half looking for it, but it was nowhere to be seen. The only thing I could think of is that it could have fallen out of my pocket when at the pub. I will have to go there tomorrow to see if it is there. These days I seem to spend more and more time looking for things that I have lost, making me wonder whether it is the start of dementia. All very worrying.
Feeling distinctly annoyed, I sat by the fireside, reading some more of "Agent Storm", which I am enjoying. Before going to bed I read an excellent article by Robert Preston in the Business section of today's "Times", saying that it was very worrying in terms of the UK economy that investors were fleeing to the security of government bonds, including those of other countries. Mr. Preston rightly makes the point that underneath all the glowing reports about the UK economy - not that there are many now - there remain extremely serious weaknesses: "massive debts, rising inequalities increasingly seen as restricting growth, education systems that fail to equip our young people with the skills they need."
WEDNESDAY 22 OCTOBER
Having been rained off when cutting back the creepers on the front of the house and a tall and wide privet hedge, son-in-law Phil recommenced work this morning, finishing the cutting. He has made a first-rate job, far better than the contractors who we have used at very high cost in the past. The worry was that the television, telephone and hi-fi aerials were tangled in among the creepers, and there was the danger that they would inadvertently be cut, but all was well. I was most grateful.
Later in the morning I went to the pub where we had lunch yesterday to see if I had left my penknife there. As I walked in, the attractive young barmaid said: "I know what you're looking for", and handed me the penknife. I offered to give her a reward, but she was insistent that she would not take anything. I was so pleased and relieved, for I had had the knife for a long time and it would have been such a pity to have lost it.
I bought myself a couple of books from Waterstone's by way of celebrating the find.
"Bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang."
There was a report in today's "Times" that "A huge shortfall in tax receipts could blow the Chancellor's deficit plans way off target." What a mess, getting worse every month, the point being made that "If the current trends persist , not only will the government fail to lower borrowing by the 11.6% forecast at the time of the budget but will see it balloon by 10.3%. What is already a political embarrassment could turn into an economic nightmare." Once again the utterly useless forecasts of the Office for Budget responsibility have been shown to be hopelessly wrong, even worse than the soothsaying of the IMF.
The day's post brought just one mail-order catalogue and two charity appeals - one from "Save the Children" and the other from "Prostate UK", all of which went straight into the recycling bin. It is a great pity that the Mail does not institute a system under which you can pay - say £25 a year - to have all the unwanted and unsolicited mail stopped. It would free up the time of the postmen, probably leading to a more efficient service, and save householders a lot of time having to scrap the items.
Daughter Kate came to have supper with us this evening Her husband is away on a fishing expedition until Thursday, so we decided to invite her to join us for a meal, which proved to be a most enjoyable occasion, afterwards sitting by the fireside. One of my great joys in life is that I have my little family living nearby. Not for us the long goodbyes of the nuclear family, grandparents living many miles away.
THURSDAY 23 OCTOBER
Mrs. Copeland, who checks through this diary before I upload it onto the website on a Thursday afternoon, looking to see if there are any politically incorrect or sexist remarks that could land me in prison, regularly complains that there are far too many entries on the state of the UK economy. Although this is a justifiable criticism, I am nevertheless greatly interested in the economy, especially now that it is heading back into recession.
As I mentioned earlier, it is going to be fascinating see the various stages leading into the recession, beginning with a housing market that has reached its peak and is now slowly declining (the stage we are now at), followed by ever increasing debt nationally and individually. Then there will be the austerity programme introduced after the election next May, seeing rising unemployment and a cutback in consumer expenditure, as well as a ballooning trade deficit as our exports falter. By the end of next year all these stages will have been completed, and there will therefore be every indication of a return to recession. It is going to be a fascinating development, possibly seeing rioting in the streets, some of the trouble being caused by racial problems.
Interestingly, Andy McNab in his recent novel "Fortress - On the streets of Britain a new battle is being fought," has a criminologist saying: "When the community is undermined by the exodus of wealth and skills caused by lack of opportunity, setting off a downward spiral, and the traditional authorities - family, male role models - retreat from their stabilising role or are absent, gangs fill the vacuum. The young seek protection; ancient concepts of revenge and the preservation of honour become paramount again". That certainly described the riots a few years ago, and will be an explanation for the troubles next year.
On the BBC News website I saw that, "UK retail sales fell in September, adding to signs that the economic recovery may be losing steam." All part of the descent into recession. Once again you read it here first.
The lime tree in the courtyard of our community. A tree surgeon had recommended felling, but thankfully we took no notice, the tree still surviving, despite an almost hollow trunk.
It made me laugh to read more wailing about the troubles in the eurozone and a world-wide downturn putting an end to Britain's miracle economic recovery. Oh, dear oh dear. How we have to titter at these pathetic excuses!.
To town in the morning to buy "The Times, " and to take a wristwatch to have a new battery fitted (£6.50). The rest of the day will be spent at home, reading by the fireside in the evening.
There was a grim headline in today's "Daily Torygraph" saying: "Osborne getting thousands of mothers back at work", as a result of reforms of so-called "child care". "Child abandonment" might be a far better term, having babies and young children dumped in a bootie camp from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is therefore no wonder that recent surveys have shown that these abandoned children, often left in the care of a succession of not very bright minders, suffer from insecurity that often manifests itself in aggression and disruptive behaviour.
If married couples want children - and let it be said that currently we have far too many of them, the mothers should be prepared to stay at home to look after them, accepting what many people see as their biological responsibilities. Indeed, it would be far better if the Government paid mothers to stay at home with their children, particularly when they are under the age of 5 years, instead of having the taxpayer fork out for so-called child care outside the home.
At least there was the good news that the former tungsten electric light bulbs are coming back, presumably as a result of the mercury-filled energy-saving ones having been seen as being dangerous. The energy ones, apart from being dangerous when dropped, give out a dreadful light, a 60 watt being the equivalent of about 3 candles. I built up a large stock of the tungsten bulbs, so I need not have bothered, not that I have seen any in the shops as yet.
I noticed today that the "hit-rate" on the diary is steadily falling, just like the UK economy and Red Ed's popularity, presumably indicating that Mrs, C is right when she said that readers are sick to the back molars of all the endless details about the "dismal science". Presumably it raises the question of the motivation of all diarists who write for publication - i.e. the Internet: "Do they write for themselves, or for an audience?" My answer would be that the diarist has to present his own views and his own interpretation of life, not being modified or influenced by a readership, even if it incurs offence. Facebooks, on the other hand, are totally personalised - "This is me".
Lincolnshire 23rd October, 2014
Diary of a Septuagenarian
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