DIARY OF A SEPTUAGENARIAN

- John Copeland -


Friday 18th April - Thursday 24th April, 2014


Ukip

One of the Ukip posters relating to the forthcoming election for the European Parliament. The posters have been labelled as racist, but is it racist to want to protect your country from worthless legislation and uncontrolled immigration? Are we so wrong as Englishmen wanting our own country back?


"According to your Law Report (Aprl 15) the Equality Act means that employers cannot give a 'bad' reference to former employees. Surely if this is the case then no references will have any use as no prospective employer will know if a 'good' reference is true or was written under this pressure."

Letter in "The Times" 18 April, 2014. What is the purpose of references? Another fine example of the politicians buggering up everything they touch.


FRIDAY 18 APRIL

There was an item on the BBC news website yesterday saying "Earthquake shakes East Midlands", centred on Oakham, with a force of 3.5 magnitude, the quake being felt in parts of Lincolnshire, not that we noticed anything in the village. We had an earthquake many years ago when we were in bed, the house shaking for a few seconds, the noise sounding like a train rumbling past - quite frightening. It made me realise the horrors of a severe earthquake. Apparently there was another one in Oakham today, though there was no damage.

Cake

Simnel cake made by Mrs. Copeland to celebrate Easter. There should be 12 eggs on the cake, but times are hard.


Another news item told us that, "Retirees could be issued guidance on how long they are likely to live, a government minister has said. Estimates of life expectancy would be based on factors such as gender, where they live, and whether they smoke." Consultants will be engaged to undertake the date diagnosis". It made me wonder what those diagnosed as having only a short time to live will be told. "Sorry, old chap. Not a lot of time left for you. Don't start a long book." What a load of cobblers!

Yet another item said: "Chaos hits the great Easter getaway: Tailbacks on motorways and trains hit by engineering works as millions of Britons head for their breaks." Oh, the miseries of living in this sad little country of no significance, especially the news that a charity has handed out a million food parcels to families unable to afford a full meal because of the exorbitant cost of living, the UK now being described as "the hungry man of Europe."

In the evening I invited neighbours to join me for a nightcap, which made for a pleasing end to what might otherwise have been a lonely day as a result of Mrs. Copeland being over the hills and far away, not that there are many hills in Essex. We toasted hotcross buns on the living fire, and about 9.50 p.m. went outside to watch a space station passing by, being clearly visible in a cloudless sky.

It seemed incredible to think there were men in the station, 260 miles up. I gather that the space station is undertaking research into living in space, where future Englishmen may have to reside as the immigrants crowd into out little island. Details of the passing spacecraft for various town and cities, with timings, can be seen on the website "International space station.

SATURDAY 19 APRIL

Our immediate neighbours - an elderly couple whose husband has health problems, are moving away, having put up their house for sale at 300,000. The husband was telling me yesterday evening that he reckons that with the cost of the estate agent's fees and those of solicitors, plus the stamp duty in buying another property, the move will cost well over 16,000. What annoys me so much is the ridiculous conveyancing charges made by those small-town solicitors, charging thousands of pounds for what nowadays amounts to a 2-hour job on a computer.

New legislation relating to mortgages,, to be brought in on the 26th of this month, could lead to the bursting of the housing bubble, or at least reduce its size. Under the new measures, those people applying for a mortgage will come under far greater scrutiny, including a provision that they must be able to afford the monthly repayments if the interest rates reach 9%. No doubt a large number of prospective buyers will find it difficult to comply with these measures.


Cathedral

Lincoln Cathedral


Another chilly day with a miserably cold east wind - a wind that we often have at this time of year, giving the impression that along the east coast it comes all the way from Siberia. We need some rain, but until the wind changes into the west we are unlikely to have any rainfall.

Mrs. Copeland arrived home about 5 o'clock, having had a reasonable journey, there not being much traffic on the roads. After dinner I read some more of the book on life in Iran, greatly enjoying the book. At 9.03 p.m. we saw the space station again, dead on time. I suppose there aren't any traffic delays up there - at least not yet. It still makes me laugh that the Chinese rocket to the moon packed up, true to the total unreliability of their badly made products. Were it not for a bit of help from the Americans they would be a peasant society.

SUNDAY 20 APRIL

I finished reading "The War Behind the Wire" as my "Morning Book", reasonably enjoying it. I have now started on "Harry's War - The war diary of Harry Drinkwater" that covers the full years of the 1914-18 War. In one entry, the soldier comments: "This is not war. it's slaughter. No man however brave can advance against a sheet of bullets from the front and a shower of shells from overhead. It appears to me that the side who will win will be the one who can supply the last man".


Phone

Seen at a recent visit to a riverside pub - the new form of socialising.


Not surprisingly, the Church leaders in this country have devoted their Easter messages to the increasing plight of the poor in this country, the Archbishop of Canterbury saying that "In this country, even as the economy improves there is weeping in broken families, in people ashamed to seek help from food banks, or frightened by debt."

As we had been invited with the rest of the family to have dinner at daughter Caroline and Phil's house, we decided that it would not be a good idea to go drinking at the Club beforehand, especially as I would have to drive the 8 miles. I drove the Scorpio to the supper, and it went like a dream. I notice, though, that it is rather rusty underneath, which could mean the end of the dream when it comes to the MOT test in August.

MONDAY 21 APRIL

"Harry's War", which I am reading as my "Morning Book", is a splendid daily diary of all the years of the First World War, describing the appalling conditions in the trenches, where the rate and the weather were as bad as the German shells. Of the rats the diarist writes: "They swarm here. They are as tame and as large as young kittens and covered with mange. Some of them have scarcely any fur on their body; they look vile." The vermin eat the bodies of dead soldiers, running over those still alive.

In another entry there is an account of the British soldiers going over the top, straight into the German machine guns: "They had got about halfway, i.e. about 100 yards, and were met by a crossfire of machine guns and rifle fire, but they still advanced. Some got to the German lines and were killed on the parapet; some got entangled in the barbed wire and riddled with bullets. The element of surprise had gone."

Another instance presumably of lions being lead by the donkey generals of the First World War, especially Haigh who in the early stages of the war believed that cavalry charges - "tally ho" - could easily overcome German machine-gunners. I suppose, though, it has to be admitted that Haigh was right in that the war could only be won through attrition, our rather poor Army being saved by the Americans in providing overwhelming forces against the demoralised Kaiser's Army.

I saw today that a poll commissioned for "The Daily Telegraph" for psephological predictions for the European Parliament next month showed Labour on 30%, followed by UKIP on 27%; Conservatives 22%, and the Lib-Dims nowhere on 8%, the point being made that the latter could be completely wiped out. As I have mentioned earlier, I will be voting UKIP, though principally to fire a warning shot at the Cameroons to make them stop all immigration into this country.

This is not racism on my part. Instead, it is the belief that uncontrolled immigration in an already grossly overcrowded country, unable to properly finance its public services, is neither beneficial for the newcomers nor the natives. The problem is that we will probably have to withdraw from the European Union to enforce the restriction. Maybe, though, that withdrawal will be no bad thing. Initially, I was all in favour of this country taking a full and prominent part in the union, but as Lord Keynes asked: "When circumstances change I change my mind. What do you do?"

Horse

Rides round Lincoln


I was disappointed to see that "The Times" had a headline "Boost for the economy as families have more to spend". Increasing consumer expenditure by lowering taxes is the very antithesis of the Chancellor's economic policy, his aim having been to reduce consumer expenditure at home, which adds no wealth to the country, in order to concentrate on an expansion of exports - the only genuine wealth creation.

Allowing increased consumer expenditure at a time when we are getting into more and more debt (a survey today having said that we were increasing, not reducing the debt) is like allowing a man severely overdrawn on a credit card to increase his limit. All that happens in a country that hardly makes anything, even relying on 40% of food imports, is that the trade deficit becomes ever larger, adding to the country's debt.

I suppose it is a fine instance of a democracy, or what pretends to be a democracy, not being able to solve its economic woes, the politicians always having an eye on an impending election. The Chancellor should have had a much greater cutback at home, though to make more and more people redundant was political kamikaze. It means that next year, after the election, there is going to be hell on earth, whichever party wins, as massive cutbacks have to be made in the initial months of the new government.

To be fair, maybe it has to be conceded that a country not having a powerful manufacturing base such as Germany and China enjoy, having trade surpluses, cannot solve its financial difficulties. If it lowers interest rates, keeping them low for year after year to encourage exports (such as they are), a housing bubble develops, leading to more and more debt, as we are now seeing. On the other hand, if interest rates are lowered, exports suffer from a rising . A no-win situation, you might say.

At 3.30 p.m. Mrs. C. and I went to our Club, sitting outside in the wonderful sunshine, though by 5 p.m. it became extremely cold. One of the members mentioned the advertisement on the Internet for our neighbour's house, which was advertised as a "detached House", whereas it is part of a terrace. As an obvious deception, an adjoining house had been cut away in the appalling photograph, yet what is the point of that? People coming to see the house will quickly see that they have been deceived.

The advertisement has the corny caption; "Welcome to Wonderland". I gather that the agency only charges 1.5% instead of 2.5%, so presumably you get what you pay for. I would nevertheless be very unhappy if my property was advertised in such an appalling manner. Conversely, it has to be accepted that anything to do with the property market is unpleasant and a rip-off.

Surveyors ride by a property to value it, charging hundreds of pounds for this cursory inspection, and the building societies will charge hundreds of pounds for negotiating the mortgage, and then there is the stamp duty on purchase, thousands of pounds going to the Government to waste. I just hope that we will never have to move.

The evening was spent finishing reading the book on living in Iran, a former resident visiting the country with his American wife and young child for a year. A strange book, the author having somewhat muddled views on the country, valuing it as the country of his birth, but concerned by the tyrannical Government, fearing that at any moment he could be arrested as an American spy.

It made me laugh to read about his wife wanting organic food and foodstuffs that had to be avoided at all costs, all part of the neurosis of the West. Apparently, Iranians love children, are very hospitable (when not arresting people and throwing them into prison for years on end), and loathe dogs. I certainly share the loathing for dogs, hating the useless creatures. Give me a cat any day.

I have now started on "Meeting the Enemy - The human face of the Great War" by Richard Van Emden, published last year by Bloomsbury at 20. It will be interesting to read about the "Christmas Truce" that made such a nonsense of war. When you think of the sheer awfulness of wars, men killing and wounding one another, injuries having to be patched up, it all seems so pointless, especially when you think that Germany is now the recognised leader in Europe, whereas the Continentals rightly describe this country as "Broken Britain" while the Russians say we are "insignificant.".

Still, at least you have to laugh at that silly little man William Hague doing impersonations of a Foreign Secretary, trying to sort out the problems in the Ukraine. How you have to laugh!

TUESDAY 22 APRIL

For the past two days I have felt exceedingly depressed and unhappy, all due to a rather unpleasant happening. Usually this melancholia, from which I seem to increasingly suffer in my old age, only lasts for a day, but this bout has gone on for a further day, with no abatement. Perhaps I ought to see a psychologist, who would no doubt completely bugger me up. Although I have not felt so unhappy for a long time, I suppose I will get over the trouble, time being a great healer - and there is always the Government's claim that we have come out of recession to laugh about and cheer me up with helpless laughter.

Unfortunately, I have still not lived down having been completely fooled by that April Fool's joke that the UK is enjoying the strongest economic growth in the world. That will be held against me for years to come, people delighting in my hurt pride, especially my proud belief that I had a good understanding of economics. I think of that weatherforecasting fellow, Michael Fish, who, long years ago said there would be no hurricane, when almost immediately we suffered the worst one in living memory. People still go on about it.

The "Financial Times" in the latest newspaper to cast doubts upon the alleged recovery, pointing out today that net lending to business has slowed down, while consumer borrowing in the form of mortgages and credit cards is rising substantially, "raising concern about the balance of the recovery." In other words, we have a politically generated recovery that is unsustainable, unbalanced and unbelievable, the main question being when it will all come crashing down,.

I find this very difficult to answer, for there are so many imponderables, including who wins the general election next year; the ability of the new government, whatever party, to generate further pretentious items; and the world-wide economy. There is no doubt that Germany and America will thrive, and there may be a pronounced and genuine recovery in the eurozone, while this massively indebted country, unable to generate sufficient exports for a real recovery, continues to bump along the ground. At a guess I would reckon that late 2016 will see an economic collapse in this country.

Sheep

Photograph by granddaughter Chloe


To town after breakfast to visit the bank to pay in money; to purchase a "Times"; and to buy a 10 replacement for the mobile telephone charger that Mrs. Copeland had left in Essex. I began by going to the BT shop to enquire about the charger, only to be told that they had none suitable - but "try the stall outside", which I duly did, finding it was run by a couple of young Indians who told me that their parents came from Bangladesh, but they had been born in this country.

They did not have the required charger in stock, but the fellow who seemed to be in charge said his mate would go off and get one - come back in five minutes, please, sir. Back later the required charger was to hand. You have to "give it" to these young immigrants for they are far more courteous and efficient than the natives, actually wanting to sell items.

I think of a hardware store in Lincoln where an elderly English assistant is totally unhelpful. On asking if they had a certain product she would abruptly say "No". If you asked if there were any in stock - "No". Will you be having any in - "No". Can you order the item - "No". This is typical of customer care by the average English assistant.

On the BBC news website I saw that "One man was killed and two injured when a group of motorcyclists crashed in Lincolnshire, police have confirmed." It made me realise how dangerous it is being on two wheels on our overcrowded and badly maintained highways, full of roadrage as owners of BMWs and white vans hurtle along without any regard for the Highway Code or other road users. A woman in a BMW is the most fearsome of all, a frightening phenomenon, and it is always advisable to get out of their way.

An editorial in "The Times" was rightly critical of the "graceless behaviour" of the National Union of Teachers at their Easter conference, one of the union officers childishly describing Mr. Gove as "a demented Dalek", while members chanted "Gove must go." It is to be wondered what kind of schooling this nasty union would like.

Presumably there would never be any examinations for fear this might indicate bad teaching; there would be no Inspections or any form of quality control; any form of excellence would be regarded as elitism; and teachers would be able to concentrate on easy subjects, presenting nothing that could be difficult. No wonder the unions realise that they do not have public support in any industrial action.

In a news item it was reported that "nearly 1.75 million of the poorest families in Britain have had their incomes cut in absolute terms by welfare reforms implemented in the past three years, a report by Oxfam claims today". These are the attacks on the poor and the sick that have been made by the Old Etonian Cameroons as part of Conservative policy, while bankers are allowed their immoral bonuses, even in banks partly owned by the taxpayer, and while the power companies are allowed to rip us off with their immoral profits.

As I have remarked before, I worry about another period of Cameroon government, for there is the likely possibility that the worm, continually harassed by right-wing extremism that makes the days of Thatcher the Great Destroyer seem almost liberal, will turn, leading to social rioting and revolution. Alternatively, a Miliband Government would totally bankrupt the country. So what are we going to vote for at the next election: repression or regression?

Meanwhile the UKIP party is putting out posters for the European elections next month saying: "The UK pays 55 million a day to the EU and its Eurocrats", and "Who really runs this country - 75% of our laws are made in Brussells." Mr. Farage certainly has my vote, for I agree with nearly everything his party stands for, most of the party's values relate to those of my generation's middle class mores. The posters have ridiculously been described as racist, presumably by way of deflecting the argument, but is it racist to want to make our own laws, not paying millions of our money to wasteful EU officers?

After lunch I did some more leaf clearance in the ha-ha, and then had a well deserved siesta. The evening was spent reading "Meeting the Enemy", which I am enjoying.

WEDNESDAY 23 APRIL - St. George's Day.

St. George's Day. As always, we put up the flags in our community, though I am rather worried that this could be an offence, possibly resulting in a challenge from Alison Saunders of the Crown Prosecution Service on the grounds of racism and excessive nationalism, charged with upsetting a Muslim family in the village that has nothing to do with us. How careful we have to be in these difficult days when there is so much racism, sexism, and ageism around, not to mention anti-semitism.

Predictably, there have been more and more complaints about the advertising posters of Ukip, indicating that truth can really hurt. A Church leader has said that the posters are divisive at a time when we should be a happy and harmonious multicultural society, and others have referred to the advertising as racist - the usual term for trying to deflect the subject of immigration.

For the Cameroons immigration is a difficult issue, for their chums in the Confederation of What's Left of British and most employers see the immigrants as cheap, well-disciplined and educated, hardworking labour, in marked contrast to the indolent natives, most of whom can barely read and write. In other words, immigration is for big business and those yummy mummies who want cheap nannies.

As might be expected, the Labour Party has no policy on immigration, just as poor little Red Ed, hopelessly lost like Bo Peep's sheep, has no policy on anything, while Clegg and his bunch of political fairies decide the issue on who is winning the argument, making policy on the wing. It is therefore left to Ukip to stand up for Englishmen, in a similar manner as former Prime Ministers in Australia have stood up for their country, telling immigrants that they must abide by the manners and mores of the nation if they want to remain in it. Three cheers for that argument.

On the BBC news website I saw that, "The executive producer of Top Gear has expressed regret for a light-hearted remark on its Burma special that led to the BBC show being accused of racism. Broadcast in March, the show saw Jeremy Clarkson use the word 'slope"' as an Asian man crossed a newly built bridge over the River Kwai in Thailand. Executive producer Andy Wilman said it had been a 'joke referencing both the build quality of the bridge and the local Asian man who was crossing it. The comment led to complaints and the threat of legal action from Equal Justice, a law firm specialising in discrimination cases."

What has gone so badly wrong with this country that it has totally lost its sense of humour, so that even the most innocuous and jokingly made remark is taken so ridiculously seriously. Have we all gone barking mad, part of the characteristics in a country in terminal decline? It is all very upsetting, along with all those sexual cases now being brought to court nearly a half century after the happening. Today yet another actor was cleared of alleged rape.

There was also a report on the site that, "The UK's public sector net debt, excluding financial interventions, is now 1,268.7bn, equivalent to 75.8% of GDP. This compares with a figure of 1,185.2bn, or 74.2% of GDP, at the end of March 2013. Amusingly, it was proclaimed that as the increasing debt was not as bad as feared, there was proof that we are booming. How you have to laugh. Not surprisingly, the FTSE went down on the grim news.

Annoyingly, we will have to endure all this political nonsense about the country booming, knowing that any recovery only involves London. Go anywhere north of Watford and a very different "scenario" is to be seen: scores of unemployed youngsters congregating in towns and cities, and more and more shops closing down, along with pubs. Admittedly, the Cameroons, backed up by a right-wing press, is almost managing to convince a lot of the populace that we have come out of recession, and no doubt we will soon be seeing Tory posters saying: "Don't let Labour spoil the recovery". Poor little Red Ed., totally out of his depth and suffering a loss greater than that of Bo Peep's sheep, has no idea how to respond. In a way you have to feel sorry for him, totally outgunned and outmanoeuvred.

Flag

Flying the flag in our community, though we are rather worried we could be charged by the Crown Prosecution Service with racism and divisively upsetting Muslins


On a glorious sunny day, the temperature reaching 71 C, I rode in to town on the scooter - and what a joy it is to be on two wheels, enjoying the wonderful freedom, so much better than any car, even open-topped ones. I am so glad that I replaced the scooter last year, now having a splendid model which I can park anywhere in town, not having to worry about traffic wardens. Admittedly, the newly created wardens have done a good job in the city, stopping unauthorised parking on handicapped places and enforcing time limits. All credit to them.

I received a letter in the post yesterday from the opticians I use, saying that my regular test was due, and on telephoning for an appointment I was told that I could have a cancelled appointment at 2.30 p.m. this afternoon, which I duly accepted. Much to my great relief all was well; indeed, there had even been an improvement in my eyesight. It made me realise how fortunate I am at the age of nearly 80 not having to have glasses either for reading or distance.

I was very worried before the consultation, for I would dread anything going wrong with my eyesight. I can accept arthritis that prevents me from walking, never having liked walking even when I was a teenager, but the thought of losing my sight, no longer being able to read books or read about our incredible economic recovery really would be the end of the world.

The evening was spent reading some more of the human aspects of the Great War, a book I am enjoying, even if it illustrates the utter futility of war.

THURSDAY 24 APRIL

I have received an e-mail kindly congratulating me on having reached issue No. 950 in the diary - "so close to 1000 now!" Alas, it is unlikely that I will reach the 1,000th mark, much as I would have liked to, for I propose giving up computing on my 80th birthday in July. This, at least, is the resolution at "this moment in time". Maybe I will change my mind, seldom sticking to any resolution in my old age, being as bad as a politician for my lack of resolution. One thing is certain: I do not want to buy a new computer, having to set up everything all over again. Besides, with the cost of living soaring, more and more of my countrymen having to limit their expenditure, I will not be able to afford a new one.

According to a news item today, "The number of older people in England needing care will outstrip the number of family members able to provide it by 2017, a think tank warns." Oh, dear oh dear: why on earth do they keep us old blighters alive, surely a form of cruelty. Tuesdays are Mrs. Copeland's social worker day, when she visits two old dears in retirement homes, one in the morning who has had a stroke and can hardly talk, and the other in the afternoon, neither of them ever going outside the home. What is the point of their existence?

I remain convinced that the design life of the body, as stated in the Bible, amounts to threescore-years-and-ten, and that any years after that are a time of relentless decline, a mere existence rather than enjoyment I therefore continue to contend that 80 is long enough to live, rather than spend year after year in a retirement home, watching daytime television all day and hoping that Mrs. Thatcher is coming back to rescue us.

During the week I have been having discussions about statins. One of my brothers-in-law showed me a recently published book indicating the tremendous harm the statins can do to the body, yet a neighbour who has been taking them for several years has had no ill effects. I was prescribed the drug several months ago, but on receiving several e-mails from Americans, all of them telling me not to take the pills, one saying he had been caused severe muscular pains, I took their advice. In view of all the uncertainty, it certainly seems wise not to start taking them, one person telling me it was the slippery slope, which I agree with; the fewer pills you take the better.


Retirement

Retirement - into the sunset and oblivion.


I cut the grass after a late breakfast, unfortunately having to cut the lovely lawn daisies (bellis perennis) that have a made a wonderful display on the lawn this year with their profusion. It would not surprise me if a forthcoming survey indicates that people who love bellis perennis, seeing them as colourful and wonderful little weather-forecasters, are kindly, gentle people, who love alcohol, eat red meat and drink full-cream milk, and do not have any of the neurosis of the funny food eaters, whereas those gardeners with not a daisy in sight on their lawns are generally neurotic and fussy people, probably teetotallers and, even worse, vegetarians.

There was the good news in today's "Times" that the more professional, better teachers were thoroughly disillusioned with the striking behaviour of the NUT, having decided to form their own union in opposition to one they regard as irresponsible, one that has done immense harm to the professional image of teachers. Presumably this means that in future parents will know who are the good teachers and the bad ones, only having to ask about a teacher's union membership.

There was the alarming news that a massive solar farm is to be built not so far away from Mr. Cameron's back yard, despite the Energy Minister recently saying that he was intending to discourage these ugly sunshine farms in the countryside. I suppose it has to be recognised that this Government, and possibly all politicians, cannot maintain a policy for more than three consecutive Tuesdays, ministers being about as trustworthy as backstreet car dealers, small-town solicitors and estate agents. The fact that we are in a conservation area means absolutely nothing, not worth the printed it is scheduled on.

It does not auger well for those of us who have opposed the sunshine farm around our village. Meanwhile, I heard today that the firm that will be hoping to develop the farm has offered the community an initial 656k grant for projects such as a new village hall or a cemetery. In the old days this might have been regarded as a bribe, but now I gather it is standard practice. If approved, though I still have a certain faith that this will not happen, I certainly do not want the grant to be administered by an organisation calling itself the "Lincolnshire Community Trust Foundation", much preferring our local Parish Council to deal with any allocation from the grant.

I liked the photograph of two geriatrics walking into the sunset. It made me think of the cowboy films I watched at the Saturday morning cinema when I was a youngster, the hero, having shot all the baddies, riding off into the sunset with the girl he had won - "The End". It seemed to me that, with a woman on his back, his troubles were only just starting, though I suppose that is the cynicism and experience of old age.

One of our female neighbours had her 67th birthday today, inviting all the neighbours to lunch at her house - 9 of us in all. It had been hoped that we could have the meal sitting outside, but the poor weather prevented this. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable occasion, not going home until 5.30 p.m. The evening will be spent at home, reading in the conservatory.

E-mail: johncopeland@clara.net
Lincolnshire 24th April, 2014
Comments welcomed.
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