DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN
- John Copeland -
A happy new year to both my readers. 2020 should be an interesting year on both sides of the Atlantic. (photograph taken when I was a passenger in a villager's helicopter)
"Homeless can have Chequers, declares Corbyn".
Mrs. Copeland and I fell about laughing hilariously when we read this in "The Times" for the 5th December. The place would be completely wrecked within a week.
The photograph to cheer every patriotic man and woman who loyally cares for our country, unlike the thoroughly defeated, down and out Remoaners with their silly walks who shamefully wanted to nullify the result of the referendum, remaining chained to the European Union, paying billions every month but receiving little in return. Escape at last.
What an utterly splendid election vote, the return of the Conservatives with a massive and decisive 80 seat overall majority, giving the country some real hope, having escaped the statism misery of Comrade Corbyn's Workers' Paradise in which the enterprising and hardworking are punished with crippling taxes to support the layabouts who fooled around at home, and then wondered why they had a menial job or no work at all, subsequently having to Labour for the generous welfare benefits
Now, after more than 3 years of squabbling, our country can at last manage its own affairs instead of being shackled and subjugated to the German domination in the European Union, , ruled by the hopeless European Court of Justice, and freed from all the restrictions imposed by the Brussels bureaucratic army, immigrants no longer being able to come into the country unchecked.
Nevertheless, it is still a long battle to get ourselves freed from the demands of that undemocratic and wasteful Union that is now starting to fall apart as Germany's economy falters, other member countries, probably Spain and Italy, following our glorious leaving. A satisfactory trade deal taking a long time to complete in terms of all the EU aggression. Our leaving date of the 31st January 2020 will henceforth be known as "Independence Day", trebles all round 2020.
The jubilant face of a splendid and well deserved victory and the sour face of humiliating defeat. Labour had a Marxist leader whose thoroughly nasty policies were not acceptable to the electorate.
On hearing the exit poll result at 10 p.m. on the 12th December I was so delighted that, were it not for the ever painful arthritis in both knees, I would have been dancing around the room in joyful celebration. I could imagine that there was a similar great joy in many pubs around the country, the terrible fear that Comrade Corbyn would make us into a Soviet-style state having been overplayed, the threat no more. Can anybody really believe that the hopeless Diane Abbott, flummoxed by every interviewer, could ever be Home Secretary?
I was also so delighted that that awful Swinson woman, the leader of the Lib-Dims, was thrown out. Yet again it proves my oft-repeated point, ridiculously and offensively alleged to be sexist, that women, although wonderful in the caring professions, far better than men, are poor politicians, not having the right temperament to be in Parliament, both our two female Prime Ministers having been deposed, and there is also that awful Aung San suu Kyl in Burma, now on trial in the Hague. .
Additionally there is that unpleasant Sturgeon woman who has the pipe-dream of Scotland having independence, despite few Scots wanting to leave us, the silly woman appearing to be totally divorced from reality... Mind you, I would not mind the Scots having independence, for the natives sometimes seem a miserable lot, perhaps not surprisingly in living in a climate that is only fit for sheep.
A chart endorsing George Bernard Shaw's contention that it you are Tory at 18 you need your head examined; if a Socialist at 40 you need your head examined.
Faced with the hopeless Comrade Corbyn, the Labour Party now has to elect a new leader, there being four women and one man on the short list. The man is Sir Keir Starmer, a human rights barrister with a pronounced northern accent, , but he is far too intelligent, and too middle class to be selected by the trade unions, most of whom are incredibly thick and stupid, traditionally choosing the wrong person. Amazingly, the Shadow Chancellor, the difficult and unpleasant John McDonnell, has said of the leadership: "It has got to be a woman." It reminds me of the comment that Charles-Maurise de Tallyrand said when referring to the Hapsburgs:- "They have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing",.
In "The Times" for the 17th December there was a splendid article by Melanie Phillips, by far the best columnist in today's press - and a woman, too, showing that that I have every respect for women - except in politics. Mrs. Phillips, heading her column: "Women MPs are becoming dreary automatons" writes:: "The idea that appointments should be made on the basis of merit has long been swept away. For the paradox of an era that has made a fetish of opposing discrimination is that it nevertheless regards discrimination as mandatory in favour of groups considered marginalised or oppressed. In the 1970s , feminism's new wave embodied precisely this paradox. Women demanded to be considered the equal of men, with identical opportunities in jobs and promotion, and yet at the same time wanted to receive special treatment with time off and other facilities for child care."
Mrs. Phillips goes on to say that in the grubby power games of political life, "Equal gender representation means shoehorning in mediocre and second-rate women at the expense of more talented male candidates." She goes on to write that "so many women MPs seem incapable of independent intelligent thought...so many of them are mind-numbing conformists", their speeches in the Commons relating mainly to the gender pay gap, child care; on stay-at-home mothers; and on female genital mutilation". Perhaps not surprisingly and beneficially, this represents the biological differences. Significantly, a photograph of the Prime minister having a drink at the bar at Tory headquarters showed him with men, not a woman in sight, apart from the barmaid.
Polling day at our local Club, my scooter outside.
Throughout the election the BBC was accused of bias, presumably a left-wing bias. Unfortunately, their female political corespondent, Laura Kuenssberg, was hopelessly wrong in her assessment of the likely result, telling us that the gap between the Conservatives and Labour was narrowing, and that the likely result would be a hung Parliament. Clang! When the clock strikes 13 it is as well to check the timepiece. However, very few of the political soothsayers realised that there would be such a dramatic swing to the Conservatives, putting them in power for the next ten years or more. .
I was therefore pleased that the Remoaners who shamefully and undemocratically wanted a second referendum, not having liked the result of the first one with its 1.3 million majority in favour of leaving, and who were not representative of the nation when they went on silly marches, came a right cropper. There was also that thrice-married meddlesome business woman, probably regarded by "The Daily Mail" as an "enemy of the people", who went whining to the Supreme Court, ultimately losing hopelessly, having totally wasted her time and money (and possibly other people's) in trying to nullify the will of the people. She even whined that the Government had singled her out in making the leave arrangement free from her monstrous meddling. All of these wreckers who wanted to destroy the will of the people have ended up with egg all over their faces, egg-wipers probably being readily available on Amazon.
A Cribr I purchased when I was in Jerusalem long years ago. Going along the Via Dolorosa, a trader spotting my tie,shouted out: "Ah - LSE!
There is no doubt that Prime Minister Johnson has a great deal to put right when we mercifully leave that hateful Union, the country having ended up in a terrible state during the past ten years He needs to abolish that biased and worthless Equality & Human Rights Commission, there being no such thing as equality, while it could be argued that the Commission has done far more to harm racial relations than to improve them. Additionally, we need to stop all foreign aid, most of the donations never ending up for the intended beneficiaries, as was so clearly and cogently recently shown with a major overseas charity that had its charity workers paying for prostitutes from the donations. .
Charity begins at home ("The Times" 21st December: Marie Stope's chief executive has £434,000 salary package. This is why I do not support charities, that sum being a lot of collection tins).. The wasteful and politically biased BBC also needs sorting out, paying ridiculously inflated remuneration to third-rate performers who would not have lasted two performances in the old Music Halls. The television licence needs to be scrapped and not just for old-timers. Furthermore, we need to stop all that crazy health & safety nonsense, along with political correctness, and allegations of sexual offences should not be considered if they occurred more than five years ago.
Avenue of oaks at the bottom of our garden. All the leaves are now off.
Maybe it has to be admitted that there is a serious problem with immigration, especially as we need their services to work in our dirty jobs and in the relentless demands of the over stretched National Health Service. Invariably, these immigrants are better educated, more polite and are prepared to work hard, as we recently found when employing Polish immigrants who had set up a window-cleaning business in Lincolnshire, using the modern pole-cleaning system. For many years we had a native window cleaner, but earlier this year he stopped coming, and when I saw him in Lincoln I was told that he had had labour problems, never saying a word to us.
The Polish people did a far better job than using a dirty rag employed by our earlier cleaner; They send us a text message when the are coming on the day each month, regularly turning up on the appointed time, and are extremely pleasant, even voluntarily helping us to put back together a porch lantern. The irony is that we are so grossly overpopulated that we cannot support all these immigrants, yet we need their services. The National Health Service would fall apart without immigrants, and the lights would probably go out. Certainly a difficult issue.
I won all three bets I had on the election, a friend asking me if I was going to the South of France to celebrate, to which I replied: "I imagine you will realise that I loathe the French", seeing them as being so ungrateful to us rescuing them from the Germans on two occasions, not the slightest gratitude ever being expressed. This loathing is one of the several reasons why I wanted to leave the European Union.
On the afternoon of the 20th I heard that Brexit had been approved by a majority of 124, meaning 44 more than the Government's overall majority of 80, 6 Labour members and some others having come to their senses. I felt so overjoyed, not having felt so happy for many years, believing that we will soon be free again, no longer paying billions every month into that undemocratic and wasteful Union .that, in all probability, will be gone within 10 years.
The proposed impeachment of President Trump by the spiteful Democrats under that old Pelosi woman. The President's rating is going up, thank heavens.
There was also good news in America that the Democrat-led impeachment proceedings (the President has not yet been impeached, as the left-wing biased "Washington Post" would have it, not until he is found guilty in the Republican-controlled Senate ) have resulted in the untroubled Dow Jones rising by 137 points on the day the proceedings were announced, Wall Street obviously knowing that the President is safe from the spiteful deliberations of that nasty old woman Pelosi. .
If, as seems likely, the Democrats select the old and worn out, gaffe-prone "Creepie Joe" Biden as their Presidential candidate, my substantial bet that Donald Trump will romp home next November, looks even more certain, the Socialist Democrats being a similar threat to the one we had with Comrade Corbyn. Good old Joe! Sadly, the Democrats can never get over having so hopelessly losing the 2016 Presidential election, now behaving in this juvenile and spiteful manner, that is understandably not liked within the country.
The Amsler grid that I use to test my eyes. Closing one eye at a time, and holding the chart at hand distance, all the squares should be equal. I seem to be satisfactory/
Apart from the ever intensifying arthritic pain in both knees, which is a bit like saying you could see to Bethnal Green if it wasn't for the houses in-between, my health was reasonably satisfactory during the month. My blood pressure was at an average 141/79: my oxygen level at 95 (should be between 95-100), and my pulse rate 75 (should be between 60-200). My blood sugar level, measured on a post-prandial basis (at least 90 minutes after food), came out during the month at 7.4 mmpl/l. It should be under 8.5 mmol/l after at least 90 minutes following a meal, so my level, being on the fringe of type 2 diabetes, is still all right, but getting a bit on the high side, probably not helped by refusing to diet at my time of life..
I therefore tick all health boxes (well, nearly. I have not had the influenza inoculation, having heard that two contemporaries in the village who had had the inoculation ended up with influenza, one spending 5 days in bed and the other very poorly, I also do not want to have the new eye tests involving a bright light being shone into the eye to photograph the back of the eye . The eye test chart that I use shows that I still have unchanged 20/30 vision, and there are no problems with the "Amsler Grid" (shown above). If it ain't broke, don't mend it or bugger about with it...
I have finally decided that under no circumstances do I want to have the knee replacement operation, having heard that I would not be able to kneel after the operation - a severe handicap, meaning I could not re-lay the living fire or go to church.. I will therefore continue to live with the pain, the problem being that the strong painkilling "Zapain" tablets are bad for the kidneys, one of mine not being up to the mark, probably due to an excessive alcoholic intake. I can still mange to get up our flight of 14 stairs, using my left foot and dragging up the right on each step. What is worryinng, though, is that the arthritis is becoming so much worse, giving me pain all the time.
Musical merry-go-round that we have had in the family for many years, brought out each Christmas.
On the 15th of the month I had been in retirement - the season of superannuation - for 31 years, having worked for 34 years, the hope being that I can match up the numbers. During the later working years I had served as Divisional Education Officer for Lincoln and district - a job that I greatly enjoyed, but the Divisions were closed down. I subsequently had the choice of being transferred to county offices, a "small fish in a large pond", representing a sad departure from being a " big fish in a small pond", or taking early retirement with 10 years enhancement on my pension, meaning that I would have a pension equivalent to one starting at the age of 65 years. I chose the latter without any hesitation.
Initially, I found retirement at the age of nearly 55 years extremely difficult, there being a world of difference between "freedom from" and freedom to". I no longer had to go to work, being a free man at last, but what was I going to do in all the hours of my freedom? Fortunately, knowing that I had to have some stimulus for the brain, golfing not providing such stimulus, I took up computing, teaching myself, and subsequently started writing diaries on the Internet that became an absorbing hobby, communicating on current affairs with people all around the world.
Even so, work nevertheless provides involvement and identity, and the loss of colleagues is difficult to accept. Now, at the age of 85, I feel contended, especially now that Boris is back in office, but there is always the realisation that I am coming to the end of the road, not that I would want another 40 years in this country of decline and fall..
The very real danger we face.
A fine example of the nonsense that we now have to endure these days was provided by extensive complaints of sexism when a firm advertising exercise bikes showed a black woman exercising on one of the bikes, the slogan saying that the bike had been given to her as a present from her husband. This brought forward manifold complaints that it was sexist as it implied that the husband wanted her to lose weight. Have you heard anything so silly? What is the matter with these complainants, snowflakes every one? Not only that, we have those completely barmy vegans with their advanced anthropomorphism, wanting to live on an unhealthy diet of rabbit food, ridiculously denying themselves the health giving protein of a juicy sirloin steak, yet a recent survey indicated that there was nothing wrong with red meat
During the month there was a report in "The Times" that there was a dangerous lack of B12 in the vegan diet, B12 being found in meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, all of which the vacuous vegans are not allowed to eat. Worryingly, this dangerous and unhealthy vegan craze seems to have become very fashionable, many of the supermarkets, keen to profit on the gullibility of these unwise people, nowadays providing shelves with items suitable for vegans. There is the very real risk that the unhealthy diet could ultimately lead to severe health problems - and what a misery of a vegan Christmas, just some lettuce leaves, a carrot and a grim-looking pizza.
Then, as mentioned earlier, there is all that nonsense about health & safety, Mrs. Copeland having had a fine example of this snowflake silliness when she went to Halfords in Lincoln to have the antifreeze checked in her Peugeot 208,. In the past the stores offered a free check, but alas, when she went to the store this month she was told by an assistant that they were no longer allowed to undertake the checks because of health & safety law, possibly having to deal with the danger of a hot engine. It makes you despair that we have become such a mollycoddled , pathetic society
Another snivelling complaint arose when some television channel showed an episode of "Fawlty Towers" in which the Major mentions the word "n****r", bringing howls of anguished complaints from the snowflakes. Years ago, back in the 1970s, when the programmes were televised, nobody complained, everybody laughing at the antics within Fawlty Towers. But why have we become so narrow-minded and Puritanical, all manner of words frequently used in the past now being strictly banned - yet race relations are worse than ever in this country, seen when black football players are shamefully given monkey gestures in several matches.
At least it was good that, at the risk of upsetting the Muslims in our midst, we have mercifully been allowed this year to have Christmas cards depicting the Church of England religion, the first class stamp showing Mary with baby Jesus in the stable, while the 2nd class depicts an angel flying around somewhere.
The two books read during the month. The one on the right has 825 pages of text, taking me weeks to read.
On the first day of December I finished reading "Attlee & Churchill" by Leo McKinstry, one of the best books that I have read in many years. In one of the chapters it is mentioned that Churchill was opposed to immigration that began with the "Empire Windrush", subsequently seeing immigrants flooding into this country, creating what Winston feared would be a "magpie society. It was stated that he had very serious doubts about having a close relationship with Europe, presciently fearing that we would lose control of our own affairs.
The two other books that I read were : "Staring at God - Britain in the Great War" by Simon Heffer, and "Leaders in War - Lessons from those who made history" by Andrew Roberts. I have many of the books written by Mr. Roberts, having thoroughly enjoyed them in the past, but this slim volume was a big disappointment, a mere pot-boiler that told us very little that we did not already know. We are told in the introduction that when applying for a place at Cambridge University, the author was asked "Why could one man control a hundred?" Certainly an interesting question - control for good as well as bad,
Amazingly, in the chapter on that odious man de Gaulle, Mr. Roberts comments at the end of the piece: "Despite everything, he was a great man". This is utter nonsense, for the vainglorious and pompous, conceited de Gaulle was a pain in the arse for Churchill throughout the war, and the Americans rightly loathed him, graciously allowing him to single-handedly enter Paris as the victor by way of feeding his overpowering vanity.. After the war he voted against us joining the Common Market, which was probably a good thing for us. It is a great pity that our entry to the European Union was not voted out at the start, but at least we are now belatedly going to leave the quarrelsome tribe. If the European Union was so good, why did we wisely not join the euro?.
"Staring at God" is far too long with its 825 pages of text, taking me weeks and weeks to complete as I seem to doze off when reading in the evening, not that I have usually had a hard day.. I cannot help thinking that computers are largely responsible for this prolixity. It took much longer in the old days of typewriters, whereas today it is so easy to use a computer, this diary being a fine example of being far too long. At least these long books take me a long time to read, meaning I do no have to buy so many an more. I now buy all my books from he excellent Waterstone's in Lincoln, no longer wanting to use the services of Amazon, even if there is often one-third off the retail price of books. There is always the worrying of inadvertently ending up on that expensive "Prime" at £7.99 a month, so difficult to avoid..
I bought 42 books during the year at a cost of £774.61, bringing my total collection to 2,627, the books all over the house in addition to the shelves in the parlour.
Sheaffer foundain pens I have used over the years, especially the one on the right that had to be replaced recently. I still prefer to use a fountain pen for most formal occasions.
It has been sad to receive so many Christmas cards, many with those traditional "Round Robins" that tell us about illnesses of elderly friends, as well as the disappointing news about siblings having divorced, now a frequent issue in the disturbed relationships between modern liberated woman and emasculated man, independence seeming to have brought women little pleasure. .
So many of the cards from contemporaries mentioned health problems, including cancer operations, hip and knee replacements and strokes, those curses of old age. They keep us old buggers alive year after year, but few of us are firing on all four cylinders, nobody I know over the age of 75 years being free from some illness. No wonder that the National Health Service is in such difficulties, not helped by endless immigration. In our small community of four houses all the residents, all over 70 years, have had health problems, including heart tousles, cancer operations and hip replacements.
I believe it was Alan Bennett who said that in old age life involved crossing out the names of friends in an address book, as we have had to do this Christmas, attending funerals being a regular part of life, most of the funerals nowadays being humanist ceremonies rather than the unbelievably dreary Church of England service about the nonsense of going to a better place - not that it would be difficult.
It seems rather disappointing that the cards bought from Tesco were made in China, and there was furthermore the report that they had been made by prisoners in the hateful communist regime, Tesco subsequently withdrawing the cards Why on earth don't we support our home printing industries, instead of supporting a thoroughly nasty communist country that cares not a hoot about pollution and climate change or anything to do with democracy?
It amused me that one of the many charity cards had on the back the message: "If you use a fountain pen please allow a few moments for the ink to dry." Throughout my career I used the Sheaffer fountain pen on the right of the photograph, but last year it stopped working, presumably all gummed up, not being able to free it. However, Mrs. Copeland bought me the one on the left (another Sheaffer), which I now used for must of the time.
As I was running out of Parker Quink black ink, I went to the W.H.Smith store in Lincoln on the 27th December, seeing earlier that the ink was available at £7.99 on their website. On parking the scooter I had to walk a long way with my painful arthritis, only to find that there was only blue ink available, there apparently being no stock control. I gather that W.H Smiths has a poor customer satisfaction rating, which does not surprise me. I subsequently ordered two bottles from Amazon at a total cost of £11.38 (free postage). The High Street stores complain about the unfair competition from Amazon, but do nothing to improve their service, least of all their stock, having had it far too easy in the past.
The Taj Mahal which I visited during a holiday in India in the early 1980s.
One card mentioning prostate cancer, gave details of a dreadful holiday Bulgaria :in July: "What a disappointment!. It was like being in Benidorm - so much noise, music everywhere, discos on the beach until 6 in the morning. We didn't eat in the hotel as you could never get a seat, and you were lucky if they had enough plates, etc. It was like being on a 18-30 trip!" What always amazes me is that so many people regard a foreign holiday as being essential, spending thousands, yet few people seem to enjoy their holiday, not that I can imagine being on a 6,000 passenger cruise ship is all that fun.. During the month two of these ghastly ships collided, which seems amazing these days.
Even so, we know of three contemporary couples who are all going on cruises, one going for 4 months to Australia and other faraway places. I would not want a top cabin for free, agreeing with Dr .Johnson that being on board a ship is like being in prison with the added risk of getting drowned. The thought of being with 6,000 other passengers, equivalent to the size of a large village, fills me with horror.
When I think of life today I really do believe that, for most of my earlier life, I lived in the best of times, a time when the riffraff could not afford holidays abroad, enabling Mrs. Copeland and I to enjoy foreign holidays, having visits to the Taj Mahal; the Pyramids; the floating markets of Bangkok; flying over Everest, Rhodes, and Paris and Heidelberg, even having a cruise on the Nile. I would certainly not want to go abroad ever again, my passport fortunately expired, never to be renewed. Home sweet home, but then a lot of people do not have sweet homes.
We had only three religious Christmas cards out of about 85, which is surely a sign that religion no longer plays any real part in our society, certainly not the pick 'n' mix morality of the dear old fading away Church of England. Many of the cards depict a robin surrounded by snow, but now we have climate change and no snow, I suppose these robins will eventually disappear on the cards, along with the snow. Mrs. Copeland sent about 80 cards, and I sent a further 15, so together we sent out nearly 100, receiving about as many in return.
The year saw the death of well known and much loved people, especially Sir Ken Dodd. How I enjoyed his long and hilarious performances at the Lincoln Theatre, the solo performances so long that he would say that the Conservatives would be back by the time we arrived home. I particularly liked his joke: "What a wonderful day to stand on the steps of the TUC headquarters and shout out a four-letter word - 'work'". Rest in peace, Doddy, the last of the great comedians, there being none today in our humourless and priggish society..
A candle purchased in Bethlehem during a visit in the early 1980s
This being the season of goodwill (must end 6th January), it was therefore not surprising that personal debt,. excluding mortgages, has reached record levels according to a report in "The Times" for the 5th December, amounting on average to £9,400 on credit and store cards. It seems an incredible figure, something that would certainly worry me as I do not want to owe anybody anything. As Shakespeare so wisely advised: "Neither a lender nor a borrower be". I seldom use my credit card, having a zero balance nearly every month, paying off any outstanding amount in full, certainly at this time of year. There is no doubt that credit cards encourage bad housekeeping, being largely responsible for the widespread indebtedness.
Annoyingly, we have to endure the nonsense of the Office for National Statistics saying that inflation was down to 1.5% in November, whereas the true rate for household items comes out at just under 6%, so many items having risen in price. The CPI database has 640 items - a supposed monthly "shopping bag", but includes computer games and air fares. But you do not need to know much about statistics to know that in such a massive database, a few important items that rise in price are discounted by the hundreds of other items that do not vary in price or go down. The true rate is found by doubling the official CPI rate and adding 2.5, coming out last month at 5.5%., so many household items having risen sharply in price, including an increase of £1 for all bottles of wine at Aldi.
For my part, I only just managed to achieve Mr. Micawber's financial advice, having to contend with two insurances during the month, one for the Scorpio and the other for household contents, coming £430 in total, while the boiler going unexpectedly wrong, requiring a new pump after 18 months from new, set me back a further £218. I bought 41 books during the year costing £774.61, down from £73.49 last year. As aforesaid I do not seem to read so much in my old age, invariably falling asleep during the evening, I will not be buying so many books next year, already having 9 waiting to be read at the end of this year.
Lincoln Castle. Photograph by granddaughter Chloe.
As happens each year, the woeful Christmas Market in Lincoln caused endless chaos, the major part of the city being a no-go area from Thursday 5th to Sunday 8th December, the overplayed event having been described as descending into a funfair. A park-and-ride arrangement between the Lincolnshire Showground some 4 miles north of the city and the Market cost an incredible £18, and a small glass of mulled wine cost £4.. And as usual the marshals were as unpleasant as ever.
Mrs. C. had to go into the centre of the Market to her hairdresser, hearing these uniformed marshals shouting out commands and abuse to motorists. As the old saying has it: "Give a man a uniform and he becomes a little Hitler." Mercifully, I went nowhere near the Market, so all the confusion and chaos did not affect me. I was only disappointed that it wasn't pouring with rain. As a letter in the edition of "The Lincolnshire Echo" so rightly put it, the market was overcrowded, expensive, and caused massive chaos, there being little benefit to the appalling Labour-controlled City Council which will again have lost thousands for the Lincoln City council taxpayers.
For the week's household provisions, Mrs. Copeland goes each Saturday morning to Waitrose for the main item, and Aldi for the wine, the wine being so much cheaper than the same brands at Waitrose. We have five bottles of wine a week, plus a bottle of Laphroaig peat whisky and a bottle of Jim Beam Bourbon, obviously not helping my finances, the newly found love of whisky adding considerably to the weekly budget.
Surprisingly, Mrs. Copeland finds that the customers at Aldi are far more cheerful and pleasant, seeming to be far happier, than the middle class customers at Waitrose. I suppose it can be argued that the new middle class generation, which includes the Johnies-come-lately, are a greedy selfish lot, obsessed with materialism and healthy eating and other such unpleasantness, going on cruises and needing a new kitchen every few years.. The old professional middle classes that I grew up with have long since gone, good manners and concern for others a thing of the distant past, even the grocer's apostrophe being of no account these days, the fellow who set up an organisation to protect the apostrophe having resigned in despair.
Middle class and a pillar of the local community.
Mrs. Copeland is a keen listener to the daily programme on BBC Radio Four - "The Archers". I usually leave the room when I hear the programme so that Mrs. C. can listen in peace, not wanting to be accused of "banging around", but on the rare occasions when I hear an episode there is nearly always a woman who is either screaming or sobbing, surprising me that women can be presented in such disagreeable tones, but then I suppose, as I frequently tiresomely mention, modern woman is not the happiest of creatures, independence not seeming to have given them much joy.
Over the past two months we have had appalling weather with rain nearly every day, along with winds, and it is often miserably cold, a shrill wind blowing nearly every day. Because it has been so utterly cold and wet, I have had to use the car on several occasions instead of the scooter. Indeed, I think I may have to put the scooter away for the winter, going to town by car instead. The small Piaggio scooter I bought to replace the much larger Sym is not as stable in wet weather with its thin tyres, making it very dangerous. I suppose the other factors is that at the great age of 85 years I now find being on two wheels is too cold in this unpleasant winter climate
Not surprisingly, the Climate change conference ended with the usual disharmony, nothing being achieved to rescue pollution around the world, China, America and Poland not wanting to have any restrictions. These delegates fly around the world to faraway places, ironically not realising they are causing so much pollution, also caused by our Government agreeing a third runway at Heathrow. While blizzards were currently raging all around Europe (not here) the delegates were saying the world was getting warmer and warmer. At least they make us laugh. with their ever changing views. Unless we moderate our massive consumption, there will never be any control on pollution, and somehow I cannot see the populace wanting another dose of austerity..
There is a saying among the old countrymen (Mark 1) that if there is no substantial snow falls before the 15th January, then there will be no significant falls thereafter. This has been true of the past two years and looks likely for 2020.
A flooded field in the village. having had so much rain during the month causing widespread flooding.
Mrs. Copeland's 102-year-old mother was poorly during the month, suffering from a lack of oxygen, having to go to the Colchester County Hospital on the 13th to have tests and scans, all of which showed that all was well, except for the lack of oxygen, which meant a supplementary supply up the nose, being kept in for several days. Much to our relief, mother-in-law is in the County Hospital, not one of those under-re soured private hospitals. Why anybody pays enormous amounts of money for private health care when it is so inferior to the NHS is a mystery to me.
Understandably worried that her mother might be at some risk at her great age, Mrs. Copeland drove down to see her on the 14th, for an overnight stay, the journey taking 6 hours when, with a 20-minute break, it normally takes 3 hours. Mrs. C. found it a thoroughly miserable journey, especially with the badly indicated endless diversions because of road works near Cambridge.
Driving these days along our road-raged highways is not a pleasant experience. It makes me so thankful, as I so often say, that I do not have another 40 years in this God forsaken country, and I am certainly glad that I left Essex long ago, now finding it so hatefully crowded. Soon there will not be a single field left as more and more massive housing estates are built. Admittedly, Essex with its timbered pubs and attractive villages, some with thatched houses (I had a thatched cottage long ago in Great Horkesley, telephone number Gt. Horkesley 236), is still far more attractive than the flat lands of Lincolnshire, but here in the county we can move on the roads, though it is gradually becoming congested, immigrants moving into the county in large numbers, especially in the farming areas.
Much to our relief, Mrs. Copeland's mother came out of hospital to return to her apartment flat after nine days in hospital, obviously having fully recovered as she was able to join members of the family at their usual meeting place in a cafe near the apartment. The family takes the view that she needs some care, preferably by a private organisation, most of them better than the NHS, but expensive.
With Mrs. Copeland on one occasion, and with several other people subsequently, the topic of conversation, mainly with our contemporaries, was that this has become a very nasty little country, everybody so greedy and selfish, nobody ever wanting to volunteer for any organisation, so many young people seeming to be so miserable. . Inevitably, all old-timers down the ages have looked back to an edited glorious past, mourning the loss of accepted values and mores, but the country today really seems to have gone to the dogs by any calculation.
Nobody cares, nobody wants to work, married couples cannot stay together for more than about 5 years; so many people are in debt; and we have a mounting tide of lumpenproletariat, the homeless being seen begging on the streets in large numbers. Maybe our Boris will sort things out, but it is my guess the decline has gone too far down the line for any solution.
One of the familiar cries of the young today is that they "are too busy", presumably because they spend so much time on those hateful mobile telephones, it being said that they are distraught if without one. For their part, the usual expression of my contemporaries is: "I cannot remember", but then perhaps this is just as well, Nature's defence in old age, our memory bank full.
Lincoln Cathedral shop, having a splendid range of goods.
Mrs. Copeland and I went to a party on the 15th, just three days after the wonderful election result. I was hoping that we might be able to discuss the splendid result, but our hostess promptly said: "No politics!. Anybody who mentions it is out!" I suppose this is understandable, the women not liking any talk about politics and economics, much preferring to talk about the family, friends and local gossip, which of course is their biological set-up, presumably explaining why women are so utterly hopeless as politicians.
Unfortunately, I am not all that good at parties these days, having to sit down all the time, being unable to circulate, because of my chronic knees arthritis,. Nobody comes to speak to me, women finding me so utterly boring, far too serious. On the party on the 15th December I fell asleep, nobody noticing. A further problem is that I am no good at small talk, soon running out of conversation, just like Oscar Wilde's "Selfish Giant" who had to leave his friend's house and go home having nothing left to say
At least I had an enjoyable time at this month's meeting of the Retired Gentlemen's Club, five of us having lunch at "The Woodcocks", the pub/restaurant in the village, though it was horrifying to hear from our very pleasant waitress that food supplies had somehow been curtailed over Christmas, meaning money had to be returned for bookings. Can anybody get anything right these days?
Mrs. Copeland and I continued having luncheon at a pub/restaurant on a Friday, going to "The Woodocks" (our favourite place where I always have an excellent sirloin steak) on the 6th, and again on the 13th when we met a couple who used to live in the village. We missed out on Friday 20th as Mrs. C. and I had both separately eaten out during the week, but on the 27th we went to the recently opened "The Greek House" at the massive housing estate of Burton Waters. The food was good, but the steak I had was far too large, meaning that I left about one-third of it, along with so many chips. Perhaps they ought to have a "Pensioner's Lunch".
Christmas at home with the family. It is so good that our two daughters, granddaughter and great grandaughter all live within a few miles, enabling us to meet on several occasions.
Once again we had Christmas Day at home, the family joining us, including the newcomer, baby Holly who receives all the attention, leaving me out in the cold. The great thing about Christmas at home, even though it necessitates a lot of scene shifting in our small house, is that I can drink to my heart's and kidneys' content, not having to drive. As always, we had a splendid turkey from a small family-run farm, so much better than the those offerings in the shops. I suppose on Christmas Day we ought to say a prayer for those wonky vegans with their advanced anthropomorphism, confined as mentioned earlier to rabbit food, including a juicy lettuce, no turkey, no Christmas pudding, no Christmas cake, only a pizza, no proper food at all. Sad misguided souls with their muddled views about animals.
I was given some bottles of Laphroaig whisky, my favourite tipple, plus Jim Beam Bourbon, both representing a decently acquired expensive taste. I also had books, and a kit for a DNA test of my heritage, involving a saliva sample that has to be sent away. I do hope I don't have any connection with the French. I also had some socks and a whisky glass, my family being very generous. Neighbours gave me a useful folding tool and some wine, along with the traditional present of a packet of flower seeds.
One of the rules we have at Christmas it that, apart from the Queen's speech, the idiot's lantern does not go on all day. Instead, around the log-burning fire, complete with Yule log, we play games and have a quiz that I compile. The television companies do not seem to bother about Christmas, just putting on the usual rubbish, possibly in bumper, even worse programmes, most of them about as riveting and funny a a Church of England funeral service. How I would hate to eat out on Christmas Day in a pub or restaurant, not being able to face the noise and the screaming children..
Our small Christmas tree this year, times being hard.
Our Parish Council, on which I am still a councillor at the great age of 85 years, bought two speed aware cameras for the village at a considerable cost, the aim being to stop the boy-racers, those nasty people in 4-tracks, and white van drivers from speeding through the village. Alas, after three weeks of being put in position, one of the cameras failed completely. Guess where it was made? That's right: China, from whence all the badly made rubbish comes. Why don't we impose massive tariffs on the communist products, using the money to build up our own industries? Alas, I suppose it is too late.
Unfortunately, the road that runs through the village called "Fen Lane" which meets the A57 remains in a hopeless condition. To improve the road it was made into a single carriageway with passing places, but the roadside edges have been a constant problem, deep potholes filled with water having developed, likely to cause damage to a car. The Highways Department put some filler in earlier this year, said to be a temporary measure, but nothing has been further heard nor done, the deep and water-filled potholes still very dangerous to cars. It is a pity the Romans are not still here, for they would have been able to sort out the trouble that seems to puzzle the Highways Department of our unloved County Council.
The road through our village. Some months ago it was made into a single carriageway with passing places, but the roadsides, despite all manner of treatment by the Highways Department remain flooded with deep and dangerous potholes. We are still waiting improvements.
Although I am a confirmed monarchist, believing that Her Majesty the Queen has done a splendid job, even though rather miserable, I have come to thoroughly dislike the offspring who fight and squabble with one another, clearly not having enough to do. I dislike seeing that Duchess of Cambridge prancing around in a new frock every day, having a clip-on smile, and I despair of that Megan who has not been accepted by the Royal Family, apparently banished to Canada instead of attending the Sandringham Christmas gathering, the press loathing her, not helped by her weak husband. I now turn the page whenever I see them displayed in the newspaper..
A letter headed "Queen's English" in "The Times" for the 28th December pointed out a grammatical mistake: : "The challenge many people face today may be different to those ones faced by my generation." It should, of course, be "different from". As Chaucer would have said: "If gold rusts what will iron do?"
With the 2020 calendar there is slip of paper saying that the 4th May Bank Holiday has been moved to the 8th May to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Bearing in mind that this event will be a reminder of the shameful cruelty of the Germans during the Second World War, it made me wonder what the Germans will think of the celebration. I suppose they will not be bothered now that they are the masters of Europe in the European Union, one of the other reasons why I voted leave in the referendum. My parents used to say: "Give the Germans some tins of grey paint, and they'll be on the march again."
I mentioned in the diary last month that I was proposing to end the diary this month, finding that, at my great age, it involved too much time and effort. This month it has taken me 18 hours 42 minutes, which seems a long time, half a working week in this country. A further consideration is that the change from a weekly diary to a monthly presentation has not been successful, now receiving very few e-mails, the hits having fallen substantially.
However, instead of cancelling it altogether I have decided as from January to have just two pages and two accompanying photographs, writing the diary to towards the end of the month, probably only involving about 4 hours of work. If that set-up doesn't work, then I will really give up, assuming my 10-year-old computer on the excellent Windows XP (the best ever operating system) does not pack up first.
I am greatly looking forward to "Independence Day" on the 31st January, 2020, when at long last we will be leaving that dreadful European Union, the Remoaners with their silly marches and that meddlesome woman who tried to nullify the ommanding result of the referendum, having been humiliatingly and completed defeated. I will put ou the flag and have a party In joyful celebration, commemorating the end of being shackled and subjugated to that undemocratic and bureaucratic Union into which we pay billions, receiving little in return. Ten years from now the Union will probably be gone; at least we can hope so.
Lincoln Cathedral. Photograph by granddaughter Chloe.
Comments welcome - especially critical
Lincolnshire 31st December, 2019,
Diary of an Octogenarian
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