DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN
- John Copeland -
"I hope that the immediate impact of the election of Boris Johnson will be a reversal of the disastrous trend started by Tony Blair of public servants and other professionals wearing open-necked shirts in public."
Letter in "The Times" 26th July, 2019. My sentiments precisely.
Worries about pollution.
As might be expected, the endless debate about climate change and the fears about pollution continued throughout the month, the warnings becoming ever more pronounced, yet as the photograph above shows, it would seem that the Clean Air Acts have little meaning in some parts of the world, certainly in China, the world's worst polluter. Additionally, at a time when the Government has severely curtailed household coal and wood-burrners, a new runway is likely to be built at Heathrow, causing massive additional pollution. Meanwhile, Sir Richard Attenborough keeps saying that we are doomed, the end of the world drawing nigh, prompting the Labour-controlled and hopeless Lincoln City Council to go into panic mode, declaring a climate emergency. Just what the authority is going to do in the emergency was not made clear. How you have to laugh!
For a review of my troublesome and ever painful arthritis, especially in my right knee, during the month I saw my excellent doctor - an English lady whom I like immensely, not having the customary cultural divide with a foreigner, however good they might be. This appointment followed on from a visit to a consultant who showed me an X-ray indicating that there was no cartilage at all between the right knee-bones, which was causing the relentless pain. I was told that the only real alternative was to have a knee replacement, but as I could not accept this at my old-age time of life, I should see my doctor for a stronger painkiller than Zapain (30 mg codeine sulphate and 500 mg paracetemol) that I have been taking for many years.
The doctor gave me a prescription for "Meloxicam", but they made me feel awful, having sleepless nights, diarrhoea, and my blood pressure rising to 175/110. After five days I stopped taking them. Subsequently, after telephoning the doctor about the problem, I was told to try "Nabumetone". On obtaining the tablets I was rather horrified to read in the accompanying instructions that there was a high risk of a stroke or heart attack, and that it was necessary to have a liver and kidney check every three months. Oh dear!
I know that all medicines have these warnings about possible side-effects, but the stroke and heart threat that was highlighted presumably indicated a very definite risk. Somehow I could not face taking them, not wanting to take the very real risk, so it seems that I am just going to have to put up with the endless pain. Were I at the age of 40, I would definitely have the knee replacement operation, but not at the age of 85 years, only having a few more years to live. Understandably, it is a difficult decision, making me feel guilty for wasting the doctor's time, not being the best of patients.
During the month I had an e-mail from a lady reader who told me that at the age of 71 years she had excessive pain from arthritis in her knees, but had decided on no account did she want to have a knee replacement, it being far too dangerous in old age. My sentiments precisely.
A Humpty Dumpty great fall resulted in the skin being torn off my left arm, so painful, and presumably so long to heal.
Unfortunately, I had a Humpty Dumpty great fall on the 18th July. We had been playing Scrabble with a lady neighbour in the conservatory during the evening, and on departing for bed, having had a drink or two, I slipped on the dreadful cheap rug that Mrs. Copeland had bought earlier in the year for the conservatory, there being such a poor selection of small rugs in Lincoln. It was a very flimsy rug and kept curling up, and on this occasion I tripped up on it, falling against a table and hitting my head, taking the skin off my left arm (shown in the photograph above).
It was so painful that on the morrow I went to the chemist where daughter Kate works in Lincoln, being attended to by a very pleasant and helpful young lass who told me that she was the appointed First Aider. She subsequently applied a bandage, which stopped the excessive bleeding. The ugly-looking wound is obviously going to take a long time to heal up, no doubt leaving a substantial scar. Fortunately I never wear short-sleeved shirts so it will not show to an outsider. As Mrs. Copeland commented, I was lucky not to break an arm, which would really have caused me problems.
A delightful flower in the garden, giving a splendid scent in the evenings- Valarian.
It annoyed me to read that the profligate BBC pays ridiculous remuneration to its presenters. A football commentator received £1.75m last year, while the newsreaders were paid between £400,00 and ££530,000, several times more than the salary of the Prime Minister. According to press reports, the Bloated Broadcasting Corporation continues to spend many more millions on staff salaries, yet in its arrogance they will be taking away our free idiot lantern licences from next May. It really is outrageous.
One thing is certain: I will never pay the licence, currently costing £154.50, throwing out the set that is never switched on except for the showing of DVDs. I will therefore purchase a home cinema set-up for showing the DVDs, which will pay for itself within two years by not paying the licence fee. According to press reports during the month, when the free licences for those over 75 years of age come to an end on the 31st May next year, television police will call upon those people who have not paid, presumably searching the house in a total evasion of privacy. However, they can come and search my house as many times as they like as they will never find a television set anywhere, the set having been given to charity. Perhaps they will stop for a drink, having had a fruitless search.
A helpful village friend sent me an e-mail quoting an Internet Television Licensing website that said that "You don't need a TV licence if you only use your TV for gaming or DVDs. That's as long as you never watch or record live TV on any channel, or download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer". But how are they to know you are not using the appliance? Do you write in and tell them that you never watch the rubbish, and will they believe that?
During one of the Sunday afternoon sessions at the Club, a member whose opinions I greatly value, especially as he is a confirmed Brexiteer and favours President Trump, suggested that taking away the free television licences was a deliberate plot on the part of the Government to destroy the BBC that will be faced with thousands of pensioners who will refuse to pay the annual £154.50 licence. There could be a lot in that theory, wanting to destroy an unreliable broadcasting corporation that is extremely left-wing in its very obvious political bias. I would not be sorry to see it go.
First-rate cartoons from "The Times" that I have collected and mounted. The newspaper is worth buying for those cartoons alone.
I was so delighted that Boris Johnson won the premiership vote in the constituencies by a massive majority: 92,153 to 46,656. Rightly and properly he got rid of all the Remoaners in his Cabinet, knowing that they would only cause trouble in their determination to remain in the circus, thereby putting men in the posts of Chancellor, Foreign Secretary, Defence Secretary, Education Secretary, Transport Secretary, and Health Secretary. The only women in a top position was Priti Patel who actually wants to help the police, not cut their numbers by 20,000 at a time of rising crime, as the utterly hopeless May did.
With Johnson now at the helm, having to undo all the harm that Mrs. May has done, the economy falling steadily apart every month in a lawless land, I feel as if there is now some real hope for the country at last, coming out of the hateful European Union and refusing to pay the outrageous £39 bn divorce bill, though it would be worth it to get away from those nasty people across the English Channel. Indeed, I have never felt so hopeful and cheerful, even the sun shining brightly as our Boris became Prime Minister.
As might be expected, the loathsome "Guardian" newspaper, hating monarchy, grammar schools, and anything to do with enterprise and excellence, almost anti-British, sneered at the appointment, likening Johnson to another Trump. If he is, let us be thankful for that, President Trump having woken up the American economy after the indolent, do-nothing days of Obama - and he has also had the courage to deal with troublesome Islamists, the enemy within, as Mrs. Thatcher the Great Destroyer would say. The good times are really coming - and it is quite unlike me to be in optimistic mood, being a veritable Eeyore.
I suppose it has to be admitted that it is disappointing in our supposed democracy that there is no effective Official Opposition, the Labour Party being dead in the water, Comrade Corbyn being well away with the fairies, wanting to defy the people by staying in the circus, while the Lib-Dims, as always a joke, are heading for the political desert under a woman. Therefore, apart from the European Union appeasers in the Tory Party who want to bring the party and the country down, Boris Johnson has a clear run, able to put the country back on its feet, Trump-style. Trebles all round, while we must pray that we never again have a female Prime Minister, both of them having to be deposed. Mrs. May must surely be the worst Prime Minister we have ever had, even worse than Blair, Brown and Cameron. And don't let some silly snowflake sod tell me this is sexism on my part, for it is a proven fact of life.
I was delighted that Tony Blair's intervention on Brexit, making all manner of suggestions and recommendation to remain in the circus, came to nothing. Why doesn't this Ghost of Christmas Past retire gracefully, understanding that his days of political influence have long since gone.
With Mrs. Copeland and two widowed neighbouring ladies, I celebrated the wonderful announcement of Mr. Johnson becoming Prime Minister on the of the 23rd, having the expensive bottle of wine daughter Caroline gave me for my birthday - "New Zealand Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2018". The great thing about our Boris, sometimes likened to Mr. Toad, is that he has a wonderful sense of humour, whereas our two female Prime Ministers had about as much humour as a Methodist service. If you made Mrs. May laugh, she would have to go to bed for a week to recover.
I therefore have every faith in our loveable Boris, especially as the delightfully funny Matthew Parris, who is always wrong in his political soothsaying, predicted in his column in "The Times" for the 8th June, 2019: "Johnson premiership will fall apart in a year". Look at what our Matt writes, then take the opposite view, and you have the correct interpretation. Nevertheless, it has to be admitted that our Boris has an almighty task in front of him, undoing all the harm that the maddening May has caused to the social and economic fabric of the country. He has to restore the police service that she ruined, along with putting the National Health Service together again. He must also stop that offensive nonsense of primary school children being taught about sexual irregularities - the thoroughly nasty business of "Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT). If anything, young children need to know about loving sexual relationships, not biological quirks.
There are, of course, allegations that Boris Johnson's Government represents a very right-wing order, but surely we must welcome this as the swing of the pendulum, getting away from the absurdity of human rights instead of human responsibilities, the stupidity of believing in equality, and all that unbelievable silliness about political correctness and listening to the whining of the snowflakes. Even so, if he only achieves half of what he has set out to do, he will have made England a better country, especially now that Socialism is dead and gone. Already he has shown his steel and resolution in standing up to the hateful Barnier et all, saying come what may (not a good word to use!) we will be coming out of the Union on the scheduled Hallowe'en.
I enjoy keeping these predictions, nearly all of them being wrong. For example, in "The Times" for the 1st February, 2019, Philip Collins headed his column: " May is in a stronger position than you think". Clang! How you have to laugh. I suppose these columnists are not to be taken seriously, their main intent being to make us all laugh.
EU appeasers on the march in London, sadly misguided people who want us to remain subserviently in that circus.
Unbelievably, our ambassador to Washington made the incredibly stupid and unthinking comments in leaked memoranda to "The Mail on Sunday" (7th), writing that President Trump's administration was "inept and insecure." Understandably, these unpardonable comments did immense harm to Anglo-American relationships after President Trump's highly successful visit to this country, and at a time when, after leaving the circus of the European Union, we will need an even closer relationship with America.
Presumably this mischief-making was approved by those unpatriotic and undemocratic Remoaners, those EU appeasers, some of whom had a silly march in London during the month, wanting us to remain in the circus, being dominated by the Germans, crazily subjected to the worthless judgements of the European Court of Justice, faced with unlimited and uncontrolled immigration,, and having to abide by the endless and worthless rules and edicts from the Brussels bureaucratic army. In my view, Boris Johnson who initially did not support the ambassador, was right in recognising that the ambassador's role had become untenable, President Trump rightly refusing to work with him. Not surprisingly, the ambassador did the noble thing and resigned.
When you think of the fine mess that the hopeless Mrs. May has made, it seems that the ambassador was calling the kettle black, Britain now being the laughing stock of the world after over the 3 years of failed Brexit negotiations. The fact is that President Trump's administration has been immensely successful, seeing an economic boom, non-farm payrolls growing by 224,000 in June, and the figure would have been even greater if the FED had a better understanding of interest rates.
Additionally, the President stood up to the evil regime in Iran - something Obama never did, not that he ever did very much, everything being swept under the White House carpet, though he had the gift of the gab, as my old granny would have said. Gradually, the President is doing away with all the nonsense about political correctness, while the Democrats under that dreadful old woman Pelosi are steadily fall apart, fighting and quarrelling with one another, further indicating that women, wonderful in the caring professions, especially as doctors, are not at all suitable for politics.
Inevitably, the President was in trouble on numerous occasions, especially for standing up against the Iranians. He was also severely criticised for believing in "America first". Should he have said "America Second"? Is it not the case that all nations are concerned selfishly with themselves, making me wonder what on earth is wrong with nationalism, standing up for your own country
Roses in the garden. They have been magnificent this month.
The President was even incredibly and ridiculously criticised for quite reasonably tweeting that a group of trouble-making black Muslim Democratic congresswomen, labelling themselves as "Progressives" (i.e. Marxists), the Republicans referring to them as "The Jihad Squad", should go back and fix their totally broken and crime infested country from where they came, rather than criticise him and grumble about America. Jumping on the bandwaggon to embarrass the President, the thoroughly nasty left-wing press, especially the loathsome "Washington Post", distorted the President's comments, accusing him of racism, bringing forth howls of protest.
These unpleasant and trouble-making women apparently made no attempt to integrate into their new country, remaining by choice as outsiders. Maybe it is understandable that the President wanted to keep Muslims out of the country, knowing that they were trying to destroy it.
Nowadays, if you do not believe in a policy, you either shout down a speaker, as happens these days in our intolerant universities where free speech is banned, thereby negating the very purpose of a university education, or you label opposing comments as being racist or sexist, thereby ending the discussion. For example, if I write, as I frequently comment in this diary, that women are hopeless in politics, based on the factual failures of Thatcher the Great Destroyer and the hopeless Mrs. May, both having been forcefully deposed as Prime Ministers, I am immediately labelled as being "sexist", and there can be no further discussion on the subject.
It was surely quite reasonable and justifiable for President Trump to tell immigrants to go home if they are not happy in their adopted land, just as an Australian Prime Minister did a few years ago when he said that if Muslims did not like life in Australia, and were not prepared to accept the customs of the country, they should return home. What is wrong with that, for heaven's sake?
Perhaps not surprisingly, the demented and deranged Democrats, unwisely having raised the racist issue in an attempt to condemn the President, have found that their incredulous sniping has seriously backfired on them, a report by the excellent Gerard Baker in "The Times" for the 20th July being headlined: "Trump is riding a powerful wave of white resentment" writing:
"One striking event of the week's controversy was that how few Republicans criticised the President. Of course, few want to risk to opprobrium of the tweeter-in-chief. But their silence may also be a recognition of the growing political potential of the angry, alienated white voters who are a significant part of the party's base. Mr. Trump rode that resentment to victory in 2016. There's every sign that he can do it again in 2020."
In other words, the Democrat stupidity, being governed by Ms Pelosi, adds further assurance that Donald Trump will thankfully romp home to an overwhelming victory in November 2020, there being no opposition, just as Prime Minister Johnson faces no opposition from Comrade Corbyn's Crazy Gang in this country. The Democrats under Pelosi must abide by that Biblical advice: "As ye reap, so you shall ye sow."
Meanwhile, as expected, a bid to launch impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump was blocked in the US House of Representatives, putting an end to the ridiculous impeachment saga. Perhaps the Democrats, equivalent to our Labour Party under Comrade Corbyn, will now turn their attention to help running the country, instead of spitefully trying to attack President Trump, being such bad losers.
Lily in the garden.
Another highly innocent remark, said as a joke but reported in "The Times" on the 17th July under the heading of "Lib Dem Joke Scandal" related to a former M.P. and armed forces minister who commented in a party magazine that when a very attractive young lady was taking his inside leg measurement when preparing a suit for him, "he was struggling to keep his mind on the matter in hand".
What on earth is the matter with the miserable snowflakes who condemned the joke; what on earth has gone wrong with them? Is it so wrong for a man to find a young lass attractive? Are they totally humourless in their nasty Puritanical, narrow-minded little world, and why, we might ask, are they given such attention? It is bad enough having to deal with those crazy vegans, let alone these silly people. As dear old Eeyore would say: "It's pathetic."
The first female black Bishop in the dear old Church of England
It begins to look as if women are now taking over the control of the world, especially in this country, occupying all the important positions. There is a woman who now head of the European Union Commission, another leading the International Monetary Fund that always gets its economic forecasts wrong, and here it was recently announced that a black, Argentinean woman had become the first female bishop in the dear old Church of England. On Radio 3, on which I listen to the news summary at 8 a.m., there are nearly always women presenters and news readers, making me believe I have switched onto "Woman's Hour". There was even a woman conducting the first night of the BBC Promenade concerts during the month.
There is now even a national female football team, which duly lost to the Americans, the losers sobbing their hearts out, and even our customer-unfriendly County Council now has a woman as "Executive Director". And what is left in the Lib-Dim Party there is now a woman leader, steering the party into oblivion. During my working days I dreaded serving under a woman, but luckily I never did, the gods being kind and merciful, preventing me from suffering the dreaded indignity. Indeed, as a Divisional Education Officer I took over from a woman who had made a complete mess of everything. I suppose these days young men easily accept being ruled over by a woman, thinking there is nothing wrong in it. How times change, not always for the better if you ask me.
According to press reports, the Meghan Duchess has been causing more trouble, this time indirectly condemning President Trump for his alleged racism. Oh dear: it seems that the woman, a fierce feminist, is bent on causing constitutional trouble in a difficult marriage. The Royal Family should have kept to the rules about divorced partners that prevented Edward becoming king. There were standards in those days. As it is, the siblings have not exactly been icons of connubial feleicity.
On the 30th July I read the comments of the first-rate Malamie Phillips in "The Times" in her column headed "Meghan's 'woke'Vogue is shallow and divisive". making the comment that "Alas, she still doesn't understand that her new status precludes political statements. She still hasn't grasps that the role of the monarchy is to unite the country. For many of the 15 [people named in the Vogue article as being supposedly outstanding] are asociated with causes that are deeply divisive." A troubled marriage.
Avenue of oaks in July.
I was also very sad that my two grapevines in the conservatory are both dying, the leaves going yellow and falling off. There was no point in keeping them, so I took them outside where they will have to take their chances. I suppose I should have bought the outdoor vines. Another fine mess. A further setback was slugs eating seedlings that I had planted out in the garden. Earlier in the year I had used the pellets to protect my runner bean plants, finding that without them there was hardly anything left.
As I had run out of pellets, I went in to Lincoln to the shop where I usually purchase them, only to be told that they had been banned under yet another Brussels directive, being harmful to birds, so my plants can be eaten away. What a daft world we are becoming. I have never much cared for birds, believing that they do more harm than good. As it is, farmers have killed a lot of them with their highly dangerous pesticides and sprays that are still allowed. Subsequently I managed to purchase some bird-friendly slug pellets from Amazon. It seems we buy nearly everything on Amazon these days, local retailing being a thing of the past.
Flowers in the garden - Cosmos.
The UK economy continues to go relentlessly down. In June, output "hit its lowest level in six years"; the "construction industry suffered its worst month since financial crisis," while the housing market is also in the doldrums, thankfully continuing to show falling prices. According to a headline in "The Times" on the 4th July: "Recession fears arise as services dip". For the past few months I have been saying in this diary that we are on the way to recession, and at last the official verdict has caught up with me. Yet again, you read it here first.
Meanwhile, the FTSE roared ahead when Boris became Prime Minister, gaining 137 points on one day, comfidence having been restored. On the other hand, with all manner of fears being promugated over a No-Deal, the £ slumped to new lows. It will no doubt recover as the EU appeasers lose ground.
It is all due to Brexit, of course, everything being blamed on the arising uncertainty, which is a total nonsense, the real reason being that our poor economic performance is largely due to not working hard enough, explaining that, whatever the Brexit outcome, we are heading steadily towards recession, each quarter seeing a reduction in economic growth. The two principal problems are therefore: 1. Our appalling productivity per man hour, being by far the lowest among the G7 nations, and 2. Our lack of manufacturing, making hardly anything in this country any more. For example, I bought a pair of Clarke's sandals on the 25th (reduced from £59.05 to £39.05), seeing that they were made in Vietnam. On another occasion, I noticed that "baby sprouts that Mrs. Copeland had bought from Waitrose, weere imported from Morocco. How can vegetables come all that way, yet be far cheaper than home-grown produce?
From time to time we are told that more people than ever are in employment, yet every week, almost every day, there are announcements of thousands of job losses, among them this month involving the loss of 18,000 jobs, many of them in the City of London, relating to the German Deutsche Bank. There was also the loss of thousands of jobs in the Nissan factory in this country. Somehow the figures do not seem to add up. How awful it must be for a married man with a wife, young children, and an expensive mortgage to suddenly lose his jobs in an ever declining market - something that I always dreaded.
A bottle of beer, part of a collection given to me for my birthday, that I greatly enjoyed.
Those troublesome Iranians seized an oil tanker flying the British flag in the Gulf during the month, our weak and unimpressive Foreign Secretary - Jeremy Hunt - who lost the premiership election - threatened that "there would be serious consequences", no doubt having the Iranians quaking in their shoes with fright. How sad it is that, as a country, we have no power or influence in the world any more, no significant armed forces, unable to even deal with spear-throwing Zulu's, a shameful and degrading departure from Disraeli days when a gunboat would have been sent to stop the trouble, days when we had a glorious empire upon which the sun never set, the world being a far better place in those days.
Perhaps it has to be remembered that earlier we had seized an Iranian oil tanker in the Mediterranean bound for Syria, said to be breaking sanctions, so I suppose it could be said that we started the dangerous saga, our hopeless navy subsequently being unable to defend any ships. Why on earth did we get involved, knowing that we cannot defend any retaliatory action? Why cannot we now accept that we are a Third World country in relentless economic and social decline - though maybe our Boris will solve everything for us?
The Scrabble game that I amazingly won during the 2 games played on the 29th July. During the past two months the overall score having played 14 games is: Mrs. C won 10, while I won 4, slowly improving as we played more games. A fascinating game that we now play every Monday evening, making a break from reading.
During the month Mrs. Copeland and I continued playing Scrabble, having started playing the game last month. We also had a threesome on two occasions with a widowed neighbour. Mrs. Copeland regularly plays the game with her mother (102 next month) when down in Essex, but I have now started as a novice, never having played the game before. Mrs. Copeland is very good at doing crosswords in "The Times", completing one most evenings quite quickly, and she is excellent at anagrams, whereas I have no understanding of either concept, having a poor word recognition.
Overall during the two months we played 14 games, of which Ms. C won 10 while I won 4, gradually improving as we played more games. The photograph shows the game of two that I won on the 29th. Having started, I managed by an incredibly i lucky fluke to get all 7 letters out with "duelled", gaining a bonus of 50 + the letters score = 60. Mrs. C nevertheless almost managed to catch up, the final score being 254-232. . I greatly enjoy the game, especially as I am gradually catching up with Mrs. C., even when losing our scores being very close together.. I suppose the game is probably 50% luck with the letters drawn out, and 50% skill that an be acquired with regular playing. .
The family gathered in our garden for an evening celebration of my 85th birthday.
I celebrated my 85th birthday on the 11th of the month, having drinks at noon with the neighbours and some village friends, and in the evening with the family, both proving to be very pleasant occasions, especially as we were able to sit outside in the garden in the sunshine. In the past we have celebrated as a family by going to a restaurant in the evening, but as Mrs. C. and I were going down to Essex on the morrow to attend a wedding on the 13th, we decided to stay at home, especially as we will all as a family be meeting up again at the wedding.
It seems very sad that nearly all my friends who religiously abided by the so-called healthy lifestyle, regularly exercising, avoiding red meat, consuming that watery semi-skimmed milk with all the goodness taken out of it, and having the unbelievably horrible butter substitutes that taste like Castrol XL, have nearly all gone, making me so thankful that I took Billy Butlin's advice and had a lie down whenever I felt in need of exercise. Thank heavens I am not a vegan, for I would have been gone long ago. Appropriately, Roy Jenkins in his massive biography of Churchill that I read during the month, quotes him saying: "Almost all the food faddists I have ever known, nut-eaters and the like, have died young after a long period of senile decay."
I had 21 birthday cards, plus several e-mails from readers of this diary - much appreciated. I always write to thank people for a card, though this does not seem to be the custom nowadays. Different standards today.
One of the cards showed a group of men and women sitting around a table, the caption reading: "I know we didn't accomplish anything, but that's what meetings are for." It reminded me of our Parish Council meeetings, the Council having no powers or inflence, essentially a talking shop. On the other hand, we have advance warning of the harm that the developers and County Council are going to do to the village.
Yet another osteospermum in the garden - a magnificent display this month, all thanks to Mrs. Copeland. A country garden must be full of flowers.
We celebrated Mrs. Copeland's birthday on the 22nd July, having drinks in the garden on a wonderfully warm evening at 5.30 p.m - 7.00 pm with two widowed neighbours, followed by the arrival of the family, including baby Holly, having a Kentucky Fried Chicken take-away, something that I have never had before, thoroughly enjoying it on this first occasion Again, it proved to be a very enjoyable occasion, making me so thankful that our family lives nearby, allowing us to meet up regularly. Not for us those long good-byes that so many parents and grandparents have to face when offspring are over the hills and far away.
Mrs. C and I also had a pleasant time during the two overnight stay down with mother-in-law (12-14th) in Essex, when we were attending a wedding of a niece on the 13th. During the preceding Friday mother-in-law was watching the tennis tournament in Wimbledon with the sound mercifully switched off, but had the subtitles on. They were so silly, totally unnecessary and spoiling the proceedings. When the tennis was relayed on the large screen in our local Club on the following Sunday (the men's final) the sound was off and no subtitles, and thank goodness for that, not having to hear all that female screaming and men grunting. How manners have deteriorated!
I enjoyed the wedding for which no expense had been spared. The church service was short and sweet (a woman vicar, of course), thankfully not like the dreary, seemingly endless official Church of England presentation. In a way I suppose that weddings make me feel rather sad, seeing a young couple with their lives all before them, whereas mine is nearly over, probably never seeing the end of Brexit.
Our Parish Council, of which I am a member, is having to make a response to the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan, which sets out the proposed building developments within the county and allied matters for the next two decades. On previous experience it might possibly be suggested that we are wasting our time in making any response, for whatever we say, whether opposing or seeking modifications to the Cloud-Cuckoo Plan, not the slightest notice will be taken of our views.
The main purpose of the Plan would appear to be to put as many houses as possible into the county, a charter and a field day – or rather an ex-field day - for Packemin Ltd (Property Developers), no regard being had to the absence of effective transport facilities, schools, employment opportunities, and medical provision, effectively creating future slums in the rural county. It makes me so thankful that I do not have another 40 years to put up with all this undemocratic nonsense, a green and pleasant county no more.
The problem we have in Lincolnshire, in addition to more and more immigrants moving into the county, is that retired residents in the south are moving up to Lincolnshire where they find that house prices are almost half those in the south, giving them a nice little nest egg. Unfortunately, being old, they are more than likely to use the medical services, putting an even greater strain on the hospitals in which doctors are reluctant to come to this backwater.
Perhaps not surprisingly with a "stone cold loser" of a London Muslim mayor, there were four murders in the city over the weekend of the 6/7th June, the Wild West city now being known as "Knife City", precious little seeming to done by Khan to deal with the problem, being more interested in shouting out insults to President Trump who rightly describes him as incompetent and inefficient. At least our Boris has promised 20,000 more police (the number that the hopeless Mrs. May reduced when Home Secretary) so this may go some way to easing the problem. I wonder if the killings are in any way racially motivated, but then we will never know as it is said that we live in a happy and harmonious multicultural society.
Lilies in the garden.
I had a very nasty e-mail from a gentlemen calling himself "Virge Parzen", saying that he had recorded me watching pornographic video clips on my computer, and that unless I sent him $1,198 he would send the recording to all my correspondents, which would certainly make them laugh, presumably surprised that I still had it in me at the age of 85 years. Furthermore, it would take half a day to download a video on my elderly computer that goes slower than a British worker as each day passes. My only concern was that he knew my password, which he quoted, getting it nearly right. I therefore telephoned my Internet Service Provider, the excellent Clara.net, getting through straight away to an agent, to ask if I needed to change my password. I was told to just ignore the e-mail, not bothering about a password change.
Mrs. Copeland received an almost identical scam last year, making the same threat, which rather amazed me at the time. In a way it is rather worrying, for the scammer has probably sent the e-mail to scores of people, only needing to catch one to make such a rich killing. According to a news report this month, British Airways was hacked, losing details of thousands of customers' personal details, Currys suffering a similar fate. So much for security!
I own two very large elderly lime trees on a small plot of land near our house, and I decided that it was time that remedial work was necessary, several large branches overhanging dangerously down. I therefore sent 4 e-mails to tree surgeons, explaining what needed doing, asking for a quotation for the work, but only 2 bothered to reply, the lowest one amounting to £400. It seems that nobody wants to work in this country, no doubt causing a degree of concern when we leave the circus with a No-Deal. People will have to work a good deal harder and longer, not having the traditional 10-day Christmas shutdown.
Because both trees have Tree Preservation Orders on them, I had to seek permission from the local District Council, having to complete a massive form, together with site maps and photographs. According to the acknowledgement that I had, there will be a response "not later than 13th September" [this year]. There could be a site visit, and I might be asked to provide an arboricultural report, likely to cost £178, no doubt all manner of things being found wrong to justify extensive work. To hell with that: I'll forget about the pruning if I have to go to those limits. Is anything easy these days?.
Mrs Copeland had the insurance renewal for her 6-year-old Peugeot 208 from Age.UK, the premium having gone up by 84%. Even when allowance is made for an accident she had last year (her fault), losing one of her 10 years no-claims discount, this was a ridiculous increase, but on telephoning the company Mrs. C. was told that there could be no change. On her behalf, I therefore went on to "Money Supermarket" to see a large range of quotations, the one from AA being £220 cheaper, so this was accepted, indicating the importance of "shopping around".
Books read during the month. The 965 pages of text of the Hitler biography will take me a long time to read. Another Hitler biography is due next month.
I read three books during the month: the 912 pages of text of Roy Jenkins' immense biography of Churchill, and "Working With Winston - The unsung women behind Britain's greatest statesman" by Cita Stelzzer, plus yet another biography of Hitler published during the month: "Hitler - A Life" by Peter Longerich, published by Oxford at £35, having 965 pages of text, which will keep me occupied for several weeks
In the Churchill biography the author comments how Churchill was disappointed with the British Army, saying on one occasion: "...there was the feeling that one military (naval) act at which the British were superior to the Germans, mainly because they had more practice, was that of evacuations" [Dunkirk, Singapore, Greece, Crete and Norway to mention some of the withdrawals], and on another that the Prime Minister was becoming increasingly "apprehensive that British troops did not really have the stuff of battle in them, man for man, they were not as good as the Germans."
On yet another occasion, when 35,000 of our soldiers surrendered to a much smaller German contingent in the fall of Tobruk, Churchill commented that the "British troops were not as good as the Germans." There is also the comment that "had Rommel been in the British army he would still have been a sergeant", not having been educated at the equivalent of a public school, or "Noddy Schools", as I call those institutions that over the years have done so much harm to the social and commercial life of our country.
Churchill's greatest feat was to resist the appalling appeasement of Chamberlain, Halifax and Butler who would have had us living under Nazi rule today, fully understanding the threat that Hitler posed in the 1930s, whereas the Labour Party, hopeless pacifists, opposed all measures of rearmament. As a war leader he was superb in the early years, but by 1944, when the Americans had taken over the conduct of the war, he could not get over and accept his diminished role, almost becoming an embarrassment. And he was not a good peacetime Prime Minister, still living in the Victorian age, trying to stay in power on far too long, despite illness, taking the view that Eden would not be able to manage the shop, which was all very prescient.
Initially, Winston was easily duped by Stalin, believing that he could work with "Uncle Joe", and there is no doubt that his relationship with the devious Roosevelt was one-sided, the President ripping us off with obsolete destroyers and his dislike of the British Empire.
"Working With Winston", involved a separate chapter dealing with each of the several secretaries who worked for Churchill in his role as a wartime and peacetime leader. Unfortunately, you only needed to read one of the chapters as all the rest said virtually the same things: that Churchill could be very demanding and grumpy, but at other times was charming and considerate to his staff. Perhaps inevitably as a leader, he was a very self-centred and opinionated man, so often wrong, but he was amusing and had a fine command of English, quite unlike today's political pygmies, frequently "having a twinkle in his blue eyes".
In the book one of the secretaries displays Churchill's arrogance and unlovable character during a visit to France after the war: "The train did not stop at Annecy and we would have to drive to Geneva [to connect to a train to Venice] when Churchill said: 'Kindly remember that I am Winston Churchill. Tell the stationmaster to stop the train'. The stationmaster did. Rather surprisingly and perhaps ironically, I found that I disliked Churchill after reading the book. A wonderful wit and a great writer, but had it not been for Field Marshal Alanbrooke, the CIGS, many of his daft military ventures would have been disastrous, as Gallipoli was during the First World War.
Towards the end of the month I started on the lengthy biography of Hitler, sadly finding that it was a very tedious and dull account, endlessly detailed. About two-thirds of the book is taken up with Hitler's rise to power. . There is even yet another massive biography of Hitler to be published next month - on order, of course.
A ghastly concoction in a Saturday edition of "The Times". How can anybody eat such a horrible dish?
Mrs. Copeland and I continued going to the local Club on a Sunday afternoon, usually 4 p.m. to about 6 p.m. On chilly days we assemble inside the Club, the men and women dividing into their separate, but on sunny days there are mixed groups around the large picnic tables in the garden.
The presence of women invariably means that I cannot talk about politics or economics, subjects that the ladies shout out as being "Boring!" but on one occasion during the month when sitting outside with a mixed group, I managed to raise the issue of the political situation here and in America, saying that I always wanted Donald Trump to be President, rather than that awful Clinton woman; that I hoped to see the end of the hopeless Mrs. May as Prime Minister, her Brexit negotiations having been a total failure (as President Trump rightly pointed out); and that I wanted Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, hopefully with a No-Deal Brexit.
I was shouted down by everybody as "being in a minority", yet it seems that my choices, based on my judgements, have proven to be wholly correct, everything that I wanted having come to pass. So who is right, my belief being that the majority is always wrong. It was the celebrated Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen who said that "The majority is always wrong, the minority rarely right", which means that on this rare occasion I was right.
Hog Roast at the Club. I cannot bear to see the full-sized carcase, and I am not all that keen on pork.
There was a "Hog Roast" on the 20th, attended by over 100 members, including Mrs. C and myself with granddaughter Chloe, Chris and baby Holly, making for a successful financial event, the Club needing all the money it can get in these difficult times. Sadly, so many of the newcomers, often urban refugees, who come to the village usually visit the Club once, but are never seen again, presumably on account of it not being posh enough for them, especially for a Johnny-come-lately. In a way it upsets me seeing the whole pig roasting on the spit, almost making me understand how the vegetarians feel about eating meat, finding it so barbaric and cruel. However, I soon get over these anthropomorphic sentiments.
Heavy rain was forecast at 4 p.m., when the carving started, but mercifully the thunderous rain arrived somewhat earlier, so we were able to enjoy the sunshine in the Club's garden, just as well on account of the large number present. Unfortunately, I am not all that keen on pork, and after eating the "pulled pork" (chopped up instead of sliced) in a rather large bun, I had an embarrassing attack of acid reflux, something for which I take Omeprazole each day. At one point I thought I would have to go home, but Chloe gave me a glass of water, which eased the problem.
Inevitably there were the usual food and drink frighteners during the month, no month being without several of the warnings about cancer. This month we were told that "A daily cup of tea with two sugars could increase the risk of cancer by 18%. For women the likelihood of breast cancer was 22% higher." How you have to laugh, the medicine men not having a clue what really causes cancer. Indeed, if you added up all the things we must not eat or drink, we would end up with a diet of monkey-nuts, bananas (not too often) and a glass of bottled water. Why don't they just admit that they do not know the causes of cancer, ridiculously presenting harmful food and drinks with very definite and ridiculous precise percentage figures of the risk.
It was wonderful to have such splendid weather during the second half of the month, the temperature at noon on the 25th reaching 32C. If this is climate change, let us have some more of it, seeing the sun making so much difference, people, even grumpy ones like me, feeling far happier. One of the splendid advantages of our stone-built house, formerly the stables of the nearby hall, the walls 30" thick, is that it is so wonderfully cool in summer, high ceilings downstairs also helping, while the house facing east-west is another advantage. Modern houses, no doubt all very cost-effective,, seem to be so hot and stuffy, all that insulation making the property unbearably hot in summer.
Unfortunately, the hot weather brought chaos on the railways and to flights, holidaymakers facing endless delays. Oh, the misery of holidays! Why do so many people, even geriatrics, lemming-like make their lives such a misery? It makes me so thankful that I enjoy staying at home so much, a bottle of wine and a book being my idea of civilised bliss, my passport thankfully having expired. It might be an idea if all passports were cancelled for people over the age of 75, for most of them are a damned nuisance on cruises. I gather that at some ports they shout out on the docking of one of those massive ships: "Throw out your dead!"
My Ford Scorpio that has only done 36,720 miles. Unfortunately, I had to spend £741 on repairs plus four new tyres, but I intend to keep the car, even if it ends up as SORN
My Scorpio developed a fault on the 17th - the car would not start despite the battery being fully charged. I therefore had to call out the engineer from the garage we usually use - a really excellent man - and he quickly discovered that no fuel was getting through to the engine. The car therefore had to be collected and taken to the garage by a hired breakdown lorry, which arrived within the hour - a first-rate service, and there are not many like that these days in this rundown country.
The breakdown vehicle had a flat platform which moved across the lorry so that it eventually moved along to touch the ground. I was most impressed as the operator - a a big burly fellow who told me he used to have Granada cars (the predecessor to the Scorpio), finding them to be excellent cars - skilfully pulled the car out of the carport and round a bend and then onto the lorry. Very clever. The fellow advised me to keep the car: "You will never kill it!" Unfortunately, 4 new tyres were needed, so with the collection, the repair, and MOT (it did not need a service having done only 100 miles since the previous MOT), the bill came to an alarming £741.40 - the most I have ever spent on a car. Nevertheless, even though I hardly ever use the vehicle, I still want to keep it, even if I have to eventually resort to SORN.
More flowers - stock. Somewhat short of photographs this month.
By using a recorded message that "this telephone has a device for recognising scam calls with false numbers", we have reduced the weekly scams to between 3-5, whereas before the message we had about 10-12 of the calls. As soon as the scammer hears the message he switches off. Even so, it is annoying that it was a false call. BT's "Call Protect" is not much help as the scammers change their false number each time.
It seems incredible that Mrs. Copeland and I disagree on nearly everything under the sun. For example, she is a convinced Remoaner, whereas I want to get the hell out of that hateful Union on the 31st October with a no-deal. Mrs. C. also thinks that the "Red Arrows" are an asset to the county, whereas I loathe hearing them roaring round and round the village all day long. I will therefore be so thankful when they are moved to North Yorkshire in 2020, always assuming I am still here. In our disagreement I am accused of seeing everything in black and white, and that my opinion is the right one and that every other opinion is the wrong one. I suppose these disagreements at least help to make married life more interesting. If we agreed on everything it would be a very dull life indeed.
As I get older I seem to get less and less sociable, preferring to sit at home in the conservatory with a book and a bottle of wine, so thankful that I never have to go abroad on holiday, certainly not on one of those ghastly cruise ships, my passport having mercifully expired. Indeed, the very mention of "holiday" nowadays fills me with paroxysms of despair, feeling so sorry for those sad people who believe that a holiday will enlighten their empty life.
Alas, I seem to have got into the bad habit of drinking too much during the day, possibly having the week's recommended allowance in a day, I started a new and restrictive regime on the 23rd of the month, having one glass of Chardonnay at lunchtime, and a glass at bedtime, plus a goodly measure of limoncello to help me get to sleep, therefore for medicinal purposes. Fortunately, the new regime will probably not last long.
During the month we continued having luncheon out on Fridays at a restaurant, going twice to "The Woodcocks" in the early part of the month, but when the schools broke up on the 19th July we had to go to more expensive restaurants to avoid the families with their badly behaved free-ranging children who are never controlled by their parents. Similar considerations apply to Lincoln, which I avoided for most of the month, only buying a paper from a garage on the fringe of the city, the place a hell on earth as families wander around and round the town, not knowing what to do on holiday.
Our conservatory, my oasis in a troubled world. Nowadays I prefer to stay at home with a book and a bottle of wine, and to hell with those horrible holidays.
As I mentioned in the diary last month, the road known as Fen Lane running through our village is full of deep and dangerous potholes. Unfortunately, the Parish Council was getting nowhere with the Highways Department of the County Council, so I decided in a private capacity to write to our excellent Member of Parliament, the Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Leigh, who wrote to the Department, subsequently receiving a letter from "The Executive of Place" (what fanciful job titles they give to themselves!) saying that the repair work would be undertaken with the next 4-6 weeks. Sir Edward not so long ago successfully prevented the rural vandalism of the Highways Department wanting to severely cut back the splendid and extensive yew hedges, so he has come to our rescue again, for which we are most grateful. An excellent member.
During the month we received the worthless"County News" in which the Lincolnshire County Council praises itself, not mentioning any of the extensive cuts in services. The main value of the publication is seeing the excessive remuneration of the councillors for the present financial year. The Leader of the Council received £34,192; the Deputy Leader £22,438; the Leader of the Opposition £9,712; the Chief Whip (surely not necessary!) £10,249; and the basic allowance for a few hours of work a week, mainly cutting services in committees £10,791. No wonder there is little money for services, the authority continually pleading poverty.
When I became a County Council employee back in 1970, councillors only received travelling expenses, and it might well be suggested that there was a far better quality of councillors in those faraway days, before authority became a nice little earner.
An editorial in "The Times" for the 24th June commented that Mrs. May was wise to continue as an M.P. rather than retire, for according to Ernest Hemingway, "early retirement was the "ugliest word [sic] in the language", having fearful consequences for health: "stopping work at too young an age can trigger a slew of dismal effects on your health", an Austrian survey showing that early retirement a "6.8% increase in the risk of premature death". (How wonderfully precise are these percentages!). "Retirement conjures a life of languor and stasis", bringing a loss of purpose that is injurious to physical and mental health."
Having been booted out at the age of 55 when the Divisional Education Offices were closed, the authority thereby losing all control over schools, I certainly found it very difficult in the early years alone at home, Mrs. C. working in the breast clinic of the County Hospital. There was the realisation that there were the concepts of "Freedom From" and "Freedom To", the latter being very difficult, all the hours to do with as I wish, but what was I to do? Eventually I took up computing, then started writing this diary - and although having suffered from lymphoma cancer (nothing to do with retirement), I am still here at 85, now full of optimism and hope, trebles all round, now that Boris is providing us with leadership. I realise that the diary has no worth, but I enjoy the stimulus of readers thoroughly opposing my views.
South Carlton Church, where Mrs. Copeland and I attended a communion service on the 28th July.
With Mrs. Copeland I went to a communion service at South Carlton Church on the 28th of the month. The sermon, taken by the Sub-Dean of Lincoln Cathedral, involved an explanation and the worth of prayer. Alas, I find it very difficult to believe in the concept of prayer, having problems in accpeting that there is a caring God who gives us free-will, and that prayer is a negatio of that free-will. The rector, an Indian, comes round to the villages to meet parishioners, and he will be coming to see me on the 1st of August, thereby helping me to become a greater believer.
At the end of the mnth I felt happier than I have felt for a very long time, everything seeming to fit into place. In America, the worthy President Trump is tearing apart the hopeless Democrats under that dreadful woman Pelosi, being assured of a second term. Here we at last have a leader who is going to take us out of the European Union with a no-deal, not paying the circus so much as a penny, and the Tories, under this splendid Boris now have a 10% lead in the opinion polls, albeit for what they are worth. After years of gloom and doom under the hopeless Mrs. May, the good times are now coming, the "Great" being put back in Britain.. Trebles all round.
Comments welcome -especially critical
Lincolnshire 31st July, 2019
Diary of an Octogenarian
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