DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN
- John Copeland -
"Tom Daley, the Olympic diver, and his husband Dustin Lance Black, chose Valentine's Day to announce that they were expecting a baby".
"The Times", 15th February, 2018. It reminded me of the scene in that wonderful film "The Life of Brian" in which a male member who follows Brian wants to be a woman and have a baby, saying he has every right to do so.
Throughout the month Brexit negotiations continued in their hopeless manner, the "i" for the 19th February saying that "Pessimism and apathy abound - about a third of voters not caring what happens." Indeed, it is beginning to look increasingly as if we will come out with a hard landing, no agreements having been possible with Mr. Barnier and that loathsome Tusk who thwart us at every opportunity.
As might be expected, Father Christmas, trebles-all-round Corbyn announced on the 26th that his party wanted to stay in the Customs Union and the Single Market, effectively meaning that his pie-in-the sky Party wants to remain in the Union, allowing free immigrant access to this country. The treacherous, muddled little man and his shabby party therefore want to go against the democratically expressed wishes of the British people in the Referendum to leave a Union from which we have never benefited. Essentially, they are merely opposing the Government without considering the needs of the country. Fortunately, the Party has shot itself in the foot and will never attain power, but in voting with the Tory rebels there will be further difficulties with Brexit. As Terry Thomas would have said of Corbyn: "An absolute shower!"
In the good old Victorian days, when we had a wonderful empire upon which the sun never set, bringing law and order to primitive countries, there was the saying: "Storm in the English Channel, Continent isolated." Alas, that is no longer true today when we have difficulty in holding onto the Falklands, possibly even worried about Northern Ireland staying with us. Decline and fall, you might say; indeed, our hopelessness in the negotiations is an indication of our weakness as a nation. Disraeli would never have put up with such nonsense, probably sending a gunboat to sort out the quarrelsome negotiators.
My guess is that if there were another Referendum there would be an overwheling vote to come out, getting away from those horrible people who have been so mean and spiteful to us in recent months during the negotiations.
Crocus in the garden
It seems that Rees-Mogg is now the favourite to take over from Mrs May. I quite get to like him, especially as he proposes taking us back to the more acceptable values of my generation. In recent years the pendulum has swung too far towards the loonies and the lefties, and we need a correction, just as President Trump is trying to wake up America after the lethargy of the Obama years - and consequently the Americans do not like being awakened from their slumbers and former easy life. We probably will not like it either.
Mr. Rees-Mogg has all the right qualities and characteristics to become a Tory Prime Minister. He was educated at Eton, essential for a Cabinet post; is married with six children (is he a Catholic? - nothing wring with that, especially as the Catholic Church honours the Bible, unlike the dear old declining C.of E.); he rightly opposes the offensive nonsense of same-sex marriages; and he is extremely wealthy, having had a dad who was editor of "The Times" when it was a better newspaper - a paper of record. I am told that he also has the benefit of a splendid sense of humour, which is essential in dealing with those difficult EU negotiators. Sadly, Mrs. May and Thatcher the Terrible have about as much humour as a Methodist service.
Meanwhile the Environmental Secretary, the clever but somewhat treacherous Michael Gove, trying so hard to make a name for himself, is proposing to ban household coal, insisting that it should henceforth be of the dreadful smokeless variety to prevent pollution.
In all probability, nothing will ever happen, for this is a sit-on-the-hands Government, doing and achieving nothing, Mr. Gove being all wind and woffle. Goodness knows what he would make of the photograph below.
On the 21st February there was the advice to "step away from the fireplace - burning wood is bad for you", the daft point being made that Spanish scientists (are there such beings?) had found that "the use of open fires is putting lives at risk because of the pollution that they let into the room.. The researchers recommended wearing a mask when lighting the fire and clearing the grate as these are the times when the highest levels of organic-carbon and smog particles are given off."
On the 16th there was even a front-page report in "The Times" that " Shampoo, oven cleaner, deodorant and other household products are as significant a source of the most dangerous form of air pollution as cars, research has found." What an utter nonsense. It really is time that these silly Billies who are making these worthless surveys are put on repairing the roads, doing something useful.
What on earth will they think of next that is so dangerous, suggesting that it would be far wiser to stay in bed all day and not risk this slow death from pollution. Fifty years from now, when thankfully I will be pushing up daises in the village churchyard, the muezzin calling the villagers to prayer, historians will describe the present times as "The Age of Neurosis and Anxiety", explaining how a country in relentless decline worried and fretted about everything.
What would Mr. Gove think of this pollution?
Meanwhile, I had to order some more household heating oil, finding that a 750 litre supply that cost £374 last November was now priced at £394, which is an increase of 5% Yet the increase will not be reflected in the CPI inflation for this month, the increase probably being offset by cheaper children's toys and bananas. What a nonsense this 640-database inflation is, the true CPI rate being found by doubling the official index and adding 1, giving a reading of 7%.
The oil was supposed to be delivered on the 16th, but I had a telephone call from the company at 9 a.m. that day saying that the lorry had broken down, and the delivery would be made sometime next week. However, this is something that has to be accepted as quite normal in a broken down country heading towards a long and lingering recession sometime during the Autumn of this year. Already it was announced that unemployment is starting to rise, especially among the 16-25 age group.
To no great surprise there is a warning that council taxes around the country could rise by as much as 6%, In Lincolnshire there was to be an annual rise of £78, Of all the bills I pay, the County Council contribution of the Council Tax is the one that I dislike paying most of all. Our local District Council provides an excellent service for dustbin empytimg and planning, but the County Council seems to be an enormous empire that never has any money for repairs, least of all for the appalling roadsides in our village. If the Council disappeared tomorrow, few people would miss it.
In December there was a 12.5% increase in electricity charges, taking my quarterly bill received during the month to £264.81, the highest amount ever..
At least all these considerable increases are somewhat adumbrated by an increase in my old age pension, the Pension Service sending me a letter during the month telling me that my pension per four week month would be rising from £670.28 to £697.68, so that will help a little against the rapid inflation. Incredibly, the economists are now saying that inflation will be coming down. Oh, yeah? At least petroleum went down by 2p a litre during the month, which seems remarkable, presumably the consequence of a glut.
Photograph by granddaughter Chloe
As usual there were several food frighteners during the month. One was fish oil, once said to be very good for us: "Consuming too much fish oil can increase the risk of serious liver damage a study suggests. Fish oil and sunflower oil were linked to harmful long-term changes and ageing effects in liver. The result was non-alcoholic steatohepatitis - a dangerous inflammatory condition that can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer."
Another scare was that drinking very hot tea can cause cancer, and on the 21st the "Daily Express" had the headline: "Give up booze to prevent dementia." It seems that they will soon be running out of things to frighten us with, nearly everything being bad and damaging, certainly anything that we enjoy. Furthermore, if all the things that are bad for us were added up, we would probably not be able to eat anything.
Fortunately, the scaremongers change their minds every few years, meaning that what was bad for us earlier will soon be perfectly safe again. Further frighteners indicated that asparagus could cause breast cancer, while an extensive study had shown that "eating factory made food including cornflakes and chocolate bars every day increases the risk of cancer by a quarter."
The real problem is that the medicine men have not a clue what causes cancer, thereby grubbing around and clutching at straws to find a reason, the general rule being what you enjoy is bad for you. People I know who have never smoked or consumer alcohol, having lived on a strict regimented and approved diet, have still ended up with cancer. It seems that rather than any intake of food and drinking, it is a malfunction/development in the body, rather like rheumatism that I have in both knees - and how painful it is.
What seems to be missing in all these frightening food surveys is that they take just one item - the intake of food - into consideration, apparently ignoring genes, lifestyle, environment and work. Meanwhile, it is advisable to take no notice of the frighteners, eating and drinking and being as merry as possible, even with all those Remoaners around, albeit in moderation. Maybe we could have a competition for next month's frighteners. I would put forward tea-bags, which are horrible at the best of times, never used by geriatric gentlefolk.
The room we graciously call the office, where I write this diary on a clapped out laptop
Not surprisingly, there were extensive job losses during the month, especially the 4,000 to go at the gas company Centrica. It makes me so thankful that I am not in the world of work, not knowing from one week to the next whether I will retain the job. To lose a job at the age of 40 years, no doubt married, mortgaged and with a family, must be a terrible disaster, only poorly paid, mainly female jobs in the service industries being available in the current downturn
It seems that the craze for veganism is becoming exceedingly fashionable, more and more people joining the ranks of the bunny-huggers who appear to have amplified anthropomorphism, even believing that animals have defined rights. Sadly, bringing disgrace and dishonour to their cause, some of the more extreme members have uttered threats to farmers, sometimes breaking into dairy farms in the misguided belief that "farmers are a product of a sick society". One young female farmer was told that "she should be kidnapped and tortured to see what cows go through," ridiculously claiming that "cows are raped to get pregnant and murdered for meat."
According to a report in "The Times" for the 3rd February, the more vacuous vegans "hold candlelight vigils outside abattoirs to give animals dignity before their death." And back in July of last year there was a full-page advertisement in the press showing the face of a cow, with the caption: "Humane milk is a myth. Don't buy it - GoVeganWorld". Another report on the 8th h indicated the sort of things vegans could eat, which included "Strong roots pumpkin and spinach burger"; "Soulful Brazilian tomato & black bean bean with cashews and quinoa"; and "Iceland Tandoori Shashlik"
I fully accept that people have a right to determine what kind of diet they have, even if, in the case of vegans, there is a dangerous lack of proteins with their bunny rabbit food, but correspondingly they have no right to send threatening letters to people or disrupt and destroy the property of farmers, and should be prosecuted by the police, a bit of truncheon-thumping being highly beneficial.
Not surpridingly, it was reported in "The Times" for the 27th February that "Scientists claim to have proved that a vegetarian diet is no better for us than a Mediterranean regime that includes some meat and fish." Surprise, surprise!
During February the kill-joy Cromwellian Puritans continued with their sexual witch-hunts, accusations of sexual misdemeanours, such as patting a woman's bottom or wolf-whistling, finding full expression, sex and the female body now having become so wicked and disturbing, even to the extent of a northern art gallery withdrawing a painting showing cherubs in a state of undress - though it was subsequently put back after complaints about ridiculous political correctness. Additionally, in the pathetic killjoy clampdown, " Formula One announced it will no longer use 'grid girls' in their events, starting with the World Championship next month."
I suppose these demented people will soon be burning books they regard as being offensive, just as the Nazis did, Hitler having also banning paintings that did not meet with his approval. Eventually this thoroughly nasty and narrow-minded craze with its lack of free speech will subside. In the meantime we have to endure the press giving lurid and graphic details of all manner of sexual misdemeanours every day, while the gutter press continues to show titillating photographs of scantily clothed females.
What seems so awful in this latterday tyrannical Puritanism, almost Victorian in its narrow-mindedness, is that it seems to devalue women, regarding them as mere dangerous sex-objects, to be avoided at all costs, especially when they are in a state of near nudity. Yet by way of regarding the female form as something to be prized and valued, certainly respected, not regarded as being unclean, I am putting in the photograph I usually use to celebrate the advent of Spring. I suppose this could be the icon of veganism with its juvenile regard for anthropomorphism. I had thought of putting in a complete nude, but this would be going too far in a respectable journal that avoids political correctness.
The photograph I usually put in to mark the advent of Spring, now added to represent the dangerous fashion for veganism, an anthropomorphic creed that believes animals have rights.
In this tyrannical clamp-down we have now reached the stage when employers are not allowed to ask a female applicant for a job whether she is pregnant. Bearing in mind the woman will be off work for several months during the subsequent maternity leave, there will consequently be immense problems for an employer, especially for a small firm. Local authorities, mostly grossly over-staffed, can easily deal with such absences, but not a small family firm struggling to make a living.
There is even the nonsense that if an employed pregnant woman suffers at work, her pregnancy not having earlier been known, the employer will be for the high jump for not having done a risk assessment. Were I an employer I would not employ a woman under the age of 40. This is not sexism or political incorrectness, often used to stop a discussion, but a fact and consideration of business life.
As if all these witch-hunts were not bad enough, at an unheard of university in the West Country zombie undergraduates tried to disrupt a speech being given by the invited Rees-Mogg, the ill-mannered heckling being the very negation of higher education that is meant to listen to and discuss various and differing viewpoints. The uncouth students should have been expelled, but then there is no discipline in this country any more - no respect for teachers or the police, a very worrying trend.
At least Mrs. May announced on the 19th that she was going to review higher education, which will no doubt bugger it up completely, as politicians mess up everything they touch. Oh that they would leave us alone instead of all this nannying. A state of anarchy might be an improvement. As Henry David Thoreau said in his pamphlet on "Civil Disobedience": "That government is best which governs least". Mr. Thoreau went off to live in the woods and refused to pay his taxes. He also said that the "mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."
Just to add to the tyranny, the makers of a the film "Peter Rabbit" had to apologise after facing a backlash [of abuse] over their depiction of a character's allergy. Apparently, the film shows a sequence in which Mr. MacGregor, who suffers a blackberry allergy, is pelted with blackberries by a gang of naughty bunnies. Oh, dear: what is a matter with these bunny-hugging cretins who seem to have lost all contact with reality, certainly having lost any sense of humour.
CAMRA, the real-ale people, were also in trouble in Derby because in their household magazine there was a crossword which had the clue: "US negro can become an operational doctor". Apparently, all hell was let loose by the Little Pathetic Puritanical People who, wanting to restrict free speech, objected to the term "negro" being used. Yet it is a proper and accepted word, just as "white" and "whitey" are accepted for the English.
Then there was a leading nostalgia television company in trouble with the censor for showing a 1970s drama about the Second World War in which the word "wog" was used. The fact is, however wrong it may be in today's mealy-mouthed and narrow-minded views, such terms were used in those days, along with the now highly offensive "Nigger" and "coons", especially in the words and views of Alf Garnet in "Till Death Us to Part", a series I looked at recently, thoroughly enjoying the programme, as I did in the freer 1970s, not in the least bit offended. How wrong is that in today's changed despotic values?
Another nonsense involved Center Parcs cancelling their advertisement in "The Daily Mail", profusely apologising, because people objected to a columnist in the newspaper saying that it was wrong for same-sex male "marriages" to have a baby, the daft criticism being that that Center Parcs was supporting homophobia. How right the columnist was, for the relationship between mother and child is the strongest and most valued bond in nature.
Just to add to all the nonsense, possibly to attract a bit of publicity, women attending the BAFTA awards all wore black as a protest against sexual harassment, yet one of the women attending the awards had her breasts almost hanging out, while another had a low-cut dress. The sexual irony, trying to attract and excite the male with erotic attire, never seems to occur to these muddled females.
The best explanation of the sexual witch-hunt was provided by granddaughter Chloe who, with her male friend Chris, invited us to her house on the 12th. Chloe suggested that the modern generation - that is to say those under 40 years of age, had been brought up in a cocooned and rigidly controlled environment in which they were protected from every kind danger in life, not even being allowed to go outside to play for fear of paedophiles around the corner.
Consequently, they had a very subscribed and restricted life in which they were forced to partake in all manner of scheduled activities - ballet, drama, horse riding, martial arts, instead of playing in the woods with their friends. Additionally, they spent most of their spare time on the mobile telephones and on social media, seldom interacting with their peers.
The result is that they have a narrow-minded view of the world, having no resilience, no back-up support, not being able to face up to any kind of danger, going off with stress whenever they have a problem at work, or breaking up their marriage when the slightest thing goes wrong. Their understanding of the world is strictly circumscribed, hence sex is very rude and nasty, and bunnies have rights, a world away from reality, there being no safeguard to face any kind of problem. Additionally, they have never known any discipline in the home or at school. I think that explains it all.
The wonderful rural scene that the vegans want to destroy.
On the 21st February. Mrs. Copeland went to the Village Ladies Luncheon Club, having a lunch at Cotes restaurant in Lincoln. I invited a female friend to join me at home for wine and Tiger rolls, having bought the items from Waitrose - and what a splendid middle-class supermarket it is, no riffraff and no music. The meeting was almost a communion, making for a very pleasant time, during which we inevitably talked about the wonky women who are now making such a fuss about sexual harassment.
The time has surely come for us to stand up against these demented people who, in their narrow-mindedness and tyranny, would almost ban sex between man and woman, and certainly restrict free speech, Nazis style. Deborah Ross, in her excellent column in "The Times" for the 15th February, saying that she was "sick to death of me-too, feminism and all the talk of groping", wrote:-
"It's don't ask a woman about how she plans to combine a career with family because you wouldn't put that to a man, and don't wolf whistle at women in the street, and don't expect them to wear high heels at work, and don't call them 'darling, and don't pat their bums or put a hand on their knee, although, come on, what is a pat on the bum or a hand on the knee in the big scheme of things... Can't we be grown-up about this?" Amen to those sentiments.
Presumably it is all to do with the swing of the pendulum. In the free 'n' easy swinging sixties there was the enjoyment of sex, having abandoned the prime and proper Victorian attitude of covering up the legs of pianos. But then the enjoyment went too far, people were enjoying themselves far too much, and the do-gooders and the self righteous had to put a stop to it, swinging the pendulum back to repression and tyranny, sex being a very horrible thing.
I found it upsetting to read in the "i" for the 23rd that a package containing white powder purporting to be anthrax had been sent to Meghan Markle, Prince Harry's fiancé, the police treating it as a hate crime. How can anybody be so sick and stupid to do such a thing, indicating that they are mentally ill, needing urgent medical treatment. Sadly, it seems there is a great deal of mental illness in this country. At least the trolls do not have guns.
Landscape by Granddaughter Chloe.
I won a £25 Premium Bond prize in the month, the second £25 win so far this year. I noticed that one of the £1m winners had the full holding of £50,000. As granny used to say: "Money always goes to money", and although I do not make any aspersions or accusations, it does seem that you need a holding of at least £25,000 to be among the big winners. I have a holding of £23,050, so I am trying to get up to this to the required £25,000 by buying bonds each month for £100.
During the past 25 years that I have had the bonds I have never won more than £25, which seems to be a pathetic amount in these days of galloping inflation. Still, except for last year, I have always won more than the top interest of a building society account, not that is difficult to achieve. Amazingly, somebody in this country won £78m on the Euro Lottery. Whatever would they do with such a massive sum?
Even so, we would benefit from a decent win, for Mrs. Copeland has reckoned that in order to bring our house up to date, replacing windows and carpets and having a new bathroom, as well as her replacing her 4-year Peugeot 208 car, we would need to spend £50,00. Still, I'm not all that bothered about a beautiful home, books being the best of furniture, and somehow we manage with the existing set-up, worn out though it may look. Mrs. C's Peugeot 208 still goes, having done only 35,500 miles, and the bath doesn't leak, so why change, especially as we are not bothered about fashions.
Yet so many people in the village, obviously having a lot of money to spare and spend, are forever beautifying their homes, adding on an annexe, having a new kitchen and bathroom, and a wood-burning stove, making the house look like a glorified shrine, everything spick and span, nothing comfortable, no warmth, no books lying around and everything regimented. Mrs. Ogmoore Pritchard would understand. There is an old expression "Creative minds are rarely tidy" - a maxim credited to Carl Gustav Jung and several other individuals. I certainly agree with that.
I have had only three comments from readers on the revised format of the diary, at least favourable. Nevertheless, I realise that it is far too long and must be considerably shortened in the months ahead. Perhaps not surprisingly I find it more difficult to write the monthly format, principally because news and items change during the course of the month, whereas a weekly presentation can more easily chart the developments as they occur.
I am therefore not sure whether I will continue the monthly diary as the computer is really on the blink, obviously not going to last much longer, not unlike its owner. The Sony 17" laptop I use for the diary is now 8 years old, so I suppose it can be said that it has done good service, owing me nothing. Somehow I just cannot face buying a new one, having to contend with Windows 10 which several people have told me is not all that good. Another computer that I have, even older, is on Windows XP, probably the best version ever. I use it for uploading this diary, the web-editor on the Sony no longer working. One alternative, suggested by my granddaughter Chloe is to have tablet with a detachable keyboard, though I could not upload the diary from it.
Butter I like that would be banned by those vegans.
During the month I made a start on a 900-page closely-typed biography - "Stalin - Waiting for Hitler" (vol.2) by Stephan Katkin, published last year by Allen Lane at £35. Bearing in mind that I read about 50 pages of an evening, it took me until the 20th to finish. Everything that Stalin touched went wrong (not unlike Mrs. May) - a terrible tyrant who caused far more deaths than Hitler, though I suppose it can be admitted that he won the Second World War, Russian deaths and injuries being many times more than those of all the other allied powers put together.
At the end of the book the author makes the comment: "Bismark had built his chancellorship on avoiding conflict with Russia When the bust of Bismark was transferred from the old German Chancellery to Hitler's new Nazi Chancellery it had broken off at the neck. A replica was hastily made, aged by soaking in cold tea. The omen of Bismark's broken neck was kept from Hitler."
I found the long book very difficult to read as there were so many different people and parties, easily losing track of some of them. It would have helped if the author had included a list of people and parties, as well as maps, though I suppose that would have taken up about 20 more pages. Amazingly, the mad Stalin had thousands of people tortured and shot, including "kulaks" (wealthy farmers), politicians, members of the Armed Forces, and even among the NKVD, the secret police. Additionally, millions starved to death on account of the failed collective farms, Stalin's Socialism being a total disaster, just as Mr. Corbyn's would be.
Having finished the long book on Stalin, I made a start on "Fall Out - A year of political mayhem" by Tim Shipman, published in 2017 by William Collins at £25 (536 pages of text). Alas, after 180 pages I could stand no more of the endless meetings, the great army of spin doctors and aides, with endless quarrels and deals with opposition parties. At least it made me realise that politicians are a total waste of time, living miserable lives in attending one worthless meeting after another, hardly any of them knowing what they are doing, unless there was something in it for them. Dreadful people, the biggest muddlers on earth, spoiling everything they touch. Life would be so much better without their endless nannying..
On giving up that immensely tedious and unreadable book, I made a start on "The Extraordinary Life and Momentous Times of J.M.W. Turner" by Franny Moyle, published in 2016 by Viking. I have always liked the paintings of Turner, especially the earlier ones. Later on his paintings seemed to have taken a turn for the worse, not unlike the splurges of today's art. However, much to my disappointment, the biography has page after page of endless details of his drawings and paintings, hardly any details about the colourful character, it seeming that the art dominated the artist, rather than the other way round
After 186 pages skimikjng through the rest of the book, I gave up and put the book on the shelf - a second successive failure this month that looks like carelessness, one disappointing book after another, suggesting my book-buying needs improvement. Perhaps I am not intelligent and cultured enough for these books, but I thought, obviously wrongly, that Turner was "quite a character who did some very naughty drawings of the sexual act that had to be hidden away from the prudish Victorians by John Ruskin" . A very scholarly book, but not very interesting.
I always feel very upset when I buy a disappointing book, not only in terms of the wasted £25, but also the wasted time, even though I have a lot of time to waste in my set-aside retirement, having looked forward so enthusiastically to reading the book. Unfortunately, there is no point in reading the reviews, either biased or trying to be clever. Of course, one of the advantages of buying a book at Waterstone's in Lincoln is that I can have a brief look at the text.
Feeling very disappointed, I made a start on "Partition - The story of Indian Independence and the creation of Pakistan in 1947" by Barney White Spender, published by Simon and Shunster in 2017 at £25. At least the text is written in an excellent style, free-flowing and easy, and what an incredible difference that makes to reading a book. And it also has the very distinct advantage that the pages of text only amount to 360, which is about the right number.
With about 12 books waiting to be read, some of them also very long, I cut down on my obsessive book-buying expenditure during the month, buying only five hardback books since the beginning of January, three this month. The hardback books during this month were: "The Work I Did" - a memoir of the secretary to Goebells; a book on the exploitation of labour in this country from Waterstone's in Lincoln; and another book locally "21st Yokel" by Tom Cox, supposedly having e a "laugh on every page." It takes a lot to make me laugh these days, other than hearing Mrs. May dealing with Brexit. "Last Battle", relating to the First World War, was also bought from Waterstone's
My first computer, back in 1990
There were health problems during the month, involving two urinary tract infections (UTIs) one on the 5th, and the other on the 17th when I went to the Walk-In Centre in Lincoln that is shamefully and ridiculously being closed at the end of the month, making us wonder about the efficiency and sense of the people who run the NHS. The Centre was crowded, over 30 people, maybe half of them immigrants, one fellow with a large beard looking distinctly like Bin Laden.
I mentioned at reception that I was in pain, and much to my relief I was seen ahead of other people, first by a nurse who took my temperature (normal) and blood pressure, somewhat high at 165/95. I was then seen by a very pleasant English doctor who, having tested the urine sample I had taken with me, confirmed that it was an UTI for which the usual Trimethoprim tablets, 200 mg were prescribed, 2 a day for 7 days. The doctor suggested that I should see my GP for an extended dose, which I did on the 22nd
During these incidences of UTI I had a couple of blood tests at the doctors' surgery, taken by a very pleasant young English nurse who had a trainee nurse with her, also English, so that augurs well for the future. I always have a dread of blood tests, but the nurse was so incredibly gentle that I hardly felt the needle going in. How splendid women are in the caring professions - no good as politicians.
On seeing my GP on the 22nd with the blood test result , I was told that I "had the early stages of diabetes", which could be controlled without medication, but a diet would be required, so an appointment was booked with the Practice nurse for the 1st March. The female Indian doctor wanted to put me on statins, but I am not all that keen on them, having heard so many adverse comments. In particular, American correspondents have told me in the past to avoid them at all costs, and one of my relations was very much against them, saying that ten years from now they will probably be banned, additionally adding that "the fewer pills that were taken the better". My cholesterol was high at 6.2, whereas at my age it should be 5 or under.
Over the months I have used an "Accu-Check Aviva monitor, involving pricking a finger to draw blood and then measure it with a test strip. The healthy measure in the morning should be in the region of 5-7 mmoL/L, and during my UTI blood test the level went up to an alarming 11. Subsequently, with the UTI clear, the morning levels taken over various days has been between 6.2-6.5. I therefore continue to believe that the blood test, indicating I have the onset of diabetes, was taken at a time of an infection, putting up the reading.
I have no doubt that I will be told during the dietary interview that I must eat more vegetables, but I have a vegetable allergy, being unable to eat cabbages, carrots and lettuces that I regard as being more suitable for rabbits. And I want to keep to Warburton's excellent "Farmhouse" white bread, not being able to digest brown bread, especially as it reminds me of the Second World War when I was a child. I may switch from white wine to red, and avoid sugar like the plague and a female politician, but I cannot think of any other measures.
As part of this proposed diet, Mrs. C suggested in advance that I should have Kingsmill 50/50, which is half way towards brown bread , but I couldn't eat that miserable product that was not one thing or the other.
One of the problems of the chemotherapy, which was discovered during the Second World War, is that it damaged my left leg, the painful swelling having to be cured by having daily injections in the stomach, undertaken by Mrs. C. as I could not face doing them myself. Subsequently, the swelling eventually went down after several painful weeks, though I now find I have horribly cold feet, even when sitting by the fire in the evening. Nothing seems to ease the coldness, not even putting the feet in a bowl of hot water.
It seems, therefore, that the chemotherapy has done lasting damage to me, making me occasionally wonder whether the medicine men know what they are doing. The treatment is primitive, the lack of skill being hidden by all manner of complicated reports written in the most absurd jargon.
I suppose I will develop dementia next, it being one thing after another in my old age, making me feel depressed at times. Meanwhile, there was the extraordinary headline in "The Times " for the 22nd saying that: "More people should get pills to beat depression", the belief being that there is a pill for every malady. Apparently, "about two million people in Britain are thought to suffer from depression", which is not surprising bearing in mind the appalling state of the economy, not to mention people being thoroughly sick 'n' tired of hearing about all the sexual shenanigans of the last century.
Lincoln Cathedral. I greatly enjoy my periodic visits, away from the muddle of Brexit.
From time to time Mrs. Copeland and I have discussions on grammar when we see obvious mistakes in the press, in minutes, and especially letters from firms, correct grammar becoming a thing of the past now that clause-analysis and grammar are no longer taught in our schools, along with anything else that is difficult. During the month we saw in the Club's minutes of last year's AGM the sentence: "the number of applications were less than....". This should, of course, read "the number of applications WAS", and "fewer" should be written instead of "less".
It is suggested that it would be easier to do away with the grocer's apostrophe altogether, but its absence can make an enormous difference in the intended understanding. For example, if the apostrophe is removed from ""The butler stood at the door calling the guests' names" you would have a very rude butler.
During the month I received an e-mail from Anglian Water, our worthy water supplier, saying: "Your new bill will soon be on it's [sic] way". I duly wrote to the Customer Services department, suggesting that it looked very bad for a major company to be using incorrect grammar, subsequently receiving a response from a lady member of the Customer Relations Team: "I'm truly sorry for the offense [presumably the American spelling] caused by our mistake. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, we've corrected this for all future e-mails". So for once I was helpful, as all old men should set out to be, even when they are raging against the dying of the light, as I am.
Fortunately, the Government is now insisting that all children in primary schools must learn their multiplication tables - tables that those crazy professors of education in the past had ruled as being unnecessary, just as they ridiculously argued that grammar was unimportant, , especially as it supposedly restricted the creativeness of children. The harm that these professors have done to our schools is beyond measure, making it difficult for the teaching to be corrected.
At least the Anglian Water charges for the year have only gone up from £538.19 last year to £546 this year, so that is a reasonable increase at a time of high inflation. We are very fortunate in not having a water meter which, according to a chart provided by the company, would mean I would be paying an additional £28.56 a year. People having houses with high rateable value can gain from having a water meter, but not small houses like ours. And a large poor family would pay a very much greater amount. A water meter therefore has nothing to do with consumer benefit, but everything to do with saving a company so that it does not have to provide additional reservoirs and suchlike.
On the start of Lent, Mrs. Copeland made the traditional pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, which I enjoyed with lemon juice and sugar, nothing else to spoil the flavour. I wonder how many young women were making pancakes for their family today? Not many, possibly being too exhausted from work, as well as having been sexually assaulted, or they believed that pancakes were bad for you. What a funny old world we live in, such neurosis, such terrible fears, it being far too dangerous to eat most food, making us wonder how we ever manage to survive.
Mrs. Copeland making pancakes for Shrove Tuesday, the start of Lent. I wonder how many modern wives make them?
Mrs. C and I attended this year's AGM at the Club on Sunday 4th, the young chairman splendidly conducting the meeting with ease and efficiency, and what an unusual joy that is. We heard that the secretary had resigned, but as yet there was nobody to take her place. The Treasurer also gave notice that she would retire in a year's time. These days, especially among the younger generation, nobody seems to want to do any voluntary work. Maybe they are all too busy on their iPhone toys and arranging holidays.
As might be expected. we have a vacancy on the local Parish Council, hardly anybody taking any interest in the proceedings, no member of the public hardly ever turning up for the meetings. Maybe the Council meetings are a waste of time, but at least there is advance notice of the harm that developers and the County Council are proposing to do to the bailiwick.
On the 5th there was a massive fall in the Dow Jones index, going down - 1,175 points, while the FTSE also fell sharply. Recently there had been warnings from leading economists that shares were grossly overvalued, and were due for a sharp fall. Apparently, there were worries about inflation in America, necessitating an increase in interest rates. Economists said that it was merely a correction, and subsequently it was soon back to normal, a mere panic. By the end of the month calm has been restored, though the FTSE index was still down from the start of the year at 7,687.
Luckily, Calamity Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England who gives such terrible warnings about us having a hard exit from the EU, has belatedly realised that interest rates will have to rise to check the galloping inflation, now in the true region of 7% for household necessities, saying during the month that the rises will have to come sooner and higher than expected. Meanwhile, there was the grim news that the gap between exports and imports rose to £13.6bn, which was higher than analysts' forecasts. Separate ONS data showed industrial output experienced its biggest fall since 2012, falling by 1.3% in December from the month before, and the revised level for GDP in 2017 said to be 1.7%, the lowest since 2012.. Not the happiest of balance sheets.
Later in the month there was a report in "The Times" that Carney had apparently changed his mind about Brexit, saying on the 21st that "A good Brexit deal will be a boost for growth - sterling, equities would rise." Don't you just love these people who rule over us, saying one thing one Tuesday and something entirely different on a few Tuesdays later, the impression being given that they do not know what they are talking about.
Much to our relief, we seem to have managed to lessen the criminal telephone scam calls during the month, having had only 19 during the month instead of the 14 a day we have had in earlier months. Inevitably, some still get through. During the month, for instance, we had a telephone number coming up on the separate caller-display unit that I have with BT that resembled a mobile number at 07794284716. Unfortunately, I answered it, only to hear an Indian asking: "Is that Mr.Robert Salmond?" - the false name I gave several years ago when filling in a product registration card, knowing that my details would be sold on to these nasty little crooks.
If the scammers are not offering some crooked financial arrangement, they are seeking personal details, pretending they are doing a survey in the area, the information being sold on to various agents, such as insurance companies and various retail units in this country, thereafter being plagued with those offers. There is also the very nasty scam purporting that there is a virus on your computer, the aim being to put one on by going through various instructions, and then charge £56 or so to remove it. Nasty stuff.
Much to my annoyance, I seem to have started receiving scam e-mails on my mobile telephone. On the 10th, one of them read: "Your recent accident has been signed off & funds allocated. fill out http://claiminone.click/?n=5216825887 for us to put £2,766.88 in your Bank now" The aim, of course, is for the recipient to give full details of his/her bank account, which the scammers can then access, withdrawing money. I wonder how many people get caught, despite being told never to respond to any e-mails relating to financial matters, Banks always sending letters in the post.
During the month it was proposed by some fickle people that the suffragettes should be pardoned for their criminal acts. Bearing in mind these fierce women smashed shop windows, burnt down a house of a Cabinet Minister, and one was killed when she threw herself under the King's horse in the Epsom Derby, they behaved abominably, and although they suspended their terrorism during the First World War, the public lost interest in and support for their cause, censoring them for their unlawful acts. Although 1918 saw some electoral changes for woman, it was not until 1928 that all women had the full right to vote.
By way of an endorsement of my policy not to donate any money to charities other than to the excellent Macmillan Nurses, it was reported on the 8th that the National Audit Office was looking into the charity "Mobility", which apparently pays its chief executive £1.7m. Furthermore, in "The Times" on the 9th there was an allegation that "Top Oxfam staff paid Haiti survivors for sex". The allegations caused resignations in a charity I have never much cared for. My guess is that many other charities should be similarly investigated, especially those donating money overseas when there are advertisements in the press for "crisis appeals", making me wonder how much money ever reaches the intended beneficiaries.
At the same time, maybe we ought to insist that the Government stops spending £13.8 bn a year on foreign aid, most of which probably ends up in the pockets of corrupt politicians and bandits Fortunately and wisely, the afore-mentioned Mr. Rees-Mogg is leading a campaign to stop all foreign aid, which is probably the biggest waste of taxpayers' money, a campaign also being led by the "Daily Express" to stop the rot. The excessive amount that we shamefully and stupidly donate every year would be far better spent on the National Health Service, charity beginning at home.
In our village we seem to be under permanent attack from developers who have eyes on the extensive fields and spare plots of land within the bailiwick. If one application doesn't succeed - though some of them do, as we saw recently with the development of four approved new houses, the developers immediately send in a revised application, as happened early this month. We seem to be so powerless against these wreckers, yet we must never surrender, fighting against them in the streets and in the fields.
I was interested to read on the Internet the comments of a "money expert" - Martin Lewis at www.moneysvingexpert.com, who warned that direct debits were dangerous, making the point money can drift out of your banking account without you doing anything about it. Even when contracts have been cancelled, there were often occasions when the monthly diabolical direct debits payments were still being taken, possibly unobserved.
One of our relations is currently having this trouble with a cancelled mobile telephone account, money still being taken after 6 months of the cancellation, and it is proving to be immensely difficult to obtain the necessary refund, having to wait over 20 minutes on calling the company, who end up saying they will ring back, but never do. When a firm says it will telephone you back it means that they are not interested.
Not the weaher for birds. I have started feeding a pheasant, who waits each morning for the feed.
Within our little community, having four houses in a L- shaped form around a cobbled courtyard, we have an elderly lime tree, possibly dating from 1900, that is looking very sorry for itself, the trunk almost completely hollow, though there are some new stems that obviously continue to provide the growth, having been quite splendid last year. We have therefore decided that it ought to be trimmed back, thereby reducing the weight.
As it is a "listed tree", we have to have approval from the local District Council for any work to be undertaken, so we duly submitted an application at the beginning of January, setting out details of the trimming to the officer responsible for trees, saying that the tree should be inspected by the beginning of March, but as yet we have heard nothing. Trying to have something done in this country is a wearisome and sometimes hopeless undertaking, a further reminder that the country is in relentless decline, despite what good old Boris says about Brexit.
We had the most miserable weather during the first half of he month, day after day of rain and grey skies, hardly any sunshine, making it seems so miserable, especially with the bitter prevailing "Miseria" wind. No wonder Englishmen are advised to take vitamin D tablets. It was only during the last week that we had a light sprinkling of snow, fortunately not amounting to the several centimetres that were forecast. I suppose we should therefore be grateful that we escape the worst of the snow that half an inch paralyses the rest of the country, Lincolnshire being so flat that the ccounty seldom has any.
Rather sadly, the rubber plant that Mrs. Copeland gave me on our wedding day is now starting to die, the leaves going all yellow. Still, I suppose it has done well to last half a century, nothing lasting for ever. I think I may replace it with a vine.
The lime tree in our community, looking very poorly. We are waiting for approval from the District to prune the listed tree.
On the 26th we had a sprinkling of snow that barely covered the ground, believing that we had escaped the heavy falls in other parts of the country, but on the night of the 27th and during the following day there was quite a heavy fall that amounted to 11 cms, the most we have had for many years. As might be expected, te country came to a standstill, no provision ever being made for such weather conditions. How they would laugh in Russia and Sweden, seeing those few centimeters as amounting to hardly anything. So much for that saying that if there is no substantial snow before the 10th January, there will not be much afterwards.
The rubber plant that Mrs. C. gave me on our wedding day is now dying, the leaves going yellow. I think I will replace it with a vine.
On the 23rd of the month Mrs. Copeland and I celebrated our 50 years of marriage, never having had a cross word - well, not since last Tuesday. One of our friends described the anniversary as "a remarkable achievement in our present society." We began the celebration to mark the auspicious occasion by having luncheon at the Greek2Me restaurant on the Burton Waters estate, where I had an excellent sirloin steak - a most pleasant meal with a large glass of white wine, The waiter came from Budapest, providing excellent service. Goodness knows what we would do without these immigrants, my female doctor being from Northern India, our natives not wanting to do such jobs.
Staring at 7.30 p.m we had a party at the local Club, having invited 46, 10 being unable to attend. Earlier, daughters and Kate and granddaughter Chloe had splendidly decorated the Club, putting up 50th balloons, lights and other attractions, making the room look exceedingly pleasant. What a joy to have a supportive family living nearby, not having to endure those long and miserable absences - indeed, we all have the same prefix on the postal code = LN1. We were collected at 7 p.m, subsequently having a party that I like to think went very well It was so good and so appropriate to be with people we have known for the 48 years we have lived in the village. Rather sadly, no photograph was taken of me and Mrs C,
We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary in a party at the local Club. 50 years and never a cross word - well....
I liked the following e-mail I received during the month:-
-Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
- A "fine" is a tax for doing wrong. A "tax" is a fine for doing well.
- He who laughs last, thinks slowest.
- Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.
- The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there's a 90% probability you'll get it wrong.
- It is said that if you line up all the cars in the world end-to-end, some fool would be stupid enough to try to pass them.
- Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.
Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat all day drinking beer.
- When you go into court, you are putting yourself in the hands of twelve people who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty.
I had my hair cut on the 20th, the first cutting since since February of last year when I bsequently began a 26-week period of chemotherapy, followed by radiotherapy. The cutting was excellently undertaken by a pleasant young lass who, mercifully, did not want to talk too much. Another assistant in the next chair was a very tarty young lady wearing a low-cut blouse and extremely tight trousers, her face painted nearly all over. Why do women do that?
As always. the sound of chain-saws felling more trees in the village was heard during the month. As soon as newcomers arrive in the parish, many of them former townies who usually have nothing to do subsequently with the social life of the community, not even going to church, immediately want all the trees down. In a way I suppose this is understandable. There were no trees in their urban gardens, and they find them awkward, making all that mess in the Autumn, and often taking out light from their newly built conservatory. Soon the only trees in the village will be those in my garden, whereas the avenue of oaks will ultimately be converted into an estate for immigrants, always assuming Mrs. May doesn't stop them coming in under Brexit.
I have still not managed to sort out the replacement exhaust for my Sym 125 cc scooter, costing £536, which is a right rip-off. On the other hand, I am beginning to wonder how much longer I can use the scooter in Lincoln, where the roads are full of deep and dangerous potholes, making riding on two wheels very hazardous, having to negotiate some of them that are said to be "deep enough to bury a pig" - a bit of an exaggeration, but the roads are in a dreadful state, the County Council presumably having no money to fill them in. What a county, what a country!
I have a dental appointment next month, having had an e-mail on the 20th saying that the date and time had been changed. I have to see a fellow with a Chinese-sounding name, who prefixes his name with the title of "Dr." Since when did dentists become doctors? I wrote back confirming that I could attend the revised appointment, referring to him as "Mr" - though of course "Mr" in medical terms means a surgeon. All very confusing.
Mrs .C went to the funeral of a village elder on the 22nd in the local church, hearing the female vicar saying that he will be having an everlasting banquet in the next world, enjoying the time of his life. How can anybody believe such twaddle? In what form will we be, and how will we recognise one another? - "Look, there's old Bert who used to live two doors down. He seems to be enjoying his food." A nice thing to believe - indeed, I really wish that I could have such excessive faith, believing that we are going to be happy in a better world, away from Brexit, but I find it bordering on wishful thinking, a step too far in faith.
On the same day I had my toenails cut by a travelling female chiropodist, coming to my home at 3.30 p.m. which is so much easier. Years ago I went to a male chiropodist, but he was so rough, my toenails hurting because they were cut too severely. This lady was excellent, confirming my view that females are so much better in the caring professions, useless as politicians, but then I may have mentioned that before.
She was saying that a fortnight ago that she and her husband went on holiday to the Canary Islands, only to have bitterly cold weather, the temperature in a cold relentless wind never rising above 20 C. "We won't go again," she commented, just as I will never again go abroad, being far too frightened to go in an aeroplane and not wanting to put up with that seemingly endless security.
s my toenails were being cut we heard the horrible noise of "The Red Arrows" going round and round the village, as they do for much of the day. It seems an incredible state of affairs that we pay £20m a year to keep this team flying their dangerous and pointless antics, yet the Walk-In Centre in Lincoln is closed, despite the cost being a mere £1m a year to run. I suppose these are the choices of a country still trying to save face, still trying to pretend it is great in its relentless decline and fall.
As I need to replace some of my shirts, most of them having earlier been bought for £5 from Primark - and what splendid shirts they have been, so comfortable and only £5, even if they do not last long - I went to Marks & Spencer and bought a shirt costing £29. On getting it home I found that the shirt had no top pocket and no buttons on the sleeves, needing cufflinks, no doubt all part of cost-saving. It is the last time I buy any clothes from M & S when there is such cheese-paring.
All in all a varied month, having the downside of health problems, but the upside of an enjoyable party to celebrate 50 years of marriage, never a cross word, with the family and friends. As Joe Gargery would say: "On the rampage and off the rampage, such is life, Pip old chap."
Alas, the diary is still far too long, but next month it really will be cut back. probably half the present size if I can stop my prolixity.
Finally, a quotation from C.S.Lewis, which splendidly explains the nonsense and the harm that the latterday Puritans are causing today with their narrow-mindedness and hateful distortion of life:-
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely expressed for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
"They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be 'cured' against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals."
On the 26th we thought we had escaped the worst of the snow in other counties, but overnight on the 27th and the following day we had 10 cms.
Lincolnshire 28th February, 2018
Diary of an Octogenarian
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