DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN
- John Copeland -
Friday 16th June - Thursday 22nd June, 2017
"It is difficult to escape a very sombre national mood"
Her Majesty the Queen's comment on her official birthday.
FRIDAY 16 JUNE
Yesterday evening I finished reading "The Russian Revolution - A new history". In the final chapter the author makes the points: "If the last hundred years teaches us anything, it is that we should stiffen our defences and resist armed prophets promising social perfection", and: "Today's Western Socialists, dreaming of a world where private property and inequality are outlawed, where rational economic development is planned by far-seeing intellectuals, should be careful what they wish for. They may just get it."
I have now made a start on a massive biography of Rasputin by Douglas Smith, published last year by Macmillan at £25. It has 815 pages, 680 of text, so it will keep me going for while, usually reading about 70 pages of an evening.
Mrs Copeland is driving down to Essex to see her mother for an overnight stay tomorrow, so this morning I checked over the Peugeot 207. Daughters Caroline and Kate will be coming to keep me company on Saturday evening, so that should be enjoyable. They have been extremely helpful and kind throughout my treatment, as has Mrs. Copeland. Goodness knows what I would have done without them. They indicate the enormous value of a cohesive and caring family, especially when living nearby.
At 9.19 a.m a telephone call came up on the caller display unit: "International, 061397561559", obviously a scam with that false number. I answered it this time, hearing a woman with an Indian sounding voice saying that she was from the Windows Technical Department, and that a fault had been found on my computer. This, as I have mentioned so many times before, is the scam in which a virus is put on the computer and a substantial charge made for taking it off. In no uncertain terms I told her that she was a nasty little crook and to bugger off.
I wonder how many people they catch out? The answer, of course, is never to have anything to do with any of these overseas calls, all of them scams, either involving some money fraud, technical abuse, or selling on personal details. Maybe it is best to put the receiver down as soon as you hear an Indian voice, for they are all crooked. It is a pity we do not have the glorious British Empire, for we would then easily be able to sort out these crooked natives, possibly locking them up.
Today's "Times", which Mrs. C .brought home free from Waitrose whilst purchasing the week's provisions, had an item saying that Mrs. May only spoke to firefighters, ignoring the distressed residents who had been saved from the burning tower block, the hard-faced and thoroughly disliked woman showing absolutely no emotion or feeling for them, whereas Mr. Corbyn embraced some of the survivors, trying to comfort them.
Not surprisingly, there was a notice outside the tower block saying: "Stay away Mrs. May". She must be one of the most hated politicians of our age, desperately trying to hold onto power with a bunch of Irish paramilitary cranks, having no regard for the interests of the country. A poll in "The Times" indicated that "Voters take a dim view of Tory pact": 48% regarding it as unfavourable, and only 8% supporting it.
Still, she will probably be gone by Christmas or next year's Spring at the very latest. As Mark Steel put it in his delightful column in today's "i": "Give it three months and the DUP will announce: 'We can't stay in the coalition with the Conservatives. This lot are an irrational chaotic bunch of extremists".
Throughout the morning we had to endure the extensive noise and pollution of the "Red Arrows", the flying circus swooping at low level altitude in tight formation over our chimneypots, ruining our peace and quiet as the noisy little red aeroplanes go endlessly round and round the village for hour after hour. A more pointless activity, and a very dangerous one at that in flying at such a low altitude over populated areas, could not be imagined. I continue to believe it is a RAF punishment for the pilots. Why they cannot play over the North Sea, only annoying the fish, is a mystery.
The running costs of the team amounts to £9 millions a year, money that, in my opinion, would be far better and more usefully spent on the worthy Air Ambulance Service, instead of financing displays that were described in the local press as "Old hat". I have seen some of the displays at air shows, finding them to be uninteresting, albeit very clever aeronautical acrobatic antics. The displays by modern fighters are far more interesting. Nevertheless, it has to be admitted that the team is very popular in some areas.
A notice outside the burning tower block in London asking our unloved Prime Minister to stay away. She has also been criticised for talking only to firemen at the site, whereas Mr. Corbyn was photographed consoling some of the survivors.
On the BBC news website I saw that British security officials believe that hackers in North Korea were behind the cyber-attack that crippled parts of the NHS and other organisations around the world last month. President Trump has avowed to sort out that country with its mad Kim Wrong-Un, but he has so far done nothing, not even when crazy Kim continues to fire more rockets, possibly developing a nuclear warhead.
An American correspondent, commenting on my entry that the war would have been very different if the Battle Britain had been lost, wrote: "If Germany had occupied Britain, do you think America would have seen the cause as hopeless and sued for peace with Germany, rather than try to wage a campaign without your island base?" The answer, of course, is that America would neither have been able nor willing to rescue us, any invasion being quite impossible. There would have been a very different Second World War, with Germany victorious, successfully invading the UK.
At one o'clock we went to "The Birdcage" pub for lunch, not having been there for several weeks on account of my treatment. I always enjoy the pub, where much of the food is good English simple food, none of that ghastly foreign stuff, and the beer is always in first-class condition, not that I was allowed to have any today. I had to have non alcoholic lager instead, which is just about passable.
On the way home Mrs. Copeland collected the two reams of A4 100 m/2 paper that I had ordered from a small firm of printers in Lincoln, the paper not being available elsewhere. The proprietor was telling her that they recently had a break-in, and although only £20 in cash was stolen and a bottle of orange juice, the place was "trashed", causing immense problems. Yet that stupid woman Mrs. May as Home Secretary cut the police forces in the country by 20,000 at a time of ever rising crime, violence, vandalism and terrorism. As I have always politically incorrectly said, women never make good politicians, and surely Muddled May proves the point.
The rest of the day was spent at home. On the 6 o'clock news (by far the best news bulletin on Radio 4) I heard that there had been extensive and angry protests outside the Kensington Council offices regarding the terrible tower fire, people wanting answers. Mrs May made a return visit, having shown no compassion yesterday, and was understandably booed, earlier having been called a coward.
Mrs. C and I had been invited to a dinner party this evening, but in my present condition I could not face such a gathering, seeing everybody getting merry on alcohol while I was on lemonade. Even so, during the intensive and extensive treatment I have tried very hard to maintain what constitutes a normal life for me, but there are some things I cannot tolerate. Maybe it is a good excuse for not doing things I do not want to do, never having much cared for parties of any sort at my great age.
I seem to be having more of the recognised mood swings regarding my treatment. Some days, such as this evening, I felt so utterly miserable, the twice-a-day injections because of the blood clot being the last straw. Presumably it can be argued that I have escaped the consequences of chemotherapy reasonably well, not having had to retire to bed during the day as others have done. Nevertheless so, it seems a long and never ending haul, and there is always the worry that the low grade Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma will be with me always, controlled but not cured.
It is amazing how one day life can change so significantly, possibly for ever, something that Mrs. May has also discovered to her immense cost. You are going along nicely, when something hits you - wham! changing everything. There are even times when I believe that there is somebody up there who is deliberately making our lives difficult, punishing us for expressions of hubris. I suppose religious people would say that it is the Devil who is up to his nasty tricks.
The evening, during which Mrs. C. gave me another injection at 8 o'clock, was spent reading some more of the biography of Rasputin, which I am greatly enjoying, the book extremely well written. He was obviously a fraud, a false religious prophet who liked the women, but an interesting character who managed to fool people from the tsar down to the common peasant, offering them advice on their lives, being able to reach into their souls with his fanatical religious teaching. As might be expected in that violent country, he was assassinated by men close to the Tsar.
SATURDAY 17 JUNE
There has been a 4,000-petition opposing the proposed closure of the medical Walk-In Centre in Lincoln, yet it seems that the authorities are determined to close what has been a wonderful facility, especially for mothers with young children, the cost last year said to have been £1m. Pathetically, the authorities have said that doctors will work longer hours when the Centre is closed, but how is that going to happen when they are already under such pressure? Are they willingly going to work in the evenings and at weekends, and how much will that cost?
The closure seems to be yet another example of the awfulness of bean-counters who know the cost of everything but the value of nothing, their one-column bookkeeping making a nonsense of any proper provision. Everything these days seems to be controlled by these accountants, their work having destroyed much of British industry and making life exceedingly difficult for the NHS. Yet money can readily be found for joining in the fight against another country, as we saw with the disastrous consequences in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Still, if we vote for a Conservative Government with an uncaring, cold-fish Prime Minister concerned only about her own skin, this is what we can expect, the public services being ruthlessly cut back, along with cuts in benefits for the sick and the poor, and tax bonuses for the wealthy.
Mrs. Copeland went off in her car about 10 a.m. to journey down to see her mother in Essex, staying overnight before coming back about 3 o'clock tomorrow. Apart from a brief visit to town in the Scorpio to purchase a "Times", it was a day spent entirely at home as even at the best of times I do not like going into the city at a weekend, seeing the horrible hoi polloi and the extent to which the country has declined in social and economic terms.
Happier days - an age when I had a Triumph Spitfire, that sweet bird of youth, such a long time ago. Nevertheless, I have greatly enjoyed my life, even though it now seems to have fallen apart, rather like the country.
I was reading in yesterday's "Times" that the chief executive of Morrison's was initially having an annual pay award of £5.3m, up from £2.8m, though it was rightly opposed by major shareholders. What on earth can anybody do with such indecent and immoral remuneration, especially at a time when so many people are in dire poverty, especially the survivors who managed to survive the terrible and tragic tower fire. As an item in "The Guardian" put it: "The poorer you are, the greater risks you run: dodgy wiring, black mould, seedy landlords seeking sex in lieu of rent."
We seem to be going back to the divisions of wealth in Edwardian times, when society was bitterly divided by a massively wealthy people living the life of Reilly at the top, and the great exploited, low-wage lumpenproletariate at the bottom. No wonder that Her Majesty the Queens has so rightly spoken of a nation in deep trouble. Meanwhile, the hatred of Muddling May continues to extend, the selfish woman getting everything wrong, totally out of her depth as Prime Minister.
No wonder, therefore, that an editorial in today's "Times" indicated that her Government has "No direction", saying that she has lost her authority, especially as no deal has yet been reached with the DUP. "The ruins of Grenfell Tower are seen abroad as symbolic of a country that wants to bestride the world of international trade but cannot keep poor tenants safe. The Prime minister who promised to take back control of Britain's money, laws and borders is no longer in control of her own Cabinet. She is isolated, shorn of her two closest advisers and most of her authority. She seems unable to think on her feet, or to judge correctly the public mood after an avoidable and shameful tragedy."
Son-in-law Phil, Caroline's husband, came this morning to trim back a wall creeper that has stretched right up to and over the gutters, obviously needing trimming. In Mrs. C's absence he cooked a meal of eggs and bacon, which I greatly enjoyed. We also enjoyed some garden strawberries that one of the villagers brought for me, which were much appreciated.
Not feeling all that well, I spent some time during the rest of the day on the computer. Even on a day when the temperature had reached 26 C (in the shade) at noon, it was wonderfully cool in our stone-built house (dating from 1801) with its 30 cm thick walls.
Not for us the nonsense of cavity wall insulation put in by cowboys that makes not the slightest difference. Additionally, we have no insulation in the roof void either, and whenever there is snow or frost on an adjoining house with roof void insulation, there is no difference in the melting, again proving that the insulation is of very little benefit. Somehow we seem to have gone backwards in architecture, as the Grenfell Tower indicates, though to build in stone today would be far too expensive. You would need to be a chief executive of grocery stores to afford such an expense.
Daughter Kate arrived with the bought fish and chips shortly after 6 o'clock, being joined by daughter Caroline a few minutes later. They had come to spend the evening with me, making sure I was all right as Mrs Copeland was over the hills and far away. After the meal, which I had with non-alcoholic white wine, we sat in the open-door conservatory, looking out on the avenue of oaks where we could see cows with their recently born calves.
It was a really splendid evening with much laughter and joy, inevitably reminiscing about happy times past. Even at 9.30 p.m. it was still quite light, the temperature 22.5 C, a rare and glorious evening, indicating that we could have been in Spain. If only we could have just one month of this weather, how different our climate - and ourselves - would be, instead of usually having to move indoors at 9 o'clock suffering from hypothermia. But then they say we appreciate such days as they are so rare: an argument I find difficult to accept.
During the evening I felt happier that I have been for several months after wrestling with the intensive and intrusive cancer treatment, so grateful that I live in such a splendid environment: cows and their calves in the meadow, the late evening sun shining between the oak trees, and only the occasional hoot of an owl disturbing the peace, having no noisy neighbours, no traffic noise. Peace on earth indeed, and an evening to remember during the darkened days of winter.
SUNDAY 18 JUNE
Not the best of night's sleep, having an awful pain in both legs resembling cramp. At 8 a.m. a neighbour kindly came to give me the 1st of 3 injections today, which I greatly appreciated in Mrs. C's absence. No way could I ever inject myself; that would be a step too far, being far too squeamish.
Whenever these days I switch on the radio to listen to the 8 a.m. news bulletin on Radio 3, I dread hearing about some new tragedy that has hit this troubled country, but fortunately there was nothing new today, other than more details about that terrible tower fire in Kensington. I just cannot imagine the horror and the misery of survivors who have lost everything in their lives, being compensated by a miserly £5 million fund from the Government, a sum less than the annual take-home pay of a chief executive of grocery stores.
I cannot see much point in the proposed Inquiry if it blames council officers for failing to cut back on the additional £500,000 that would have been necessary for fireproof cladding. They had a tight budget, and it was already a gross expense to spend £8m on the face-lift. They will have a punishment for the rest of their lives. More importantly, it is surely necessary to find the cause of the fire, and to prevent such a terrible and destructive fire from ever occurring again.
Having enjoyed yesterday evening so much with my two daughters while Mrs. C was down in Essex, during which we inevitably recalled former days, I suppose it was in this mood of reminiscences of times past that I looked up some of my old photographs during the morning, seeing those of girl friends before I was married; the Triumph sports car, and the thatched cottage I owned on the Essex Suffolk borders. It made me realise what a good life I have had, thoroughly enjoying it, though it is now sadly falling apart in the difficulty of extra Biblical time.
A Terramundi money pot that daughter Kate gave me for Father's Day. The pots are said to date from2,000 years ago in Italy. Daughter Caroline gave me some fine Dartington wine classes, one of which I christened this evening
Today's "Sunday Times" had a front-page headline: "Tories tell May: you have 10 days to save Premiership", adding that "support for a 'distraught' leader falls away in party's grassroots." There is no doubt this uncaring, cold-as-a-fish Prime Minister cannot survive, however desperately she clings onto an unreliable gang of religious Irish paramilitary fanatics. Resembling a teacher who has lost control of his/her class, no longer having any authority or respect, she has relinquished all authority, now a floundering and pathetic leader.
The likelihood, according to the political pundits, is that the court jester, Boris Johnson, will take her place, which will at least give us many a laugh, enjoying his merry antics, seeing him as our answer to President Trump. Even so, in my final days I just cannot believe that the Western World seems to have fallen so decidedly apart, even having the Boy Macron in France who has no experience of politics, and will no doubt soon get the country into an even bigger mess. And further afield Kim Wrong-Un continues to let off fireworks, taking no notice of President Trump to stop being so naughty.
Within the next few weeks the universities will be closing down until mid-September, the lecturers only working a 26-week year. It is a disgraceful and appalling waste of labour, equipment and resources at a time when it would be quite easy to formulate 2-year degree courses with a longer yearly teaching period, thereby saving a lot of money for students and with the better use of expensive resources. For three years I worked in a College of Further Education oop north, doing no teaching from the end of May to the beginning of September, though I hated teaching and Yorkshire, and was thankful to move into administration in Lincoln, a much better city that looks more to the south than the north.
At 4.30 p.m. daughter and her husband Phil had invited the family to their house to celebrate Father's Day, having a meal outside in their delightful garden. The day was sunny and warm, the temperature around 28 C, and it was a truly pleasant occasion that I enjoyed so much. What a difference a fine sunny and warm sunny day makes to the spirit. To mark Father's Day, Caroline gave me a set of Dartington wine classes, the best glasses on the market. Kate gave me a "Terramundu money pot" that, by tradition, has to be smashed when full of the saved coins (£1 and £2). The pots date back 2,000 years in Italy. Such generous gifts, making me realise yet again how fortunate I am having a supporting and loving family, and living not so far away.
Granddaughter Chloe was telling us that yesterday she went to a pop concert in Wembley with friends, going on a 'bus for part of the journey. It reminded me of my first day at the London School of Economics when I had to travel from Waterloo station to the LSE in Aldwych. Seeing a bus that had stopped, I asked the conductor if the 'bus went over Waterloo Bridge. To which he replied: "If it don't, mate, we're going to get bloody wet!" In those faraway days they had cockney conductors, and what a delight their humour was and presumably still is, the finest in the world, nothing to touch it.
We made our way home about 7,15 p.m., having given the Scorpio an outing, and it went splendidly, so quiet, and having the advantage of a retractable sunshine roof. Back home I had to have 2 injections, my body beginning to look like a pincushion. Before going to bed I christened one of the wine glasses - and what a difference a finely shaped and well-cut glass makes to the wine. Mrs. C. and I sat up talking until 1.30 a.m. I have difficulty in sleeping, so there is no point going to bed before midnight, not that I have ever done so.
MONDAY 19 JUNE
As mentioned in an earlier entry, it seems that every time the radio is switched on these days there is yet another appalling incident, this time involving a man who crashed a van into a group of Muslim worshippers, killing one and wounding 9 others, shouting out that he "wanted to kill all Muslims". Maybe it is difficult, albeit not at all that helpful, not to think of Enoch Powell's "rivers of blood" warning on uncontrolled immigration into this country.
This morning I attended for another CT scan on the "thorax, abdomen and pelvis," scheduled at the County Hospital for 10.15 . having to arrive 15 minutes beforehand, The instructions said that I must not have anything to eat 2 hours before the appointment, and at home I had to drink a litre of water (and how I hate that stuff). When reporting to reception, there was a notice saying that as a result of staff shortages there would be a long wait, though I was told that I would be all right as I had an appointment.
I had to sit in a small waiting room for about 20 minutes, being given 4 cups of water that I had to drink. I spent the time reading the biography of Rasputin, but reading was made difficult by two loudmouthed women who were sitting near me who noisily and unpleasantly chatted away all the time, hardly pausing for breath. Eventually I was called into the CT room that had warnings of the presence of X-rays, having to lie down on a large bench that had a doughnut-shaped apparatus at the other end that moves over the body several times to undertake the scan.
I was injected in the right arm with a fluid, but this at the time caused no problem, and the machine started up, sounding rather like a washing-machine, the arm moving over my body. At intervals a loudspeaker voice said: "Breath in and hold it" followed after a few seconds by "You can breath normally now". I suppose the whole procedure took about 15 minutes. I closed my eyes as the machine went over me, only feeling a cold blast of air. A plaster was then put on my arm, and I could go home, Mrs. C. , who had earlier dropped me off at the Hospital, coming to collect me.
The scan is going to determine how successful the three sessions of chemotherapy have been, and I dread the result that I will know on Tuesday of next week when I see the consultant again after yet another blood test beforehand. Every time I see the consultant I seem to have developed a new problem, and I am getting to the stage of resignation, knowing the worst will happen, but then Mrs. C says I have always been an Eeyore, my glass half empty.
Mrs. Copeland having driven me to the hospital and collecting me, I went in to town on the scooter later in the morning. The roads in the centre of Lincoln are a complete mess. Everywhere you go there are signs "Road closed" and "No through road", the impression being that the City Council is trying to drive traffic and trade away. Alterations have been made to the entrance and exit of the railway station, resulting in chaos and confusion.
Poppy in the garden
After lunch I took off the plaster that had been placed on my right arm where the cannula with the dye had gone in, finding that it had bled quite a lot, looking very swollen and bruised. What a time I am going through: all these hospital visits and twice-a-day injections in my stomach. I really must have offended the gods. Still, at least I do not have another hospital appointment until Tuesday of next week. Meanwhile, my left leg, although slightly less swollen, is still painful. Oh woe is me, having an infinite capacity to feel sorry for myself.
With the temperature in the shade approaching 30C, it was too hot to sit in the conservatory - something that we have never experienced in the past. I gather, though, that it will become cooler during the week.
I was hearing today that music teachers in an Essex grammar school had been made redundant, some bean-counter having said that they were not economical. So much for culture. When I think of the notices at the County Hospital saying that because of staff shortages there would be a long waiting time and all the shops and pubs closing in Lincoln, it really does seem as if everything is falling apart in this country, while there is the additional fear that the EU will fleece us for every penny we have during Brexit. Perhaps Brexit wasn't such a good idea after all, especially as I had not realised it is going to cost £ billions to get out of that German and French dominated circus.
Maybe it begins to look as if we will need a military dictatorship to solve the economic, social and racial problems in this country, for a democracy will never take its medicine. It is now being chanted that there is an end to austerity, whereas it has only just begun, and before the end of the year Calamity Carney, always slow to act, will have to raise interest rates to prevent the massive indebtedness and a rampant housing market. Why oh why was the terrible mistake made of setting up an independent central bank - something that has been little short of a disaster under the present incumbent.
One of the first things the military dictator could do would be to cancel all foreign aid, most of which ends up in the pockets of corrupt politicians and bandits. That would save £12bn a year that could be allocated to the NHS. Sadly, there is very little that can be done to save squalid countries, especially some of the African ones. Giving aid often means that the natives breed more, accentuating the problem, possibly making it even worse. Until such countries have a secure economic base and an efficient government, the aid is totally wasted.
After lunch I caught up on items on the computer, and then in the evening I read some more of the massive biography of Rasputin, obviously a fraud who told young women that he had to have sex with them so that God would enter their souls. Some women even fell for the nonsense to their bitter sorrow.
TUESDAY 20 JUNE
It seems awful, a dreadful comment on our country, that four former executives of Barclays Bank have been charged with fraud over their actions in the 2008 financial crisis, the Serious Fraud Office case relating to the billions of pounds the bank raised from Qatari investors enabling it to avoid a government bailout. We talk about the corruption in banana republics, but it seems that we are not much better ourselves.
I was interested in an American correspondent saying that "The current House [Republican] is so intent on enabling Trump in whatever schemes he dreams up that impeachment is a long way off." I have always believed that the President will not be impeached, but at least the endless saga probably keeps the Democrats happy.
From the Parish Council, on which I continue to serve though not going to the meetings during the chemotherapy treatment, I heard that a villager wants to put up a 15m mast in his garden. That is really going to look lovely, Not so long ago there were planning applications for massive wind farms in the village, but protests managed to stop that environmental vandalism. I doubt whether we will be so successful opposing this proposal, obviously needed in the interests of business. It is a constant battle trying to protect the village from these rash assaults.
At least I was very pleased that, on asking the Parish Council to tidy up a plot of overgrown land at the entrance to the village, the clearing up was done within a couple of days. Although the parish councils have no power, they can at least undertake such arrangements, and there is the advantage that we have early warning of developers wanting to ruin the village, as well as the harm that are unloved County Council is doing TO us, rather than FOR us. How I wish we could have a unity authority, getting rid of that bloated authority.
Summertime flower in the garden
A brief visit to town to purchase some petrol for the Scorpio (it only does 20 miles to the gallon) and an "i", the rest of the day being spent at home. At 12.15 p.m. I had yet another of the Windows scams, an Indian sounding fellow saying, as the scammers always say, that he was from the Technical Department of Windows and a fault had been found on my computer. Not surprisingly it was a false number, coming up on the caller-display unit as "International 061397861558." Feeling very angry with this intrusion, I used some very bad expletives to tell him where he could go. It is a pity we do not have our former glorious empire, for we would then soon be able to sort out these nasty little crooks.
This is the second time that I have had this scan within the past week, presumably indicating that there must be several crooked companies, no doubt mostly in India, that are making these scam calls. Unfortunately, there is nothing that BT can do to stop the calls, especially as false numbers are used each time, some of the calls coming up as "Unavailable".
A marked drop in the temperature today, down from yesterday's 28 C to 19 C, making it seem quite cold with the prevailing wind, the "Miseria" , blowing quite strongly.
My left leg is as painful and sore as ever, making it very difficult to walk, the impression being that the blood thinning injections twice a day have either not yet fully started to work, or are not working at all. Not surprisingly, I am beginning to despair, everything seeming to go wrong, as it is for Muddling Mrs. May. Initially, before this damned blood clot, I felt able to fight against the dreaded disease, even managing the chemotherapy sessions, but now I have this latest trouble, I am convinced that the consultant next Tuesday will tell me there is some new problem.
As Shakespeare said: "The bright days are done and we are for the dark". At least I should make it to 83 years next month, so I suppose that is something when so many of my friends, especially those who indulged in so-called "healthy eating" and exercising, have now gone, usually just before they were 75.
A long siesta after lunch so that I could rest the troubled leg, and in the evening, having the second of the day's injections, splendidly put in by Mrs. C., I read some more of the biography of Rasputin, a most tiresome character, and a real fraud. It reminds me of the old song: "My uncle saves damsels from sin/ He'll save you a blonde for a shilling/My god how the money rolls in!"
WEDNESDAY 21 JUNE
I was awakened about 2 a.m. by two brief power cuts, which always means having to adjust my fax machine and electric clocks. We are with the German E-On, which sometimes might be better called E-Off.
It seems that Muddling May's tenure looks more insecure every day, no agreement having been reached with the religious paramilitary Irish fanatics. As today's "Daily Mirror" so rightly pointed out: "Prime Minister in crisis. Now even the crackpots can't work with May". "The Times" had the headline: "DUP threat to walk out from talks with Tories." In other words, nobody can work with "that bloody difficult woman".
Apparently, the promised bill to cap power charges has been dropped, along with other promised proposals as a result of the Government not having a secure majority. How on earth can this cold-fish, uncaring woman, who might have difficulty running a branch of the Women's Institute, ever remain in office when she has been so totally discredited and disgraced?
On the BBC News website I saw the Republicans had won the key Georgia election, presumably strengthening President Trump, now being liked by the electorate, at least a substantial part. As I have remarked earlier, I do not believe that he will ever be impeached, the charges against him said to be not serious enough for such drastic action. Still, when we think of the utter awfulness and hopelessness of our Prime Minister, having got us into such a really fine mess with no way of getting out of it, we have no right to criticise the Americans for their choice of leader.
One of our security lights has broken, so at 9.30 a.m. I went on the scooter to Wickes in Lincoln. Today is the "Lincoln Agricultural Show", and as expected there were tail-backed jams possibly well over half a mile as I approached the city. Fortunately, being on two wheels I was able to sail past the jam, seeing the angry and frustrated drivers not moving. What joy it is to overtake these stationary vehicles, possibly stuck for about 20 minutes or more. Amazingly, the light only cost £14.99, no doubt made in China and probably unlikely to last the year.
As I do not need a new tractor this year I will not be going to the Show; indeed, as I loathe crowds I would not want to go for £100 and free entry, not being interested in seeing prize cattle and lots of shops. Far better to be in the peace and civilisation of home, far from the madding crowd. Tomorrow is the hoi polloi day when the traffic is even worse, if that can ever be imagined - another day to stay at home.
Midsummer's day, the longest day, and from now on it is all the way downhill to winter and Christmas. At least we enjoyed a wonderfully sunny day, the temperature at noon being 25 C.
Although I no longer have a sports car, at least I can still enjoy the 125 cc Sym scooter, a great joy and a freedom to ride on a summer's day
The notorious "Blue screen of death" came up on the computer this morning, the 5th time since the beginning of May, but although it closes down, it comes up again, so I am not bothered. I suppose the computer will eventually pack up altogether, rather like the equally notorious Muddled Mrs. May.
Mrs. Copeland went to the Village Ladies Luncheon Club this morning, going to a pub in the village of Tealby, one of the few attractive pubs in Lincolnshire. It meant that I had soup and bread for lunch with some non-alcoholic wine. I loathe the thought of cooking, and will never do any, going off to the pub each day if ever, God forbid, I am left on my own. Cooking is such a miserable business, especially for oneself.
Various household tasks during the rest of the morning, then having a siesta after lunch that was disturbed by yet another scam call, the third of the day. I was so angry and exasperated at having been woken up that I called the Indian chappie some obsolete empire names, telling him to go back up his tree. A few minutes later he rang back making monkey noises, which I thought was rather amusing. At least they have a sense of humour, which is something.
In the evening we went to the "Venue" cinema to see the film "The Sense of an Ending, all about out relationships - films that women seem to love. It was all very complicated, but I enjoyed the film, and as always Mr. Broadbent was excellent.
Back home we sat outside drinking wine (I had non-alcoholic) with a neighbour in the wonderful warm evening air until about 11 o'clock, rare times in this country that we have to take advantage of. Later, back home, Mrs. C. and I sat up until 1.30 a.m. drinking wine, and I am allowed to have two glasses of real wine a day, except for two days before and after a chemotherapy session. A most pleasant evening.
THURSDAY 22 JUNE
Today is the hoi polloi day for the Lincolnshire Agricultural Show when the roads through the village, as elsewhere, are totally jammed with traffic, so I had to stay at home until about noon to get a newspaper, the traffic by then having cleared.
There is now a new crazy measure of university teaching - The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). According this fanciful grading, the London School of Economics that I attended in 1955-59, is among the lowest grading. Apparently, this new and unnecessary ranking aims to help students make informed choices about degree courses, but many universities rated as bronze have criticised the system as unfair and unreliable. As might be expected, there is a panel of so-called experts, including professors.
North Korean soldiers wearing their medals. It has been suggested that a giant magnet would carry them all away.
I was delighted to read the main heading in the business section of today's "Times": "Bank chief takes swipe at Carney. Dissent is growing against the Governor of the Bank of England." The chief economist has argued that interest rates will have to be raised in the second half of the year, probably in August, whereas Calamity Carney, always slow to act, if he acts at all, has argued that there is no need for an increase this year. In this diary I have always criticised Calamity, and now he is being criticised by his own team. Once again you read it here first.
Admittedly, the Bank faces an impossible task. If they keep rates at the present low level, consumer indebtedness increases and the property marked unhealthily booms, yet the low level of the £ encourages exports. On the other hand, if interest rates are raised the indebtedness is likely to be reduced, but exports falter as a result of a rising £. A no-win situation, you might say.
Apart from the visit to town at noon, it was a day at home. During the morning I cut the grass, but because of my condition I had to rest between cutting sections, eventually managing to get it completed. This evening will be spent reading some more of the biography of Rasputin, which I am beginning to find rather tiresome with its endless details and quotations. A book half the length would have been far better. It reminded me of that old quotation: "sorry I am writing you a long letter; I did not have time to write a short one."
Lincolnshire 22nd June, 2017
Diary of an Octogenarian
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