DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN
- John Copeland -
Friday 19th May - Thursday 25th May, 2017
Brayford Pool, Lincoln at night. A fine city, but its roads and parking places are in a complete mess.
"Dry Marches and Aprils are becoming
a feature in recent years, often followed by summer washouts"
"Times" weather report - 19th May, 2017
FRIDAY 19 MAY
Maybe it sounds somewhat vainglorious, but I was so glad that I was able to upload the diary when I returned home from the Hospital yesterday afternoon. I just don't want to give in to this dreaded disease, trying to lead a normal life as far as possible - or what translates into a normal life for me. If I go on moaning about the country I will know that I am succeeding, only 6 more chemotherapy sessions to go. During the latest session my blood pressure was taken at regular intervals, starting with 161/87, then 131/83, 137/91 ad 141/86. My temperature was somewhat high at 37.3 C.
Once again I used the battery-driven DVD player that my daughters and Chloe so kindly bought for me, and this really was a godsend, helping me to pass the six hours in the hospital, watching "The World at War" series. The disc on the U-Boat War explained how the British Army and Navy fought one another, initially making combined missions to attack the U-Boats impossible. No doubt it was mainly the fault of the British Army, whose appalling conduct I watched in their dreadful defeat at the hands of the Japanese in Singapore and Burma.
This was the Army that fled from Dunkirk, made a cock-up of Market Garden, and only managed to win battles with overwhelming odds, usually with the massive help of the better led and armed American Army. Social snobbishness was our downfall in the armed forces - and still is, albeit to a lower extent as you no longer have to have been to a public school to become an officer, though it still helps enormously, breeding before brains.
I also read some more of the book on the Russian Revolution, having earlier given it up as I found it totally incomprehensible. However, having reached the chapters when the Bolsheviks were in complete control and power, it became somewhat easier to understand, especially the incredible mess that the loony Lenin and his cohorts made of the country, its food policies leading to widespread starvation of millions of peasants and everything falling apart. Communism, than as now, was a hopeless creed, going against human nature and all logic and reason, no doubt explaining why Russia now has a lower economy than California.
One of the things that I find so surprising is that I can cope with the chemotherapy sessions, tedious as they are in lasting for some six hours each time, but I continue to dread the blood tests, never having got to accept them, and certainly not now. The fear may be due to long ago when my doctor made a complete hash of a test, having to do it twice, blood spurting everywhere. I suppose this unfortunate incident remains in my consciousness after all those years.
Looking at the films next week for the Lincoln Odeon, it seems that the cinema has now become essentially for children. Fortunately, there is the alternative of the "Venue" cinema that shows films for adults, so we at least have an alternative to the juvenile Odeon. The "Venue" has free car parking and you can have a drink of wine before the performance - most civilised. As it is, I am not clever enough to go to the showings of the Lincoln Film Society, nearly all their films being foreign subtitled that are extremely obtuse, ever so intelligent, quite beyond me. Always recognise your limitations
Having lost nearly all my hair, I have decided to wear a hat and trackies, but want to keep the white shirt and tie. Possibly an odd assortment, but I have never worried about fashion, certainly not now in my dotage.
I had another sleepless night, apparently on account of having to take those blasted steroids for the 5 days after the chemotherapy session. I gather that they are known to cause sleeplessness, which is not very helpful
In this dreary election campaign of promises, promises that can never be attained, the Lib-Dims have described the Conservatives as being "utterly heartless" in their attack on pensioners, and I reckon this is a fair description of an extremely right-wing party. I expect that I will lose my free idiot's licence when Mrs. May takes office, but I will then get rid of the television set and buy a home cinema set-up so that I can watch DVDs, the set nowadays never going on because of all the dumbed down rubbish.
At a time when it is being said that "Mainstream May reaches out to Labour heartland", there was a report in today's "Times" of her right-wing policies: "As inflation starts to bite and wages stagnate, Mrs. May quickly dropped Conservative promises made two years ago to tackle living standards, abolish child poverty and freeze income tax , VAT and National Insurance". Of course, when the country goes into recession in the late Autumn, no doubt helped by the loss of exports under Brexit, she will have a wonderful excuse to bring in all the extreme right-wing policies of the Very Nasty Party.
It was still raining heavily when I went to bed at midnight, having brought 28 mm in the last two days, and it was still raining this morning, the temperature at noon just 11 C. Nevertheless, braving the rain and the cold, I rode on the scooter to get a "Times" and some A4 stationery, arriving home wet and miserably cold. I really will have to use the car in future, for there is no sign this terrible weather is going to improve, Even so, it is impossible to park a car in Lincoln. Many of the former carparks have been built upon by our daft City Council, and the charges are prohibitive, said to be amongst the highest in the country
Because it was so cold we have had to keep the heating on, now meaning that the heating season extends for 9 months in this cold country, adding considerable expense with the ripping-off charges of the foreign-owned power companies. Sadly, there is a forecast of a wet and cold summer, not that this comes as a surprise. We may manage to have about 10 fine days, so mustn't grumble.
I had a rest after lunch, During the day I noticed a sight deterioration in my reading sight, the print not being so clear, never having to wear glasses for reading or distance before. However the lugubrious and quite frightening booklet on the lymphoma cancer treatment says that is usual; that normal service, like hair growth, will be restored on completion of the treatment. We will see, so to speak.
Three weeks ago, Mrs. Copeland ordered a trolley from Coopers of Stortford, today receiving a letter from the mail-order company saying it will not be available until later in June. It is the last time she will use the firm, using Amazon's facilities instead. Why does it take so long for these mail-order companies to deliver a product, usually saying "Please allow 28 days for delivery" when Amazon can deliver within a couple of days, even with the ordinary service? Is it because they keep no stock, having to order everything from the manufacturers?
Although the faulty cooker clock on the Hotpoint has now, at the third attempt, been repaired, the time is 2 minutes slow, but we dare not correct it, for the three buttons used to change the time quickly snap off, or push the clock completely out of sight. We have never had such a shoddy, badly made project, literally blown together, everything pared down, presumably by bean-counters. We should have bought a Bosche, but they are about £250 extra. You get what you pay for in this life. Buy rubbish, buy twice,
In the evening I read some more of "Churchill & the Dardenelles." Churchill is blamed for the fiasco that resulted in huge losses for the Navy and the usual withdrawal for the British Army. But this historian argues that the First Sea Lord, the mercurial Admiral John Fisher, who was always threatening to resign if he did not agree with Churchill's wild schemes, made no objection to the Dardenelles campaign when it was finally approved at the War Cabinet. Fisher kept his opposition to letters to friends, which wasn't very helpful, eventually resigning, as Churchill was ultimately forced to do following the appalling campaign having to be aborted
SATURDAY 20 MAY
When people kindly ask me how I am, I still think of that joke about the fellow who threw himself off a skyscraper, saying as he passed the 44th floor: "All right so far!" I was told by several people who had had chemotherapy some time ago that I would feel very tired the next day, but this has been far from the case; indeed, I feel quite active. Although I subsequently feel somewhat tired when reading during the evening, when I go to bed I just cannot sleep for hour after relentless hour.
A correspondent who very helpfully tells me about the similar treatment that he had for lymphoma cancer some years ago, finding his comments very helpful and consoling, saw that I had mentioned a reading loss last week, saying in an e-mail today: "I found it difficult to read, too." So, as mentioned earlier, I am just hoping that. like the return of my hair at the end of the treatment, the sight will be restored to normal.
Another correspondent commented on the prolixity of last week's diary, saying: "Well done. Some 9,500 words. You seem to be somewhat re-invigorated on the writing front." Oh, dear - such a long epistle, the trouble being that I have too much time on my hands in my enforced retirement, reminding me of the old story about long ago Sumatra. When an ancient member of the tribe was too old to be of any use, he was carried with great ceremony to a faraway hill, where he was left there, spending his days recalling and chanting about the good old days. I suppose retirement is rather like being shunted up a siding to rust away, nobody taking any notice of you any more as they try hard to live life by going on those dreaded cruises.
In addition to this diary I write a hand-written diary that amounts to 450 words every day, which I have been writing since 1970, including details of the weather each day and newspaper cuttings, as well as a new journal recording my treatment progress each day. I am therefore what those crazy psychologists would call a "Compulsive Diary Writer (CDW), having written millions of words over the years.
I am no Pepys, but during the younger days life was more exciting, even stimulating when I greatly enjoyed my work. Now look at me: no hair, cannot see to read, yet I prided myself in my substantial head of hair and not having to wear glasses at all. Somehow I must have really sorely upset God, if you believe in such stuff. I am not sure whether I do.
Another pride before a fall was when long ago I bought a magnificent black Aquascutum overcoat in a sale, greatly reduced. I wore it to meet daughter Caroline at the Lincoln rail station as she was coming home from University, and as I stood by the door, proudly wearing the coat, passengers handed me their tickets. I was not amused.
My correspondent went on to say: "Have a good weekend. And remember, if you're feeling a bit down, just look at our politicians. What a shower - but what a laugh." Yes, indeed. There are times when I believe that a state of anarchy would be a big improvement in this country, or possibly a military coup, though it would have to be from the Royal Airforce, not our socially-bound and hopeless Army that has yet to win a battle without the help of the American men and material.
It is said that a country deserves the politicians it gets, so I suppose there is something in that when you think of the hopeless bunch we have now who couldn't find their way to a brewery, let alone have a glorious p**s-up in one. It's all very sad, making me very thankful that I do not have another 40 years of this relentless decline and fall. Goodness knows what wil happen when we leave Europe, especially as few people in this country want to work these days.
A "Cockshaver", commonly known as a "Maybug," found in the garden this morning, They don't have much of a life, spending 11 months underground, and then on waking up fly off and crash into a lighted window, often ending up on their back, unable to move.
In the diary last week I mentioned that I liked the new house that is being built in the village, regarding it as having Georgian overtones, certainly better than 'The Shed', but it did not meet with the approval of a reader who commented in an e-mail: "It is not Georgian but cod-Georgian. The proportions are all wrong, and it lacks the symmetry of Georgian architecture and it seems to feature that horror of modern domestic architecture, stone cladding. Either build with bricks, the small Georgian ones if they can be found, or build in stone but never use stone cladding. It is an affront to common decency. By the way, I agree with you about 'The Shed' but at least it is honest and not pretending to be something it isn't." An interesting comment.
I asked one of my American correspondents what he thought about the future of President Trump, to which he replied: "Trump does not have the affability that Bill had, and has no allies in Congress, so it is possible. He would, however, have to do something worthy of impeachment first. So far he has not, negative press spin notwithstanding......It is disheartening to think that out of a population of over 300 million, these were the best we could come up with as candidates." Somehow I think he will survive.
Mrs. Copeland went to Waitrose for the week's provisions in the morning, while I went to PCWorld to purchase some print cartridges for her computer printer, going on the scooter as the sun was shining at last , and there is nothing better than being on two wheels when the sun shines, better than any car, even an open-topped one. My sister who lives down in Essex, was telling me that over the past week they have had wonderful weather, whereas we have had three days of rain that has brought some 28mm. There is no doubt the weather is far better down south, whereas in Scotland the daily temperature is probably at least 10 C below that of London.
In today's "Times", free from Waitrose with the shopping, I read that a psychiatrist had diagnosed President Trump, saying: "We are now facing an existential threat from Donald Trump because of his unfettered authority to launch nuclear weapons at any time and for any reason. Donald |Trump has a particular kind of character that's very well known by psychoanalytically orientated mental health people (!). What it involves is a fundamental self-esteem problem; an insecure self-esteem side by side with a sense of grandiosity. So the person has a very contradictory image of themselves."
What absolute cobblers. complete rubbish. This could apply to every political leader on earth, a totally worthless diagnosis by a trick cyclist. I worked with a psychiatrist when I was a Divisional Education Officer, and he was as mad as a hatter. His only worth was that we could keep difficult children out of school before he eventually saw them to make some absolutely crazy assessment. Psychiatrists are men and women who did not make the grade to a proper doctor, and psychology is the easiest course to take at a third-class university, even easier than geography. I also knew another psychiatrist and he was even madder, if that can be imagined.
Meanwhile, the President seems to have had a remarkably successful journey to Saudi Arabia, the Saudis having agreed to pump $200bn into the rust belt in a new American alliance, in exchange for America selling weapons. This will be greeted with whoppee by hundreds of American redundant workers, something that the do-nothing-at-all Obama never managed to do. At least it is something that President Trump has done right. We could do with a similar input to wake up our derelict manufacturing industries.
The review section of the newspaper had a review of a new history of "Passchendaele" in which the revisionist historian claims that "Passchendaele was one of the lost victories of history for major success was within the Allies' grasp during the early face of the battle." Oh, dear, but they lost in the end. It was a bit like my race running at school. At the start I did very well, almost in front, but ultimately I came in last. I will not be buying that book on account of this review.
The rest of the day was spent at home, doing various household tasks, and then cutting a hedge, so I am trying to lead a fairly normal life, albeit with a wonderful excuse not to do the things I do not want to do, After a siesta in the afternoon, the evening was spent reading some more of the book on the Dardenelles. At least my great love of books cannot be removed from me in the dreadful take-away trawl I am having to face with this cursed cancer.
I still cannot understand why I contracted the disease, for I was told by the consultant that my blood count was excellent; my liver and kidneys were in first-rate condition (despite my enthusiasm for wine); and my heart was in a very good condition. I suppose the nasty people will say that I had too much alcohol, didn't eat vegetables, and never walked round guzzling a bottle of water. Fortunately, the consultant told me that the lymphoma cancer that I have would not result from any of these things. So there!
SUNDAY 21 MAY
Another sleepless night after going to bed at 11.30 p.m Neither the sleeping tablets of Zopiclon that the consultant gave me, nor the 25 mg x2 Phenergan tablets have had the slightest effect in helping me to get to sleep, yet two people who have had chemotherapy in the past have told me that they always felt so tired after the sessions. This insomnia, staying awake for hour after hour, makes me feel so depressed, almost as if I am in a cataleptic trance. I suppose the only answer is to go to bed on alternate nights, seeing if this works.
On getting up about 9.30 this morning I felt quite under the weather, really feeling as if I had just come out of a Parish Council meeting, having an awful headache, but it soon cleared up. At least after all the rain the sun was shining. I nevertheless quite like hearing a heavy shower beating down on the conservatory roof - somehow a primeval form of comfort and security.
I have meanwhile lost all interest in the election campaign. We criticise America for having two poor candidates who stood for the Presidency, but we are not much better over here, having a very right-wing female who was about as successful as Home Secretary in controlling immigration as Bo Peep was with her sheep; and a nice avuncular old man who lives in the past. I have therefore decided not to vote, feeling that it does not matter who wins: we will still go into recession, probably somewhat quicker if Labour wins.
Much to my relief, the latest poll shows that the Conservative lead has in one poll fallen to 9%, which is good news, suggesting that the Conservatives will not have the huge majority that was earlier anticipated. an overall majority of about 12 seats for Mrs. May and the Maniacs being about right, protecting the NHS and not punishing the sick and the poor and pensioners.
"The Sunday Times" had a headline: "Tory wobble as cuts for elderly slash May's lead," adding that free idiot lantern licences for pensioners could be means-tested. Fortunately I have a free licence until 30 June 2018, but this could still be taken away by Mrs. May, rightly described by Kenneth Clark as "that horrible woman". If I have to pay I will throw out the set and, as mentioned earlier, buy a home-cinema appliance. Presumably the electorate is at last beginning to take fright at a very nasty right-wing Government, the most vicious one we are likely to have ever seen in this country.
However, the opinion polls are always hopelessly wrong when there is an actual result - wrong about the 2015 election, and hopelessly adrift with the American Presidential election. As it is said, opinion polls make astrology seem respectable. They ought to be banned at election times, as they are in some countries, completely useless.
Meanwhile that crazy Kim Wrong-Un has let off another of his fireworks in defiance of the recent Security Council resolution for him to stop the firing. Goodness knows what President Trump is going to do about the mad man, for something has to be done to stop him. On the other hand there is the argument put about by the lily-livered fraternity that the silly man is only trying to protect himself from American aggression. I suppose this group made a similar excuse about the Nazis.
All the pills and potions that I have to take for my cancer treatment.
Various household jobs during the morning, and then at 4 p.m. we went to the local Club, taking a neighbour with us, sitting outside with a very pleasant group of people. Of the 8 people who were present at the large picnic table, 7 were graduates, two with M.Sc. degrees, making for some interesting conversations, mercifully not about holidays or good restaurants to eat in. Although the Club has changed significantly, not having so many of the monthly social events, I still enjoy it, having some pleasant Sunday afternoon sessions with these people Socially, the Club is very divisive, but I suppose this doesn't matter, each to his own, birds of a feather and all that.
I have a bet with one of the members who has wagered a bottle of good white wine that President Trump will be impeached before the end of next month. I think that this is most unlikely, so I have willingly taken on the bet.
After dinner I switched on the computer, only to find after about 10 minutes that "The Blue Screen of Death" came up, the second time this has happened within a week, suggesting that, like its owner, the machine is somewhat poorly. However, it may be due to another programme that had not closed down before I opened another. A possible happening, surely. Any advice on this, indicating the cause, would be appreciated.
The evening was spent reading some more of the book on Churchill and the Dandenelles.
What a fiasco that was. To think that those naval and military men and the politicians were responsible for conducting the First World War, causing the death of thousands of troops. It really is frightening, especially as the First Lord of the Admiralty, Admiral of the Fleet John Fisher, was totally round the bend, sending in his old age abusive messages to all his colleagues, especially to Churchill, saying he wanted to resign and look after his roses.
Eventually Asquith shamefully appointed Fisher to the post of the Government's new board of Invention & Research, leaving Churchill out in the cold. What a horrible cut-throat business politics is, knife in the back for people who do not fit in, nepotism and the Old Boy Network, rather than ability being predominant.
MONDAY 22 MAY
At last a good night's sleep, and what a difference that makes. Having taken one of the Zopicone sleeping tablets, I had 2 glasses of real wine, being allowed such an intake after the 3rd day of the chemotherapy session, and this did the trick, wine being so beneficial for a good night's sleep. Among the 7 tablets I have to take for five days after each chemotherapy session, are 5 steroids that have to be taken one a day. These are the ghastly tablets that cause my insomnia, and today the bones in my legs below the knees were painful, one of the symptoms of taking these dreaded pills.
I woke up feeling almost cheerful, until I belatedly heard that that Mrs. May's Government had severely restricted the intake of foreign students to our universities. Our universities depend upon these students for finance and course viability, yet she has cut off her nose to spite her face. According to today's "Times", Mrs. May has also goofed up social care. Dear, oh dear, and to think she is going to become Prime Minister. Later on I heard that she had changed the policy following opposition, obviously not having a clue what she is doing, as weak as Cameron. Bring on the clowns - well, come to think of it, they are already performing.
As my old grandfather used to say, politicians "f**k-up" everything they touch, whether it is higher education, pensions, the NHS, schools and foreign policy. Mention of foreign policy suggests that Boris Johnson will be one of the casualties in the new Cabinet. A clever man but a clown, even looking very silly at times, totally out of his depth. He doesn't exactly present a very good image abroad as our Foreign Secretary, not that the post is so important these days, no longer having an empire, the empire now being over here.
Sexist though it is to say such things, I have never liked women in politics. I have the great respect for them in the caring professions in which they are invariably better than most men, but in the political arena all history shows they are hopeless, especially Thatcher the Terrible, and although I have been quoted Joan of Arc as a fine leader, she ended up on a bonfire. Women tend to be too aggressive in wanting to be like men, too inflexible and domineering, usually having problems with relationships with ministers, especially other women, and they are always humourless. Not that some men are much better, especially Brown, Blair and the weak Cameron,
At least Labour has the good sense to abolish university tuition fees. That is right. I went to university without any such fees, and came out with a degree not owing a penny, usually working during the holidays, on board a boat , and at the Post Office at Christmas.
Another madness is the utterly absurd "Central Lincolnshire Local Plan" that envisages: "On balance, a housing target of 1,540 dwellings (net) per annum has been set for the Local
Plan period 2012-36, resulting in a total dwelling target of 36,960 dwellings." It is sheer stupidity in an essentially rural area with abysmal roads and one through train a day to London; having only poorly paid service jobs mainly for women, and very little likelihood of any being created in an out-of-the-way county; and a dreadful lack of public services, especially schools and doctors.
In looking at the Plan, I wonder how many of the councillors involved with the document have any understanding of economics, or have held senior positions in industry or commerce? Maybe the question should not be answered, other than to say that since the reorganisation of local government on April Fool's Day in 1974, there has been a marked deterioration in the quality of councillors.. When I worked in local government before that dreadful reform, the unpaid (only expenses) councillors were men and women of distinction and substance, industrialists, landowners and others of real quality, all of whom supported and worked well with the officers.
Today, in counties up and down the country, when there are overgenerous remuneration for councillors involving a few hours of work a week, mainly in dreary committees that never achieve anything except cutting services, there is a much wider selection of members, possibly more democratic, including teachers, social workers and artisans, along with the odd farmer. And as any officer in any county will tell you today, there is hardly any co-operation between them and the councillors. It is almost an example of Gresham's Law, the bad driving out the good, no senior industrialist or commercial manager wanting to spend his time discussing the suitability of a conservatory or what to do about potholes.
I posted an e-mail to this effect to the Parish Council, and was pleased that one of the councillors responded by saying: "I don't disagree with John". It really is a nonsense, but as council taxpayers we are helpless to stop the cloud-cuckoo land thinking, not the slightest notice being taken of any representations against the barmy proposals. However, maybe we can comfort ourselves knowing that the proposed new houses will never be built, possibly only 1,000 at the most. Perchance to dream.
The Bellis Perennis have been really wonderful on the lawn this year, the best ever. The Bettabellis solution really does work - 5 drops in a litre of water and the dullest lawn is brightened up with flowers. How can any gardener kill them off? Amazing!
To town in the morning to purchase some books for Mrs. Copeland from Waterstones, and to order "Labour and the Gulag" £30. It was the same price on Amazon. so I might as well buy locally. Among the supporters of the loony Lenin & Co. were Beatrice & Sydney Webb, surely the dullest people in London at the time, though they founded the London School of Economics that I attended. Bernard Shaw was also a supporter, totally misguided in his advanced Socialist airy-fairy beliefs, even saying that the murderous Bolsheviks were "only weeding the garden"..
Later on I took the Scorpio to purchase some petrol, the car starting easily, having had a new battery earlier in the year. On arriving home I left it outside, cleaning it in the afternoon, but on starting the engine to put the vehicle away, there was no response, the battery apparently completely dead. I called the excellent engineer who has his own business, probably the best car engineer in Lincoln with many years of service, and he came out about 6.30 p.m,, testing the battery, saying that although it was flat it was charging with the alternator, which was a relief, such items being costly to replace, even if still available for a 20-year-old car.
The engineer told me that it was probably a faulty battery, and would be exchanged if the trouble happened again. With my present illness I seem to have difficulty in accepting when other things go wrong, seeing it as the "final straw"., and I was certainly upset about this latest woe following upon another's heel.
Back home I cut some of the grass. We have two fairly small lawns - one upper and the other lower, and I cut the former today on which the bellis perennis do not grow so well. I therefore left the lower part, not wanting to mow down the bellis perennis, though they quickly grow again. They really are a lovely little flower, such perfection when you look at them closely. How can any gardener put weedkiller on them?
Despite the chaos in America that has brought severe doubts about President Trump's Presidency, he seems to be making a fine success of his foreign visits, making friends with difficult countries, instead of fighting against them as the hopeless Obama did, especially with that woman who had about as much idea of foreign relations as a dead rabbit.
I initially liked President Trump, and then went off him, but I am back again on supporting him. Such fickleness, but then as Lord Keynes said: "When things change I change my mind. What do you do?" The President has the great advantage of a very attractive wife, and in a media-led age, full of sex, when the women gossip columnists comment on every £1,176 dress a President's wife is wearing, this is obviously an immense benefit. And our Donald looks the part of a President, another advantage. I gather that in Saudi women are not even allowed to drive cars. No comment.
It is certainly going to be interesting to see what the President does with the crazy Kim Wrong-Un who continues to let off more fireworks. Somehow I would not want to be in his shoes. One way and another he has to be dealt with, though I suppose they will try sanctions to begin with, though this will need the support of China, always an unreliably nasty communist country that sends us all those badly made manufactured products.
Today's "Times" letter page had entries from teachers who had left the classroom on account of the disobedience and the disruption, one from a teacher who had earlier taught in Singapore saying that one of her children refused to stop talking, despite several warnings: "In Singapore it would have been dealt with firmly, and that is one reason why it continues to outrank Britain in international league tables." Another commented: "Teaching is a noble profession and its practitioners deserve respect, but in all too many schools the day-to-day aim is not much more than simply to keep the lid on the chaos."
The trouble with our schools is not a shortage of money, even though Mrs. May is under-funding them, but a country that has no interest or concern about education, no longer regarding it as important, whereas in many poor countries education is a first priority. Teaching has therefore become an impossibly unpleasant job, especially with little help and support from parents.
A rest in the afternoon, and in the evening I finished reading "Churchill & The Dardenelles", a book I have enjoyed. The author makes various excuses for Churchill's extensive involvement with the aborted campaign, the British Army having to retreat yet again, along with the Navy. But, on reading the book, I take the view that the chaos was mainly Churchill's fault.
He was so impetuous, his enthusiasm taking away all reason, and he failed bitterly in not recognising that the naval guns could not totally destroy the Turkish forts, while there was no success in clearing the mines, three of our ships being lost. He is often described as having a few wonderful ideas, and scores of bad ones. Fortunately, during the Second World War the CIGS, Field Marshl Sir Alan Brooke, had the courage to stop some of Churchill's scatterbrained schemes.
I have now made a start on "The Locomotive of War - Money, Empire, Power and Guilt" by Peter Clarke, published by Bloomsbury this year at £25. It was Trotsky who coined the phrase that the locomotive of war brought about change in a society. A difficult book to read.
TUESDAY 23 MAY
There was the utterly devastating news on the radio this morning that 22 people had been killed and 59 injured in a terrorist attack on musical concert for young people in Manchester, no doubt undertaken by a Muslim whose faith has about as much regard to religion as Al Capone's violin case had to music. Crazy people of a demented and backward religion that makes no sense in killing innocent people, including children. What do they hope to achieve?
At least President Trump got one policy right when he wanted to exclude Muslims from entering America, as our useless Home Secretary should have done when she let every immigrant into this country without let or hindrance - and is now going to have yet another go at curbing immigration , How you have to laugh. At least the politicians keep us amused, none of them having a clue what they are doing, other than feathering their own nests. Dreadful people.
Although I charged the Scorpio battery yesterday, it had not finished the charging at 9.00 p.m., so rather than put the car away in the dark, I stopped the charging, and resumed today, the total charge taking some 10 hours. Fortunately the car started when I took it out onto the drive about 8.45 a.m. I begin to think the battery must be faulty.
Apart from a short scooter ride in to Lincoln to purchase a "Times", it was a day spent at home, my productivity being even lower than that of a British worker. I am thinking of buying one of those swing hammocks for the garden so that I can sit out on it during the days of my treatment, far away from the madding crowd. I suppose the only consequence of my treatment is that I am not so keen on socialising all that much, not that I have ever been a keen socialite, preferring the company of a few selected friends.
Further indication that the UK is in a fine financial mess, steadily heading towards recession, came with the news this morning that Government borrowing, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistic, was at its highest April level for three years. Public sector net borrowing, excluding public sector banks, was £10.4bn last month, up by £1.2bn from April 2016. Public sector net debt was £1.72tn, equivalent to 86% of GDP, an increase of £114bn on April 2016." And this was the Government that was going to reduce our deficit. What a bunch of clowns, hopelessly adrift. At least Osborne has gone, so that is some relief.
Matters have not been helped by Mrs. May getting her knickers in a right twist over her electioneering, having to do a U-tun on her social care policies, the early editions of "The Daily Mirror" having a headline saying we could never trust her in doing such U-turns. Oh, dear: she was hopeless as Home Secretary, and now making a fine mess. Women politicians - don't you just love them? I begin to think that Corbyn would be better, despite his dream-world.
After a fairly restful day, I had to have the first of the three alternative days of the injections in my stomach of Nivestim, having to have these injections a few days after each chemotherapy session.. The consultant suggested that I should do these injections, but my cowardice with anything to do with needles prevents this. Instead, granddaughter Chloe came to our house in the early evening to undertake the injection, making a superb job of it so that I hardly felt a thing.
There are times when I think about the fact that I will be having this treatment all the way through the summer and until the end of October, surely a long haul, but I must bear up, not letting my family down who have been so wonderfully supportive.
I listened to the 5 o'clock news on the radio, hearing about that terrible tragedy in Manchester, but after a few minutes I switched it off, unable to tolerate the over-graphic account, the media being in full ghoulish flood on such occasions. When the funerals take place there will be close-up photographs in the press showing grieving parents, but it seems that the public likes these representations, rather like people stop to gawp at a road accident. Instead I thought of the grieving parents who have lost their children - a sadness and a loss that will remain with them for the rest of their lives, and all because of some demented fanatic in a pretence of religion.
There was at least the good news earlier in the day that the Halifax Building Society said that house prices were continuing to fall. Rising house prices benefit nobody, least of all young couples, and we can but hope that this fall will continue to accelerate even faster as we approach recession.
The evening was spent treading "The Locomotive of War", in which the author comments on the "greater structural inequality that prevailed in Europe a century ago. Here was a society with almost no middle class not only did the bottom 50% of the population own virtually no capital, much the same was true of the next 40% on higher rings of the social ladder, and it was just the top 10% who owned nearly everything. In Britain before the First World War, the '1%' owned 60% of all the wealth, even more than in France, and this was also more than in the United States."
This wealthy class had the life of Reilly: the Grand Tour; the weekend parties in their substantial rural retreats, and the "season" in London. Sadly, they were subsequently led like lambs to the slaughter of the Somme.
The tail-backed traffic in Lincoln, the roads now in a hopeless mess, many of them closed for endless repairs that would be completed in a week in Germany. Parking spaces are limited, said to be the most expensive in the country.
WEDNESDAY 24 MAY
Not feeling so well today, but this is in the nature of the treatment, feeling rough after the 4th and 5th days of a chemotherapy session. The treatment all seems very primitive, putting poisons into my system, obviously with unpleasant results. I had a feeling of fatigue, though not actually feeling tired. Instead, it seemed as if my whole body did not want to move, and I found difficulty in concentrating. To some extent there was a feeling of nausea.
During the morning I took the Scorpio to the garage for further tests on the troublesome new battery. The engineer found that the trouble was with the alternator, which he is hoping to repair, saving the expense of £150 + fitting for a new one. I am not having much luck at the moment.
"Anybody at home?"
Not much to report today. Although I bought a copy of "The Times", I skipped over the several pages of the terrible Manchester tragedy, It just upsets me too much to read the gruesome, graphic, almost ghoulish accounts, the media being in full flow, every sickening sentiment dragged out of the disaster, "The Times" saying on its front page "I grabbed her. Her little arms were broken".
At about 4.40 p.m. the neighbours invited Mrs. C and me to join them for wine outside, sitting in the cobbled courtyard that centres on our four houses, I drank non-alcoholic white wine (0.05% alcohol) but it wasn't too bad. The sun was shining and we could hear the birds singing in this wonderful environment, making me realise how fortunate I am in living in such a splendid area with first-rate neighbours. Later in the evening daughter Kate came to see me, and afterwards I read some more of "The Locomotive of War", which I am enjoying.
THURSDAY 25 MAY
As my "Morning Book", reading in bed before getting up about 8.30 a.m. (and how I hate early starts!) I have bee reading a fine account of the Vietnam War by American troops actually engaged in that dreadful conflict - "We Were Soldiers Once and Young" by Lt. General Harold G. Moore (Rtd) and Joseph Galloway. It is well written, graphically describing the battle scenes. The book was recommended to me by one of the male patients in the Chemotherapy room, and I am greatly enjoying it.
I was hearing earlier in the week about a Race Relations course, taken by a black man and a lesbian, hardly representative of the English populace, the theme being that "English Supremacy" , presumably meaning white supremacy, was a very wicked thing in this country. What a nonsense this is. This is my country, my England, and why should I not feel proud of it, even if it is now all falling apart? I tend to think that these ridiculous courses, usually taken by people with chips on their shoulders, actually harm race relations rather than improving them. It was a good job I was not attending the course, for I would have said a thing or two to put the record straight.
A day spent entirely at home. Mrs. Copeland had to go to the dentist for a filling, always a miserable experience. Part of the morning was spent setting up this diary for uploading onto the Internet. I still worry that in my chronicle of misfortunes the computer will fail, and I just cannot face buying a new one.
Item sent to me by a reader. One of the opinion polls, not that any of them are any good, shows the Conservative lead down to 9% from 28%.
As was expected, the UK's economy grew more slowly than initially estimated in the first three months of the year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) now saying that the economy only expanded by 0.2% in the quarter - slower than its original estimate of 0.3%. Recession here we come.
At least there were only 248,000 immigrants coming to this country last year, down by 84,000 on the previous year, so Mrs. May and the Maniacs are slowly bringing the figure down, even if the figure is still nearly three times the size of Lincoln every year.
The motor engineer telephoned at 11 o'clock to say that my Scorpio had been mended, the trouble being some frayed wires, the cost only £45, so that was a great relief. I was dreading that the alternator was at fault as earlier though, but it was all right. Although I realise that it is silly to keep the car, only doing about 450 miles a year and costing me £10 a week in road fund licence, insurance and MOT and servicing before I move the vehicle, somehow I cannot bring myself to dispose of it; it would be like getting rid of an old friend. Mrs. C., made of stronger stuff having been to public school, thinks it is sentimental nonsense to have such considerations for a lump of metal.
A relaxing day, sitting out reading in the garden in the wonderful sunshine in the afternoon, the temperature at 3 p.m. being 24 C .
I was hearing today that there were police with machine-gun in Lincoln yesterday. I welcome and applaud their presence, giving us some degree of protection, especially if they can gun down these evil and vicious men whose vicious faith has no association with religion.
I have to have another injection in my stomach this evening, and after another one on Saturday I am clear of the pills and medicine men for nearly a fortnight - and what a joy. It is then that I have a brief respite in feeling better, the poisons working themselves out of my system.
Lincolnshire 25th May, 2017
Diary of an Octogenarian
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