DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN

- John Copeland -


Friday 24th April - 30th April 2015


Rural

Rural delight. However, the day will come when Lincoln encroaches into our village, felling the oaks to make way for an "Oaklands" estate.


"Don't worry about old age: it doesn't last long.

Comment on the Internet


FRIDAY 24 APRIL

I greatly enjoyed the St. George's Evening at our local Club yesterday, even though I was sitting at a table beside two very deaf men, making conversation extremely difficult. One of them was saying that he could hear better without his hearing aid, and I gather that this I true of many people, a reliable hearing aid not yet having been invented. We had sausages and mash plus Bombardier ale, making for a delightful repast. It was a pity, though, that more people were not in attendance, possibly only 22, whereas in the past the number has been in the region of 40.

Somebody was saying that among those attending there was hardly anybody under the age of 60 years. Although there are now some younger couples in the village, few of them come to the Club, especially the urban refugees who cut down all the trees as soon as they arrive in the parish. It is a great shame, for the Club is a splendid institution, but once my generation has departed this life I doubt whether it will be able to survive.

It amused me that one of our company said, in all seriousness, that the Crusaders went "ravaging and rabbiting," which I suppose is a new interpretation of their mission.

The Tory press, becoming increasingly worried about the very real prospect of a Labour victory on the 7th May, are really putting in the boot, sounding all manner of frighteners by way of personally discrediting Mr. Miliband. Today's "Daily Mail" has a front-page headline saying "Miliband will bring back uncontrolled immigration", presumably meaning that he will continue the uncontrolled policy of Mrs. May, while "The Daily Torygraph" has a headline saying "Labour minister attacks Miliband", plus an item from Dame Helen incredibly saying that "Thatcher was a great role model", obviously for greed and selfishness; for making us look silly in the European Union; and treating her ministers in the dogmatic and belligerent style of Hitler.

Fortunately, Mr.Miliband is fighting back against this vitriolic personal, public schoolboy abuse, which in any event is probably counter-productive, the British people not liking a smearing campaign. Accordingly, Miliband has pointed to the incredible mess that the Government has made of Libya, now explaining why thousands are fleeing the country in the ensuing turmoil. Alas, what the dimwits in the Foreign Office can never understand is that countries such as Libya and Iraq need a strong man at the helm, somebody who can keep law and order. It would therefore have been far better if Colonel al-Gaddafi had remained in power, along with Saddam Hussein in Iraq, just as Tito was needed in Yugoslavia in an earlier age.

Today's "i", which appears to be far more balanced in its political judgement, not having the unpleasant bigotry and bias of papers such as the "Torygraph", told the various parties to "Tell the truth - Leaders are told to stop keeping voters in the dark about spending cuts and tax rises." Whichever party wins on May 7th, massive cuts and tax rises will have to be made to reduce our enormous debt, the highest amongst the G7 nations. But then the voters do not want to hear such misery.

Meanwhile, it was reported in the "i" that "The recovery is likely to have lost momentum in the first quarter after retail figures disappointed in March", while manufacturing and construction also fell, suggesting that GDP for the first quarter will be reduced from 0.6% to 0.4% - the very fall that I mentioned last week. For subsequent quarters it is highly probably that there will be further falls, probably seeing GDP flat in the final quarter. Despite all the smoke and mirrors of our smug Chancellor, the economy is looking in a bad shape, financial management obviously not being among the fortes of the Cameroons.

Not surprisingly, Reuter's Business section had an article expressing concern about the financial mismanagement of the Cameroons, saying that "Public borrowing fell to 4.8% of GDP in the last twelve months, down from 5.7% 2013.15. But it is still higher than most big advanced economies and at just over 80% of GDP, net public debt has more than doubled since the financial crisis, potentially weakening Britain's ability to respond to future crises. Slow growth for much of David Cameron's term means Britain is far off his original goal of largely eliminating the deficit."

Bee

Dandelion in the garden. A good display this year.


It seems that my scooter repair, involving a new battery at a cost of 60 with labour, has been successful for it started all right this morning. When tested, the original battery was found to be fully charged, but when replaced everything worked. A strange business. I still believe there is a connection fault somewhere along the line, but we will see.

A brief visit to town. I am amazed at the incredible number of houses now for sale in Lincoln and the surrounding area, every road and street displaying "For Sale" boards. Presumably, bearing in mind the lack of jobs in the city, people are moving out to find employment in other more prosperous counties. Yet more and more houses are being built in and around the city, presumably for retired people who are escaping the horrors of the south-east, attracted by the low house prices in these parts.

Back home I made further attempts to seal the very slight leak on the oil tank, though I am still fearful that we will have to buy a new one, costing about 700. However, as the tank is nearly full at the moment, I think I will wait until only a small amount is left before making the replacement.

Later on I planted runner bean seeds - "Nine bean rows will I have there", though no hive for the honey bee. As mentioned earlier, home grown vegetables, principally runner beans and spinach, are the only vegetables that I eat, believing all other produce is harmful. Some dishes presented in the press look unbelievably horrible. How can anybody eat such rubbish, which you wouldn't give to your pet rabbit.

It is good to see that cattle are back in the field with the avenue of oaks at the bottom of our garden - a truly magnificent rural scene. Seeing their presence makes me realise what a splendid environment I live in. Of course, we all know that within the next twenty years all the oaks will be felled when Lincoln encroaches on our village, an "Oaklands" estate probably being set up for immigrants. Thankfully I will be gone by then, having lived in the best of all possible worlds, before everything fell apart.

In the post, which now comes about 2.30 p.m. under privatisation, whereas it arrived in the morning before the cheap sell-off of Royal Mail, there were election leaflets from the Liberal-Democrats and the Independent Party. In this true blue constituency, where a pig wearing a blue jacket would be elected, the votes for the Conservatives at the last election were 49%, and only 28% for the Lib-Dims, and just 16% for Labour, so what is the point of the Lib-Dims, Independent, and Labour standing, knowing that they have about as much chance of being elected as the England football team has of winning the next World Cup?

As I mentioned last week, it seems surprising that rural communities such as ours nearly always return a Conservative candidate. I suppose the answer is that apart from the farming contingent who know on which side their turnips are buttered, there is a large middle class element. Indeed, I suppose it could be argued that it is far more enjoyable and certainly more civilised to live in a Conservative constituency than one dominated by Labour.

In the evening I invited an elderly male neighbour to join me in watching DVDs of "Game of Thrones" - a series that we are both enjoying, though at times the story-line does not seem to be all that good.

SATURDAY 25 APRIL

Earlier this week I had a call from O2, my mobile telephone operator, saying that I was due for an upgrade. Why on earth would I want this, when my present appliance, which only costs 14.57 a month on a contract, has everything I need, including e-mails and an Internet connection, an upgrade costing me far more money? Yet I gather that whenever a new iPhone is brought onto the market there is a mad rush to purchase the latest model. What a daft country we have become.

Bullock

Bullock amongst the herd in the field at the bottom of our garden.


Apart from a brief visit to town, it was a day spent at home. I prefer to stay at home at weekends to avoid the riffraff, for seeing the uncouth and uneducated people in the High Street serves as a grim reminder of the extent to which this country has descended. This is not snobbishness; instead, it is a question of standards. Mrs. Copeland went for the week's provisions to Waitrose, bringing home a free copy of "The Times", which I mainly look at for the book reviews and the Business section.

In his excellent column in "The Times" Philip Aldrick, who seems to be one of the few economists who understands the dire financial position this country is in, warns: "Make no mistake, a storm is brewing. The true state of Britain's public finances is dire - far worse than suggested by the official figures, which are simply bad. According to the Office for National Statistics, borrowing in the past financial year was a mighty 87.3 billion, or 4.8% of GDP." He concludes the article by saying: "An umbrella, after all, really isn't going to help, given the size of the storm clouds approaching."

The worry is that Mr. Miliband on becoming Prime Minister will find that the accounts are in a hopeless mess, far worse, as Mr. Aldrick points out, than we have been told, presumably on account of the true state of affairs being hidden because of the election. I continue to believe that in not so many years from now, this country could end up in as bad a position as Greece. Right now that seems an excessive prediction, but what is going to take us out of the mess given our poor productivity, an indolent workforce, lack of investment, and an ever widening trade deficit?

I saw in the Review section of the newspaper that there is a new biography of Goebells. Although I had vowed not to order any more books for the next few months, having spent far too much on book purchases so far this year, I could not avoid having that book, so I duly ordered it from Amazon, 20.40 instead of 30.

In the post we had an election leaflet from the Liberal-Democrats standing in the local District Council elections, suggesting as one of their policies that the party wanted to see just one council, instead of the present muddled and muddy array of district and county councils. I fully agree with this, for much of the work of our worthless County Council could be transferred to a national organisation, such as the police and highways, while Social Services and Libraries could go to the better organised district councils, thereby doing away with the wasteful County Council, saving several hundreds of pounds on a householder's council tax bill.

I will be voting for the Liberal Democrats at the district council election, especially as we at present have an excellent councillor who has done so much in trying to protect our village from insensitive developments.

It seems strange that this country is marking the centenary of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign, not one of Churchill's better plans. Once again the episode, in which the better organised Turkish forces made mincemeat of our troops, marked the inefficiency of the British Army, while the Royal Navy was not a lot better. When you think of Dunkirk and Singapore, the British troops were no match in equal numbers against the Germans and the Japanese, and it was only through his superior forces that Montgomery managed to win in the Middle East.

Difficult though it is to admit it, the Americans seem to have been far better as a fighting force, especially with generals such as Patton. Admittedly, the Americans were better equipped, there being no shortage of manpower and money, yet there was not the same snobishness between officers and men as in our socially divisive armed forces that quarrelled amongst themselves for much of the time.

According to the latest Poll of Polls, Labour and Conservative are neck and neck on 34%, which will obviously mean a hung Parliament, which would be the best result of all possible worlds, meaning that all legislation will be stymied. What is becoming increasingly apparent in this election campaign, much of it of not the slightest interest to most electors, is that the two main parties are becoming more extreme, the Conservatives returning to the failed policies of Thatcher the Terrible, while Labour goes back to its old failed concepts.

Extreme politics are an indication of a nation in deep social and economic trouble, as was seen during the 1930s in Germany. However, if there is the predicted very welcome hung Parliament, these excesses will be of no account, suggesting that the maturity of the British elector, when not muddled by the bigotry of the hateful right-wing Murdoch press, shows discrimination and reason. Over the years we have alternated between Labour and Conservative, Labour brining in social reforms, and the Conservatives in office doing away with them. We make no progress, but at least it stops revolution.

After making further attempts to mend the leak on the oil tank, all unsuccessful, I had a siesta in the afternoon, and in the evening I finished reading the splendid novel "Suite Francaise", dealing with the German invasion of Paris. It is very easy to criticise the French for having been such willing collaborators, but I wonder how we would have behaved in this country.

I have now made a start on "Hitler's Last Day - Minute by minute", by Jonathan Mayo and Emma Craigie, published this year by Short Books. A bit of fantasy and imagination, no doubt, but it will probably be an interesting account. It seems appropriate that I should be reading such a book on the 70th anniversary of the Fuhrer's death.

About 9.15 p.m. we had a telephone call from a neighbour saying that one of the bullocks from the field behind our house had broken out and had gone into various gardens. Obviously there was no point mounting a search in the darkness, so it was put off until tomorrow. Nevertheless, it must be worrying for motorists seeing a bullock charging along the road. Luckily, some of the 4x4s used by yummy mummies to take their precocious offspring to school have bull-bars on the front of the vehicle, so they will be all right.

SUNDAY 26 APRIL


I woke up not feeling at all well, having nausea and a headache. Mrs. Copeland said this had been brought on by my not wanting to go to a party at a neighbour's house this afternoon, which isn't true, though I have to admit that I find these mixed gatherings very tiresome at times.

I was recently seeing an advertisement for a new cruise ship that can take up to 5,000 passengers, surely a journey into Hades. I cannot imagine anything more horrible, believing that Dr. Johnson was right when he said that being on board a ship was like being in prison with the added risk of getting drowned. I would not therefore want to go on a cruise for a free passage, even if drinks were included. To spend several days tossed around on the waves, ending up shaken like a ragged doll, having paid hundreds of pounds for the misery, probably contracting a bug, must surely be an approximation of Hell.

I am so truly thankful that my passport has run out, and I will never again renew it, never again wasting money on holidays overseas - holidays that I regard as a total and utter waste of money for those of us over the age of 70 years, though "I have to say" that I greatly enjoyed the 80th birthday celebrations with my family in Mijas last year - my last visit abroad. Interestingly, it is nearly always the women who want to go on holiday, presumably because they see the home as a workplace, whereas probably about 80% of men, given the unlikely chance, would rather spend the time pottering around at home.

Greenery

Greenery at last appearing in the avenue of oaks. It has not been a harsh winter, having had hardly any snow, but it has been a dull and chilly one, seeming endless


We went to a neighbour's 69th birthday party at 2 p.m., sitting outside on the magnificent balcony drinking wine and having sandwiches. Unfortunately, I am not all that keen on sandwiches. I was sitting near an elderly neighbour who is very deaf, and it was obvious that he could not hear a word that was going on. which was such a shame. I had never before realised that deafness is such a social liability. Sadly, it seems that hearing aids are of little use, even the most expensive ones. Presumably when the hearing has failed there is not much that can be done to right matters.

MONDAY 27 APRIL

I had the most awful night, having an almighty stomach upset and sickness, making me feel very poorly. I put the malaise down to having eaten Coronation Chicken sandwiches at the party yesterday. The sandwiches were filled with mayonnaise, which I cannot abide. Why a chicken sandwich cannot have just chicken with none of those awful fillings I will never understand. Fortunately, I felt somewhat better today, though still rather under the weather.

An American friend has sent me an article from the "New York Times" saying: "After decades of marriage, a wife and husband learn that their short separations allow them to be their better selves." This is the very point I made recently when Mrs. Copeland went down on her own to stay with her mother in Essex for a couple of days. In retirement there needs to be a balance between smothering togetherness, never being apart, and too much separation, equilibrium being achieved when the wife and husband go their separate ways for part of the day, additionally having short breaks completely apart.

I know of some couples who, in their retirement, spend all the time together, never apart, almost as if they are joined at the hip. Obviously they enjoy such an arrangement, though Mrs. C and I would find it a dreadful existence, not able to do our own thing. It is often said that every man should have a shed, where he can adjourn when domesticity becomes too great, and I certainly agree with that concept.

I was surprised to read that Miliband made mincemeat of Boris Johnson in a television debate, our Boris unable to defend his support for the tax evasion of non-doms. The "Daily Mirror" headed the report: "Electrifying Ed. tackles bumbling Boris on TV". During this election campaign Miliband really seems to have come out of his shell, displaying reason, courage and bringing forward some sensible proposals, such as the abolition of stamp duty for first-time buyers for properties under 300.000. He has also said that he will restrict rent increases on houses to the current rate of inflation.

Cameron, by way of contrast, has had an utterly hopelessly smearing campaign, concentrating on the selfishness and greed of the better-off middle classes by promising to raise the inheritance taxation level to 1 million, thereby benefiting the better-off.

In many ways I feel I should vote Labour, especially as the Cameroons have made such a hopeless mess of the country's finances, but when I think of the Rt. Hapless Harriet Harman and Ed Balls, as well as some of the Labour supporters in the village, I realise that I could not vote Labour. It is therefore possibly better to abstain, especially as the Conservatives will always win in this rural, true blue constituency. The only alternative is to vote Ukip, a one-man band that I do not like for its extreme nationalism.

Rural

Cattle between the avenue of oaks.


In the post we had a charity appeal that enclosed 12 pence in coins, with a note saying: "I must take the risk that some people may choose not to send these coins back to me." I hate this emotional blackmail, and have no intention of sending back the coins, which would cost me a lot of money, even with second class postage. Nasty stuff, making me thankful that I have never contributed so much as a penny to any charity, taking the view that hardly any of the donations reach the intended beneficiaries. I therefore tend to agree with Ukip that we should stop all foreign aid, charity beginning at home, especially now that we are in such a parlous condition in this country.

A firm came out to examine the leaking oil tank this afternoon, telling me that a replacement would cost 850. A neighbour recently employed the firm, finding them highly reliable and efficient, so I think I will accept this estimate, making arrangements for the installation at the end of May. As mentioned earlier, I prefer a reputable firm, rather than accept the cheapest quote, not always being the cheapest in the end. It reminded me of one of the astronauts saying as they were about to lift off: "Do you realise, Bud, that this rocket was made on the lowest tender?"

I ran out of the monthly allowance of the "3" mobile broadband today, so after lunch I had to go to the "3" store in Lincoln for a top-up, which took an age to install on the computer. The evening was spent reading some more of the book on the last day of Hitler, which I am enjoying. In one of the entries the authors quite the poor condition of John F. Kennedy in April 1945: "He suffers from Addison's disease and almost continual back pain. .....In JFK's hotel room is a back brace that he used to keep his spine straight. He will use the brace for the rest of his life. It will be one of the reasons he dies in Dallas in November 1963. Instead of falling after being hit by Lee Harvey Oswald's second bullet, the brace keeps him upright and an easy target for the third.""

There is also an entry about Mussolini and his mistress hanging upside down from meat hooks at a petrol station on a corner of the Milan square after being caught by partisans. In his diary Harold Nicolson records that when his London housekeeper, Mrs. Grove, on hearing of the hangings, responded that Mussolini thoroughly deserved what he got: "A married man like that driving about in a car with his mistress." They had different standards in those days.

TUESDAY 28 APRIL

As the bookies nearly always get the election results right, I therefore had a look at the odds that Labrokes were offering on which party would win the most seats. The odds were: Conservative 3/10; Labour 5/2. In other words, a Labour victory, which is daily becoming more evident. I still believe that Miliband as Prime Minister will have the support of the SNP, even if it means giving Scotland independence - surely no bad thing, and what about Wales and Yorkshire going too?

On the other hand there was a poll in "The Daily Torygraph" saying that the Conservatives have a 6-point lead over Labour, the worry of 25% of the electorate being that they are frightened of the nationalistic demands of the SNP. Apparently, the Cameroons are now pressing home this point, which may be difficult for Miliband to deal with. Just why people are frightened of the SNP remains a mystery to me.

Today's "Daily Mirror" had a headline: "Tory MP: Let people in A & E wait." Lovely stuff from the Toffs' party, but that is how they actually think. On the other hand, when you think of Harriet Harman with her fierce feminism and the muddled economics of Ed Balls, Labour does not appeal all that much either. What an awful choice we have, certainly between Scylla and Charybidis.

Tulip

Tulip in the garden


Later in the day I heard the utterly terrible news that the GDP for the UK had halved in the first quarter of this year from the fourth quarter last year to 0.3%. I had realised that the economy was in a dire state, falling rapidly, but I had reckoned on 0.4%, not a disastrous 0.3%, the lowest growth in three years. So much for the Confederation of What's Left of British Industry predicting 3% growth this year. Instead, the likelihood is that the second quarter will also be 0.3%; the third quarter 0.2%; and the fourth quater 0.1%, making a total of 0.9% for the entire year, and even they may be optimistic figures.

Unfortunately, the country's economy is in such a dire state, its financial condition having been made far worse by this Government, that there is no political means of improving it at a time when productivity is the lowest in all the G7 nations, Britain having the laziest workers in Europe; when there is a lack of investment; and when low interest rates are encouraging a massive influx of manufactured goods, worsening the trade deficit every month. Five years from now the likelihood is that we will be in a similar condition to Greece.

It made me laugh that our smug Chancellor, obviously deeply embarrassed by the dreadful economic news, indicating that his policies are in tatters, tried to defend the poor showing by saying that we must stick with his plans for the economic recovery. Oh yeah, when economic growth has been halved? At least there is the consolation that the country will not now go into deflation, for with rapidly rising wage rates there are all manner of underlying inflationary pressures in the economy.

Not surprisingly, there was a fall of -73.5 points on the FTSE, and the fell sharply against the dollar, the market at last waking up to the perilous position of the economy. Better late than never, you might say.

Granddaughter wanted a trellis put up in the garden of her rented house, so this morning Mrs. C. and I went with a drill and rawlplugs to do the fixing, taking only a few minutes. I also had to put a lock on an outhouse door. I enjoy doing this kind of work, for there is something to show for my efforts.

Afterwards I went to have my hair cut at a barber's shop run by a female proprietor with a couple of female assistants. The attractive lass I have to cut my hair about every ten weeks was telling me that she was married last month in Barbados, the ceremony taking only place with her and the groom and the priest, no guests. What a splendid arrangement, avoiding the enormous expense of an English wedding, usually meaning the greater the expense the more likelihood of a divorce within a couple of years.

I raked the lawn after lunch, and then had a well deserved siesta. Later on, before high tea, I read the "i", learning abut the horrors that we will face if a Conservative government is re-elected on the 7th May. Mrs. May, undoubtedly one of the worst Home Secretary this country has ever seen, has said that at a time of ever rising crime she will make further cuts in police forces, already having shed 17,000 front-line jobs. I also read that it has been estimated by a German think-tank that leaving the EU, as the Conservatives propose, would cost this country 224 billion.

On another page I saw that the Northern Ireland's Health Minister resigned after being criticised for saying that "Facts show you certainly don't bring a child up in a homosexual relationship." To my generation, brought up to believe that marriage was between a man and a woman and that a child benefited from such a relationship, there was absolutely nothing wrong with that belief, but apparently in our topsy-turvy world it is quite wrong to say such outrageous things. What, you might ask, happened to free speech in the tyranny of our times?

Ironically, all these restrictions on free speech have not brought about a more tolerant and caring society. Instead, we have what amounts to a Thought Police that immediately pounces on anybody not toeing the official party line, almost like the days of the Narodnyl Kommissariat Vnutrennikh Del" It reminded me of C.S. Lewis's comment, which I quoted during the Inquisition mounted against me by the local District Council a few years back: "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised 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."

Accordingly, we must believe that it is quite normal and acceptable to have same-sex marriages in which children can be brought up; that it is a Very Good Thing to have immigrants flooding unchecked into the country, believing that we live in a happy and harmonious multicultural country; and that Israel must be allowed to knock hell out of the Palestinians in order to protect itself, all the while believing that most food is immensely bad for us

As further evidence that this country seems to have gone barking mad, I read that a supermarket boss who presided over "a collapse in the company's profits, losing customers to rivals and overseeing a tanking share price", walked away with 3 million, with the possibility of a further 1.6 million in payouts over the next two years. Make a cock-up of your job and you will be richly rewarded in this country; do a fine job and you will probably receive nothing.

The evening was spent reading the book on Hitler's Last Day, which I am greatly enjoying. As I went to bed I thought of those grim economic figures, and to think that they told us we were having an economic recovery. Oh, the porkies they tell us.

WEDNESDAY 29 APRIL

The election opinion polls are all over the place, some saying the main parties are neck and neck, others now saying that the Conservatives have a commanding 6-point lead. and another a 1 point Cameroon lead. Bearing in mind these wide and quotidian fluctuations, I cannot see any point in the polls, especially as they make astrology look respectable. In some countries the opinion polls are banned before an election, and it might not be a bad idea if there was an embargo on them until the eve of polling day.

A far better guide to the election result is to be found with the bookies. Today, on the party with the most seats, Ladbrokes was offering Conservatives 1/4, and Labour 3/1, obviously indicating a Labour win. What surprises me is that the political commentators do not mention Lincoln that only had a Conservative majority of 1,058 at the last election, whereas before that it was a reasonably safe Labour seat. I suppose it could be argued that Lincoln, having lost most of its manufacturing jobs, is probably now more middle class, though there is a dreadful Labour City Council. A confusing city, you might say. Ladbrokes odds for Lincoln are 4/9 Conservative, Labour 7/4, suggesting a narrow Labour victory, which seems highly likely.

One of my neighbours who has always accurately predicted election results in the past, believes that the new Government will be Labour plus the SNP, and I think I would put my money on that. However, I am always wrong about elections. If I put my money on a Labour win the party would most certainly lose. I pride myself in economics forecasting, but have a poor record on psephology, despite having a great interest in politics.

It amused me that right-wing economists, apparently guided by more support for the Conservatives than any fair assessment of the present state of the UK economy, believe that the substantial fall in the first quarter GDP figures announced yesterday is only a temporary phenomenon, but then they would say that, wouldn't they. Yet how can an economy so deeply in debt, the UK being the most indebted country among the G7 nations and now getting further into debt, ever hope to see a true economic recovery, especially when it has such appalling productivity, a lack of investment, and a ridiculously overvalued currency?

What we are now seeing here in the UK is a nation on another consumer binge, encouraged by low interest rates that bring in a flood of imports to the detriment of the balance of trade. To believe that we are now in an economic recovery is like saying that a man who is spending more and more on his credit card, well above his limit, is becoming richer. Perhaps the economists who believe that GDP will recover during the rest of the year should tell us on what it is based. Whatever they may say, the only way forward is to increase exports and reduce consumption at home - the policy that the Chancellor initially chose to follow, only to give it up when it became politically unacceptable as an election approached.

Unfortunately, this "Catch 22 situation" means that if interest rates are raised to check this consumption at home, exporters suffer. In other words, it could be argued that there is no way out of the incredible mess that we are now in. Nevertheless, raising taxes would be a start, though the electors would never accept that, suggesting that a democracy can never solve its economic problems.

Against this background, it seems utterly incredible that Cameron yesterday irresponsibly and disgracefully promised that if re-elected he would not increase taxes or VAT during his premiership. How, then, is he going to deal with the ever mounting deficit? The answer, presumably, is by further reducing the welfare allowances of the sick and the poor. Even that reduction, though, would be insufficient, presumably meaning that the Conservatives will get us further into debt, having been even worse financial custodians than Gordon Brown, which is saying something. In all probability we would see a hammering of the National Health Service that the Cameroons hate even more than the BBC, single mothers and the European Union.

As expected, the election campaign is now becoming increasingly nasty, particularly in the Murdoch gutter press, the "Sun" having a headline "Monster Raving Labour Party", and a very clever wit at the "Daily Star" having produced the highly funny headline "Red Ed and Brand talk total ballots." The "i" for its part, has the headline "Labour turns nasty", Miliband about to lead a spiteful personal attack on Cameron, which is equally shameful.

However, it was "The Daily Mail" that exceeded even the nastiness of the gutter press, today having a photograph of Miliband with a caption: "Do you really want this clown ruling us?" but then this is the newspaper that thought Hitler was a jolly good chap, and which in its extreme and frightening right-wing views has been wrong about nearly everything ever since. I cannot therefore believe that any intelligent person can buy such an awful and unbalanced newspaper that has no time for fairness and accuracy in its hatefully bigoted and biased abusive opinions, a disgrace to journalism in this country.

Meanwhile, the economy continues to go down as the politicians fight amongst themselves, none of them having a clue how to deal with the economy, all serving as little Canutes apparently unaware of the approaching tide of an even deeper recession.

Age

Item sent to me by a reader


Granddaughter Chloe has lost her young cat since Saturday night, searches having brought no result. I made out a circular for Chloe to deliver to neighbouring houses, asking whether anybody has seen the missing animal. Alas, I fear the chances of finding her in an urban area are most unlikely, the problem being that she could have been run over in a busy area. All very sad, for Chloe was understandably devoted to the cat. It makes me so thankful that we no longer have any pets, not being ripped off by vets with their excessive charges. Even so, I greatly miss having a cat. Dogs I loathe.

Apart from a brief visit to town, it was a morning and afternoon spent at home on another chilly day with a biting wind. Yesterday when I used the scooter, having to contend with this incredibly cold wind, I arrived home frozen with cold. It is a long time since I can recall such an unpleasant wind. Indeed, I felt colder than in any day during the winter. Oh, to be in England now that April's there: Robert Browning wouldn't be saying such things if he were here today, frozen with cold in a climate that seems to be getting steadily wetter and colder.

Nevertheless, as it is so hopeless and expensive to park in Lincoln, I went after all on the scooter to Lincoln during the morning, having a near accident with a woman driver in a BMW at one of those deadly mini-roundabouts that are marked on the ground, so many drivers not understanding the right-of-way. With no regard to it being my right-of-way, the woman continued driving across the roundabout, missing me by inches. It is always wise to stop at these roundabouts.

I had intended doing some gardening, but it was far too cold to accept Candide's advice, so it was a day indoors. In the evening we went with friends in the village to first-rate The Venue in Lincoln to see the film "X+Y", which we all enjoyed. I like "The Venue" immensely, seeing it as a very civilised cinema with an interesting range of intelligent films. There is a fellow at the door welcoming people in; the charge for geriatrics is only 4.50 and there is free parking; and it is possible to have a drink of alcohol before the film starts.

THURSDAY 30 APRIL

When I read and hear all the nonsense being expressed by the political , especially the hateful "Daily Mail" referring to Mr. Miliband as a clown, I begin to feel that I want to stop reading the press and no longer listen to news bulletins until the election is over, for it is so utterly depressing. Indeed, I think this is what I will do, which will make this diary a good deal shorter during the next fortnight.

What so upset me yesterday was Cameron saying that if re-elected there would be no increases in income taxes and VAT. This is totally irresponsible, meaning that our public services will have to be hammered even more, especially the National Health Service. Presumably this was a panic reaction to the bookies making Miliband the favourite to win the election. Such a pathetic and inappropriate policy completely discredits the Conservatives, suggesting they are not fit for a further period of government,

Much to our delight, granddaughter Chloe sent us a text message at 7.37 a.m. saying that her cat was back, having been missing since Saturday night. Apart from being very thin and hungry, she otherwise seems all right. That at least was a rare piece of good news. It could have been that she got shut in a shed

I mentioned last week that St. George was not a native of this country, probably an immigrant. Today I received an e-mail saying: "St George may not even have been an immigrant. It's believed he never came to Britain, but certainly did us a military favour in Portugal or some such place." Why on earth did we chose him as our patron saint?

Work started on Monday on the construction of the ultra-modern house in our historic community, the out-of-place edifice that we have nicknamed "Mon Strosity". As I mention so many times, this unsuitable and unwanted house had been opposed by all the house-owners in our community, thrown out by the Parish Council, and unanimously rejected by the Planning Committee of the District Council, but was allowed on appeal by an Inspector who appeared to have no regard for the unique historic nature of our community, or for the local planning rules and regulations.

It is a bitter disappointment, especially as the new owners have been extremely unpleasant and aggressive towards us, despite an attempt today at reconciliation that was rudely and angrily rejected, presumably because we opposed the totally unsuitable house for our area. Obviously, this means that they will never want to be part of or accepted in the enjoyable social life of our little community, which seems to be a shame. Nothing is ever gained by this continual belligerence, but we will obviously have to live with it. At least there is the consolation that we will never have anything whatsoever to do with the couple, so that should prevent any further aggression and unpleasantness. Presumably the time will come when we will accept and not notice the inelegant and inappropriate edifice, time healing most things.

Fortunately, the new house is surrounded by tall mature trees, some of which I own, and which virtually hide the view of the property from our house, especially when the trees are in leaf. Nevertheless. I still find it sad that we have had all this unnecessary unpleasantness. It is to be hoped that future generations, wondering how on earth such an unsuitable house, standing out like a sore thumb, a real blot on the landscape, was ever allowed, will be told that we did everything possible to prevent its construction, nobly supported by our two district councillors.

Mon Strosity

On Monday work started on building the ultra-modern house in our community. Although no doubt a fine example of modern architecture in the right setting, it is totally inappropriate for our historic community, incredibly having been allowed on appeal. At least future generations will know that we did everything possible to prevent it being built, having had the full support of our two district councillors. The plans were unanimously rejected by the Planning Committee of the District Councill and by the Parish Council and all householders.

During the morning, in between rain showers, I went to the Lincoln Market to purchase eggs from one of the stallholders. We always have a few moments of chat about current affairs, and today we spoke about the possible election result, the fellow saying that he didn't like any of the parties, but he expected the Conservatives to win. I certainly agreed with him in not liking any of the parties, recalling that my old grandfather used to say that whatever the politicians touched they buggered up, and this is even truer today.

I spent the rest of the morning cleaning the conservatory, and this evening I will be making a start on the 865-page ""KL - A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps" by Nikolaus Wachsmann, published by Littler Brown this year at 25. It will take me a month, possibly more, to complete.
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E-mail: johncopeland@clara.net
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Lincolnshire 30th April, 2015
No 898




Diary of an Octogenarian<BR>



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