DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN
- John Copeland -
Friday 20th November - Thursday 26th November, 2015.
Avenue of oaks, showing leaf-cleared lawn
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
FRIDAY 20 NOVEMBER
With Mrs. Copeland I went to the Beaujolais Nouveau Evening at our local Club. Neither Mrs. Copeland nor I ever buy French wine, much preferring the offerings from New Zealand (undisputedly the best white wine in the world) and from Australia, South Africa and Chile. We find the French wine under £10 lacking in taste, not having the full fruit flavour of the New World. As with all the social events at the Club it proved to be an enjoyable evening, the wine not being too bad, though at times it resembles paintstripper.
There were three mail-order catalogues and two charity appeals in the post, which comes about 2.20 p.m now that the service has been privatised, whereas in the good old days we had two daily deliveries, one at 8 a.m., and the other about noon. This is called progress. All the items, as usual, went straight into the recycling bin without being opened. It seems such a terrible waste, but at least the items help the printing industry and Royal Mail.
The only time we ever use the postal service these days is to send birthday and Christmas cards and the occasional package. Gone are the days when we received letters from friends, everything now being communicated by e-mail. Not surprisingly, there was a report yesterday that Royal Mail was "hit" by the declining letter service.
I am persistently being pestered by those blasted scam telephone calls, the caller usually having an Indian sounding voice. Some months ago, in filling up one of those questionnaires on supposedly registering a minor electrical product, knowing that the personal information is sold on, I put my name down as Mr. Salmond. Sure enough, all the calls I receive begin with the question: "Is that Mr. Salmond?" Moral: never fill in those registration questionnaires as they are worthless, being sold on.
I went in to town to collect a book from Waterstone's today - "The Nazi Hunters" - , no longer buying books from Amazon. Indeed, I have given up buying anything from the Internet. While in town I saw the most awful looking people in the High Street. In one of the shops I saw dreadful couples spending £10 and more on lottery tickets - a scheme, representing a dismal triumph of hope over experience, that is essentially a tax on the working classes. I have never known anybody win more than £10, so it really does seem a senseless investment. Admittedly, I have not done very well on Premium Bonds this year, being £60 down in terms of a top building society investment account, but at least I can cash in the bonds.
When I see these people it is a reminder of how this country has declined in social as well as economic considerations, now a broken down land in terminal decline. Yesterday it was reported that manufacturing, which now only accounts for 10% of the economy, had a further decline last month. The Chancellor's policy was to ensure a more balanced economy that relies on an increasing manufacturing output and exports, rather than domestic demand, yet this has not happened, resulting in the worst of all possible worlds as consumer expenditure soars as a result of low interest rates, bringing in massive amounts of foreign produce. As was also pointed out, "Britain's budget deficit is one of the largest among major nations."
Today, I saw on the excellent BBC news website, now apparently under attack by the Government and the newspaper industry saying it is unfair competition, that "Public sector net borrowing (PSNB) rose £1.1bn in October compared with the same month a year ago to £8.2bn, official figures show. That is the highest level of borrowing in October in six years. The government has borrowed £54.3bn so far this year and is making slow progress on meeting the Office for Budget Responsibility's (OBR) forecast. These figures mean Chancellor George Osborne will need to restrict borrowing to just £15bn between now and April." The likelihood is therefore that the Chancellor is on track to miss his borrowing target by more than £10bn this year. Were he in private industry he would be sacked for gross incompetence.
We all thought that the return of the Conservatives would mean far better financial management than under the administrations of Blair and Brown, but the Cameroons have shown themselves even more inept in dealing with the Budget. It really does seem that there is no hope for us: that the relentless economic decline is going to continue. Meanwhile, "Overspending by NHS trusts in England has risen to £1.6bn this year as concerns about the financial problems grow." What an incredible muddle in this other Greece.
There was also the news that 8 out of 10 chickens from Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury were tested positive for the superbug compylobacter. It is a wonder, especially with all the monthly food frighteners, that any of us are still alive.
What a country! In my old age I feel saddened that it has become such a dreadful nation, the family broken up by working mothers; everybody in such enormous debt; and so many people playing with those toy telephones that are surely the curse of the age, making me wish that they had never been invented. Whenever I am at a social event the toys are nearly always brought out to play with. How I loathe the appliances, dreading their appearance. Alas, the days when people talked to one another have now gone, speech being replaced by everybody looking at these hateful devices.
Winter skies, representing unsettled weather, rather like the UK economy.
A friend, a few years older than even I am, telephoned me this morning to tell me of people we know who had suddenly died, most of them in their 80s, when it seems that death often comes in this sudden manner. Talking generally, he was telling me that he never took a newspaper these days, regarding them as being a complete waste of money with all their drivel, and I certainly agree with that assessment.
I would certainly never pay £1.20 for "The Times" during the week, and we only have it on Saturdays when Mrs. C. has it free from Waitrose, and even then I only look at the book reviews, knowing that the rest of the newspaper is complete rubbish, having the most awful bigoted columnists. I therefore keep to the "i" costing only 40 pence a day from Monday to Friday. It always amazes me that any national newspapers are sold these days when it is so easy to log onto the Internet and see the first-rate BBC news website
Mrs. Copeland had a scam relating to her credit card today, having received an e-mail message purporting to come from "Postcode Anywhere Team", saying that her card had "been successfully debited by £120 on the 19th November", asking her to telephone the number given, obviously to obtain more details from her so that the scam could be activated. Fortunately, she did not do so, telephoning her card company instead who told her that the amount had not been debited to her account, and not to reply to the e-mail.
Nasty stuff, especially for unwary people who can readily fall for such a scam, one of our villagers having lost thousands of pounds, never retrieving any of it. It makes me so thankful that I have given up my credit card on account of never using it. Indeed, I have never believed in paying for items on credit, suggesting bad housekeeping. I am also proposing to give up Internet Banking as it is far too risky, having a ledger instead, as they did on the good old days.
A friend who does gardening jobs in his early retirement, came to clear up the leaves in the back garden this morning, doing an excellent job. Alas, with the ever worsening arthritis in my spine and both knees I can no longer undertake this clearance. When the work had been completed, we enjoyed a bottle of wine together in the conservatory.
I was pleased to read in today's "i" that "Feminism is to be dropped from the A level politics syllabus under government plans revealed yesterday. That really is good news, for feminism, involving women, usually rather ugly ones who cannot form a relationship with a man, is a horrible matter, doing immense harm to the image of women. Ironically, those belligerent and often barmy suffragettes who smashed windows and set a building on fire showed that they were not suitable to have the vote. In removing this horrible subject at least the Cameroons are doing something worthwhile.
Daughter Caroline called in to see the old folks at home in the late afternoon. Seeing the living fire blazing away with logs, she was saying that although she enjoyed her log-burning stove, it was "not the same as a living fire that you could see and hear". It made me realise that I will try to the bitter end to keep the living fire. In any event, I cannot see that a stove would help me very much, not saving much labour. It would certainly be more efficient, easier to control, but not nearly so good to look at.
After a siesta in the afternoon, I read some more of "The World at War" - a splendid first of three volumes described as a "New History" of the Second World War.
SATURDAY 21 NOVEMBER
There was a ferocious gale in the night, sounding quite awful whilst I was abed. Fortunately, there was no damage, only a few fallen twigs. There had been forecasts that there could be some snow, but mercifully this did not arrive, especially as half an inch paralyses the country, bringing it to a standstill, doing immense harm to our economic growth. I gather that there is a forecast of 0.3% for the third quarter period economic growth here in the UK, which seems surprisingly high.
Mr. Corbyn, the Labour Leader, is quoted in the press as saying that the cuts made in the police forces up and down the country made by our dreadful Home Secretary - surely the worst one we have ever had, and we have had some bad 'uns in our time - will make it increasingly difficult for the police to deal with any attack on this country.
I paid my monthly mobile telephone bill this morning, the cost being £14.32, which seems a reasonable charge. Nevertheless, for some of the big telephone toys I hear that youngsters pay £40 and more for the latest appliance to play with. How they are cheated with the concept of "must have", wanting to keep up with their peers.
My latest quarterly electricity bill amounted to £188.97, which is about usual for this time of year. In November last year the charge was £177.97.
In the post, in which amazingly there was only one mail-order catalogue and no charity appeals, I received details from the Pension Service of the Winter Fuel Payment. Being over 80 and over the hill, I will receive £200 within the next three weeks, but "this payment is paid at a shared rate because there was another person living in the household also entitled to this payment", which means that Mrs. C receives £100. I will be genuinely spending it on heating, purchasing some more heating oil, not on Christmas presents. I think there ought to be a restriction saying that the sum should actually be spent on fuel.
During the morning Mrs. Copeland went to the AGM of a local charity that looks after the elderly. Apparently one of the female members of the committee said that she could not attend the meeting as she was playing golf. What a disgraceful thing to say, but then these are today's value, hedonism being more important than responsibilities.
Light refreshments, almost like a communion, in the conservatory.
Mrs. Copeland brought home a free copy of today's "Times" from Waitrose. On the front cover of the dumbed down newspaper was a heading: "Fat is back! Why thin is no longer in vogue", written by a woman, as you might guess. This dreadful weekend paper is another fine example of how standards have fallen in recent years in this yobbo country, most of the items relating to "Eat! Nadiya bakes - recipe pullout" and "Shop! 121 great gifts". Very unwisely, I turned to the unbelievably awful Magazine section, seeing that "The Columnist of the Year", Caitlin Moran, headed her column: "I love nits - yes, love them. When my daughters 12 and 14 have nits, they're mine again."
I know that the column is written for youngsters, presumably mainly female, not for geriatrics like myself who have lost their sense of humour, yet I cannot believe anybody can write such utter tripe, saying in the first paragraph: "I still pretend I don't know how to drive a car. Or recognise my own children." If this is from a "Columnist of the Year", it makes me wonder what the rest are like.
At least it was encouraging, quite cheering me up, to read in the "i", which actually seems to be written for grown-ups and people who have more brains than money, the column by Mark Steel - who surely must be next year's "Columnist of the Year" - commenting on the appalling muddle and confusion over Cameron planning to bomb Syria, writing:
"To add to the puzzle, the bombing will presumably be in defence of Assad, and two years ago the same people were equally insistent we bombed Syria against Assad because he was a vile, repellent, evil, rancid , stinking foul, ignorant, medieval barbaric scum. And the 'rebels' they wanted to support back then included the Jihadists who created Isis. So if those in favour of bombing had got their way two years ago, now they'd be proposing we went back to those rebels and said: 'You know those weapons we gave you? Do you mind if we have them back, please?'"
How refreshing it is to have a columnist who actually understands the issues he is writing about, instead of all the nonsense of the columnists in today's "Times", including one who says with the utmost stupidity that the vote should be given to children of 16, making me wonder whether he has ever met any youngsters of that age, presumably knowing that hardly 1% of the group is interested in or has the slightest understanding of politics.
It will not be long now before we have the best books of the year reviews in which all manner of obscure tomes are selected to show how very clever the reviewers are. It is all so sickening, having books such as "A History of Street Drainage, 1867-80, or "Turnip Husbandry in the early 19th century".
A day at home as I do not like to venture out on a Saturday, certainly wanting to keep clear of the town with all its obnoxious shoppers who indicate the extent to which this country has fallen, high standards being a thing of the past. I find it utterly incredible that so many millions of people fall for the nonsense of "Black Friday" next week. probably landing themselves in enormous debt on their credit cards. My guess is that it is going to be a bumper Christmas with record expenditure.
Apart from some clearing up and carpet cleaning, it was a relaxed day, my productivity being lower than a British worker. Mrs. C. went to a quiz at the local Club in the evening, but I stayed at home, not being any good at all at these quizzes, not knowing any of the pop music performers or the so-called celebrities on the idiot's lantern, though I do know that Nigella Lawson is a cook. The evening was spent by the log-burning fireside reading some more of "War in the West" - a splendidly written book. I thought of those sad people who live in "eco" houses, sitting around a radiator, probably having found it has gone off, along with the lights, on account of a dark day for the solar panels.
SUNDAY 22 NOVEMBER
This being Stir-Up Sunday, Mrs. Copeland according to tradition stirred the Christmas puddings that she had mixed yesterday. The tradition comes from the Collect for the 25th Sunday after Trinity: "Stir up, we beseech thee, O lord, the wills of thy faithful people: that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of thy good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord". How wonderful is this language of the Book of Common Prayer according to the King James version, so much better than the crude modernisation that we nowadays have to endure. How much better to say "Mary was great with child", than "Mary was pregnant." I suppose future editions will say "in the Club." O, Lord, the deterioration!
Our local Parish Council has submitted a first-rate response on behalf of the village to the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan, written by a female councillor who has obviously taking a great deal of time, effort and care to present excellent observations. The sadness is that not a blind bit of notice will be taken of any response. Aided by the Government which wants thousands of houses sprouting up all over the country, the planners will joyfully continue to argue the case for thousands more houses, even though there are no jobs, no communications and previous few facilities, thereby creating slums. It is all part of the democratic sham of consultation.
I was alarmed to see on the BBC News website that "David Cameron is to set out his strategy for tackling the crisis in Syria within days, as he continues efforts to win support for air strikes against Islamic State." What on earth are air strikes going to achieve, other than bringing retaliation by those religious cranks, probably in one of our major cities before Christmas, and at a time when our worthless Home Secretary is joyfully reducing police forces all around the country, meaning that they will be less able to deal with any attack. I suppose that makes some sense to her.
The problem with Cameron is that he is a weak man, given to impulsive actions and decisions, and such men are dangerous, especially when they try to be tough. Additionally, he suffers from the extraordinary belief that this is still an all-powerful country in the world, despite being deeply indebted, having to reduce its armed forces to a pathetic and unworkable level. The crisis, as all history shows, is only going to be settled on the ground, though the experiences of Iraq and Afghanistan did not achieve anything with ground troops. So what do we do? That is the question.
Maybe it is wrong, but I am finding the excessive reporting on the Isis problem somewhat tiring, finding that I now avoid reading the pages devoted to the crisis. The whole thing seems to be an utter mess.
Stir-up Sunday: "Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faitfhful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded." The Collect, 25th Sunday after Trinity.
After a bitterly cold night, when the temperature went down to -2 C, the sun was at least shining this morning, enabling me to spend some time in the garden. Later on I went in to town to purchase some draught exclusion tape sealant for the kitchen windows, which seem to have warped a bit. I just wish that we had changed all these dreadful wooden windows for the new plastic ones that are far more efficient, and never need painting.
The town was packed with shoppers - the most awful people imaginable: fat, ugly and obviously uneducated. It made me realise yet again what a yobbo country this has become - indebted, divorced and drugged up, no manners with the use of those toy telephones, no consideration for others. Even our village has changed, the old professional classes with their culture and dignity having been replaced by riffraff. Presumably all this is one of the penalties of getting old, seeing this country relentless deteriorate in its social manners and mores and its failing economy.
To think that when I was born back in 1934 we had an empire upon which the sun never set; when fine manufactured products were exported all over the world, when we were a power in the world. Look at it now: nearly bankrupt yet still trying to pretend that it is a great power, interfering in the internal affairs of other lands in order to keep up with the big boys.
During the day I was looking through a magazine that had several advertisements for wood-burners - and how horrible they looked, so unsightly in a living room with their dominant chimney pipe. I gather that the latest models must not be used with the doors open, making matters even more unsightly. One way and another, I will never have one. Everybody who comes to our house says how wonderful it is to have a living fire, and so it is.
To the local Club at 4 p.m. Apart from the monthly social events, we only go to the Club on Sundays, and have now have started going at 4 o'clock instead of 3 o'clock, meaning that I do not drink so much, the evening not being wasted as a result of an early bath. So this evening I was able to sit by a roaring log fire, reading some more of the excellent book "War in the West". learning about the appalling cowardice of the French when defending themselves against the invading Germans during the Second World War.
One of the splendid actions of Churchill as Prime Minister was to have the French fleet destroyed, involving the deaths of hundreds of French sailors. It was a courageous decision, fully justified as the French could never be trusted; indeed, most of Vichy France was on the side of the Germans. Earlier I read about the dim-witted Lord Halifax insisting time and time again on appeasement with Hitler. It makes you realise the tender thread that life and history rest upon.
Whilst we were at the Club we saw three children, all under the age of 10 years, playing on their iPhones/tablets. Mrs. Copeland says that these appliances help to stimulate the child's mind, as well as keeping them quiet instead of rushing round the room all the time. I agree that it mercifully keeps them quiet, but I regard these appliances as being immensely harmful, meaning that so many of the children never read the world's wonderful literature. A teacher sitting with me was of the same opinion. I suppose, though, it can be argued that parents who allow the children to have these toys, but also encourage them to read, thereby represent the best of all possible worlds.
Back in the 1950s, when the Club first opened, the rule book stated that women were not allowed to vote, and could only come to the Club when their husbands came with them. How things have changed over the years! We now even have children in the Club, yet years ago they were not allowed in premises selling alcohol until they were 14 years of age.
MONDAY 25 NOVEMBER
Fearing that the price of oil could rise substantially if the troubles in Syria and the Middle East continue, I ordered some more oil today. The last load back at the beginning of July was 37.50 a litre; this time it was 37.25 a litre - not much difference, despite the continuing fall in the price of petrol, indicating how we are being ripped off all the time.
Having reduced the defence budget to an appallingly low level, the Prime Minister is now about to increase the armed forces considerably to deal with the present troubles, yet the cuts in the police forces, occurring at a time when we need the police more than ever, are to go ahead. The policies of the Cameroons begin to look not unlike the Grand Old Duke of York's hill climbing manoeuvres.
It really makes us wonder about the sanity of the people who are now ruling over us, every action being determined by a gut reaction without being properly thought through. If we bomb Syria, as it seems the Cameroons intend, we surely invite reprisals. I find it all very worrying.
There was a report in today's "i" of a farmer having been fined £30,000 for pollution involving his 6,000 cows that were imprisoned in a massive shed all day, unable to move at all. It seems unbelievable animal cruelty, yet the farming community, which I have never liked for their greed and grasping, selling off land for housing for a quick buck, and having been subsidised by the taxpayer for millions every year, continues to argue this is the only cost-effective way of producing milk in terms of the low price now being paid by the supermarkets. If this is the case, perhaps it would be better to have our milk from France, where farming is organised on a much better basis, usually on small-scale, caring family farms.
6,000 cows imprisoned on a farm in this country. "The sheep under the solar panels, the cows imprisoned in the sheds."
Mrs. Copeland had a virus on her computer today, purporting to come from "firstname.lastname@example.org, with an attachment that had to be opened to provide further details. Mrs. C. was expecting a delivery from Amazon, so we opened it, only to find it was blank. However, AVG anti-virus removed the virus, so that was a bit of luck. We should have known that it was a scam because we were told "for it's [sic] keeping". How careful you have to be these days.
I had a text message from O2 this morning, the provider of the service for my toy telephone, saying: "Black Friday - O2 is taking over Black Friday - on Thursday. Great offers on phone, tablets, smartwatches and accessories. 24 Hours early. No price is safe. Be more dog". What a horrible business. Do they think that anybody of any intelligence is going to be attracted by such stupidity, but then, as the old saying has it: "Fools and their money easily part." I immediately deleted the silly message.
To town in the morning to purchase various items. The shops were heaving with people, so many of them fat, ugly and obviously uneducated. As I remarked earlier, it really has become a yobbo country, making me feel ashamed to be an Englishman. Various household maintenance during the rest of the morning, and then after a siesta after lunch, the evening was spent by the fireside reading some more of the excellent book "War in the West" - one of the finest accounts I have read on the Second World War.
The author makes the point that the Luftwaffe was badly managed by Goring; that the German bombers did not carry enough bomb capacity; and that there never were enough of their planes to cause lasting problems for Britain. Furthermore, the Germans made a terrible mistake by switching to the bombing of London after the RAF's attack on Berlin, instead of continuing to bomb the airfields of the RAF. Perhaps it could be argued that the failure of Hitler to invade Britain meant he could never win the war, subsequently having to fight on two fronts.
TUESDAY 24 NOVEMBER
I had to go in to Lincoln to a Post Office shortly after breakfast, having to wait in a long queue of the most awful people. What is so awful is to think that these people will have the right to vote in the proposed referendum for our membership of the European Union, having no understanding of the issues, being guided entirely by the vitriol of the Murdoch press. It is so upsetting. The voting should be restricted to those who have a professional qualification or some form of higher education.
There was a headline in today's "I" saying: "Britain wants out of Europe" - Exclusive shock poll shows majority of public would now vote to quit the EU". According to the poll, 52% want to leave, 48% to stay. I have always believed that we would leave, though there is a long time to go before the referendum takes place.
Mrs. Copeland and I had thought of going to the Odeon in Lincoln to see the film "The Hunger Games", but we subsequently decided not to go, not wanting to be among the badly behaved audience, knowing that it would be a popular film for the riffraff, especially the young who would be playing on their toy telephones, feet on the seats in front, and guzzling drinks and rattling the popcorn containers. The behaviour is so awful that we prefer to watch the film on a DVD rather than experience this circus.
The alternative is to see films at The Venue in Lincoln, which is a highly civilised place where there is no popcorn and no disruptive youngsters with their toy telephones, but I doubt whether they would show such a film. As I say so often, I just cannot believe that we have become such a yobbo land, totally lacking in any standards or manners. I suppose the problem is that there is no discipline in the home, especially when there are "latch-key kids" when both parents are working, and teachers are not allowed to impose any form of punishment.
Many are the berries this year. A sign of a bad winter.
At 12.15 p.m .I went with a friend whose wife provided transport to "The Barge" restaurant on the Brayford Pool for the monthly meeting of the local Retired Gentlemen's Club, so there was no worry about drinking and driving, "The Barge" is my favourite restaurant in Lincoln, where the service is friendly and prompt, and the food very reasonably priced at lunchtime. Including wine, the bill for each member came to £14.50. I had a first-rate steak.
The great thing about the Club is that it has intelligent members who do not use their toy telephones during the proceedings. The same is true of a retired headteachers' luncheon club that I attend, nobody daring to bring out one of those hateful appliances to play with. I gather that there some clubs in which a member is fined £1 if he uses a toy telephone. I just wish that this rule could be applied to our local Club, though fortunately there is no mobile reception, the youngsters having to go and shout outside if they want to use their toys.
Further trouble has developed with Mrs. Copeland's computer, finding that it will not boot up, a message coming up saying "No Signal". I telephoned the computer repair firm I normally deal with, and was told that the engineer would come out tomorrow morning between 8.30 a.m. and 9 a.m., so it is going to be an early rise.
Afterwards, I took wine with a neighbouring couple, which made for an interesting session. My hostess was saying that all her visitors exclaimed in amazement when they saw the ghastly "eco" house - "The Shed" still being under construction since the 29th April this year. They could not believe that such an ugly and unsuitable house could be placed in a unique historic area. The evening was spent reading some more of the "War in the West".
Reading the book made me realise how fortunate it was we had Churchill at the helm from May 1940 to conduct the Second World War. Goodness knows what would have happened if we had the spineless and worthless politicians we now have were in power, not knowing whether it is Tuesday or Friday, and still arrogantly trying to pretend that in our broken down and indebted state we can still join the big boys in the world.
WEDNESDAY 25 NOVEMBER
The computer engineer duly arrived this morning, finding that the trouble was a loose connection, which was soon fixed. He discovered that there was a Trojan Horse virus on the computer, which he duly removed. I just cannot understand how Mrs. C gets viruses, having had several this year, for she does not go onto the Internet all that much. It was a relief that there was nothing seriously wrong with the computer, for it is eight years old and we were fearful that it had given up the ghost, meaning more expense.
However, on booting up, a message comes up saying: "There was a problem starting C:\user\appData\Roaming\F140 tmp The specified module could not be found". However, I saw on C:\users that there was a way to rectify this, so I will ask the computer engineer to deal with it when he brings me a router. Computers: don't you just love them!
There was a report today that the Bank of England is "troubled" by the rapid rise in consumer expenditure. In particular, " personal loans had been picking up at a rate of knots." In other words, we are going along a similar path to the one that led to the Great Recession. Why is it that we never learn?
Winter Jasmine flowering early, another indication of a forthcoming harsh winter. An old countryman's saying warns that "Flowers in late Autumn indicate a bad winter".
Apart from a visit to town it was a day at home. The Chancellor's Autumn statement was made today, involving a complete U-turn, money having apparently been plucked out of the air to cancel the tax credit cutback and the cancellation of the proposed ruthless reduction in police forces by our worthless and out-of-her depth Home Secretary. Say BOO to this dreadful Government and there is a backing down. Perhaps you could say this is democracy. though more likely it is abysmal government. At least. though, wiser counsels have realised that we are going to need the police when Britain is attacked, so all is not lost.
About 4 o'clock a lady now living in Yorkshire who was on the Parish Council when I was chairman in the 1990s telephoned to say she was in Lincoln, and could she come to see me. I was delighted to see her, for she looked as lovely as ever, so splendidly dressed. Inevitably we talked about the Parish Council in those days long ago, when the bar was open after the proceedings, enabling members of the public (and several came in those days, whereas hardly any attend now) to speak with the councillors, the official business never going on for longer than an hour. I have always believed that a meeting that goes on for over an hour never achieves anything, usually meaning a weak chairman.
In those days it was a delight to be on the Parish Council, but now everything has changed, the unbelievably dull meetings dominated by bureaucracy, the assemblies being about as enjoyable as a Methodist Convention. I suppose it has to be admitted that the Parish Council in the good old days did not have to deal with the enormous gated estate that is now with us, meaning that the proceedings were far easier and more limited.
In a way it made me feel sad to recall those earlier days, for they were so much more enjoyable than life today, old age having taken away all the fun and excitement, so that I therefore tend to think of the comment at the end of Hardy's "The Mayor of Casterbridge": "Happiness is but an occasional episode in a general drama of pain." Life in old age goes on, but it is invariably a sad and somewhat pointless and painful descent into death. As Shakespeare said: "The bright days are done, and we are for the dark", and then there is Dylan Thomas's comment that old age should burn and rage at close of day - rage, rage against the dying of the light - and a fat lot of good that will do.
Feeling somewhat sad in those reminiscences of times past, I spent the evening by the fireside, reading some more of "The War in the West". As mentioned earlier, we had decided not to go to the Odeon to see "The Hunger Games", not wanting to endure the bad behaviour.
THURSDAY 26 NOVEMBER
The oil delivery arrived at 7.15 a.m. which I thought was a rather early time to call upon gentlefolk who were sound asleep in bed, dreaming of better days. As I mentioned earlier, although the tank was a quarter full, I decided that as the price will be rising as a result of all the ever worsening troubles in the Middle East, it was as well to have a top-up. The driver was telling me that he got up at 4 a.m. each morning, going to bed at 8 p.m. "but we finish at 2 o'clock in the summer."
During the day I did a time-and-motion study on the time it took to clear out and relay the living fire, finding that it came to 17 minutes 21 seconds. Although it is a bit of a chore, it is well worth the effort, for surely the height of all earthly felicity is to sit by a blazing log fire on a cold and frosty night, the world and all the financial horrors of the Cameroons seeming far away and of no importance. Although I bemoan the painful agonies of old age that has no future, it is at least wonderful to be able to take no heed or notice of our muddled politicians.
It seems that our Prime Minister, wanting to appear to be a Very Big Boy, is determined to join in the bombing of Syria, making us even more vulnerable to a reprisal attack. In yesterday's "i" there was a lengthy article on the nonsense of joining in this attack (how is it that the newspaper has all the best journalists in the country?) saying "It will be the fourth campaign Britain has launched over the past 12 years. All have ended badly", adding: "Retaliation is certain." Why, when we are a nearly bankrupt country, having to live in austerity and facing massive cuts in public expenditure, do we have to get involved, knowing that nothing will be achieved by the bombing?
I liked a letter in the newspaper yesterday commenting: "When I listen to the Prime Minister speaking about arming the forces and about the billions for bombing Syria and Iraq, I get the feeling that he is just this little boy who likes playing war and does not fully understand the implication of the game". Still, it can at least be argued that the readers of "The Daily Telegraph" are fooled by the Prime Minister's silly stance, their minds being taken off the deteriorating state of the economy. In the nonsense of psychology this is called a "displacement activity".
Meanwhile, there is the pretence that we are now out of austerity, all things being bright and beautiful, the Chancellor made them all. We have the fastest growing economy in the West, racing ahead with growth, yet the wonder is that the Chancellor genuinely believes we are on the road to recovery. Pity about the declining manufacturing and construction sectors, not to mention getting into ever more debt, but never mind.
Policy is now being made on the hoof, and the possibility of balancing the Budget by 2020 remains about as likely as the England football team winning the next World Cup. Meanwhile, Christmas is coming and the retailers are getting fat as we spend every penny we have and far more besides. Make hay while the sun shines and low interest rates prevail, for tomorrow there will be a recession, the like of which we have never seen before.
The Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, when answering the Chancellor who now seems to make more U-turns than a London taxi, made a terrible gaffe when producing Mao's "Little Red Book" - a book that meant death and starvation to millions of Chinese. How is it that some intelligent men can suddenly lose sight of all reason and responsibility, making themselves to be quite stupid? The sadness is that these gaffes are always remembered, brought up on numerous occasions.
"Always surround yourself with people who understand you."
I had a call on my toy telephone this morning asking if I wanted to have an upgrade. I replied that I have had the appliance for five years and it works well, so no thank you. Indeed, as Voltaire said: "Be content with things that work moderately well." On his deathbed, Voltaire was advised to renounce the Devil, to which he replied that it was no time to be making enemies. Why on earth would I want to replace my toy telephone for one that costs three times as much, only using it for the very occasional text message and emergencies?
Apart from a brief visit to town to purchase an "i" it was day spent quietly at home. As I mention so many times, I like the "i" enormously, seeing it as being written for a readership that does not want to endure the hateful bias of the Murdoch press and the right-wing extremism of "The Daily Telegraph" that is better known as "The Torygraph", pandering to the Johnny-Come-Lately brigade with its hateful Mark II middle class values
The "i" has managed to get the newspaper just right, except for the 9-page emphasis on sport, this not being a sporting nation. The political views are well balanced, and the layout is so much better than the advertisement-dominated pages of "The Times". As for the gutter press - today's "Daily Star" had a front page dominated by a buxom lass, having the heading "Jorgie's fumble in the jungle." I am not sure we needed to know about the sexual adventures of a supposed celebrity.
Lincolnshire 26th November, 2015
Diary of an Octogenarian
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