DIARY OF A SEPTUAGENARIAN

- John Copeland -


Friday 11th April - Thursday 17th April, 2014


Dome

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem, which we visited in the 1980s. Somehow I would not dare to go to Jerusalem today.


"Children as young as four are spending ten hours a day at school as parents use breakfact clubs and after-school activities as cheap childcare, a survey of teachers has found. Some children never eat with their parents during the week because they are dropped off at school at 8 a.m. and not picked up until 6 p.m."

Life in Lax Britannica today - report in "The Times" 15th April, 2014. Why do these horrible parents have children when they abandon them in this cruel manner?


FRIDAY 11 APRIL

In last week's diary I presented a chart showing that the IMF had indicated that the UK was the fastest growing economy in the world, which at the time I thought was a bit strange, especially as the IMF has severely criticised this country, saying that it was the most indebted in the G7 group and that "British households had borrowed more than Greece, Spain and the United States by the end of last year. Only Ireland and Portugal fared worse." Other economists had argued that "the recovery was still dependent on domestic demand". One way and another, bearing in mind the parlous condition of the UK's fiancees, its debt still increasing at an alarming rate, the claim of the fastest growing economy seemed ridiculous.

Today a correspondent has said that I have been taken in by an April Fool's joke, which does at least begin to make some sense. Oh, dear: all those years studying the dismal science at the London School of Economics and I have fallen for a crude joke like that. As they say of Mr. Gove in "Private Eye", I must now go into the naughty corner, there being no fool like an old fool. I had thought of taking out the chart and all the references to the spoof in last week's entries, but it is a bit late now, a lot of people having seen how easily I was fooled. But never mind. As granny used to say, there are worse things at sea. In future I will be more careful.

At least I did not fall for a voice-mail I had on my mobile telephone, telling me that I needed to change the password for my mailbox. Had I have fallen for the scam I would have allowed access to my e-mails, not that I am all that worried about anybody seeing any of the mails I write and receive, all of them being extremely innocuous. Even so, these scams are a nasty business. At least they have caught the fellow who was pretending to represent Windows, saying in a scam telephone call that a virus had been found on the computer. Thankfully, he was fined heavily. He ought to have been put in prison.

Following the acquittal of yet another alleged sex offender, a former head of the Crown Prosecution Service , now headed by a woman, has warned that the Service "needs to keep a cool head in investigations of historic abuse cases. Prosecutors on a mission to pursue famous people could lose perspective". In other words, there gives the appearance of having been a witch hunt, and not a very edifying one at that, charging so-called celebrities for sexual offences allegedly committed many years ago. Very unkindly, and certainly worryingly, the Service is being renamed by some cynics as the Clown Prosecution Service, which is not good for its image, reminding us of Chaucer's comment: "If gold rusts, what will iron do?"

Although I make no reference to this case, I always worry about a woman in high office. This, of course, is political incorrectness, presumably part of the deeply-rooted prejudice of my generation, yet evidence seems to suggest that women, possibly because of an inherent feeling of inferiority to the male, try to be more zealous, more aggressive and totally without any humour in trying to prove that they are just as good, or even better, than a man, often having appalling labour relations, few women wanting to work under a member of their own sex.

The classic example is Thatcher the Great Destroyer who was arrogant and aggressive to the point of absurdity; would never listen to any of her ministers or accept any alternative policy (rather like Hitler), and who ultimately had to be booted out when she became an embarrassment to her party. During my days in employment I had to take over from a woman who had made a complete mess of the job, and I suppose this has subsequently somewhat formulated my judgement, outdated and old fashioned though it may be. Of course, there are hundreds of men who make a hash of their jobs, yet it seems to my blinkered view that women generally are not cut out for high office.

I was amazed to see that the Co-operative Bank was 1.3bn in debt. How on earth can this happen to such a massive extent?. Does the Bank have no beancounters to warn them of approaching financial peril? It also seems remarkable that the supermarket Tesco is in quite a muddle, whereas not so long ago it was held in such high esteem, regarded as a model supermarket. It seems that Waitrose has been the main beneficiary of the Tesco fracas, Mrs. C. finding that the local Waitrose store is packed out at weekends.

Mrs. Copeland was telling me today that researchers had found that people with dementia were less likely to get cancer. Oh dear! "It's all right, granny. You've gone barmy but you won't get cancer." Sometimes I think these researchers should be locked up, along with those crazy climatologists.


Cowslips

Cowslips in the garden.


To Lincoln Market for eggs and sprouts, and to the butcher's for rump steak, recent research having shown that there are no harmful effects whatsoever in eating red meat, just as there are no longevity advantages in being a vegetarian with their rabbit food - life just seems longer.

In the post we received the polling cards for the election for the European Parliament next month. I will be voting UKIP in the hope that this will give the Cameroons a wake-up call to stop all further immigration into this country. A resounding success for Mr. Farage's gang will do wonders for the Tories, no doubt bringing in all manner of restrictive measures. The only problem is that the immigrants, unlike the natives here, are prepared to work, are better disciplined and educated. However, I will be voting Conservative in the general election in May of next year - that is, if I bother to vote at all with any of the mob we have today. Sometimes I believe that a state of anarchy in this country would be an improvement.

The thought of Miliband's gang running the country is too awful for words, probably seeing the final collapse of the country. I saw that Miliband was saying he wanted to be the first Jewish Prime Minister. Wasn't Disraeli a Jew? His father left Judaism after a dispute at his synagogue, and young Benjamin became an Anglican at age 12. Presumably it can therefore be argued that Disraeli was not a Jew when he was Prime Minister, but he nevertheless had Jewish origins, and that is surely relevant.

The post also brought details of my revised pension following the index-linking, showing that after tax I am about 65 a month better off, so that is obviously going to help, though by the Autumn this increase will have been devalued by the advancing inflation. Still, I must be grateful for small mercies, many thousands of pensioners not having such an increase.

At 3 o'clock I went with two friends to have wine with a neighbour, his wife having gone off shopping at a supermarket - to Waitrose, of course, the couple being firmly middle class. We sat out on the balcony overlooking the fields on a wonderfully warm Spring Day - and what a rare delight it is to have fine day in this country, yet so wonderful when such days arrive, meteorological perfection that no other country can match

Unfortunately, I had rather too much to drink during the extended session, and after high tea I retired to bed until about 11 o'clock, prompting Mrs. Copeland to say that she was a "wine widow". I really must cut down on my drinking for there is no doubt that I am consuming far too much alcohol each day, now amounting to a quotidian bottle. On the other hand, alcohol is good for you in old age, helping you to forget about the appalling state of the British economy. This coming week I will try to keep to three bottles for the whole week.

SATURDAY 12 APRIL

As my "Morning Book", reading in bed before getting up about 8.30 a.m. - and how wonderful it is not to have to get up early, one of the few delights of retirement - I am reading "The War Behind the Wire - The life, death and glory of British prisoners of war 1914-18." The author of this interesting book describes the appalling conditions in many of the German camps, the captives suffering from utter boredom.

Alec Waugh, one of the POWs, is quoted as writing after the war: "The wearisome sameness of the days, the monotony of the faces, the unchanged landscape, the intolerable talk about war, all these tended to produce an effect of complete and utter desperation: whole days were drenched in an incurable melancholia". Old age is like that for some people. What seems rather surprising is that the author devotes only a page and a half to the sexual frustrations of the imprisoned young men.

On the issue of homosexuality, the authors tells us that spaces were too confined for any such union, while "regular Army officers, straight or gay, likely found the sexlessness of the camps easiest, for they were used to subduing libido" - presumably another example of the immense emotional damage of a public school education. It is obviously difficult for me, humbly educated at a grammar school to comment on public schools, any criticism being seen as envy. Nevertheless, I continue to believe that the public schools over the years have done immense harm to the social and economic structure of the country with their snobbishness and divisiveness.

On the excellent BBC News website - a website that makes me wonder why I bother to buy a daily paper with all the nonsense written by goofy columnists, I saw that "Attorney General Dominic Grieve is to discuss failed sexual assault and rape cases brought against high profile figures with the director of public prosecutions (DPP) Alison Saunders. It follows criticism of prosecutors after actors Bill Roache and Michael Le Vell were cleared by juries."

It would not surprise me if the DPP Director will be gone by the Autumn, albeit after a decent interval to let the cock-ups (if that is the right term) die down. This invariably happens when there is failure in high office, even in this country. It has certainly seemed to have been a most nauseating witchhunt against celebrities, criticisms having been made that police time and taxpayers money have been wasted in bringing uncertain cases, some of the alleged crimes having been committed nearly a half century ago. Where can the evidence be after that time lapse?

According to today's "Times", which Mrs. C. brought home free from Waitrose, having gone to buy the week's provisions, it was reported that the recent acquittal of an alleged sexual misdemeanour had cost the defendant 130,000, the outrageous fees of the lawyers said to have financially ruined him, It seems to me that the costs should have been paid from the funds of the Crown Prosecuting Service,

As I so often wail in this diary, I just wish that the doctors had a pill or potion for the restoration of a sense of humour, for there is little doubt that I have completely lost whatever humour I ever had. Today, for instance, I did not find the column by Giles Coran, headed "You don't read - so you ain't write, right? in the least bit funny, not even the comparison between his baby son and Prince George: "I have been distressed to see Prince George crawling all over New Zealand while my fat little son, Sam, who is a good three months' older, just sits on his capacious arse in the middle of the floor and grins like a very happy potato."

There are many people who will find this uproariously funny, hardly able to contain their laughter, but it leaves me stone cold, not so much as a glimmer of a smirk at the rude mention of "arse", unfairly seeing it as very juvenile, the sort of piece you might read in a teenage comic. It is said that old people tend to become more serious in their closing years, often completely losing any sense of humour that they might have had in the past.

Even worse in my opinion, is the "Celebrity Watch" in the Friday "Times", showing a photograph in the title of the writer making a really silly face while holding a pair of binoculars, the purpose being to name 10 well known characters each week, showing who has gone up in the public's estimation and who has gone down. I did not know any of the personalities named yesterday, presumably because I never watch the idiot's lantern or take any interest in football. A more juvenile piece might be difficult.

Alas, my lack of humour indicates that I am possibly beyond any hope, obviously needing counselling. I didn't even find that April Fool's joke about the UK having the strongest economic growth in the world in the least bit amusing, even if it was quite clever with all its charts. To me it was just plain pathetic, and very silly in its deliberate deception, not helping us to understand Government economic policy.

The "Magazine" of the "Times" had a pullout selection of menus in which Mediterranean dishes were being recommended, including one shown below having "Buffalo Mozzarello with pererotno and rosemary and ciabatta croutons." Can you imagine being offered such a ghastly concoction at a dinner party, knowing that you could not eat it without being sick on the spot, yet not wanting to offend your hostess? What a dilemma. I suppose you could at least eat the croutons.

Food

A dreadful dish recommended in "The Times" magazine. Who on earth could eat such a grim offering, suitable only for rabbits?


Mrs. C. also brought home a copy of "The Journal", yet another monthly free publication featuring life in Lincolnshire. Within the publication there are several pages under the heading of "Society", showing photographs of people attending various dinners. A more ugly collection of people would be difficult to imagine, some of the mature women, mutton dressed as lambs, looking quite awful. It makes me so thankful that Mrs. Copeland and I no longer have to go to those ghastly gatherings, all of them so incredibly boring with their trite smalltalk.

There was also an advertisement for a Lincoln restaurant saying "Now taking bookings for Christmas parties. Tickets cost 35 per person." bearing in mind that we are not yet in mid April, it seems almost immoral that we are already thinking about Christmas, but then the British are dominated by thoughts of the Santa season, not that it is in any way associated with a religious festival.

The thought of a Christmas party, surely an advanced form of punishment, fills me with horror, having to endure two hours or more of overexcited women wearing paper hats and their men folk blowing little bugles. In the good old days of the office party you could have a frolic with a typist in the broom cupboard, but today this would be regarded as sexual harassment, quickly bringing in that lady from the Crown Prosecution Service.

I have resolved not to go in to Lincoln on a Saturday, finding the dreadful hoi polloi so vexatious to the spirit, such a scruffy and uncouth assembly. . To see this ever growing lumpenproletariat in the high street is a reminder of how this country has declined with its indolent workforce and millions on welfare benefits. So I therefore stayed at home today, setting up the web-editor for the diary, and then doing some more leaf clearance from the ha-ha. The ha-ha is knee-deep in accumulated leaves, not having been cleared for many years, and it is going to take me many days to achieve a complete clearance, thereby eventually making it look so much better.

Daughter Caroline and her husband called in to see us during the afternoon, having returned yesterday from their week's holiday by the Red Sea, where they enjoyed snorkelling, seeing hundreds of fish. The temperature was around 34 C, and although they greatly enjoyed the sunshine, Phil was saying that he would not exchange a gorgeous English springday that we had yesterday for warmer climes.

In the evening, we went to "The Venue" to see the film "Dallas Buyer's Club", which was quite enjoyable, though half an hour too long. I had great difficult in understanding what the main character was saying in his Texan dialogue. There ought to be subtitles for an English audience. The "Venue" has the advantage of free parking, and we can have a drink before the film starts - not that I am drinking so much for the next week or so.

We have more or less decided not to go to the Odeon any more, waiting instead for a film to come to the Venue. In that way we avoid the popcorn eaters who munch their way through the film, the girls giggling and their menfolk playing with their horrible, antisocial iPads. When we went to the Odeon a week ago the performance was quite spoilt by these popcorners munching all the way through the film. Terrible behaviour. Why doesn't the Odeon divide the seating into "Eating" and "Not Eating"? That would be helpful

Before going to bed I switched on the computer to look at e-mails, and to look at the BBC News website, seeing that a vicar had been arrested for alleged rape. Dear, oh dear. Hardly a day goes by nowadays without some new sexual charges. I suppose the charges help to take our minds off the ailing economy.

SUNDAY 13 APRIL

Although I am enjoying my "Morning Book" - "The War Behind the Wire", I find some of the writing rather over-the top, especially when the author congratulates the British PoWs for harassing and taking the Mickey out of the German guards, at one point talking about the superiority of the British over all other nations. If the British were so great, why were they in PoW camps in their thousands? Sadly, the more I read about the performance of the British Army in the First and Second World Wars, being no match for the Germans and the Japanese in equal opposing numbers, the more I come to the conclusion that our Army was not all that good, having to rely on the Americans to get it out of another fine mess.

Perhaps the main problem with the British Army was the extensive social stratification in which the officers were widely separated from the ranks, no doubt explaining the characteristic of lions being led by donkeys in the First World War - a time when only those educated at a public school with its silly stiff-upper-lip values were allowed to become officers. There was also the problem that there was a bitter rivalry between the various armed forces, which did not happen in the American or German forces. It was a great mistake to separate the Air Force from the Army a mistake that the Americans in their wisdom did not make.

I liked the e-mail I received, commenting on my entry in the diary last week saying "The chairman of the Office for Budget responsibility has warned that he expected the pace of recovery to decline further," my correspondent saying: " That won't happen. The government has come up with another Baldrick-like cunning plan. GDP is going to be calculated in a different way and guess what? It will immediately make GDP 5% higher. It reminds me of Stalin's Five-Year Plans; they were always so over-fulfilled that the USSR was a land of plenty while millions were starving. Our Dave has realised that if he can't improve the economy at least he can at least improve the statistics."

You have to admire the Cameroons, especially as they run rings round poor little Red Ed and his gang. As in the education service when results start to flag, the answer is to lower the hurdles, thereby congratulating the teachers on their improved performance. And then there's that April Fool's joke of the UK having the fastest growing economy in the world. Oh how they trick us with their Porkies and deceit. Put not your trust in politicians.

Quite a busy morning. I did a spell of taking more leaves out of the ha-ha, still nowhere near clear, and then cleaned and polished Mrs. Copeland's Peugeot 208 - a car that I like immensely.

Last week I mentioned that our worthy local lady vicar sent me a copy of "The Church Times", pointing to an article on same-sex marriages after we had had a brief discussion about the nauseating subject at the Club. Although I did not agree with the polemic, it nevertheless made me think about religion, especially the pick 'n' mix morality of the Church of England, making me wonder to what extent social advance and pressures can obviate Biblical teachings. If, as now seems to be the case, the dear old C .of E. goes against so much of this teaching, especially Leviticus's fierce views on homosexuality, what is the point of Bible readings during a service?

Although I am opposed to the Catholic Church's condemnation of birth control, I nevertheless sometimes feel that I could turn to the Catholicism if I ever became religious, for at least the Catholics uphold the tenets of the Bible, condemning same-sex marriages and refusing to have female clergy. Presumably it could be argued that the C.of E has become more tolerant, yet when does toleration become weakness, blown apart by every social pressure in the wind? I asked these questions in an e-mail to our lady vicar, but she did not reply, which I found rather disappointing.

Tree

The extensive rot in our lime tree. One possibility to save it is to reduce its height, the danger and fear being that it could fall.


The conservatory doors being open on yet another wonderful Spring day, albeit a little bit chilly with a cold wind, traditional at this time of year, a robin flew in. For one terrible moment I thought he was going to fly among the helicopters, knocking off the blades. Fortunately, when I opened the back door he flew out. I told Mrs. Copeland that superstition had it than went a robin flew in to a house, it prophesised a death. However, Mrs. C. would have none of this stuff and nonsense, saying that the robin flew in because the conservatory doors were open and he was looking for some food, which seems to be a satisfactory consideration.

To the Club with Mrs. Copeland at 3.30 p.m. for the usual Sabbath Day alcoholic intake. I had resolved not to drink so much today, but this resolution went by the board, postponing the resolve until Monday. There was quite a good gathering, and I enjoyed the session, during which I heard that our worthy lady vicar had held a service lasting nearly one-and-a-half hours for Palm Sunday. I was rather thankful that I was not present, for half an hour after the usual length seems somewhat zealous religion.

As I mentioned earlier, I still have a lot of doubts about religion, and unlike most elderly people who turn to religion in their old age as a form of eternal insurance, I find myself rejecting many of the concepts. Can anybody, for instance, really believe that there is a God who listens to our prayers at bedtime. Similarly, can anybody believe in a caring God when there is not an ounce of evidence to indicate that there is divine intervention in a problem? Indeed, if you accept that God gives us freewill, which he surely does, isn't prayer a negation of that freewill, asking for intervention when we muddle things up? All very difficult to understand.

We had some excellent rump steak for dinner, and what a delight that is, especially now research has shown that there are no ill effects whatsoever. Regrettably, I felt a bit under the weather having partaken too freely at the Club, and departed to bed after dinner, not rising until about 9.30 p.m. Another Sunday evening wasted!

MONDAY 14 APRIL

My arthritis and sciatica seem to becoming steadily worse when I am n bed, the pain quite awful, preventing me from getting to sleep. I have given up going to see the doctor, for all the pills and potions that I have been prescribed have had no effect at all, the only help being with the Tens machine. Looking back on my health record, the doctors have been no help at all, not being able in the past to cure my migraine, and now unable to cure arthritis and sciatica. I will not bother visiting the doctor any more, for I feel that they are largely a waste of time, unable to cure many maladies. It might be more helpful to go to the vicar.

I had run out of printer cartridges this morning, thereby necessitating a visit to Staples for replacements. At least the firm allows 5 empty cartridge to be credited at 1 each, so that helps the overall outlay. Even so, it is an expensive monthly cost, though it will be abolished when I give up computing in July on my 80th birthday - another saving towards the raging inflation.

Back home I did some more leaf clearance in the ha-ha, finding that I can only clear a small section at a time. Alas, the problems of old age, no longer able to undertake so many tasks. Ideally I would like to pay somebody to complete the work, but nobody wants to work in this country, so I have to adopt the Sam Smiles self-help philosophy, so dear to the Cameroons.

Lime tree

A close-up of the extensive rot in the lime tree.


There was a headline on the front page of today's "Daily Mail" saying that British children were the most badly behaved in the world. It made me wonder whether this has anything to do with the UK having the greatest number of working mothers, recent reports having shown that many children become aggressive in their insecurity when dumped in nurseries all day.

Today's "Times" had a report that the Chancellor will be lowering taxation in the near future, obviously with the forthcoming general election in mind. At a time when the country is in such incredible debt, the worst indebtedness among the G7 countries, this is totally irresponsible, there being no indication in the past that lower taxation means an improvement in economic growth More likely, it means more indebtedness in our trading account as imports flood it. However, all parties behave in this irresponsible manner, presumably indicating that it is not possible to mend a badly damaged economy in a supposed democracy.

One of my friends sent me an e-mail giving details of the films to be shown in the 2014/15 forthcoming session of the Lincoln Film Society. Alas, I had heard of only one of the proposed films, whereas those from Spain, China, India, Canada, Palestine, Iceland and Japan were esoteric films that were obviously quite beyond my limited cultural understanding. My failure to appreciate these films, or even pretend that I enjoy the offerings, is a sad reminder of my limited cultural aspirations and intelligence, obviously not being in the same class as the members who attend the showings each month

All very sad, but there is nothing I can do to become more refined or cultured at my great age. Still, at least I enjoy the films shown at The Venue, so all is not lost. The acceptance of one's limitations is a lesson that has to be learnt in life, not helped by becoming a pseud.

We invited one of our neighbours in for a night-cap this evening, making for a pleasant occasion. The lady is a keen Labour supporter, telling us this evening that "it is the workers who make the profits." I doubt this, for without good management the working class have not a clue what to do, rather like an orchestra without a conductor. The Cameroons, on the other hand, will say that management alone makes the profit, whereas the truth is that it should be a mixture of both.

Afterwards, I read some more of "The Ministry of Guidance Invites you to Not Stay", a fascinating account of the horrors of living in Iran. The author is an Iranian who marries an American woman, and goes back to his home country with her and their baby for a year. It made me wince to read that the baby had to have organic food. How daft we have become in the Western World, full of neurosis and materialism, almost forgetting the better things in life.

TUESDAY 15 APRIL

My arthritis is becoming worse and worse each week, and we are beginning to think that we will have to move to a bungalow. Oh, the miseries of old age. Having to move at my time of life is never a good idea, rather like trying to transplant an old tree.

I mentioned earlier that a robin had flew into the conservatory when the doors were open, flying onto the shelf where some of my helicopters are stationed. Yesterday I discovered that several of the helicopters had been damaged, the rotor blades knocked off and other parts dislodged. I have therefore had to spend some time mending them, finding that a "Sea King" was missing one of its blades.

There was no sign of the missing part, so I had to improvise this morning with a black strip of plastic, and although it lacks the markings it is a reasonable alternative. It took me some time to fix the blade on, but as Mrs. C commented: "It gives you something to do. You're a bit bad tempered when you've nothing to do all day" - one of the problems in retirement.

Tuesdays are Mrs. Copeland's social worker day, when she visits two old ladies in residential homes, one in the morning, and the other after lunch. One of the inmates is in a poor condition having had a stroke, never going out and not joining in any of the social events in the home. It makes you wonder what is the point of life in such depressing circumstances, every day being like one in prison. It is all very sad, a reminder of the ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

I went to the gathering of the local Retired Gentlemen's Club for lunch at the "Pyewipe" pub and restaurant beside the canal just outside Lincoln - a pleasant location, especially on a sunny day when we were able to sit outside to have lunch. I was amazed to see several youths at nearby tables who all had tattoos all up their arms, most of them with shaven heads, looking as if they had just come out of prison. Why on earth do young people have these horrible markings that they can never get rid of, making them look so incredibly stupid?

We had ten members present at the luncheon, only two being absent, both of them having medical examinations for various problems. Those examinations are a reminder of the agonies of old age, all manner of troubles developing, rather like running an old car. Invariably, of course, there are no cures, but at least it is probably comforting to be told what is wrong.

Avenue

The avenue of oaks at the bottom of our garden. There is still not much display of greenery, the oaks being among the last trees to come into leaf.


Back home I saw on the BBC News website that "The UK inflation rate as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) fell to 1.6% in March from 1.7% in February, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS)." There are several considerations relating to this statistic. To begin with, the increase, even though lower, is on a very high base reflecting the ever increasing cost of living, presumably explaining why consumer expenditure fell in March.

Secondly, food prices continue to rise every week in the supermarkets, probably at about 5%,, presumably explaining why, for the first time in all the 44 years I have lived in the village, there has been a food bank at out local church, into which Mrs. C has put various tinned items for families unable to afford a full meal. Thirdly, although petrol prices have been stagnant for the past two months, there are signs that a price increase is on the way, Brent oil now back again at $110. Inflation is therefore a very mixed, not to say confusing picture in this country, especially as the 700-item "shopping basket" of the ONS is totally meaningless, including items that are only bought once in many years.

In today's "Times" I saw that "children as young as four are spending ten hours a day in school as parents use breakfast clubs and after school activities as cheap childcare." It seems unbelievable that these selfish parents, apparently more concerned with their careers than the welfare of their children, can behave in this appalling manner, making me wonder why they are not prosecuted for child cruelty.

Yet the Government apparently wants mothers with young children to work full-time, even giving them money to abandon their offspring. If a couple want to have children, they should pay for the upkeep, not expect the taxpayer to foot the bill. It could be argued, as some employers present, that working mothers are a damned nuisance in the workplace, having to have time off, and thereby putting more work onto colleagues, when the children are sick. Were I an employer, I would never appoint a woman under 45 years of age.

I have the AVG anti-virus protection on my computer, having paid 29 for membership until October, yet every few months I find that the programme comes up with a message saying that I am no longer protected. Trying to communicate with the Customer Care department is hopeless, receiving no help at all, and I end up having to re-load the programme from the disc that I bought with the programme. I find this quite infuriating, and were I not giving up computing in July I would certainly not renew the programme, having the Norton anti-virus instead.

The FTSE continues to go down and down, presumably as a result of worries about the chaos in the Ukraine, which could see a substantial rise in power prices. It does not take much to unsettle a market that is alternatively governed by greed and fear.

The evening was spent reading some more of "The Ministry of Guidance Invites you to Not Stay", which I am enjoying, making me realise what a fearful country Iran must be to live in, especially in having to contend with the fierce morality patrols - the Gasht-e Ershad.

WEDNESDAY 16 APRIL

Although I am enjoying the book on British PoWs during the First World War, I find the author's style and comments somewhat difficult to accept at times, including his statements that the officers always looked after their men, presumably in a sickening display of noblesse oblige, albeit with all the snobbishness and divisiveness. Indeed, there are occasions when the reader gains the impression that the officers thought the imprisonment was all a jolly jape in the "best" traditions of a public school education. Pass the sickbag.

On staring up the computer this morning I found that the Flashplayer was not working. Hardly a day goes by now without some fault with the computer, adding to my stress.
I was reading about the new mortgage regulations that will come into force on the 26th April. These measures include the provision that all mortgages will need to be on an "advised" basis, i.e. no buying off the Internet; interest only mortgages will be outlawed to all but the very wealthy; and lenders will assess the affordability of a mortgage in stricter terms, including deciding whether a loan will be affordable when interest rates increase, using test rates of up to 9.5%. This is going to have a devastating impact on the bubbling housing market, bringing an end to the ever rising prices, and not before time.

I cut the grass during the morning, and then went in to town to purchase a "Times" (no delivery in the village, nobody wanting to work) and various other items.

Mrs. Copeland went with the Village Ladies Luncheon Club to the Pyewipe, where our retired group went yesterday. We greatly enjoyed sitting outside in the splendid sunshine, but although it was another fine and warm day, the ladies preferred to sit indoors. I invited a friend to have wine and a baguette with me, making a pleasant diversion to the day. The friend brought me relevant book reviews from "The Daily Mail". Without any doubt, these reviews are the best in any newspaper or journal. Unfortunately, I am not bright enough to understand the esoteric reviews in "The London Review of Books."

Camellia

Camellia in the garden. Alas, the flowers are soon gone.


There was the grim news that food banks are increasing at an alarming rate throughout the country as more and more families cannot afford the rising cost of food, yet the ONS laughingly tells us that inflation is falling. There is no doubt that under the present Eton-educated Government, the gulf between rich and poor continues to increase, making us wonder whether there will be a repeat of the Hunger Marches if the Cameroons win the next general election, becoming ever more right ring in hammering the poor, possibly even resulting in revolution.

On the other hand, a Miliband Government would probably see the final financial collapse of the country. What a political choice we therefore have - revolution or bankruptcy: we take our choice. The great shame is that the Lib-Dems are not a better party, possibly representing moderation between the two very unpleasant political extremes, but under poor little Clegg, a decent chap nevertheless, the party is heading towards the political desert, possibly becoming extinct in May of next year.

I joined the ladies, back from their luncheon, later in the afternoon, sitting out on a terrace in the wonderful sunshine. Alas, once again I had too much to drink, having to repair to bed without any supper. I really must stop this excessive drinking, starting next Monday.

THURSDAY 17 APRIL

Mrs. Copeland went off in her Peugeot 208 to spend until Saturday teatime with her mother, but on this occasion I stayed at home. On the BBC news website I saw that: "Motorists are braced for what is set to be the busiest day of the year on the roads so far, with up to 16m cars expected to be used over Easter." Oh, the utter misery travelling in this grossly overpopulated land. It makes me so thankful that I will be staying at home, avoiding that misery.

As mentioned earlier, I had more problems, with my AVG anti-virus programme, having yet another message coming up saying that I was not fully protected, despite having paid for the service until October. I found the telephone helpline totally useless. In the end I solved the problem myself by reloading the programme from the CD I had bought with the system. Today I received a request by e-mail to complete a customer survey. I enjoyed completing that survey.

It makes me wonder about the purpose of these ubiquitous customer surveys, for nothing ever seems to get any better. I suppose, though, the surveys, although possibly a sham display of customer concern, at least keep people in employment.

Shower

Photographs of Members of Parliament discussing welfare reforms, and on another occasion their proposed pay rise. What a shower they are, more interested in feathering their nests and fiddling their expenses than any concern for the wellbeing of the country. Why on earth do we bother to vote?


I went in to town in the morning, having a tussle with a BMW driver who did not give way to me on a mini-roundabout, apparently having no knowledge of the Highway Code. Why is it that these BMW drivers, especially the women, are often so aggressive: Could it be that the BM stands for "bad mannered"?

The town was packed, the vehicles virtually gridlocked, but on the scooter I managed to overtake the long lines of stationary vehicles. In this country it is customary for our indolent workers to take the day off before a Bank Holiday, so this presumably explained all the traffic today. I criticise the mass influx of immigrants in this ailing land, but were it not for them being prepared to work long hours as a disciplined workforce, this country would come to standstill, so perhaps Mr. Farage is wrong in wanting to stop the influx.

In town I bought sausages and ham slices, finding that both items had gone up in price, as they do every month, yet the ONS tells us that food prices have fallen. Petrol prices went up 1p a litre yesterday, but this increase will probably not be reflected in the April CPI, possibly being obviated by a fall in the price of bananas or children's nappies.

Still believing that we are enjoying an economic recovery, today's "Times" had a front-page headline "Recovery brings rate rise closer", saying that "The economic recovery passed two big milestones yesterday sending the pound soaring as the markets anticipated an early rate rise." Oh, dear: this means a further decline in exports and even more imports, worsening our already grim trade deficit, and making a true economic recovery impossible. However, it is unlikely that there will be a rate rise before the election; the Treasury will see to that, there being no such thing as an independent central bank.

After the splendid weather we have had for the past few days, it turned much colder today, the temperature down to 10 C with no sunshine, presumably in preparation for the Bank Holiday, heavy rain being forecast for Sunday. We nearly always have this miserable weather at Bank Holidays; indeed, if there is a drought the Government only needs to declare an additional holiday and the rain will come pouring down.

In the evening I will be showing the film "Philomena" to a son-in-law and a neighbour - a film that I greatly enjoyed and will no doubt enjoy it again.

E-mail: johncopeland@clara.net
Lincolnshire 17th April, 2014
Comments welcomed.
No.950

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Diary of a Septuagenarian<BR>



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