DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN
- John Copeland -
Lily in the garden. Sadly, they do not last long.
"70,000 children put on pills for depression."
"The Times", 21st July, 2018. This is the age of neurosis, of psychiatrists, psychologists, dieticians, therapists, and other quacks, all set to feed upon the anxieties of modern life that has lost any sense of reason and purpose, the age of the self and sod everybody else.
View of Lincoln Cathedral from our village.
In the diary for June I mentioned that I was only going to have photographs in the July diary and thereafter, principally because I am becoming increasingly concerned and frightened by the restriction of free speech and excessive censorship in this ailing land, involving severe penalties for raising controversial items, especially anything relating to racial or sexual issues. On second thoughts, having been told that I must not be so cowardly, not weakly giving in Mrs May-style to this tyranny, I have therefore decided to resume the entries, though I have severely restricted them.
I am convinced that the time is not far away, especially if we have a Labour Government, when diaries and Facebooks will carry an official stamp marked - "APPROVED." Herr Goebbbels would certainly be proud of our authorities and their clamp-down on free speech. The bitter irony is that far from promoting a more tolerant society, representing a happy and harmonious multicultural society, racism has never been so strong in this country, possibly on account of the bitterness that the clampdown on free speech engenders.
On the health front my doctor had arranged for me to see a urologist in connection with the five successive UTIs that I had had since Christmas Day, though I have been free of them for the past three months, having been advised to drink a lot of bottled water, which I have reluctantly done - "up to a point, Lord Copper". The appointment was for 10 a.m. at the County Hospital, and I was seen right away by a very pleasant fellow who told me that he was from Sudan, saying: "We have the worst Government anywhere in the world." When I asked: "Worse than ours?" he said "Most definitely!"
He informed me, as I knew earlier, that my left kidney was somewhat under par, but was being compensated by the right one that was in good condition. I was not altogether sure why I had to have this appointment, but my lady Indian doctor had insisted that I attended, and I now do as I am told in my old age in order to maintain a quiet life, sometimes a bit too quiet, ensuring that "peace comes dropping slow". I liked the fellow immensely, especially as he had a great sense of humour.
The worst part about visiting the County Hospital is having to endure the rubbish on the idiot's lantern, every waiting room having the sets unpleasantly blaring loudly away. When attending this urologist appointment, there was a trite programme presented by a fellow with a ghastly Northern accent: panem et circenses, indeed.
For a three-month review and check-up regarding my lymphoma cancer, I saw my female Indian doctor on the 16th, telling her that apart from my arthritis, the only other trouble I was having was cold feet - literally. The doctor examined both feet, feeling the pulse, telling me that there was no problem with the circulation, so goodness knows what the trouble is.
I showed the doctor an appliance in a mail-order catalogue that I had thought of buying as it "restored blood to your feet and lower limbs", reduced from £199.99 to £99.99. In the past I have bought various medical items from these catalogues, only to find that they were all useless - made in China, of course. The doctor told me that she would not recommend it, so I have saved £99.99. (Always be suspicious of items priced at .99).
Roses in the garden. A splendid display this year.
Unfortunately, the arthritis in both knees, especially the left, is becoming worse each week, now to the extent that I can hardly walk, the leg giving way at times, meaning that I nearly fall over, not uncommon amongst old people. However, at my great age I cannot face a knee replacement, the record of people I know who have had the operation not being all that good, especially for those over the age of 70 years. On the other hand, younger people, that is under 70 years, seem to be all right, the body being able to accept an extensive and difficult operation. One woman I know, in her late 70s, had the operation and now cannot bend her knees, confined to a wheelchair.
As the doctor said, not having an operation, which was not advised at my great age, I will just have to keep taking the tablets - Zapain, which is a mixture of 500mg paracetemol and 30 mg codeine phosphate. I can take 2 at a time, maximum of 8 in any one day. Usually the tablets alleviate the pain for about 2 hours, but I do not like to take more than 4 a day.
I had my toenails cut on the 24th by an excellent female "Foot Health Practitioner" who is so much better than the fellow I had in the past who cut the nails so painfully short. It is a further example of women being so much better than men in the caring professions, useless in the political arena. The chemotherapy sessions last year had damaged my toenails, especially the big toes on which a new nail was growing under one that had been destroyed.
I had a further bllod sample taken on the last day of the month, the nurse doing superb job so that I hardly even felt the needle going in. Apparently, there is no problem finding a vein in my right elbow, so this obviously helps. The practice went through a very bad phase, but is now under new management, and what a difference that has made, the organisation being so much better.
The conservatory. My oasis in an increasingly troubled world, a place where peace comes dropping slow.
During the month there further issues regarding transgender people. In one secondary school it was ruled that girls must not wear skirts as they would upset the pupils having the biological problems. In another school the boys were not allowed to wear trousers, and I read that there was to be the "first transgender woman in Miss Universe UK final." There is even a proposal to make a wolf-whistle a sex crime.
At least there was good news that here in Lincolnshire nearly all the top achieving schools were grammar schools, Caistor Grammar School commendably leading the list. Of course, this is not surprising in terms of the benefits of selection, but how the left-wingers, especially the "Guardian" and "i" readers, loathe grammar schools and anything to do with excellence, incredibly believing that educational selection causes social divisions, whereas such divisions are there long before any school provision.
On the 6th July we had a luncheon in the garden of daughter Caroline and her husband Phil, Caroline just home from a holiday in Bordeaux, telling us that the country and the food were wonderful, and amazingly in these Brexit times that the natives were very friendly and helpful. Sitting in the shade of their large garden it was the perfection of meteorological conditions, and I greatly enjoyed the ham and new English potatoes (by far the best anywhere in the world,) as well as the splendid New Zealand white wine - "Freeman's Bay", also the best in the world, certainly better than any French offerings.
Books read during the month.
During the month I read five books: "The History of Violence" by Edouard Louis" - a most odd book, all over the place. In one chapter there is the passage relating to thoughts and language: " They say we can never leave language behind, they say language is the essence of human being and that it conditions everything; they say you can't get outside it for language has no exterior, they say we don't think first and then organise our thoughts." I would have believed that we think first - supposing we think at all - and then put the thoughts into language. A silly book.
A second book was "The World in Thirty Eight Chapters or Dr. Johnson's Guide to Life" by Henry Hitchings, which was a great disappointment. The Doctor was a wise and witty man, yet the author is totally humourless, his writing having about as much humour as a Methodist service. It is some time since I have read such a dreary book that tried to be very clever, annoyingly putting in a lot of that psychology rubbish.
The book's only saving grace was the various quotations of the Doctor, most of which I knew, including the tendency of shallow people "to ridicule and vilify what they cannot comprehend" - a comment that might well apply to those miserable and unlettered people who are opposing the worthy President Trump, and the Remoaners who want to ignore the will of the people expressed in the referendum. This is the sort of thing that happens in banana republics.
Dr. Johnson's comments and advice in dealing with depression - he suffered throughout his life with what he called his "dog days" - are infinitely better than the nonsense modern psychiatrists, psychologists and other such charlatans speak, there now seeming to be little understanding of mental illness,. No doubt it has to be accepted that these are troubled times when youngsters pathetically go down with stress when they face examinations, having been over protected and mollycoddled in childhood, subsequently unable to face any kind of difficulty. It is also an explanation of why so many marriages fail these days.
A third book was the novel "Mercury Falling" by Robert Edric, published by Doubleday this year at £16.99 (why do publishers resort to this nonsense of 99p. It is time that the Government abolished the useless penny, but then this Government will do nothing.) The book is set in the Fens in 1954, not the best of times. A most enjoyable book, full of "atmosphere", as they say, albeit very depressing, showing how the lower orders lived.
A further book read during the month was "No Way Out - The searing true story of men under siege" by Major Adam Jowett". An interesting and fascinating book that I thoroughly enjoyed, describing the British Army's hopeless task in Afghanistan, our troops having one hand tied behind their back in the senseless "rules of engagement": the Taliban having to fire first, and then we can return fire. Madness. What the good Major does not mention is that the British Army had to withdraw from the Helmand Province, the better equipped Americans having to take over.
In the Afghan conflict the author describes how American B-1 bombers, along with A-10s and Apache helicopters tore into Taliban forces, seeing bodies blown apart, the attackers going off skywards to meet the promised virgins. What a wonderful spectacle that must have been, something I would certainly enjoy. Good old Americans - a country I like and respect so much, hoping that we can form stronger relationships with them, forgetting about those quarrelsome people in the European Union that have fought one another in the past two centuries.
Following that excellent book, I started reading the recently published "Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje, the author of the acclaimed "The English Patient", the novel relating to two young children who are left in the care of a dubious character they call "The Mole" while their mother and father supposedly go off to Singapore, the father working for Unilever. The story, if it can be said to have one, deals with the equally shady characters The Mole befriends, endless and tiresome details about each and every one of them. After reading 78 pages I could stand no more, and put the abandoned book on the shelves. It must surely rate at the most boring and uninteresting novel of the year, if not the decade.
Obviously very disappointed in having wasted £16.99, I turned to reading "The Women Who Flew for Hitler -- The true story of Hitler's Valkyries",by Clare Mulley, published this year by Macmillan at £20, soon finding that I enjoyed the book. Books on Hitler never let me down, not like dreary and dreadful novels, yet the book was well written up in a "Times" review. Incredible, making me wonder about the reviewer's literary tastes. Sometimes I take the view that these reviews are not worth reading, often expressing bias or trying to be very clever indeed.
We had a wasps' nest high up on the house by the gutter. A firm charged £175 for destroying the nest, which seemed a bit excessive, but the eradication was at least successful.
On the 2nd of the month I discovered that we had a wasps' nest in the eves of the back of the house. I rang a firm of pest controllers from an advertisement in the BT telephone book, selecting a firm that seemed reasonable. It is always a risk employing firms you do not know, always supposing they bother to turn up in this idle land. In the event, however, the firm said it would come out on the 3rd July between 8-10 a.m., and a fellow duly arrived about 9.45 a.m., initially going into the roof void, but ultimately spraying the poison into the nest from outside, wearing protective clothing that made him look like rocket man.
The pleasant fellow told me that it would take 10 days to completely eliminate the nest, but if after that time there was still activity he would return free of charge. With VAT the cost was £175, which seemed a lot, especially for only an hour's work, even more expensive than the outrageous charges of small-town solicitors, those spivs in suits, but we had to get rid of the nest as the wasps were starting to come into the house, and they are dangerous creatures.
After he had departed there was, so to speak, a great hive of activity, a large number of wasps flying in and out of the nest, banging against the windows in their anger. I had been told that the wasps would go into "war mode" after the nest had been sprayed, stinging everything in sight, so for a couple of hours we had to stay away from the back garden. I was certainly very impressed with the professionalism of the firm, giving me a leaflet explaining the procedure and their card.
I was pleased to read in "The Times" on the 3rd of the month that the NHS is being advised to give up employing those useless management consultants that cost the Service £300m a year with absolutely no advantage or merit. A bigger waste of money would be difficult to imagine as these consultants, probably boasting a B.A. in Business Administration, have not the slightest clue about the medical service, apparently believing that a business model suits all organisations. We pay massive salaries to chief executives to run the NHS, so why do we have to employ these worthless charlatans?
The replacement grape-vine I bought, having wrongly believed the earlier one had been snapped, stopping growth but it survived.
Last April I had bought myself a grape-vine plant, which I have trained to grow along stakes in the conservatory. It grew splendidly, but quite inadvertently Mrs. C, when tying the main shoot to the stake, somehow unfortunately broke the end of the stem, obviously restricting growth. probably meaning it will not grow any further, though Mrs. C. insists that a new shoot will grow. I was not pleased, prompting somewhat of a domestic upset, but then I should have done it myself.
I therefore ordered another vine from a gardening firm called "Primrose, and the plant arrived in perfect condition two days later. An excellent service, so now I have two vines on the go. Fortunately, and somewhat to my surprise, the damaged vine is growing a new shoot, nature having remedied the damage, so all is well.
Unfortunately, the beans I set around the front door duly flowered, but the beans have not germinated, so that was a fine mess. I duly watered and looked after the two plants, but to no avail. A great shame.
The runner beans around the front door have duly flowered, but only a few beans have germinated, hardly enough for one meal.
We went to the Club to watch England playing Columbia on the 3rd, the Club having a large screen onto which the televised programme is relayed. I am not sure why I went as I am not the least bit interested in football. Unfortunately, lacking a knowledge of modern football games, I found this to be a thoroughly nasty and spitefully brutal match, yellow cards being issued after all manner of bad-tempered fouls on both sides, especially one when a Colombian player head-bumped one of our players on the jaw, causing him to fall down in no doubt in what was no doubt exaggerated pain, yet the referee did not send off the offending player.
I had not realised in my ignorance that football had become such a rough tough game, almost as violent as thugby, players pushing and punching one another, often without any intervention from the referee. England only managed to score a goal following a penalty, whereas Columbia scored a magnificent goal, the game being eventually being decided when England unsatisfactorily won the shoot-out penalties following a 1-1 an unsatisfactory draw. Columbia, bad tempered though they were as a team, should have won. How sport has changed, sportsmanship being a thing of the distant past.
Not having watched a football game for more than 50 years, I was somewhat surprised to see that there were five black players in the England football team, a far cry from the days of Stanley Matthews who was paid a pittance a week, instead of the thousands of pounds of present players. Later on, there was the announcement that there was to be "The first black woman to be crowned Miss Universe Great Britain in the pageant's 66-year-old history", calling it 'a great achievement".
It was suggested during the month that if England reached the final in the World Football Cup tournament it would lead to "a £2.7bn boost to economy", which is a nonsense, for most of the transactions will amount to an internal shuffling around of money from one group to another, made worse by much of the beer and food being imported, resulting in an increased trade deficit. If the final were to be played in this country, bringing in a lot of visitors, then there would be a real economic boost, whereas Russia now benefits.
The muddle over interest rates was as bad as ever during the month, Calamity Carney seeming to be as muddled as ever. One moment there would be a rise in rates in August; the next, when inflation was still at 2.4% in June, ridiculously on account of the widespread sales, but with a deterioration in manufacturing and construction, the economy becoming ever weaker, the prospect of a rise next month was off. It is, of course, the old problem in our unbalanced economy, the original aim having been to limit consumer expenditure at home by encouraging exports. Unfortunately, despite the advantage of a substantial fall in the £ to a more reasonable level, exports have not expanded significantly. Meanwhile, the UK still has the problem of poor productivity, worse than any of the G7 countries, and getting worse all the time.
According to a report in "The Times" for the 7th July, "Productivity went into reverse in the first quarter of the year, raising questions over why Britain is not longer churning out the efficiency gains of the past. Output per hour worked fell by 0.4% in the three months to March, compared with the previous quarter". The real problem, of course, is that we do not work hard enough in this country, being far too lazy, even though we are an inventive nation. When we escape from the circus of the European Union we really will have to pull up our socks, but somehow I cannot see that happening, not with the attitude of the young these days.
A report in "The Times" for the 28th July stated that the "Insolvency rate is highest for six years", and that "households in the UK are spending more than they earn for the first time in 30 years. The average family spent £900 more than they earned last year." Not the happiest of times, but trebles all round.
Development in the Cornhill area in Lincoln, now under construction.
Not surprisingly, there were all manner of closures in Lincoln during the month, stores and shops shuttered up, pubs closing and a general feeling that everything was running down. We even heard on the 25th that the Peugeot dealer, from whom we have bought four cars over the years, is going into administration, so we will not be buying a replacement Peugeot this September or next, probably a Japanese car instead.
A newsagent I use was also closing down, and the optician where I have had my eyes tested for many years has been bought out, the fellow who tested my eyes and whom I greatly respected, having retired. Mrs. Copeland told me that the branch of Lloyds Bank in Lincoln is also to close. All decline and decay, the end of the age of prosperity. Somehow I cannot see that Brexit will make any difference, possibly slightly hastening the decline.
Yet at a time when shops in the High street are failing and restaurants are closing, a massive development of shops and eating places is now under way in the Cornhill Area of England, obviously having been planned well before the present recession. There is the fear that the development could become a White Elephant, the time not being right.
Meanwhile the Royal Mail privatised service seems to becoming steadily worse. A friend sent Mrs. Copeland a birthday card on Thursday. 19th July, but posted 2nd class it did not arrive until the following Tuesday. Nowadays we have to allow 2 days for delivery for a letter posted by first class mail, and up to five days for a 2nd. It seems that Royal Mail gives priority, perhaps understandably, to the massive amount of mail-order catalogues with their worthless offerings, and to charities, not that anybody ever writes letters these days, and at least most companies have the good sense to use couriers than snail-mail.
One of the two wellheads in the village, now in a poor state of repair, crumbling away at the top. I obtained an estimate for £2,600 for the repair, but public money cannot be spent on an edifice in private ownership, so we will have to forget about the idea. I suppose we could raise some money in the village for the cost of the legal fees, but I cannot see anybody wanting to do that. A great shame, but at least I tried.
Within the village we have two welheads, one of them (shown in the photograph above) being in a poor, crumbling state, needing quite extensive repairs as rain is coming in from the top of the structure. As it would be very sad to see the structure falling apart, not passing it on to subsequent generations as it has been passed on to us, I suggested to the Parish Council at its meeting on the 10th July that the Council should pay for the repairs. I had obtained a quotation from an excellent stonemason amounting to £2,600, which included the sum of a specialist firm providing a new arch at a cost of £625.
The wellhead was duly considered by the Parish Council at the meeting, when it was decided that we would initially have to refer the matter to the Conservation Officer of the local District Council, and to check the ownership of the wellhead, public money not being allowed to be spent on an edifice in private ownership. Originally, the wellhead was part of the estate of the local lord, and on making enquiries I was told that the estate still owned the structure. So that meant we could not go ahead, though I wrote to the agents of the estate to ask whether the wellhead could be donated to the village.
The reply came back that the estate was prepared to donate the wellhead to the village, but the Parish Council would have to pay the legal that were said that there would be "a cap of £1,000 plus VAT assuming it is a very simple and there are minimal negotiions." As the Parish Council cannot pay such legal fees, we will hve to gorget about the idea, hoping the wners will undertake the very necesary repairs if the edifice is not to collapse. All very sad, but at least I triied. hy do I bother i this country?
Cattle in the field with the avenue of oaks - a splendid pastoral view, yet we are only 1 mile from the northern city boudary.
During the month I was amazed to hear that the new chief executive of the Lincolnshire County Council was being paid £240,000 a year, which is more than the Prime Minister is paid. The Council wails and moans that it has no money, yet in can pay a chief executive such an enormous sum of money. Not only that: at its meeting on the 23rd February this year, the Council agreed the annual remuneration of the Leader of the Council at £33,361; The Deputy Leader £21,893; Members of the Executive £18,765, and the basic allowance at £10, 529. No wonder there is precious little money left to pay for the services to the public.
I was saddened to read about the extensive protests regarding President Trump' visit to this country on the 13th July, the protesters even paying £8,000 for an offensive balloon depicting President Trump as a baby, the toy balloon being shamefully allowed by the Muslim Mayor of Lincoln to fly over Parliament Square.
As "The Thunderer" so rightly said in "The Times" on the 6th July: "The Trump balloon protest is nothing but adolescent gesture-politics that damages the reputation of a great world city. It stinks also of a holier-than-thou political hypocrisy. After all, only recently Britain hosted the visit of the hard-line and repressive leader of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. No giant balloons went up for him." President Trump's son made the comment: "The US and the UK are probably the strongest allies in the history of the world. To allow a leader to be respected like that, by a mayor of all people , is just not very smart."
One of the juvenile protesters waving silly banners during President Trump's visit to this country. I felt so ashamed of this ignorant and uneducated rabble, so discourteous to a visiting leader of a great country. Perahps the real sadness is that a country that saved us twice during the last century from wars we could not win, for which we should be eternally grateful, could only bring forth these two canidates. Can anybody really believe that Mrs. Clinton would be any better?
Another criticism of the London Mayor was seen in the correspondence columns of "The Times" for the 10th, a letter commenting: "It defies belief that, as a politically mature nation, we are about to insult an American President with an infantile balloon prank as he flies in for a Nato summit. He is already disgruntled by the failure to meet our shared collective security commitments, and the outcome could determine our future security. As an example of political ineptitude it takes some beating. There is still time to exercise better judgement and cancel the stunt. The defence of this country is more important than a mayor playing student politics worthy of a rag week."
The American President is now expressing some home truths that are not liked, especially Corbyn who seems to blow hot and cold over Brexit, hedging his policies both ways. This was stated in a letter in "The Times" for the 16th July. After saying that he was saddened to see the protests against the President and pointing out that we owe the America a lot of gratitude, he pointed out that America "bailed us out in the First and Second World Wars and saved the British and European economies with the Marshall Plan and protected them with Nato".
The letter continued: "Much of what President Trump is saying is true. He is right about the way many members of Nato rely on American generosity and do not pull their weight. He is right about the flow of illegal immigrants into the US. He is right about China taking advantage of the West (with its grossly unfair trade practices and its militaristic expansion), He is right about the misguided Iran deal and much else. Time to take note - even if we do not like the style and tone." How I agree with these comments, and how I wish I had written that highly intelligent letter!
I like Trump because he is a strong leader, prepared to stand up for his country whatever the consequences, never taking the easy option of backing down, whereas the weak Obama let everybody trample on America. I also like strong people who are not prepared to put up with troublesome neighbours or the nonsense that we have to endure, particularly the ridiculous political correctness, in our bitterly divided country.
The problem is that the bias and hatred expressed against Trump will not give him any credit, yet "The Times" reported on the 28th July that "President Trump's sweeping tax cuts appear to have jolted the American economy into accelerated growth in the second quarter". Of course, the "Guardian" will argue that these cuts only benefit the rich, but in stimulating the economy there is money for handouts to the layabouts.
I decided to take "The Times" instead of the "i" that seems to have become very left-wing, the letters page being very poor, as are some of the columnists. For example, in the issue for the 14th October, 2015, we were told: "Corbyn's end is night. A civil war has begun within Labour - and the leader cannot survive", while on the 4th February 2016 a columnist informed us that "Cameron gave us what he promised. Changes to the EU may seem minor but they will win the referendum". Clang! Clang! How you have to laugh at this pathetic prescience.
The chaos of Brexit that was in tatters at the end of the month, hopefully suggesting a hard departure that I and so many others would welcome, freeing us from the tyranny of that Union.
Mercifully, Parliament recessed on the 20th July when they all went off for their 10-week holiday, thankfully giving us a break from all their chaos, and making us wish they would never come back. As they mercifully departed the Brexit negotiations were in tatters, Mrs. May saynig that there was likely to be "no deal", the hateful Barnier and Juncker having rejected her Chequers proposals, wanting more concessions. So with a bit of luck we will end up with a "hard Brexit" that all of us leavers wanted and prayed for, an end to being dominated by Germany and no longer having to abide by all those senseless edicts from Brussels.
Commenting on the chaos, the papers for the 21st July were vicious in condemning the hopelessness of Mrs. May and her negotiations: "The Daily Mail" - Now there's a surprise" [re failed negotiations]; and the "Daily Express" - Brexit plan savaged by EU Mafia". It is now being said that Rees-Mogg and the Brexiteers are running the country, and thank heavens for that. On the 24th it was announced that Mrs. May, having appointed that fellow Raad (German by origin?) to fill the place of the resigned Davies, was going to take over the negotiations herself, which should screw everything up. How she makes us laugh!
I still believe that the Tories will jettison Mrs. May by Christmas, for she is in a hopeless position with her Brexit take-away. One Member of Parliament, concerned about the future of this country, will echo the words of Leo Amery uttered to the equally hopeless Chamberlain: "You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go."
No Prime Minister, as Chamberlain showed, can survive when confidence and respect have been lost - a lame duck, and lame ducks never fly again. I would like to see Rees-Mogg as Prime Minister, bringing back some good old fashioned values, such as mothers staying at home to look after their babies, and the eradication of all that nonsensical political correctness and bringing back true marriages and proper family life.
I voted to leave the EU on two accounts: 1. That although I appreciated that the immigrants were usually better educated, prepared to work harder than our indolent natives, and that the NHS would collapse without their support, there is nevertheless the problem that we are already grossly overpopulated, unable to meet the demands on the National Health Service and our schools. 2: I wanted to stop the endless edicts and regulations from the Brussels empire, no longer in control of our own affairs.
A weed in the garden. To our horror we were told that it was a ragwort, very dangerous to cattle.
It has been a wonderful month for flowers in the garden, displaying a great and grand array of colours, Mrs. Copeland doing a splendid job in keeping everything in order, obviously following the advice of Candide. Among the flowers, believed to be a weed, is the one shown in the photograph above. To our horror, it was eventually said to be a ragwort, deadly plants to capital. How it ended up in our garden is a mystery.
During the wonderful weather for nearly all the month we sat outside drinking wine on several occasions with the neighbours, enjoying the splendid sunshine. During the second half of the month it became extremely hot, reaching 30 C on the 24th July, making me wonder whether I would like to live in a country such as Spain when for week after week it is so uncomfortably hot. Having had hardly any rain during the month water is becoming increasingly short, though as yet we have not had a hosepipe pan from Anglian Water. Nationally, though, there has been widespread criticisms of other water companies paying out extensive dividends to shareholders, yet failing to repair leaks.
During the hot spell our nannying authorities said that we should stay indoors, staying out of the sun, some Labour loonies even saying we should take a week off work. How they must laugh at us in Spain, regarding us as wimps who cannot face a few days of warm sunshine. I suppose it is all part of our neurosis
We enjoyed the Sunday afternoon visits to our local Club, sitting outside around large picnic tables in the garden during the wonderful sunny and warm days. The Club now has an excellent young chairman who is gradually pulling the Club together after some very lean years, helped by a reasonably good committee. The Club's future therefore begins to look more secured, whereas only a few months ago it was looking somewhat bleak, not unlike the UK economy and the High Street retailing sector. The hard work and good chairmanship is paying off. It is rather sad, though, that one member of the committee who does not want to spend any money on the Club, will not provide sunshades /parasols for the picnic tables.
Hog Roast at our local Club - a splendid event. There was salmon for the vegetarians. How they must shudder to see the pig roasting.
On the 21st of July we attended the "Hog Roast" with the family, part of the celebrations to celebrate Mrs. C's birthday on the morrow. I am not sure that I like seeing the carcass of the pig resting on the spit, feeling somewhat sorry that he had been running around happily a few hours earlier. Although I am so critical of vegetarians and vegans, I can see that it looks a bit grim seeing what you are about to eat.
I was amazed, though duly gratified, that my latest quarterly telephone bill with British Telecommunications only came to £85.48, whereas in the previous quarter the cost was £162.45. The great thing about BT is that I can pay by cheque, not having one of those diabolical direct debits in which you lose control of your banking account. I avoid these damned direct debits like a female politician, only having one of the horrible compulsory arrangements that I could not escape for my mobile telephone - and I am thinking of giving up the present mobile for a pay-as-you-go set-up, hardly ever using the appliance, usually only for emergency calls..
The splendid Promenade Concerts, indicating that not all our culture has been lost, a relief from that dreadful rapper musak. The red dots represent the concerts I will listen to, mainly the symphonies of Mahler, Bruckner and Shostakovich - wonderful music.
As a remedy for the utterly awful commercially exploited musak that youngsters like, especially that horrible rapper musak, there was the wonderful compensation that the Promenade Concerts started on the 16th July, an enchanting feast of proper music, indicating that not all our cultural values have collapsed in exploited commercialisation in this ailing land. During the Proms I will be listening to the symphonies of Mahler, Brucker and Shosakovitch, real music that I enjoy so much, along with Haydn.
The River Witham flowing through an attractive part of Lincoln.
On my birthday on the 11th (84 and not out, 14 years in extra Biblical time), the family wanted to watch the football, England playing Croatia in the semi-final. As mentioned earlier, I am not all that interested in the violent game full of fouls, but I went along with their wishes, meeting up at granddaughter Chloe's house, seeing our boys losing 2-1, and therefore out of the final, though they subsequently played Belgium for third place. - and lost again. As always, it was a very pleasant evening.
The birthday celebrations began with a lunch at "Greek2me", a splendid restaurant on the massive housing estate in the village whose squashed-in properties increase every year. I had a really excellent sirloin steak with rice and first-rate chips, a really splendid meal. It has become my favourite restaurant hereabouts.
I had 24 cards, as well as several birthday greetings on the Internet from correspondents who read this dreary overlong diary, including one who hoped that I had many more birthdays. Whist I appreciated this comment, I am not sure that I want to live more than another 5 years, taking me to a ripe old 89. Seeing this country in its relentless decline and fall, I am not sure I can stand much more of an unhappy country that I respected so much in the past.
My two daughters bought me a fitness watch, which records the number of steps taken during the day, the heart beat, the pattern of sleep and the weather forecast. Caroline set up the watch for me, synchronising the appliance with my mobile telephone, and all worked well. On average I take about 1,800 steps a day, which isn't too bad, representing .78 of a mile, which is fairly acceptable at my great age.
The heart rate comes out at an average of about 70, which is also acceptable. The sleep pattern over about 4 days varied from 3hrs. 03 minutes deep sleep and 3 hours 14 minute light sleep, to 1 hour 32 minutes deep sleep and 4 hours 58 minutes light sleep. So in total I have 6 hours sleep, which is not enough, presumably because I seldom go to bed before 12.30 a.m. and am awake at 7 a.m., though not up until about 8.30 a.m.
I think I should have at least 7 hours sleep, so this needs to be rectified, though I can never sleep if I go to bed before midnight - and it was Dr, Johnson who said that anybody who went to bed before midnight was a scoundrel, but then the learned doctor did not have to get up early on the morrow, seldom rising before noon in a civilised existence.
Although I seldom look at the supplements in "The Times" for Saturdays, other than the book reviews, I perchanced to see an article in the "Weekend" section on sleep, written by a doctor who recommended that "everybody should sleep alone. People conflate bed-sharing with the strength of their relationship and that's nonsense. People who sleep badly have a higher divorce rate, more arguments and less empathy according to recent studies". It is therefore far better to sleep in separate rooms, getting a good night's sleep, away from all the snoring, grunting and farting.
I suppose it is inevitable, possibly even natural, that newly-married couples want to share the same bed, but once over the age of 50 years , when things have quietened down a bit, sometimes too much, it is far better to have separate rooms, preferably having the windows open in all seasons, fresh air being good for sleep.
A birthday card I received. I had three Spitfires, those sweet birds of youth, now slippered and a Scorpio. Times change.
Mrs. Copeland gave me a Sheaffer fountain pen for my birthday. I had a Sheaffer pen all my working days, and although I still have the pen it no longer holds the ink. I suppose I am somewhat old fashioned in believing that a hand-written letter looks so much better written with an ink pen, a touch of yesterday's class and higher standards. Mother-in-law, kindly sending me a cheque top purchase a book, also a birthday card depicting a Triumph "Spitfire".
During my earlier years I had three of these sweet birds of youth, but now I am slippered with a Scorpio, an old man's delight, for it really is an excellent car, so comfortable and quiet, even having an electrically operated sunshine roof - something I regard as essential in a car, It has only done 36,500 miles, so the car will see me out. Next month it has its annual MOT test, but since I have only done about 200 miles during the year it should be all right.
A birthday card from President Trump. I greatly admire him as a strong leader who gets things done. Thanks to his tax cuts, the economy is now booming at a reckoned 4% economic growth. Yet in the outpouring of hatred against him he is given no credit.
On Friday 13th Mrs. Copeland drove down to Essex (136 miles) in her Peugeot 208 to spend a couple of sleepovers with her mother who will be 101 next month. I now go down with Mrs. C. on alternate months, and will therefore be going down to mother-in-law's birthday celebrations next month. Whilst Mrs. C was away I went to have a meal with a female neighbour on the Saturday at the aforementioned "Greek2me" on the immense housing estate on the western boundary of our village. It was a wonderfully warm evening - indeed, we could have been in Greece, as we sat outside having a first-rate meal in which I had an excellent sirloin steak with chips and rice.
Afterwards we adjourned home, having wine outside, it still being wonderfully warm. Such evenings are rare in this country and have to be taken advantage of. As I have mentioned before, it is a Good Thing for a couple to have a few days away from one another, but the separation is nevertheless a grim reminder of being left on my own. I just hope I go first, especially as women are far better managing on their own.
We are very fortunate that our stone-built house, dating from 1801, has 2.5' walls that keep the house wonderfully cool in summer and warm in winter. It seems that we have gone backwards in architecture, especially in terms of the splendid Georgian era.
The problems of parking in the village. This kind of parking is not very helpful or considerate.
Although we are still pestered with scam telephone calls, the number is down to about 4 a week from 14 week, so this is a great improvement. Most of the calls I instantly reject when "International" or a false number comes up on the separate caller-display unit, but occasionally I answer the calls to see what they are about. In every answered call I am asked whether I am Mr. Robert Salmond, the false name I put on a product registration card several years ago, the details obviously having been sold on. Some of the language I use, current in empire days, would make a sailor blush. Horrible people, the sadness being they catch a lot of people, especially with the vulnerable elderly, with their criminal calls.
On the 17th I had a scam call telephone call marked "International 01287650682" on the caller display unit, involving a recorded message saying that my Internet connection had been compromised in several countries, and I therefore needed to change my ID - please press the bar to connect to an engineer." Failure to do so would mean the Internet connection would be discontinued within 24-48 hours. I ignored it, of course, having had the criminal scam before, as had one of my neighbours, and subsequently on dialling the number I found that it was false. If I had changed my ID the scammer would have henceforth been able to use my account. Nasty stuff.
A thistle in the garden. A magnificent plant, but a weed.
The pheasant that I have been feeding since the start of the year had an almighty fight with another cock over a hen, all of them flying off into the distance at speed. Subsequently, after about two days, another cock pheasant came to the feeding, a scruffy looking bird, his tail feathers missing, obviously having won the battle. Towards the end of the month the pheasant stopped coming, so I will be saving £1 a week in birdfeed.
Towards the end of the month the sound of harvesting could be heard, a grim reminder that summer is nearly over. As Shakespeare so rightly says: "Summer's lease hath all too short a date". Within the next few weeks we will be seeing boards outside pubs and restaurants saying: "Book early for Christmas dinner", serving as a ghastly reminder that Christmas with its commercialism and a 10-day shutdown will soon be here.
Although only a minor matter, Mrs. Copeland was told by the doctors' surgery that, to see the doctor she wanted, she would have to wait four-and-a-half weeks, which is disgraceful. This is among the many troubles of allowing unchecked immigration into this country (330.000 let in by Mrs. May in 2015 when she was an abysmal Home Secretary). This massive influx, which I voted to stop as a Leaver, combined with an ageing population on its last legs, means that the National Health Service just cannot meet the demand.
On the 17th of the month I read a report from a reputable body on the Internet saying that full-cream milk prevented strokes, the extensive research having found that semi-skimmed milk brought no advantages at all. I had changed to semi-skimmed on being told that I had the onset of diabetes, so I have now changed back to full-cream, yet not so long ago full-cream milk was bad for us, now it is beneficial. At the same time another survey reported that "Omega-3 and fish oil supplements taken by millions do nothing to prevent heart attacks, strokes and other fatal illnesses".
It is a further example of the nonsense of supplements and diets, all of which are a confidence tricks, the dieticians praying on people's neurosis, having no medical skills or training, The answer is to take no heed of the edicts on so-called healthy food, avoiding all those worthless food supplements, eating whatever you fancy, albeit in moderation..
The splendour of two wheels. I am having to replace my present 125cc scooter with another 125cc model.
In this wonderful summer - and three cheers for global warming if it gives us better summers - I have greatly enjoyed riding the scooter, enjoying the wonderful freedom, better than the most expensive motor car, being able to overtake long lines of grid-locked vehicles and able to park anywhere in Lincoln, thereby avoiding the excessive parking charges. Ideally, I would have liked to have had one of the bikes shown in the photograph above, but at my age and physical limitations I would not even be able to lift it off the stand, my present Sym 125 cc seeming quite heavy.
As Voltaire said: "Be content with things that work moderately well." I would probably have killed myself on a more powerful bike. As it was I nearly had a fatal accident on the 18th when, going along the road leading into Lincoln from the village, a car coming towards me overtook a long line of cars, missing me by inches as he crazily sped past, obviously not having seen me. It would have been an instant death if he had hit me. It made me think, quite frightening me, that there are such incredibly stupid drivers on the road.
As I mentioned last month, my present Sym, scooter will soon need a replacement exhaust, which with fitting is likely to cost £750. I have therefore decided that it would be stupid to pay that money on a 5-year-old machine, so I am planning to buy a new 125 cc scooter within the next few months, as soon as the exhaust "blows", costing £4,300. It is an extravagance, but as I enjoy a scooter so much, and am not likely to live more than about five years, I would like to treat myself in the last scene of all, and to hell with the expense.
Because I have not passed the motorcycle test, now driving on my present licence, I have to take a test referred to as the "Completion of an approved course for motor cycles (Category A) and mopeds". involving riding round Lincoln for three hours with an instructor and about three other scooter riders, afterwards taking a Highway Code test, the cost £110. This will be the 3rd time next month that I have had to take the test that has to be taken every two years,. . I am not looking forward to it, but needs must. I should have taken the proper test, but it is too late now.
The avenue of oaks at the bottom of our garden, the ground looking very parched on account of the heatwave.
The end of July marks the start of the school 6-week holiday, sinking fear into retailers in the High Streets who are faced with uncontrolled young children pulling items off shelves, their parents taking no action. Not so long ago I saw a young boy, probably about 7 years of age, deliberately knocking things off a shelf in a shop in Lincoln, his fat and tattooed mother saying: "Don't do that, Wayne", Wayne not taking the slightest notice. He needed a damned good slap on the bottom, the only way to control such children. Trying to reason with them is like trying to tell a pig about Sunday. As far as possible I will try to stay away from Lincoln in August for it is a hell on earth, horribly crowded .
The "Greek2me" restaurant on the housing estate in the vilage - now my favourite restaurant, enjoying wonderful steaks.
As I mentioned last week. each Friday Mrs. Copeland and I go out to lunch, which included another very pleasant meal at Greek2me on the 20th, being able to sit outside on yet another wonderfully warm day. Mrs. C keeps telling me that I should chose something other than the usual sirloin steak, so I had some Greek fish on this occasion, which I enjoyed, but I would still prefer the steak.
Unfortunately, because there are so many badly behaved children in the restaurants during the school holidays, few of them controlled by their parents, we decided not to go out to lunch throughout August, resuming again in September when the school term starts again. Last month we went to a restaurant during half term, only to find it was most unpleasant, the room having many children shouting and running around, their parents doing nothing to control them. Sadly, It makes me realise how awful a teacher's job must be in having to deal with these free-ranging children, having no disciplinary measures to control them, other than understandably throwing them out of the classroom.
The awful state of one of our windows, having the front of the house professionally painted. I filled in the cracks with concrete, making quite a good finish, as seen in the following photograph
Rather than go to the enormous expense of a new window, possibly £1,500, I filled in the opened gaps with cement, going to Wickes in Lincoln to buy a bag of sand and cement (just add water). The bag was immensely heavy, but a member of staff, clearly an immigrant according to his accent, carried the bag all the way to the car, refusing a tip that I offered. Whatever is said about these immigrants, they actually work, and are more helpful and better educated than the natives, as I mentioned earlier. The painter was somewhat amazed with my repair, but he managed nevertheless to do an excellent job,
Another rose in the garden
At the end of the month there was the news that the Ministry of Defence, faced with having to save millions of pounds in the Defence budget was proposing to close RAF Scampton that is used by the "Red Arrows", the team being relocated to another base, possibly in North Wales, alternative bases in Lincolnshire being far too busy to house them. When there is the need to make these drastic economies, it surely seems sensible to move the team to a more cost-effective base, however great the historical sentiment may be, the base having used by the famous "Dambusters.
As might be expected, our local weekly newspaper,. "The Lincolnshire Echo" in what might seem to be a triumph of emotion over reason, , "The Lincolnshire Echo", devoted its front page for its issue 26th July - 1st August to a campaign to "Save Scampton", saying: "Plans to close RAF Scampton have been met with anger, sadness and shock - with campaigners vowing to save it......"There's nothing better than seeing the magnificent Red Arrows practice in the skies above Lincoln. It's a sight people in Lincolnshire do not get tired of and the thought of them here is incomprehensible to most".
The female Labour Member of Parliament for Lincoln is quoted as saying: "We can fight to keep the Red Arrows", the lady setting up a petition to prevent the closure, just as there was a massive petition to prevent the much-used Walk-In Centre in the city from being closed, having no effect. Somehow I cannot see this one being successful when the MoD has to make such extensive financial savings to the Defence Budget. As it is, I will not be unduly sorry if the little red aeroplanes no longer create such noise and pollution as they roar low over our chimneypots in close-formation day after day during the winter training programme, their departure giving us the longed-for peace on earth at last.
I use the Windows operating system XP for writing this diary, and how much better it is than later versions - so simple and easy to use, wherea the new systems seem to be so complicated.
One thing I am pleased about is that I still insist on having printed statments posted to me from the bank, rather having the invoices computerised. I had to look up a transaction made last May, and it was so easy to just open the file and see the statements. Firms argue that avoiding printed invoices saves the environment, when what they really mean that computer statements save them money. Similar consieratiions apply to bags costing 5p., bringing mainly more money to the firms rather than benfitting the enviroment.. How we are conned!
July 2018 will not doubt be remembered for the wonderful days of summerur, but it will also be remembered for the collapse of the Brexit negotiations, now in a complete and utter muddle, indicating a hard Brexit, which those of us who wanted to come out of the Union will not mind, indeed possibly welcome.
It will also be remembered for the further relentlss decline of our economy, productivity continuing to fall in a country that sems to have given up the ghpost, no longer a power in the world.
But perhaps I should remeber the words of our splendid guide who took us on a tour of the "Golden Triangle" in India during our visit in the 1980s. He wrote down on a slip of paper, shown below, saying in Hindu "Tomorrow will be better", at least, I hope is that is what it says, not "Tourists bugger off." Even so, it is difficult to be optimistic about this country, now in such social, political and economic turmoil; a country at ill at ease with itself. full of rampant racism, hateful anti-semitism and neurotically worried about its health.
What is so awful is the endess legislation we have to endure from our Parliament and from Brussels. For example , in order to cut back on pollution, new measures for the annual MoT test for vehicles make passing almost impossible, yet at the same time the Government allows another runway at Heathrow, causing endless pollution. It makes no kind of sense, making me so thankful that I do not have another 40 years of this abject misery and muddle, thankful that I am old..
The guide who escorted us on our holiday to the "Golden Triangle" back in the 1980s told us on seeing the poor conditions in his country: "Tomorrow will be better." Perhaps I should live by that idea.
Lincolnshire 31st July, 2018
Diary of an Octogenarian
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