DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN

- John Copeland -


Friday 10th November - Thursday 16th November, 2017


Pub

The King's Head at Tealby, where we had an excellent luncheon with Mrs. Copeland's relatives on Friday.


"Only 46 Government disorders to Christmas"

Cartoon by Matt in "The Daily Telegraph" 9th November, 2017 The paper's front-page headline for the day was: "Another day, another crisis". How on earth can this appalling Government continue with a new crisis every day, totally without any leadership?

FRIDAY 10 NOVEMBER

The "i" was saying today that we may have to pay far more than originally thought to leave the European Union, the "Daily Express" saying: : 980m a week - the true rate of EU bill." Why on earth did we ever get tangled up with that circus, which has never brought us any benefits, not even in trade in which we import more from Europe than we export. There was also a demand that the foreign aid budget should be slashed, everybody knowing that the money ends up in the pockets of corrupt politicians and bandits, few of the donations EVER getting to the intended beneficiaries.

One other news item said that we would have to offer 17.8bn for a settlement, which seems outrageous, especially as Germany and France are the countries making these excessive demands. The generation of my parents had to fight the Germans in two World Wars in the last century, and twice we had to rescue the ungrateful French - now they are the leaders in Europe, making some very unpleasant and excessive demands, there never likely to be any agreement. Maybe we ought to remind that woman that Germany still hasn't fully paid its reparations after losing the Second World War.

Lincs

The wide open spaces of rural Lincolnshire. John Betjeman described the county as "Nine-tenths sky". Mercifully, we are not overpopulated as in the south-east.


Mrs. Copeland and I had a most enjoyable meal at the "King's Head" in Tealby with her relations, the husband a retired vicar, and the wife a retired nurse - a most pleasant and entertaining couple with whom we had much laughter and mirth, and not just about the pantomime of the present falling- apart Government - "Mr, Corbyn's behind you" - "Oh no he's not!". On the way to the village we saw the extensive landscape of Lincolnshire fields as far as the eye could see, indicating that Lincolnshire remains a very rural county, one of the few counties in England that are not grossly over-populated. John Betjeman described the county as "nine-tenths sky". presumably on account of its flatness.

Alas, the gods to not like expressions of hubris, not liking people to be happy, and I was brought sharply down to earth by a letter awaiting me from the Oncology Department of the Lincoln County Hospital addressed to the "Locum Consultant in Clinical Oncology, " saying in medical jargon:-

"As discussed at the MDT{Multi-Disciplinary Team], we found that he has significant bulk at presentation in line with NICE guidance, I would be most grateful if you could see him in your Clinic for consideration of radiotherapy for the initial bulk of disease at presentation in the left groin in order to consolidate the outcome achieved by the R-Chop chemotherapy and, hopefully, this will reduce the risk of relapse as his salvage options at his age are very limited."

In other words, having believed that I had completed the treatment, having been told by my consultant on the 24th October that all was well, consequently celebrating the good news with my supportive family and believing that all would be well in the future, I am now told that I need more treatment in the form of radiotherapy, which means attending the hospital every day for about three weeks. As the old saying has it: "If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans." I was quickly deflated by this unwelcome news, making me feel most miserable, casting a cloud over the rest of the day. I had the lugubrious impression from the hospital letter that the chemotherapy had been unsuccessful, and they were telling me not to start a long book, no need to worry about Christmas.

Understandably a sombre evening, clouded over by this lugubrious news, reading "The Age of Decadence - Britain 1880-1914", a book that is far too long and tedious with its 836 pages of text. It needed a good editor to halve the size, far too verbose, rather like this dreary diary. Not even the Parliamentary pantomime cheered me up, as it usually does with its merriment and chaos.

SATURDAY 11 NOVEMBER

A very good friend in the village, a clever lady with a M.Sc degree in the medical services from the days when degrees meant something, replied to the e-mail I sent her with the letter from the hospital, by saying "From reading the letter they are asking for the radiology department to consider whether they feel radiotherapy is right for you. As you had a big lump when you were diagnosed there is a small chance that a few rogue cells may have evaded the successful chemotherapy treatment. The radiotherapy will sort them out".

At a time when I fear the unknown, my glass always being half empty, it is indeed comforting to hear from somebody who knows what they are talking about, rather than somebody with the best intentions trying to cheer me up. I was therefore most grateful - another reminder of the delightful village I live in, even if there are now fewer professional people living here, old age and gardens too big having meant their departure.

Days

The good old days.


At 2.15 p.m. Mrs. Copeland's younger brother, Jonathan and his wife Carol having journeyed up from Essex by car while their two adult daughters arrived by train from London, came to see us as part of Carol's 60th birthday celebrations, wanting to see the folk far oop north, the idea being to have afternoon tea with us before joining the rest of our family for a meal at "The Duke William" in Lincoln at 7 o'clock.. It was good to see them, not having seen them during the long period of my chemotherapy.

There were 12 of us at the pub, Carol very kindly treating us all to a splendid meal, making for a memorable evening, the best outing I have had for many long months. Jonathan and Carol's two daughters, both having good jobs in London, are a great delight, giving me confidence for the future when there are such inlelligent youngsters around. I was telling Carol that I had found that the 60s were one of the happiest periods of my life, the children having flown the rest; the mortgage nearly paid off; and having reached a decent level in the job - before everything started to fall apart in the mid 70s.

We all went back to daughter Kate's house for further drinks, but as I was driving, taking Caroline and Phil home to their village some 8 miles north of Lincoln, I drank non-alcoholic wine that I had during my cancer treatment, quite getting to like it. During the evening I was amazed how busy the pub was, as well as others nearby, all packed out with young and middle-aged, yet we hear so much in the press about people being unable to make ends meet in this age of austerity. The pubs and restaurants and Lincoln generally gave no indication of any hardship.

Back home I had some real wine with Mrs. C. chatting and drinking until 2 a.m. - another late night , which seem to becoming the norm.

SUNDAY 12 NOVEMBER

Today's "Sunday Times" said that 40 Conservative M.Ps want to get rid of Mrs. May. I gather that there needs to be another 8 for an election, which must surely happen as the pantomime of Government under a hopeless leader who has lost all respect and authority cannot continue. If she remains, a general election next year is certain as the Brexit negotiations fall apart under her lack of leadership will no doubt bring in a Labour Government, with Father Christmas, trebles-all-round Corbyn becoming Prime Minister.

At 10.55 a.m. Mrs. Copeland and I went to the War Memorial in the village for the Remembrance Day service, taken by a charming Welsh vicar who was a delight. Oh, that there were clergy like him in the pick 'n' mix morality of the dear old falling apart Church of England, then I might even attend the services. Most of the congregation were over 60 years of age, only the two children of one of one of the villagers being present, presumably as a 3-line whip. Ten years from now such a service will no longer take place, there being no enthusiasm for sympathy of forgotten wars.

Today it was a particularly moving service, serving as a reminder of the pygmy politicians who led us into wars that we could never hope to win on our own, and the merciless generals like the hopeless Haig who forced thousands of his troops over the top to instant slaughter, the dreadful general having no conscience, no concern for the massive losses, in a war of attrition that he never fully understood, certainly not in the early days when he thought cavalry tally-ho charges could deal with machine guns.

I found some of the words of the short service difficult to accept, especially the prayer that "Let us pray for all those who suffer as a result of conflict, and ask that God may give us peace." All down the centuries, is there the slightest indication that God has ever given us peace; that in the Bible it says that there will be wars and quarrels to the end of the earth. So where is the caring, peace-loving God, and where was He during the terrible battle of the Somme? Surely the concept of a caring God is a step too far; that prayer is a worthless concept.

It certainly looks as if President Trump is going to have a war with that unbelievably stupid Kim Wrong-Un of North Korea, exchanging insults, Kim saying Trump was "old", and the President saying he would never say that Kim was short and fat. Why is it, though, that little men are often aggressive creatures, rather like snapping little dogs? There always seems to be something a little wrong with them.

.
Deffrib

The defibrillator that has recently been set up on an outside wall at our local Club. I wonder whether it will ever be used, presumably mainly for people attending the Club.


After having coffee in the Club following the service, I had an awful battle with "3" regarding the monthly top-up I had successfully entered last Friday. Today a message come up saying that I had run out of allowance, despite a credit of 10 showing. I eventually found a telephone number I could ring, getting through quite quickly to a foreign fellow whom I could barely understand, insisting that I had to enter my password before he could look at my account.

I repeatedly said that I had never had a password, having a monthly payment account for a voucher, but the fellow kept on insisting that I had to enter the password. An e-mail was subsequently sent to me telling me to reset the password with a new one, but this went to a site saying I was out of credit. I was furious, and spoke really harshly to the fellow, telling him that he had not a clue what he was doing. But I got nowhere and rang off, having to telephone a further two occasions before a woman quickly understood what had gone wrong, putting it right immediately. So it took a woman to help. Maybe it is because women generally are far more caring and concerned than men. Possibly that is why they make such poor politicians, totally out of their depth.

Whether it is something to do with my treatment or my old age, I seem to become quickly bad tempered and angry these days, thoroughly grumpy as Mrs. C calls it, though this is more than likely occasioned by the utter incompetence I see all around me and beyond these days, presumably because the country is falling steadily apart, along with Parliament.

At least I had a pleasant session at the Club beginning at 4 o'clock, talking to some intelligent men, principally about the Parliamentary pantomime and the need to get rid of the Muddled Mrs. May. As "The Daily Telegraph" said last week of her incompetence: "Another day, another crisis." It is no doubt all very amusing, but it is hardly in the interests of efficient Government. Meanwhile, a retired policeman has said that Damian Green had pornography on his computer back in 2008. I wonder what man under the age of 50 doesn't have some pornography on his computer, or at least has looked at the grim and unpleasant sites, usually totally lacking in any artistry.

An evening by the fireside, reading "The Age of Decadence, Britain 1880-1914", a long-winded account that has not an ounce of humour in it, rather like this diary. It is a highly scholarly work, but oh so dull.

When at the Club during the late afternoon, I was talking to a retired rocket scientist about the last Russian tsar, but I remembered his name as Alexander, when it should, of course, be Nicholas. Yet I have recently read a book on the last days of the tsars. It seems that my memory has been shot to pieces by the chemotherapy, or maybe it is the ravages of old age.

The evening was spent by the fireside, but I felt in a very depressed mood, so despondent. Indeed, I cannot recall having felt to miserable before. Perhaps I should remember the advice of the guide who accompanied us on a tour of Agra, obviously including the magnificent Taj Mahal: "Tomorrow will be better." He wrote it down, and I still have the sheet of paper, a reminder of better days.

MONDAY 13 NOVEMBER

A day spent mainly at home after going into Lincoln to purchase a newspaper. In the good old days we had a newspaper delivered each morning at 7.30 a.m., enabling me to read about the news before getting up, but nobody wants to work any more.

At least there is the pantomime of Parliament to take me out of my "on-going" depression, there being a laugh and a chaos every day. Yesterday Boris Johnson was in trouble, with demands for his resignation. Today Mr. Gove is in trouble. Has there ever been such an awful Prime Minister, stumbling from one crisis to another?.

Shop

Another shop closure in Lincoln. There are now many "To Let" signs everywhere, and more pubs are closing. Recession here we come.


Each day I now do leaf clearance on the lawn with the excellent "Challenge" leaf blower that I bought recently. It does three-quarters of the clearance before the battery fails, meaning that I have to rake the rest up, but it is nevertheless a great help, and good exercise, better than spending time in one of those fetid and horribly unhealthy atmosphere in expensive leisure centres .Indeed, I can ever understand how anybody can want to go to those full of germs places, the posher ones charging 100 a month, when the subscribers go on a tread-mill, based on the same principle as those in the Victorian workhouses.

The engineer who services and repairs my scooter was to have telephoned me today to book an appointment for servicing of the vehicle, but he did not do so. I therefore I had to ring him this evening, being told that he had been so busy that he had forgotten to call me. Hardly the way to run a business, but that is the way it is in this country. An appointment was made for next Monday at 9 a.m.

During the evening son-in-law Steve spent over two hours trying to get the Hotdog web-editor to work on my more recent computer - the Sony Vio, but all to no effect. I had been sent a cleaner programme and another copy of Hotdog by a very helpful fellow who reads my diary, and although these programmes were duly loaded and were working, they did not solve the problem, soit looks as if I will now have to give up trying to make the web-editor work.

I feel so sick 'n' tired of computers that I feel that I want to have nothing more to do with them; that my life would be far less stressful and happier without one. At the moment, feeling so annoyed and upset, that is my option - to hell with all the endless troubles I certainly could not face having a new computer, having heard one report that Windows 10 was diabolical.

I can always continue the diary on the older computer, on which the web-editor works well, but I have been advised to have the blog that has been set up for me, bringing me into the 21st century. Somehow, though, I am not at all keen on the "blog", feeling it lacks a certain dignity, not that I should be worried about such things at my advanced stage of life.

TUESDAY 14 NOVEMBER

I had an appointment 9.45 a.m. at the County Hospital with a doctor to discuss the arrangements for the three weeks of radiotherapy that I have to have as a back-up, a precautionary measure, following the 8 sessions of chemotherapy that I completed in September. Much to my joy I had a lady doctor - from Greece, for females are so much better as doctors and consultants than men, showing far more empathy and concern. When my male consultant, possibly from somewhere in the Middle East, was on holiday, I saw a lady doctor (English, amazingly), and she showed far more concern and was more helpful and understanding than the man who, like so many consultants, regarded himself as a little god.

I was shown the computer images before and after the chemotherapy, being told that there was "an excellent result". Now the treatment needed to be followed up by radiotherapy every day over three weeks (Monday-Friday). I was told that there would be a preliminary session with a CT scan so that the exact spot could be targeted by the radiotherapy, dots being marked on the skin to indicate the area under review, in my case my left groin. I was told that the treatment was not invasive in any way, though I might feel a certain irritation and eventual soreness, but that was all. It was all explained so well, and I had to sign a form detailing the proposed treatment and sign for my consent.

At the end I asked the doctor where she came from, to which she replied Greece, and for a few minutes we discussed the economy of that indebted land. I said that the country was deeply in debt, having to be bailed out by Mrs. Merkel, to which the doctor replied that her country had been in debt many times before the latest episode. Not that we can boast about our finances, Britain being the most indebted country among the G7 countries.

Having to go to the hospital every weekday for three weeks is going to be somewhat dispiriting, but at least I can go on my scooter, parking it almost right outside with no payment to be made. Oh, the joys and freedom of two wheels.

Club

The Club garden with the church in the background.


For many years we have had a turkey from a small family firm, finding that the birds were splendid. Fortunately, they are still in business, so I ordered a turkey for collection on Christmas Eve. I was rather dreading that the business had gone, as most seem to be going in this country, but all was well.

I was surprised to read in the "i" that the had slumped on account of the Conservatives trying to get rid of the hopeless Mrs. May. I would have thought that the currency would have risen sharply on account of possible deposition. If she continues in office it will be the end of this Government, though goodness knows how I would vote. Although I have been a life-long supporter of the Conservatives, apart from one or two wobbles in my lifetime, I could not vote for the party again, yet the thought of Diane Abbott as Home Secretary, and a senior post for that fierce feminist Harriet Harman, fills me with horror.

I suppose I would have to vote for the Lib-Dims., even though they are away with the fairies. At least, though, they rightly propose raising taxation to put more money into the NHS, providing it goes to the front-line operatives, not into yet more administration that represents a fifth wheel to the coach.

Another reader had kindly sent me a disc of the Hotdog web-editor, but it would still not work on the newer machine when I installed it today, so I wll have to give up, accepting that the web-editor will not work on the newer machine (the Sony Vio 17"), though nobody seems to know why. And I cannot understand why it has suddenly gone wrong, having worked perfectly for about 20 years. Still, I can always use the old computer on which Hotdog works perfectly, but I am not sure I want to keep on with the diary; indeed, I feel my life would be less stressful if I only use the computer once a week.

The evening was spent by the fireside, reading some more of "The Age if Decadence". Alas, it is such a dreary book, no doubt all very scholarly, but so tedious and long-winded, page after page of endless detail, not having any semblance of humour or lightness of touch. Having read 400 pages, I still have 425 pages to go to the end, assuming I manage to finish the dreary book. There are over 3 pages describing the duties of the Boy Scouts. We had invited a widow neighbour to join us for drinks, but she said that she had child-minding responsibilities, and could not join us. Young families these days seem to make great demands on grandmother and granddad, making me wonder whether we were so bothersome to our parents in our child-rearing times.

WEDNESDAY 15 NOVEMBER

Up early to take my scooter for servicing, Mrs. Copeland taking me back home and to collect the machine at 12.30 p.m.. The cost was 75, but the bad news was that within the next few weeks I will need a new exhaust, costing 245 + fitting, probably a total of 300. It will also need a new drive belt at the next service, A new Sym scooter will cost me 4,000, which I obviously cannot justify at my age, especially as my scooting days will probably soon be coming to an end.

Back home I tried one last time to get the Hotdog web-editor to work, but all to no avail, as always a list of files coming up instead of the entries. I have therefore abandoned the programme on my Vio laptop, and will henceforth use the programme on my old Evesham computer on Windows XP where it works perfectly. All very disappointing. I could, of course, use the blog that one of my sons-in-law set up for me, but I still prefer the diary format.

While I was trying to get the programme to work I suddenly felt dizzy, and within a matter of moments I was slumped over the computer table, shouting out to Mrs. Copeland to come and help me. It felt as if the table was about to keel over, whereas I was doing the keeling. Mercifully Mrs. C. quickly arrived on the scene, telling me to put my head between my knees, which I did, soon recovering, but it was a nasty turn, one that I have never had before, suggesting that something is not right. I took my blood pressure later in the day, seeing that it was 148/90, which is a bit on the high side, but nothing to worry about.

Mrs. C. puts it down to my taking too many tablets, especially the strong Zapain tablets that I have for my arthritis. Goodness knows what I would have done if Mrs. C. had not been here, readily available.

Berries

Berries in the garden


The "i" today had a front page item saying "North Korea could strike UK within months." Although Kim Wrong-Un is totally mad, likely to do anything to prove what a big boy he is, I cannot believe he is going to attack this country. If any country is to be attacked it will be America. There was at least the good news that Mugabe had been deposed by the Army.

There was also a "Warning on green land lost to new housing - level of house building approved in areas of outstanding natural beauty rises 82% in five years", presumably as a consequence of immigrants flooding unchecked into this country at the rate of 330,000 a year in 2015. Another 20 years and you will be unable to move in this overcrowded land, making me so thankful that I haven't got another 40 years of this hell on earth. By then it will probably be a third world country, rent apart by racial disturbances and economic decline.

Meanwhile the chaos in Parliament over Brexit continues to get dafter every day, though the Muddled Mrs. May did manage to get some legislation approved yesterday. There is no doubt that the Conservatives are in complete disarray, fighting more amongst themselves than against the Opposition. The trouble stems from Mrs. May having lost control of the party, having lost all respect and authority, rather like a teacher having lost control of a class, and it is never regained. No political party can survive amidst such leaderless chaos, and we must expect a general election no later than the end of the Spring next year.

At 12.50 p.m. I visited a friend, having bread and wine while discussing the hopeless mess this country is in, and the nonsense of all the sex allegations that we have to endure every day. In the evening I watched a DVD of "Far From the Madding Crowd" with an elderly neighbour. A fine film.

The September inflation figure shows that the CPI remains at 3%, surprisingly bringing a sharp fall in the , the "i" report indicating that it was due to "financial traders adjusting their bets on the timing of further rate rises from the Bank of England." Presumably the ever reluctant Governor Carney will eventually get round to raising the rates again, no doubt to a full 1%. There was also a report that "German growth puts UK in the shade", presumably as a result of Germany having a strong manufacturing base on which all flourishing economies depend. In this country we will never have a balanced economy as a result of our dependence upon vulnerable service industries.


THURSDAY 16 NOVEMBER

With an elderly neighbour I greatly enjoyed the latest version of the film of "Far From the Madding Crowd" - a fine film, again indicating that, in my opinion, British films are the best in the world. Hardy's novel ends happily on this occasion, but in "The Mayor of Casterbridge" it finishes with "happiness is but an occasional episode in a general drama of pain."

I like Thomas Hardy's novels immensely, having read all of them in my time. On the other hand, I have never liked Jane Austen's novels, taking the view that they are more suitable for women. As it is, Hardy is usually regarded as the first of the modern novelists. Today there are some fine writing, still showing that this country can produce excellent books. We are good at many things, having an inventive genius, but we have never been much good in the realm of music.

After several attempts I managed to find the telephone number to contact Amazon about the missing ballpoint pen. I found a page on Amazon on which I had to put my telephone number and they would ring me, which they did almost immediately. I spoke to a fellow who said he was in Edinburgh, speaking with a very pronounced Scottish accent that I found a bit difficult to understand, but he sorted things out, making an immediate refund and giving me an extra 5 for the trouble that had been caused. So that was very fair, and all is forgiven.

Among the day's e-mails were three relating to sexual performance, one saying "3 seconds get hard and naturally"; another: "This drink makes your manhood grow large"; and "This simple diet will keep your prick hard". I cannot help feeling that this is somewhat erroneous and misdirected mailing, but in any event it is a right confidence trick. Thank heavens in old age we do not have to worry about such a messy business, one of the few advantages of longevity.

We have had 8 scam telephone e-mails so far this week, all of which I quickly reject on seeing "International" or a false telephone number coming up on the caller display unit - and what a blessing those displays are. to see who is calling. Even though I reject every call they still keep coming, making me wonder whether there are hundreds of these scammers in India. I cannot believe that a scammer keeps telephoning me when every call is instantly rejected.

As I momentarily passed-out yesterday morning, believing the frightening incident could be due to high blood pressure, I took another reading on getting up this morning, seeing that it was 145/84, so that is all right.

University

Some universities have been criticised for making exaggerated claims. I find it interesting that a university advertised a black man, as shown in the photograph - a sign of the changing times in this country.


I plan to undertake leaf clearance in the garden each day as a form of exercise, but the prevailing wind - the "Miseria" - was blowing fiercely this morning, making the clearance impossible. Instead I went in to town on the scooter to withdraw some money from the bank and to buy a packet of Weetabix. For the past two weeks Mrs. C. has been going for the week's provisions to Aldi instead of Waitrose, saying that she has saved about 15 each week. However, Aldi has its own range of branded products, and I have found the "Wheat Biscuits" a poor substitute for Weetabix, so I have thrown them away and bought some Weetabix.

Somehow I cannot believe it is worth saving 15 when the branded products are, in my humble opinion, not so good, though other shoppers may find the biscuits excellent. I suppose it is all a matter of tradition and usage; that it is difficult to accept change in old age.

Back home I charged up the battery on the Scorpio. I am still only using the car about once a month, suggesting that the sensible thing would be to sell it, having been offered 1,000. It costs me 10 a week before I even use the car, obviously draining the battery, especially in winter, but somehow I cannot bring myself to dispose of the car. It has been a fine vehicle, always reliable, never having let me down, and it has only done 36,500 miles, hardly run-in.

A relaxed afternoon, reading in the conservatory some more of "The Age of Decadence". This evening we will be going to a "Beaujolais Nouveau Evening" at the local Club. Some years the new wine is excellent, whereas on other occasions it tastes not unlike paint-stripper. I gather that this year's is of average quality.

E-mail: johncopeland@clara.net
Comments welcomed
Lincolnshire 16th November, 2017
No. 1,032


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Diary of an Octogenarian<BR>




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