DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN
- John Copeland -
Photograph taken some years ago when I was a passenger in a friend's helicopter.
"Britons will feel renewed confidence and pride in 2018"
Mrs. May's New Year message, 1st January, 2018. Not exactly a very prescient forecast.
The avenue of oaks on the 1st day of December.
According to the Office for National Statistics, "consumers are borrowing more and saving less because the bank rate - which dictates returns on savings and the size of loan repayments - has been near a record low for the past decade." Another report, in "The Times" for the 18th December had a headline: "Pessimism on increase as high living costs take toll", reporting that "Confidence amongst households has dropped to its lowest level in six months as higher living costs and sluggish earnings growth take their toll".
The CPI measure, having fallen last month from 2.4% to 2.3%, saying that the fall was due to the lower price of petrol (down from £1.26 to £1.19 a litre hereabouts), but also due to "cheaper video games and concert tickets." With a ridiculous 640-item database, the CPI makes a nonsense of the true rate of inflation. As I tiresomely say, the true rate being found by doubling the official rate and adding 1, which now gives a figure of 5.6%.
Instead of including video games (I have never ever bought a video game and I never attend concerts) the CPI should include only household items, including council tax, mortgage repayments, heating and lighting, petrol and transport, gas and electricity, water, telephones and food. Such a measure would give a reading of about 6%, possibly 6.5%. Still, it benefits the Government to continue with the falsified CPI and RPI rates of inflation, especially as the CPI for September each year is the measurement for updating pensions.
Meanwhile, in the policy of selling off the family silver, Gatwick airport has been partially sold off to the French. What a mess, everything up for sale, no genuine offer refused. All our public utilities, gas, water and electricity have been sold off to Johnny-Foreigner, and now our airports are up for sale, short-term money, long-time rip-off.
As an example of the raging inflation I had some coal delivered on the 19th, finding that since the last load it had gone up by £2 a hundredweight. Not far up the road in Yorkshire there is a coalmine still with plenty of easily worked coal that has been closed, all to do with the hatred of the Tories for the miners. Instead, we import coal from Cambodia, the cost having risen sharply because of the plummeting £, and so it is with so many other items, nearly every manufactured product being imported as we make hardly anything now. As mentioned earlier, books have risen sharply in price, a £20 book now costing £25, and a £25 up to £30. Next year I will have to cut back even more on my purchases. As it is, I spent £812 on books this year, down from £1,200 last year
By way of illustrating we are a happy and harmonious society. a black man or woman has to appear in every television panel game and in advertisements.
Nowadays, by way of supposedly confirming that we are a fully integrated happy and harmonious multicultural society, there has to be a black man or woman on any television panel. In similar vein all advertisers have to represent a black person, there being legislative trouble if only whites are shown. All this obviously helps the integration as more and more immigrants pour into the country unchecked, a report having said during the month that net migration into the country amounted to 273,000 in the year to June 2018 - a number nearly three times the population of Lincoln - and every year at that. 248,000 were from non-European countries. So much for our pygmy politicians cutting down on immigration. No wonder there is a month's waiting list before we can see a doctor, up to 8 weeks for a dentist.
The nonsense we have to put up with these days, indicating that the country has gone completely mad.
To add further to the restriction of free speech in our relentless economic and social decline in this hatefully Puritanical society, legislation next year will ban the stereotyping of men and women, so that advertisers cannot show a woman ironing or looking after children, while a man must not be seen drinking with his mates in the pub. Far from bringing forth sweetness and light, this ridiculous legislation in our nanny society makes for increasing bitterness and resentment.
There was even a report in "The Times" for the 17th December that "Teachers are being encouraged to tell primary school children that boys can have periods to avoid upsetting transgender pupils." This utter stupidity was instituted by the Labour-controlled Hove City Council. Perhaps significantly, it is nearly always Labour-controlled councils that perpetrate this nonsense, just as some of the authorities swamped with immigrants ban Christmas for fear of upsetting the newcomers. Meanwhile, why is it that we now hear so much about these biologically muddled people, making me wonder what man would ever want to turn himself into a woman.
It makes me so thankful that I do not have much longer to live in this ghastly country, its values totally divorced from those I was brought up with, when women stayed at home to look after their babies; when Christmas was a religious occasion, and when men were men and women were women. Mrs. Copeland rightly tells me that I am an "anachronism", and thank heavens for that, meaning that I saw better times in this country when, on my birth in 1934, we had a glorious empire upon which the sun never set - look now at some of the countries that gained their independence, many of them riddled with corruption and warfare, Pakistan being a notable example of the ensuing chaos.
I have come to loathe this country with its Puritanism and its relentless restriction of free speech, hating the rudeness and selfishness, the greed and gullibility, people playing on their mobile telephone toys rather than speaking directly to one another, everything having to be done on the Internet. There are even dreadful times when I think that Islam begins to make some sense. With all the restrictions on free speech, never being allowed to mention immigration or some of the old values, I fear that I will soon not be able to write this diary, even though I ask Mrs. Copeland to check all the entries to ensure that there is no sexism and racism.
Once my generation has gone the country will no doubt quickly fall apart, the younger generations being adverse to work, preferring to play on their mobile telephone toys amd worry about sex.
Books read during the month.
I greatly enjoyed reading the first half of "Churchill - Walking with destiny" by Andrew Roberts, 982 pages of close text (not including notes and index), setting out the splendid courage of Churchill in refusing to accept the appeasement with Hitler that the perfidious Halifax and deceitful R.A.Butler wanted at all costs in order to maintain the peace. Unfortunately, the second half of the book almost developed into an hagiography, excusing Churchill for his many errors, not accepting that he lost the plot and all power when the Americans took over running the war, something he could never accept - a loss of power that is well presented in the first of the Churchill films - "Churchill", which was much better than the second, understandably more popular second one, "Darkest Hour".
Churchill initially believed that Stalin was a great man, a leader with whom he could get on with and do business, and he thought of Roosevelt as a "great friend", whereas we were thoroughly ripped off by the President, being sold 50 clapped out destroyers, and being financially fleeced under Lend-Lease so that it was not until the 1950s that we finished paying the enormous debt. Additionally, it could be argued that Roosevelt, never keen on imperialism, helped to take our empire away from us, leaving former colonies in the aforesaid mess that they are now in.
Churchill was essentially a Victorian still fighting the Boer war, and was subsequently hopeless at modern military strategy, making so many wrong decisions, yet the author makes all manner of lame excuses for him. For example, Mr. Roberts argues that the help given to Greece, subsequently having to withdraw our troops Dunkirk-style as the Germans forced us out, was ultimately beneficial as it delayed the German invasion of Russia. That was surely not in Churchill's mind when he sent British troops to Greece. Similarly, the author says in one chapter that Churchill did not think the Japanese Army was up to much, and therefore failed to strengthen our defences at Singapore with disastrous consequences - but we are told it worked out all right in the end. Furthermore, having been an enthusiastic supporter of mass area bombing, encouraging Bomber Harris, Churchill tried to disassociate himself from the dreadful destruction of Dresden.
Part of Churchill's endless troubles was that the British Army was not all that good, having no generals to match Patton. Our troops, having won one of their few victories, would stop for tea, not following up the advance, while Montgomery was hopeless, as he displayed so cogently regarding "Market Garden". All the other leaders in the alliance hated and despised him, loathing him for his arrogance and incredible conceit.
De Gaulle was hated even more, especially by Churchill who found the loathsome Frenchman
a right pain in the posterior, totally untrustworthy (not being told of "Operation Overlord" - the invasion of Europe until the actual day), the author making the point that Britain and the US felt "such distrust of him." They detested his "French chauvinism and sincerely feared that he might try to turn France into an anti-West Gaulist dictatorship." This was the utterly hated and despised man who liberated Paris single-handedly, and who subsequently spitefully and resentfully blocked our entry into the Common Market - though maybe that was a Good Thing.
At least the author gives full testimony to Churchill's wonderful wit and his incredible use of the English language, so different to the humourless and glum political pygmies we suffer from today, not a laugh amongst them, certainly not intended. Much of his wit is based an analogy and associations, as for example when he said of the RAF dropping leaflets over Germany at the start of the war: "They might as well have dropped roast chestnuts"
Although an aristocrat, he did believe in a certain distribution of wealth, not that the meek were going to inherit the earth in his lifetime. He had some interesting and appropriate terms to describe society - for instance, a dictatorship being defined as "a state of society where men may not speak their minds, where children denounce their parents to the police, where a businessman or small shopkeeper ruins his competitor by telling tales about his private opinions." Maybe we are not so far from that society now with its tale-telling and spitefulness of some modern woman.
In the following book on Churchill that I read - "Churchill - Military Genius or Menace?" by Stephen Napier, published by The History Society this year at £25, Alan Brooke, the CIGS, frequently challenged Churchill's military plans, saying in his diary: "Without him England was lost for century, with him England has been on the verge of disaster time and time again". A better summary could not be imagined.
Finally during the month, I made a start on "Mussolini and Hitler - The Forging of the Fascist Alliance " by Christian Goeschel, published this year by Yale University Press at £20. Rather hard going, unfortunately.
The awfulness of veganism
On alternate Sundays we have a 30-day hung sirloin steak from Waitrose, which is truly wonderful, making me feel so sorry for those vacuous vegans who, in an advanced and unhealthy state of anthropomorphism, live on rabbit food, their apogee of delight being a raw carrot, yum, yum! No wonder that the supermarkets, even including Waitrose, have a section for these sadly obsessed eaters, knowing that they can easily rip them off, carrots presumably having shot up in price.
One vegan, describing himself as an "ethical vegan", having been dismissed for incompetence according to his employers, wants a tribunal to decide whether veganism is a "philosophical belief" akin to a religion, in what is described as a legal landmark next March. I would describe it as an unhealthy obsession, a fashionable craze, bordering on a mental illness in its extreme and violent form, a kind of food Fascism. Nevertheless, there are now said to be 600,000 vegans in this country, an alarming figure that is growing steadily as more and more people take up the fashionable and dangerous craze.
On the 4th December the "Daily Star" newspaper had a front-page headline saying "The World's gone mad", reporting that terms such as "bull by the horns" had to be replaced by vegan-friendly alternatives." These crazy vegans really are starting to cause trouble, threatening farmers with death and painting vegan slogans on the shop windows of butchers. There is no doubt that the police will soon have to step in before somebody gets hurt from the death-threats, these weird bunny-hugging people (though mustn't eat the bunnies) believing that animals have rights, presumably even having electoral rights, voting Labour with their front left hoof, Conservative with the right. How you have to laugh. Crazy people.
The good old days.
The pro-vice-Chancellor for Medicine, Health and Life Sciences at Queen's University Belfast - obviously a man who knows what he is talking about regarding food, warned in a report printed in "The Times" for 14th December that veganism could result in serious malnutrition "because of the absence of essential nutrients in some plant-based diets....Bone health is a concern for long-term vegans. Vegans are consistently reported to have lower intakes of calcium with resultant lower blood levels of vitamin D and bone mineral density."
Fracture rates are nearly a third higher among vegans compared with the general population,.....The symptoms can be serious and include extreme tiredness and weakness, poor digestion and developmental delays in young children. Untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can caused irreversible nerve damage." Yet these misguided people had an advertisement in "The Times" ( see blow) telling us that it was wicked to drink milk. Hw you have to laugh!
Pansies in the garden
The fierce feminists, those disagreeable ladies who cannot successfully formulate a relationship with a man, are demanding that envelopes should no longer be addressed as "Mr & Mrs John Smith", it being wrong in their muddled mantra to have the man's name predominant. According to these wonky women, the labelling should be as shown in the photograph above - Mr. J. Copeland and Mrs. A. Copeland. What a lot of nonsense, raising the issue why these silly girlies do not keep their maiden name in marriage, therefore overcoming the difficulty. As I so often ask, is all this nonsense indicative of a country in social and economic decline?
Mrs. Copeland writes nearly all the Christmas cards, but I send some to my own friends. As always, robins were depicted on many of the cards that we received - nasty little birds who are extremely aggressive. What I found a little upsetting was that cards bought from the supermarket Tesco were printed in China. Would it not have been better if our own printing industries had been supported, instead of the products of a thoroughly nasty communist country?
Understandably, it was very sad to receive many Christmas cards from friends of our own age who, in so many instances, indicated that they were suffering from cancer, making me wonder whether anybody over the age of 80 years remains free from the dreaded disease - a disease that has a nasty habit of coming back after prolonged treatment. There are also the problems with married children, few of them seeming to manage to stay married for any length of time, their parents having to bail them out financially at enormous cost. Maybe this is not surprising as working women and mothers have such a terrible time, facing such enormous pressures, effectively doing two full-time jobs if they have young children, often having no help from husband/partner.
Another very fierce feminist incident involved the Dartmouth Fatstock Show in Devon, which sees farmers competing with cattle, sheep and poultry, having run happily or more than 100 years with men only. Yet some fierce feminists have demanded that they should join the show, yet why should they? Why don't they form their own fatstock show, leaving the men to enjoy themselves? Why do women want to spoilt men's enjoyment, when at times the men would far rather be on their own? We would certainly not have any women in our village Retired Club; indeed, we invited the women to join us some years ago for a Christmas lunch - and it was disastrous, nobody enjoying themselves. I do not want to join the Women's Institute, not having a clue about jam-making, so let them leave us men alone to enjoy our ourselves.
The fact is, however, that these unpleasant and demanding feminists may try to defeat biology, complaining about rampant sexism and political incorrectness, men and women are so different, not only in terms of biology, but also in thinking differently, having divergent views and values, and thank heavens for that. As reported in "The Times" ", for the 13th November, a survey had a headline on the front-page: "Men and women really do think differently", saying: "men were more likely to prefer 'things and 'systems', while women were more interested in 'people and emotions.'"
Let us honour those splendid differences, just as they should be, not answering Professor Higgin' s question: "Why cannot a woman be more like a man?" We don't want them to be like us, preferring the gentleness and caring qualities of the female sex, so wonderful as doctors and dentists, but hopeless as politicians. It could be argued, dangerous though it is to say so in these intolerant days, that in the past, certainly during my youthful days long ago, pubs were principally splendid safe houses for men, enabling husbands, albeit somewhat selfishly, to escape domesticity and child-rearing, yet the pubs were never the same when women starting coming in, subsequently bringing their children with them.
Then there was the arrangement in those long ago days when the women departed to powder their noses at the end of a meal, enabling men to talk about business and politics. How this would be condemned today, yet at the time it made a lot of sense. If I dare to mention "Brexit" to mixed group at our local Club, the women will immediately shout "Boring!" Fortunately we split up into male and female groups, so I can discuss Brexit with men to my heart's content, not that there is much contentment about Brexit.
One of the fallen leaves of the grapevines I have in the conservatory. Both plants have lost all their leaves, and I am not sure how often I have to water the plants.
Veganism is not the only madness these days. According to a news item, the Aycliffe Council had a recommendation from the Recreation Committee that the role of Father Christmas should be undertaken by a woman, but mercifully more intelligent councillors voted against having a Mother Christmas. I suppose it cannot be long before the feminists are declaring that Jesus was a woman, which would explain a lot. Much to my amazement the Leader of the House of Commons is a woman, indicating that the females are getting everywhere these days. It seems that modern man has been totally emasculated, a pathetic creature condemned to a walking-on part. Why have we allowed this to happen? Yet have things changed for the better: have we become a less violent, caring and tolerant, understanding society?
On the 15th December I celebrated having been in retirement for 30 years, rusting away up a sideline. I often think of a primitive tribe in some far away land who had a policy of carrying the elderly off to a remote hill where, after a significant ceremony, the geriatric would spend the rest of his days railing against the awfulness of the times. Today at those dreaded and embarrassing retirement ceremonies, you probably end up with a clock, even though time is no longer important to you any more. This diary well illustrates these lamentations.
With Mrs. Copeland I have greatly enjoyed our visits to the local Club, attending social events during the month and having a "little something" on Sunday afternoons, sometimes a little too much, but at least we can walk there, staggering home. After a very difficult financial period, shared with so many clubs and pubs, the Club is strongly recovering with an excellent young and intelligent chairman. Inevitably there have been the unhelpful Jeremiads who have warned that the club was going to close, but it is now enjoying a joyful renaissance and reformation. Last month there was an immensely successful Beaujolais Evening attended by many people, and I enjoyed a Carols Evening sung by the Springline Choir of our local church. The Sunday gatherings are now starting to see more people coming in. So trebles all round to a successful venture.
I was so pleased that the new projector, graciously grant-aided by our local Parish Council. is now up and running, making for a great improvement. The old projector was about 23 years old (obviously not made in China) and was losing the light, rather like the dying of the light mentioned by Dylan Thomas in accounting for old age. The Parish Council also gave a substantial grant for a piano for the choir, which has also been immensely beneficial, being used by an excellent choirmaster during the carols evening.
One of the problems at the Club is that there are some dog-lovers (and there really are people who like these horrible smelly animals) who want to bring their creatures into the Club, despite a firm rule that they should be left outside.
A lot of villagers now own these dogs, some of whom work all day and leave the animal shut indoors from 8.30 a.m. to 6 p.m., which is surely animal cruelty, such a miserable life for the dog. I cannot abide dogs, much preferring cats, making me wish that there was an dog licence of an annual £100. Dogs are a menace to postmen, and there is often the grim news of children being savagely attacked by uncontrolled dogs.
Snowdrop shoots appearing in the garden - pathfinders to Spring.
Not that was anything good to write about Brexit, there even being a serious proposal at the start of the month that there should be another referendum. What a nonsense that would be, meaning that the politicians were turning to an ignorant electorate to sort things out, the politicians having well and truly buggered Brexit up, just as they bugger up everything else they touch. Why ask the electorate to sort things out when most of the voters haven't a clue about the complicated issues?
In the week running up to the Parliamentary voting on Brexit on the 11th Tuesday, we had to endure all manner of really alarming frighteners, grimly warning us against the "No-Deal" that all of us concerned about our country want to see. It seems that each Ministerial Department had to put out a frightener to persuade the public to make their constituent Members of Parliament vote for Mrs. May's sell-off. The Health Department said that there would be no more medicines coming in through the ports. everything having to come in by air, while the Transport people said there would be enormous lorry queues at the ports, stretching back many miles and taking weeks to clear.
We even had Ms Dicks, the Metropolitan Police chief, saying that if we had a No Deal "it would threaten access to EU-wide criminal databases and make it harder to extradite people from abroad." It might perhaps be said that Ms Dicks would be better employed dealing with the appalling, out-of-control crime rate in London, rather than worrying about political fantasies, but then they are far easier to deal with than reality..
Threatened traffic if we leave the European Union with a No-Deal. What a nonsense, but all part of the endless frighteners, none of them making any sense.
Rather like Calamity Carney's silly warnings quoted earlier that had no regard to reality, the frighteners were overstated, losing all meaning and becoming laughable. We were even fully expecting the Meteorological Office to say that the winters would become far more severe if we didn't stay in the circus. The whole Brexit business, extending over two years, has been a miserable experience, but at least these frighteners made us laugh, cheering us up in the pantomime.
As with every Brexiteer in the country, I was so hoping that our Prime Minister, having lost all respect and credibility in her own party and within Parliament, would be defeated in the proposed confidence vote on the 12th December, but she managed, as "The Times" put it, "to scrape home", even though 37% of her party voted against her, which is an alarming figure for any Prime Minister. Her survival was due to three reasons: 1. There was no obvious successor, 2. There was the fear that her defeat would bring about a Commie Corbyn victory which would really finish off the country, and 3. the politicians and some of the civil servants might lose their easy, well-paid jobs. So we are now going to continue stumbling from one crisis to another until the early days of the New Year.
The sadness is that we now have a Parliament in complete chaos, each day bringing new troubles, having no effective Opposition, Corbyn being a complete disaster, providing no leadership or guidance as he dreams of a communist society, and a Government that has lost its way. I suppose it emphasises just how hopeless this country has become in its decline and fall, bitterly rent apart by social and racial divisions, the sick man of Europe and beyond, no longer having any power in the world. I find it all so very sad. Meanwhile, Mrs. May forlornly went to Brussels every third Monday, pleading for some concessions, but each time the negotiators sent her back with a flea in her ear, refusing to budge on having got everything they want out of her, including having us trapped for ever more in the Customs Union, thereby allowing immigrants to continue flooding into this grossly overpopulated country.
Mr. Juncker who is trying so hard to prevent us leaving the European Union because he needs our money and is worried that other countries will have the good sense to leave.
At least Mrs, May promised that she would not stand as Prime Minister at the next general election, which is some comfort. Wrong though it is to say such things in these enlightened times, history clearly and cogently shows that although there have been some awful male leaders, Blair, Brown and the utterly hapless Cameron among them, there has never been a successful female leader - Thatcher who was thrown out by her party, Merkel now having to resign because of making such a mess of immigration, and now the outwitted Mrs. May. How many more women leaders do we need to prove that they are no good in the political arena?
It could possibly be argued that the present Parliamentary turmoil over Brexit could be likened to that of 1939 when the country was having to deal with the warmongering Germans for a second time in the century. Today's Brexiteers, the patriotic group to which I enthusiastically belong, are the Churchills, wanting to stand up for their country, believing in taking control of our own affairs and to limit immigration, as well as getting away from the European Court of Justice, whereas the Remoaners are the Chamberlains, wanting to remain in a Union dominated by the Germans and the French, and which smothers us with worthless health & safety legislation, receiving hardly anything in return for the billions we donate every year to the EU, appeasement being their unholy creed.
Taking our minds off the chaos of Brexit.
I just don't understand this whole Brexit affair: if the people voted to get out, why doesn't your government just tell the EU to stuff their extortionate demands, and leave? What is the EU gong to do: call up their armies and keep you in by force? I think your May could learn something from Hitler's early days in office, when he told the world to forget their reparations demands or try to take them by force." I readily agree: the only possible way of dealing with those belligerent people.
I also readily agree with Tom Winnifrith, thoroughly enjoying his daily column in which he comments in his latest episode: "Yes I am a rabid Brexiteer. I want the country where, regrettably, I spend most of the year to be free to make its own laws, set its own taxes, control its own waters and chart its own destiny. I have faith that Britain can do that." I certainly share those comments. The Union is far too big, and should have been a trading organisation only, not interfering in the social and legal affairs of member countries. I continue to believe it will be gone within ten years, but then so will I.
As might be expected, Cameron who got us into this unholy mess is now offering advice, whereas you would think he would be hiding in the hills for all the chaos he has caused, but then these pygmy politicians know no shame. That awful man Blair, who also ought to be hiding over the muddle he caused in Iraq, has suggested that we should have another referendum, which is the usual nonsense that he utters, the sidelined Ghost of Christmas Past. And I say that women are no good in politics!
Towards the end of the month I found it difficult to keep up with the ever changing Brexit options that changed nearly every other day. At the end of the year it began to look as if we were going for a No Deal option, which will be joyfully welcomed around the country, though the Employers' organisations are complaining that there will be restrictions on cheap immigrant labour.
The EU duo who have got the better of Mrs. May over Brexit.
Still, I suppose this endless debate about Brexit, not being resolved until the vote next January, is not going to affect me, having only a few more years to live in this utter chaos in a rundown and thoroughly nasty little country. If nothing else, the failed negotiations on Brexit indicate that we have lost all power in the world, having to creep and crawl to the likes of Barnier and Tusk. Maybe their endless opposition to us leaving is based on their worries that our departure means the loss of a major financial contributor, likely to have severe consequences for the quarrelsome Union.
As part of the Parliamentary Brexit pantomime, Commie Corbyn supposedly called Mrs. May "a stupid woman", the press howling with rage that this was sexist, when it is nothing of the sort. The hopeless Opposition , who longs for a Communist society in this country, was referring to a particular stupid woman, not all women. In "Dad's Army" Captain Mainwaring calls a young boy member of the Home Guard "a stupid boy", but not all boys are stupid, just that one. Still, it all makes us laugh as the Government gets in a bigger pickle every day. Presumably troops are being put on standby if there is, as we hope so much, a "No-Deal" as there will be wild cheering and jubilation in the streets, possibly getting drunkenly out of hand.
Meanwhile, I will have been in retirement for 30 years on the 15th December. In the early years in the season of superannuation I found life so difficult, realising there was an immense difference between "freedom from" and "freedom to". In retirement all the hours were my own, free to do with them as I chose, but what could I do? As it was, back in 1990 I took up computing, and this saved the day, initially running a newsgroup and then this diary, providing some stimulus to the brain, so essential in retirement, golf and fishing and other such activities not providing the necessary intellectual stimulus. Today, seeing everything falling apart, I am so lucky that I am no longer in employment, not knowing from one week to the other whether I still had a job. And I owe not a penny to anybody, even having a credit on the card that I seldom use.
I was rather concerned to hear of two people locally who had been cheated in buying items on eBay, one purchase involving a fake jewel. I have never used eBay, and certainly never want to do so, knowing that the chances of getting my money back are slight. Similarly, I would not want to use PayPal, not wanting to give my full banking details to a third party. Keep to the traditional purchases and banks.
No Premium Bond prize this month, not that I ever win in December, but overall this year I have enjoyed £16 more than the top rate of interest from a Building Society, not that the interest rates of those societies nowadays amount to anything, being 2% lower than the prevailing inflation rate. What always amazes me is that I know of scores of people who have the bonds, yet nobody has ever won more than a £100 prize. What, you might ask, happens to all the big prizes? What is certain, as I have found over 20 years, is that newly invested bonds nearly always win. If bonds that I have do not win anything after five years, I withdraw them and then reinvest, nearly always starting to win. All very odd.
It seems very sad that so many shops, restaurants and pubs that I have liked closed don during the year, among them "The Barge on the Brayford (the finest restaurant in Lincoln with wonderful views over the Brayford Pool), British Home Stores, Alders, Focus, Ruddocks (a an excellent stationers), Cotes, and it was announced this month tha HMV, from whom I buy all my DVDs, is going into administration. Who will go next, I wonder? It would not surprise me if it will be W.H.Smiths, for there are few people in the Lincoln store whenever I visit it. All very sad, preumably all part of our relentless economic decline.
Frost in the field of the avenue of oaks.
Even though the ghastly Lincoln Christmas Market did not start until Thursday afternoon, 6th December, many of the roads were closed from Tuesday 4th, causing traffic chaos. This is the Market that causes such disruption in the City, making us wonder how much the Labour-controlled City Council will financially lose again this year. Ironically, a Market that depicts seasonal snow had to be closed a few years ago when there was a forecast of snow. How you have to laugh, providing you do not live anywhere near the tat and trinket proceedings. It is said, though this has yet to be confirmed, that the numbers attending the Market were considerably down this year, which is not surprising bearing in mind its limited appeal, especially among geriatrics who do not want to be shoved and pushed around by milling crowds.
I was not surprised to read in "The Times" on the 5th December that the service sector, which accounts for 80% of the economy, had "hit its lowest level since July 2016, prompting fears of stagnation, the survey suggesting that the pace of economic growth has stalled." This has nothing to do with Brexit, but everything to do with an unbalanced and unhealthy economy that lacks a substantial manufacturing base, no country succeeding without such a base, hardly anything now being made in this country. For example, during the month Mrs. Copeland bought a replacement hot-water bottle which was made in Germany, thankfully not in China meaning that it would be leaking with a few months, nothing being made properly in that hateful communist country.
There is also the consideration that we have a lazy workforce in this country that just does not work hard enough. Indeed, were it not for the poorly-paid immigrants working under zero contracts, the lights would probably go out over the 10-day shutdown at Christmas, the longest holiday anywhere in the world. There is therefore no doubt that something is going to give next year, and it will have nothing to do with Brexit, the uncertainty of Brexit being an excuse for all our inherent weaknesses, no longer a significant trading nation,
A splendid example of firms not bothering in this country was provided by my asking three separate firms whether they could supply and fit a night-storage heater in our conservatory, sending an e-mail to each company, but nobody bothered to reply, presumably because it was a small job. Come the recession at the end of next year they will probably be only too pleased to do the work, but not now.
To nobody's surprise, the UK economy grew by only 0.4% in the three months to October, slower than the 0.6% in the three months to September. To make matters even worse, the UK's trade deficit also widened as imports grew faster than exports in October. Recession here we come. According to several reports, spending this Christmas is well below previous years. Although uncertainties about Brexit are proclaimed as a cause, the real reason, as stated earlier, is the high rate of inflation that is concealed in the CPI. This year our family has limited presents to £30, the first time we have done this, but the ever increasing cost of living has made it necessary.
Winter flowers in the garden - cyclamen.
Mrs. Copeland has become a member of the University of the Third Age, attending all manner of esoteric lectures, one that she attended on the 6th December being billed as "Oprah Winfrey - Touched my elbow". I would loathe attending one of those lectures with a lot of geriatrics, not being cultured or intelligent enough to become a member. Mrs. Copeland is far more cultured and social than I am. Apart from one or two people I like, I regard most of humanity as a hell on earth.
I find it interesting that the estate agency "Purple Bricks" seems to have taken over the housing market, adumbrating all other well-know agencies. For example, along the road leading into Lincoln from our village there are currently four sale-boards relating to Purple Bricks, three of which have "Sold" on them, whereas other agencies have their properties unsold for month after month. I gather that there is an overall, inclusive fee of £899 (including VAT), plus £300 for accompanied viewings, whereas a traditional agent would charge up to 2% on the sale price of the property, amounting to thousands of pounds even for the cheapest property.
How I wish that there were a "Purple Conveyancing", cutting out those small-town solicitors who charge thousands of pounds for 20 minutes of a junior member of staff working on a computer. It really is time that the Government stopped that closed-shop monopoly, for the work could easily be done by Tesco, no skill being required in the transaction, though the small-town solicitors with their expensive vested interests will fight to the end to protect their easy work. It was the butcher in "King Henry VI, part ll" who suggested: The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." Shakespeare knew a thing or two about life, his views still relevant today in our sick society.
The way an envelope should be addressed in these supposedly enlightened days, not Mr and Mrs. John Copeland
Hardly a month goes by without a courier coming to our front door asking for the location of a house with a name but no number in the village. It is surely time that the Royal Mail insisted that all houses had a number - something that would be very easy to arrange. Presumably residents who like to be pretentious can still give their house a name, but also include the number. It would save an enormous amount of delivery time.
During the month we continued our arrangement for having lunch out every Friday, having a meeting at "The Woodcocks" on the 7th with a retired couple, the wife being a firm Remoaner, even having gone on the London march last month. The meal was pleasant, but the occasion was spoilt by several babies and infants who were making an awful noise, their parents doing nothing to keep them quiet - the norm these days, free-ranging children having no discipline or control in the home or at school. In former times children under 14 years of age were not allowed in licensed premises, and I just wish we could bring back that sensible legislation.
On the second Friday in the month we went to the "Horse & Groom" in Lincoln. In one of the rooms there were those ghastly Christmas parties, long tables full of people wearing hats and blowing bugles, carols blaring away at full volume, but luckily we were seated in a different room, far away from those pathetic proceedings. The office party must be one of the most miserable of social gatherings, embarrassing for senior staff who behave like fish out of water. On the third Friday we went to "Greek2me", a restaurant in the immense and crowded housing estate in the village. Mercifully, there were no office parties or children present, so a good time was had by all, and I enjoyed a really excellent sirloin steak. . Finally, on the last Friday we went back to "Woodcocks", free of merrymakers, the season of goodwill about to come to an end.
The highly successful monthly meeting of the village's Retired Gentlemen's Club took part on the 11th December at "The Woodcocks", the six members seated at a large round table that meant that we could all join in the discussion, Brexit being an obvious subject, the general view being that the Government was in a hopeless mess that they could probably not get out of, certainly not with the present female incumbent as Prime Minister. I am so glad we continued with the Club following the departure of the President to pastures far away in the West Country.
Photograph taken by granddaughter Chloe.
On the 11th December I found that I could not get onto the Internet on my 8-year-old computer. I rang the helpline on "3", our service provider (my computer and for Mrs. C's tablet) but I could not understand a word the foreign gentlemen was saying, so I gave up, spending the whole evening trying to get it right, albeit without success. What I could not understand in my ignorance of computer technology was that Mrs. C's tablet on "3" worked perfectly well, but not my computer. In the end I gave up, only to find on the morrow that it was working again, much to my relief, obviously an "outage" their end.
All very frustrating, making me realise that I could not do without a computer these days, nearly everything being conducted "on-line", even my banking. Our immediate elderly neighbours, with whom we fell out with this year, do not have a computer, and neither does a member of our Retired Gentlemen's. Significantly they do not have children - is that a consideration?
In an issue of "The Times" there was a photograph of Prince Harry's wife wearing an off-the-shoulder dress that looked quite awful, totally unsuited for a pregnant women. Yet in "Times 2", the supplement for women, there were photographs of other similarly clothed pregnant women, all looking so dreadful, only to be praised by the Fashion Editor under the heading of the repulsive term of "Bulge chicks". Oh dear: how our standards have declined, along with the younger members of the monarchy. As Chaucer asked: "If gold rusts, what will iron do?"
On the 15th December, despite warnings of heavy snow, we drove down to Essex to spend the weekend with Mrs. C's 101-year-old mother who has an apartment in the small town of Halstead, leaving early because of the dire warning. As so often happens in a wrong forecast, there was no snow - heavy rain instead. In recent months there have been many occasions when the Meteorological Office has got the forecast hopelessly wrong. Much to our amazement, with Christmas only a few days away, there was hardly any traffic on the roads, and when we arrived at Halstead it was not at all busy with shoppers. Not surprisingly, it is being said that it is going to be a disastrous Christmas for retail spending.
Our Christmas turkey this year. We obtain them a small farm, and they are so much better than the offerings of supermarkets.
Our Christmas tree this year. In former years we have rented a tree at £54, but this year Mrs. Copeland bought a living tree for £35 from Waitrose. We will plant it in the garden when the season of goodwill ends (must end 6th January, 2019) and have it again next year if I am still here.
Christmas Day was celebrated at home this year, the family coming to the old folks@home. meaning that we did not have the misery of travelling on the day. Although Mrs. Copeland and I never watch the idiot's lantern (apart from the dreadful Newsnight this month), we have always had a rule on Christmas Day that the television does not go on, showing endless repeats and old films, surely being a negation of the spirit of Christmas. Instead, we have a quiz and various games, making for a very pleasant time, the logs crackling away in the living fire. Indeed, it was probably the best Christmas we have ever had, the turkey being really splendid bought from a small farm whose product are so much better than those of the supermarkets.
It proved to be a very pleasant Christmas Day with all our family present - and at no time did the idiot's lantern go on. Television on Christmas Day is a negation of Christmas and should never be switched on, except in retirement homes. We had games and much laughter and mirth, and not just about the Government.
We had 80 Chirstmas cards this year, though one or two families whom we have known for a long time, living far away, were not heard from. They had been very ill, and I fear they must have died. I believe it was Alan Bennet who said that old age was a matter of crossing out names in an address book, and I now know what he means.
A wine that I greatly enjoyed this month is the Californian 13% Chardonnay "Gallo Family Vineyards," available at Waitrose at just under £6. Californian white wines are my favourite, followed by the splendid New Zealand offerings and Australian. On the other hand, I have never much cared for the French white wines, far too bland. I also like red wine, but it tends to give me a headache, so I usually avoid such alcoholic intake.
Despite being told that I am on the threshold of Diabetes II, I seem to have gone back to my old habit of a bottle a day. I really must cut this consumption back in 2019, but I enjoy the wine so much. What is the point of following all the alcoholic and food advice, only to end up for years in a retirement home watching daytime television. As it is, I seem to go to funerals of friends and former colleagues who have exercised regularly.
I have subscribed to a model series of RAF planes relating to the past 100 years, only to find that I have some of the models, obviously being re-issued, as this photograph shows.
I have recently started purchasing each fortnight a series of aeroplane models commemorating the 100 years of the RAf. After the purchase of the third model, a Vulcan, I discovered that it was an exact replica of a Vulcan model that I acquired some years ago, obviously suggesting that the series was being revamped to cover earlier unsold issues. I suppose this doesn't matter, but it is a bit annoying as I already have many of the models.
For many years I had an annual eye examination with a splendid firm of opticians, the owner being a most worthy and caring man, but now he has retired and his practice has been taken over by a woman who, in a letter this month told me that my annual test was due on the 30th January, 2019, emphasised that she had "invested in the latest technology to scan beneath the surface of your eye - OCT". Earlier this year I had an e-mail relating to my diary in which the correspondent said that he had had this OCT treatment and could not see for several hours afterwards because of the blinding light, and did not recommend the test.
That surely cannot be good for the eyes, and I therefore do not want the dreaded OCT treatment. As the examination I had last January indicated that all was well, my eyesight not having changed so that I do not need glasses for reading or distance, effectively having 20/30 vision, which is a great advantage in my old age, I will therefore put off the test to January 2020, hoping that I can then find an optician who does the old-fashioned tests, shining a torch in the eyes and having you read numbers and letters on an illuminated board. not subjecting me to the miseries of an OCT examination. "If it ain't broke, don't mend it." Of course the opticians will say the annual tests are essential; they need the money.
Photograph by Deborah Lisseman
I continue to admire President Trump, especially for his wise policy of withdrawing American troops from Syria and Afghanistan. There will never be any peace in those dreadful countries, so why lose men in worthless battles, as we have done in Iraq under that terrible man Blair who aforesaid ought to be hiding in the hills instead of interfering on Brexit. At long last the United States has a leader who actually stands up for the country, making me wish that we had such a powerful leader in this country.
As I have mentioned before, I have a scrapbook of predictions, cutting out the predictions that various politicians and journalists have made during the year. A fine example this year was Justin Webb, who presents the Today programme on the BBC's Radio 4, predicting that Sherrod Brown, the Democrat, was sure to take over from Donald Trump as President: "He is, in other words, the ideal man to win disaffected Trump voters back into the Democratic fold." This is not what my American correspondents tell me, assuring me that my bet that Trump will win a second term is assured. However, we must accept this political bias of the left-wing Bloated Broadcasting Corporation. Spitefully, Mr. Webb states that President Trump has Diabetes II, a shameful mention that debases the presenter's nasty and silly comments.
Over the Christmas period, before and after, there was an almighty crash in the Dow Jones, falling over 650 points, prompting all manner of alarms and sky falling from economists here and in America; that the Fed was ruining a buoyant economy by stupidly raising interest rates, and by the trade war between President Trump and China. In the event it was merely manipulation of the market by the big boys, the Dow Jones shooting up by an unprecedented 1,000 points on the morrow. Oh the crap we have to endure from the experts, but then they and the press love to put the frighteners on us.
Here there was a report that over 3 million people in this country were seriously in debt, unable to afford the basic items of life. The problem is the raging inflation, everything going up in price, yet the ridiculous CPI measure, which as a 640-item database, keeps insisting that inflation is down to 2.3%. No wonder, then, that Christmas shopping levels were sharply down this year, even the after-Christmas sales doing nothing to relieve the High Street gloom.
I went to buy a book I had ordered from Waterstone's on the 27th December, there was hardly anybody to be seen; indeed, I have never known Lincoln High Street so deserted. Although most books that were formerly priced at £25 are now £30, I still buy them from Waterstone's in Lincoln - an excellent and friendly bookshop, even though I could purchase the books from Amazon at £21, postage included.
Not that all people seem to be hard up, the littlegame hunters being out in the field of the avenue of oaks on the 22nd December, no doubt hoping to go away with a really big bag to boast about. Much to my relief, hardly a shot was fired, there being few pheasants around this year. In former years there have been many, even having a tame pheasant some two year's ago who would eat out of my hand, but he has long since been gone. As I tiresomely mention, I loathe these cruel bloodsports, but then I am a townie, not a countryman who delights in killing every living creature. How I wish the pheasants could shoot back, for that really would be a sport, seeing a littlegame hunter being dragged away by a Labrador.
At least there was the good news, indicating that we are slowly becoming a more civilised country, no longer enjoying and tolerating the cruelty of bloodsports, that the Belvoir Hunt, with whom Prince Charles rides and which has met in the centre of Grantham for at least 130 years, has had to move following the secretary of the Grantham Labour Party, John Morgan, complaining about recent criminal behaviour of hunt followers that has led to an increased concern for public safety
Bearing in mind that the redcoated rascals - and how they love dressing up in silly clothes and blowing little bugles (tally ho, old chap) - invariably know friendly magistrates and get away with a pat on the head for any hunting offence - "Don't do it again, Rodders old chap - see you at the Lodge this evening," Labour has rightly undertaken to tighten the present lax laws, putting hunting offenders into prison, hopefully for long sentences, possibly with medical treatment to treat their sick behaviour in imposing cruelty. According to a recent poll "one of six rural residents believed that hunting reflected countryside values." The sooner it is banned with the proposed prison sentences and no longer supported by the Barmy Bumpkin's Brigade, sometimes known by a different title, the better it will be.
Over the Christmas period we had to see endless photographs of the younger members of the dysfunctional Royal Family, hardly role models for connubial felicity, Prince Charles joining in the hunting and other male members doing a bit of shooting. Good to see our money being well spent. Consequently we had to hear the tiresome news that the two duchesses have become friends again, along with details about the pampered lifestyle of Prince Charles who will probably kill off the monarchy, obviously explaining why the Queen is holding onto the throne. I wonder how long the marriage between Harry and his black wife will last - five years at the most?
I drink white wine, red givimg me a headache.
Amidst our relentless economic decline, so many of the stores, shops, restaurants and pubs in Lincoln that I liked so much have closed down, among them Focus (the excellent DIY store), Alders, Ruddocks (the splendid stationers), Office Outlet, The House of Fraser (due to close in January 2019), the "Barge on the Brayford in Lincoln (the finest restaurant in Lincoln with its splendid view over the Brayford Pool), British Home Stores, and this month I heard that HMV, where I bought all DVDs, is in trouble, appointing administrators. Who and what next will it be? Possibly W.H.Smith?
It would appear that the Home Secretry, Sajid Javid, is proving to be as utterly useless as his predecessor who cut police forces by 20,000 at a time of rising crime, saying that he has not a clue wha to do about the immigrants coming across the English Channel in dinghies for our welfare benefits. Bearing in mind that the Royal Navy is not doing much these days, surely the immigrnts could be taken back to within the French borders, a few warning shots being fired to warn them not to return.
President Trump would have no hesitation in shooting the immigrants out of the water as a deterrent to others, but that might be rather severe. As it is, Javid' is yet another indication of the weakness in this country, a weakness that was so cogently shown during the Brexit negotiations.
I cannot say that I am looking forward to the New Year, fearing the chaos and confusion over Brexit, and there are always worried about my health, raging against the dying of the light. There is always the worry that my lymphoma cancer may return, as the lymphoma has returned to one of our relations having to have additional chemotherapy and stem cell treatment, spending Christmas and several days afterwards in hospital.
Additionally, the arthritis in both knees is becoming steadily worse, now being in constant pain. My late mother had arthritis, as did my grandmother on my father's side, ending up crippled, and it looks as if I am going similar way. Alas, old age brings more and more infirmities and indispositions with frequent visits to the hospital, is not exactly an enjoyable time, seeing friends and former colleagues passing away, feeling ever more lonely in a troubled world. How many more Christmases will I see, I wonder. As Shakespeare said: "The bright days are over and we are for the dark". Not much of a future, you might say.
I am fully convinced that there will be a sharp recession towards the end of the year, the politicians, playing as little Canutes, continuing to bugger up everything in the relentless decline and fall of the economy. Not the best of times.
As mentioned earlier, Mrs. Copeland checks this diary for any evidence racism and sexism that could get me into trouble in this censorious country with its increasing restrictions on free speech, and this month she said that it was far too long; had far to many details about politics and economics; had not a good word for anybody; and was totally humourless.
I obviously have to accept most of these criticisms, especially the diary being far too long. But my main interests are in politics and economics, having graduated from the London School of Economics long ago, and it could be argued that these are difficult times, the country heading into recession and Brexit in chaos, a diary having to reflect these issues, hardly amusing times, even though there is still a lot to laugh about in Parliament and the press, and no doubt 2019 will be even funnier, hoping and praying that we have a No-Deal in Brexit, getting away from those impossible, quarrelsome people across the English Channel.. As they used to say in better days, when we were a power in the world, having a glorious empire that brought law and order in the world: "Storm in the Channel: Continent isolated."
I will certainly havr to change the format of the diary if I continue it next year, possibly making it more of a personal diary rather than a summary of the month's news.This month the diary amounted to 9750 words. I must at least halve this amount in future, always assuming, Deo Volente, that there is a future, making me wonder which will go first - me or the computer? If the computer packs up that will be the end of my computing days, for I could not face setting up a new computer.
At least there are still some good times. On the 30th December we celebrated the 80th birthday of one of my friends, a retired rocket scientist, a highly intelligent man with whom it is a delight to talk to. We had a meal at "Woodocks" and then adjourned to the Club. A most enjoyable occasion in the darkness of winter.
We bought this on a visit to Jerusalem long years ago, also visiting Bethlehem. Somehow I would be too frightened to visit those places today
Lincolnshire 31st December, 2018
Diary of an Octogenarian
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