DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN
- John Copeland -
Friday 21st August - Thursday 27th August, 2015
Roses in the garden, now recovering after the heavy rain that knocked them all about.
"Immigration is the chief concern of British voters after weeks of crisis over immigrants at Calais. The issue has overtaken the NHS and the economy as people's main worry after a summer in which it has been disclosed that the number of EU-born workers has reached more than two million for the first time."
News item - "The Times" 22nd August, 2015
FRIDAY 21 AUGUST
Mrs. Copeland and I went to our local Club yesterday evening, even managing to sit outside as it was one of the incredibly rare evenings when you do not end up with hypothermia if you stay out longer than 8 p.m. At 18 C, it was pleasantly warm, and we sat with highly intelligent members, including a retired rocket scientist and two with M.Sc. degrees - and in science, not Mickey Mouse degrees such as in Jazz and Psychology, the latter involving having to write "situation" after every noun.
Once again it made me realise what a splendid institution the Club is for the village, especially as we have such an excellent Chairman, and a stewardess who keeps the beer in first-rate condition. Goodness knows what we would do if they ever left us now that hardly anybody wants to work in this country, certainly not during unsociable hours. The only problem is that the Chairman seems to be poorly assisted by the committee, but then committees never were any good, always putting off items to the next meeting, as happens with our Parish Council.
During the evening one of the ladies was saying that we should show more concern for immigrants who, in swarming into this country, were escaping persecution in their native land. I can understand that many of the immigrants work hard, and that we would have to close down the National Health Service if they all went home, but there are others who come over here for the generous welfare benefits, rather than staying in France. Mind you, I cannot stand the French either.
There was also a discussion about 900 houses proposed for the mid-Lincolnshire town of Horncastle, and a further 350 in a field in Saxilby, not many miles away from us, all bitterly opposed by existing residents in the area. Where, it was asked, were all these people going to find work in a county that has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, but then it was contrarily argued that ever more houses are wanted for the swarming immigrants. There is also the consideration that a lot of retired people from the south move to Lincolnshire, where the houses are about 50% cheaper than Sussex or Kent, even Essex.
We sat out side until about 11 o'clock for what was a splendid evening, with much alcohol and laughter. Fortunately the Club is only a short distance from our house, so we do not have to drive, although with my arthritis it takes me a long time to get there, involving frequent stops to rest, sometimes feeling I am not going to make it. Fortunately, Mrs. Copeland helps me along, not that she always shows much sympathy, saying in public school manner that I "should pull myself together."
I suppose Mrs. Copeland and I drink far too much, but what is the point of cutting out or reducing alcohol and dieting, ending up looking as miserable as those Ramblers who trudge through the village with heavy backpacks, only to end up in an Old Folks' Home, watching the idiot's lantern all day and believing that Thatcher the Terrible will be coming back with her little shopkeeper version of economics to save us? No point at all. Enjoy yourself to the full, taking no heed of tomorrow.
At 9.30 a.m I took the Scorpio in for its annual Ministry of Transport Test, and much to my great relief it had passed. I suppose the fact that I had only done just under 500 miles during the year helped somewhat. As it has done such a small mileage since the last servicing, I only had the oil changed. It really has been a splendid car, giving me hardly any trouble since I bought the £27,000 vehicle for £9,000 back in 2000 when it done some 9,000 miles in three years with the previous owner - rather worryingly a woman driver who had scratched it on several sides, but these were put right when I purchased the car.
Jeremy Clarkson condemned the car when he tested it, saying it was the ugliest car he had ever seen, but maybe the boy-racer has now had his comeuppance for making such an unworthy remark, and there are times when I wonder whether he really knows anything about the detailed mechanics of cars, other than their superficial performance. He certainly had a very popular programme for boy-racers, and a delightful sense of humour. The fact that the Granada and the later Scorpios were extensively used by police forces around the country surely says something other than sheer prejudice.
My Scorpio, which passed the MOT test without any problems today. It has done 35,559 miles, so it will see me out. The car was severely criticised by Jeremy Clarkson, but look what has happened to him!
I went in town later in the morning to collect a book from Waterstone's - "Gestapo - The myth and reality of Hitler's secret police." The assistant serving me today was not all that jolly, but I now purchase all my books from Waterstones, and will be closing my account with Amazon, much preferring to support local retailers, even though the shopping facilities are not all that great.
On the news I heard that Jeremy Corbyn, the pensioner who is standing for the leadership of the defunct Labour Party, has said that if elected he will issue a formal apology to the Iraqis for us having invaded their country. What kind of nonsense it this, especially as the Blairites will have no regrets at all. It might be a good deal better if the Japanese apologised to us for the brutal treatment of our troops as prisoners during the Second World War. As it was, the Emperor escaped any punishment at the end of the war. He should have suffered a similar fate as Mussolini, who was hung upside down with his mistress.
There is no doubt that our Jeremy is a caring man, and I agree with many of his views. I agree that it is wrong that there is such an increasing gap between rich and poor, and that privatisation has proven to be such a disaster, the public utilities being sold off for a song to foreign buyers. I contend that at a time when people can pay several hundreds of pounds for a lunch, there should be a 50% tax band, with a 90% on those immoral golden handshakes.
Sadly, though, these are yesterday's values, and his Marxists views take no account and notice of elections being determined by the greedy middle classes, much wanting more. His election as leader will certainly frighten these Johnny-come-Latelies, meaning that he has about as much chance of winning the next general election (when he will be 71 years of age) as the England football team has of winning the next World Cup.
At least there was the good news today that boys are now catching up on girls in the GCSE examinations after the worthy Michael Gove, the best Education Secretary this country has ever had, stopped all the nonsense of marks being allocated to coursework - work that was either cribbed off the Internet or subjected to the favouritism of the teacher. Unfortunately, Mr. Gove was far too good for this country, refusing to bow to the selfish demands of the irresponsible trade unions, therefore having to go. We now have a woman at the helm who gives the impression of bowing to every demand and whim of these nasty unions.
Not surprisingly, there was a headline in today's "Daily Telegraph" saying: "State pupils put private schools in the shade - Analysis of 'A' level results shows fee-paying students were ousted in the league tables." The fact remains, though, that however dim you are at a Noddy school, as I call those public school bootcamps dominated by sport, you nevertheless stand a better chance of getting employment in many sectors, especially the Army, than a state student. I continue to believe that in terms of society and the economy, these public schools have done an immense amount of harm over the years.
During the late morning I cut the grass, not having had to do any mowing for the past three weeks on account of the poor, sunless weather. I then did some final repairs to the hearth and some housework, before collecting the Scorpio after lunch, having a well-deserved siesta afterwards, having been extraordinarily busy, my productivity higher than an English worker, not that that says much.
During the day I paid my mobile telephone bill of £14.53. It always amazes me that this appliance will do nearly everything I want, including access to the Internet and e-mails, yet youngsters can pay up to £45 a month for the latest iPhone. How they are ripped off! The other joy is that I do not have to pay by diabolical direct debit, not that I would ever accept such awful financial transactions.
In the evening, after a joyful day, so pleased that the Scorpio had passed the test with flying colours, I finished reading "The Unravelling" dealing with the chaos in Iraq. I enjoyed the book as it had touches of humour, lightening the grim details, whereas the book "Return to Palestine - A memoir", was so deadly dull, the author having about as much humour as a dead rabbit, not that there is much fun in dealing with the Israelis.
In one chapter, Abdul-Rahmin explains the everlasting troubles in Iraq: "The curse of Iraq is its oil money. Iraq has too much money. And this makes people lazy and increases unemployment [the same could be said of the UK] . Despite all the resources, nothing gets done. Iraq is still going backwards. It is hard to see how the country will remain unified with such politicians in power. Iraq has good people but bad politicians."
He might have also added the endless and ferocious fighting between all the many tribes and religious factions, including Kurds, Sunni, Shia, Christians, Arabs and the Baath Party. Trying to get all these bitter factions into a harmonious unit has been likened to transporting a load of live frogs in a wheelbarrow.
Sheikh Ghassan complained that "Nothing good came from America. They are uncivilised people...The Arab Spring is all part of a Western plot to humiliate the Arabs, divide the region and keep it weak. It is shameful. Now look at the Problems the US is trying to stir up in Syria."
The 41-year-old English author worked as political adviser to General Odierno who commanded American forces following in the wake of the departing General Petreaus. There is no doubt that she is very pleased with herself, not that there is anything wrong with that, but what did she actually achieve after all those endless meetings with the opposing factions, Iraq being in an even bigger mess than when it was under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein who did at least impose law and order, providing at all times you obeyed him.
As so many authors have pointed out, the Iraqis have no understanding or liking for democracy - something that the Americans could never understand, the values and mores of the Iraqi people being very different from President Bush's idea of a happy and harmonious country. Matters have not been helped by the corrupt and unreliable Maliki, who wanted the support of the Americans to fight against Iran's support for the Shiate contingent, bud did not want US troops as an occupying power.
The differences between the Shiate and Sunnis was explained as the former believed that the rightful succession was Ali-Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, whereas the Sunnis believed in having the best person for the job. I suppose we have to admit that our country has not been without its religious troubles, especially the earlier battles between Protestant and Catholic, Henry VIII sorting out the Pope. Nowadays few people believe in any form of religion in this country, so we no longer have religious problems - except in Northern Ireland.
It seems disgraceful that the Chilcot Inquiry on the Iraq war, having so far cost £10m, has still not been published after six years. Apparently, people who are criticised have a right to see the report before it is published. This is a nonsense, for there is always the fear that this could lead to the report being watered down. Even so, we do not need Lord Chilcot to tell us that the Iraqi war was a great mistake, the country now being worse than when under Saddam Hussein.
The Inquiry has Sir John Chilcot as chairman, with a Baroness and three male knights, including the first-rate historian Martin Gilbert, so at least there is one person knowing about all the details, able to comment on the failed mission.
I have now made a start on "Kelly's War - The Great War Diary of Frederick Kelly, 1914-16" (he was killed in 1916). As a wealthy public schoolboy he went straight into a commission, no account being made of his suitability as an officer. Although an Olympic rower and a musical composer, his understanding of the men under his command, coming from very different backgrounds, was not very good, as happened with so many of the public school continent. Nearly always brave, but often not very bright.
The great irony of public schools is that they teach their pupils to be leaders of men, yet their cloistered, arrogant and wealthy environment meant that they were often at a loss when dealing with uneducated and sometimes rather brutal men. Rather like children playing up a weak teacher, the men would often make hell for their commanders, often having more respect for the Germans they were supposed to be fighting.
The FTSE, presumably worried about the slump in China and the very real possibility of this country going back into recession, fell 180 points today, going down to 6,187, whereas it was 6,566 at the start of the year. So much for investing in equities!
SATURDAY 22 AUGUST
I had another sleepless night, eventually getting to sleep at 3 a.m., yet I had several glasses of whisky in the belief that this would encourage somnolence. Today I bought a packet of Phenergan, 25mg. A previous packet, recommended to me by a friend, were only 10mg, with a recommended dose of 3. The latest packet has a dosage of 2, so this stronger element should do the trick.
At the start of each day I make out a list of all the work that I am going to during the day, including repairs and household maintenance, window cleaning, carpet cleaning, general housework, car cleaning and grass cutting. Yet at the end of each day, despite having been so busy, my productivity higher than a British worker (not that that says much), I never manage to complete the list.
Of course, old people always say that in retirement they wonder how on earth they found time to go to work, being so busy all day. The answer, of course, is that in old age you slow down considerably, becoming slower than a local government worker, and with so much time on your hands there is always the concept of manana - not to mention the compulsory siesta after lunch.
I suppose there is the consideration that I am never bored, always having something to do every day, including Sundays. I have therefore never been able to understand why so many men say that they are so bored in retirement after the initial period of feeling on holiday, having undertaken the complete redecoration of the house, subsequently not knowing what to do all day. If they were busier, they would find that the time soon passes. As Dr. Johnson said: "The mind stagnates for want of employment and grows morbid, and is extinguished like a candle in foul air."
I discovered this morning that a window mounting in one of our bedrooms had come adrift, obviously having rotted away with age (how I hate wooden windows - I would never have them again, much preferring the plastic ones that look just as good). Fortunately, with strong glue and a clamp I managed to mend it, though possibly only a short term measure. At least it will have temporarily saved £700 - the cost when we had to replace another wooden bedroom window.
Normally at this time of year we are flooded with Charity appeals, usually giving details of Christmas offerings, but this month we have had hardly any. This may possibly be due to the Government being alarmed about a woman who committed suicide after being continually harassed by charities. The absence of this mail that goes straight into the recycling bin is most welcome, and even mail-order catalogues have not been as numerous as usual.
I have never given a penny to any charity, and will never do so, fearing that little of the donations ever reaches the intended beneficiaries. I wonder how much of the money donated to overseas appeals ever reaches its sufferers? In all probability most of it ends up in the back pockets of corrupt politicians and bandits.
Our first runner beans from the garden. They are so much better than the produce bought in the shops.
Today's "Times" reported that there are now two million immigrants in this country from the European Union, yet our hopeless Home Secretary who reduced police forces at a time of rising crime and tension regarding terrorists, does hardly anything about the swarming influx, being totally out of her depth. The only action seems to be for her to appear at the Channel port with the aim of her appearance frightening them away. When I see photographs of her, I certainly feel frightened. The problem for the Prime Minister is that in terms of political correctness and sexism, he dare not sack a female Minister, all hell being let loose from the feminists if he ever dared to do so.
Surely all evidence shows that women, despite their many caring characteristics, are just not suitable for the rough and tumble of politics. Incorrect though it may be to say so, the Home Office needs a strong man, not that all the ones we had before have been all that much good either.
As Mrs. Copeland wanted some rump steak for Sunday's meal, I went to the family butcher we normally use, his meat being excellent, albeit a bit costly. I usually try to avoid going in to Lincoln on a Saturday, not wanting to see the madding crowds, but today I saw them in all their horror. Uneducated, fat and lazy, invariably smoking, they provide a fine example of the downfall of this country, explaining why we are still effectively in recession and always will be, however much the Office for National Statistics managed to launder the figures, there being lies, damned lies and the ONS.
It is a question of the abandonment of standards. Go abroad - not that I often do, and you will see elegant and well-dressed people, but not in this broken down and indebted little island, this other Greece.
A correspondent, responding to my comments on Jeremy Corbyn, quoted a letter in "The Independent": "Do we really want to go back to a time when our society was in the grip of a period of unprecedented economic equality and child poverty was at a historical low? Do we really want to go back to the days when the utilities merely provided energy and water for the country without being a licence to print money for their shareholders? Or a railway system existed that only took a third of today's subsidies to run?
"And hang it all are we really expected to accept the fact that productivity was higher then than now, at a time when zero-hours contracts were unknown? Of course not. It runs against all the perceived wisdom of the free-market economy. It would be like saying Father Christmas does not exist!"
It makes you think. As mentioned earlier, I agree basically with so many of the views of the pensioner, but there is no putting back the clock. Thatcher the Terrible taught us to be selfish and greedy, there being no such thing as society, and the middle classes who determine elections are not going back to the mores and values of yesterday. Greed rules, OK?
I was saddened to read on the BBC news website that "Seven people have died after a Hawker Hunter jet crashed into several vehicles during Shoreham Airshow." In densely populated areas, becoming ever more populated as the immigrants swarm in, it is about time that these airshows were stopped, along with the disbandment of "The Red Arrows Flying Circus", their days over. It always amazes me that they were not closed down as part of the extensive defence cuts, even if they served as panem et circenses.
After doing various maintenance work, including the window repair, during the day, we went to the local Club for a Tapas Evening, Mrs. Copeland and the other member ladies having prepared Spanish food. On another wonderfully warm evening, we were able to sit outside, and it proved to be a splendid event.
During the session a member of the Club who until recently worked in the oil industry in Libya, it now being too dangerous to work there following the departure of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, explained the reasons why OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) was not restricting output following the dramatic fall in the price of oil - namely that America, following the success of fracking, was now largely oil independent. Furthermore, with the problems in Europe and this country, any output restriction would have meant a loss of revenue.
I have been persuaded to resume the Film Society at the local Club, for which we have the necessary licence. On the 2nd October I will show "Suite Francaise" - the excellent film set in occupied France during the Second World War; In November we will show the latest version of "Far From the Madding Crowd; and in December "X + Y". Thereafter we will invite suggestions for further films, always providing they do not have subtitles, which few members will accept, and who can blame them, such intrusions totally spoiling a film.
SUNDAY 23 AUGUST
Mrs. Copeland and I went to the communion service at 9.30 a.m. at the local church, the service being taken by our excellent male rector who is a breath of fresh air in the rarefied atmosphere in the dear old C.of E. I very much hope that he progresses in the hierarchy of the Church, for the institution certainly needs men like him if the C. of E. is to survive. As it was, there were 14 in the congregation today, the average age probably being about 65 years. When this generation is gone, will there be anybody to replace it?
I liked the joke with which the rector started his sermon. The chief executive of a fried chicken company approached the Archbishop of Canterbury, offering £300m if the Lord's Prayer could be changed from "give us this day our daily bread" to "give us this day our fried chicken." The Archbishop refused, so a little while later the chief executive returned, upping his offer to £350m, but still the Archbishop refused. Later on, the chief executive came back with his final offer: "We'll give the Church £400m."
The Archbishop pondered, thinking that the Church could do with that kind of money, so he eventually agreed, and the deal was done. Later on the Archbishop had a meeting of the Bishops to tell them what had been agreed, saying that there was good news and bad news. The good news was that the Church was to receive a donation of £400m, but the bad news was that the Church had lost the Hovis contract.
When attending these services, I often wonder what point there is in endlessly repeating the scripture readings dating back to the 17th century. On the other hand, I loathe the modern version of the Bible: "Mary was great with child" sounds so much better than "Mary was pregnant". Presumably later versions will have Mary in the Club.
I noticed today that I was the only man wearing a tie. Presumably this is old fashioned standards, going back to the days when women always wore hats in church. You could argue that those bygone times represented higher standards, but maybe it could alternatively be argued that the Church is not so stuffy, and certainly not so snobby today, no longer representing the Tory Party at prayer.
When chanting the Lord's Prayer, about forgiving our trespasses as those who trespass against us, I suppose I ought not to be so critical of "Mon Strosity", even though the owners have trespassed against us with their aggression and unpleasantness, rudely refusing a peace offering. Maybe, though, they have their own punishment for a dark and depressing house that must be an immense disappointment.
I have to remain seated during the service as I cannot stand for any length of time with my ever worsening arthritis in my knees and spine. This makes me feel a bit guilty, though it cannot be helped. And I have a blessing rather than taking communion, not being at all keen on drinking from the communal cup. We stayed for coffee afterwards, joining the cleansed worshippers, though unfortunately I did not get much chance to speak to the vicar.
The photograph below shows the file of the weekly diaries from the 17th April, 2015 to the 20th August, 2015. The next volume will include Christmas - oh dear! The diary, now up to the 914th issue was started on the 1st January 1998, and never a week has been lost. Averaging about 6,000 words a week, it means a total number of words amounting to 5,484,000. I would dearly like to reach the 1,000th mark, which means going for over another year and a half, but somehow I fear that I will not reach that target, now in an even greater decline than the UK economy.
The diary. Each week I print out the week's entries and put them in a file, which soon mounts up. This volume is from 17th April, 2015 to 20th August, 2015. The next completed volume will see Christmas. Oh dear!
Back home I spent some time on the computer, answering e-mails, including some helpful comments on the problem I was having with the battery of the laptop. There was also an e-mail telling me not to concentrate on my Facebook, my correspondent saying: "I plead with you NOT to get involved with that as any sort of replacement.. it is a silly social chat thing that alas as with most or any of the kind.. is intended it seems for people who have no desire to write more than one sentence.. often that including little better than nonsense and spiteful comment which it seems THEY get some pleasure from.
"It s NOT for any Diary type in ANY way and I think you would be aggravated by what would undoubtedly flow from any attempt on your part to indulge in better quality chat. Linkedin and a few others are no better..it seems an extension of the regular two-line mail things that most of the younger element seem to thrive on with their iPhones etc.."
I agree with that, realising that it was a silly suggestion, especially as Facebooks are really for the teens and twenties, not for geriatrics such as myself who like to have a serious discussion about economics and politics. The worst thing about Facebooks is when there are endless holiday snaps, of interest only to the partakers. On my Facebook , I have promised never to put on such photographs, not that I ever go on holiday at my great age, not wanting all the hassle of airports, the Muslims having made travelling such a misery for us.
Fortunately, people cannot intrude upon the diary entries, having to send e-mails, which are easily deleted if they are offensive, usually grammatically incorrect. So, thanks to these helpful comments, I will continue with this diary until the computer packs up or when I fall off my perch, whichever is the earliest. I will put in just the odd photograph on Facebook, probably discontinuing it after a while.
One of the other problems in writing the diary is that I have completely lost my sense of humour, no longer even finding the Chancellor's economic policies funny any more. I gather that this loss is a well known characteristic of old age, life becoming more serious as we prepare to meet our Maker. At least some readers send me jokes, so that helps liven the deadening entries.
At 3.30 p.m we went to the local Club, again sitting outside for a splendid gathering. I find it sad that so few newcomers to the village, invariably urban refugees, never come to the Club or to the church, having nothing to do with the communal life of the village. One miserable elderly couple who have moved in recently to one of the cottages always close the gate as if to shut out the village and the world. Why ever did they come to live in the village?
After a meal of delicious rump steak and a half bottle of wine, I read some more of the First World War diary. The diarist seems a bit of a prig, but then he was educated at a public school. In an entry for the 11th October, 1914, he expresses horror that Churchill had sent untrained troops to Antwerp, leading to many of them being killed by the Germans. The diarist comments: "It looks as though Winston Churchill should be severely handled for the loss of these men."
Churchill was splendid at the start of the 1939-45 War, bravely and resolutely resisting the appeasement attempts of the Establishment, including Halifax and R.A. Butler who would have had us under German control, but he was hopeless as a military man, never having any understanding of modern warfare, still apparently fighting the Boer War and what were the disgracefully described as the "fuzzy wuzzies", the total failure of the Dardenelles, for which he was wholly responsible, being a fine example. Fortunately, Alan Brook, as the CIGS, managed to stop Churchill's wilder proposals.
MONDAY 24 AUGUST
Not so far away in our village there is a dog that is allowed to bark throughout the day, hardly ceasing. It really is an unpleasant noise, making me wonder why a couple have a dog when they are totally unable to control or discipline it. Part of the problem seems that it is far too easy to own a dog, resulting in all manner of unfavourable people keeping one as a pet. Maybe I am a little biased as I cannot stand dogs. Give me a cat any day - far less trouble, and usually keeps the mice population down.
I was amused to read an e-mail from a correspondent who told me about the humbug of the redcoated rascals: "Quite a few years ago I went rabbit shooting with a friend who spends time bowing and scraping to the red coated rascals of the ***** hunt We managed to shoot quite a few rabbits, around a dozen or so.
"I assumed that all of the rabbits were to be taken home, cleaned, and either cooked by us or given to neighbours, so I was rather surprised when my friend said that we were only taking a few of the rabbits and the rest were to be left at the edge of the field. When I asked him why he was doing this he replied that the real reason the rabbits were shot was to give the local foxes plenty to eat so they would produce healthy litters so there would be plenty of healthy foxes for the hunt to go after during the next season.
"So much for the hunters trying to justify their 'sport' by saying they do it because the foxes are a problem". I have never believed that there was any justification for hunting, especially as any farmer will tell you that it is far easier to shoot foxes. Yet the Countryside Alliance, the last bastion of feudal England, pathetically argues in terms of countryside management and the need to maintain balance in nature. Fortunately, the SNP managed to see off the Cameroons attempt to repeal the ban, the issue now having gone to earth, though it will be renewed as hunting is so important to these rural thugs.
I was pleased that I have managed to repair a bedroom window that had come off one its hinges, now opening and shutting properly, saving the expense of £700 for a replacement window.
Having had 4 days of wonderful weather, when we could sit outside late in warm evenings, the weather has now returned to its default setting, suggesting that our summer is over, the forecasts predicting endless rain in the next five days.
I went to Staples to purchase some more printer cartridges, and had a look at various swivel chairs, the one I now use for the computer having broken its castors, making the seat difficult to move. It means an expenditure of about £150, and I am always reluctant to spend large sums, but then what is the point of saving money when interest rate returns are about 1% and I seldom win on the Premium Bonds?
The Confederation of What's Left of British Industry has increased its forecast for UK economic growth for this year and next, saying that "strong domestic consumption would outweigh slower export growth triggered by a slowdown in China and the stronger pound." This is complete and utter nonsense, obviously showing no understanding of economics. The Government's recovery programme has been essentially based on promoting exports and reducing domestic consumption, representing the only way in which real growth can be attained.
As I tiresomely mention so many times in this lugubrious diary, the real problem for the UK is that we do not have a sound manufacturing base, as all the world's leading economies enjoy. The consequence is that we have to rely on nearly all imported manufactured items, including most of our food these days, causing immense problems for the ailing trade balance. Furthermore, as the over-optimistic Confederation is forced to admit, a strong pound handicaps our exports. Any increase in interest rates, now being proposed, would increase the value of an already overvalued pound, further harming our export trade. What a muddle!
By 1 p.m the ailing FTSE, obviously still very worried about the manufacturing troubles in China, had fallen by 203 points, today about to become known as "Black Monday" Does the Confederation really expect a big increase in the UK's economic growth, much of it being represented by taking in one another's washing, to grow against this world background? As they say in "Private Eye": "Shum mishtake, shurely." At the end of the day the index was down an incredible -288 point.
Bearing in mind all these troubles in China and the continuing weakness in the eurozone, there is "no way" that UK economic growth can be above 4% (if that) for the 3rd quarter. Anything above that figure will be totally unrealistic, making us wonder about the accuracy of figures presented by the Office for National Statistics.
There was the grim news that the air disaster at the Shoreham Air Show over the weekend could rise to a death toll of 20. Yet the "Flightgobal website argues that "Any more rules would end thrills for crowds" I nevertheless believe that it is time to close down these airshows, and I continue to believe that the "Red Arrows" is an accident waiting to happen, there already having been three crashes, one falling on a house in nearby village of Welton where it was stupidly joked that the owner had his landing light on.
However, we will have to await a further tragedy before these aerial shows are stopped, rather in the same way that there have to be 4 deaths before a speed camera will be allowed. It might possibly be thought that the introduction of a speed camera would SAVE 4 lives, but that is not the way the bureaucratic local authorities work. Nevertheless, there are now proposals that future airshows must be held over the sea, which would be a welcome safety development, possibly meaning the end of "The Red Arrows" that dangerously cost us over £20m a year in running costs alone, not counting aircraft written off through crashes.
The failed Tory leader, Ian Duncan Smith, now demoted to pensions secretary, and possibly the nastiest and the most extreme of the Cameroons, a Thatcher the Terrible survivor, is now planning to attack the disabled and the poor, a news item in today's "i" saying: "Disabled people and those too sick to work will be the next group feeling the impact of the Government's drive to reduce the cost of welfare and the numbers out of work."
Of course, this is all part of the essential mantra of the Conservative Party, hitting the poor and the sick while doing nothing about the evasion of tax by the better-off, it being far easier to attack the former group than powerful firms and their executives. The thoroughly nasty Smith is the kind if right-wing politician who breeds Socialism; indeed, I would rather have Mr. Corbyn any day than these hateful and cruel right-wing measures.
The 61-year-old Jeremy Corbyn who is likely to become the new Labour leader. Today's "Financial Times" said that he intended to target the ludicrous pay and the Murdoch Empire. Alas, I find myself beginning to agree with much of what Mr. Corbyn says, especially his policy to bring about a fairer society. However, greed and selfishness predominates, O.K.?
Meanwhile there was a report in today's "Financial Times" that Mr. Corbyn "intended to target ludicrous pay and the Murdoch empire." As mentioned earlier, it rather worries me that I find myself agreeing more and more with Mr. C. Sadly, though, this is all pie in the sky. Following the greedy mantra of Thatcher the Terrible we have become a selfish society, and there will be no going back to a fairer society, always supposing one ever existed. Socialism is based on dreams; Conservatism on the realty of human nature, described by Thomas Hobbes in his "Leviathan" as being "nasty, brutal and short", the only difference today being that it goes on for somewhat longer.
Even so, it can be argued that the British electorate have managed over the years to achieve a political balance that has earlier benefited the country. A Labour government, bringing in all manner of social reforms, as well as benefiting the National Health Service, giving rise to a fairer society, eventually runs out of money, and has to be replaced by the Conservatives who bring in stringent financial measures to return the economy to some kind of financial basis. However, these measures become too right-wing, leading to social unrest, so the Socialists return - and so on and on.
The most likely future outcome is that the Cameroons will become so basically unfair, especially with the cruel measures proposed by the hateful Smith, that there will be a social reaction, meaning that Mr Corbyn will come to power. This, though, may not be until 2020, but which time the pensioner will be getting on a bit.
In today's "i" I read that the BBC is giving up its contract with the Meteorological Office for weather forecasting, the contract instead going to a foreign firm. Can we do anything in this country, forever selling off the family silver? Nearly all our public utilities are foreign owned, and how they rip us off!
In today's post Mrs. Copeland received a circular from her doctors' surgery inviting her to have a bowel test for cancer. I am in a different surgery, and thankfully they never send out such invitations, for at my age, with only a few years to go, I do not want to be cut up by surgeons. I just do not want to know what maladies I have. Keep away from doctors, surgeons, estate agents and accountants, said my old grandfather, and I religiously try to follow his wise advice,
We had our windows professionally cleaned today. It made me think of that old adage that, unfortunately, all the people who could really get us out of our economics difficulties are cleaning windows, cutting hair or driving taxis.
Apart from the brief visit to town, it was a day at home, doing some carpet cleaning during the morning, and then reading "Dogfight - The Supermarine Spitfire and the Messerschmitt BF 109" by David Own, published this year by Pen and Sword at £25. The author shows how the Air Ministry believed that in the 1930s, right up to the start of the war, the production of bombers was more important than manufacturing Spitfires.
Men like the Air Chief Marshal of the RAF, Sir Cyril Newall, did everything possible to prevent the development of the Spitfire, while Neville Chamberlain is at least associated with the sensible policy of building up the fighter, and later Churchill, along with Beaverbrook, assured that the Spitfire, troublesome though it was to manufacture, became the mainstay of our defence.
As the author points out, had Newall's bomber policy been relentlessly followed, we would have lost the Battle of Britain. Other misguided and foolish men in the Air Ministry wanted the Beaufighter, which proved to be a disaster, instead of Mitchell's Spitfire. A fascinating book, showing how history rests on a slender thread.
I mentioned in this diary some time ago that I had written to the Planning Committee of our District Council to protest about a plan had been submitted to fell a splendid willow tree, in the village to make way for a garage. Fortunately, I had the full support of one of our Ward councillors, and it was subsequently proposed to place a Tree Preservation Order on the willow.
This TPO has now been confirmed, so the tree is safe. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Parish Council, before I was a member, made a rather lukewarm response, just as it did about the two massive solar panel applications now awaiting a decision on an appeal to the Inspectorate. I don't think there is much doubt about the decision.
The evening was spent reading some more of the diary on the First World War. Alas, I cannot say that I am enjoying the diary. The first half is concerned with the diarist fighting in Gallipoli, but he seems to spend more time composing music, reading books and poetry than fighting, and all the musical details and the recitals he gives become tiresome, almost as if the futile war - the brainwave of Churchill, was a minor consideration. In addition to describing the author as an Olympic rower and a cultured man, he is said to be "A leader of men".
This acclaimed leadership is certainly not very evident in the 250 pages I have read so far, for like most men educated at public schools (Eton in his case) there is no understanding or empathy with the men under his command, his men chanting "Where's Kelly?" behind his back. He consequently has to rely on discipline and putting offenders on charges, to achieve a semblance of leadership.
It is a fine example of the harm that public schools have done over the years in supposedly training men for leadership. Leadership is an innate quality, largely determined by character and charisma, even to a degree on physiognomy. Men like General Patton were not trained for leadership.; instead, they had the formidable character that made for the command of men.
The diary also provides a glaring example of the terrible mistake it was to automatically give men educated at public schools a commission, without any regard for suitability for leadership. Presumably this explains why the British Army has always fared badly in wars - in Dunkirk, in Gallipoli, and in Singapore, having to rely on the Americans, not so snob-bound, to get them out of trouble.
TUESDAY 25 AUGUST
Incredibly, as if to defy gravity and the rest of the world, the FTSE was up +118 points at the start of trading today. However, this is a fine instance of "The Dead Cat's Bounce" in which Silly Billy Investors, attracted by plummeting share prices, rush into the market, only for the share price to fall on the morrow.
The stock markets around the world are governed by greed and fear - greed when the market expands, fear when the market falls, much of the movement being dominated by market manipulators - the way that profits are made. Apparently, China has lowered interest rates to rectify the ailing, over-stretched economy - not that this will make the slightest difference in future.
At 11.15 a.m I went to Mill Lodge near Branston to have coffee with a female friend - my only long-standing remaining friend. In former months we have been to a hotel in Lincoln, where the outrageous charge for a large wine was £8.50, and as the surroundings were not all that pleasant, we decided to go to another meeting place, where the wine was a far more reasonable £5.50 for a similar glass.
As always we talked about the good old days and how things have changed - and how we have changed. One of my changes that I cannot understand that I have lately taken an intense dislike to classical music, whereas over the years I loved the symphonies of Mahler, Bruckner and Shostakovich. Now I find the music a noise, and for the first time ever I have not listened to any of the Promenade concerts. All very strange.
One of granddaughter's four kittens. Peace, perfect peace.
In the post this morning we received a hotel brochure advertising Christmas and New Year events. At one of the hotels, the price for a 4-day Christmas celebration was £799 per person, and a New Year occasion £669 per person. It made me feel sorry for people who have to go on such outings, not enjoying a family occasion at home. This year, as always, we will be celebrating Christmas with our family at home, and on New year we will be having a local Club outing to a nearby restaurant for a meal, and then returning to the Club for drinks - the best of all possible worlds, and not having to endure one of those ghastly noisy bands.
I discovered this morning that a wooden pelmet over some sliding wardrobe doors had broken away from one its mountings - rather like the aforesaid windows. It had been nailed on, so goodness knows why it came apart. Not having any suitable replacement nails, I had to go in to Lincoln to purchase some. It begins to look as if the house is falling apart quicker than the UK economy, but then we have been here 45 years come December, so I suppose we have to expect these problems. Within the next few days I will have to repair the kitchen window, meaning yet more work, which is not good for my arthritis.
One of the great advantages in living one mile from the Lincoln City boundary is that on the scooter I can be in to the centre of Lincoln within about 7 minutes, making it easy and quick to go in for supplies. I think of my relatives who live about 15 miles from the nearest town, meaning a return journey of 30 miles, probably taking an hour or more.
After a siesta in the afternoon, the evening was spent in the conservatory, reading some more of the diary on the First World War - "Kelly's Diary". As a war diary it is very poor, hardly mentioning the conditions in the trenches in France, and as an officer in charge of a group of men he seldom mentions them. In nearly every entry he is either having a band practice or composing music, It seems that he never fired a gun, though he was killed in the battle of the Somme on the 13th November, 1916.
In one entry he does at least mention the carnage of rotting bodies, incredibly writing: "Why is it, however, that such a terrible scene as this does not touch such depth within as a phrase by a great poet about such things?" What kind of nonsense is that? In another he makes the comment that "Art goes deeper than reality." Apparently he loathed getting his hands dirty, always wearing gloves, and he obsessively cleaned his teeth 12 times a day.
Undoubtedly a very cultured man who moved in high circles, even dining with Prime Minister Asquith, but he comes over as a very self-centred man, rather full of his own importance, particularly his proud musical skills, and probably not all that loveable. Like many art-crafty people, he was probably a bore, reminding me of that joke about the actress who, after spending 20 minutes telling a friend about her performance, said to the friend: "That's enough about me. What did you think about my performance?
The editor, adding items to extend and explain the diary entries, records that at the battle at Picardy there were "57,470 casualties. 19,240 men lay dead and dying in the grass of no-man's land in the open, not that Haigh cared much for these losses, giving the impression that he had little regard for the troops under his command, never going anywhere near the front. Goodness knows what would have happened had not the Americans joined in to stem the retreat, the British Army being no match for the Germans when there were equal numbers. Up to that entry it was a war of attrition.
For something completely different, I have started reading Andy McNab's latest novel: "State of Emergency". Not exactly heavyweight reading, though I am enjoying it.
WEDNESDAY 26 AUGUST
A correspondent has suggested that I should look at WWII damage at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3205235/Lifeless-bodies-bombed-cities-weary-men-horrors-World-War-II-revealed-never-seen-pictures-Western-taken-four-star-general.html It really is a fantastic site, and I will put in one of the photographs next week.
I liked a comment of another correspondent saying: "This age of limp production, sagging share prices and flaccid morale." A description of life in the United Kingdom today that would be difficult to better."
I gather that new restrictions are to be placed on airshows displaying vintage aircraft. As always, the bolting horse is well up the road before the stable door is locked - that's the way things work, or do not work, in this ailing little island. It could mean the end of the "Red Arrows", saving the taxpayer £20m and restoring peace 'n' quiet to out community, the little red aeroplanes no longer dangerously zooming over our chimneypots
I need to repair and repaint an outer section of a kitchen window, and therefore had to go to B & Q to purchase a shavehook and a tin of white gloss paint. I had intended to make a start on the work on returning home, but it started to rain so thankfully the mission was postponed. If there is anything I loathe it is painting. As it was I did not feel all that well, having had a late night session drinking whisky with Mrs. C. At least it helped me to sleep
Runner bean plants round the front door - surely better and more useful than roses.
As expected with yesterday's dead cat bounce on the UK stock market, shares going up sharply, the index fell back today, falling -102 points. This is a crazy time when the speculators make a fortune, manipulating the market by pushing it down one day on some pretext (Chinese troubles in this instance) and then buying on the low, ultimately pushing up the price again. Nasty stuff, but that's a free market.
Mr. Corbyn has advocated separate train carriages for women. Presumably he will soon be having them in burkas. Not one of his brighter ideas.
Mrs. Copeland went to the "Venue" cinema in the afternoon to see the film "Amy", - "a story of the sublimely gifted yet tortured Amy Winehouse". It was not a film I wanted to see, so Mrs. C. went on her own. I went to take wine at 4 p.m. with neighbours. The evening was spent on reading some more of Andy McNab's latest novel, which I am greatly enjoying with my lowbrow taste.
THURSDAY 27 AUGUST
Work continues on "Mon Strosity", the unbelievably ugly house now being built in our historic community. During the week the insulating material came unstuck from the exterior panels that resemble chipboard, and on Monday, following heavy rain, workmen had to sweep rain off the balcony that looks straight into a nearby neighbouring sitting room, presumably no provision having been made for drainage or for any regard for privacy
As each week passes the edifice begins to look more like a ghastly warehouse, becoming more of a joke, and although I deeply regret the unpleasant aggression that the owners have displayed towards us, refusing an offer of mediation, I even begin to feel just a little bit sorry for them that they will have to live in such a ghastly residence, reminiscent of one of the failed structures of the fable of the Three Little Pigs.
"Mon Strosity" the "eco" house now being built in our community. It is so dark and depressing that I cannot help feeling that it must be a huge disappointment for the owners who will have to live in such a miserable edifice, looking like a warehouse. I even begin to feel sorry for the owners, despite their aggressive and unpleasant attitude towards us, refusing a peacekeeping offer.
An extreme right-wing "Think Tank" has criticised the Government for wanting to cut back on the 300,000 immigrants who swarm into the country every year, arguing that restricting numbers will harm the UK economy. The real reason, of course, is that the immigrants are wanted as cheap labour, especially if illegal, and those that do not go straight onto welfare benefits often work much harder than the natives and are better educated and more disciplined. Increasingly it begins to look as if this Government is completely lost, not having a clue what it is doing.
Not surprisingly, there was the news today from the Office of National Statistics that "Net migration to UK was estimated 330,000 in year to March - highest figure on record", and still our Home Secretary, totally out of her depth, does nothing about the massive influx that is nearly four times the size of Lincoln every year. As it is, many of the immigrants can be seen in the Lincoln High street, where they do not seem to be doing much work. Apparently there are now 8 million immigrants in the country out of a total population of 63 million.
Meanwhile there was the news that a steel manufacturing firm in Newport in Wales is shedding 250 jobs. Every week brings this grim news of our failing industries, yet it is said that economic growth is continuing. It makes no sense at all. There was the news that house prices slowed in August, but this is always the case in this holiday month. Prices have nevertheless risen 3.5% so far this year, which is a most unhealthy sign.
To town in the morning to purchase various items. Housework on returning home. At lunchtime, our main meal of the day with a half bottle of wine, lunchtime being a far healthier time to have a main meal than in the evening, probably explaining why I am now in my 82nd year when so many of my friends have departed this life, we had a scam at 1.40 p.m. Unwisely I answered the call, being told by an Indian-sounding fellow that I had a virus on my laptop. I was amazed that they knew I had a laptop, but even so I responded with the usual reply: "You're a scam, aren't you? Bugger off!" which immediately ended the call from the other end.
In the past when receiving this scam, in which a virus is put on your computer and then charged £56 for removing it, I have pretended to be on the computer, going along with the instructions. My record to date has been 9-and-half minutes before the Indian scammer realised I was extracting the Michael. It is great fun, but today when in the middle of a meal I did not feel by going along with the scam.
It seems a terrible tragedy that two American television journalists were shot dead by a gunman during a live broadcast, presumably raising doubts about the gun policy of the country, everybody ridiculously being allowed to carry a gun, rather like the Wild West. Even more worrying, though, is the very real prospect that the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, could become the next American President. No doubt it can be argued that Obama has been a very weak President, but surely the country does not want to go to this irresponsible right-wing madness?
This evening we will be going to the local Club to join some friends.
Lincolnshire 27th August, 2015
Diary of an Octogenarian
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