DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN
- John Copeland -
Friday 24th July - Thursday 30th July, 2015
It was so miserably cold on Friday evening in this sunless summer that we lit the fire in the parlour, the first time that I have had to do this in all the 44 years we have lived in the village. Next week is going to be even worse.
"I believe that banking instituions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies."
Thomas Jefferson - a statement that is even truer today when the banks lead us into debt and disaster.
FRIDAY 24 JULY
It was so miserably cold yesterday evening that we had to switch on the heating, the first time I have had to do that in July in all the 44 years we have lived here. Fortunately, I have relaid the fire in the parlour today, and as the temperature is set to fall even further next week, I will light it on Monday. Luckily, I have enough coal to last me until September. A front-page headline in today's "Daily Star" said that there was a month's rain in just one day in some areas yesterday. It could become the wettest and coldest summer on record. Today it was raining, a fine drizzle for much of the day.
During the morning I ordered some more heating oil. I usually order only 750 litres as the price continues to fall. My last supply in March came to a total of £340.20 including the 5% tax that the Conservatives put on fuel, whereas today the price was £295.31, a saving of nearly £45, so that is something to be welcomed now that the country is still in deflation.
At a recent meeting, the Parish Council decided that the Council should send out a leaflet to every house in the parish giving contact details and information about the authority. It is a noble aspiration, though sadly hardly anybody in the village is the slightest bit interested in the work of the Council, seldom attending the meetings and taking the view that it has no powers and even less influence, a mere talking shop and a sop to democracy.
The only likely time a villager is interested in the Council is when he faces a development at the end of his garden, when all the principles of NIMBYism come into play, though seldom succeeding these days as the Inspectorate, apparently totally unconcerned about harm to the environment, nearly always allow everything on appeal.
It would surely be far better, and certainly cheaper with a greater long term impact, if the Council had an entry in the monthly Church newsletter, giving details of the work of the Council. Presumably this would not take up much space.
Mrs. Copeland said that it was a great mistake my going back onto the Parish Council last May, everything having changed since I was chairman for ten years long ago In those days I greatly enjoyed the meetings, when we had the bar open after the close of the one-hour proceedings (I never believed that a meeting should last more than an hour). Nowadays there are declarations of interests, risk assessments and all manner of worthless other safeguards, the garrulous gatherings being almost totally humourless and deadly dull. What is worse, hardly any money is ever spent on the village.
In yesterday's "i" I read that "2.1 million holidaymakers are set to head overseas this weekend, in what is being billed as the great summer getaway. Heathrow airport is expected to have its busiest day ever - with more than 500,000 passengers on Friday as the school summer holidays begin".
Can you imagine anything more horrific and unpleasant, making Dante's "Inferno" seem relatively mild, having to endure flights in cattle class with screaming uncontrolled children, especially those privately educated who are taught to be arrogant and rude? Today there was total chaos at Calais as a result of further strikes and problems with immigrants wanting to come to this country for the welfare benefits, causing traffic delays of several hours.
It makes me realise how fortunate I am being able to stay at home at this chaotic and unbearable time, not having to spend hours in queues at grotty airports and facing endless delays at this peak time of the year - a time to be avoided at all cost. Once the schools break up, stay at home until the monsters return to their supposed studies.
Possibly the worst thing about holidaymakers is their dreadful photographs, more properly referred to as "snaps" - "This is me and Joe outside our hotel", and here we are in the swimming pool, and you can just see Aunt Bertha swigging it back." Fortunately, most of the photographs are put on Facebook, so you can always pretend that you have seen them. But do be careful about those ghastly iPads, for the snaps are readily available to be shown endlessly to you.
I read in today's "Daily Telegraph", referred to as the "Daily Torygraph" by "Private Eye", that "Climate change debate is dictated by left-wing anti-capitalists." That, in terms of the crazy climatologists who tell us that our weather is getting hotter and hotter, begins to make some sense, the aim of those left-wing loonies presumably being to discredit and destroy business interests. Meanwhile, it seems that with its traditional death wish, the Labour Party will soon be electing Jeremy Corbyn as the new leader, probably meaning the end of the party, even though it has been written-off and recovered in the past.
Nevertheless, there is no doubt that this time we will be saying farewell to Labour if it elects the extreme left-wing Corbyn. In its demise the Party can at least be proud of a history that brought in the National Health Service - something that the Tories would never have done. Additionally, the Party banned the hateful bloodsport of hunting, and stopped smoking in public places, meaning that we no longer have to go home reeking of cigarette smoke on our clothes. I suppose it can be said that its work done, the Party is now going home.
Sunflower in the garden. Photograph using the aperture-controlled facility to blur out the background.
A report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (I wish Responsibilities rather than Rights were emphasised), showed that "a significant proportion of mothers feel they got worse treatment as a result of their pregnancy. Nearly a third (29%) of the 3,254 mothers surveyed said they were given fewer opportunities than colleagues at the same level. One in seven (15%) experienced 'humiliating, belittling or offensive' treatment connected to their pregnancy and 11% lost their jobs after telling their employer or going on maternity leave."
While it is important to emphasise equal rights for women, presumably it needs to be also recognised that small firms have immense difficulties in covering for female staff who have gone off to have babies, not returning for several months, while the job has to be kept open. Even fathers now have several weeks of paternity leave, which is the last thing I would have wanted to have in my younger days.
It is all right for the cosy Commission, never having to worry about having to make a profit, to make such highblown assessments, and no doubt overstaffed local authorities can cope with the female absences, but not the small firms. Were I an employer I would certainly not want to employ any woman under the age of 50 years, thereby being beyond child rearing, and possibly better educated, likely to work harder than today's younger generation who can spend a lot of time on Facebook and e-mailing during office hours.
Although it is dangerous to say so, many employers will nevertheless tell you that when there are several females present in the workplace they invariably fight and quarrel with one another, sometimes because of jealousy, one being treated more favourably than another, or disputes about the level of work. Women can often be more conscientious than men, but they are more difficult to handle.
It made Mrs. Copeland and me laugh to see an advertisement in the Property pages of our local newspaper relating to a terraced house on a busy traffic junction now for sale in the village. The estate agents had displayed the entire terrace, making the property look enormous. Yet what is the point of such exaggeration, surely immediately putting off potential buyers when they see the property, but then I suppose the Trade Description Act does not apply to estate agents.
Apart from a brief visit to town to withdraw some more money from the bank, having had a lot of social activities this week, it was a day at home, the temperature actually reaching 15 C at midday, which is a good temperature for this summer. The sky was a great amorphous mass of grey, not even a cloud being visible, the default setting for this miserable summer. Not surprisingly, the wind was in the north, dragging down the temperature.
There is no doubt that a living fire is a far more pleasant form of heating than gas or electricity, having ventilation that prevents the room from becoming stuffy. Obviously a living fire involves far more work, which is why most people these days do not have one, nobody wanting to do any work. I would never want to live in a house without a living fire, for it is such a joy during the winter months - and nowadays during the summer months!
The evening was spent finishing the first-rate biography of Clementine Churchill. Written by a woman, it tends to be a bit syrupy and over-emotional in parts, but that is the nature of a woman's writing. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the well-written and researched book, especially reading about the hateful de Gaulle, one of history's unpleasant characters.
In one chapter the author writes about Churchill having wisely had the French naval fleet destroyed in order to prevent it from falling into German hands. Mrs. Churchill told de Gaulle that "she hoped he would support the British effort to defeat the Nazis", whereupon the loathsome man caustically replied that "It would give the French more satisfaction to turn their guns on the British." This was the arrogant and worthless man who believed that he had single-handedly liberated Paris during the Second World War, whereas the Americans had kindly let his pathetic little army advance into the capital before them.
He was such a nuisance to Churchill during the war that he was virtually ignored, which he never forgot or forgive, subsequently blocking Britain's entry into Europe. I liked the comment about Churchill made by Attlee, the finest Prime Minister this country has had since 1945: "50% genius; 50% bloody fool."
I have now made a start on "A Sniper's Conflict" by Monty B, published in 2014 by Pen & Sword at £19.99, a sniper telling his account of working with the British Army, mainly in Afghanistan. When fighting against the Taliban, the author records killing one insurgent: "The round impacted, making contact and entering the insurgent's lower jaw area just millimetres below the left side of his jaw. Instantly and violently this took a chunk of flesh and bone away from the side and back of his neck or base of the skull and went high left away from his body. A bright red mess of blood and tissue splattered outwards as if it had been torn off and his head snapped to the right as it fell to the ground."
All very violent, though perhaps there is a violent streak in all of us. For my part, I am just thankful that I have not been a big burly fellow, for I know that I would have thumped people, probably ending up in prison. As it is there is a nasty and aggressive little fellow whom I would now dearly like to punch on the nose.
SATURDAY 25 JULY
On the 8 o'clock news on BBC3, I heard that there had been further enormous delays for holidaymakers at Calais, amounting to several hours as immigrants were flooding into the country. How on earth can this happen, and where are our police to prevent this mass immigration? The answer, of course, is that our useless Home Secretary, possibly the worst one we have ever had, and we have had some bad ones in our time, has significantly reduced police forces at a time of this trouble and rising crime, now being hopeless to prevent or deal with the chaos.
As part of the utter nonsense we now have to endure these days, I was reading that employers are no longer permitted to send an adverse reference on an employee, presumably meaning that there is now no longer any point in asking for references. Additionally, I gather that retailers have to put a cover over the display of cigarettes for sale., hiding them from view. Presumably much of these worthless measures emanate from the European Union, suggesting that the sooner we leave that circus the better, possibly the only way of preventing mass immigration into this country.
One of the runner beans in flower in the garden. Unfortunately, it has been a very poor year for the beans, presumably because of the cold weather and lack of sunshine. I will not bother to set any more next year, buying them from abroad instead, as we are now doing.
I liked the splendid e-mail, quoting a passage on relaxation and slowing down, that I received today: "I want my children to embrace doing nothing, to embrace the slowing of an afternoon to a near standstill, when all you can hear is the laborious ticking of the clock and the dog snoring on the sofa, the rain's patter at the window, the occasional swoosh of a slowly passing car. Remember those days?
"The exasperation, the excruciating itchiness of them? My kids would have to dive in, live through the agony, and come out the other side. They'd have to learn to lie on the lawn watching ants scale the grass blades; they'd have to linger, digits pruning, in the bathtub; they'd have to stop, to be still, and then to wait, and wait, and wait, allowing time to fatten around them, like a dewdrop on the tip of a leaf. And then, only then, who knows what they might imagine or invent?"
It reminded me of the remark attributed to Nietzsche, albeit a rather nasty man, saying that he "criticised democracy as a world in which, since nobody believes in anything any more, everyone spends his life in frenzied work and frenzied play so as not to face having to look into the abyss."
During the morning I again went in to town to withdraw some money from the Bank for several more social activities coming up during the next week. Whilst in town I saw that there was a large police presence on account of an extensive demonstration against the mosque that is being built in Lincoln. Apparently there was also a counter-demonstration of those who are amazingly in favour of the edifice. At a time when the Prime Minister is trying to stop Islam from recruiting youngsters as future insurgents, the wisdom of allowing a mosque to be built in Lincoln might possibly be questioned, especially as it has already brought angry protests, and will no doubt see further trouble in the days ahead.
It could, of course, be argued that in allowing this mosque we are showing a more tolerant attitude to a hateful religion that stones adulterous women, treating women generally with utter contempt and cruelty, and which marches through the streets of London with banners saying "Death to the Infidel", the police not being allowed to arrest them Yet would a Church of England church be allowed to be built in one of the more reactionary Muslim countries? I think we all know the answer, and that we are also aware that our tolerance might be better labelled as weakness, certainly not empathy.
Mrs. Copeland, who went to Waitrose for the week's provisions, finding that it was very crowded now the school holidays are here, brought me back a bottle of Jersey milk, which is a real delight, and very health-giving. I have enjoyed this full-cream milk for many years, along with plenty of salt, and I regard this intake as having enabled me to reach the age of 81 years, having had not the slightest regard for all those heath edicts, none of them based on any medical or scientific sound foundation, the warnings usually being changed after a couple of years.
After a quiet afternoon with a siesta, following Nietzsche's advice, Mrs. C and I went to the local Club to attend a 25th wedding anniversary celebration of a very pleasant village couple, the husband and wife both having M.Sc. degrees in science, not a Mickey Mouse subject like jazz. The weather brightened up somewhat during the evening, and we were initially able to sit outside until we soon developed signs of hypothermia, fortunately being able to retreat to a marquee that was still up after a recent splendid wedding.
This enabled us to escape a very noisy band that was playing on full amplified volume inside the Club, making a deafening noise, which I find so vexatious to the spirit. The band, which I was told was very good, had some interesting characters, including the big, burly leader who had tattoos all over him, and a middle aged bespectacled fellow who had long grey hair down to his shoulders, apparently a teacher.
During the evening, which I greatly enjoyed, being able to drink without having to drive, I spoke to one of my neighbours who was saying that he thought "Mon Strosity" was even worse than he had initially imagined, a great sore blight on the neighbourhood. He told me that during the appeal the horrible house was fully supported by a quango called "English Heritage", a support that is not all that surprising given the nature of that organisation that has done very little to protect the environment, giving the impression that it does not realise that "heritage" is defined as supporting "valued objects and qualities such as historic buildings and cultural traditions." The house, on dark and depressing site, will be like living in a shoebox.
I was also hearing about a bumptious and not very loveable fellow, so full of himself, whose business had not surprisingly failed on account of his extravagance, and he was now having to work as an employee with another firm. That must be a bitter blow, the mighty having fallen, no longer having the status and credibility of being self-employed, though as Mrs. Copeland rightly said, it means having the advantage of a regular income at a rather difficult trading time.
The event was a great success, helped yet again by our excellent chairman and stewardess who have made the Club such a welcoming and successful place, now enjoying an impressive financial recovery. Goodness knows what we will do if the chairman and stewardess ever leave us. Presumably the Club will close down, few people, especially the natives, wanting to work these days, certainly not during unsociable hours.
SUNDAY 26 JULY
Today's "Sunday Express" had a front-page headline "Migrants ruin big holiday getaway - Calais mob threatens weeks of disruption to Eurotunnel and roads", yet as I have remarked before, our Home Secretary does absolutely nothing about this chaos that causes hours of waiting in long traffic queues. I cannot believe that we have had such a dreadful Home Secretary, one that is totally out of her depth, having made the life of the police even more difficult with her extensive cutbacks at a time of rising crime and disorder. But as I mentioned earlier, it is not easy to sack a useless woman for fears of accusations of sexism.
On the excellent BBC news website, there was an item saying: "Middle-class parents create a "glass floor" to protect their less able children from slipping down the social scale in Britain, According to the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission better-off families managed to secure educational and social advantages to stop their slide." Is that so surprising, something to be criticised, all because middle class parents want to do the best for their children, whereas so many working class families give the impression of not being all that bothered with the education of their offspring.
There was a report in the press this week that a study has shown that middle class elderly people are drinking heavily. Yet who can blame us when we see what the generation that has replaced us has done to the social and economic foundations of the country - indebted, drugged up and divorced, the nation in a near state of utter chaos with a thoroughly nasty and inefficient Government. A bottle of wine a day takes our minds off the harm that the uncaring Cameroons are doing to the NHS, to the BBC, and to the sick and the poor.
During the week I heard that a Government Minister for Road Safety had been banned from driving for six months because of speeding, and that the Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords had resigned on account of accusations of taking drugs. What a country, but then my parents probably said the same thing in their day.
The first floor of "Mon Strosity", the unbelievably ugly timber-framed house that is now being built in our neighbourhood, part of which will look straight into the living room of a neighbouring property, taking away light and the view. As Mrs. Copeland said on seeing the building work this week, it becomes more and more of a monstrosity. Fortunately we cannot see the ugly edifice from our house, and as we will have nothing to do with the owners when they move in, perhaps things are not as bad as initially feared. Even so, it must be a strong contender for the "Ugliest House of the Year Award", as well as the most soulless.
The Sunday newspapers nearly all carry the news that Cameron may bring the referendum on the European Union forward to next year, taking advantage of what he believes is a pro-Union attitude in the country, though goodness knows where he gets that idea from. Most people I speak to want to withdraw from the Union as soon as possible, seeing it as a chaotic circus that costs us a lot of money with hardly any return or benefits.
It is certainly a difficult issue, having many for and against items. On the one hand, withdrawal would stop all the nonsensical Health & Safety legislation that is making it increasingly dangerous to get out of bed in the morning, and there is no doubt that we can only stop thousands of immigrants landing on our shores for the welfare benefits by withdrawing from the Union.
Against such considerations there is every possibility of our export trade suffering as restrictive measures could be placed on us by the Union, and there is the very real worry that the Cameroons, no longer being restrained by EU measures to protect employee working conditions, would resort to free hiring and firing of labour, taking us back to Victorian working days. Free eye tests for the over 60s would also probably go. Somehow, though, I do not believe we have to worry about the fears of us becoming an insignificant country in Europe, for we are that already.
On balance, and all these things considered, I think I will vote to withdraw from the European Union, there being overall benefits in that withdrawal, and my guess is that in the referendum there will be a 75% vote for this withdrawal, the Murdoch press persuading the lower classes to vote that way. At least we will not be flooded with immigrants any longer.
As it was raining most of the day, the thermometer down to 13 C in this terrible summer, all outside activities were suspended. Instead, after doing some housework, I sat in the conservatory, reading "A Sniper's Conflict" in the evening. In one of the chapters the author comments on the hatred of the Afghans for the British troops: "Their whole manner seemed to show complete contempt, loathing and sheer disgust towards us judging by their eye contact, facial expressions and overall body language. In private they were probably thinking: 'Why are these western infidels here? How dare they come to our land?'"
The author also writes about the feelings of losing a colleague killed in combat: "For a moment in time your brain tries to assimilate the information in a logical manner, taking a second or two to fully understand, to comprehend, to absorb what has just happened. Then follows a feeling of sheer emptiness, nothing registering in the brain, followed by doubt leading to shock when the mind fully grasps the situation, your mate, your friend is gone. An almost physical feeling of wanting to be sick, a dull gut-wrenching ache, sweeps over your whole body in an instant, almost taking over. The feelings of sorrow and loss are then succeeded by feelings of anger; all of this in such a short time of space."
Time and time again in books about wars I have read about the close relationships between troops; that they would do anything to save and protect one another: a relationship that in a way is even closer and more secure than the relations between man and woman, certainly not liable to emotional tantrums and tears.
It was a fine book, emphasising the impossible task the British and American troops faced in dealing with enemy that could easily hide behind civilians, and which cowardly placed IEDs along the roads. In the end we departed from Afghanistan, tail between our legs, the Taliban victorious, just as wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Libya were also failures, nothing being achieved. Yet now we are sending our planes into Syria with no possibility of any success in curbing ISIS. Maybe we should just leave those troubled countries to their own fate, not wasting any more money or our troops' lives on unworthy and hopeless causes.
I have now made a start on "A Nazi in the Family" by Derek Niemann, published this year by Short Books.
As I read in the conservatory during the morning, I could hear the rain beating down on the perspex roof - a most comforting sound in this lousy summer. Being so cold, having had to change into winter clothing, I put the heating on for extra warmth.
On numerous occasions I have mentioned that the conservatory was one of the best investments we ever made, being especially welcome to sit in for much of the summer now that the summers have become so cold and miserable. Even on the darkest days in this dreary and dark summer, it is wonderfully light, far more so than the parlour.
At 3.30 p.m. we went to the Club for the traditional Sabbath Day alcoholic refreshment, having to remain indoors as it was still relentlessly raining. For dinner we had a splendid rump steak from our family butcher whose products are the best in town, though I gather he has had rather poor marks for hygiene. Afterwards, following a brief siesta, I read some more of "A Nazi in the Family," which I am enjoying. Fortunately, during the past two months I have only had one bad book, namely the memoir of a return to Palestine that was so incredibly boring.
MONDAY 27 JULY
It was raining when we went to bed last night, and still raining when we got up this morning, making me wonder what visitors to this country must think when they have to endure relentless rain and not a sign of the sun. According to the forecast, for what it is worth, there will be more heavy rain during the week, not brightening up until Sunday. It makes me long for the return of winter, no longer having to face this disappointment of rain and no sun every summer day. How I wish we could have some of that global warming those crazy climatologists keep talking about.
I had to go in to Lincoln early in the morning, braving the rain, to top-up my mobile broadband account, which costs £10 a month. The main broadband in our part of the village is only 0.8 mbps, and that on a good day according to my neighbours, so it is as well to keep on the mobile facility which gives me a speed of 3 mbps, which is more than sufficient for me needs, never downloading any music or films from the Internet.
An e-mail from BT today announced that the line rental charges were going up £1 a week from September. I am beginning to think that it is time to move away from BT for it has become so ridiculously expensive, costing far more than its competitors. I even have a £4.50 quarterly charge for wanting an invoice and not having diabolical direct debit, though I would pay three times that amount to avoid a direct debit arrangement.
An intrusive survey that Mrs. Copeland has received from her doctor's surgery relating to her drinking habits, asking additionally for all manner of personal details. I have advised her to throw it away.
A friend who has retired early now undertakes gardening jobs, and I employed him this morning to transplant a holly bush from a confining pot into the ground, and to free a shed door from scraping along the ground - jobs that were achieved quickly and efficiently, enabling us to have a little something afterwards in the conservatory. We were very fortunate that the work was undertaken during a brief break in the rain.
In today's post Amazon sent me two copies of the DVD of the excellent film "Suite Francaise", whereas I had ordered only one. However, it is an easy matter to return an item, the firm being extremely efficient in this area.
Mrs, Copeland, who attends a different doctors' surgery to mine, received a letter in the post asking her to complete an 18-page questionnaire under the guise of "Alcohol use in people aged 50 and over". Among the enormous amount of personal details that had to be answered in the questionnaire were age, marital status, sexual orientation, place of residence, number of people living with you, racial classification, religion, education after leaving school, and do you have a degree, and what is your current employment?
Other questions asked: "Do you have a long-standing illness, do you look after family members, how often do you have a drink containing alcohol, , in the last 7 days how many units of alcohol have you had?, how often during the last year have you had a feeling if guilt or remorse after drinking? describe the reasons for drinking alcohol, what do you think is the maximum number of alcohol units the Government recommends you should not exceed, during a typical day, does your health limit you in climbing several flights of stairs, how much during the last month have you felt calm and peaceful? and in the past 6 months how many times have you visited an accident and emergency department as a patient?"
I find such questions, especially about sexual orientation and religion, totally intrusive and offensive, an infringement of personal liberty, or the invasion of human rights as we say these days. Although I make no such allegations with this particular survey, there is no doubt that a lot of customer service questionnaires, especially those long one relating to the registration of a newly purchase product, are used for marketing purposes, subsequently bringing an avalanche of junk mail
In terms of my weekly alcoholic intake, I guess that it involves 6 bottles of white wine a week, plus 3 pints of beer on a Sunday, possibly representing 75 units. The fact is that I am still here, greatly enjoying life with the benefit of alcohol So if I am sent such a questionnaire I will either throw it into the recycling bin, or say that I only drink orange juice, except for a bottle of "Blue Nun" at Christmas, which I share with the family.
What is the point of this survey, undertaken by a university. If it is found, as is likely to be discovered, that geriatrics drink themselves silly in order to take their minds off a very nasty and repressive Government, what is going to happen? Will bottles of wine and beer be doubled in price, or will there be compulsory counselling? If you ask me, it might be better if these university researchers were put to work on repairing the road, instead of writing silly surveys.
Equally annoying these days is to have to complete a customer service survey on any item that is bought these days when the product has to be registered, the claim being that it helps the firm to improve its service. Oh, yeah? I have never noticed any improvement in any service. The real purpose, of course, is to send you all manner of junk mail and to receive scam telephone calls, all your personal details being retained on computers. I have often given my name as David Salmon on the questionnaires, , and over the months I have had telephone calls from India saying: "Good morning, Mr. Salmon".
Nevertheless, I enjoy filling in these registration surveys, giving all the wrong information saying that I am 25 years of age, twice divorced, have 5 children, read the "Daily Mirror", insurances are due on Christmas Day, love walking and camping, jog every day after breakfast, drink only very occasionally, and really love watching television, possibly spending at least four hours every evening. My guess is that many other people also have fun with these worthless questionnaires, as they did with the Kinsey Report on sexual behaviour that came up with the conclusion that couples had it every night except Thursdays, which was bingo night. How you have to laugh.
The rain continued into the afternoon, which must be causing a big problem for the timber-framed and interior chipboard panels of "Mon Strosity", getting them soaked in the rain and unable to dry out because of the cold and wet weather. There is no doubt that this will cause immense problems for the building in future.
Today's gutter press is demanding the sacking of a Member of the House of Lords who is accused of taking drugs with prostitutes, having been photographed wearing a brassiere. It might be better to go the whole hog and sack the entire bunch of these useless people who, over the centuries, have rejected all social reforms from the Commons. This was the House that also believed in slavery
After a restful afternoon, the evening was spent in the conservatory reading the book about a Nazi in the family, which I am reasonably enjoying.
The FTSE., presumably aware that there be dragons ahead, continues to fall. At the start of the year the index was 6,566, and is down to 6,505, having fallen a further 74 points today. The fall is said to be due to the continuing problems in China that is now thankfully not sending us so much rubbish.
A report in today's "Financial Times" (now owned by the Japanese, involving a further sell-off of the family silver) said that "order books at British manufacturers have shrunk to their lowest level in two years in July, with companies blaming the strength of sterling for the pinch. Companies are increasingly gloomy about the outlook." This is likely to see further falls in exports, which is the last thing the Chancellor wishes to see. Yet the Governor of the Bank of England is still saying that interest rates will soon have to rise, meaning a further strengthening of sterling, making it even more difficult for exporters. What kind of sense is that?
There are predictions that economic growth is expected to rise to 0.7% for the second quarter when the figures are released tomorrow by the Office for National Statistics. I would find that surprising, expecting it to be more like 0.4%, but we will see.
TUESDAY 28 JULY
During the morning I saw on the BBC news website the incredible, utterly beyond belief news that the Office for National Statistics reported that UK economic growth in the second quarter of this year grew by 0.7%, up from 0.3% in the first quarter. Yet during these months construction output fell along with investment and productivity, and there was no increase in exports. Presumably there will be a subsequent downgrading.
On the same page announcing this unbelievable economic growth, there were news items saying that "UK retail sales dipped in June", and that "UK unemployment rose for the first time in two years." And yet we have this economic growth, said to be because of "a big jump in oil and gas production." Shum mishtake shurly, as they say in "Private Eye". It just doesn't make any sense. Presumably it will be corrected in the 3rd quarter. As might be expected, our smug Chancellor proclaimed that the British economy was "motoring along."
Even so, although sounding like a lamentation for being so wrong, I continue to believe that the UK is fundamentally weak and unbalanced, especially in terms of the lowest productivity of any of the G7 nations; its lack of investment; the declining export trade; and far too dependent upon consumer expenditure at home. To all intents it seems that the latest growth figures consist largely of the UK taking in its own washing. Economic growth of just 1% in six months is hardly something to crow about, suggesting that the motoring will soon come to a standstill.
I also heard that a female cook who is in some cookery programme on the idiot's lantern - a fitness freak, and you always have to be wary of such people - has said that a cake "is a nutritional sin." What utter codswallop. The reality is that cooks today lack the skills our mothers had in making cakes, nowadays being unable to judge the right mixture and temperature for a delightful food. I suppose we have to feel sorry for these people who will never experience the delights of proper food.
Mrs. C regularly makes a delicious fruitcake, which I have for high tea about 6 p.m., our main meal being the more healthy time of 1 o'clock. The cake, perfectly cooked, is a real delight at teatime, especially when there is also home-made raspberry jam and bread and proper butter also available. Today's youngsters, fretting about food fads and fears, will never be able to enjoy the food we have had during our days, which seems such a pity. Today they are worried about fat content, carbohydrates, and their calorie intake and other such nonsense, even concerned about cholesterol levels that have become important since doctors learnt how to spell the word.
I have had to make arrangements for the Ministry of Transport annual check on my Scorpio, which has done 488 miles since the last MOT - a record year. It is totally uneconomic to retain the car, for with the cost of the MOT, servicing, petrol (not much) insurance and the £250 road fund licence it costs about £825 a year. Yet somehow I cannot face getting rid of a reliable old friend, even though I have received several offers for the vehicle. I gather that boy racers use the engine for speeding up their bangers.
Another grim, sunless day in this horrible summer. I liked an item put on my website, showing an Internet application that involved "Installing British summer", with a warning coming up on trying to access the site: " Installation failed. Error 404 - summer not found. Summer is not available in your country. Please try Spain." That says it all.
As it was raining yet again this morning, the temperature only 13 C, I took the Scorpio to purchase an "i". As I was approaching the filling station where I purchase the newspaper, an elderly fellow pulled out of his drive onto the road, obviously not looking either way to see whether the road was clear. He missed me by inches, causing me to swerve onto the pavement. Driving on the dodgems of British roads, uncared for and potholed, possibly little better than Turnpike days, is certainly not a pleasure these days.
The narrow road through the village that is potholed on either side. It has become a rat-run for commuters and lorries, BMWs and white van drivers racing along the dangerous highway. The Highways Department keeps saying the road will be repaired, but nothing ever happens, there being no money for anything.
Today's "Daily Mirror", reporting that a member of the Louse of Lords had resigned for allegedly taking drugs with prostitutes, suggested "Let's get rid of the lot of them." That surely would be a good idea, abolishing an archiac and undemocratic institution that has done so much harm to the social and economic framework of the country over the centuries. However, now that we have an incredibly right-wing Government, the Lords are safe for another decade or more, especially now that the Labour Party has left the political scene, along with the Lib-Dems, Accordingly, we now have a Government that has no effective opposition, being able to have its excessive way unhindered.
A quiet day at home, during which I cleaned the Scorpio and did some housework. Tuesdays are Mrs. Copeland's social worker day when she visits the elderly and sick, one in the morning and another after lunch, so I do not see her much during the day.
During the day we received a copy of the Lincoln Film Society's brochure new season of forthcoming films, and a more collection of esoteric, obscure and bizarre films would be difficult to imagine, most of them from foreign countries, including Venezuela, Argentina, Israel, Spain, Mauritania, Belgium, Russia, Sweden, Uruguay, Germany, France and Denmark, obviously all with subtitles, and how I loathe films with these obtrusive renderings, quite spoiling the film. When I ran a film club at our local Club, people refused to come if there were films with subtitles, and I cannot blame them. Where on earth does the Society find these recondite films?
In fairness to the Society, I suppose it could be said that I am not intelligent enough to appreciate the films that are being offered and that I have this prejudice and bias in loathing films with subtitles that always seem to take away the enjoyment of a film something being lost. It is rather like books that are translated from a foreign language into English, never being so good as the original.
After a siesta in the afternoon, I finished the book about a Nazi in the family - a book I quite enjoyed, even though it was rather dull in parts. I found it amazing that so many of the SS officers believed right to the very end of the war and beyond that Hitler was a wonderful leader, and even today there are extreme right-wing elements in Germany, successors to the Fuhrer who, given a few tins of grey paint, would be on the march again. The safeguard is that Germany is now the undisputed leader in Europe, and will be even greater when the UK departs the Union, so there is no need for any more marching.
I have made a start on reading "Fall of Man in Wilmslow" by David Lagercrantz", a novel about Alan Turing's death as a homosexual, published this year by Maclehose Press. The book was given to me as a birthday present. The book is translated from the Swedish, and sometimes reads rather John & Janet in its rendering.
Before going to bed I switched on the computer to check on e-mails and to look at the BBC News website, seeing an item saying: "Some 2,000 migrants tried to enter the Channel Tunnel terminal in Calais on Monday night in an attempt to reach the UK, operator Eurotunnel has said. A number of people were injured, a spokesman for Eurotunnel said, without elaborating.
Eurotunnel is facing a daily struggle with migrants who attempt to smuggle themselves into Britain, sometimes with fatal consequences." And still our hopeless Home Secretary does nothing about this unwanted invasion. Why aren't our troops being deployed to stop the invasion? No doubt the excuse is being made that as we are in the EU the immigration cannot be stopped.
WEDNESDAY 29 JULY
There were reports today of further problems at Calais with thousands of immigrants trying to get into the country, causing massive traffic delays, one of the immigrants dying in the chaos. So what does our useless Home Secretary do with faced with this terrible problem? - she has a committee meeting - that sure way of doing nothing.
What I cannot understand is why the immigrants are so keen to come to this country, rather than staying in France. I suppose the answer is the higher welfare benefits, there presumably being an office at Dover telling immigrants to apply here for your full benefits. Why don't we reduce the benefits to conform with those in France?
Presumably this would be far too simple for our limited Hone Secretary, totally out of her depth. What an embarrassment she must be to Cameron, knowing that he can never sack a woman for fear of accusations of sexism. What a muddled world we live in, the country falling steadily apart, despite economic growth of 0.7% that nobody believes, except the smug Chancellor.
One possible advantage of this massive immigrant invasion is that it is putting the British public against the European Union, obviously leading to a triumphant vote to leave the European Union. As the "Daily Express" says in its front-page headline today: Britain gets EU exit boost." I have now finally decided that I will vote for withdrawal, taking the view that we can only stop this influx by leaving the circus.
I had an awful night, not managing to get to sleep until about 3 a.m., at one stage getting up to turn on the computer. Mrs. Copeland tells me that insomnia is nothing to worry about, especially as I am not going to work the next morning, but I nevertheless find wakeful nights unpleasant and so utterly boring . I was probably churning over the 0.7% economic growth in my mind, wondering how on earth the Office for National Statistics cam up with that grossly inflated figure, it being said that there are lies, damned lies, and the OFNS.
About 18 months' ago, Mrs. Copeland bought a mole repellent appliance from a firm trading under the name of STV. Unfortunately, the appliance has stopped working, and I therefore wrote to the firm suggesting that in view of the early failure, they should consider selling me a replacement at a reduced price.
Subsequently I received a reply from the "Customer Relations Administrator" saying: "As the product manufacturer all our products are available to purchase at the recommended retail price only, it is with regret we are unable to reduce any of our prices.... Please accept our apologies for we are unable to assist you any further with this matter." As might be imagined, I wrote a suitable response, saying just what I thought about this customer relationship. Fortunately, there are other appliances available on Amazon, hopefully more reliable.
The latest issue of "Private Eye" has a photograph of Prince Harry saying to the Queen re the Nazi salute trouble: "Tell them you were pissed." I did not find that in the least bit funny; indeed, I do not find the journal so good these days, believing that it has lost its former sparkle. almost as if it has run out of jokes and being amusing. I am aware, though, that I have totally lost my sense of humour, no longer even finding the economic policy of the Chancellor funny any more, so perhaps I am at fault . Once lost, humour is never regained. I gather that this loss is a well-known characteristic of old age, when life understandably becomes far more serious, certainly more difficult and less optimistic.
Summertime flower in the garden.
Apart from a brief visit to town to purchase an "i" and some bottles of beer from Waitrose, it was a morning and afternoon at home, the time passing pleasantly enough, even though I felt somewhat tired after a sleepless night. I was amazed to see a front-page headline in today's "i" saying: "Burgled? You've no right to see a policeman." Apparently this is due to the female Head of the National Police Chiefs' Council saying that instead of responding to burglaries, the police must concentrate on cyber crime, terrorism and protecting children. Have you ever heard such nonsense, even by today's silly standards.
It seems unbelievable, possibly sad, that a silly remark and unthinking remark like that, possibly being made with the best intentions, can ruin a career, all respect and credibility having been lost, rather like discipline being lost by a teacher in the classroom, never to be regained. Mud always sticks, certainly in the mishief-making and muck-raking media
Many years ago there was a jeweller who said that his firm sold worthless trinkets, and he was never allowed to forget the unguarded remark, and there was Thatcher the Terrible who unbelievably stupidly said that there was no such thing as society - a remark that hounded her for the rest of her days.
Fortunately, wiser counsels were to be observed in remarks made by the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, who is quoted as saying that "it is unsustainable for the police to decline to attend serious cases of burglary", while the woman's remarks were roundly condemned by nearly all the press, an editorial in "The Daily Telegraph" saying that police forces exist "to uphold the law and protect the populace, both from crime and the fears, anxiety and distress that crime causes."
Some of the newspapers have photographs showing an America dentist having paid $50,000 to shoot a famous African lion called Cecil. How can any man, even the most callous and cruel of creatures, have pleasure in such barbarity. He ought to be strung up, feet first.
During the afternoon Mrs. Copeland went to the funeral of the wife of a couple we vaguely know. It is one of the great sadnesses in life that every couple knows that the day will come when they are parted, the surviving husband or wife living the rest of the days in sadness and loneliness. The woman taking the funeral service said that when we die we will be entering a new life, presumably in heaven. What utter codswallop this is, making me wonder how any intelligent person can believe in such a myth, reassuring though it sounds.
If there is another life, I would like to be a long-haul pilot and a big strong burly fellow so that I can thump people when I dislike them. That would be a splendid personality profile.
In the evening Mrs. Copeland and I went to the splendid Venue cinema, where we saw the film "Queen and Country". The film began well, showing the misery that young men called up for compulsory National Service in the 1950s had to endure, being bullied by coarse sergeant-majors, making me so thankful that I dodged out of the call-up on account of badly suffering from migraine. Subsequently, the film fell apart into an unfunny farce, the incredibly wooden actors sounding as if they were reading their parts. An amateur dramatic society could have done better than that. A big disappointment.
Back home I spent some time reading some more of "Fall of Man in Wilmslow", dealing with the terrible treatment forced upon Alan Turing for being a homosexual, made to take oestrogen, subsequently killing himself. The book has some pleasant terms, such as "like a jester who grows sad once the applause has died down", and "a bit like masturbating: exciting while it was going on but shameful afterwards".
Later on Mrs. C. and I sat drinking wine until 1.15 a.m - sessions that we greatly enjoy. Much to my relief Mrs. C. has thrown away that questionnaire that she was sent asking about her drinking habits, also asking for numerous personal duties. The survey is supposed to be anonymous and confidential, no name being recorded on the forms, though I saw that there was a reference number on the front page that would easily identify the respondent. Moral: never fill in these questionnaires, except to give totally wrong information.
THURSDAY 30 JULY
Earlier this week I suggested that the Army should be sent to sort out the immigrant chaos at Calais and in the Channel Tunnel. Today, several of the newspapers were demanding to "Send in the Army", the "Daily Star" adding: "If there is one." I suppose in a way you have to feel sorry for the totally incompetent Mrs. May, the Home Secretary, for she is so totally out of her depth. On the other hand, we can presumably blame the perfidious French for not making greater efforts to prevent the immigrants using the Tunnel, presumably because they do not want the immigrants in France. Like most Englishmen, I cannot abide the French, loathing their horrible old-womanly language.
On the news I heard that Centrica, the British gas company, was shedding 6,000 jobs, following upon oil companies and banks also making large numbers of staff redundant. Nevertheless, amidst all these massive redundancies we are being told that unemployment is falling. We are also told manufacturing is in the doldrums, and that consumer expenditure fell in June, not suggesting that the UK is "motoring along" as our smug Chancellor has boasted. Presumably it is about to go over a cliff.
It now seems certain that Jeremy Corbyn, the extreme left-wing contender, possibly another Michael Foot who is not surprisingly supported by the unions, will become the new leader of the Labour Party. So farewell Labour. You did a good job in the early days, but then fell apart, never having formulated any policies to deal with a very troubled economy. In the past it has been said that you always came back, but not this time as the party is as dead as Old Marley or Monty Python's parrot.
A quiet morning and afternoon at home, there being nothing to report on a day that is easily forgotten.
Once again this week's entries are far too long, amounting to 9,027 words. No wonder the number of hits is falling faster than the contempt for the Labour Party. I really must make it shorter, for soon only Mrs. Copeland and one of my daughters will be reading the weekly polemic.
Since it was announced that economic growth rose to 0.7% in the second quarter of this year, the FTSE has arrested its relentless decline, and is now shooting up every day with restored optimism. It really is quite incredible.
A seaside photograph taken by granddaughter Chloe who had a weekend holiday at Humberstone.
This evening I will be showing the DVD of the wonderful film "Suite Francaise" with an elderly male neighbour, giving us the opportunity to joyfully increase the units of alcohol. I saw the film at the splendid "Venue", but will greatly enjoying seeing a fine film again, possibly among the best films of the year, though unlikely to receive any award.
The only time the television set is turned on is to show DVDs, making me so thankful that Mrs. Copeland dislikes the idiot's lantern as much as I do. On occasions I look at the schedule of programmes in the newspaper, seeing that it is all a load of rubbish, fit only for the elderly in retirement homes and for people who are culturally-challenged - i.e. thick.
There was more rain today, the temperature at noon managing to reach 15 C, which is good for this summer. This July must have been one of the most disappointing months in living memory, there probably only having been about 15 hours of sunshine throughout the entire month. How I wish we could have some of that global warming that those crazy climatologists are always talking about.
Lincolnshire 30th July, 2015
Diary of an Octogenarian
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