DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN

- John Copeland -


Friday 20th February - Thursday 26th February, 2015


Brayford

According to a television programme the Brayford Trust Ltd is proposing to support another "floating restaurant" along the waterfront of the Brayford Pool in Lincoln, shamefully blocking the view from existing restaurants, as an earlier "floating restaurant" has done. The Trust is charged with "the care of the important and historic Brayford Pool in Lincoln", yet this proposed development, which might be regarded as bordering on environmental vandalism, seems a strange form of care. Perhaps we should form another Trust - "Save our Brayford" [SOB]


"An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry."

George Eliot


FRIDAY 20 FEBRUARY

Added to the arthritis in my knees and spine, I now have sciatica, making it difficult for me to walk. Oh, the agonies of old age. They keep us blighters alive with all manner of pills and potions, few of us octogenarians being free of any kind malady, but the agonies continue. One of my friends suggested that I should purchase a wheat bag, so I tried to obtain one locally, only to find that none of the shops stocked the product. I therefore had to use the Internet, as I do so often these days, the local shops being so poorly stocked.

Mrs. Copeland, following her operation, was given a letter by the Hospital to take to her doctor for a prescription for some pills, only to be told at the surgery that it would take two days for it to be made out, which seems to be a ridiculous length of time. I suppose, though, that we have to accept that we are a grossly overpopulated country, the pressures on the Health Service being enormous as the immigrants flood in.

I was not surprised to receive in the post yesterday from our local District Council a notification that one of the two applicants for setting up massive solar farms in the village had gone to appeal. The impression is given that the Inspectorate, presumably as a result of pressure from a very nasty Conservative Government, now seems to allow everything and anything on appeal, as we saw with the ghastly modern house - "Mon Strosity" - that was allowed on appeal in our historic community, despite being opposed by all the resident house-owners; rejected by the Parish Council; and unanimously thrown out by the Planning Committee of our District Council following a site visit. So presumably we will see the village surrounded by these ghastly solar panels. Such is democracy in this indebted and overpopulated little island.

In last week's diary I mentioned that there is a proposal, emanating (so I understand) from the Brayford Trust Ltd that is charged with "the care of the important and historic Brayford Pool in Lincoln, to have another "floating restaurant" in front of existing restaurants, shamefully and completely blocking their view of the water. Already we have a massive Japanese-style "floating restaurant" that has been built in front of several existing restaurants, and it might be regarded that yet another such floating enterprise would be little short of environmental vandalism.

I therefore sent an e-mail this morning to the Trust at brafordtrust9@yahoo. com, expressing the view that it should do everything possible to prevent such an unnecessary and unwanted development, emphasising that there are already far too many restaurants in the area. Indeed, I gather that the Japanese restaurant is now up for sale. I just hope that other people who are as concerned as I am about the protection of this unique area in Lincoln will also write to express their concern about the proposed development. Meanwhile, I find it all very sad, especially as there is little concern for the environment in this country. Perhaps I ought to set up a Trust under the title of "Save Our Brayford" [SOB].

Among the list of members of the Trust I saw that there as a well-known property developer, along with a Labour councillor from the Lincoln City Council who believes that there is a need for 42,800 houses in the county over the next twenty years. Unfortunately, there is a mistaken belief that building further restaurants means economic growth, whereas it is nothing of the sort, merely representing a shifting of money around the area, forcing other existing restaurants to close.

In fairness, I suppose it could be argued that the massive and ugly apartment blocks and enormous hotels have already ruined Brayford, the area now being beyond any redemption as a result of insensitive development allowed by Lincoln City Council. Yet in the hands of more inspiring architects, especially those abroad, it could have been a Little Venice. Instead, we allow anything to be built, profit before protection being the rule of the day. Even in the unlikely event of this latest development being turned down by the City Council, it will no doubt be allowed on appeal. Perhaps I am too old fashioned in my views, not understanding modern town planning.

Crucuses

Crocuses in the garden


Today's "Daily Mail" had a front-page headline: "Britain at the mercy of Putin's planes", which have apparently been flying over the Cornish coast, being intercepted by RAF fighters. Yet despite all these international tensions and the ever present worry about Muslim extremists, we continue cutting back our armed forces, repeating the mistake we made in the 1930s, history apparently teaching us nothing. The problem is that with a massive welfare bill we cannot afford to have a respectable air force and army, the country being extensively in debt, unable to properly finance the NHS because of the ever increasing population, especially among immigrants.

What I find so surprising is that despite all these cuts in the armed forces, the flying circus known as "The Red Arrows" continues to fly round and round in circles over the village all day, the annual operating costs amounting to 20m, plus the enormous capital costs of crashed planes being written-off. In this age of austerity, surely this team should be disbanded, especially as a correspondent in our local paper described the displays as "old hat".

I was to have met a ladyfriend at an hotel in Lincoln for coffee this morning - or rather wine in my case., but she did not turn up. When I arrived back home, Mrs. Copeland told me that she had heard on the local radio station that Lincoln was completely gridlocked, traffic from the southern part of the city where my friend lives, being unable to come into Lincoln, largely because of roadworks that are taking six months to complete. It has been suggested that these highly expensive so-called road improvements will make not the slightest difference to the flow of traffic.

In America or Germany, even in France, the work would be finished in six weeks, but not in this country with its indolent and inefficient workers, the laziest in Europe. When you live in a broken-down country that is nearly bankrupt, you just have to accept these appalling standards. As the old saying has it: "Cheer up, the worst is yet to come" as we descend into a ruthless and relentless deflationary spiral.

I waited some 20 minutes, but then went off on various errands, finding that I could pass the cars and lorries at a standstill on my scooter. Thank heavens for two wheels, the only way to travel in these parts. Even so, the town was horribly crowded with the most awful people, making me realise what a rundown and hateful country this has become. Worst of all were the ghastly children, now on half-term holiday, making me feel so sorry for teachers. Teaching these days must be one of the most unpleasant occupations known to mankind

Were I still in employment I would rather work down a coal mine, talking to the miners about how right Arthur Scargill was in saying the mines would be sold off abroad, than being in the unmitigated hell of a classroom. I really must try to avoid going in to town during these school holidays, for the streets are a hell on earth. Thank heavens the children go back to school next Monday, when peace will reign again in the High Street.

Perhaps significantly, I had an e-mail from Age UK addressed to me as "Dr. Copeland", saying: "More than a third of people aged 65 years and over believe Britain has become a worse place to live in over the past 12 months." I would say that it has become a worse place with its overcrowding and relentless immigration over the past five years, now being so grossly overpopulated, its working contingent being inefficient and incompetent, the people so scruffy and poorly educated, yelling into their mobile telephones all the time. Thank heavens we managed to stop broadband being installed in our local Club, not wanting the room to resemble a railway carriage.

Yesterday I ordered a book from Waterstone's "The Hall of Mirrors - The great depression, the great recession, and the uses - and misuses - of history" by Barry Eichengreen, published this year by Oxford. Mrs. Copeland said she would give me the book for helping out during the recent troubles. Today had a text message saying the book had now arrived. Excellent service, making me wonder why I ever bought books form Amazon. In future, I will buy all my books from Waterstone's that offers such an excellent service with pleasant members of staff.

Whilst in town I bought some rump steak from our butcher. As all the food frighteners of the past decade were shown last week to be totally worthless, red meat now being said to be good for you, I expect the butchers are rejoicing on their improved trade. It seems strange how things so often go full circle. Now, after all that silly business about all manner of food being bad for us, we are returning to the diet that our parents enjoyed, having meat in abundance, along with full-cream milk and butter, no longer having to eat those ghastly butter substitutes.

Some years ago, when I mentioned the awfulness of those horrible butter substitutes, I received an e-mail from a university student who worked in one of the butter substitute factories, saying that if I knew what went into them I would be horrified. No only that, the product could be made for a few pence, whereas it was charged at the same price as proper butter, thereby making an enormous profit for the firms.

We are also going back to the former ideas on education. For several decades, crazy professors of education, many of them of a left-wing bent, argued that it was not necessary for children to learn grammar or multiplication tables, subsequently ending up with children who were illiterate and enumerate. Now we are insisting that grammar and tables should be taught.

On the BBC news website I saw that "UK retail sales fell 0.3% in January from the previous month, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. The decline in sales follows a 0.2% rise in December 2014. The January figure was a 5.4% rise on a year earlier, the ONS said. UK High Street shops have been reducing their prices in an effort to attract customers, the figures indicate. Average store prices were 3.1% cheaper than last January.
This was the largest year-on-year fall since consistent records began in 1997, the ONS added."

This is consistent with a country about to go into deflation and should therefore cause no surprise, just as there should be no amazement that Centrica, the gas company, had its profits fall by a third. In some ways I makes you believe that there really must be a God who is looking after us.

It made me laugh to read in today's "Times" that the columnist Philip Collins heads his polemic: "Lib Dems will prove to be the biggest survivors - Ignore the other small parties. Nick Clegg's lot will be alive and kicking the Tories (probably) in the next coalition." One for the soothsayings scrapbook that I keep to see how far the predictions were right - nearly 95% being completely wrong. Obviously the little fellow has not seen the latest opinion polls that are indicating that Mr. Clegg will lose his seat as his party manages to return only one member in May's general election.

Apart from a brief visit to Lincoln after lunch, the evening was spent at home, finishing reading "Swansong 1945" - a book that I enjoyed. I have now started on the book that Mrs. Copeland gave me today - "The Hall of Mirrors" - hoping that it will give me a better understanding of the deflation that was seen in the 1930s and which is now about to dominate our unbalanced, unsustainable and unbelievable economic recovery.

In the introduction the author explains that the recent recession had much in common with the Great Depression of the 1930s. In the 1930s the troubles were due to an inflated housing market, which began in Florida; excessive credit; problems as ever with the banks granting excessive lending; and an ever rising stock market, all of which we saw in our recession. Sadly, we are currently going along the same path, about to see everything coming crashing down towards the end of this year.

The book is rather hard going, but at least it will enable me to have a better understanding of the deflationary spiral that we are going to see within the next two months. When at the London School of Economics, studying for the Economics degree, I cannot recall having learnt much about deflation. At that time the emphasis was on the benefits and problems of inflation.

SATURDAY 21 FEBRUARY

Granddaughter Chloe has recently moved to a different rented house, and in the move she discarded quite a of items not wanted on voyage, which Mrs. Copeland and I took to the Lincoln recycling site during the morning. The workmen are always very helpful and courteous.

At 2 o'clock we went to the Museum of Lincolnshire Life to hear a talk on the history of the Lincolnshire Regiment from when it was first formed in 1685 until it was amalgamated with the Northamptonshire Regiment in 1960, given by one of our neighbours who has written three books on warfare in his retirement - a most commendable achievement, and something that I could never do. The talk was illustrated with a most interesting collection of drawings and photographs, showing the Regiment moving all over the world, sometime in Iceland, then in India, Palestine, Ireland and taking part in the First and Second World Wars, facing a terrible loss of life.

The Regiment also served at home during a railway strike in the 1920s, when the troops manning crossings had to be augmented by police who cycled from Grimsby. If our present Home Secretary who is so keen on cutting police numbers is returned to office next May, presumably the remaining police will also be on bicycles as a cost-cutting measure.

I was pleased to see that the speaker was wearing a suit and a tie, representing the sartorial standards of our generation, so much better than the tieless brigade we now see. Bearing in mind that most men these days, especially the younger fraternity, never wear a tie, leaving the collar of the shirt unbuttoned, I can never understand why fashion designers do not improve the collar, making it more rounded. As it is, so many men not wearing a tie look as if they just come home from working in the fields.

Periods

Sunny periods.


I read that the chief executive of a bank that is now under investigation for alleged offences that could amount to criminal charges against the Bank, had received a bonus amounting to several millions of pounds, while the chief of Standard Life received 5.3m. What on earth do these men do with such ridiculous and unworthy bonuses? I could never spend that amount of money in a complete lifetime, and I am therefore fully aware that it would not make my like one jot happier. I would not want to move house or have properties abroad, especially as I loathe travelling, and I would not want to change the Scorpio. I therefore feel quite contented with my financial lot, though I suppose it might be helpful to have a bit more capital to replace household items, especially a new car every three years.

Maybe there ought to be a 80% tax on all bonuses over 500,000, and as this would be evaded by paying much higher salaries, there would also have to be a tax of 80% on earnings over 500,000. I suppose you can argue that even under existing taxation 40% of the handouts go in tax, thereby helping to fill Mr. Osborne's coffers.

The evening was spent reading some more of "The Hall of Mirrors", which is a fascinating book, explaining the parallels between the Great Depression and the recent credit crunch. At present, the Chancellor is boasting about his successful economic policies, unemployment having fallen sharply; prices also having fallen; while "a bumper 12.3 billion flowed into the Exchequer last month", leaving the public sector net borrowing at 74 billion so far this tax year, 6 billion lower than over the same period last year.

Can this really be a true economic recovery that the Chancellor is now proudly boasting about? If so, on what is it based when our exports have fallen sharply and productivity and investment are well down. Can it all be political smoke and mirrors for the general election?

The author of "The Hall of Mirrors" emphasises that it was the deregulation of the financial markets, first by President Reagan and then Thatcher the Terrible, that led to the Great Recession that began in 2008. Additionally, it was the difficulty of controlling the greed and irresponsibility of the Banks that was ultimately to cause so much trouble. The Great Depression and the Great Recession were both characterised by excessive bank lending resulting in far too much credit, and an overblown housing market, the Dow Jones and the FTSE shooting up.

We are now seeing the same path now being trod yet again, seeing an almighty crash towards the end of this year or during the Spring of 2016. Meanwhile, the Confederation of What's Left of British Industry continues to upgrade its forecast for UK economic growth, now having reached 2.6% for this year.

SUNDAY 22 FEBRUARY

At 9.30 a.m. Mrs. Copeland and I went to the service at the local church, taken by the excellent rector. This was a service in Lent, so we are all supposed to be very miserable, singing the most turgid hymns and psalms, one of theme dating back to 1696. One of the words in one hymn included: "In my pain and miseries/Be thou my health and life." I have extremely bad sciatica at the moment, hardly able to move when I get up in the morning, and I therefore thought of these words.

With the rector, organist and the two church wardens, there were only 9 people present, nearly all of the older generation. It is to be wondered if the Church is going to survive in the years ahead, which will be a great shame. Despite the melancholy of the occasion, I enjoyed the service, especially the sermon given by the rector who restores my faith in the Church of England, especially as the Church has recently condemned the Government for its neglect and harassment of the poor and sick. When we have such a useless Labour Party, it is obviously helpful for the Church to point out the many ills in our hatefully and horribly divided society.

During the morning I got out the ladder to check on items in the loft, only to twist my left arm when trying to close the hatch. Alas, I am in awful pain, fearing that I have torn a tendon, which will take weeks to heal. Following her operation, Mrs. C must not lift any heavy items with her right arm, and now I have my left arm out of action. Maybe it will heal in a day or two, but I doubt it. All very upsetting, especially at this difficult time.

Painting

One of the splendid paintings to be found on the Facebook Whispering Waters Art Studio - well worth a visit.


For the first time since her operation, Mrs. Copeland went on her own to Waitrose for the week's provisions, one of our daughters having accompanied her on the last two Sundays. I said I would go with her today, but she firmly insisted that this was the last thing she wanted. She was now all right, and I would only be an incumbrance. So I stayed at home. I suppose I would have had to go in disguise, not wanting to join the ranks of those spineless old men who push the trolley for their wives.

I had asked Mrs. C not to bring back a Sunday paper, even though they were free. I find these Sabbath Day papers most unpleasant with their political bias and the numerous supplements full of rubbish, such a terrible waste of paper. Even worse, the economics columnists, most of whom seem to live in cloud cuckoo land, none of them having seen the Great Recession coming, and apparently now blissfully unaware that another one is coming shortly, present the most absurd ideas, even believing we have the fastest economic growth in the world, one recently saying that we did not need to worry about deflation, would you believe it.

Mrs. C did, however, bring back the Waitrose news sheet, in which there was an article reinforcing the findings last week that nearly all the food frighteners of the past decade had no medical or scientific basis, being so much tommyrot, red meat and full-cream milk being good for us - as some of us knew all along. The point is even made that "Some foods high in saturated fats seem to reduce heart disease", yet the claim is made on those ghastly butter substitutes that they are good for the heart. Presumably the companies will now have to delete this misleading claim, though I doubt it, there being too much profit involved in producing the rubbish.

Yet again I find it so sad that an entire generation abided by these false food frighteners, not enjoying the pleasures of red meat and full-cream milk, all manner of false claims having been made, sometimes for commercial benefits, to feed and pry upon neurosis. Thank heavens I never took any notice of the frighteners, especially the nonsense emanating from the Food Standards Authority, which should now surely be closed down after having given out so much misleading information.

At 3.30 p.m. we went for a drink at our local Club. Every time I go to the Club I am so thankful that we managed to avoid the curse of a broadband connection. At the present, there is no reception at the Club, and we therefore do not have the younger member shouting into their mobile telephones, tapping away on those tablets and other toys, seldom talking to anybody around them. This is the way of the world in pubs and restaurants these days, and I assume that in the future conversation between people face-to-face will be very rare, probably not encouraged.

The Club has purchased two settees, and one of the members has generously bought a table for the ensemble, making it a delightful corner of the Club. Mrs. C says that the assembly will make the Club more divisive, but it is already divisive between young and old, so I cannot see that matters all that much. Birds of a feather flock together, and this is certainly true in the Club, not that I see anything wrong in that. It was a most pleasant session, making me realise what a tremendous place it is in the village.

I had intended spending the evening by the fireside, but having taken somewhat too freely of the splendid offerings of the Club, I fell asleep in the armchair for about two or more hours, waking up about 10 p.m. when I read some more of "Hall of Mirrors" - a most fascinating book that I am greatly enjoying, explaining how the Great Depression and the Great Recession (as the recent credit crunch is now being labelled) had so much in common, and showing how we are going along the same path yet again.

Just before the crash of 1929, the commentators were saying that the American economy was in a fine condition, the Dow Jones racing ahead each day, only to come crashing down for nearly a decade. There was one lone soul, however - Adolph Miller - who recognised that all was not well, saying shortly before the crash: "Optimism gone wild and cupidity gone drunk", which is true today. On the other hand, the point was made in August of 1929 that "the British economy was weak, and an increase in interest rates would only aggravate an already difficult economic situation." These words could accurately be said today to explain the present continued weakness of the UK economy, now about to topple into deflation.

I have been wanting to read more about the Great Depression for many months, and now this really excellent book, which should be read by everybody interested in economics, gives a first-rate account, even though at times I find it difficult to understand the complicated measures, such as "collateralized debt obligations". Mentioning that the American GDP growth rate was 3%, the author comments that this "was considerably slower than is typical of a recovery from an economic downturn - something that especially relates to the unhealthy state of the present UK economy.

MONDAY 23 FEBRUARY

Our 47th wedding anniversary. Where, oh where, have all the years gone? At least my generation saw couples staying together, not separating and divorcing at the first hint of trouble. Thankfully, we did not need the help of marriage guidance counsellors and other quacks who, not surprisingly, seldom mange to even paper over the cracks. Once these counsellors are contacted, the marriage is over

With the combination of the arthritis in my spine and knees and this latest trouble of a torn tendon (or damaged muscle) I am in dreadful pain, hardly able to use the affected arm. With great difficulty I nevertheless managed to clear out and relay the living fire, even managing to hump in the heavy coal bucket. Damaging that tendon was really bad luck, for as I mentioned yesterday it will take months and months to heal, the healing process in old age taking so much longer. Just recently it seems like one damned trouble after another. As Shakespeare said: "One woe doth tread upon another's heel."

To town in the morning to purchase various items. Despite my poorly left arm I was able to ride the scooter, though I wished I had taken the Scorpio as there was a fierce wind blowing, certainly causing the vehicle a good deal of turbulence. From "The Times" I saw a front-page headline saying that "Tories vow to protect pensioner benefits, including the free idiot lantern licence and the winter fuel allowance, which amount to 445 for me. To lose that 37 a month would have been quite a blow, not that you can ever rely on the promises of any politician, most of them written on the wind.

There was the good news today that the profits of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank reported a sharp fall, giving some hope for the future. As mentioned earlier, the chief of the Bank had received millions of pounds in a bonus, presumably the traditional reward for incompetence in this country. It was also reported that February saw retail sales fall back compared with a year ago - against expectations - according to a survey by the Confederation of What's Left of British Industry. We are all supposed to be better off as a result of low inflation, soon to topple into deflation, yet these figures do not suggest we are shopping more. There was also the news that "Ex-UK Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind suspended from parliamentary party over cash-for-access claim." Politicians: don't you just love them?

Oaks

The avenue of oaks at the end of February. Still not much sign of any greenery, but the oaks are always the latest trees to come into leaf.


At 12.45 p.m. Mrs. C. and I, by way of celebrating our anniversary, went to have lunch at "The Barge", located on the Brayford Pool. Years ago there were claims made by the Lincoln City Council that the Barge would spoil the view of the Cathedral, whereas subsequently massive tall hotels were built, and as mentioned earlier there is a shameful and utterly disgusting proposal to put another "floating restaurant" on the Pool, spoiling the view from existing eating places. Oh that there was a concern for the environment in this country.

Unfortunately, it proved to be an unsuccessful visit. We duly arrived at the appointed hour of 12.45 p.m. being quickly served by a young waitress who took our order for drinks - a large white wine for me and a Rose for Mrs. Copeland. We waited ten minutes, but no drinks came, so I went up to the bar, where one of the members of staff was on the telephone, being told that the drinks were coming. We waited another eight minutes but the drinks did not arrive, so we walked out, going to the nearby Horse & Groom instead, where we had an excellent meal. Nevertheless, I felt very disappointed about the appalling service at the Barge, and on arriving home I wrote a letter expressing my annoyance, having had such excellent service in the past.

The evening was spent reading some more of "Hall of Mirrors". As mentioned earlier, it is a superb book, helping to explain why this country, this other indebted Greece, is about to go into a spiral of deflation, the economy fundamentally being in a very weak state, despite all the overblown optimism that sees economic growth being upgraded nearly every month, presumably indicating that the crash, when it arrives after the general election in May, will be even more serious than the Great recession.

As I mentioned earlier, it is uncanny seeing how our present economic state in this country has all the ingredients of the Great Depression. In May of 1931, a committee was set up under Sir George May to examine the weak state of the economy. The committee came up with the remedial action of cutting public expenditure, including the reduction of unemployment benefits and reducing the salaries of the police, teachers, and members of the armed forces.

The problem then and now is that a programme of austerity only makes matters worse, further weakening the economy, so it becomes a no-win "situation. Unless public expenditure is reduced, the debt goes on increasing; if public expenditure is cut the economy is further weakened. Back in 1931 there were immense troubles with the fiddling of the banks, just as we are now seeing with one of the major Banks avoiding tax. So the problem boils down to - what do you do with a weak economy?

Quantitative easing in our own time has made very little impact, and there is the worry that another period of the Cameroons, cutting back again on welfare benefits while having tax cuts for the rich, could see fighting in the streets, there being the worry that austerity and a depression breed political excesses, as was seen in Germany in the 1930s, and now being experienced here and now with the rise of Ukip.

Commenting on the severe problems in the early 1930, the author makes the point that, "This volatile mix of economic depression, political polarization, weak finances and a paralytic central bank was clearly posed to explode." This is the similar dangerous mix that this country now faces as investors, bolstering up the FTSE every day, seem quite oblivious to the underlying weaknesses.

Maybe the answer is that a country with enormous resources, as in America, can survive a recession, even getting out of deflation. It is countries such as the UK, lacking these resources and being more in debt than any other country in the G7 grouping, as well as having an indolent and poorly led labour force, that have no known solution to their problems.

TUESDAY 24 FEBRUARY

I had a terrible night with sciatica and the torn tendon in my left arm, making sleep almost impossible. I woke up with real agony, though I found that the wheat bag, which is heated up in the microwave, helped to reduce the pain. I also put on some Ibuprofen maximum strength 10% gel which also helps, though obviously not a cure. The problem is that the torn tendon - or it could be a torn muscle, makes it very painful to move my arm, making dressing difficult. What with Mrs. C's recent troubles we are really going through a difficult period at the moment, not a very good start to 2015.

My latest quarterly electricity bill with E-On came to 204.35, the figure for the corresponding period being 212.51, so there has been a slight saving. At least we now save quite a lot on the reduced oil heating bill, though this is offset by large increases in car and household insurances.

During the morning I met a ladyfriend at an hotel in Lincoln, a rescheduled meeting as she was unable to join me last week because of the traffic chaos in Lincoln during the schools' half-term break. A most pleasant interlude. At 4 p.m. I took wine with a neighbouring couple who are going off tomorrow to a remote farmhouse in Scotland "to recharge their batteries." I think I would rather charge my batteries at home, but then I am not homesick - i.e. not sick of home.

I went on to Currys to purchase a replacement toaster. The Russel Hobbs one that we have has started toasting only on one side, so it is obviously old and past it. I bought a Bosch product, ensuring that it was not made in China from whence all the rubbish comes. It states that it was made in Germany. It cost 49.99, somewhat more than other available toasters, but I wanted a good quality model, and there is nothing better than a German made product. My Ford Scorpio was made in Germany, presumably explaining why it is till going, hardly ever having given me any trouble.

Street

Steep Hill in Lincoln. One of the old streets the planners have not managed to ruin.


The evening, still in a lot of pain with my torn tendon, I sat by the fireside feeling very sorry for myself, reading some more of "House of Mirrors". As I mentioned earlier, I find it hard going, but it is a fascinating book, giving me a better understanding of how the UK is about to go into a deflationary spiral after the general election. I am so glad that I am not in employment, likely to lose my job as unemployment soars.

WEDNESDAY 25 FEBRUARY

I am still in agonising pain with my torn tendon (or muscle). I therefore rang the doctor's surgery, being told that there were no appointments available today, but the doctor would telephone me to speak about the problem. He duly telephoned about 9.30 a.m., telling me that I would just have to wait a month before it healed, meanwhile keep on using the wheat bag that I bought recently on the advice of a friend, finding that helpful. I like the doctor immensely, having had his helpful services over the past thirty years or more.

Not surprisingly, the OECD has again lowered its forecast of UK economic growth, downgrading it from 2.7% to 2.6% for this year. Each month seems to see a downgrading, so by about Christmas the figure will probably be down to 1%, possibly lower. The OECD has also warned that the rising house prices in this country, demand exceeding supply as the immigrants flood in unchecked, is likely to destabilise the economy. Furthermore, there is a very real problem with productivity in this country, being lower than any of its competitors abroad, presumably because the English are such lazy workers. In other words, the UK's economy is a complete mess, yet the weakness is being cleverly concealed by the Chancellor.

, who presumably knows that everything will come crashing down soon after the general election in May.

Nevertheless, today's "Times" had a front-page headline "FTSE soars to new high as recovery gathers pace." These are the words and the optimism expressed in the days before the Great Crash of October 1929 when the stock markets were going up every day to new heights. In his first-rate book "The Great Crash 1929", the late John Kenneth Galbraith headed one of the chapters: "Vision and boundless hope and optimism", quoting Professor Irving Fisher of Yale as saying "stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." A few weeks the markets came crashing down.

The Cameroons must surely know, even our Chancellor, that the election is going to be followed by a massive programme of austerity as deflation brings the false economic growth to an abrupt halt. It is all very frightening, but we must understand that an election is not very far away. Hence we have to listen to all the nonsense about a recovery gaining pace - an unbalanced, unsustainable and unbelievable so-called recovery that is largely on cheap credit to finance an overheating housing market and consumer expenditure.

Originally, the Chancellor proposed to cut back on consumer expenditure in order to encourage exports, which is the proper way to deal with the present muddles. However, the Cameroons took fright at the cuts in government expenditure, seeing their NHS going down the river, so the policy was abandoned as being politically unacceptable certainly in an election year

It was at least good to read that the Government is at last doing something about the nuisance of "cold calls". I received at least three of these calls each week, most of them seemingly coming from India. Just how such calls can be stopped is a mystery, for there is never any number on the display unit, or in some instances a false number. For very old people living on their own these calls must be quite unnerving, probably leading to all manner of dishonesty. I just wish a stop could be put on all the charity appeals we receive every week, all of which go straight into the recycling bin, along with nearly all of the mail order catalogues

I had further load of coal delivered this morning, the last supply this winter. It amazes me that we seem to use a hundredweight a week. The coalman was telling me that the coal currently comes from Keighley in Yorkshire, but the mine is to be closed at the end of this year, despite ample supplies remaining. Henceforth, the coal will probably be imported from Poland, which presumably makes a lot of sense to our bird-brained politicians.

An entire community will therefore be thrown out of work, subsequently being dependent upon benefits. This is the ridiculous one-column book-keeping that Thatcher the Terrible indulged in with her little shopkeeper version of economics. Using different accounts, you can fiddle anything, as one of our major banks is now finding, though it has been found out in its malpractices.

snowdrops

Snowdrops in the garden -pathfinders to Spring.


I went in to town on the scooter later in the morning to purchase a book I had ordered from Waterstone's, and two DVDs from HMV in Lincoln. As I have mentioned many times in this diary, I now buy all my books and DVDs locally, no longer ordering them from Amazon, and I am certainly glad I made the change, finding the staff at Waterstone's and HMV exceedingly helpful and courteous.

On the BBC news website I saw that "The Red Arrows have revealed a new design inspired by the union jack on the tailfins of their jets." Presumably they mean the Union flag, for the Union Jack is flown by ships at sea. Hearing this news, presumably more waste on the part of the Ministry of Defence that retains this flying circus, now regarded as "old hat" in some circles, while there are massive defence cuts in the armed forces, reminded me of the days when I worked in educational administration. If arrangements were made to paint a school, it was a sure sign that the school was going to be closed. Maybe this latest farce could mean disbandment, which most people living hereabouts would greatly welcome, enabling us to enjoy peace on earth last, instead of having to endure the team going round and round the village all day, circling endlessly.

After a siesta in the afternoon Mrs. C and I went to see the film "Kingsman" at the Lincoln Odeon, going to the 6 p.m. performance in the hope that we would avoid the pathetic popcorners eating that foul smelling product that resembles farm manure, as well as giggling girls and loud-mouthed youths yelling on their mobile telephones. Unfortunately, there was a large gathering of popcorners, young women carrying the large containers to their seats, subsequently scratching the packaging as they endlessly gorged the product. Although the film was silly and far-fetched, we nevertheless enjoyed it, afterwards going to the William IV pub where the beer is always in excellent condition, especially the "Directors" that we enjoy.

Back home I read some more of "Hall of Mirrors", finding yet again the incredible resemblance of the state of affairs in America shortly before the Great Crash in October of 1929 and the present appalling economic condition of this country. Amidst all the declared optimism on the economy and the ever rising stock market a few weeks before the Crash, there was a housing market boom gone hogwild; corruption in the banks; and ever rising consumer expenditure on credit - all the ingredients of the crash that we are going to see before the end of this year or early in 2016, the downturn in the UK being far worse than the recent credit crunch. Watch this space, for it is going to be a fascinating time for those of us interested in the dismal science.

THURSDAY 26 FEBRUARY

I gather from the BBC News website that a well-known male singer, recently accused of a sexual assault, is now facing another allegation, this time from a man who maintains he was assaulted many years ago. Although there must be no comment on this particular case now under consideration, I wonder why these cases are brought many years after the incident. What proof can there be after the elapse of so many years, and why were the alleged assaults not mentioned at the time, the worry surely being that anybody can make up similar allegations, probably using a few false witnesses.

Even if the charges are subsequently shown to be untrue, as many of them are, mud always sticks, and reputations can be ruined. Is the motive the possibility of financial gain, or can it be vindictiveness? It makes me thankful that I behaved myself during my days in the Young Conservatives.

I also read on the site that the "UK state-owned bank RBS reports a 3.5bn loss for 2014", though the chief executive has kindly agreed not to take a 1m, bonus. I also read that "A row between the US and Benjamin Netanyahu has deepened, with the Israeli leader accusing America and others of 'giving up' on trying to stop Iran obtaining nuclear weapons." A more unpleasant politician than the thoroughly nasty and irresponsible Netanyahu would be difficult to imagine, - a leader who has defamed the good name of the Jews around the world, not surprisingly having promoted extensive anti-semiticsm on account of the brutal attack on Gaza.

This is the politician who, despite pleas from President Obama not to build any further houses on Palestinian land, has taken not a blind bit of notice, also defying the resolutions of the United Nations, the Geneva Convention, and public opinion around the world. I just wish that sanctions could be placed on Israel, forcing the pariah country to accept a Palestinian state.

There was also the dreadful news that "Net migration to the UK has risen to 298,000, according to the final set of quarterly figures before the general election. The figure, for the year ending September 2014, is now well above the level of migration when David Cameron came to power in 2010. The Conservatives had hoped to get it to below 100,000 by this May."

Alas, our indolent Prime Minister, who appears to be all wind and woffle, has not been helped on immigration issues by our hopeless Home Secretary, undoubtedly the worst since 1945, and there have been some bad ones since then. This is the Home Secretary who is reducing police forces around the country at a time of rising crime and increasing threats from the Muslim fraternity. Similarly, our PM has done nothing to stop the irresponsibility of the banks or the energy companies ripping us off, while getting us into even more national debt than Gordon Brown. Surely a Labour Government could do no worse.

Today's "Daily Mail" had a front page today headline saying that if we slept for more than 8 hours a night we could end up with a nasty stroke, whereas it had earlier been said that if we did not have 8 hours of contented sleep we would be in trouble, probably voting for Ukip, which is now on the way out, having reached its maximum potential too soon. What an incredible nonsense it all is. We have at least put aside all the nonsense of food frigtheners, but we still haven't stopped this nonsense of all this mischief.

Cathedral

Lincoln Cathedral


Mrs. Copeland was telling me at lunchtime today that several people she knows have given up reading this diary each week because it contains far too many references to the economy of this country, readers finding the endless details immensely boring. Presumably the answer so far as I am concerned is that the diary represents my interests, those of nobody else. In my retirement, I find the endless decline of the country immensely interesting, presumably as a result of my concern with economics, regarding it is an absorbing subject. If people do not want to look at the diary entries what does it matter, but then I suppose it raises the issue of why I write the diary. An interesting question. Nevertheless, I just hope, that I never descend into believing into want people want.

I had to renew the vehicle tax on the scooter, which had gone up to 17 this year from 15 last year, there not being much evidence of major price reductions. The rest of the day was spent at home, having to face the awful pain of the torn muscle in my left arm, hardly being able to move it, and my sciatica and arthritis. Not the best of times.

I liked the e-mail that I received this morning, even though it is too true to be amusing: "I was fed up with being burgled every other day in my neighbourhood. So, I tore out my alarm system & de-registered from our local Neighbourhood Watch. I've planted a Pakistani flag in each corner of my front garden and a large Black Flag of ISIL in its center. Now, the Yorkshire police, the National Security Bureau, Scotland Yard, MI-5, MI-6, the CIA and every other intelligence service in Europe are all watching my house 24x7x365. My children are followed to school every day and my wife when she goes shopping. I'm followed to and from work every day. So no one bothers me at all. I've never felt safer." As granny used to say, many a true word said in jest.

During the afternoon Mrs. C had to go to the County Hospital for a bone density test following her recent operation. As we have found recently, the National Health Service really is a fantastic organisation, possibly the best medical service in the world, yet this is the service that the Cameroons hate so much, wanting to cut it down to size, selling off profitable parts to chums in the City. It makes me wonder why anybody is daft enough to pay such enormous monthly payments for private medicine that is so vastly inferior to the NHS. Admittedly, the hotel facilities are far better in the private concerns, but there is not even a resident doctor. I would be too frightened to go to a private hospital to have so much as an in-growing toenail removed.

The Cameroons are now trying to have another go at the BBC, an organisation that they hate almost as much as the NHS, single mothers and the European Union. This time they are proposing the abolition of the licence fee, which would destroy the independence of the Corporation, forcing it to have those dreadful advertisements that interrupt programmes every fifteen minutes on the down-marketed commercial channels. Not that I am at all worried about this, for I never ever watch the idiot's lantern, thankfully not having to pay the licence fee as I am over 75 years of age.

I had an e-mail from my electricity supplier E-On recommending that I should take a survey on the efficiency of my household use of energy. I duly completed a fairly long questionnaire on line, the main conclusion being that I could save a lot of money by using energy-efficient light bulbs. There is absolutely no way that I would use those horrible bulbs with their ghastly yellow light, even the so-called 60 watt equivalent being little more than two candlepower, and impossible to read by. Not only that, they have been said to be extremely dangerous if dropped and broken, releasing mercury.

Because of my intense dislike of these energy-saving bulbs, I stocked up on over one hundred of the 40W, 60W, 100W and 150W former tungsten bulbs, only to find recently that they are now coming back, people having found the energy-saving ones to be so unpleasant. So I need not have bothered to stockpile, but never mind.

Apart from a brief visit to town to purchase a "Times", the rest of the day was spent at home. The evening will be spent by the fireside, reading some more of "Hall of Mirrors", learning about the imminent financial crash in this country with its unbalanced and unsustainable economy on the Never-Never.
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E-mail: johncopeland@clara.net
Lincolnshire 26th February, 2015
Comments welcomed.
No 889




Diary of an Octogenarian<BR>



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