DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN

Formerly "Diary of a Septuagenarian".

- John Copeland -


Friday 18th July - Thursday 24th July, 2014


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Spirit of the age in the Uncaring Kingdom


"The United States and the United Nations demanded an immediate halt to the fighting in Gaza yesterday as five Palestinians were killed when Israeli tanks opened fire on a hospital, pushing the death toll well over 500. Tank shells crashed through the third-floor of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in central Gaza, killing two patients and their relatives inside a medical ward and wounding scores hit by rubble and shrapnel."

Report in "The Times". 22nd July, 2014. describing the invasion of Gaza by the Israeli Army. No comment is necessary, possibly not allowed for fear of accusations of anti-semitism.


FRIDAY 18 JULY

I am enjoying my "Morning book "The Last British Dambuster" - an excellent, well written book that, in one of the early chapters, describes the magnificence of the Lancaster bomber with its four Merlin engines - "A Rolls Royce Merlin engine on song is a beautiful sound. Four of them make music that takes your breath away - quite literally....You can feel the shock wave from the explosion hitting you, compressing your chest for an instant, making you gasp." The bombers cost 50,000 - "A huge amount of money at a time when I was earning a reasonably good wage of just under 5 a week."

The subtitle on the cover of the book tells us: "One man's extraordinary life and the raid that changed history." Although it is not to devalue in any way the raid and the extremely brave airmen who undertook a very dangerous mission, maybe it is rather overstating things to suggest that the bombing of the dams on the 16th May 1943, when 53 of the 133 airmen never returned, "changed history." By October of the same year, the Germans, using slave labour, had fully restored the damaged dams, though no doubt it could be argued that the damage involved the deployment of extensive resources that could have been used more usefully elsewhere.

There was an interesting letter in yesterday's "Times", suggesting that the Prime Minister had, with the removal of Mr. Gove as education Secretary, put electoral considerations before the interests of education. Presumably the point needs to be made that Mr. Cameron is a weak leader, constantly playing to the gallery instead of considering the long-term needs of an ailing land, still desperately in debt. Nevertheless, I have no doubt that he will win an overwhelming victory at the general election in May of next year, being able to resume office without the bother and inconvenience of poor little Clegg and his miserable little band.

Although I am extremely afraid of another bout of Socialism, having seen how the country was brought to its knees with Blair and Brown, fearing that a Miliband administration would finally see this country completely bankrupt, I nevertheless worry about another period of the Cameroons, worrying that with their right-wing extremism, especially expressed in Mrs. May, we could see a social revolution in this country. Today we heard that if re-elected the Cameroons would bring in legislation to make strikes almost impossible. A country in relentless decline can, as all history shows, bring some frightening politics.

As part of the installation of the mains sewer in the village, the Anglian Water contractors - the excellent Barhale who did a first-rate job - new manholes (or personholes, as I should now say to be politically correct) were put in, several of which have been stolen, cones having to mark the gaping holes. Yet Mrs. May, at a time of ever rising crime, has cut police forces! I suppose it makes some sense to her.

As I remarked last week, I cannot understand why she was not removed from the Home Office, where she has done such an immense amount of harm, to the Foreign Office, which is now virtually a non-job as a result of our declining significance in the world. I suppose, though, that Cameron, always aware of political correctness, did not dare move a woman, even if it was because of incompetence,.

It made me laugh to read on the BBC news website that, "As a heatwave sweeps across the UK, several papers lead on warnings that the high temperatures could cause hospitalisations and deaths." The temperature rose to an almost unknown 29 C today. Wow - what a scorcher! Whatever happened to the rain?

There was the news today that doctors have been told to offer cholesterol-lowering statins to millions more people in a massive and controversial expansion in prescribing. Four in 10 adults in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are now eligible for statins, even though many are at low risk of a heart attack or stroke. I will certainly not be among those taking the controversial pills, having no faith in them after hearing some horrible side-effects. No doubt it will mean a bonanza for the pharmaceutical companies, so at least there will be some benefit.

Chloe

Granddaughter Chloe. She was great fun with us during our holiday last week in Mijas in Spain.


It is a tradition within our little community of five houses, all built of stone and dating from about 1801, that we have a gathering of neighbours to celebrate our birthdays. As we were away for my 80th last week, we belatedly had a gathering at lunchtime today, which will include the commemoration of Mrs. Copeland's birthday on the 22nd. They are always pleasant occasions as we all get on well with one another. We had hoped to have the party in the garden, the weather forecast yesterday having said it would be sunny and warm, but at 1 pm. it was still raining, the temperature down to 18 C. So much for the forecast.

We therefore had to have the meal indoors, though later on it cleared up and we were able to adjourn to the garden, where I had put up the gazebo. With the revised weather it proved to be a most pleasant occasion with a great deal of laughter and alcohol, even if it had earlier involved a lot of scene shifting.

Looking back on our splendid holiday in Mijas last week, I recall that there were no children on the plane, presumably because the schools have not yet broken-up, for which we were extremely thankful. We therefore did not have to face them screaming and shouting around the airport, uncontrolled by their tattooed parents. In Mijas, children sat quietly with their parents in the restaurants, causing no trouble at all. Why is it that the children in this country are so badly behaved?

Another advantage in Mijas was the wonderfully soft water, so different from the corrosive hard stuff, full of chorine, that we have to endure, though the Spanish tapwater was not drinkable, not that I want to drink water in any country. Surprisingly, all the Spanish wine bottles had corks, none of the better screwtops that are mostly to be seen in this country.

A correspondent, commenting on the holiday photographs that I put in the diary last week, kindly commented: "Beautiful evocative photographs of your vacation - I'm very envious of you and your family. You are a very lucky man." Yes, indeed: I fully recognise how lucky I am in having the family nearby, having led a charmed life, though I must not let the gods hear such expressions of hubris.

Meanwhile, I am glad that I eventually decided to continue with the diary, for I would have sadly missed the comments from readers. The only thing that worries me is expressing controversial opinions, especially on immigration, now that there are so many restrictions on free speech in blogs and diaries. For example, I must not comment that 602,500 immigrants came to this country last year, presumably offset to some degree by natives who had the good sense to get the hell out of the country. Any comment on the behaviour of Israel, now moving tanks in to Gaza, is another item that must never be critically mentioned for fear of accusations of anti-semitism designed to prohibit any further debate.

Fortunately, Mrs. Copeland goes through the entries before I upload the diary each Thursday afternoon, deleting anything that is sexist, politically incorrect, and racist. How careful we have to be these days, not wanting to end up in a cell with sexual offenders.

I read some more of "Dad's War", which I am enjoying, even though I find the style somewhat obsequious.

SATURDAY 19 JULY

More rain this morning, though in the supposed heatwave the temperature did at least get up to 21 C, which is not at all bad for an English summer. Although I was disappointed with the poor weather, I followed my resolution not to get upset about anything in my 80s, taking the view that the seemingly endless rain will be good for the runner beans in the garden, and I will not have to have a compulsory water meter.

Always look on the bright side, trying hard to avoid the behaviour of Israel. It made me laugh when Mrs Copeland told me that she had heard on "Radio Lincolnshire" - a local radio station I cannot abide, that the temperature would reach 30 C in the county today. Perchance to dream.

I have to admit, however, that I was saddened to hear on the news today that the Co-op by way of reducing its enormous debts, had sold it pharmacies to a Pakistani firm called "Bestway" for 620m. It is almost as if there is a gigantic sale in this country - everything must go abroad. We no longer own any car manufacturing firms; all our public services are in foreign ownership; and even my O2 mobile telephone account is owned by the Germans. Soon we will have nothing left as we sink ever deeper into more debt and back into recession.

Back in late June I had ordered from Amazon "Dear Leader: North Korea's senior propagandist exposes shocking truths behind the reginae.". As it had not been delivered by my return from holiday, I contacted Amazon by telephone yesterday, who said they would sent me another copy, but this has also not been received, despite a carrier again saying that it had been duly delivered. As delivery seems impossible, I have received a refund for the book. It made me wonder whether Amazon had employed management consultants, which would explain why everything has been cocked up.

I went in to Lincoln this morning and purchased "Dear Leader" from Waterstone's. The book is being given to me as a birthday present by a neighbour, so I was pleased to obtain a copy at last.. It is a delightful bookshop, the staff efficient and friendly, and there is the big advantage that I can see the book before purchasing.

In "The Times" that Mrs. Copeland brought back free from Waitrose (I would never dream of paying for a weekend paper as they are mostly rubbish), I saw that Caitlin Moran's book about bringing up a teenager was top of the best selling hardback books. I must not make any comment, other than to say it makes for an interesting example of the literary standards of the nation.

Unwisely, I read Mrs. Moran's column in the Magazine supplement in which she writes about a woman who took part in a competition to do the most "outrageous thing". "Her idea - the kind of blue-sky thinking you can be prone to after caramel vodka shots - was briefly to fellate 24 men on a crowded dancefloor". Reading such trite stuff makes me realise what a really old man I am, shuddering and appalled by such standards that seem to be accepted today in this coarse and vulgar land. Alas, I am over the hill and past it, but maybe I am truly thankful for that.

View

View from the villa we rented for the week in Mijas


After lunch we set off for Essex, where we will be staying with Mrs. Copeland's mother until Monday afternoon, visiting various members of Mrs. C's family during the weekend. We had a good journey down the A1, stopping further on at Pampisford at the splendid "Chequers" pub, where we sat outside in the garden. I enjoyed a pint of IPA, Mrs. Copeland taking over the driving for the rest of the way.

In the evening we had a meal at "Fowlers Farm" on the outskirts of Braintree, being joined by daughter Caroline and her husband who had driven down separately to visit Mrs. C's mother for an overnight stop. We also had Mrs. C's brother Andrew and his wife with us. They were just back from a holiday in Spain, having landed at Stansted airport in the morning. A most enjoyable evening.

SUNDAY 20 JULY

Mrs. Copeland's younger brother, Jonathan, and his wife Carol had very kindly arranged a belated birthday party for me, in which mother-in-law and Andrew and Pat also joined. We were able to sit outside in their splendid urban garden having a barbecue and wine, and it proved to be a really wonderful occasion of laughter, excellent food and much alcohol, surely the ingredients of a good time. It made me realise how fortunate I am in having such first-rate relations, especially as they made my 80th birthday a time to remember. I greatly appreciated their kindness.

Party

The belated birthday party today with my relatives.


The weather was amazingly hot, almost as if we were still in Spain. Back at mother-in-law's apartment, I read some more of "The Last British Dambuster", in which the author comments that Guy Gibson, who led the raid on the German dams, was a very brave and effective leader, but who had little social contact with his team, not being liked. Inevitably, there is an analysis of the effectiveness of the Germans having restored the dams, if not to full capacity, with five months, no doubt illustrating the ingenuity of the Germans, for which they are still famous.

Understandably, "revisionist historians" come in for a great deal of criticism, the author asking: "What do revisionist historians think they can contribute? These people make me bloody angry. If I were ever to meet one I would have to hope that someone would hold my hands behind my back. I have only two questions for them. Were you there? And do you have any idea what it was like?

They are interesting questions about the past. Are those who partook in the events of the time better qualified to make a judgement on the issues, or can it be that later historians, reviewing events with the helpful gift of hindsight, can see the bigger picture? Generally speaking, I think the author is right in suggesting that the historians do not understand what it was like at the time.

Even if the raid was expensive in terms of men and planes, 55 men being killed and half the Lancasters being lost, it was nevertheless seen in May 1943, when our war against Hitler had still far to go, as a damaging blow to the Nazis. Similarly, it can be argued that Harris, for whom the author has every respect, was right in the carpet bombing of Germany at a time when our army was still at home, there not being anything else that we could do to take the war to Hitler.

Mother-in-law was watching a programme on the idiot's lantern called "Dragons' Den" - an unbelievably awful programme with dreadful voice-overs. Glancing at the programme I was so glad that our television is never switched on, except for showing DVDs of films. I just cannot begin to say how much I loathe television. I can understand that it is excellent for sport - not that I like any sports - and the news bulletins are presumably useful, even though there is invariably no analysis and every issue given only a few minutes, but the rest of the programmes are absolute rubbish, aimed principally at the hoi polloi to keep them quiet.

Our television set never goes on, except for showing DVD films, and it heartens me that Mrs. Copeland dislikes the idiot's lantern as much as I do. Mercifully, being over the age of 75 years I do not have the licence fee, and if this facility is withdrawn by the next Government, I will give the set to charity and purchase a home cinema set-up in its place.

MONDAY 21 JULY

My mobile telephone includes a facility for looking at news items, and this morning I saw an item saying that economic growth in the UK was higher than in any of the G7 countries. I mentioned this to mother-in-law and Mrs. Copeland over breakfast, and they both laughed out loud, mother-in-law saying: "Vote Conservative!" What it means, of course, is that this country is operating on a very low base line, far lower than most of the other G7 countries, hence a slight movement can be distorted as a significant increase. Oh, how you can prove anything you like with statistics. As the accountants say when asked what is 2 + 2: "What do you want it to make?"

I walked from the apartment to the nearby High Street in Halsted to buy a "Times" at W.H.Smith, also purchasing a book - "Agent Storm - My life inside Al Qaeda" by Morton Storm. In the newspaper I saw details of the Israeli attack on Gaza that had killed many civilians, including children.

We are not allowed to comment on the issue for fear of being accused of anti-semitism. Sufficient it may be to say that the Secretary General of the United Nations - the wonderful Ban Ki-moon, had roundly condemned Israel for its brutality. There was also the announcement on the BBC news website that "Five people are killed and 70 injured after an Israeli strike hits a hospital in the central Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials say."

Mrs. Copeland and her mother went off after breakfast to visit the family grave in the cemetery at Braintree, and also to visit a restaurant as a possible place to celebrate mother-in-law's 97th birthday next month. I stayed behind in the apartment, continuing to read "The Last British Dambuster".

On my mobile telephone, I had a reply from a planning officer of our district council saying that the preconditions for building the very modern house in our historic community have now been completed, presumably meaning that building will soon start. Fortunately, the site is very dark, completely enclosed by tall trees, so there is the hope that we will not see the building at all, or have anything to do with the owners who have been so unpleasant and aggressive towards us, obviously not wanting to become part of a happy and harmonious community. All very sad.

Shop

Shop in Mijas


We returned home after lunch. Along one of the roads we had a Volvo driver behind us drove within a foot of our rear bumper - I believe it is called tailgating , itching to overtake all the time, eventually racing ahead without any regard for oncoming traffic. It made me realise how accidents can happen as a result of such irresponsible and stupid driving, explaining why we have to pay such high insurance premiums. I asked Mrs. C to take his number and thought of reporting the terrible driving to the police, but I suppose nothing would have become of the complaint.

Back home it was wonderful to be back in a tremendously cool house, the 2 feet stone walls and high ceilings keeping out the heat of the day. Modern brick-built houses are splendid in their conservation of energy and truly efficient, but unbearably hot in summer. I suppose it is all a question of expense: that it would be immensely expensive to build stone houses with such thick walls today.

During the evening friends in the village brought a package from Amazon enclosing the book - "Dear Leader" that had been delivered to the wrong house in the village. Obviously the courier could not read, which I suppose is not surprising. Presumably I will now have to contact Amazon to see what they want to do about the book, for I no longer want it having bought a copy from Waterstone's in Lincoln. What a muddle, but then everything is a muddle in this country today.

Before going to bed I read some more of "The Last British Dambuster". At the end of the war the author becomes a bombing instructor, giving details of his marital life in which he has to deal with the tears and tantrums of his wife. I found these details immensely boring after all the excellent details of bombing raids in a Lancaster, but at least I could understand the argument when he indicated that "Those immediate post-war years were a difficult time for many people."

The author makes the very valid point that in his early days of marriage it was accepted that the wife would stay at home to look after the young children, the husband being the sole provider. This was the arrangement in my childhood days, when my mother stayed at home to look after myself and two sisters, not dumping us in a nursery from 8.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. to enable her to go out to work full-time to bring in more money for the family. Similarly, Mrs. Copeland also stayed at home when our daughters were young.

As long as I live, however much criticism I may receive, I continue to believe that a mother should remain at home with her offspring until they are at least school age. No wonder the family today is in such a shambles, marriages broken with divorce and separation, and the children knowing no home life.

TUESDAY 22 JULY

Mrs. Copeland's 73rd birthday. In addition to the bracelet I bought her in Mijas, I also gave her a hardback book, and for lunch we went to The Barge on the Brayford in Lincoln, sitting out on deck in the wonderful sunshine, making me realise that Lincoln is probably one of the finest cities in England, but thankfully little known. I had a steak, which was excellent, going down well with a couple of large glasses of white wine.

In the post, which now comes about 1.30 p.m. I had a notification saying that my tax coding had been reduced yet again, meaning that I would have to pay more tax each month. However, the increase will help to pay for the 12bn that we give in foreign aid, so I must not grumble, even if most of the donations end up in the back pockets of corrupt politicians and bandits.

Son-in-law Phil arrived in the morning to test the Scorpio with diagnostic equipment, connecting it to a switch. Much to me enjoy it showed that there were no faults. I just hope that it will pass the Ministry of Transport (MOT) test next month. It has been a splendid car on which I have had to spend no money on repairs since I bought the 3-year-old car 13 years ago. It will obviously see me out.

Mrs C

Mrs. Copeland on her birthday today.


There was disappointing news on the economy today, indicating that the Potemkin recovery is already starting to stall. On the BBC news website I read that, "The government borrowed more than expected in June, and has failed to reduce public sector borrowing since the start of the fiscal year, official figures have shown. Public sector net borrowing stood at 11.4bn last month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported. The figure was above economists' forecasts of 10.65bn. For the financial year to date, the public deficit stands at 36.1bn, up 7.3% from a year earlier."

Furthermore, "Manufacturing orders for the UK slowed down in July", and house prices have started to fall. At the same time, "Bank of England deputy governor Sir Jon Cunliffe has told the BBC that the housing market poses the 'biggest risk' to the UK economy. Sir Jon identified "prices rising faster than people's incomes" as a particular threat. "That leads to... a big increase in the amount of debt in the economy," he added."

Yet another comment about the ailing state of the economy came from CBI deputy director-general Katja Hall, who said that the "risks to economic recovery include international political instability, and the recent rise in sterling, which could be weighing on exports". It is the balance of trade that represents the true state of the economy, figures that cannot be political laundered.

I have to admit that I thought that the slowdown from our precarious recovery would start sometime late in 2015, but it seems that I was wrong, the decline already having set in. I have always prided myself in economic forecasting, so this, let it be admitted, is not an occasion when you read it here first, even though I have always said that the so-called reovery was unbalanced, unsustainable and unbelievable.

Among her birthday cards and greetings, Mrs. Copeland had a letter from a female who was with her at the Teachers' Training College they attended, probably now a university, as such a college has become in Lincoln. It was long diatribe of ills, saying that her two offspring, both teachers, had suffered from breakdowns, and that everybody in the schools were thankful that "Mr. Gove had moved on." yes indeed: no more quality control in the classroom, no tests, no grammar, no spelling, nothing that might be difficult. Alas, poor Gove was fighting an impossible battle in a declining nation that has no regard for education, just as it has no regard for the environment, anything going.

By way of further celebrations for her birthday, Mrs. Copeland invited the neighbours round for drinks at 5 o'clock before we went off to daughter Kate's and her husband for a Chinese take-away at 8 o'clock, granddaughter Chloe joining us. We were able to sit outside for the evening meal, which I greatly enjoyed. Unfortunately, daughter Caroline was working in London, so was unable to join us. A most enjoyable occasion with much laughter, though as I was driving I had to moderate an alcoholic intake.

WEDNESDAY 23 JULY

As my "Morning Book" I finished reading "The Last British Dambuster", except for the domestic details after the war. After various teaching jobs the author taught at Rampton hospital for miscreants, finding that so many of them were hopeless cases, never likely to see redemption, presumably on account of that old saying: "Lame ducks never fly again." I have made a start on "The People's Republic of Amnesia - Tiananmen revisited" by Louisa Lim, published this year by Oxford University Press at 16.99, having been given the book as a birthday present by a good neighbour.

To town on the scooter to purchase a "Times". During this wonderful weather it is a real delight to be on two wheels, the freedom so splendid, far better than even an open-topped car.
Later on, at 11 o'clock, I went to our local Club to help set up a barbecue that we are having for the Retired Gentlemen's Club, which began at noon for 8 members. We had some difficulty in getting the gas barbecue appliance to start, but help arrived and we were away, having a splendid meal of sausages, various meats and strawberries.

Although these gas appliances are far more efficient, I missed the wonderful aurora of the charcoal burning set-ups, so redolent of the days we spent recently in Mijas.

It is always a splendid gathering of highly intelligent people, including a doctor, a rocket scientist and a consultant, making me realise how fortunate I am to live in this village. As with all villages, it is bitterly divided between the very rich and the reasonably well-off middle classes, the former having nothing to do with the social life of the village. But those who attend functions at the local Club are undoubtedly the happiest contingent in the bailiwick. We had a quiz, which much to my surprise I won, which is a most unusual phenomenon.

I was interested that in the discussion we had about the brutal invasion of Gaza by the Israeli Army, there was overwhelming support for the Palestinians, one of our members saying that if he had to endure a brutal occupying army he would fire rockets at them. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was reported in today's "Times" that "Israel's military action in Gaza has opened up a clear divide between David Cameron and Ed Miliband in an unusual political disagreement on a foreign policy matter. The Labour leader condemned the Israeli incursion into Gaza yesterday suggesting that the military action could escalate tension in the region."

Cameron, on the other hand, "has repeatedly refused to criticise the Israeli action undertaken as part of a two-week war that has cost the lives of at least 609 Palestinians and 29 Israelis." It could possibly be argued that this is an understandable division, the Cameroons wanting to allow firms to continue trading with the Jews, not wanting to lose valuable contracts. Capitalism has no compassion.

On the BBC news website I saw that, "Israel's military actions in Gaza could amount to war crimes according to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. Speaking at the organisation's emergency session on the situation, she said: "'here seems to be a strong possibility that international law has been violated'". However, as all history shows, no action will ever be taken against Israel, however many crimes are committed.

Pig

The Hog Roast at our local Club last Saturday. We missed the splendid event, being in Essex. Presumably vegetarians should avert their eyes. Photograph by Deborah Lisseman


In "The Times" I also saw further bad news about the UK economy, a news item saying that, "On present trends the Government will borrow nearly 10 billion more in the current financial year than in 2013-14." In other words, the present make-believe recovery is being fuelled by ever more indebtedness. There was also the grim news that "Exports from British factories fell as their fastest pace since the start of the year," worsening the massive trade deficit.

As I mentioned yesterday, I predicted that the present so-called recovery would end in the closing stages of 2015, or the early Spring of 2016, but alas I have been hopelessly wrong, the downturn now already starting to take place. Although I have always accepted that I was hopeless at predicting political elections, I prided myself in an understanding of economic analysis, only to have this setback. I dread to think what the next few months will bring, though at least there is no fear that interest rates will be raised.

In defence of my incorrect soothsaying, I can at least say that I have consistently maintained that the so-called recovery was unbelievable, unsustainable and unbalanced, seeing yet another reliance on excessive credit and the irresponsibility of the banks, though that is not a sufficiently good excuse to have got everything so hopelessly wrong.

The grim figures, especially the marked downturn in exports, is going to create enormous problems for the Government, for there were some dim-witted people who actually believed that the country was booming, even being fooled into believing we had the strongest economic growth among the G7 nations. What seems to be happening is that the Cameroons are allowing the indebtedness to continue unchecked.

As a senior economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research has pointed out: "For the deficit to decline significantly, sharp public spending cuts will be needed over the next Parliament." To use a thugby term, this means kicking the deficit in to touch, kidding people that we are booming. It is rather like a man spending heavily on his credit card, going way above his limit, believing that he is becoming richer.

Despite the end of the so-called recovery, we will continue to see all manner of laundered statistics to claim that we are in recovery mode, all to do with the general election next May, when organisations such as the Confederation of What's Left of British industry" will have an election slogan: "Don't let Labour spoil the booming economy." It will fool a lot of the people.

I was reading in the newspaper that Amazon have recently set up its own delivery service in competition with Royal Mail. Presumably this is why a book I recently ordered went to the wrong address in the village. I have ordered another book, and if this also goes astray I will obviously have to buy all books from Waterstone's.

During the evening I finished reading "Dad's War", which I quite enjoyed. I have now started on "Mammon's Kingdom" by David Marquand, published this year at 20 by Allen Lane, explaining why we had the credit crunch, and why we are heading for another one, possibly even more severe.

THURSDAY 24 JULY

Last week a Jehovah Witness left me a leaflet headed: "Will suffering ever end", the question being answered by quoting Revelation 21-3.4 saying: "God...will wipe all tears from their eyes, and there will be no more death, suffering, crying or pain." Yet in another section of the Bible we are told that "there will be wars and quarrels until the end of the earth." It seems to me that religious beliefs are largely a matter of picking and mixing in the Bible, choosing the parts you want to endorse.

I often wonder why people turn to such religions, most of them involving a complete belief in the words of the Bible. Is it because they have suffered some kind of trouble in their life, wanting to find succour and comfort - which they surely can - in religion. As I so often indicate, I am a religious man, believing in a Creator, though not a caring God, there being not the slightest evidence that prayers are ever answered. Indeed, I believe that God gives us freewill, telling us to get on with our lives and not bother him, prayer being so much wishful thinking.

Beans

Runner beans in the garden, promising a good crop this year, even though they hardly match the nine bean rows of Mr. Yeates


I saw on the BBC news website that "Paracetamol used to treat acute lower back pain is no better than a dummy pill, research in the Lancet suggests. The largest trial to date suggests the drug does not improve recovery time or provide greater pain relief than a placebo." I have tablets called Zapain for my arthritis, made up of 500mg Paracetemol and 30mg Codeine Phosphate, finding that the two prescribed tablets certainly ease my arthritic pains for up to about 3 hours, and they are also good for hangovers. I would therefore dispute the findings.

Another item said that "A relatively benign rise in interest rates still has the potential to double the number of households facing debt problems, a think tank has said. A report by the Resolution Foundation said the UK had failed to deal with a "debt overhang", leaving the economy vulnerable to rate rises. It predicted that by 2018, 1.1 million households could be in "debt peril", compared with 600,000 now. This means more than half of their post-tax income goes on repaying debt."

It means that we are going round a similar circle to the one that brought us to the credit crunch, suggesting that we never learn. Nevertheless, it has to be emphasised that a housing bubble that is now being seen in London and the south-east, gives the impression of an economic recovery, whereas it is essentially a dangerous matter of getting householders into even more debt.

I suppose it is a reflection of my old age and very different standards, but I find that the newcomers now arriving in the village are in a very different category from the former professional gentlefolk who were well-mannered and cultured men and women whom I greatly respected. However, the village has to change, and I can at least console myself with the thought that I will not be here much longer, having seen the best days in the village. What is so annoying is that the newcomers invariably want to have trees felled as soon as they arrive, obviously finding them to be very hazardous and messy things.

With my superb Internet Service Provider - Claranet - I have a spam removal programme called "Border Scout", for which I pay a yearly fee of 28.50, worth every penny. A list of the deleted items is sent to me each day, and today I saw that 110 items had been removed so that they did not come onto my computer. It would be awful to have had to download all that rubbish, whereas spam is now a thing of the past, as least o the computer. However, I still receive the spam on telephone calls from India, telling me that my computer has a virus on it.

Mrs. Copeland's cousin Jean who lives with her husband, a retired vicar for whom I have enormous respect, came to have lunch with us today. They live not far from the Humber Bridge. About twice a year we meet up, and today went to have a meal, sitting outside, at our local pub/restaurant "Woodocks" that has its beer in splendid condition, and where the steaks our always excellent. It is a most commendable place, except on a Sunday when it becomes a family day, having undisciplined children running all over the place, unrestrained by their parents. A day to stay away.

The vicar is one of life's gentlemen, a kindly, cultured, considerate man, who is, or has been, a credit to the Church. If only all the clergy were like him, what a wonderful institution the Church of England would be. As it is, we are about to see the appointment of female Bishops, but say no more, except stand by your beds.

In the evening I will be reading some more of "Mammon's Kingdom", finding it all very difficult to understand, despite my background in economics. However, I have been reading some rather trite books recently, so perhaps I will have to start thinking. Having "Compulsive Bookbuying Syndrome", I have about 20 books waiting to be read, all of them piling up in the parlour. I will soon have to have some more bookshelves put up - another expense.

One other expense is the replacement of a mixer tap in the kitchen. I have at last managed to find a plumber - and unusually a very helpful one at that - who has said that the supply and fitting will cost about 200. It seems an outrageous figure, but we will have to have the replacement as the present tap drips and makes a shuddering noise in the pipes.

E-mail: johncopeland@clara.net
Lincolnshire 24 July, 2014
Comments welcomed.
No.867.

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Diary of a Septuagenarian<BR>



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