Monday 23rd October 1989

On quite warm and sunny day, with gale force winds expected and, after staying with us and enjoying breakfast together, Freda joined me, Di and the girls as Debbie and Della had riding lessons at Offord; Della having her very first time and doing well. We then checked out the Weald House nursing home which Freda and Diana agreed would be best for Mum and dad to spend some time together. On to Addenbrookes to find Freda’s daughter Jane and partner John with Dad before they took Freda back to Suffolk and I heard from who I believe was the surgeon responsible for Dad’s demise, Mr Campbell, who tried to justify (in)actions.

News of ‘a shambles’ in the London Ambulance Service as management lock out the ambulancemen totally, even though they are needed for emergency calls. British Aerospace and Rolls-Royce engineers strike in support of a four-hour cut and thus a 35-hour week. Thatcher is again isolated amongst Commonwealth leaders and freezes Child Benefit levels for the third year running.

I had a reasonable night considering the pressures and strains of yesterday and Freda slept all right as well. We had breakfast all together and then we left Daniel at home and took Debbie and Della horse-riding. It was Della’s first riding lesson and Freda and Di were there to see it. I ran alongside Minty had Della on board being tutored by Fiona Naylor. First, she sat astride and held onto the saddle as Minty walked. Then she held onto the reins and stopped the pony when asked. Then trotting etc and she ended up really enjoying the experience. Debbie also had a ride on Sunny and showed Freda how she could do it.

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Sunday 22nd October 1989

With Daniel going with friends to the Motor Show, I took Di and the girls firstly to pick up Freda from Stanton and then first to see Mum in the West Suffolk where the girls played with her and then on to see Dad at Addenbrookes, delivering him some more clothes. His medicines are reducing now the pain has moderated and he seemed comfortable and accepted the nursing home proposition. Freda then came home with us to see The Hayling View for the first time and a grown-up Daniel after a long while!

Today was a long day. We got up and, leaving Daniel behind to go with his friends to the motor show, I took Diana, Della and Debbie to drive and meet Freda at Stanton. We picked her up with their own suitcase and another full of clothes for Dad and then first went onto the West Suffolk hospital at Bury St Edmunds to see Mum. She was quite bright and enjoyed the visit. Della did some colouring of her puzzle book cover and Debbie showed her pony club magazines. After this, Freda and I sat with Mum on her own and reassured about Dad and the nursing home.

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Saturday 21st October 1989

On a very wet and windy night there then followed a mild and windy day today as Di took Debbie to her horse-riding, I tended the birds and fishes usual and then received visits from Percy, Derek Giles and then my neighbour Chris. When I took Diana, Daniela and Daniel to see Dad at Addenbrookes today we found Dad’s Sister Ivy with her husband Arthur and children June and Keith and it was the first time we have seen them in 15 to 20 years. He seemed a lot brighter today after they had reduced his morphine again to 20mg night and morning and he sat with Della as she read a couple of books.

Thatcher was isolated on environmental issues at the Commonwealth Conference, there is progress in South Africa with an ANC rally now agreed and after four days, a victim of the Californian earthquake has been found. Now that the ambulance drivers cannot cover emergencies back home, police vans are being drafted in. Another air crash, this time in Honduras killed 111.

Di was up early this morning, but even so was complaining that she had laid in too long as she had to get Debbie to horse riding early. I had my breakfast and then tended the birds and fishes usual before I had a succession of visitors this morning which was a bit inconvenient. Percy came to do some photocopying of his press release and Derek Giles came to collect photographs and his copies of the election literature (but at least we got him to take our collection of cans to the Priory Park collection centre) but then our neighbour Chris came by for a chat. The main trouble we had this morning was over which newspapers to put out. In the end, Daniel helped me extract the Independent edition that had a picture of the Little Paxton floods, before the rest were put out. After lunch, I then set off with Diana, Daniela and Daniel to see Dad at Addenbrookes as we arrived Dad’s Sister Ivy with her husband Arthur and children June and Keith were there and it was the first time we have seen them in 15 to 20 years, I would think.

Friday 20th October 1989

After a poor night, thinking of my parents’ predicament, a nice spell with Della joining me, hand-feeding the fish in the conservatory, before I could settle down to producing Derek Giles’s Eaton election literature until Debbie and Daniel had come home early after they had broken up from school for half term. Over to see a very quiet and undemonstrative Dad, who stays in his shell but I have found a room for him and Mum to share at Croxton Nursing Home which is well equipped for them both.

I was reluctant to wake this morning after I had a poor night, staying awake until early morning thinking of my parents’ predicament. Breakfast a little later than the others and then Della joined me to feed the fish in the conservatory. The Hariwake Ohgon fed from Della’s hand, which was nice. I did some work in my office, returned some phone calls and then had to pack some leaflets for the newspaper and can collection tomorrow, before I could settle down to Derek Giles Eaton election literature. I then had lunch of crab salad and we were joined by Debbie and Daniel who had come home early after they had broken up from school for half term.

This afternoon, I drove over to see Dad again. He was talking to the ward sister when I arrived, and I left them for half an hour and had a cup of tea. She tried to put him in the picture and explain things. He is quiet and undemonstrative and stays in his shell and I am asking for the morphine to be reduced further to make him less tired. I stayed with him the rest of the afternoon. I had called in on the Croxton Nursing Home on the way. It has some 40 inmates, mostly in single rooms and have a double room that Mum and Dad could occupy. The bathrooms are well fitted with lifting and bathing aids and many roomy toilets. There are corridors and ramps and lifts that allow wheelchairs to access all parts of the building, but they have a ‘locked door’ policy to stop them wandering off and into trouble. Once home this evening, I worked on for a while and finished the first bout of election copy and artwork for Derek Giles. Now I must get it all to Cambridge on Monday. I heard from Freda this evening; Mum is relieved to hear of our plans and wants, like Dad, to get together again