- Published: 31 December 2016 31 December 2016
A month of typical wintry weather which I spent inside managing my investments and advancing my research and writing of The History of Little Paxton as the family overcame illness to enjoy Christmas and take part in all types of event at the behest of the children. The Thatcher government faced further crisis as an ex MI5 office revealed more about how Tory MP’s combined with the service to bug and discredit the former Wilson government, and then embarrassment in the Australian courts as our senior civil servant was found out lying about what we knew. She is also humiliated by Ulster demonstrations, revelations of corruption and insider trading following deregulation of the City and leaks surrounding the loss of the AWACS contract to the US but persists with passing an Education Bill through the Commons to thwart the teacher’s strike. Opec pegs the oil price and that helps the UK but our Balance of payments plunges into the red. Much loss of life in disasters in Iceland, Ukraine, Germany and France, from Apartheid in South Africa, and from ethnic conflicts and terrorism in Karachi, Pakistan and China and much domestic violence which contrast with the Christmas messages of the HM The Queen and the Pope
A typical December in terms of weather with some dull days but also some cold and frosty ones with an occasional hard frost and also may that we re just cold, wet and breezy. I kept warm and dry by spending most of them inside, supervising the ongoing investment of my affairs, and progressing my Little Paxton local history project. I was buying $25K of N.S Certificates amongst many other investments before producing compiling and printing out my massive Excel spread sheet of investments and income to send to my financial advisers with a full summary for comments and advice by the end of the month. Preparations and enjoyment of Christmas were highlights as I bought our ‘long life’ Christmas tree, put up Christmas lights on all four balconies of The Hayling View, took Della to Bar Hill to be looked after by the grand-parents as the rest of the family enjoy the pantomime ‘Robinson Crusoe’ in Cambridge and then sat roasting chestnuts with Debbie over our open log fire at the end of the day. I suffered a disorganised Xmas riding party for Debbie at the riding school and accompanied her to church with the Guides for the Christingle and Carol services before she could then enjoy the excitement of a combined Brownies/Scouts disco party. It was Diana who took Debbie to ballet but I was at the horse-riding watching Debbie canter and jump on Barbie at the riding school. School term ended for Christmas but not before we learnt about Daniel succeeding in English and History, coming 2nd in Maths but then bottom in English Literature! Diana and I went swimming with the family at St Neots indoor pool, Ernulf when we were fit but we were all sick with colds etc in the run-up to Christmas but we spent Christmas Eve recovering at home in front of the fire and television from the colds and illnesses of taking the family to visit Diana’s people in Bar Hill for a pleasant afternoon before home to put the kids to bed after which we could recover at home in front of the fire enjoy a successful Christmas Day lunch and present opening staying warm with balcony lights on to cheer us but, sadly, without my parents as Mum was not fit to travel.
We had visited them but Mum was rather troubled with rheumatism in this cold and damp weather and Dad was also having some thrombosis and needing to rest his leg and then we also heard news of my sister Freda’s bad leg not leading to her need to retire early from her nursing job and of Stacey having to have her appendix removed. The children enjoyed playing with their grandparents anyway and I gleaned some more family history before we had to leave and I drove my family home. I managed to call in to see Nigel and accepted a sherry as I returned his chain saw. The rest of the month was spent working on my History of Little Paxton. I had prepared for it by taking a drive along the historic coaching route through Papworth to St Ives and then a drive and walk around Little Paxton woods and Meagre Farm lands one evening but I found that the Huntsman Thorn is long gone. The Norris Museum treated me to a good display of the research findings of Inskip Ladds, and also auction details of The Grove and an aerial picture of Paxton Park both of which were just after the war. I undertook more Manorial history research in Bedford, having access to the Curia Regis Roll transcripts for the early 13thC Norman Conquest and then, in the Cambridge Collection, I was tracing archaeological records of rich Anglo-Saxon and Romano-British farms. I had to accept the decision of of St John’s College not to sell Little Paxton manor to me, which was to be expected but they had offered me a life-time lease of the title! Time after, writing up and editing my Little Paxton Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age sections, researching the life of John B Papworth who died in Little Paxton in 1847, and then writing chapters about Roman, Saxon and Danish conquests. I had printed out my Little Paxton History manuscript for neighbour Marilyn to show to her old Paxton lady friends and I was starting to get feedback first hand from lifelong residents. I was studying the enclosure map of Little Paxton at the turn of the 18th Century and combining it with St Johns manorial records such as to draw out and complete the most comprehensive map ever of the Parish before and after enclosure. On a poignant note, we completed the exchange of contracts for 39 Gordon Road as the end of a chapter in our life and that of our children. Outside our own little lives, Thatcher and Reagan were both trying to defend themselves against controversies of their own making with the former Morgan Grenfell Securities Director facing criminal summons for insider trading Scandal of insider trading in the City after deregulation. The MI5 affair saw humiliation for the UK government at the hands of the Australian courts, with an Australian Judge calls the English testimony ‘baloney’ and an MP back home accusing Sir Robert Armstrong of ‘lying for the Crown.’ MI5 continued to be under the spotlight all month despite being defended by Thatcher’s ‘Boot Man’, Tebbit, and ended up accused of undermining former Prime Minister Harold Wilson whilst in office with disclosures of the hounding and bugging of the Wilson administration with two Tory MP’s aiding and abetting this scandal. Retired agent Peter Wright now speaking to the press after writing his book revealing all and this adds to Thatcher’s embarrassment. To make matters worse, The Rev Ian Paisley heckles Thatcher in the European Parliament on the MI5 security crisis and then three RAF tornados are lost in accidents at great expense but at least the pilots eject and their lives are saved. Amongst sad deaths this month were none other than the old fox Harold MacMillan who dies after having taken up his Earldom and opposing Thatcher’s divisive politics in remarkably lucid speeches. Thatcher tried to make a successful Ulster visit it is leaked and marred by demonstrations and she was left feeling very angry about her reception. Later in the month an Ulster Police Station has been wrecked by another IRA bomb and more explode across the province. British troops have crossed the Irish border again. This security scandal was joined by a defence row as the media got wind of the government abandoning our Nimrod defence research in favour of the US AWACS system. After more calls for a parliamentary debate on the contract a Cabinet Committee backed the US AWACS project the government followed leaving an unlucky GEC in the lurch. The Nimrod airframe had proved just too small for the task which was not GEC’s fault. At least Short Bros of Belfast are awarded a £225 million Starstreak high velocity missile contract in the aftermath. The UK & US leaders agreed to aim for a 50% strategic arms cut over 5 years and to continue to support star wars, which will not be popular with the USSR who now say that they would resume nuclear arms tests, after the first US test. Russian authorities allow Andrei Sakharov back to Moscow and out of political exile in Gorky. In the US, CIA Director William Casey is diagnosed with a brain tumour as conflicting evidence surfaces about what Reagan knew about the illegal arms sales with US officials being forced to testify about what they knew concerning the Iran Arms deal. Then a less-than-positive Reagan State of the Union address was broadcast across the USas it implements anti-European tariffs! The UK tenure of EEC leadership ends with no progress on tackling the EEC budget crisis, or common agricultural policy surpluses. The Prison Officers and Teachers’ disputes continue with a teacher’s rally in Edinburgh and a one-day strike throughout Scotland and so the Education Bill passed through the Commons but only after a 23- hour debate which ensured a whole following day’s business was lost. speculation grows about a new Election as., more City revelations of insider-trading reveal the selfish outcome of financial ‘de-regulation’ and, in this atmosphere of moral corruption, there is even the results of Oxford University drug taking where Minister’s daughter Olivia Channon died in the company of brewing heir Sebastian Guinness. Boy George is arrested on drug charges as his companion dies of an overdose. Sellafield, leaking radiation, is given one year to solve its safety and leakage record or close, and the first satellite TV franchise has been awarded to the large BSB consortium. All routine operations have been put off at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, today and patients were sent home after an outbreak of a virulent and antibiotic-immune virus. In a tragic car crash on an icy day with a Northerly chill breeze, Cornish Liberal Party star, David Penhaligon dies and is sorely missed. 300 Irish are stranded by a ferry fire and are flown home. Rival religions battle it out in Palestine refugee camps, fierce ethnic violence in Pakistan kills more than 50 and the ethnic violence in Karachi continues and there are more riots or ‘demonstrations’ taking place in China. The Paris Student riots are escalating French Government back down on their educational reforms. OPEC agree production limits to peg oil at $18/barrel as Sterling and the Stocks rise in sympathy and. the UK Balance of Payments plunges into the red with Christmas imports as the month closed. The long-distance Challenger experimental plane completes its world circumnavigation on a single tank of fuel, there is better ews of the missing girl, Samantha Ettridge, being recovered today but in tragic circumstances for a baby girl killed during her recovery. The tanker Syneta founders off of Iceland with the loss of all 12 crew and many die in a Ukrainian mining disaster. There was serious death and injuries of holiday-makers due to a gas explosion in Germany and cable-car collapse in France. Demonstrations took place in several countries on the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and more countries and firms pull out of links with South Africa due to their racial discrimination and violence. Unrest and deaths in South Africa are all too common as the apartheid regime lurches from one crisis to another and an even more draconian censorship regime has been introduced in an attempt to justify their repression, in which 60 more people die. The Swiss journalists are released but native South Africans do not have that support and remain jailed. The Queen and Pope’s messages for Peace within and without the family contrasted starkly with the fatal hijacking and crash of an airliner, the fate of the Icelandic trawler foundering in the North Sea and two marital killings in Britain but the England test team dress up and play jokes on the Aussie press. Stayed up with Daniel to see the New Year in and hear of the Honours list, full of Thatcher’s cronies and henchmen but pleased to see Frank Williams recognised for his F1 achievements