- Published: 31 March 2016 31 March 2016
A miserable month of cold and wet weather and a sad one of tragedies with the assassination of Olof Palme, the shocking Hampton Court fire, loss of a Mexican airliner, Paris bombs killing 29 and a very poor one for my own personal health and that of my family as the Hayling View work nears completion . Thatcher’s dismantling of the UK manufacturing and primary industries continues as unemployment rises and budget, union, health and welfare reforms hit the poor and underprivileged and local democracy hit as the metropolitan authorities, such as the GLC, are banished. UK and US leaders spurn Soviet arms control offers, still fail to act against South African atrocities and sponsor attacks on Libya but Europe cooperate with Russia on space missions and another UK wedding is to look forward to.
Another month is ended and time seems to fly in many ways, but drags in others. Miserable weather again – not of the sharp frost, but of wind, rain and cool dampness. In many years Easter would be a pleasant time, but this year we are still pinned down indoors with the river high and coloured. We all have sore throats and coughs at the end of a month where we were all sick and ill at some time or other, with me very seriously ill at one point and Diana struggling to manage our children. She fell ill again I first relapsed with a chest infection and then completely collapsed with another fever and was unable to speak for lung congestion, was very hot with an excruciating headache, and took to bathing my head in cold water for fear of dying from pneumonia on the worse day of illness in my life! It took ages to get proper medical examination and diagnosis of my ails and two problems being dealt with and a visit to see a specialist was then advised for my urinary tract problems as I am not sure whether certain feelings are real symptoms or misapprehensions. It is disgraceful that it took a month from Doctor’s consultation to even getting an acknowledgement from the Hospital.
My parents managed to visit this month at last and the family were pleased to see them. My Mum, Grace Broad’s, hip still troubles her, but she was determined to see the entire house. Daniel’s sinus trouble seems not to have cleared and he too will have to chase the Doctor but we organise a god party for Daniel with a birthday meal and swimming pool outing. I have now formally resigned as the Director General of the BMMG and a successful BMMG AGM was completed without me and I have spent my time on the variety of very necessary DIY jobs on the house; with the running of alarm wires the biggest chore. The builders have now finished all of the structural work to the house and the decorators all of the interior work. There is still a host of small rectification items to do and it is annoying that they cannot do a quality job in the first place, but still have to keep coming back and making a mess. The walls of the swimming pool and base are concreted, blocked and rendered and the tiling and plant installation comes next. We hope to see all of these things out of the way in the coming month.. Having finished all else, I am now to screw all of the hall floorboards down to quieten them – a big job. Our new Hayling View’s furnishing is aided by my acquisition of wooden bedroom furniture from Peacock’s Auction and then buying a state-of-the-art HiFi system from A & N Audio of St Neots. Now, the carpet measuring and plumbing trades are paving the way back to normality. Another month of tragedies and atrocities that started with the assassination of the Swedish Prime Minister, Olof Palme, the swift collapse of The Hotel New World in Singapore and constant nuclear leaks at Sellafield which triggered a Commons report lambasting the Sellafield management and safety record, with leaks making the Irish Sea the most radioactive in the world. Then the month ended with the devastating fire at Hampton Court and total loss of life aboard the Mexican airliner crash, with bombs exploding in two locations in Paris with 29 dead. Wild winds in the West Country capsize a trawler with six fishermen dead and there is debris everywhere in the strongest gales for 50 years which killed five more people from falling trees etc. A horrific ‘Clockwork Orange’-type assault of the vicar of Ealing and rape of his daughter disgusts everyone. A constant thread of recent times was Murdoch’s battle with the print unions and persecution of them as part of the whole political emasculation and de-industrialisation of the economy which also saw the splendid Gartcosh Steel mill closed together with 23 coal mines and key industries abandoned to foreign competition where overseas governments realised their strategic importance more than ours. The London Metal Exchange no longer exists to trade Tin and Vickers are bought out by management but there is little hope of Leyland being allowed to be saved likewise and a brave local rescue bid for BL trucks looks doomed. The issue is compounded by the collapse of the oil price which highlights how dependent we had become on North Sea Oil due to the lack of oil depletion and manufacturing policies. The government’s popularity has waned further, as their economic and industrial policies are seen to encourage high unemployment and favour the fortunate, at the same time as leaving the manufacturing industry in shambles. Thatcher’s disregard for the poor and sick that was first indicated by withdrawal of free school milk is now compounded by a callous 10% increase in prescription charges (1000% since 1978), and has even led to the BMA pointing to the crisis in the care of the old and infirm. New laws persecute the duly elected representatives of Liverpool and Lambeth and are used to abolish the GLC and other metropolitan authorities; a tough American is sent in to British Leyland to impose her will in defiance of House of Lords dissent, and Audit Commission calls for public money to be spent on Council housing are ignored. Chancellor Lawson’s budget speech favours the rich but hammered petrol and tobacco. Cambridge wins the boat race for once. Across the water, the Ulster Marching Season starts with predictable violence as Protestants strike against the Anglo-Irish agreement. Elsewhere, the South African governments repression is increasingly counter-productive but, although even the US now sees the futility of supporting it any longer, and there is all-party condemnation in The House of Lords and the black boycott begins to bite in South Africa, and even their prize boxer is knock out by Frank Bruno in Wembley Arena! Thatcher is in no mood to compromise over anything, even defying rules against her share dealings in an Aussie mining company whilst in office and refusing to discuss arms reduction with Russia. In similar mood, the US resumes nuclear tests and the Russian call for a summit arms control meeting with the US is rejected. The US begins exchanging missiles with Libya and making raids on them. Reagan wins Senate support for arming the Contras but still needs to convince Congress and.. In contrast to the lack of US cooperation with the USSR in nuclear arms control, better news as western probing satellites monitoring Haley’s Comet are assisted to locate the centre by the USSR probe, Vega, which led to my friend David Link’s ESA Giotto mission taking the most detailed pictures ever of Haley’s Comet. This as President Mitterrand of France appoints a right wing Prime Minister, Jacques Chirac, Prince Andrew and Fergie are engaged to be married with a wedding date announced and $350 million of property in New York and a stolen fortune of up to $1 billion of belonging to Marcos and his wife Imelda is repatriated for the Philippines. Reagan fails to get Congress to approve aid for the Contra guerrillas fighting the Sandinista government Sikhs continue their murderous Nationalist struggle for the Khalistan Movement in the Punjab