Wednesday 26th November 1986

Up earlier today, supervising the children to tidy their rooms and then receiving Elm Leisure to hold them to task in rectifying the pool boiler installation before writing up my notes and editing my Little Paxton History files as A full-blown security row blows up in the House over the MI5 affair as the leaks might have been authorised by those close to Thatcher and now it seems cash from the US Iran deal was siphoned off to fund the Nicaraguan rebels. The late King’s death was hastened by injections for the first news to appear in the morning papers and Ken Baker is coming to the Commons to seek support to overturn the teachers’ pay settlement

Slept well and up fairly early, after my morning, tea to get my hair washed and rest of my toilette complete before breakfast. Managed to catch the children out and they had to tidy their rooms to an extent that they had not accomplished in recent days. Breakfast of wheat flakes etc., then to my morning paper, whilst I waited for the post. Nothing much of note and so I settled down to tidy up my office, ready for the arrival of Edgar Monks of Elm Leisure. I still had a half hour or so for editing my word processor manuscript for Little Paxton before he arrived. A difficult meeting. I began by running over my view of the entire problem. How the gas board had declared the installation illegal and how it was up to Elm Leisure to rectify it. I pointed out the dangers to a backlog of other pool boilers they must have installed and asked what his plans were. He was very uncomfortable and defensive on these issues, but I gave him a lifeline by saying that, although we could legally hold them to the costs of rectification, I would discuss a contribution to the costs, if they would tend to the matter quickly. With that, he went off and I spent the rest of the morning on my Little Paxton History. Lunch of more salad – and not very much of that either – and so I augmented it with the rest of the cress that was going begging. Back to work after lunch, until it was time for an early tea of braised beef with Debbie and then to leave for Debbie’s first hour-long horse riding lesson. Arrived there just in time for the 5.00pm lesson and Debbie did quite well, considering the fuss and distraction that some of the other pupils were making. She did keep holding on, though, and Barbie did go off on an unplanned canter at one point. Once home I spent the rest of the evening with the word processor, inputting the remainder of my facts on pre- and post-enclosure Little Paxton and the history of Little Paxton Park. I now have a major section on the Reynolds Family and Paxton Hall next; then I need to research more on Prehistoric times and the St Neots Paper Mill history, which are both most promising. No time for Daniel tonight, but I think he was trying hard at his revision. The repercussions of the recent security crisis go on and, in the House of Commons, the Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions are considering criminal proceedings against Lord Rothschild and former MI6 head, Arthur Franks. The opposition MPs are continuing to press Thatcher for answers to the alleged inconsistency of action against security leaks. Mr Wright says that, on the advice of Lord Rothschild (a close friend of Margaret Thatcher) he gave author, Chapman Pincher, details of his work as a spy catcher. All of this undermines the government’s case on MI5 secrecy in Australia and the hearing judge criticises the government for withholding information and evidence. In the US, Attorney General, Ed Meese, revealed that, ‘others were involved’, in syphoning cash from the Iran arms deals to fund Nicaraguan rebels. Reagan himself and his top Cabinet Officers have submitted to questioning by the Justice Department investigators. At Scott Lithgow Shipbuilders on the Clyde, another 1500 jobs are to be axed, with only 700 now staying on; one tenth of its former workforce. Unemployment will go up in Greenock from its present 25%, up to 28%, according to Greenock’s Provost, Sir Simpson Stevenson. The salvage operations go on off the cost of Cork, but the tanker appears to be stuck solid and will soon begin breaking up. A revelation that the life of King George Vth, the Queen’s grandfather, was ended prematurely by his doctor, Lord Dawson of Penn. The claim is based on an article by Francis Watson, Dawson’s Biographer, soon to appear in December’s History Today magazine. Lord Dawson’s notes, verified by Windsor Castle, showed that the King’s death was hastened by injections of morphine and cocaine. This was done with the wishes of Queen Mary and timed to ensure that first news of the death would appear in morning papers. Kenneth Baker is seeking Cabinet approval tomorrow for emergency legislation to overturn the teacher’s pay agreement. It has been a cooler and, at times, very wet day today, but the sky has cleared tonight and a ground frost is expected. It should be bright, if chilly, tomorrow.

Tuesday 25th November 1986

A dry and windy day spent studying Little Paxton history in the Norris Museum Library in St Ives before home to encourage Daniel with his homework and read another Country Companion to Debbie after her ballet. Key Reagan aides have quit over the Iranian arms deal after they had been supplied via Israel and Thatcher has been using civil servants to leak anti-opposition comments as she loses a UN resolution 116 to 4 asking for Argentinian negotiations over the Falklands. The Moors murder case detectives are still searching for the two child’s bodies and interviewing Ian Brady.


A fair night and quite rested when my morning tea arrived. A milder morning and no trouble getting out washed, shaved and showered, although it was dark this morning. Have started to listen to the World Service again and it is an informative radio channel when it comes to news and current affairs. Dressed in old sports jacket and trousers, then down to breakfast via the children’s rooms. I had to send Daniel back to clear up his room, as he had left clothes all over the floor. After my wheat flakes and apple juice, I quickly read the papers, before updating some of my Little Paxton history text with information gleaned from the Enclosure Award of 1814. In the post this morning I received a letter from my Dad. Mum is still very restricted with her arm, but enjoyed receiving the letters from the children and has some more hospital appointments coming up. She will try to write by typing with one hand and I have tried to persuade Debbie to keep writing as well. Daniel is now corresponding regularly with his pen-friend in Scotland and seems to enjoy it.

Monday 24th November 1986

A milder and showery day spent on investment strategy and administration after time in bed with Diana (who has lost 1 ½ lbs slimming this week)  and a similar evening where I supervise the children as they work and play computer games whilst Di struggles with Daniella. Barclays, IBM and General Motors pull out of South Africa and the Kowloon Bridger now sinks against Irish rocks, risking a major oil spillage

A sound night’s sleep, after an early retirement and some time with Diana in bed, which we both enjoyed. Awoke to my morning tea on a much milder, if overcast and showery, day. Breakfast of wheat flakes and apple juice, as usual, and then time to scan the FT whilst waiting for the post to arrive. A letter from St John’s Bursary, in reply to my enquiry after the Lordship of Little Paxton Manor. They are still considering my proposal, but are initially reluctant to sell as it is without historic precedent. They tentatively suggest a lease of the title to me for life. To my office to make a start of a mess of papers and to consider how to spend my time this week. In the end I reconcile myself to spending today on general paperwork and then going to St Ives tomorrow, instead of Cambridge. There is really so much to do with recent history, that I can only afford a little time on the Manorial history.

Sunday 23rd November 1986

Sunday 23rd November 1986 A walk around Little Paxton boundaries as research for my book which upset a depressed Diana and then back for Sunday Lunch and some TV as a stricken ore carrier is evacuated off of Ireland in suspicious circumstances, Reagan and Thatcher remain in trouble over the Australian MI5 book trial and rockets and bombs explode in Baghdad and in Middleton, Co Armagh, and up to 1,000 campaigners peacefully protest at the nuclear pre-processing plant in Cumbria

A little lay in after a cold night. Even though Di was wearing a long nightdress, socks and a dressing gown, Di said it took her an hour to warm up. She was grumpy and unsociable at bed time and continued today in the same mood. I was up and showered by breakfast of a nice fry up and then found out that the boys had also slept well. Settled down to reading the newspapers with the girls in the playroom and also read Della three of her books to try to cheer her up. Was not getting very far with my other work and so went out to feed the ducks and doves, drank coffee, and then set out on a walk down to the Little Paxton Parish boundary with Southoe. I went downstream and along the river bank to Wray House and passed the Little Meadow & Great Meadow on the way (although they are all ploughed up these days). Then cutting across and along the old course of Southoe brook, I found that it is lost in a huge gravel pit lake. But at least there is the mature trees that used to line it, sticking out on peninsular banks on both sides to mark the Little Paxton/Southoe Parish boundary. I still fail to see why the pits cannot be connected to the river at this point and cannot believe that the pit would drain into the river, as the Planning Authorities maintain.