- Published: 31 October 2017 31 October 2017
A very wet month at home with constant flooding after my extensive landscape gardening during which confinement I made good progress in my History of Little Paxton project, which attracted publicity and heralded my candidature for the local council. Di and the girls struggled but overcame slight ailments, Daniel finds a girlfriend and the children do well at schoolwork with me on their tail! Well prepared for the start of our Californian holiday against the background of collapse on the world’s financial stage and revelations of corruption, threatening Thatcher’s free market approach and worrying conflict in the Gulf and persecution of Tamils in Sri Lanka; offset by some optimism on East/West nuclear disarmament talks. Fiji leaves the Commonwealth as a newly-declared republic and the Great Cello player, Jacqueline du Pre, died of multiple sclerosis
And so we bring the month of October to an end in the our favourite place of Southern California. It was a wet month. The wettest English October since records began, with several occasions where the Ouse broke its banks. In fact, the highest the water had got since 1974. Then, over here in Los Angeles, where the rain had continued to follow us about. A month where I also got back to writing my Little Paxton History, the project re-awakened by my speech to the St Neots Local History Society and also the publicity in the local newspapers. A month also of colds and coughs, but we are thankfully over the worst now. My poor Dad has had a recurrence of his kidney stones and awaits his hospital treatment. Then, of course, we had the hurricane force winds. Not to forget the Stock Exchange share price crash, after some 13 years of a Bull Market. In all, a stormy and unsettled month that brought to an end the fragile and poor summer. My conservatory plans are in trouble. We have chosen the preferred design, by Frosts of Tempsford, after an enjoyable visit to Jordon’s Mill in Biggleswade to see a fine example he had built for his in-laws but now the planning authorities are dubious about its scale and position.
The month started with the normal domestic priorities, working with the gardener after recent major landscaping works, working at home on my paperwork and taking Debbie to Offord for her horse-riding regularly and she then looked at my Grant of Arms after her homework was about Kings, Queens and heraldry. Debbie attended the Evangelical Church with Amy and then we attended the Little Paxton Harvest Festival Church service but then we find that Debbie had suspected German Measles and there followed a complicated family day with Debbie home from school and then a rash which was diagnosed as an allergy and could then go to school again. At her parents evening at The Kimbolton Prep, we were pleased to hear that she was getting on well in all subjects but disappointed to hear of her not being streamed for Maths in the top set. I made a representation to Debbie’s Maths teacher, without any positive effect, We heard that Daniel is ‘engaged’ to his girlfriend Louise (who it seems is Gary’s ex-girlfriend!) and they have exchanged rings and gifts! He completed his afternoon voluntary work sessions in the Oxfam shop without demur. I was firm with Daniel, Paul and Mrs Kingham about Paul’s midnight cider punch party not being suitable for Daniel or 15/16-year-olds in general. He helped us enjoy our new sound system by offering his help. We were making our normal visits to Bedford, the children were hosting visitors for the pool. Della had a restless month, misbehaving with Di and needing my settling influence. We had a visit from my mum and dad who arrived with news of their visit to Freda and Alf. They found them overweight and in poor health, which was a worry, but the rest of their visit to us was enjoyed by the children, back from the St Neots fair and circus that afternoon. We celebrated Di’s birthday and welcomed the visit of Charles and Norma. Daniella refused to go to Tumble Tots one afternoon. With Diana already preparing for our Disneyland Californian holiday, I was firstly tending to Della’s poor health keeping a close eye on her, as she had some antibiotics prescribed after a poor night but soon recovered during the day and I was also supervising the children’s homework and then making my own preparations the holiday touring St Neots banks and building societies, Clover Office Supplies, and other parties to prepare for a period of absence. I held my talk to St Neots Local History Society one evening and then drafted and printed a press release about my new book, delivering it by hand to local papers and then fielded calls from journalists about my new book leading to my picture on the front of The Trader with my History of Little Paxton story. I then had a visit of Peter Lewis, our local vicar, who called by to chat and support my efforts at writing Little Paxton history and meet a Little Paxton History student once my story was in St Neots Weekly news again. I heard more local history information from ladies that worked at Paxton Park Maternity hospital and had some more good introductions and discussions with old Little Paxton residents as I started working on my Little Paxton scrap-book. I also then managed to piece together the Little Paxton maps showing the post-war development and travelled to Gamlingay to see the Garthwaites, the former occupants of Windmill Cottage until they were bought out by the Paper Mill. I was constantly transcribing and printing out the Mrs Shepherd and Garthwaite interview tapes before visiting Mr Hall, whose father was the former Head Gardener of Paxton Park that evening, and he furnished me with some great aerial photos of the place and an illustrated brochure of Paxton Park School in the 1920’s as we stayed talking until midnight and filled up two tapes of interview. This, before taking a tour around Paxton to photo the historical sites that still exist. One evening, I welcomed Michael Pope and Percy Meyer the Chairs of the local Alliance parties and was recommended for adoption as their prospective Alliance candidate for Paxton. I was preparing for our trip to Anaheim as I travelled to St Ives for an auction and Di was shopping in Cambridge for holiday goodies. I was working on the Hayling view alarm system, fixing sticking doors and the fire and security alarm settings to avoid another false alarm when we are away. I was studying the financial markets in which the bottom fell out of the equity market, 10% on the London Exchange and 25% in New York all from fears about bank solvency. I stayed at home keeping track of the Stock Exchange and trying to contact my brokers to no avail as an air of panic prevailed and the BP issue looks in deep trouble, I was just buying Government Stocks as I was warned off equities calling my stockbroker to dump my BP shares holding and then constantly checking the financial news for the latest developments. I was scanning the financial papers and they offer little guidance in these uncharted and troubled times but the laissez-faire approach of free-market Thatcherism may well have had its day. Both the US and UK stock exchanges slide further endangering the BP flotation. The City of London was paralysed due to power cuts at the same time as by coincidence the US Dow had a record one-day fall, with fears of the Gulf conflict escalating as US Forces attack at least two Iranian Oil platforms. Then Wall Street experiences another record one day fall on fears of interest rate rises and London follows to a lesser extent. of the continued fall of the Dow Jones index to nearly 1700 with US underwriters praying in vein that the UK BP issue is called off as they would lose a packet. Then news that the government will press ahead with the BP sale, despite Back Monday and early stock exchange recoveries deteriorating into more panic selling after lunchtime, but is forced into the UK government underwriting the BP flotation, which is a poor compromise. The Hong Kong stock market openedg after a week’s suspension as more equity selling occurred in London and New York with Hong Kong ending down 33%. The Options market is supported with a support package of £1 ½ billion which was still was not enough to calm nerves as the UK Government struggle to handle the financial crisis and hundreds of US companies are buying their own shares! It was still raining hard after a very wet night with flooding throughout southern England as I stayed in and played with the children and then spotted the river rising alarmingly as we drove back and there then followed some swift action to secure our boats and riverside belongings as the water came over the camp-shedding as all of South East England and East Anglia are on flood alert. The river levels even further up the next morning, after I had monitored them until late at night, and my riverside gardens and the Paper Mill road had flooded completely until the levels subsided later. Re-directing gardener Pete to wash our car as the lawns were only just reappearing from the flood water. We had our sleep disturbed by huge gales with hurricane force 100mph winds and torrential rain killing 13 nationwide in the worst storm for 300 years. This made worse for me by my cold as I intended to stay in and not join Di going to Bedford but I had to take Daniel and Debbie to school as the bus was not running. We had calls from my parents and Freda and they were fine, despite local damage and then home to another deluge of rain and prospects of more flooding. The river was rising and I knew we were in for a 10-20-year flood and so organised my sheds and boats accordingly and then took a walk along The Hayling Way to the mill and turned back traffic on Mill Lane as it was getting dangerous. Flood warnings in local villages with many cut off. There then followed another day of recovery from the floods as the water drained away, nearly all of the local roads were open again and our grounds were recovering. I was then feeding the ducks and doves on riverside gardens covered in sticky mud from the subsiding flood. More storms and torrential rain affects hundreds of homes in Wales with 2ins of rain in 24hrs in one deluge and then over 4 ins of rain floods land and collapses a railway bridge.. Then an Isle of Wight pier was destroyed and 500 specimen trees were damaged or destroyed at Kew Botanical Gardens with the South of England slowly recovering from ‘The Great Storm’ as 500,000 homes remained without electricity. I brief Joan on the alarms and give her a key for our time away. We then travelled to Anaheim from Paxton to start our holiday; this involved a full day of travel driving to Heathrow Airport in the aftermath of the great storm, dropping the car off at the Excelsior off-airport car park and then checking at Terminal 3 and on to a TWA Boing 747 for the 10 ½ hour flight that taxed both our mental and physical stamina. All of the immigration checks and forms and further problems with our hire car and the drive to find our Ibis Hotel in Anaheim but we made it and turned in at about 9pm local time (5am in the morning for us) and thus ended a tiring day. I was catching up on my journal and the international news as we rest in our hotel. An early start to the temperate day, with clouds and sunny periods allowing us to enjoy the start of a three-day Disneyland Pass and a long day of rides with ‘Star Tours’ being the highlight. By 6.00pm, the three children were in bed and asleep and, within half an hour, Di and I had joined them, after an enjoyable, but very tiring day. and then planning our week ahead; which will include two more days in Disneyland, one in Knott’s Berry Farm, a combined day at Universal Studios/LA Zoo, half a day at Marineland and I also want to see the South West Museum, where the Indian heritage is to be seen. We then visited Knott’s Berry Farm for a long day of thrilling rides, refreshments and distractions but came home before the Halloween evening display to keep our body time clock settings. Then, a few changes of plan as we faced an unusually-wet day. It being unsuitable for Universal Studios, we first tried the Central Los Angeles Shopping Plaza and found out how to park after some trouble only to find many of the shops closed on Saturdays but I did get a copy of Mr Wright’s ‘Spy Catcher’ that is still a banned book in England! Then I suggested the ‘South West Museum of Indian and Western peoples’ which I always like and think about how these Native American Plains ‘Indians’ were dispossessed and displaced by the hunting of the Buffalo, and then appropriation of their land. Family lunch and dinner and another early night. Form a personal standpoint, Ihope for a more agreeable November, when I can complete the first round of Little Paxton interviews and updates and do a number of things before the Christmas preparations are upon us. Outside our own family priorities, and the impact of the financial crisis, Labour debates nuclear defence at its party conference, and The Labour Conference ends with surprising unanimity. Thatcher’s government finally relents on public expenditure after years of monetary control resulted in economic failure and a huge security operation preceded the Tory conference in Blackpool. The sickeningly arrogant Margaret Thatcher was regaling the Tory Conference which endorsed her ill-conceived Poll Tax policy and she must certainly fall soon with that attitude. The UK government blocks extra cash being invested for European Space development and space engineer Alan Bond is frustrated at lack of UK funding for space and his HOTOL engine and is supported by Tory ex IT Minister Sir Geoffrey Pattie in that view. Northern Ireland Secretary, Tom King, resists measures for fairer Ulster justice. In a Bristol mortgage fraud, 31 solicitors, valuers and estate agents have been arrested, after a 12 month enquiry. Sir Jack Lyons of Guinness has been charged with theft and false accounting and more executives including Gerald Ronson are implicated in The Guinness scandal. The Tory MP caught stagging the BT share issue is freed on a technicality. Lester Piggott is jailed for three years for tax fraud and Marconi are investigated for contract fraud MOD police raid Marconi in Portsmouth and, almost in another world, a debtor shoots the Bailiff in a Wolverhampton repossession stand-off. Thatcher still infuriates the other Commonwealth Heads over her refusal to act against South Africa and remains embarrassingly isolated at the Commonwealth Conference. Serious concerns plague air traffic control. The SAS raid Petershead prison and free the officer held by the inmates but another prison office taken hostage in Scotland and it seems that the stupidity of ending of parole in prisons sparks riots as there is no incentive to behave. The Zeebrugge inquest returns a verdict of ‘unlawful killing’ over the Herald of Free Enterprise sinking., and anger is rising over the blame of the ferry sinking being confined to three crew scapegoats, rather than the company. The Great Cello player, Jacqueline du Pre, died today of multiple sclerosis this month and two Iranians are shot dead in London. A bereaved Iranian, whose brother and father were shot dead in Wembley by ‘hit squads from Tehran’, want the struggle against the Ayatollah to continue. The US Incinerator ship, Volcanus II, was set to burn toxic waste off of the North Yorkshire coast but was scared away to Belgium by a Greenpeace ship, and was then still as is harried by Danish fishing vessels. armed police have seized a large haul of arms in Essex.. as the Guinness as well as Ernest Saunders. The wider world was dominated by appalling news of the Iraq/Iran Gulf conflict escalating with plane and missile attacks in The Gulf. Iran began by threatening retaliation in the Gulf, as more attacks took place against Gulf oil installations and the tanker attacks continue and then the Iranians have attacked the Dubai supertanker oil terminal in the Gulf and a US helicopter gunship sank three Iranian patrol boats after coming under attack Reagan. Congress, unhappy with Reagan over his Gulf conflicts, is trying to intervene but Reagan is resisting The War Powers Act. Reagan is considering a US trade ban for Iran after a silkworm attack on a Kuwaiti super tanker oil terminal an Iranian missile hits an Iraqi school, killing 32 children and injuring nearly 200 more but Congress still want to debate it and ensure that US President’s right wing nomination for Supreme Court judge is rejected. The Sri Lanka conflict escalates with eight Indian soldiers killed by Tamils who themselves suffer ten dead. The Indian peace keeping forces in Sri Lanka then claimed to have killed more than 65 Tamil Tiger guerrillas, with a loss of 6 of their own, over time and Indian Troops fight a bloody end game against the Tamil rebels, fighting escalating in the streets and from house to house as the remaining Tamil Tiger are ‘fighting to the death’ in the Jaffna Peninsula. A tourist plane crashes in Burma, killing 49. There is good progress in the superpower arms talks to eliminate nuclear weapons but Gorbachev raises last-minute demands to limit Reagan’s Star Wars project. as it seems that the Russians are trying to get some last-minute concessions in their arms deal with the US. US President Ronald and Nancy Reagan struggle with political and personal problems but we are hearing that Shevardnadze and Shultz are going to meet again and US commentators hope that there will be a Gorbachev/Reagan Summit in the US in Nov/Dec. 6 Buddhist monks die in Tibet protesting at the hands of the Chinese whilst protesting at occupation and Colonel Rabuka declares a Republic in Fiji such that Fiji is no longer in The Commonwealth, and two monkeys get up to tricks in a Russian Spacecraft. Finally before our visit a long-expected earthquake hits our beloved San Francisco and another aftershock affects Los Angeles, but it does not affect our holiday plans.