April, a month dominated by my District Council Election campaign

A month dominated by my Paxton Ward District Council Election Campaign as I was unfazed by a nasty fall and my paperwork and boat suffered but not my new Games lawn, which was bedding in nicely, and my swimming pool, which was by now in good use. Some good use of my cars in hosting family visits and trips. Thatcher in all sorts of political trouble over Poll Tax, unfair and underfunded Social Security ’Reforms’, a damaging Ferry Strike and her ulster ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy. The foreign news dominated by the Kuwaiti Airline hijacking and the violent Israeli suppression of Palestinian dissent but also more violent protest in Tripoli, South Africa and Pakistan.

And thus ends the month of April, a month dominated by my District Council Election campaign. Although I shall carry on working this coming week, we are looking forward to getting a handsome majority on Thursday May 5th.  I had managed a very complete campaign, delivering three leaflets printed by our Cambridge colleagues, erecting flag-boards in supporters gardens and enjoying the help of many more party helpers which included a Reverend canvasser and the tacit support of another and my local doctor and Parish Chairman as well. County Councillor candidate Michael Pope was ever-present and very supportive, I had attended public meetings in Little Paxton and Southoe and mustered maximum press coverage as a result of my local history project and election campaign. My rival, the sitting Tory Councillor was successfully dubbed as being ‘The Lady from St Ives’ and her single leaflet campaign which only started very late in the day after the weather had turned cold and inhospitable and was faltering. I had picked up on local issues and supported the objectors to the orchard next to St James Church being approved for development against the village’s wishes, the Harradine Farm bid to build 700 houses in Southoe and the campaign ‘Doom’ pledged to fight the Priory Hill development.

I was also chatting to local families after being called back in Little Paxton to electors who had asked my canvassers for me to call. When sitting councillor Jeanette Green was also at a Parish meeting, I was also invited to talk about the ‘benefits of local representation’ and she was now being greeted at the doorstep with that welcome, ‘Oh, you must be the Lady from St Ives?’ which infuriated her. In the end, my reputation was such when canvassing and gaining even more electoral support that I was being accompanied ‘Pied Piper of Hamblin’ fashion by a gang of small boys and girls ‘helping me’. I had finished the month in pain, as I had a nasty fall when tending the ducks on the slipway, cracking some ribs, but after nursing my painful side and bleeding hand overnight, Dr Dumbleton at St Neots doctors’ surgery firstly advised that I just needed pain killers for my cracked ribs and could carry on being active and secondly that he and Mrs Dumbleton would be voting for me in my election!  Other things have had to go by the wayside – a desk full of paperwork unattended to, and many household chores and repairs left undone. The Lady was left rather deserted but I did get to Buckden Marina to collect her, got her through the lock and home OK. At least I have tended the games lawn, where the turves are beginning to knit together now and a lot of the smaller bumps have been ironed out after I had rolled and mown it several times. It will be several years and after as many top dressings before it can be as smooth and level as a bowling or croquet lawn can be. My swimming pool is clearing slowly after my work on it and was gaining heat gradually and steaming in the cold air but this did not stop Debbie and Della swimming in it on at least three occasions. Daniel had also been helping, cleaning the pool. I still found time to enjoy my vehicles, washing and polishing my cars, driving to Bedford to get the Rolls Royce MOT and taking the children in my Reliant van to the playground a few times and off to St Neots Riverside Park to play crazy golf.  I further trip in the Reliant to Paxton Wood Open Day in dry, but chilly weather but with a fair bit of sunshine, then back in time for the St James Church family service and then home for hot cross buns before back again to church for a sacred cantata about Jesus’ journey to the cross at Calvary by the St Ives singers. Some time working on financial affairs, taking a trip to the garden centre and watching Sandy Lyle win the US Masters golf tournament. The family’s health is good, except for me experiencing two silly accidents and resulting in cracked ribs. Daniel approaches his exams and I am unsure as to how well he has been studying. Debbie has settled down again after a weepy period at school, where she felt that her friends were picking on her. Della is growing quite big now and is a foot taller than most of her playmates at playschool. Several family visitors this month, Charles and Chrisula, both Di's Mum and Dad and my own, who were all taken for trips in the Rolls Royce Convertible. I heard later that A-list actress and subsequent MP, Glenda Jackson, first owned it when new in 1972! I still found time between canvassing to drop Debbie off at her horse-riding and picking her up afterwards. Elsewhere, Thatcher’s government has been in all sorts of trouble this month, as the controversial legislation on Poll Tax, Social Security benefits and other matters reduces the credibility and popular support of the ruling party. It may mean that other issues are lost in this Local Government Election campaign. A new Church vs State controversy is in the making, as the Bishop of Durham, David Jenkins, describes Mrs Thatcher’s government as being ‘wicked’ with the benefit changes making the rich richer and the poor poorer in ‘morally wrong’ policies.  The introduction of the new Social Security benefit system causes widespread confusion and hostility and the government’s managers only head off a further back-bench revolt by making major concessions on the Social Security side of the Finance Bill. Thatcher’s Commons majority shrank as 38 Tories vote against replacing the rating system with the regressive Poll Tax unless it has an income-related element. Thatcher’s Poll Tax Bill passes its third reading on the Commons and now only the Lords can stop it. Feelings ran high and Labour MP Ron Brown is being voted out of the Labour Party for throwing the House of Commons Mace to the ground in the Chamber. Teacher’s pay is being capped as the House of Lords hears calls to moderate the new Education Reform Bill. Chancellor Lawson has acknowledged the ‘unfortunate disagreement’ with the Prime Minister over exchange rates before the Budget but Government’s agrees to fund an average 15.3% pay increase for nurses pay, which is a sharp turn round on previous policies and is most welcome and the government have at last recognised that the new benefits system is underfunded by £100-300m but only after an emergency debate was allowed in the House of Commons. A soaring British pound forces interest rate reductions to 8%, a 10-year low as both the London and Wall Street markets oscillated wildly as Wall Street plummets 100 points and reverses earlier gains in London to losses of equal value as the US trade gap widens by over $13 million as Sterling falls 2 points but the stock exchange rallies. The city fraud investigations claim a new victim in David Mayhew . The Dover ferry peace talks break down and although the French Sealink crews return to work and National Union of Seamen has voted to avoid strike action and adopt a more moderate course, as their assets would be sequestrated,  the British P&O sailors are continuing their action. 250 strike-breaking sailors were then flown over to Holland to try and bring the P&O ferries back as the strike hurts the company now that Hull, Dover and Folkestone were all hit by the troubles.  Two Sealink ferries broke eventually broke the union’s picket line but many of the country’s ferries remain stranded by the embargo. High Court action was then adjourned pending talks at ACAS but these ferry dispute talks failed and P&O then sacks the striking ferry workers. The callous leader of the Irish gang Dessie O’Hare who kidnapped Mr O’Grady and amputated his two little fingers, was given a total of 40 years imprisonment in the Republic but then IBA broadcasted a documentary on the IRA volunteers being shot dead in Gibraltar whilst surrendering despite the government trying to suppress the story. A whole host of road deaths to mark the start of Easter, a Cumbrian factory discharges sulphuric acid, polluting three rivers and then a huge MOD fire in Shropshire ordnance depot releases clouds of asbestos smoke with people warned to stay inside, as the billowing smoke spreads asbestos dust on neighbouring homes and gardens. A family perished in a Gwent hotel fire and the rain eventually came after a dry fortnight. Tony Jacklin’s wife, only 42, has died in Spain and the Ryder Cup Captain is devastated. The UK might join the Euro-fighter project. A tragic Austrian Alpine skiing accident, results in the deaths of four British schoolboys whilst at home two children died in rail accidents. Two huge stories in the Far East; firstly a major hijacking of a Kuwaiti airliner which lasted weeks. 20 British women hostages and a Kuwaiti Royal hostage are released and it is allowed to fly to Cyprus, takes on arms as twelve terrorists now armed with machine guns threatening the hostages. The hijackers first tortured and shot a Kuwaiti Army officer, a second hostage is then murdered but then the Kuwaiti aircraft hijack drama ends, as the passengers are released, but the hijackers go free. In the second big story, Israeli troops firstly killed two more Palestinians and injured 13 others during fresh unrest in the West Bank. Then six more killed in Israeli/Palestinian clashes on the West Bank by Israeli troops with a stray bullet killing an Israeli girl as well.  The Israeli forces then assassinate the deputy leader of the PLO, Abu Jihad which leads to immediate and widespread demonstrations, violence and uprisings in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, with 10 Palestinian camps put under curfew; 12 more people were killed and more than 90 injured by troops trying to subdue the stone-throwing. PLO leader, Yasser Arafat, is now planning retaliation to the Israeli killing of his deputy.  A Car bomb in Tripoli kills 52 people. Two bomb explosions take place  in Pretoria as peaceful protests were suppressed and South African Apartheid is under more pressure and a horror story emerges from Kenya, as nearly 200 people are claimed killed by cattle rustlers in raids on 30 homesteads. The planned Soviet troop withdrawal from Afghanistan will start on May 15th, a Pakistani ammunition dump blows up raining down rockets and shells on Islamabad, the capital, for an hour killing some 60 people and injuring 800 other. The pre-summit Shultz/Gorbachev talks are looking poor at the prospect of achieving a new arms control treaty in May