December 1988

The mildest December for more than 50 years allowed our conservatory to be built, fitted out and stocked with its first Koi Carp and to then become our dining room, with me providing some of the skills alongside the builders and specialist Avenue Fisheries Koi experts. There was still the shower room fan and tiles to install, and the annual Christmas lights to erect and gutters to clear out.

I recovered from a chest infection this month, Diana was ill with soreness and coughing and was slower to recover; my mother was coping with her shingles and my father had his operation for ear cancer. The children were fine and doing well at school and enjoying friends to stay and many outings and school activities. We celebrated Christmas with my parents staying and Di’s visiting.

The first year of my Council work has gone very well, as I already tackled many local issues, saved the village hall from disaster and encouraged colleagues onto the Parish Council and to get elected for the County Council next spring but progress on my history book has been slow as a result, although I have had my Apple Mac upgraded and a scanner installed to help this project.

Thatcher unwisely continues her row with Belgium/Ireland, refusing to accept defeat over the IRA extradition despite widespread European opposition and her new Anti-Terrorism Bill contains provisions for detention without trial, flying in the face of the European Court of Human Rights. This was a month of disasters, The Clapham Junction rail crash and the PanAm Lockerbie crash, the aftermath of which was poorly handled by government ministers. Elsewhere, The Armenian earthquake tragedy left 40 to 45,000 dead.

Outgoing USSR leader, Gorbachev visits the US to say his goodbyes and announces huge Soviet conventional arms cuts and the US agrees to support direct talks with Yasser Arafat of the PLO as positive developments, but the threat of an EEC/US trade war increases.

Thus ended December and, with it the year of 1988. Despite the odd cold day, the month has been unusually mild (some say the mildest Christmas Eve for 50 years days and the mildest month and Christmas Day for 40 years, which is as long as I have lived) which enabled first my conservatory to be completed and then the fish and plants to be introduced without straining the floor with my heating too high. The conservatory was a bit of a distraction and vexation in the end, with me trying to get the thing finished and tradesmen to do their parts, such as the decorating, floor tiling, window winder installing, joined and plumbing and but I am well satisfied with the result. It has been expensive (£30-£40,000 plus) but adds proportionately to my £1 million home by way of increased amenity for the colder months when the swimming pool, games lawn and river are out of reach. I had several jobs to do myself, including wiring the sockets and lighting, fitting door and window security bolts/locks, alarm contacts, conservatory guttering and pond spotlights. There was the trellis to put up, planters to install; and fill; and I was constantly skimming the pond to keep it free of the building and decorating dust before I started stocking the pond with fish which soon looked healthy and were feeding well after I managed to commission the pond ventura satisfactorily for aeration. The first small Koi carp were released as water tester fish and then a bigger Koi, a fishy character, which soon settled into the pond and calmed the others down too so that they fed well.

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