- Published: 30 September 2018 30 September 2018
A month starting wet and windy but improving later but it was mixed in Blackpool, with gales and rain, yet we still enjoyed the family holiday.
The family mostly well and settling into the new school and play-school year. Daniel, Debbie and Della were all fine, apart from Daniel and his Sinus problem, and my mother was recovering from her shingle attack. Social activities included a riverside BBQ with neighbours, Catherine’s Greek-style birthday and the Kimbolton ‘Statty’ Fayre as family outings now that our swimming pool was closed for the winter.
My contribution to public affairs grew with attendance at all three Parish Councils Meetings in my Ward, actions following, and with my contributions to all of the key committees of HDC; progressing dog fouling controls, grass cutting, planning controls and elector grievances. Also working with my Cambridge Liberal colleagues regarding FOCUS leaflet printing by use of Apple Macintosh’s and with local SLD colleagues for distribution.
I little time my Local History project; working with the St Neots Museum and LHS committees and organising slide shows and talks; the first being for the Little Paxton Friendship Club.
Back home, the foundations for the new conservatory pond created and construction work starts soon, and I top dress the games lawn and tend to The Lady and her moorings prior to the winter floods.
Public Service cuts were upsetting workers unions, with Nurses and Postal Workers in the front line but the TUC also falls out with and expels, the EETPU. The Gibraltar IRA inquest confirms the army killings were ‘unlawful’, Thatcher was visiting Spain and alienating European colleagues as back home the UK RPI is up by 5.7% and the UK balance of trade deficit falls to ‘only’ £1.31 billion. Another North Sea rig fire and a chemical waste ship incident leads to more death and disaster. Expulsions of Czech and Cuban diplomats follow shooting incidents in London, another air display crash kills two more pilots and the Olympics is marred by drug taking revelations.
Massive flooding in Bangladesh kills over 500 with 20million made homeless and Hurricane Gilbert, at Force 5, is the worst Caribbean storm in history. Israel and the US hone their space skills. The USSR withdraws from Afghanistan and troubles in Burma kill 66 after a military coup is resisted and Japan’s Emperor Hirohito is gravely ill after 62 years in power
With all this digging activity in the autumn sunshine, the month of September comes to an end. The weather has been a mixture with heavy rain, squalls the gale force winds and then drizzly and damp days early on; but has been dry and pleasant of late with the season’s first frost was last night. The family are all mostly well and the children settled at school.
Di, like me, catching up on her work now that the holidays are over but there was a little worry concerning Di’s tummy aches following her night-time indigestion and further pain when shopping later and I had one very poor day, feeling tired and achy and unwell with possible food poisoning but I had no sympathy from Diana who was angry, annoyed, and determined to keep away instead of consoling me! Daniel is still suffering from his sinus problem, which is the only worry and he and I left our Blackpool holiday for the day to meet up with Kimbolton School Headmaster Mr Peel and Head of Chemistry Mr Watson to persuade Daniel to take the subject at A-level. Daniel subsequently returned to join the Kimbolton 6th Form and enjoyed its privileges. There was then some upset with him over his lack of money and need to do more chores as a result and he was also ignoring the young but voluptuous Claire when she was visiting our pool in her new costume, so he must have been preoccupied! This month, we bought a new bed, briefcase and a some monitors for him, so he was not so badly done by. Debbie was settling in well in her seat at the front of her new class and was still enjoying horse-riding and doing well. Della settling in at ‘Rising 5’s’, with Di staying on as a helper there, and she was sometimes left I my care when Di was off shopping. My mother Grace was recovering only slowly from her attack of shingles with residual headaches and tiredness. We made the best of our holiday in Blackpool, even when that rain was lashing against our hotel windows and covering our car with salt. We found a modern shopping centre linked to a multi-storey car park and, after coffee at the Winter Gardens, Daniel and I visited the Lego exhibition as the girls found a play place. Then to the Sand Castle swimming pool and recreation centre one afternoon as the weather closed the Blackpool Tower and then an evening in our hotel. which made our change from the Pembroke to the Norbreck Castle hotel the more challenging, particularly as they kept us waiting for hours for our room, the porter, and our interconnecting door. As the weather improved, we took trip to see Blackpool Zoo one morning and to see Blackpool Illuminations that evening each side of a full day enjoying other attractions such as the Model Village and taking a Landau ride to Central Pier for donkey rides. The lights were amazing, but the traffic congestion limited our enjoyment of them. After some trouble with the hotel nursery, we eventually got the girls accommodated as we packed our bags and then set off for the Pleasure Beach for a morning of rides; the monorail, the Go-Karts and all else before a snack lunch and the long car journey home. Once back, the trip via Willington garden centre to collect my Rolls-Royce after yet more delays. Amongst the other family activities, we enjoyed a riverside barbecue with the Law Family one evening, Di took the girls to her brother’s house for Catherine’s Greek style birthday and Chrisula subsequently visited with baby Catherine but that was difficult for Diana as she had to turn down a rather impracticable babysitting request. The last swimming session for our daughters and friends took place as this summer ended but I still took the family by bicycle to the swings on the playing field, and Diana took the children to the Kimbolton statute fair. The month has been a busy one for me. After our trip to Blackpool, I had been active in local politics and affairs and seem to be getting the better of the publicity battle. I was regularly attending meetings of the Little Paxton, Southoe and Diddington Parish Councils, the Economic Development and Environmental Services Committee Meetings and the Southern Area Consultative Group all of Huntingdonshire District Council as well as being invited to contribute to their Planning Committee, where I was making a noticeable impression. I was firstly successful in deflecting Little Paxton development plans for 24 flats behind my Hayling Avenue residents in School Lane. Then my proposals for cutting grass for elderly and infirm tenants were hastily agreed, though the majority Tories claimed the credit, but that was alright. I also highlighted the failings and hardship of the swimming lesson booking procedure for Ernulf Pool, by organising a protest after many mothers were left queueing for more than three hours without success. I persuaded Little Paxton Parish Council to improve anti-dog-fouling measures on the playing field, and helped the Village Hall Committee overcome a management crisis after being approached for help by The Little Paxton Friendship Club. I was working with the District Solicitor on Southoe parish matters and then attended an evening meeting of the Southoe Parish Council with the Rev Peter Lewis to get their agreement to support the SOS planning appeal; an initiative to prevent the Parish being swamped by inappropriate development. I had a furious representation from Peter Thornhill the Lord of Diddington Manor who felt that my public criticism of his gravel pit plans was unfair, a sure sign that my opposition was being effective, though he conceded its accuracy and his engagement meant that my efforts were succeeding. However, I was not getting support for the District Council to take over the Little Paxton Riverside Science Park, which will be lost to housing development. Di’ friend Linda was interested in joining the Parish Council and I was meeting up with Peter Wilmer about a forthcoming County Council campaign before our setback when he withdrew from Council candidature. I was working with my local SLD and Liberal Party colleagues behind the scenes and I was always meeting up with fellow activists Percy Meyer and Michael Pope and Cambridge Liberals Bill Walston and John Matthewman, working on our SLD FOCUS newsletters, printing out campaign mailing leaflets such as Gravel Pit Road and Dog Fouling letters and then collating them together for hand delivering. because of the postal strike. I had a discussion with Bill Walston at Thriplow farm about my purchase of an Apple Macintosh and I will now do so for our use in St Neots. My history project was much delayed, but I now have 50 slides of the village, a slide projector and a screen to be used into talks over the next fortnight; preparing for my forthcoming Little Paxton Friendship club talk on the village history and ensuring that the senior Little Paxton residents are invited and welcomed. I also received and helped a couple of Local History students and was now regularly attending the St Neots Local History society where I talked to the County Archaeologist about the ‘Little Paxton Stone’ and, at the St Neots Museum meeting, I learned that they would like me to take over the Chairmanship soon. The first Monday of October should see the start of my conservatory being erected, which will be quite a sight. The digging of foundations was well advanced, but I had to help supervise the disposal of the spoil from the excavation of my new koi carp pond and we spent much of the time directing its disposal to suitable places within the property. Work continued with a visit from the building inspector and he agreed the necessary depth and approved the works and I met Charles Frost and Frank Gadsby to resolve the new conservatory fish pond designs before I ordered the pond liner. A little time also varnishing The Lady and repairing mooring posts by the river to good effect. I met the Cambridgeshire County Council forestry officer, Mr Alexander , to examine the potential for local woodlands and to discuss woodland schemes. I was also taking a break from my council and office chores to spend time working on the games lawn, assisting and supervising Peter as he mixed up five large bales of peat with half a ton of sharp sand for top dressing and then raking it well in to the dips and uneven patches. Also wiring up the mooring poles nearby ready for this winter’s floods. I also managed to take time on Sundays to wipe over the Rolls-Royce and valet the Range Rover but then paperwork, correspondence, wading through local papers for press cuttings and filing was always taking precedence. Elsewhere, Thatcher’s Public Service cuts were upsetting workers unions. The postal workers escalated their dispute as the postal strike spread (but with some hope of talks) but then two thirds of the mail was affected and all postal sorting offices finally came to a standstill with none of the country’s mail being delivered. A settlement was delayed and coming apart at the seams at first, but then gradually returned to normal. The right-wing press was mischievously rousing opposition to the Post Office monopoly after the postal strikes and the government was still at loggerheads with nurses over their settlement details. The Welsh miners rejected Coal Board’s plans for a six-day working week. The EETPU dispute came to a head with deep division at the TUC conference congress before the TUC then expelled the electrician’s union. The government is still fighting the IRA and the aftermath of bad publicity from their ‘shoot to kill’ policies. The Crown pathologist at the Gibraltar IRA inquest reports 34 bullet wounds in a frenzied attack and confirms the army shoot-to-kill policy killings were ‘unlawful’ and the SAS admit killing the IRA men but claimed they had to. More bomb attacks continue the Ulster civil service head had his house demolished by bomb another UDR man was shot dead. Thatcher was in Spain negotiating about the problems with Gibraltar and has been alienating European colleagues by raised the spectre of a ‘United States of Europe’ in opposition to the closer European policies of Jacques Delors. At home, the UK Retail Price Index up by 5.7% and the UK balance of trade deficit was falling to ‘only’ £1.31 billion but, as the party conference season is underway with Poll Tax the big issue, it has become apparent that the government’s council housing policy would lead to near extinction of council housing by 1990. The TGWU backs Kinnock and Hattersley and are on course for re-election in the Labour Party leadership election. Paddy Ashdown was well received for his first speech to the SLD conference as party leader and brings his party conference to a close, after their meetings shared the top jobs and Dr David Owen ends his SDP conference with uncharacteristic words of unity. Offshore, aboard the Karen B chemical waste ship, anchored off France, there is a need for a doctor by helicopter to examine their chest and back pains whilst the fight against drug traffickers takes place in the Channel with another large haul of drugs as the fast Customs and Excise cutter boats seized drugs worth £37 million and police raid a large forgery factory in London. Helicopters from surrounding rigs and ships were evacuating the crew of the Ocean Odyssey, as the rig is freed from the flaming well though one man is still missing. Stories emerge of the bravery of the Ocean Odyssey radio operator, Timothy Williams, who stayed behind and perished and there followed the sad recovery of his body and details of how he had been unnecessarily ordered back on to the rig. A further helicopter crash seriously injures two children’s TV presenters, and the Cruise Missiles left Molesworth today to be flown off to the USA via Alconbury. Expulsions of Czech and Cuban diplomats follow shooting incidents in London, as the UK and Czechoslovakia exchanged diplomatic expulsions and the Cuban ambassador was expelled for shooting an MI5 agent in the embassy incident but the UK and Iran resume diplomatic relations. An armed raid on a nightclub near Ilford was followed by a Police chase and another unrelated incident concerned a gunman on the rampage in Walsall. Actor Roy Kinnaird dies in a riding accident and, in the latest air display crash, two pilots are killed after colliding in their Phantoms during practice. Not much more success for Britain in the Olympics as the Russians and East Germans are way ahead. News of Olympic defeats and positive drug test results for Britain’s team make a poor start to the day with Olympic sprint champion Ben Johnson disqualified for taking steroids and the aftermath is the shaking of the international sports community to the foundations. Huge weather events and the massive flooding in Bangladesh first leading the International news. The floods are now estimated to have killed more than 550 with 20 million homeless as roads, railways and even the airport is swamped by water more floods and plagues in Bangladesh and the Sudan. In the meantime, Hurricane Gilbert was first bringing devastation the Cayman Islands with gusts up to 200 mph, it then got stronger as it approached Mexico with winds up to 200 miles an hour, so now Force 5, it has become the worst Caribbean storm this century and thus in living memory. It then threatens the Texan coast with rising tides forcing house owners into storm shelters whilst half a million people in Jamaica remain in temporary shelters after their homes are destroyed. Then 550 victims are missing in the Mexican floods as Hurricane Gilbert precipitates torrential rain, but Texas is spared. India ban English test players who have played in South Africa as a huge ‘Race against Time for Sport’ quest continues, and the Pope has been diverted from Lesotho to South Africa after hijacking of pilgrims in a bus there. Israel struggle to put down a PLO and Islamic Fundamentalist uprising in occupied Palestine, but Israel launches its first satellite and the US Space Shuttle Discovery finally resumes flights with a perfect launch. Elsewhere in the world, Emperor Hirohito of Japan is gravely ill after 62 years in office, an emergency is declared in the Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh, the USSR withdraws from Afghanistan amidst a government re-organisation as the Soviet Union endures a major political shuffle, military coups in Burma and Haiti lead to more trouble in Burma as demonstrators refused to accept the military coup and 66 more deaths in Rangoon occur as the civil unrest at the Burma coup continues.