May 1989

A normal family month ends with our riverside holiday on the Norfolk Broads during this, the warmest May for 150 years. Di and I were combining our normal activities with taking Debbie riding often and attending her first horse-riding event and Daniel was learning to drive as I encouraged his school work and first GCSE preparation.

All this changed with us packing up and preparing to start our holiday in Norfolk, towing the Little Lady as a luggage trailer to arrive and stay at our Wroxham riverside self-catering lodge, Daniel and Gary staying on the Little Lady.

This month my 2,000 print run of the History of Little Paxton book arrived and its publicity launch showed every sign of continued success. This just left a little time to prepare my Rolls Royce for seasonal use and attend my fishpond.

The local elections were a major pre-occupation, with my team winning one ward and narrowly missing out on two others; but the campaigning continued afterwards with Southoe Post Office restoration, Paxton Village Hall support and a HDC Standing Orders campaign as Sally Guinee joins us.

Nationally, the Labour Party National Executive agree seven new policies to ‘modernise’ the Party and Labour support draws level with the Tories at 43%. This, as Former Prime Minister Ted Heath criticises Thatcher for ‘misleading people about the EEC’ over her European policy, Thatcher was blaming Chancellor Lawson for the 8% inflation rates as the pound sterling fell 3 ½ US cents in a day. which led to The Bank of England raises sterling interest rates by 1% to 14%, the 10th rise this year! As the domestic economic performance gets worse; dockers, tube train drivers and bus drivers are all planning strikes.

The world financial markets are creaking but avoiding a big crash so far. The Hillsborough public enquiry opens with Chief superintendent David Duckenfield apologising for misleading statements blaming the club and fans. There are prison and drugs riots. All eyes are on East/West relations as firstly NATO is hopelessly split over arms reductions and then on China as Chinese leader Teng Xiao Ping, failed to placate the populist Chinese student protesters risking the country slipping into political anarchy.

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This month ended with us in  the Norfolk Broads and staying in a Riverside ‘cottage’ but we would rather have been on our own boat and regret that we could not bring it. This was the warmest May, on average temperatures, for 150 years with much fine weather and gloriously sunny and warm days with temperatures 80°F in the shade. Other days had heavy showers on occasion as the month ended cooler and breezier. After my recent projects and exertions, I was looking forward to a more relaxing and less hectic few months. I continued taking Diana for her trips to Bedford and to Cambridge to see her parents regularly with the normal outings for lunch and to the garden centres. She had some new lounge furniture delivered and I took Di and Daniel in the Rolls-Royce for a nice lunch at the Ferry Boat Inn at Holywell. Di was also helping to take 24 Brownie Girl Guides on a coach trip to the Woburn Wildlife Park and hosted two troops of brownies for a swimming pool experience at The Hayling View.

The month started a busy one as I was taking every opportunity to teach Daniel to drive and to give him plenty of practice. Daniel’s driving trips were often opportunities to undertake chores that I needed, such as driving to town and around local villages delivering leaflets etc. He had some very poor school assessments so that I had to go closely through his work with him, but he also did his school computing case study project on my Apple Mac prior to his GCSE computing exam and also went to Buckden School for voluntary service. Later, I helped Daniel get his boat, Little Lady, out of the river and onto the trailer before we enjoyed a barbecue on the front lawn with his friends. The family are well, except Debbie who was suffering badly with respiratory problems, which were probably due to allergies and asthma.  We had an advance birthday tea for her and invited her friend Amy and her parents and then, for her real 10th birthday party, we took them to Wickstead park and then back to The Hayling View to swim in our pool and enjoy a birthday tea. I occasionally collected Debbie with friends to come back swimming in our pool and joined them with Della later after working in my office. It was also busy month for her riding exploits on her pony, Sundance, as I was always taking her horse-riding at her increasingly-quiet Offord riding venue which was sporting some very sad and deserted stables. I once took her from Kimbolton School to buy some riding tack and a chest protector from Alconbury prior to her preparing Sundance in jumping lessons and trying some large jumps before her event at Milton Park, the country seat of Lady Fitzwilliam near Peterborough, for Debbie’s first horse-riding event.  She had a good learning experience there and won two rosettes for some modest accomplishments with the Minimus Jumping Course and Minimus Cross Country.

All this changed with us packing up and preparing before starting our holiday in Norfolk towing The Little Lady as a giant luggage receptacle and then stopping off at Stanton to see my Mum and Dad, where the kids played nicely. This also involved a lunch stop at Banham Zoo before arriving in Wroxham and settling into our Riverside self-catering lodge at the Peninsular Leisure Centre, just time for a trip in Little Lady to Wroxham Broad. After a rather uncomfortable night in our accommodation, we each took a bath before Daniel and Gary joined us for breakfast after staying on the Little Lady. The next morning, the boys took a boat trip and I drove the girls to Somerleyton Hall before we returned for a walk around Wroxham. After a better following night’s sleep, we went shopping in Wroxham and there met The Bloom Family at Wroxham marina for coffee on their new Fairline boat. I then took the family for a day trip to Cromer eating lunch and to enjoy the beach. I played crazy golf with Debbie as Della played on the trampoline. Back home to Wroxham that evening, where Daniel ferried us over to the Bloom Family for a nice barbecue after which we took their boat to Wroxham Broad and back. After Daniel and Gary came across to join us for breakfast and to use our facilities, they also joined us for a day trip to Pleasurewood Hills American Theme Park, in Lowestoft, stopping off at a café in Hemsby for morning drinks. That evening, I took a walk around Wroxham to look at Riverside properties and then we watched TV in front of the fire. After a better night, I took everybody by car to Norwich to look around the city to do some shopping as I spent time in the libraries researching the history of Horsey.

Apart from my family matters, this month saw the printing of the 2000 print run and preparation of my book launch as the balance of my History of Little Paxton book order was delivered and safely stored in our dining room. I had already sold 150 odd as advance copies with many bookshops signed up to stock it. Publicity efforts were concentrated on Huntingdon, St Neots and Cambridge, where I sold 12 books to WHSmith as I was still  preparing my introductory book offer for shop-school and library contacts. The book was very well received; contributor Marjorie Shepherd was very keen on my book and I constantly fielded history book queries and received thanks from my old village friends. Domestically, I was inspecting the new Koi carp arrivals at the Needingworth fish farm but was not impressed with them, but I took delivery of aquatic plants from the Stapely Garden Centre and was planting waterlilies and fitting underwater lighting units to my fishpond. I cleared the house gutters and down pipes, worked on my Rolls-Royce to get it ready for use and spent much time clearing paperwork and writing letters/paying bills and organising my office and desk.

The local elections were a major pre-occupation with full days of canvassing, often with five of us one morning, just Percy and I in the afternoon and then three of us that evening in the Offord and Buckden polling districts. I was canvassing some of Southoe personally and then printing off and delivering tactical letters to Green party and Labour supporters before taking canvas cards to Moira Biggin’s house for processing. The last two days were spent assembling teams of tellers for the many polling stations and overcoming delivery problems before preparing well for polling day A very well organised day as, whilst organising the Gransden polling day organisation, I called in on the other committee rooms and did some knocking up in Southoe myself. As the count started, we realised our returns had been far too optimistic; Michael only winning by 400 votes, Des Merrill losing Gransden Ward 400 to 300 and Percy losing by 1200 to 1400. It was a good result, in comparison with poorer Democrat votes throughout Cambridgeshire but still very disappointing. The day after was spent producing and delivering press releases after the elections and conducting debriefings with candidates and organisers, concluding that our lack of resource in Great Paxton Abbotsley and Waresley had hindered us, but that the decline county-wide of Democrat support was the main reason for our narrow defeats.  The final Tory leaflet was quite effective, and the Cambridgeshire County Democrats also reaped the whirlwind from the hike in rates when coming into office which was done too soon and with lack of priority to those areas that are important to the electorate. We produced ‘Thank You Focus leaflets’ and delivered them whilst collecting and returning poster boards and having more long post-election inquest discussions. The campaigning continued afterwards stopping off to see my new Southoe Post Office volunteer before attending a meeting which adopted a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme; both developments I have encouraged for the good of my Southoe constituents. Also attending the Little Paxton Village Hall Committee as their Vice Chairman and Trustee and then meeting with residents. A very successful Democrat meeting one evening, which was our best attended ever, after which I treated all those present to a drink in the local pub. I also drafted a press letter about the unfairness of the District Council standing orders before driving to Huntingdon for a boring procedural District Council meeting and then off another evening to meet Priory activist, Sally Guinee, to recruit her for our District Council campaign.

Nationally, former Prime Minister Ted Heath criticised Thatcher for ‘misleading people about the EEC’ over her European policy and the Conservatives recriminate over Ted Heath’s attack on her as the Labour Party National Executive agree seven new policies to ‘modernise’ the Party and they adopt a policy of multi-lateral disarmament. Labour support draws level with the Tories at 43% and Thatcher suffers further economic bad news. Thatcher fails to prevent new European cigarette packet warnings and suffers a Lords defeat on electricity privatisation. Firstly, the stock exchange hits record highs with UK inflation hitting 8% with interest rate rises a prospect. Then the Tories argue over economic policy as Thatcher blames Chancellor Lawson for the 8% inflation rates and the pound sterling fell 3 ½ US cents in one day against the dollar in a reaction to poor trade figures whilst the stock exchange falls 35 points. The Bank of England raises sterling interest rates by 1% to 14%, the 10th rise this year. As the domestic economic performance gets worse, dockers, tube train drivers and bus drivers are all planning strikes as Thatcher continues to upset the teaching profession,  NHS doctors are all set to block governments dismantling of the social security and health service and the UK electricity workers have to be made a 9.2% pay offer before they accepted. The Hillsborough public enquiry opens with Chief superintendent David Duckenfield apologising for misleading statements blaming the club and fans.  The Liverpool -Everton cup final takes place after some doubt with the proceeds being donated to the Hillsborough disaster appeal. A civil servant going berserk with a shotgun in Whitley Bay, a prison riot takes place at Risley remand centre, and police in Wolverhampton arrest 20 on drugs charges which prompts a near riot. Lord Mackay, the Lord Chancellor, resigned from his extreme Presbyterian Church after the censure by the bigotry of his church elders for attending funerals of Catholic friends. The ‘Rose’ Shakespeare theatre remains have a short stay of execution, but no permanent protection and Barry McGuigan failed in his comeback fight tonight and he will now retire from boxing.

The world financial markets are creaking but avoiding the big crash that I have been expecting. All eyes are on East/West relations as firstly NATO is hopelessly split over arms reductions with Britain and Germany at loggerheads over nuclear weapons. US President Bush leaves Germany for the UK and calls for an end to the Berlin wall before NATO allies eventually agree a compromise on disarmament. Thatcher and Gorbachev are in conflict over diplomatic expulsions as Mikhail Gorbachev is visiting China for the first summit in 30 years, The Chinese government comes under pressure for constitutional reforms, as huge Chinese demonstrations take place in Peking during the Gorbachev visit which are a serious embarrassment to the Chinese government. Leader Teng Xiao Ping, failed to placate the populist Chinese student protesters and the Chinese crisis deepened until more troops brought in to control the demonstrators. China then took measures to suppress the media and implemented martial law to control unrest whilst the protests continued and the country risked slipping into political anarchy. Eventually, these repressive measures worked.  civil unrest became a little calmer and the protests in Peking petered out. The Anglo Soviet diplomatic crisis softened a little as, in the Soviet Union, the newly-constituted Congress reaffirmed the election of Mikhail Gorbachev as State President and Boris Yeltsin gets a politburo seat after all with Gorbachev’s encouragement An Ethiopian coup is thwarted,  a car bomb kills 22 in the Lebanon as and the murder of human rights campaigner, David Webster, took place in South Africa..