October 1989

This was a typical October with some wet and windy days alternating with bright and sunny mornings. It was milder to start with, turning colder later in the month, as the leaves start falling. There was no frost, but gales and storm-force winds developed around the country as boats were sunk and lives lost. An earthquake in California killed 200 when the double-decker Bay Bridge that I knew so well collapsed.

This was a very dramatic and tiring month for me and my family, during which we learnt that my Dad is soon to die of his skin cancer. An appalling series of medical delays and decisions had led to this and I was not impressed by the surgeon responsible for Dad’s demise, Mr Campbell, who tried to justify his (in)actions. I had been visiting Mum often at The West Suffolk Hospital and Dad almost daily in Addenbrookes, and these efforts left me mentally and physically exhausted, but I then managed to get my parents reconciled, after disagreements, and placed together in a shared room in Weald House, a nursing home near us. Freda came up from Devon and helped move their things from Stanton. They spent some quality time with my children and daughters Della and Debbie in particular.

Apart from all these family traumas, I was also trying to keep my own home and close family life going by hosting Little Chef lunches and social events; and I spent many periods recharging my batteries attending to my plants, fish and doves. Debbie was the happy recipient of a new saddle for Sundance and a flute for herself and Daniel was branching out by joining friends for a parent-free Motor Show visit. My interest in our children’s’ school governance led to me joining their KSSC committee at their AGM.

Apart from my own affairs, I was making an impact on the District Council and had been chairing fundraising committees for the St Neots Museum and the Little Paxton Village Hall whilst working on the Little Paxton Parish Council to support local initiatives and oppose disruptive developments which would increase dust and noise pollution from the gravel pit roads.

The month has seen a radical decline of the Tory government and the economic prospects of the UK, with bank interest rates up by 1% to 15%, a nine-year high, and further collapse of share prices and the pound sterling. Thatcher lost Chancellor Lawson and adviser Prof Alan Waters, triggering a reshuffle with her lapdog John Major becoming Chancellor. Her government faced political crisis, Howe and Hazeltine speaking out and Tory plans for privatising the electricity industry revealed 30,000 job losses, mass mine closure with electricity bills set to be raised by 15%. There was ‘a shambles’ in the London Ambulance Service as management lock out the ambulancemen totally. Across the chamber, Neil Kinnock carries all before him at the Labour Party conference. In Irish affairs, the Guildford four have been released after 15 to 18 years of wrongful imprisonment and 28 actively serving UDR men were arrested under firearms and confidentiality charges.

Internationally, The US stock exchange took a 190-point dive in the last hour of trading on what was known as ‘Black Friday’, there was the start of the breakdown in the ‘Iron Curtain’, 30,000 East German refugees were allowed to leave for the West. In South Africa, tens of thousands of natives rejoiced at the release of Walter Sisulu in South Africa and 70,000 were then allowed to attend a massive ANC rally in South Africa calling got the same for others including Nelson Mandela.

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