The month of April started cold and frosty, with icy northern winds and then continued miserably with north-easterly winds, gales and rain, before ending up warm and sunny. The year’s exceptionally high-water levels were widely felt to be due to global warming and, after floods in New South Wales, Australia, the worst floods for 40 years hit Tasmania and 4,000 homes have been washed away. There was then bad flooding in Brazil that left 5,000 homeless and killed 11 thus far. In Bangladesh, freak thunderstorms with red clouds and scorching 60mph winds collapsed houses killing at least 15 and injuring several hundreds, some of whom were taken to hospital with burns. We also felt an Earthquake at home one afternoon centring in Shropshire measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale.
We spent a nice time on the boat, cruising throughout the Norfolk Broads, visiting Stokesby, Burgh St Peter, Beccles, Oulton Broad, Brundall, Norwich, Great Yarmouth, South Walsham and back to Horning. Unfortunately, the weather and the wind from the north was cold and gave the family a bad cough each in turn from which I was still suffering and struggling to recover! It was the worst outbreak of ‘flu for 12 years. Freda looked after Mum at Stanton, moved up from Devon with Alf and Chris to stay at Heronshaw until we bought Redgrave Post Office and Stores for them at a good price. Daniel and Debbie were back at Kimbolton School, with Dan’s exams imminent and Debbie’s livery for Sundance was in question after returning from her Dutch trip. Our long-term gardener, Pete, was leaving, our outdoor pool, after much tending, was in use by the family who joined me for St James Church for Peter’s family service. and I was tending to my Rolls Royce, my conservatory, fish, catching up with Heronshaw maintenance issues and annual financial planning as well as leading a local election campaign.
As Campaign Organiser, I was canvassing with colleagues in Priory, The Offords and Bury Ward and designing and producing three waves of election Focus’s. As a result, Sally in Priory seemed home and dry, Percy in the Offord’s looked good but I had to force Jack to wind up Carole Crompton’s Bury campaign as they were behind in support and organisation. I still made a good contribution to the Full District Council Meeting, despite my bad cough. My motion on the Poll Tax was the one chosen for debate and it attracted a range of speakers in the end, but it was lost of course. The Thatcher government was failing dismally to convince the electorate that their handling of local taxation or of the national economy was either competent or fair. Secretary of the Environment, Chris Patten, named only Labour-controlled local authorities to be "capped" by restriction of their Poll Tax as his propaganda arrived through the door in Government white, orange and green leaflets all with great complexity such that the switchboard at my Huntingdonshire District Council became jammed with enquiries. A sample 6 of the 21 charge-capped Labour councils successfully obtained leave in the High Court for a judicial review of the Secretary of State’s selective view of council expenditure, seeking to overturn the government's decision on the grounds of political bias. A vast Wembley gathering, and Pop Concert took place in honour of Nelson Mandela, to a satellite TV audience of over one billion and he defiantly turned down the chance to meet the Thatcher Government. Peter Walker has become the first cabinet minister to express publicly unease on the Poll Tax. The opinion polls had Labour at 53%, 23% ahead of the Tories after a 9% rise in the previous four weeks alone and the papers were pessimistic about the economy and I reckoned we were on the edge of a rough period of economic stagnation and consumer austerity. A possible share rally turned into a slide again as the second largest ever UK trade deficit of £2.2Billion rocked the City again. Both teaching unions, including The National Union of Teachers, had already voted for strike action over cutbacks and the Power Workers also voted to strike over pay which sent markets lower.
The prisons were in turmoil with riots at Strangeways in Manchester, Dartmoor, Bristol, Leeds and Cardiff with officers injured and prisoners dead in two of them after sex offenders were attacked. Elsewhere, the Court of Appeal quashing the convictions of three Irish people, jailed in 1988 for conspiring to murder Tom King; the government plans to issue 225,000 Hong Kong residents with British passports despite opposition from within its own Tory party and Apricot Computers sold off its computer hardware company to Japan and the Financial Times features this and many more of my old computer industry buddies in an article on the Computer and Communications industries. The "Iraq Supergun order" scandal developed with information of more British companies being involved and the government had been warned. The UK government was actively opposing plans for faster European union on the eve of Franco-German talks, Ulster "loyalists" protested against the visit of Republic of Ireland Prime Minister Charles Haughey to Belfast and there was the very sad news was of an old Shackleton RAF surveillance aircraft crashing into an island off of the west coast of Scotland with the loss of all of its crew of 10 airman.
Reagan and Gorbachev agree to meet in May for a second summit, despite American concern over the situation in Lithuania who were left to manage alone, reconciliation was in the air between the US and USSR over the future of East Germany after the first elections were scheduled to take place there. Chinese Prime Minister, Li Peng, was in Moscow at the end of the month to discuss Sino-Soviet troop reductions on their borders. Libyan-backed Abu Nidal terrorists and Islamic Jihad in the Lebanon were releasing US hostages following pressure from Iran. The worst floods for 40 years have hit Tasmania. 4,000 homes have been washed away and 52 people killed. In Bangladesh, freak thunderstorms with red clouds and scorching 60mph winds collapsed houses killing at least 15 and injuring several hundreds, some of whom were taken to hospital with burns. Mother Theresa had to resign from her charity because of failing health.
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This was a very full month, with my time split between a variety of priorities as I also arranged for the work to be done on Heronshaw and a new gardener to start at The Hayling View. We spent a nice time on the boat in the earlier part of the month, but the weather and the wind from the north was cold and gave the family a cough each in turn from which I was still suffering from at the end of it! I learnt later that this was the worst ‘flu outbreak for 12 years. We still enjoyed the holiday and the boat heating kept the inside of the craft warm, but the trouble was going outside! With the month ending up warm, it was a pity that we were not afloat at the end of it! I organised a training and trial trip to sea for after the elections and hope to get my Day Skipper's qualification. Diana had settled us and our things into The Paxton Princess. as we got used to our new boating routine and cruised to Stokesby on the first night, where the children enjoyed the play equipment after which we had a pub lunch. Then on to Great Yarmouth, where we cruised under the Bure and Haven Bridges to the mouth of the harbour to experience rolling in the waves. Back across Breydon Water and up to moor at Burgh Castle where we took the walk to see the castle ruins. I spent some work making adjustments to the boat at the end of a good day and the boat soon warmed up at Burgh Castle. With everything folded down, we cleared St Olaves bridge as the tide was high with still 9 inches to spare, but then Somerleyton Swing Bridge opened to let us pass and we cruised on to Oulton Broad and moored up at the Yacht Station and shopped in the chandlery before visiting MacDonalds for tea. Then the girls could go across to the playground, but Debbie had a very bad cough and was weak and tearful as we cruised on to Burgh St Peter.
Daniel then took the helm as I spliced the ropes, but we found the indoor leisure centre pool and changing rooms there too cold and, with Debbie coughing and crying, we cruised upstream afterwards to Beccles. Diana then got cold and fed up with the weather that evening, but I worked on my navigational studies. I was researching tides and tidal streams before and after our trip go shopping in Beccles where we had coffee and buns at Tooks, and I bought supplies for tea and gave ‘piggy-backs’ to Della. We then moved to Oulton Broad, took the bus to Lowestoft for more shopping and a taxi back after tea at MacDonald’s before an earlier night but now with shore power available to keep us warm. Though we had this shore power, the timer did not work yet but I continued my studies of navigation books and then worked on the boat whilst the girls went shopping. My repairs involved replacing an engine mounting nut and checking oil levels before we set of for the Waveney Inn (Burgh St Peter) for diesel and a pump out. The attendant and his father had never known a winter’s flood like last one with the shop under two feet of water for weeks. We cruised on to Brundall, moored at the shop and took the inflatable dinghy off to the pub and Daniel gave the girls exciting trips. A slow start to the day at Brundall where I talked to Norfolk Yacht Agency about my forthcoming sea trip and change of boat details for insurance purposes and used a call box to check my home telephone answering machine for messages.
We then set off up the river Yare to Norwich with Diana at the helm as I worked aboard, and we arrived to a warm welcome from our old friend at the Yacht Station. We then went into Norwich, with me giving Debbie a "piggy-back" as she was coughing uncontrollably, which was an exhausting experience for us both. As the girls shopped, I returned to Paxton Princess with Daniel to work on more faults to the point of exhaustion as, by now, he had Debbie’s cold and was possibly allergic from drinking cow’s milk as Di had unfortunately spilt all of his goats milk! From the centre of Norwich at the Yacht station to the centre of Great Yarmouth, at the Town Hall Quay bidding farewell to the friendly Norwich harbourmaster and stopping en route at the Brundall riverside store for fenders and supplies. Poor Daniel was ill and in bed and so Di and I crewed the boat and moored up in Yarmouth and I took her to the cinema later. I got up several times in the night to check on the moorings as the tidal rise and fall was exceptionally large and the flows very fast, it being a Spring tide and so close to the sea. The next morning, leaving Daniel ill on the boat, I took the family by taxi to the Pleasure Beach amusement park where the girls thoroughly enjoyed themselves. but we had to beat a hasty retreat back to the boat by taxi and I cast off without assistance in a full spring ebb tide with the flow running at 4/5knots as we traversed the Haven and Bure Bridges with the mast and canopy down, getting soaking wet.
We cruised on to South Walsham Broad and dropped the mud-weight on what by this time had become a calm evening. I took advantage to dry out the Paxton Princess bridge after yesterday’s soaking and then we launched the inflatable to go ashore to the shop on South Walsham staithe for a morning paper, milk and bread. Then we cruised home to Heronshaw, remaining in Horning after the boat trip. I spent one evening planning a navigation route from Norfolk to The Wash as our next challenge. With Di washing the sleeping bags and shopping in Wroxham, I completed my navigation course planning and attended the RHDRA meeting next door, which agreed action on the questions of road maintenance, dyke dredging and unauthorised boating and fishing in the dyke. I then collected the family and took them to the Bridge Restaurant, Wroxham, for our Easter Sunday lunch. In the afternoon, I took Alf with me to Stanton to collect Freda and we stopped for an hour to have a cup of tea and chat with Mum before setting off back. On the return journey, we went via Redgrave to look at the village shop that they are interested in buying for which I am advising a low offer. I got back in time to take Diana to the cinema in Norwich to see the film "Driving Miss Daisy".
After the morning cleaning the boat and enjoying a McDonald’s lunch again we stayed for 2/3 hours at Mum’s to give her a chance to play with the girls at Dominos, Noughts and Crosses etc. Then home to The Hayling View very tired and weak with my cold and so I spent time in the conservatory before typing up the previous couple of weeks' journals until we collected Daniel’s car after a more expensive repair than I thought. After our trip to Norfolk, I had to force myself to get back to work and start the day despite my cold and Daniel and Debbie started back at Kimbolton School too, Waking up to enjoy a croissant with the family I joined Di for her normal Tuesday visit to see her parents for morning coffee in Cambridge, dropping off my FOCUS artwork to our printers on the way. Some shopping and lunch at the Copper Kettle before coming home for a rest and recovery afternoon. All the time, I was attending to my fish and journal but also found time for a meeting of the Kimbolton School Society in the Spinney rather than the usual Castle Green Room. I was ready for bed after this, as I was very tired from my late nights and rather ill with this bronchitis of mine. After a night of coughing, I had a lay in until Diana woke me with a tray of breakfast at 8.00am and little Della came and sat in bed with me. I then recovered by resting and watching snooker before supervising the use of the pool which upset Diana and Daniel with Di calling me a "bad-tempered bully", which probably summarised my struggle to get well.
I arranged to collect Diana after her Bedford and St Neots shopping trip and to catch up with my journal. Freda had called about our shop offer after being pressurised by the vendor and Mum had been struggling with her Addenbrookes visit and wheelchair battery life. We all watched Perry Mason on the TV and then Diana's Hospital drama and Daniel actually achieved a couple of hours studying today Our pool is in use, but the high early-season chemical level gave Della a rash Another early start as I took time to sit and read the papers, wash my hair and look after my fish, doves and conservatory, before getting Daniel up after his late night for the family to walk to St James Church for Peter’s family service. Daniel had his exams coming up and Debbie's horse livery would soon come into question due the development plans of Fiona’s father and the Smith family. Debbie arrived back from her trip to Holland having really enjoyed it. We took the Rolls Royce in the pouring rain to P & A Wood in Essex fore service and repair.
Regarding, Freda, Alf and Chris the month started with moving up from Devon to stay at Heronshaw and then ended with us successfully negotiating to buy the entire property at Redgrave so that in the words of Freda "now they would know what we are doing with the rest of our lives". They had settled well enough into Heronshaw for the time being but had become anxious to know where they were going to Redgrave and, with Mum also seeming more resolved to go and stay with them, the outcome was welcome. Caretaker Jack Edwards saw my sister Freda and her family settle in to Heronshaw and took her son Chris to the pub and then we arrived at Heronshaw to find Freda, Alf and Chris safely installed. Struggling on with my sore throat and chesty cough, I drove straight to Diss to collect all the Butterfield family from the station and then took them across to Stanton to see Mum, eating sandwiches I had ordered from the site shop and we then visited Redgrave Village Store and spent the next two hours talking to the owner and seeing round the entire building, including the attached cottage next door. We said we would get a valuation and so visited a valuer in Diss who will visit tomorrow and arrive at a value that would be the lowest he could reasonably arrive at and then report for a cost of £60 plus VAT. After making some good preparations we put in a low offer for Redgrave Post Office and Stores At my suggestion, Freda offered £158,000 for the Redgrave shop and cottage against the £177,500 asking price. At least I bought the property for them at a good price and so they will retain options for the future.
Family apart, most friends are okay but we see very little of them. Pete, our gardener of many years standing, has resigned to get a full-time job elsewhere and we have to replace him. I think that increases in the cost of living have affected the pay rates for manual workers more than I have realised and the Poll Tax is particularly significant in that respect. After all this excitement, I was coughing so much in bed that night that Diana opted to go and sleep in a spare bedroom. Then being back home, I could clean algae from my pond and complete my financial planning and other pressing actions. The Hayling View gutters were full up with muck and the water was cascading down the walls as yet another maintenance job for me to do as I got the doves fed and then backflushed the pool filter which I found very blocked up. We also had a huge ant invasion to cope with!
The rest of the month was dominated by the elections, with me acting as the campaign organiser. Whilst I was a bit disappointed that we appear to have left ourselves a bit too much to do in Bury and will probably lose that one; I should acknowledge that at least we are going to at least double and probably treble our representation. The possibility still exists of winning all three and I have not given that up. Once back from the boating holiday in Norwich and off to complete financial transactions, I was greeted by the inevitable telephone messages, papers and piles of mail. The most pressing matter was the production of the third Liberal Democrat leaflet for our target wards but, after a visit from Percy, I telephoned Sally, Carole and Glisson Printers and put the job back a week which was a far better tactical time to do it anyway and gave me a chance to rest from my bronchial infection that evening. The Little Paxton Village Hall AGM went well. David Rudd, Chairman of the St Neots Museum Committee, to see me and then I began tackling a very large mound of paperwork and correspondence, paying bills and checking up on things. I then wrote my resignation as a Buckden School Governor, fielded the wroth of the Lord of the Manor of Diddington over organising opposition to his gravel farming but was congratulated over my actions on the Coated Stone Plant in Little Paxton as this council are now opposed.
Then a letter to the HDC District Administrator about the procedure for allocating committee places where, yet again, I am the protagonist in the interests of a fairer outcome. I was still at home with my cough working on election leaflets as Priory Candidate Sally was round with her two girls helping. Cheeky Della enjoyed their company and shocked Diana by inviting them to stay for lunch and then Debbie had Amy round to play. After these exertions, I was still coughing badly at bedtime. I was completing Percy Meyer’s third election leaflet, when I received the very un-prepared duo of Carole Crompton and Jack Taylor who joined me to start the process of writing their Bury leaflet. From this to chair a dozen or so Liberal Democrat activists by prior arrangement in my office as we reviewed our campaigns. Sally seemed home and dry, Percy now needed the priority and was a probable win but the Bury campaign was in trouble and I telephoned Peter Downes, the Huntingdon Constituency SLD Chairman, afterwards to warn them of our predictions. Then home to resume work on the Bury FOCUS and keep at it until it was finished with Carole Crompton and her son, Alan, until 2.00am. It was a masterpiece in the end and would give her a real chance to close the gap.
I managed to update my financial matters and re-typed my action list, making some phone calls before giving up work for the day after before 9.00pm–and went to help Carole in her campaign, canvassing in Wistow, after dropping by Jack Taylor's place in Warboys to get some materials. We then and then did a motor car tour of both Bury and Wistow as we discussed tactics and the election campaign. A bit of a rush to get finished there, get home for a quick lunch with Diana, and then with Percy we went over the rest of the households in Yelling and the Gravely Road to drum up some more support. Home for tea and then out again soon afterwards for the Little Paxton Annual Parish Meeting at the Village Hall as Ray Mathews presented an interesting talk on the wildlife and history of Paxton Pits. I was busy tending my conservatory and then cycling to Priory Ward to help Sally put up poster board and canvass with a very warm reception. Home by bike and then Di dropped me off to canvass the Offord Cluny streets and Offord D'Arcy back streets where I was joined by Michael for our most intensive canvassing there ever. Derek Giles and family came over to discuss his campaign and gave me a lift home where I made calls to monitor the campaign.
After a poor night, regretting that the Huntingdon SLD constituency's efforts in the Bury Election campaign had been poorly organised my cough and throat were painful and irritating which kept me awake. This before resuming work to help Jack and Carole with their Bury campaign. Their community is very divided socially and over the Playing Field dispute. Then over to Great Paxton to help Percy canvas the village for a second time after we had delivered our third leaflet, unfortunately encountering our Sundance livery owner Roland and Mrs Smith in the village delivering their other Tory leaflet (!) as the weather seems to be set fair for the election run-in. I had visits from Percy, Derek and Sally in turn with whom I edited and printed out their election Focus newsletters. I had an HDC planning meeting at Pathfinder House with an important item for Little Paxton on the agenda; and I made a logical and eloquent speech, but the committee chose to ignore me, and the vote was lost. Then a call from the Labour leader on the District Council, Jim Lomax, after their Labour Group meeting last night, pleased that the election nomination lists had closed as a good anti-Tory line-up; giving both of our parties the best election prospects. I finished off Sally’s leaflet and then worked on Percy’s and then over to Warboys to see Jack Taylor to poster-board Wistow and Bury before late home after car trouble to chair another activists meeting. Sally in Priory was home and dry, Percy in the Offord’s looked good but I had to force Jack to wind up the Bury campaign as they were behind as I was already organising polling day. I made a good contribution to the Full District Council Meeting, despite my bad cough. My motion on the Poll Tax was the one chosen for debate and it attracted a range of speakers in the end.
Elsewhere, the Thatcher government was failing dismally to convince the electorate that their handling of local taxation or of the national economy was either competent or fair. The so-called ‘enterprise economy’ was on the rocks and her time as Prime Minister was overdue, but she did not know when to go. The news continued about the Trafalgar Square ‘Poll tax riot’ and another at the Strangeways Jail in Manchester with reports of prisoners dead in the sexual offences wing. The Poll Tax propaganda arrived through the door in Government white, orange and green leaflets all with great complexity and the switchboard at Huntingdonshire District Council became jammed with enquiries. Secretary of the Environment, Chris Patten, named the local authorities to be "capped" by restriction of their Poll Tax precepts to an outcry from the opposition, as the list of 20 authorities included no Tory councils, and was condemned by The Metropolitan and County Council Associations as being politically biased. Leaders of Labour's 20 charge-capped councils then took legal action to try to and a sample 6 of the 21 charge-capped Labour councils have successfully obtained leave in the High Court for a judicial review of the Secretary of State’s selective view of council expenditure. overturn the government's decision on the grounds of political bias.
The opinion polls had Labour at 53%, 23% ahead of the Tories after a 9% rise in the previous four weeks alone Peter Walker has become the first cabinet minister to express publicly unease on the Poll Tax. More than 1,000 workers have walked out of Aldermaston in protest over privatisation plans. By the admission of its own senior ministers, the government faced its worst three weeks ahead with heavy losses expected in the local elections as Labour have a 25% opinion poll lead. A vast Wembley gathering and Pop Concert took place in honour of Nelson Mandela, to a satellite TV audience of over one billion and he defiantly turned down the chance to meet the Thatcher Government and castigated her stand over the relaxation of sanctions against South Africa! Opposition leader, Neil Kinnock, was there televised giving a "black power" clenched fist salute which was a mistake. Thatcher is still very unpopular, and the papers are pessimistic about the economy. A possible share rally turned into a slide again as the second largest ever UK trade deficit of £2.2Billion rocked the City again. A mad-cap scheme to mount the largest-ever takeover bid by offering "junk bonds" to buy BAT in London for £13.5billion was dropped by Sir James Goldsmith and. Chancellor John Major was still trying to hold down Public Sector wage increases to try and contain inflation but there would be trouble ahead as a result. Both teaching unions, including The National Union of Teachers, had already voted for strike action over cutbacks and the Power Workers also voted to strike over pay which sent markets lower.
The prisons were in turmoil with prisoners at riot-hit Strangeways Prison in Manchester still in control with seven prison officers were injured, and one of the injured sex offenders since died in hospital of his injuries; meaning murder. The prison riots then spread to jails other than Strangeways with a prisoner being found dead at Dartmoor after 100 prisoners barricading themselves into a wing. Two prison officers were injured at Bristol and there was also trouble at Leeds and Cardiff prisons as well. Eventually, the Strangeways prison riot was ended after 25 days by an SAS-style attack that isolated the remaining prisoners on the roof. Thatcher was still resisting a speedier process of European integration and the Court of Appeal quashing the convictions of three Irish people, jailed in 1988 for conspiring to murder Tom King but they were immediately re-arrested under the prevention of terrorism act. The government won its debate in parliament, with Liberal Democrat support, on the its plans to issue 225,000 Hong Kong residents with British passports.
There were already two horse deaths at Aintree and the build of the notorious "Beecher's Brook" was altered to improve landing and lessen the ditch that had trapped horses after falling in the past. Apricot Computers sold off its computer hardware company to Japan and the Financial Times features this and many more of my old computer industry buddies in an article on the Computer and Communications industries. Customs at Teesport, Middlesbrough, impounded a consignment of parts that they believed were nuclear gun components for Iraq. The "Iraq Supergun order" scandal developed with information of more British companies being involved in many aspects and then Nicholas Ridley admitted in the Commons that the pipes recently seized were indeed components of a gun. The Prime Minister then tried to lay the blame at the door of the contractors, even though the government were warned. The UK government was again dragging its feet and actively opposing plans for faster European union on the eve of Franco-German talks and the weekend European meeting but the European summit still planned further political and monetary union, despite more spoiling tactics by Thatcher. The top West German politician, Oskar Lafontaine, was stabbed and badly injured by a woman at an election rally in Cologne whilst, in Romania, 4,000 demonstrators broke through a police cordon and demonstrated in a square in the centre of Bucharest. Ulster "loyalists" protested against the visit of Republic of Ireland Prime Minister Charles Haughey to Belfast. The sad news was of an old Shackleton RAF surveillance aircraft crashing into an island off of the west coast of Scotland with the loss of all of the crew of 10 airman.
Reagan and Gorbachev agree to meet in May for a second summit, despite American concern over the situation in Lithuania as Gorbachev threatened to impose rule there by intervention. Lithuania called for talks with Moscow but would not rescind their independence declaration and so the Soviet Union withheld crude oil to the Lithuanian refinery and other strategic materials. This soon developed into an economic and food blockade as well and Lithuania did its best to stand up to the oil blockade, but Bush declined to take any action to support them for fear of damaging US/Soviet relations where he has more at stake. Later, a compromise between Russia and Lithuania seemed possible and reconciliation was in the air between the US and USSR over the future of East Germany after the first elections were scheduled to take place there. The Bonn government agreed to make a very generous offer a one for one exchange rate for East German marks up to a savings limit of 4,000 Eastmarks. Then Estonia set itself on a collision course with Moscow, by declaring independence but Chinese Prime Minister, Li Peng, was in Moscow at the end of the month to discuss Sino-Soviet troop reductions on their borders.
In Nepal, protesters demonstrating for democracy came under fire from troops with 50 people being killed and up to 200 wounded. A coup attempt to overthrow President Ibrahim Babangida in Nigeria was thwarted but the pressure between the Moslem north and Christian south continues. After perceiving an Iraqi weapons threat, Israel launched its second satellite into orbit. The French have done a deal with the Libyan-backed Abu Nidal terrorists over the release of their hostage, US Hostage Jesse Turner seems to have been released by Islamic Jihad in the Lebanon and, following pressure from Iran, and they have said that they will be releasing US hostage Frank Herbert after four years. One of the American hostages in Beirut Robert Polhill, an accountancy professor from New York, was expected to be next. The worst floods for 40 years have hit Tasmania. 4,000 homes have been washed away and 52 people killed. In Bangladesh, freak thunderstorms with red clouds and scorching 60mph winds collapsed houses killing at least 15 and injuring several hundreds, some of whom were taken to hospital with burns. Mother Theresa had to resign from her charity because of failing health.