A dry, cold and icy month which froze the Medway and cut-off villages throughout Southern England as Daniel braved his schoolwork and narrowboat trip and Debbie her horse-riding and return to school but where the Range Rover came into its own for our London Boat Show visit and other trips. We were relatively healthy but our extended family suffered more. I was interviewing older Little Paxton residents and making progress with my researches and writing of the book and not wanting to respond to soundings from John Lamb about returning to business. Ulster Loyalists were protesting over the Anglo-Irish pact s IRA bombs shook Belfast, there were colliery fires, motorway pile-ups, protests at Wapping Plan and Scottish prisons, strikes of BT Engineers’ and London Tube workers, and then a huge scandal over the Guinness affair with corrupt City practises exposed. Sizewwll B was approved but a nuclear arms convoy crashed and disclosures followed by journalist investigative Duncan Campbell into a civil liberties clampdown and to plans for the intrusive Zircon spy satellite but the first BSB/Sky satellite was commissioned for UK domestic services. Terry Waite eventually joined the ranks of the hostages he was trying to release in Beirut, Harold McMillan died after a noble and influential political career but dozens of people perished needlessly in an aircraft crash, floods and a hotel fire whilst there were knife and bomb attacks throughout the world and protests grew for freedom in China and South Africa. Reagan is pilloried over the illegal Nicaraguan Contras arms controversy and a pro-Marcos revolt in the Philippines is crushed by Cory Aquino but possibly the most worrying development was the Iranian advance on Basra in Iraq.
And that is the end of January, which has seen the coldest and iciest weather of the winter so far, after December was quite mild. Little rainfall this month, after the wetness at the end of last year. The river was frozen at some times and the four-wheel-drive Range Rover was very useful on occasion on the icy roads and the cars are fine and we expect the Daimler early in the coming month. We ventured forth to the London Boat Show at Earls Court in our trusty Range Rover on London’s coldest-ever day since records began in 1940 with snow and ice defeating most motorists with maximum temperatures -7degC at noon. The Medway being frozen, preventing navigation and villages in Kent, Essex and Norfolk were cut off by snow falls. There was more than 6ins of snow in Kent and Northern Europe were all experiencing record low temperatures and a missing Scottish solicitor is found dead in the Lake District after a massive search by 30 colleagues. The family are reasonably well, apart from the usual coughs and colds and the children having various growing-up phobias. Di and I are well, but we need further effective slimming as we approach the warmer months. It is my Mum that is cause for concern, as more icy weather causes injuries to others which delay my mother’s operation. There has been no word from Freda and Alf, but they must also be struggling under their bodily complaints.