Friday 23rd October 1987

Writing to Debbie’s Maths teacher this morning, without any positive effect, calling my stockbroker to dump my BP shares holding and then constantly checking the financial news for the latest developments.  Still finding time to transcribe the bulk of the Garthwaite interview before visiting Mt Hall, whose father was the former Head Gardener of Paxton Park this evening, and he furnished me with some great aerial photos of the place and an illustrated brochure of Paxton Park School in the 1920’s as I stayed until midnight and filled up two tapes of interview. Gorbachev raises last-minute demands to limit Reagan’s Star Wars project and Lester Piggott is jailed for three years for tax fraud

Diana’s new alarm clock woke us both up early and I wondered downstairs instead of waiting for my morning tea. I decided to write to Mr Jerrum, Debbie’s maths teacher, and voice our concern about her being in the second set, when a clear indication had been given to her to the contrary. I penned a letter on my notepaper before breakfast and asked her to give it to him first thing. Late, therefore, to breakfast, but soon showered and dressed for a morning in my office. Yesterday,  Di took Della to Playschool and she was quite happy with it, even though her views on Tumble Tots are different. Phoned my stockbroker, as the markets tumbled, rallied, and tumbled further again. I decided that the BP new share issue is ‘dead in the water’ and so sold my 20,000 holding of BP shares to encash a past gain of about £1 a share.

Thursday 22nd October 1987

A day of recovery from the floods as the water drained away,  nearly all of the local roads were open again and our grounds were recovering. The government will press ahead with the BP sale, despite Back Monday and today’s early stock exchange recoveries deteriorating into more panic selling after lunchtime. I was transcribing and printing out the Mrs Shepherd interview tape and taking Debbie riding before her parents evening at The Kimbolton Prep where we were pleased to hear that she was getting on well in all subjects but disappointed to hear of her not being streamed for Maths in the top set.  There is good progress in the superpower arms talks to eliminate nuclear weapons but the Iranians have attacked the Dubai supertanker oil terminal in the Gulf

Earlier to bed and a better night’s sleep. Awoken by Diana’s new clock/alarm and looked out to see the river gradually draining off of the games lawn. Local Cambridgeshire radio broadcast a much more encouraging picture – only the Offord to Buckden Road was closed in the enlarged county, though much and partial flooding on many roads still makes them dangerous. An overnight scare of flooding in Huntingdon & Godmanchester, but the river hit a peak in the early hours and then started to slowly drop. Up, washed and showered, ready for breakfast of croissants and wheat flakes and I was at the table early enough to have the meal with the children. Took a look at Debbie’s mathematics homework and got her to correct a few mistakes, as it is going to be assessed for the sets for maths. I hope that she is in the top maths set, as it seems to affect their entire progress through the school and to fail to make the break would be the first time she has had to admit to being second best.

Wednesday 21st October 1987

The river was rising and I knew we were in for a 10-20-year flood and so organised my sheds and boats accordingly and then took a walk along The Hayling Way to the mill and turned back traffic on Mill Lane as it was getting dangerous. Flood warnings in local villages with many cut off. Just buying Government Stocks as I was warned off equities and then was contacted by another local to help with my history research as I was also interviewing another this evening.

Awoke with a suitable sore throat and tired after my late night. I have had a chest infection/cold and all of this talking is making it worse. The river levels were high and rising after the torrential rains last night and I knew we were in for a 10/20 year flood of the same scale of 1974. After breakfast, I put on some old clothes and went out to start clearing up the riverside gardens. First, I secured the rising poles and landing stage, piling rocks on and tying up the latter for the expected immersion. Then piled up the loose wood above expected flood levels. Next was the task of securing the summer house and Bill’s shed, by cleaning things off of the floor up onto surfaces 2-4ft above the decks. Close to lunch time, I took a walk along the Hayling Way and took a look at the floodwater rising above the road. Cars and a bus were getting stuck and as I watched, the road had to be closed with the levels rising visibly and water rushing across the field and road, around the sluices which had become overwhelmed. I went back up Mill Lane, turning the traffic back and came home rather late for lunch.

Tuesday 20th October 1987

As Di went to Cambridge, I stayed at home keeping track of the Stock Exchange and trying to contact my brokers to no avail as an air of panic prevailed and the BP issue looks in deep trouble, and then Daniella refused to go to Tumble Tots this afternoon. Off to Gamlingay to see the Garthwaites later, the former occupants of Windmill Cottage until bought out by the Paper Mill and then home to another deluge of rain and prospects of more flooding. Iran are threatening retaliation in the Gulf, Congress is trying to intervene but Reagan is resisting The War Powers Act

A little late to bed last night, but slept well enough and was quite rested this morning. The children to school by bus all right and then Di went off to Cambridge with Daniella to do some shopping. Her contact lenses were still playing up after their recent ‘cleaning’ and so she went to Haldyn Clamp again, where they ordered her new ones. I stayed at home and was never far away from the TV and Prestel City information, to see how the stock exchanges were performing. The US authorities were in the scene, playing down the crisis, emphasising ‘favourable fundamentals’ and generally trying to calm the Markets. After this, the Wall Street Index rose sharply, fell sharply and then rose again. In London, optimism was overcome by fear again and another 250-odd points were lost from the FT100 on the day. I had contacted my brokers during the day, tried to do some buying, but the market confusion made it impossible. The SEAQ screens were unreliable, market prices were all over the place and an air of panic prevailed.