Saturday 10th December 1988

Diana was struggling to book a swimming course for Della and then came home to organise a Brownie bring and buy sale as the tiler resumed work on the conservatory and I worked outside clearing out the gutters, erecting our Christmas lights and then commissioning our pond lights. With Diana to the Kimbolton School Christmas Concert to see Debbie playing and then home to my journal. The first estimate is of 40 to 45,000 dead in the Armenian earthquake tragedy as all the multi-story buildings collapsed.

I awoke quite tired and with a sore throat today but managed to get going in spite of this. Diana had to go to earn off to queue for the girls swimming lessons again and, though there at 7:30am, she could still not get the right days swimming course for Della. The swimming facilities in St Neots are woefully inadequate for the people wanting to use them. I stayed at home, looking after Della as Debbie went to school to practice with the school orchestra. I took Della out to feed the doves and then she was ‘helping me’ until she hurt her chin and went inside. The tiler was back and finished the conservatory this morning, grouting between the tiles as well. There was no sign of the plumber who seems to have disappeared but I’m not too worried as it defers the building fee as we cannot yet use the underfloor heating.

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Friday 9th December 1988

Some more distractions from the conservatory contractors on a mild but dampish day and sad news that Mr Fields snr from The Avenue Koi carp place has had a stroke. This evening cutting a lively dash in our Rolls Royce when visiting Baldock Farm, Graveley, for dinner with Marion and David Woodbridge

A mild and slightly dampish day. The tiler came and started his project on the conservatory. He was quite a cantankerous chap but reasonably good at his work. These days, all the building tradesmen seem to be self-employed and contracted to do their jobs. I tried to work on my Prehistoric History section in my book but found the tiler’s presence quite distracting. The more so when he declared the number of tiles to be short, but he was laying them much closer together than Diana wanted. I made my own lunch as Diana went off shopping to Bedford. This afternoon, I drove down to Stevenage to get the third lot of tiles and then dropped in at Sandy on the way back. The Koi carp place at The Avenue is closed for the winter and only open at weekends and Mr Field, senior, has had a stroke which is rather a pity he is paralysed down one side. On to Bickerdike’s Nurseries where I saw the owner and bought two sets (each of two) pond lights; a set of outside lights and another strip of the house decorations. After a light tea, Diana and I went to our engagement; Marion and David Woodbridge of Baldock Farm, Graveley, had invite us to dinner with four other guests.

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Thursday 8th December 1988

A satisfying experience reading the long HDC Full Council  meeting minutes after my orchestrated interventions and then supporting my local residents with their plans. Then some work on the conservatory before and after taking Debbie riding. NATO consider their response to Gorbachev’s arms reductions and flights in Germany are cancelled after six died in a military plane crash

Awoken early again this morning but hardly had any time to work in my office before it was time for breakfast. I received the minutes from the last Huntingdonshire District Council Full Council meeting this morning. There were over 17 pages of them as a result of my plan last month instead of the customary two or three! I also had a consultation note about an application to convert a Little Paxton bungalow for disabled use. I phoned the owners to get some details and then wrote a letter to the District Council in support of the application. Then 2 to 3 hours studying the Riverside Paper Mill plan and typing out a long document for the planning department with copies for local residents and other bodies. This took me up to and beyond lunch, but I then had a couple of hours fitting the security bolts and alarm contacts to the conservatory outside doors. Then tea and after horse-riding where Debbie Road was Gussy very well. This evening, I laid the lounge carpets back down and connected the alarm contacts there. The main news today was of the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, breaking off his world tour and cancelling his trip to Britain and Cuba. His reason was extensive and serious earthquake which is claimed the lives of between 25,000 and 50,000 people and injuring up 130,000.

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Wednesday 7th December 1988

A day dominated and distracted by the conservatory builders activities but this evening watching Debbie in the Kimbolton School Pantomime. Gorbachev announced huge Soviet conventional arms cuts, The Armenian earthquake kills thousands, Mandela refuses privileges and Roy Orbison dies, aged 52

Slept well but was waiting for my morning drink and had to go searching for it. Typed out a lot more letters to printers in search of a quotation for my book printing. Then the builders arrived, and the rest of my day was seriously disrupted and distracted. They barrowed in a yard and a half more gravel and it was too small and too dirty and it took the rest of the day to wash in the pond. We switched on the circulation pump and later, the sand filter. The builders tiled round the shelf and plaster the door reveal and a few other small jobs. The plumbers were back, connecting cold water to the conservatory but were delayed on the underfloor heating installation by lack of plant and then a leak in the pipes which meant raising the floorboards again. This evening, Di and I went to the watch Debbie in the Kimbolton School Prep pantomime. They all did very well Mr Hunter playing the Dame. The main news this evening was of the Soviet Union cutting its armed forces, tanks, artillery and warplanes as a conventional arms cut. Gorbachev announced the measures as he visited the United Nations in New York.

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