Accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station on April 26, 1986

This cold and wet month delivered suitably miserable health for us and news with the Thatcher government courting unpopularity, worst of which was allowing the US to use UK bases for an illegal and provocative strike on Libya which promote a host of murderous reprisals from extreme Islamists. More industrial collapses, steel, mining and print closures and redundancies, teachers and prison officer strikes and Unionist attacks on Ulster police in the wake of the Anglo/Irish agreement but government reverses over Sunday trading and the Disablement Bill. The emergence of the grisly horror of the Chernobyl nuclear explosions in The Ukraine, could well emerge as the most significant development this month. Better news is the Queens 60th birthday celebrations, our Hayling View building work coming to an end and Debbie and Daniel enjoying their horse-riding and boating pursuits respectively.

The coldest start to April since 1948, some 4degC below normal, and the month proceeded with rain and chilly winds to become both the coldest and wettest on record. The gardens are well behind in their development with the daffodils now out and other flowers only just coming.  This was just as well, in some ways, because I might not have had the patience to stay in and away from The Lady. She still has her winter cover on and this will not now come off until May. My health is much better, but, as much of my time was spent screwing down squeaky floorboards before the carpets went down with my new cordless drill (and I also got out to move my workshop,  help with the paving and did some garage door repairs), I ended this month with hands cut and blistered and nursing  my injured foot. Though I wait to hear formally, my Urinary Tract Hospital tests and scans seem to have proved to be clear and reveal no waterworks blockages.  Less fortune for Di’s relatives, as both Aunt Bobby and Grandma Kitty are in hospital and very ill. My Mum is still in pain, but seemed in better spirits than when we last heard from her. Certainly I have more energy and am keeping quite busy, visiting antique auctions in St Ives, Bedford and Kimbolton. My last Computer Industry job was to respond publicly to Alan Sugar taking over Clive Sinclair’s micro interests and this was followed by the fulfilment of my retirement from Micro-industry affairs as Gerald Frankel of Imtec took over as BMMG Chairman and started to integrate this trade association within his interests in the new BOTMA.

All other family members started the month in better health, but the cold and damp weather was accompanied by heating problems at The Hayling View and these are now the subject of an investigation. I heard from my Mum and Dad and will help them with their heating too. Diana soon deteriorated with coughing fits, such that I had to feed and look after the girls and Daniel still seems to have difficulty in hearing and catarrh. He soon recovered and was welcoming friends, using his boat and I helped them commission Aquabean mechanically, whilst they painted and cruised the dinghy around until we could fix the outboard motor properly once and then again when a flood overwhelmed the boat. Diana and I are having regular shopping trips and we manage the odd cinema visit as well as I took her and the boys to see ‘Spies Like Us’ in Bedford. Nigel visited to see my pool construction and Lynne join me for auction viewing too. I contacted Offord Riding School and arranged for Debbie to start riding lessons after her 1st day back at school. Also organised a trip to Jordan’s Mill shop in Biggeswade to try sample foods without preservatives or colourings for the children to tackle their allergies in a new way. The house and gardens are coming on well, though the builders have still to finish the long list of remedial work. The Elm Leisure swimming pool is complete and will be filled with water any day and friends and neighbours have been round to view our swimming pool construction and the rear garden landscaping and crazy paving progress as this is only a week away from completion. Within a week or two, all of our alterations will be over, all bar the shouting, and I can then concentrate on getting The Lady in shape for what we hope is some good leisure weather ahead.. In the meantime, I used the last of the current better weather spell at the end of the month to move tools and materials from my older workshop to other sheds and the garage and then dismantle my workshop with gardener Pete’s help before buying the necessary roofing felt and clout nails to re-erect it in the new place. UK politics carries on as usual with the Tory Government’s fortunes sinking fast. There is a Fleet Street union rally in Trafalgar Square and also 400 Strathclyde steel workers are sacked whilst striking. The Government drop plans for the controversial Land Rover sale and tries to push ahead with Sunday Trading despite wide-spread opposition, even resorting to a ‘three-line whip’ to bully colleagues and get its Bill through the Commons but then lose the vote anyway and also have to back down and pass the Bill for the Disabled. There are more atrocities with Ulster Unionists clashing with police over the proposed ‘Anglo-Irish’ pact. Police homes being bombed by so called ‘Loyalist’ gangs and the province seems to be on the brink of anarchy as 16 police houses are targeted and some destroyed. The biggest Cornish tin mine, Geevor, closes to avoid £350k per month losses. More problems for the government as the Education Minister John Patton heralds the removal of more power from local authorities. Both UK teachers’ unions vote to boycott GSCE examinations and give Tory Minister Keith Joseph the cold shoulder at their conference. After all this, Labour win the Fulham by-election and there is a wonderful celebration of the Queen’s 60th Birthday, starting at St George’s Chapel , Windsor, and continuing with 6,000 children carrying 120,000 daffodils, pushing a huge birthday ‘crown’ cake of flowers down the Mall to then sing ‘Happy Birthday’ in front of Buckingham Palace. On the International scene, South African Bishop Desmond Tutu and Winnie Mandela come out in support of sanctions but Thatcher again rejects their views but they are locally reported for the first time and they claim to be reforming the hated Pass Laws. The big stories emerging are of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power accident in the Ukraine. As more news emerges, Russian spokesmen insist that deaths and damage are limited but nobody believes this and that does not stop calls for changes to our own nuclear policy. At first, US strikes against Libya from UK bases are delayed for EU talks and EEC Foreign Ministers agree diplomatic measures against Libya but the US still plans to strike from British soil despite Europe favouring a diplomatic and sanction solution.  The US then undertakes another huge air exercise and Thatcher authorise USAF attacks on Libya from British bases contrary to UN procedures, International Law and understandings and the European Parliament resolution condemn it as a flagrant violation of International Law. At first, 160 demonstrators were arrested in Whitehall and then Britain and the US start suffering the consequences of the raid on Libya with murderous reprisals.  British journalist Alec Collett is hung by Islamists and then a British businessman is killed by terrorists in France. An American is shot in The Yemen and six soldiers are killed by a car bomb in Spain. 22 Libyan students are expelled and arrive in Tripoli to the sound of bomb attacks in France and Beirut. and widespread retaliation takes place against Britons in Jerusalem and Pakistan. A bomb explodes in a TWA jet, and conflicts in Afghanistan and Palestine remain a further worry.  At first,  the US conveniently finds ‘technical reasons’ to delay its nuclear test in Nevada, allowing the USSR to continue its own ban. But then, as the US escalates its threats towards Libya, the US and USSR grow apart over nuclear tests and the imminent invasion of Libya  and final sever.  The USA detonates another huge nuclear bomb in Nevada despite the Russian test ban offer  and US prospects suffer their bad news of the latest Titan missile explosion on the launch pad.  As Opec crude falls to less than $10 per barrel,  the US intervenes to underpin the oil price and US-owned Phillips Petroleum make their 2,500 job cuts with many feared for the UK. Banker’s wife, Jennifer Guinness is kidnapped for ransom but is then rescued and is recovering after her rescue and Benazir Bhutto has returned to Pakistan, amidst crowds at the airport scattering rose petals.