The sad death of Harold Macmillan today,  the master of consensus politics, critical of Thatcher’s policies

News from Marilyn this morning about history feedback from local resident Mrs Davies after working with Joan and Peter to clear the Christmas rubbish and then to St Neots for coffee and Huntingdon where Daniel searched for a computer program, Diana bought pans in a Sale and I searched The Record Office in vain for Heddings Wills. Della to Bar Hill to be looked after by the grand-parents as the rest of the family enjoy the pantomime ‘Robinson Crusoe’ in Cambridge before home to a windy and wet evening. News of the missing girl, Samantha Ettridge, being recovered today but in tragic circumstances for a baby girl and of the unsatisfactory circumstances of the lost fishing boat off Iceland and speculation grows about a new Election as the old fox Harold MacMillan dies after taking his Eardom and opposing Thatcher’s divisive politics in remarkably lucid speeches

Another reasonable night, although I was hot then cold in the middle of it, before returning to sleep. Still, more rested of late when I awoke and quickly drank my morning tea. Late down to breakfast of wheat flakes and fruit juice and the others had already left the table. I spoke to Diana and we will now try to agree a time for breakfast during the rest of the holidays. Joan makes a welcome arrival for Diana, after several days coping on her own. I ask her to pass out the empty boxes and wrapping paper and Pete to burn them, and as many of the pile of the leaves as he could manage to burn with them. A short while with my desk, shuffling a few papers, but not achieving much more than reading the mail. Then a phone call to neighbour Marilyn McGinness. She had borrowed my Little Paxton manuscript for herself and Mrs Davies to read and I was wondering when it would be returned. The answer is Wednesday and she is also trying to obtain some photographs and another manuscript that was written about Little Paxton before the war and was damaged in one of the cottages during the fires. I shall look forward to seeing it, if it can be obtained. Then I decided to take the family off early for a day out.

We were already due in Cambridge for a pantomime this afternoon, but I took them first to St Neots for a morning coffee and chance to do a couple of chores (ordering a clip-frame for my map, and updating my cheque-save building society pass book), then on to Huntingdon for an hour around the shops. Daniel tried in both towns for a particular computer program, but could find it in neither. Di bought a couple of frying pans, as a sale bargain. I went to the Record Office and searched will indexes for the Heddings, but they had none proven locally and I must now go to the Chancery Lane PRO for Prerogative Court of Canterbury indexes for those of higher value proved centrally. Time to drive on to Bar Hill to drop Della off to her grandparents for the afternoon, and the rest of us went into Cambridge for lunch at the Copper Kettle, then a half hour of shopping, before meeting at the theatre for the Panto. I went to the bookshops. Most were closed, but I did get a small book on Historic Monuments of the Midlands and East Anglia, dated 1935. The pantomime was ‘Robinson Crusoe’ but it was not at all close in its story to the original book of that name. It had all of the traditional ingredients – a girl dressed as a boy to play the lead role, a pretty heroine opposite, a dame in the form of a man playing Mrs Crusoe, a ‘baddie’ as Captain Hook, accompanied by much hissing and booing from the audience etc etc. We enjoyed it and the kids were satisfied. Back to Di’s parents, where we accepted a cup of tea or two and a piece of cake and chatted to them. Daniella had behaved herself with Grandma. Home in the dark and, after a fine day, it began to rain until, by the end of the evening, it was pouring and gusty wind to boot. An hour in the office as Di went to her slimming club (only 1 ½ lbs added over Christmas!) and then we watched a recorded film for the rest of the evening and thoroughly enjoyed it. The news by lunchtime was of the safe return of the missing girl, Samantha Ettridge. She had turned up in Norfolk earlier with her kidnapper, Peter Chmilowskyj, after their car had been involved in a car crash. Less fortune for the other family and car involved in the crash, as a 5 month old baby girl passenger was killed in the crash. Police would not comment on the rumour that the kidnapper caused the crash deliberately. Following the critical comment over the Manchester Police Chief Constable’s actions in freezing out Stalker, Anderton himself has rejected calls for a public enquiry, made by two Labour MPs. Then he would, wouldn’t he? More speculation behind the causes of the Icelandic waters shipwreck; mischievous comment that the Christmas day accident was caused by revelry on board and concern that a distress call, two hours prior to the sinking warning of faulty radar on board, was not responded to more quickly. Also the lifeboat could only contain six people, rather than the 25 it was rated for on its certificate. After the Christmas break, and with the chance of by-elections and a full election in the offing, the politicians are back in the news; Tebbit claiming that the Tories will win a third term with a huge majority, and Kinnock advocating the Labour defence policy of conventional weapons and no first use of nuclear weapons. The local weather forecasts are for continued mild and overcast weather and some gusty showers. Late tonight we heard of the death of Harold Macmillan and there are descriptions of him as the master of consensus politics. He had been critical of Thatcher’s policies recently and had shown a remarkable lucidity and wit in his speeches, after belatedly accepting an Earldom at the age of 90. I wonder if this sad passing will make a change in the political support for Thatcherism, which otherwise seemed to be exempt from considered reason.