Daniel and his friends delighted to have Old Bill's boat which became 'Aquabean' (in background)

Combining the day collecting neighbouring river plot owner Bill Clarke from Bedford and arranging the purchase of his plot, boat and shed to the delight of Daniel and friends and also planning the BMMG’s LAN meeting for Wednesday such that I was back working in the industry again after our recent time off. Thatcher shuffles her cabinet and Hurricane Helene hits New Orleans whilst rubber bullets and tear gas are used to break up South African rallies with one schoolchild again killed

A good night’s sleep and awake early with Diana, for once, still in bed. Made most of the opportunity and then settled to the morning paper, reading briskly as today was the day I had planned to get back to computer industry work. Down to breakfast made courtesy of Debbie (bread and milk shakes for all) and then to get washed and shaved at 9.00am as Daniel’s friends started to arrive. They are all overjoyed at the prospect of getting Bill’s 6HP outboard motor and official use of the day boat today and were assembling early to work on the boat to get it ready. Then to brief Pete the gardener about my mole exploits. He was cutting Bill’s grass today. To the office eventually, where I started to sort through my papers when I get a call from ICL with regard to the arrangements for their attendance at Wednesday’s BMMG LAN meeting. I then rang Owls Hall to update them on my recent mail and noticed that the ACT letter had in fact accepted an invitation to join the meeting. Hurried calls, therefore, to try to make the necessary arrangements and something of a panic.

Funnily enough I had brought through the portable TV to watch the ending of the test match (which proved to be another innings defeat for the Aussies) expecting to read the recent industry press quietly, but it proves that once involved, totally absorbed. A snack lunch, left by Diana, with drinks made by Joan and then off by car to Bedford, shopping in St Neots to collect some money from the Abbey National. Once at Bedford I collected Bill Clarke with his engine, tank and riverside land deeds and drove him off back to St Neots. The task was to photocopy the deeds, which I accomplished after some time, but what a rare assortment of paper shapes these solicitors use. Back to the car, where old Bill had dozed off. He is 78 now and has had his riverside land for 21 years in ownership, plus 4 more rented. Their use pre-dated all the building and development of Little Paxton, but he was pleased to welcome the people as it presented more company. With eyesight fading and his wife’s mental condition so bad, he is sadly parting with this leisure plot that was such an interest for them both, but we have said that he is most welcome to come down any time to sit in it and view the river. There is much that he knows about the local history (which indeed a few others know as well) and I shall try to get the details down for posterity next summer when meeting them. I get him to Little Paxton at last and Di joined us to chat whilst I sorted the papers and completed the deal to buy the outboard motor. Then I took him around our riverside gardens and showed him the paths and shrub beds. By this time it was pouring with rain and so we went to his shed and chatted a while. It was a building site hut, which he had bought for £14 and is now a fascinating accommodation of bed, cooler, sink etc. I took him home at last, after a long afternoon, and returned to find Daniel and friends in even greater ecstasy over the day boat. News tonight of the Thatcher re-shuffle with Douglas Hurd, the former Northern Ireland secretary, taking over the Home Office from Leon Brittain. He takes over Trade and Industry and God help us at this man of poor imagination. Tebbitt becomes Party Chairman and, in dual tandem with the Prime Minister, will no doubt be a doubly abrasive and extreme public image which, in my view, will not change the conservative’s unpopularity. Lord Young has taken over the job of Employment Secretary, but without any change of economic policy I cannot see it helping at all. Kenneth Baker, my only government acquaintance, has been promoted to the Cabinet, which is good news, as he has many moderate views as well as plenty of talent. At the opening day of the TUC, anticipated bust-up has been deferred without a vote until tomorrow. The Mirror goes back tomorrow after the workers voted today to accept the deal. Hurricane Helena hit New Orleans today after it had scraped the gulf coast tantalisingly for several days. Rubber bullets and tear gas was used in South Africa to break up a miner’s strike and rally, and one person was killed in a school children’s march, whilst the BBC camera team was detained at the police station for three hours. More rain and cool weather forecast, including northerly winds!