Reagan and Gorbachev were this month's heroes with their Nuclear Arms Reduction Agreement

During an unusually mild and wet month, we laid new games lawns, recovered The Lady and Little Lady ashore for winter maintenance and I also conducted an in-depth investment appraisal, researching river meadows and forestry as possible acquisitions but keeping most of my money safe in cash and government securities. My extended family have not in too bad good health, we have enjoyed a good Christmas with family visiting and lots of church services after visiting many attractions during the month My history research has been on hold but my candidature for Local Government has approved and much local paper publicity encouraged. Thatcher has been underfunding the NHS and running down public services, and now lays her Poll Tax Bill before  parliament amongst great controversy, tries gagging BBC over Spycatcher and the Birmingham Pub bombing justice miscarriages. In Northern Ireland, serious violence  leads to a  Queen’s appeal for conciliation. World exchange markets, oil and currency drops, and the Gulf conflict and unrest in the occupied Palestinian territories threatens peace but Reagan and Gorbachev have now signed the 50% reduction treaty for Intermediate Nuclear Weapons. Bob Geldorf comes home to report an African famine threatening the lives of five million people

The amazingly mild month of December comes to an end, being almost autumnal rather than wintery, and holding out no prospect of a white Christmas. Just as well for the many old people that I know from my Little Paxton history studies, and who were giving me just cause for concern during the harsh winter of last year. The good weather came just in time to allow the games lawn to be laid, after the appallingly wet weather that had preceded it. The family are fine. Daniel’s catarrh is improving with treatment and only a normal collection of colds and infections keep us from perfect health. The same is true of our wider family, with my Mother managing our stairs on her own later during her visit, and my Dad’s kidney and bladder troubles seemingly of low priority.  Diana struggles with coping with Della from time to time and has the occasional bad day when Debbie was also sick, for example.

This month she has periods where she was suffering from a cold and then tonsillitis and was even ill in bed overnight with aches and pains when Debbie and Della helped by making breakfast. I still find some time with Diana in bed in the mornings if she does not manage to escape first then played with her once when she returned in her ‘Fairy Godmother’ outfit! We fought through the congestion and had a visit to Cambridge to meet up with Di’s parents at Eaden Lilley where we found Charles in a very depressed anti-Christmas mood.  Diana’s family are all house moving, as they are wont to do. We had several visits to Cambridge to see her Mum and Dad just moving to reduce costs within Bar Hill, but her brother and family are moving out of London to Sandy, which will be quite an experience. On Christmas Eve, we welcomed Di’s sister Sue to visit and opened a few preview presents for the children when she stayed until lunch. On Boxing Day, we travelled to Bar Hill for the Jackson family gathering and then had a remarkable if rather chilly experience afterwards of visiting the very historic Warden Abbey at the behest of Diana’s Aunt Christine, who had hired it for her family over Christmas. My parents visited overnight from Christmas Eve and had a better look at The Hayling View upstairs for the first time before joining the rest of the family in front of a log fire in the lounge for a long monopoly game and then play them the long video of this year’s Disneyland, universal Studios and Knott’s Berry Farm visits. They were with us for the traditional Christmas Day morning, the children opening presents and then we all went to St James Church for a Christmas communion and for the children to be blessed by the Rev Peter Lewis before for our Christmas lunch and the TV broadcast of the Queen’s Speech and even more present opening, and tea and a game of Trivial Pursuit afterwards. Then Mum was playing scrabble with Debbie whilst Dad and I were chatting before a cold Turkey salad later. During the month, we had dropped Daniel off to see his friend Gary before lunch at The Copper Kettle and took our trip to the Nene Valley Railway to take a ride on ‘The Santa Special”, we had enjoyed Debbie’s Brownie’s Christingle Service at St Mary’s Church St Neots, the Little Paxton Brownies St James Church service as well and the Kimbolton School concert with Debbie playing the recorder in the prep orchestra! I had taken Debbie for her Christmas Party riding party and games. Della was performing’ in her play-school play and we all went to Cambridge for meals out before and after seeing a traditional pantomime. Socially, we had a meal out and then enjoying an evening at The Caxton Gibbet with Nigel and Lynne in his souped-up Jaguar (Nigel arrived in his red Mk-2 Racing Jaguar a few days before and had taken me for a hair-raising ride) and sadly me also saw the recently bereaved John Braga at a Kimbolton event. In preparation for the festivities, I put up our Christmas lights that shined across the valley, I had cancelled the Coventry trip to exchange my Daimler for a Bentley as my Daimler will be returned to Marshalls for £28,500. I had turfed the Games Lawn taking delivery and supervising Pete and Daniel laying the turf for the new Games Lawn until dusk one night and was now getting Pete to start edging it as a bowls green. Daniel and I had recovered The Little Lady via St Neots slipway and stored it on the trailer in our driveway and Daniel was revising ahead of going away on a school narrow-boating the next weekend. I had leisurely cruise downstream delivering The Lady to Buckden Marina and arranging its lay-up and winter work been reading Spycatcher in full.  Di and I had been celebrating our 19th Anniversary and I ended the year trying to progress my Range Rover and Stereo system repairs and evaluating my Fountain Forestry investments; writing up a summary of my investments at the end of this year and then sending copies to my advisors. The New Year arrived with me working and the whole family in bed asleep! I had also been watching my Stock Exchange shares using my Prestel terminal and following market trends closely, investigating my land and property investments, viewing 143 acres of arable and meadowland in Great Paxton, visiting river meadows in Godmanchester and making a field visit with Nigel to see the Godmanchester Cow Lane meadows before putting in a bid of over £50K. I am considering the purchase of more land for forestry – this time locally – but my low offers might not be accepted until the agricultural recession becomes worse later in the year. The recent stock exchange crash has meant a need to keep in close touch with the situation, reading widely and reviewing possible actions, monitoring the stock markets and currency markets but advised to sit tight for now. I have now reduced all share holdings to a minimum and have the majority of our money in cash and Government Securities, expecting disaster in the New Year. My history interviews are now largely complete, but the task of writing up interviews has fallen foul of the multiple distractions of late from the urgent task of working at my desk transcribing more history interview tapes for my Little Paxton history research.  I have been sorting photographs and I did visit PCC Chairman Alf Cousins for more information about St James Church and its lands and to have sherry with his church colleagues which was just as well as I was accepted this month as the Alliance District Council candidate for this area and we await the election next May having impressed in my selection interview for the District Council candidature with local SDP/Liberal Alliance Chairman Percy Meyer. I stand a less than even chance of success, unless the Tories field another out-of-town candidate, but I am getting well known to give myself a fighting chance at least. I appeared in The Trader newspaper today ahead of my Paxton District Council Ward adoption meeting. and in two more local papers this week about ‘what local personalities are doing on Boxing Day’. Locally, the surrounding villages in the Great Ouse river valley are threatened continually by development and the towns are becoming more congested, which will be my campaign themes. Nationally it was, or may not be, ‘The Year of the Dragon’, but Margaret Thatcher is still in control! As the economic route leads to self-perpetration and concentration of wealth in a few hands, the chances of a deep recession now look probable to me, rather than possible. The Tories who have inadequately funded NHS needs with a poor rise in budget, now start proposing the Poll Tax against protests from both sides of Parliament.  The Poll Tax Bill introduced by Secretary of State Nicholas Ridley, passed second reading with 35 Tories voting against or abstaining in defiance of Thatcher. The tragic heart operation delay case of baby David Barber drew publicity but ends with his death and a Consultant Obstetrician is ‘in despair at the way the NHS is going’ after they cannot any longer guarantee the safety of mothers in labour or their babies without resources. 1,000 doctors and professors signed a petition in the NHS dispute and a Commons row over Thatcher’s treatment of the NHS follows when she refuses to answer questions properly and, after thousands of UK women were damaged by the Dalkon IUD shield, 2 ½ thousand million dollars has been paid into a compensation fund. The government try suggesting private healthcare as the answer to NHS funding shortfalls as they are so much opposed to more public funding! The NHS is not the only seat of unrest through unfair treatment, the year ends with 11th hour talks to avert a postal strike, and flights from The London Dockland Airport are suspended due to lack of air traffic controller cover after two near misses the postal dispute. Four railwaymen were killed by a passenger train in another incident highlighting poor safety. The Government causes outrage as it tries to gag the BBC over reporting the Birmingham Pub Bombing miscarriage of justice injunctions try to gag the BBC but it wins a variation of a High Court injunction that allows them to report on Parliamentary Proceedings after the Spycatcher book is widely published overseas. Amongst other unsatisfactory UK news, England captain Mike Gatting is instructed to provide a written apology to the Pakistani umpire he criticised, prison security will have to be reviewed after a helicopter landed and picked up three criminals in the East Midlands, several risks being found at London underground stations after checks, the Kimberley child abuse enquiry report guidelines are published, a huge London sweep tackles child indecency and the murder took place  of Miss Alice Rowley, 87, and her sister Edna, who kept the Sparkhill Birmingham shop for 50 years. Not much good economic news either; the British current account deficit on visible trade widened from £822m to £1.19Bn and, for believers, Church of England Bishops reject practising homosexuals as being able to serve in the Ministry and one of their number, Dr Bennett, who has been a critic of the Archbishop of Canterbury, commits suicide in Leeds. Against the background of more IRA violence in Ulster, there is news of Irish cooperation on bomb disposal as bombing threats in Dublin are causing tension. The UDA president’s funeral passed off peacefully and Gordon Wilson, the father of the Enniskillen victim, nurse Marie, was ‘greatly moved and humbled’ by being mentioned and endorsed in Her Majesty’s Christmas plea for an end to such violence to bring peace to Ulster. Even so, the Ulster police chief expects even bloodier IRA violence next year. Thatcher is isolated at the EEC summit whilst publishing details of her new Poll Tax as the EEC agricultural and general overstretched budgets are debated. The US economy is in a perilous state as internationally-coordinated central bank efforts support the dollar the US considers measures to relieve the depression. Even so, the US dollar falls to a new low against the Japanese yen and there is trouble on the financial markets for both Japan and the US as extreme weather in the USA leads to snowstorms and floods. Germany also takes measures to avert a deep recession and opposition Socialists are making strong gains in the Belgian elections. French police detain the alleged leader of the Basque Separatists, Inaki Pujana, This as oil prices slip to about $17 a barrel on news of  the worst trouble so far in the Gulf, as two Iraqi missile attacks on Norwegian tankers kill 21 crewmen and another British tanker hit by Iranian missiles and Iranian gunboats fire on a US Navy helicopter.  North Sea oil, sterling, and the Stock Exchange all fall in sympathy.  There is more Arab/Israeli violence in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, occupied by the Israelis, as the Israeli soldiers use live ammunition against stone-throwing youths and now 15 people have now been killed in the last 12 days leading to UN condemnation about the Israelis having been brutal as Britain tells the UN that the Israelis have used excessive force in quelling unrest in and the PLO forms a Palestinian government in exile. There is some news about Terry Waite and the other hostages held in the Middle East at Christmas having been spotted by satellite. Gorbachev meets Thatcher at RAF Brize Norton en route to the US via the UK to sign a nuclear arms limitation agreement and and his wife Raisa meets British schoolchildren. Reagan and Gorbachev signed the 50% reduction Intermediate Nuclear Weapons Treaty that scraps over 4,000 in stockpiles and in reserve, but Gorbachev and his wife Raisa are upstaging the Reagans in the US by courting the media more successfully.  Bob Geldorf comes back from Africa reporting famines affecting five million people. The number of conflicts or ‘armed struggles’ around the world are too numerous to mention, but 1987 has been a series of both natural and man-made disasters. Thousands are killed in an horrific ferry sinking and a factory disaster in The Philippines kills over 4,000 more, a gunman in Arkansas kills 16 people, the Soviet-supported Afghan troops are fighting a battle with the Mujahideen resistance fighters, and news of a violence conflict between Tamils and Sri Lankan police is grim. Concern deepens over the US shuttle progress after an explosion ripped apart the launch site. In the meanwhile, Yuri Romanenko returns, with two other cosmonauts after he successfully spends more than a year in space. Two North Korean suspects take poison pills after the South Korean airliner was bombed and unrest follows in South Korea after protesters seize a ballot box stuffed with forged papers. Garry Kasparov wins the final game of the series and thus retains his World Chess Championship title against Anatoly Karpov whilst at home, the New Year’s Honours list is full of establishment cronies but Gorbachev at least voices New Year’s optimism!