May 1988

A mixed month of weather but a great election victory for me, an equally enjoyable birthday party for Debbie, and then time catching up with personal and family matters and getting deeply involved in Huntingdonshire District Council and local matters as the duly-elected local councillor. There were many meetings and events that were soon taking up my time and work on electors’ issues but there was still time for family outings and events as well as a little time for The Lady, cleaning it off and painting the cabin roof. The domestic economy has been deteriorating, Thatcher is dividing her party on exchange rate policy and the Poll Tax and she suffers House of Lords defeats on academic freedom and ending Local Authority control of schools. ,  Swiss companies take over Rowntree chocolate makers and industrial strife as continued at P&O Ferries, and the media are crying ‘foul’ for press freedom as they become subject to a court order to hand over tapes of the Wapping demonstrations. Roy Jenkins leads a House of Lords rebellion over academic freedom in universities, and there was also a defeat for the government in the House of Lords over the Education Reform Bill that would allow schools to opt out of Local Authority Control. The IRA has extended its campaign against UK serviceman into Germany and England’s football hooliganism is still preventing European games for our teams. The P&O Ferries dispute dominated the domestic industrial news this month and a propaganda war develops as other P&O ferries and ports are drawn into the strike. ACAS talks start and then fail talks, lorry drivers then blockade Dover and Calais and Sealink offers to take back half of the sacked P&O strikers with P&O Ferries emerging as the problem.  News of a serious engine room fire in the, Seafreight Freeway, which killed one officer and critically injured another raises doubts about the standards of safety on board the cross channel ferries. There are big strikes and demonstrations for reform in Poland and East/West arms summit is struggling on but the US Senate is now backing the nuclear arms treaty and the USSR Presidium has ratified it. The Lebanon is another flashpoint; with both Syria and Israel sending in troops and there is more fighting there between rival Muslim groups, supported by Iran and Syria. Iraqi attacks the world’s biggest supertanker in the Gulf. President, Francois Mitterrand, is re-elected and Ms Michel Rocard, the socialist, is duly announced as the new Prime Minister of France

This was a very variable month of weather; mainly warm, showery and unsettled weather more symptomatic of April, but there was also some torrential rain with local roads flooding but, when the sun came out it was very hot with  sunny days and a strengthening breeze and I worried about radiation after hearing stories of the ozone layer of the atmosphere lessening. The month saw my spectacular election victory, then the mad scramble to get myself acknowledged in the politics at Pathfinder House, an effort to catch up on my paperwork (deserted for a month) and then get back to my history writing again. I could return to my History of Little Paxton for the first time in ages reviewing the St Neots Paper Mill archive about the building of Riversfield House and welcoming my photos back from Colin Howard at last which started a large archiving process for these and my press cuttings. Then, with the gardener having a week’s holiday, I was mowing the lawns as well and playing mole catcher to boot! I was constantly attending the games lawn and swimming pool, just about coping with all this and keeping on Daniel back about revising for his imminent GCSE exams. We enjoyed our family breakfasts, and supervising Daniel’s revision and preparation for his first GCSE French oral exam and then his Additional Maths GCE participation whilst he was also helping at the local Oxfam shop. There were games of croquet with Daniel, and visits to local chandleries, and I was taking Debbie to her horse-riding, sometimes with Amy law in tow. Apart from the girl’s coughs and colds, we are all well. My cracked ribs are healing more day by day; and Di is back on her diet again. After the worry of the election and Debbie's party, we now know even more local people because of all this. Mums & Dad are okay, and they visited us during the month.  No word from Freda and Alf and we do not even ask after them these days, although we have just given Mum & Dad a parcel of gifts to take down to them. There was Debbie’s birthday party on a blissfully warm and dry day, collecting the Bouncy Castle from Biggeswade and erecting it with John Law and then rushing off to St Ives for a Town Crier interview and back for a St Neots Riverside Restaurant lunch before the 25 party guests arrived at 3pm which I videoed and this was all typical of the life I was then bound to lead.