15 November 2015

Good morning to you all. We’ve had a fairly decent week with some pretty fine (and mild) weather at the beginning of the week. Temperatures reached the giddy heights of 16 to 17 degrees Celsius (low 60s in old money) on Tuesday and Wednesday but on Friday the wind and rain started and the temperature plummeted. Fortunately, the chimney’s been swept and the logs have been delivered so we’ve been able to have a few toasty-warm fires to pass the evenings.

Penelope has made tremendous progress on the construction of her front paths. I wrote last time that she had excavated the front borders and dug out an overgrown and dishevelled gravel path to be replaced with blue Victorian pavers. She dug the paths out to a depth about half way to Australia, laid several tonnes of hard-core in the trench, mixed up several Sahara-sized mixes of sand and cement and laid the pavers on top. It looks great and will look even better when pointed and edged. It exhausts me just thinking about it.

Penny's Path

Mind you, I’ve not been completely idle during her exertions, just largely so. In fact, I finished a task which I started some weeks ago – getting a hole through the Utility Room wall to accommodate the vent for the tumble drier. I started the project as I had done in Byfield – I used a couple of long masonry drill bits to drill a series of holes in the wall so that I could then simply knock through. Yeah, in my dreams! There is something about old Victorian bricks – they clearly used some secret ingredient to ensure these bricks would last for eternity. I reckon these bricks must be the hardest material known to man. I went through half a dozen drill bits and still was nowhere near completing the circle I needed. So, on Thursday I made my way to the local tool hire emporium to acquire a diamond core drill bit and then proceeded to spend about the next three hours alternatively lying on my side or otherwise contorting myself into a pretzel as I guided the drill (expertly, if I say so myself) through the wall. Eventually, we saw daylight and fitted the vent, just in time I guess – with the weather changing at least we no longer need to have the outside door open when drying the clothes.

I realise I haven’t had a good rant for a while but an article in the Guardian during the week had me shaking my head in disbelief. George Monbiot wrote the article which had the headline: David Cameron hasn’t the faintest idea how deep his cuts go. This letter proves it.

Poor old Dave has never been considered the sharpest knife in the cutlery drawer and his response to a letter from the Conservative leader of Oxfordshire County Council (my former employer and the council in which David Cameron’s constituency lies) is simply priceless. It demonstrates his complete lack of any understanding of cause and effect.

It rather reminds me of the VAT fiasco in the early days of his premiership. When he first became Prime Minister, one of his government’s first actions was to raise VAT (sales tax, if you like) from 17.5 to 20% (in spite of having made a “promise” during the election that they had no plans to raise VAT but that’s a different story). When figures a month or so later showed that the cost of living had increased by about 2.5% Cameron and his Chancellor, Osborne the Tit, went ballistic, scampering about like chickens with their heads cut off. One of their civil servants had to take them aside and quietly explain to them that if one raises sales tax by 2.5% that will probably have an impact on the prices people have to pay in the shops.

In his response to the letter from the leader of the Council Cameron demonstrates his ignorance of the impact of his government’s austerity measures and, when it suits him, misuses and misquotes figures to try to support his position. For example, he claims that the reduction in central government grants to Oxfordshire amounts to a “slight fall” in revenue. The leader of the Council replies, “I cannot accept your description of a drop in funding of £72m or 37% as a ‘slight fall’.” Cameron also tries to claim that the cumulative cuts in the county since 2010 amount to £204m. But that is not the cumulative figure, the leader of the Council points out. It is the annual figure. Since 2010, the county has had to save £626m.

Have you ever wondered how the prime minister sleeps at night? How can he live with himself after imposing such gratuitous pain upon the people of this nation? Well now, it seems, you have your answer: he appears to be blissfully unaware of the impact of his own policies.

Honestly, you couldn’t make it up!

And finally, happy birthday (yesterday) to the mother of our favourite granddaughter – 21 again.


Love to you all,



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