Nature 2

We went to a meeting at the little school. Coming out we saw a huge pale green moth, about 2 inches long, and we decided it would be kinder to put it outside instead of leaving it for the children to see the next day so a man threw it outside. As it touched the ground there was a terrific whrrrr and an owl swooped down and snatched it up without putting its undercarriage down even – we were all taken aback, it happened so quickly.

I decided I definitely don’t want to live in Australia where the scenery seems to be liberally sprinkled with poisonous spiders, snakes, scorpions etc. – not to mention the flies which were revolting in their quantity and persistence.

Dawn chorus hater

I was really pleased I am not the only one who can’t abide the dawn chorus, people look quite shocked if I say so – not nice, dear! No fear of being woken by that at present, we sleep till nearly 8 quite often these days, and it’s starting to get dark at 4.15 p.m., must be the shortest day soon, tho’ I fear real winter doesn’t start until June.

I never realised before I came here just what a beautiful place Vancouver is: it’s like a miniature San Francisco, with miles of beaches, mountains behind the city, woods and forests, and an enormous park in the middle of the city. The weather has been glorious: real autumn. Sun, clear blue sky, clear air, misty blue sea and mountains. But it’s the colours of the trees that really get me: yellow, browning, crimson, green conifers, every colour you can imagine, all kaleidoscopic.

Too sad – both stands of trees which the rosellas nested in have come down and the white faced herons’ ones too – don’t know where they’ve moved to.

I have been in this paradise for a month now. And paradise it surely must be. Postcards simply can’t do the scenes justice. X and I moved into a house yesterday and I’m sitting on the Chesterfield (settee to you, mah dearh!) looking out of the picture window at an unimaginable sight: vast grey/black mountains, snowcapped, piercing the bluest of blue skies, emerging from velvet green pine trees. It’s just superb.

Nuisances of life 5

Yesterday we planned an expensive but pleasant way of celebrating. We intended to meet them for a smorgasbord lunch. In the event the car burst a front wheel bearing on the way to the early service which complicated the arrangements somewhat…. The car sounds expensive – I rang today and the bearing had got hot enough to weld itself onto the stub axle so that will probably have to be replaced as well and they didn’t know where they were going to get a spare. The second misfortune was after service when I went first to the garage in the village – who couldn’t help – tripped over a 1 ft high concrete retaining wall and fell flat into a muddy patch catching my right leg a real whack just below the knee against the concrete. As the third thing I lost my Parker biro! I know I used it to write a cheque after lunch and can’t imagine where it went after that. Maddening. Otherwise, the day went well!

One recent symptom we could do without we have noticed several times in the watches of the night, and that is an intermittent gnawing sound in the wall just behind out beds! Since that part of the house is on a solid foundation it is very difficult to see how any rodent could get there, without working its way along from under the hall floor which would be about 10 or 12 feet with an upright bit of 4×3 to get past every 18 inches. It is both mysterious and trying! I only hope that when it gets to the leads to the bedside lights it doesn’t take a fancy to the taste of plastic insulation, and short the wires! I’ve tried setting a trap under the house – on the far side which is the only part I can get at – and have caught one mouse, but fear that this may be bigger game.

We’ve had a big dandelion blitz and X has scarified it (isn’t that a lovely word) and resown it – but how much will come up is anyone’s guess as the birds arrive in flocks and the only person/bird to fall over the black cotton X put across is me!

Trip hazard

No, I don’t think the boys had been boozing – was another car coming round the corner that got them. X says they were on the right side of the road. Anyway the whole of one side of the new car is being replaced – I can’t believe it will ever be the same.

Politics 3

Merely to have a parcel with over £6 in stamps on it is a thrill – or else a cause for bemoaning what the £ has come down to. (The whole news of Britain’s economic state refills me with gloom every time I open a Guardian. Mrs. T appears to be as dictatorial and as wrong-headed as our miserable man.)

Big marches and demonstrations yesterday for Hiroshima day – especially as we have a USA nuclear cruiser on a visit at present, which many people object to. I decided to spend a couple of hours writing a letter to the Minister for Foreign Affairs instead of marching. He assumes that we all want a treaty with USA under which we can be defended with nuclear missiles – and that those who suggest that the USA might stop making the things and even dismantle a few hundred to show willing to the Russians are a sort of unilateralist lunatic fringe. It irritates me when politicians misrepresent what dissenters to their policies say in order to dismiss them without really thinking out an answer! But I wrote a nice polite letter, on the whole.

We have found the Korean airliner business distressing – not least because American protests seem to protest too much – and gradually bits of news leak out to show that maybe there is more in the Russian spy-plane argument than meets the eye e.g. a genuine confusion of 2 planes and even perhaps a deliberate use by an American recce plane of the Korean plane to hide itself and get away. In the war the bombers used to drop metal strips which were called ‘Window’ to confuse enemy radar and it would be interesting to know what the latest developments on hiding in the sky were. Meanwhile the Cruise talks are held up, and that is the worst aspect of the situation.

I wrote a week ago to the Minister for Energy who is a rather brash young man complaining because the Government has appointed a ‘Commission for the Future’ which is trying to get people to discus what sort of a country they would like to have, and before they can get any results he is selling the pass by entering into enormous contracts with firms overseas to build a second smelter for aluminium, and various other large industrial plants.

They opened the new Town Hall about ten days ago and one of the ceremonies was to get Ted Heath across the world to give the first major speech. They broadcast it on TV so perhaps it didn’t matter so much that they only filled about a third of the seats for the occasion. We thought he was brilliant. Spoke for an hour, to the minute, without a note in front of him and was really interesting about recent history such as the Marshall plan, the first Bretton Woods and so on – but the relevant thing about it was his plea for moderation and a continued readiness to negotiate .

[and to show you can’t please all of the folk all of the time]

I was v. surprised old Wilson got back in – tho’ Edward Heath is enough to put anyone off the Conservatives – I don’t envy anyone in power at present.

Purchases 2

Have I written since buying a little pull out leaf oak table and 4 chairs from an Indian? That and the divan, big chest of drawers and a 5′ x 2′ 6″ desk doesn’t leave room to do more than a little deep breathing but it’s cosy and looks over to the mountain (pity about the houses in between!)

Not much space

The latest bout of modelling I was ticked off for cos my shoes were ‘shoddy’ so that was a good excuse to blow $30, which I haven’t got, in a sale to get some new ones (in absolutely stupid colour all due to good salesmanship, so now I’ll have to dye them!)

Unfortunately the lovely lolly is all gone, nearly all of it on the washing machine. But on the other hand it’s saved us getting a loan at some exorbitant interest to pay for one.

We went on the smaller boat and sat in the open in the front and took a picnic – fortunately, as those who ordered one for $5 weren’t all served. When we booked the man at the desk said tellingly, ‘You can buy a lot for $5 though’!

I also spent my Christmas money, at last, and added a birthday cheque to it and bought a pale jade ring set in silver. I had been going to buy a Spong Slicer and a Shredder, but luckily they couldn’t get hold of one for me! I’ve also bought something else – sssh – it’s the Japanese version of Bernina called Globe, it’s fully guaranteed by Bernina for 25 years and has a selection of 14 decorative and useful stitches, and other features, like automatic buttonhole and non-adjust tension, certainly enough for my needs, and as it costs less than half the equal Bernina, I decided I couldn’t go wrong. I’ve afforded it by lots of complicated rationalisations, but nevertheless my motto for the rest of the year is: Money doesn’t grow on sprees.

I decided not to put some money into the firm in X which is making an electric car. [Very forward thinking company in 1980!] I think it’s a very good idea, but even if I went down to look round I doubt whether I should discover whether the ground floor I thought I was getting in on was solid, or poised perilously above a cellar of bankruptcy. So instead it is for help with education of the grandchildren.

The last two weeks have been traumatic with carpet hunting. Eventually I avoided having the two cheaper practical ones and settled for something we both liked in green – I’m still recovering from the shock!

I went mad yesterday and dashed up to X at 8.30 a.m. to get a ‘special ’ in flowery sheets – less than half for doubles. I’ve cut 20 inches off the side to make pillow cases – they are madly psychedelic and in all the wrong colours – oh dear!

I bought rather foolishly on the spur of the moment a camel hair skirt this week – reduced to $8 from $18 – but it makes me look even larger than I am.

Stocking the larder/ self-sufficiency 2

Coming home on Tuesday we hit a hare. X was reluctant to turn the car and collect it but in fact it was quite whole and will feed the dog for a week. I was quite sorry we weren’t going to have it – it looked so good.

Well there’s never a dull moment here. I’d just finished helping X drench the sheep when a call came from a name I didn’t recognise saying, ‘I’ve got the ram on the front seat of the landrover, but don’t know what to do with the children’. Then the penny dropped, it was the woman who said she’d lend us her ram! Anyway I said to hold everything and X would go down. He brought the children and she drove with the ram seated beside her licking her face!! A huge animal, but she assures us he’s very sweet and friendly, not like her other white ram who is twice the size!

The white ram’s arrival

A young couple we met a while ago came to say goodbye before leaving for the UK and brought us a 2 1/2 lb trout – frozen solid with all its innards in. I’ve kept ignoring it till X told us last weekend he’d dealt with one they’d had – stuffed and baked it – so not to be outdone I attacked ours today – complete with veal stuffing, broad beans and sauce. It was delicious – we only ate half of it, but felt that was too much, especially followed by plum crumble and cream.

Have deep froze case plums – hands delicate shade of dark purple.

We, with variable assistance from the kids, put in a couple of hours each morning on making a path, with a zigzag in it, down the hill from the gate out of the orchard. Partly to make it easier to go up and down that side without twisting ones ankle, and partly to gather together as many of the big stones as possible and (when I have had time to level out their holes and drop a bit of grass seed) to improve the field. We made a steady gradient with a wall of stones, filled in with others, and earth which I had spare behind the garage as a result of my drainage activities, and I have since sowed it. Apart from that major work there were a few other exercises such as moving my water-collecting bucket up to the top waterfall where it is possible to collect a better flow in dry times. Of course no sooner had we done that than we had a night’s rain, with the river up to the level of your fordings, and the creek roaring. I went up the next day to check it, and found the tank half empty and nothing coming in, so feared the worse. However, everything was still in place, and it turned out in the end to be another of the freshwater crayfish stuck in the entrance to the pipe from the bucket. They seem to regard that as a particularly secure and convenient sort of cave to make a home in. I’ve got an extra piece of gauze lining the bucket now, in the hope of confounding their house hunting.

Now I have bought a spinning wheel! – at least, a kitset which I put together a couple of days ago. Another first was making brawn. X bought a whole pig – half fresh and half to be pickled, hammed, baconed. She rejected the head! but when I was working out what the effective cost was it seemed we were throwing away about $10! So I got the half that hadn’t gone to be cured and tackled it with the aid of Mrs Beeton. We put one of the trotters in too, and got a nice stiff brawn, enough for three meals! And lots of stock as well. I could have had lard as well, but by that time I had had enough so the fat went in the rubbish bag!

We have six lambs alive, having lost three either at birth or within 48 hours. I think we chose badly as regards the (white) ram we borrowed as several of the ewes had trouble. Of the six we have one black, three white, and two if not khaki at least piebald. They are twins, one with an even more speckly face than its mother, and the other black with white ears and a white stripe down its backbone. When they lie among the rocks in the river field they are so well camouflaged even their mother has trouble in finding them!

We got rid of the ram this last week (hence moving the lambs back to join the others yesterday). I had arranged to sell it for its owner to the man down the road and he came to help catch it one afternoon. We spent about 40 minutes trying to pen the flock and they kept breaking away but eventually I got near enough the ram when it was only moving slowly to throw myself on it and knock it off balance and land nice and softly on its middle! After which we hauled it ignominiously, 2 legs each, to the trailer. In full view of all those ewes too!

The other unsettling factor, just at the moment, is having the sheep in the drive! Not only do you have to open and shut two gates every time you take the car out, which can be a great nuisance especially in the showery weather we have been having but also they make such a mess of the place and it is almost impossible to walk down for the letters, and back, without bringing defecatory mementos back on ones shoes. However, they are getting on nicely with eating it down, and another two days or so should see the end of that worry for the next three months.

The local Lions were demolishing a house and selling the bits yesterday and as I couldn’t go I made a bid for the old garage shed – reckoning I could get a hen-house out of it cheaply. They promised to do what they could and when I went out this morning I found a splendid pile of 4″x2″ (full of nails of course) and also two large sheets of glass in rather shaky frames about 4′ square each which will make an admirable cold frame for starting seeds off. I reckon the new cost of all this would be about $250, so I’ve not done badly for my $25 bid!

Have wasted a good deal of time worrying about our largest sheep, which after several false alarms during the week at last showed real signs of giving birth. She obviously has twins, and did after an hour manage to produce the first – which has taken after its father, being white in spite of her blackness. The second hasn’t arrived yet but she has broken off cleaning up operations on No. 1 several times, to paw the ground and fling herself down (luckily not with such abandon as to land on No. 1), so I hope that by the time we have finished lunch she will have achieved it. Talk about continuing drama – X reported that one leg of the second lamb had appeared, and after consulting my neighbour I managed to catch her, and X shoved it back again – the second one presenting backwards, it seems, as she couldn’t find any signs of a head, or even of the other leg so next door has promised to come over in an hour or so. He came over and managed to get the second lamb out – alive too. Promptly plonked it down on mother’s face to give her a taste for it. We left all three in the pen, and she seems to have accepted it and be cleaning it up. [Writer had farming experience as a youngster but X was a city dweller so showing a maternal interest in babies of all kinds! The neighbour luckily was a pro!]

The neighbour had some scruffy lambs of a friend in one of our paddocks, and a lot of them just couldn’t feed their lambs, so the owner ended up with 10 lambs by his fire being hand fed: he’d have done better to have found out a little more about them before he bought the ewes. We were given a shoulder of wild pork this week, it was delicious, and a dozen farm eggs – all very neighbourly and swappish.

I’ve got my surviving second-hand window fixed up as a cold frame and have a couple of seed boxes under it but otherwise things have been pretty held up in the veg garden by the wet. The only things that have actually been growing have been a couple of rows of greens and a row of beans (the broad variety). Those are now flowering – but are only a foot high where they should be five feet – so something is wrong there. And the greens have been progressively eaten down to bare stalks – I think by a pair of hares I’ve seen in the fields a couple of times! But my trees seem to have taken root. And we have a plum tree in full blossom – but no bees about. I can see that’s going to be the next venture after I’ve got chickens under way. Meanwhile there’s more fencing, and drains and repairs to the drive and wood cutting to keep me busy.

A large lorry turned up with a man who got out and said, ‘I’m a beekeeper. I’m looking for places to put some hives.’ So we walked around and he chose a place in our field opposite the house, for which he offered us ‘a taste of honey’. He brought ten hives on Saturday, and presented us with two pots of honey on the spot by way of a down payment which I thought was nice. It’s very good too and strikes us as an extremely painless way of getting a free supply, as long as the jolly insects don’t swarm all over the house. 9 hives = about 1/2 a million bees I think! He assured me that this doesn’t happen, with good management!

I got a large and expensive bag of sheepnuts – which is the essential factor in my plan for penning my sheep in future, without a dog, and without taking the fence to the sheep as before. Yesterday I knocked up the necessary wooden trough, put out some of the nuts and watched anxiously. They grazed all round the thing, but never touched it! However today at least three of them had a go, and all the nuts were gone, so tomorrow morning I will put out a new supply and beat on the fence at the same time, which I hope they will come to associate with the availability of a titbit, if only I go on long enough. I have only a week to get them trained to come gambolling and not notice me putting the pen round while they eat, as that is when their next drenching is due. I fear that is too hopeful, but we shall see.

I had to get the vet one day last week to one of the ewes whose feet I have tried in vain to cure. What with the vet (whose charge slightly exceeded the value of the sheep, I reckon) and then the sheepnuts they are chomping through daily, I need a good lambing percentage or I shall be very out of pocket.

Things children say 3

He’d been to a rather surprising sculpture display at the art gallery and when he got back to school he was asked to draw whatever he liked best at the art gallery. ‘So,’ he said, ‘I drew me’!

How are you? I have just learnt how to do writing. Mummy hos boughty me two Guitir bookS. and I am up to exercise 20. I am also Working on the Cherry Song. love from X   P.S. and at School we are working on a 100-years ago

A few week’s ago my class & school Had a bomb-scare, it was very scary. The dog’s came but They could not find the bomb. 10 minutes later the same man rang up St. X. In both school’s there was no bomb.

‘Mummy – I don’t understand’ / ‘What don’t you understand?’ / ‘Me’. As X says most profound for a 2 year old!

X and Y had apparently got into a mix-up the day before – X says that he was trying to get one of the paints out of his paint tray for Y and the tray slipped – but whatever it was, their mother answered the howls and discovered Y pouring with yet more of his frequently letted blood. I suspect X’s account of the incident may not have been exactly the whole truth and nothing but as he is being very possessive at present about anything he wants to play with.

X talks with a slight lisp which is fun at present, and he hasn’t started showing off yet, and chats away to himself about the oddest things. I asked him where his trousers were and was told ‘they gone shopping’.

School is being a great success. He endeared himself to his teacher on his first morning by walking in and saying, ‘You knew I was coming, why didn’t you put my name on my peg so I could hang my coat up?’ Little darling!

[A unit on safety in school] We also had the kids wandering round with ‘dangerous objects’ for a display – one easy way to have an accident I’d have thought! One boy brought a hand grenade which he swore was live. I have my doubts myself!

[Birthday request] A pad of drawing paper ‘white like my shirt on both sides. This intrigued me and his mother thought it very funny as he obviously felt fobbed off with some he’d been given to scribble on with print on the back, and obviously newsprint was not wanted!!

I got her to read road signs – 2 classics we had: ‘falling debts’ instead of ‘Falling Debris’, and ‘Wondering stock’ instead of ‘Wandering stock’.

[child of 2y] ‘Oh daddy you’ve spilt your puddy. Naughty daddy. I won’t spank you this time, but if you ever do it again I’ll be very cross.’

Older child had been speaking about her school project on gnomes. When she had finished the younger one proceeded to say something like, ‘The Catholic church is telling the members to go back to eating no meat on Fridays.’ Older one looked puzzled and said, ‘But there aren’t any gnomes alive today are there?’ Dad said, ‘No, why do you ask?’ Reply, ‘Then how can Catholics eat gnome meat on Fridays?’!!!

Gnome meat


Volunteering 2

One likely candidate is a fairly ‘rough diamond’ who has been with us about 18 months – a man who X is apparently denigrating saying we don’t want a trade union secretary as a president! I can’t think of a better training for managing our members than to be a T.U. secretary!

We had the first of the Greenpeace beach clean-ups last Saturday for the new season, and managed to collect quite a pile of junk. It is odd that there is one particular stretch of beach near the river mouth which seems to specialise in bathing shorts, and similar bits of clothing. Very odd. I have noticed it several times, and this time I think I got three pairs, and another man working in the same area said he had got some too.

The swimwear triangle

We had the Bridge Club AGM last night – a lot of waffling, under woolly chairmanship by our retiring (thank goodness) president. The next one is the wife of a Brigadier, and will keep us all in order and be efficient and hardworking and lucid, no doubt. All the more important, so far as I am concerned, since I am now back on the Committee as they were having trouble finding a treasurer and I said I would take a turn.

I’ve just sent away to find out if I’d be suitable for any VSA vacancies for next year and if it sounds likely I may follow that up further to see if they’d take me. That’s usually also for two years and counts as continued service over here which is a big factor in getting jobs. I get enthusiastic and not in turns about the idea (typical!) but think on the whole it’s a good thing to do and if I’m going to do it then now is a better time than in 2 years time.

Talking of incompetent volunteers, a fortnight ago we broke up the path from my study door to the garage and prepared it for re-concreting. It ‘only’ took 2 1/2 hours for 2 qualified civil engineers, a medical specialist, two accountants and an educationalist at tertiary level. Yesterday I hoped the concrete was going down – but no luck. Someone had boobed over ordering the materials so it looks as though we shall be stumbling over the sub-structure for another 3 weeks until the team can reassemble. A pity.

I am delighted to say that we managed to introduce some new blood into our vestry and reduce the average age a bit at our Annual Meeting. This had all been organised beforehand and just as well since again we only had 24 people present (out of a magazine distribution of 700!) It is said that a lot of people stay away for fear of being elected to do something if they come.

House repairs & housekeeping 4

I am glad we didn’t have to build – our valuer and lawyer warned us against it as you never know how much it will all end up as and we’ve got an established garden with a 35 ft oak tree +++ and it’s all in very good condition.

I don’t envy you the trauma of property hunting – I was quite exhausted and bemused after seeing about 20 – and only too glad to clinch the first one we saw when it ‘came back’.

On Christmas Day we let off 3 borer bombs. [Strange antipodean custom???] Alas I dropped the match on the one under the house instead of lighting the fuse and the instant pall of black smoke was accompanied for about 5 seconds by a 3 ft tongue of flame which lapped hopefully at the floor boards above! As I’d just warned the fire people that I was letting off the bombs I had visions of my calls for the brigade being laughed off with ‘Oh she’ll be right, mate – it’s only a borer bomb; now if you’ll give us a couple of minutes we’ll get stuck into a couple of dozen Christmas beers in the office here.’

Flames at Christmas

I spent a couple of hours one afternoon taking the TV aerial off the chimney (which has frequent and large cracks in it) in the hope that this would prevent it getting worse. I borrowed one ladder – a heavy wooden one – from our neighbour to get up to the roof, and slung our aluminium steps over the ridge to get up to the chimney stack – and when I had finished I left the wire brace round the chimney and wished I had a couple more to help hold it together. I’ve also managed to make the third part of the bookcase – and hope that when I’ve finished painting and bring it upstairs it’s going to be a bit more of a success than the disastrous other bits.

We’re so tidy it’s agony – I hope it sells quickly for that alone! We decided that to keep inside and outside to present state all the time we’d need a gardener and maid!

The problem is to know how to dry out the batts in the roof, even when you have stopped the leak. I discovered a nail sprung, above, and caulked and hammered that, and then cut a two inch hole in the ceiling and rigged up the old Electrolux to blow air in through it. After most of a day it seemed all dry, so I plugged the hole with a round of softboard fixed in with Polyfilla. Just when I had got it all painted the next day we had another gale with heavy rain – and it was evident that I hadn’t cured the leak! So the whole process has had to be repeated – this time I put gungy tape all down a join in the roof where the edge of one sheet is bent up a bit and presumably catching a lot of water that drives in in a high wind.

Friends and neighbours 2

I have a terrible tenant next door – a raucous lady with 9 dogs who make a hideous din – and so does she.

I really felt completely out of touch with X when she visited, but 50 years ago is quite a time, and we’ve both had quite different lives.

 Last Monday they both thought that someone had come during the night to take away the 5 geese brought up by one hen. It is very funny to see the geese following Mother Hen and her chicks. Anyway they (geese) had gone walking to the neighbours who brought them back.

She’s nice, I hope we meet again. The house is fantastic, and if I had 3 living-in maids, (God forbid), and 1 or 2 gardeners, I’d love to live there.

The [neighbour] on one side is mafia, by his own boast, and likes to rearrange the boundary lines to suit himself, in spite of my paying for a legal survey! Then he abused me verbally for about 20 mins because I was clipping back what he describes as ‘his’ hedge.

The next door lady had her ‘Happy Circle’ Christmas party yesterday so at least I have avoided that by saying I was a bit busy just at the moment and would join later; very soon the time will come when I must go and be happy weekly with a lot of other old ducks I suppose.

Xmas with the old ducks

The nice girl next to me has left but she sold to a quite pleasant family so I am not too unhappy! Dad works hard in digging up his lawn… Mum is a little robin and rather good fun I should think, and there appears to be a resident daughter who is very pleasant. Somebody told me today that she had been married and is now walking out with somebody else…

I am kind of scared about seeing my friends in London, maybe I’ve moved away from them in my thinking – this time last year if you’d mentioned living in the woods on an island with 250 people I’d have run laughing into the nearest boutique! I’m really looking forward to seeing you though – I don’t get that feeling when I contemplate that – so please be around in December!

It’s funny when you’re away from people. Sometimes you’ll pop into my head for no apparent reason, then I won’t be thinking about you for a long time, then when I sit down and write I feel right there with you even though I haven’t seen you for three years, and I wish we could have a long conversation, instead of you writing and telling me where you’re at and then six months later me writing where I’m at.


We seemed to do all the same business, as usual (some of these decisions have been on the books for 3 years!), the Treasurer and the manager had their all too common argument, the Treasurer resigned and then unresigned – ho hum!

She doesn’t get on with her boss… The latest thing was that her 2nd band girls were not to be allowed work merit points for good marks in their test because they’d beaten the 1st band girls, who are meant to be brighter. ‘It would make a nonsense of the banding system.’

The forms get more and more complicated every year it seems, as they introduce more and more computers. And I heard of a friend had an amended return for this year which the computer had worked out. He rang up to say he couldn’t understand it and how had he got his figures wrong – and the girl at the other end eventually admitted that it was the computer that was wrong.

But it seems they propose to change the rates of the old surtax to collect extra money from us! The wriggles of the Social Welfare minister, a fat lady called X, to avoid admitting she made a mistake and avoid apologising for it have to be seen to be believed. Quite odorous.

The wriggling bureaucrat

He spent a week checking the safety of two tunnels that are being built. He found that they weren’t safe. He’d naturally expected them to be re-designed to make them safe. But you’ll never believe what he was told – they just wanted to know for their records – in case something happens! I just pray nothing does!!