We had been intending to take a week's holiday today, but had decided to put it off because of the impending auction next week, at which the memorial to Uncle Eric (see earlier posting) was to have been sold. To cut a long story short, we are advised by solicitors who know this area of the law extremely well, that I am the owner of the memorial as current head of the family, though somehow it got into the hands of the stonemasons Lloyd of Bedwyn. The solicitors have written to the auctioneers asking them to withdraw the stone aeroplane from the sale, and have given them until noon on Monday to respond.
The right place for Uncle Eric's memorial is in the churchyard of St Giles, Farnborough, with the graves and memorials of the rest of the family. I have discussed this with the Rector, the Rev Matthew Hughes, and the Secretary of the Parish Council, Ms Liz Diamond, who are sympathetic. But the matter needs to be put before the Parish Council, which isn't due to meet until some time in October. I'm rather hoping that it can be brought forward, and will see whether the Rector agrees when he returns on September 16. Watch this space.
Friday I had lunch with David Bieda and Malcolm Bennett, who briefed me on the enormous problems that were expected in central London as a result of the alcohol free-for-all in the Licencing Act. We tried hard to improve it and succeeded with a few amendments in the Lords, but they were all reversed when the Bill got to the Commons. When you consider the enormous damage caused by alcohol, its just unbelievable that Governments have allowed the situation to get steadily worse, by loosening planning restrictions, extending the permitted hours of drinking, and letting alcohol become steadily cheaper relative to disposable incomes. In a recent Sheffield University study (www.dh.gov.uk/prod_consum_dh/groups/dh_digitalassets/documents/digitalasset/dh_091366.pdf) it is estimated that a 10% increase in the price of drink would mean 50,000 fewer hospital admissions a year, plus corresponding benefits in crime reduction, reduces absenteeism and improved quality of life. If the increase is brought about by higher taxes, the exchequer would get a boost of £1 1/2 billion a year on top of reduced public spending on health, crime, the justice system and social work. Its a no-brainer when the next government tries to balance the books.