“What do you think about the current state of the world and, more especially, Britain?” I asked her. She pulled a face and sighed: “It’s not good.”
That may go down as the under-statement of the year, even for one who, like me, was brought up in the shadow of 1930s unemployment and the Second World War.
We have wasted more than two years on “negotiating” with a Brussels that reminds me ever more of East Germany. East Germans were shot for trying to cross the Berlin Wall. Now, it seems, we must not be allowed to leave the EU with impunity. And the stiffer the punishment, the better.
With all this charade over leaving, the EU’s crumbling institution has continued while Britain has torn itself apart politically over the issue.
We, therefore, need a clean break from the EU next March so that we can concentrate on improving the essentials of national life for the benefit of all citizens who want to prosper and advance.
The first priority on recovering our sovereignty is to rebuild national pride. That presents a real challenge with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his miserable crew hating our history and our present democracy.
But the majority of people in this country want reason to be proud of being British. The Tories and other moderates should give it to them with a fierce assault on Corbynista values.
Corbynites must no longer be allowed – along with the politically correct – to get away with their negativism. For too long moderates – perhaps because they are moderate – have allowed the hard Left to denigrate Britain. There is another case to be put and, given the hard Left’s use of social media, it must be put insistently.
But moderates will carry less than conviction if the Government is not seen to be working hard on the repair of the nation’s moral and physical fibre.
Here the agenda is massive because of continued political neglect, exacerbated by the EU, of our social and economic fabric – the NHS, welfare of the elderly, the education system, law and order right through from police forces to courts, transport, housing, defence, inexcusable lousy service, executive greed and the corporate tax scandal, and the control of immigration and what is required of immigrants – namely, the observance of our laws and integration.
We shall never be Great Britain again if we are effectively two nations – one British and the other resolutely alien.
You may have noticed that I have not yet mentioned the economy. This is crucial to the recovery of our national pride and performance.
The Remainers’ Project Fear may seem a complete failure since the economy has the lowest unemployment for 40 years, record employment and steady growth. But we can never guarantee its continuing in a globalised world, especially with Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin around. We have to work for it – and hard.
Our productivity is not healthy, yet no politician states the obvious: we must work harder as well as invest in technology.
We must also pay our way in the world. We are still not doing so 10 years after the last international crash. Our budget deficit may be a fifth of the £153bn disgracefully left by Gordon Brown. But it is still at best £30bn and the national debt is soaring by the minute beyond £1.8 trillion.
We cannot build a great nation on debt – least of all by loading it on to our grandchildren. That is frankly immoral and demonstrates the sheer moral and intellectual emptiness of the Corbynistas.
Our status in the world will, as ever, depend on our performance at home. But we have to demonstrate our determination to preserve our way of life against potential enemies. That means we have to make the likes of Putin sit up and take notice through effective peaceful action rather than allowing them to call our bluff.
From all this, you will conclude that this old codger thinks we have had it too good for too long and have grown lazy and careless in our conduct.
My granddaughter – and all our grandchildren – deserve better, provided they, too, work at it. I am afraid that, as one brought up to leave the world better than I found it, I have so far failed my grandchildren’s generation.