A short walk and a short post

This morning I took the car down to the garage for servicing and MOT and walked back. On the way I composed a haibun in my head. This afternoon I will make the reverse trip and return with a heavy heart and a light wallet. I will compose a lament on the drive back.

When I returned I carried on with the reading and replying that I started last night. I particularly enjoyed this one, which led to me finding this.

I have had a telephone consultation with a nurse practitioner at the Treatment Centre and she has ensnared me with another blood test. I thought I was free of them for a month or two. Ah well. My pills will be ready for me too. After that they will release me to the care of my GP. They haven’t been distinguished for their efficiency recently so I’m not looking forwards to this.

If you will excuse me, I really need to write down the haibun while it is still in my head. They do tend to melt away these days unless I am careful.

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Oak Tree – Quercus Robur

A single oak tree can support over 400 species – the most biodiverse plant in the UK.

How do you plan your time?

I’ve been home for four hours. In that time I’ve read and commented on 10 posts from four bloggers, spoken to my sister, washed up (yes, I know I’m a slob) and cooked. Tea is nearly ready, though I have exploded a baked potato in the oven.

It doesn’t seem a lot for four hours. I’m never going to become a world class poet at this rate. I’m not even going to become a mediocre poet at this rate as I haven’t written anything apart from a few notes today. Well, I did answer some work emails and load four items onto eBay, but there was a distinct lack of poetry associated with all that.

The most complicated word I used was iconic, which is almost obligatory these days if you are selling a Winston Churchill Medallion.

We had a chicken curry made with a spice kit last night – grilled marinaded chicken breasts with rice and yoghurt dressing. The chicken was good, though messy to prepare, but the rice was not impressive. I couldn’t actually detect any flavour in it, though that may have been my fault for using brown rise instead of white.

The yoghurt dressing was good to. Two out of three ain’t bad, as they say. Maybe I will make meatloaf later this week.

Tonight it was Cornish Pasty with beans and baked potato. It wasn’t sophisticated but I did enjoy it.

We had crumble for the last two nights, made with plums from the garden tree. I see Julia has brought some apples home today so I’m hoping for apple crumble later this week. Tomorrow we will probably have fried rice with courgettes. We have plenty of courgettes – green ones, yellow one and ones that think they are marrows.

The car is in for servicing and MOT tomorrow, which seems to get more expensive every year. If I’d had my MOT in July I would have been given a 6 month extension, but as it’s in August I have to have it as normal. Ah well, it’s the same the whole world over, ain’t that a blooming shame – it’s the rich wot gets the pleasure and the poor wot gets the blame. Or words to that effect.

A final thought – according to Waking up on the Wrong Side of 50 she has her blog posts planned out until 20th September. The woman must be a machine – I have a couple of ideas noted for future use, but when I started writing this I didn’t know what I was going to write about when I started and wasn’t sure how I was going to finish it.

How do you plan your blog?

 

selective focus photo of grey cat

Photo by Kirsten Bu00fchne on Pexels.com

I thought I’d use the cats again today as they are generally acceptable, and because I’m too lazy to find new shots.

Posted in Haste – Forgot the Title

I spent several hours in the country today, as you may have seen, recharging my batteries and taking photographs. They aren’t great photos, but I managed to come up with some writing inspiration, do some shopping and clear up some odds and ends.

One of the things I did was to visit a local supermarket to check on the recycling situation. The paper and cardboard bins are fenced off and the book bin has been tipped on it’s front to stop people using it. The clothing bin now has a notice on it saying that it is now ready to take donations. I’m not sure why the recycling industry came to a halt during lockdown, and I’m definitely confused by the fact that it remains in such a shambolic state.

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Bee on Honeysuckle

Our recycling bin at home, which is collected fortnightly, is sufficient for our ordinary recycling needs. We do, however, need something for clothing and textiles, and the books are building up.

Something I noticed today was that roadside litter bins are full, and rubbish is spilling on the floor. Again, I cannot see why lockdown is preventing these bins from being emptied.

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Field of Wheat – nearly ready

My quest for wildlife to photograph, was not particularly successful and the photos are an ordinary sort of selection, though one or two will be useful writing prompts.

I managed to get some general shots of the countryside, a few flowers and berries and a bee. I would have liked to have stopped for a shot of a barley field, but the verge I needed to park was already taken by a group of joggers who had parked and were warming up for their run.  Apart from that, there just wasn’t much to photograph.

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Fly on the Road

 

 

Signs of the Times

I’ve just had a cold sausage sandwich for lunch. It was made with seeded brown bread and Branston pickle. It was the second of the day as the first one had been so nice. The second was nicer, but I did feel guilty whilst eating it. I am, in case you hadn’t guessed, considering the idea of losing weight.

Earlier in the day I dropped Julia off at work, bought a new battery for my micrometer (better than a ruler for measuring coins and medallions), went to Hobbycraft to buy some art supplies for Julia and decided to have a ride in the countryside.

I selected the road between East Bridgford and Kneeton because it’s a pleasantly rural road which reminds me of the countryside where I grew up. Unfortunately the verges have been cut and it wasn’t a great day for plants and pollinators.

I did take some pictures of a bee and a few flies but that was about it. There were quite a lot of white butterflies about and one brown one, but nothing stopped long enough for a photo. Same goes for birds. Rural pigeons don’t sit still when people point things at them and apart from them a few swallows were the main birdlife, but again, they are a bit quick for an old man.

I will be back later to add more details and photos. Until then you can think on the curse of modern villages – the building of expensive homes that nobody local can afford. The posh new people who move in then start complaining about the noise and smells from farms. They think that the countryside is a massive playground when it’s really a factory with no roof.

This isn’t really a surprise as most of the newcomers think food comes from Waitrose rather than out of the ground.

I have just set my alarm to wake me when it is time to collect Julia. Based on last week my planned  “cup of tea in front of the TV” could be accompanied by closed eyes and snoring.

A Deep Distrust

I hate computers.

I’ve been having trouble getting information from Ancestry UK, which is why the Heeley article wasn’t as well researched as it could have been. I had cleared my cache/browsing history as recommended but was putting the other actions off, as messing with computers is always bad news.

Tonight I deactivated my browser extensions. No, I haven’t a clue what they are, why they are necessary or why I ever needed them if I can, it seems, do without them.

Then, as that didn’t work, I downloaded a new version of Chrome. Probably. I’m not sure there is a new version for those of us running XP or Vista.

Anyway, after a wild white-knuckle ride of button pressing and trepidation I still have a functioning computer. I still don’t have a functioning Ancestry site and I’m having to enter passwords every time I visit a site, but it’s mostly working so thank goodness for small mercies. I’ve attempted things with computers that have ended far less well than this.

I always say I’ll make regular back-ups and all that stuff but I never do. It’s a serious worry that all over the world nuclear missiles are being controlled by computers, and computers are in a perpetual state of decay.  It starts with a gradual slowing, moves on to shedding various functions, like Ancestry, and ends up launching a missile at someone who retaliates automatically and triggers Armageddon.

grayscale photo of explosion on the beach

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There is, of course, the possibility that computers hate me, which would explain a lot.

In an alternate universe, where they don’t trust computers they put the nuclear bombs under the care of highly trained teenage soldiers, who are likely to push the red button to see what happens. Or they may let computer geeks look after them. That’s unlikely to end well either.

While I’m here, did you know you can buy glow in the dark coins? I didn’t until someone asked if we wanted to buy one last week. We’ve had ones with copper from HMS Victory, bits of Avro Lancaster bomber and bits of meteorite embedded in them, even ascratch and sniff pizza coin, but never one that glowed in the dark.

They are advertised as “irradiated“, which is not the first word I would choose if I was trying to sell something. It’s close to “bubonic” and “carcinogenic” on the list of words you wouldn’t expect to see in an advert.

In the manner of these things, once I started looking I learned things I hadn’t realised I didn’t know. I had never heard of these, for instance.

Nudge nudge…

You may have noticed I didn’t post last night, though with so much activity on WP you probably didn’t notice. If you did notice, it’s possible that you remembered I posted recently on cutting back on my WP writing and thought, “Aha! He’s cutting back on his WP writing, just like he said he would.”

Of course, if you are one of the die-hard cynics that seem to congregate here, you may have thought “I bet he left it late then fell asleep in front of the TV”.

This goes to prove that, cynical as you may be, you aren’t incorrect.

I can’t remember what I was watching when I fell asleep, but by the time I woke up the TV had switched itself off. As the schedule seems to be full of rubbish, this was probably a good thing. In fact, considering the amount of rubbish on TV, it probably committed suicide out of shame.

We are still decluttering and more bags of books are on their way to the car. I emailed Oxfam to see about taking books in, and was told that I had to email the nearest shop to find out what the local policy was. They did offer to do it for me if necessary, but it seems an inefficient way of doing things.

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Bumblebee on Teasel

At the moment, having been given room to think, we have offered the books to one of Julia’s volunteers who does jumble sales and is currently running a local library service.

If you’ve ever read Inside the Nudge Unit you may recognise my behaviour – looks like I’m a case study from the Behavioural Insights Team.

In summary, if you want people to things for you, you make it easier, or less easy not to do. Governments do this by streamlining forms and by adding a reminder that most people pay their taxes on time. If you don’t want people to do things (like cancelling standing orders) you just add an extra step and that serves to put a lot of people off.

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Bumble bee on bramble flowers – Sherwood Forest

 

 

 

A Mystery Badge

I bought this from eBay last week. It was in a mixed lot, was badly titled and didn’t cost a fortune.

I assume from the mention of sacrifice that the name on the back belonged to a soldier killed in the Great War and a quick search of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website provides the name of  17433 Private Walter John Heeley of the 2nd battalion Coldstream Guards, who died on 30th November 1917.

Badge for Sacrifices made in the Great War
Badge for Sacrifices made in the Great War

He is buried in Gouzeaucourt New British Cemetery, France, Grave III. B. 4. Plot III was the original cemetery, which was started in November 1917. It originally held 55 burials but now contains 1,295 burials, of which 381 are unidentified. Some are from later fighting in the area but others are the result of post-war work in bringing in battlefield burials from the small plots where they were buried during and immediately after battle.

The story of the burial of the dead is a fascinating, complex and gruesome one. You can find more information here, though you may need a strong constitution.

On 30th November 1917, the Germans took the village as part of the fighting around Cambrai and the Guards Division was ordered to counter-attack. The 1st Guards Brigade, (consisting of the 1st and 2nd Coldstream Guards and the Irish Guards) was first on the scene. They formed up in an area masked by high ground and charged the village without waiting for reinforcements.

It was a military success, and it saved the British line. It was even mentioned in a poem – The Irish Guards – by Kipling, whose son John had been killed serving with the regiment in 1915. It wasn’t, unfortunately, such a success for Walter Heeley.

He was 26 years old and the husband of Rose Elsie Heeley, 42 Franchise St, Kidderminster. His parents were John Dennis Heeley and Rebecca Heeley, of Kidderminster.

In the UK he is commemorated on Kidderminster War Memorial. He also appears on the memorials of St John the Baptist Church. Kidderminster  and the Kidderminster Conservative and Unionist Club War Memorial.

The only other information I have gathered so far is that a number of these badges are known to men from Kidderminster who were killed in the war, but nobody seems to know who gave them out. Some are marked Mother’s Medal on the back. This one isn’t, suggesting that it was given to Heeley’s widow.

There is clearly still a lot of work for me to do.

 

Badge for Sacrifices made in the Great War -reverse

Badge for Sacrifices made in the Great War -reverse

Coppers, Cats and Chancers

Today we had eight customers and only one bothered to ring for an appointment. Even he rang before we were open and insisted on coming in at 10 am, before we were really ready for customers.

I’m going to stop answering the phone before we are open.

One of the others wasn’t even wearing a mask. When I asked him to put one on he told me he had one in the car. So I put one on the counter for him, which he ignored. However, as he was moving towards the door as he asked questions we replied and let him back out.

He had a silver Afghani wedding belt and a broken gold Rolex to sell. I looked the wedding belt up on Wikipedia, there’s a lot about Afghan jewellery but not much about the belts. It’s not really our sort of stuff.

photo of british shorthair cat sitting on grass field

Photo by Kirsten Bu00fchne on Pexels.com

We also try to avoid copy Rolex watches, whether broken or not. (If you’d seen him it wouldn’t have entered your mind that it was likely to be genuine either). There are a lot of narrow-faced chancers in our line, and the aura of mendacity lay heavy around him.

Chances are that if it’s a copy it isn’t gold either.

If, by any remote possibility, it is real it’s most likely stolen, and we don’t want that either.

I once bought a stolen item and it can get complicated. It was even more complicated because it was a police helmet and it had disappeared after being knocked of the wearers head in a scuffle in slab square.

It’s not unusual for used police helmets to come on the market, so it didn’t ring any alarm bells at the time. If you search “police helmets” on eBay there are 53 traditional British police helmets on the first two pages alone. That suggests there are about 300 helmets up for sale from the 600 items that come up on the search.

Such was my defence…

man in officer s uniform black standing during parade

Photo by Marianna on Pexels.com

I took the pictures from the Pexels site by searching for British Police. It turned up one useful photo of a British policeman and quite a few of cats – I think they are British Blues.

 

What’s Five Foot Four and Scares the Life out of Me?

After a day that alternated tedium with periods where I feared for my life, I am not quite sure what to write about.

I did think of a witty piece on the perils of being married but she’s been tidying all day, with regular pauses to snarl like a rabid badger, so I’m not going to risk that. I too have been tidying all day, but at a less frenetic pace. I have just put the vegetables in for tea and taken my chance to sneak to the computer while Julia is upstairs beating some poor junk into submission.

I am seriously thinking of making up one of those bundles on a stick that you used to see illustrated in kids’ books and running away to sea. My other choice, joining the French Foreign Legion under an assumed name, is not really a viable proposition for a man approaching his sell by date.

You have to be under 39½ on joining, and I don’t think hair dye and a cunningly doctored birth certificate are going to help me much with that. Apart from that I am amazingly eligible to join one of the toughest military units in the world. Their list of disqualifying medical conditions misses most of mine out and as long as I can meet the requirements of the BMI I only have the sports tests to do. Unfortunately, at the moment, I would need to be about fourteen feet tall for the BMI calculation to work.

This is probably too tall for a long and successful military career – it is usually felt to be a good thing if the soldier is shorter than the generally available cover.

Looks like I might just have to do what I’m told and offer her chocolate.

I saved two books on photography from the pile she gave me to throw out, so as from tomorrow you can expect better photos. For now I’m just going to chuck in a few old ones before returning to my roasting vegetables.

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Don’t be fooled by the smile…

 

That Tuesday Feeling

Now that I have Mondays off and my week starts on Tuesday, I find my thoughts about Mondays are increasingly positive and, after two days off, I am also more positive about Tuesdays and getting back to work.

From that point of view I can say that my week got off to a cheerful but belated start.

From the email point of view, I have to report less positive feelings. The recent improvements made to my email system have proved, as usual, to be cosmetic interference and the new system has not contributed to either a better experience or a better temper.

When I switch on now I can only see either two emails (on the netbook screen) or three emails if I use the proper computer. This is much less useful than the old system and I can’t find any way to reset it.

At the weekend I seem to have pressed a button by accident and rearranged my emails by some sort of random reverse date order. It wasn’t exactly reverse date order because I could have coped with that, but old emails kept coming to the top of the pile at random.

Today it seems to have reset the screen size and managed, initially, to prevent me viewing anything apart from fragments of one email title.

This left me with a decision. Do I blog on the Great Classic Lies (‘new and improved’ for instance) or do I blog about the rest of my day?

Or, as I have reached the magic 250 word limit, do I just show a couple of selfies showing you the new masks my sister has made me?

Man in another mask

Man in another mask

She has solved the early design problems by selecting a more masculine fabric and I feel the resulting masks would actually look good with a business suit. The same can’t be said of my head. The backlighting by fluorescent tubes reveals that my head needs a shave and a little theatrical make-up to remove the shine.

The new nose clip design cuts out most of the problems with misting glasses, which is a problem I still get when using a disposable mask.

Last night we had prawn jalfrezi made using a spice kit from Simply Cook. It was very good, despite me having the wrong coloured peppers and slightly wrinkled tomatoes from the back of the fridge.

Having made a mess of the pale blue and white shirt I wore yesterday, I am now reverting to shirts that don’t show food stains. I have an idea for a new fashion range using a red and brown colour palette and a pattern consisting of random blotches. The strap line for my advertising campaign – ‘A Shirt Made for Bachelors’.

The rest of Tuesday was pretty standard stuff. I did think about writing it asll down and leaving it as an historical document for future generations – Tedious Tuesdays – A Study of mid-week in 21st Century Britain – it would be like Diary of a Nobody, but without the drama. In the end I decided that as future generations have never harmed me, I would not inflict it on them.

Nearly forgot – my blood test results arrived in the post today. Yesterday’s blood test was bang on the bottom of the range, but still good enough to get me a new test date in October. That’s a good result.