Be Nice to Your Turkey This Christmas

1995 Robin stamp

A while ago I wrote that Henry Kissinger, Alistair Darling and Shane McGowan had died. Talking of which, The Pogues and Fairytale of New York look like they will be big this Christmas. It’s a Marmite sort of song – some people love it, some hate it. Whatever you think of it, you can’t deny it’s been successful in the UK. I’m told it’s not as popular elsewhere, but that’s their loss. It peaked at Number Two on its original lease. Some years ago, in a programme about the best singles that only made it to Number Two, it came second. However, it’s topped many other lists.

In the last few days Glenys Kinnock (politician, wife of a politician, mother of a politician), Denny Laine (Moody Blues and Wings) and Benjamin Zephaniah have all died. Lots of other people have died too, of course, but it’s human nature to harp on about celebrities and ignore wars.

Robin at Clumber, Nottinghamshire

Neil Kinnock, husband of Glenys, once had a speech plagiarised by Joe Biden. I didn’t know this until five minutes ago. It just shows the benefits of blogging.

Benjamin Zephaniah was three weeks older than me but more successful and better known. Eight weeks ago he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. This is a lesson on the fleeting nature of life, and why it may be a waste of time to do too much planning for my retirement.

He wrote a Christmas poem (what with him and The Pogues this is getting quite Festive, isn’t it?

It’s here if you want to read it. Now you can see where my title came from today.

Robin at Rufford Abbey

A note on Robins – they are a very festive bird, but unlike a turkey they won’t feed a family of four with some left over for sandwiches.

Too Cold to Work



It’s been a bit chilly this afternoon, so I spent it in front of the fire in the front room. Winter, I’m afraid, tends to depress my productivity. I have up to ten submissions to make this month and so far I’ve not made much impact. Being laid up for two weeks with the infection took some of the wind out of my sails and laziness did the rest. Really, I should be doing better than this and getting ahead.

I’ve had several bits published, including this. I’m near the foot of the list of contributors and you  can click the Simon Wilson link, or you can scroll down to page 53. I’ve also had a magazine with me in it, but no internet version. As usual I will let them have it for a month or so before quoting the poems. Or I may just forget about them – they are only average. The one I’ve supplied the link for is only average too, so don’t get your hopes up – just another tale of middle aged people (who am I kidding? we are elderly people) emptying out a garage (which, to be fair, is more a plan than an actual achievement).

Some people get out into nature, or world events. I write poems that take place in my back garden. I could probably produce a chapbook of poems from the garden.

A new book arrived today, which I am enjoying. I’m reading bits at random – it’s not the sort of book to go from beginning to end. It’s the Oxford Dictionary of Allusions in case you are wondering – a book of limited interest to most people, I admit.


I Remembered!


Julia takes Christmas more seriously than I do

I remembered what I couldn’t remember yesterday. I had a text in the morning telling me that they surgery had cancelled my blood test at short notice. This was annoying fo  number of reasons, including that I am already a week late after working Wednesday last week. My appointment had been for 8.20 (which wouldn’t have been my first choice to be honest) and they had no more appointments that day. So, feeling pessimistic, I rang the surgery to reschedule. I was number four in the queue, then three then two, then one . . .

Whoever was in front of me took ages. They must have been asking something very complicated. I stayed at Number One in the queue . . .

. . . and waited . . .

. . . and tried to keep cheerful whilst waiting, and as the tinny music played . . .

. . . and got through.

I was cheerful and polite and came away with an appointment for 11.40 this morning. It seemed they did have another appointment today after all, and at a much more convenient time.

Christmas in a Tin? See above.

As a result, I was able to stay in bed until 9.00 (clutching the new tartan duvet around my ears) and have bacon sandwich before pottering off, yielding blood at the second attempt and returning home.

I hve thoroughly enjoyed my day so far. It’s  little cold, and the screen was still iced up at 11.20 but  apart from that all is good.

I’ve also found my methotrexate tablets. I’ve missed a week and that really makes a difference in winter, but I found some when looking through my bag. At first I thought they were the ones I knew I had lost, but they aren’t, because the box is different. These are not the ones I know I have lost, these must be the ones that puzzled me a few months ago when I ran out unexpectedly. I must have taken them away with me when we went to Norfolk.

A Quercus Christmas

I am going to have to introduce a memory support system where I  use one big box for tablets, keep a diary and, as Derrick suggested, photograph stuff to remind me.

This, in answer to a question I asked earlier in the week, is when I admit I am getting old.

Imperfection is the essence of a handmade Christmas. I refer, of course, to the wreath rather than Julia, Mary Poppins, is practically perfect in every way. I pointed out that she looks very young in this photo. She pointed out that since this picture was taken she has had to put up with me for another eight years.

A Good Start and a Weak Finish

Pom-pom Christmas Wreath

Another day and another new experience. I ended up standing on the landing at 5 this morning, writing notes that came into my head after I got up during the night. I was back in bed after a trip to the bathroom when I half composed/half dreamed a new poem. Rather than lose it I got up, searched for paper (it would happen on a night when I had no notebook to hand, wouldn’t it?) and scrawled as much as I could remember on the back of an envelope.

Whether it will ever amount to anything I don’t know, but at least it’s there. I forget too much stuff and am determined to capture more of it, even if it does mean getting cold.

Mistletoe from eBay

We are closing in on Christmas and, as yet, I have done very little. The two shopping deliveries are booked, but that is all. I assume that we will be having turkey and all the trimmings but apart from that hve little idea about what we will be doing. It doesn’t really matter what I think because Julia always goes out and comes back with loads of things we don’t need just before the big day.

Meanwhile I can’t access my emails as BT is making changes. It’s all in aid of the “new and improved” service they will be offering. Ho, ho, ho . . .

I’ve been getting more and more annoyed with them ever since we changed our internet supply on the instructions of BT, then found that they were going to be providing me with a worse email system as a consequence. I’ve been with them ever since I went on the internet and don’t want to change as it will be quite complex to unravel some things, but it’s looking more and more like I will have to move.

Something else happened too, but I can’t recall what it was, so I will finish now and go to watch TV.


Ticking Off Another Day of Winter

Overnight, the snow disappeared, leaving only a few traces where it had been piled high. Todays twin motifs were rain and inappropriate driving techniques. I lost count of the number of people who seemed to ignore me as they turned across me or pushed in front of me. It would have been irritating on any day, but on a wet day with the faint possibility of a little remaining ice, it seemed to me like a day requiring more care rather than less. It ws much the same tonight. I can only guess that the fate of the Western world hinged on some of these people getting home, or that they are frightfully important and need that piece of road desperately.

Snowdrops at Ruddington

Alternatively I might be tempted to suggest that world is full of (Julia has suggested letting you pick your own word here as the one I wanted to use is, she feels, a little strong for family viewing).

It’s been quite  good day as Julia let me have two of my Christmas presents early. They are long-bodied, long sleeved thermal vests/T shirts. As a result there re no drafts around the middle regions and I have been nice and warm at work today despite sitting in  bit of a wind tunnel.

This is the bit I like about winter, being warm. And inside.

Grape Hyacinths

Next year I intend hibernating. I will have no job, a bungalow and the ability to shop on the internet. I can shut the door on 1st December and not go out again until April. This will also allow me to be reclusive. Warm, with an endless supply of tinned food and daytime TV and no need to talk to anyone apart from Julia – sounds good to me.

The header picture reminds me that Friday night’s frost killed the last marigold and finished the fuchsia off – now I must look forward to snowdrops and grape hyacinths.

Irises at Wilford


Snow and Disappointment

I’ve just written 600 words about why world politics stink and why I should stop watching the news. I’m not stupid enough to publish it as this is not a serious blog, but I’ve got it out of my system and feel able to start blogging properly again.

Offer me the right money and I will write anything you want. With this sort of cash behind me I won’t mind becoming embroiled in political arguments.

Boots in the snow

Meanwhile, I have snow to worry about. The weather forecast promised me several frost-free days with no need to cover my car windscreen overnight. This is good, as I haven’t liked our frosty mornings recently – it’s a nuisance to defrost the car and our road, rarely seeing sun in the winter, tends to polish up like a skating rink in frosty conditions.

At three this morning, up and about and heading to the bathroom, I noticed that the night seemed quiet and the world seemed rather light. Peering round the bathroom blind i found, to my surprise, that it had snowed. The day has failed to provide the promised temperatures above freezing and everything is much the same as it was at 3am.

Magpie in the snow

The weather forecasting in this country really is getting worse, and it isn’t because of lack of funding or government ineptitude,  it’s because we have so many people doing it – the BBC for instance, recently moved away from using the Met Office and uses a private company. Bad move, I reckon. We are moving away from science into opinion. The BBC saves several million to make TV, but that goes nowhere when you see the costs, and I end up badly misinformed about the weather. I don’t expect much from politicians, but it feels really bad to be let down by the BBC.

Snow in Sherwood – though not much

When Did You Notice You Were Getting Old?

Angel of the North

The question in the title assumes that (a) you are old and (b) you consider that things are changing. If you are young or defying the mathematics of increasing birthdays then this probably not a post you will identify with.

I first noticed I was changing when, making my way home from work one evening, I was pottering along Derby ring road, contemplating a wasted day and looking forward to the pleasures of being jumped on by kids and arguing about bedtimes. At that point a young woman driver overtook me whist gesticulating. I had not done anything wrong, but she didn’t think I was moving fast enough. At that point I realised that I would have to make way for a new generation of impatient and ambitious young people. I was probably about 35 at the time.

Bond, James Bond . . .

A few years later, I fell and hurt my knee. Going to see the doctor because it wasn’t clearing up I was told “You can’t expect to heal as fast at your age.”

Then there was my first prostate exam. It’s not something that happens to young people. I’ve never felt the same about the sound of snapping latex gloves since then. I can’t even face the prospect of wearing Marigolds for washing up.

Then we move forward to the nurse who spoke to me in baby talk. I was in my mid-fifties at the time and wasn’t aware I was projecting signs of being in my dotage.

It’s been steadily downhill since then, with various ailments and senior moments. The latest two senior moments relate to internet shopping. I was altering the order for Saturday (tomorrow) when I realised I wasn’t. I had gone on the wrong order and was altering the order for 23rd December, which explained why it wasn’t quite how I remembered it. Of course, I’ve told you this before. I’ve been repeating myself for some years now – it’s another part of growing old. What I didn’t tell you was that Saturday (tomorrow) order was actually for 1st December. That’s today. I found that out this morning. At first I wondered why they had  sent my notifications a day early, then it dawned on me.

O is for Oak Tree (also known as Quercus Robur)

I find I’m slower on the uptake these days too.

Pictures are from the A-Z 10p set. It’s supposed to reflect Britishness, but there’s a distinct lack of grumpy old men, lying politicians and snowflakes.

There are other 10p coins, but that’s enough for now.

Cold but Interesting

This morning, after a very cold typing session last night, I decided to start my post when I arrived at work. It didn’t happen, because I found things to do and my attention drifted. I was about to start again while the owner was across at the Post Office, but that didn’t work because a coin collection came int the shop. It was accompanied by an ex-coin collector, just in case you were worrying about what it was doing out on its own, and I ended up looking through that instead of writing. Can’t complain, however, as it is what I’m paid for.

I’m now taking advantage of a lull to write again, and can’t think of much to say.

We have bought two coin collections today, and sold a total 15 items to nine people. Two of the items were books. Two were Roman coins. One was a very nice Victorian medallion. One was a Saxon penny. In terms of quality Numismatics, that’s more than we normally sell in an average week. The rest of the stuff was modern, though there were a couple of highly priced bits. If they are expensive I can forgive them being modern.

Hedd Wynn – forgotten war poet. You really needed to be English and posh to be remembered.

One of the modern bits was an Isle of Man Christmas 50p depicting T E Brown. Who? I hear you say. T E Brown, the Manx National Poet. I’ll forgive a coin many things if it depicts a poet. I can only think of one other, which I have used before – the £5 Fern Hill Dylan Thomas coin. The one that makes him look like  popeyed lunatic. I’ve just searched for it, but can’t find it. A quick Google search reveals that we have had a coin to commemorate Robert Burns and another to commemorate the end of the Great War which featured lines from Wilfred Owen. There’s also  5 ounce silver coin using lines from Rupert Brooke, but if it’s five ounces of silver I don’t count it as a coin. And I’m not keen on Brooke either.

Finally, there has been a drastic thinning of celebrities today. The first was Alastair Darling, Gordon Brown’s Chancellor – someone told me about him this afternoon. 70. Cancer. It’s no age.  Then Shane McGowan from The Pogues. He was 65 and I’m surprised he lasted that long. Finally, Henry Kissinger has died at 100. I’m sure it’s a matter of great sadness to his family, but 100 doesn’t seem too bad.

It’s a bit like the day Kennedy died. Nobody remembers that C S Lewis and Aldous Huxley died on the same day. I wonder who will be most remembered for dying in this group? Clearly Kissinger was most famous, but my money is on McGowan. Politics will take you so far, but music really lasts.

So does poetry – hence the pictures today.


Vaccination and Internet Shopping

It was a reasonable day at the shop and Julia arrived around 3pm with a box of mince pies. We had already had date and banana cake provided by the owner’s wife, so it was a Great Cake Day.

We closed early and consequently turned up for our vaccinations 45 minutes before the appointment time. They agreed to do us early and we were duly seen and punctured. We waited a few minutes, felt fine and set off for the next appointment, which was Julia’s meeting. Because we were early we found it easier to travel and, as my memory of side streets returned, I ws able to slip through town, drop Julia off and get home without too much queuing.

Heron at Arnot Hill Park

She eventually returned to find me snoring in a chair. And they say romance is dead . . .

I just amended the Friday shopping order. It seemed wrong in several ways – things missing that I was sure I had ordered and things on the list I thought I’d decided not to order. I thought it must be a case of sloppy button pushing, but when I went to check out it turns out that I’d been amending the 23rd December order, not the 1st December order. This is irksome but a very 1st World problem. I have plenty of time to do the Christmas order.

Wooden man at Arnot Hill Park, Arnold

What does worry me is that the two orders were so similar that I didn’t notice I was in the wrong one. They do say that shopping online makes you order a much narrower range of items, which is a bad thing as you need variety. It’s a problem I will have to address in future orders.

That is enough for now – time for a cup of tea, a bit of TV and an early night with a hot water bottle. I put the cover on my windscreen so am feeling a little smug regarding the issue of frost tonight.

Heron woodcarving – Arnot Hill Park

Things Not to Talk About

I haven’t got a clue what I’m going to write about. There is so much to discuss but by the time I’ve filtered out the politics and the stories that are not mine to tell there is less to say. When I also remove the subjects I’ve already done to death I’m left with very little to work with.

It’s COVID vaccination day tomorrow. Because I’m working it’s less convenient than normal, though it has to be said that all the COVID vaccination venues are less convenient than they have been. It’s mostly pharmacies now, but unfortunately my local one doesn’t do it.

Greylag Goose Arnot Hill Park Arnold

Julia will be coming to the shop and we are going together. I’m then running her into town as she has a meeting to go to. There may be no rest for the wicked, but there’s not much for people who volunteer either. She is in the process of stepping down as Chair, as we prepare for moving house.

There was something at the back of my mind, but I can’t think what it was. This used to be a sign that it wasn’t important, but now it’s a sign that I have a bad memory.  I just remembered what it was . . .

Red Crested Pochard – Arnot Hill

The Elgin Marbles are back in the news. It’s a story that has run all my life and one that gets new life breathed into it every time the Greek Government needs to divert attention from something. I’m going to mention it so the fictional future PhD student who uses my blog for historical research will have something to write about. I will also mention the Falkland Islands and the new Argentinian Government, because that falls into the same category.

I’m developing a though. Why, instead of keeping all his stuff that people want, don’t we just give it all back, but insist hey take he rest of the country too. That way, all the people who complain about he way our government runs hings, can see how another government would do it better. Apart from sunshine I don’t thing either of them has much to offer, and they don’t actually own the sunshine.

Pochard – Arnot Hill

Incidentally, on the news this morning it announced that in many parts of Europe (Norway, Svalbard etc) the sun has gone down for the winter. Svalbard won’t see the sun again until February.