A Crowd of Customers and the Laws of Chance

We opened at 10.00 this morning, the phone went at 10.01 and two elderly gents walked in at 10.02 with three bags of coins. One wanted to sell coin.

Meanwhile. his friend wanted to look at postcards, which involved finding various boxes and albums for him. We need to get organised when we move shops. Two shop assistants, two customers. So far, so good.

Then a lady came in to sell some silver, banknotes, coins and medals. It was a shame about the medals, as they had no paperwork or photographs with them. He saw service in the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific with the Royal Navy during the war, but without extra details or medals with names on, all the history is lost.

So that was two assistants and three customers. Then a regular customer came and wanted to look at coins. The phone kept ringing with enquiries. Then two more people came in with things to sell…

Two assistants, six customers. It’s not ideal, as you can’t leave people hanging round too long, particularly if you want to take money off them, but you can’t do three jobs at the same time.

Eventually we managed to finish, and everyone seemed happy. I wasn’t even rude to anyone on the phone, though it was touch and go at times. It wasn’t the subject matter, it was the fact that they all start with a similar, lengthy, preamble, which you can do without when you have a full shop.

I don’t mind the fact that most questions are about “rare” coins: the laws of chance dictate that one day it really will be a rare coin or an interesting medal.

It really will.

 

The Death of Good Intentions

I had planned on a day of activity, relying on lists and time management and getting a lot of things done.

What I actually delivered was a day of sitting in front of the TV with a laptop, a book, a cup of tea and a box of paracetamol. This could still have quite productive, but after two nights of disturbed sleep, I managed to nap through large portions of the day. I also watched quite a lot of curling.

It can be tricky to differentiate between napping and watching curling.

Both our men and our women are clawing their way back from the brink of oblivion after poor starts. I think we must practice poor starts, we do it so well. Anyway, all we need to do is win…zzz…

Sorry, must have dozed off.

There was some ice hockey too, which is more exciting, unless you want to support Team GB. Our men haven’t qualified since 1948 and the women have never qualified, though they did once beat South Africa 27-0. I’m guessing that excellence in ice hockey may be linked to the natural availability of ice in a country.

I’m too tired for a witty, meaningful or well-crafted ending, so I’ll just say goodnight and post a squirrel on a bin photo. I’ve used it before but it makes me smile.

 

Reflections on Knitwear, Quinoa and Ice Hockey

It’s been a mixed day, but at least I’m back on the blog and feeling enthusiastic. I even took some video of clothes going round in the washing machine. It’s not very exciting – the excitement came later when I emptied the machine containing six of Julia’s jumpers. It turned out that the spin cycle wasn’t up to much on that machine and I ended up with seven wet jumpers (my contribution being a modest single item), a pool of water on the floor and, it later turned out, a drier that wasn’t up to the job.

I won’t bore you with the video. Partly out of consideration for my valued readers, but mainly because I can’t get it to download properly.

The damp jumpers are currently draped over a variety of convenient items in the bathroom.

I think we need to have a talk about knitwear. Why one small woman needs her own bodyweight in knitted garments I really don’t know.

I’m going to start going to the laundry later – it can be quite hectic at 8am as we all try to get in before the rush, but at 10am it was empty again and quite relaxing. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to rush, despite all the talk of eating frogs.

You can take pictures when nobody is there.

After writing a menu for the week, which is going to be healthier and better structured than I’ve been managing recently, I then went shopping.  It was a special day today, with everything set up to make it difficult for a man having a bad joint day.

One of the doors is still jammed, people seemed to be targeting me like something in a chariot race and then the trolley wouldn’t release the £1 coin. I’m seriously thinking of writing a letter so TESCO can ignore me.

I also noted some unusual items in the bins they use for collecting for the Food Bank. Quinoa and Couscous?

Don’t get me wrong – people using food banks deserve good food, but I’m a little sceptical that there are many eaters of Quinoa and Couscous amongst the typical users of food banks. Some collection points specify the types of goods they want, and I’ve never seen either of these on the list. They aren’t generally on my list either, but this week I happened to buy both as I’m going to be eating healthier lunches.

By the time I finished shopping the light had gone so I went home to prepare red cabbage and put the gammon joint in the oven.

Finally, on looking at some internet pages relating to the Winter Olympics, I ended up looking at our medallists for the first Winter Olympics at Chamonix in 1924. We aren’t particularly good at winter sports and it took us from then until Sochi in 2014 to win four medals again – a gold, a silver and two bronzes. We’re currently on four again, a gold and three bronzes, so people are getting excited. My experience of British sport indicates we’re heading for disappointment yet again, but you never know, I may be wrong. Perhaps our famously unlucky speed skater might stay upright until the end of a race. Or perhaps not…

If she does, we will have to make a film of it. Disqualified three times at Sochi, crashed twice at Pyeongchang and has one last chance to fulfil her destiny. It would be brilliant if she did.

It would make a better story than the British Ice Hockey team at Chamonix. At least eight of the ten were Canadian, Wiki is silent on the place of birth of the remaining two, though I suspect they were probably Canadian too. Several of them had interesting careers, particularly Blaine Sexton. It’s an interesting link, particularly the picture of him in the uniform of the Windsor Swastikas, in the days when they were one of three teams using the name, and Swastikas were merely seen as interesting good luck charms.

I’ve always thought of  people swapping between nations as a symptom of the moral bankruptcy of modern sport. Looks like I was wrong.

 

 

 

Struggling with Time and Stupidity

I’m currently 80% of the way through Eat that Frog!, which is a time management book by a man called Brian Tracy. The book includes advice on time management, an autobiography that seems to indicate that he left school at the age of eleven to join the Merchant Navy, and an overworked metaphor about eating a frog. You probably worked that out that last bit from the title.

The idea is that if you had to eat a live frog every morning none of your other daily tasks would seem so bad.

My version Eat that Pickled Beetroot!, is even more gastronomically revolting, but less catchy as a title. I should imagine that it will be very popular with people who share my views on pickled beetroot but less so with people who like extended amphibian metaphors.

Of course,  if you are looking for a simple way to cut down on wasted time you might want to consider cutting out time spent reading books about time management. It’s similar to buying a book about decluttering, as I pointed out in a previous post when my sister did exactly that.

Things have been a bit quiet recently, and I’ve missed posting on the last two days. The truth is that I just ran out of words and enthusiasm. It was a combination of big subjects (gun control and OXFAM), more low-level illness and some jobs that needed doing more urgently than the world needed another blog post.

Instead of facing up to the challenge I decided to leave it alone.

I don’t suppose that 5,000,000 members of the NRA are remotely interested in what I think about gun control. Fair enough, as I’m not interested in what they have to say about grouse moors.

However, I can’t leave without suggesting that, although there are moral questions over the activities of some OXFAM workers, there is nothing in the actions of our MPs that suggest they are suitable to pass judgement on the morals of others.

 

“Rare” Coins and Dark Thoughts

It sometimes feels like we’re under siege in the shop.

Every day we get phone calls or personal callers with “rare coins” to sell. I don’t mind it if the coins are old (by which I mean pre-decimal) because there is at least some hope of something interesting cropping up. The “rare coins” that provoke me to thoughts of homicide are the ones that are reported as being rare in the press, on the internet,or, even worse, on ebay.

Recently we’ve had several reports of rare 2007 £2 coins. It’s a commemorative issue which marks the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire. The rarity is not in the coin itself (with a mintage of over 8,000,000 it’s actually reasonably common) but in the placement of the edge inscription.

The motto AM I NOT A MAN AND A BROTHER is impressed around the edge. According to the intellectual giants who stoke the hellish fires of rare coin “knowledge” the lettering should be right way up when the Queen’s head is uppermost. If it is upside down, the coin is the “rare” variety.

2007 £2 coin

2007 £2 coin – reverse

Now, this is where things start to come unstuck. The edge inscriptions are put on by a roller before the final striking and people who know about the process are happy that the inscription is going to land in accordance with the laws of chance – 50% will be right way up and 50% will be rare varieties worth £300 on ebay.

Or, to look at it another way, there is no rare variety. There’s also no evidence of one selling for £300 on ebay in the last month or so.

Turning to the actual prices realised on ebay, which are often very different from the fanciful figures put on the coins that don’t actually sell, I found one that sold  for £500, one for £102, one for £23, three for £20 and only two others in double figures.

Some people clearly shouldn’t be allowed on ebay without supervision.

Thirty three coins, after allowing for ebay fees, sold for £2 or less, with several selling for 99 pence.

That’s from a total of 155 sales in the last 6 weeks.

I will let the figures speak for themselves.

 

 

 

Thinking and Invention

I had some time to think today. Having changed blood testing days. and gone in earlier than usual,  I was surprised to find myself seventh in the queue. However, I used my time profitably and I’ve designed a new cycling suit for Tootlepedal. He had a fall from his bike recently and I think he needs some help from technology.

Basically, we are talking bubblewrap. You need something that is going to cushion a fall but not cause an unfortunate bounce, as rolling down a hill out of control is likely to do more damage than just falling flat on your face.

It will insulate him from cold and protect him from injury but will burst on impact without bouncing.

I have quite a lot of old bubblewrap put to one side, as I always think it will come in useful, so now all I need to do is ship it up to Scotland and get Mrs T to do the wrapping before she lets him out again.

I’m thinking that the ultimate development will be thermal bubblewrap underwear, and an appearance on Dragons’ Den. Hopefully I can persuade them to part with a large down payment and spend it on a Caribbean cruise before they catch up with me.

Next time I have a blood test to wait for I’m going to work on The Trolley Problem. It’s Number 6 on this list. I’m particularly keen on working out a solution to the part where they throw a fat man onto the tracks. It seems a touch unfair on the more portly amongst us (though I must obviously admit to a personal interest in the welfare of fat men).

However, it’s time for tea now. I made a fish pie last night, including dill, and I’m looking forward to eating it.  Philosophy is all very well, but fish pie is better.

Horse Blog Link

Here’s the link to the horse blog I mentioned on Sunday – Sense and Sentimentality.

Sorry it took me so long to find, I’m not very organised.

I have a number of horse-based stories from the Great War, which all confirm in my mind that it’s better to be shot at than be anywhere near a horse. However, it’s still an interesting subject, despite my misgivings.

Have a look – I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.