Monthly Archives: March 2018

Ageing Bit by Bit

I was tempted to title the blog Stiff Little Fingers. This would be accurate as far as my arthritis goes, but might raise false hopes in the hearts of ageing punks. I added the link as it’s one of those words that can cause confusion when written by an Englishman and read by an American.

What happened to suggest the title was that I went to bed last night, slept reasonably well and woke up with a little finger that wouldn’t bend. It’s ached for years, and often seems rather cold compared to the other fingers on that hand, but so does the little finger on my other hand.

I now have a ring finger on the right hand that is arthritic and a little finger on the left hand that looks like it’s starting to go.

It freed up while I was at work (sorting junk postcards this morning) though it returned in the afternoon when I drove to Grantham (I only did a half day in the shop today).

So, it started with one finger (I would link to that post but can’t even hazard a guess where it is), moved on to a knee and is now colonising another finger. At this rate I have about twenty years before all my fingers are useless. (Though if my calculations are accurate I will spend my late 70s only able to type slowly and operate doorbells).

As I’ve said before, I’d have taken more care of my body if I’d realised how long I was going to need it.

No Snow!

After a day of lying in, with the covers pulled up to my chin and the polar weather well and truly ignored, I rose to find things were considerably less snowy than when I’d gone to bed.

In fact, after all the hype, and all my moaning most of it had gone.

I then went shopping, took a few photos, moaned internally about idiots in TESCO and spent too much on groceries. I could go into greater detail about the idiots in TESCO as there was a particularly fine crop today, including one wearing a Bluetooth headset.

It bears repeating, and I have repeated it, I confess, that there is little difference between someone talking to a Bluetooth headset and someone talking to themselves in the manner of a burbling idiot.

There were also several sets of giggling girls and even one fully grown woman who seemed to be letting her sense of humour gain the upper hand. I checked my clothing for malfunctions and comic notes but couldn’t find anything so can only assume there is something hysterically funny about shopping. I’ve never noticed it myself, but it takes all sorts.

After that it was off to pick Julia up and watch a BMW getting stuck in a very small patch of snow. I’d gone through the patch without really noticing it, turned round and parked ready to pick Julia up. The BMW followed a short while after and spent some time spinning his wheels before reversing and trying again.


It is so tempting to be sarcastic here – but I’m better than that. Oh yes, I am.

In the evening I had another senior moment. I selected potatoes for baking, pricked the skins, put them in the oven and went to watch TV with Julia. If only I’d switched the oven on…

What a difference a day makes...

What a difference a day makes…

The news says it’s going to freeze overnight, so it’s fortunate that there isn’t much snow left. That and the two kilos of salt I put down outside the house should prevent too many problems.



The Council doesn’t seem to have gritted last night, with the result that the roads are worse than they were during the last snow.  Everyone knew it was coming, apart, it seems, from the man who arranges the gritting.



This was the picture at 5.30 this morning. After a Saturday of snow flurries it finally started to settle overnight and was completely white by morning. We have four inches, which hardly qualifies as snow in some countries, but is big news in the UK, particularly in March. The TV weather report has just claimed six inches for Nottingham, so it may be worse in places.

What I really want is some warm Spring weather and a few flower pictures. There are plenty of flowers coming out, but it always seems to be a grey day when I have a chance for photography.

The outlook isn’t too bad, though I’m not sure how good it will be by the end of the day when I go to pick Julia up. The TV weather reports keep telling us where the snow will appear during the day, but is a bit short on information about when ours will melt.


Snow in Sherwood, Notts

I’m beginning to see mental pictures of Vladimir Putin as Ming the Merciless in the film Flash Gordon. As I recall, it starts with an outbreak of bad weather caused by and evil, bald mega-villain.

Image result for ming the merciless

Normally I use my own photos, but I’m short of galactic supervillains so I’ve sourced one on the internet. I’m hoping that by giving a link to the film they will forgive me for lifting the photo.

This is the “After” photo, taken in the light after I got home. Time to blog and eat breakfast now.



Back to Blogging

It snowed today. Again.

The other news for the day is that after a break of six days I am back to blogging. Has it really been 6 days?

It started with a hectic night. As it approached midnight I was still busy and decided I’d miss a night rather than just throw a few words at the page. Next night it was easier not to write a post and suddenly not writing blog posts became the new norm.

When the kids used to attend a dojo regularly to train in aikido the instructors always used to say that it only takes two weeks to break a habit. From what I’ve seen in the last week, you can probably break a habit in three days.

I was surprised that, after a thousand posts, I could just stop, though I think there were other factors at work. In the past it’s really annoyed me to miss a post, but this time it was actually a relief. Part of the problem, I think, was that I’ve been finding it difficult to adjust to regular employment, For twenty-five years I’ve been used to planning my own time and making my own decisions (apart from the ones Julia takes for me) and it’s a bit tricky adjusting.

I’ve also been adjusting to new, repetitive, tasks in cramped conditions, which seems to have brought on a new crop of aches and pains. Six hours a day moving coins round may not seem the most onerous of jobs, but the weight mounts up. Honestly.

After a week sorting pennies (we had nearly a ton of pennies to sort this week) and counting  foreign currency, I’ve shifted a fair amount of weight. Much of it has been moved whilst sitting in unsuitably hunched positions. We also bought in a large quantity of modern 50 pence pieces, including two of the famous Kew Gardens coins.


The new shop may have more room than the old one but it still isn’t built for comfort. However, it’s a lot better than the old one, and BT may, just possibly, connect the internet sometime soon…

Our other problem is that, with a shared front door people think we are closed, and several have gone into the Indian Takeaway by mistake. You would think the presence of a menu, and absence of coins, would give them a clue, but one spent nearly five minutes in there.


Next week we are going to buy a sign that days “Open”.


Sifting Through History

It was an interesting day yesterday, starting with sorting out several boxes of Royal Mint proof sets. It moved on to refilling the decimal coin albums – the £2s, the £1s and the 50 pences. You can’t knock it, because it’s getting people involved in coin collecting and going through the change in their pockets. That’s how I started.

Collectable decimal coins – one of the mainstays of the shop. The 1807 is the two pound coin that supposedly has the rare variety. It doesn’t.

The first coins that ever interested me were farthings. We had a few at home in the early 1960s, just after they were discontinued. They were small neat coins, with a picture of a Wren on the back. A few years later my grandfather gave me one dated 1901. It had the veiled head of Queen Victoria on one side and, wonder of wonders, the figure of Britannia on the back. I was amazed.

I suppose in the days when we only had two black-and-white TV channels and no internet it was easier to be amazed.

There’s a little more to the farthing than the Wiki entry suggests, they actually date back to the days when silver pennies were cut into quarters (or fourthings) but it’s a good summary of the farthings I’m talking about.

By 1968 I had moved on and bought a book. That told me that it was still possible to get Churchill Crowns from the bank at face value (5 shillings, or 25 pence) and that they would be a good investement for the future. I asked my mother to get me four. Fifty years later they are worth their face value when we buy them in. You see them at all sorts of prices on ebay and antique centres, but that is just proof of either ignorance or greed.  A cupro-nickel crown from the 60s, 70s or 80s is not an expensive coin, and as I noted the other day, we just sorted a thousand for export. The fact that we were able to put together a thousand (and still have plenty left) may be a clue as to how well they sell, even though we are only looking for pennies of profit. It’s a rare week when we don’t buy twenty or thirty. And an even rarer week when we sell one to the public.


Cupro-nickel crowns commemorating the silver wedding of the Queen and Prince Phillip

Although I didn’t continue with coins, I did continue collecting, which is a long, long story.

Meanwhile, back at the shop, I was allowed to look through a couple of boxes of junk that we have bought from the estate of a deceased dealer. This is the sobering side of dealing in collectables, when you end up with the stuff of someone you’ve known for years.

Coronation medallet of William IV (1831) – an interesting piece of history from the junk box

Apart from being a practical demonstration of mortality it’s also a lesson that everyone, no matter how well organised they seem, has an accumulation of bits and pieces lurking around at the back of their life.

Peninsula War victories of the Duke of Wellington. It’s a bit worn, but so am I, and I’m a lot younger.

A Misty Morning and Thoughts of Mortality

It was, as the title suggestd, misty this morning. Due to Julia’s start time it was also dark, so there was no photo-opportunity. I may try again later.

Mist, which can be a nuisance on a long trip, is always welcome at this time of year because it tells me that Spring is coming. There’s a fine line between yearning for Spring and wishing your life away. and this year is probably the first time I’ve felt this quite so sharply. The last twelve months has made me focus on health, age and mortality in a way I’ve never done before.

It’s also the first year where I’ve been so aware that there’s more to winter than crisp mornings and a nip in the air. This year I’ve had to worry about falling and  the fact that I need to keep warm. O;d people die in winter, and I’ve been feeling old. In fact I’ve been feeling Very Old for the last few weeks as all my joints seems to have turned up the pain setting. If I was youmger I’d insert a Spinal Tap reference here about the pain levels being turned up to eleven. But I’m old. So I won’t.

They used to say that one of the signs of old age was that the policemen were looking younger. That happened ages ago, and didn’t really bother me. My personal milestone, is that Life Peers seem to be getting younger. I’ve added a link for readers who aren’t familiar with the UK’s constitution arrangements but, frankly, it doesn’t help.

All you need to know is that in the old days (basically from the dawn of time until 1958) if you worked hard, did your best and tried to be a useful member of society you would be allowed to wear yourself out and die.

If you added a layer of corruption, politics, back-stabbing, lick-spittling and (often) cash to that , you could become a Peer. In fact, let’s face it, if you did enough of this, you could get by without the hard work, doing your best and being a useful member of society. If you look at the current crop of Peers it’s hard to see many that will be of any use until we have Soylent Green on the menu.  Having lied, cheated and bribed your way to the top you could then pass on your title to future generations of inbred offspring.

All this changed in 1958. After 1958 you were generally no longer allowed to pass it on, and there was more politics involved. Because if you want to improve something, adding more input from politicians really is the way to go, isn’t it?

Getting back to the point, Life Peers are looking younger. To add insult to injury, they also remind me of my lack of success as  they all look sleeker, richer and socially superior to me.



Currency, Collectables and a Coin Too Far…

First trip of the day was running Julia up to Worksop for a First Aid course.

It was a lovely morning, with sunlight streaming through trees in Sherwood Forest and illuminating the mist with rays of golden light. By the time I could find a parking space to take photographs the trees were too thick to admit light. By the time we found a better spot the mist had gone.

Just one more missed opportunity…

I misjudged the timing and was ten minutes late for work. I hate being late, though I’d warned them in advance as a precaution.

It was currency today.

I now know the difference between Latvian Lats and Lithuanian Litas. As they have both been superseded by the Euro, this knowledge is of limited use.

I also sorted the shekels and thought of alliterative ways of making sense of the rest of the accumulated foreign currency. I divvied up the Dirhams, divided the Dinar, ranked the Rand, realigned the rupees (Mauritian) and zoned the Zlotys. The Peruvian Sols were a step too far.

Having exhausted the entertainment possibilities of foreign currency I spent a while sorting Royal Mint coin sets by denomination and the size of the presentation pack.

It was a close run thing whether my will to live, or my supply of soul-destroying jobs would last longer.

Just one more coin could have tipped the balance.

The will to live and the supply of jobs were running neck and neck when the working day ended, and it was time to pick Julia up for an evening of Shepherd’s Pie and complaining about our days.

There was a hint of humour in the day when two customers managed to get lost entering the shop. They came through the first door then, instead of coming through the door with the bright, expensive sign, they turned into the Indian Takeaway.

You have to wonder how they managed to find us in the first place.


Do you think this sign is big enough?