Monthly Archives: October 2019

More thoughts of Kings…

With a nice early start we arrived at the gardens in plenty of time and two swans flew over us. They make a lot of noise when they fly. I imagine that it’s the noise of air and feathers meeting, though it does sound a bit like they are gasping for air.

I can still see them now, two glistening white swans silhouetted against a bright blue sky. You will have to imagine it because my camera was in my pocket at the time and I was not quick enough to get the shot.

The new polytunnel is looking good, though I’m sure the birds will soon have a go at it, as they did with the other one.

We remarked on the difference between the gardens now and the state of them when Julia took over. They now have two newly covered tunnels, piles of woodchip, good paths, better winter colour and a larger, more involved, group of users. She has more plans too, so let’s see how things develop over the next year or two.

She took this picture of the grape vine in the old tunnel. They don’t get many grapes but the autumn colour is always good.

Back at the shop I posted two coin sets on eBay and carried on with the Edward VIII collection. He reigned for 326 days. There have been seven monarchs who reigned for a shorter time than he did. Any guesses?

Here they are.

Harold II – 282 days – killed at Hastings

Edmund II (Ironside) – 221  days – worn out after five battles with Danes

Empress Matilda (or Maud) – 208 days – coronation prevented by the London mob

Edward V – 78 days – one of the Princes in the Tower

Edgar II – The Aetheling – 63 days – proclaimed King after Harold II – never reigned

Sweyn Forkbeard – 40 days – invaded England, became King, died.

Jane Grey – 9 days – if we’d kept her we might never have merged with Scotland.

Julia just shouted me through – chicken and roast vegetables tonight. On balance, I prefer chicken and roast vegetables to blogging.

 

 

 

The Insomniac Diaries

The clocks went back at the weekend, I’ve been getting more sleep and at 5am this morning the inevitable happened – my sleep levels overflowed and found I didn’t need any more.

Nature abhors a vacuum, as Aristotle said, and the space once filled with sleep was soon filled with worries. (I always thought that quote came from someone like Pope until I looked it up just now, strange how ideas develop over a lifetime and then turn out to be wrong.

He did, however, give us a little learning is a dangerous thing, which would tend to suggest that this blog could be fatal in the wrong hands, as Wikipedia and my education are both examples of ” little learning”. You need to study something like Classics at Oxford to be fully educated. Then you can become Prime Minister, like Boris Johnson.

I’m off to work now, but will leave you with that thought.

Whining Wednesday – Again

I had a letter from the hospital last week. In all the excitement I forgot to tell you. I now have two sorts of arthritis and two joints I’d never heard of before.

I have osteoarthritis, which I already knew without the help of a highly trained medical professional. I also have psoriatic arthritis. This adds a few symptoms (it is apparently the one that makes my fingers swell up) and is a pain to spell. This, as I think I’ve already mentioned, is particularly annoying as, due to a previous poor diagnosis, I’ve only just mastered the spelling of eczema.

There are a number of things I can do to help myself – according to the internet if I lose weight, cut down on fatty foods and sugar and eat more fish and fresh veg this will do me good.

At the moment I’m trying to think of anything that isn’t improved by following this advice. Unless you are allergic to fish and fresh veg this is general purpose dietary advice. It’s as useful as saying that if you want to live a long time you should breathe in, breathe out and remember to wake up every morning.

Incidentally, there’s a link on the internet telling you about the five foods to avoid if you have arthritis. Unfortunately it’s a film and they tell you what the foods are without showing you. This is no use to a  a man with no sound on his computer.

To add to my misery my computer has just started in that mode where it overwrites good stuff if you go back to edit. I forget what it’s called, and even worse, I don’t know how to switch it off.

We went for breakfast this morning. Julia paid. As I’m giving up my day off to act as her taxi driver while she supervises the fitting of a new sheet on the polytunnel, I think this is fair. It hasn’t improved my temper or my views on organisations that can’t organise relief staff, but at least I’m not hungry. After leaving the all I could eat breakfast before I filled myself to the earlobes I am in a good place – comfortably full with a warm glow that comes from having had value for money.

However, this doesn’t mean I’ve forgiven her.

It does mean that I had a good laugh with my food. A family arrived just as I was putting my crumpets through the toaster a second time. They immediately started getting in the way, though I was intrigued to find that the father, who had a lisp, called his son “son” at every opportunity. It’s good to see a man who faces up to a challenge and doesn’t let a speech impediment restrict his behaviour. On the other hand, I did wonder if they could have chosen a better name – it seems the kid is called Zachary.

And that’s not all. They made a big thing about being vegetarian, even down to asking if the vegan sausages were OK for vegetarians. I know vegans have to check if vegetarian food is OK for them but I’ve never heard an enquiry the other way. I started to harbour suspicions about the vegetarian credentials, and intelligence, of this family.

Then we got onto nuts. Was the breakfast suitable to sufferers of nut allergies. The answer was that the breakfast cereals may have had contact with nuts in the factory.

“Oh, that’s alright, a trace doesn’t matter.”

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t an allergy, an actual allergy rather than a fashion accessory allergy, life threatening and triggered by even a trace of the substance in question? I knew a bloke who was allergic to fish. He kissed his girlfriend after she had eaten fish several hours previously and ended up in hospital. That’s an allergy.

When you interrogate the serving staff about allergens and then say a trace doesn’t matter you are actually proving you don’t have an allergy, just a love of hearing your own voice. (As an aside here, I always try never to irritate anyone who will be alone with my food. I think this is a good policy.)

I’ll finish this subject here, as the next 200 words don’t really add much, apart from a heap of abuse about a woman seeking attention.

I’ll finish the post with my new joints. They were listed as SI joints, I’ve heard of SI Units and CV joints, but never SI joints. Turns out they are sacroiliac joints. I don’t really see the point of them, apart from holding my hips and back in place, which I’m sure could be done without extra joints, but, having read about them, I am now quite concerned. Fortunately, mine seem in good shape at the moment.

That’s the trouble with doctors, the more you see them , the more things get looked at until, eventually, you end up with a new problem. Since finding out I had sacroiliac joints I have had them in my thoughts every day.

Gold Medallion - Richard the Lionheart

Gold Medallion – Richard the Lionheart

 

The gold medallions are part of a series from the Cook Islands. They are 11mm in diameter and weigh half a gram.

When these Kings lived they didn’t know that the Cook Islands existed, but that doesn’t stop the Cook Islands and their relentless drive to make money from the international trade in over-priced numismatic items.

I’m sure these coins are all sold out, but have a look if you want to see the depths to which the coin trade has sunk. We had some, but I’m glad to say we sold them before I started work in the shop.

Real Men don’t use Switches

My computer has several idiosyncrasies, such as a missing On/Off switch, several pieces of missing software and a habit of randomly refusing to start. The switch was originally faulty rather than  missing, but where a faulty switch refuses to start the computer, a missing switch allows me to touch two wires together and get it going.

A faulty switch is a nuisance, but a missing switch is merely a cosmetic issue.

I’m not sure what happened to the software, but several years ago I started getting notices that things weren’t installing themselves on start-up. I tried reinstalling them and I tried letting the computer correct the fault. Neither approach worked. Now I just keep cancelling the attempts to reinstall and after thirty seconds of button pushing everything seems to work and the only fault is with some photo software. As the average computer seems to have several ways of coping with photos, this isn’t a problem.

Which gets us to the real point of this post. The computer refused to start tonight. It sat there on the table when I returned home and whirred into action when I hot-wired it, but there was little action. The green light on the DVD player flashed and the blue light by the main switch (or the space where it used to be) came on. There was even a gentle buzz, but the main flashing blue light and the expected sound of internal arrangements sliding into place were noticeably absent.

I administered a sharp tap to the casing, which always seems like it should work. It didn’t. Then I hit it with a book. Don’t judge me, I grew up when electrical goods were different.

Finally I switched it off and started again. How, you ask, as I have no switch and the computer wasn’t working enough to allow me to close down normally. Well, that’s where the power cord comes in. Or more accurately, gets unplugged.

It’s not quite as sophisticated as a switch, but it does stop the flow of electricity. There is the occasional crackle, suggesting that the power might be about to flow somewhere unwelcome but it hasn’t happened yet and if it does it might solve the atrial fibrillation so it’s not all bad.

When I plugged it back in it started at once and gave me the choice of starting normally or (the recommended method) letting the computer have a shot at fixing itself.

I tried the latter method and you know what? It just kept going and grunting and churning and telling me this could take several minutes and…eventually…repeating itself and not starting.

So I pulled the power cable again, started it up again, told it to start itself normally and a couple of minutes later I was in. That’s why I’m now able to write about the shortcomings of my computer and my troubles with technology.

We never had all these problems when TV was black and white and phones were attached to the wall.

The photo shows what happened in the shop a few weeks ago – leaving us staring at blue screens for ten minutes.

Shipwrecks, Spiders and Sweethearts

What a literary shop we are.

One shop assistant used to publish photos widely as Eddie the Bugman. Whatever I say about his inability to keep his hands off my stationery, there’s no doubting that the “genius” tag applied by several people is well-deserved. Unfortunately he’s stopped doing it at the moment.

The other shop assistant is of course, a slightly known blogger and poet of niche forms that most people have to look up, such as haibun and clerihews.

Finally, we have the proprietor, a man who once won an award for his article on serial numbers on Bank of England banknotes. In case you are suffering from insomnia I can reveal he’s recently been back to the archives and another sleep-inducing slab of text on early serial numbers is in progress.

Don’t worry, I’m not being hypocritical here, I’m actually less subtle when discussing them when he’s listening.

Fortunately he redeems himself with the odd article about medallions, numismatic curiosities and, in this month’s Coin News, an article about the shipwreck coins of the little known SS Elingamite. As a result of the article and, of course, this blog, it’s now better known.

The coin that started his search was from the childhood accumulation of an Australian, and it has the ship’s name and the date of the wreck engraved on it. When I find my photos I will show you.

In the meantime, the header picture is stamps and the others are a sweetheart brooch I bough off eBay last week – it’s the central part of the 56 Squadron Crest – the squadron Albert Ball and many others flew in, though the hallmarks are late WW2 period so Ball was long dead by that time. It’s smaller than the photos suggest, only about an inch wide.

Sweetheart Brooch 56 Squadron RAF

Sweetheart Brooch 56 Squadron RAF

Hallmark 56 Squadron RAF sweetheart

Hallmark 56 Squadron RAF sweetheart

Hallmarks are for Birmingham 1944 and the maker is Thomas Fattorini. You could write a book about the Fattorini family, but I will resist the temptation.

Autumn is Here

Last weekend I was still wondering what Autumn was doing. It seemed to be taking its time about arriving. After a week of feeling under the weather and labouring away in a windowless back room at the shop (where the window is concealed by blinds and the doors by chipboard) I hadn’t noticed much change.

You may ask why we have blinds on the windows – and I will tell you. It’s one of the owner’s special security features. He thinks if people can’t see in they won’t want to rob us. It’s also great if you like working in twilight, don’t mind being ambushed by people lurking outside the shop and don’t want customers to find you.

I once worked in a jewellers where the owner had a similar idea. He replaced the back door left by the previous tenant because it had a small window in it. This was a weak point in his eyes, though it deprived us of the ability to spot anyone lurking outside as we left the shop by the back door.

Imagine his surprise when the landlord asked him why he’d taken off a Post Office approved security door with bullet-proof glass window and replaced it with a lightweight household door with a bit of steel sheet screwed to it.

We are hoping to have the front doors re-glazed next week, which will make things lighter, remove the impression that we are under siege and stop people asking if we’ve been robbed.

I appreciate that they are either concerned or curious, but it’s becoming tedious have the same conversation day after day. We’ve even had several, including one who had never been in the shop before, wanting to discuss out new security measures.

Let’s just say that no robber will be able to get in and out of the shop in two minutes again.

Meanwhile, as Julia did the laundry, I went for a walk in Arnott Hill Park, had a look at the new sculpture and noticed that autumn had arrived. I’ll put the photos up now, and then I’ll go shopping.

More Trials and Tribulations

It’s my 30th wedding anniversary next week, as I may have mentioned.  I am married to a patient and forgiving woman with low standards in men. I am not sure if I have covered that before, but she certainly has. Last time she mentioned it was in relation to yesterday’s post.

It seems that if I’m the best that Western civilisation can mange it’s no wonder the world is in a mess. Amongst talk of male chauvinism, lazy stereotyping and Les Dawson (who was a well-upholstered British comedian with a great repertoire of mother-in-law jokes) it emerged that she felt I had slandered her in relation to snoring.

If I had my time over again I will resist the urge to explain that it was libel, not slander. It did not really help. Accuracy, it seems, is not always appreciated.

Fortunately, I have managed, by a mix of low cunning and good luck, to work out what to get Julia for a wedding anniversary present – perfume. I ordered it a couple of days ago from Amazon and it was delivered this afternoon.

Unfortunately,they didn’t deliver it to me.

They emailed this morning to say it would be delivered today, then again to say it had been left with a neighbour. I assumed that this meant it had been delivered to the home address despite me specifying the work address.

On my return home I found this wasn’t the case. There was no card through the door. So I checked on-line. They had delivered it to a neighbour of the shop, at 3.41, despite me being at work until 4.30.

I have just had a frustrating on-line “conversation” trying to find out how this could be. They are very apologetic, but short on facts.

I was very tempted to point out that if I wanted a bad parcel delivery service I would have engaged Hermes. In terms of poor service – slowness, half the parcel missing after a “security check”, theft and drivers cutting corners, Hermes are unequalled. I use them whenever I feel the need to have a delivery go unpredictably wrong. They rarely disappoint.

At least with Amazon it’s a one-stop situation – you buy from them direct and they even pack the soon-to-be-lost parcel for you. It saves time, but, to be honest, I do feel a certain loyalty to Hermes after all those hours chatting on the phone asking where my parcel is, or why my customer has just rung to complain half of it is missing.

There are, to be fair, other bad carriers apart from Hermes. You could give Parcelforce a try and, if you fancy a treat of a retro nature, move some goods by British Rail.

I will say no more. The anecdote about British Rail losing 400 day-old chicks is not very entertaining. Nor is the story of my marathon drive to track them down.

This is probably a good time to finish. More reused photos again as I keep leaving my camera at work. THey are a reminder of summer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Small Tortoiseshell