It’s approaching 8.00am and I would normally be leaving the house, but today being a day off, I am typing. I waved my car off at 7.05, as the garage collected it and I now have a day to type and worry about the size of the car bill. I’m hungry but I can’t cook yet as Julia is having a lie in and if I cook the smell will make her want to get up and come down for breakfast. All in all, it’s a messy start to the day.
I’m very tempted by the idea of baked eggs, but I find they work best if kept simple, and as I also fancy the idea of bacon I’m in two minds about what to do.
The prospect through my writing window, is grey. If you told me this was March or November, I would believe you. Apart from the temperature, which is chilly but not actually cold, things are definitely unsummery. That should be a word – meaning disappointingly unlike summer, but not quite bad enough to put a jacket on. “Typical English summer” is often used in this context, meaning that it’s a disappointingly dull period where sunburn is a distant prospect, even for a nation of people who are inclined to expose too much blue/white flesh to the elements. The average English sunbather isn’t so much protected by sun oil as basted. There’s something about sunbathing Brits that always makes me think of pork crackling.
Note I am referring mainly to the English here, the Scots, according to popular belief, are even more delicate in matters of sun, and the Welsh exist in a semi-permanent miasma of mist and rain.
This, by the way, is my default setting. Leave any chimpanzee alone with a word-processor and they will eventually write Hamlet (or so they say). Leave the English alone with a keyboard and the topic soon turns to the weather . . .
Today I wrote my haiku in the morning, and managed 16 reasonably good ones against my target of ten.
I am now in day 68 of my Buson 100 and starting to feel that I’m gaining from it. The last week or two have been a bit difficult, but it’s getting easier now. It probably sound strange to talk about ten three line poems (probably not much more than 100 words in all) as being hard to write, but they are.
Over an hour ago I started writing this post, meaning to get it done so that I could, make tea and relax. This would, I thought, be a good way to ensure a quality post and a relaxing evening. So far, after several false starts, I have, as you can see, managed to do very little.
I finally got my submission to Wales Haiku Journal sent off, several days later than I intended. That brings me up to six submissions for June, which is one less than my record for May. I have had three acceptances and two rejections for May, with two pending. June has seen two acceptances, one rejection and I am still waiting on three decisions.
If you’d asked me a few years ago I would have said that most of a writer’s time is spent writing. That is incorrect, a lot of time is spent planning, talking, reading, worrying and counting. Particulalrly counting. In a moment I will have done 250 words and will have met my self-imposed minimum target for a blog post.
I came home, I did some reading, and took a call from the GP Practice Nurse who rang to nag me about various tests. It ended slightly uncomfortably when I pointed out, after a discussion about cholesterol, that she was trying to make me appear ill to satisfy some NHS agenda. We had the same sort of discussion a few years ago. I just have naturally low cholesterol. It’s due to my genetics, not to a a virtuous diet, but I do object to them trying to turn me into a cripple. I’m overweight and have a few problems associated with that. This is my fault and the remedy lies in my hands, or in the case of cake, in not having it in my hands. It is time to start work on my weight. I have never had a problem with cholesterol and I object to them trying to get me on even more medication. I already have more than enough, and they can’t get that right much of the time. Why give them a chance to foul up even more.
We then had tea (pasties, cauliflower steak, cheese sauce, carrots and roasted leeks in case you were wondering). hen we had a bit of cake because w had some left from the tip to Scarborough. I proceeded to watch too much TV and read a book about writing poetry that was written by a poet who should have paid an editor to edit her prose. It was also probably not a good idea for her to suggest reading good writers to improve my writing. It’s not bad advice, it’s just that her suggestions we (in order) her, Hemingway and Dickens.
We started the day with parking spaces, which is unusual for a Saturday. I packed the parcels while the owner sorted the Large Trade Order (LTO). I have decided that as it will be with us for a while it justifies its own set of initials. “Pack the Parcel” sounds like a party game doesn’t it? My life is one long round of hobbies and party games. I may use that as a title for a post one day.
Elvis on a silver dollar – note the coin design underneath and the Elvis Presley Enterprises copyright notice. He is till a big earner in death.
We had no customers booked in but several rang or just turned up and we ended up with a reasonably busy day. I also had a big telephone order to pack, a couple of late eBay orders and some things to post on eBay. I finished off and loaded several things I’d prepared during the week and started on another – a drop-down menu with 38 items. A lot of photographs. Oh, and there was a listing that needed alteration, and coins which had been put in the medallion cupboard (which meant they took a bit of finding). When you have three people, thirteen hundred items on eBay, limited space and a lot of other stock, things do go adrift.
We sold this a few months ago, and sold the bronze version yesterday.
We have passed words on this several times recently. My personal gripe is that three months ago I knew where everything was but the boss decided to have a tidy and things are now in different boxes or different cupboards, and it makes tracking them down very time-consuming. Yes, they are usually moved due to a logical reason, but that doesn’t really help. It’s like cupboard stacking. I stack cupboards so that I can see what is there and get to it with minimal fuss. When you have arthritis you tend to want ease of access.
He stacks cupboards like a 3-D jigsaw puzzle s that half of it has to be removed to get access and then put back in exactly the right way. It looks nice and it’s an efficient use of space. Unfortunately it misses the point of stock control, which is, to me, about knowing where things are and being able to get to them easily.
London School Attendance Medals 1890s
Nine times out of ten, we go to the right box and find the item. But if we don’t, I am always reminded of the words “time is money”. This is often the trigger for a rant, but today I am going to smile and pas on the chance. Anyway, it’s not my money, so why should I worry? I’m doing my best and being thwarted by someone squandering his own cash. Not my problem. Stock control is not one of those subjects that tends to crop up in poetry or creative writing classes. May be I should start, it can go with my funicular and Martin van Buren poems.
I now have another poem in mind and need to do that, so will close this and post.
The rain hammered down at one point during the evening. It was loud and lasted a long time. Despite our reputation for rain in the UK it’s often delivered as a drizzle, or, at worst, a prolonged and moderate fall. The short, sharp and noisy storm is something to be savoured, as long as you have a sound roof and a house on a hill. We seems to have survived in a water-tight and unflooded condition, so that is good.
At one time I would spring from my bed looking forward to the new day. These days I tend to lurk under the covers and worry about the new crop of problems that are likely to emerge. I don’t know if it’s experience, or simply that you become more fearful as you age. I remember telling my Mum and Dad that many of their fears weren’t likely to come true, but it didn’t make them go away. I’m now starting to worry about things similar to the ones they worried about. I listen to myself sometimes and hear echoes of their voices.
I also remember how they gradually aged between visits and wonder how the kids see me.
However, it’s Saturday morning, and that’s not a time for introspection. I just6 had my baked eggs (with tomatoes and cheese) and I need to make sandwiches before heading off for a day of fun with eBay and the random customers that chance sends our way. But first, of course, there will be the hassle about parking. On Saturday everybody seems to think that our parking spaces belong to them. We try not to be too negative, and don’t put up notices about private property or (like one shop in the row) clamping, but it is annoying. Working at the opticians? Going for bread in the shops 200 yards away? Need extra parking because you have too many cars for your drive? All these, and many more, are, it seems reasons why people take our spaces. The best one wa “I pay my taxes”. So do we. Paying our taxes does not, however, entitle us to park in the drive of the truculent woman who thinks it entitles her to use our parking spots.
A woman rang today and asked if we bought unusual American coins. I passed her on to the proprietor, as he has a wide-ranging knowledge of American coins. It turns out she had found a rare Buffalo nickel (1913 San Francisco Mint – I’m hazy on the rest of the detail as I wasn’t listening). The Buffalo Nickel is a lovely coin, and if I were American I am sure they would be a pleasure to collect.
This was unusual because “rare” coins usually aren’t rare.
Earlier in the week we bought some coins off a man. He brought two small lots in- one bag of coins from his wife and one from him. He told us his wife was making him sell the coins he had inherited from his mother when she died last year. They came to £17.50. The wife’s coins only came to £5. So he signed the form and went off with his money. Six hours later we had a phone call from the wife telling us he shouldn’t have sold hers. He had to sell his but she wanted to keep hers. Then she told me she wanted hers back. That was, off course, a problem, as we had already sorted the lot into various other places.
She told me they were worth a lot more than £5. I couldn’t help it, I just laughed. It was the end of a long day (in fact it was 15 minutes after closing time and we were just parcelling up a couple of late orders) and I really couldn’t be bothered. They coins were rubbish, her internet search was misleading and her grading, as usual, bore no resemblance to the reality of the condition of the coins.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, we sorted out a selection of coins that resembled the ones she had and the boss, worn down by her whining, just gave them to her to get rid of her, and to reinforce the idea they were virtually worthless.
It’s her husband I feel sorry for, he had to get rid of his but she keeps hers. (He’s a little older than me, by the way). His must be quite a cheerless existence.
You see all sorts in a coin shop . . .
In other news, my blood test was OK this morning, though I still have to go in next week. I really must start applying pressure about less testing.
Wednesday produced some brilliant service from the NHS, who sorted a problem out in five minutes and had my delivery with me inside 24 hours. If I were a curmudgeonly sort I would point out that if they had done their job right in the first place three weeks ago there would have been no problem. However, it is the system that is at fault and an individual who sorted it out, so credit where it’s due.
Then tonight the warning light came back on in the car. Did I tell you about that? Ys, I checked and I see I did. So far that Engine Management System has failed to flag up a single problem but it has cost me hundreds of pounds for replacing a faulty valve and several trips to the garage to get lights reset. It’s the next step in consumerism – first we had planned obsolescence, then we had vacuum cleaners that need replacement filters all the time instead of a new bag every few years, and now we have systems in cars that need repairing even though there is no actual fault with the car. This is either brilliant or very annoying, depending on your point of view. To me, it feels like Volkswagen are picking my pocket on a regular basis. Technology does not seem to be good for me.
And that’s before I get on to the story about how I had to open a HP account to use my own scanner on my own computer. I couldn’t work round it by downloading a fix from Microsoft as they don’t recognise my account details. I answered a lot of stupid questions to try to retrieve the account and they told me I hadn’t answered enough. A big sort out is coming and the machines are going to come off second best when I raise the New Luddite standard. Thirty minutes messing about just to scan something for Julia, when in the old days, before the “new and improved” system, I could have done it in ninety seconds.
Sorry, I’ve had a distinct lack of application over the last week. A lot of it is probably due to lack of sleep, followed by lack of focus. This leads to a lack of writing, and that will never do. I have written some bits but on a couple of occasions I have then fallen asleep at the computer and woken after midnight with 150 words done and nothing actually finished.
We went to the Yorkshire coast, finishing at Scarborough yesterday. Although it was open, and even crowded in places, there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm as couples with white knees exposed themselves to the weak Yorkshire sun and looked glum. I expect many of them wanted to be abroad.
Saltburn was pretty as ever, but full, as was Sandsend. We went round Whitby and called at the Botham bakery on the edge of town (the main tearoom only being open to people who book, and we hadn’t been organised enough. We had a pork pie to tide us over (it was getting a bit late by then) and bought pies and cake to eat during the week when we got home. We then drove down through then moors and had fish and chips on the front at Scarborough. They aren’t the best fish and chips, as I may have mentioned before, but it is probably one of the best sites for a chip shop I’ve ever eaten in – nestled under the cliffs and castle, and just yards from the sea.
A Botham Pork Pie – one of the best
Chips. A bit greasy, but generally OK
As I have probably said before, one of the main casualties of the virus is going to be spontaneity, as there’s a lot more booking to be done when visiting. I don’t know about you but when I’m away from work I like to relax. That means having a broad plan like “afternoon tea at Botham’s or “visit X”. It’s not about booking afternoon tea for 3.30 or visiting X by timed ticket ay 10.45.
If it had have been we would have been in trouble, because one of the engine management lights came on as we left home. The garage had a look at it for me and sorted within 20 minutes, but it was all time lost when we should have been travelling to the coast. It would not have been half as relaxing if I had had a timetable to keep to.It’s going to be along time before I get the hang of relaxing again, as I found myself getting annoyed by the alck of distancing whilst queuing for the chips. Some people just ignored the flow system and the six foot rule, even though there are a lot of signs about. Yorkshire seems a lot more concerned about this than Nottingham for instance. A lot of the people who ignored the signs had kids with them – I can only assume they are happy to bring their kids up as selfish louts.
I have always had a feeling that if I could direct all, my thinking to one thing at a time I could do great things. These days I feel that if I could direct all my thinking to just one thing I would still have trouble remembering what I had for breakfast three days ago, or that I had to write a blog post before midnight.
Somewhere in my head that simple instruction still exists, just as it did for every one of the 24 consecutive days that WP flagged up. In the past it has served me well in reminding me to blog for many months of consecutive days. But somehow I have allowed it to become less preeminent. Over the last week or two I have been struggling to finalise some submissions for the end of the month. I’m never sure whether it’s best to get in at the start of a submission period or at the end, but I do know it’s important to make sure you submit at some point. So that’s one set of deadlines. I also have the 10 haiku a day target, which is wandering about all over the place. Some days are good, some days are hard. I’m also behind with that too, but well ahead on average. I’m concerned that binge writing isn’t really the best way to improve my haiku writing. On the other hand, it’s better than not writing at all. I know this from past experience. The “not writing” phase can easily creep up on you and you soon find you’ve been a month without writing. This hasn’t happened since I started blogging, but I know it’s still lurking . . .
To return to my original thought, all those other deadlines seem to have replaced the blogging deadline in my head.
Then, I admit. there was sentiment. It was Father’s Day at the weekend and though I have no great attachment to what is basically a made-up and superficial day devoted to merchandising The kids rang, which was nice, but reminds me that it’s a long time since I saw either of them, and for the first time in my life, I had no father to visit. All in all, a bit of a mixed day and a lot to think about.
Finally, just before going to bed. I had an email from the USA – two senryu and a haibun accepted for Failed Haiku. I like it as a magazine (a) because it accepts my work (which is always a plus) and (b) because both the editors are accomplished and interesting writers. In my mind there is a hierarchy of acceptance. The best acceptance is one from a writer you admire in a magazine that publishes good writers. That’s what I aim for these days, because I want to feel good about seeing my work in print.
That was how I decided to proceed when I started writing haibun. In my previous life as a poet I had originally targeted magazines with low standards and after two years and a dozen acceptances, was just starting to get poems in better magazines. This time round I decided to start at the top and see what happened. What’s the worse that could happen? A sneering letter of rejection (yes I had one or two), but so what? It’s not like anyone would know. People wouldn’t point at me in the street and laugh. So I went for it, and it seemed to work.
I really must try training my mind to think of one thing at a time, then do it before moving on to the next thing. That way I will avoid leaving a trail of art-completed projects behind me.
There was something else I was going to add, but I seem to have forgotten it. Considering what I said earlier, this is probably an appropriate place to end the post.
Oh dear! I fell asleep in front of the TV tonight, and woke up after midnight. This is becoming a bit of a habit. Hopefully I will get things back to normal soon.
I got side-tracked last night and forgot to post. I couldn’t really think of anything to post and managed to fil my time with reading blogs instead of writing. Eventually I realised it was after midnight. Same applies tonight. I have filled my time with things and am finding it difficult to find anything to write about.
I spent twenty minutes thinking and rewriting before going to watch The Coroner on cach-up. That lasted from 9.00 to 10.00, at which point I seem to have fallen asleep. I’m not feeling particularly funny tonight, or historical or poetic, so that’s all out. I’m not even enthusiastic enough for a decent rant, even though a few things came close to setting me off during the day. I put it down to the weather, and the fact that the year is near enough over. Today is the longest day and as far as I’m concerned that means it’s all downhill from here. All I can think is “Dead and never called me Mother!”
It does seem like the poor little orphaned year has died without having a chance to come to life. No lockdown of any consequence, and no freedom or enthusiasm either. It’s just a nothing sort of year.
I suppose that after trying 63 different years, it was inevitable that I would end up with one that wasn’t particularly thrilling. Even then, if I’ve wanted to feel a frisson of danger all I needed to do was select a supermarket and walk close to somebody who wasn’t wearing a mask. Imagine that, a world where going out to buy bread can be a potentially fatal experience.
Anyway, I will post now, so at least I won’t miss blogging on Tuesday.
Saturday morning, 8.11 and just time to squeeze in a blog between breakfast and work. That way I can’t fall asleep before posting. Even I don’t nap at this time in the morning.
One of the lots I put on yesterday already has a bid. It’s a beautifully engraved coin, but a little difficult to place. It’s engraved in the style of the late 18th and early 19th Century and it’s almost certainly on a 1797 penny, judging from the dimensions. The problem is the subject matter. It has hearts and birds and a funerary urn, which might be bad news for someone’s true love. Or it might be mourning the loss of love as the donor is shipped off to the end of the Earth.
Love tokens often have more in the way of initials than we have here, plus some sentiment.
Convict tokens often have names and dates and other things written on them.
Engraved coin 1797
There’s even a possibility that the counter stamped wolf’s head which obliterates the crown is some sort of secret Jacobin sign. If it is, it is very secret because internet searches have turned nothing up.
Although some of the work on these tokens is crude, some, like this is very good, to the point of justifying terms like excellent and superb. Some people, with money, could afford to have a professional engrave a token for them, and we also know that forgers, engravers and jewellers all ended up in Australia, so anything is possible.
That’s enough culture before work. I just wish, as I’ve often said before, that I had realised you could have an academic career linked to coins. There aren’t many jobs I’d rather have. Cake taster at Mr Kipling perhaps . . . the man who does quality control for the afternoon teas at the Ritz . . .
Sorry, I drifted off there. But
think how different things could have been – a thesis on convict tokens and civil unrest in the 19th Century (including local lads Ned Ludd and Jeremiah Brandreth) followed by a research trip to see the convict tokens in the Australian Museum. All it needs to be perfect would be a superior sort of afternoon tea in an Australian Hotel.
And with that thought I will now trudge off to pack parcels in the windowless back room of coin shop.