Monthly Archives: October 2021

Various Novelties

This week several things happened that have never happened to me before.

One is that I was turned down in a new way. I submitted to a magazine a couple of months ago, but it was during the time of my email problems and although I was initially accepted I was, I( discovered later, then rejected because I hadn’t written back to say I accepted the suggested edits. This was by a guest editor, who suggested it was still a good piece and could be submitted again later.

The permanent editor, who was the one dealing with my email explaining about my email problems , also suggested that I should resubmit it, so as I haven’t been writing much I resubmitted it in the next submission window. It was, as you may have guessed from the preamble, rejected by the new guest editor.

It just goes to show that some editors have better taste than others . . .

Meanwhile I saw two cyclists collide on a dual use footpath. I’ve never really trusted them. There is one outside the shop. It isn’t properly signposted and it seems to be merely an excuse for cyclists to get too close to me, or to sound their bell at me.

The accident I saw involved a young woman cyclist, who had stopped near a bend and was looking at her phone. Measured by car driving standards, stopping in the middle of the road to use your phone would be considered unacceptable, but cyclists have their own standards.

The second cyclist was travelling fast towards the bend (too fast to control his bicycle properly – you notice this sort of thing when you are a pedestrian using a stick on these dual use paths). He came to the bend, took it wide and ran into the the other cyclist.

She was quite well built (as in sportswoman, not fat) and he was quite weedy (pale and thin and looking like a heroin addict) so as they made contact (which was fortunately shoulder to shoulder) she stood firm and more or less plucked him off his machine. He stumbled a few steps and stopped, standing upright as his bicycle carried on several yards and fell over.

They were lucky it wasn’t worse.

Later that journey I saw a sparrowhawk hassling a crow, though I have seen that before.

Finally, I watched the Madame Blanc Mysteries. I haven’t been able to catch the previous two, so this was, I thought, going to be  areal treat.

It wasn’t. Despite the fact that  like Sally Lindsay as a writer and actress, I have to say this was dire. Plot – insubstantial. Characters – flat. Wit (as mentioned in the previews) non-existent. Grittiness (also as mentioned in the previews) also non-existent. It also had characters with French accents that reminded me of ‘Allo ‘allo.

It really was very sad to see such a promising programme turn into a wreck.



Housework, Marriage and Mortality

It’s Wednesday. I have escaped Julia’s clutches today, though it’s at the cost of going into work, so it’s a sort of swings and roundabouts thing. No domestic duties, but more parcels.

First I have to give blood, then we are going for a McDonald’s breakfast. After that I will go to work and she will stay at home with a list of jobs. When she uttered the words “for better, for worse” I wonder what she thought it meant. I have not improved. I haven’t done too well on “in sickness and in health” or “for richer, for poorer” either. However, she sticks with me.

I often wonder about modern marriage vows. I came across some while checking the wording of ours, and it looks like some of the vows last longer than the actual marriages. I note that even in 1549 the bride had the option to omit the word “obey”. Four hundred years later my mother omitted it from her vows and forty years later she advised Julia to do the same, t’m not sure there was ever any danger of Julia doing what she was told anyway.

I just had a quick look at some statistics and it seems that divorce rates are falling in the UK, however, by the 30th wedding anniversary 40% of marriages will have been ended by divorce and 11% by death. I’m a bit concerned about the 11% by death, which seems a lot, particularly if you married in your 20s. This does tend to highlight the sickness and health aspects.

So there you go – I started with housework, moved on to marriage and ended with mortality. After that cheerful start I wonder what my day holds . . .


Packing Parcels and Other Stories

Today was a day for packing parcels and listing foreign banknotes on eBay.  also rang for a blood test appointment. There were queues of 12, 18 and 9. I didn’t fancy any of them but eventually, at about 2pm, decided that I would have to join the queue of twelve. It took me 31 minutes to get through. Thirty one minutes of appalling twangy music. The time was incidental to the mental anguish of the music. Every so often a dopey male voice came on the line to tell me I was “now in position . . .” and a female voice then added a number. It’s all very strange but at least they have removed the bit where they say my call is important to them.

Fortunately there were no customers and no phone calls in that time. I say “fortunately” but customers are really the point of having a shop . . .

I have a blood test appointment for 8.45 on Wednesday, which will give me plenty of time to help Julia with the list of errands that need doing. I’m looking forward to my “day off”.

I’ll tell you one thing that has really suffered during my recent illnesses – fluency. I used to be able to sit down and rattle off 250 words without thinking. They just came into my head. They weren’t all coherent, or spelt correctly, or even grammatical at times, but they were there. Now I struggle to find 150.

Even now, after over an hour of trying (not, I admit, continuous effort) I’m only just creeping up to 250, my self imposed lower limit.

And now I’ve done it, I’m going to bed. See you tomorrow.

Julia saw an iridescent cloud today. I didn’t even know they existed. She sees better things than I do.

Today, it was Sunny Outside

I can’t really think of much to write.

Unfortunately my daily routine is deficient in interest and can be summed up by saying “took Julia to work, went to shop, customers are idiots, it looked like a nice day outside, went home, had tea, watched TV”. It’s a dull life but someone has to live it.

Next week it will be enlivened by the return of children to schools after half-term – that’s always good for a queue or two of traffic and a teenager stepping into the road whilst staring at a mobile phone.

It always looks like a nice day outside when I’m in the shop (as mentioned above). On Wednesdays and Sundays, when I am at liberty to enjoy myself, it always looks like rain, or I have to go for a blood test, or Julia has a job for me to do. There is probably a natural law waiting to be discovered, one that deals with diminishing free time after marriage.

On the subject of blood tests I’m going to ask if they can put a valve in one of my fingertips. They take so much blood these days that it would save on time and needles. I’m told that my skin is thickening up due to the number of tests and is making testing more difficult. Much as I appreciate the difficulties suffered by phlebotomists, it’s not exactly great from my point of view either. If I had the choice of opening a valve and filling a tube instead of being punctured, I’d definitely take it.

On the other hand, if I was given  the choice of living to be 1,000 years old, I wouldn’t take it. Apart from the fact that I don’t believe it, or trust a man who looks like a mad scientist (the clue is in the words – “mad scientist”), I don’t even care for much of the world as it is now, just 60 years after I first started taking notice, so I’m sure that I really wouldn’t like it in another 940 years.

Even if I liked it, I doubt I’d understand it, as most modern technology is a mystery to me, as is much modern “comedy” and the sad realisation that as TV channels multiply, the quality of TV declines.

Imagine life in 2521. Ugh!

Talkuing of technology – you can’t use the tag “live to be 1,000”. As soon as you use the comma it start a new tag, becoming “live to be 1” and “000”. Live to be a thousand – I can’t even write it!




Slowing Down, Taking Stock

Things are stuttering along. It is, as before, a zig-zag course towards improvement and today, after submitting my first piece for some time, I am once again wondering why I bother writing.

I’m clear on magazine articles. I don’t do many of them, but I do it for the money.

Poetry is different. I’ve been sent one or two free copies of magazines and have had two certificates, but the rewards of writing poetry are mainly spiritual.

At the moment, I’m thinking of stopping submitting so much. I can dress this up as spiritual renewal or an issue of quality over quantity, but in truth, I’m just getting a bit fed up with some of the editors I have to deal with.

Most of them are brilliant (though even the brilliant ones often turn me down – nobody is perfect) with a positive attitude, open minds and helpful comments.

Others are a bit on the academic side and a touch prescriptive. I won’t get too specific, as they all work hard to produce the magazines we rely on, and I don’t want to criticise anyone personally. However, one or two seem to get their preferences mixed up with the “rules” of writing Japanese poetry forms. Even the various societies, with their panels of experts, don’t produce rules, just guides. These also often edit what I consider to be my voice. I write as I speak, and if I want to use an expression from the midlands of the UK, I don’t see why it needs to be ironed out by an American with an academic background in English.

Meanwhile, there is the group of editors who want to be excited by my submissions. I write about my life. It’s not exciting. I’m unlikely to display the qualities required by these editors.

I have limited time at the moment, and have decided to use it more wisely. One submission has gone. The other, with its manufactured false excitement and linguistic fireworks, will stay in the draft section. Eventually, as it matures, it will be used, or dismantled for use in other work.

But it won’t be sent out this week to curry favour with an editor who wants me to be something I’m not.

My Orange Parker Pen



Crepuscular rays at Rufford Park

Back to Normal

Things are about back to normal now. I am still sticking to one sandwich for lunch and work seems OK, though I’m still having difficulty remembering where things are. This isn’t helped by the fact that the owner decided to “tidy up” while we were all off (he spent some of his isolation time working in the shop), Why he thinks that moving stock into random places without telling anybody is an improvement, I do not know. However, it’s his time he’s wasting, not mine.

My legs are still a bit weak after weeks of enforced rest but I am making progress on that.

I struggled to submit anything in September, but did manage a few things (mainly things that were already written and just needed tidying). I have three poems in Cattails this month – pages 86, 89 and 133 if you fancy a look.

I have also had acceptances from three other magazines (though only one will be available online) and will no doubt mention it again when it is published.

At one point, when I was really struggling to string words together, I actually thought I’d run to the end and would never write again. Fortunately that passed off after a week, as I don’t know what I’d do to replace it. At the moment I’m not writing much because I mainly work, eat, watch TV and go to bed early. I’m still sleeping off the Covid.

It is probably time to prepare a plan to make sure I spend my time wisely. However, for now I will just sleep.




We had monitors at school, though it was a sort of Victorian survival from when they had assistant teachers called monitors. We had ink monitors to refill inkwells and we had milk monitors to pass the free school milk round. At one school we had coke monitors to refill the buckets of coke to feed the classroom stoves, but I was too young to be one.

Later, as colour TV and nature programmes became more popular, we had monitors that were lizards.

That was about it. Someone would sometimes monitor a situation but it was a word that didn’t have much place in my life or vocabulary for many years.

Then, on Saturday morning, my computer screen started to blink instead of starting. It was only twelve years old and didn’t have to do much, just show pictures, so I don’t see how it can have worn out, but that’s modern life for you.

The other word for computer screen, it seems, is monitor. That had passed me by. So had the price. Over £100! What for? Some are even more. And some of them, it seems, are two feet wide! Who needs a computer screen that size? I’m not sure it would fit on the table without considerable moving of stuff.

The biggest shock was the one at £656 – it’s 27″ 4K Ultra HD. I haven’t got as clue what that means, apart from the 27″, and I don’t need a 27 inch screen. I want a computer screen, not cinemascope, and I’m pretty sure my eyes aren’t 4K Ultra HD, so that’s just a waste.

While I was at work Julia walked down to Sherwood and bought a reconditioned monitor from the local computer shop.  It has pictures on it and it cost £39. That’s all I need from a screen. She really is proof that a good wife has a price beyond rubies.

She’s the shadow on the right of the picture.


Good News

Thanks for your good wishes everybody – I can now report that after two days with no Warfarin I am back in the target zone and, with any luck, will stay there.

The cause might simply be Covid, or it might be that I changed my diet dramatically during Covid. You can never be quite sure. However, as I also changed my diet dramatically whilst my leg was bad, and didn’t see any changes from that, it might be as simple as just having Covid.

There are other drugs available, but I need to lose weight before I can use them, so the remedy is in my hands. I’ve been eating a bit more over the last few days, in case that was part of the problem, but now have to stop again. I have already lost a reasonable amount of weight after the episode with my leg (loss of appetite and the inability to walk to the fridge both helping my will power) and I want to build on that.

My ideal weight, according to my medical records, is 12 stone (or 168 pounds for those of you who work that way). When I was 16 and looked like a beanpole, I was twelve and a half stone, and when I went to work I  bulked up a bit with all the physical work and ended up at about 14 stone. That was, to be fair, where I should have stopped. In those days my ideal weight was 14 stone according to the medical profession. Like so many things over the years, they have adjusted things to make me look worse.

I am off to bed now (still tired after Covid) and am going to start tomorrow with healthy habits in mind. The reason for the poppy? We still have one or two blooming every morning – they really are very persistent.

Slowly Bleeding to Death

I have atrial fibrillation, as does Mark Spitz, the record-breaking American swimmer.  Mine isn’t as dramatic as his, mine was simply discovered when I went to the doctor and she listened to my heart.

“You have an irregular heartbeat.” she said.

“I know, I’ve had it for years.”

“We really should do something about it.”

That’s why I hate going to the doctor – I always come away with more than I take in.

I have an International Normalized Ratio (INR) test every few weeks to see how my blood is clotting. I need this because the doctors make me take Warfarin to stop my blood clotting too quickly. Until a few years ago I thought of Warfarin as a very effective rat poison.

If you have a normal set-up you have an INR of around 1. If you have atrial fibrillation they try to get it in the range 2.0 -3.0 which stops it clotting and prevents strokes and heart attacks. If you have a mechanical heart valve they like it to be a bit higher. It’s nothing special, a million of us have it in the UK and ten percent of the over 75s have it.

However, it can be a bit variable, and you may have noticed that I often complain about the testing, as the results can be very imprecise, which annoys me. I do my bit – eat a dull and unvaried diet, take the pills at the same time each day and let them take regular bloods. They, on the other hand, don’t do much, as I recently pointed out to them.

So, I believe I had got as far as 3.5 for people with mechanical heart valve and similar problems. The next step is 5.0 – 8.0. They start getting twitchy at this sort of level, particularly if it is accompanied by bleeding, and start threatening vitamin K injections. At 8.0 they start getting very twitchy . . .

And at 9.6, if you haven’t admitted to any bleeding, they tell you to stop taking the pills immediately and to go for another blood test in two day’s time.

I’m not sure whether to worry or claim it as a personal best.





Looking Forward

It’s not been one of my better times. Starting in August and continuing to the present, I have been dogged by a variety of conditions, which have all contributed to wearing me down. I’m hoping that there will be better times ahead. However, in August I seem to have thought that a week or two should do the trick, and that proved to be a hopelessly bad assessment of the situation.

Hopefully, I am now back and will be improving over the next few weeks. Having thought that in August and then again in September (just before I caught Covid) I am going to be slightly less vocal about my likely improvement. Even my ten days in isolation turned into twelve when Julia tested positive. Everything in my life seems to take longer and be less good than it once was. I suppose this is old age.

The good news is that I have definitely lost weight. The bad news is that none of my trousers fit and that although braces (suspenders) are a useful solution, they aren’t the full answer. I won’t go into all the details, but they aren’t quite as practical as a belt in some ways, and they carry a continuing risk of injury if over-stressed or under-secured. I’m thinking of wearing industrial safety glasses as  a precaution against eye-injury.

I’m also thinking about going the classic route and sewing buttons to my trousers but that involves serious thought about the style of braces and whether to go for six or eight buttons. Six mean less sewing, but eight mean you can use better quality braces. Decisions . . .