Monthly Archives: May 2022

Day 151

I’m on holiday now. Wednesday is my usual day off. Thursday and Friday are public holidays for the Platinum Jubilee, on Saturday the Post Office is closed so there is little point us working (according to the owner). It will be Monday before I work again. It’s a nice bonus, but a little annoying as it disrupts things like prescription orders. The Queen will, presumably, be working on those two days, so I don’t see why the rest of us can’t. I say “working” – a little correspondence, a personal appearance or two, checking up on Prince Andrew (currently chained in the Palace Dungeons where he cannot do more harm to the Royal Brand or see any woman under 50) and dinner cooked by a fleet of flunkeys is slightly different to the “work” that the erst of the country has to do.

I admit that’s a slightly jaundiced view of the Royal Life, but when you find out that Prince Charles has people to run his bath, and has precise requirements regarding water temperature, it hard not to espouse Trotskyite Principles.

I’ve been thinking about the events of yesterday, and have decided that it’s time to start filling my time with more  meaningful stuff, as there is a limited time between now and whatever lies ahead in terms of diminishing brain power. The first step is deciding what “meaningful stuff” actually is.

I suppose this is where I start becoming misty-eyed about family and grandchildren. Or decide I want to leave a lasting legacy.

Actually, I’m thinking about robbing a bank. The extra cash will come in handy as prices keep going up and if they catch me what can they do to me that is any worse than living in a care home? Poor food, authoritarian staff, room mates with low standards of personal hygiene – or jail?

The picture, with connotations of jail and snouts in the trough, seemed apt.

Day 150

Californian Poppies

Today, I am going to rush through my 250 words and then get on with something else. I only realised this morning, with a shock, that it is the last day of May and I have submissions to make before midnight. Having been caught up at work this evening, then slept in front of the TV I find myself a little short on time.

This afternoon was interesting. We left work at 4.00 and locked the shop. My workmate exchanged a few words with an elderly gent and walked away. The man then came to me. I smiled in a warm and friendly manner, expecting some comment on our opening hours. Instead he said, “I need help, please can you help me?”

It was the start of a series of events that lasted for over an hour. That’s not long in terms of a lifetime, but it’s quit a long time to be involved in the problems of a complete stranger.


His problem was that he had been dropped off by a taxi driver. He didn’t know where he was or where he was going (apart from the fact it was a hospital). He had no money, no phone and no ID. All this came out in the course of our conversation. He wasn’t quite sure how old he was – late 80s – but the age and DOB he gave didn’t match up, and there was nobody at home we could ring because his partner was in hospital and was expecting him to visit. He was a touch confused, though he seemed o know his name and address, and had not shaved recently or had the benefit of clean clothes. This was not a man for whom things were going well, and in some respects, it was like looking in a mirror.

It was also a nudge into a memory that I don’t really like. About 40 years ago I saw a confused elderly man hit by a car as he tried to cross the M11 motorway near Cambridge. He went flying through the air, and when I attended the inquest the events of that afternoon had clearly placed a great strain on both the car driver and the wife of the deceased. I wasn’t going to let him wander off, but there wasn’t  a lot I could do to help him either.


In the end I had to ring the police and wait until an officer turned up to attend to him. She was very friendly and efficient, and asked all the right questions and took him home, where she was going to check with the neighbours and see what was happening. I will probably hear no more about the story, and will always wonder how things turned out but, in the manner of these things, I suspect it is the start of a change in his life that will not be to his advantage. I hope he has a family and that they gather round to help.

And on that sombre note I will leave you and go to finish my submissions for the month. I am going to make the most of my brain while it is still working. Not sure what photographs I am going to post with this, I will try for something cheerful.

Yellow Flag Iris

Bee on Red Valerian

Day 149

I’ve just been reading a selection of depressing poems. The theme for the issue (a concept that is deeply depressing even before you read the poems) was current events – war in the Ukraine and Global Warming. It’s difficult to treat either of these subjects with the spirit of karumi that is often cited as a guiding principle of writing haiku. It can be summed up, I believe, as “lightness of touch”. Banging on about children being bombed or world hunger is not karumi. It’s not necessarily interesting either. And although a poem by Wilfred Owen is a thing of horror and beauty, a poem about a poem by Wilfred Owen is not.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely and unequivocally against genocide, nuclear winter and the end of the world. But I’m also against bad poetry.

I’ve written plenty of it, but I generally resist the temptation to let it out into the world. Sometimes it does get out, and sometimes it even gets published. This happened with a haibun a few months ago. I tried a new, more modern style (hoping to curry favour with the type of editor who wants to be “excited” by haibun) and it was duly published. It was dreadful. I was ashamed of myself, and it will not be featuring in my collected works.

We went to the garden centre today. It’s a local one that started during lockdown. One of the market stalls in town owns it. It’s quite broken down and old-fashioned, and it’s where they used  to raise the plants they sold on the market.When business dropped off due to Covid they finished on the market and launched as a garden centre. It’s a refreshing change from  the average modern garden centre, which is more of a gift shop than anything else. Julia went shopping while I sat in the car and watched the wildflower meadow. Very restful.


Day 148

Careers I wish I’d known about when I was 16. (My Dad once told me he’d wanted to be a vicar when he was a kid, as he thought they only worked on Sundays).

Politician. I didn’t really know this was a career when I was younger, just thought of it as a calling for people who wanted to do good and make the world a better place. What an idiot! Politics would have been great – short hours, great expenses, wonderful pension plus all the executive directorships, newspaper columns and freebies you could have fitted in.

Professional Quizzer. We didn’t have such things in those days, but it would have been great. Being paid to know a wide range of trivia, appearing on TV and in Celebrity Specials and working for a question setting company, there can be few jobs that I’d enjoy more. Winning Who Wants to be a Millionaire would be good too. I believe at least one winner was a professional quizzer and another winner went on to be a professional quizzer.

Academic numismatist. I don’t know what the real job title is, but we’ve had them give talks at the coin society. They seem to do things like examine hoards, research the decline of the Roman Empire by reference to the quality of the coinage, and research the patterns of dropped coins in East Anglia. I could do that.

I could see myself doing all those things, and enjoying them. It’s just a shame that our careers service at school was a questionnaire (I was suited to outdoor work, it said), a box of dog-eared leaflets and a disenchanted metalwork teacher with no interest in the job. Let’s face it, if you don’t make the grade as a metalwork teacher, you aren’t going to be much good at anything.

Painted Lady

Photos are of Painted Lady butterflies – there was one in the garden this morning when I left. It settled, I took my camera out of the bag . . .

The batteries ran out as I tried to focus.

Day 147

Subjects I discarded tonight.

Long Covid, editors, fashions in modern poetry, customers and introspection. I’ve done them all recently, or they aren’t interesting, or both.

Similarly, the fact that I had a telephone conversation with Rheumatology this morning, or that ASDA delivered 100% of the grocery order tonight, aren’t exactly riveting, though the 100% accurate delivery is quite unusual.

I then got onto the subject of the Royal Family and things took a turn for the worse. I am surprisingly anti-Royal for a man who likes history and tradition.

My dad was one of the sailors who lined the route of the Coronation Procession in 1953, as he was stationed at Chatham, which is just down the road from London. That is the only time a member of my family has been near the Queen. We don’t tend to move in the same circles.

To say that I have been finding writing easier over the last few weeks I am making heavy weather of this post, having deleted more words than I have allowed to stand.

The report on the lockdown parties at Number 10 is out. People are talking about it, some are even outraged. However, being outraged is actually a career option in this age of easy communication and low personal standards. people are, it seems, outraged that their loved ones were dying whilst the staff at Number 10 had parties.

As you know, my father died of Covid. I was annoyed at the restrictions at his funeral, particularly in light of the way the Government loosened the restrictions on football at about that time. I was only allowed to gather in a small group of close family and we weren’t allowed to sing. Football fans were allowed to gather in pubs and shout in the faces of complete strangers. To me, that was a lot worse than a few drinks at Number 10, yet still falls short of outrage. The history of Covid has been a history of inconsistency and though I think there was poor judgement I’m not sure a few drinks at Number 10 had much effect on the course of the pandemic.




Day 146

Last night, I forgot my password to order my pills on-line. Or I thought I did. What I had actually forgotten was my user name. As I was drifting off to sleep I realised what I had been doing wrong, made a mental note, woke Julia to ask her to remind me in the morning (She wasn’t happy. Some people can be very cranky when woken to assist a loved one.) and went to sleep a happy man. This morning she suggested that I really should make sure I have a note pad next to the bed. This, it seems, will prevent serious repercussions if I wake her in the middle of the night again.

EIIR Medallion

EIIR Medallion – 90th Birthday. Looks like they are reusing aforty year old portrait.

Chalk up another one under the heading of “senior moment”. I really must write all this stuff down, despite the instructions from the NHS about not writing usernames and passwords down. It’s not as if I’m a conduit to a desirable cache of narcotics – there are no users sleeping rough and wondering about their next fix of Warfarin or Methotrexate. . .

Tonight I tried to log in and the site was down. What made it worse was that I then remembered that we are having a special Bank Holiday next week to celebrate the Queen being on the throne for 60 years – the Platinum Jubilee. This will delay stuff like prescriptions.

EiiR Diamond Jubilee 1952-2012

If she reigns much longer we will end up with a constitutional crisis about which metal comes next. Given good health and top class medical attention she could well make it.

I wonder what it feels like to be Prince Charles? I’m sure he’s very fond of his mother but there must be a little bit of frustration that she won’t retire. Even Popes retire, though Benedict XVI was the first one to do so in 598 years. The Dutch, as with so many things, set a good example in this matter.

Queen Elizabeth II 1953

The top picture is a Coronation medal from 1953. The rest are various other commemoratives I happen to have photographed. It must be hard being Queen and looking at your ageing effigy on coins and medals. Only the stamps preserve her youthful portrait. Me, I only need to see how old I am when I look in a mirror and as I don’t shave, I don’t often look in a mirror.


Day 145

No work today so I rose at a leisurely pace, breakfasted and popped down to the doctor to have  a blood test. That was when my day took a turn for the worse, when the first two attempts produced nothing. I’m beginning to worry the nurse, as she seems to have constant trouble with me. And when she doesn’t get the blood (which is most of the time) she blames me for not drinking enough before the test. I think she has erected a psychological barrier about me and blood testing, a bit like Emma Raducanu and winning.

The nurse went to get help, and the new nurse, who I have known for years because our kids were at school together, just prodded my arm, shoved the needle in and took the sample. If only Emma Raducanu’s solution could be as simple. I fear she has a long way to go, and a lot of press coverage to endure, before she sorts it out.

I heard a good quote on Tv tonight. William Faulkner – Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.

That’s the one for me. It’s just what I needed after a few weeks of wondering how to improve my writing. I spent the best part of today writing in an attempt to improve and I found this encouraging.

To be 100% accurate, the best part of the day was the time I spent eating more of the rhubarb and ginger crumble that Julia made at the weekend. What I really meant was that I spent most of the day trying to improve my writing. That’s how I’m going to improve – more precision and fewer sloppy expressions.

I deduce, from the lack of phone call, that my blood test results were satisfactory and the Warfarin dosage needs no adjustment. I am also hopeful that this means they will give me a month before the next blood test.




Day 144

Having written today’s title I’m looking forward to Day 288, because I just realised I will be able to do the “too gross” joke. However, that is still quite a way off. (Those of you too young to have counted in scores and gross will just have to stand round and look confused while two or three stand round showing signs of mild amusement).

The day at work started with me looking for a small piece of paper I had lost the previous night whilst trying to sort out my phone. That took me twenty minutes and has convinced me to tidy my desk more often. I then progressed to answering emails, including one from someone who was happy with two coin sets we sent and someone else who asked for a discount and ended up spending over £1,000.

Some mornings are better than others.

That was the high point of the day. I managed to load quite a lot on eBay and was getting on well when, just twenty minutes before closing time, someone called in with a coin collection. He said he’d spoken to us last week, which he probably had, but he hadn’t bothered to make an appointment, as asked.

The collection was a dreadful thing and had obviously been stored in poor conditions, as a lot of the coins had turned green and were sticking to the inside of the plastic pockets they were stored in. This didn’t matter, as most of the coins were virtually worthless anyway and many others were modern ones that he could still spend. It was the sort of collection where the time spent taking the coins out of the pages would have exceeded the value of the coins. Despite this, we persevered, sorted out anything good that we could find, offered him over £500 (fortunately there were a few better pieces) and gave him back the spendable coins.  listened to him tell us how he thought the coins were worth more than we had offered and, bit by bit, put them back in his bag.

In the middle of this someone else came in without an appointment and proceeded to get in the way before spending £2.

In the end we left twenty minutes late (which we don’t get paid for) with fingers that still taste of copper despite hand washing and nothing to show for all that effort.

The end of the day was definitely not as good as the beginning.



Day 143

My big camera has, I think, reached the end of the road. The battery compartment will no longer close and has spilt my batteries several times today. It’s not an insurmountable problem, but as I need to remove the card several times a day the use of sticky tape (my low tech solution to the problem) is going to be inconvenient. Actually, I just had an idea – rubber bands. That might do it.

As a back up, I have my small camera. While I was taking the photos something didn’t seem quite right (it seemed to be taking time to process the photos, like it does when applying special effects). When i tried to download the photos, they wouldn’t show, and the icons that replaced them refused to download to eBay. That was twenty minutes I will never get back. I’m hoping it is a fault with the card rather than the camera.

Of course, you can’t get a decent cheap camera now. They have all been replaced by phones, or by cameras with unrecognisable brand names and poor reviews. I will see if I can solve the problem on the computer tonight, if not, it looks like we will be having a conversation about spending money when I go to work tomorrow.

I’ve just been trying to sort out the problem with the small camera. So far I have failed to find out why it isn’t working properly. Half of me thinks that it is something I have done to the settings and the other half thinks it is old and has finally broken. That’s three things recently – camera (or two cameras, possibly), the microwave and the strimmer. What more is in store?



Day 142

In the end we had sausages for breakfast. It would have been more economical, and probably healthier, to have had them for tea, but it just seemed like the right thing to do. What better way is there to start a week than eating a surprise gift of sausages?

That’s right, following them up with marmalade on toast. Julia bought some nice mixed grain bread yesterday and I allow myself toast and marmalade on Sundays.The rest of the week, I do without it as part of my cheerless diet routine. There are a varying number of calories in a slice of toast and marmalade – let’s go for 150 as an average figure.  Cut out toast and marmalade for 6 days and that’s 900 calories. Cut it out for 48 weeks (allowing myself a little leeway for weakness and holidays) and that’s 43,200 calories if my mental arithmetic is reliable.

As my daily intake is supposed to be around 2,500 calories cutting out a slice of toast and marmalade a day is the same as fasting for two and half weeks (17.28 days). I did that on the calculator, and double checked it all, as that seems a lot. Tootlepedal has told me several times that dieting is all about making small, almost imperceptible cuts in consumption. If a slice of toast and marmalade a day comes to this, you can see how it works.

Lunch was home made mushroom soup and a sandwich made from smoked mackerel pate. Julia likes fish, I am less keen. As a compromise I bought smoked mackerel last week. She ate some of it and I mixed the rest with soft cheese, black pepper and lemon juice to make the smoked mackerel pate. It made two good sandwiches for lunch and will make two more for lunch tomorrow. I normally make it using the small blender (we don’t have a big one these days) but was feeling lazy today so just whizzed it together using a fork. There is less washing up that way. I’m going to add some chopped spring onion tops and sliced cucumber for tomorrow so I can pretend I am on an elegant Edwardian picnic tomorrow rather than sitting in the windowless back room of a coin shop.

Today’s picture is the tank traps at Gibraltar Point. Strange to think how things have gone – Julia’s grandfather was one of the first tank drivers. I grew up seeing tank traps along the coast (and still do) and on the news from Ukraine it seems that the tank is no obsolete on the modern battlefield. A century of ingenuity went into designing a weapon that is now outdated, but we still don’t have a safe and satisfactory way of opening a can of corned beef.

Makes you wonder about the human race.