Monthly Archives: June 2022

Day 180

Teetering on the slide into winter . . .

Started the day with bacon croissants. I was thinking of getting up and making them but Julia got up quicker and read my mind. There are some benefits to moving slowly.

Completed my jury service form online. I still wonder why they need to threaten me with a £1,000 fine all the time. I suspect it is because the sort of people who draft these letters like the feeling of authority given by the ability to bend others to their will. I’ve  noticed this in other people over the years, particularly since lockdown gave encouragement to petty tyrants.

They are generally people of low intelligence who have been frustrated by their inability to rise in their chosen career, or any career. Their parents didn’t love them. They never learned to say please and thank you. I could carry on, but I feel I have conveyed the essence of my contempt.

Marmalade Hoverfly

Marmalade Hoverfly

As a result of completing the form on line I now have a pre-paid envelope addressed to the Jury Central Summoning Bureau. I am seriously tempted to send them a letter querying their whole approach to jurors.

In the waiting room at the surgery I was privileged to witness four different complaints against practice staff. One women wouldn’t name her complaint – she wanted the practice manager.

One man was complaining about the late arrival of his drugs. He had clearly ordered them late. And he also clearly needed help with anger issues, and possibly with voices in his head, as he muttered and swore under his breath.

Another woman was complaining that she had rung for help in treating the skinned knee of her daughter and didn’t like the answer she had been given by another receptionist (get some ointment from the pharmacy). “She’s not properly qualified.” she kept repeating. If you need a medical qualification to treat a skinned knee there is something wrong with the world, and If a parent can’t cope with a skinned knee there is something wrong with the parent.

Finally we had the man who was trying to make an appointment. You can’t make appointments these days – you have to ring in and hope you get through and then hope that the doctor has a free slot to ring you back. He ended up confused and asked “What would happen if I walked out of here and collapsed?”


Him, I sympathise with. Though I also sympathise with the receptionist, who is forced into a corner such as this by the people who run the NHS. In the end she had to give the obvious answer – “I’d call you an ambulance.”

We went for lunch (we actually ate in the restaurant as part of my return to normal), Julia went to Hobbycraft, who have now emptied their top floor, and I went for tea in the back room at the jewellers.

Back home, I filled in my pain survey and, with painful, clumsy fingers, folded the A4 sheets of paper in three and put them in the (to small) envelope provided. I had assumed that “Page 6 of 6” on the last sheet meant it was the final sheet. But no, as I rifled through the remaining pages (they do tend to include a load of junk too) I found “Page 7 of 6”. What logic is there behind that? I’m afraid that as I completed the final two questions I added a rather terse note a\bout page numbers and envelope sizes.


These people have doctorates, research budgets, staff and big wage cheques (to name but three things I don’t have) and they come up with “Page 7 of 6”.

A light tea followed, to make up for the burger and chip lunch, and I am currently feeling hungry but virtuous as I type.

And that has been my day . . .

Day 179

I had a call from the surgery this morning. They hadn’t made an appointment, and it came as a call marked “Unknown Caller” while I was on the shop phone answering a customer query. I know from experience that these are often calls from the doctor so I juggled phones and arranged for them to all back after I had finished with the customer.

It was the practice pharmacist ringing for a medication review. This was a surprise as I didn’t know they had a pharmacist and medication review s in the past have been sketchy. This would be no different, as she had obviously rung with a list of things to discuss, including blood pressure. As I may have said before, blood pressure is the new subject they all want to talk about. My blood pressure is much the same as it has been for years (as in “too high”) but they are now staring to worry. They aren’t actually doing anything useful, just muttering about it and demanding that I monitor it at home.

One way of getting my blood pressure down would be to stop ringing me when I am at work. Another would be to stop asking me to monitor it at home in the mornings. I’m in a rush in the morning, so it’s u8nlikely to give a good reading.

At one point, as we discussed it, she actually asked “Do you eat breakfast?” You would have thought that a quick look at my records would have revealed the answer. I clearly  don’t miss many meals. If I was prone to missing meals I would be thinner, my blood pressure would be lower and they wouldn’t be ringing me up.

Day 178

It is 9.30 and still light, although thy sky is starting to turn pink. There is a chill in the air and a feeling that another year is already over when, for me, it doesn’t seem to have begun.

I have just checked the MOT date for the car. I always get to the middle of summer and realise that I have forgotten when it is due. Fortunately it is still six weeks away, which gives me plenty of time. It’s quite useful being able to check these things on line and makes me wonder how we ever managed to run things with only a diary, a memory and a few scraps of paper.

This Wednesday I will be having a blood test, next Wednesday I have an X-Ray to check I am fit for my new medication, and the Wednesday after that I will make arrangements to get the car serviced and  for the test. I need to get it done so that I avoid it clashing with jury service. Fortunately you are able to get it done up to a month before the due date.

That is not exactly an impressive social diary is it? Blood test, X-Ray, car service, jury service . . .

Now, I think, I’m beginning to understand why older people don’t fear death. I’ve never been one of those people who worry about death, as it’s going to happen whether I worry or not, but I have wondered, in a theoretical way, whether it would become a matter of concern as I got older. It hasn’t. As every morning comes round I am just glad to find nothing else has gone wrong. By the time I’ve struggled into my increasingly awkward trousers I find my mind has cleared itself of any thoughts of mortality that may have accumulated during the night.

Of course, if you had my social life, you’d probably feel much the same.


Marmalade Hoverfly

Day 177

I won £3 on the lottery. It is enough to buy a new ticket but not enough to test my a strength of character. Even in my straitened  circumstances £3 does not count as “coming into money” or a moral burden. To be honest, I’m not sure any amount of money would be a burden. If you have so much you can’t cope, give it away or start a charity. I won’t be going to the South of France in an open-topped sports car this weekend, but I have my fingers crossed for next Tuesday.

If there is a sudden absence of posts in the middle of next week you will have to draw your own conclusions.

I took advantage of a little spare time to read some blogs and will be reading some more in a few minutes. I have been dreadful at keeping up, but chose a good day to start again as Laurie Graves had a picture of hummingbirds on her garden feeder. I had never thought of hummingbirds as a visitor to Maine before I started to blog, and am still amazed every time I see it, even though I know Maine is the US state which is closest to Africa. That is one of those facts I know, will never use, and will never earn money from. However, I like to think it makes me a more interesting person. I’m probably wrong, but we all need ways to cope with life.

Finally, has anyone ever noticed that sitting at the keyboard can produce very little if you have hours to spare? But if you have twenty minutes  as something cooks you can read a dozen neglected blogs and, as you wait an extra ten, you can write most of your own. When I finish it I will call it Quercus’s Theory of Relative Procrastination.

Day 176

Went to bed early as part of my new healthy lifestyle. Got up several times in the night as not all parts of my body are buying into my new health regime. Woke up with a stiff back and the feeling that the old way was easier.

In the shop things were quiet. had a half day and took Julia to KFC. Well, you have to taper into this health thing. You can’t just dive in and be completely healthy in an instant. Back at home I fell asleep in front of TV, which could be a sign that spending longer in bed is no guarantee of better sleep.

Country Life has, as usual sent me an email with properties in it. If I have £50 million I can buy a “well-known sporting estate” near Newmarket. It has two farms, commercial property and a big field of solar panels, and has an income of over £500,000 a year. This demonstrates that is is far better to be born into a wealthy family than it is to win the lottery. Even if I did win the £140 million on offer with the Euromillions next week I’m not sure I’d want to blow s so much on a house.

I suppose the acid test of character is what you would do if you suddenly came into possession of £140 million. Would you buy an electric car, a compact energy efficient home and spend your time doing good works? Or would you buy a red Ford Mustang, head off for the South of France with your wife and send a text message to work telling them not to expect you back until the money ran out?

You’ve probably guessed from the level of detail that I have failed the test of character.

Tonight’s lottery only has a £4 million prize, but even so, it’s enough to fail the character test. Charity can have my money when I’m gone, a process I will be happy to accelerate with fast cars and good living. However, first I need to win . . .




Day 175

Got home, Julia handed me a letter. It was a summons to jury duty. There are a few things to be ironed out, but I’m looking forward to it as a break from the boredom of my normal life. I’d happily do it every year.

Unfortunately it clashes with the week the owner is on holiday, so I am going to have to ask for it to be deferred or we will have to close the shop. Then I have to ask permission to use taxis, as other transport will be impractical. Apart from that it’s OK and I’m just hoping that they won’t drop me for being too difficult.

There are several pages of forms to fill out, but apart from that it’s all good.

The thought of forms reminds me that I have a Pain Survey to complete. I forget the exact name and, for the life of me, cannot see how the questions get answers that help with anything, but I was asked and it seems a good thing to do if it helps anyone. The only trouble is that it always means I have to think about joint pain, something I mange to push to the back of my mind most of the time. It also makes me dwell on the fact I was reasonably fit just five years ago, and am now a reclusive cripple.

You remember me saying that it was a waste of time submitting my latest piece? Well, I had the reply this afternoon. two days. Not my quickest rejection, I thought, but swift enough. Then it turns out to be an acceptance. That just goes to show the wisdom of doing something rather than talking yourself out of it. There is a lesson there.

That, I do believe, is 99 published poems.

Day 174

I had it all planned in my head. I was going to come home from work, write the blog post, prepare tea, watch quizzes, make tea and then watch a bit more TV before working on the computer.

So I came home, watched a quiz, fell asleep, ate tea (prepared by Julia), watched TV and started frittering time on the computer. It wasn’t quite how I had planned it. I also missed the cut-off time for making changes to my grocery order.

It is now late and I am writing a blog post whilst feeling tired, and remorseful for my lack of energy.

We had an interesting medal brought in this afternoon, along with some cloth arm badges. The medal is named to the Royal Naval Air Service and one of the cloth badges is from the RNAS too. The other two were worn by the same man but are just general naval badges – the chevron is for 3 years service and the anchor is the badge of a Leading Seaman, or Leading Mechanic in this case.

The RNAS was a short-lived organisation, formed in 1914 as an air arm of the Royal Navy and disbanded when it became part of the RAF in April 1918. It was an interesting organisation and carried out various duties in the war, such as strategic bombing, airship flights, anti-submarine warfare, the development of aircraft carriers and it  even had an armoured car unit. From this you may deduce that nobody was really sure what to do with it.

The recipient of the medal is fairly well documented. Born in London, he joined up in 1916 at the age of 18 and served at RAF Cranwell (which was, at the time, a base of the RNAS, despite being in the middle of Lincolnshire), was demobbed in 1919 with the rank of Corporal Mechanic (paid 5 shillings a day) and by 1939 was an engineer in Loughborough who was also a member of the ARP. He died in Worthing in 1966.

Approximately 100 years after his war service ended, his family sold his war medal and uniform badges to us.

RNAS Mechanic’s Arm Badge

They say we all die twice – once when we stop breathing and once when nobody remembers us. Sometimes, when I find details of a medal recipient, it feels like we are helping him live again.


Day 173

What to write about. The early hours of the morning have arrived, I have parked the post I wrote, on the grounds it wasn’t working, and started to look for another 250 words.

This is post 2,701 by the way. I know this because the number 2,700 caught my eye when I was preparing to write. For some reason 2,700 seems like a significant number, where 2,701 doesn’t. Numbers are strange that way. Write 2,700 and it looks worthy of note, but 2,699 and 2,701 aren’t. They are too messy.

At the moment I am in the middle of a long dry spell, in a writing sense. I did submit a piece this morning but my haibun haven’t been doing well recently so I’m not holding out much hope. It’s also going to a magazine that has started demanding contributors write to a theme each issue and I’m not keen on that. It is another level of difficulty to worry about in writing the poem and it involves fine judgement. In Japanese forms of poetry they want more subtlety in handling  a theme than they do in English verse, and it’s easy to miss the mark. It’s like the poem I had rejected a while ago for obscurity. If you add a footnote you are being pretentious, if you don’t you are being obscure.

If it’s accepted it will be subtle. If it isn’t, it will miss the brief. Simple.

It’s like white space. The editor for today’s submission likes white space because it is a sign of things left unsaid (Japanese poetry is very big on things left unsaid) but other editors have criticised me for having too much white space – it detracts from the impact of the haiku according to one of them. The others just seem to like a single paragraph of prose with no gaps.

Eventually I will get going again. In the meantime, a rambling diarylike entry of 300 words will do to fill todays post. Sorry it wasn’t more insightful, but sometimes all I have to offer is a view of the inside of my head.

Meanwhile, there has been an earthquake in Afghanistan and people on the news are discussing how we deliver aid to a country where we don’t like the Government. The answer is, of course, that if you live in a country with any sort of moral values you send aid first and worry about politics second. I imagine it’s hard enough living there at the best of times but much, much worse if your house just fell on your head as you slept.

My worries aren’t really worth discussing compared to this, but they manged to sneak in as the first thing I spoke about. Strange how self-centred we can be.

Day 172

The Longest Day. It is all downhill from now on as the nights draw in and winter approaches . . .

Too depressing?

It’s been that sort of day. I fell asleep in front of the TV and when I woke up realised I had been subliminally bombarded with politics and warfare. That’s why I gave up watching the news several years ago. I can absorb most news from the internet in a less depressing format and stay informed without feeling that Armageddon is just around the corner.

News reporters love misery and they lay it on with a trowel instead of just giving us the facts.

I find myself very annoyed with the Russians and would, if put in the position of Putin’s nanny, give him a slap on the bottom and send him to bed with no supper. However, as the man already has what the British refer to as “a face like a slapped arse” it might be tricky selecting the correct end to chastise.

This morning the journey to work was busier than usual, which we attributed to the rail strike, but half-way through it suddenly became almost empty. So much for the rail strike theory.

Life in the shop was pretty average and I wasted my evening with a nap     (as mentioned), mindless TV and browsing the internet. All in all it’s been one of those days that would not be missed if it disappeared.

The photos are from the garden, being mainly photos of growing teasel plants. I’m afraid most of them won’t be allowed to flower as they are too spiky to be allowed to grow that close to the footpath, and we will end up taking them out.




Day 171

We had an interesting day in the shop.

When I arrived a young woman pulled up next to me and said hello. This is unusual. All was explained when she said she was there to do the survey, though I had been expecting her at 11.00 rather than just before 9.00.

It turns out that the oner had mis-read the letter. There was an energy efficiency survey at 9.00 and an agents survey at 11.00. Both featured young women who measured us up using laser measures. I just looked them up, they are only about £20. If I ever want to measure a shop I now know how to do it. I expect you get what you pay for.

Strangely, none of them wanted to know about the damaged front door (the owner still hasn’t fixed up the front door properly despite it being several years since the burglary) or the damp coming from next door. Like all property owners he wants maximum rent and minimum effort. And like all letting agents the second agent wants most commission for least work.

It feels like I’m a massive sea creature, attacked by sharks on one side and having my life’s blood sucked by parasites on the other. And I’m not even the owner!

In the afternoon we had an interesting man with a small accumulation of coins. He walked out with £700 and a smile on his face. He has just sold his house and bought a river cruiser with the full radio set-up for going to sea. He is planning on living on the boat with his wife  (with outgoings considerably cheaper than current rates and stuff) and cruising the rivers when he feels like a holiday. Seems like a good plan. I’ve been looking at boats tonight. Another dream . . .

. . . chugging along a river with wildlife and fishing and riverside pubs. I could mount an exercise bike on it and pretend I was pedalling along the river.

Dabchick, or Little Grebe