Monthly Archives: August 2022

Day 220

I’ve just been watching a couple of programmes on Philip Larkin. There are four on tonight but I can’t take so much concentrated culture. I hadn’t realised that he died when he was 63. I may have left it a bit late to become a famous poet, as I am now a year older than he was when he died and nobody has heard of me.

I was finally able to talk to a doctor about my adverse reaction to the medication. They hadn’t been able to fit me in for a telephone consultation yesterday and the receptionist was in the middle of fobbing me off again when I stopped her and told her I was confused as I’d been told I could ring about adverse reactions to medication at any time. The words “adverse reaction to medication” worked like a charm and a doctor eventually rang me to discuss it. It seems it’s a well known side effect. I already knew that. They are going to change my medication to slow-release capsules, which should, with luck, solve the problem.

Backlit Sumac Tree in the MENCAP garden

At work, there were a few parcels to sort and the normal phone calls to answer.. Julia rang in the early afternoon to ask me for a word she couldn’t call to mind. It’s normally “sumac” because she has a blind-spot concerning that particular tree. They have one in the Mencap garden so it does crop up in conversation.

This time, however, it was “name a motorway services in Cumbria”. She meant Tebay. Fortunately I am a husband of many talents.

They are known for their pies. Most of my pictures which include Tebay in the title feature pies.

Lamb and Mint – Tebay


Day 219

Two acceptances today – one where the editor told me they thought a touch of punctuation might be in order. I agreed with them – I had looked at putting a dash in that very place but then decided, in the interests of simplicity, to leave it out. Nice to find I’m synchronised in my thinking with and editor. I bet if I’d put it in they would have suggested leaving it out. That has happened before.

The second was for a members’ anthology. They asked for 3-5 submissions. If you send five you are guaranteed that one will be accepted. I didn’t see the point of that, as I send them in to be tested, so I sent three. One was accepted, so I passed the test.

So far, so good. I still have a couple waiting for decisions, and really should get on with writing more. My literary legacy won’t write itself.

I had what I though was probably an adverse reaction to medication last night. If I say it was a digestive upheaval you can fill in the details for yourself. I didn’t get a lot of sleep  and still felt actively ill in the morning so, regretfully, I took the day off. It was lunchtime before I got downstairs and after 2.00 before I felt like doing anything. That activity took the form of writing a rather dull explanation of what a haibun is (I was asked a couple of days ago) so I left it when Julia returned home in favour5 of drinking tea and watching TV.

Mint Moth

I’m feeling better now, though slightly resentful that I told the doctor I didn’t want to alter the medication. I don’t think their medical education, despite being long, is very flexible. When a patient tells you he doesn’t want more pills as a known side effect is digestive disruption, and he already has trouble like that from another set of pills, I think it might be a good idea to listen and work out a different solution. But what do I know?

Mint Moth

Pictures are Mint Moths – I was discussing them with Helen earlier.

Day 218

We had the first plums from the tree in the garden today. They are very good, but the crop is not going to be a big one this year.

We also had a Small White and several Large ones in the front garden today, so things are looking up for butterflies. I’m thinking about planting dwarf sunflowers in pots for next year. They will look cheerful and provide bird food. I just looked them up and they are a foodplant of the Painted Lady caterpillars.

We just had a letter from the people who supply our power infrastructure (who are different from the people who supply the electricity). I only found that out last year. They are collecting information on people who need extra help in case of power cuts or other problems. We qualify because i am near pension age, have mobility problems, chronic illness and will have medication in the fridge (the new injectable stuff has to be kept in the fridge).

This is a new steepening of the downward slope that leads to old age and damnation. It’s OK now, but ten years from now they will be using this list as a starting point for euthanasia. It stands to reason that if they can’t cut taxes the government will have to cut overheads. You don’t need to be an economist to work that one out. If you aren’t working you won’t be seen as necessary.

I used Julia’s Low carb cook book as inspiration for a large salad tonight. I didn’t need it for a salad recipe, just to persuade me that salad is a food. I am still not convinced . . .

Day 217

A Red Admiral this morning as I left for work, a Large White when I got home, then a grasshopper by my feet. This isn’t a bad selection of wildlife for a sun-blasted patch of concrete slabs and weeds. I saw several more butterflies as I sat watching TV in the evening. What puzzles me is where grasshoppers come from. Butterflies fly in, but how does a grasshopper end up in my front garden, which is not, I feel, an attractive spot compared to the average meadow,


We bought several lots of stuff in the morning, sent five parcels off and then concluded a deal on a large collection. Normally people tell us they have a “large collection” or a “ton” of old coins or a “box of coins” and by the time they get to us they have become a “small accumulation”, a couple of kilos of coins or a handful of coins. In this case, when someone arranged to bring a large collection in o0n Thursday, it really was  a large collection. It had been put together with a plan and it filled six large boxes. At the moment there is little room to move in the shop.

At one time we actually had three customers in the shop this afternoon, which was good, as we need to take some money to  make up for what we spent. Business is still slow and hasn’t really picked up to pre-lockdown levels. We are thinking that the move to card payments that took place during lockdown may have stopped people looking through their change.

With no change to look through, interest in coin collecting declined. It’s just a theory, but it seems logical.

Global warming, war, pandemic, cost of living crisis . . .

. . . and our theory about the lack of coin collectors hinges on the declining availability of 50p coins.

Stephen Hawking 50p



Day 216

Guess who is pictured in Contemporary Haibun Online? That’s right, me. There’s a distinct danger that I might become a bit full of myself if I’m not careful. However, I will try to moderate my smugness and act in a professional manner. Here is the link.

For those of you who are reading this more than a month after I post it, you will need this link for the poem. The photograph will have gone at the end of the month and my crumbling pixels will have been dispersed in the cyber winds. This thought on the transitory nature of my minor triumph should serve to keep my ego in line.

Meanwhile, we had a Gatekeeper in the garden yesterday. I say garden, but I mean 10 x 20 feet of concrete slabs and weeds. It’s a miracle that anything grows, and an even bigger miracle that insects find it. I don’t think we’ve had a Gatekeeper in the garden before.

Today we had a Large White when I got home and, as I unlocked the front door, it was joined by a Red Admiral. It doesn’t mark an upturn in butterfly fortunes, as three butterflies in two days is not going to change the world, but at least it feels like our attempts at wildlife gardening are doing a little good.

Tonight I browsed Julia’s new cookery book (it’s crammed with low carb recipes) and worked out a menu for the week, before ordering groceries from ASDA. Looks like we will be eating more salad.

Day 215

The inside of my right elbow (known as the antecubital fossa, in case you have ever wondered) currently looks like it has been the victim of a vicious assault. This is probably an exaggeration, but it is showing a variety of bruises from three blood tests over the last three weeks. Nobody seems able to grasp the concept of “trying the other arm”. It’s partly the fault of the layout in phlebotomy rooms, which always seem to be set up to allow the phlebotomist easy access to the right arm.

The NHS has a fetish about the right arm. A few years ago, during my three month adventure with the urology department, a junior doctor told me he had come to insert a cannula. I queried why it was necessary, as I was only in hospital briefly while they treated an infection. I was told it was standard practice as it saved time if I needed to have one put in later. Clearly this was unlikely to be the case, but they do have a one size fits all approach and it’s easier just to let them get on with it.

“Can you put it in my left arm?” I asked.

“No, I’m sitting on this side of the bed and it’s easier to put it in the right.”

Not better for the patient, easier for medical reasons or anything like that, just easier for some pompous newly qualified doctor with the bedside manner of a city trader.

They are, in case you’ve never had one, difficult to insert if the subject has veins that don’t like having needles inserted. The record was, I think, 13, when I counted the marks from all the false starts they once mad whilst inserting one. Then you have the problem that after a few days they start to itch and become sore. All in all, I’m not a fan . . .

Photo by Anna Shvets on

So he put it in my right arm, after several attempts, and went.

Less than 24 hours later I woke up when Julia came to visit, and she pointed out that the cannula had become dislodged and was hanging on by a single piece of adhesive tape.

That’s what happens when you put stuff in my dominant arm, I move it more than the other and things get caught. Unfortunately he wasn’t about when I asked for assistance in sorting it out.

Wate Lily

Day 214

Sometimes plans go well. I woke reasonably refreshed and was able to get ready quickly. Leaving home at 7.30 I had a closer view than I wanted of the new roadworks on the Ring Road and arrived at Queen’s Medical Centre for 7.50.

I noted that the phlebotomy department at the Treatment Centre is still socially distanced, unlike the department at City Hospital. The paperwork I needed was at Rheumatology Reception, where I read and ticked the boxes on my forms (apart from the one about pregnancy – I’m just fat, honestly).

After that it was down to Phlebotomy, where I was number 105. 102 went in as I sat down and I was soon seen. The TB test is, it seems, the most expensive test they do as the blood is sent  to Sheffield for testing. They take one tube of blood but have to divide it into four lots. It was interesting to have a test I haven’t had before. In case you are wondering, I have to prove I don’t have TB before I can go onto the new medication.

The perfection of the day was broken when the parking ticket machine broke down. I buzzed the office and they told me to go to the exit and they would let me out. This was what happened. I must check my statement when it arrives and see if a payment went through – I also want to check, after making several attempts, that I haven’t been charged multiple times.

Julia was up by the time I got home and we went out for breakfast at McDonalds.

It is not, so far, a day of great sophistication or significance, but I’m enjoying it and I’m happy to settle for that.

It’s a case of being happy with what you have and not making yourself unhappy about things you can’t have. I’d like to be eating seafood on a private yacht in the Caribbean. I’m eating junk food in a rattly VW in Nottingham. In a minute I’ll be drinking tea in front of TV with Julia and deciding what to do with the rest of the day. More poetry filing, I think, followed by lunch, TV, a little light writing and more TV. Possibly internet grocery shopping and pizza and salad for tea – we have a lot of home-grown tomatoes and they won’t eat themselves . . .

Day 213

I checked dsh today. I am in it. That was short and sweet, wasn’t it? No preamble, no false modesty. I’m getting the hang of it now, though when I re-read it the words “could do better” emerge like a mantra from the past.

Apart from that today has been dull but busy.

I had a telephone consultation this morning – the one I should have had two weeks ago. I need a blood test for TB. This has to take place at the Treatment Centre at the Queen’s Medical Centre. No, I don’t know why. But then, I don’t know why I had to have my last chest X-Ray at QMC either when I have a perfectly good hospital only half a mile away from the house. It’s at 8am, so at least I won’t waste my day. Well, I may waste my day, but it won’t be on blood tests. I also have to sign some forms to give a private company access to my medical records – they are the people who will be delivering my new medical treatment.

Yes, I too would have organised it so I could have done it all in one visit. Apart from the convenience, there is the carbon footprint and the pandemic to consider. And no, I don’t really want to open my records to a private company, but I do want the new medication. It’s all very strange.

I’ve also booked my car in for MOT and servicing at the garage that’s 200 yards away from the shop.I did consider using it after my previous garage moved, but I’m loyal and I stayed with my original garage. As detailed yesterday, they have now packed up, leaving me free to move.

Last night I listened to the song of the D-Day Dodgers (the troops that fought their way up via Italy, instead of landing on the coast of France). I knew of the nickname and that there was some ill feeling about it but didn’t realise how serious it was until I listened to the song (there are ruder versions so be careful if you look for alternatives). It took several years, and some terrible battles, to reach the top of Italy. The role of my family was limited in WW2. having been thinned out considerably in the previous one. Two served in the Dunkirk campaign and two in the desert and Italy. None of them went to France in 1944. Therefore my whole family were D-Day Dodgers.

Anti-tank defences – Gibraltar Point.

The anti-tank blocks in the picture are a few of hundreds still scattered along the east coast of the UK, a reminder of times when we really thought an invasion was coming.


Day 212

I finally got through to the people who service my car this afternoon. It’s taken two weeks to get through and I have been getting concerned by the lack of return calls. The worst has, I’m afraid, happened.

They had to move a few years ago because a property developer wanted their unit to build flats on. He evicted a couple of other businesses too, including a restaurant which had recently been refurbished. Years later, the new flats have not been built, a new restaurant has opened, and several lives have been ruined.

They reopened in a new unit which wasn’t very convenient for me, but I stuck with them as they needed the business and they’d always done a good job.

I now have to report that, sadly, they have had to close down. A lot of customers didn’t move with them, there is not a lot of business about, and, with COVID, nobody needed car servicing because nobody went anywhere. I have certainly cut back a lot on driving and have had less need for car servicing and repairs.

Sunset, Notts

It’s not just losing a garage, it’s losing two friends I’ve had for the last twenty years.

A pox on property developers, I say. I needed a garage within walking distance. I don’t need a bunch of millennials in flats, particularly as they are likely to cause parking problems.

and with that thought, and with 290 words needed to reach my target, I will add a longish final sentence and a picture of a sunset. Or several.

Sunset at Sherwood