Monthly Archives: March 2023

Late Nights and New Plans

I spent last night, and a large part of the early morning, paying the price for poor time management. Having snored my evening away in front of the TV I started preparing submissions a little before midnight. The original plan had been to produce five submissions in the month of March. It ended up as a plan to make two submissions in the last two days of the month. I say “plan” but there wasn’t much planning involved, just a recognition that I was going to have to scurry around and get a couple of submissions done. I did it with hours to spare.

I am at work now, after snatching a few hours sleep, and though I could probably submit something tonight, I don’t think I will. I have very little to send, and submitted a couple of poems last night that had only been written twenty minutes before sending, which is considered bad practice in writing circles. You are supposed to let them mellow before writing the final draft. Larkin, I believe, took years over some of his poems. A book I read last week recommended two weeks, which I don’t really think is enough. However, I’ve been struggling to write, as you may remember me mentioning once or twice, so I didn’t have much to offer and, wanting ten pieces for a magazine, I wrote three to make the numbers up. The proof will be in what happens next.

Later . . .

Back home, sitting at the computer, I have just finalised the shopping delivery for tomorrow. As usual, I have a lot of things to do and the first thing I will do after finishing this will be to start work on submissions for April. As the days grow longer and the trees fill with blossom, it’s probably a good time to start writing poetry. It’s also time to reflect on the fact that I rote the majority of the blog in a fifteen minute gap in my pre-work hour. After dropping Julia at work I usually arrive early at work and just start packing. I really am a model employee. I think, a part of my time management I may start spending 15 minutes preparing the day’s blog. It does make things easier.


Trams and Transportation Trauma

Today I went to hospital to see my rheumatology specialist.They say that you can tell you are getting old when the policemen start looking younger. In my case it’s the consultants in hospital. The two I’ve had both look like they should still be at school. I was sorry when the previous one moved on, but they new one seems very good too. I like this new sort of consultant.

The rest of the day wasn’t quite so good, as was eleven minutes late for my appointment, which meant I had to wait to be seen. Really, I was only four minutes late, because I then had to spend seven minutes waiting as the receptionists dealt with patients who both seemed to have long, complicated requirements. I hate being late, but I particularly hate waiting in a queue and becoming even later.

Trees in a car park

I all started with my decision to use the tram to go to hospital.

We only have two tram lines in Nottingham, so it’s quite a simple system. You go to the tram stop, buy a ticket from the machine and get on he tram. Last time I used one Julia came with me and we had an interesting time on cramped seats looking at the armpit of a Dutch woman. It reminded me why cars, though killing the planet, are still more popular than public transport.

With so little to go wrong I was rather put out when Julia mentioned she wouldn’t be able to come with me this time. As if I am a small child who can’t be trusted to travel alone on a very simple system.

I think these are near Slaidburn

As it turns out, I actually had trouble before I even saw a tram. The ticket machine has a key pad, a couple of places to swipe cards and a screen. I couldn’t get any response. I couldn’t use the coin slot as I’d emptied my pockets of change as I knew it would take a card. It seems that the brightly lit screen with the advert is key to all this. If you tap it, it becomes some sort of space age console for buying tickets. How things have changed over the years. This sort of technology only used to be available on TV sci-fi programmes.

One of the advantages of having sticks, white hair and a confused expression is that complete strangers stop and ask if you need help. There is a bright spot in every event.

So, back to the simple system. I managed to miss the first tram whilst messing about with tickets. It was about ten minutes until the next one. I waited. A tram arrived, on time and accompanied by a flashing message on the platform display, so I boarded. Seconds later started, and a recorded announcement revealed that I was on the wrong one. What are the chances of that? I’m still not sure how it happened.

Fortunately, despite this, and the lack of maps in the carriages, I was able to work things out and get off several stops later where I then waited again and boarded the right tram. I tried ringing to tell them I would be late but couldn’t get through.

Pretty sure this is South Wingfield, where Mary Queen of Scots as an unwilling guest

Eventually, I was delivered to the tram stop at the hospital, where a walkway gave me access to the Treatment Centre. It’s quite an impressive piece of construction. Sadly, though I come from a nation that features such explorers as Cabot, Cook and Captain Scott, it seems that my ability to undertake long journeys into the unknown does not compare to theirs.

The trip back from hospital, being more crowded, and featuring various assaults on my olefactory system by a liberally applied combination of cosmetics, was an eye-watering exercise in why I want to live in a desert, and further highlighted my lack of fortitude compared to my forbears.

The pictures are thrown in at random. I haven’t been taking many recently. The captions show my lack of organisation in my early days when I didn’t caption every photo.

A Memorable Day

It was a quiet day on the phone today. In fact it was so quiet that I was able to mention the fact without the phone immediately ringing.

That was memorable.

This evening I went on the national Lottery site to buy tickets, and decided to have a go on one of the instant win games. I instantly won £20. It’s still a mugs game, and you never see a bookie on a bike, but for a moment I felt like I’d achieved something. I probably told you that I was in a syndicate when the national Lottery was first launched, and gave it up after several months, when i worked out that although we won a small prize most weeks, we were actually spending £6 to win £1.

Number Three event of the day was Number One Son and the Anti-Money laundering regulations. He had to be checked today as he is putting in an offer on a house. It turns out that his name sets alarm bells ringing and he is listed on a government database as a person of interest. It’s not him of course. He has a father with a popular name (it’s not common, it’s popular, as my mother once pointed out). Wilson is the 313th most popular surname in the world, which is quite good when you consider all the other possibilities.

It’s the sixth most popular name in the UK and, according to something I once read, the third most popular surname in the north-west of England. We also have a family tradition of using plain English names as given names, which means that although our kids have names that have recently lost popularity, they have names that were very popular in the last fifty years, so there are a lot of them about.

It’s a relief to know that money laundering and terrorism are prevented in the UK by a group of people checking a list. Slightly less impressive when he told me how to get off the list – you have to write and tell them it isn’t you and they will let you off. It’s a good thing that terrorists and criminals don’t tell lies or we would really be in a mess with this system of ours. Just a shame that our ex-Prime Minister doesn’t have he same regard for the truth.




A Potential Pill Polemic

Sunday draws to a close and I am considering writing another post. I have a lot to write about, but much of it takes work, which is why I generally ramble a bit then stop.

It’s lucky I did sit down tom type, as my Warfarin were by the side of the keyboard and this reminded me to take them. Normally I keep all my pills together but these had become separated. That makes it seem like something that happened, rather than something I did. In fact, because of the different ordering cycles of my varied pills, they don’t always arrive at the same time and in this case I picked up Warfarin on its own, wandered home and put the pills by the side of the computer instead of in the box. Once that happens I sometimes struggle to remember to put them in the right place.

My normal pills, I have one a day and get two months supply at a time. Regular as clockwork. methotrexate is ten pills on one day of the week, and they only let me have four week’s supply at a time. Folic acid, which I take on non-methotrexate days, is issued as a two month supply, generally on alternate months on the same day as the methotrexate. The Warfarin comes in 100s and I have to take 2½or 3 tablets a day depending on the results of the regular tests. And then I have the injector pens once a fortnight, but they are delivered so that’s not a completely different problem.

I hope you’ve been keeping up. I, to be honest, find it all a bit tricky and have to rely on my diary. You can see why people get mixed up. Fortunately I take them all at the same time so I don’t have problems remembering to take them at different times. That will, I assume, come later.

At one time I had a plastic device to pop the pills out of the packets, as it’s tricky when you have arthritis. The plastic device didn’t actually make it easier and I used to drop a lot more.

You can list this under “things they don’t tell you about getting older”. I’m thinking of writing a series of blogs about it, but you know how it is – I’ll do a couple then I’ll forget . . .

A Breakfast Quandary

If I stop work now (9.55 am) I will have done more than I do on some days, and probably about the same as I did all yesterday. This isn’t an excuse to stop, but it is a reason to start planning breakfast.

I made beans, toast, black pudding, mushrooms and bacon yesterday, because I’m an unimaginative man and that is what I consider breakfast should be. Ideally it should also have eggs, sausages and tomatoes, and I wouldn’t object to hash browns, fried potatoes or bubble and squeak either. Plus porridge, toast and marmalade. The reason I didn’t go for the whole lot yesterday (apart from lack of some supplies) was laziness – I would have needed to wash some pans to do eggs and tomatoes.

In retirement I may try experimenting with my breakfast menu a little more. I may also experiment with housework. It’s never too late to try something different and I may enjoy it.

We really should have cereal or porridge this morning, to keep things light and healthy . . .

I’ve just had a few minutes looking at breakfast omelettes, but I keep being drawn back to the ones that feature  full breakfast with eggs poured over the top.

I’m thinking of soup again for lunch. Yesterday’s tomato soup was very nice, particularly as it is cheap. I may try carrot today and use it for lunch during the week too, as I’m trying to eat healthy lunches again.

The big project of the morning so far has been preparing a short talk on the Memorial Plaque of the Great War. Every year at the Numismatic Society we have an auction and a Short Papers Night to break up the various talks, I’ve decided to prepare one, even though it might not be needed. It’s useful to be one paper ahead of the game, rather than one behind.

Compared to my last presentation this is coming together quite quickly. It’s probably because I’m using it as a displacement activity – I really should be writing poetry and it’s always easier to avoid the pressing work and do something else. In this case I have poetry to finish for the end of the month so I’m writing a presentation I won’t need for at least six months.

My capacity for poor organisation really is quite remarkable.

Olympic Breakfast

Despite the picture, we had porridge. And toast and marmalade.

The Morning After a Bad Night’s Sleep

I went to bed early last night as I was feeling unwell and decided to do something sensible. As usual when I try to do something sensible, it didn’t work. I had a disturbed sleep and am currently not feeling well rested. This always seems to be the case. Whether i’s because I was ill, because I don’t naturally sleep more than six hours a night or am simply allergic to being sensible, I don’t know.

My keyboard is currently missing “t” almost every time I use it. Again, I’m not sure why. It might be because I’ve raised the keyboard by balancing it on a book. This is better for typing in general but has made the keyboard a bit shaky and every so often a key will stop working as I am clearly not striking it properly. The life of a village idiot can be very trying.

You would think, as get close to 3,000 posts, that I would have learnt something, wouldn’t you? Even if I hadn’t increased my knowledge or intelligence, you’d have thought that my control of a keyboard would have been improved. Same goes for my typing accuracy. Or writing ability.

But no. An uncorrected page of Quercus typing is a bloodbath of typos, inelegant phrasing and  poor spelling. I have also been known to use cliches, verbal tics and, as if that wasn’t bad enough, tedium.

The only area in which I have improved has been in the speed with which I can conjure up a post from very little, For instance, with little more than disturbed sleep and bad spelling I have been able to produce a post in around twenty minutes. It’s not lightening fast, bu it’s not bad when you consider it used to take me hours to produce a post at one time.

I’m hoping the next post will be better.

Mandarin drake

Late . . .

I did it again. Approaching midnight and . . . I fell asleep and woke at just after 1.00. I just made sandwiches and it’s 1.27. Is this a good time to write? No. Am I going to anyway? Yes, of course I am.

Having bad habits and ignoring my health are two of my main activities. This is stupid, as it’s not really as if I enjoy siting here struggling. The ideas I had eight hours ago have deserted me and all I have left is an echoing void  between my ears.

The Apprentice is over for another year and Lord Sugar has informed the country that if the BBC ever replaces him on the programme it will be the death of it because no other entrepreneur will be able to replace him.  I think he’s wrong. The programme is currently drifting and looks tired as his scriptwriters struggle to put witty remarks into his mouth, and a crowd of detestable candidates all tell us how good they are.

Tonight’s final was won by an objectionable candidate who defeated an equally objectionable, but slightly less competent candidate. It was like a rerun of my favourite episode of “Which Disease Would You Like?”, the Typhoid v Typhus episode to be precise. To be fair, they could be lovely people, but the format of the show encourages people to be excruciatingly awful.

We stopped watching it years ago but seemed to drift back into it. It’s a decision I regret, but at least it gave me the subject for a post.

Downsizing, Decluttering and Döstädning

All productive days need a list somewhere near the beginning. If not, you risk wandering off the point, lose motivation and, as I often do, become confused by the number of tasks. Once you are confused by the profusion of tasks it is hard to settle down and achieve anything.

Some things need to be done every day – replies to comments, checking emails, maybe looking at eBay (which is of varying importance, depending on what I am bidding on). Others don’t need doing, as they are just time-wasting habits of no importance.

It is now some time later . . .

I looked up soup recipes using tinned soup, which was something I had meant to do. Then I made the lunch, using one of the recipes. Well, part of one of the recipes. We are out of smoked paprika and the lentils would have taken too long to cook.  Then I had to take Julia to an appointment so, while I was out I nipped to the jewellery shop as I haven’t been for a while.

It’s now 4pm and the day is slightly slipping by, despite my mention of lists.  I am now going to spend another hour on tasks from the list and see how it turns out. I suspect it will be better than some of my recent days.

In the last post I said “research some articles, write some bits for the Numismatic Society Facebook page and knock some submissions into shape.”

I’ve done a bit of research and polished a poem. So far, apart from the soup, they are the only actual list-type things I’ve done. I’ve also found a specialist book dealer who may buy some of my books. I need to downsize and if I can make  few shillings at the same time it will be good.

I’m going to start calling it döstädning, which is Swedish for Death Cleaning. Actually, I might just call it Swedish Death Cleaning, there are a lot of umlauts in there now I come to look at it again.

Ah! I’ve just come up with a new title . . .

Blue Skies and High Hopes

Six, two and one are, I have no doubt, all excellent numbers in their own way. If I had six BAFTAS, two Oscars and one Queen’s Medal for Poetry, I would be a very happy man. However, if you list them in that order and display them on the screen of a clock, they are less good. They are particularly bad when it is your day off and you set the clock for 8.30. What’s the point of having a day off and not having a lie-in?

I spent a disturbed night, with recurring dreams of bleak horror that would, I suspect, make a really good screen play. Written down, my dream could be the work that wins my first Oscar. However, experience suggests that I need to check what was on TV last night between 11.30pm and 2am. I was asleep in the chair at that time and I have been known to absorb the plot of a late night film as I snooze.

Today I am going to research some articles, write some bits for the Numismatic Society Facebook page and knock some submissions into shape. It feels like an industrious sort of day. However, many of them do and many of them don’t make it past breakfast. That’s why I am currently starving – I daren’t stop in case I lose that enthusiasm.

The sky is a lovely blue this morning, with just a few shreds of white cloud. Add the cloud to the movement of the trees and I suspect it is a bit breezy. It also feels a bit nippy. I’m tempted to put the fire on, but that would be a bit nesh.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term the Etymological Dictionary defines it thus:

“tender, delicate, weak, physically soft in texture,” now a Northern England dialect word but it was common in Middle English, from Old English hnesce “soft in texture”

I used the word because it is the one that fitted my purposes precisely, and I included the definition because I suspect it isn’t widely used.

Unfortunately, I just spent ten minutes lost in the dictionary, and am likely to return to it later. That is, as I have said before, the lure of the internet and the peril of procrastination . . .





The recent arrival of my pension documents through the post were a bit of a shock. Retirement, is becoming real. It was, in my thirties, a far off myth, a bit like Avalon or Narnia. In middle age it became the subject of daydreams, where we would wander off, hand in hand, into some fuzzy place where we would do things we had been putting off. Later, it became a place of dread, as my delinquency in failing to make proper pension arrangements came home to roost. Finally, the time has arrived.

We now have to start putting plans into action, and make some decisions. At one time I would have had no problem with this – I would simply have set a date and done it. Theoretically it’s easier than when i was younger, as there will be no employment to work round when retirement comes.

In practice, there’s a lot of physical and mental clutter to work round. It’s time to declutter on an epic scale, and face the fear about what I will do when i have no job to add form to my life. I also have to face the fact that a lot of my plans aren’t going to happen. I won’t be walking miles across salt marsh looking for Bitterns, and I won’t be writing any best-sellers in a late-blooming writing career, because I’ll be watching Countdown. I may be old, but I’m not senile, and can see the writing on the wall (which is what Countdown is all about). . No matter what I may wish, the habit is set (as discussed in my last post) and despite all my good intention I am likely to go to the grave with the song still in me.

Unfortunately for the construction of this post, Thoreau actually said that most men lead lives of quiet desperation. The good bit, the bit about going to the grave with the song still in them, is a misquote. Isn’t that always the case?

Quotes are never as good as you remember them being, which is a quality they share with much of my life.