Monthly Archives: October 2023

Still Sleeping, Recovering and Repeating . . . and Browsing

Today has mainly featured me sleeping, recovering and repeating, as mentioned in the previous post. It hasn’t, unfortunately seen me doing much in the way of work. When the doctor suggested another week off I was happy as I was feeling quite ill at the time. I also thought I may get some time for writing. Unfortunately this hasn’t happened as I am still quite out of it. This is what I’ve discovered before – healing takes longer these days.

Tomorrow I will try a little harder. Julia is off tomorrow, so although she will find lots to do, I will be able to spend at least an hour or so with her, probably more if I act in a pathetically needy manner. The doctor did say that she would rely on boredom and daytime TV to drive me back to work and I can feel it happening. Even if it does turn into a discussion of my shortcoming and my need for exercise (we don’t see eye to eye on that at all) it will still be better than sleeping in front of antiques and makeover programmes.

Where, I ask, have all the decent quiz shows gone?

I found a really interesting internet site earlier on. It seems to be South African in origin (it features the letters “za” which I always take to indicate Zuid Afrika) but I won’t hold that against it. I still haven’t got rid of all the junk I picked up when using a South African family history site so I am always a little suspicious. However, it did present me with the snippet of information that some Roman Coins had been found whilst excavating a Japanese Castle.

The link is a different link so you don’t need to worry about the security. They are 4th century coins but the castle thrived  from the 12th to 15th Centuries, so they seem to have spent a lot of time travelling. Were they actually used as payment, or did Japan have coin collectors a thousand years ago?

I am distinctly short of suitable photos.

Japanese Quince – Arnot Hill Park


Sleep, Recover, Repeat

Clara Butt – Obverse

Clara Butt Reverse

Sorry. They say sleep is essential to recovery, and I seem to have been concentrating on recovery (in a chair in front of TV) for the last couple of days. The good news is that it’s working, but I do seem to have slacked off on the blogging.

In the wakeful gaps I spent some time reading a book that claims it’s possible to write a novel in ten minutes a day.I must have bought it a few years ago, judging from its position in the pile. So far it’s proving to be a disappointment. I know it’s theoretically possible to write a novel in ten minutes a day (even Don Quixote, if your taste runs to that length) but I was hoping for more specifics. So far it’s been about how to manage time.

This is useful, but so far it’s more about time management than writing. However, the fact I’m writing this is proof that it works. I’ve planned a sliver of time to write and I am using it. later I will watch an antiques programme then, probably when I wake up, I will write more. Or eat then sleep then write more. I’m undecided on the exact order.

Leicester Base Hospital showing soldier in “Hospital Blue” Uniform.

The “Base Hospital” was also known as the 5th Northern General Hospital. In 1914 it was empty, having formerly housed the county Lunatic Asylum. In 1921 it opened as a University, eventually becoming Leicester University.

I can tell I’m getting better. Last night I went to bed after deciding I didn’t have the time or energy to do the display on fund-raising flags I was planning for the Numismatic Society. This morning I woke up with the outline in my head. The brain is a wondrous thing.

It’s  bit nippy now, despite supposedly being a warm day. I’m going to go into the other room now, put a blanket across my knees and try a spot of recovery.

Sir Harry Lauder Obverse


Sir Harry lauder Reverse

Sir Harry Lauder was a man of many parts and the first British recording artist to sell a million records. His son was killed in 1916 and Sir Harry spent much time raising money for the war effort, including his Million Pound Fund to help disabled Scottish soldiers on their return home.


Bald, Short, Unelectable

Part 2 of my examination of world politics.

It’s conventional wisdom that bald men do less well in elections than people with more luxuriant hair covering. Donald Trump’s streaming locks show that even  comb-over can help a candidate with his success. Boris Johnson’s hair was clearly important to him, and did the job of persuading the electorate that an egotistical, opportunist liar was just the man we needed to steer the nation through difficult times.

Mute Swan

Biden did well, with his hairline, to oust Trump. Boris was initially replaced by a woman, an experiment the Americans have not yet tried, and then by Rishi Sunak, who has an enviably elegant hair cut, but is terribly, terribly deficient in other factors needed for electoral success. Yes, it’s inches that count. American research shows that the tallest candidate normally wins these days. It hasn’t always been the same, but in days of television it does seem to be the way. Eisenhower was balding and only 5ft 10½ inches and probably wouldn’t have won if TV had been better established. Tall enough and hairy enough to lead the Allied Armies to victory in Normandy, it’s strange to think that in modern times he would probably not have been elected.

Why is all this? Is it because tall, hairy men are seen as more virile? Or is it, as some research suggests, merely because they are used in advertising to depict desirable characteristics? This is an interesting examination of the question – from a UK marketing magazine but based on a lot of American research. Here’s one on height.

Mute Swan at Clumber Park

I’ve just been looking at the heights of British Prime Ministers and have discovered why Britain is declining in importance in the world. It isn’t just that we were bankrupted by two World Wars, or that our industry is badly run, or that everyone hates us because of the Empire. Much simpler than that – our leaders are too short. Simple.

In the UK we have the additional factor that it’s easier to become PM if you went to Oxford University. In fact it’s almost obligatory. Of the 14 Prime Ministers in my lifetime there have been 11 who attended Oxford University, two who attended no University and one who went to Edinburgh.

Yep, short upper class tossers. That’s why we are in this state. I really should have gone into political analysis rather than poultry farming.

Whooper Swans on farmland near Frampton Marsh

Finally, I have to quote the MarketingWeek article because it fits my view of 21st Century Britain so well. No need to follow the link if you already clicked it, but it’s full of good stuff.

” We live in an era of unprecedentedly widespread affluence and choice. And many people enjoy the fruits of this abundance, despite their being at best half-educated and at worst near idiots. They bring both to the market and to the polling booth a self-centred, babyish superficiality and desire for instant gratification.”

Bewick’s Swan stamp

All three British swans for this one, though Bewick’s is only on a postage stamp and the Whoopers are not terribly clear..

Enough About Me

Tufted Duck in the sun

Another day and another sliver of progress. Unlike the first few says of the week progress is slow but moving forwards. The early days of the problem were marked by a tendency to move forward then to slip back during the day. This is not happening now. It’s slow but the slipping back seems to have gone. Unless a miracle happens I think that’s enough about me and my ailments for now.

I’m also going to try to extend the range of my blogging. Most posts seem to be about me these days, and there are plenty of other subjects.

Mandarin Duck – Arnot Hill Park

Like Joe Biden. Remember when he won the election and immediately told the UK he was brought up on his grandmother’s stories of our tyranny in Ireland and we were going to suffer for it? Well, I assumed that his grandmother had suffered at some point in the 20s. Doesn’t look like it. When he won the election the main Irish parts of his family had been in the USA for 170 years. His grandmother was born to parents who had themselves been born in the USA.

He could, I suppose, take comfort from the fact that his Irish family had, since 1921 lived in a free Irish state. Imagine if he had come from a group that still lived under occupation, and still hadn’t had their land back. He’d feel really bad then, I expect. You can see where this is going can’t you? It would be embarrassing to have President lecturing on the evils of repressive government whilst it had unsettled claims from people it had stolen land off, wouldn’t it?

Mallard – Arnot Hill Park

And what if land was still being stolen in 1954? Or 1973?

Actually, he’s a politician, so he probably wouldn’t feel bad.

We were actually taking about this in the shop a few weeks ago. At what point do you stop hating people for the past and try to work with them for a better future?

Gadwall drake

It’s ducks today. I had trouble finding them, then realised they are mainly listed under species rather than just “duck”. They are in descending order of colour. gadwall are actually identified by their lack of obvious identifying features. Poor things.

Another Day, Another . . .

Goldfinch at Screveton

Another day and another small advance. Things are looking up slowly – I am better today than I was yesterday (even though I am far from fixed) and I have had another poem accepted. It’s for a members’ anthology and the system is that if you submit five you automatically get one in. Submit three and you have to be selected by the editor. I always go for three as five seems a cheat and I will know any entry has been tested.

Moorhen on bird table

Obviously, as I become older and follow the family path to dementia, I will be glad of the other option to ensure seeing my name in print.

Julia left me ham sandwiches for lunch yesterday. I am being well looked after. However, I hadn’t been very hungry so I’d left the, For breakfast, after the fruit and cereal, she added cheese to the sandwich and we had cheese and ham toasted sandwiches as a sort of brunch. The catering really is very good at the moment, though I expect it to revert to self-catering next week as I continue to make small recoveries day by day.

Nuthatch at Rufford Abbey

I’m managing to keep up with the blog but anything creative seems to elude me – a combination of sleep deprivation and daytime TV is blunting my wits.

I’m thinking of two historical mystery novel series – Mistress Marple, an elderly spinster from the village of St Mary Mead and Poirot, a refugee from the Eighty Years War in the Spanish Netherlands, owner of a twirly moustache and a formidable set of “les cellules grises”.

Goldfinches – Dearne Valley

They will need a little work, including some name changes to avoid being sued into oblivion by the Estate of Agatha Christie (now Agatha christie Ltd). That’s the trouble with daytime TV – you fall asleep, wake up with a brilliant idea and find someone has already written it.

More birds. Tomorrow I will try ducks.

A Fine Line

Great Tit feeding young

There’s a very fine line between getting arrested and not getting arrested when you speak to a strange woman on the phone and describe your genitalia, and its problems, to her. That fine line depends on whether she is a doctor or not. And even then you would be wise to ring during working hours. At 3am, for instance, it is less acceptable.

Even then I came off the phone wondering if I should have been quite as informative, as we had never been properly introduced.

Blue Tit

Yes, I rang the surgery this morning. At 8am I was Number 17 in the queue. It seems they have started opening at 7.30. I’d have tried earlier if I’d known. I was in the queue for 20 minutes and got through to a receptionist, who informed me that there were no more appointments available today. However, she did say, after listening to my story, that she would arrange for a phone appointment later that morning. So I went back to bed. A week of disturbed sleep had left me exhausted. Last night, for instance, I was up more than once an hour as my bladder sprang into action on a regular basis. I say “action” as it’s part of the expression. In truth there was just about enough action to stop me exploding but not enough to empty properly.

The doctor rang at 11ish and proved to be a very good doctor. She listened to the full story and quickly grasped the essentials (no that wasn’t meant to be a double entendre but I’ll leave it there as it seems too good to lose). I have another week off work as it is impractical to work in  a shop whilst having dodgy bladder control, so I no longer feel guilty about being absent. I also have a referral to Urology, albeit with a note about ringing them if I haven’t heard from them by 22nd December.

Great Tit at Rufford Abbey

To be fair, two months is pretty good compared to some of the old waiting lists we used to have.

In the 1920s, before the NHS, one of my Uncles was born with learning difficulties. The doctor’s bill for his early care was equivalent of two year’s wages for my grandfather. This, was the Land Fit for Heroes that Lloyd George had promised. Despite this start my uncle grew up to be a man much admired in the local community for his great good humour and work ethic.

Marsh Tit at Rufford Abbey

My mother, in the late 1960s, (the Golden Years, if you listen to people going on about the Good Old Days) came close to death as she waited patiently for an operation on  a goitre. It seems it had grown so large that it could have suffocated her in her sleep. This was, apparently her fault, though how she was supposed to know was never explained.

I’m obviously not happy about fifteen hours spent waiting in A&E, but compared to previous generations I’m not doing so bad.

Feeding tits at Budby Flash

It’s birds again today. Birds are calming, though they illustrate another fine line. I typed “tits” into the search box. I once got into serious trouble with Julia about doing that until I showed her the pictures. You would think they would either Americanise it, as with so many things, to chickadee or go back to titmouse, which was what they were called prior to the Great War.

Ups and Downs, with a Distinct Lack of Ups

I’m feeling slightly better because the infection seems to have gone. Unfortunately the other difficulties remain. This is what happens when a doctor doesn’t listen and only treats one of the two problems. As such, I am feeling well enough to make vegetable stew for tea, but would have practical difficulties if I went back to work. I will either have to get an appointment to talk to a doctor tomorrow, or pack a picnic hamper and  go down to A&E again.

With sandwiches, bottled water, books and a pillow I’m sure I can pass a perfectly acceptable day surrounded by impatience and misery. And, in my case, incontinence. Oh what a joy it is to be alive. Sometimes you only appreciate things as they slip away. Of course, if you put the drama to one side, I am 99% sure they will fix it and that I will go back to not appreciating things again. It’s human nature and I am very weak.

To add to the misery, I just had a rejection. It’s from  journal that has published me before, but it’s a guest editor this month. For a moment I did feel quite down, but that’s the infection rather than any sudden sensitivity.

I know how it goes. Guest editor, shiny new toy. When the publication comes out it will, despite the desire to be different, be much the same. Good writers will always get in. I will read the magazine, note the names, nod significantly as I see many of the same old names, then start reading. Some will be great, some good, some will be worse than my rejected submissions. It’s always the way . You can edit things, but you can’t make poets believe that they aren’t good enough to be published. If we were capable of believing that, there would be few poets.

Time, I think, to shrug it off, keep up my fluid intake, and plan tomorrow’s picnic. You know the old saying about lemons and lemonade? This is “When you have fifteen hours, pack a picnic and a good book.”

Robin at Clumber, Nottinghamshire

When in doubt, bung in a Robin.


News of an Old Blogger

I had a nice surprise tonight when I checked my emails – Charlie Robinson, who used to blog as Charliecountryboy, popped up on Linkedin. I rarely get any use from it but I’ve now reconnected with two people I’d lost touch with so it’s quite useful.

He says:

I have published my first novel. The Siege of Mr Khan’s Curry Shop. I am presently working on a sequel and a separate collaboration novel. ‘If I Were You’, a romantic drama spanning two decades. 10k, Half Marathon, Marathon and Ultra Distance runner and member City of Hull AC. Passionately believe in challenging and motivating myself and others to achieve their best.

He also says he’s been short-listed in a short story competition (top 10) so it looks like he’s doing OK.

Apart from that I’ve napped, had a blood test (which I have already mentioned) and watched TV. made a few notes for new poems (based on my stay in A&E) and watched more TV.

Late in the afternoon i was roused from a nap by a ringing sound which I recognised, after a few rings, as my phone. In the other room. Missed the call, rang back and was told vie a recorded message, that they would ring back.

What could it be?

It turned out to be my blood test results. Not the ones from this morning, but the ones from 3am on Tuesday morning while I was in A&E. They may be slow, but they are thorough. The ones that were done this morning have got lost. To be fair, I did forget to take my form with me, though I did make a call to alert them to this. I can’t be the only person who forgot their card.

Gladstone Pottery Stoke on Trent

And Now – Part 2

This is Part Two of the post I wrote in the early hours of the morning.

At that point I was still struggling, but a couple of hours later, things seemed to improve. It wasn’t a great improvement but it was enough to give me some hope. This morning I felt better again, and was pleased to note a distinct improvement in the quality of my urine, which is where I will stop. There are, I’m sure, websites and specialist journals devoted to the subject, but for general purpose, lightweight blogging, which is where I consider my blog fits, “improved”  will suffice.

Photo by Anna Shvets on

Having said that, you might be amused by this short article (written by a proper scientist rather than a blogger with a questionable sense of humour). She treats it in a much less flippant manner than I would. I think I may have thought of a profession for the historical detective novel I keep thinking of writing.

I had a blood test this morning (does the joy never cease).  I’m now waiting to see what problems arise from this, as nothing in the NHS is ever simple. There are two sorts of nurse in our surgery – the ones who talk, listen and do their best to help. And the ones who are brisk, talk over you, and work to their own agenda. I’m not so keen on the second sort, though I would forgive them if they seemed to offer a better service than the first sort. They don’t.

Meanwhile, I am on the mend, so can’t complain too much.

Photo by Pixabay on

As an aside, they often say that the symptoms of confusion in the elderly are a sign of a urinary tract infection rather than actual dementia and I can now confirm this. The pain/panic/symptoms on Monday completely took away my ability to concentrate. Yesterday, with symptoms and sleep deprivation I had severe problems concentrating and keeping up with conversations. Today, despite improvements i’m conscious that I’m dragging my feet in mental terms (though my ability to mix metaphors remains strong).

It seems that I have perpetually linked bladder problems with soft fruit in the mind of one of my blog readers (sorry Derrick!). Let’s see what comments I get from using these pictures . . .

Photo by Tembela Bohle on

Warning – Danger of Oversharing

If you’d asked me on Saturday, what I really wanted most in the world it would have been a mix of things. Family, a nice home and happiness would have been the top three. Well, I have family, I will have a nice home after we move (this one needs work, as I may have said and I am mainly happy. That’s not bad.

Ask me Monday and I would have been terser, and much more basic. By that time I would have killed for the ability to empty my bladder.

Yes, I’m back in the grip of urological problems, which regular readers may remember from before.

I won’t give too much information, as there is a very fine line between frankness and over-sharing. One is desirable in autobiographies, the other is a modern curse.  Forgive me if I stray over the line.

Let’s just say that after a difficult day I went to the A&E department at our local hospital at 4am, and when they asked, reported that my problem was that I hadn’t been able to pass urine for eight hours. The NHS, on their website, considers that 4 or 5 hours is a serious problem. At A&E they are much more casual about it. I was seen after an hour then waited around four more before I went to ask what was happening and was told to ask round the corner. I went round the corner and asked, where I was told dismissively that my name was on the list for a scan and that I would probably be able to see a doctor around midnight.

Fortunately, at that point, I found myself able to pass a little urine – it was erratic and we are talking about very small amounts, but it did offer some relief, both physical and mental.

Eventually they got the scan result showing my bladder wasn’t emptying despite my efforts. I had actually told them that seven hours previously. That’s a working day for many people.  It seems that in the NHS it’s a perfectly acceptable time to wait between tests. It’s a long time to retain urine at any time, but on top of the original eight hours it was quite a worry.

Think of a shop. You go in at 9am when they open, tell them you would like a coin, are interviewed an hour later, confirm your desire to buy a coin, and are made to sit round waiting. Eventually, after waiting, you ask again and are told that you have been put on a list to see if you can pas a test to buy a coin, and that you will be able to see a coin salesman when you have been waiting for eight hours . . .

To cut to the chase – blood pressure again, doctor (diagnosis given that seemed to have little to do with the facts of the case I had provided them with) urine test, another scan, another blood pressure test, blood test, doctor again, cannula removed, pills given. And, I think, blood pressure again. (After 20 hours with no sleep, things were getting hazy). I’m glad to say that mine stayed own through the whole experience, as I meditated.

From entry to the system to seeing a doctor, a little before midnight – almost eight hours.

However, from seeing a doctor until release, a little over seven more hours.

Yes, a total of fifteen hours.

I arrived home just as Julia was leaving, ate the breakfast she had left for me and went to sleep for eight hours. She has, as they say in the Bible, a price above rubies. It was only her text at 1am, suggesting that she report the NHS to the Police for kidnapping, that kept me going. The anti-biotics have had little effect and there has been no improvement as I continue to struggle.

This is merely a narrative account of my life, so I will offer no further commentary.

I thought fruit and veg photos would be a calming motif.