Author Archives: quercuscommunity

Time Passing

I realised on Sunday evening, as I sat by the fire watching TV, that it was the first time in about a month that I have not noticed any pain. It’s very relaxing. I now need to make sure, as much as I can, that this continues. I can’t do much about  the weather but I can make sure I lose some weight, do my hand exercises and order the pills in plenty of time.

That was about all I did during the afternoon, as the promise of the morning faded. We had stir-fried vegetables for tea and watched Miss Marple. After that I read a few more blogs and went to bed. Life is less fun since I had to start working Mondays again.

It became even less fun when I actually arrived at work after dropping Julia off. We had one parcel of 14 items to send to Australia and one of eight items to send to Canada. IN addition there were invoices, queries, offers and fourteen other parcels to send. At one point, I started to swell up like the Incredible Hulk. I couldn’t find several of the bits I wanted, things have been moved since the last time I looked at them and time was pressing. Just as I was about to ask for help in locating several of the pieces, a customer came in without an appointment. It would be unprofessional of me to offer an opinion of either his parentage or the lonely existence suffered by his two brain cells, but if it were an international event he really could bore for England.

I have  a deadline looming in six days, and nothing fit to send. Another is lurking behind that one and then there are a couple of extras I have slotted in. There are more in May.

Have you noticed that the year is nearly a third over and, having been on hold for lockdown, I have done nothing that I had planned outside writing. Writing is OK, and I enjoy it, but I really did want to get more work done around the house and garden.

Oh dear, Spring has only just started and I am in a panic about time passing. Strangely, I can calm my fears by playing games on the computer, this feeling better whilst, in fact, making the problem worse. Life is strange.

We had pizza and salad for tea tonight – reasonably easy to prepare as we bought the pizzas ready made and just added a few fresh veg. It was made even pleasanter for me because Julia prepared it. I am a lucky man.

Meanderings

I started the day with a clear plan. So far I have had a bacon sandwich and three cups of tea, replied to comments, written a haibun prose section (which came to me as I was outing my socks on) and caught with paosoren, a wide-ranging blog relating to Australia. I now know a lot more about poisonous caterpillars and slouch hats than I used to. The plan had also encompassed reading more blogs, but I’ve had to shelve that. It’s mid-day already and it doesn’t seem to be much to show for a morning’s work. Of course, as the “morning” started at 9.45, I can’t expect too much. It could have started at 6.45, but after looking at the clock and thinking for a few minutes I decided that 6.45 was too early to start on Sunday.  Even if I had got up at that time I would probably have fallen asleep later in the day, so I wouldn’t have gained much.

I didn’t exactly cover myself in glory regarding the wakefulness front last night. After posting, I went and watched the last half of a programme about Victoria Wood. As Julia decided to go to bed when it finished, I used the “plus one” channel to watch it from the beginning again. Unfortunately I only manged to get part way through before falling asleep. As a consequence, the middle years of her career are still a mystery to me.

It was interesting to find that she was a hard-working perfectionist who said that lots of people could do what she did. This reinforces my belief in hard work and determination being the way forward. It’s a shame I wasted most of my life thinking you needed talent to be successful. That, it appears, is just the icing on the cake. The ability to be successful without having talent certainly explains a lot of things I have seen on TV over the years.

Daffodils in Nottingham

Nearly 1.00 now and time to make lunch. I’m not entirely sure what it’s going to be, but I have a few minutes to think. After my disastrous failure to order the groceries online, we are a little short of provisions this week.  However, we have beans. We have bread. If I was in the habit of representing my menu choices diagrammatically the intersection would be beans on toast.

The picture of a Herring Gull perching on the head of the Cook statue at Whitby can be taken as a metaphor for our history of colonialism. Or it might just be that I was looking for a bird photograph that didn’t have a robin in it.

That was taken in April 2017. The daffodils are from April 2018 and the Magpie from April 2019. \by April 2020 the photos are all downloaded from the Library, or feature food and eBay purchases. I haven’t been getting out much.

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Lies, Damn Lies and Biographical Notes

Moving on from last night’s post, I have been asked for another biographical note. This is the one I currently use. It is about as interesting as I get.

Simon Wilson has been a poultry farmer, salesman, antiques dealer, gardener and instructor on a Care Farm He now works in a coin shop and wishes he had tried harder at school.

I did think of adding that I had farmed crocodiles on the Limpopo River, used to be a tour guide on the Trans-Siberian Railway and once played the banjolele for the Pogues on If I Should Fall from Grace with God . Unfortunately, much as I would love it to be true, it would be a pack of lies.

With hindsight I should have handled the whole identity/biography issue differently.

Zander Phoenix is an ex-special forces soldier and international man of mystery. He now lives on a farm in Surry where he writes poetry and breeds Oxford Sandy and Black pigs. If he showed you his face or revealed details of his past life he would have to kill you.

As long as I had done that before revealing my true self I think I could have got away with it. I particularly like the detail about the Sandy and Black pigs – a lesser liar would plump for Tamworths or Gloucester Old Spots.

Actually, all this has given me an idea. maybe I should enter the World’s Biggest Liar Competition. I love the stipulation in the rules that Politicians and Lawyers are barred from competing as it is only for amateurs.

Straw Bale Bowie Bear

I found the straw bear Bowie whilst searching 2017 for selfies. Bowie had several alter egos, just like I now have Zander Phoenix. I look younger in my 2017 selfies, but still believable, and reasonably well-groomed.

Stuck for a Subject

It’s 23.22 and I have made a late start. I have also made two false starts, one on the subject of writer biographies and one on the subject of aiming for 100 rejections.

I have a strong dislike of biographical notes in poetry magazines, because I really don’t give a toss for the lives of the various poets that appear in the magazines I subscribe to. I don’t read them because I am interested to know that A spent twenty years in teaching or B has a degree in Creative Writing. I read them because they write something worth reading. I am at one with the editors who don’t do notes on the grounds that the magazine is about poetry.

I’m not against talking about myself, as you will know if you read the blog regularly, but I am against writing about myself when I’m trying to get poetry published. There are too many dull biographical notes, including ones that are just lists of publications, and I don’t see any need to add to them.

Anyway, I have nothing interesting to say.

I’m currently deciding on the look for the photograph one magazine has asked me for. Do I take a selfie as I am? That will, as Julia points out, establish me as a man in the tradition of W H Davis, the tramp poet. Though, strangely, he always looks well-groomed in all the photos you see of him. Or do I  shave my head, trim my beard and end up looking like the idiot brother of Ming the Merciless? It’s not an easy choice, and it doesn’t change my writing, just the opinion people have of me.

Then there is the question of the 100 rejections. It’s really about upping the number of submissions and aiming high. That, so far, is where I have failed. I only made four submissions last month and so far this month have only submitted one thing. I have several other submissions in the planning stage but I doubt I’ll manage more than four this month, as I don’t have the finished material to send. It hasn’t helped that I’ve slowed down this month, just when I really needed to get a move on.

When I started writing poetry I didn’t realise that so much of my writing life would revolve around haircuts, autobiography and planning. I thought it was all about writing. Silly me.

Robin on a Fence

Chaffinch on the same fence

 

The Blotted Copybook

Oh dear.

I watched TV, I ate the curry that Julia had made. I watched The Great British Sewing Bee. Then, having listed the jobs I needed to do, I fell asleep. When I awoke it was too late to finish the shopping and when it arrives there will be no bread. More annoyingly, because I have failed to make it to the minimum order level, I will have to pay a £4 surcharge.

The moral is clear – order earlier. The secondary moral is that it doesn’t matter. We can buy bread seperately and £4 isn’t enough to worry about, It’s annoying but it won’t break me.

It wasn’t the only blot on my copybook, I failed to post a second time, as I intended. Then, having dragged myself from my sleep at 1 am I proceeded to make sandwiches and after that,  foolishly, sat down for a few minutes at the computer. Over an hour passed. I am closer to completing some submissions (everything seems to be dragging at the moment) but I am also late to bed, which will mean more sleep-based problems tomorrow.

Dream sequence of a clock, hands turning quickly…

Fourteen hours later. I am in trouble for passing the boss a phone call which I could have handled.

Stephen Hawking 50p

“I’ve already had a dozen like it,” I said, “and if I hadn’t passed it over to you I’d have ben rude to him.”

“I was rude to him.”

“Yes,” I said, “but I’m paid to be polite and I have reached breaking point.”

I then had another dozen, but that one pass saved my manners and the day passed off without incident. It was close though. I don’t know why people think a coin from the 1980s is of any value, or why a 50p that you can pull out of your change would be worth £6,000.  If you could pull a £6,000 coin out of your change, do they think I’d be sitting in the windowless middle room of a shop answering their calls.

I don’t mind the enquiries, it’s sensible for people to ring up after seeing yet another outrageously inaccurate story in the press. It’s the ones that clearly don’t believe me that get on my nerves. I once offered a woman a selection of coins for £2.50 each. She didn’t buy them. But she did want me to buy hers for £3,000, and left the shop chuntering about me knowing nothing.

Again, did she think I’d be standing there serving her if I could buy five coins for £12.50 and turn them into £15,000.  If I could make that sort of money every day I’d stay at home and employ a butler to go down to the shop and insult customers.

1973 50p

It’s Wednesday and I can’t think of a title

Sorry I ‘ve been a bit erratic. I seem to have been very tired over the past few days and just haven’t got round to blogging. This isn’t much of an excuse, I know, because there isn’t a lot of  effort involved in typing a few hundred words, but it just seems to have defeated me. This, I suppose is a sign that I’m getting old. When I was a lad I’d think nothing of starting work at 6am and then working and carousing my way through the next eighteen or twenty hours. I had so much more energy…

Much less sense, but definitely much more energy.

I think I mentioned that we were hard at work putting Duke of Edinburgh coins and medallions on the internet. I’m not sure if I mentioned that I remarked to the boss that if my co-worker had been at work he would have been telling us off for a lack of good taste. And sure enough, when he returned to work and saw what we’d been selling, he did comment on our poor taste. It seems to be poor taste that is gently paying off, and it has certainly paid my wages for a week.  Most of it was already on and just needed “Duke of Edinburgh” or “Prince Philip” adding to the title. The medallion pictured in my last post is now on its way to Australia. A lot of people in Australia like royalty items. A lot, to be fair, probably favour a republic.  I’m easy either way, but if someone wants to buy something, I’m happy to sell it.

That, I think is enough for now. It’s going to end up around 300 words and that’s a good start. I don’t want to bury my readers under a deluge of invective about David Cameron, for instance, who is either slightly immoral or very, very stupid, with his lobbying activities. Looking at his track record, I actually favour very, very stupid. I made the mistake of watching Prime MInister’s Questions this morning, and the current incumbent, and his opposition opposite number gave me a great insight into the politics of the school yard and the way that two reputed heavyweight intellects become childish idiots when you give them a country to run.

I had a brainwave whilst watching them, and looking at the rest of the associated sycophants. It’s a pay per view game show combining Prime Minister’s Questions and the current fascination for big cats. If I say that the working title is “Release the Lions” , you can probably guess the rest.

I still haven’t touched on roadworks, builders and pharmacies. I may have to write a second post…

An Unusual Medallion and Some Reflections on Life

As we sorted through our stock yesterday, adding items relevant to the Duke of Edinburgh, we found this medallion. It is, according to the books, the only souvenir medallion issued for the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Phillip Mountbatten.  The wedding, in 1947, came at a bad time for commemorative medals, as raw materials were in short supply and I assume people were thinking of other things.  In 1951, the Lesney company (later to be makers of the famous Matchbox range) nearly closed down because they were unable to get supplies of zinc, due to the needs of the Korean War. We also had bread and potato rationing in the years after the war due to bad harvests, neither of which had been rationed in the war.

A a further example of royal hand-me-downs, as mentioned in the above link. The famous Coronation coach model made by Lesney (a million selling souvenir) was originally designed as a commemorative for George VI and later remodelled after his death to become the Coronation coach model for the Queen. Cynicism in royal souvenirs has clearly existed for some time.

Royal Wedding Medallion 1947 Reverse

 

Royal Wedding Medallion 1947 Reverse

It’s not the most6 artistic medallion, but it does the job and shows a feature of many royal commemoratives, which persists to the present day – the Queen is depicted using a good likeness and the Duke is only identifiable as the Duke because he is next to his wife. I have other examples of this, but won’t bore you with them.

 

 

 

 

It appears that it wasn’t just me who thought the TV coverage hit the wrong note. I know it’s difficult but turning over both BBC channels to coverage of the Duke was, I feel, excessive. I thought that coverage of Diana’s demise was over the top, but it was at least unexpected, and it was news. Having said that, I have still not forgiven the British public for their great outpouring of grief for someone who, and I pick my words carefully, wasn’t really of much importance to most of us. It seems the BBC have probably overreacted because they were criticised for their lack of seriousness in dealing with the death of the Queen Mother.  I can’t remember what they did, so it was probably about right.

It’s an example of the way things have changed. In 1947 Britain still made things, These days we ship huge quantities of goods into the country from China. Plastic, in those days, was a wonder material. These days it’s held to be responsible for so much that is wrong with the way we live. In 1947 we produced a white metal medallion as a commemorative. Today, I am bracing myself for a deluge of low quality commemorative coins.

He has, it seems, left instructions for his funeral to be simple, which is pretty much what you would expect from a man who used to cook his own breakfast (in contrast to some of his bone-idle issue).

 

An Eventful Day

I had a night off last night. I’m going to claim that it is part of recharging my creativity and avoiding RSI. It might just be laziness and an inclination to watch low quality TV, but that’s for me to know and you to wonder.

This morning I had a blood test. The result was not good when they phoned it through- a rise of approximately 20%, meaning they are even more worried than they were last week. Did I tell you I’d had a letter from the anti-coagulant service? I forget these things. I don’t know if my test results triggered it or if they sent them out to everyone. It seems that during lockdown they have found people’s levels rising, which is a concern as it makes us more likely to bleed. It isn’t, to be fair, much of a worry to me because I don’t seem to be having any unusual bruising or bleeding, but the medical staff take all this very seriously.

I was a bit slow dressing this morning and struggled to get a parking spot. As a consequence, I forgot to take my mask with me and had to use one from the hospital dispenser by the door. Did you know they make masks in different sizes? The ones I bought at the beginning of the pandemic were a decent size and covered my face.  The ones my sister made me were also a decent size. The one they gave me at the vaccination centre gave good coverage too (even though it was a poor fit and, I suggest, not as effective as the sister-made one I was already wearing, which sealed well around my nose).

A Man in a Mask made by his Sister

The one I wore this morning was smaller and only covered my nose and mouth simultaneously if I balanced it carefully. I won’t say more – us big-faced people are used to this sort of discrimination – but it’s written here as a a snippet for future students who may use my blog as part of a dissertation about life in lockdown.

The Duke of Edinburgh died today. As a seller of second hand goods my first thought was for the family and the second, which followed quickly behind, was that we should get on eBay and start putting prices up. As if they were mind-readers, several customers beat us to it in the search for commemorative coins. I’m sure there will be others issued soon, as coin producers will have been getting ready for his 100th birthday and many of the dies will have been prepared. A quick change of wording and they will still be usable.

The royal souvenir market is a volatile one – it was great in Victorian times but they really caught a cold on Edward VIII. All the stuff was made, then suddenly there was no coronation. Incidentally, did you know that they crowned George VI on the same date as the planned coronation of Edward VIII, as it was easier and they didn’t need to alter most of the arrangements? What a way to start a reign. It’s bad enough being forced to be King, but even worse when you are made to use the hand-me-down coronation arrangements.

Medallions of Edward VIII

He’s been a hard-working man all his life, with a  solid naval career behind him and a record of 22,219 solo engagements and 5,493 speeches since 1952. I don’t know how many other things he did, but it’s a record that some of the younger royals may want to think about.

However, we seem to have four TV channels broadcasting  programmes about him and I’m not sure that we need all that. A few dignified programmes would have been plenty (and they have clearly been making programmes in preparation for this day).  I’m just hoping that when the Queen dies it’s a Tuesday or a Wednesday – there’s never much worth watching then anyway. Another snippet before I go – did you know that the death of George V was managed by his personal physician so that it could be reported in the morning by The Times, rather than the evening papers, which were felt to be less dignified? As a member of the Royal Family, even your death isn’t left to chance.

Wednesday Morning and Procrastination is in Full Swing

On Wednesdays, our day off, I traditionally get up earlier than Julia and go downstairs with thoughts of making her breakfast. This thought never gets past the computer, as  I can never resist using a bit of quiet time to write.

Today I sat down, checked emails, read and commented on a number of other posts and settled down to write this. They last ninety minutes seems to have gone in a blur and has covered polio, books, A A Milne, a famous England cricketer in the shower, academic redundancies, several poems, an article on whether Covid has killed our ability to socialise and an anecdote about bird feeding. Plus a few  bits and pieces as I replied to comments on my own blog.

Though I always feel bad about not reading other blogs properly, I do find that time only stretches so far. I may have to stop watching so much TV. Quiz programmes are probably good as a way of keeping my brain active, but they do tend to blur into cookery (which isn’t so mind enhancing) and popular culture (which I am sure reduces my ability to think).

A Robin singing in the fog

The sky outside my window is what Julia refers to as a “Simpson’s Sky” – bright blue with lots of cloud-shaped white clouds. If you have watched the cartoon you will know what I mean.  They don’t have cirrus in The Simpsons.

This sort of sky, when accompanied by a lot of movement in the shrubbery and tree tops, and by temperatures cold enough to require heating in the house, is a clear indicator that it is one of those “brisk” spring days, rather than a day for picnics. However, as it’s considerably better than a  a day with grey clouds and drizzle, I will accept it and allow it to raise my spirits.

Wow! I just noticed that it’s 11.00. Julia has made breakfast and I have been reading more blogs. I must get a grip on time.

I’ve been to Crowland, seeing it through the eyes of a visitor. I have written about Crowland several times. Four times, I think. My blogging life was about more than lockdown, bacon sandwiches and arthritis at one time. But time, as thy say, is a great wrecker.

Crowland Abbey

 

 

Snow in April

The big news of the day is that it snowed. It’s always a possibility in April but it’s still a surprise when it happens. I suspect all the garden centres love Easter because everybody goes out buying bedding plants, which are normally nipped off by frost. It’s a bit of a reflex, spring = new plants. Heart takes over from head, you buy plants they, get frosted, and then you buy more plants. It didn’t take long to start growing my own.

There was ice on the car this morning, which wasn’t as surprise, a we had been warned it would be cold, but it was a surprise when the temperature dropped this afternoon and the snow started falling. It soon melted, because the air temperature didn’t dip below 5° c, but it was still an unusual sight for a while.

They are still talking about vaccine reactions on the news. I have no doubt that it is true that Covid vaccine is killing people. I have, to be honest, little doubt that all vaccines, all medicines and, in fact, all aspects of modern life kill people. If you invented alcohol today, whisky would never be licensed for sale to the public. Or cigarettes.

Every year in  the UK around 78,000 people die from smoking related illnesses.

Last year 5,460 people died from causes directly related to the intake of alcohol.

There were 1,580 deaths on the roads last year.

These are UK figures, and do not necessarily reflect the state of affairs in the rest of the world.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

But as soon as you get a story that seven people have died as a result of Covid vaccine the whole world is up in arms. That’s actually seven people who died from blood clots after having the Covid vaccination. It’s not actually seven people who died of blood clots BECAUSE they had the Covid vaccine.

I’m not about to engage in a discussion with people who get their science from the internet, you are entitled to believe what you want. But may I suggest that if you are concerned about the tiny chance of an adverse event from a vaccination you might also like to give up drinking, smoking and driving, as they are all much more hazardous than having a vaccination.

I am, however, working on my next project to help reduce resistance to vaccination. I’m developing a recipe for Vaccine Drizzle Cake. I mean, everyone loves a drizzle cake don’t they?  No need to be afraid of needles, no need to worry about people staying away – they’d love a Vaccination Tearoom – and no need to worry about harmful side effects. There’s no way a drizzle cake could be dangerous is there?

Apart from the fact that obesity seems to be killing more people than smoking these days.

Nothing is safe, it seems.