Author Archives: quercuscommunity

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.


Thought for the Day

I just looked up “Thought for the Day”, because I am, I confess, running dry. Not only am I having difficulty writing, I’m having difficulty finding an idea to write about. It was a disaster.

There are sites that offer you thoughts (though “thought” may be exaggerating the level of the material offered) – “be the rainbow to someone’s cloud” sticks in my mind. Apart from the false emotion it invokes, I’m not sure that clouds and rainbows are linked.

Then there is the discussion of Thought for the Day. I always used to listen to it in the morning, but gradually drifted out of the habit. I can’t tell you the last time I listened to it, and was surprised it was still on. I suppose this shows some sort of coarsening of my spiritual life.

We had a good result at work today. Someone in Malaysia, who obtained a  refund from us for two parcels which disappeared into the system after the Royal Mail cyber attack, got his parcels. He had them eight days ago, to be precise. Somehow, in all the excitement, he forgot to tell us and arrange payment.

Fortunately, I remembered to make one of my regular checks on missing parcels,  and we were able to remind him. We’ve had no word from him yet, but eBay, when informed, repaid us. There’s still time for them to change it (nothing is ever as simple as it seems with eBay) but it looks like we have solved that one.

They don’t all work out that well, but it’s nice to win one for a change.

The strange thing about this evening, is that I arrived home full of energy and enthusiasm for work. I really did. Unfortunately, it didn’t last. I’m going to have to work on keeping the enthusiasm going – part of it, I’m afraid, consists of not sitting in front of a TV quiz show as soon as I get home.

I tell myself that it sharpens my mind, but I’m afraid it also switches me off. After reading this article, I’m going to rethink my evening  activity. I say “activity” – this probably gives a wrong idea of the average evening, where my movement is often confined to walking to the kettle and several hours a night feature me falling asleep around 11.00 when I really should be going to bed.

Framework Knitters Museum – Manager’s Bedroom

The pictures? I looked up “sleep” and got the cat. Then I looked up “bed”. One reedbed, several “raised beds” and this . . .

There were no entries for “TV”, which is a start.


A Correction

I have forty seven posts to go before I write my 3,000th. This means that my arithmetic was slightly out last time I posted, a fact made more embarrassing by the fact I used it as a headline. If simple mental arithmetic is beyond me this does not bode well for the future. Even worse, I can’t think of much to say. What is the world coming to when all I can offer is a minor mathematical error as the key event of my day?

Things went downhill after I wrote the first paragraph, so I’m going to edit the 500 rambling words which resulted and just leave this as a correction. I say “edit”, but I mean “delete”. It’s often the easiest way. You aren’t missing much, just me explaining why I am confused by modern life. If I’d formulated a plan for world peace or a way to turn rambling blogs into a clean energy source I’d have left it, no matter how inelegant it was. But I promise, there was nothing good in it, and you have missed nothing.

That would be a good world though, wouldn’t it? There would be no energy crisis if you could turn words into fuel. In the event of a war I would merely crank up my production of rants to see me through the cold weather, and would not need to think about the wholesale gas price.  The same goes for car journeys. A trip to the coast? Just slip a few pre-prepared essays into the fuel tank and we’re off . . .

No worries about pollution or the price of crude oil. It might even be possible to plug a keyboard directly into the car and set one of the passengers to typing.

And with that thought I will go away and try to think of a subject for the next blog.

Forty Two Posts to Go

Forty two posts to go until I hit 3,000. The sad thing is that when i go back over them, I lead a life that is a lot less interesting than it was five years ago, and have also managed to forget a lot of the good bits. By the time I hit 4,000 what will life be like?

Will I just get up, moan for 250 words, eat some sort of dietary grade swill and hurl abuse at the TV? That is, to be fair, a direction I can see life taking.

Or will I spring from my bed after a miraculous change in lifestyle, pen a witty 250 words and attend to my latest sparkling poetry whilst turning down an invitation to yet another awards dinner?

You can never tell. Life, so far, has been a succession of constant surprises. Mainly, these days, the surprise is that I wake up without feeling that something else has worn out, but summer is coming and that is usually good for a few months of relative happiness. Talking of which, we sold a coin from Bhutan this morning.

I was going to go into a couple of hundred words about happiness, but I looked for a link, read the results, found out that Bhutan isn’t as happy as it is generally said to be, and decided to give it a miss. This just goes to show that too much information can lead to unhappiness. A few minutes ago I was quite upbeat and well on my way to a joke about having a clown as Prime Minister (Boris, not the current one). Now it seems that I have been massively misinformed and Bhutan isn’t really a happy place (actually being 95th out of 156 countries in the 2019 survey). Now I’m sad, as it seems my faith in Bhutan may be misplaced.

The header picture is Julia, if you look closely. She is one of life’s constant surprises, as nobody who knows me can understand why she puts up with me. I can’t either. She probably ranks higher in the world happiness rankings than Bhutan too.

Sitting, Sciatica & Safe Breaking

Last night went quite well, part from the possibility of sciatica. The seats and hard, the arms are confining and the talk was a decent length – not too long but still a bit troublesome for a man with a touch of sciatica. I thought I’d shaken it off but it’s been sneaking back. Fortunately it manifests itself as a dull ache, which is a far cry from the lancing pains I had a month ago. Less food, more exercise . . .

I managed to open a safe today. I’d opened it on Monday by using wedges and had popped the lock. There was nothing of value in it, so that was a waste of time. It’s only plastic – a piece of novelty interest from the 1960s. It’s also disguised as a book, which probably offers a much higher degree of security than the ageing plastic. For some reason one of the others decided to shut it again. I like to think it’s a tribute to my deft handling that this also allowed to lock to snap shut. Who shuts a lock just after someone has spent 5 minutes opening it?

Fortunately, there are only six possible combinations, and these were all listed on the accompanying instruction sheet. As luck would have it I had to try all six before finding which one worked.

I have just been reading a catalogue from a medal auction. There are some tremendous stories in there. Obviously you get stories of heroism and selflessness, but there were also recipients who were involved in a railway disaster, a murder trial and a fatal cycling accident in the 1890s – run over by a traction engine whilst out on his bike. The stories, as I have said before, are what interest me.

That’s all for now – it’s time for bed and I’m still struggling to recapture the old form where I could do 500 words on any subject, and do it quickly. Now I’m struggling to do 250 at twice the time.





A Quick Word on Packaging

Having bought several thousand items on eBay over the years you would think I was quite good at it, wouldn’t you?

It seems I’m not. I did spot that several items that seemed cheap last night had serious deficiencies, which an honest seller would have noted in the box for reporting the condition. However, I bought a medallion last night which I didn’t think about too hard and just found, on paying for it, that the postage and packing is about twice what we would charge. And we, as we keep being told, charge too much.

It’s only  couple of pounds, but it goes to show that you need to be careful when buying.

One of my least favourite things happened last Saturday. Someone decided he could save money by sending us an envelope containing his own packaging. I haven’t seen that done for twenty years and thought it had died out.

If you want the postage and packing for nothing, come and pick the item up from the shop. I had a few people do that to me before, and they always send woefully inadequate packaging materials. last time it happened to me I wrote and said that I would use the materials provided but that it was at his risk. He wrote back demanding to know what I meant and I told him what I thought of his materials (bubble wrap with most of the bubbles already popped, and an ordinary envelope). He decided to argue his case and it went downhill from there.

The one that sent the stuff last week sent substandard packaging AND understamped the envelope. We added 20p of stamps and effectively paid him for the privilege of sending him his order. I’d have sent it back with the stamps as provided and let him pay the Post Office the £5 penalty charge. The others, being nicer to customers than I am, put the stamps on and posted it for him.

What these people don’t understand is that there is a cost to having a properly wrapped parcel.

However, I’ll leave it at that, as this could be a whole new rant and it’s the Numismatic Society tonight, so it’s now time to chat to Julia and have a cup of tea.

The Day that Never Was

This morning I woke with a determination to do more work and make several steps forward in my struggle with the English language.

What I actually did was blog, make breakfast, watch TV, make lunch (which was soup and a sandwich), mess about on the computer, watch TV, snooze, cruise eBay, watch TV and make the sandwiches for tomorrow. The actual “work” element of the day (unless you count TV and eBay as “research”) was about two hours.

It is now just past midnight and I really should get to bed, but I thought I’d make one more post before retiring.

I had a letter from the Ribble Rivers Trust. I donated a year or so ago to plant a couple of trees. They sent me a letter and certificate then disappeared from view. The new letter tells me where the trees are planted and provide a photograph of a couple of holly leaves and some out of focus tree planting tubes on a hillside. I hope they were aiming for an abstract effect, because if they weren’t I have to question their thought process on this one.

I will probably not live to sit in the shade of the trees which I am paying to plant, which is, they say, a sign of a mature society. It’s also a sign that I should have started supporting tree planting schemes years ago, then I might have been able to benefit.

Tootlepedal, of course, is well ahead of me on this – he is involved in a plot which is raising enough seedlings to cover Scotland in trees.