Author Archives: quercuscommunity

One More Quiet Day and a New Leaf

It has been a restful day today – painkillers overnight, a decent sleep and a morning spent with a hot water bottle. This became an afternoon also spent with a hot water bottle. And cake. It’s been quite good.  Perhaps I have needed to sit down with a hot water bottle and waste time. It’s far more relaxing than sitting at the computer wasting time.

I’m also beginning to think that the problem with my arm and shoulder is RSI rather than arthritis, which is mainly confined to my fingers.

The moral of this is clear – spend less time at the computer. I do my best writing with pen and paper anyway, I have been trying to do more writing at the computer in recent months, but it hasn’t worked out. I thought it would be more efficient if I sat at the computer and made myself write, which would cut out the boring process of typing stuff out. It hasn’t gone to plan – the only thing that has improved is my command of Othello/Reversi and Nine Men’s Morris. A computer in idle hands, is a dreadful thing.

So, drug abuse, my health, fashionable injuries, procrastination. I seem to have covered a range of subjects, but it all sems very self-centred. How is everyone out there? I will try to get round and do some visiting now, as I’ve not been very good about reading recently.

Having said that I have finally started on one of my pile of books to read. It feels good to be reading again, after spending so much time concentrating on writing. Or, to be more accurate, after spending so much time concentrating on procrastination. Time, I think, to turn over a new leaf.

 

Bread, Bibles and Buzzcocks

The sourdough proved to be soft and forgiving and sliced beautifully. This demonstrates two things – one that you should never talk about a difficulty until it actually appears, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof”, as the Bible and several self-help books put it. The modern translation is “Don’t worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself. You have enough to worry about today”. Seventeen words instead of eight and a complete lack of majesty – the translation is a good example of why “new” and “improved” are not always the same thing, which is my second point. You are probably fed up of my views on that, so I will leave it there.

For historical purists out there, yes, I’m aware that the KIng James version is merely a translation itself, and was seen as a retrograde step by the Catholic Church – who went as far as to execute William Tyndale for heresy. This is quite a serious criticism of his work. These days the Pope would merely troll Tyndale’s Twitter account – one way we have advanced a little.

I watched some good TV last night. Julia went up early so I had free range of the TV controls and, having no desire to type, decided to sit and watch TV. I watched Yesterday – six programmes about music in the 1970s and two about the Vikings. OK, more like one and a half about the Vikings, but the room was warm and it was getting late…

I’m now starting to lay plans for my retirement. It starts with  persuading Julia to  take up more hobbies which involve going out so I can watch more history programmes on TV. It’s a modest ambition, but with a bit of care I think I can manage it.  I did briefly think about buying a second TV and sitting watching in a different room, but we’ve never had two TVs in the house. It seems like the sort of thing that only celebrities and footballers do. If I won the lottery I would have two TVs, but one would be for staff. Well, it would be unseemly to wrangle with the butler over who had the remote. It’s clearly his job to push the buttons, but I’d prefer him to have his own TV and just come through when I rang for him to change channels.

This reminds me of my second favourite royal joke.

Prince Charles and Camilla are sitting at the breakfast table and Camilla is clearly unsettled as she looks around whilst holding a letter in her hand.

“What’s wrong my dear? You look unsettled.” says Charles.

“I’m looking for the letter opener.”

“Ah!” says Charles. “He’s not here today, I gave him the day off.”

If you think I’m exaggerating, read this.

 

Modern Problems

If today follows yesterday’s pattern I will be able to type this morning but by evening I won’t even be able to sit without being aware of the pain in my hands. Sorry if it seems like I’m moaning a lot, but I find it difficult to write about politics, philosophy or economics when my fingers hurt. I generally find it easier to write about the pressing matters close to home. Fortunately I only have severe pain for a a few days every year and haven’t had it this bad for about a year. However, it is human nature not to bother writing about things that go well.

In fact, it was just before lockdown. My hands were really bad when we went down to Suffolk in what turned out to be the week before lockdown. It was an interesting week. All the Londoners had fled to their country cottages, food was short in supermarkets, restaurants were nearly empty in the evenings and I could barely manage my shirt buttons. Yes, on one of the more historic weeks I have lived through, I had trouble dressing myself. It will be an interesting chapter in my memoirs – the world collapses and I debate the merits of wearing T Shirts. Or Tee shirts. Or T-Shirts. I wasn’t sure how to spell it, so I checked it up. Seems the rest of the world isn’t sure either.

I’m going to make brunch now. Part of it is sourdough bread and I’m not looking forward to cutting it. The bread knife, wielded by stiff fingers, does not cope with the bottom crust, so I have to bring out a carving knife and push it though the last bit. I should have stuck to using sliced bread.

Who would have thought it? When you are twenty you wonder about the mysteries of life, like why you have to work five whole days between weekends, whether we actually will ever get household robots and where you will keep all your money after a glittering career. When you are sixty you wonder if you will be able to make brunch without severing a finger. The gulf between the two things is fertile ground for a game of “What have I done with my Life?”

Ah well, brunch…

Good Things Happening

I forgot to tell you about something good that happened on Thursday – I finally remembered to order my new prescription from the surgery. I’d meant to do it at the weekend, but I kept forgetting. That isn’t the good bit, though, the good bit was that I remembered my username and password two months after I last used them. This probably says as much about my very simp[le password as it does about my memory, but it was still a pleasant surprise. maybe my faculties aren’t universally deteriorating.

The usual story is that every time I use a password I forget it and, next time, have to get a replacement. I spoke to Number One Son about this and he tells me he doesn’t bother remembering passwords most of the time as it’s so easy to get a replacement.

Talking of which, I looked up an article on the subject of passwords a while ago. I don’t think I wrote about it but the results made me shake my head in disbelief. Most of them are stupidly simple, even by my standards, I looked at a second list and have to say that Number 86 rang a few bells. It’s interesting to see that there are others who share my hatred of aspects of the internet. I’m told that British codebreakers of WW2 were given lists of German swear words, as German soldiers, like me, were given to profanity when thinking of passwords.  I notice echoes of this on the current list of most common German passwords. It might be the same in all countries, but I am not able to swear in all languages.

Actually, I see I can recognise at least one Spanish swear word and that the Italian for password is password. At least the French go with motdepasse.

There will be a break of a few seconds now – I need to alter the password for my banking details. I wasn’t very happy with them last time I had to alter it.

Finally, it seems that the best way to ensure password safety is to use a password management system. I always thought that was a way of having all your passwords lifted in one go, so I’m not going to rush into it. I will, however, be looking at the patterns I use to produce passwords.

Just one more thing before I go, I know I said I was going to stop doing this, but have a look at this month’s Failed Haiku. I’m near the top this time. (That’s Simon Wilson for those of you who don’t remember). Most poets adopt a meaningful and mysterious name for their poetry and use the boring one for everyday life – just one more way I have got it wrong. I’m near the top, in case you are wondering, because I got my submission in early – it’s about speed rather than quality.

Just Another Rant

After a painful day yesterday I am enjoying my day off today and am feeling quite sprightly. There’s a slight bittersweet quality about the pain free nature of the day because I achieved it by taking a double dose of paracetamol (which is a bad thing to do) and a double dose of ibuprofen (ditto). There’s some reason that I’m not supposed to take ibuprofen. The doctor did tell me, but I’ve forgotten. They have given me a gel to use, because I can have ibuprofen as a gel, just not as a tablet, unfortunately that has one major fault – it doesn’t actually work.

The other, minor,  problem is that my knobbly fingers have an unsettling quality at the best of times. but when coated in a shiny gel they look like the sort of low-budget horror make-up associated with British TV of the 1960s.

I wasn’t actually going to talk about my delinquency regarding over the counter pain remedies, I was thinking of a piece on a social issue, or  something philosophical on writing. Somehow I just seem to find my level chatting about health, TV or sleeping. Not even talking about health really, my subject is mainly  unhealth, which probably isn’t a word. However, it stands in relation to unhealthy as health and healthy stand together, so it should be a word.

I haven’t been keeping up with drinking guidelines recently because I stopped drinking  thirty years ago. I just checked them up and see the Government suggests limiting alcohol consumption to six pints a week. Beer, that is. I was going to check it up in terms of vodka but you have to download an app to check that. Download an app? What is the world coming to? It’s bad enough that I had stop smoking and drinking, now they want me to clutter my life with apps. I really would rather be a drunkard with  a hacking cough than the sort of person who browses a mobile phone and uses apps. No wonder the world is in such a state.

Next thing you know we’ll have  a Police App. Been the victim of crime? Download our app and press a load of buttons. It won’t solve your problems with anti-social behaviour and it won’t catch burglars, so in that respect it will be just like the real police.  Oh yes, it’s that time again, voting for our local police commissioner. I will, as usual, be taking a stroll down to the polling booth to spoil my paper with the words “Why are we wasting money on this nonsense?”.

 

 

A Few Bits of News

The arthritis drugs aren’t working as well as they have been and my fingers are starting to play up. I wonder if it’s the time of year as they did this to me last year. As the world slipped into lockdown my major concern was getting dressed with half my fingers out of action. It’s staring again and this morning I had to use a hot water bottle to get my hands working when I got to the shop.

he anticoagulants aren’t working well either, as shown by my recent test results. They are wandering about all over the place and have become rather too high recently – meaning I’m now in the zone where I could have  a problem with bleeding. Not so bad for a shop assistant but when I was gardening this would have been a nightmare. I used to bleed badly after pruning pyracantha at the best of times. It would probably look like a horror film if I did it these days. I’ve had a leter from the hospital about this – ity seems they are seeing more erratic results in lockdown, and that levels generally seem to go up. That’s a relief, as I have been trying to work out why it was happening. Seems I’m just part of a lockdown phenomenon.

Do you remember that I was short-listed by Acumen magazine a few weeks ago? I prophesied that I would fail to make it from shortlist and my prophesy turns out to have been wrong. I have two poems accepted for the next issue and have just checked the proofs. I’ve never been accepted by a magazine that has proofs. I must definitely be going up in the world.

I think I’m going to have to stop writing about my poetry writing because things are going too well at the moment and it’s getting a bit close to showing off. I’ll wait for some bad news before writing about it again. To be fair, it should only be a week or two before I get cut down to size.

Am I the Only One?

WP seems to be running very slowly, added to which I am not getting my normal pages when I try to write. Am I the only one or has WP decided to give me more unwanted “improvements”?  I really hope ntm as i’m not in the mood for more messing about.

There were more people out on the roads yesterday, and more people walking around in the evenings, so it looks like the easing of lockdown restrictions is having some impact. I’m not sure what the easing is, to be honest, aas I no longer bother to keep up.

I just checked – we are still supposed to minimise travel and work from home if we can. Not sure why there is more traffic about, in that case.

People can met outside, including private gardens – two households or groups of six, though it doesn’t say if you can repeat this every hour or whether you are limited to just the same other  household for the next few weeks. The stay at home rule is ended, though w are still asked to minimise travel and no holidays are allowed.

Outdoor sports can start again, though that’s a bit vague.

You can get married, with up to six people attending. Not sure if that includes bride and groom.

Other countries within the UK have different systems, so if you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland the timings will be slightly different. They do this to justify the huge costs of their devolved governments and to show they are different from England, rather than because it makes any difference.

I am fairly sure that life in the Midlands is different from life in London, and we could  justify having our own government. The West Midlands has a population of 5.9 million, which would make it 114 on the world list, above Singapore and Denmark, for instance. The East Midlands is slightly smaller, at 4.8 million, which puts it around 125 on the world list – slightly below Ireland and level with New Zealand.

Compare to Scotland (5.4 million, Wales 3.1 million and Northern Ireland at 1.9 million, and the Republic of the East Midlands starts to look like a viable proposition. We have access to the sea, an airport and a world class cheese industry, what more do we need?

 

 

 

Jentacular Spectacular

I imagine that all proper writers are currently walking in the countryside, writing , or at work wishing they were doing either of the other two. I am having my customary Monday off, and sm wasting my time playing Nine Men’s Morris on the computer.  However, I have taken a grip of myself and am now writing after squandering most of the last 100 minutes on games and emails and checking eBay.

The post has just arrived so I will pick that up and on the way back I might as well put the kettle on. I’m not expecting anything good in the post so it will only be bills and circulars, but any displacement activity is welcome to a keyboard loafer.

On the way to the kettle I noticed we had a single wrap left in the bag. We have been keeping a few in as they stop us running out of breadlike substances for packed lunches. One isn’t much use though, They make a very good substitute for an oatcake so I thought while I was waiting for the kettle to boil I might as well stick a bit of bacon in this one and thus clean up the kitchen a bit. I added mushrooms, because we have quite a lot of them too, four small tomatoes which are going a bit soft, and a spring onion, cut in half and then sliced lengthways. When cooked and wrapped it did indeed make a passable substitute for an oatcake. I now feel much more able to face the day and do some work.

My Orange Parker Pen

The post wasn’t quite useless, as it contains my copy of Poetry Review. The outer, which looks like it is compostable, though it doesn’t actually say so, contains the magazine plus a number of extras – a copy of Poetry News, which I normally skim and recycle, a flyer for the Winchester poetry Prize, which I won’t enter, a Bloodaxe Catalogue and the Winners’ Anthology for the National poetry Competition. I’ll read the Bloodaxe catalogue and dream about being in it, and I’ll read the anthology so that I can feel affronted that, once again, I didn’t even make the long-list. However, after my recent success in the BHS competition I am content.

Can anyone answer a grammar question while you are here? Is it a Winners’ Anthology, as it doesn’t belong to them, or is it a Winners Anthology because its’s an anthology by more than one winner?

You can read the winners here.

And, of course, there is Poetry Review. It’s a serious magazine full of serious poems. It contains essays, translations and reviews. I confess that I don’t always read it all. I’m going to read some of it before lunch, then I’m going to write Limericks. Once my mind is receptive to lightness again I have haiku to write, as I am suffering a haiku deficiency and my haikuless haibun collection is crying out for closure.

 

 

Some Feelgood Photos

Stilton and Date Scones

Yes, I admit that I could have included kittens, puppies and seals, or even smiling babies and teddy bears, but none of them really make me as happy as pictures of home baking. I really should start doing more of it, but my hands make it difficult. Maybe a mixer is in order. I could also have included pictures of Julia but that would just be sentimental., and, let’s face it, most people would rather see scones.

The cicones in the picture above are Date and Stilton Cheese scones – my own recipe. They are better than they sound, in case you don’t like Stilton, because the Stilton flavour doesn’t really come out in them. If you do like Stilton they are slightly disappointing, for the same reason.

Grantham Gingerbreads

Tricky biscuits because they are supposed to open up and be hollow in the middle. I’ve never quite got that right, though they taste OK and look alright on the outside. Only made them twice because, to be honest, they are more trouble than they are worth.

Peppermint Creams

I like peppermint creams but I may as well just inject myself with glucose syrup as they are basically just sugar with a bit of extra effort thrown in. The most important thing about making them was that they pick up any bit of loose colour in the cooking area. They even managed to take up blue from the chequered table covering.

Gingerbread Men

Probably should be called gingerbread people in these days of political concern. Or Gender Fluid Gingers, as there is no actual indication of gender. This would probably annoy  people with ginger hair…

OK, they are biscuits with ginger in them. Since when did biscuits get so political?

Wheatsheaf Loaf (with mouse)

Mouse on Wheatsheaf Loaf

These are useless because you can’t actually eat them, but they were always nice to make.  Not only was it good to feel artistic for once, bu it was nice to be part of an ancient tradition.

From Bed to Verse

Post 2,313

28th January 2021

As usual, nothing of importance to relate. I woke while it was still half-dark and had to look at my phone for a time check. The clocks went forward in the night so we lost an hour and I can no longer tell the time by the degree of light outside.

Temperatures have dropped from yesterday, it is windy and there are flecks of rain on the window. From what I remember of setting up my WordPress account it would be called something like “Standard Autumn”  or even  “Just Grey”.

All the normal things happened, the ones I normally filter out of my daily posts – trouser troubles, stiff knees, feeling the gaps when I brush my teeth.

I found myself thinking about prostates this morning. It’s my age. part of me says that I really ought to have a serious conversation with a doctor. Part of me says that I do not want to be part of any conversation that occurs whilst I have my back turned to a stranger wearing rubber gloves. Even worse, a conversation with someone I know, who is wearing rubber gloves.

That led me on to Richard Mabey. When I was last in male urology I was in the middle of reading one of his books and Clare Pooley suggested another of his books when I was convalescing. He ended up in male urology at one point and used the experience to write about water, internal and external, in a a philosophical manner. I used the experience to complain about the NHS, including sandwiches made with white bread and two cancelled operations. I seem to lack the spiritual dimension needed to be a great nature writer. I could, however, have had a lucrative and fulfilling career as a management consultant in the NHS if my life had turned out differently. Or as John Lewis-Stempel. I wouldn’t mind being John Lewis-Stempel.

This is an interesting thought but not one I’m going to dwell on as i have things to do. Poems don’t write themselves, and, as yet, there is no such thing as self-spreading marmalade. That would be a great advance – no more balancing knives and pots on corners of my desk where papers and pill packets haven’t spread. No more juggling, no more sticky patches on the desk, or fluff on toast.

I must make a note of that. But first I must write poems. I am feeling in a very Limerick mood.

A Suffolk blogger called Pooley,
has a name that rhymes with Gilhooley.
It could have been worse,
in this sort of verse,
it often ends up rhymed with…

…that probably needs a bit of work. It may also not work for Americans as I am not sure. I just checked the dictionary and things got even more confused. On top of that, and following the nature writer theme, I find there is a man called Tristan Gooley. Words fail me. And that is not a common occurrence. And this was going to be such a subtle ending…