Author Archives: quercuscommunity

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.


Canada, Coyotes and Covid

I got home yesterday at just after 4.00 and spoke to Number Two Son in Toronto because he was on WhatsApp with Julia. I commiserated with him because his new dog is disruptive, demanding and destructive and found myself unable to resist mentioning that was exactly what I felt when he was at home. It just seemed like too good an opportunity to let slip. Transatlantic sarcasm – an unforeseen benefit of technology. I was also able to comment on the quality of his wood flooring, which looks excellent. This is he sort of technology they had on Stingray and Thunderbirds when I was growing up, though I always though it would be reserved for saving the world, rather than commenting on wood flooring.

It seems that if you have a dog in Canada you have to protect it against coyotes. My first thought is that you should make sure you buy  dog that can see off a coyote, but it seems that this isn’t as easy as it sounds, as coyotes are more lethal than they look on TV. To get something capable of seeing off a coyote you have to invest in something that would be a danger to small children. And would cost a fortune to feed. That doesn’t sound like the sort of thing you would want as a family pet. Alternatively just buy a cowardly dog that always runs away when it sees a coyote. That’s probably simpler. Life in foreign countries throws up so many problems that we don’t have here.

Yesterday was quite busy in the shop, which was good. There is something depressing about a shop with no customers. We are gradually getting more visitors again as people start to put their lives back together, but it’s taken a long time. This year, I suspect, is the one where we start to forget about Covid, although the shortages in the shops will persist thanks to the war in Ukraine.

It would be interesting to come back in 100 years and see how this time was written up in the history books. Liars and Lame Duck Governments is a book just waiting to be written.

The header picture is a cat, our apex predator. Badgers are too slow, foxes eat worms and insects, dogs are lazy and can’t climb trees. That leaves the cat.  They may seem domesticated but don’t be fooled. Once they learn to work a can opener the human race will be living on borrowed time.


Snow, Swans, Superglue

In the end, the snow settled, even if it was a bit wet and half-hearted. It was less evident by the time I arrived at work (it’s always less snowy at that side of town) and by the time we closed it was a bright sunny day with no snow. We do, unsurprisingly, have a touch of snow remaining round the house – shade and a northern aspect hindering the thaw.

I saw two swans flying over on the way to work this morning, and, on he way back from work, saw a cormorant flying over. Judging from its direction of flight it was aiming for the lakes at the Jubilee Campus. I suspect the fish are growing to a decent size as the lakes become more mature.

Did I mention I got some pension documents through the post earlier in the week? I had some more today. Retirement, which had been seeming quite distant, is now a lot closer. Part of this is that although I have over a year until I retire, my work pension is available in a few months. This is what happens when the government tinkers with systems. In the next few months I will be making some important decisions.

One plan I am considering is gathering all my cash together and sticking it all on red for a single spin of the roulette wheel. If it goes well I will have a more comfortable old age. If it comes up black I’m in deep trouble.

After yesterday’s post we had one of those married couple discussions. We have agreed to add superglue to the list of things I am not allowed to handle unless under supervision. If she reads this I’ll probably find that roulette tables have been added too.

The Superglue Story

My glasses fell apart a few months ago. They came off awkwardly and one of the arms fell off. It fitted back on but every so often, including in the middle of my medallion talk, it comes off again. I usually just push it on as I’m not near any glue, and it stays on for a couple of weeks.

Last night it came off and I decided to take the glasses to work in two parts, so that I could glue them using the tube of superglue in the drawer.

Now, I’m not a vain man, and have never let appearance intrude in my spectacle buying, as a look at my glasses collection will tell you. Over the years my long sight has grown longer and my distance vision has improved as my close-up vision has declined. I have worked round this with a selection of cheap non-prescription glasses in a variety of styles, and have a selection of black, brown, zebra-stripe and purple frames to show for it.

The chances of me being voted “Spectacle Wearer of the Year” are not enhanced by this picture.

However, it is undeniable that people do judge on first impressions and if you are wearing the glasses of an idiot, you are going to be judged. That’s why I like the rickety pair in question – a look of tortoiseshell (which I always think looks better on the tortoise) and generous-sized lenses work together to make me look like an eccentric academic, or an apprentice psychopath, and that works well in the shop.

So, back to the shop. It’s 8.55 am and I have a pair of broken glasses on the counter, a detached arm in one hand and a tube of superglue in the other. I decided to control the glue by pushing the threaded part of the broken area into the tube. This, I thought, would cut down on the chances of me sticking the wrong things together.

Rather than go through the whole story I will cut to the final frame . . .

The glasses are back together, and the hinge is almost working as I keep moving it to prevent it clogging up. The keyboard is working, though there are some unpleasant smears on it. My jumper will never be quite the same, and will only now be wearable when i have dirty work to do.

And, after a few minutes of careful tugging, I was able to remove my handkerchief whilst leaving my fingerprints in place.

All in all, not my finest moment.

Then it started to snow . . .

Glasses from Amazon

Glasses from Amazon

Have you seen the price of Marmalade?

I’ve just done the week’s shopping online. I’ve ordered store cupboard items and various one-offs this week, so the total isn’t particularly informative, though it’s substantially up from where it used to be.

What I have noticed is a general rise in prices. Marmalade, for instance, seems to have gone through the roof. It’s one of those things – you can do without heat (just add another layer) or meat (we were cutting down anyway) but there are very few scenarios where marmalade can be replaced with an acceptable substitute.

At one time there was a range of quality and price available, the two things generally going hand in hand. Pay more, get better quality. That doesn’t seem to be happening now, as the cheaper brands seem to be adopting the prices of the more expensive brands. The expensive brands, meanwhile,, don’t seem to be going up that much. I suspect this is one of those cunning price rise strategies we are seeing in operation.

Cheap supermarkets, according to surveys, are putting prices up more than expensive supermarkets. And own-brand food is going up more than other similar food. It might be that they are having to put prices up more just to survive at that level, but my view of modern retail is so jaded I favour cynical manipulation of customers. I’ve seen very little from retailers over the years that persuades me they are determined to give me a good deal unless forced to. Cheap food is about competition and cutting quality, not about feeding people on good food. However, as the consumer seems to favour low cost over high quality who is really at fault?

Plum Jam