Author Archives: quercuscommunity

Day 200

I woke at 6.30 and washed, sat on the bed to put my socks on and immediately felt hot again. This turned out to be due to hot air that had built up overnight, as it was, fortunately, cooler downstairs. Outside it was quite pleasant and the bees wee working happily on the teasel.

Reporting to the surgery for my blood test at 7.50, I asked what time the switchboard opened, because I wanted to book a telephone appointment with the doctor. They didn’t seem too keen, but I played my ace with a symptom I knew they couldn’t ignore. I won’t pass this information on as it would make you wince, but it meant that within 50 minutes I was face to face with a doctor.

I hadn’t anticipated this, and had actually planned on being in work to get the parcels off, as we are slightly behind due to the partial close-down for the heat. I was further delayed by going to the pharmacy to pick up anti-biotics, but still made it to work before 10.00. The anti-biotics are for the chest infection, not the other thing. These days I tend to save a few symptoms until I have enough to make it worthwhile navigating the appointments system.

In the afternoon I managed to salvage the rest of my day off, with lunch fro two at KFC. They were cleaning out the hot drink machine so I had to have  a fizzy drink. As an apology they gave us a very nice, though unhealthy, chocolate and fudge chip cookie. As I said to Julia as we shared it a the end of the meal, it was ironic that it really needed a nice cup of tea to wash it down properly.

Day 199 (Part 2)

Outside, the sky is yellow and hazy. It’s not pleasant, but it is probably a fitting end to a day that included a new British temperature record (40.3 degrees C in Lincolnshire, an increase of 0.1 degrees on the record set at Heathrow in the middle of the day.)

I used Tesco Whoosh to order groceries when Julia cam home after work. They had run out of ice cream but they did have ice, beer and cream cakes. They don’t all appear in the recommended ways to combat the heat, but if that’s what she wants, that’s what I order. Having spent most of my day inside, I didn’t need beer, but the ice, when placed near the living room fan, worked well. And the cake – a cream slice, was nice and cool too.

The rest of the day was mixed. I sent a group of tanka off to the British Haiku Society Anthology editor yesterday and had notification of acceptance today. He chose the one i had been least happy with, but that’s life. It was a bit of a cheat because members are guaranteed to have one accepted. However, I’m in a slump and wanted (a) a success and (b) one more acceptance to make it number 100. Now I’ve reached the 100 mark I am going to give up counting. It seems like a milestone but really it’s just a number, and no indication of quality.

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on

This was slightly marred by the interview I listened to last night where a writer said that publication doesn’t seem as important after the “first 1,000”. I doubt I could write 1,000 good poems.

I had a phone call on the land line. It didn’t ring long and I missed it. Same thing happened twenty minutes later. I counted the rings – seven. Who rings a landline and quits after seven rings. Who rings a landline apart from nuisance callers? The answer to that is The National Health Service. Despite knowing that I work and prefer contact via my mobile at least one of them prefers to use the land line for purposes of security and clarity of connection. Practicality and my preferences have no part in the process.

I contacted the Treatment Centre and was told they had tried to contact me twice and I would now have to make another appointment. I explained that they had hardly let the phone ring, and that they knew I preferred contact by mobile as I am rarely home, but the answer was still the same. It’s the results of my chest X-Ray, which I need before I can start my new arthritis treatment. That has all had to be put back two weeks because someone is too lazy to use their notes or let a phone ring. You’d think that having tried the land line they would have tried the mobile number.

Then, having waited for the phone appointment that never came, I was free to ring the Court about getting permission to use a taxi to court for my jury service. They don’t have parking for people with mobility problems, and bus/tram isn’t practical for various reasons.

I opened my email to get the phone number, but found I had another email from the court. They have written to the Jury Summoning Bureau to have me excused from serving. It seems there will be quite a bit of walking in the court and (the real reason, I feel) they don’t generally pay for taxis, despite mentioning it in the documentation.

Looks like I’m officially a cripple now,and not required to do my civic duty. Not sure whether I’m happy or not. I was looking forward to seeing how the system worked, but I am relieved I won’t have to spend two weeks sitting listening to lawyers twisting words. I’m now considering whether to become an advocate for disabled rights – are disabled people to be excluded from their civic duty because it’s inconvenient for the court?

Photo by Pixabay on

Day 199

The Welsh established a new temperature record yesterday – 37.1 degrees C – near enough 99 degrees F. For a country that is famous for its mountains, rain and coasts, this is hot.

Meanwhile, approximately 100 miles east, I have been given the day off. There weren’t enough orders overnight to make it worth working in these temperatures. So I have a bonus day off. It’s 10.16 now. I have dropped Julia off, returned home, browsed the internet, attended to emails and am now planning a cup of tea and a touch of TV with a fan.

It’s a hard life, but someone has to live it.

One of the emails was an apology and a postage refund. I had, you may recall, a surprise brassiere delivered by a company that was supposed to send me ink cartridges. This cost me just over £3 in postage to return. They didn’t send me the money, and they didn’t reply after I reminded them. Last night I sent them a second reminder. I’m pretty laid back but it’s now five weeks, and it was their error, not mine.

My second reminder was the sort I like to think of as “crisp”. It’s not rude, brusque or sharp. It doesn’t seek to prove a point, place blame people or lecture, because I hate letters that do that.  It avoided terms like “debt” and “recovery”. I merely pointed out that I was owed the money, had asked previously and would now like it within seven days. Result – apology and £4 sent. I’m not going to go broke for £4 but it’s owed, and should be paid. After all, I could just have binned the bra and said nothing.

Ah well, time for tea, TV and some evaporative cooling. No point in taking chances.

Day 198

It was quiet this morning as I dropped Julia off. The final roundabout of the journey is usually quite busy and can have a queue stretching back up to 400 yards. On average it is probably about 200 yards. With cars taking up about 6 yards that’s 30 cars. I really must try to count them one morning. Today, however, there were four. It wasn’t really a queue at all.

We were short handed in the shop because one of us had been visiting his mother and the trains weren’t running back to Nottingham. My observation that when I have car trouble I get a taxi, didn’t go down well. Anyway, at 1am we went home. We had packed 14 parcels, had no customers and had not even had a phone call. it’s like the whole world has gone into hibernation.

Tonight, as I struggled with telephone banking again, I had a text telling me not to go in tomorrow unless we find ourselves flooded with orders. due to eBay’s new policy of wanting to use One Time Passcodes I now find I can’t log in to the work system. That’s the beauty of modern technology – always altering to make life more difficult.

When I rang the bank tonight I couldn’t complete the security protocol because I couldn’t remember my “significant date”. I haven’t a clue what I chose 25 years ago. I t wouldn’t be my birthday because that would be too simple. It wouldn’t be my wedding anniversary because I have never been able to remember it.

There are other questions that they could have asked, but I had to be transferred to someone else to “be taken through security another way”. Sounds ominous, doesn’t it?

It consisted of asking me how much money I had in my account, what I bought when I last used my debit card (it was eight days ago – I couldn’t remember) and various other tricky questions . . .

I have to go now. As I type, I’m listening to two poets talking about poetry and I am losing the will to live.

Day 197

I switched on the computer after watching the World Athletics Championships. It brought back a lot of old coaching tips and I was brimming with good intentions and sports-based motivation. This survived until I went to look at my emails and found I had one from eBay. It was a reminder that I was watching something. I clicked on it and spent the next eight minutes glued to the screen, eventually adding another unusual brooch to my collection of sweethearts. Or another piece of junk that Julia will have to sort out when I die (according to her jaundiced view). Though the way she moans about my collections I might not be the first one to die. Just saying . . .

So, Computer 1 Good Intentions 0.

Cambridgeshire Regiment Sweetheart

Yorkshire Light Infantry Sweetheart

This was a pattern that continued as I stuck a couple more bids into my sniper programme and then browsed 300 more brooches. Most of them were common, over-priced, damaged, or a combination of those three. One is described by the vendor as “good condition” when it clearly isn’t, even from the (deliberately?) blurred photographs he has used. I’ve been caught that way once already in the last few weeks – it seems to be becoming a common sales technique. Not quite a lie but far from accurate.

Some are beautiful but outside my price range – these, when you read contemporary newspaper accounts were often wedding gifts of well-off grooms to their wives, and not necessarily hasty purchases before being sent overseas.

Scots Guards Sweetheart 1914-18

If I won the Lottery (which we all know I won’t, it’s just a convenient figure of speech) I would collect them. However, despite the cost and precious metals I wouldn’t necessarily value them more than the shilling and half-crown brooches that Private Smith bought for his girlfriend or his Mum before going overseas.

Apart from every story being unique, it’s a reminder that although rich people leave better stuff behind, and more written sources, theirs isn’t the real story of history.

Sweetheart Brooch – 10th Royal Hussars

Day 196

It was hot and stuffy in the shop today, though not as hot as I thought it would feel. I await the next few days with interest to see if we set a new record, as predicted. It will give us something new to complain about in terms of weather.

We don’t really handle heat very well in the UK. Or snow. Or rain. I would have thought that we would have had reports of water shortages by now but we still seem to have plenty of water left. It shows how average our weather is, that any extreme seems to cause us problems. having said that, I noticed a man watering his garden with a hose a few mornings ago.

I was annoyed that he was doing so, as it seemed a waste, considering that he only had a few scrubby plants in a very unimaginative garden. However, I was even more annoyed that he was watering so badly. If you are going to water you should use plenty, and he was merely sprinkling a few drops here and there. if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well. And he wasn’t doing it well.

The current heatwave may well see us breaking the 40 degree barrier for the first time ever – our current record is 38.7 degrees. If you are reading this in Australia, that’s right, the UK is about to close down at a temperature that equates to “quite warm” in Australia.

The political climate continues unchanged, with Boris Johnson still classed as a villain. As the weather threatens to kill numbers of vulnerable people he missed an emergency meeting and hosted a party at Chequers. Considering that he did a fairly poor job as PM most of the time, I don’t see why people expect him to do a good one now he has stepped down.

That is a bit serious for me so I will go to bed now and wake refreshed, humorous, and ready to face another hot day.

I really struggled to find a header picture depicting “hot”.



Day 195

Day 200 is looming . . .

Will I soon have done 200 lazy titles, and will the time have passed so soon?

Numbers do not lie, which is the trouble with numbers. Apart from when they are i9n the hands of a skilled accountant. At that point numbers can do almost anything.

200 feels like the pinnacle of a roller-coaster, and we all know what comes next . . .

I’m very late with this post, having fallen asleep in front of the TV late in the evening and slept almost until dawn. Well, till dawn, let’s face it. It is now light and the birds are not singing. We must have got to that time of year when they all move out to find more food. That’s another sign that the year is moving on.

It’s also a sign that I need to become more regular in my habits. proper bedtimes are not only good for sleeping properly, but for blood pressure, weight and Alzheimer’s. n fact, going to bed at the right time is, according to the internet, good for lots of things. Strange then, that doctors seem unaware of the benefits. They certainly don’t mention it when I se them.

They just want me to take more pills.

Apart from depression. The favoured remedy for depression, I’m told, is no longer pills, but talking to somebody. The doctor gives you a number, you ring it and somebody on the other end tells you that they are too busy to talk to you now but will be back in touch in six to eight weeks. This has happened to two people I know. It’s a logical development from the concept of receptionists doing triage at the surgery.

Soon we will be able to ring the NHS and they will give us the number of  a local plumber if you need tubes fixing, or a car mechanic if your heart requires a couple of crocodile clips and a battery . I really don’t know why we ever thought training doctors and building hospitals was cost effective.

In the early hours of the morning I can grow very cynical.

Day 194

On my return home I approached the teasel with camera in hand, trying to stalk a bee. We haven’t had many this year and photo opportunities have been rare. As I approached the plants, a breeze appeared and started to move the seed heads around (I swear this happens almost every time I try photography in the garden).

Then the bee flew away.

I did mange to get a few shots in the end but the flowers are looking a bit ragged already (not helped by the fact the bees seem to be plucking bits out of them) and the bees aren’t posing properly.

Bee and Teasel

Different Bee and Teasel

I’ve been wrestling with the International Banking System this week, trying to send money to Canada. It starts with ringing the bank and finding they are busy. Around ten minutes later you get through to a human, having been driven close to the edge by tinny music and a recorded condescending man telling you they are busy but will be with you soon. An oleaginous professional liar working for a bank? Whatever next?

Second stage, answering stupid questions. The stupidest two are “Are you being put under duress to make this payment?” and “Has anyone asked you to lie to us about this transaction?” Not sure how many  cases of duress and lying the average banker comes across, but I’m sure these cunningly phrased question strike fear into the hearts of fraudsters everywhere. I wonder how many criminal masterminds lie, gazing through bars to the sky, and think to themselves “I wish I’d answered “no” to that second question.”

Then they ask me about account numbers, I find I don’t have all the information, email Number Two Son for the right information and then start all over again. Twice so far.

Photos are bees on teasel. Or sometimes just teasel.


Red Valerian

Day 193

I don’t like it when it gets this hot (about 25 degrees Centigrade. I know it’s not hot by some standards but it’s hot for me. It’s still about 20 degrees now, at 1.30am. I’m not use to this sort of heat. I’m much happier when it’s cold. Apart from the temperature being more comfortable it’s easier on my mood. I can be stoic in the face of the cold, damp and fog, but it’s hard to be grumpy when our weather is rivalling the Mediterranean.

I have written nothing for two nights now, but I did managed to watch some old episodes of the Beverly Hillbillies on Prime tonight. We seem to have run out of things we want to watch, and this is what it has come to. Humour in the early 1960s seems to have been less demanding. The clue is probably that I loved the show when I was a kid. This is not a sign of complexity or intellectually challenging humour. AS I said to Julia – fro many of the jokes it was probably their first time on TV.

I had a call from the pharmacy tonight. I have noticed that the NHS prefers to ring the home number when they can. They tell me that it gives a better connection. this may be true, but it sometimes doesn’t get answered because we tend to suspect all calls on the landline of being nuisance calls and don’t always answer it. Just one more foible of the NHS. The NHS seems to be involving pharmacists more and more. They are, to be fair, highly trained health professionals, but they aren’t trained as GPs, so I’m ambivalent about it. Review my drugs by all means, which is what they are trained for, but when it comes to diagnosing and giving health advice I’m not so keen.



Day 192

I am not by nature a competitive or ambitious person. I have never had to struggle to get what I want in life, because I don’t want much. As a child, all I really wanted was a home made bow and arrow and the ability to roam freely, popping home only for supplies. As an adult, all I want is a first class wife and a way of earning a few quid. I have been lucky to obtain both.

I once read an article of being successful, because I had a vague feeling I really should make more effort, and it told me I should visualise specific things if I wished to be successful. Don’t wish for a ‘big car’, it said, wish for a ‘black Ford Mustang’. The idea of the car stuck with me, even if the idea of working hard didn’t. That’s why I  nominated a red Ford Mustang as my car of choice in the post I wrote about being a lottery winner. In truth, if I were to win the lottery I would be happy to potter about in a Volkswagen with a bent wing, mismatched mirrors and a minor oil leak. This, by coincidence, is exactly the car I have, and that, I suppose, is why I am content.

Sometimes I do wonder what I could have achieved if I had been ambitious and had wanted more. Then I think of  a friend of mine who had a stroke in his 40s and another who dropped dead in his 50s, both after a stressful life in business. There is little to be gained from being the most successful corpse in the cemetery and, as they say in Nottinghamshire, there are no pockets in a shroud.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that I don’t try to do well at some things. I am currently trying to improve my writing, which is what made me start thinking about the subject matter for this post. One day I may even tell you a story about an eleven-year-old with a broken writing  arm and a set of exams to do. It is, as they say, complicated, and just because I’m not competitive doesn’t mean to say I’m prepared to let people walk all over me.