Author Archives: quercuscommunity

Shipwrecks, Spiders and Sweethearts

What a literary shop we are.

One shop assistant used to publish photos widely as Eddie the Bugman. Whatever I say about his inability to keep his hands off my stationery, there’s no doubting that the “genius” tag applied by several people is well-deserved. Unfortunately he’s stopped doing it at the moment.

The other shop assistant is of course, a slightly known blogger and poet of niche forms that most people have to look up, such as haibun and clerihews.

Finally, we have the proprietor, a man who once won an award for his article on serial numbers on Bank of England banknotes. In case you are suffering from insomnia I can reveal he’s recently been back to the archives and another sleep-inducing slab of text on early serial numbers is in progress.

Don’t worry, I’m not being hypocritical here, I’m actually less subtle when discussing them when he’s listening.

Fortunately he redeems himself with the odd article about medallions, numismatic curiosities and, in this month’s Coin News, an article about the shipwreck coins of the little known SS Elingamite. As a result of the article and, of course, this blog, it’s now better known.

The coin that started his search was from the childhood accumulation of an Australian, and it has the ship’s name and the date of the wreck engraved on it. When I find my photos I will show you.

In the meantime, the header picture is stamps and the others are a sweetheart brooch I bough off eBay last week – it’s the central part of the 56 Squadron Crest – the squadron Albert Ball and many others flew in, though the hallmarks are late WW2 period so Ball was long dead by that time. It’s smaller than the photos suggest, only about an inch wide.

Sweetheart Brooch 56 Squadron RAF

Sweetheart Brooch 56 Squadron RAF

Hallmark 56 Squadron RAF sweetheart

Hallmark 56 Squadron RAF sweetheart

Hallmarks are for Birmingham 1944 and the maker is Thomas Fattorini. You could write a book about the Fattorini family, but I will resist the temptation.

Autumn is Here

Last weekend I was still wondering what Autumn was doing. It seemed to be taking its time about arriving. After a week of feeling under the weather and labouring away in a windowless back room at the shop (where the window is concealed by blinds and the doors by chipboard) I hadn’t noticed much change.

You may ask why we have blinds on the windows – and I will tell you. It’s one of the owner’s special security features. He thinks if people can’t see in they won’t want to rob us. It’s also great if you like working in twilight, don’t mind being ambushed by people lurking outside the shop and don’t want customers to find you.

I once worked in a jewellers where the owner had a similar idea. He replaced the back door left by the previous tenant because it had a small window in it. This was a weak point in his eyes, though it deprived us of the ability to spot anyone lurking outside as we left the shop by the back door.

Imagine his surprise when the landlord asked him why he’d taken off a Post Office approved security door with bullet-proof glass window and replaced it with a lightweight household door with a bit of steel sheet screwed to it.

We are hoping to have the front doors re-glazed next week, which will make things lighter, remove the impression that we are under siege and stop people asking if we’ve been robbed.

I appreciate that they are either concerned or curious, but it’s becoming tedious have the same conversation day after day. We’ve even had several, including one who had never been in the shop before, wanting to discuss out new security measures.

Let’s just say that no robber will be able to get in and out of the shop in two minutes again.

Meanwhile, as Julia did the laundry, I went for a walk in Arnott Hill Park, had a look at the new sculpture and noticed that autumn had arrived. I’ll put the photos up now, and then I’ll go shopping.

More Trials and Tribulations

It’s my 30th wedding anniversary next week, as I may have mentioned.  I am married to a patient and forgiving woman with low standards in men. I am not sure if I have covered that before, but she certainly has. Last time she mentioned it was in relation to yesterday’s post.

It seems that if I’m the best that Western civilisation can mange it’s no wonder the world is in a mess. Amongst talk of male chauvinism, lazy stereotyping and Les Dawson (who was a well-upholstered British comedian with a great repertoire of mother-in-law jokes) it emerged that she felt I had slandered her in relation to snoring.

If I had my time over again I will resist the urge to explain that it was libel, not slander. It did not really help. Accuracy, it seems, is not always appreciated.

Fortunately, I have managed, by a mix of low cunning and good luck, to work out what to get Julia for a wedding anniversary present – perfume. I ordered it a couple of days ago from Amazon and it was delivered this afternoon.

Unfortunately,they didn’t deliver it to me.

They emailed this morning to say it would be delivered today, then again to say it had been left with a neighbour. I assumed that this meant it had been delivered to the home address despite me specifying the work address.

On my return home I found this wasn’t the case. There was no card through the door. So I checked on-line. They had delivered it to a neighbour of the shop, at 3.41, despite me being at work until 4.30.

I have just had a frustrating on-line “conversation” trying to find out how this could be. They are very apologetic, but short on facts.

I was very tempted to point out that if I wanted a bad parcel delivery service I would have engaged Hermes. In terms of poor service – slowness, half the parcel missing after a “security check”, theft and drivers cutting corners, Hermes are unequalled. I use them whenever I feel the need to have a delivery go unpredictably wrong. They rarely disappoint.

At least with Amazon it’s a one-stop situation – you buy from them direct and they even pack the soon-to-be-lost parcel for you. It saves time, but, to be honest, I do feel a certain loyalty to Hermes after all those hours chatting on the phone asking where my parcel is, or why my customer has just rung to complain half of it is missing.

There are, to be fair, other bad carriers apart from Hermes. You could give Parcelforce a try and, if you fancy a treat of a retro nature, move some goods by British Rail.

I will say no more. The anecdote about British Rail losing 400 day-old chicks is not very entertaining. Nor is the story of my marathon drive to track them down.

This is probably a good time to finish. More reused photos again as I keep leaving my camera at work. THey are a reminder of summer.

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Small Tortoiseshell

Too Much Sleep!

I think I must have had too much sleep over the last few days because last night I found myself lying awake and listening to Julia breathing.

And that was how the concept of the Wifeorgan was born. It’s a little like an organ but with the added benefit of being very soothing to a married man: while he can hear his wife sleeping he can relax – free of fears about comments on his dress sense, demands for mature behaviour and suggestions that he might like to rethink his last comment.

I have checked. There are some weird musical instruments, but none involving sleeping wives.

There will be three main problems –

Getting them to agree. I can already hear a rising chorus of female criticism on the grounds of immaturity, practicality and having nothing to wear. At least we won’t have a problem with the perennial favourite – nobody’s bum looks big under a duvet.

Logistics – transporting a large number of sleeping women is going to be tricky. Not as tricky, I suspect, as transporting a lot of non-sleeping women and making them go to sleep on cue, which is likely to a a horror second only to herding meercats. It is going to take some planning.

Tuning. I’m not going to invite any husband out there to comment, but in my experience this can be tricky. One night you can be wafted away to beautiful dreams by the gentle breathing of the woman you love. The next night you may find yourself hanging onto the duvet with the fervour of the Flying Dutchman as it billows in the air movement produced by a demon imitating a chainsaw killing pigs. I’m not saying anyone in our house snores, but if you want to infer it from my words, please feel free.

And that my friends, fresh from a place hollowed out by insomnia, is my plan for the Wifeorgan.

It’s possible there might be an Arts Council Grant in this…

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Feverfew

 

Grinding to a Halt

Sorry about the unexplained absence. On Monday night I felt sluggish, I followed this up with a bad night and by Tuesday morning I was close to a state of suspended animation.

I still went to work, because there were only two of us in on Tuesday, but feel a bit bad for taking the money for doing next to nothing.

When I got home I sat in the car for a few minutes to listen to the end of a radio programme and seem to have fallen asleep. I don’t remember doing it, or even feeling sleepy, but I do remember waking up so there is pretty strong evidence to suggest that is what happened.

The fact that I just had to correct six typos in that paragraph further indicates that I’m still not firing on all cylinders.

I went to bed and slept until Julia returned from a staff meeting. She wasn’t noisy but after years of parenthood you can detect the noise of key in lock from the deepest slumber. I think I managed to make conversation of an acceptable nature as she went away fairly happy and left me to sleep.

When I did drag myself from bed I was in time to see the final element of the Great British Bake Off. They have, as usual, managed to select a final three that I don’t agree with. It’s nothing to do with their baking skills, or even their worth as human beings, because you simply can’t tell without meeting them. However, two of them do exude an aura of oily smugness when viewed on TV. It’s mostly the same every year, the three or four that I like as people prove themselves to be totally incompetent within the first few episodes and I have to watch as the competition is won by sycophants, Paul Hollywood’s favourite or a fully paid up member of the jolly hockeysticks brigade.

Generally I can’t even remember them a couple of years from their win.

While I was looking up the link for GBBO I wandered into looking up what happened to past winners. While I was doing that I found an interesting new fact.

Have you ever heard of Otter Fishing?

Don’t worry, it’s not like trout fishing, it’s using otters to drive fish into your nets. I’d herad of cormorant fishing, but never otters. I also learned that in the 16th and 17th centuries we had cormorant fishing in the UK.

Wonders will never cease…

Fondant Fancy, with lesser cakes at Botham's in Whitby

Botham’s Whitby

A New Direction

We watched a few episodes of Diagnosis Murder this morning and ate a substantial brunch. I’m beginning to get used to this relaxation, though I’m definitely going to have to curb my portion size.

I am going to be on bean salad tomorrow, and can only guess at the horrors that will open up as I start eating “sensibly”. That, in my experience, means eating things you don’t like because they are good for you. It’s good, because you eat less of it if you don’t like it. However, would you rather live to be 70 on a diet of chips, pies and chocolate, or would you prefer to live to 80 on bean salad and virtue?

Seventy is a bit close now, so I’m thinking of interlacing a certain amount of salad with the pie and chips.

Tonight it’s home made beef pie. Tomorrow it’s seafood spaghetti and the day after it’s fishcakes with rice and vegetables. Wednesday is sweet potato and chickpea curry.

I’m starting overnight oats for breakfast again and salads for lunch.

I’ll give it a week. I can mange the healthy evening meal, with the odd takeaway, and the overnight oats. But a week of lunchtime salads will be plenty. Man is not meant to function without cheese and pickle sandwiches and pork pies. But he’s not meant to function in shirts that strain at the front with the curve of a galleon in full sail.

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Overnight Oats with Fruit

The Geese Take Flight

It was a generally average Saturday. Nippy enough to tell you it was autumn but not cold enough for a coat. Moderate amount of activity in the shop and time enough to increase my knowledge of eBay. I have decided I need to become a better eBay user, both for my work and for myself. I really can’t put it off much longer as I need to reduce my collection and generate some cash.

The photographs are more from the visit to the gardens earlier in the week. There is a threat of frost this weekend and I thought I’d get a few final shots of the nasturtiums before the frost flattens them. The first frost and the devastated nasturtiums is, for me, the saddest sight of the year.

The header picture shows a skein of geese flying south. During the summer they fly in to the Trent every morning, where they gather on the river to feed and mug passers-by. AS winter moves on, they start flying away instead. It can be tricky taking a picture of geese in the sky with just a scratched screen for a viewing aid. I just pointed the camera at the honking and pressed the button every time the green square indicated I was focussed on something. It seemed to work.

 

I will close now as I need to get on with a few jobs.