Category Archives: Uncategorized

Man in a Mask

I was down at the hospital just after eight and left twenty five minutes later, having seen four people breach what I consider acceptable mask etiquette.

One was a staff member chatting to the woman on hygiene duty at the entrance. No mask, despite the signs. Two was a patient, with his mask pulled down to leave his nose uncovered. The benefits of masks are still debatable, but the benefits of wearing one badly are even less obvious. Third was a receptionist who emerged from the office maskless, but laden with a coffee jar and several mugs. She disappeared into a cleaning cupboard to (I assume) make coffee. They spend all that money building the place and the staff have to make coffee in the broom cupboard. Who designs these things? Finally, as I left a doctor arrived. He took a mask from the table at the entrance and just held it to his face as he walked through the building. Is that the sort of grudging use of a mask you expect from a senior member of staff? Are his ears too grand for elastic? What will he do if he needs to use that hand (the other was grasping an attache case)?

All in all, not a great endorsement for the use of masks or the common sense of the staff.

Meanwhile, back at the blood test, I was stabbed in the arm by a woman who had clearly been taught to use a bayonet rather than a needle. As pain radiated through my body I was glad to note that my arm went dead. Whether that was because she hit a nerve or because the band was tight around my arm, I don’t know. I was just glad to lose the feeling. I have had better testing sessions.

I arrived at work an hour and a half early and started packing parcels. We only had three to do and I then took the selfies I am using with this post and started cataloguing medallions of Edward VIII. Many of them are bland. Some are dull, others anodyne.  And still more of them are boring, uninspired or unremarkable.

Empire Day Medal - Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII

Empire Day Medal – Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII

Some are very interesting but unfortunately many are not. You will learn more, whether you want to or not, as I write my posts on collectables.

At lunchtime we had a customer call, without appointment. She was a nice lady who wore a mask. and sold us some coins her father had put to one side. Some were silver, so she walked away with nearly £50.

Then we had thin man, also with no appointment, who had a copy ancient Greek coin as sold to tourists in happier days. It was worthless and he ejected little blobs of spittle as he spoke. Several fell on my hands. I held my breath and regretted not wearing a mask.

Finally we had a collector who looked at our Saxon coins and bought one before deciding to buy himself a second-hand coin cabinet as a belated birthday treat.

It was a very mixed day.

My sister made my mask. It has a nose clip and is generally an excellent mask, fitting well and being quite comfortable in wear. It is, if I could find any fault, perhaps a mask with a pattern more suited to an aunt, or a coin dealer wanting to get in touch with his feminine side, but it is a minor point.

Julia has just made sausage and mash with carrot and parsnip mash, sprouts and onion sauce – a nice plate of comfort food for the end of a wintry day. I will load the photos and go to eat.

All in all, apart from the stabbed arm and the spittle shower, it has been an excellent day.

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A man in a chintz mask

Wednesday 8th July Part V

 

And so we come to the end of the day. I have just put 63 items in my on-line shopping trolley. It tool me 53 minutes. I probably haven’t remembered everything, and I could probably have done without a few things if I really cut back, but where’s the fun in sitting at a computer trying to trim a couple of quid off the grocery bill. The easiest saving was chocolate, but I feel that’s money worth investing to keep Julia happy.

I will, by the time this is finished, have proved that I can write 2,500 words in a day without too much trouble. This is important as I’ve been struggling recently. The trick is to have a subject in mind. I’ve been trying to write articles without having an outline in  mind. It doesn’t work so I’m going back to the old way of planning twice and writing once. Plan – write – plan – write doesn’t work for me.

I’m planning on writing at least a dozen magazine articles over the next year. One a month is a reasonable figure and it will help to pace me. How many actually get published remains to be seen. I have a list of magazines and a list of subjects. All I need to do now is allocate subjects to magazines and set times for writing.

In SMART terms I have specific subjects and magazines in mind, and can count up to 12, so they are measurable. They are assignable because it’s me who has to do it. They are generally realistic, though I may need some help with photographs, and the timing will take care of itself. I may write one a month, but editors will put them in when they want. My last one took six months to appear. The shop owner wrote an in-depth banknote article during lockdown, which will be published in two parts. Projected publication is “next year”. It seems a lot of people have been writing articles while they have been stuck at home.

I will also be writing fifty two blog posts on coins and collectables during the coming year. I’m not quite sure when that will start as it will need a lot of work to keep it going once I do start. The idea is to use that to warm me up for the articles and to form a body of work I can point to when pitching for work. Two thousand posts on bread, dung and why the old days were better are not going to do that so it’s time to get to work and organise myself.

That’s 2,500 words, and it’s now time to sign off, just after midnight, add photos and links and get to bed, because guess what?

Tomorrow is blood test day. I believe they are now charging for car parking again, so brace yourself for as tirade about the evils of the NHS tomorrow. After that I will calm down and try to establish a niche as a write on coins and collectables.

Photo of Farmer Ted is reproduced from Who is the Best Bear?  and the Care Bears from Something you don’t see every day.

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Links to the rest of the day-

Wednesday 8th July Part I

Wednesday 8th July Part II

Wednesday 8th July Part III

Wednesday 8th July Part IV

Wednesday 8th July Part IV

Poppy and chamomile

The day is passing faster and faster.

Julia is on the phone to one of her needier clients. Again, I cannot describe the conversation due to issues of confidentiality, but it is circular. And long. And, as it is on something modern like an app or a zoom, it is loud and intrusive too. She might be working from home but technically this is a day off for me, even if I am treating it as a work day. Obviously in this context “work” is an expression of hope rather than fact.

I have researched a number of magazines as recipients for the articles I wish to write. I have read several of the magazines more deeply than necessary and I have made a list of possible articles. My plan is at the stage known as “getting there”. In other words it is a rag-bag of elements which don’t amount to much.

It is more of an intention or an outline. Time for some more work, but this time I will do it in front of the TV whilst watching Pointless. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Ironically that’s a very dull saying. Equally ironically, I haven’t done much work.

Back again…

Having watched Pointless and failed in a few rounds – notably the modern music and the football questions – I meant to get back to work. Instead, I watched Eggheads. It is one of the dullest quizzes around, but we had tea and biscuits and I can never resist temptation to sit and drink tea, with or without biscuits. As a late lunch we had corn on the cob (Julia went out for a walk and, as usual, nipped into a shop to buy something. She can’t break the habit. Today she bought corn on the cob.)

I am quite hungry now and have just put the vegetables into the oven to roast. Carrots, parsnips, leeks and potatoes. I will put sprouts in when I put the pasties in. It’s a meal we have nearly every week but I never get fed up of it. Apart from being year round comfort food, it’s healthy and easy to make.

It’s been eleven hours since I started “work” and I have not managed to complete anything yet, apart from some TV viewing and three blog posts.

As I started this one I noticed my total was 2,000 which means I missed the chance to write a post about reaching my 2,000th post. I may have to plough on to 2,020 before marking the occasion.

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I’m now going to put the pasties in and about 25 minutes after that will make the gravy. It’s only made with gravy granules, so is nothing exciting. Then I had better get the shopping ordered. I only have until midnight and it can be a slow process. I also get distracted easily.

I have already done the shopping list relating to the spice kits – we will be having linguine with prawns and rocket. I’m not sure why, because we make that anyway.

We are also having Iranian Vegetable Stew, which apparently takes its inspiration from Persia and North Africa. This tends to suggest it isn’t really Iranian or a proper recipe, just some vegetables to soak up some spices they wanted to get rid of. Pardon my cynicism. I keep meaning to give ras-el-hanout a try, so this is my chance.

Finally we will be having nasi goreng. I’ve wanted to try it since I read about it as a teenager reading my dad’s Somerset Maugham books. It’s typical that I’ve always steered clear of cooking it in case it didn’t live up to my expectations. Next week will be an interesting time.

I will try to take photographs before I eat everything.

Photos are recycled from here.

Eleven Photos and the Benefits of Blogging

Mint Moth

Wednesday 8th July Part I

Wednesday 8th July Part II

Wednesday 8th July Part III

Wednesday 8th July Part IV

Wednesday 8th July Part V

Wednesday 8th July Part III

 

We just had tea and biscuits for a mid-day break. then I washed up from breakfast, including the poaching pan, which looked like an explosion of ectoplasm. Then I let the compost caddy slip from my wet fingers. The lid could be more robustly secured…

So after clearing compost from the kitchen floor (in the shape of tea bags, egg shells, avocado skins and slippery veg peel) I am once more sitting down to work.

SMART Plans were, as I recall, my next subject.

They are plans which have a snappy acronym, and are thus better than ordinary plans. SMART, for those of you who haven’t been exposed to fashionable jargon in the last twenty years are plans that are:

Specific

Measurable

Assignable

Realistic

Time Related

They can be other things too, but this has always done for me. All it means is that you have to say what you are going to do, how you will measure it, who will do it, how you will do it and when you will do it by.

I spent a whole week once filling in the plan for a Junior Rugby section – including recruiting, training or obtaining coaches, first aiders, team managers, match officials, safeguarding officers, equipment, and several things I’ve forgotten, though I remember there were twelve things.

Somebody looked it over and said: “You’re mad, you’ll never do it.”

By the end of the year ten of the twelve things had been done and one had nearly been done. If I’d have just gone ahead with a vague plan in mind I would have managed three or four of the easier things.

I’ve just cut out 150 words on the philosophy and meaning of failure. I can sometimes be very pompous and boring and have to guard against it.

I will just say that real failure consists of not trying.

One of my plans for today is to write a number of blog posts covering the entire day. That seems to be working. Cooking breakfast was also on the list, as was catching up with the washing up. I now need to write a SMART Plan for my writing over the next year, sort out some books for the charity shop, do the grocery order for TESCO online and start the outlines for some magazine articles.

Julia is currently on the phone in the front room and the TV is off, so there is no temptation to wander through. She has been busy sorting out one of her clients (which I cannot discuss even though it is interesting), sorting out some office inefficiency (which I probably discuss, but it would be tactless) and generally chatting to people who are bored and still aren’t sure why they aren’t allowed out yet.

This is why.

I’d better get back to work now.

Flowers are from  A Bunch of Irises.

 

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Wednesday 8th July Part I

Wednesday 8th July Part II

Wednesday 8th July Part III

Wednesday 8th July Part IV

Wednesday 8th July Part V

Wednesday 8th July Part II

Breakfast didn’t quite go according to plan. I was going to treat Julia to avocados on toast with poached eggs. It’s not much of a breakfast but she likes that sort of stuff. Unfortunately the avocados were starting to brown and didn’t look good.I cut a few bits off, mashed it up with lime juice and green bits and it is now waiting to be spread on toast for lunch. It is just about acceptable like that, both in colour and as a foodstuff.

Plan B was poached eggs, beans, and sourdough toast. Still a bit trendy for my liking but such is life. Life can’t all be sausage, bacon and black pudding. Well, it could be, but I’d like to retain the use of my arteries for a while longer.

Unfortunately the eggs were also a little past their use by date and the first one spread across the whole pan. The second was OK, but the mess was made. Although one looked like an egg, with a degree runniness to the yolk (again – something she likes)  the other looked like a yellow blot. That’s the trouble with advance ordering in lockdown.

We seem to be commemorating the Battle of Britain this week and there were some insultingly easy quiz questions on TV this morning. That set me off looking at trivia about the Italian Air Force in the Battle of Britain (yes, they were there) followed by biplanes in WW2 (yes, there were some), Jeremy Vine, the Curse of Strictly Come Dancing and, finally, about SMART Planning.

I have to admit that I haven’t heard of all the ‘celebrities’ caught by the curse and, as Rachel Riley and Pasha have just had a child I’m not sure it’s really a curse. As all parents will know, it’s a mixed blessing, but not really a curse.

That’s the trouble with ‘working from home’ (as I am describing today, because I have things to do) – always so much distraction, plus cooking and washing up.

Just before I sat down to start work the post arrived. It contains notice of a planning application from the people next door who want to extend their lower storey half way across their drive to accommodate a downstairs toilet and extended kitchen. It will involve noise, disruption and, possibly, a loss of light, but on the other hand it won’t really affect us in the long run and I can’t be bothered to object.

It took me half an hour to find the plans online (the letter from the council lists a council webpage that no longer exists) download the plans and examine them.

Considering that they have asked me to cut down a tree in the garden because it shades some of their garden for some of the day, I can’t help feeling that I’d like the same concern from them relating to the light in my kitchen. Such is life.

It’s now 12.23 and the last phase of my day has not really seen anything that could be described as work. Oh dear!

Wednesday 8th July Part I

Wednesday 8th July Part II

Wednesday 8th July Part III

Wednesday 8th July Part IV

Wednesday 8th July Part V

Wednesday 8th July Part I

Today I am going to use my time wisely, and am going to blog about it at the same time. That way I will end the day with a list of jobs I have done and will also be able to get three or four blog posts out of it.

At 3 am I woke to the sound of swearing and argument. I’d fallen asleep in my chair with the TV on and Gordon Ramsay was offering foul-mouthed advice to an American restaurant that needed turning round in 24 hours. I don’t watch the programme when I’m awake. If I need cursing, conflict and criticism I can get all that at home without having to watch a celebrity chef behaving badly.

You can’t deny that he works hard, contributes to charity and is very successful. But he doesn’t present himself well and he did, let’s be honest, run off to Cornwall when we had to go into lockdown, despite the government guidelines telling us not to leave home.

At 4.59 and 7.46 I woke again. My prostate is playing up again. I’m hoping that it corrects itself as the thought of an examination is actually worse than getting up during the night.

I decided not to go for my regular blood test today. I will go tomorrow before work as I like to be there before 8.30 when it opens – you can’t always get a parking space if you get down later.

The Methotrexate seems to be working for the arthritis and I actually got my trousers on this morning and didn’t even think about it until I typed this sentence. The side effects seem to have gone away. Apart from the bent fingers the only noticeable sign of arthritis is that the little finger of my left hand is stuck out and one of the joints in it  is rather stiff. Considering that in March my hands were unusable and I could barely dress myself, this is a good result. I f it means I have a finger like an elitist tea drinker.

I have now checked my messages, read a few links and written 400words. It is 9.16 so I will add photos and post this before making breakfast. (Later – it is now 9.26 after loading a photograph and doing a touch of editing.)

I really ought to take pictures specifically to go with this, but will re-use one of the garden poppies. For one thing, it is a dull day, and for another, I am lazy. I am also adding a layer of complexity to the task by typing without glasses, so will get them while I am up.

Wednesday 8th July Part I

Wednesday 8th July Part II

Wednesday 8th July Part III

Wednesday 8th July Part IV

Wednesday 8th July Part V

A Quiet Day

The lockdown continues, though in a much diluted form, and Nottingham’s uncut verges continue to be good for bees. I noticed this on the way to work, where the Gas Board continues to dig up our frontage and block access to the shop. I spent all day listing medals of Edward VIII and forgot to move so my legs seized up when I tried to get up.

bee-friendly-logo

We had saag paneer last night using the spice kit Number One Son arranged for us. We didn’t quite have all the ingredients, so we used some kale in place of the spinach. It had a notably different texture but worked quite well. I checked up, and it seems that saag is not, as I thought, spinach, but, depending on who you believe, either a mix of spinach and mustard greens, or simply mixed greens.

Always so much to learn.

We still have three spice mixes to use and will reconfigure the week’s shopping to use them all this week. Unfortunately Julia can’t find out how to cancel the spice subscription. As with so many of these offers (£1 for four spice kits) they make it difficult to cancel. Even worse, if you don’t order your next lot in time you have to take what they send you. That’s how Number One Son ended up making moqueca. I had to look it up – it’s Brazilian Fish Stew. I think I can do without this.

Number Two Son, still in Canada, applied for, and was turned down for, a job as a dog groomer. As he has no experience of dogs or grooming this was not unexpected. However, he has had a call back and they want him to work in some sort of management capacity. He has an amazing capacity for getting strange jobs. If he ever writes a book he will not be short of material for his biographical notes.

I think I’ll leave it there for now. Dog grooming and fish stew is quite enough excitement for one day.

Some Pictures from Last Week

These are just a few photographs from our trip to Sherwood Forest last week – I’ve just got round to sorting them out. It’s amazing what you can see if you wait around for ten minutes on a roadside verge. Quite a lot of them were blurred, or featured the space where something interesting used to be. The bees were quite frisky in the sun, as were the Ringlet butterflies. I didn’t even manage to frame a Ringlet. They are always tricky to photograph, but I can usually get something, even if it is blurred.

Flowers are easier because they don’t move as much. Fortunately there wasn’t much of a breeze.

They aren’t the the most inspiring pictures, but they are a start. We couldn’t go to Clumber Park because you have to book now, and we couldn’t go to Arnot Hill Park because the car park always seems so full.

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A very light grasshopper

I’m not sure what sort of grasshopper it is, probably a common one with funny lighting rather than a pale one. I suppose a light one would soon be eaten. It really was at that angle when I took the photo, but was down near my feet and I didn’t really frame the shot properly. I would try to turn the photo round to make it look more normal, but I can’t get the rotate button to work.

When we arrived home I noticed we had a couple of grasshoppers amongst the weeds in the front garden, but they had gone before I could get the camera.

All that travel, and I could just have stayed at home. There’s a moral in there somewhere.

 

 

 

10 Good Things About Breathing

After the success of my recent post 10 Points about Writing Ten Point Lists and The Ten Best Things About Lockdown I decided to try another ten point list. You may have guessed this from the title. You may also have guessed that I define “success” in a slightly more flexible way than the rest of the world. Twenty views and ten comments are a success to me, even if five of the comments are me replying to the other five.

I did briefly think of writing Five Ways in which Breathing is Over-rated but I find people like the positive stuff. I suppose that’s why my light-hearted articles on modern life are so popular. I say “popular”, see above for “success”.

So, here goes, Ten Good Things about Breathing.

One, blue is an unbecoming colour. It doesn’t suit our modern ideas about healthy complexions and modern make-up ranges don’t cater for it. According to arlingwoman, the correct term for the blue colour is cyanosis, which is far too good a word not to use, so I have come back to add it.

Two, dum spero, spiro, as I remarked recently,. Hope is good, and you need to breathe to have hope.

Three, It is better than the alternative. I have no particular religious beliefs. I may end up as part of the choir eternal, singing hymns whilst dressed in vestments of blinding white. Or I may spend an eternity of regret in a lake of fire. In one scenario I wonder who does the laundry and in the other I can’t help thinking that there won’t be any cold to aggravate my arthritis. Swings and roundabouts…

I may even come back as a dung beetle. You can never tell, though I feel my afterlife is likely to end with a short trip up a crematorium chimney. Whatever happens, I prefer breathing to the alternative.

Four, it gives me something to write about on a slow day.

Five, there are right ways to breathe and wrong ways to breathe, which gives rise to the possibility of controversy and more lists.

Six, breathing through the nose adds moisture, warms the air and allows better use of the oxygen you breathe. The presence of a nose also gives you somewhere convenient to perch your glasses and avoids an unsightly hole in the middle of the face. Breathing through the mouth gives rise to a huge list of problems and makes you look like an unlikely candidate for a top academic job.

Seven, deep breathing is another of those health subjects you can discuss at length. It will cure many of my health problems and improve my posture.

Eight, deep breathing is also bad for you . giving hope to editors who rely on sensational negative headlines for a living.

Nine, it’s something that is, on balance, good for you, and takes no effort. I shouldn’t have searched for more information, because I turned this up. Quite clearly, the person in question hasn’t lost the knack of breathing automatically, as one of the answers points out, or she would have died in her sleep on the first night, but it does show that it’s possible to worry too much.

Ten, it serves to fill a list, to swell a progress, to start a scene or two. See point 4, or for the more highbrow amongst you try this.

However, as you read the highbrow section, remember that T S Eliot is an anagram of Toilets – life has a habit of bringing things down to my level. Perhaps life would be better if all great men had names that were anagrams.

Bonus eleventh point – it’s free. The government can’t tax it, Sky TV can’t charge for it and breathable air is still widely available. Now I’ve said that just watch it all go wrong.

I couldn’t fit that into the ten point list without altering the structure, and there’s something unfinished about lists that have strange numbers of points. Five, ten and twelve seem fine, three seven and nine aren’t bad, but I’m vaguely unsettled by others.

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Fresh air – still free! Get yours while it lasts.

Sunlit Uplands

 

 

As my post count moves closer and closer to 2,000 I find my main feeling is not one of achievement, but one of wanting a rest. This is accompanied by a realisation that reaching 2,000 posts is just reaching a number, rather than finding enlightenment or suddenly breaching a barrier and breaking through into the sunlit uplands of quality blogging. Standards have in fact fallen so far that I am typing this without my glasses. It’s not as lax as blogging in my pyjamas, but I’d be doomed if I didn’t have a spell-checker.

Even with glasses my typing wouldn’t win any prizes, as I often see when reading the gobbledygook that passes as previous posts. I’m often amazed that despite my best efforts at composition and proof-reading there are still pockets of gibberish lurking to embarrass me on re-reading. I hate that.

I got two pointless answers on the final question of Pointless last night. For those of you who don’t watch the programme, this is pretty good, but does, in truth, not compare with a Nobel Prize or an Oscar.

Small Copper on castor oil plant

My answers were Duke of Burgundy and Adonis Blue. I would have scored the triple with Cryptic Wood White but I couldn’t remember the word “Cryptic” so settled for Black-Veined White, which wasn’t pointless. When I checked it for the link it would appear to be extinct in the UK, so that explains it. To be honest, I’m feeling more deflated at missing the triple than I am elated at nailing two of them, even though was two more than the real finalists. It’s a sign of ageing that I am finding it harder to access my full vocabulary. If I hate finding gibberish in past posts, I really hate not being able to find the right words.

My photos are of commoner butterflies, which are the best I can do.

Of course, another sign of ageing is attaching importance to answering questions on TV quiz shows. That’s one of the milder signs of encroaching old age.

Hummingbird Hawk Moth

The butterfly photos are from  A Painted Lady Comes to Call, which indicates that in August 2017 we had crumble for tea. We had crumble for tea tonight – apple and rhubarb with ice cream. Some things don’t change much. Or, to look at it another way, some things are so good they can’t be improved.

Talking of age, I just deleted the entire post. This is the second time I’ve done this recently. Fortunately I managed to get it back without too much trouble, but it’s a worry that I keep doing it. I really must get a grip.