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Day 187

X-Ray Day.

It went surprisingly well. The taxi was prompt, the journey was quick, the driver was pleasant. I arrived early, was X-Rayed and left the department at 10.52, which was good when you consider my appointment time was 10.50. The journey home a re-run of the previous journey. I have some acidic observations but will save them for another post.

I had an inkling that something was going quite so well for Julia when I arrived home. She had left to walk down to the surgery before I left, and was still not home. I didn’t panic, as there is always a possibility she had taken a detour on the way, such as shopping or chatting to a friend. One of the advantages of being miserable and anti-social is that you don’t get delayed by people wanting to get involved in pointless social rituals. If it doesn’t involve biscuits, keep to yourself, is my view.

When she returned, a tale of woe unfolded. She arrived early, booked in and waited. And waited. After 40 minutes she was about to ask what was happening when the nurse appeared. It seems that someone had turned up and insisted that they had an appointment when there wasn’t one on the system. They were very insistent so the nurse took them through just to shut them up. It took 40 minutes to sort them out and made everyone else late.

One the face of it, it’s bad and it has just encouraged the patient to throw their weight about next time they don’t get their own way. On the other hand I recently had a case where they claimed there was no appointment on the system when I know I made it and they had it, because it had come up in conversation about something else.

Ah well, cosmic balance and all that.

Day 186

I’v just been listening to poetry on YouTube. It’s a lazy way to ingest poetry, but it allows me to type at the same time. This is probably  not necessary as there isn’t much I’m going to do with the time I save. If I were going to write a novel with all the time I save by multi-tasking it would be OK. As I’m likely to watch TV and drink tea with the time I save, it is less important.

Chest X-Ray tomorrow. The new arthritis medication they are putting me on requires a chest X-Ray before I am given the stuff. Plus I will have to arrange to be shown how to do it. I’m not sure how difficult it can be, but the medical profession does like to look mysterious. It comes in ready ready prepared syringes and I have to stick it in my legs. Last time I had to inject myself it was anti-coagulants and they had to go in my abdomen. I don’t really feel I need more training. Self-perforation is much the same however you do it.

When you consider it is a very popular pastime with drug addicts, who don’t have the benefit of specially prepared syringes or training by professionals, how hard can it be?

I have probably never told you about the public toilets in Mansfield, a town about 20 miles from here. They have blue lights in the toilets. I mentioned this to someone as I thought it was strange. They told me that it prevents drug-addicts shooting up, because they can’t find their veins under the blue light. However, someone else told me that it’s still possible if you mark your veins with felt tip pen whilst you are standing outside in daylight.

Not really looking forward to the trip to hospital. I don’t see why it couldn’t just have been done while I was there, like my last lot of arthritis X-Rays , but it seems the system has been changed. This will be the “new and improved version” I suppose, involving a second trip to hospital and an appointment’s system and letters. It’s hardly what you’d call streamlined.



Day 185

During the day I had, as usual. several great ideas for tonight’s post. As the day progressed, also as usual, the ideas gradually seemed less good, or simply faded away. The one about plagiarism seems less interesting now that I am sitting in front of the computer, and the other two have simply been forgotten.

The result is that I have a blank screen and a blank mind. It is not unusual. If I were still planning to write the post on plagiarism I would have to point out that “It is not unusual” bears similarities to the words of a song by Tom Jones. It can, I imagine, be quite complicated.

It’s all a question of monkeys. With an infinite number of monkeys and a finite number of words, duplication would be inevitable. If they can write Hamlet, which always seems to be a favourite when discussing this subject, they could certainly manage some of my stuff, or the tedious instructions for jury service I was recently sent, or a shopping list.

However, if a monkey duplicates something, is it plagiarism? It’s much the same question as, if a monkey kills someone, is it murder? Murder requires intent, and it’s not likely that monkeys can form the intent to kill in the same way that a murderer would. People seem to see plagiarism as something that can happen by innocent coincidence.

However, other definitions refer to it as  a process of copying the work of someone else without giving credit. In that case the typewriting monkeys there is no copying, as, to the monkeys, it is an original work, even if they are the second ones to produce it.

In my case, the worry is that with a limited number of words, ideas and conventions, it seems almost inevitable that two people will eventually write the same haiku. It’s always worried me about haiku.

Then, finally, we come to the inevitable question of whether I am a poet or a monkey.

Day 184

Well, I spent last night planning what I was going to do today. It was quite a list. Today was slightly different in tone and I did very little apart from avoid doing anything on the list. That is, I suppose, an achievement in itself, but not quite the outcome I was hoping for.

Breakfast, which hadn’t been on the list, was quite pleasant, as was lunch. We had bacon sandwiches for breakfast, with mushrooms, fried tomatoes and black pudding. Nutritionally I could have finished after tomatoes. I was tempted to leave the black pudding out of the list and appear more virtuous and sensible, but I am fairly truthful in the blog, and the black pudding presents a more rounded picture of both my character and my figure.

Lunch was fancy cheese on toast. I chucked some eggs and finely chopped spring onions in the grated cheese before toasting. We have been using thick-sliced malty wholemeal, which has been good.

We had vegetable curry for tea. Tomorrow we will be having vegetable curry for tea. Julia hasn’t quite mastered the art of portion control since the kids left home. It’s something I have struggled with over the years. I can still picture myself in the late 1970s with a pressure cooker full of vegetables – enough to feed  a family of four, to be precise.

At that point I realised that I had left home, but was still using the portion size I was used to seeing. Four days later, finally free of vegetables, I started to cut back on portion size. I should really have cut back a lot more, but that is a different story.

I have just been reading about a diet that could help me lose a lot of weight. Breakfast is a banana, lunch is chicken, rice and broccoli and tea is a protein shake. It’s a diet developed by someone who has more self-control than I do.

On the one hand I’m looking at a short, increasingly unhealthy life. On the other I’m looking at chicken, rice and broccoli. It’s a tough choice. Well, actually it isn’t. Chicken, rice and broccoli is not a winning combination.

Meanwhile, in a different part of the family (and one where I suspect that chicken, rice and broccoli is a winning combination) Number One Son just did his first Ultra-marathon.  Eighty miles in 24 hours. No, I don’t know why either, but I am glad he’s found a sport he enjoys.


Day 183

Last night, whilst browsing the internet, I found an interesting documentary on Wilko Johnson. His music may not appeal to you, but I think his story and personality may do, despite any musical differences. It’s called Oil City Confidential but I can’t find the link at the moment. It features music, poetry and the story of a man who was told he had just ten months to live because of inoperable cancer. As it turned out, he had a rare operable cancer and survived. I offer this as proof that there is interesting stuff on the internet if you can get through all the kitten videos.

Work was a little busier than average, with people coming to buy a variety of things. It always feels more like a shop when people come to buy stuff. When it’s just eBay we might as well be in a warehouse. Though if we were in a warehouse I wouldn’t have things falling on my head when we open the cupboard doors.

As a note for that mythical PhD student who will, one day, use my blog as a guide to life in 2022 – these are the edited highlights. The reality involves much more snoozing in front of TV and staring into space than the posts suggest. Of course, by then the life of a student will probably be so sanitised that drinking caffeine and driving a car will be seen as dreadful acts of self-destruction. Or, as they type in an underground bunker, my use of fossil fuels will be seen as part of the global warming process that produced the desert on “The Surface”, as they will call it . . .

Day 182

I spend seven hours a day, five days a week trapped in a windowless box of a room staring at a computer screen. On most days I only hear two sounds, apart from the voices of my co-workers – the noise of the rain on the flat roof and the asymmetrical thwack from next door’s food mixer. Commercial planetary mixers have a distinctive sound which I remember from the one we had on the farm.

From this point of view it’s not surprising that my days all merge into one and offer little of interest.

Most interesting today was a customer who ordered a Cigarette Card Catalogue from us. They are  big heavy books and it had arrived damaged. His letter of complaint was querulous. It seems that it was hard to blame the post office for the state of the book when we were the ones at fault for our poor packaging.

We could, it is true, pack them better. If we did so it would increase the weight of the parcel, and its thickness, and put it into another postage category. They are already expensive to post and the extra cost would probably mean nobody bought one. We send one or two a month and this is the first to get damaged.

I would have taken issue with his comment about the post office. The book had clearly been dropped on its corner (hence the damage) and it had also clearly been messed about, as the envelope was seriously creased and tattered. Something had gone badly wrong and as it had been fine when we handed it over it was definitely the fault of the post office, despite the assertions of the customer.

The truth is that it had been damaged by a combination of bad treatment and insufficient packaging. All tyhe customer needed to do was send pictures (which he did) and ask fro a refund. There was no need to start attaching blame or criticism.

Anyway, we apologised and offered him a partial refund or a replacement book. This provoked another long email about blame and fault and unfairness and made it quite clear he was looking for an argument.

Sometimes you wonder about what goes on in people’s minds. However, rather than argue we carried on smiling and being nice. We have already lost money on the book, no point in spending time (which is, as we know, money) on arguing about it.


Day 181

It’s late and I’m struggling for inspiration. In a day that started with so many good intentions, and ended with none of them implemented, this one will hardly be noticed. I meant to write the post as soon as I got home but didn’t, and I meant to avoid eBay, but I didn’t. The two things may be linked.

The programme for the Numismatic Society is out and I am down for a talk next spring – it seems I’ll be interpreting the 20th Century through medallions. That wasn’t the title I had in mind, and seems rather a grand claim. I am going to have to start preparing now, as the standard keeps getting higher every year.

Last month was poor for poetry submissions – just one submission in the end. I lost momentum and slacked off a bit too much. In July I have a chance of 14 submissions. I won’t be able to manage all 14, but I’m hoping to have a far better go than I managed this month. I did look at some other poetry magazines, with the intention of  submitting but in the end did nothing about that either. The plan is still to submit the best work I can to the best magazines.

When I first started writing poetry I selected magazines at the bottom of the pile. It secured me some confidence and some publication, but it doesn’t feel as good as getting in decent magazines.

Now I just need ten words to push me over the line. Done it!


Day 180

Teetering on the slide into winter . . .

Started the day with bacon croissants. I was thinking of getting up and making them but Julia got up quicker and read my mind. There are some benefits to moving slowly.

Completed my jury service form online. I still wonder why they need to threaten me with a £1,000 fine all the time. I suspect it is because the sort of people who draft these letters like the feeling of authority given by the ability to bend others to their will. I’ve  noticed this in other people over the years, particularly since lockdown gave encouragement to petty tyrants.

They are generally people of low intelligence who have been frustrated by their inability to rise in their chosen career, or any career. Their parents didn’t love them. They never learned to say please and thank you. I could carry on, but I feel I have conveyed the essence of my contempt.

Marmalade Hoverfly

Marmalade Hoverfly

As a result of completing the form on line I now have a pre-paid envelope addressed to the Jury Central Summoning Bureau. I am seriously tempted to send them a letter querying their whole approach to jurors.

In the waiting room at the surgery I was privileged to witness four different complaints against practice staff. One women wouldn’t name her complaint – she wanted the practice manager.

One man was complaining about the late arrival of his drugs. He had clearly ordered them late. And he also clearly needed help with anger issues, and possibly with voices in his head, as he muttered and swore under his breath.

Another woman was complaining that she had rung for help in treating the skinned knee of her daughter and didn’t like the answer she had been given by another receptionist (get some ointment from the pharmacy). “She’s not properly qualified.” she kept repeating. If you need a medical qualification to treat a skinned knee there is something wrong with the world, and If a parent can’t cope with a skinned knee there is something wrong with the parent.

Finally we had the man who was trying to make an appointment. You can’t make appointments these days – you have to ring in and hope you get through and then hope that the doctor has a free slot to ring you back. He ended up confused and asked “What would happen if I walked out of here and collapsed?”


Him, I sympathise with. Though I also sympathise with the receptionist, who is forced into a corner such as this by the people who run the NHS. In the end she had to give the obvious answer – “I’d call you an ambulance.”

We went for lunch (we actually ate in the restaurant as part of my return to normal), Julia went to Hobbycraft, who have now emptied their top floor, and I went for tea in the back room at the jewellers.

Back home, I filled in my pain survey and, with painful, clumsy fingers, folded the A4 sheets of paper in three and put them in the (to small) envelope provided. I had assumed that “Page 6 of 6” on the last sheet meant it was the final sheet. But no, as I rifled through the remaining pages (they do tend to include a load of junk too) I found “Page 7 of 6”. What logic is there behind that? I’m afraid that as I completed the final two questions I added a rather terse note a\bout page numbers and envelope sizes.


These people have doctorates, research budgets, staff and big wage cheques (to name but three things I don’t have) and they come up with “Page 7 of 6”.

A light tea followed, to make up for the burger and chip lunch, and I am currently feeling hungry but virtuous as I type.

And that has been my day . . .

Day 179

I had a call from the surgery this morning. They hadn’t made an appointment, and it came as a call marked “Unknown Caller” while I was on the shop phone answering a customer query. I know from experience that these are often calls from the doctor so I juggled phones and arranged for them to all back after I had finished with the customer.

It was the practice pharmacist ringing for a medication review. This was a surprise as I didn’t know they had a pharmacist and medication review s in the past have been sketchy. This would be no different, as she had obviously rung with a list of things to discuss, including blood pressure. As I may have said before, blood pressure is the new subject they all want to talk about. My blood pressure is much the same as it has been for years (as in “too high”) but they are now staring to worry. They aren’t actually doing anything useful, just muttering about it and demanding that I monitor it at home.

One way of getting my blood pressure down would be to stop ringing me when I am at work. Another would be to stop asking me to monitor it at home in the mornings. I’m in a rush in the morning, so it’s u8nlikely to give a good reading.

At one point, as we discussed it, she actually asked “Do you eat breakfast?” You would have thought that a quick look at my records would have revealed the answer. I clearly  don’t miss many meals. If I was prone to missing meals I would be thinner, my blood pressure would be lower and they wouldn’t be ringing me up.

Day 178

It is 9.30 and still light, although thy sky is starting to turn pink. There is a chill in the air and a feeling that another year is already over when, for me, it doesn’t seem to have begun.

I have just checked the MOT date for the car. I always get to the middle of summer and realise that I have forgotten when it is due. Fortunately it is still six weeks away, which gives me plenty of time. It’s quite useful being able to check these things on line and makes me wonder how we ever managed to run things with only a diary, a memory and a few scraps of paper.

This Wednesday I will be having a blood test, next Wednesday I have an X-Ray to check I am fit for my new medication, and the Wednesday after that I will make arrangements to get the car serviced and  for the test. I need to get it done so that I avoid it clashing with jury service. Fortunately you are able to get it done up to a month before the due date.

That is not exactly an impressive social diary is it? Blood test, X-Ray, car service, jury service . . .

Now, I think, I’m beginning to understand why older people don’t fear death. I’ve never been one of those people who worry about death, as it’s going to happen whether I worry or not, but I have wondered, in a theoretical way, whether it would become a matter of concern as I got older. It hasn’t. As every morning comes round I am just glad to find nothing else has gone wrong. By the time I’ve struggled into my increasingly awkward trousers I find my mind has cleared itself of any thoughts of mortality that may have accumulated during the night.

Of course, if you had my social life, you’d probably feel much the same.