Category Archives: Uncategorized

Day 174

I had it all planned in my head. I was going to come home from work, write the blog post, prepare tea, watch quizzes, make tea and then watch a bit more TV before working on the computer.

So I came home, watched a quiz, fell asleep, ate tea (prepared by Julia), watched TV and started frittering time on the computer. It wasn’t quite how I had planned it. I also missed the cut-off time for making changes to my grocery order.

It is now late and I am writing a blog post whilst feeling tired, and remorseful for my lack of energy.

We had an interesting medal brought in this afternoon, along with some cloth arm badges. The medal is named to the Royal Naval Air Service and one of the cloth badges is from the RNAS too. The other two were worn by the same man but are just general naval badges – the chevron is for 3 years service and the anchor is the badge of a Leading Seaman, or Leading Mechanic in this case.

The RNAS was a short-lived organisation, formed in 1914 as an air arm of the Royal Navy and disbanded when it became part of the RAF in April 1918. It was an interesting organisation and carried out various duties in the war, such as strategic bombing, airship flights, anti-submarine warfare, the development of aircraft carriers and it  even had an armoured car unit. From this you may deduce that nobody was really sure what to do with it.

The recipient of the medal is fairly well documented. Born in London, he joined up in 1916 at the age of 18 and served at RAF Cranwell (which was, at the time, a base of the RNAS, despite being in the middle of Lincolnshire), was demobbed in 1919 with the rank of Corporal Mechanic (paid 5 shillings a day) and by 1939 was an engineer in Loughborough who was also a member of the ARP. He died in Worthing in 1966.

Approximately 100 years after his war service ended, his family sold his war medal and uniform badges to us.

RNAS Mechanic’s Arm Badge

They say we all die twice – once when we stop breathing and once when nobody remembers us. Sometimes, when I find details of a medal recipient, it feels like we are helping him live again.

 

Day 173

What to write about. The early hours of the morning have arrived, I have parked the post I wrote, on the grounds it wasn’t working, and started to look for another 250 words.

This is post 2,701 by the way. I know this because the number 2,700 caught my eye when I was preparing to write. For some reason 2,700 seems like a significant number, where 2,701 doesn’t. Numbers are strange that way. Write 2,700 and it looks worthy of note, but 2,699 and 2,701 aren’t. They are too messy.

At the moment I am in the middle of a long dry spell, in a writing sense. I did submit a piece this morning but my haibun haven’t been doing well recently so I’m not holding out much hope. It’s also going to a magazine that has started demanding contributors write to a theme each issue and I’m not keen on that. It is another level of difficulty to worry about in writing the poem and it involves fine judgement. In Japanese forms of poetry they want more subtlety in handling  a theme than they do in English verse, and it’s easy to miss the mark. It’s like the poem I had rejected a while ago for obscurity. If you add a footnote you are being pretentious, if you don’t you are being obscure.

If it’s accepted it will be subtle. If it isn’t, it will miss the brief. Simple.

It’s like white space. The editor for today’s submission likes white space because it is a sign of things left unsaid (Japanese poetry is very big on things left unsaid) but other editors have criticised me for having too much white space – it detracts from the impact of the haiku according to one of them. The others just seem to like a single paragraph of prose with no gaps.

Eventually I will get going again. In the meantime, a rambling diarylike entry of 300 words will do to fill todays post. Sorry it wasn’t more insightful, but sometimes all I have to offer is a view of the inside of my head.

Meanwhile, there has been an earthquake in Afghanistan and people on the news are discussing how we deliver aid to a country where we don’t like the Government. The answer is, of course, that if you live in a country with any sort of moral values you send aid first and worry about politics second. I imagine it’s hard enough living there at the best of times but much, much worse if your house just fell on your head as you slept.

My worries aren’t really worth discussing compared to this, but they manged to sneak in as the first thing I spoke about. Strange how self-centred we can be.

Day 172

The Longest Day. It is all downhill from now on as the nights draw in and winter approaches . . .

Too depressing?

It’s been that sort of day. I fell asleep in front of the TV and when I woke up realised I had been subliminally bombarded with politics and warfare. That’s why I gave up watching the news several years ago. I can absorb most news from the internet in a less depressing format and stay informed without feeling that Armageddon is just around the corner.

News reporters love misery and they lay it on with a trowel instead of just giving us the facts.

I find myself very annoyed with the Russians and would, if put in the position of Putin’s nanny, give him a slap on the bottom and send him to bed with no supper. However, as the man already has what the British refer to as “a face like a slapped arse” it might be tricky selecting the correct end to chastise.

This morning the journey to work was busier than usual, which we attributed to the rail strike, but half-way through it suddenly became almost empty. So much for the rail strike theory.

Life in the shop was pretty average and I wasted my evening with a nap     (as mentioned), mindless TV and browsing the internet. All in all it’s been one of those days that would not be missed if it disappeared.

The photos are from the garden, being mainly photos of growing teasel plants. I’m afraid most of them won’t be allowed to flower as they are too spiky to be allowed to grow that close to the footpath, and we will end up taking them out.

Teasel

Teasel

 

Day 171

We had an interesting day in the shop.

When I arrived a young woman pulled up next to me and said hello. This is unusual. All was explained when she said she was there to do the survey, though I had been expecting her at 11.00 rather than just before 9.00.

It turns out that the oner had mis-read the letter. There was an energy efficiency survey at 9.00 and an agents survey at 11.00. Both featured young women who measured us up using laser measures. I just looked them up, they are only about £20. If I ever want to measure a shop I now know how to do it. I expect you get what you pay for.

Strangely, none of them wanted to know about the damaged front door (the owner still hasn’t fixed up the front door properly despite it being several years since the burglary) or the damp coming from next door. Like all property owners he wants maximum rent and minimum effort. And like all letting agents the second agent wants most commission for least work.

It feels like I’m a massive sea creature, attacked by sharks on one side and having my life’s blood sucked by parasites on the other. And I’m not even the owner!

In the afternoon we had an interesting man with a small accumulation of coins. He walked out with £700 and a smile on his face. He has just sold his house and bought a river cruiser with the full radio set-up for going to sea. He is planning on living on the boat with his wife  (with outgoings considerably cheaper than current rates and stuff) and cruising the rivers when he feels like a holiday. Seems like a good plan. I’ve been looking at boats tonight. Another dream . . .

. . . chugging along a river with wildlife and fishing and riverside pubs. I could mount an exercise bike on it and pretend I was pedalling along the river.

Dabchick, or Little Grebe

Day 170

I’ve been thinking about a subject for today’s post. It really ought to be a lengthy one as I have time on Sunday and most of my other posts are a bit short. I’ve also been thinking about poetry. So, poetry, a blog post and plenty of time to write it. Sounds like a perfect cure for insomnia.

Poets writing about poetry are really only interesting to other poets. And that isn’t guaranteed. There are worse things, I suppose. Accountants writing about accountancy isn’t going to be a riveting read either.

I will narrow the scope of my post slightly. Let’s talk about writer biographies as they appear in poetry magazines. I don’t mind the ones that run to two lines (though I’m not sure why the editors who specify that sort of length just don’t tell the truth and say they clutter up the magazine and use space that should have poems in it).

My standard bio is: Simon Wilson has been a poultry farmer, salesman, antiques dealer, gardener and instructor on a Care Farm He now works in a coin shop and wishes he had tried harder at school.

It is not always well received by editors but is, I suspect, more acceptable to than the version I would like to send: Simon Wilson likes writing poetry and thinks you should read it and mind your own business about his private life.

This train of thought started because I made the mistake of clicking onto a site with a variety of poet biographies. One of them was very motivational – a well-known poet and editor talking about his early days and less than positive start.  It is helpful to see how other people improved and coped with rejection.

The ones i don’t like are the ones that are full of self praise, particularly the ones that give a long list of publishing credits and include magazines that have been out of production for five years.

Speckled Wood

Maybe I should just have done my review of TESCO’s Buttery Spread.

To be fair, it does spread. It also comes in a handy plastic container.

Those are the two positives. Whether it’s buttery is an entirely different matter. It contains buttermilk which, as I recall, is what you are left with after you use the buttery bits of the cream to make butter. The word “butter” in this context makes as much sense as it does when you use it in butterfly. Neither of them contain butter and neither of them makes a particularly pleasant addition to a sandwich.

Now the photos make sense don’t they?

 

Day 169

I won on the Lottery last night – £2.60. That’s enough to buy another ticket and have 10p left over. There’s not much I can do with 10p – can’t send a letter, can’t invest it and I’m not allowed sweets.

Fate seems to keep dangling the prospect of riches just outside my grasp.

If I do win big I’m going to buy an electric tandem and employ someone to pedal it for me if the battery runs out. I am a man of modest ambitions.

We finished the hoovering this morning, tidied under the workstations and washed the doors of the kitchen units, which I forgot to do yesterday. It’s looking smart for its inspection on Monday. All we need to do is polish the counter tops.

There was plenty of time for cleaning because we weren’t interrupted by many customers. We didn’t actually sell anything though the shop, but fortunately eBay came to the rescue with a steady stream of small sales during the day. This was fortunate, as very little sold over the last two nights. It’s been a quiet week, but with holidays, sun and constant talk of a cost of living crisis it’s not surprising people are holding back a bit.

It always makes me laugh when people on TV talk about a cost of living crisis. I’ve seen what they are paid, and it’s clear that we employ different definitions of the words. When you are paid this sort of money, the term “crisis” means cutting down on caviar so you can keep the kids in private education. When you are paid minimum wage, it’s a little harder to deal with.

However, that’s a discussion for a different day. Today is all about us having a clean shop and me winning the lottery.

 

Day 168

I had a very efficient visit to hospital this morning, and only need two more to call it a day. One is for a chest X-Ray and the other is to teach me how to vaccinate myself as I will be getting some extra medication. Oh good, I said.

While I was in there I left my car window fully open. As I waited for my appointment time, I read in the car and forgot to wind the window up when I went for the appointment.

At work we had one customer in the shop and one on eBay. We had another who wanted to return something as he’d ordered the wrong thing. His fault, not ours. We agreed he could send it back and w would refund everything, including his postage, which represents a £3 loss to us. We did however, refuse when he asked us to pay the postage costs of him sending it back to us.

In the afternoon I left my phone when we shut the shop. It seems a little strange not having it, but not too bad. It’s fortunate I’m not a teenager as it would be a tragedy if I couldn’t look at it every two minutes.

Two senior moments in one day. It’s a good job I don’t let it worry me these days, as I am resigned to descending into a bumbling old age. Then, when I posted todays blog, I lost it. It must be somewhere, but I can’t find it. Snatched by evil Microsoft elves, no doubt. So that’s now three senior moments in one day.

Things just get better. I’ll probably get lost on my way to bed . . .

Day 167

Two unusual pairs of customers today. One pair both had difficulty communicating as they can’t speak and one of them can’t write. They don’t seem to use any discernible signing system either, just do a lot of pointing. One of them was a regular before lockdown and  we manged to get by with writing and pointing.

It brings home my deplorable lack of knowledge of signing, something I have always meant to learn. Julia has done courses in Makaton, as reported some months ago, and British Sign language. However, she wasn’t there. My ability to offer them tea and coffee in Makaton was of no use at all. I must do better.

The second couple were father and daughter. She has saved up Christmas and Birthday money and has accumulated £100 to buy silver. She was about eight years old and would, I think, be better buying shares in emerging eastern economies and renewable energy. Even better, she ought to be spending it on dolls.

That thought is probably the window into my soul that allows you to see why I’m not a multi-millionaire and why my kids are likely to follow in my footsteps.

If you wait in the shop long enough, something interesting will happen. It might take months, but it will happen.

I ordered the shopping online last night and went on to make a few final adjustments tonight. They have no canned corned beef and no ready grated cheese. The latter isn’t a problem, because I always feel bad about using it – lazy for buying ready-grated and bad in general   because it is full of fat and I am supposed to be losing weight. The former isn’t a problem either, as I’d ordered the tinned stuff by accident, when meaning to buy the sliced corned beef for making sandwiches. It’s a bit annoying, but also, in this case, not important at all. I’m getting used to “supply chain issues” and they don’t really bother me now.

Day 166

I had a good blood test this morning. The weather was cool, the waiting room placid and the wait was not too long. I made three notes in my notebook, gave disapproving glances to my co-waiters (one playing noisily on his phone despite being in his 40s and one being “exempt” from wearing a mask) and eventually moved through to the blood letting room.

It was my favourite nurse. She made one hole, took three vials of blood for the three tests I need, and moved on to her next victim . . .

There is no bruise and there has been no phone call (which indicates I am within the target are)a. All is good and there should be no trouble with my methotrexate supply.

After that I went to visit my friends at the jewellers. I’ve not been very good at visiting lately and it was nice to see them. It’s not a long trip, and parking is easy, it’s just that over time I have developed a disinclination to travel or visit. A pendant in the window caught my eye and Julia is now wearing it as she prepares a salad for tea. Fortunately we are having pizza too, as salad by itself, of course, is not a meal.

The final part of my trip consisted of stopping for fuel as my warning light was one. I filled up. It’s the first time I’ve ever triggered the automatic cut off, as the pump cuts out automatically at £99. I had to start again, and got an extra £14 in.

It is not generally thought to be a good thing to fill a tank completely, as the extra weight can act against fuel economy, but I’m not keen on filling up more than I need to, and w also keen to see how much it took.

I am going to use it frugally.

I went for another bumblebee picture. I like bumblebees.

Day 165

I’m doing my normal thing and having a lazy two weeks as deadlines loom. I need the pressure. Even with pressure, I don’t always get on with it. I really should work out a way to write more.

The trouble with the diary format of blog is that it can only be as interesting as the life of the writer. One based round lifestyle or the discussion of issues might be more fun to write and would cover subjects of more interest. Later this week I will be going for a blood test and a face to face consultation at the hospital. It will be my first sight of a rheumatologist for over two years The blood test is tomorrow.

The birds have been going mad today. Blackbirds have been singing from TV aerials, sparrows have been very active (we don’t normally see many of them these days) , and magpies and pigeons have ben uncommonly trusting and have allowed us to get close to them. It was the same at the shop, where the jackdaws were very noisy this afternoon as we left. It might be the warm weather, or the closeness of the longest day.

So far, I have resisted temptation  to become more active. I find it very easy to resist the temptation to be active. The temptation to eat and watch TV is much more difficult to avoid. That’s a place where I could use another comma. Without it, it sounds like my temptation is to both eat the TV and watch it. I of course, mean “eat, and watch TV”. Isn’t English strange?

I used the bee picture again – a symbol of activity.