Some Good Customers

We have had some good customers in the last couple of days.

One came back with his grandfather to spend his Christmas money and spent quite a lot on filling the gaps in his 50p collection. Generally 50p coins aren’t expensive, even if you are buying uncirculated coins from us. The Kew Garden one is the most expensive you generally see in circulation, though the Blue Peter and Swimming Olympic Error coin do cost more.

However, please note  that the Kew Garden coin has to be the 2009 one, the 2019 issue is slightly different and is less expensive, having been issued as part of a commemorative set. The Blue Peter coin, dated 2009, is the winner of a competition and is the rare one. The design was re-used for the Olympic Athletics coin in 2011, which is much commoner. Finally, the error coin – buy one in the original packaging – a loose one could be a fake.

Peter Rabbit. Good in a book or a pie, but not so good on a coin

Some lucky people, who started collecting at the right time found Kew Garden coins in their change, and some bought the Blue Peter ones before anyone knew that it was going to be a rarity. I believe that we sold them for £3 each when we had our original stock from the Royal Mint. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

We had another young collector in today, but he collects old coins and spent his money on a single coin – a florin of Edward VII. They are notable coins because they have a distinctive portrait of Britannia, engraved by an engraver called de Saulles. I’m trying to recruit him for the Numismatic Society, because our demographic profile is such that we only have a couple of members under 60. and we need to keep recruiting.

Finally, a lady called to see if we had ant coins of Henry VIII. Her daughter is reading a series of historical novels set in Tudor times and thought this might be a way to kindle an interest in history. We did have some coins of Henry VIII and I’m pleased to report that we now have one less.

I don’t think I have any relevant photos so will see what I can find.

Stephen Hawking 50p

Another Day, Another Story, and a Razor

A few days ago we had an email from a customer telling us that his parcel had not arrived. He had ordered on 5th December and, after being patient, had decided to write. There was just one problem – the Royal Mail rack and Trace service showed that his parcel had been delivered, and paid for, on 7th December. I wrote and told him this, politely but firmly, and suggested he asked other people in the house, or his neighbours, if they had accepted it on his behalf. We have several of these every month. They take up time, they sometimes involve argument, but eBay finds in our favour because if there is a signature they consider we have done our duty. I didn’t cover this in my moaning as I considered it settled.

We heard nothing for a couple of days, and today had a reply. He now concedes that he has had the parcel but claims one of the items is missing.

This is not very credible. Even without the first email it would seem unlikely, but allied to the first one, it’s looking like a definite attempt at fraud.

We know the weights of the three items and we know the weight of the package, because the Pot Office, thoughtfully, prints the weight on the receipt. A bit of simple maths leads to the conclusion that all three items were in the parcel when it was posted, and as there was no complaint at the time, it would seem likely that three arrived. Then there is the postage method – we used Guaranteed because of the value of the three items. If there had just been two we would have used Signed For postage. All of this points to one conclusion – he got the parcel, he got the three items and he is not being completely truthful.

There may be another explanation, a confused elderly gent, a larcenous neighbour or a rogue postman, but the simplest solution is usually the best. This is what has come down to us as “Occam’s Razor“, even though it seems to have little to do with Occam.

Looking forward to Spring

Retail Reflections

Working today on what should be my day off as the boss is on holiday. Got up, left Julia sleeping, scrambled some eggs, ate them out of the pan (I soon revert to bachelor mode when my wife is out of sight) and set off.

She texted later and told me I appear to have trained her well as her first act on coming downstairs was to make two cups of tea and put mine down by the side of my chair. Trained? I seriously doubt it. After thirty years I have given up asking and just accept that despite my pleas she will never learn to leave my stuff where I put it, or replace the remote control in the same place each time so we know where it is when we need it.

We had several sets of visitors in the shop, several who had made appointments and several who hadn’t. I can forgive the latter, apart from the ones who know we like them to ring ahead. The one that really annoyed me was the one who knew he should have rung ahead, and complained it was a wasted journey, as he wanted to see the owner. If only he had rung for an appointment he would have saved the disappointment. That’s one of the reasons we run an appointments system.

Political skit note (obverse)

The truth is that these days we are internet based. We took the decision because that’s how most customers are these days. We actually have people in Nottingham, including some within a mile of the shop, who would rather browse or eBay site (and pay postage) rather than come in the shop.

We had someone come in yesterday to sell us some coins. He had made an appointment but he didn’t really need one because he knew more about coins than we did. He had learnt it off the internet over the previous week. All his coins were worth more than we offered, which is true, because we have to pay rent, rates, electricity and , most importantly, staff to deal with idiots. At the end of a traumatic hour my workmate was worn out and completely depleted in tact. At the end, the customer told him that we should alter our website as the directions provided were very poor and one of the roads was closed.

Now, those directions were not provided by us, ours are accurate. He’d used Google and the postcode and when we’d discussed it the day before I had told him the Google route was wrong and provided him with simple and correct directions. He had clearly decided to ignore me.

A lesser man may well have put their head round the door (I was hiding in the back) and reminded him that I had told him to ignore Google and follow my directions, but I decided merely to grind my teeth in case he decided to discuss it and stay even longer. Some people are beyond help.

Political skit note (reverse)

 

Hectic!

Yesterday and today were both marked by an upsurge of traffic on the road as kids returned to school and parents went back to work. I was a little later than intended on both days and ran into delays caused by the rush hour. Today’s dark and rainy start did little to combat the congestion or lift the mood.

It did, however, give me time to think about writing and I have just drafted two new haibun. There is, no matter how dark the day, always the possibility of good emerging from it.

We now have four complaints about the non-arrival of packages. One is from Israel, which we were expecting. The Israeli Post Office does not have a good reputation. This is surprising as they generally seem to be an efficient country. I note, however, that they will forward letters addressed to God.

Christmas Stamps

Christmas Stamps

One is from a customer who has had his package. He then changed his story, saying that he wanted to return it as it was a present and the intended recipient already had one. That’s a shame, but not our fault. Unfortunately, we fall under the same legislation as a large company in this matter and will have to accept the return and lose money.

Another has now been waiting a month and now wants their money back. Again, not our fault, but not his fault either. We can, of course, apply for a refund from the Royal Mail but it is likely to be a case where the time spent claiming outweighs the value of the claim.

All these are irritating as we have done nothing wrong but will end up losing money.

The fourth is more annoying. We sent the wrong parcel to someone and had to send them a replacement. Fair enough. They returned the item we had sent in error. While it was being returned (slowly, due to postal strikes) somebody else ordered it. We emailed them saying that there would be a delay but that we would send it in the New Year, if they wanted to wait. They accepted this and we actually sent it to them on 28th December. It is, according to the Royal Mail, on its way. They have just cancelled it as it is taking too long. This seems a trifle unreasonable after we have done our best for them.

Sorry to give so many details of my mundane life, but future researchers may want to know about the reality of doing business on eBay. We managed to hit another feedback milestone today. We hit 10,000 feedback just before Christmas (over 10,000 satisfied customers!) and today arrived at 10,100. So, despite the erratic post we are still keeping most people happy and it is clear that most of the post is still getting through quickly.

More Stampish Inspiration

The header picture is the Post Office 10p from the 2019 alphabet issue of coins. It was, in many ways, a disaster of an issue, with demand far outstripping supply. They were extremely rare in change and mainly being sold by Royal Mint and the Post Office at premium prices. It’s not the way to handle a new issue, as many people like the thrill of searching their change to find coins.

A Night of Coins and Thoughts of Medallions

Numismatic Society of Nottinghamshire tonight and one month to go before giving my presentation.

I have done a few slides for it and tried them tonight after the speakers had finished. It didn’t work. That’s the trouble with using Open Office instead of Microsoft. Fortunately we have at least one member on hand to give IT advice and he tells me I can save my slides as PowerPoint slides. I will check tomorrow, as I really need to get moving.

It was short paper night tonight. First up was a video clip of an American talking about the design process for the Californian State Quarter, which I have never felt to be particularly inspiring. The State Quarter Program (sic) is interesting from a numismatic point of view (and an economic one, too) but some of the designs could be better. The Californian one won through in a competition

Second was one of the members talking about his series of books. He has spent 40 years researching the note-issuing banks of England and is now publishing his research (in 43 volumes!). That’s one per county and he has now done six. There is still some way to go. He also showed us a cheque from his collection, written by one member of a local banking family to a prominent local banker. That was quite interesting, I like anything with a story.

Royal Visit to Cardiff (Obv)

Royal Visit to Cardiff (Rev)

Another member gave us a short talk on the future of the 1p and 2p coins. They are now made in copper-coated steel, to keep production costs down. Nobody knows for sure how much they cost to make and the Mint won’t tell us, but the old bronze ones are now worth more as scrap than they are as coins. However, it is illegal to scrap them, so don’t try it. In the USA, they  do release the cost of making coins – 2.1 cents to make a 1 cent coin last year. No wonder governments want to stop making small denomination coins.

Then we had a presentation on measuring the density of Roman coins to check their purity, and looked at the purity in relation to various historical events. It was very interesting, but by that time I had been sitting still for a long time and was beginning to feel chilly, so was glad when it ended and I could get up and walk round a bit. I’d been sitting still so long that I had trouble getting out of the chair. This won’t be a problem next month.

Liskeard 1940 – a story involving a future Prime Minister

Book Review – The Siege of Mr Khan’s Curry Shop

I did mention this book briefly about a year ago. It’s by Charlie Robinson, blogger, runner and Yorkshireman. To quote Meatloaf, “two out of three ain’t bad”

I’ll be honest, it didn’t start well. I opened it, the binding cracked and a page fell out. The opening didn’t feel good and the proofreading wasn’t great. Then, still suffering from the after effects of Covid, I put it down and didn’t pick it up again, though I kept meaning to. I bought the paperback last year. started it but became ill and never finished it.

It was the first book I bought for my new Kindle after Christmas and the first thing I noticed as I started it again, was that the proofreading seems to have been tightened up. Unfortunately the first section doesn’t really give an accurate impression of the rest of the book.

The other criticism I’d make is that the plotting is a bit complex for my tastes in certain respects (I’m trying to avoid giving anything away here) and it’s a bit too tidy at the end, though I’d still like to see what happens to the characters in a later book..

However, once it gets going it’s brilliant. Characterisation, storytelling, dialogue – all spot on. Great sense of time and place. He says his next book is going to be a romance, which is a shame as his writing style would be perfectly suited to crime. I really feel this paragraph should be longer to balance the length of the criticism I made earlier, because it’s quite clearly a great book. Buy it. Read it. You won’t regret it.

Frittering the Day Away

Today, as usual, I had such plans. But that was 14 hours ago and apart from cooking and washing up I have frittered the day away in watching TV and eating cake. And it was meant to be such a productive day . . .

My email system is playing up again, showing duplicate messages then going haywire when I try to access them. I’m not sure why it happens, but it was randomly done this since they had a major programme of “improvements” several years ago. I would change systems, but it would involve a lot of messing about changing the email addresses that I use for various things.

It’s the same sort of reason I avoid several necessary changes in my life, and is something I need to address this year. If we move in the next few years it will be forced on my anyway. Same with our landline – we are going to full fibre internet with BT and can save money by having the landline removed. As it is basically only used by nuisance callers, one of the neighbours and Julia’s older brother, that will be easy enough to change.

Eventually I suppose that if I use my mobile number more it will become infested with the verminous nuisance callers, but I will cope with that when the time comes. I will have to learn to use the call blocking feature and hope I have better luck than the time I tried to sort out my email spam problem. It did work, but it also cut out everyone using a gmail account, which was a touch inconvenient until I realised what I had done.

A local fox has been hitting the headlines recently – the video quality is poor but the content is awesome. And when I say “awesome” I mean it in the proper sense of inspiring awe, not the typical debased modern usage. Julia saw it on the news and passed the link on to me.

She also provided the header picture, which is Wollaton Hall, or Wayne Manor in the The Dark Knight Rises.

Post 2,901

2,900 seems like a nicely rounded number, though in just 99 posts from this one I will be celebrating number 3,000, which will be even rounder. At the moment this is also draft 88, another well-rounded number and known to bingo callers as “two fat ladies”. What junk I carry in my head . . .

I passed a Funeral Director’s branch office today. It has closed in Nottingham and is just operating from its Head Office in Mansfield. What sort of undertaker, I asked my mate, can possibly be doing badly during a pandemic? He says it’s because of the number of new companies advertising no-frills cremations. They cost about half the cost of a normal cheap funeral and you can pay in advance. The only trouble with paying in advance is that they might disappear with the money. That would be annoying.

He’s over 80 now and I am of an age that regularly appears in obituaries these days, so we both have an interest in the subject. I favour a simple cremation followed by my ashes being returned home by post. He, after great thought, has decided on an informal woodland burial. This involves me, a transit van and a shovel, plus a secluded bit of woodland with easy access to a parking spot. It’s not the poshest of funerals, but overheads are low. He wants to be buried with a Star Trek badge and a pocketful of Roman Coins. He doesn’t like Star Trek and isn’t particularly fond of Romans, but he really does dislike archaeologists!

You can also get ashes made into jewellery – anything from a small container to  wear as a pendant, to a large artificial diamond (which is just carbon, like us after the cremation). If I’d know modern mourning jewellery was still in use, I would have made a collection of Georgian and Victorian mourning jewellery and used the bits with me in them as the final part of the collection.

I think that will do. I fell asleep last night and didn’t get round to posting this, so it’s time to post and then get going with a new day. There’s nothing like a discussion of death to remind me that I need to get on. This is my last Saturday off until summer, so I’m going to appreciate it. Back to work full time on Monday after a lazy few weeks!

Apples

Back to a Version of Normality

After packing parcels yesterday we decided to have lunch out then have soup in the evening. We have had a few meals at fast food outlets (using the drive through option) but decided to try Harvester and have a proper sit down.

Apart from the meals organised as family events (of which we have had two or three during Covid, we haven’t had a proper sit down meal for a few years. It was quite relaxing being able to turn up without booking, serve your own salad and not have to wear a mask. I’m pro-mask and wore one today in a shop, but it always seemed strange that I could eat with no mask for an hour but had to wear a mask when I came in and walked to the toilet.

The salad bar was back to pre-Covid quality (it had been a bit ropey during Covid. As a bonus, they sent Julia a message with a voucher (she is signed up to their app). The voucher allowed us to have our main courses for half price, which was handy. Half price food is an aspect of modern life I can support.

So, back to the old way of eating out – it felt much more relaxing. I’m also feeling more relaxed about eating in a room with other people. This , which isn’t bad considering that even a few months ago I wasn’t sure I’d ever get used to eating in a social setting again.Looks like it is unwise to say “never”.

Today, when visiting the Pharmacy, I wore a mask – just so you know I am generally still behaving responsibly.

 

 

A New Low in Senior Moments

I forgot to tell you, I had a new, and stunningly bad, senior moment on Wednesday night. As we left the shop after finishing our packaging marathon, the alarm wouldn’t set. I tried it the long way, with the full code (which I normally do) then the short way with the zone button and “Yes” (and then the Zone Button with “No” just in case – I never can remember, which is why I use the long way). It just wouldn’t set.

Then it occurred to me that I was using the wrong code. I don’t actually remember the numbers, just the position of the buttons and, at that point, realised I had even forgotten that.

How do you get into a shop in the morning by using the code and forget it six hours later? Easily, it would seem.

You are reading the blog of a man who stood at an ATM and forgot his PIN, so I do have form for random amnesia. The bank, at the time, told me not to worry, as dozens of people forget their PIN number every day. It’s not really a great comfort. Other people forgetting things is comedy gold, but when I do it, I find it quite worrying.

Yes, I did finally get it set, in case you are wondering.  I’m forgetful, not stupid. I rang my workmate and asked him what the code was. It’s not actually the first time I’ve forgotten it as I once came back from holiday and realised, as the alarm went off, that I’d forgotten the code, so they are used to working with a bumbling fool.