Tag Archives: covid

Less Hectic Than Saturday…

It was a better day today. Last night’s test was negative, Julia’s regular test was negative and the boss, though wan and drawn, was (a) negative and (b) recovering.

His wife rang for a test on Friday night as he was exhibiting all the symptoms. They filled in the forms and were then told them were no available testing slots. His wife, being a forceful woman, got in the car, drove down to the local testing station and found the staff all sitting round with nobody to test. This is mainly how it is (I drive past several times a week and rarely see anyone there). It doesn’t fill you with confidence.

Anyway, his test result came back negative.

The temperature was slightly lower today, which is good for a man who spends his day in a room with no windows. It’s badly insulated and has a flat roof so it’s cold in winter, hot in summer, noisy when it rains and generally dull. However, conditions were passable. I would complain about working conditions but that might invite comparisons between me and the ideal shop assistant. I fail to measure up in a number of ways, including telling customers i know nothing about coins and don’t see any need to change, as I retire in three years. I feel honesty is important, and it also means less work for me. Customers come in and ask for mark or Eddie, but they rarely ask for me. It’s a bit like DIY and other jobs once you are married – mess it up the first time and you never get asked again.

A Busy Wednesday

Looks like I’m going to be having a busy day.

First, there will be a lot of teeth gritting to be done. They are drilling again next door, though it is gradually dawning on us that it might be floor sanding. It’s noisy, annoyingly irregular and travels well through the connecting wall.

Second, I have to book my vaccination. Or I assume I do. Julia has just had a text telling her she can book hers (though she has, of course, already had it). I haven’t seen a text yet but assume I will have got it too. (See below).

Three, I have to go to the shop because I left my phone there when we packed up yesterday. I was thinking of not going back for it, but if I ned to book an appointment I will have to go for it.

Long Tailed Tit - Rufford Abbey

Long Tailed Tit – Rufford Abbey

Four, I have to pick up a prescription and put a request in for another one. At that point we will start the game of NHS Roulette to see what I actually get.

Five, fill up the car. We haven’t been going out, so we haven’t used much fuel, but it has now come to the end of the tank and the warning light is on. With not going out much we tend not to pass anywhere to refuel so it needs a special trip.

Six, then there will be more gritting of teeth as the chimney man seems to have arrived, judging by the debris now clattering down into the back garden. Drill, drill, drill, clatter, clatter, clatter…

I’m going out now, and I could be some time.

Grey Wagtail - Rufford Abbey

Grey Wagtail – Rufford Abbey

The photos are some old shots from Rufford Abbey – I was particularly happy with the Grey Wagtail (though it’s not great quality) because I don’t see them often, and they are quite flighty. Long Tailed Tits are tricky to photograph, but at least they are common and you can keep trying.

Writing for a Future Reader

It snowed, I wrote, it melted. I cooked two meals, Julia returned. We had bacon hotpot for tea, she said it was salty. The night grew frosty then it snowed again. I watched TV, fell asleep, woke up, made sandwiches and, in the early hours, decided it was time to blog. It will be one of those dull blogs written with a future reader in mind and full of dreary detail about lockdown.

There is something wrong with my routine. I am now in a rut – falling asleep in the evening so I am not sleepy at night. I then work into the early hours, have trouble waking, and feel tired during the day.

It is, as a result, difficult to say whether my lack of inspiration in the last week has been due to being tired, or being uninspired.

Julia has still not had the promised test kit from work and I am not working tomorrow because we don’t know whether she is asymptomatic or just healthy. It is an annoying situation, as I am trying to do the right thing but am stuck in limbo. If she’s clear I’m clear. If she’s positive I’m in isolation for 14 days. Or, if I fly in from abroad, I can self-quarantine for 10 days. Not quite sure why the two things are different.

I just looked at the rules. She has been in close contact with someone with Covid so should be in quarantine, but is being told by work that she should keep going in and test. I have not been in contact with anyone with Covid (in the absence of a test) and  don’t have to quarantine. But if I go to work I will come into close contact with someone who has a health condition and two people who have responsibilities caring for elderly relatives. I don’t want to be responsible for spreading it to the parents of other people after what happened to my father.

It’s an annoying situation to be in. However, it’s not appropriate to discuss my views on the way people are managing this, as I may be rude about people who can’t defend themselves.

Unfortunately, her contact came both before and after her vaccination, so it has had no time to work yet. Full protection takes two weeks.

I have been looking at private tests but there are several different tests available and several different prices. One was offered locally but they didn’t name a price. I can, however, have liposuction at the same place. There are at least two different tests and prices range from £65 to £135.

We can’t get NHS tests because we have no symptoms and, according to the website will be taking a test away from somebody who really needs it (we still have limited testing capacity, it seems).

Sorry, it’s a dull post, but in years to come I like to think it will be  an interesting historical document. I keep having visions of  a future PhD student basing a stellar thesis on my lockdown ramblings.. OK, maybe “interesting” was the wrong word – let’s try useful.

I’m off to bed now. I will review and publish this in the morning.

The Best Laid Plans…

There’s a distinct possibility that Julia may be going down with Covid in the near future. Several co-workers have been diagnosed recently, including one who came into work to tell them that she had symptoms, and one who was called at work with the information that she was positive but asymptomatic and may have been spreading virus for some days.

It is a time for keeping fingers crossed.

As a result of this, head office have decided to send them some lateral flow tests for self testing and an exhortation to keep going, It seems that the residential homes have been getting the tests for some time now, but nobody thought to send any to Nottingham. The view from their ivory tower must be quite stunning at this time of year. Not sure where it is sited but it’s a long way from any practical, hands-on experience. Even though 90% of the staff have now deserted them and are refusing to come in to work (two more rang in this morning, one “ill” and one with “stress”) head office does not want them to shut down. The absent staff members are not prepared to work,  but are still  prepared to accept their wages and offer their views on Facebook.

The oldest member of staff, who is also at risk from health, weight and ethnicity, is Julia.  She’s still there. This is a bit of a shock as I normally just think of her as beautiful and a bit creaky. (But I am a bit creaky too, and, as you may guess, my eyes are not great). I am getting steadily less happy with the situation and have already discarded several versions of tonight’s blog due to intemperate use of language.

At times like this, I think of Sir Edmund Verney (1590-1642). He was personally loyal to the King but did not support his policies. He wrote a letter at the time expressing his thoughts –

“I have eaten his bread and served him near thirty years, and will not do so base a thing as to forsake him; and choose rather to lose my life (which I am sure to do) to preserve and defend those things which are against my conscience to preserve and defend”

Strangely, for a man of integrity, he was also an MP. Those of you who are sound on historical dates will, I am sure, already have deduced that he was also quite good at predicting the future.

So, from vaccination on Sunday to rats deserting a sinking ship on Tuesday. What a turn-round in outlook.

On a sadder note Tom Moore died in hospital today. He had an adventurous 12 months, with two World records, a Gold Blue Peter Badge, a Knighthood and 150,000  cards for his 100th birthday.

Reflections on Friday and Becoming Old and Boring

Today I have successfully fought off the urge to waste time on-line. It was my day to go to the shop. I arrived just before 9.00 after dropping Julia at work, and immediately had to ring the boss because the alarm was playing up. It is linked to his phone so I didn’t want him thinking he had burglars.

He came to the shop  later in the morning, with home-baked cakes from his wife and we had coffee with coconut and cherry buns. They were very good.

It does highlight a grey area – we are at work and we are able to sit down, chat, and have coffee and buns, but if we were a café instead of a coin shop we wouldn’t be able to do that because the coffee and buns would have to be takeaway or click and collect. I know the scale of the risk would be different but the underlying principle is there.

Same goes for talking to the neighbours. I’m hazy on detail, but I’m fairly sure I couldn’t go round for a chat, but as we needed to discuss building work it is allowable. Unfortunately, I found myself doing an impression of an old man droning on about how the street was 30 years ago. They are a nice, young couple, as I may have mentioned before, and have offered to paint the side of my wooden garage before they put their new one up.  It’s very kind of them, but does make me feel a bit old and decrepit. However, I did accept the offer – I may be old and decrepit but I’m not stupid enough to turn down an offer of help.

Julia made tea (egg fried rice and served it with some spring rolls left over from New Year. It was tasty and healthy and much better for us than the chips we would normally have had. We aren’t giving up chips, it’s just that the chip shop is broken. The fryer has broken down and they are temporarily closed. This must be a bit of a blow on top of the lockdown. I am glad, as I have said before, that I am now employed instead of self-employed.

Talking of which, we now have  a stock of CN 23 Customs Declaration forms.  Since Brexit the Post Office has tightened up on the use of customs declaration forms and we can no longer send items over £270 using a CN 22. Of course, we didn’t even have to use CN 22  forms for Europe until Brexit. At the moment I’m spending an average of 10 minutes a day messing with customs forms for Europe, which comes to an hour a week if we were working full time. Call it £500 a year.  The CN 23s require more time to complete.

I wonder how many other small businesses are finding this.

My anti-Brexit feelings are, at the moment, somewhat confused. I still think we would be better in than out, but I look at the mess that Europe has made of the Covid vaccinations. Maybe we are better out of it.

After work and fried rice it was quite some time until I could be bothered to switch the computer on – which is how I successfully avoided wasting time on-line. I just watched TV instead.



2,222 Posts

Yesterday, I see, brought up the number 2,222 in my stats. It is totally meaningless, but allows me to produce an easy title and gives me a quick start to the post. I don’t know about you, but if I can get the first sentence down, the rest follow. This works even with the most trivial of sentences.

It doesn’t work with “Tonight we are eating salad” or anything starting with “The Government assures me…”. There’s just no coming back from an opening like that. Anything else, though, tends to unlock the gates of blethering, if not actual creativity.

Today, I thought about going to the shop for bread, but thoughts of death and red crosses on the door persuaded me otherwise. While the new variety of Covid is on the rise it pays to be more careful. ASDA was unable to deliver sourdough last week but I’m not prepared to die in the attempt to buy one from Lidl.

This has the added benefit of stopping me buying chocolate brownies, pain au chocolat and croissants, which all tend to appear in my basket as I drift past the bread counter. However, the main benefit is in stopping me coming into contact with a shop full of people who don’t wear masks. Julia will be using public transport for the next few days while the car is in for repair, and I’m hoping that nothing bad happens as a result. It’s very noticeable that the younger, less “at risk” staff at MENCAP have all run for the hills and are “working from home”. Julia wasn’t given the option, she was just told she would be required to go in to work.

I’m not even sure they should be working in groups. Most of the clients live with family or in homes, and the rest have carers going to visit. As they have at least four times the death rate of the average population (possibly six depending on how you look at the figures) it would seem to be a good idea for them to isolate rather than mix.

So there you go. I started with 2,222, moved on to creativity, bread, Covid and differential mortality rates. That’s enough for now.

IIncluding checking on eBay, looking up a couple of things on the internet and adding a few groceries to the order (mention of ASDA reminded me) an hour has now gone and it’s time to move on to another activity.

In fact it’s time to move. I need to move round more and do some exercise.

Study Number 1 - The Idiot

A slight improvement

So, the second part of my day commences. It was, I’m glad to say, better than the first.

I ordered cardboard boxes on the internet. I’m hoping I’ve got it right because tomorrow is planned as a whirlwind of packing.

I have secured my new storage unit and everything is up to date, with many personal details supplied. I have even supplied details of my next of kin. The new one is near the loading bay, so no need to use the lift. This is handy. I just wish that I had worked things out better in my life so I didn’t haver so much rubbish to move round.

They gave me a hefty discount on this second one and gave me a free padlock, so you have to say that they are improving in my eyes. Perhaps i was a little harsh…

But then again, maybe I was fair.

I put some stuff in the unit and went to pick Julia up from work. She has had a bad day and the standard of management at her place is hitting new lows. I continue to tell her s should look for a new job. The good she does, and the enjoyment she gains from enriching the lives of her clients, is, in my opinion, not worth the hassle she endures.

We dropped off three bags of books in the local Oxfam bin and noticed that the clothing bank has a pile of bags around it already. The paper, plastic, glass and tin can banks are all now open, a sign of normality returning.

I have had an email from a local group concerning my offer to volunteer to help adults improve their literacy. They are inviting me to fill in an application form, to be interviewed and then take an on-line training course. It seems like a lot of effort to prove I’m fit to teach people to read.

And finally, the news has just announced that Nottingham has rocketed to the top of the Covid table and is now number 6 in the country for new infections. The government is likely to lock us down at the weekend, and the council is urging us to make several changes already.

The Council has issued the following advice in advance of the government announcement.

Do not mix with people from other households indoors unless you are part of a support bubble.

This includes your home, other homes and leisure and hospitality venues.

You can still visit venues but the City Council asks that it is only with you own household.bubble.

I haven’t mixed with anyone indoors since March, apart from my sister’s garage, with the doors open. I have socialised to the extent of one pub lunch, one meal out (both slightly forced on me) and two visits to a garden centre café. And a funeral. I’m not sure whether that counts as mixing indoors or socialising.

I do, of course, go to work, where I mix with people who aren’t part of my household. They are probably part of my support bubble, apart from the customers. It’s unclear where this falls relative to government advice – it’s probably OK as it’s keeping the economy going and it means we won’t cost them anything.

Ah well, no point worrying. Worse things happen at sea etc…




Tuesday Evening

I picked Julia up from work, watched Pointless, made tea (fried rice with plenty of veg and some odds and ends of meat), watched TV, bickered and finally started to write this.

My emails tell me I missed a necklace on eBay that I had been watching for Julia’s birthday.  It’s a nervy time of year, as I have to buy her a present for our wedding anniversary, her birthday and Christmas, all within the space of a couple of months. Even if I was inspired it would be tricky, but as I’m not, and as she’s no help at all, I struggle.

It was nice, though she really has enough necklaces, and I set up a bid using a sniper to place the bid three seconds before the end. I din’t bid enough.

More thought needed.

There’s always more thought needed. Last Christmas was fine, as she new what she wanted and we went out and bought it just before Christmas, but it’s more normal for me to be left a week before Christmas with every idea turned down and nowhere left to go. She is, unfortunately one of those people who can tell you what she doesn’t want, but not what she does want.

I asked her what she wanted on the menu for next week, as I need to start getting the shopping list knocked into shape for tomorrow night and it’s the same again – doesn’t want anything I suggest but can’t come up with any ideas of what she does want.

It’s very easy to slip into bad habits and lack of variety when you are ordering online (just order the same as last week, says the little voice in my head) but it’s also hard to keep coming up with menus. To be honest, with being back at work almost full time I have become a lot less interested in cooking. I might have to order some of those spice packs just to kick-start my interest again.

Meanwhile, in the world of Covid, UK infection rates are rising and a local school has had to close because several teachers have tested positive.  I spoke to the husband of a teacher today, they have been back less than a week and they have sent 15 of their 250 pupils for tests after they started showing symptoms.

It could be a tricky winter.


Study Number 1 - The Idiot

Tuesday Morning

Today, as ever, started with the death of a good intention. I meant to get home and start decluttering before writing, but in the end I went to sit in the back room of a shop and drink tea.

It was relaxing, but not productive.

I then went shopping, even though we are supposed to be doing it by internet. We have somehow run out of bread again so I thought I’d get some in and buy a few extra bits we could do with.

I’ve had a problem with my stomach recently, lasting two weeks. It wasn’t quite Irritable Bowel because I didn’t have my normal stomach cramps, and it doesn’t seem to be cancer as I checked my output and it all seemed normal. In fact, it was quite impressive (thanks to my high fibre diet). Julia has told me not everyone wants to know this, so I will leave it. there. I will, however, assure you that I checked seriously and was not just going through the motions.

Those of you from overseas, who are wondering about that slightly out of place last sentence may want to check this dictionary entry as I fear it is only a pun in English, and even then only for people with school boy humour (or me and Derrick, if you really want to narrow it down). Possibly Charlie and Tootlepedal, but they, having been teachers, are probably on a higher plane than that.

It seems not to be the methotrexate either, as, after the first few weeks this does not seem to cause any reaction at all.

I’m trying to cut out the cheese sandwiches at lunchtime, as cheese and milk sometimes trigger the IBS. There is a pan of carrot and parsnip soup on the hob at the moment because, although I am back to normal I need to lose weight and be kind to my stomach. I will have it with a ham sandwich. In my book, there is little I could do to improve on that.  I’m going to follow up with some yoghurt which I also bought today – time to work on my digestion.

So far, so good, though this is borrowed time and we must soon go back to proper working hours. The days I work are now getting longer and Julia is back on public transport most days. I’m not happy about that, and she isn’t happy about the number of people not wearing masks, but there’s nothing you can do. You can’t challenge people because this is viewed as discrimination. You can’t ask for proof. You just have to sit there and out up with their germs.

It’s a shame that the non-mask-wearing idiots who pretend to be disabled can’t all be struck down by Covid. Instead, ironically, they will be the ones likely to survive and infect others.

The Queue

Sorry, I had to repeat the header picture again. I was going to take more photos today, but didn’t do any in the end.

We went to the pharmacy this afternoon. Julia needed more medication and we had ordered mine at the same time to cut down on the number of times we risked contact, both for us and the pharmacy staff.

They open at 2am. We went down at 2.15 and found a queue of approximately 18 people. We decided to have a drive round and come back later when the rush was over. At 2.50 we returned and found the queue had reduced to 17, though most of them were different people. Several of the people who had been at the back of the original queue had still not reached the shop.

Reluctantly, we joined the queue. As I said to Julia, it was a good thing she had arranged to pick her prescription up in advance, or we’d have ended up in a massive slow queue.

She told me to shut up. Apparently sarcasm does not make queues go faster. An hour later, I found myself agreeing with her. I nearly said: “At least it isn’t raining.”

If I’d said that, I’m sure it would have done. So I restrained myself.

The woman in front of us had her son with her. He was about 12 or 14 and about the same size as her. He had learning difficulties, which originally took the form of engaging in a game of pointing at me and laughing whilst saying “man” and “giant”. He also said “hello” a lot, asked our names and named our hair colours – in my case this was “blonde” so I can forgive him a lot. As they queued, and he became bored, he started wrestling with his mother. She was impressively strong, and very patient. I’m guessing that the lockdown is harder for her than it is for many of us.

As we got to the door of the shop, the woman in front let them take her place, which was pretty good considering it had taken us an hour by that time.

Julia went in before me. I went in a couple of minutes later. She got hers in five minutes, as it was already organised. It was to take me another half hour. I gave them the barcode the surgery had texted me. It didn’t work.

So much for technology.

I had to go across to the surgery. Biosecurity was not as tight as last week, and I was able to walk straight in. Strange, I thought. What was even stranger was the way they had piled up furniture and tape as a barrier. And the fact there was nobody there.

I double checked the notices – there were many prohibitions (this situation is heaven-sent for people who like giving orders) including telling me not to enter if I had an appointment, but there was nothing telling me not to just drift in from the street. Strange…

Eventually someone found me, issued a paper prescription and, after checking my identity on my driving license, gave me a password for the website, which should mean I can just order online in future. In theory. I’ll believe it when I see it.

And that was…

No, that wasn’t quite it.

They were short of Warfarin and had no pain-killing gel. The gel will be in on Monday and the Warfarin on Tuesday. I am, it seems, welcome to queue for an hour any time next week to pick the extras up. I can even queue twice, once on Monday and once on Tuesday, if I want.

This, as I pointed out, rather works against the whole point of self-isolation.