Sorry about the sudden disappearance. This is ironic considering that I had just been writing a piece claiming that I have such an over-riding writing habit that it was easier to write than not write.
It all started with me running out of ideas, then starting to write things that took me off at a tangent and, finally, into a pit of despair. It started with one of my normal rants about life and, as I did some research and developed a few ideas, like shooting politicians, castrating paedophiles and introducing chain gangs, I realised that I really needed to calm down and take a day off. It became two.
I’m calm now.
The fact that the Prime minister’s fiancée now seems to be running the country instead of Dominic Cummings caused a temporary flare up, but I have returned to normal. I don’t expect much from Boris, and once again he has managed to lower my respect for him.
Is it any wonder that I’m nursing ideas of firing squads?
However, I did enjoy this article, though irony strikes in several places. It was, for instance, the conduct of Labour PM Tony Blair that brought the word “crony” into common use in UK politics, and the MP asking the question is the sister of Keith Vaz. It’s not her fault she’s related to him, and the worse thing I can find to say about her is that she’s a solicitor. However, her brother…
Well, can’t stay here chatting all day, now I’ve started writing again I have work to do.
I’m waiting for a phone call. When I was in Leeds earlier today I swung one leg out of the car after parking, the car rolled forward and, before I could get my leg back in to use the brake, I’d hit the car in front. I left a note under the windscreen and am currently waiting for a call. I’m not sure if I’ve done any damage – there was nothing obvious – but you can’t be sure. I have three areas of damage on my car where people have hit me (twice in car parks and once at a roundabout) and just driven off. It always annoys me to see them, thinking that someone has done that and driven off. That’s why I left the note, though I could do without the hassle.
I’m also about to embark on a major argument with one of the neighbours. I won’t bore you with the details, but the day my dad died I got a letter pushed through the door. Since then I’ve being trying to solve the problem, avoid arguments and bring it all to a conclusion. I have enough other stuff to do at the moment so wanted to settle as quickly as possible. They keep wanting more and I’ve reached a point where I’m going to have to say enough is enough. Tomorrow I’m expecting the fireworks to start. It’s cheaper to give way rather than go to court, but they are trying to make me take joint responsibility for a dodgy supporting wall in their garden and that could be a problem for years to come.
Then there are the neighbours on the east side, who are encroaching on the boundary. I have to sort that out before it becomes a problem, though I don’t like making a fuss.
Meanwhile, the rear chimney stack needs attention as it’s starting to look a bit rickety. That won’t be cheap as it never is when a man goes up a ladder.
The re-wiring still needs doing, and the decluttering is progressing slowly.
We are now finishing disposing of Dad’s possessions, which is a sad time. I remember reading a poem about the tyranny of heirlooms. So many items hold great memories, and, as we don’t live in a grand country house. I can’t keep them all but It is so difficult letting go.
And that is why I feel like I’m standing in a pit.
Sorry to be so negative, but sometimes, if you set out to give an honest appraisal of your day, there will be days like this.
I used the butterfly photo as a reminder that there are good days too.
Today I’m going to do pictures of flowers from yesterday’s visit to the garden with a few other things interspersed to show the nature of decay and the passing of time.
That’s sounding either depressed or arty, and I don’t know which is worse. The depression comes, amongst other things, from having to fill in a questionnaire for the hospital. I participate in a regular pain survey so they have sent me one about depression, anxiety and isolation. By the time I’d finished I felt considerably worse.
The artiness may come from being bitten by a vampiric art student, or from watching too much Grayson Perry on TV.
I’m glad to be back in the old editor. There’s a certain solidity to it, which I don’t get from the new one, and as I write I can see I have written 144 words.
I have now had two tries at loading a group of three photographs, but there is no sign of them. This seems to be an increasingly common problem. When I publish the post they will all suddenly appear.
Bee on Chives
Mencap Garden Pond
Last night, whilst wading through reams of information on the new editor and associated rammel, I found a button that would have erased the entire site. I was very tempted. There is nothing in the writing that I am attached to, and as I struggled with the “improved” system it all felt like it was just too difficult to carry on. I may have to avoid finding that button again, because it’s very tempting.
Over the years I’ve followed links to the sites of people who have commented on my blog and found that they have no posts listed. I’m beginning to see why.
And once again the photos fail to appear. I hope they will turn up when I publish. And lo and behold, they did turn up. In the wrong place.
Devil’s Toenail (Gryphaea)
The devil’s toenail is nice to see, I haven’t seen one for years. It’s nice to have something on the blog that is older than me.
After several abortive attempts at writing today’s post I decided it wasn’t depression or politics, or even the crush of ideas and bitterness that was preventing me writing – it was trying to use the netbook on my knee while I sat by the fire.
Just after 10.30 I stepped through to the dining room with the intention of sitting down and sorting myself out.
It didn’t happen -there were comments to read and reply to and sandwiches to make for tomorrow. Finally there was washing up. Yes, washing up seemed preferable to sitting down and blogging.
I now have around 20 minutes to post and keep to my target of daily posting. I’m now limited by the time, and by the fact that I am slowly getting colder. Eventually, based on past experience, I will get so cold that I stop thinking. This is’t a bad thing because since the election I’ve mainly been thinking that everything is a complete mess. I have had to discard several posts because they were a bit too serious, and probably a bit too libellous. It’s one thing saying something to Julia, or shouting it at the TV, but once you write it down you have to prove it.
We had Hasselback potatoes again today. I was a little more relaxed with the cutting, and it did not go as well as the first lot. This is often the way with the second in a series. I tried the stir fried sprouts again too, this time with added chestnuts. I’m intending to have it at Christmas. We have settled on turkey for Christmas this year (as we have done for about the last fifteen years). We will also have roast potatoes, pigs in blankets, stuffing, bread sauce, redcurrant jelly and Yorkshire puddings.
I just noticed it’s gone midnight…
I know Yorkshire puddings aren’t traditional but Julia likes them so they are traditional for us. Personally, I’d rather have beef, pork or gammon. If anyone had suggested a nut roast I’d probably have gone for that. Even a goose. They are greasy but traditional.
It was the kids who got us back onto turkey – we’d been having beef or pork for years but they started to ask for turkey because all their friends had turkey. Now it’s become a habit. It’s not so bad now that you can buy a small crown roast – enough for a meal and a few sandwiches. Much better than the days of turkey curry, turkey stir fry and, finally, turkey soup.
I’ve started the Christmas shopping list and tomorrow I start the shopping. I’ll probably also start moaning about Christmas tomorrow.
Strictly speaking, our Christmas starts when I buy the cheese footballs. This is normally when they first appear in the Shops in Autumn, as it can be touch and go nearer to the day. I’m surprised, on looking for links, that I only seem to have mentioned them twice over the years as they are an important part of Christmas.
First the cheese footballs, then the ancient Santa card I bought Julia for our first Christmas. (I’ve also bought her one every year since, in case you are wondering), then the shopping.
The two pictures from the archives sum up the full horror of the forced jollity of Christmas, and the silent fury of a man who, having realised that he has wasted his life on trivia, will never break the bank at Monte Carlo, win a Nobel prize or, in all probability, look down and see his feet again.
Time, I think, in my tour of British poets, to turn to Dylan Thomas. I’m sure you know the one I’m thinking of. I am, after all, a man of habit and small learning.
There is more than a hint of Monday morning about the place despite it being Wednesday and on TV there is little to brighten the day.
Politicians are talking about Brexit.
The McCann case has been given another £150,000 to pay for detectives. The total cost for police time is now, it seems, £11.75 million. I think it’s now time to redirect resources.
England is doing badly at cricket at the moment, though this isn’t too unusual.
And then we have the 70th birthday of the Prince of Wales. I’m not sure whether I approve of royalty or not. I do, however, know that some of his favourite foods are pheasant crumble and groussaka (moussaka with grouse).
This is typed using the new WP editor. I never really mastered the old one, so let’s see what sort of a mess I make of it now.
I have just spent the best part of a month’s wages on car repairs. I admit that my earnings are far from huge, but it still seems a lot of money. The car had a service, new brake pads and an MOT. It also had a new pollen filter, which was something that I didn’t even realise it had.
To add insult to injury it then needed a repair to the wing mirror that it didn’t really need because some jobsworth in a government office has decided that looking neat is now part of the new MOT. That alone cost me a day and a half of my pitiful earnings, and it isn’t even colour coordinated. It allows me to see behind me, but it did that already. It also flashes again, but as I already had an indicator in each corner I’m not sure why I need the extra one.
Then there was the matter of the water pump that was pumping more water onto the road than it was circulating through the engine. At 60,000 miles it should not have worn out. It certainly shouldn’t have worn out on a Volkswagen, which is supposed to be a durable car. I won’t be buying another one.
I have an intermittent toothache. After a couple of months with an occasional twinge it is building up a head of steam and aching for a part of nearly every day. It’s clearly not going to go away and needs fixing. Tricky one – don’t like toothache, but I don’t like dentists either.
Finally, a word on car parking. The forecourt for the shops was, as usual, crowded this morning. I parked across three cars. This blocked one in completely, but it hasn’t moved for several years so that’s not a problem. The other two were left with plenty of room to get out, even if it did need a bit of work – you have to reverse a yard before driving out of the space at an angle. It’s not difficult and people do it all the time.
Unfortunately the lady who came asking for me to move my car couldn’t see this. She had parked in front of the shop and walked to a separate block of shops to have her hair done. Despite taking the space reserved for our staff and customers, she decided that she hadn’t caused enough disruption and insisted that I moved my car. I pointed out that I had left enough room for her to get out, but she insisted. I went out and showed her there was plenty of room, but she still insisted. In exasperation I pointed out that I had parked considerately but was now being inconvenienced by someone who actually had no right to be parked where she was.
She wouldn’t be persuaded and told me that I’d just have to put it down to her being a woman driver.
A hundred years of having the vote and fighting for equality would appear to have passed her by.
I’ve not had a good week, but this was by far the most depressing point.
No pictures today as WordPress is playing up again.
I’m hoping things will start getting better next week.
It’s been a depressing few days. I’ve had a cold, and chest infection and sinus trouble. I’ve also been taking the problems of the world too seriously (let’s face it, I’m not going to change anything), feeling guilty about bringing children into this world, dwelling on past failures and thinking about how I’ve wasted my life.
It’s possible that a late Spring has had something to do with this lack of cheerfulness. There’s something rather forlorn about barbecue supplies replacing Easter eggs in the shops while freezing rain falls outside.
The fact I’m less than a month away from turning 60 may also have something to do with it. I know it’s only a number…
In fact it’s probably a good thing to turn 60, as one school of thought claims that ages ending in 9 aren’t good for you. You’re more likely to have an affair at one of those ages and more likely to commit suicide.
I am also, it seems, more likely to post a fast time in a marathon.
I allowed myself a slight smile at that thought.
Julia, on the other hand, had a good laugh.
Too lazy to kill myself, too ugly for an affair and too fat to run. Is this what my future holds?
Last night, whilst feeling ill, I drove to Leeds to pick up Number One son. I am such a good father. He’s lived in a number of places in Leeds and the last one was easy to find and convenient for parking.
Leeds – convenient parking
It’s a shame that he moved away from there and took up residence in a glitzy block of flats in the centre of town. They have many good features, but being easy to find and in possession of convenient parking aren’t amongst them.
That was how I came to be parked between the flats and a shopping centre loading bay, and how I was able to experiment with low light photography.
I dropped Julia off at work this morning. The gates into the school car park were open today, as it’s school holidays, so we were able to drive right up to the garden gates and unload plants. Yes, unload plants. We’re at it again, making up gardens from scrounged plants.
After that I took a turn through the countryside between Nottingham and Loughborough. It’s scenic, though unexciting countryside, with some pleasant villages. The weather was a bit dull for photography and I wasn’t on top of my game so there are no photographs today. If there were, they would be pictures of gently rolling countryside with lots of greenery.
The trouble was that I started off mentally listing the things I need to do to set my life right, I’ve been letting things drift over the last few years and need to get organised.
Unfortunately this line of thought has a habit of sliding into thoughts of things that went wrong, things I should have done better and bad decisions I have made. It’s often sparked off by looking at a biggish house and thinking “I could have had one like that if I’d worked harder and planned better.”
However, I enjoyed my life as an unprofitable antique dealer and gardener. I also enjoyed the unprofitable time I spent with the kids. And I have two neighbours who ply me with cake.
All in all, it could be worse.
Eventually, I decided I was lost. Strictly speaking I couldn’t have been lost because I wasn’t going anywhere. That’s often been the subject of some discussion between me and Julia when I’ve been happily exploring country lanes over the years. Just because I don’t know where I am doesn’t mean I’m lost. And if I’ve got nowhere particular to go I can’t be going the wrong way.
After that I succumbed to the lure of the Oxfam bookshop in West Bridgford. It’s been refitted since last time I was here and is much better lit and laid out. This isn’t necessarily a good thing as I liked the poky old shop. In fact part of the experience of buying second-hand books ought to be in the dim, cramped, slightly musty conditions.
I’ve been having a bad time of things. You may have guessed from some of the things I’ve written. But today I learned it doesn’t really matter.
A week ago I’d have seriously considered amputation as a cure for my arthritis; I was considering a shallow grave as a solution to a problem I was having with someone, and there was no hope. It’s also been raining copiously, which probably sounds great if you’re in California but isn’t great when you’re in the middle of harvest or trying to grow vegetables in clay soil.
The lesson, which I should have learned before (and thought I had, if I’m honest) is that things pass.
My finger, indeed my whole body, is pain free as a result of the pills I’m on. The irritant is still irritating, but I decided to forgive her and make her as significant as dust.. So far that’s working. I now have hope again, though it’s a roller-coaster (more of that later) and the rain just stopped. Even before it had stopped I’d accepted that it will rain. Living in the UK you really can’t afford to get het up about the rain.
Anyway – hope…
We had two good, though tediously overlong, meetings yesterday and we’re now well on the road to finding an artist in residence. As part of that discussion we also talked to a few people about finding more groups to work with (hopefully in a profitable manner) and although we’ve been here fruitlessly before, my inner optimist says “Yes!”. .
Today we had a short meeting, which was good in itself. Even better, we now have a number of local doctors who know what we have to offer.
In a couple of weeks I may be less hopeful but for now, I have hope.
Tomorrow we have a leading academic and some overseas visitors. We’re clearly doing something right, but at the same time we’re failing to establish a financially sustainable project.
Away from all the grown-up stuff I’ve also had a good ladybird spotting session with the group, though much of it centred round the fact that not all ladybirds are red with black spots. Seems years of cartoonish ladybirds have set a precedent. You can’t be down for long when you have the group around.
When the doctors arrived they gathered round like a flock of helpful locusts, telling them what we did and giving all sorts of helpful upbeat information. That’s the sort of testimonial you can’t buy, though they could perhaps have left out details of the post-lunch burping session.
I had to point out to the doctors that the winner (with six) didn’t have a medical condition, merely a talent for eructation.
Having been seduced by exotic seeds and tempted by Twitter I’m now getting back to the straight and narrow. I’m going to grow salads and help my fellow man. If these salads can include bamboo shoots and the helping can be done via Twitter I will, of course, be a very happy man but if not, it’s back to basics.
This is why we started Quercus Community. It was meant to be about working in the open air, growing good food and making compost. Well, it wasn’t originally about compost but give a man access to garden waste and animal manure and there can only be one result.
When I worked in the antiques trade simply breathing the air of an antique shop was enough to calm me down, in this new life I find that compost works the same magic.
Meanwhile, I have been suffering stress from both Twitter and the computer, one being fixed by the application of a sense of balance, and th eother being fixed by a pen knife. It’s probably best not to ask about that repair.
And yes, I did have to thing long and hard before selecting the three “s” words in the title…