Tag Archives: lockdown

Modern Problems

If today follows yesterday’s pattern I will be able to type this morning but by evening I won’t even be able to sit without being aware of the pain in my hands. Sorry if it seems like I’m moaning a lot, but I find it difficult to write about politics, philosophy or economics when my fingers hurt. I generally find it easier to write about the pressing matters close to home. Fortunately I only have severe pain for a a few days every year and haven’t had it this bad for about a year. However, it is human nature not to bother writing about things that go well.

In fact, it was just before lockdown. My hands were really bad when we went down to Suffolk in what turned out to be the week before lockdown. It was an interesting week. All the Londoners had fled to their country cottages, food was short in supermarkets, restaurants were nearly empty in the evenings and I could barely manage my shirt buttons. Yes, on one of the more historic weeks I have lived through, I had trouble dressing myself. It will be an interesting chapter in my memoirs – the world collapses and I debate the merits of wearing T Shirts. Or Tee shirts. Or T-Shirts. I wasn’t sure how to spell it, so I checked it up. Seems the rest of the world isn’t sure either.

I’m going to make brunch now. Part of it is sourdough bread and I’m not looking forward to cutting it. The bread knife, wielded by stiff fingers, does not cope with the bottom crust, so I have to bring out a carving knife and push it though the last bit. I should have stuck to using sliced bread.

Who would have thought it? When you are twenty you wonder about the mysteries of life, like why you have to work five whole days between weekends, whether we actually will ever get household robots and where you will keep all your money after a glittering career. When you are sixty you wonder if you will be able to make brunch without severing a finger. The gulf between the two things is fertile ground for a game of “What have I done with my Life?”

Ah well, brunch…

What is Necessary?

There are several choices for tonight’s post. I can, for instance, write about The Lockdown Anniversary, politics, or counting our blessings.

I watched the news tonight and looked at the scenes in the refugee camp at Cox’s Bazaar. I’m not a man of great sensitivity, but even I was moved by the idea of refugees having even more troubles heaped on them.

Yes, it’s tricky not knowing if you can book yourself a foreign holiday this year, but I’m not sure it ranks that high on the list of bad things that have happened over the last year. Considering that much of the early infection was brought into the country by people coming back from foreign holidays, maybe we should all start to rethink our views on holidays abroad. The last holiday that I had abroad was in 1974 when I went for a daytrip to Calais by hovercraft. I still have  a lot of the UK to see and don’t feel at all deprived by not going abroad. Yes, a bit of sun would be nice, as would the chance to see ancient monuments and exotic birds, but I don’t feel deprived because I’ve spent my holidays in the UK.

As we come to the end of our first year of lockdown maybe it’s time to look around and decide what is really necessary. Food, clean water and shelter are necessary, A foreign holiday is not.

Sorry it’s a short post again, I’m just not quite on top form at the moment.

 

Time to Think

Julia came home from work with Bear Claws tonight.  In case you aren’t familiar with th eterm, this means that she brought fruit-filled danish pastries home. They are a treat and not a terrible deformity.

We sat round the fire, drew the curtains and reverted to winter, in  much the same way as the weather has done ever since I said that Spring was here. Tomorrow I was going to have  a walk, but the forecast is for rain, so I am reconsidering. Having lived as a recluse for the best part of a year I don’t really want to go out just to get wet. In fact I don’t want to go out. I’ve got used to having a lid on my life and I’m not sure about going out and just having sky overhead.

Stange how these things creep up on you. is it lockdown, or am I just becoming old?

I have been doing research on medals today for work. One was an interesting group –  aman who served 21 years in the Royal Army Medical Corps in the Boer War and Great War. He was decorated twice, wounded, had enteric fever, and became a publican after leaving the army.

His reward for for all his service – the death of his eldest son in 1941, serving in a second world war.

No mater how bad we may think things are, it sometimes serves us well to look back at history and see how much adversity other people had to face.

I note that daffodils are out now, and the crocuses don’t seem to be doing at all well.

Daffodils

 

 

 

 

A Tuesday Retrospective

I seem to be having a week of looking back on the previous day. I’m not sure how this happened but I may as well go with it, and try to catch up.

My alarm went off at 6.30, which was cutting it a bit fine to get to the hospital for a blood test before work, but I didn’t really feel like getting up. In the end I turned over and went back to sleep anyway, finally shaking myself free of the covers at just before 7.00 It was still dark so there were no interestingly lit morning shots.

Down to the hospital, in to the waiting room, and there was nobody else there. Even so, I still had to wait five minutes for someone to conclude their conversation and deal with me. Five minutes isn’t a long time to wait, but when you want to get done and take your wife to work, it’s long enough.

The sample was easy, and taken using a syringe rather that all the modern paraphernalia. It didn’t bleed after she removed the needle, which is always a worry, a it suggests the clotting is too good.

I was home for 8am, as the murky grey night slid into a murky grey morning. Typical – the morning I think of photography, there is nothing to photograph. Julia was ready and we set off for work. There seems to be more traffic about again – some days you wouldn’t guess there is a lockdown in progress. It seems from a news article that numbers in schools are up on last time, which suggests that more people are going to work, and probably more are being accepted as keyworkers.

Julia has just been given a letter from work to confirm her keyworker status. She was a key worker working from home in the first lockdown and a keyworker at work for the second. They gave her a badge for that. She’s now a keyworker at work, and she has just been given a letter to prove it. It’s printed on a black and white printer, has handwritten amendments and, quite frankly, looks like  a bad attempt at a forgery.

This is typical of the way the project is managed. Several of the staff who ran for the hills last week, have returned. A cynic might suggest that it’s better than spending time at home with the kids, or that it’s an attempt to make sure they don’t miss out on their vaccination.

Next, I went to the pharmacy to wait in the rain, collect inaccurate prescriptions and try to make sense of the chaos. The electronic ordering system I am compelled to use by the NHS is a lot less accurate than the old one where you used to and pick up a piece of paper. I think I may have mentions (just once or twice) that although change is easy, improvement is hard. I may even have mentioned that “new and improved” systems are often not improved, and sadly are often not even as good as the one they replace. Part of the sorting process was ringing to give the pharmacy a reference number. I must have tried 20 times and the phone was either busy or unanswered.

Not long after I returned home, I missed a call from the doctor and had to ring back. It took twenty minutes, but I persisted as I thought they might be helping to sort out the double cock-up they have made with my prescriptions.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

No such luck. They were ringing to tell me my blood tests were done (they can be very quick when they want to be). I failed. The blood is clotting too well and I have to raise my dose of warfarin and go back for a blood test next week.

That takes me up to 11.30 and gives you a flavour of the day. That is, I think, a good place to finish. It is now just after mis-day and Julia is engaged in her second long work call of the day, despite it being her day off. I’m going to start making noise now, as a sign that we have better things to do.

Blue Monday – Fact or Fiction?

Yesterday was “Blue Monday”. It’s supposedly the most depressing day of the year. However, it’s something developed by a travel company in 2005. Wikipedia calls it pseudoscience, and nonsense. That is charitable. Like so many things that have a presence on the web, it is plausible and has taken on a life of its own.

I can’t help thinking that if the third Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year you are not leaving yourself much to look forwards to in the remaining 347 days of the year. If you read the Wiki entry it is clear that the whole thing is nonsense.

I can believe that the middle of January isn’t the most cheery time of the year, It’s dark, cold and wet. You spent too much money at Christmas, put weight on and have just about broken all your New Year Resolutions. It’s not going to be a cheerful time of the year, unless you live south of the Equator, where it is midsummer, and a very different January to mine.

I had a more depressing time last week – four days off the road, large bill for car repairs and sprinkle of disappointment from work being refused by editors. That was depressing. Blue Monday was merely a dreary day.

It seems that April and May are the peak time for suicide, which tends to suggest that the most depressing day of the year might actually be there. It also seems that lockdown is affecting mood, with a quarter of people reporting at least one mental health problem during the first lockdown and one in ten having suicidal thoughts.

I had a great time in the first one – it was basically a paid holiday with Julia, in summer. We had no work to go to, no worries and, more importantly, plenty of space and no home schooling because the kids are out of the way. I actually feel guilty about this, because it must have been horrific for some people.

Lockdown 2 was a bit depressing, but number 3 is going OK. Not as good as Number 1 but I decided to approach it in a positive manner and so far it’s working. It hasn’t been as successful or productive as I wanted it to be, but it’s still been quite good.

If today was as bad as it gets, I’ll be happy. Somehow I think there is a lot of potential for things to get worse.

I thought I’d add a picture of a shopping list. Now that I shop online I don’t use shopping lists anymore. Who would have thought that shopping lists would be a victim of Covid?

 

How the List Went

I’ve already covered the list and the progress, so now it’s time for the final wrap.

Done

Sort out two submissions (well – 90%, but they will be done tonight)

Pick Julia up

Cup of tea, TV, nap. The nap went particularly well, as did the TV

Cook stir fry (excellent meal, though cooked by Julia as I was exploring all the possibilities of napping)

Write post (500 words) about how hard I’ve been working today – doing it now

Write more (the last post counts towards this)

Write haiku/senryu – was 15 minutes early for Julia so did a few then (note I didn’t say they had to be good)

I also rang the garage to discuss the flashing lights on the car dashboard (it is going in tomorrow so they can empty my bank account)

Not Done Yet

Start two poems I have notes for – fell victim to procrastination

Research for article – Bomb Disposal

Research for article – RNLI

I’ve done more than I was expecting. I’ve been putting off the two poems for a few weeks – doing a note here and there, but I’d like them to be good, and they aren’t living up to expectations so far. THe research was listed to make sure I do something about it, rather than in hope that I would get any done today.

Do lists do any good? I think they do. They keep me working and they preserve focus. Without  a list I would have done less today. I would have browsed the internet more, wasted more time, and have done less of the things that needed doing. Which reminds me, I need to get in touch with the doctor. I forgot to put it on the list.

I just went away to contact the doctor.They want me to use the online ordering system for medication, but they keep changing the system. last month I was able to request Methotrexate. This month I’m not able to order it so I’ve had to put in  a written request. Apparently it can only be ordered by a clinician. I’m not actually sure what a clinician is, apart from someone who works at a clinic. I’m also not clear why someone who hasn’t spoken to me about the medication needs to get involved in the supply. You would think that in the middle of a pandemic they would have better things to do than mess about with the way I reorder prescriptions.

This, of course, reminds me that I need a blood test for the Methotrexate to see if it is dissolving my liver. As I have not yet turned yellow I’m probably OK. I hope so because it’s a very effective drug for the arthritis. I’d better do that tomorrow as I want to try and coordinate it with the Warfarin blood test in two weeks time. Despite what they keep telling us, I see no point in going where there are a load of sick people if I don’t need to. One day and two tests is better than going down on two days. With any luck I will be able to get it done at the hospital too, as the nurses at the surgery don’t get the practice, and are not as effective as the hospital phlebotomists.

If you are going to be stabbed in the arm it’s better to get it done by a professional.

That’s enough writing now. I will probably discuss our new lockdown when I write again. Yes, we enjoyed the first two so much that we are having another one.

 

31st December 2020

Who would have thought that we would spend most of the year indoors and afraid of people breathing on us? I’m in the middle of reading Writedown: Lockdown in the Galloway Glens in the Time of Covid.

I was happy to buy the Kindle edition at £1.99 bit if I’d paid £6.50 for a paperback edition I’d have been less pleased. I’d just abandoned an idea to write a haibun diary of the lockdown because I couldn’t introduce enough variety into it and thought it was dull, so was interested to see how other people had coped with the problem. They didn’t. They wrote a book that is full of interesting thoughts and insights but the little sparks of interest don’t grow into anything better.

I’d give it three out of five if I had to mark it. The writing is all good, and the lives they describe draw the reader in, but there just isn’t enough variety of thought or style, which is down to the editing. However, to be fair to the editor, they can only work with what they are sent. Having said that, maybe they should have asked for something different.

This afternoon’s film was Sharknado: It’s About Time, which was a complete shambles of a film featuring the normal tornadoes of sharks plus Time Travel. It was so bad it was great, but it’s a relief to know that it’s the last one, as I don’t think they could top this. I also don’t think I could cope with another. It’s hard to believe that they made six in the series. Don’t bother reading the synopsis on the link, I’ve just put it there to prove that someone really did make 6 films about sharks and tornadoes.

That’s about it for 2020. The Open University has finally deigned to answer my query about my password malfunction and ASDA sent me an email to check how happy I was with my last delivery. It’s taken the OU two weeks to answer a query about the password, even though they were the ones who insisted on the change in the first place. ASDA have, once again, failed to provide me with the bags I paid for, turning the home delivery into a nightmare for a man with arthritis (although it’s better, I’d still prefer not to have to handle crates of shopping when I’ve paid for plastic bags). I’m seriously thinking of going back to shopping in person as soon as I can get a vaccination.

While I’m here, has anyone being seeing an increase in comments and follows from people who seem to be interested in pushing their own (commercial) sites? I do. I’m not sure whether it’s a growing trend or if WP has altered the spam settings. I’ve decided, despite a vague nagging feeling about manners, to label them as spam and dispose of them.

And that, I think, rounds off 2020 for me. I hope you all have a better year next year and can all get out and about once more.

 

Ho, ho, ho… It’s an old picture – I’m wrinklier, grumpier and less well-groomed these days, but I thought it was Festive in tone.

Christmas Stamps

Hands, Face, Space, and Travel on 26th December

We left for Sheffield just after lunch and returned under cover of darkness. It wasn’t planned that way but there seemed little point in rushing about. There had been reports of South Yorkshire Police stopping people to see what they were doing but we only saw one police car on the whole journey. I think that in reality they have plenty of work on without stopping motorists to see if we are breaching advice on travel.

It was interesting that as we left there were a lot of unfamiliar cars parked down our street, which clearly indicated that some people were entertaining visitors. But there should be no visitors on 26th. You can however, it seems, stay in rented accommodation overnight on 24th and 25th as part of your journey plan. This means that travelling home on 26th is within the guidelines, so today’s journey was almost within the guidelines.

As we passed Sheffield the car parks at Meadowhall were crowded, with thousands of people travelling to shop and, I suspect, get closer than six feet. I know of at least one person who is planning to travel there to shop in the next week, so I’d like to know how officialdom would be able to justify telling me my journey was unacceptable but a trip to a toyshop is OK.

I offer this information not as an excuse for my breaking of the rules, but as an example of the actual situation when someone researches the Covid Pandemic in twenty years.

It’s not the first time I’ve broken the law. I have, in the past, driven too fast, accepted payment in cash (which I may have forgotten to note down properly) and sung drunken rugby songs in public. I am, like many other people, neither a shining light of moral rectitude or an habitual criminal. By the time this blog post is used as an historical document all these things may well have gone the same way as the dodo. I saw someone caught in a speed trap today (they are getting very efficient), cash is out of favour during the pandemic and rugby is under pressure from people worrying about concussion. Like coin clipping, recusancy and frame breaking these are all crimes that may be impossible 20 years from now.

That concludes my tales of Christmas Lockdown

 

Three Weeks In and I’ve Had Enough

I’m beginning to wilt under the pressure and nearly went shopping today on the way back from dropping Julia at work. We don’t need any groceries but the days are not as much fun in this second lockdown as Julia is at work and I’m beginning to find myself feeling a little lonely after three weeks of isolation without company.  Lockdown One – lie-ins, sunshine and company. Lockdown Two – up at 6.45, cold and lonely. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for people living on their own all through the first lockdown. I thought of the lack of freedom as the main problem, not loneliness. I have plenty to do so I don’t usually feel lonely. But I don’t usually have this much time to myself.

One thing I’ve noticed about the new computer is that it’s virtually silent and the case doesn’t even get warm despite being on for hours. This is very different from the old one.

Highpoint of the day has ben talking (a) to a scammer and (b) to Amazon customer services.

The first was an obvious scam because Amazon don’t have my home phone number so I asked if though t I was stupid enough to hand over my bank details to a random caller. He was very good at pretending to have hurt feelings. However, the third time I explained I thought he should have some sort of ID he put the phone down mid-sentence. I’m not sure even an Amazon employee would be that rude.

Of course, I had to go to my account to check it just in case and managed to lock myself out. They now send One Time Passwords over the phone as links rather than codes. I’m not online with my phone so I can’t use them and had to ring up.  To be fair, once we established that I had no intention of linking my phone to the internet, it all went quite smoothly as two polite, cheerful and intelligent members of staff sorted it all out for me. It’s not often you’ll here me say that after dealing with a customer helpline, so remember this moment. It’s ten out of ten for Amazon.

I don’t know why everyone needs you to be linked to the internet. Back in the 70s you didn’t have to walk round with a pocketful of carrier pigeons so why do we need a phone for everything?

And yes, it’s another cat. A good, old-fashioned cat that doesn’t need you to be linked to the internet so that it can treat you with indifference. On the other hand, if you die alone, a mobile phone won’t start to eat you.

It’s not actually a stamp, they just added a few pictures to the sheet of stamps – first time we had some I didn’t realise and counted it as a First Class Stamp.

 

The First Morning of the Rest of My Life

I think we’ve finally made the breakthrough in decluttering. It’s cost us many arguments, the serious erosion of my book mountain and, in my case, a very stiff back, but yesterday I could finally see it was beginning to look clear rather than simply redistributed, and I felt free. Well, freeish. There’s still a lot to do, but we are getting there. Even moving the car insurance is part of the new life. At one time I would have paid the exhorbitant rise simply because I don’t like change.

For those of you who noticed it, I’ll go back to my spelling of exhorbitant in a later post.

Today I dropped Julia off at work and went shopping in Lidl. I normally go to Aldi (the other budget German supermarket) but I thought I’d give a recently opened branch of Lidl the once-over. I needed a loaf of sliced bread. Bear that in mind as I describe my shopping technique.

My first stop was the bakery, where I selected four croissants for tomorrow’s breakfast, because they looked inviting. I bought two pain au chocolat because Julia likes them, a sourdough boule, a , some cobs for a sandwiches over the next couple of days, and, finally, a brown sliced loaf. I( sound very middle-class, don’t I? Apart from the fact that Lidl isn’t the natural home of the middle-classes.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if I’d stopped there, but I added sea bass (I hate fish but Julia loves it, and I’m still trying to make up for the lack of birthday presents, which are still in the post somewhere). Plus ham trimmings (which are a good, cheap sandwich filling), chocolates (see previous comment regarding birthday presents), butter (necessary for the sea bass), paracetamol (just in case of shortage) and some quinoa in microwavable pouches. Yep, definitely middle class…

I doubt I’ll go back. It was a poor shopping experience, despite the bakery. Too many customers with no masks, bossy checkout operator with no mask and a bad attitude, poor stock levels and obstruction of the aisles by staff.

I’ve also decluttered, written, drunk a bottle of Lucozade and filled the shredder, though I have stopped it before jamming it this time.

All in all, it’s not a bad morning, though I’m now starting to wonder if my new found energy is down to the psychological boost of decluttering or the 45g of sugar that the Lucozade label tells me I’ve just consumed. That’s 11 teaspoons according to the internet. Oh dear…

Speckled Wood