Tag Archives: lockdown

Study Number 1 - The Idiot

Soup and Quizzes

We had the standard soup using the bag of ready chopped veg and followed it up with a ham sandwich made using rye and sprouted grains. It was healthy and filling, though I will be adding a few stewed apples later just to top up.

I’m now blogging and watching Mastermind. I’m a bit slow tonight. I’ve often thought of applying for a TV quiz but never get round to it. This is partly because I’m lazy, but mainly because I doubt that my armchair brilliance would be repeated once I got to the studio.

It has now changed to Only Connect, as I am doing all sorts of things, apart from writing (in case you were thinking I was being slow. I’m not a great fan of the show as I don’t generally do well. However, it’s good mental exercise.

And even as I write that it ends and University Challenge starts. It’s a real quizzing fest tonight and I’m only getting away with it because Julia is distracted. Normally she puts her foot down and won’t let me watch three quizzes in a row. It’s a good night if I answer more than two or three questions. I’ve already answered three out of four, which is one more than the students. Could be a good night – sometimes I can watch a whole episode without even understanding a question. I’m now on six from eight. Things are looking up…

They are on chemistry questions now. I don’t even know what they are talking about.

Anyway, you don’t want a running commentary on me watching TV.

I just answered a chemistry question and am now doing badly at poetry. Just goes to show you never can tell.

I’m not honestly sure I have much to add. I went into two supermarkets today as I needed some specific things before we go into lockdown.  In TESCO there were three staff without masks and the spotty teenager working as a greeter kept pulling down his mask to talk to people. At Sainsbury’s the greeter didn’t even have a mask. Two staff on the tills had no mask, a manager was working with her mask pulled down under her chin and the four teenagers at the Argos counter were clustered together chatting with no masks.

No wonder we are having trouble.

Study Number 1 - The Idiot

Masks! Rules! Hypocrisy!

I spent half an hour chatting to WP technical support last night. I forced something, I clicked links, I cleared my cache. As a result I seem to have lost my saved passwords and had trouble getting back into WordPress. I’m not sure why I bother, as the issue with missing pictures is, I’m told, down to me and my outdated browser (which I can’t update because the operating system is too old). Strange thing is that it’s been old and outdated for years, but I only started having problems when I was forced onto the new editor.

With household bills of several thousand pounds looming, I’m not going to be updating in the near future. I’m hoping the missing photos may come back. They weren’t there last night but came back about 20 minutes ago as I was typing, so I’m hopeful that something has been altered.

While I was in TESCO earlier in the week I noticed that three of the five people on checkout weren’t wearing masks. One had a mask, one had a visor (though some shops insist customers wear a mask with a visor) and three had no face covering at all. This is the shop that sent me an email recently, in which they said –

“We’ve provided all of our store colleagues with face coverings, and added protective screens at our checkouts, to help protect them and you.”

Presumably, having provided face coverings, the company thinks it’s OK for staff not to use them.

I nipped into ALDI today to buy flowers for Julia and a couple of bits and pieces. Yes, I know I shouldn’t be shopping so much. Three staff on the tills, no face coverings. More importantly, three customers out of the eight queuing had no face coverings. Difficult to enforce a rule you don’t keep yourself.

I’m not really sure how good the masks are – there is so much conflicting evidence. Common sense tells you they should be doing some good. However, common sense also tells me that if people aren’t wearing them they are prepared to break other lockdown rules too. Of course, if the politicians don’t follow the rules

And that is only a short list of high-profiler politicians and public figures who have been caught breaking the rules. Footballers and cricketers, including those on international duty, local politicians and other MPs not listed in that article have all flouted the rules.

However, ordinary people, like a metal detectorist I know, are having to stick to the rules. Metal detecting clubs can only have six people at an event. They aren’t even allowed to have six on one field and six on another – to do that risks a fine.

The saddest thing about Covid, for me, hasn’t been the death or the disruption, we can work round this and death, after all, will happen to us all at some point. The saddest thing has been the way the rich and powerful have ignored rules, then acted as if it didn’t matter. And possibly the most shameful thing to come out of it is the way that ordinary people have been fined while high-profile figures have been allowed to get away with it.

Study Number 1 - The Idiot

Wednesday Afternoon

My sister came to help with the packing today. As Nottingham has now shot up to fourth place in the national list of Covid numbers this may be the last time we see each other for a while.

The boxes arrived in the middle of the morning. What a wonderful world we live in when you can obtain reasonably priced cardboard boxes in less than 24 hours. It took about 23 hours from ordering to delivery. The six rolls of tape took around 23 hours and five minutes. They came on a separate van, and the second driver, watching the first van drive off, made a few observations about the vagaries of the delivery process, as did I.

We packed, went down to the storage unit and found the doors were closed. There was a note taped to the door telling us to use the car park. This was, unfortunately, easier said than done, as we were already past the car park entrance and on a busy road. I did manage to turn round and get into the car park but it was slightly irritating after the events of the previous day.

It meant keying in a ten digit security code, collecting trolley, taking it out by the rear entrance and then entering the code again to get back into the building. We had two trolley loads, so that’s a lot of numbers compared to simply parking in the loading bay and unloading. Yesterday’s satisfaction at getting a unit by the door dissolved, as the distance from car park to unit via the rear door is about ten times greater.

Then I made a second trip.

At least the electricians will be able to get to the wiring next week, assuming that they are still allowed to work in houses once the expected new lockdown commences.

Yes, it’s the same masked picture again, though I may have to take a new one next week – showing me sitting at home.


VW with Daisy Wheels

A Trip to Leeds and a Startled Teddy Bear

Second post of the day – first one is here.

We’ve been up to Leeds since I last wrote. Despite being allowed into the house if we are helping people move, we stuck to our original plan, using the back yard as a sort of airlock. Put things in, back out and close gate. Watch over the fence while they take the stuff in.

We delivered a pine box, a nest of tables, two table lamps and a full length mirror from Dad’s leftover furniture. My sister contributed a bean bag and we took kitchen equipment and a five foot weights bar which I haven’t lifted for at least ten years. We also took a selection of signed football shirts and a discus. Why, you may ask, a discus? The answer is that we don’t want it so he has to take it or we throw it in the skip (an apt end for a discus).

We also delivered some plug-in timers which look like startled teddy bears – part of a fine family tradition where male members buy too much stationery and gizmos then pass it on a generation. These originally belonged to my Dad, descended to me and are now off to a third generation.

Startled Teddy Bear

Startled Teddy Bear

It was an easy journey, with very little rain and plenty of sun, despite the threatened bad weather. The trees are definitely on the turn compared to last week, and there seemed to be more people out and about despite the local lockdown in Leeds.

Number One Son had done us proud with a couple of takeaway coffees and some cakes from the local cake shop, which proved to be handy as it started raining at that point and we were able to take them in the car. If we’d have had drinks made for us we’d have got wet drinking them before handing the cup back, or, broken the lockdown rules. And we all know what happens when you start breaking the lockdown rules.

One of the cakes was a coconut slice with raspberry jam. I’m sure they have a better name than that. The other was a flapjack that tasted like parkin (treacle and ginger) though he says he thought it said apricot on the label in the shop. They were the last two sorts of cake left in stock. Fortunately they are two of my favourites.

On the way back we called at Wilko’s for glue for Julia’s art group on Monday, and saw this daisy-themed VW. I used to take photos of car wheels in car parks whilst waiting for Julia, I may start again.

VW Daisy Wheel

VW Daisy Wheel

It’s nice to use some pictures I’ve taken on the day, instead of using random archive shots. The backlit leaf shots didn’t work – they were blowing too much and the colour rendition was very dull despite the sunlight and blue skies.



It was flu vaccination day today. My original time was mid-morning but, before I could ring and ask for a change to an earlier time they sent me an earlier time. That was good, as it allowed me to get to work on time.

We arrived at 8.05 and by 8.10 we were on our way home. This was, I have to say, excellent service with a great turnout from the practice staff and a well thought out system.

It’s 8.40 now and I’m having a cup of tea before going to work.  I thought I’d write a quick post now because tonight we will be preparing for an epic journey to Leeds tomorrow. They are in lockdown, of sorts, as from last night but as Number One Son is moving to a new house we want to take some things up for him.

As I understand it, we can’t enter the house or garden to socialise but as long as he isn’t in the backyard (note to US readers, a yard in the UK is a small, generally cheerless enclosure with hard floors and walls) we can unload the furniture and things into the yard, leave and watch him emerge from the house to collect them.

After not socialising in the house or garden we can then go to the pub and stay there till 10,00 pm with a group of strangers who aren’t wearing masks.

It’s a little inconsistent, but that’s the way life is at the moment. No point moaning, just do our best and protect our own family. The best way to do that is to protect everybody, by sticking to the spirit of the regulations, It’s just sad that not everyone is taking that view.

Having said that, I wonder which academic hot-shot decided that it was a good idea to bring all the students back. Not someone who knows much about young people, I imagine. Of course they are going to party. If I was forty years younger I would be out there, knocking back a few beers, telling everyone that alcohol was a disinfectant and asking if anyone wanted to try a spot of social undistancing.

It’s not the students who are at fault, it’s the universities who wanted to get income from the accommodation.

Anyway, just look who they have for role models – full pubs and hypocritical politicians.

Rant over. Time for work. I’m going to add a general purpose, though hopefully tranquil photo as the system is jammed up again. See you later.


Study Number 1 - The Idiot

Monday Again

I just tried to tax my car for the coming year. I entered the 16 digit code the Government has thoughtfully provided, ticked a variety of boxes and prepared to pay…

And then the page refused to load.


I just tried it a third time and it worked. I am now feeling virtuous after doing something in plenty of time. Normally I put the letter to one side and worry about it when I can’t find it just after the deadline.

That’s what I seem to have done with the letter from the hospital. I have an appointment at the Treatment Centre either this Wednesday or next Wednesday, but I can’t remember which and I am going to have panic-fuelled search for the letter tomorrow.

My new resolutions are erratic at best.

As a sidelight on lockdown, I had a strange social situation today. A customer came into the shop wearing a mask. He asked if we had some things, which we didn’t, and I pushed my chair back to talk to him from the back office, as he was asking about medals and militaria, which is my area.

“Hello Simon,” he said.”I didn’t realise you worked here.”

I hadn’t a clue who he was, though he obviously knew me.  From the warmth of the greeting I guessed we weren’t just passing acquaintances either. It’s very difficult when you have to identify a bald middle-aged man in a mask. There isn’t a lot to go on. I’d last seen him two years ago in another shop, and before that it had been fifteen years since I saw him and his infant son eating Sunday lunch in the café at Sainsburys. Neither of us, it has to be said, is very good at keeping in touch.

Fortunately his twinkling eyes gave the game away, but for a moment it was a touch tricky. If he had not had distinctive eyes I would have had to ask who he was.

This happens more and more – older versions of people I used to know keep cropping up.


Saturday Morning

If anyone reading this is using the Classic Editor plug-in do you have the same problem as me? I start typing the title and when I look up only half of it is there. I even waited until it had settled down this morning, ensured that the word Saturday was in place, put my head down and carried on typing. When I finished all I had left was  “rning”. The rest had, yet again, disappeared.

It’s one of several matters of minor concern that slip through the cracks of the blog each week, being irritating but not life-threatening.

Another is lockdown. It’s not really lockdown these days as we are moving out of it, and it has receded into the background. There are still lockdown stories on TV, some being quite serious, but it’s just background noise.

Julia used the bus for the first time since March last night. I’m now working until 4.00 on Fridays so it isn’t practical for me to give her a lift now.. She said there were four people on the lower deck of the bus (out of about a dozen passengers) who weren’t wearing masks. As none of them had obvious wounds on their heads, they all had two ears and nobody was gasping for breath, it’s hard to see why they weren’t wearing masks. They were probably special advisors to the Tory party, and we all know that they don’t need to stick to the rules. Not that it’s just Tories, the Labour Party has its fair share of idiots too.

That’s taken me over the 250 words I set as my minimum word count, and it’s covered a few things that weren’t on my mind when I switched on this morning.

I was going to write about things falling through the cracks and cover the question of the inefficient pharmacy (again) and my stiff fingers, which are pain free but made hard work of some medal mounting I had to do yesterday.

It’s amazing where a twenty minute blogging journey will take you.

Mine is going to end up by taking me to work, but I thought I’d write a post before leaving (a) because I had time and (b) because I may well spend most of the evening asleep. I’ve been staying up too late and it’s beginning to catch up with me.

I’m studying hard to become a polymath (there must be as joke about a parrot with a superior grasp of arithmetic in there somewhere) and all that knowledge won’t just deliver itself. However, I’m not sure sitting up late and then sleeping most of the next evening is the way to go.

I’m using an old stock photo because when I tried to download an appropriate photo the system froze. It seems to do this now I’m using the plug-in. It took me nine minutes to regain use of the frozen computer and I’m still using an old photo. At this time of day I don’t have nine minutes to waste. In fact I don’t have nine minutes to sit in front of a grinding and useless computer at any time. This only started happening when I had to transfer to the plug-in.

This was meant to be a quick blog post, but it’s actually taken eighteen minutes to write and fifteen to insert one old photo. I hope the rest of the day improves.

The Road to Hell…

…is paved with good intentions, as the proverb says. I can’t rid myself of a feeling of guilt as I think about missing a day of blogging, so here is another post I wasn’t meant to write.

I’m going to give in to the inevitable and keep writing, but on the days I was intending not to write I’m going to write, but without a word limit. This will allow me to stay free of guilt, but will not be too onerous. Until recently I tried for 250 words, then upped it to 500. Now I’m dropping it to 100, though in explaining that I’ve already done one hundred and five words. One hundred words is not an onerous task.


Brambles, progressing nicely

Lockdown news is that all the people who went to Spain are complaining that it’s unfair they will have to go into quarantine on their return. Well, if you go on holiday to Spain, in full knowledge that there is likely to be a second peak, you can’t, in my mind, complain when the second peak comes and the Government takes decisive action.

A doctor was on the news this morning saying that he couldn’t take two weeks off to self-isolate on his return because he had an important job to do. Shame he didn’t work that one out before going on holiday to a virus hot-spot. It’s not him I feel sorry for, it’s his colleagues and patients.

The scenario was completely forseeable and anyone who has been inconvenienced by the Government’s swift and decisive action must hold themselves to blame.

I complained earlier in the year about lack of Government action, and am glad to see they are taking action now.

So there you are, I am not feeling guilty about not writing a post, I have done a moderate number of words and I have expressed disapprobation of all the whining British holidaymakers in Spain. I like this new, non-blogging regime.


Yellow flowers – I really must look it up

It’s Cordyalis Lutea – thanks to Tootlepedal for the suggestion. It sounds like the sort of plant for me.

Pictures are spares from yesterday.Having not taken a foreign holiday since my hovercraft trip of 1975 I don’t have any pictures of me sunning myself abroad. In fact, as it was a day trip to rainy Calais, I didn’t do a lot of sunning in 1975; I ate snails and I watched people being sick on the roughest hovercraft trip in history (the pilot’s words, not mine).

Elderly man in search of a Profile Photo

Elderly man in search of a Profile Photo

I tried several shots. Julia says the ones with glasses are better as you can’t see so much of my face. The hair makes me look more surprised than I actually am. I was holding the camera and pointing it at myself so the photograph was not really unexpected.


The Scent of Roasting Vegetables

As I sit and type, I can smell roasting vegetables. From the window by the computer night is coming. The cloud formations are becoming more dramatic (dark centres and glowing edges picked out by the sun) and the sky is turning a delicate pink.

There is a fresh feeling to the air, which is a pleasant relief after 24 hours of rain and flash floods. At this time last night it was almost dark as the rain clouds piled up and squeezed the daylight out.

If I ever win the lottery and am in the position to design my own house, I will build myself an office next to the kitchen. It seems to be the perfect place. This would be improved only if I could build the kitchen somewhere warm. England is a wonderful place, but it’s not the best climate for my aching bones.

I’ve just given the vegetables 15 minutes and have now put the pies in. This gives me another 20 minutes to write. I’m afraid culinary standards have fallen a bit over the last week or two. We ran out of bread this week, because we have had eight days since the last delivery, and because I am making more sandwiches now that I am back at work. Julia will be in the gardens tomorrow so she will need sandwiches too.

On the way back from work I popped into Aldi. There was no queue, though people, as usual, were not shopping well. Too many people taking too long to decide, and shopping in  an unstructured way. This isn’t shopping at an exotic tourist market, this is shopping in a budget supermarket. We aren’t spending a leisurely afternoon watching artisans at work – this is industrial style shopping. Or, to speak plainly, get in, follow the flow, fill your trolley and get out. And in particular – don’t spend ten minutes selecting a loaf of bread whilst stopping me getting to it. Buy your bread and get out of my way – I have better things to do than standing patiently and breathing your germs.

Over the last few months shopping has become, in my mind, a dangerous sport on a level with skydiving and mountaineering. Like those two activities, it is made more dangerous by stupid people. Two stick in my mind. They were talking in a gangway and making it awkward for everyone else to get round. One had a trolley crammed with things that should have had a sign that said “Welcome to Diabetes” and the other was saying “Are we allowed to bring people shopping with us now?”

I presume that was relating to the relaxation of restrictions and the formation of a “social bubble”. You can probably gauge her level of intelligence from the fact that she felt in need of assistance to take things off a shelf and put them in a trolley.

The timer has just gone. I will add broccoli now, make gravy and stun my wife with yet another example of  how to cook with minimal effort.

The picture is very much like every other picture of pie, roast veg and gravy I’ve published before. Sorry I’m not more interesting.

Food notes – yes the broccoli was a bit past its best, and don’t buy the ALDI Chicken and Ham Hock pie unless you like looking for three bits of meat in a mass of gravy. They charge a price in the upper range for a pie, but they don’t deliver. The crust is the most impressive part of it,or possibly the packaging. Definitely not the filling. This, to me, is the wrong way round.


Sunset over Sherwood

A Funeral in the Time of Lockdown

“The best portion of a good man’s life is his little nameless unremembered acts of kindness and of love.”


It was my father’s funeral today. I haven’t mentioned it before because everyone has their own challenges at the moment and many of you have your own parents to worry about.

However, it’s a significant day in my life, and part of  my record of lockdown.

He died after a short illness, having tested positive for Covid 19 several weeks ago. He was moved from the care home to the hospital as he became weaker and, after a brief rally, died peacefully, without experiencing any of the breathing difficulties reported in the press.

Last time we visited he beat us all at dominoes. He may have lost his ability to remember people, but he still retained his facility with numbers. He was still competitive, too, and retained the will to win that had led my mother to hide the Monopoly board each Christmas was still there.

I will remember that visit, with the sound of a distant TV and the click of dominoes, and my sister telling me it was only a game.

It is a matter of great sadness, but he was ninety one and you cannot complain at that.

The funeral was a strange affair. We could not use the village church because it is closed during lockdown, and simply met at the crematorium for a short service. Numbers were limited to ten, and we had to tell many friends and family members they must not travel, as we want them all to stay safe. There was, of course, no gathering afterwards, which made the whole thing seem incomplete.

There was a list of people who were allowed to attend posted near the entrance. This includes partners, children and grandchildren but excludes friends. If you aren’t on the list, you aren’t even allowed in the grounds.

Our group included three family members and five friends.

In doing this we weren’t actually breaking government guidelines, as close friends are allowed if family members do not attend. Most of the friends attending had known him for between twenty and fifty years and seen him more often than most family members.

It seems that the crematorium is making up rules to suit itself.

Having checked the regulations to ensure I am accurate in reporting, I can also add that the figure of ten people seems to be an arbitrary figure decided by the crematorium, rather than a government figure.

My father loved singing and, in his youth, he had been asked to join a professional singing group but my grandmother had been unwilling to let him go. Sadly, we are not allowed to sing tomorrow as excessive exhalation is considered a health hazard.

The service was available on webcast and a number of people have already been in contact to thank my sister for her efforts in organising a meaningful and dignified service in the face of several difficulties.

It was an uplifting service, celebrating  a life, without being boastful. This summed my father up. He achieved many things in life. Starting from a position of disadvantage, he educated himself in the Royal Navy, worked hard, and won several prestigious awards. He also found time to work for charity, serve in a soup kitchen for the homeless, and stay married for 60 years. My mother, it has to be said, played a large part in his success.

He was known for being blunt, being good company and working hard. Mainly, it has to be said, for being blunt.

As we left the crematorium a large group of socially distancing mourners we lined up outside the gateway to pay respect to another funeral. This is how we mourn in times of lockdown.