Tag Archives: lockdown

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

Wordsworth

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.

 

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Flowers

 

 

From Here to Modernity

A quick view of my day with lockdown observations.

I spent the early hours of the morning struggling with a blog post which I want to write, but which I can’t get right. I had already abandoned one yesterday and though I did manage to post, it was not about the things that were on my mind.

After no more than five hours I rose when the alarm went, made sandwiches, had breakfast and went to the Treatment Centre at Queen’s Medical Centre. Yes, time for a blood test. Parking was tight, as I didn’t get down until 9 am so I parked in a bay reserved for disabled parking. I don’t actually have a blue badge but I do have a walking stick and my knee was playing up. I was wrong, but I’m gradually becoming more selfish in my behaviour as I realise that being considerate just means that you are use as a stepping stone by the greedy self-centred people who actually run the country.

They now want all NHS staff to wear masks when dealing with the public and all members of the public to wear masks in hospitals. I took one with me just in case. I wasn’t asked to put a mask on when I arrived and I noticed that the receptionists and other staff weren’t wearing them. I checked later and this will all happen on June 15th, so they aren’t actually compulsory yet.

The phlebotomist had several attempts on my arms – one in the right, two in the left. She didn’t use the method I suggested, and decided to call a colleague in. There was nothing wrong with her technique but she just couldn’t get it right. I’m not a qualified phlebotomist, but as you may have noted, after the number of blood tests I’ve had I have picked up quite a lot of knowledge whilst being stabbed in the arm.

I was sent out to wait and drink water (which is supposed to make it easier to draw a sample) and they called a second patient in. When I was called through again the second phlebotomist took the blood quickly and efficiently while we all had a laugh about her friend’s failure. I do enjoy my blood-letting sessions – they are the only social life I have these days.

After that it was off to work for five hours in an empty shop. There wasn’t much to do so I cleaned the sink, the computers, the toilet and the door handles. When I went back to the computer I noted that two more orders had come in and then, on finishing those, found that another had come in. Sometimes the days seem to last forever.

I sent a text to the owner telling him we were running low on stationery and then sent another to Julia telling her I was running late, in part due to my co-worker failing to refill the drawers after using all the envelopes from two of them. I added three of those faces with steam coming out of the nostrils to indicate annoyance and sent it. Big, stiff fingers and touch screens are a bad combination and I sent it to the boss. Then I rang him to explain I had meant it for Julia.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…

The Post Office was empty, so Social Distancing was a doddle.

Then it was home to try again with the difficult blog post (it still proved difficult) and news that people want to take down the statues of Sir Francis Drake in Devon. He might have done a bit of slave trading, but they all did in those days, so if this continues, we will have to take down all our statues, replace them with images of liberal nonentities and rewrite our history. It was an evil trade, and I make no excuses for it, who does it help to label all historical figures, with hindsight, as evil racists?

It’s all getting a bit like 1984, though of course, that’s a tricky subject too, as George Orwell’s great-grandfather was a slave owner and, if things carry on the way they are going, we’ll soon be burning his books rather than reading them.

That is more or less the subject of one of the blog posts I am finding difficult. I don’t like modern life.

And that was my day.

I am now going to submit my grocery order for tomorrow. An hours struggling with TESCO’s rubbish website on a creaky old computer. This is the stuff dreams are made of.

 

Schrodinger’s Lottery Ticket

I think the lack of exercise and exposure to fresh air and nature has had a negative effect on my frame of mind. At the risk of sounding pathetic, turning 62 didn’t exactly fill me with good cheer either.

Alexander the Great was 32 when he died, worn out by all that conquering. Napoleonwas 51 when he died and he had ruled Europe, though he ended up poisoned by his wallpaper. Philip Larkin was 63. I’m living on borrowed time and, last time I checked, have not yet achieved anything.

I still have a year to catch up with Larkin, so all is not lost – I could probably manage to become an alcoholic xenophobe, though I think the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry might elude me.

I don’t have time to bring the Persian Empire to its knees, particularly as we will be back at work soon and conquering worlds can’t be fitted into a couple of days a week. Nor, on the subject of knees, do I really have the energy to sort out Europe. That leaves the very slim chance of fame through poetry, but other than that it’s either win the Lottery or go on Love Island. The chances of winning the Lottery are 14 million to 1. Those are not good odds, but they are much better than my chances of winning Love Island.

I did actually have a lottery win last week (having started playing again during lockdown). I had an email telling me I had won a prize, but not telling me how much. The site was down so I couldn’t tell what I had won. When I went to bed I had a potential win of £10,000 a month for the next 30 years (or “the rest of my life” as I now think of it).

With that sort of money I could buy a bungalow in Suffolk (probably chosen for its proximity to a decent hospital and a first class chip shop) and have a butler.

It is a great feeling to go to bed knowing you might be waking up as a rich man. In some ways it’s like Schrodinger’s Cat, not knowing how rich I was until I woke up and switched the internet on.

So, day dawned. I snored my way through it – it’s so early at the moment. Eventually, after Julia had gone down and switched the kettle on, I peered round the duvet and decided it was time to check.

As I’m still typing this myself instead of dictating it to a secretary I’m sure you can guess how much I won. It was a fiver, which is enough for three more tickets. Yes, buying more tickets with your winnings – the mark of a true optimist.

This, of course, drives home a point about the value of money. In times gone by I would have written “in the South of France” after “secretary” in the last paragraph. Now, no matter how much money you have, you can’t outrun the virus. So is money really any use? Well, it would make life easier if I could send the butler to queue for groceries at TESCO…

butler 1

 

 

An Uncanny Resemblance

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Banana Bread Face

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Teddy Bear climbing a tree

Yes, after two and a half months of lockdown I’ve finally relinquished my grip on reality and started to write a post on the similarities between Julia’s Banana Bread and the teddy bear she knitted last month.

Last night I had my new, increased dose of methotrexate. I’m hoping it works because the arthritis is very difficult to cope with at the moment. However, after a week or so of moaning about arthritis I’m going to give it a rest now. I’m just reporting that the increased dose has not brought on any side effects, and I’m hoping all that is behind me now.

This morning I dropped Julia off at the gardens and went to work for the first time in 72 days. I think it’s 72 days, anyway. It’s certainly been a long time.

The first thing I had to do was ring the boss and ask what the alarm code was because I had forgotten it. He wasn’t much better and initially gave me the wrong one. I think it may have been his PIN number. We’re both a bit rusty.

I’ll draw a veil over life in the newly re-organised shop because I’m not particularly happy with the reorganisation for a number of reasons. The main one is that it’s meant a lot of disruption and has produced nothing of benefit that I can see, either in terms of health or efficiency.

Julia is finding the same at the gardens. I will draw a similar veil over that.

Least said, soonest mended.

I just wish that the people in charge would actually think things through. It’s a bit like when we were on the farm. People mistake change for improvement. They think tidiness is the same as hygiene. And they think that if they move something they are doing something useful.

This bear has more brains than many of the managers I have suffered under. And so does the banana bread.

A Bear of Very Little Brain

 

The Story So Far

We went out this morning around 9.00  and found that the roads we more crowded than we would have expected. I dropped Julia off at the gardens and then went to the shop. I must admit I would rather have been working with her clearing the pond rather than sitting indoors. Fresh air seems a much better option.

We will be reopening next week with a skeleton service for eBay orders. There will only be one of us in at a time and no customers.

We will reopen to the public on 15th June but will only see people by appointment. I’m not sure I see that working as people will just turn up and expect to be let in anyway. Monday always has been a day where we supposedly had an appointment system, but people always used to drift in anyway.

We had to fill the water butts and bird baths by hose on Wednesday as it had been rather dry. Once we had topped this one up the crow came to drink, showing that water is as important as food to birds. We are close to the river but there is nowhere for most birds to drink.

Let’s face it, we used to get customers coming in before we were open and as we were walking to the door at the end of the day. Some people don’t read notices on doors, and a surprising number cannot work out that if the lights aren’t on the shop isn’t open.

It is likely we will be locking the door to control access, but I expect that will be relaxed as soon as the weather gets too hot and we need the door open. I always think the shop is cooler with the door closed, but I’m usually outvoted on this.

The shop is now redesigned so that we can only have two customers in at a time and are able to keep six feet away from them.

The back room has also been redesigned, as it’s difficult to isolate when you can’t sit six feet away from a coworker. My workstation is now in the front of the shop, in a different room from all the stock and packaging materials. There is even less room to work and I will be within a few feet of all my coworkers as they walk through the doorway between rooms.

I’m not really bothered about the lack of distance, because I’m taking a relaxed attitude to these things. I am, however, a bit annoyed about the lack of efficiency which is going to be the result of the reorganisation. Once we get back to full strength it will be tricky to keep our distance and whilst finding stationery and stock to parcel up.

 

Then we did a quiz which we happened to have hanging around and I went to pick Julia up from the gardens. There are several sets of roadworks on the way (including gas mains and the Clifton Bridge works). By this time there was quite a lot of traffic on the road with queues at the roadworks. It wasn’t much different to the traffic before the lockdown.

I hope that the growing relaxation of the restrictions isn’t going to bring a second outbreak of the virus.

As we returned home, having gone by a different route to introduce some variety into our lives, we saw a life-size cut-out of Dominic Cummings tied to roadside railings. It was holding a notice that said “You are expendable, I am essential.”

It looks like this is not going away despite the Prime Minister’s attempts to ignore it.

Figs at Wilford Mencap Garden

Figs at Wilford Mencap Garden

The fig tree in the picture was given to us as part of a bundle of cuttings from a neighbour. We planted them, nurtured them and, eventually, saw them chopped off short by an idiot with a strimmer. That was what life on the farm was like. The three survivors are doing well, and this looks like it may even produce fruit this year.

Caesar’s Wife and the Special Advisor

Sorry, I’m being political and I’m writing about Dominic Cummings today. He is a special advisor to the Prime Minister and was recently accused of breaking the lockdown guidance. People have resigned, or been forced to resign, over this several times and in several countries. Some useful scientists have been discarded as a result, at a time when we need scientists. Now Dominic Cummings has been accused of breaking the rules. He is not a scientist and, to my mind, is not useful. Political advisors fill the same niche in politics as catfish do in the world’s rivers – they lurk in murky places and feed from the bottom.

If he was sacked tomorrow I really don’t think the world would notice.

However, Boris Johnson won’t sack him. He has, according to Boris, ‘acted responsibly, legally and with integrity’.

First, may I say that Boris, with his expensive classical education, should be the first to know that Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion. It is not good enough for someone in that position to be squeaky clean: they must give absolutely no room for suspicion.

And when they are tackled by the press they should remember, that, as the Bible tells usA soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. A soft answer does not seem to be the favoured response of either Mr Cummings or the Tory Party. Their responses to the press are verging on arrogant.

As for ‘responsibly, legally and with integrity’, I don’t know the exact definition of what was legal. Discussing things like this is what keeps the legal profession in wigs and holiday homes. The ex-Chief Constable of Durham seems to believe there was a crime.(that is the same link as the previous one).

Responsible? I’m not sure that travelling the length of the country with a child and an infected person in the car to stay with family is responsible.

Integrity? I’ll let you make your own mind up.

All over the country people are making sacrifices. Even some politicians are making sacrifices. Sadly, it seems that some of them aren’t.

I photographed the crow in the picture 18 times before I got that shot, which makes the title of that shot corvid19.

I’ve been waiting to use that joke for months…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Fine Day Loafing

It’s early afternoon, we’ve just had lunch (Lincolnshire sausages in warm baguettes), and Father Brown is on TV. It could be a touch warmer, but apart from that life is good.

A delivery driver has just turned up with a box containing three meals (my birthday present from Number One Son) – unfortunately I’ve forgotten what they are, though it will be a nice surprise. One is chickpea and peanut butter curry and another is pork steaks with garlic greens but that’s as much as I can remember. I’m feeling a bit guilty because I gave them some harsh feedback when it was requested, much of it on the grounds that they failed to solve a problem which they created needlessly. I just found their answers – they had sent them but I’d overlooked them. I’d better write and apologise.

While I was writing last night’s post I had followed several interesting links and gave myself an idea for another Medal News article. This is good, as all my other ideas have run into problems and I’m not feeling industrious at the moment. I will regret that when we go back to work and I find I have no time (my perennial excuse).

My original plan was to spend my time writing three articles for three different magazines, but one has turned out to be difficult to write, one needs a table (which I don’t feel like compiling ) and the other is turning out to be harder to research than I thought. They will all end up being written but not just now. According to an article on motivation, which I read last night, I have just increased my chances of completing them by telling people I am doing them.

We have just had a visit from  a neighbour. Julia dropped her a card and present off this morning as it is her birthday. She came to give us a plate of cake. Unfortunately we weren’t able to invite her in as we don’t want to be delinquent. This morning the internet carried the news that house sales have started again and people can view houses. So, you can’t invite a neighbour or family member in but you can have an estate agent and a stranger looking at your home. Life is very strange.

Photos are, again, from the free picture library.

cat sleeping on the table

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Blood Test

I went for a blood test this morning, amalgamating two visits (one for methotrexate and one for warfarin) into one, and donating a total of three tubes.

My original plan was to rise at 6.30 and get down to City Hospital for just after 7.00. That was replaced by a second plan, rising at 7.30 and getting down to the Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC)for 8.30.

Like my last trip, there was plenty of  parking and no queue.

Instead of tickets from the machine they are using laminated tickets you pick up from reception. Last time I mentioned that I wondered if they cleaned the tickets between uses. I noted this time, that they do. To be honest, today’s tester seemed much more on the ball than the last one.

They couldn’t get anything from the insides of my elbows, so they used something with a needle and flexible tube. This went into my forearm and the tube was screwed onto the end. It’s difficult to describe, but is probably a cannula. I always think of them as having massive, painful needles, but I have checked up and some of them look like the equipment from this morning.Butterfly IV Cannula 21G - Green | Kays MedicalI feel quite faint after looking at that. It wasn’t so bad this morning but I’ve had some really bad experiences with cannulas (or cannulae, if you want to be true to the original Latin).

After that I risked my life by shopping for bread and various other bits. It wasn’t essential, but it eases the pressure on the ingredients cupboard.

Then I went home.

After a late breakfast and a cup of tea I checked to see that I was still waterproof and started to consider my activities for the rest of the day.

This was, as you have probably guessed, fatal.

I had a phone call from the surgery. They had, in turn, had a phone call from the anti-coagulant service to tell them to tell me that my sample had not been acceptable. This usually means that the tube wasn’t full enough, though the filling should be automatic with modern equipment.

They printed me up a new request form, which I had to collect, and I then nipped into the nearby City Hospital for the test. There was no parking. I could have parked further away, but I’m lazy, so, after staring at the new testing facilities. I drove back to QMC.

It all went smoothly, we had a laugh about my second visit of the day and I got stabbed in the arm again.

If I was Richard Curtis this would be the inciting incident for a prize-winning romcom – Four Blood Tests and a Cannula or Blood Actually. These are just working titles, they still need some work.

I was so glad to get out that I can’t even rise to being irritated by the duplication of tests, or the demise of my cunning isolation plan.

I was slightly irritated by the presence of a Staff Testing facility at City Hospital. There were tents, signs, barriers and a Security Guard. There were no cars, no staff and no evidence that anything was happening. The testing regime will, I’m sure, come under scrutiny in the months to come.

As a final note – I saw a dead badger on the Ring Road – the first in over 30 years. You see dead foxes, because they live in town but the badger must have sneaked in as part of the wildlife resurgence. Unlike my projected romcom this is a story that doesn’t end well.

two specimens on gray background

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com