Tag Archives: memory

Followed by Even Less Activity

Last night, as I eventually drifted off to sleep after a day where nothing much happened, a brilliant idea for a post came to me. It really very good, and it justifies some research and a couple of well chosen category tags. This is the one, I feel sure is going to attract attention and make me rich and famous.

Just one snag. When I woke up this morning that was all I could remember. The actual subject and the brilliant opening sentence have all gone. This, as you may recall from previous posts, is typical of how it happens. I’m not, however, downhearted, as I have learnt to accept this as a fact of my writing life. Some of it may come back, but if not, something else will drift along to replace it.

The famous writer’s notebook? It was on the landing where I left it after coming upstairs. Not that it mattered as I can rarely read my nocturnal scribble anyway.

In my defence, it was very busy in my head last night and, like the famously overly full shelf, something must have fallen off the end.

I’ve been looking at the availability of short online courses. You may remember that I did a few several years ago. I got bogged down in one of them, and that was enough to stall my enthusiasm. It sounds pathetic, but sometimes that’s all it takes.It was, I see, February 2021, and the course was Exploring the English Language. It all got  little complicated, as I wasn’t taught formal grammar at school, and I ground to a halt.

I may go back to it, but I’m signed up for some Roman History at the moment, starting when I finish this post. If it goes OK I will look at doing further courses, even paying for them.

The ones I’m currently doing are Open University free courses.

The ones I’m looking at for later are Oxford University short courses. These are the distance learning ones where you have no specific study times and no live conversations.

None of it will lead anywhere, but as I’m 65 and have no long-term career goals, apart from living long enough to draw my pension, this will suit me.

My Orange Parker Pen

Five to Go!

It’s beginning to occur to me that I really ought to become more interesting for my upcoming 3,000th post. The trouble is that I’m actually becoming more boring. I can tell this because I keep repeating stories. Mostly I remember and delete them, but it’s happening more and more. Then there’s the general feeling, when trying to think, that I’m running through porridge. I just seem to go slower and slower as the resistance builds up. This is despite making serious efforts to improve my sleep patterns. It has got so bad that tonight I had to describe “the button on my torch that makes the light go on” to Julia. Then it occurred to me that the word was “torch”.  With a memory like that it’s not a surprise that writing poetry is becoming more of a challenge. Fortunately, this sort of thing is the exception and I’m not ready to vegetate just yet.

Tonight I watched one of the kids from across the road on his way to football practice. To lace his boots up he raised his feet and put them on top of the garden fence  (waist high!). I can’t even raise mine a quarter of that height. I was going to say that it’s only a few years ago that I could flex my back so far that I was able to stand on my fingers. All my fingers, not just the tips. However, now that I come to think about it, that was 20 years ago. A lot has changed since them.

These days I have to put my feet up on a step (just a low one, as they don’t lift so far, as previously mentioned) to allow me to reach. Some exercises are probably called for. Unfortunately my poor memory means I will write that today and won’t remember it until next week, when it vaguely drifts through my mind. I may have to start writing things down to remind myself.

Currently, the house is full of the smell of mushrooms. As soon as I finish here, it will be filled with the sound of fast-revving electrical machinery. Yes, it’s mushroom soup for tea again. Wednesday soup is becoming a habit. It’s a good, healthy habit, so I’m hoping it takes root. That way I don’t actually need to remember it, I just do it. In 20 years time the staff in the care home will probably be puzzled as to why I wander into the kitchen and pick up a hand blender every Wednesday . . .

We have cream tonight, which I bought for the bread pudding and quiche I didn’t make. Julia used it for making cream and strawberry scones yesterday and we will pour some on the fruit flan tonight, so I may put a drop in the soup too.  After all, I wouldn’t want to get too healthy too soon. It was a bit of a luxury, as I can make quiche and bread pudding without cream, but I don’t want to cave in to the cost of living crisis and live like a pauper.

Home made Mushroom Soup with an olive roll and a scatter of pumpkin seeds and spring onion

Day 210

Last night I spent several hours improving a tanka prose poem with a restructure and a new tanka. I then unedited a small part where the original was better than the re-write. All in all, it felt good.

Finally I decided on a destination and started to get it ready to send. For some reason, alarm bells started to ring. I checked the last submission I had made to the intended magazine and found I’d submitted the old version last time. I’m never sure of the advisability of sending new versions to old editors (if you see what I mean).

Then I had a look at the magazine. I hadn’t just submitted the old version, I’d had it accepted.

My Orange Parker Pen

Coming so soon after the incident where I seem to have bought from eBay in my sleep I really feel I need to get a grip. A new filing system is called for, and that should be achievable. Apart from the problem with filing, I have the additional problem that some haibun have multiple versions and several different titles. A new brain would be good too, but I think that might be beyond me. I must eat more fish.

I’m thinking that with just four submissions this month I may call it a day and not try any of the other seven I have listed. It’s a poor result when compared to the plan, but it’s still four submissions, which is a reasonable amount.

I just spent the last two hours looking at odds and ends – there really is nothing that I feel like sending. I am going to spend August organising things (not many submissions planned) and in September I’m hoping I will be ahead of myself once more.

I always used to plan things so that I could submit at the beginning of the window rather than the end. I always think, rightly or wrongly, that if I get in first the next submission has to be better than mine to replace me in the editor’s mental shortlist. If I submit at the end, I have to be better than the others. And there is always the chance, as has happened several times, that there will be a  last minute email glitch.

A colourful shed

Day 41 (Part 2)

A slight departure from titling protocol, but not a major one.

I had my INR results – I’m just within range and they have, as a reward, given me a month until I need to go again. I am happy.

For my second post of the day I am going to talk about trousers and their role in memory for the over 60s.

They are a style of trouser that has gone by many names over the years. I first encountered them when they were in military surplus shops, sold as “lightweight trousers”. I’m not sure I ever saw any “heavyweight trousers”, though they may have been more suitable for a man of my size and shape. They went on to be known as “cargo pants”, “combat pants” and later became “workwear”.

I just looked them up and find they are also called “tactical trousers”. It’s a much more English term than “pants”.

The defining characteristic is not that I am about to go into combat, either in the army or in a SWAT team. The West may be under pressure from Russian sabre-rattling but it has not yet reached the point where it needs to call me up.  It is the pockets. Mine have 8. I believe some have 14. This means that you don’t have to lose things, you just have several sets of identical trousers and keep the same thing in the same pockets.

Right thigh – wallet and folding magnifier. Right hip – ready-use handkerchief. Left hip, clean handkerchief (which is like the other but without the blood, oil and snot which I always seem to end up with) and pocket change. Left thigh – mobile phone. Left lower leg – notebook, RADAR Key and spare change. I tend not to use the other three.

Every time I change my trousers I move the contents of my pockets, and I very rarely mislay anything. It’s a lot simpler than remembering things all the time.

No, it’s not necessarily a system that would suit all people, but it’s something to think about. Remember, I may not look smart, but while you are wondering where you put your phone, I am composing poetry in my head.

Complete with braille

The big top helps people with stiff fingers when it comes to grasping and turning








As you will have noticed if you read the link – it’s not an official key but I don’t like filling in forms when I can just get one on eBay.



Dreams, Regrets and Memories

It’s 8.15, it’s Sunday and I have just finished looking through my emails and the WP comments. It’s what passes for social interaction in what I refer to as “my life”. When summarised in a single sentence it isn’t much of a life. No editor has been in touch overnight, no Lottery win has been communicated and I have, as yet, not interacted with another human. (Julia is still in that Sunday morning phase where she is grunting from inside a cocoon of duvet, in case you were wondering. Not human. Not interaction).

I have had inspiration for some haibun prose since waking this morning, and I had a very peculiar dream about something. I can remember it was peculiar, but as time passes, I can’t remember anything other than that. Dreams are like that.

On the subject of teachers, however, I seem to have a set of superpowers I did not know existed. I can remember nearly every teacher who ever taught me, and I can remember something good about nearly every one of them. I won’t bore you with a list, but I was amazed how, once I started, I couldn’t stop remembering them. It would be better if I could remember everything they taught me, but that, unfortunately, is beyond me.

I’d have liked to have been a teacher, but it was not to be. My mother wanted to be a teacher too, but it didn’t happen. Same with my paternal grandmother. It’s a small enough ambition but my grandmother was told she had to work on the farm, my mother was told she had to get a job to help support the family. I was merely told by the careers teacher that people always said teaching when they couldn’t think of anything else and I should find something else.

When spoke to Julia about this she said she’d been told to consider a career as a waitress or hairdresser, because she would no doubt get married and stop work to raise a family. Fifteen years later she completed a part-time post-grad diploma whilst number one son, at the age of two weeks, slept on the seat next to her in the lecture hall.

We used to have a saying when I was in sales – “Nothing happens until somebody sells something.”

You could say the same about life – “Nothing happens until somebody teaches something.”

And with that, I will leave you. It’s 8.46 and I am hungry.

Ha! I just remembered the name of a history teacher that had been eluding me.

The Application of Brainpower

I have always had a feeling that if I could direct all, my thinking to one thing at a time I could do great things. These days I feel that if I could direct all my thinking to just one thing I would still have trouble remembering what I had for breakfast three days ago, or that I had to write a blog post before midnight.

Somewhere in my head that simple instruction still exists, just as it did for every one of the 24 consecutive days that WP flagged up. In the past it has served me well in reminding me to blog for many months of consecutive days. But somehow I have allowed it to become less preeminent. Over the last week or two I have been struggling to finalise some submissions for the end of the month. I’m never sure whether it’s best to get in at the start of a submission period or at the end, but I do know it’s important to make sure you submit at some point. So that’s one set of deadlines. I also have the 10 haiku a day target, which is wandering about all over the place. Some days are good, some days are hard. I’m also behind with that too, but well ahead on average. I’m concerned that binge writing isn’t really the best way to improve my haiku writing. On the other hand, it’s better than not writing at all. I know this from past experience. The “not writing” phase can easily creep up on you and you soon find you’ve been a month without writing. This hasn’t happened since I started blogging, but I know it’s still lurking . . .

To return to my original thought, all those other deadlines seem to have replaced the blogging deadline in my head.

Then, I admit. there was sentiment. It was Father’s Day at the weekend and though I have no great attachment to what is basically a made-up and superficial day devoted to merchandising The kids rang, which was nice, but reminds me that it’s a long time since I saw either of them, and for the first time in my life, I had no father to visit. All in all, a bit of a mixed day and a lot to think about.

Finally, just before going to bed. I had an email from the USA – two senryu and a haibun accepted for Failed Haiku. I like it as a magazine (a) because it accepts my work (which is always a plus) and (b) because both the editors are accomplished and interesting writers. In my mind there is a hierarchy of acceptance. The best acceptance is one from a writer you admire in a magazine that publishes good writers. That’s what I aim for these days, because I want to feel good about seeing my work in print.

That was how I decided to proceed when I started writing haibun. In my previous life as a poet I had originally targeted magazines with low standards and after two years and a dozen acceptances, was just starting to get poems in better magazines. This time round I decided to start at the top and see what happened. What’s the worse that could happen? A sneering letter of rejection (yes I had one or two), but so what? It’s not like anyone would know. People wouldn’t point at me in the street and laugh. So I went for it, and it seemed to work.

I really must try training my mind to think of one thing at a time, then do it before moving on to the next thing. That way I will avoid leaving a trail of art-completed projects behind me.

There was something else I was going to add, but I seem to have forgotten it. Considering what I said earlier, this is probably an appropriate place to end the post.

This Moment

I have hit on a productive creative strategy – thinking whilst putting my socks on. After a certain amount of success with the technique yesterday, I managed to think about three projects this morning, including synopses and a few lines. Full of confidence, I set off down the stairs and, en route, completely forgot one of the pieces. Not only can I not recall the plan and lines, I can’t even remember the subject.

Fortunately two of them survived and the lesson about always having a pen and notebook available has been driven home. The trouble is that I either find myself with no notebook or too many notebooks. I am actually struggling with too many at the moment. I completed taking the notes from one last night but have one big book to do next and a few shorter notes to retrieve from other books. I can have as many as six or seven other books – upstairs, car, work, desk, living room, spares…

Then. like this morning, I can have none where I want them.

Nothing much else has happened today. I’ve dressed, thought, made two of the three notes I meant to make, had breakfast, read a few poems, checked a few things on Wiki, wrote a comment on  a website and wrote this. Time goes, but nothing of consequence has been done.

I will now have another cup of tea, sit by the fire with an A4 pad and start to plan. After lunch (which will probably be soup and sandwiches) I must do something of consequence.

Alternatively I may watch Murder She Wrote.

“ It is the season for wine, roses and drunken friends. Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”

Omar Khayyam

Adventures in Amnesia

I fell for what was possibly an internet scam website last night. There is no fool, it seems, like an old fool. My computer loaded it, despite its normal disinclination to load websites without security certificates, so I suppose it must have one. The address started with https, so I thought is was OK. It even had some convincing testimonials on it. But you would do wouldn’t you?

When I came to pay, it didn’t seem to work properly, so I contacted their helpdesk. The email was returned. I looked for a phone number or address but there were none.

At that point I realised that I may have paid money for nothing, and that I had given up my name, address and three digit security code to a stranger who possibly had felonious intentions aimed at my bank account.

Fortunately the bank was very helpful. They confirmed that no payments had been made and that nobody had tried to use the card. It looked like someone had just left a dead website floating in cyberspace. However, they were very helpful and cancelled my card just to be on the safe side. It will take four working days to get a new card and it is already becoming a nuisance that I can’t use my card. Without my card, for instance, I can’t book an online shopping slot.

They did assure me that lots of people get caught every day by things like this and said there was no need to feel bad about it. (I was at the time bemoaning the fact that my mental faculties had become so blunt that I would fall for something like this.

It was a bit like the time I forgot my PIN number. It had, at that time, been the same for 25 years. Then one day  and as I stood at a cashpoint I realised that my mind was blank. I did not have a clue what my number was. I couldn’t even think of the first number.

They told me then that it happened to lots of people, but I think they might have been lying to make the old fool feel better.

I am beginning to hate these senior moments.

I even forgot the title once. I thought of it as I wrote, but by the time I’d scrolled to the top I’d forgotten it. Scrolled down again, and I remembered.


Time Passes…

I originally said I wanted to do two posts a day for a fortnight. Then, in my head, this became two posts a day for 15 days. I’ve just checked and counted up and I’ve done 27 posts in 14 days.

So, despite being ahead at one point, I have missed the target by one post. Or, if I adopt the 15 day target, I’m still in with a chance. Not that it really matters.

Whatever I do, the sun will still rise on a new day and, bit by bit, my life and writings will gradually decay until they disappear and nobody will remember me. That’s a serious point, rather than just me being morbid.

What happens to digital pictures and writing as time goes on? I already have some old camera cards I can’t read, though that may be because they are empty. I really can’t remember. I also have photographs on CD, though I notice a growing trend for laptops not to have CD drives. It’s possible that in a few years my CDs will lie there gathering dust in a house that has no CD drive.

Perhaps it is time to think about using cloud storage, though I’m not really clear what it is or how it really works. I am not altogether comfortable with trusting my life and documents to a third party. I’m afraid of another Word scenario, where I merely rent Microsoft Word instead of owning a copy, and where I belong to an American corporation rather than being a person.

If I live long enough I might have to rewrite that as “a Chinese corporation”, but though the details may change, the reality remains the same.

The header picture shows two British Medals from the Great War – known as “a pair” in the trade. This is the British War Medal (the silver one) and the Victory Medal. All the Allied Nations produced their own Victory Medal after the Great War, with different designs, which is why it may seem familiar to readers from other countries.

It was this that brought on some of these thoughts. We buy something similar nearly every week, and when we ask if they were from as family member, the seller often does not know. They were issued named, and the name often means nothing, because over the years they have forgotten the names of their own ancestors.

The recipient of these medals died in the 1930s, as a result of ill health caused by military service. He was, as far as I could guess from the names and relationships of the mourners, the brother of the vendor’s grandmother. His adverts appeared in local papers of the time – he was a music teacher. He was also a professional musician and a chapel organist for many years.

If you can forget all that in the space of a couple of generations who will remember a man who wrote about eating veggie burgers and similar inconsequential subjects?

Veggie Burgers

Veggie Burgers

The Shopping List

Shopping List

Shopping List

I used to read a blog about found shopping lists. It was surprisingly fascinating. I have tried to find it to post a link but can’t find it.

I decided to uise mine as an example for this post.

I used to use a list to remind me t5o buy things, then I started using it as a way of keeping spending down. Now, poor and lacking brain power. I use it for both, but have had to start using extra means to keep me on the straight and narrow. Read on and you will see what I mean.

Top left is “Pills” with an asterisk. That’s to remind me to take in my Warfarin prescription. I’m not overly worried about the health aspects of missing the pills, but I am concerned that I have a blood test in a month and if I want to keep up the relaxed regime of testing every three months I have to make sure I take the pills and get the right results.

Next down, in the blue ink that marks the later additions, are two appalling sets of hieroglyphics that indicate I need chickpeas and chopped tomatoes. Chickpeas because I used them in last week’s veggie burgers and tomatoes because I need them for ratatouille. I’m likely to need a second can for the chickpea curry that is on my mental list to cook in the next couple of weeks.

Cobs – two lots. One lot for tomorrows lunch, one lot for Tuesday’s lunch. We don’t make sandwiches on Wednesdays because it is our day off. It would probably be cheaper and healthier to use sliced bread, but I like cobs. New readers who want to know what I’m talking about can press here.

Butter was a duplication for “Marge” lower down the lst. We use the terms interchangeably at times. Cheese – ready sliced Red Leicester for making cobs. The time saved and the cost saved by portion control make it worth paying the extra for the slicing.

Pies became pasties as I found Ginsters Cornish pasties were on special. I just bought two, because the list and the menu now prevent over-buying.

Now is the time to confess about the menu. It’s the bit in the top right. I have to use it to stop me buying random eye-catching stuff we struggle to use.

It says:

Y Pudd Roast


Veg Burg

(Rat) x 2

Bkd Pot



Simple, eh? It stops a lot of bad buys, because I would often buy enough ingredients to make five meals in four days and some would end up wasted by the end of the week.

For those of you who don’t speak Quercus it means Yorkshire puddings and roast veg, haggis, veggie burgers, indicates that we will be having ratatouille with the burgers and reminds me to make a double helping, which we will have with baked potatoes. It’s already slightly wrong because I’d forgotten Julia was out on Tuesday night and forgotten that we are cutting down on sausages, so a pack now makes two meals. It used to be one meal for four of us and seemed to remain as one meal as we dropped to three and then two.

Thursday is a mystery as I’ve run out of inspiration. Julia is probably doing a Green Thai Curry.

Root veg means I am free to throw a selection of root veg in, onions means get packets of ready cut onions as it saves time and I’m lazy. And my knife skills leave something to be desired. I have far fewer cut fingers now I don’t chop onions and it’s easier on my back if I do less bending. I bought Brussels as well because we need greens.

Marge (see above), milk, cream cheese (for fish pate). I did select herbs and chillies but put them back later as there was a change in the fish purchase and because I have chillies in a jar.

Smoked Salmon is crossed out because there were no packets of scraps, just expensive slices. I like Julia but I don’t like her enough to make her expensive smoked salmon pate.

Eggs – easy. I buy eggs from caged birds as, whatever you may think Free Range is mainly a marketing gimmick and the birds aren’t really better off. Now that we have new welfare cage legislation caged birds are more comfortable than they used to be.

Seasoning was a lazy way of indicating I needed more garlic in a jar and some chilli powder. I forgot the pickled onions, marked them to remind myself and forgot them again.

Med Veg is Mediterranean vegetables – courgettes, peppers and aubergine. Or zucchini, bell peppers and eggplant for my American readers. Not Medium Vegetables.

Yorkshire Pudding (bought in a packet because it’s easier), beans (tinned).

Card is a card by my Dad – he’s due to be 91 at the end of next week. Tesco have a dreadful selection so I may get another one. Yes, it’s in pen because I forgot about when I made the original list. I’m a bad son.

Finally L & Lime indicates a lemon for the fish pate and a lime for Julia’s planned guacamole.

Spr Onion in the middle means I realised we needed some spring onions (or scallions) for the fish pate. I realy should grow some at home, and some chives, which do much the same thing.

One thing missed and one extra – bacon – sneaked in.

One day I will write about a more organised list. This one was written in a hurry – when I have more time I actually write them in order.