Tag Archives: old age

Excuses and Plans

I could tell you that I have been so busy writing poetry that I haven’t had time to blog. This would be plausible, but, as regular readers will know, unlikely. Gaps in my blogging are normally caused by laziness or napping in front of TV. Or both. The recent gap has been no exception – laziness and napping both come into play.

It’s a case of swings and roundabouts, or possibly actions and reactions. I just looked up Newton, as I seemed to recall he had something to do with it, but it turns out that although he did mention actions and reactions, he left out any mention of elderly men falling asleep.

I’m left with a distinct feeling of unease, and am now worried about the rotation of the earth slowing down. At that point I suppose there would be no gravity and we would all drift off into space. At that point the financial acumen of the British Government,  the world domination plans of the Russians and the moral concerns about eating meat and using fossil fuels would all seem less important. However, the main conclusion to draw from this is that I shouldn’t think too much. I’m going to be burnt to a crisp by global warming long before I drift off into space. And, realistically, I’m going to die of something weight-related before global warming gets me..

My Law of Ageing, which I really must get round to writing down, is that for every effort, life pushes back back by demanding an equivalent amount of nap time to rebalance the energy levels. So if you write over 40 poems in  a day and then spend hours driving to a funeral you are going to have to pay back by sleeping when you should be blogging. You may think you are 19, you may think you have got away without extra sleep, but in the end, even if it is days later, there is a debt to be paid.

Anyway, I hope it’s all sorted now and I can get back t normal. I made six submissions last month. I’ve already made seven so far this month. I want to do at least five more so I need to get a move on. I’d better finish this, get to bed and wake up with a positive mental attitude ready for an industrious Wednesday. Julia is going to work tomorrow, despite it being our day off and I have a blood test. Apart from that I have an empty day of possibilities lying ahead of me.

Welsh Poppy

Punishing Pizzas and Shoes with Velcro

We had pizza tonight. Mine made my eyes water. This is an anecdote that is going nowhere, but from a diary point of view I feel it deserves a mention. People debate whether or not you should have pineapple on pizza (I don’t mind it, and used to include it in the school pizza sessions), but what about chillis? I eat pizza for pleasure, and I’m not sure that I want it to become a test of fortitude. I managed to grow up without chilli and though I enjoy a curry or a touch of heat now and again, I don’t see that eating pizza in front of the TV should be transformed from a pleasure to  a penance. This is another place where the 21st century is found wanting. You can suck down as many Scovilles as you want, but please ensure there is a labelling protocol in force to prevent a repeat of tonight. A picture of three chillis isn’t going to do it. You need a label like “JULIA – DO NOT BUY THIS”, as she always forgets and I end up feeling like a victim of the riot police. She buys herself vegetarian pizza but thinks I prefer something a little less bland. That’s true. Spicier than plain vegetarian is fine, but eye-watering is a step too far.

I’m not sure how I feel about the shop at the moment. It’s boring me and annoying me in equal measure, but I’m not sure whether that is the fault of the shop or whether it’s the lure of the retirement that is in front of me, shimmering like an oasis of freedom in my near future.

I’ve been doing a calculation. If I leave next spring my combined pensions will pay me almost as much as my low-paid part-time job. It’s only 30 hours a week, but six hours a day five days a week is just enough to stop you doing anything useful. However, if I carry on for another six months and manage my money properly, I can take six months wages into retirement with me, which will be enough to pay for a good supply of books and boiled sweets and those fleece-lined shoes with Velcro fastenings, which seem to be essential wear for the elderly.

Quiche with foraged green leaves and edible flowers. For more information try this link.


Holiday and a Reality Check

It ws decided a few weeks ago (not by me) that we would close the shop from Wednesday to Wednesday. The owner is on holiday and decided that it would be easier for staffing if he closed the shop. In other words, after the debacle at Christmas, and his solution (making us take one of the weeks off out of our holiday entitlement because one of his staff (again not me), had made a fuss about coming in for some of the time despite us being given time off as a bonus.

Stamps, stamps, stamps…

The result is that we are now being directed when to take holiday and I am no longer paid for working on Wednesdays (normally my day off). To be honest, I can’t be bothered to argue about it as I have less than a year to go. At that point my small works pension and my Old Age pension will combine to produce an income approximately equal to my current part-time shop job. That’s the advantage of my pitiful career trajectory – retirement will not see me any worse off than when I was working. If I can actually find a part-time job after I retire I will actually be better off as a retiree.

Meanwhile, we had the AGM of the Numismatic Society last night. Eighteen men of a certain age gathered together to mutter and raise hands as the Treasurer read his report and the Secretary read his report and the Chairman gave his annual address The age range is from 45-85, with more at the top end of the scale than at the bottom.

Display of old relics at Flintham Show

Fears about being in a dying hobby are well-founded. Cigarette card collecting used to be a big collecting area. These days, despite a large stock, we sell very few cards and the collectors are mainly in their eighties. Card collecting continues, with football and other gum cards (such  as Star Wars and Batman) still having a following. Pokemon cards have a strong following too, as do many other sorts of card that we don’t deal with. Old dogs and new tricks spring to mind, but as most of the young people do their business online they don’t need a shop.

There were, as I recall, ten collectors shops with coins and medals when I moved to Nottingham 35 years ago. Now there are two, one of which is mainly a jeweller these days.

That’s how it’s going. Collectors generally find eBay a great place to buy (as I do) and they just don’t bother coming into shops these days, a trend I saw starting over 20 years ago. I’m one of the last remnants from the old days, already halfway between dinosaur and fossil . . .

Silver Coin Set

Day 150

Californian Poppies

Today, I am going to rush through my 250 words and then get on with something else. I only realised this morning, with a shock, that it is the last day of May and I have submissions to make before midnight. Having been caught up at work this evening, then slept in front of the TV I find myself a little short on time.

This afternoon was interesting. We left work at 4.00 and locked the shop. My workmate exchanged a few words with an elderly gent and walked away. The man then came to me. I smiled in a warm and friendly manner, expecting some comment on our opening hours. Instead he said, “I need help, please can you help me?”

It was the start of a series of events that lasted for over an hour. That’s not long in terms of a lifetime, but it’s quit a long time to be involved in the problems of a complete stranger.


His problem was that he had been dropped off by a taxi driver. He didn’t know where he was or where he was going (apart from the fact it was a hospital). He had no money, no phone and no ID. All this came out in the course of our conversation. He wasn’t quite sure how old he was – late 80s – but the age and DOB he gave didn’t match up, and there was nobody at home we could ring because his partner was in hospital and was expecting him to visit. He was a touch confused, though he seemed o know his name and address, and had not shaved recently or had the benefit of clean clothes. This was not a man for whom things were going well, and in some respects, it was like looking in a mirror.

It was also a nudge into a memory that I don’t really like. About 40 years ago I saw a confused elderly man hit by a car as he tried to cross the M11 motorway near Cambridge. He went flying through the air, and when I attended the inquest the events of that afternoon had clearly placed a great strain on both the car driver and the wife of the deceased. I wasn’t going to let him wander off, but there wasn’t  a lot I could do to help him either.


In the end I had to ring the police and wait until an officer turned up to attend to him. She was very friendly and efficient, and asked all the right questions and took him home, where she was going to check with the neighbours and see what was happening. I will probably hear no more about the story, and will always wonder how things turned out but, in the manner of these things, I suspect it is the start of a change in his life that will not be to his advantage. I hope he has a family and that they gather round to help.

And on that sombre note I will leave you and go to finish my submissions for the month. I am going to make the most of my brain while it is still working. Not sure what photographs I am going to post with this, I will try for something cheerful.

Yellow Flag Iris

Day 124

My week has slid by – Bank Holiday Monday, back to work for a day, and today, my normal day off. I am now half-way through the week with little to show for it.

The experiment with numbering blog posts has, I feel, been a mixed success. It has saved me time and effort but has detracted from the blogs and made me depressingly aware of passing time. This is not necessary – I already have a set of dodgy joints for that.

When you start the day by sitting down to put your socks on and go on to select a strategy for getting your trousers on, you know that time is passing. When the main struggle of the day is not world peace or child poverty, but getting your shoes laced, you know that old age is catching up.

My plan is simple. I am not going to fight, merely let it catch me. I will then ambush it, give it a good kicking and carry on, leaving old age to limp along behind me. I’ve just done my annual Investigating Musculoskeletal Health and Wellbeing survey, and that always leaves me in a bad mood.

Poppies by the roadside

I’ve been looking at illegal drugs lately. There may come a time when I need more painkillers, and I’m not impressed by the range currently available to me. The stuff they give me to apply externally to painful joints is, frankly, a joke. Its main effect is to give me sticky fingers. It doesn’t kill pain and is not accurately named. Aspirin and Paracetamol are not very strong, I’m not allowed Ibuprofen because of the risk of bleeding. Cannabis, in various forms, is fashionable, but I’m not convinced about the oils and don’t intend to start smoking again.

That really just leaves opium. I’m fairly sure that our climate would make production of opium from poppies difficult, even if the police didn’t decide to investigate an allotment full of poppies.

As with most things, you need to be rich. If I won the lottery I’d be able to afford a doctor who could prescribe heroin, and all my problems would be solved. I remember seeing a documentary years ago and that’s what a posh addict said – if you could afford medical grade heroin it was no more damaging to you than drinking gin.

It is also medicinal, being used for pain control and as a treatment for heroin addiction. Yes, I had to read that twice too. It’s like picking up a prescription for vodka to help you with your alcoholism.

So there you are, a post that started with socks and ended with heroin. I only wish my day had been as interesting, but it started with socks and ended with chocolate, which is pleasant, but not quite so much fun.

Poppies at East Leake

Poppies are finished

Day 99

We had an email waiting this morning. It had several blurred screen shots, several paragraphs of broken English and a declaration that the would be purchaser would only pay £30 for postage and packing. We deciphered the note, calculated the cost of the parcel and found that it was going to cost a lot more than £30.

The trouble is that some people fixate on the P&P, ignore the fact that eBay charge us commission and fees on our postage costs and don’t appreciate that if we are sending a parcel with £400 of goods in it we want to insure it.

On top of that, this is now the ninth message we have had from him this week and the 22nd we have had this year. Not one of them has actually resulted in a sale. The problem is that as soon as you say yes to one of his irksome suggestions/demands he starts with another.

It’s £400, some of the stuff has been hanging around for a while, and the idea of making the sale is quite attractive. However, the sale is only good if you actually get the money. If anything goes wrong, eBay will undoubtedly side with the buyer and we will end up losing £400 plus postage fees. It’s easier, as I pointed out, to save postage and the labour of packaging and arguing, and just flush £400 down the toilet.

Some deals, as was pointed out to me as a young man working in sales, are simply not worth the effort. It seems counter-intuitive but I made one or two of those sales, including one where I lost the company £7,000 (which was a lot of money 30 years ago) and that always comes back to haunt me.

In summary – today was a day of frustration, annoyance and ghosts from the past.

We had veggie burgers (which we ended up buying from the shop rather than making) for tea, in nice fresh cobs, and I enjoyed them. We also had chocolate brownies as Julia saw them whilst shopping. Then we slept in front of the TV. Is this, I ask myself, where all that hope and ambition ended up?

I suspect there may be a poem concealed within that thought.

For some reason, whilst snoozing, I dreamed of cream teas.

Day 22

Got up, had breakfast, went to work. There was one parking space left when I arrived. Is this what my life has become – repetitive with worries about parking spaces? I used to think there was more to life than that.

On the positive side, I have started to find myself laughing and smiling more. You are supposed to get happier as you age and I had been waiting for it to kick in, as the last few years have been hard work. I may be lagging behind the curve (nothing new there) but it looks like I’m finally becoming happy.

The customer who has been irritating us for most of the week with unrealistic offers has finally decided to order something. He still tried to do a deal until we had gone to the post office (it closes at lunchtime on Saturdays) so we won’t be able to send it until Monday. By Tuesday I expect he will be writing about something being wrong. Some deals just have an aura of doom hanging around them.

One bright spot in the day was that we put some second-hand display cases on sale. After a bit of a lull they have started selling and we sold our last three during the week. The owner checked in the overspill stock room (as I call his garage when talking to customers) and found a couple more, which I added to our eBay listings around lunchtime. One of them sold twenty minutes later. It always feels good when that happens.

Early One Saturday

The rain hammered down at one point during the evening. It was loud and lasted a long time. Despite our reputation for rain in the UK it’s often delivered as  a drizzle, or, at worst, a prolonged and moderate fall. The short, sharp and noisy storm is something to be savoured, as long as you have a sound roof and a house on a hill.  We seems to have survived in a water-tight and unflooded condition, so that is good.

At one time I would spring from my bed looking forward to the new day. These days I tend to lurk under the covers and worry about the new crop of problems that are likely to emerge.  I don’t know if it’s experience, or simply that you become more fearful as you age. I remember telling my Mum and Dad that many of their fears weren’t likely to come true, but it didn’t make them go away. I’m now starting to worry about things similar to the ones they worried about. I listen to myself sometimes and hear echoes of their voices.

I also remember how they gradually aged between visits and wonder how the kids see me.

However, it’s Saturday morning, and that’s not a time for introspection. I just6 had my baked eggs (with tomatoes and cheese) and I need to make sandwiches before heading off for a day of fun with eBay and the random customers that chance sends our way. But first, of course, there will be the hassle about parking. On Saturday everybody seems to think that our parking spaces belong to them. We try not to be too negative, and don’t put up notices about private property or (like one shop in the row) clamping, but it is annoying. Working at the opticians? Going for bread in the shops 200 yards away? Need extra parking because you have too many cars for your drive? All these, and many more, are, it seems reasons why people take our spaces. The best one wa “I pay my taxes”. So do we. Paying our taxes does not, however, entitle us to park in the drive of the truculent woman who thinks it entitles her to use our parking spots.

Ah well, time for sandwich making.

1921 Pennies

Writing, but more importantly, Reading

Just before falling asleep in the early hours of the morning I had an idea. This time I had my pad and pen ready and I wrote a quick note to myself.

This morning I felt like a proper writer. I so far as I am a person who puts words down on paper so that others can read them, I suppose I can call myself a writer. IN the sense of someone who makes marks on paper with a writing instrument so that I can read them later, the situation is not so clear cut. I’d definitely done something that approximated to writing on my pad. The marks were there. But it lacked the important element of me being able to read it later

It’s a bit like Mallory’s (possible) conquest of Everest. If you don’t get back down have you really conquered the mountain?

I stared at the riot of loops and whirls, done with a scratchy and slightly dry fibre tip pen and began to panic.  Is this, I asked myself, what dementia feels like?

Anyway, as my eyes recalibrated themselves for the grey morning light (I find that they no longer lap into action these days but take a while to get going, much like the rest of me) a few words started to show .  Even then, in the absence of memory, no meaning emerged. This isn’t surprising as a number of the words I seem to have used have escaped the notice of the OED.  There were 28 words in the note, for several minutes, and several readings, I couldn’t read a single word. It took another few minutes to extract half a dozen words, then it all fell into place.

Our the lent fen gus I line swiss by cuckolded winter. Blog beige abunt layings and precurstractor has benignly bun the wounded layet hucid hut for my new carver.

When I say “all fell into place” I may be exaggerating slightly. It took another effort before my synapses fired up.

Over the last few years I have seriously considered becoming a content writer. Blog being about laziness and procrastination has basically been the longest suicide note for my new career.

In other words, if you want to use a blog to get writing jobs, don’t blog about being lazy and unreliable.

As it turns out, while I was considering the new career the market was flooded with students offering to write for next to nothing, so I didn’t actually lose anything.


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