I’m currently watching Angela Lansbury on TV. To be honest it’s difficult to watch TV and avoid it. She is 95 soon and they will be celebrating with a week of Murder She Wrote. I’m not quite sure how it will differ from every other week, but I wish her well.
The day has gone quickly, and we have resisted the temptation to go out and do some last-ditch mingling. If more people had resisted the temptation to mingle we wouldn’t be in this mess. Skegness has been on the news today asking people from Nottingham not to visit. From what we saw a few weeks ago (crowds of people with a lack of masks and social distancing) I wouldn’t want to visit, even if there was something worth doing when you get there.
Really, it’s all the same as previous days, just another link in a chain of tedium.
I always used to tell the kids that only boring people got bored. This, I suspect, means that I am becoming boring. That is not good news, as I don’t want to be boring and old. The latter, to be fair, is inevitable, but I feel there should be an element of choice about the former. I’m going to have to do something about that. I might have to start racing pigeons or talking to myself in the park.
Of course, these days it is not a sign of madness to speak to yourself in the street, just a sign that you have a bluetooth headset.
Or have a tattoo in a foreign language – I will get an appallingly rude word tattooed on my arms in Chinese script and will tell everyone it says “destiny”. Of course, it may be tricky explaining why I keep being ejected from Chinese Restaurants.
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.
Yesterday it was coins, today it’s poppies. My life is varied if nothing else.
I spotted these bees in the poppies as I walked to the car yesterday. I did not have a lot of time to spare, and didn’t want the neighbours to think I was mad, so I just took a few shots as the poppies blew in the wind as I passed by on my way to work. As a result, the shots aren’t great, or varied.
That’s the story of my life. Rush, rush, rush and never time to stop and get a grip. After a three month holiday I really should be more organised. In fact I should be so organised that everything is perfect. It isn’t, and I will probably look back on this time with deep regret. Not that such thoughts are unusual, as I find I have them more and more. I thought you were supposed to be at your most depressed in your 40s, and that you became more cheerful as you age. It hasn’t worked out like that.
I suspect that like “Life begins at 40” and “60 is the new 40” this is aimed at making old people feel better about themselves. In fact one of the links I followed, whilst saying positive things about old age, also mentioned that hearing loss could be a burden in old age. It mentioned this several times and I wasn’t surprised to find a big button at the end of the article linking it to a site to sell hearing aids. I may be old, and slightly deaf, but I can still spot when someone is blowing smoke.
Last night I started planning for my retirement. It’s less than five years before I can draw my pension and I’m looking at all my options.
A time machine would be good, as I could go back, correct my worst decisions, save more money and look forward to a comfortable retirement, Ditto for winning the lottery. Logic says that I probably have more chance of inventing a time machine than I have of winning the lottery. I have made some plans for that. My theory is that if you buy enough longcase clocks and set them all running at the same time they will, because they are old and unreliable, all start to show marginally different times. When 12 o’clock comes round a few days later the cacophony of clocks striking at slightly different times will set up a temporal vortex and I will step through it. Now I come to think of it, I might have got that from an episode of Doctor Who…
I’ve just been looking at the WEA website (Worker’s Educational Association) looking for things to do in retirement. I hadn’t thought of them for years and now realise that some of their courses might have been useful during lockdown. Unfortunately the ones I want all have waiting lists. I’m sure I will manage to do something along those lines in the next few years.
Bee in Poppy
I had always imagined that retirement would be spent pottering around, but I’m already pottering, so I need another ambition. As I’m already becoming noticeably more curmudgeonly as time goes on I can’t save that for retirement either. It really does seem like I’m becoming old before my time. I should, according to the internet, be out learning how to skateboard, not sitting at home moaning. As I can’t even balance well enough to put my trousers on without introducing a frisson of jeopardy into the proceedings, so I’m certainly not risking a skateboard.
As a retirement project I may write a book about getting old. With any luck I may manage to sell it as a a TV script, so I will ensure that bathing in asses milk, driving sports cars and drinking red wine are prominent in the book so I can travel the world enjoying myself. According to this article I will need to drink 180 bottles of wine a day to get the full benefit. If I ever work out how to function without a liver I may give it a go.
I had intended to make another short post yesterday evening, with a view to doing three short posts a day for the next few days. I just thought I’d introduce some pace and variety.variety.
So I put the vegetables in the oven and sat down to write. I have a behemoth of a post in preparation and wanted to cut it down from 900 words to 600. I think of 600 words as long enough for someone to plough through. After forty minutes I sat back and looked at the result. It is now 1,100 words and has five extra photographs. Editing is not as easy as it sounds.
As you may have noticed, I didn’t write the post I intended. I am easily distracted.
We ate after that and I had a nap in front of the TV. I woke, read and procrastinated. For the purposes of my diary that counts as three activities. Waking is not as simple as it used to be. For one thing, I don’t become instantly alert as I used to, and for another, it now takes a little more effort to rearrange my limbs.
I have a police procedural on my Kindle and even though it cost nothing I am seriously wondering if it was worth it. There are parts of it where I find myself seriously thinking they should be paying me to read it.
When I accept an award, or a big cheque (I’m not fussy which), for my as yet unwritten prize-winning historical crime novel, I will cite this one as my inspiration. Something along the lines of “I thought if this garbage can get published I really ought to write one myself.”
Tea was roasted vegetables (carrot, leek, parsnip, swede and broccoli) with the last of the gammon and a bit of gravy. Time to cut back on bread and potatoes I think.
Gammon, roast veg and gravy
Suddenly I had 300 words, which isn’t short by my standards, and it’s the early hours of the morning. I woke up six hours later and realised that although I’d finished the writing I hadn’t published it. So here it is.
I will catch up with the main events later, but as I promised the story of the tyre change, here it is.
As I said, I noticed one of the tyres was teetering on illegality. What I didn’t tell you (because WordPress is teeming with burglars who look out for such information, is that we were away for a few days).
If we’d been at home I would merely have left the car parked for two days and taken it 400 yards to the garage.
Antony Gormley – Another Place
However, we were 150 miles from home, which left me with the choice of changing it in the car park or driving to Lancaster to get it changed. The simplest way seemed to be to change it myself, rather than ringing round and then finding a tyre depot in a strange town.
Imagine, if you will, two elderly figures, bent, limping, rotund and arthritic, but, in their minds, perpetually nineteen. I’ve changed numerous tyres in my life and I had my trusty sidekick with me. What could possibly go wrong.
So, we unpacked the boot, lifted out the spare, the jack and the tyre iron and walked round to the front of the car.
Job one – loosen the bolts. You have to do this before jacking the car up or the wheel will merely rotate as you try to get the bolts out. This was where the trouble started – they were on so tight I couldn’t shift them. This happens when you have them put on at a garage that uses power tools and an idiot to tighten them.
Normally you can shift them by standing on the wrench and pushing hard. This didn’t work. I’m heavy enough to shift them but you need to bounce a bit and my ankles have no bounce these days.
Starlings at Cosby Beach
Fortunately a passing member of staff came to the rescue. I reckon he was about 12 stone (168 pounds in American weight, 76 kilos to the rest of the world) and even then he had to actually stand on the tyre iron with both feet and bounce to get them to move.
That wasn’t even the difficult bit.
The next two stages weren’t too bad either. I positioned the jack correctly, even though I had to lie down and wriggle a bit. The jack worked well, the car rose, the bolts unscrewed and the wheel came off.
I bet you’re wondering what the problem was aren’t you. I mean, all I needed to do was bolt a wheel back on and wind the jack down. Yeah.
With Fords, for instance, you have four bolts sticking out of the hub at this point, stick the wheel back on and put the nuts on. Done. With Volkswagens, though, you have five bolts in your hand and the hub has five holes in it. You have to position the wheel and get the bolts through to the holes.
Pier – St Annes
It’s not easy and I’ve never thought of it as a good way of doing things.
I tried, I tried again. I cursed, I swore and I cursed again. Julia told me off for my language, grabbed the wheel to help and dropped it on my hand. It was surprisingly heavy and very effective at straightening out bent arthritic fingers. I wouldn’t want to do it gain, as it’s quite painful.
I was about to do this when it happened again. I will point no fingers. Even if I wanted to I wouldn’t be able to, on account of the pain of the forcible straightening.
Pier – Southport
Eventually we got it on, and all five bolts tightened. Then I lowered the car and tried to get up. By this time we were covered in black dust from brakes and a variety of debris from the car park.
And I was stuck.
I tried getting up using my walking stick and couldn’t. I tried using the car door handle. The door came open. I tried using help from Julia but she isn’t quite big enough to manage.
Fortunately the driver from a nearby campervan came to the rescue. He was a few years younger than us (who isn’t these days?) and well built, which was handy. With his help, I was soon back on my feet. Meanwhile someone else tightened the bolts for me. He was in his 70s, I estimate, and therefore the only participant in the action who was older than me.
The two tubby oldsters will now fade away, thankful for the help of their Good Samaritans, and ponder on the revelation that they are no longer the nineteen-year-olds they used to be.
Stone Wall – Lake District
Lessons from this – check tyres more regularly, buy a long-handled tyre iron for more leverage, put some cheap gloves in the car. And lose some weight.
The photos are some we took this week. It’s a longish post so I thought I’d break it up a bit.
I have taken Number Two Son to work. I have navigated through an unexpected diversion and a set of roadworks that weren’t supposed to be there tonight.
Now, as a large, clear moon shines outside, I am am sneaking in a quick extra post. Today was a lovely sunny day, though I didn’t appreciate the fact until I stepped out of the shop at 4pm. Most of my day had consisted of parcels, computer screens and a bundle of old maps.
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Apart from chatting to a couple of customers and drinking coffee, that was my day.
It’s likely that this will be as good as it gets for the next seven years, at which point I will retire and fade away. I’ve not quite worked out the best way to grow old disgracefully but it will probably include excessive facial hair, passing rude comments in a loud voice and wearing clothes that make it look like I dressed in the dark.
I have a busy day planned for tomorrow. Drop Julia off at work, read some blogs and then head off to the launderette. I’ve searched out every scrap of clothing in the house and managed to last almost a month, but we now need clean clothes.
I also have to go shopping, take some photographs, research some posts, start the cooking for next week and sleep in front of the TV. That last one isn’t so much a plan as a statement of inevitability. Like white hair and wrinkles, it’s an unavoidable part of becoming an elderly gentleman. Women are different. Women are more industrious and less likely to snore through an entire episode of Bargain Hunt. Women are also more likely to spend their time in front of the TV rustling things during the quiet bits of programmes and talking over plot points. Well, I know at least one who is…
I tried taking pictures of sunset. As I left the supermarket the sky was quite dramatic. As I reached the car the light was fading. And as I started photographing, the camera “corrected” the sky despite me using several different settings to compensate. It may have been because there was so much light in the car park. Whatever the reason, the clouds should be darker, with fiery red showing through the cracks.
Sunset over Basford
Ah well, time for bed now – back to our routine of early starts tomorrow.
On the way back from the shop I thought of stopping off at the local Sainsbury’s and ringing Julia to see if she wanted anything taking back home. That was when I noticed that the pocket by my left knee was gaping open, instead of being zipped securely. I’d had a couple of phone calls in the
morning, and remembered putting my phone on the counter after I’d finished.
After that I had no memory of it, apart from having a vague thought that I mustn’t forget it as I packed my stuff.
I decided that the best course of action, as the Ring Road is always crowded at that time of day, was to carry on and go home. Once there I would ask Julia to ring, double check if the phone was concealed in my bag, and, if not, I would, talk to whoever answered and make suitable arrangements.
The other choice was to turn round and return to the shop in traffic, to see if I’d left the phone on the counter. That seemed like a lot of hassle when I wasn’t actually sure if I’d picked it up or not.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I got home and looked through my bag. No phone.
Julia rang it (which was a welcome break from doing her tax and muttering at the computer) and it rang. I went through my bag again. I checked my camera case. No phone. We tried again. The ringing wasn’t coming from my bag. It was coming from my trousers.
For some reason I’d put it in a different pocket and it had, to all intents, disappeared. In terms of senior moments this is one up from entering a room and forgetting why.
The National Health Service is a fine thing, though far from perfect. When it started in 1948 it had a budget of £437 million (about £15 billion in 2017 spending power). In 2015-16 the budget was £116 billion.
The problem with the NHS, we are often told, is underfunding. Well tell that to Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo or Ethiopia – they all run countries on less than the NHS budget.
The NHS has so much money that it would rank 58th in the world in terms of GDP and could afford to buy an aircraft carrier (curremtly a very reasonable £6.2 billion, I’m told) to become a player in world politics.
If the NHS management were smart, and I confess my dealings with them have not persuaded me that this is the case, they could then threaten to leave the Union, like Scotland, and the Government would throw cash and jobs their way, just like it does with the Scots. That should solve the issue of funding.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, part of NHS funding in England is prescription charges. You pay £8.60 per prescription, so if you are on four types of pill you pay £34.40. If you want a pair of elastic stockings that’s £17.20, because each stocking counts as one prescription. I suppose amputees will see the sense in that one, but the rest of us feel the NHS is having a laugh. Sometimes the pharmacist will point out that they have the product on sale for far less than the prescription cost.
My annual prescriptions cost around £300. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the cost is £0. I will merely refer to this as an anomally, and pass over the whole painful subject.
There are several ways of paying less without moving house. One is to purchase a pre-payment certificate for £104 a year. I do this, as I feel that the £200 saving is better in my pocket than being squandered on wars and referendums.
Last night I went on-line to renew my certificate. I was part way through the process when a message came up on the screen –
The information submitted indicates that you are 59 years old. Please note that you will be eligible for free prescriptions from the age of 60.
Press continue to proceed with your application or cancel to stop.
It’s a bit of a low blow, reminding me of my advancing age like that, but on the other hand I do like stuff for free.
The last few days have not been great, though due to the magic of blogging you won’t know that. When you’ve been reading about the trip to Wales I’ve actually been in hospital in Nottingham. On balance, despite the unpleasantness of a stay in male urology, I prefer Nottingham. There were no Kites, and no bilingual road signs, but the food was better and there was no problem with finding a toilet when you wanted one.
However, as a consequence of the operation and the bad night that followed I’m feeling subdued and tired, so I’m taking the easy way out and talking of hospital rather than Wales.
I quite enjoyed the first part of the visit, though I really don’t like spinal anaesthetics – being stabbed in the backbone isn’t my favourite procedure and I’m not fond of anything that involves putting my feet in stirrups whilst men with beards mess around with urological equipment.
The operation was OK, and being awake allowed me to watch what was happening and talk to people. The recovery room was also quite fun, and the nurses on the ward were very cheery. I even arrived on the ward in time for lunch (fish and chips followed by apple pie and custard).
They even, to look on the bright side, fitted me up with a personal toilet system. It has taken care of the problems I had with passing water, and it means that I can no longer be caught short as I have all I need strapped to my leg.
I was horrified at first when they told me I was going to have a catheter for 6 weeks, partly because it’s the sort of thing that only happens to old men, and partly because I was hoping to have everything fixed up in one go. It seems they want me back in six weeks to tidy things up and remove some stones from my bladder. Typical NHS, you go in for help with one problem and come out with another.
Tea (served at 5pm) was tomato soup followed by leek, chicken and ham casserole with mixed veg. I had the tinned fruit for dessert to try and increase my intake of fruit and veg. You don’t really get enough fruit and veg in hospital, which is strange (a) because it’s healthy and (b) because nurses are obsessed with asking about bowels.
The food was excellent, far better than when I was in 12 years ago. It was hot for one thing, which wasn’t always the case last time.
I could do a post on hospital food, and may well do that later. I won’t, however, dwell too much on catheters. I can be quite amusing on the subject, but it’s really more suited to the rugby club crowd rather than the sophisticated readership of WordPress.
No pictures today – there wasn’t much that was suitable to photograph.