Tag Archives: poor preparation

Cold Hands and Royal Mail – a Disappointing Day

Sorry, I have become erratic in my posting again.

However, it’s a case of swings and roundabouts and, in the matter of napping, I have become much more consistent. I suppose it all depends on whether I want to be known for my ability to write, or my ability to sleep through the boring bits on TV. The amazing thing is that I can sleep for a couple of hours in a chair, get up and start doing something. In a bed, which is supposedly designed for sleep, I can still only sleep for a couple of hours at a time, and wake up feeling like I’ve been tied in a knot.

It is, I suppose, part of the process of growing old, and I am now starting to realise the significance of my father’s words on the subject as he grew older.

I worked today, despite it being Wednesday, as the owner was due back from holiday and we wanted to ensure a seamless transition. I can have time off, or the money. If I have the time off I will end up sitting in a cold house waiting for Julia to come home, so I may as well go to work.

As I cleared the frost from the car this morning, my hands became so cold that I couldn’t get the seat belt on when I got in the car. That’s the trouble with being in a country that doesn’t have enough winter to prepare for it properly.

We have had another parcel go missing, this time a significant one. The Track and Trace system can’t tell us anymore than the fact that it’s in the hands of the Royal Mail, which is pretty useless. To be honest, the Royal Mail has been poor for a significant time now, due to the strikes. Julia posted a parcel to Canada in early November and it didn’t leave the UK until after Christmas. Since the attempted ransomware attack last week, nothing has left the country and we haven’t been able to send new parcels. We have only had two overseas parcels to post recently, so it isn’t a big deal for us. It seems they will be starting limited overseas deliveries tomorrow, but they will be very limited – letters not requiring customs stickers. That’s no use to us.

Straw Bale Bowie Bear

Medallions, Mental States and Motivation

I’m currently stuck in the middle of a mental crisis. I have a talk on medallions to do at the Numismatic Society of Nottinghamshire in three months time and am stuck. Imagine a car on a muddy road. It is bogged down and its turning wheels are doing nothing but adding churned up mud to the growing problem. No forward motion, no smoke from burning rubber (though there will be soon), no panic yet, but a definite feeling of doom.

That is the equivalent of my current mental state. I don’t really like public speaking, but it no longer terrifies me as it once did. I’m not going to add much to the enjoyment or education of the listeners, but they won’t mind, they will just be grateful it isn’t them. And, most importantly, they won’t realise how far short the talk falls short in relation to my original plan.

And that’s where I am. badly prepared and doing nothing. The feeling of doom is growing slowly and the panic is fluttering away at the back of my mind, but currently, it is a mere feeling of unease and I am able to ignore it. Yes, I could use it to motivate myself, but I won’t. I have nothing against preparation and competence, but like many things (bungee jumping and repointing chimney stacks, for instance) I’m content to leave it to others.

Citizenship Medal – West Lothian Council

Citizenship Medallion – West Lothian Council (reverse) by Tower Mint

Talking of medallions, as I will be in three months time, here is the latest addition to my collection of Citizenship Medallions. Another eBay purchase. It is as struck and comes in a spotless case from the Tower Mint. I’m tempted to discuss the merits of the Tower Mint, its name and its products, and put it in the wider context of modern numismatics. But I won’t, as it’s a subject of limited interest to most people. I will just say that if you see something advertised in a Sunday magazine or on TV (usually by a retired military officer) don’t buy them. Such things are usually available on eBay or in a coin shop (if you are lucky enough to have one near you) for half the original price, sometimes less.


It rained last night. The weather forecast said it would happen at 2am. It was actually 1.57am when the first thunderclap occurred. This quite impressive, particularly when you think that some recent forecasts have been completely wrong and the forecast rain has failed to arrive several times.

That paragraph is as far as I got before falling asleep. I rose, made sandwiches and remembered I still had to write a post. At that point I managed to wipe the entire thing out. I say “entire thing” –  it was just the opening paragraph. When you have nothing to say, even a banal paragraph on the weather seems hard won.

We had a strange happening today. A customer who had made an appointment to travel 90 miles to see us didn’t appear. Eventually he rang to tell us his car was playing up and make a new appointment for Saturday.

At 3.40, as we were getting ready to leave, he arrived, having had his car fixed. We were just closing things down, the owner had gone, and we weren’t really geared up for doing a £3,000 deal on gold coins. However, we did, and added more to the deal. At that point his new credit card refused to work, leaving us stuck with partial payment. This was all very annoying, particularly as someone else turned up to sell us coins, despite the normal cut-off time for bringing coins in being 3.30. It was, for a short time, chaos.

IOM Gold Half Angel – note how the Archangel Michael is fighting a dragon dressed only in Speedos and highly inflammable wings.  I’d want a bit more clothing. However, as, St George on the sovereign seems to get by with only sandals and a helmet this seems to be typically angelic/saintly dragon-slaying kit.

So, back to the suspended deal. It held all the elements of a classic distraction set-up. I’m sure it wasn’t, but the gold, the late unannounced arrival, the friend who came with him to do another deal, the part payment and the credit card glitch are all typical elements of previous frauds or attempted frauds.

Every year for the last three or four years, sometimes twice a year we are approached by “film companies” or “photographers” who ring or email on a Thursday or Friday night desperately needing old banknotes (usually £50 notes, sometimes lower values) for a film shoot. It’s always end of the week, urgent, features some sort of problem with payment and usually a courier pick-up rather than a proper address. Bank of England notes are always worth their face value, and can be banked, so they are a good target, and don’t set alarm bells ringing like gold.

However, we aren’t idiots (honestly) and have noticed that the “urgent need” seems to disappear when we ask a few questions and tell them we are happy to accept cash if their card isn’t working properly. As I say, today wasn’t suspicious, but it did have all the elements, so I wasn’t particularly sympathetic when we had to decline the deal. A simple phone call could have solved most of the problems.

Meanwhile, we had a rather cold call. A newly widowed man rang about his ex-wife’s property. He had found a coin in her jewellery box, which was worth, according to the internet, £5,000/ A few enquiries suggested it was more likely to be £15-20. He quickly lost interest and rang off. The cold aspect? She died last week. It’s customary, though not obligatory, to wait until after the funeral before selling stuff. It’s not a prize-winning exhibition of unfeeling greed though – that goes to the family who lost their grandfather in the morning and had his medals in the local coin shop by lunchtime.


I found the bird photo whilst searching for “gold” and thought it made a more cheerful ending than my final anecdote.

Waiting for the Snow

As I sat and wrote about my new job and Peter Rabbit (two separate posts, in no way linked, even in my imagination) I was expecting snow. It didn’t happen.

We were then supposed to wake up to find we had between four and seven inches of snow this morning. Now that we’re awake, and snowless, the forecast has been modified to show it starting at 7 am. As I sit and type, having dropped Julia off at work, there is still 37 minutes for this prediction to come true.

According to one on-line map we are already under snow. Other sites predict an almost 100% chance of some snow (between two and ten inches) between now and 8 pm with the possibility of disruption, the likelihood of travel problems and the chance of some rural areas being cut off. They further qualify it with “in some places”. Am I alone in finding that a little vague?

Much of the vagueness, of course, comes from journalists trying to sell newspapers. The Met Office is generally quite good at this sort of thing. It is, after all, what they do.

If you live in a country that has proper snow and are wondering what all the fuss is about, look at it this way. If you live in a small town somewhere snowy you probably have more snowploughs, more winter tyres and more snow shoes in town than we have the whole of England. In fact you probably have more snow shoes in your garage than we have in the whole of England. Scotland and Wales, having mountains, take it a bit more seriously and I’m not sure about Northern Ireland. I never think of it as overly snowy, but then again, I do think of it as rainy, and if it’s cold I suppose the rain has to come down as something.

If I was in charge I’d keep us in the European Union and close the country down from December to March while we all went on holiday somewhere warm.




We had some snow today. That’s English snow – measured by the flake rather than the inch. After two attempts we have a very sparse scattering, which will no doubt freeze overnight and, as our street gets no sun in winter, stick about for a week or so causing problems.

That’s how we deal with snow in England, acting surprised, being under-prepared and letting a few flakes close down the entire country. No doubt we will have train delays and car accidents tomorrow. I can’t help thinking that other places do it better. It’s unlikely, for instance, that Canadians or Scandinavians would even recognise this sprinkling as snow.

Fortunately the urban population of the UK is plentifully provided with Chelsea Tractors.

I will keep my opinion of such things to myself. It’s not that I’m short of opinions, but Julia has given me a list of jobs to do ready for her Open Day tomorrow.