Tag Archives: reading

Procrastination – a Primer

I watched a programme about alpaca farming earlier in the week. One of the farmers had been a professional writer all his life and had fitted in a career as a circus ringmaster.

He was now fitting in life as an alpaca farmer with his writing. He said, as it showed him settling down to type, that the farming had helped him focus, and that his writing had improbed as he no longer had time for writer’s block.

I feel the same way about procrastination. It’s so hard to fit in when you have work to do. I no longer have the luxury of sitting at the computer wondering what to do, if I’m going to fritter my time away I need to start frittering immediately.

Freecell isn’t going to solve itself, and who will stroke the vanity of all those Hollywood stars if I don’t click to see what they look like now. or click to see what that man found in his back garden.

After I’ve done that I need to read poetry, because we all know we can’t be successful writers if we don’t read the genre we are attempting to write.

Then the shopping list needs doing. I forgot to add breakfast cereal to the list last week and Julia is grumpy because she is having to eat bran flakes instead of Weetabix. To me that’s like the doctor asking if you’d rather have eczema or psoriasis. (I’ve toned that down for a family audience, and taken the opportunity to show off my spelling, in case you didn’t notice).

I’d rather have porridge, but I prefer lying under the covers until the last minute, whimpering about getting up on a cold, dark, morning. Normally I zoom downstairs late, splash milk on something that promises to deliver health and high fibre, and plough through it. Frankly, weekday breakfasts are a penance rather than a pleasure, but even after twenty years as a non-smoker I haven’t found anything to replace cigarettes and tea as the perfect start to the day. Apart from Sunday, when I favour fried food. Healthy choices do not come easily to me.

Time to serve up the tea now. It’s ratatouille served in the style of a pasta bake. I’m trying to sound enthusiastic, but it’s hard when you really want a Chinese takeaway…

Authors, Austen and AI

I’ve just been reading this. I’m now more convinced than ever that technology is not for me. Having just read an article that tells me future books are going to be written by Artificial Intelligence. This is depressing. However, it isn’t as depressing as reading the AI attempts at classic literature.

Even more depressing, I read that the average reading age in the UK is somewhere between nine and eleven. There are a number of statistics around this, with a variety of measurements and interpretations, but it means that a lot of adults struggle to get by with reading. A significant proportion can’t read simple notes or road signs. I am worried by this for a number of reasons. Not only will these people not be able to enjoy the pleasure of Wordsworth or Wodehouse, but there is a distinct possibility that they are a danger to other road users. That, I suppose, is why so many road signs have pictures on them.

The state of the nation’s education system was first revealed to me when I was recruiting school leavers to work on a poultry farm. I told the careers advisor we would need people within reasonable literacy and numeracy skills but after they sent several illiterate candidates (because it was only a poultry farm) we reverted to advertising in the local paper.

I won’t even mention my view of careers advisors because I think we covered that a few days ago, but I was shocked to find that it was possible to pass an entire school career without learning to read and write.

blur book stack books bookshelves

Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

So much depends on being able to read. In fact everything depends on it, including your academic results in other subjects, and your success (not necessarily monetary)  in life. Yes, you can be successful without being a great reader but it must be harder.

You can either believe me about this or you can search the internet. The only trouble with the internet is that there is so much information, often gathered and interpreted differently, that it’s hard work putting it all together. You read one list of the top ten nations for literacy and then you read another and only a couple of the countries are duplicated. Unfortunately they tend to agree that the UK is about 17th. It’s not a disaster, but it’s not very good either.

One of the sites I read had a question from a user asking if anyone out there had read 100 books. People were generally quite polite, but they did mention that they had read 100 by the time they left school or had read fifty or even a hundred in a year. It all depends on what you call a book. I’ve probably been going through three a week during lockdown, but we’re talking about Golden Age and modern cosy crime books, so they aren’t actually hard.

I really must start a better balanced reading programme, a few more classic novels and some non-fiction. That, however, is a diversion. We’re talking about literacy, not about me squandering my life on whodunnits.

I’ve tried various ways of reading a better selection over the years, but it always degenerates into a discussion of why I hate Don Quixote. I just re-read that post, from 23 April 2016, and found the sentence “I had muesli for breakfast as I wanted something smallish in case I set my socket off.”

No, I haven’t a clue what I meant to write.

I’ve just been reading the local literacy project website, and have decided to start volunteering once lockdown ends. Really, I should have been doing it for years.

The question is whether I volunteer to help adults or children.At least, by telling you all I am making sure I can’t back out.

boy in white and black school uniform reading book

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

 

10 Things to Do During Lockdown

I’ve been looking at several lists of ways to pass the time during lockdown and I decided mine was better, so here it is.

(1) Moan about the Government – despite what I have said recently about being positive, it’s important to vent your frustration so feel free to shout at politicians on TV and to mentally compose letters you intend sending after the lockdown. Feel free to include the WP spellcheckers and KFC in your ranting – even if you don’t have anything against them I do.

(2) Write something – blog, diary, poem, book. They all have their charms. Diaries never get seen so you can write what you like and write as badly as you like – it doesn’t matter and it might come in useful later. Blogs aren’t particularly taxing – look at me, I’ve been getting away with writing this tat for years. Poems are easy enough, I write hundreds every year. Sometimes I write a good one. Once in a blue moon an editor agrees. Books are trickier, but you might end up rich and famous

(3) Laze the day away – it’s a bonus holiday. According to what I read on other sites it’s important to have a structure in your day, so I timetable the time 9-10 for breakfast, 10-11 for coffee and biscuits, 12-1 for lunch, 1-2 for digestion, 2-3 for snoozing, 4-7 for quizzes and the rest of the evening for cookery and TV. That leaves an hour in the morning and the same in the afternoon for blogging and poetry. It’s not easy but I’m getting through it.

(4) Cook something new. I did Kensington Rarebit tonight. It was very good, though it isn’t, as Julia pointed out, really rarebit, just potatoes with grated cheese on top. I didn’t take pictures tonight but I will next time we have it.

(5) Read some improving literature. I have a copy of Mrs Dalloway around somewhere. I bought it as part of my attempt to read a selection of the 100 best novels. I looked at various lists, selected a number of books and started reading. My plan lasted about a dozen books. After struggling through Moby Dick, I made the mistake of starting Don Quixote. I wrote about that, several times, a few years ago. 

(6) Make inroads into your pile of unread books (not necessarily the same thing as Number 5). I just finished a couple of whodunnits –  Why Shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer, which is a middling sort of detective novel given to me by a neighbour. I thought she only wrote regency romances. It was OK, but I am not rushing to buy another. The other was Death of an Honest Man. It was dreadful, and is the last one of the series I will bother with. It’s like a mish-mash of all the Hamish Macbeth cliches thrown into a book and badly edited, if it was edited at all. It’s a sad end to a series, and an author, that I have enjoyed over the years.

I’m now on 1700, a book about London in the year 1700. I’m enjoying it, and it’s full of interesting detail.

(7) Work from home. Julia is doing this. I am definitely not. That is why she has high blood pressure and I don’t. Having said that, her blood pressure is going down as her workload goes up. I can only suggest that the doctor puts her blood pressure up. Last week (while we were theoretically on holiday) she was taking half a dozen calls a day and did three online courses. This week she has taken calls and written an online guide to making flowers from plastic bottles.

(8) Garden. Always a good thing to do. Sadly, we have had quite a lot of cold winds recently, which makes our northward-facing garden an unattractive proposition. You can’t do much apart from weeding anyway, as all the Garden Centres are shut.

(9) Talk to people (or text and email people). I am emailing and texting various people to keep in touch. I’m not very sociable, but it’s good to know that people are keeping well. You never know, I might even become a more sociable person at the end of all this.

(10) I’m leaving this one for you to fill in. What ideas do you have?

How Did I Do?

I’m writing another post, though it’s hours later than I planned.

I washed up, cooked my tea and cooked the ratatouille for tomorrow. And possibly the day after.

I watched tea and relaxed after Julia returned from her busy social life eating pizza, read the end of a Hamish MacBeth novel and moved a few things round (that’s a Stage I declutter).

The wrestling with my conscience went well, and by the time Julia returned I was ready to serve up my healthy tea.

The veggie burgers, with spicy mushrooms and ratatouille, were very acceptable, They kept their shape and the rice seemed to work. Whether the rice is worth the bother is a different matter. It’s one of the few things I ever worry about in relation to food poisoning.

That leaves a number of things not done, including most of the blog reading, the new lists, the washing up…

I did procrastinate rather well though, even if I say so myself, and am torn between pride at procrastinating so well, and shame at my idleness.

The photographs? Ah, well…

By the time I had served the food it wasn’t looking particularly photogenic and I was quite hungry.

Tomorrow’s list includes just three items.

Take Julia to the doctor (for a review, nothing serious)

Blog (as it’s after midnight I’m already in “tomorrow”, so that’s in progress).

Eat cake with father. It’s his 91st birthday party. We are men of simple pleasures.

Oh, and do the washing up which I avoided tonight.

That makes four items. I’ll maker it five by adding the requirement to rough out the talk for the Numismatic Society. That’s enough for a day off.

Photos tonight come from an old camera card I found stored with some flash drives I’m using for the presentation. I’ve used some but it’s easier to reload them than try to pull them from the depths of my WP photo library.

The sunset is from the farm and the others are from Whitby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Declutter

 

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Read

 

 

 

A lot of reading

I had a lot of posts to read tonight, and still have more to go. Sorry if I haven’t been keeping up.

I also had a lot of reading to do as I’ve been having trouble believing some of the comments in a blog I read regularly. The reading tends to indicate that my incredulity is well founded. Then again, it would, because I am right and they are wrong.

Then I had another internet link trail to follow – from Peterborough to Shakespeare. I may tell you later. It’s all Clare Pooley’s fault. She’s a bad influence.

I’ve also been looking after a frozen wife – a day in the garden was not what she needed today.

Now I have to take Number Two Son to work. By the time I get back it will be late to post.

Sorry, this is a bit short even for me.

 

 

Another 30 Minute Post

Once again the evening has been squandered with tea and biscuits and curry and poor quality TV. I regret the waste of time, when I have so many things to do, and I hadn’t planned on such a relaxing evening, but it’s been pleasant enough. The only problem is that I have to write a post in 30 minutes before taking Number Two Son to work.

If that seems familiar I can only apologise. I tried to write earlier but couldn’t find the enthusiasm.

Plans for the coming week include finishing the book I’m reading about William Dampier, reviewing a couple of other books and sending some more haibun off. The theory is that if I keep sending them off I will be forced to keep writing and improving. It seems sensible, but time will tell.

I’m also preparing a section of my collection for sale on eBay. It’s the part of my collection that I accumulated because it was cheap or included in lots with things I actually wanted. As such I really ought to call it my “collection” or my accumulation. When I’ve sold it I’m going to use it to buy more things. That’s the nice thing about collecting – you get to buy things for yourself on a constant basis.

It’s the Numismatic Society meeting on Monday. It’s comforting to get out and meet people with the same sorts of personality defects I have. I say “people”, but I mean middle-aged men. There is only one female member that I know of, and very few people under fifty.

And that’s it. Time’s up. I will now fill out the “Categories and Tags” and post for today. Only three days to go…

 

 

 

 

 

Two Hours

I returned home after dropping Julia off at work and noted the time – 6.09. As I type this line it is 8.02 and I have just finished part of my catching up with WP. I have read and replied to all the people who posted comments over the last few days and made reciprocal visits to the first few on the list. I’m hoping to visit more by the end of the day but I thought I’d post now as “Two Hours” seemed a reasonable title, I’m also finding that if I leave it until the end of the day I find more work to do, or fall asleep in front of the TV, and end up not posting.

It’s 8.06 now. Am I really only writing a line a minute?

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Budgerigar Society badge

The photograph is a Budgerigar Society badge. It dates from 1930 – 1950s. In 1930 they changed from the Budgerigar Club to Budgerigar Society. On the back it has a fitting to go through the buttonhole in the lapel of a man’s jacket. This sort of fitting died out in the 50s as clothing became more casual and pins became the norm. It’s currently on our eBay site with a bid of 99 pence.

When I was 16 I dreamed of working for Spinks. In my 20s I wanted to be rich and successful.

Today I’m happy to have a job that pays me to write about Budgerigar Society badges.

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! as Mr Shelley said.

It’s 8.20 now – where does the day go?

 

Should I Read or Should I Write? (2)

Well, I tried to do both, whilst humming a song by The Clash.

After an hour and a half of reading, which leaves me not quite caught up, I decided to write a quick post and go washing, in order to keep to the plan.

When I came to publish, WordPress was playing up and I couldn’t enter a category or tag. I pressed “Publish” anyway and can’t see the post on the blog, even though it appears on the list to link to.

Ah! I just linked it in and had a look. seems to be a page. I’ll have to sort it out later. It looks like I must have pressed page instead of post when I started it.

So WordPress isn’t playing up. I am.

What an idiot.

More haste, less speed…

Here is the original. As you can see, it’s more or less the same. This loss of a post, and subsequent loss, may qualify as an epic senior moment.

Should I Read or Should I write?

I decided to read, and I’m nowhere near catching up after over an hour of reading and commenting.

I was going to post a link to Should I Stay or Should I Go by the Clash to mirror the title but I can’t switch the audio on the computer and don’t like posting links to clips I can’t hear myself.

It looks like bits are dropping off the computer all over the place. It’s a feeling I know only too well.

WordPress seems to be playing up too, but I’m going to publish and see what happens.

Time to get the washing done now if I’m going to stick to my plan.

See you all later.

 

Zen and the Art of Procrastination

It’s time to start sorting out my life. How many times have you heard that? I know I’ve said it several times.

As things stand, I’m not reading books, I’m not reading blogs and I’m not getting enough decluttering done. That’s not to say that I’m idling my time away, I’m still writing, I’m still cooking (in a determondly average sort of way) and I’m spending time on ebay.

I’m happy with the writing time but the time on ebay needs decreasing. Originally I was looking at it with a view to learning current prices and looking at starting to sell on ebay again. It hasn’t quite worked like that and I’m back, once again, to collecting.

The intention was actually to clear the house and live a life of zen simplicity interspersed with the holidays we’ve not had over the years.

It has struck me recently, as I’ve sat cogitating my hospital experience and the nature of mortality, that I’m on the downward leg of the journey to three score years and ten. I’m 60 next birthday (as I was recently reminded), and this isn’t a two way street.

I’m also mindful that health problems prevented my parents carrying out their retirement plans. They still had a long and happy retirement, but it wasn’t the one they had planned. In fact Dad is still with us and still enjoying himself. However, he would probably be enjoying himself more if things had gone to plan.

So there you are, a slice of philosophical misery. Not very cheerful but something I wanted to talk about for some time as it’s important, and I’m interested if anyone has any views.

I’ve been meaning to write it for some time but I never get round to it.

Tsundoku revisited

I’ve written about tsundoku before – the habit of piling up unread books. It was brought into painful focus earlier today when I opened up  a box of books that has been undisturbed for several years. For “several” you could probably substitute “ten” judging by the publication dates.

When I read The Elements of Murder  last month I was surprised at my familiarity with poisons and notable poisoning cases. Not only surprised, but quietly impressed with the breadth of my knowledge.

So when I found a copy of the paperback edition in the box today it was a bit of a downer. Not only is my knowledge based on reading the book ten years previously, but my memory is in fact so bad I didn’t remember buying the book twice.

It’s also a reminder that when I pictured the seven books in the photograph I was intending to review them swiftly. I’ve actually managed two and started two more. I haven’t even finished reading one of them. But I have bought more, and read several of them.

Ah well.

I suppose this officially the start of old age…