I’m struggling for things to say. When you finally come face to face with our Covid testing system, it’s not that good. Julia’s arrangements have now been altered so she will be provided with one of the kits that has to be sent off to the lab. You have to find a priority post box for that. Priority Post Box, you ask. Exactly. It took ten minutes on the internet with a selection of useless links before I found any.
There are 35,000 in the country. Or 15.000 if you are posting on Saturday or Sunday. And you have to post the sample at least an hour before the last collection time – so no later than 4pm, and in some cases earlier. Most people are still at work at that time.
It’s not my idea of “priority”.
As for getting a test, you have to have symptoms. If I had symptoms I wouldn’t bother driving down to a testing station and shoving a cotton wool bud up my nose, I’d just stay at home in bed with a Lemsip. If you are asymptomatic I would have thought that was when you needed the test.
I will be returning to work next week as the owner has thought of a new way of doing things and we will be rearranging stock. I am not terribly keen, as I was enjoying my time off, but I can’t keep sitting at home and being paid for doing nothing.
Meanwhile, the post arrived. That cheered me up. Or it would have done if it had been what I originally thought it was. Unfortunately, the miniature medals with paperwork didn’t have any paperwork with them and the copy of the poetry magazine with my poem in it turned out to be a copy of a different magazine.
It’s the final week of the second lockdown, and I will be returning to work next week. We will be sticking to our pre-lockdown work pattern of four days a week and, because of the way it falls, I won’t be back in until Friday. I intend to make the most of the next four days.
I don’t have much in the way of poetry writing to do at the moment because there are no deadlines until January. I think I have everything I need for then, and just have to polish a few bits. I will continue writing, but there is no urgency in it for the moment. I have quite a lot written and am polishing it for January.
At the moment I have a magazine article in progress. I’m struggling with it because I’m writing a list of information which I am reusing from an obituary. The life was interesting, but the process of writing about it is not so interesting.
I have also just had another haibun published. Try this link to see it – same as usual, scroll down to Simon Wilson. You may like to try a few of the others while you are there. Last week I also had a haiku published in Presence, but that’s a print magazine so there is no link. This is, I think, the fourth time I submitted to Presence, and my first success. I was beginning to give up hope, but thought I’d give it another go. And with that brief word on the importance of persistence, I will leave close.
I was encouraging my dining room computer to greater efforts last night, because I felt it was deliberately slowing down and refusing to obey commands just to wind me up. Shouting isn’t a long term answer, we really need a new computer, but it provides some short-term relief. In this, a computer resembles a teenager, though teenagers do eventually improve. On the other hand, you can switch a computer off and it never empties your fridge.
As I paused for breath I heard Julia say: “Simon, can you stop swearing please?”
This led to our usual discussion about me and my right to freedom of speech and how it was hardly even swearing compared to some of the things I could have said and how…
“Will you **** shut up, you foul-mouthed ****!”
I’ll leave you fill in the gaps. Unlike the tabloid press I have deliberately left the words unidentifiable. If you are going to blank out the bad language I’ve never seen the point of adding the initial letter and the exact number of asterisks. You may as well just print the word. As I know my readership contains churchgoers and grandmothers I tend to be honest in admitting that my language is not good, but refrain from exposing the true depravity of my language. Too many years spent working in the company of rough men. I really should stop it, but like vegetarianism and exercise, I seldom persist in my improvements for long. Te only two things I have really ever given up have been smoking and hard work. I have not done either for over 20 years.
It seems that Julia had just been adding sound to a video she had done for work and my advice to the computer meant she was going to have to do it all again. There really are times when I realise I’ve been a bad influence on her.
Chastened, I carried on typing, but when the computer seized up again I made my displeasure obvious with the use of hand signals.
It’s a good thing that we are doing more days at work in the coming week, as lockdown is beginning to change me. First I started eating too many biscuits, then I pretended to be a bear and now I’m making offensive hand gestures at a computer.
We’ve each been in twice a week for the last two weeks to do the eBay work and answer the phone. From this week we are going in four days a week and there will be two of us in the shop each day. I will be at work tomorrow, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
In two weeks time we will start letting customers in by appointment. I spoke to someone by telephone today – he has had a queue outside all day wanting new watch batteries. A lot of watches ran out of power over the last few months.
It’s going to be a long slow recovery from lockdown.
This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
Yes, after two and a half months of lockdown I’ve finally relinquished my grip on reality and started to write a post on the similarities between Julia’s Banana Bread and the teddy bear she knitted last month.
Last night I had my new, increased dose of methotrexate. I’m hoping it works because the arthritis is very difficult to cope with at the moment. However, after a week or so of moaning about arthritis I’m going to give it a rest now. I’m just reporting that the increased dose has not brought on any side effects, and I’m hoping all that is behind me now.
This morning I dropped Julia off at the gardens and went to work for the first time in 72 days. I think it’s 72 days, anyway. It’s certainly been a long time.
The first thing I had to do was ring the boss and ask what the alarm code was because I had forgotten it. He wasn’t much better and initially gave me the wrong one. I think it may have been his PIN number. We’re both a bit rusty.
I’ll draw a veil over life in the newly re-organised shop because I’m not particularly happy with the reorganisation for a number of reasons. The main one is that it’s meant a lot of disruption and has produced nothing of benefit that I can see, either in terms of health or efficiency.
Julia is finding the same at the gardens. I will draw a similar veil over that.
Least said, soonest mended.
I just wish that the people in charge would actually think things through. It’s a bit like when we were on the farm. People mistake change for improvement. They think tidiness is the same as hygiene. And they think that if they move something they are doing something useful.
This bear has more brains than many of the managers I have suffered under. And so does the banana bread.
We went out this morning around 9.00 and found that the roads we more crowded than we would have expected. I dropped Julia off at the gardens and then went to the shop. I must admit I would rather have been working with her clearing the pond rather than sitting indoors. Fresh air seems a much better option.
We will be reopening next week with a skeleton service for eBay orders. There will only be one of us in at a time and no customers.
We will reopen to the public on 15th June but will only see people by appointment. I’m not sure I see that working as people will just turn up and expect to be let in anyway. Monday always has been a day where we supposedly had an appointment system, but people always used to drift in anyway.
Crow drinking from water butt at Wilford
Crow drinking from water butt at Wilford
Crow drinking from water butt at Wilford
We had to fill the water butts and bird baths by hose on Wednesday as it had been rather dry. Once we had topped this one up the crow came to drink, showing that water is as important as food to birds. We are close to the river but there is nowhere for most birds to drink.
Let’s face it, we used to get customers coming in before we were open and as we were walking to the door at the end of the day. Some people don’t read notices on doors, and a surprising number cannot work out that if the lights aren’t on the shop isn’t open.
It is likely we will be locking the door to control access, but I expect that will be relaxed as soon as the weather gets too hot and we need the door open. I always think the shop is cooler with the door closed, but I’m usually outvoted on this.
The shop is now redesigned so that we can only have two customers in at a time and are able to keep six feet away from them.
The back room has also been redesigned, as it’s difficult to isolate when you can’t sit six feet away from a coworker. My workstation is now in the front of the shop, in a different room from all the stock and packaging materials. There is even less room to work and I will be within a few feet of all my coworkers as they walk through the doorway between rooms.
I’m not really bothered about the lack of distance, because I’m taking a relaxed attitude to these things. I am, however, a bit annoyed about the lack of efficiency which is going to be the result of the reorganisation. Once we get back to full strength it will be tricky to keep our distance and whilst finding stationery and stock to parcel up.
Bee on Chives – Wilford
Blue skies over Mencap Gardens
Yellow flowers in need of identification
Then we did a quiz which we happened to have hanging around and I went to pick Julia up from the gardens. There are several sets of roadworks on the way (including gas mains and the Clifton Bridge works). By this time there was quite a lot of traffic on the road with queues at the roadworks. It wasn’t much different to the traffic before the lockdown.
I hope that the growing relaxation of the restrictions isn’t going to bring a second outbreak of the virus.
As we returned home, having gone by a different route to introduce some variety into our lives, we saw a life-size cut-out of Dominic Cummings tied to roadside railings. It was holding a notice that said “You are expendable, I am essential.”
It looks like this is not going away despite the Prime Minister’s attempts to ignore it.
Figs at Wilford Mencap Garden
The fig tree in the picture was given to us as part of a bundle of cuttings from a neighbour. We planted them, nurtured them and, eventually, saw them chopped off short by an idiot with a strimmer. That was what life on the farm was like. The three survivors are doing well, and this looks like it may even produce fruit this year.
I’m starting a new policy from today. I may not do it for all posts, but I’m imposing a thirty minute limit on writing a post for most of them, and this may include adding tags and photos. On the best of days tags and photos seem to take ten minutes so it may involve just writing for 20 minutes.
Photos for today are Julia posing in the front garden with a word. The word is “WE”. I’m not sure what the message will eventually spell, but this is Julia’s part of it. I would have liked to have drawn the word “EVIL” and stood next to her. My design would have to include a small stripy insect so that it could serve as a warning to gardeners about the evils of weevils. I know I keep saying this, but if I ever get round to writing that series of crime fiction I keep muttering about, I think I’ve found the title for the book that features gardeners.
As we did the photographs we also watched the neighbours from the corners of our eyes – they were holding some sort of three way conversation – two in the gardens and one on the footpath. They weren’t quite, to my eye, six feet apart, but young people are so careless.
For their part, they looked out of the corners of their eyes at the two elderly eccentrics taking pictures of a piece of paper in the front garden.
If WP continue down the slippery slope of the New Editor it may be that I only write twenty words per post, the rest of the time being devoted to struggling with technology and swearing at the computer.
Nothing much has happened apart from that. On the other hand, it’s only just coming up to 4pm. There is time yet.
I spoke to my sister by telephone this morning because we are are not technological enough to Skype or Zoom or any of that stuff. Ideally I would write, using a fountain pen and sitting at a desk in my study, but I’m too lazy to do it regularly and end up having to wash the pen before use. By the time I’ve done that I normally either forget about it or send an email instead.
Part of a lockdown message project
The letters in Julia’s photos may ring a few bells. The “W” is designed to look like a water melon and the “E” is an elephant.
The alarm just went. Four hundred words in twenty minutes. They didn’t take much thought or research so it wasn’t too hard. Time to add tags and photos.
P.S. – the shop owner rang today. We will be having a meeting on Friday to discuss the resumption of eBay work in the shop. We may hold the meeting in the open air to avoid breaking too many guidelines. However, we won’t be open to the public for a while yet.
Photos and tags didn’t take too long, so it’s all done and dusted in 30 minutes. I wonder if that will ever happen again…
P.P.S. – my contributor’s copy of Medal News arrived today with a cheque. I’m beginning to like this writing business.
I was third in at the phlebotomist, which was about the last thing that went right with the blood testing.
“Hello,” said the smiling young lady, “my name is Lucretia, and I’m a trainee phlebotomist. Is it alright if I take your blood?”
She wasn’t actually called Lucretia, but I’ve changed names to protect identities.
The whole idea of going to the hospital to be stabbed in the arm is that they are experts and only need to stab once. However, everyone has to learn so I smiled and submitted.
After being stabbed in both arms, I was passed over to a more experienced taker of blood, who nailed it in one.
And that, it would be nice to think, was where it ended.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t.
After a day of sticking stamps and scanning medallions I got a telephone call from the surgery, telling me, in a slightly panicky way, that the anticoagulant clinic required me to take a test urgently on Friday morning. I’m now booked in for a test at 8.40 tomorrow morning to see what all the fuss is about.
When I find out I’ll let you know.
I’m off to pick Julia up from work now and see how she’s survived her first full day back at work (a day in the gardens followed by an evening as a receptionist). Then I have to break the news that I won’t be able to take her to work tomorrow because I’m in for more blood tests…