Today was a day for packing parcels and listing foreign banknotes on eBay. also rang for a blood test appointment. There were queues of 12, 18 and 9. I didn’t fancy any of them but eventually, at about 2pm, decided that I would have to join the queue of twelve. It took me 31 minutes to get through. Thirty one minutes of appalling twangy music. The time was incidental to the mental anguish of the music. Every so often a dopey male voice came on the line to tell me I was “now in position . . .” and a female voice then added a number. It’s all very strange but at least they have removed the bit where they say my call is important to them.
Fortunately there were no customers and no phone calls in that time. I say “fortunately” but customers are really the point of having a shop . . .
I have a blood test appointment for 8.45 on Wednesday, which will give me plenty of time to help Julia with the list of errands that need doing. I’m looking forward to my “day off”.
I’ll tell you one thing that has really suffered during my recent illnesses – fluency. I used to be able to sit down and rattle off 250 words without thinking. They just came into my head. They weren’t all coherent, or spelt correctly, or even grammatical at times, but they were there. Now I struggle to find 150.
Even now, after over an hour of trying (not, I admit, continuous effort) I’m only just creeping up to 250, my self imposed lower limit.
And now I’ve done it, I’m going to bed. See you tomorrow.
Julia saw an iridescent cloud today. I didn’t even know they existed. She sees better things than I do.
I forgot to tell you something a few weeks ago. When we went to the Yorkshire Coast on our day trip we saw a lot of valerian growing (Centranthus ruber). The red and white forms were happily growing next to each other. When I looked up the Latin name I found that the white one is also Centranthus ruber, despite being white, though they do sometimes call it C. alba and Red Valerian (White form). It’s all very confusing. I was surprised to see them growing next to each other and staying red and white, after my experience with alyssum I was half expecting that they would just cross- breed to become light pink. They don’t. When you have white and blue alyssum in the garden a lot of it comes up white with blue edges next year. Or it did with us. Then it dies. All our remaining alyssum is pure white again. I wonder if I am young enough to start learning more about plants?
Having spent most of the day listing gum cards of 1970s footballers, I have learned a lot more about 1970s footballers than I intended, including the splendidly named Len Badger. Those were the days when footballers had simple names – Len, Ron and Harry being among the favourites. One of the cards features a fresh-faced youth called Harry Redknapp. I know he’ll be completely unknown to anyone outside the UK, but I thought I’d mention it as I get to use the link to Eastenders.
It has been one of my most soul-destroying adys ever in the shop. No customers, a few phone calls and the grind of listing and photographing and editing the photos of around 100 gum cards. It’s not like proper work, and I’ve had much harder days, but I’ve rarely had a day which made me question my career choices so harshly. Still, you have to count your blessings. I sat down most of the day in reach of a kettle and there were no flies or manure involved. I’ve had worse days.
We started the day with parking spaces, which is unusual for a Saturday. I packed the parcels while the owner sorted the Large Trade Order (LTO). I have decided that as it will be with us for a while it justifies its own set of initials. “Pack the Parcel” sounds like a party game doesn’t it? My life is one long round of hobbies and party games. I may use that as a title for a post one day.
Elvis on a silver dollar – note the coin design underneath and the Elvis Presley Enterprises copyright notice. He is till a big earner in death.
We had no customers booked in but several rang or just turned up and we ended up with a reasonably busy day. I also had a big telephone order to pack, a couple of late eBay orders and some things to post on eBay. I finished off and loaded several things I’d prepared during the week and started on another – a drop-down menu with 38 items. A lot of photographs. Oh, and there was a listing that needed alteration, and coins which had been put in the medallion cupboard (which meant they took a bit of finding). When you have three people, thirteen hundred items on eBay, limited space and a lot of other stock, things do go adrift.
We sold this a few months ago, and sold the bronze version yesterday.
We have passed words on this several times recently. My personal gripe is that three months ago I knew where everything was but the boss decided to have a tidy and things are now in different boxes or different cupboards, and it makes tracking them down very time-consuming. Yes, they are usually moved due to a logical reason, but that doesn’t really help. It’s like cupboard stacking. I stack cupboards so that I can see what is there and get to it with minimal fuss. When you have arthritis you tend to want ease of access.
He stacks cupboards like a 3-D jigsaw puzzle s that half of it has to be removed to get access and then put back in exactly the right way. It looks nice and it’s an efficient use of space. Unfortunately it misses the point of stock control, which is, to me, about knowing where things are and being able to get to them easily.
London School Attendance Medals 1890s
Nine times out of ten, we go to the right box and find the item. But if we don’t, I am always reminded of the words “time is money”. This is often the trigger for a rant, but today I am going to smile and pas on the chance. Anyway, it’s not my money, so why should I worry? I’m doing my best and being thwarted by someone squandering his own cash. Not my problem. Stock control is not one of those subjects that tends to crop up in poetry or creative writing classes. May be I should start, it can go with my funicular and Martin van Buren poems.
I now have another poem in mind and need to do that, so will close this and post.
A woman rang today and asked if we bought unusual American coins. I passed her on to the proprietor, as he has a wide-ranging knowledge of American coins. It turns out she had found a rare Buffalo nickel (1913 San Francisco Mint – I’m hazy on the rest of the detail as I wasn’t listening). The Buffalo Nickel is a lovely coin, and if I were American I am sure they would be a pleasure to collect.
This was unusual because “rare” coins usually aren’t rare.
Earlier in the week we bought some coins off a man. He brought two small lots in- one bag of coins from his wife and one from him. He told us his wife was making him sell the coins he had inherited from his mother when she died last year. They came to £17.50. The wife’s coins only came to £5. So he signed the form and went off with his money. Six hours later we had a phone call from the wife telling us he shouldn’t have sold hers. He had to sell his but she wanted to keep hers. Then she told me she wanted hers back. That was, off course, a problem, as we had already sorted the lot into various other places.
She told me they were worth a lot more than £5. I couldn’t help it, I just laughed. It was the end of a long day (in fact it was 15 minutes after closing time and we were just parcelling up a couple of late orders) and I really couldn’t be bothered. They coins were rubbish, her internet search was misleading and her grading, as usual, bore no resemblance to the reality of the condition of the coins.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, we sorted out a selection of coins that resembled the ones she had and the boss, worn down by her whining, just gave them to her to get rid of her, and to reinforce the idea they were virtually worthless.
It’s her husband I feel sorry for, he had to get rid of his but she keeps hers. (He’s a little older than me, by the way). His must be quite a cheerless existence.
You see all sorts in a coin shop . . .
In other news, my blood test was OK this morning, though I still have to go in next week. I really must start applying pressure about less testing.
Wednesday produced some brilliant service from the NHS, who sorted a problem out in five minutes and had my delivery with me inside 24 hours. If I were a curmudgeonly sort I would point out that if they had done their job right in the first place three weeks ago there would have been no problem. However, it is the system that is at fault and an individual who sorted it out, so credit where it’s due.
Then tonight the warning light came back on in the car. Did I tell you about that? Ys, I checked and I see I did. So far that Engine Management System has failed to flag up a single problem but it has cost me hundreds of pounds for replacing a faulty valve and several trips to the garage to get lights reset. It’s the next step in consumerism – first we had planned obsolescence, then we had vacuum cleaners that need replacement filters all the time instead of a new bag every few years, and now we have systems in cars that need repairing even though there is no actual fault with the car. This is either brilliant or very annoying, depending on your point of view. To me, it feels like Volkswagen are picking my pocket on a regular basis. Technology does not seem to be good for me.
And that’s before I get on to the story about how I had to open a HP account to use my own scanner on my own computer. I couldn’t work round it by downloading a fix from Microsoft as they don’t recognise my account details. I answered a lot of stupid questions to try to retrieve the account and they told me I hadn’t answered enough. A big sort out is coming and the machines are going to come off second best when I raise the New Luddite standard. Thirty minutes messing about just to scan something for Julia, when in the old days, before the “new and improved” system, I could have done it in ninety seconds.
Things are not going well. I had a bad day on Thursday, aching in all my joints. Eventually I had to give in and give myself a good dose of painkillers before bed. Yes, including ibuprofen. It worked. I had a good night’s sleep, a complete run of five and a half hours without waking, and when I did wake I was pain free and felt years younger. Meanwhile my co-worker said he also felt undefinably ill that day. I put it down to something in the air. Then on Friday we found the boss, who had been doing paperwork and having a day off, on Thursday, had also felt ill on Thursday. On Friday he was still ill, and developed a harrowing dry cough, one of the classic covid symptoms. His wife made him take a lateral flow test on Thursday night and he was clear, but it was still a worry. I took a test on Friday night and was OK. The boss’s wife made him do a proper test (I forget the name) on Friday night and they sent it off.
As a result, with my co-worker away on Saturday and the boss being made to self-isolate by his mask-wearing wife, there was just me in today.
I had the door locked and did the eBay parcels. There were six of them, an advance on previous days. Then a customer arrived and I let him in. While he was in a family (grandparents and grandson) arrived. That took some time, but the lad is just starting out and needed some advice. I see advice for young collectors as an important thing so took my time over that.
By the time I had the shop to myself again more items had sold on eBay and several auctions had finished. I’d been told I could go at 1.00, but ended up going just after 3.00. It was still an early finish, but it’s surprising how a day’s work can expand, particularly now that all the foreign parcels need customs labels – thanks to leaving the EU. It’s one of the hidden costs. We spend a couple of hours a week doing them, I suppose. Not a huge figure, but 2 hours a wee is 100 hours, which is two weeks. Somebody has to pay fro that two weeks. I don’t remember seeing that written on the side of a bus…
It was also hot and stuffy as we have no air-conditioning and can’t hav ethe doors open when there is just one of us in the shop.
Hopefully, all the covid stuff is just a groundless worry, but watch this space.
My new health regime, which consists mainly of going to bed at a sensible time and turning down offers of a second slice of cake, have paid off – I’m already feeling a lot better than I was at the start of the week.
Today turned out to be another busy day. The sales promotion has not only brought a surge in sales but an avalanche of enquiries – many of which are time consuming and lead nowhere. However, like many things, you have to sift through to find the nuggets and as one of the queries led to a £275 sale, it was worth the sifting.
Nothing else of note happened during the day. I watched a little TV, snoozed and ate stir-fried vegetables for tea. I’ve also been going through magazines of Readly. I’ve managed a bird watching magazine, two writing magazines, the TLS and an art magazine tonight. Not bad for a monthly subscription that is the equivalent of buying two magazines. OK, so I only browsed the last two as I wasn’t feeling very intellectual, but it’s still good value.
If anyone is doing ab thesis on the life of an average middle-aged man in the early 21st century – this is it. This what I spent 60 years training for – a life of quiet mediocrity and vegetables. I always wanted to be rich and famous and eat steak…
I had an article sent to my email about the cherry trees in Washington DC – very interesting. I like cherry trees. My Mum and Dad had several and when Julia’s Mum died the village planted a cherry tree in memory of her contribution to the local community., so they have always ben part of my life. Of course, now that I write poetry in Japanese forms I am virtually obliged to write about them.
I seem to be deficient in cherry blossom pictures, so you will have to make do with apple blossom.
I’ve just had a quick look at eBay, and today doesn’t look like it’s going to be too busy. We certainly won’t be having any customers in the shop (that’s still two weeks away) but we may get phone calls. The one’s I really marvel at are the ones that say “I was just checking to see if you were open.”. It’s as if a year of lockdown ha passed by them without making any impression. Either that or they see a coin shop as an essential service.
They assume that because we are in the shop we are open, which, in a sense, we are. It’s like (as if you can’t tell from the title) we are in the position of Schröedinger’s cat, being both alive and dead at the same time. We are clearly open because I am answering calls on the business number, and am actually sitting in the shop. But we are closed to the public (a) because we don’t want to be responsible for transmitting the virus and (b) because breaching the rules can lead to a fine of up to £10,000. As a dealer in London was recently fine £8,000 for selling a £5 medal to someone who entered his shop uninvited while he was doing admin, it’s not a risk I want to take.
Tyhe long, narrow shop.
I’m expecting a lot of activity when w do actually open. We are already taking bookings, and have a few in the book for 12th April week. People don’t like planning too far ahead, so there will be more appointments made in the next week or two and there will be a lot of people who ignore the sign and website and come in without an appointment.
The shop is long and narrow and, with three sets of customers in, is soon crowded.
Just to think, a year ago a crowded shop was considered a good thing. Now it’s considered a health risk.
We’ll do the palindrome first. Sadly for all my American readers the 20th November isn’t a palindrome, so I’m afraid you are going to feel let down and lied to. However, I suppose you’ve become used to that over the years. I know that I have, and it looks like it will get worse. I was listening to some sort of academic on the news tonight and he said that the confidence rating in the UK Government had been at 75% until the Cummings Affair, after which it dropped drastically and continued to slide to around 30%.
However, I digress. Today, I enjoyed writing 20.11.20 on the slips with the parcels, all thirteen of them. I have sent parcels to Spain (2), Canada, Australia and Japan. I even sent one to Scotland and one to the 19th Century. Or Somerset, as it is known to the Royal Mail.
Several parcels had multiple items, and several of the items had, whilst waiting to be sold, managed to move around and had the be flushed out of cover.
Someone rang in with a telephone order just after lunch (as previously arranged by email) and things became a little trickier due to an equipment failure. It seems that if you leave a card terminal dormant long enough you have to reset it. We haven’t used for two weeks in lockdown, so, of course, it refused the payment and it took me twenty minutes to sort out before ringing the customer back to complete the sale.
The Minor Disaster relates to the ancient computer. It has been slowly crumbling and slowing down, and it is now making terrible grinding noises. On top of that it only works for ten to fifteen minutes before locking up and taking half an hour to close down.
I am now £379 poorer and will be picking up the new computer tomorrow night. There will be advantages, of course, like being able to use photographs again, but I will be having a few moments alone with my wallet to remember the cash and shed a few tears.
I’m using the netbook at the moment, and will struggle on for a few days. After all, it’s not like I’m just going to plug it in and start. It’s never that easy…
For years Julia has been asking me not to put tin lids into the washing up bowl, and I have been replying that the chances of cutting yourself are (a) very small and (b) even smaller than that unless you are a complete idiot.
We had our latest round of conversation on the topic only last week, as part of a larger conversation about dangerous things she conceals in the washing up water.
After that I suppose it was inevitable that I should stick my hand in the washing up bowl last night and catch myself on the lid of the bean can I had removed at lunchtime. The wound in my finger eventually stopped bleeding, but started again when I caught it on the edge of a box of pills whilst trying to get my Warfarin out. Yes, Warfarin, the pills that allow me to bleed more freely.
There are several levels of irony here, and possibly a whiff of kharma.
By the time I got to work today we were be in lockdown. I had checked the ebay results and knew that I was going to work after dropping Julia off, as I already had six parcels to pack. The doors were locked and the lights were off and nobody tried the door, which was a relief as I wasn’t in the mood for telling people to bugger off . Well, I was, but not in a polite and professional manner.
One person rang to see if £20 notes with the AK47 prefix was worth anything to us. They aren’t. Collectors don’t want the and the novelty prefix market never really developed, despite the reports of the tabloids.
Someone rang with a”rare” Peter rabbit 50p. He wasn’t surprised to find that it wasn’t.
One person rang to see if £20 notes with the AK47 prefix was worth anything to us. judging from the accent it was the same person or a close relative checking to see if I’d changed my mind.
Then somebody rang to see if we were open. There had to be one…
I am not convinced that this lockdown is going to be as effective as the last one. People aren’t treating it as seriously, and small businesses can’t afford another month of being closed, particularly this close to Christmas.
I watched the title very carefully as I typed it this time, and typed slowly and smoothly so as not to frighten it. So far so good, there was no jumping and no loss of letters. It’s a shame that WP can’t provide me with a decent system in exchange for my annual fees, but at least I know it’s possible to cope with the problem by creeping up on it. I hope that more software providers don’t start using ambush activated systems as it is a little wearing.
Now all I need to do is work out a system for making the media run properly again. Perhaps something steam powered might improve things.
There was only one overnight order, which was quickly wrapped, and I went on to listing banknotes.
Julia rang. It’s often bad news when she rings, and I always worry when I see her caller ID. It wasn’t too bad this time, she had found the two Parker fountain pens I lost last week – they were in the pocket of one of my dirty shirts. That was good news. I’m always misplacing them and I miss them when I don’t have them.
Half an hour after that the post arrived with my new Parker fountain pen in it. It’s bright orange, inexpensive and has an attachment to let me fill it from bottles of ink instead of using cartridges.
Twenty minutes later, after getting it working, I addressed an envelope with it for an order that had arrived by post. That was the last I saw of the top. I searched the desk, the areas where it could have fallen off and my pockets. Nothing. Not a glimpse of the bright orange top. I searched creases in my clothes, the floor (carefully) and the stationery drawers. Nothing.
I endured laughter, ribaldry and ridicule from the owner and the few customers who came in, but I came no closer to finding the top.
This was quite annoying.
I worked, thought, backtracked and considered a prayer to St Anthony. I’m agnostic, to say the least, but there’s nothing like adversity for producing feelings of religion.
Finally, I employed the Sherlock Holmes method – “When you have eliminated all which is impossible then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
Having eliminated the impossible (alien abduction, telekinesis and a passing pen top thief) I was left with the improbable thought that when I had thrown the litter away after packing the order I must have been holding the pen top and dropped it in the bin.
It’s improbable, it’s incredible, and it’s embarrassing, because there it was, shining bright orange in the bottom of the bin.
It’s been my first senior moment for a while.
My Orange Parker Pen
Did I mention they were Parker pens? I just though it worth mentioning in case anyone from the Parker Pen Company was looking for a reviewer, a tester or just someone to generally send free stuff to. You never know…