I’m watching TV and typing again, as I did last night. It means I can talk to Julia, watch TV, blog and save money on heating. And they say men can’t multi-task…
We were busy in the shop today with a combination of eBay and retail customers. We also loaded quite a lot of medallions onto eBay. However, though busy, it wasn’t the sort of day that provided much in the way of interest or insight.
Watching TV all evening has had a similar result, passing before my eyes and leaving no mark. I’ve laughed a few times, but learnt nothing and not been provoked into any thought other than “TV is really rubbish tonight.” I would like to report something more profound, but that’s as good as it gets.
Julia outdid herself tonight, producing a roast dinner as I slept in front of the fire with a quiz on TV. This is not really how I imagine the home life of a poet. I can’t imagine Byron or Wordsworth, or even Larkin or Carol Ann Duffy, snoozing in front of the TV. Well, maybe Larkin…
I might have to change my artistic ambitions away from poetry and move towards art. That way I can tell people that I’m installation art, and the snoring is meant ironically. The gravy on my shirt will also be incorporated into the work, as will a regular supply of tea, which will then become tax-deductible. If I’m going to be able to claim for tea I can probably pay a butler to serve it. It seems to have worked for Jack Vettriano.
We had the standard soup using the bag of ready chopped veg and followed it up with a ham sandwich made using rye and sprouted grains. It was healthy and filling, though I will be adding a few stewed apples later just to top up.
I’m now blogging and watching Mastermind. I’m a bit slow tonight. I’ve often thought of applying for a TV quiz but never get round to it. This is partly because I’m lazy, but mainly because I doubt that my armchair brilliance would be repeated once I got to the studio.
It has now changed to Only Connect, as I am doing all sorts of things, apart from writing (in case you were thinking I was being slow. I’m not a great fan of the show as I don’t generally do well. However, it’s good mental exercise.
And even as I write that it ends and University Challenge starts. It’s a real quizzing fest tonight and I’m only getting away with it because Julia is distracted. Normally she puts her foot down and won’t let me watch three quizzes in a row. It’s a good night if I answer more than two or three questions. I’ve already answered three out of four, which is one more than the students. Could be a good night – sometimes I can watch a whole episode without even understanding a question. I’m now on six from eight. Things are looking up…
They are on chemistry questions now. I don’t even know what they are talking about.
Anyway, you don’t want a running commentary on me watching TV.
I just answered a chemistry question and am now doing badly at poetry. Just goes to show you never can tell.
I’m not honestly sure I have much to add. I went into two supermarkets today as I needed some specific things before we go into lockdown. In TESCO there were three staff without masks and the spotty teenager working as a greeter kept pulling down his mask to talk to people. At Sainsbury’s the greeter didn’t even have a mask. Two staff on the tills had no mask, a manager was working with her mask pulled down under her chin and the four teenagers at the Argos counter were clustered together chatting with no masks.
You may have noticed I didn’t post last night, though with so much activity on WP you probably didn’t notice. If you did notice, it’s possible that you remembered I posted recently on cutting back on my WP writing and thought, “Aha! He’s cutting back on his WP writing, just like he said he would.”
Of course, if you are one of the die-hard cynics that seem to congregate here, you may have thought “I bet he left it late then fell asleep in front of the TV”.
This goes to prove that, cynical as you may be, you aren’t incorrect.
I can’t remember what I was watching when I fell asleep, but by the time I woke up the TV had switched itself off. As the schedule seems to be full of rubbish, this was probably a good thing. In fact, considering the amount of rubbish on TV, it probably committed suicide out of shame.
We are still decluttering and more bags of books are on their way to the car. I emailed Oxfam to see about taking books in, and was told that I had to email the nearest shop to find out what the local policy was. They did offer to do it for me if necessary, but it seems an inefficient way of doing things.
Bumblebee on Teasel
At the moment, having been given room to think, we have offered the books to one of Julia’s volunteers who does jumble sales and is currently running a local library service.
If you’ve ever read Inside the Nudge Unit you may recognise my behaviour – looks like I’m a case study from the Behavioural Insights Team.
In summary, if you want people to things for you, you make it easier, or less easy not to do. Governments do this by streamlining forms and by adding a reminder that most people pay their taxes on time. If you don’t want people to do things (like cancelling standing orders) you just add an extra step and that serves to put a lot of people off.
Julia is on the phone to one of her needier clients. Again, I cannot describe the conversation due to issues of confidentiality, but it is circular. And long. And, as it is on something modern like an app or a zoom, it is loud and intrusive too. She might be working from home but technically this is a day off for me, even if I am treating it as a work day. Obviously in this context “work” is an expression of hope rather than fact.
I have researched a number of magazines as recipients for the articles I wish to write. I have read several of the magazines more deeply than necessary and I have made a list of possible articles. My plan is at the stage known as “getting there”. In other words it is a rag-bag of elements which don’t amount to much.
It is more of an intention or an outline. Time for some more work, but this time I will do it in front of the TV whilst watching Pointless. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Ironically that’s a very dull saying. Equally ironically, I haven’t done much work.
Having watched Pointless and failed in a few rounds – notably the modern music and the football questions – I meant to get back to work. Instead, I watched Eggheads. It is one of the dullest quizzes around, but we had tea and biscuits and I can never resist temptation to sit and drink tea, with or without biscuits. As a late lunch we had corn on the cob (Julia went out for a walk and, as usual, nipped into a shop to buy something. She can’t break the habit. Today she bought corn on the cob.)
I am quite hungry now and have just put the vegetables into the oven to roast. Carrots, parsnips, leeks and potatoes. I will put sprouts in when I put the pasties in. It’s a meal we have nearly every week but I never get fed up of it. Apart from being year round comfort food, it’s healthy and easy to make.
It’s been eleven hours since I started “work” and I have not managed to complete anything yet, apart from some TV viewing and three blog posts.
As I started this one I noticed my total was 2,000 which means I missed the chance to write a post about reaching my 2,000th post. I may have to plough on to 2,020 before marking the occasion.
I’m now going to put the pasties in and about 25 minutes after that will make the gravy. It’s only made with gravy granules, so is nothing exciting. Then I had better get the shopping ordered. I only have until midnight and it can be a slow process. I also get distracted easily.
I have already done the shopping list relating to the spice kits – we will be having linguine with prawns and rocket. I’m not sure why, because we make that anyway.
We are also having Iranian Vegetable Stew, which apparently takes its inspiration from Persia and North Africa. This tends to suggest it isn’t really Iranian or a proper recipe, just some vegetables to soak up some spices they wanted to get rid of. Pardon my cynicism. I keep meaning to give ras-el-hanout a try, so this is my chance.
Finally we will be having nasi goreng. I’ve wanted to try it since I read about it as a teenager reading my dad’s Somerset Maugham books. It’s typical that I’ve always steered clear of cooking it in case it didn’t live up to my expectations. Next week will be an interesting time.
I will try to take photographs before I eat everything.
I have just been watching an hysterical woman on a TV phone in, following closely on from a smug ex-politician and pictures of crowds out drinking in London at the weekend. I think the world would be better without either of them but as I don’t have the power of life and death vested in me, I merely switch the TV off. It’s not quite as satisfactory as the thought of obliterating them with a thunderbolt, but it’s better than listening to them.
The subject is, of course, the reopening of the pubs, which took place on Saturday. According the news reports there would be ID checks on the doors in Nottingham pubs to ensure that nobody from Leicester ignored the local Leicester lockdown and travelled out of town to drink.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that this increased socialising will result in a second peak but there are also many good reasons for the reopening. There will, as usual, have been a calculation of acceptable losses by the Government.
Socialising, mental health, possible riots and the cost of lockdown are all factors in the calculation. They will have been compared to the cost of drunken rampages, police overtime and the deaths of several thousand people.
Cost to the brewing industry versus death of grandparents. For most people that would be a tough choice, but for a politician, with votes, political donations and the possibility of a non-executive directorship, it becomes much simpler.
It’s unlikely that I’ll be doing much socialising until after I’ve been vaccinated against coronavirus. I don’t go out much anyway, so another twelve months of living quietly won’t kill me.
I really don’t want to end up as a number in the history books of 2020.
For a more cheerful look at Monday, try the second post of the day.
I rose a little earlier than usual this morning, which is part of my new plan. It is necessary, after weeks of casual slacking, to return to the world. Rising earlier will help me get more work done, and if I get up fifteen minutes earlier each day I won’t notice the gradual change. By the time I go back to work I will be rising with the lark and facing the day with fortitude. Not that we have a lot of larks in Nottingham, in the morning or, indeed, at any time of the day.
As I descended, ready for the day, the post arrived. I now have a new supply of bran for the bokashi bucket. We are producing a lot more vegetable waste these days as a result of healthy eating. As we gradually work our way through the carrots I am also peeling more – there’s something very unappetising about the skin of an aging carrot.
I will be finalising our shopping list later in the day, and carrots won’t be on it.
The second parcel contained masks. I’ve only bought ten, but I thought I’d get a few just in case. Government advice is still that we don’t need them, but this might change and it’s easier to wear a proper mask than make one from a handkerchief and two rubber bands.
In the evening, acting on Tootlepedal’s advice, I watched some improving TV. First I watched a painting programme, which would have been useful if I had any talent for painting. Then I did the washing up while Julia watched an Andy Warhol exhibition at the The Modern. We then sat down for two programmes about Philip Larkin. He was an interesting though slightly repellent character, but I knew that. The first programme was by someone who had known him and was quite interesting. The second was by someone who had trained as an actor before becoming an academic. That one was interesting because it showed how an academic can build a media career.
Just after midnight I checked in with TESCO, which has no delivery or collection, and ASDA, which did have a collection slot. I did some ordering then had a look at the list for our Thursday collection. It’s hard doing the shopping by remote control.
On Monday I packed parcels, as usual, then returned home for lunch. We ate what could best be called a fusion lunch (corned beef hash and pasta bake) to empty the fridge and set off on holiday.
By this time my left hand, the one with the arthritic little finger, started to feel distinctly more arthritic.
We drove through Lincolnshire, reached Norfolk and stopped for coffee at at a roadside McDonald’s. It was there that we had a phone call from Julia’s brother to tell us that the government was banning all unnecessary travel and that hotels were to be closed to act as hospitals.
We made a phone call of our own, to establish that the Travelodge was still open. It was. Listening to the radio we established that the situation was advisory, rather than a Draconian clampdown (which would come later).
We decided that as we were most of the way there the rest of our journey fell into the “necessary” category.
By evening my hand was very swollen and all the fingers were impersonating bananas. I did wonder about getting my wedding ring cut off at one point, but it didn’t quite get bad enough. I had to have it done once after injuring my finger playing rugby with the kids and it’s a simple enough procedure if you know someone with the right tool. The only problem is cutting through the hallmarks, which is a nuisance but doesn’t really affect it in wear once you weld it back again.
We had quite a good time over the next few days, with chips at Aldeburgh, a family meal at Beefeater and Afternoon Tea at the Hatfield Hotel in Lowestoft. Unfortunately I can’t get the photos off the card, so that’s three Scone Chronicles you won’t be getting. The chips on the beach were great, the family meal was excellent and the afternoon tea had the best sandwiches I’ve had so far in the series. It also had sausage roll, a cheese straw, a cheese scone, onion chutney, a fruit scone and a lot of cake. In fact, we needed a doggy bag.
Aldeburgh and Southwold were busy. People are fleeing from London and living in their second homes. They obviously think that the fresh air will preserve them from illness.
The Scallop at Aldeburgh – Julia adding colour and a sense of purpose
On the final day (which was last Thursday, and technically makes this Nine Days I Wouldn’t Want Again) we stopped at the TESCO opposite the Travelodge. Julia offered to pop in for bread and milk while I sat in the car – she is a jewel amongst wives. She reported long queues, empty selves and bad-humoured queuing. There were lines to stand behind and a ban on cash – all the shops are using the crisis to make another attempt at driving cash out of use.
On the way back we stopped at a Garden Centre to meet my sister. In contrast to TESCO it was a good-natured place with full shelves and only about a dozen customers in the place. We had tea and cake and remarked that it really needed a tumbleweeed to add the final touch.
Social distancing had needed three days to take hold, but seemed to be working.
Of course, the Government was on its way to another panic by then…
If I kept a proper diary I’d be able to argue my case with the doctor more convincingly. I’m able to put most of the story together, but it lacks a little precision. With a diary I could supply more precise details and make a stronger case.
As it is, I’m left with a nagging fear that it really is me who has forgotten something important.
We used to have a local criminal in this area known as the Flat Cap Robber. As the report says, he was so ordinary they ended up investigating 1,600 suspects reported by the public. One of the people who was named as a suspect was a local market trader.
He wasn’t the most popular man on the market, and the general opinion was that someone had reported him to get their own back for a bad deal.
He was able to prove his innocence by reference to his diary, which was news to everyone as we didn’t know he could write, much less that he had an inner life of any sort.
This gave me two lessons – one that people, no matter how they appear, are more than just the surface that they show. The other is that there are benefits to keeping a diary. Despite that I still haven’t started one. Diaries may be good, but procrastination is easier. And, as we have seen over the years, I am a world class procrastinator but only a moderate diarist.
I just looked up diaries, out of interest. I’m surprised there aren’t more from earlier times, as it’s the sort of thing you’s expect Greeks and Romans and Egyptians to get involved with. The first known work which looks like a diary is by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius who wrote in the late 2nd Century AD. There’s a gap from there until the 9th or 10th centuries when the Japanese and some Arabic writers wrote diary-like books.
Eventually, of course, we come to Samuel Pepys, the king of the diarists. Despite his fame I don’t know much about him apart from him being something to do with the Navy, being inappropriate with his servants and burying his Parmesan to save it from the Great Fire of London. This strikes me as an excellent idea for Parmesan though I’m not actually sure that burning would harm Parmesan. It’s dreadful stuff and it can’t just be me who thinks it smells of vomit.
This is all I’ve written today as Julia made me move books this morning, then I shopped as she did laundry. After this we had a late lunch of crumpets, watched Murder She Wrote and ate tea as we watched Strictly Come Dancing, His Dark Materials and, as I write, The War of the Worlds.
Tea was potato wedges with garlic seasoning, roasted carrots with cumin, broccoli and pies from the freezer section – mushroom and Camembert. It’s fish pie tomorrow, because I didn’t feel like standing in a freezing kitchen making a fish pie today.
The pies were quite tasty, though the filling was ungenerous and they both stuck in the foil trays, which didn’t help with presentation. The garlic seasoning worked well, the carrots were good but the broccoli charred a bit. I really should have put it in later than I did, but that would have meant missing the dance-off.
Today, December 1st, is the first day of meteorological winter. One down, ninety to go. Number Two Son says it’s snowing where he is. As he’s in Toronto I’m not surprised. I just hope he has a good coat and waterproof boots.
Cannon for a Human Cannon Ball
The pictures show an interesting building in Lincolnshire last week and a cannon for a Human Cannon Ball. We stopped for a photo but I didn’t enquire about the cannon because we have nowhere to park it.
Sorry, I’ve been neglecting my reading quite shamefully over the last few months. I do feel bad about it, and will try to visit everyone over the next week or two.
I’m also sorry that I’ve been neglecting the blog and have become very ill-disciplined about it. I will try to do better. The truth is that with winter approaching and a few decent things on TV, I have been watching more TV and doing less writing than I should be doing. I also thought that I ought to spend some time with Julia as I’ve been neglecting her too. I’m not sure she appreciates this – she mostly tells me off for talking instead of watching the TV.
It’s true, I do talk a lot whilst watching TV, but if I didn’t how would I communicate my views that politicians are idiots and most of the writers of TV programmes aren’t smart enough to be politicians?
I’d have to bottle it up and that would cause stress. That would be a bad thing because stress is a killer.
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, and go to the grave with the song still in them.” as Thoreau is often, inaccurately, said to have said. Be that as it may, I prefer the inaccurate quote. I may go to the grave with a song still in me, but I won’t be going to the grave with any unsaid criticisms of politicians or scriptwriters.
As for the pressing matters of the day – my camera is wearing out, my computer at work (despite the presence of things my home computer lacks) has no card reader, my car insurance company is trying to raise my premium by 25% from an already overpriced base (and using weasel words to do it, despite their bulldog logo) and it’s Julia’s birthday next week and I haven’t a clue what to buy her.
Even if I did, I would still have the problem of a Christmas present. I hate this time of year. I’m tempted to wrap up my car insurance policy and tell her I’ve bought her a year’s worth of taxi service, but as I already provide that she probably won’t think much of it as a present.
As a further apology, sorry this is a short post but I’m off to watch Lord Sugar abuse another bunch of idiots on The Apprentice.
This confirms all I’ve ever thought about Sugar, the honours system, Karen Brady, reality TV and the sort of idiots who go on reality TV.
They are a complete bunch of something Julia would tell me off for saying if I wrote it here.
Tomorrow’s Breakfast – Overnight Oats
Julia has been very organised today and has already make overnight oats for breakfast. Because it’s going to be near freezing overnight and cold porridge, straight from the fridge, is just what you need on a winter morning.
I would try the slow cooker, but last time I tried cooking as we slept I woke up in a panic, thinking the house was on fire.
We went out today, did some errands, went to see Dad, ate pasties, had loads of great photo opportunities (autumn leaves, steelwork, cranes and a concrete pump, red kites and a great sunset) and really regretted leaving the camera at home. It’s almost a universal law that the day you leave the camera at home you get the best photo ops.
That’s why I’m going to throw yet another random photo into the post.
I won two games of dominoes this afternoon. My Dad also won two and he’s 90 and more than slightly confused. He spent a lot of his life being competitive and skilful with numbers and these seem to be two key values that he has retained despite the challenges. It sets my two victories in perspective, because I really was trying.
Julia won two games too, despite not playing to win and my sister won one game despite actively trying to lose. All in all I have to face the possibility I’m not very good at dominoes.
I enjoyed my relaxed night so much last night that I tried it again. Hence the quick post. Wednesday nights have been TV nights recently because it’s The Apprentice, followed by Taskmaster. We’ve started watching The Circle too, so now we’ll have to watch a repeat of Taskmaster later in the week.
I’m not particularly proud of my TV viewing, but it could have been worse. Julia has spent all night swearing at an origami book and throwing screwed up paper on the floor. I take it that the paper folding is not going well.
She’s generally very good at origami, but new additions to her repertoire are often a bit of a struggle. I have learnt several new words from her failed attempts…
1994 22 carat gold 50p
Gold 50p 1994 D-Day
Gold 50p 1994 D-Day
Photos are the Gold 50p coin we had a few weeks ago – it commemorates the 50th Anniversary of D-Day. It’s strange we are now celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the 50p coin. How fast does time go?