It’s 7.57. On a normal day I would just be lacing my shoes up, ready to take Julia to work. But today isn’t a normal day. I was at hospital for 6.55, securing one of the few remaining parking spaces. Either there are an awful lot of visitors outside opening hours or the staff are using the visitor spaces. I think you know where my money would go if I were a betting man.
I had a twenty minute wait at Phlebotomy because they needed a chat about gloves and the faults with the label printing software. During this time I also noticed that although we have “social distancing” in p[lace for chairs in the waiting room, the chair I selected was not socially distanced from the store cupboard.
When one member of staff used it, we were around 3 feet apart. When four members of staff needed it at the same time, three of them with trollies, I became part of a milling crowd of phlebotomists. I’m going to take a guess here, but my conclusion is that the person who drew up the seating plan had never been to outpatients.
I could go on to offer some suggestions for improvements, and discuss management and leader ship, but I’m eating my breakfast with one hand and typing with the other, thinking is probably a step too far. Anyway, next door’s builders are using power tools and it’s difficult to concentrate. There’s just something about getting the simple stuff wrong that really brings out the worst in me.
8.26 now. I’ve blogged, I’ve breakfasted and I’ve just checked the work eBay sales. It’s been a quiet week. I can’t see the day being distinguished by urgency and hard work.
Next time I post I will be fully vaccinated. It’s an all action day – blood test in the right arm this morning, vaccination in the left this afternoon. How’s that for advance planning? Two arms, two needles. I’m glad I don’t have a third needle to accommodate, as it would be a tricky choice.
Today has been quite a tidy type of day. I haven’t achieved a lot but I have neatened things up a bit.
One, Julia is now fully vaccinated against Covid. It all went very smoothly, though we were caught in a traffic jam on the way back. The UK seems to be doing reasonably well in getting plenty of people vaccinated. So far she doesn’t seem to be experiencing any side effects, but we will see what happens tomorrow.
Two, the internet grocery order is in. I have just been finalising the last few bits and pieces. I made it a priority this morning, and set an alarm on my phone to make sure I was awake to make a couple of minor adjustments before the deadline. There is always something you remember at the last minute.
Three, I consulted a website about sustainable fish before ordering for this week.
They are getting through the vaccinations round here – people in their mid-50s are now being called in. In Nottinghamshire we are being given our second dates at the time of booking the first one. My sister, in Cambridgeshire, and a friend in Oxfordshire, are still waiting for their second dates weeks after the initial vaccinations.
Julia’s weekly test went in the post this morning as part of our “new normal” and we are hoping for the traditional clar result tomorrow morning. The current streamlined testing system is very impressive.
Lat night I read an article on writing that put forward a new way of looking at things. I may have mentioned that I try to take the view that more submissions will mean more acceptances. I may even have mentioned that when I was a salesman looking for one sale in ten visits, I used to look on the nine blanks as nine steps towards the next sale.
The article says that you should aim for 100 rejections a year. That way you can be more relaxed and the acceptances will follow. This is in line with my thinking, though actively seeking 100 rejections is one step beyond my current plans. As an example they describe an experiment performed with a ceramics course. Half the course were told that they would be graded on a single piece of work, which should be perfect. The other half were told they would be judged on the total weight of pottery produced. (I’m not sure if this is true or not, but it makes a good story so stick with it).
At the end of the year the group that produced the best quality pots was the group that had been told to produce quantity – they made more pots, they improved with practice and they stayed relaxed. By the end of the year they were producing better pots than he members of the group who had ben told to make one perfect pot. Members of that group were so hung up on producing one perfect piece they simply couldn’t produce to the best of their ability.
It’s certainly something to think about, though I’m not sure if I could write enough to gather 100 rejections.
I had my vaccination this evening. The nurse promised me an aching arm lasting a couple of days and flu-like symptoms lasting around 12 hours. So fa I have had a slightly achy arm, which wore off after about twenty minutes, and absolutely no other problem. It’s all very disappointing after the dire warnings. I was hoping to have something to complain about.
Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t need all the information they told me to take, and I did need information I hadn’t ben told to take. As I told one of the nurses, I had come equipped for a vaccination, not a quiz.
Apart from that it’s been the same sort of day as usual, and I managed to eat my sandwiches by 11.30 as I was so bored. Only four parcels to do. Several infuriating customer complaints which are nothing to do with us – if Indian customs hold things up (as they are doing in two cases) we are NOT going to give refunds. We have three others on the go, two where the customer simply changed their mind but it is costing us money, and one where the customer claims they did not get the parcel but the Post Office has a signature to show it was. At one time eBay would tell the customer to get lost, but last time it happened they gave the customer a refund and took the money off us. I sometimes think eBay has become a den of thieves, and that the biggest thieves are eBay. I will, however, not bore you with the details.
Do you remember me saying “At that point we will start the game of NHS Roulette to see what I actually get. ” in the last post?
Did you think at the time that I was being unduly pessimistic, or unfair on the saints who run the NHS?
Well, after picking up my phone from the shop I went to the pharmacy, queued, got to the counter, asked for my prescription and was given a bag that didn’t look like the one I was expecting.
It seems that the stuff I ordered four weeks ago hasn’t come, but I did have a bag of things I hadn’t ordered. I would have ordered them today, as they were due. Unfortunately there was one item missing from that lot too – the important one. So all in all, NHS scores zero for efficiency, yet again. It’s a wonder they don’t actually kill more people with the number of things they get wrong. I used to take the view that they did dozens of things right for every on they got wrong but at the moment it’s running about 50;50, which isn’t great odds when you are gambling with your health.
It’s possibly sorted now, after a phone call, but you can never be too sure about these things. I await the next cock-up with bated breath.
After that, I booked a vaccination appointment. That was an experience. The web address didn’t work so I used the phone number. I was number 50 in the queue and they were answering two a minute, according to the running commentary. Sometimes my hopes rose when they answered four in a minute, sometimes they fell as the number decreased by one, or even zero. Eventually, I got through, and found out why they were so slow. They needed my NHS number, and, of course, it’s not something you either memorise or keep to hand, unless the people asking you for ti have thought to tell you in the text they sent. They, of course, didn’t think of that.
Then, after ascertaining which was my nearest test centre, they told me there were no appointments there and they were waiting for more to be released, which wouldn’t be released until tomorrow. That was interesting, because until then I thought that each day had the same times as all other days – silly me. They asked if I’d like to ring back tomorrow.
Let’s see. Would I like to ring back tomorrow and spend another 25 minutes hanging on – it’s an ordinary number, not a free one, and I am of an age where 25 minutes is a significant amount of time. I settled for an appointment that is further away. Strangely, they didn’t offer me on at City Hospital, which I can see as I type. They are doing them there because one of the neighbours is going there for hers tomorrow.
It will take 30-40 minutes for them to assess me before vaccination, then I have a 15 minute wait afterwards. half an hour before the vaccination? NO wonder it’s taking so long to give them all.
Pictures are random sky shots – one being a rainbow over the Ecocentre and the other being crepuscular rays over the lake at Rufford park. That is knowledge I have gained by reading Derrick’s blog.
First, there will be a lot of teeth gritting to be done. They are drilling again next door, though it is gradually dawning on us that it might be floor sanding. It’s noisy, annoyingly irregular and travels well through the connecting wall.
Second, I have to book my vaccination. Or I assume I do. Julia has just had a text telling her she can book hers (though she has, of course, already had it). I haven’t seen a text yet but assume I will have got it too. (See below).
Three, I have to go to the shop because I left my phone there when we packed up yesterday. I was thinking of not going back for it, but if I ned to book an appointment I will have to go for it.
Long Tailed Tit – Rufford Abbey
Four, I have to pick up a prescription and put a request in for another one. At that point we will start the game of NHS Roulette to see what I actually get.
Five, fill up the car. We haven’t been going out, so we haven’t used much fuel, but it has now come to the end of the tank and the warning light is on. With not going out much we tend not to pass anywhere to refuel so it needs a special trip.
Six, then there will be more gritting of teeth as the chimney man seems to have arrived, judging by the debris now clattering down into the back garden. Drill, drill, drill, clatter, clatter, clatter…
The photos are some old shots from Rufford Abbey – I was particularly happy with the Grey Wagtail (though it’s not great quality) because I don’t see them often, and they are quite flighty. Long Tailed Tits are tricky to photograph, but at least they are common and you can keep trying.
Just when you think that life isn’t silly enough, along comes a new story. The Mencap Facebook group was pinging all afternoon yesterday. They have all been going for vaccinations. One of them nearly fainted when he saw the needle and had to have a lie down before they could vaccinate him. Another was vaccinated by a vet, who said she stayed still better than his usual clients.
Apart from that the big news of the day is that I have a new haibun out in Drifting Sands. I’m not really happy with it, as I tried a few new things and it isn’t really me. I’ve been reading the work of too many experimental and modern poets.
This is a decision helped along by a bit of counting. I noticed a writer claiming in his biographical notes, that he has had “dozens” of poems published. Well, I had ten in my previous incarnation as a poet, around 15 years ago, and according to my recent count, I can add another 24. That’s dozens. Having seen someone else use the term I now feel like it’s a bona fide milestone, and I can now relax a bit.
It only seems like yesterday my writing seemed to have stalled and I worried about nobody accepting my 13th piece. It was actually, if you add the earlier ten, my 23rd piece, so no superstition should have been attached. It was also my 24th piece because it turned out that I had miscounted. It’s amazing what you can worry about.
I’m also in Failed Haiku this month. Page 179 – a senryu and a haibun. It’s about 80% of the way through so it’s easier to start from the end if you want to scroll through looking. Originally it had a line about my debt to Larkin’s Annus Mirabilis, but the editor has left it out. I wasn’t sure where allusion ends and plagiarism begins, but I think I’m on the right side of the line, even without the line in. It’s better without the acknowledgement anyway – it’s easy to start looking pretentious if you add explanation.
Oh dear, I’m in danger of sounding like I know what I’m doing…
Editors seem to be busy at the moment. I have now had replies to all four of my January submissions. One, as you know, resulted in an acceptance, and one in a rejection with helpful editorial comments. The third is in limbo until the end of january, when the submission period ends, and the fourth has just come back with “helpful editorial comments”. I’ve put that in quotes as I am thinking of adopting it as an alternative to saying I’ve had a rejection.
I may, in future grade levels of response as “rejection”, “helpful editorial comment” and “acceptance”. This means that instead of being split equally between positive and negative results I can now claim that 66.6% of the results are positive, so call me an optimist and change my name to Pollyanna.
For any superstitious numerologists who may be reading, I admit that 66.6 might not be a good number to use. However, 66.6 isn’t actually the Number of the Beast, but 10% of it. Bearing in mind my retail background I can’t help thinking of it as the Discount of the Beast.
(Yes, before somebody corrects me, I do realise that other commentators believe the number is actually 616, but I’m traditional in matters of theology and superstition.)
In line with my new positive outlook I won’t even tell you what the situation is with the car. Let’s just say it’s hard to find anything upbeat or cheerful to say.
Some good news is that Julia has been given a projected vaccination date – early February. By March she should be reasonably well protected against COVID. This will be good. Meanwhile, I will stay at home, unvaccinated, and enjoy my holiday, which is also good.
I had a lazy day today, to rest after my hard day packing parcels yesterday. Did I really work six days a week at one time? Or even five? I feel like a friend of mine who,,years ago, detailed his activities shortly after retiring and said plaintively “It’s a good thing I’m retired, or I’d never be able to fit it all in.”
He had, of course, made two cardinal errors – said “yes” when asked to go on a committee and allowed his wife to get involved with planning his day. Wives are wonderful things, but they are, unfortunately, not to be trusted with a man’s time. That’s why I intend having a shed or workshop when I retire. Ideally a shed with a moat and drawbridge. That way I will be able to call my time my own and find things even years after putting them down.
I’m actually thinking of making that my First Rule of Lethargy – an object which is at rest will stay at rest unless it is acted on by a wife, or the kettle is out of reach.
This is the first proper saturday I’ve had off for a while,a nd I was able to devote the middle portion of my day to watching Sharpe and the bits at either end to eating. Murder She Wrote served to fil lthat awkward afternoon gap. We are now about to eat vegetable stew and watch some quiz programmes.
I see on the news that Donald Trump is threatening to start a new social media platform and that the Queen and prince Philip have both had their Covid vaccinations. That’s nice to know, as we really need a new social media platform, and it brings my vaccination date nearer.
To be honest, neither really affects me as much as the fact that we are nearing the end of the Christmas biscuits and are likely to be reduced to eating Digestives by then end of the week. It’s just that I am sometimess eixzed by the need to write for posterity.
I dropped Julia off at work this morning and, as the day was briefly sunny, came back the long way round. This proved to be a good decision as it enabled me too avoid a terrible tailback and look smug. The two things were not unconnected.
The weather is forecast to be significantly less good for the rest of the day. Hopefully my luck will continue to be good.
I knocked out 350 words about volunteering on my return home, as it’s something I’ve been thinking about and there had been an item on the radio this morning. Unfortunately, despite writing and rewriting (the likely word count was probably at least double the 350 that resulted) I still wasn’t happy with them.
It took so long I was nearly late for my blood test.
Fortunately they were running late so I had time to make an appointment for the flu vaccination clinic. Between 8.00 and 9.00 on a Saturday morning is not the optimal time because it’s our relaxed breakfast morning, with Julia buying fruit from the market and starting work at 11.30. However, I want the jab so I accepted the time.
The luck was clearly starting to leak out of the day.
It took three shots to find a vein today, but it doesn’t really hurt and we had a good laugh about it. Well what else are you going to do, complain to a woman armed with a needle?
I was definitely feeling less lucky, and slightly more leaky by that time when she said:
“Would you like a flu vaccination while you’re here?”
Save a trip to the surgery and have time for a leisurely breakfast – yes I would.
I had to have a different nurse for that. It seems that when you are on Warfarin you need a specially qualified nurse to give you an injection.
You can, it seems, prod me with needles as much as you like, open veins at will and extract blood by the bucketful – that’s OK. But load up with flu vaccine and stick it in a muscle and you need special training.
I had special training in hospital to inject myself with anticoagulants. That took five minutes.
The NHS is a wondrous place.
At that point I had to admit that my luck was improving, as I was vaccinated and had saved time.
After that I called at the parcel office. An irritating family got there just before me and clogged the system up a bit, with two noisy daughters guarding the door while the scrawny father and amply proportioned matriarch blocked the enquiry window. They seemed more than normally concerned by a note they had been sent, telling them pick a parcel up from the office. As they were already in possession of an armful of packages I don’t know why one more was significant.
It was, she thought, a scam facilitated by the theft of her phone on holiday. I don’t know if it was stolen or not, if she always speaks so much drivel it had probably thrown itself off a cliff.
I’m not sure what sort of scam involves sending the victim a parcel. Possibly one where you post a parcel full of burglars, but I don’t think that’s worked since the Fall of Troy.
Back home I noted a Small White fluttering round the front garden, then a Red Admiral, then a second Red Admiral. By the time I had the camera in action I noticed a massive spider sitting in a web, waiting…
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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In the end I took pictures of the spider, as it was the most unusual thing. The White flew off, and as I focused on the first Red Admiral they both became skittish and refused to settle.
In the end I think it’s just a female Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus), and not at all rare. It is, in spider terms, quite big, and I will sleep easier tonight knowing I have something that size guarding my garden.
As I sat down to write this they came back so I went out again.
They flew off as I stalked the first one.
If I spot them again I’m taking a rolled up newspaper and a bottle of glue. That should sort out the skittishness.
And finally – they came back!
Red Admiral – at last!
No Red Admirals were harmed in the taking of these pictures. Honestly – no glue needed!