Tag Archives: weather

British Citizenship – a Few Suggestions

I just did British Citizenship Test Number 4. Fortunately I passed. I did, however, get two of the 24 questions wrong. I thought you had to be 21 to become an MP. I should have known as, as soon as I pressed the button, I remembered getting it wrong before. It’s 18. A good age for it, as teenagers know everything there is to know. Much better than getting an old person to do it. Personally I’d just roll dice, as I expect it would be just as successful as a way of running the country.

What interest rate should we have? Roll the dice. Budget for health, defence, education? Roll the dice. Prime Minister this week? Toss a coin.

Then I was told I had got the question about Scottish banknotes wrong. I hadn’t. The citizenship Test needs to rephrase the question, or alter the answer. If you define “valid” as “legal tender” (and what other sort of validity could they mean?) Scottish banknotes aren’t valid in England, but most people accept them. It’s a matter of courtesy rather than a matter of law. Scottish banknotes aren’t actually valid in Scotland either, if you check. Nor are Bank of England notes – they just don’t have  a law on it, but they seem to get by without it.

The rest of it was OK, but I followed up with doing more questions and am quite surprised by how important it is that people applying for British Citizenship know about the Tudor and Stuart monarchs, including the difference between Mary I and Mary Queen of Scots, whereas most people who are born in the UK think they were the same person.

I’d say that if you want to become a British Citizen it’s more important that you know about queuing, driving on the correct side of the road and  the right way to talk about the weather. All the history stuff can be picked up from watching quiz programmes.

The medallion is the one I mentioned a few days ago. It set me thinking about the Citizenship tests. Time flies – I just realised that “a few days ago” wa actually ten days ago.

harrow Council Citizenship medallion.

 

Day 90

It snowed this morning. The first snow of the year, and only the second lot of the winter. It lasted a minute. The rest of the day was taken up with a mixture of sunshine and precipitation – rain, hail, snow, sleet and graupel. It was the sort of day that a snow connoisseur would love, so many types, falling long enough to show itself off, but failing to settle.

If I say that was the exciting part of the day, you will probably get the general idea that the rest of the day generated little worth writing about. We didn’t have  a single customer enter the shop to buy or sell, and when we started, only had one customer on eBay. That developed during the day  and we sold several more items and had a number of emails asking question.

The Prize Question of the day was “Will you take £1,000 for this?” It was a modern set of silver medallions and is priced at £2,995. We thanked the offeree and said we were unable to accept his offer. I checked online but can’t find any trace of National Wind Up a Coin Dealer Day or International Stupid Question Week.

They say there’s no such thing as a stupid question, but I disagree.

Narcissi

Spring in the Mencap Garden

Another customer, from Brazil, has been pestering us about postage costs to Brazil. He wants us to post him something at les than it will cost us to post and keeps telling us that he buys a lot of coins from British dealers with that sort of postage. It’s been going on for several days with him sending us screenshots of people who charge less postage to Brazil than we do. At least half our parcels to Brazil end up with claims that they were lost, or with Brazilian customs sending them back for unknown reasons, so we aren’t that bothered if he doesn’t buy the coin.

That was one of the first lessons I learnt in selling, apart from the ones about honesty and punctuality, some business just isn’t worth having, so move on. It seems counter-intuitive, but it’s true.

Daffodils at the Mencap Gardens

 

Day 70

That’s bad. I wrote this nine hours ago, the had groceries delivered, cooked, had tea, napped, watched Tv, got writing, forgot about the blog and then fell asleep in front of the screen. So this is hours into Day 71. Ah well, I do my best. I will now load the pictures and go to bed. Header picture is a mid-19th century Russian Rouble made into a brooch. The other photos are the other side of the brooch (it’s in a spinner mount) and the Maundy money.

Seems like it should be a milestone. Also seems like a lot of the year has gone already.

Rouble

I woke up on a pleasant sunny Spring day and am currently sitting in the dining room typing as the wind buffets the back windows and cold rain patters fitfully against the windows. We are going to have pizza and soup for tea, but are waiting until ASDA delivers the groceries. An earlier delivery means we will be able to relax after the delivery, but also stops us having tea early.

We just had a knock on the door but it turned out to be  a false alarm as it was a cold-caller trying to sell us energy.  He was, to be honest, a very cold caller, due to the wind and rain, but it served him right for disturbing our evening.

Monogram on back

Spin it round and it’s at the front

At work we had a few parcels to do and managed to do a couple of extra deals via eBay by judicious use of email and discount.

We also bought a couple of lots of stuff in, and despite th4 owner’s great efforts, we have piles of stuff all over the place – stacked on counters, out on display and in piles behind the counter. Some of it has already appeared on eBay and I’m hoping it will sell. It is in the realm of “he had fun collecting it”, which is dealer shorthand for “it has no value”.

Amongst other things I packaged up a lovely maundy set (given out at Ely Cathedral in 1987  That’s where my stained glass pictures come from. Then I put a lovely coin brooch on eBay.

Maundy money obverse . . .

 . . . and reverse (they are too shiny to photograph well)

Day 52

Still plenty of wind and rain. It was still breezy this evening, though it all seems to have gone quiet now. This evening I returned home in daylight rather than the normal winter murk and felt, at last, that we were leaving winter and coming into spring. In a few weeks we will be putting the clocks forward and  drop back into winter. It always happens – just as I am getting used to the time again, they alter it and I will spend another three months unable to judge the time by the sun.

I did well at Mastermind tonight and beat all the contestants in the general knowledge round. This, of course, is easy to do when you are sitting at home relaxed. In font of a TV camera I would probably freeze and make myself look like an idiot in front of millions of people. I then fell asleep and made up for lat night’s poor sleep. It’s becoming a cycle. Sleep badly, sleep in the evening, fail to sleep at night, sleep in front of TV. It’s not  good for me and it does little for either my conversation or my writing.

eBay was playing up today. We were unable to send an invoice to someone who was buying multiple lots and then it refused to0 upload photographs. It’s at times like these when you realise how much you rely on the internet. I tried all the normal fixes (variations on switching off then switching on again) but nothing helped. I’m hoping that the situation has improved by the time we start again tomorrow.

And that sums the day up – covid news, WW3 and the storm damage all passed me by, and I wrote about my poor internet connection. Life in the 21st Century.

I slept until close to midnight, posted this about 20 minutes after midnight and re-used a photo from last week. This is not how I saw blogging when I started off all those years ago.

Day 49

If I finish this in the next 15 minutes I will get a note from WP congratulating me on 13  successive days of posting. I’m not sure what business it is of theirs, or why they think a condescending pat on the head contributes anything good to my WP experience.

What would contribute to the experience is an editing system that worked as well as the old, non-improved version, an an absence of improvements that cause more problems than they are worth.

It was a quiet day at work, apart from the wind. Storm Eunice, having arrived in the night and blown a few things about, blew a bit more about in the afternoon, then made a comeback in the evening but as far as we are concerned has not been a great nuisance.

The fastest gust recorded was 122 mph,  the fastest round here was 68, so you can see how much of it we escaped. When I lived out in the Fens we often had winter gusts stronger than that – you could actually see telegraph poles bending in the wind when it got going. Of course, that was in the days when we didn’t have “amber weather warnings” and the internet.

This film is quite impressive, but apart from that I’m not sure that the internet is a great benefit in times like this. I just need to know the weather is bad – I don’t need up to the minute coverage.

Looks like I’m going to sneak in and post before midnight, though it always surprises me how long it takes to finish up. At least I don’t need a title!

I hope that everyone reading this has escaped too much disruption from the storm, I’m always grateful when the wind drops as I tend to worry more as I get older.

An Unsummery Start to the Day

It’s approaching 8.00am and I would normally be leaving the house, but today being a day off, I am typing. I waved my car off at 7.05, as the garage collected it and I now have a day to type and worry about the size of the car bill. I’m hungry but I can’t cook yet as Julia is having a lie in and if I cook the smell will make her want to get up and come down for breakfast. All in all, it’s a messy start to the day.

I’m very tempted by the idea of baked eggs, but I find they work best if kept simple, and as I also fancy the idea of bacon I’m in two minds about what to do.

The prospect through my writing window, is grey. If you told me this was March or November, I would believe you. Apart from the temperature, which is chilly but not actually cold, things are definitely unsummery. That should be a word – meaning disappointingly unlike summer, but not quite bad enough to put a jacket on.  “Typical English summer” is often used in this context, meaning that it’s a disappointingly dull period where sunburn is a distant prospect, even for a nation of people who are inclined to expose too much blue/white flesh to the elements. The average English sunbather isn’t so much protected by sun oil as basted. There’s something about sunbathing Brits that always makes me think of pork crackling.

Note I am referring mainly to the English here, the Scots, according to popular belief, are even more delicate in matters of sun, and the Welsh exist in a semi-permanent miasma of mist and rain.

This, by the way, is my default setting. Leave any chimpanzee alone with a word-processor and they will eventually write Hamlet (or so they say). Leave the English alone with a keyboard and the topic soon turns to the weather . . .

Less Hectic Than Saturday…

It was a better day today. Last night’s test was negative, Julia’s regular test was negative and the boss, though wan and drawn, was (a) negative and (b) recovering.

His wife rang for a test on Friday night as he was exhibiting all the symptoms. They filled in the forms and were then told them were no available testing slots. His wife, being a forceful woman, got in the car, drove down to the local testing station and found the staff all sitting round with nobody to test. This is mainly how it is (I drive past several times a week and rarely see anyone there). It doesn’t fill you with confidence.

Anyway, his test result came back negative.

The temperature was slightly lower today, which is good for a man who spends his day in a room with no windows. It’s badly insulated and has a flat roof so it’s cold in winter, hot in summer, noisy when it rains and generally dull. However, conditions were passable. I would complain about working conditions but that might invite comparisons between me and the ideal shop assistant. I fail to measure up in a number of ways, including telling customers i know nothing about coins and don’t see any need to change, as I retire in three years. I feel honesty is important, and it also means less work for me. Customers come in and ask for mark or Eddie, but they rarely ask for me. It’s a bit like DIY and other jobs once you are married – mess it up the first time and you never get asked again.

Wednesday Morning and Procrastination is in Full Swing

On Wednesdays, our day off, I traditionally get up earlier than Julia and go downstairs with thoughts of making her breakfast. This thought never gets past the computer, as  I can never resist using a bit of quiet time to write.

Today I sat down, checked emails, read and commented on a number of other posts and settled down to write this. They last ninety minutes seems to have gone in a blur and has covered polio, books, A A Milne, a famous England cricketer in the shower, academic redundancies, several poems, an article on whether Covid has killed our ability to socialise and an anecdote about bird feeding. Plus a few  bits and pieces as I replied to comments on my own blog.

Though I always feel bad about not reading other blogs properly, I do find that time only stretches so far. I may have to stop watching so much TV. Quiz programmes are probably good as a way of keeping my brain active, but they do tend to blur into cookery (which isn’t so mind enhancing) and popular culture (which I am sure reduces my ability to think).

A Robin singing in the fog

The sky outside my window is what Julia refers to as a “Simpson’s Sky” – bright blue with lots of cloud-shaped white clouds. If you have watched the cartoon you will know what I mean.  They don’t have cirrus in The Simpsons.

This sort of sky, when accompanied by a lot of movement in the shrubbery and tree tops, and by temperatures cold enough to require heating in the house, is a clear indicator that it is one of those “brisk” spring days, rather than a day for picnics. However, as it’s considerably better than a  a day with grey clouds and drizzle, I will accept it and allow it to raise my spirits.

Wow! I just noticed that it’s 11.00. Julia has made breakfast and I have been reading more blogs. I must get a grip on time.

I’ve been to Crowland, seeing it through the eyes of a visitor. I have written about Crowland several times. Four times, I think. My blogging life was about more than lockdown, bacon sandwiches and arthritis at one time. But time, as thy say, is a great wrecker.

Crowland Abbey

 

 

Lightening Bolts, Books and Bragging

Grocery day today. We had two phone calls, each giving us an updated delivery time (by “updated” I mean “later” of course).

Meanwhile, It is cold and wet and windy. The only good thing about the weather is that it isn’t as windy as yesterday and that there was only one clap of thunder. It was clearly trying out all sorts of things and decided that a thunderstorm was surplus to requirements.

I received a book through the post yesterday – Getting Published in UK Poetry Magazines by Robin Houghton. It cost £6 fo a 34 page pamphlet of information I already had, There were a couple of snippets I didn’t know, but much of he information is available online. The main thing I got was a lesson in checking how big something is before ordering it. It won’t break me, and if it encourages a fellow poet I suppose it’s worth the money.

One thing I did notice was mention of  humblebragging. It was not only a new word, but a new concept. It seems similar to name-dropping.The author seems very much against it, but doesn’t really explain it that well. I had to look it up. I may have appeared to be guilty of this in the past but I assure you, I don’t mean to.

When I say I fear being uncovered as a fraud who got lucky I am telling the truth. It’s gradually sinking in that I am probably OK as a writer, as I’m getting regular acceptances and editors talk to me these days. Well, some of them do. However, I do still worry that one day it will all come to an end.

And, to end (with a masterful humblebrag) my target of 100 rejections has moved further away as I had two acceptances yesterday.I will now look suitably modest and sidle away as the smug alarm starts to sound…

 

 

A Tour Around the Internet

February has a habit of catching me out. Spring starts to drop hints, the birds begin to act amorously and then it snows. Even in years that are generally free of snow February often manages to squeeze out a few flakes. As I’ve said before, it probably wouldn’t be considered snow in many countries that get proper snow, but in the UK a couple of inches for a couple of days brings us to a halt.

It’s a bit like those summer heatwaves we have – we don’t get one every year and they only last a couple of days. We all complain and need a lie down in temperatures that would be considered mild in Australia.

As a result, we have few snowploughs and no domestic air conditioning.

However, that doesn’t stop me complaining that it’s unseasonably nippy this morning. Nor does it stop me becoming a stereotype, British and talking about the weather. Whatever next? I’ll be on to Europe, immigration and capital punishment next.

Talking of which, I’ve just been looking at Albania on Wikipedia. I find that it is a member of two organisations I had not previously heard of – the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and Union for the Mediterranean. I didn’t even realise it was on the Black Sea. And when I check it up, it isn’t. Quite a few of the members aren’t on the Black Sea, and when you check the “Observer Members” the link becomes even more tenuous – they include Egypt and Israel (which must make for some fun meetings), France, Poland, Tunisia and the United States.

It’s much the same with the Union for the Mediterranean, but the entire EU is in that one – even Ireland, which it’s notably lacking in olive groves and sparkling blue seas. It seems, from reading the Wiki entry, that this is not a particularly effective organisation. One meeting ground to a halt when nobody could agree whether to refer to certain territories as  “occupied” or “under occupation”.  Such is life as an international diplomat.

It’s a good thing I don’t blog about politics or I might be tempted into sarcasm.

There is, it seems, tension between the EU and some of the less progressive states over Human Rights. This led me to checking which countries still executed homosexuals, and then to checking where the UK stood on this.   We last executed men for homosexual activity in 1835. Times and sensibilities were different then, but it was a surprise to find it was so recent.

So there you are, a discussion on the weather followed by world politics and capital punishment for something which isn’t actually a crime in the UK. Only on the internet…