I am feeling particularly cheerful today and decided it called for another list. It won’t run to 10 points, but I’ll try to keep it going as long as possible.
One, I have a wife. She’s still with me after 30 years. I don’t know how, or why, she puts up with me.
Two, I have a sister who worries about my health and sends me face masks by post.
Three, the kids have grown up and become reasonable human beings. I actually quite like them, which wasn’t always the case when they were teenagers. You have to love them, because it’s what parents do. And you have to feed them because that’s the law. But liking them is a bonus.
Four, Number Two Son, currently still in Canada, rang Julia today to say he’d seen a Cardinal and it was the best bird he’d ever seen. Nice to know he has grown up with a proper set of values.
Five, we have enough food. This wasn’t the case a few months ago, when panic-buying was in full swing. I thought of this because I used the last of the pre-cooked rice I’d bought in case things got worse.
Six, after the Mexican style fried rice I made (which was better than it sounds) we had apple crumble using apples from the Mencap garden.
Seven, we had ice cream with the crumble, which was delicious after a hot, stuffy day.
I could get to eight, but seven seem OK, and scans better in the title, so I’m going to call it a day.
The photos are from an old camera card I rediscovered recently.
The garden needs a lot of tidying, and some new fencing, but as you can see from the photos, the patio is looking good. This is due to Julia’s hard work. So, blessings one and two – a colourful patio display and an apple tree with 14 apples on it.We will have to wait for the June drop to see how things develop.
Blessing Number Three – Julia still doesn’t realise she married an idiot. I am doing my best to hide this from her, though I think it is slowly dawning on her that after 30 years I have shown no signs of improvement.
I have a job. I may not have enjoyed it much this morning when I went back to work but it pays the bills and, more importantly. over the last couple of months it allowed me to be furloughed. If I had still be self-employed the last few months would have been a lot harder. I am slightly ashamed of myself for not sticking with self-employment but accepting that job offer two years ago has proved to be a smart move.
I still have my health. It may seem, as I grumble and gripe, and throw down handfuls of pills, that I am not the healthiest of people. This is true, but I’m a lot better off than many of the people I chat to in various waiting rooms. However, most, if not all, my health problems are caused by my complete disregard for diet and exercise, so I have only myself to blame.
That’s five reasons to be cheerful, which is quite enough optimism for one day.
Pictures are from the garden on the day we had afternoon tea.
Even after knowing each other for 40 years Julia still has the capacity to surprise me.
She knitted a teddy bear yesterday. This was a surprise, as she has not knitted for years. Crochet embroidery and felting, yes, but no knitting. OK, it’s not a great surprise , but I#m building up to the big one.
Today she went out for some fresh air and came back with fish and chips. This was a surprise as I didn’t know the chip shop had reopened. Nor did I realise we were going to have something nice for tea, when I’d been expecting another meal of vegetables. It’s not the freedom I’m missing during lockdown, but the variety of food we used to eat. You have to queue outside and order from the open door.
It’s our first take-away since the disastrous KFC. That’s nearly six weeks ago. In normal times I would probably have used KFC and Just Eat several times, so I’m happy to report they have lost some business over the mess. ASDA will be losing some too. In these days, when customer service means nothing, and people never get back to you about complaints, this seems to be the best you can do to.
When you used to have to write in with complaints they used to take things more seriously. Now that they do it all by email it’s easier but also easier to write an anodyne and meaningless reply.
I think I may write another complaint and see if anything happens.
Meanwhile, here are some pictures of chips from happier times.
Well, it looks like I’m not quite back in the groove, as I wrote this last night and then forgot to post it.
Ah well, if it’s a bit confusing try adjusting it by 24 hours.
Looks like it’s five days since I last posted. Sorry about that – I have plenty of things to write about, loads of photos and plenty of typing fingers (even if I don’t actually use nine of them) so there’s no excuse.
It’s a bit like being trapped in a chocolate factory – so much choice I just can’t get to grips with it.
However, I do have a plan. I’m going to start by writing a short paragraph about not writing posts and I’ll see where that takes me. In fact I just did that.
Now for Part II.
The day started, as so often, when Julia’s alarm clock went off early. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but she has a problem with setting alarms. For some reason her alarms always seem to go off ten minutes early, which is why the alarm went off at 4.50am. I’m beginning to suspect she does it deliberately.
Having had a poor night (two trips to the bathroom during the early hours) I muttered my suspicions about her setting of the clock and went back to sleep for another 20 minutes, where I dreamed of urology. I’m going to have to put myself in their hands again I fear, and have mixed feelings on the subject. Actually, that’s not quite true. I have feelings on the matter but they aren’t particularly mixed.
I dropped her off at 6am and went to pick Number 2 son from work. There were nine pied wagtails in the car park, all seeming to find food. There was also a woman wearing a sheepskin jacket and pyjama trousers, which was strange. It reminded me of a scene out of Dawn Patrol (if I recall correctly) where David Niven goes out on patrol in his pyjamas and returns to the squadron, still wearing them, after being shot down.
Next, off to the launderette. I was the only one in there and took advantage of that by using the big machine and doing the hot wash with pre-wash. It takes over an hour but Julia is always complaining the short wash doesn’t do things properly. She may be right, but the truth is that you normally have to rush it to get a drier.
Today I only just got a drier, as the place suddenly filled with people just as my machine finished. It would have been annoying to have missed out.
Julia had slipped a rainproof top into the washing. It was dirty and had plastic tape on the seams. It is now clean and, after the tumble drier, no longer has plastic tape to worry about. It probably isn’t waterproof now either. We will no doubt be discussing it further.
While I was waiting I made notes, planned a menu for the week, wrote a shopping list and read a book on Vikings. I bought it for 50p yesterday whilst shopping at Sainsbury’s – there were some good books on the charity table yesterday.
Then I nipped along to the cafe for a bacon and black pudding cob with brown sauce and a nice big mug of tea.
The diet, in case you were wondering, could be going better.
This took me up to 10.30 am. That’s probably enough excitement for one post.
You may well be familiar with the concept of matter and antimatter. Or you may not. If you are, you don’t need me to explain it again. If you aren’t, I suggest that you consult Wikipedia or Dr Who, which is where most of my scientific knowledge comes from.
All I know is that when the two meet, the consequences are not good.
Clutter and anticlutter are slightly different. When the two meet there is no mystery of quantum physics or annihilation. There is merely a sigh, an old-fashioned look and a patient explanation.
You see, clutter is the undesirable accumulation of a husband. Anticlutter is the vital stock of craft supplies belonging to his wife. Things like paper straws, cardboard oddments and the fleeces of Jacobs sheep are essentials. Ordnance Survey maps from the 1950s, military cap badges and comic postcards are mere detritus.
When the two meet anticlutter survives, or even expands: only the clutter is annihilated. And possibly the husband, if he objects.
Julia, with her normal concern for my moral welfare, has decided that today is going to be spent in a flurry of activity. This, it seems, will prevent me getting into mischief and will ensure that we have an excellent family Christmas.
It involves shopping, buying things we don’t need, and arguing.
What it doesn’t involve, I’m told, is stocking up with beer so that, with the assistance of my brother-in-law, I may construct a masterly essay on brewing and beer tasting. That’s a loss to the world of literature, and if Julia takes her place in history alongside the person from Porlock she has only herself to blame.
The shops will be closed for one day. We will have a special meal. We will do a lot of sitting round eating, talking and complaining about the poor quality of TV. This pretty much describes every Sunday of my youth. Things have moved on since then but have we really lost the knack of sitting round talking about nothing and eating roast meat?
The shops used to close on Sundays, TV only had a couple of channels and we had a roast dinner – the phrase “Sunday dinner” was invented specifically to describe this.
We never had to fight people in the aisles of the supermarket or buy enough food for a week just to see us through until Monday.
I’m not going to resist, as I won’t win. As you go about your pre-Christmas tasks just spare a thought for a poor man being swept along on a tide of Christmas preparations, being elbowed by pensioners as he competes, under the orders of his wife, for the last few nobby greens.
At least my moral welfare will be impeccable, my soul will be stainless, and, after a generous portion of high-fibre brassicas, my bowels will be gleaming.
Just one trip to the other side of town to take Julia to work has given me more than enough subjects to fill a blog for a week.
One is obviously the morality of taking the car to work when we have a good bus service in Nottingham, and trams that run close to where she wants to be.
Two is the fact that she had four bags with her. Two contain things she is removing from the house. One is phone, sandwiches and such. The fourth is stationery and gym gear. Would she take four bags if she had to use the bus? Discuss.
Three – why do women need a bag to carry the things that go in my pockets? Even in summer I can manage, with a jacket in winter I have a pocket surplus.
Four – decluttering.
Five – decluttering, with special reference to the two bags she has removed today. One only arrived yesterday, the other last Saturday, so my view is that they represent clutter rather than declutter, particularly as most of the Saturday stuff is still here.
Six – the theory of two steps forward and one step back, and how it applies to our decluttering policy.
Seven – differential decluttering. Her stuff is essential (I am told) but mine is fit for the skip.
Eight – do I need treatment for my obsession with clutter?
Nine – design of roads, junctions, traffic lights, bus lanes, cycle lanes and such stuff.
Ten, with reference to Nine, is all this done to make driving so hard we use buses?
Eleven – what is actually in the bus drivers’ test – bullying, cutting corners, pulling off at short notice, providing cyclists with near death experiences? (This question was asked early in the journey, but asked again as I tried to change lanes with a bus bearing down on me.)
Twelve – should I have bought one of those flats by Trent Bridge when I first moved to Nottingham?
Thirteen – would we have had a family if we had a flat there?
Fourteen – if we had a flat, and a family, and had moved, would we have less clutter?
Fifteen – am I obsessed with clutter?
Sixteen – if I had realised that you only had to do five years in the French Foreign Legion would this have altered my attitude towards parenthood?
That covers the journey to work and the first few hundred yards of the journey back. For the second part, which is just as interesting as the first, please call back in a later.
Sorry to mention female underwear, but it seems to have been a feature of this week.
First my sister raised the subject.
She also raised the subject of my comments on Mum’s soup. Just to clarify matters – she was a good cook, and cooked a wide variety of what were seen as adventurous food in the 1970s. Her soup also tasted good. It was just that it didn’t look good.
Anyway, back to brassieres. It seems that they can be quite important to women in Africa, because women with underwear are not only more comfortable but are seen as more likely to have male family members, which frees them from the threat of attack.
You’d think they had enough problems with war, famine and bad water.
There are several charities shipping underwear to Africa, which can include “gently worn” bras. This is one of them.
I have all this on the authority of my sister – please don’t think I sit here thinking about underwear.
It became more of a feature when Julia asked me if I could pick up some bras while I was shopping. Being a well-trained husband I said I would. After all, how difficult can it be?
When is was in my early 20s I once went into Marks & Spencers to buy an underslip as a present. I’m still scarred by the memory. I mean, first you feel like you’re being regarded as a pervert. Then you go snow blind at the amount of nylon. There is only so much underwear you can see before you start staring around in panic. I was helped out by one of the assistants. It was probably not the first time she’d had to help out.
However, I’m older and wiser now, and more a man of the world. I had the size written on a piece of paper, I have done lots of laundry, there was nothing that could go wrong.
Well, apart from some women staring at me like I shouldn’t be there. I confess I panicked.
Next week I will give Julia a lift to the shop and she will buy her own.
Yes, I know many of you will thinking of this clip.
I was wakened around 5am by the sound of rain, at which point my bladder became rather more active than I was and forced me reluctantly from my bed. A little later, around 6am, I was roused by a small, sharp elbow and the question: “What time do you think it is?”
The answer did not seem to meet with her approval.
“There’s no need to use language like that. If I could see the clock I wouldn’t need to ask you.”
I really don’t think she needed to ask me anyway. That’s why I set the alarm on the phone. If it isn’t sounding, you don’t need to know.
At 6.45 it was much the same again, a huge sigh followed by: “I might as well get up now, I can’t get back to sleep because of the rain.”
I indicated that I too was suffering from a broken sleep, though I had no intention of showing myself to a grey, wet morning before the alarm went off.
By 7.45 we were in a queue on the ring road (there are always queues when it rains – I’ve never quite worked out why) , and shortly after 8.00 we were at the garden. Julia had not been able to clear up the glass on Thursday as the Scenes of Crime Officer had not finished until it was time for her to go to her evening shift at the Leisure Centre.
We hadn’t been able to get access on Friday before she had to go to the other site and she has been busy since then. Nobody, not even the Monday Group, who were there all day yesterday (as the name suggests), has bothered to offer a hand with the cleaning up.
While she went to find the caretaker for the keys (he has fitted a new set of door handles for her) I was sent to ASDA for cleaning equipment. They have a special offer on – dustpan, brush, squeegee, washing up brush, scrubbing brush and sponge for £4, compared to £3 just for the dustpan and brush. The fact that I feel the need to report this indicates that I am turning into my father, who often came back from shopping with a “bargain” whether he needed it or not.
I did a bit more shopping on the way round (there were some good offers on) and rolled up to the cash register to find that my debit card wouldn’t work. I only had £10 in my pocket so stuck to the cleaning equipment and stationery. (It worked fine when I used the ATM on leaving the shop, so despite the implications of the lady on the till, I did have enough funds to cover a £17 bill).
We had to break the remaining glass, which was more difficult than it sounds. Glass never breaks when you want it to. I gave it a sharp tap with the edge of a hand gardening fork, because I just wanted to break the remaining half pane in two. It was a good plan, but glass rarely cooperates. Instead, it bounced the fork back at me, coming perilously close to hitting me in the face.
So I tried again. Harder. With predictably perilous results.
Obviously I’m not going to be bested by half a pane of glass, so I tried a trowel next. A good hard tap from the trowel, which wasn’t as springy as the fork, produced a result. Well it did if you define result as “explosion of glass splinters”.
With hindsight I should have allowed for the extra rigidity and not hit it so hard. Or had Julia standing there with a bag to catch the bits. In my own defence I would point out that I had asked for tape to put on the glass to hold it together, like the blast tape on WW2 windows. Unfortunately we didn’t have any tape.
Anyway, all the broken glass is cleared and swept away. This is fortunate because it’s still raining and they will be wanting the container today.
Acanthus, or Bear’s Breeches. No, I don’t know why.
It’s still raining now.
However, as a Dyno-Rod van is working down the street I can confidently say that someone is having a worse day than me.
The foot still hurts, but I’m feeling a lot more cheerful and I’m actually starting to think again, even though it’s only a couple of hours from my last post. Julia says I’m also looking pink again after several days of looking grey.
While I was in the surgery this afternoon, despite having a book in my pocket, I just didn’t have the energy to read it. This is much more of an indicator of my wellbeing than a temperature measurement, because, as we saw earlier, I didn’t actually notice I had a temperature.
I’ve been missing my photography recently so I’ve decided to post a few of my favourite photos.
The featured image is one of the mice off a wheatsheaf loaf. I always liked making them, both the loaves and the mice. It’s actually very simple, though I never did get the knack of drying them out properly, so they had a tendency to curl up and go mouldy.
Little and Large!
I couldn’t do without a picture of the Odd Couple. I haven’t been able to visit for a few weeks now, but I’ll be going as soon as I can walk.
Nuthatch at Rufford Abbey
I like Nuthatches, and we had a good day at Rufford on this particular day. In fact we’ve never had a better day photographing birds in the woods at Rufford. However, I live in hope.
Julia at Clumber Park
There are other subjects for photography apart from birds, wives for instance. This is a particularly fine example, and I would probably have starved to death if she hadn’t been here to look after me over the last few weeks.
I forget the name of this one, but it’s quite impressive.
I’m going to miss the garden this year, it was so easy to pop out when the sun shone. Our own garden needs a bit of work after being ignored for years.
Right place, right time
I may have to enhance the rainbow, but it’s still a favourite shot of mine.