Tag Archives: work

Drifting Thoughts

Work went well yesterday and by 2.00 I had the parcels packed and in the post. I walked back into the shop thinking that my next move should be to ring Julia and tell her that I would be able to pick her up. This is always a problem on Friday as she finishes a bit earlier than normal and it can be a bit difficult.

As I got back to the computer I realised that we had a new order. It was for one gum card (Alma Cogan from the A&BC Who-Z-At Star Series, 1961). That’s easy enough – compliments slip, into a holdr (we have some left over from a stamp collection we bought) , into a board backed envelope, first class stamp and address.

While I was doing that another order came in – banknote. Same again. Easy to find and simple to pack.

Then another came in. He wanted fifty different items. I haven’t a clue where half of them are…

So Julia didn’t get a lift home last night and I worked late. However, as I’m currently being paid for my full  week for working one day, I can’t really complain if I have to work a bit longer.

It’s amazing how quickly I adjust. When I started full time work at the age of 16 we used to do five nine hour days, then I moved to doing six eight hour days. We had two weeks holiday in those days. Am I sounding old and crusty?

Now I do  six hour days and have four weeks holiday. I work Saturdays but have Sundays and Wednesdays off (the latter being my choice so I get a day off when Julia does). It’s not hard. In fact I’d like to do longer days, as it hardly seems worth it to go in for six hours.  The strange thing is that I still feel tired by the end of the week. It’s not just an age thing, because I know someone a lot younger than me who has similar hours and he complains about how onerous his working life is.

I think we’ve just got softer as a nation. At the risk of sounding like one of the Four Yorkshiremen, there are people who are just ten years younger than me who think they are badly done to as they work 35 hours and week and have  a month off, plus Bank Holidays. For the sake of my American readers, who are probably reading this with an expression of disbelief, here is how the rest of the world does it. Even Kazakhstan and South Sudan have better holiday provision than you do.

Work, gum cards, holidays, snowflakes – amazing where a blog can take you.

A Little Knowledge is a Puzzling Thing

First day back at work after Christmas today. Whatever kills me, it’s unlikely to be overwork or stress. I now have a week off, thanks to Covid. A whole week, and nothing immediately comes to mind – I have three haibun to refine for a competition by the end of the month and that’s it. The rest of the year looks comparatively easy.

I’m setting myself some targets to make sure I don’t drift off into idleness but that won’t take me all week.

One project is printing copies of my published submissions as I like to put them in a folder so I can leaf through them on the days when my confidence needs a boost. I have got a bit behind with this and need to catch up. The main problem is that the existing folder is lost. It will be somewhere lurking in plain sight, but I just can’t find it at the moment. For the moment I’m going to start a new folder and transfer them when I find the original.

Another is trying to memorise the capitals of American states, because they often come up on quiz shows. So far it’s not going well. Apart from the difficulties of an aging brain, how did Americans come to select so many unknown towns as capitals? Some of them are world famous and others are completely unknown. You’ think that being selected as the state capital would guarantee a place would become well known.

I then looked up the county towns of England, and found I don’t know as much about my own country as I thought I did, including the development of county names. THe county towns of Somerset and Wiltshire, for instance, were Somerton and Wilton. I’ve never heard of Somerton, and only know of Wilton because of the carpets.

As  a result of all this new knowledge I now find myself  thinking “Nebraska” every time I see the word “Lincoln”. I’ve lived in Lincolnshire, I can almost see it from here, but it just doesn’t seem to register. Lincoln, Nebraska is named after President Lincoln, not the English city. It used to be called “Lancaster” which is the county town of Lancashire.

I can’t help thinking that I might have been better not starting down this road as the more I learn, the more I realise that I don’t know.

If I carry on like this I might have to read more articles like this.

Not My Best Day

Sorry, I’m struggling with a throbbing ankle tonight after too much walking today. I say walking, I mean a few laps of the shop. It isn’t impressive. When you think that in my teens I used to walk to a market town 13 miles away, eat my sandwiches and then come back the long way, this shows how much I have declined. It also shows I used to live in a flat part of the country.

I often thought about buying a bike and doing the run from land’s End to John O’Groats but it remained a daydream. If only…

Unfortunately I think this is now likely to remain a dream.

Christmas is now officially cancelled, and the nation is having to take holier than thou advice from a man with a father who has been photographed more than once flouting Covid guidelines and supported an adviser who did the same. It doesn’t sit well.

Even Julia, who is generally not one to bear a grudge, said the same. When you manage to upset her, you really are pushing your luck. I know this from experience.

I’ve been looking at government stats on vaccinations – at the rate we are going I’m more likely to die of old age than I am to be vaccinated. I think the government has worked out that if they allow those of us in the 45-65 age groups to suffer high Covid mortality it’s better for the pension scheme than keeping us going for another 20-30 years.

If I ever get round to planning a prize-winning blockbuster (because nobody ever plans to write a mediocre potboiler) I may use this as the main premise – a group of accountants releases a deadly virus to make up for deficiencies in the welfare state. I just need to find a reason why there is a hole in the finances – as they are accountants wine, women and song aren’t going to play a big part in their lives and it’s unlikely they put a billion on red in Monte Carlo.

Ah well, I’ll just have to see what my imagination comes up with over night…

At least Strictly Come Dancing ended well.

 

 

 

Monday and Moving Up a Level

I spent the night alternately laying awake or making trips to the bathroom. As I finally drifted off into an exhausted sleep an old alarm clock of Julia’s, which wasn’t actually set and hadn’t been used for years, decided to start working and sounded an alarm at about 5am, then again half an hour later. It will, as a result, never sound another alarm.

Then, at 6.30, having woken up yet again for a bathroom break, I gave up, got dressed, had a glass of water (which apparently makes the blood flow better) and set off for my blood test. The car parking is still free, due to Covid, though I’m not sure how that makes a difference, and the service still suffers from random halts, where they don’t seem to do anything. I was still finished just before 8.00, despite the delays and the need to puncture both arms in search of blood.

I went home, picked Julia up and took her to work. It worked out nicely and we were ten minutes early. That meant I arrived at work in plenty of time, which gave me time to have coffee and read haiku on the computer before starting to pack the eBay sales.

This relaxing interlude made up for the hassle of getting into the shop, as my front door key decided to play up. Once or twice a year it does that. I suspect it is a lock problem rather than a key problem but there isn’t much I can do about it.

The day passed smoothly, I went home, washed up, set a vegetable stew going on the hob and prepared afternoon tea for Julia on her return from work. It was one of my better days as a husband.

The afternoon tea will be the basis for a new scone chronicle soon, but I’m out of practice and it might be a day or two yet. My sister sent us an afternoon tea gift box, which formed the basis of four days of afternoon tea.

Tonight we were told we will be moving up to a Level 3 lockdown, but as I don’t socialise, go to the pub or eat out it is not going to affect me a great deal.

That could be the title of my lockdown memoirs “The Man Who Stayed at Home”.

I’d like to be able to travel a bit more, particularly as it’s seal time soon, and I’d like more reliable access to toilets when we are out, but I’d also like a better computer, world peace and a substantial lottery win. Sometimes you just need to get on with your life and be grateful for what you have.

VW Daisy Wheel

Watching TV

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.

 

Zimbabwe Hyper-inflation Money

A Day of Many Zeroes

It was an interesting day at work. We had someone in to buy gold, someone in to sell rubbish and someone who came in to waste our time chatting. He was my favourite visitor.

I put some Buffs medals on the internet, starting price 99 pence. They are quite common and the Buffs are not as keenly collected as the Freemasons.

RAOB Medals

RAOB Medals

I’ve photographed more banknotes, as you can see from the examples of Zimbabwean banknotes at the top of the page. They are examples of hyper-inflation money, though the one below is the most mind-boggling of the lot. Hyper-inflation is what you get when you have a megalomaniac clown as head of state. This post won’t sound quite so funny if you are reading it in a few years with Boris still in Number 10 and you have a £50 million note in your wallet.

They say that in Hungary during their hyper-inflation people were advised to pay as they ordered in restaurants and cafés because if they waited until the end of the meal it would have gone up.

Zimbabwe Hyper-inflation Money

Zimbabwe Hyper-inflation Money

One of my friends once sold a Zimbabwean note to an Eastern European with a tenuous grasp of capitalism – he came back twenty minutes later, having tried to exchange it in the nearest bank. Yes, he really thought he could get trillions of dollars by spending a few pounds on a banknote. God loves a tryer, as we often say in the trade.

Apart from that, nothing bad happened, and that counts as a good day the way things are going at the moment.

Study Number 1 - The Idiot

Monday Again

I just tried to tax my car for the coming year. I entered the 16 digit code the Government has thoughtfully provided, ticked a variety of boxes and prepared to pay…

And then the page refused to load.

Twice.

I just tried it a third time and it worked. I am now feeling virtuous after doing something in plenty of time. Normally I put the letter to one side and worry about it when I can’t find it just after the deadline.

That’s what I seem to have done with the letter from the hospital. I have an appointment at the Treatment Centre either this Wednesday or next Wednesday, but I can’t remember which and I am going to have panic-fuelled search for the letter tomorrow.

My new resolutions are erratic at best.

As a sidelight on lockdown, I had a strange social situation today. A customer came into the shop wearing a mask. He asked if we had some things, which we didn’t, and I pushed my chair back to talk to him from the back office, as he was asking about medals and militaria, which is my area.

“Hello Simon,” he said.”I didn’t realise you worked here.”

I hadn’t a clue who he was, though he obviously knew me.  From the warmth of the greeting I guessed we weren’t just passing acquaintances either. It’s very difficult when you have to identify a bald middle-aged man in a mask. There isn’t a lot to go on. I’d last seen him two years ago in another shop, and before that it had been fifteen years since I saw him and his infant son eating Sunday lunch in the café at Sainsburys. Neither of us, it has to be said, is very good at keeping in touch.

Fortunately his twinkling eyes gave the game away, but for a moment it was a touch tricky. If he had not had distinctive eyes I would have had to ask who he was.

This happens more and more – older versions of people I used to know keep cropping up.

 

Just Another Friday

I dropped Julia off at work. Town was almost empty and it didn’t take long. I returned via the ring road because there are no roadworks on the inbound side, and that was almost empty too.

I soon had the four parcels done and set about entering more Edward VIII medallions into the system. I have put one lot on and have two other selections ready to go tomorrow. In between times I packed another couple of parcels as orders came in, attended to some customers and ate my sandwiches and a Scotch egg. It was that sort of day.

We bought silver from one customer – some pre-1920 (when it was still .925 sterling silver) and some pre-1947 (when it was .500 silver). In both cases, as the observant readers will have spotted, the debasement of our coinage was preceded by, and caused by, the need to pay for a World War.

We bought two lots of modern junk from people. One of the owners had put the coins in pouches, then sellotaped them into plastic bags with cards to identify them. It took me ten minutes to get the sellotape off the bags before we could check the coins and value them. Several of the coins were worth a£1 and we will struggle to make enough profit to pay for my time getting them out of the bags,

The only customer who bought anything was a collector of gold coins, so that was a handy sale.

The coin is a one third Guinea, or seven shilling coin. Minted in the reign of George III in 1809 this is the second design. It is slightly smaller than a cent in size.

Apart from that we had one browser who spent nothing and a woman who wanted to sell two Krugerrands but didn’t like our offer. She can, it seems, get more if she sells them in Birmingham. We often hear this. It’s true, if you want to drive down to Birmingham, park up and sell your gold in Birmingham you can get a better price. Whether it justifies the expenditure in car running costs, time and parking fees is another matter.

We agreed that she could get a better price by driving down to Birmingham and wished her well.

The road works outside the shop continue. From what we have been told they should be gone in another week, but I’m not sure. They don’t seem to be moving very fast. At the moment we can’t even turn onto the forecourt without taking a detour. This is a little annoying, but I’m not going to bother worrying about it. There are worse things happening in the world.

We had chips from the chip shop tonight as we are still supporting local business, and because it’s nice to have a night where we don’t cook. The fish were big enough to hang over the edges of the plate. I had peas but just a few chips off Julia. I’m fed up with (a) eating too many chips and (b) re-heating chips next day. They give you too many chips to make it look better value. I know this because my dad always used to say the same thing. Before you say it – yes, I’ve been turning into my dad for the last 30 years.

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Envelope for eBay

Wednesday 8th July Part IV

Poppy and chamomile

The day is passing faster and faster.

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.

Back again…

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

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.

Photos are recycled from here.

Eleven Photos and the Benefits of Blogging

Mint Moth

Wednesday 8th July Part I

Wednesday 8th July Part II

Wednesday 8th July Part III

Wednesday 8th July Part IV

Wednesday 8th July Part V

Wednesday 8th July Part II

Breakfast didn’t quite go according to plan. I was going to treat Julia to avocados on toast with poached eggs. It’s not much of a breakfast but she likes that sort of stuff. Unfortunately the avocados were starting to brown and didn’t look good.I cut a few bits off, mashed it up with lime juice and green bits and it is now waiting to be spread on toast for lunch. It is just about acceptable like that, both in colour and as a foodstuff.

Plan B was poached eggs, beans, and sourdough toast. Still a bit trendy for my liking but such is life. Life can’t all be sausage, bacon and black pudding. Well, it could be, but I’d like to retain the use of my arteries for a while longer.

Unfortunately the eggs were also a little past their use by date and the first one spread across the whole pan. The second was OK, but the mess was made. Although one looked like an egg, with a degree runniness to the yolk (again – something she likes)  the other looked like a yellow blot. That’s the trouble with advance ordering in lockdown.

We seem to be commemorating the Battle of Britain this week and there were some insultingly easy quiz questions on TV this morning. That set me off looking at trivia about the Italian Air Force in the Battle of Britain (yes, they were there) followed by biplanes in WW2 (yes, there were some), Jeremy Vine, the Curse of Strictly Come Dancing and, finally, about SMART Planning.

I have to admit that I haven’t heard of all the ‘celebrities’ caught by the curse and, as Rachel Riley and Pasha have just had a child I’m not sure it’s really a curse. As all parents will know, it’s a mixed blessing, but not really a curse.

That’s the trouble with ‘working from home’ (as I am describing today, because I have things to do) – always so much distraction, plus cooking and washing up.

Just before I sat down to start work the post arrived. It contains notice of a planning application from the people next door who want to extend their lower storey half way across their drive to accommodate a downstairs toilet and extended kitchen. It will involve noise, disruption and, possibly, a loss of light, but on the other hand it won’t really affect us in the long run and I can’t be bothered to object.

It took me half an hour to find the plans online (the letter from the council lists a council webpage that no longer exists) download the plans and examine them.

Considering that they have asked me to cut down a tree in the garden because it shades some of their garden for some of the day, I can’t help feeling that I’d like the same concern from them relating to the light in my kitchen. Such is life.

It’s now 12.23 and the last phase of my day has not really seen anything that could be described as work. Oh dear!

Wednesday 8th July Part I

Wednesday 8th July Part II

Wednesday 8th July Part III

Wednesday 8th July Part IV

Wednesday 8th July Part V