Wednesday, 3 June 2020


For only the second or third time in 10 weeks we've got rain bouncing off the patio. It's a strange sound. And talking of sound it is now 12 months since they began demolishing the nursing home next door and building apartments. Twelve months of banging, crashing, machinery, shouting - all of which can be clearly heard inside our house.  Beginning before 8 a.m.. Some times the bangs are loud enough for our foundations to shake.  They have rarely worked on Sunday and they had four weeks off at the beginning of lockdown.  But I am desperate for them to finish. 

The garden rubbish bin hasn't been emptied for months (though I must point out the binmen - sorry refuse collection operatives - have done a brilliant job in keeping our other bins emptied). 

Lockdown has meant I haven't been able to go to Isabelles, my favourite café, for coffee. 

Nor has bus travel into the countryside been possible. 

I have yet to meet my latest grandchild who was born in January. And my planned trip to stay with my brother in the Hebrides for a few weeks hás, of course, gone for a burton.  I haven't been able to have coffee or lunch with any of my friends. And I could not attend my cousin's funeral. 

In all it's not been a good year. 

But at least I'm not a black American with a murderer pressing on my throat while police officers stand around and watch. 

Black lives matter.  Silence is racism.  We need to all speak out. 

Friday, 22 May 2020

Things I have learned

Things I have learned so far during the coronavirus crisis.

I guess the first thing I learned was the apparent value of toilet rolls and butter in the economic life of the UK. I assume the butter shortage was due to so many people experimenting with baking during lockdown.  Most other panic buying at least had a logical base but I'm still not sure why everyone rushed out for toilet rolls.

One of my former colleagues (SS) is as kind and caring and helpful as ever.  As soon as we were locked down she was offerring to help in any way she could. 

On second thoughts I've always known she was a star so I haven't learned that as a result of the 2020 crisis. Similarly, I have extolled the virtues of the NHS and its people for many decades so that also is not newly learned. 

Meanwhile a local photographer I have only met on Instagram @jamiedoesphotos also offered to drop off anything we needed and showed that strangers can also be so kind and caring at times of crisis. 

If you are as introverted and have reduced mobility as I have, being locked down has been easier to cope with than it has been for many people. .  

Indeed, seeing more of Jo has been a real positive of the lockdown situation even though she has been working in the office most days.  I'm not looking forward to her resuming a seven day week. 

I am very fortunate to have a garden no matter how neglected. 

And no matter how ineffectual and questionable some of the UK government's actions may have been (and I say 'may' advisedly) at least we don't have a complete nutter as our leader.  (Sorry about the politically incorrect term.  I do take mental health seriously. But how else can one adequately describe a man who suggests bleach enemas. Don't try this at home.) Rambling Boris almost seems sane by comparison.  And, what is more, I've learned Donald Trump can get even more idiotic as time goes on.  He views their 1.56 million cases as "a badge of honour" and a week after saying testing was "overrated" he was boasting about testing 14 million!  After all if they had only tested a million then they wouldn't have so many cases....  

I have discovered my To Be Read shelves of books are nowhere near as long-lasting as I had imagined they would be.  But strangely despite reading about 6 books a week the number of books on those shelves has not diminished. Thank Heaven Amazon, AbeBooks and courier services kept going.  But I have really missed browsing in charity shops and finding authors by serendipity. 

The other thing I've really missed is my twice weekly coffees in my favourite café.

Skype calls and WhatsApp have helped enormously in keeping me in touch with my daughters.

A hamper from one daughter was turned into super meals by my son who also decorated the kitchen and bathroom while locked down with us.

Ànd I learned just how important my penpals and postcard swappers are to my life. Without Royal Mail and the postal services of Belarus, Sweden, Netherlands, Spain,  USA, etc. my life would be much less exciting.  I await the mail dropping on my mat with great excitement every day and the fact that Saturday has joined Sunday as a day of no deliveries has been quite a blow.  

Snailmail has kept me in touch with my brother and e-mails with friend-uber-special. Instagram and Facebook not only allowed me to share what I'm doing with old friends but also re-united me with a friend from my college days. 

However, when a friend's partner's mother died from the virus it reminded us that no matter how many positives one can find the negative has been, for many people, the ultimate one.  And that without a properly attended funeral. So sad. 

I wonder what you have learned.

Thursday, 9 April 2020

How we treat the least among us

The current pandemic is an awful thing and the worst part about it is that we humans brought it upon ourselves. Our disregard for the planet on which we live and the creatures with which we share it is why we are in this mess.

"When we save other creatures we are actually saving ourselves. It's really how we treat the least amongst us that will determine our own fate." Joel  Sartore

But, as with any crisis, there are positives.  

A former colleague and close friend who I nowadays only lunch with about once a year texted me very early on to say if we needed anything we only had to let her know and she'd deliver it to us. 

Another former colleague who is in her 80s is having shopping delivered by a friend and also has a former colleague keeping an eye out for her and making sure she's OK. 

Just two of millions of examples of kindness occurring around the world. 

Many of my Instagram friends are demonstrating their inventiveness and skills with a wide range of photos and other crafts and hobbies.  

And there has been a tendency for posts to concentrate on life's positives and the beauties of nature.  
Children everywhere are being taught the importance of those who provide caring and health services.  They are creating and exhibiting rainbows to let passers-by know that this too shall pass. They are realising how essential some of our other services are like postal workers and delivery people. And in many cases they are spending valuable time with their parents of which they would normally be robbed by their mums and dads working.   

No, I'm not forgetting all the families who are grieving at the loss of a loved one or the fact that medically the worst may be yet to come.  Nor can one ignore how hard our health workers are having to work and the risks they are taking.  And then there'll be the economic crisis for us all to get through. 

But one thing has been made obvious - we are all in this together.  Male, female, black, white, gay, heterosexual, Christian, Muslim, conservative, socialist, British, European, Chinese, and all other shades of origin, culture, etc.  We are being drawn together to serve mankind as a whole. 

Let us stay together once this pandemic is history and let us see a world that has changed for the better. 

Friday, 31 January 2020


“February’s so gloomy in this part of the world, don’t you think? It’s not so much a month as a twenty-eight-day-long Monday morning.”
                           David Mitchell “Black Swan Green”

Thursday, 23 January 2020

On this day

Today's most useless piece of information -

On 23rd January 2018 twelve camels were disqualified from a camel beauty contest when it was discovered their owners had used botox on their lips.  (I'm not sure the above camel in Chester Zoo would have stood much chance with or without botox!)

I'm reminded of the Jim Reeves song...

"Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone Let's pretend that we're together all alone. I'll tell the man to turn the jukebox way down low. And you can tell your friend there with you, he'll have to go."

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