Diary of a Self Isolator week 46 -50
Sunday 24/01/2021 – Day 316
The countdown continues with just three days to go, woke this morning at 6.00am prompt, made my four Weetabix and retired to the office (small back bedroom) to post this weeks diary, at this stage I had the blind down, I opened the blind at 7.00am and it was a white out, the snow was a couple of inches deep and it was still dropping flakes the size of Wales (well, perhaps a slight exaggeration on my part there), we have been told to expect 100mm (four inches) of snow from the look of those flakes they may have slightly underestimated.
Of course, when you were small you used to get really excited when it snowed, if you didn’t have gloves or mittens you would beg an old pair of woolly socks off your mum and get over to the nearest bank with your home-made sled. This would be the same grass bank which you happily slid down in the Summer precariously sat on a large cardboard box obtained from the local grocer who was - in those days – glad to see the back of them, we would slide down the grass hoping and praying that the cardboard lasted to the bottom of the hill, otherwise you were sliding down on the already thin material of your short trousers which you had inherited from your elder brother. But the snow was better, at least you had something to lie on until of course the thing disintegrated leaving you rolling toward a thicket of snow laden brambles or stingers, that was painful, believe me, I still bear the scars.
The other thing was the playground slide, compact snow would freeze and we’d make the longest slide possible, I know all our generation say it, but we really did attend school during a heavy snowfall, the teachers would say ‘If I can get here then you can get here as well’. Then the real cheek of it was when the head would knock on the classroom door and ask for volunteers to clear the playground of snow! Mind you, there was never any shortage of hands shooting up, especially during Maths or geography, besides, it gave us all a chance to have a sneaky cigarette as no teacher was brave enough to stand out in the cold supervising us. Great days!
On this day in1928 The birth of Desmond Morris, British anthropologist. He first came to the public's attention in the 1950s as a presenter of the ITV television programme Zoo Time, but he achieved worldwide fame in 1967 with his book The Naked Ape.
Also, on this day in 1930The birth, in Norfolk, of Bernard Matthews, the poultry industry figure. He won a scholarship to the City of Norwich School, but found it difficult to settle, regularly failed his exams, he was never much of a Sage and feeling Stuffed, he left school with no qualifications. Nevertheless, when he died, aged 80, in November 2010 he had amassed a fortune estimated at over £300m and a motor yacht, a Cessna private jet and a Rolls-Royce motor car. I wonder who gobbled all that up when he passed.
And finally, on this day in 1965 thedeath of Sir Winston Churchill, aged 90, world famous soldier, politician, historian and Prime Minister of Britain. He was First Lord of the Admiralty at the time of the battle of Dogger Bank (see above). He had correctly predicted that he would die on the same date as his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, who had died exactly 70 years previously. But even more spooky was in 2015 A racehorse named Sir Winston Churchill netted a win, on the 50th anniversary of the wartime leader's death, in the 3:25pm race at Uttoxeter racecourse.
Figures for today were 30,004 new cases and 610 registered deaths.
Monday 25/01/2021 – Day 317
Just two days to go and it will all be over! I once more delved into the book Mrs H bought me for Christmas, Conveniently named ‘Trivia on the Bog’, (did you see what I did there – Conveniently, bog? Oh never mind) and apparently in 1631 two London bible printers accidentally left out the word ‘not’ in the seventh commandment, so it actually read ‘Thou Shalt Commit adultery’, The legendary mistake cost the printers their business, and the book? Well, today it is known as the Wicked Bible.
I took a quick peek out of the window and everything was still white, including the main road which had been gritted at least twice last night to my knowledge. But the ensuing frost was too much for those gritters with temperatures dropping to minus 10 around here.
Still, me being the brave little soldier that I am still got dressed in my working clothes and after breakfast of four Weetabix I was ready to face the day and that chap known as Jack Frost. With the words ‘You must be totally mad’ from Mrs H ringing in my ears, I skipped outside into the cold morning air, which immediately took my breath away, not to be thwarted (or ridiculed by Mrs H ) I fought the freezing temperatures and picked up my saw which had been left outside for two days. Big mistake, my fingers immediately clung to the metal like a super glue, I looked around to make sure Mrs H wasn’t watching and breathed on my hand and the cold metal simultaneously, after what seemed like an Ice-age, it came free, and I headed back inside with my tail between my legs and my fingers dropping off.
“Too cold?” she mocked
“No, I just came in to find a pencil”.
“What’s wrong with your hand, a little sore is it?”
Sore? Saw? She had seen me outside when I picked up the saw, I love that woman to bits but sometimes – just sometimes.
I put my hand as near to the radiator as I could bear, while Mrs H trotted off upstairs, I swear I heard her laughing. So that was my venture outside finished for the day,I was going to settle down for a day on the computer just generally being lazy, but Mrs H had other plans. For a few days now she has been badgering me to convert this big glass battery lantern into an electric one as the batteries were costing as much as the National debt. I reluctantly gave into her and had a look at the job, after a few mmm’s a couple of Buttermints (yes dear reader, I am still hooked on them) and much scratching of the head I agreed to do the job as I had most of the stuff in the repair shop anyway. I thought I would put her off by saying how cold it was in there, but she bounced back with;
“Why don’t you bring the stuff in? It’s not that big a job so It won’t take long”
(Don’t you just hate it when they say that lads?)
She was right, a couple of hours later, after a bit of drilling and a new cable and switch, she had a brand new light for the hallway, I was tempted to put a red bulb in it but thought better of it. Problem was that I made such a good job of the lamp that she now has another three lined up for me, Beam me up Scotty!
Todays figures were 22194 new cases and 592 deaths were reported.
Tuesday 26/01/2021 – Day 318
Hardly slept last night with all the excitement, just one day to go! I jumped out of bed with the agility of a 20-year-old, by 9.00am I had washed and shaved, and I was raring to go. I ventured outside, the saw was still lying where it had reluctantly dropped off my fingers yesterday, I looked at it, the 20 year old made a run for it and the 68 year old wimp returned with a vengeance, perhaps I should wait a while, it was awfully cold out there, it’s nothing that can’t wait a few hours, anyway, the nice man on Countryfile said it was going to rain today, yes I’ll wait a while until the saw has thawed out.
On the way back in I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the patio glass, I was once more beginning to resemble the wild man of Borneo, my hair was down on my shoulders and hung there like a limp lettuce, if there is any such thing as a grey lettuce of course, even Mrs H mentioned that I was starting to look like an old Indian chief, I was hoping that she meant Geronimo but suspected she really meant Running Bare (no, not a spelling mistake). So, last week we ordered some new scissors and hair cutting equipment, I argued that, if she was really careful the flymo would have done the same job at less expense, but Mrs H politely declined. Anyway, I digress, those same scissors arrived last Thursday and have been sat on the worktop since, don’t get me wrong, the good lady did at least spray the envelope and wipe it down, she even opened it! But when it came to actually using the aforementioned, she seemed to be lacking in the wherewithal as far as gumption was concerned. To be quite honest, I looked in the bathroom mirror this morning and dragged a comb through the thickening patch, there was enough there to re-stuff a chaise-lounge, I could see why she didn’t fancy the prospect of hacking through the dense thatch that kept the cold out of an otherwise very brainy scalp.
The thing was that I badly needed a haircut and preferably before Mrs H used the very sharp implements to cut the stalks for her flower arranging, there are at least another eleven pairs that she’s already nicely blunted for that purpose. But I had a pleasant surprise as I stepped back into the warmth, I was greeted by;
“Would you like me to cut your hair?”
After 48 years of being together this is how we work, we are telepathic.
“Oh, go on then” I replied, and went off upstairs to don an old tee shirt for the occasion. When I went back downstairs I could hear voices, as I walked into the room I could hear Mrs H talking to our daughter Gemma on Whatsapp, these conversations have been known to last a full morning, so I thought, ‘there goes the haircut again’. It turns out that in my absence Mrs H phoned Gemma (a hairdresser) and asked her to stay on the phone to watch and guide as she hacked at my locks, to say that this didn’t exactly fill me with confidence would be a gross understatement.
Mrs H How do you want it cut
Me Which cut would make me look better?
Mrs H A power cut!
So. I sat there - not amused - having my haircut as Mrs H had her phone in one hand, scissors in the other and Gemma shouted out instructions. Fifteen minutes later it was all over, it didn’t look half bad to be honest, apart from the slight mishap, but then Van Gough led a normal life with one missing!
Oh yes, one more thing, Gemma has now plastered the back of my head and Mrs H cutting my hair – all over Facebook – bless her!
The new cases for the last 24 hours were 20,089, but the number of new registered deaths soared to 1631.
Wednesday 27/01/2021 – Day 319
Well, it has finally arrived, here I am at the start of my sixty ninth year on this great planet, my sixty eighth year was a gross let down anyway so I’m glad to see the back of it. My day started really well with Mrs H bringing me a hot steaming cup of tea in bed, then she disappeared while I drank it. Next thing was a shout from downstairs, It was Mrs H announcing that my breakfast was ready, now, it’s common knowledge that I am a boring four Weetabix a day chap, but if I had not been in the precarious situation we would have gone over to a local hostelry for breakfast with the girls and if he wasn’t working – the son as well. Anyway, I went downstairs and there it was – the Full Monty (no, not the film, Mrs H was fully clothed), I had bacon, eggs, mushrooms, and beans with half a loaf of wholemeal bread (healthier lol) and another mug of hot tea. But before that it was present time.
Mrs H had bought me a tabletop saw and a new pair of Guinness slippers, My son Mark had bought me a biscuit tool for jointing planks of wood, My two daughters Sarah and Gemma along with Mollie and Alisha my granddaughters had bought me a dust extraction unit for the repair shop and the two Grandsons had bought me a new drinking mug with a personalised photo on one side and a saying on the other side which read ‘I am a writer, Anything you say may be used in my stories’, I thought that was brilliant and it’ll make me smile everytime I drink from it.
By the time I had finished it I felt like Billy Bunter! The rest of the morning was spent on my computer just browsing , which made a nice change from the pressure of having to find items to post on my sites.
The morning just seemed to fly past, I was just starting to feel a little better and a little slimmer when Mrs h appeared with cupcakes, I am a fool for cakes, I have never ever refused a slice of cake in my life, No, wait a minute, that is not strictly true – when I was laid up in hospital for almost two years (long story, I’ll tell you one tomorrow) they used to keep bringing me carrot cake for a dessert or a pudding if you live up North – so I began to hate it with a vengeance!
The afternoon was spent lolling around and doing something that normally doesn’t come naturally to me, now, what’s the word I’m looking for – oh yes, relaxing! About 3.00pm our friends Janet and John ti=urned up outside, they were taking their dogs for a walk ad called to bring me a card, I hate leaving them on the doorstep but as they said,it was too risky to come in, we had a good chat and bid them goodbye, but when I opened the card there was a menu inside, they were telling us to choose three courses from the menu for Saturday evening, they would fetch the meal, drop ours off here and then we would meet up by computer as we’ve done before., what a wonderful present!
At five o clock Boris was back on Tv for another Downing street catch-up, He was basically telling everyone that he didn’t expect the schools to re-open until March 8th, I just get the feeling that the poor chap can’t do right for doing wrong, I wouldn’t like to be in his shoes today. Then at 5.30 Alisha and Sam her boyfriend, phoned up to see what we wanted fetched from the Chinese takeaway, I hadn’t had a takeaway from there for 10 months, thirty minutes later I was tucking in to Chicken and pineapple and a bowl of their wonderful chips – pure heaven.
I had a most wonderful day with over 500 people wishing me a happy birthday, but suddenly the day had caught up with Mrs H and she became very tired, the end of my first day of being 69 was nigh.
The new cases in the past day were at 25,308, the number of registered deaths continues to rise and today are 1725.
Thursday 28/01/2021 – Day 320
Things were back to normal today, I was out of bed first at 6.30, I could tell in the house that it was mild outside, I normally have to click the heating up a couple of notches but today the house was really warm, so I took it down a notch – waste not want not – my dear old gran used to say.
It was really mild outside so I took advantage of the weather to continue with the canopy, a lot of extras have been added to the construction, some to make it stronger, others just to enhance the finished look of it. So I fired up the music and spent the day outside, the sun even came out at one point then it was like a beautiful spring day. It’s surprising what a bit of good weather does for the spirits, also of course it is almost 5.00pm and it’s still broad daylight!
I did say that I’d tell you about my long stay in hospital, well, we have to go back to 1996, I was a self-employed jobbing builder (Jack of all trades, Master of none). After an accident on a job (I was blown off my ladder) I was left with a leg that was going black as I watched it, it was so bad I had to take my boot off, anyway the lovely Mrs H got me to hospital and I thought they’d do a quick plaster job and I’d be in the club later that night. But I hadn’t reckoned on the way my luck goes, they found me a bed and said they couldn’t even x ray it until the swelling went down, it took two weeks and I was still in hospital, anyway, I had my x ray and it showed that in the fall I had smashed my heel up into my ankle, I was told by the surgeon it was one of the worst injuries possible to a foot. They decided to operate and insert a plate.
Six weeks later I was going home, but I had to have the theatre dressing removed, a lovely old nurse was stuck with the job, she prodded and probed and moaned about how tight they had packed it into the wound, she was tugging and pulling and suddenly it gave way, the bandage flew out and her finger went in, I screamed in agony and the lovely old nurse apologised profusely. After I’d come down off the ceiling she bandaged it up and I hobbled off home with the aid of Mrs H and a couple of Long John Silver crutches.
A few days later the wound became infected, it was back into hospital for me and the first of 14 operations, I was on first name terms with the theatre staff, I was even on their Christmas card list, they used to joke that I should just have a zip put on the wound for easier access. Nearly two years in hospital with the odd couple of weeks at home, the Surgeon urged me to have it amputated, I refused, then a few weeks later he sent his registrar in to try and convince me. “I can show you films of amputees who lead a good life” he said, “And I can show you the gravestones of amputees, including my Uncle” I replied. So I kept my foot and live a very normal life with the exception of a bit of Arthritis in the Winter months.
The number of new cases ids creeping up once again, but the number of deaths have thankfully decreased by 500 to1239, still far too many.
Friday 29/01/2021 – day 321
Up like the lark this morning I went down to make a cup of tea and ‘Son of bouncer’ had once again returned. To those of you who have only recently joined me ‘Bouncer’ was a chirpy little bird that frequented our memorial bench in the garden, above the bench is a large mirror, Bouncer would be there for hours jumping up and down at his reflection, hence the name. That was last March, now I am assuming that birds don’t live too long so I am also assuming that this new bird (who turned up a few weeks back and disappeared again ) is some sort of relative, but this bird not only bounces up and down, he (I say he because no female is this stupid) also runs along the top rail, then back to the other end and bounces up and down for a few minutes before ‘dancing’ back to the other end, meanwhile the grey bench is beginning to get whiter and whiter – if you know what I mean.
I sometimes think George is not all he seems, he rang today saying he was in town returning a scarf he had for Christmas, apparently, it was too tight!
Had a good day on the canopy today, once again it was quite mild around 11 degrees, the outside is now fully completed and there is just a bit of tidying up to do on the inside, but we’ll get there with a good wind behind us (perhaps not).
Got so excited today, I actually finished a jigsaw after just six months, it said 2 – 4 years on the box, what a result!
Mrs H and I are now sadly, coming to the end of our latest blockbuster on Netflix, ‘A Place to call Home’ has been very absorbing to say the least, excellent characters and storylines, but we only have seven episodes to go, and there are no plans for any more – oh well! I shall just have to trawl the site in search of another series, Mrs H will say – as usual – ‘Oh I don’t fancy this’, then we will be binge watching within a week.
The number of new cases has once again risen to 29,094, the highest figure this week, deaths are over 1000 for the fourth day in a row at 1245.
Saturday 30/01/2021 – Day 322
Well I got up bright and early this morning ready and willing but yet again unable to finish the canopy for Mrs H, the weather out there is atrocious, it’s so bad that there are Klingons on the starboard bow. I did venture outside but it took a matter of seconds for the cold and wind to penetrate my 4 layers of clothing, Mrs H urged me back inside. So, it left me wondering about what to talk about to you today, thn my mind drifted back to the old-fashioned sweet shops of my childhood in the late fifties and the sixties.
Penny sweets were the buy of the day, clutching the threepence deposit back off an old pop bottle you had found on the tip and cleaned up, you proudly walked into the sweet shop, you would of course have to allow at least 15 minutes to absorb what was affordable and what was not, Our sweetshop owner was the most patient and kindest lady ever, never in a rush to serve you. My most frequent shop was the one nearest to St Mary Junior and was situate on the corner of Duke street and Churchfields. The top shelves were normally the jars of more higher priced sweets, out of reach of anyone who wanted to help themselves. But all we were interested in were the penny sweets at the front, designed very cleverly to attract young boys and girls and relieve them of those big brown coins getting very warm as they were held in a clenched fist, Mrs Simms hovered patiently - much like Auntie Wainwright in Last of the Summer wine, or Arkwright in Open all Hours, - either way you walked out with a handful of sweets and an empty pocket! For a penny you could buy Blackjacks, White mice, Flying saucers, liquorice wood. Pontefract cakes, Liquorice allsorts, Raspberry drops, Dolly mixtures, sherbert fountains of which there was an art to disposing of the dip, you either bit the end off the liquorice and sucked up the sherbert, or you simply sucked and dipped which normally left you with a soggy mess. The bargain was always the penny gobstopper, or indeed Aniseed balls which could be sucked on all day, then you had the everchanging gobstopper which as you sucked changed different colours, you could be digging around in the dirt or messing with worms when absent-mindedly your fingers went into your mouth to see what colour the gobstopper had become, it was then popped back in along with every germ known to mankind, such innocence! Remember the candy necklaces worn with pride by your little sister, or the liquorice catherine wheel which stretched out forever till you got to the bobbly sweet in the centre. Of course there were lots more, but we made our money last back then.
Had a wonderful virtual meal with our great friends Janet and John tonight, when I say virtual, the meal was real, but the four of us were on a Zoom call as we ate, Janet and John paid for the meal for my birthday and we helped them out by eating it. We all had a lovely couple of hours catching up until the sound went off on the Zoom connection, probably heard the girls giving it ten to the dozen – oops!
The number of new cases today is 23,275 which brings the total for my week to 176,629, that’s over 83,000 down on last week, and a further 1200 deaths were recorded bringing my weeks total to 8242 almost 500 down on the previous week, it looks as though we are heading in the right direction at last with a total of 1,673,936 recoveries..
Sunday 31/01/2021 – Day 323
Here we are at the start of another week in paradise and the end of one of the worst Januarys in history.
Today marks the 12 month anniversary of the first Covid cases in the UK
It was a Wednesday afternoon when a 23-year-old Chinese national called the NHS 111 phone line from his hotel room in York city centre. The University of York student, known in medical journals only as "B", was suffering with a fever, a dry cough and muscle pain. His 50-year-old mother, "A" - who had flown to the UK from Wuhan, in Hubei province, a week earlier - was also feeling unwell with a fever, cough and sore throat.
When she arrived in the UK, coronavirus had spread from the Chinese province to countries including Thailand and the US, with some 500 confirmed cases and 17 dead. On 23 January - the day patient ‘A’ landed in the UK with the student's father - Wuhan and its population of 11 million people, became the first in the world to enter coronavirus lockdown.
On the evening of 29 January, two paramedics from the Yorkshire Ambulance Service were called to the 196-room Staycity apartment-hotel in Paragon Street, York. Dressed in white hazmat suits, they told reception staff they were responding to a potential coronavirus case, before heading to a first-floor room.
Until then, there had been a lot of suspected cases, but none that had been confirmed, recalls Keith Freeman, Staycity's chief operating officer. "You were hoping, in the back of your head, that it's another false alarm. You're also thinking 'what are the chances?'"
But once he found out one of the guests had flown in from Wuhan, the world's coronavirus capital, his team "started to panic a bit". "At that point it was about trying to just be quite level-headed and operational, to work out what the next steps would be."
Unbeknownst to staff at Staycity, paramedics left the hotel with the family about 20 minutes after arriving, slipping out of a fire exit to the waiting ambulance. From Paragon Street, they were taken to the regional infectious diseases unit at Castle Hill Hospital, near Hull.
And that dear reader is how it all started in the UK, and how the whole world eventually suffered.
In this day in 1867The four bronze lions at the base of Nelson's Column were completed. Needless to say, they were a roaring success!
On this day in 1910American-born murderer Dr. Hawley Crippen poisoned his wife before cutting her into small pieces and burying her in the cellar of his home in London. The first person ever to be caught with the use of the telegraph, He was later executed at Pentonville Prison.
Also on this day 1983It became compulsory in Britain to wear car seat belts. With a big campaign telling people to ‘Belt up’ and to ‘Clunk click every trip’ it was very successful, just a shame about the shamed DJ doing most of the ads.
And finally, on this day in 2016 The death of the radio and TV broadcaster Terry Wogan, aged 77. He presented Children in Need, Wake Up to Wogan, Come Dancing, the game show Blankety Blank and he was the BBC's commentator for the Eurovision Song Contest from 1971 to 2008. His weekday radio programme on BBC Radio 2, 'Wake Up to Wogan', had eight million regular listeners, making him the most listened to radio broadcaster in Europe. He was granted a knighthood in 2005 and was entitled to use 'Sir' in front of his name as he held dual British and Irish citizenship.
Today there were 21088 new cases reported, and there were a further 587 deaths, need I say that these are weekend figures.
Monday 01/02/2021 Day 324
Woke this morning and completely forgot to say ‘White Rabbits’ three times to ward off evil, still, things can’t get any worse – can they? Mrs H loves this month because like me – it is very short.
I haven’t worked on the canopy since Friday due to treacherous conditions out there in the back garden. Freezing temperatures and a slight chilly wind guaranteed to reach even the best wrapped bones. So, I really put my foot down with Mrs H and asked her that if it was too cold today, would she mind awfully if I came back inside for a warm.
But I have jumped forward a couple of hours, firstly, for the first time this millennium Mrs H was out of bed before me, It seems that whilst going through the house like grease lightening yesterday, she has somehow hurt her wrist, the pain was so bad this morning that she had to get out of bed and get some painkillers, I eventually joined her about 8.00pm and she had a nice cup of tea waiting for me. But it was while I was making my Weetabix that things went wrong, In all fairness Mrs H did offer to do it for me but I insisted that she rest, besides, I didn’t want her to know that I had six sweeteners in the hot milk I had with it. Anyway, I was pulling the milk out of the microwave when I caught the handle, I didn’t know that a cup of milk could make so much mess, I looked at Mrs H and for a split second I actually feared for my life, as I said, she had spent all day yesterday going through that kitchen with a fine-tooth comb – and I had just spilled milk all over the worktop! I retreated upstairs or should I say to sanctuary, ten minutes later she brought my Weetabix up to me, you could have cut the air with a knife.
And so, here I am, outside, it’s not that cold, in fact its positively Summer to the atmosphere inside!, I decided to get on with the canopy until things in the house were a bit warmer. I’m glad I did, I got the worst of it done, you know, all those fiddly bits that every builder hates, Mrs H eventually calmed down and fed me numerous cups of tea, but by 2.30 it was getting a bit chilly, so it was back indoors for me.
And so, on this day in 1939 A British White Paper proposing the formation of the Home Guard (which became better known as Dad’s Army because of the average age of the volunteers) was published. The hugely popular TV series of Dad's Army was first aired on 31st July 1968 and ran for 9 series until 13th November 1977. The 2016 Dad's Army film had its premiere on 26th January 2016. Principal filming took place on the beach at North Landing (Flamborough Head) and at nearby Bridlington.
On this day in 1952 The first TV detector van was demonstrated. It enabled the BBC to track down users of unlicensed television sets in Britain.
Finally on this day in 1965 P.J. Proby, the US rock singer, was banned by ABC Theatres and the BBC after he had deliberately split his trousers during his act. The mainly female audience and the tabloids, who claimed Proby’s act was obscene, went wild. It was the beginning of the end for the flamboyant performer. (Note - We went to a concert that year, but Proby had been banned and was replaced with a then unknown singer called Tom Jones!) It was all the girls could talk about at school!
New cases continue to fall and are at their lowest for weeks, today there were 18607 registered, the number of deaths was – thankfully – also low at 406.
Tuesday 02/02/2021 – Day 325
I was lay in bed this morning wondering if millions of People in Spain sit watching ‘A Place in the Rain’.
It had poured down with the wet stuff for the majority of the night, so imagine my joy when on closer inspection there was not one leak in the canopy. I reckoned one good day today would finish it off completely, except for electric sockets and a couple of weather resistant clear blinds which will be with us in about two weeks. I must say it was very mild outside, by 11,00pm I had taken my coat off! About 3,00pm it started to go dark, I only had a couple of strips to finish off and it was all done.
During the day Mrs H and I had a few words and she told me that I was ‘very childish’ sometimes, I was so upset I returned my Bob the Builder safety helmet to the repair shop. By 3.30pm it was all done, so tomorrow Mrs h and I will have a monumental clean up of the area which has basically become my second home for the past couple of weeks.
Some really sad news on Tv today, Sir Tom Moore who raised nearly 30million for the NHS has died in hospital from covid related disease, such a shame, that man was a true modern day hero, he kept so many people going, gave them hope in a time of desperation, in short Sir Tom was Covid’s Winston Churchill, RIP Sir, you have earned it more than most.
I was outside working on the canopy when Mrs H - not wishing to brave the cold text me ‘Your Great’, I texted her right back with ‘No, You’re Great’, she was walking around with a big smile on her face and I was wondering if I should tell her I was just correcting her grammar.
16840 new cases today as the figures still fall, there were 1449 new deaths registered though.
Wednesday 03/02/2021 – Day 326
I was lay awake this morning thinking about that poor chap who invented the coat hanger, In 1902 Albert Parkhouse would get annoyed when he went to work and all the coat hooks were full, so he made his own hanger from wire, his company thought the idea was so good that they stole it and then patented it, poor Albert never received a penny but his employers got very rich. And then I thought what if slugs are just snails who have got divorced – and she got the house! I bet you wish you had my intellectual mind eh? Well you can have it, it keeps me awake!
Anyone remember those fly papers from years ago, oh yes, they worked really well but you would walk into a room and they’d be hanging there full of black dead flies, My dear old mum used to have a sort of pump action gun, it had a sort of can on the end which you filled up with ‘Flit’, so, imagine this – the cooker is on, mother is cooking our tea , the top of the cooker has two or three saucepans with sprouts, cauliflower and potatoes hackling away with no lids on them when a bluebottle fly enters the kitchen, out comes the zapper and a couple of squirts later that fly is no more, meanwhile that stuff which has just killed a fly stone dead, is now settling down on those open saucepans and in the lungs of the kids you supposedly love, amazing when you think back isn’t it lol!
We were doing our shopping online and Mrs H casually mentioned that she misses sitting down and writing a list for shopping, I wondered if she missed leaving the list on the kitchen table and us guessing what was on it while we shopped!
Well, I’ve had Mrs H on her hands and knees most of the day, the canopy is almost done so the lovely lady has been helping me clean up the mess that I’ve created over the last few weeks, and there was plenty of it as well. We eventually got finished and it looks as though I’ll have to give everything another lick of paint, posts and the decking included.
New cases have risen slightly today and stand at 19202, registered deaths were 1322.i
Thursday 04/02/2021 – Day 327
Lay awake this morning once again. I was watching a nature program last night which revealed that an earth worm has five hearts, I know some people that don’t even have one!
I was sat eating my four Weetabix this morning watching bouncer dancer - my visiting bird - messing all over my newly painted memory bench, I think we have the only graffiti bird in existence, a graffiti artiste is drawn to a blank wall like bee is drawn to honey, well bouncer dancer does the same, as soon as the bench is cleaned or painted , he leaves his mark!
Got my invite to the local doctors today. They texted me and invited me to make an appointment for my jab, yet when I tried to book it on my phone, it kept saying it was an unsafe site, how strange! In the end I gave up and phoned the surgery, I now have to pop along at twelve midday on Saturday and hopefully I will be mostly protected by the end of February. Mrs H is now a little worried that she’ll get her appointment on April 1st- I have no idea why.
I was writing this diary and I got to thinking that if I decided to write the story of my life the easiest way to do it would be through music. My whole life seems to have revolved around popular music, I can hear a song and I am immediately reminded of something I was doing or where I was that day. For instance, I only have to hear Matt Monro singing ‘Walk Away’ and I am immediately transported back to 1964 and the kitchen in our council house, we had an old leather bound radio on the windowsill which was always tuned into the BBC’s light programme, back then , there was a radio program called ‘Two Way Family favourites’ It was a request programme
designed to link families at home in the UK with British Forces serving in West Germany or elsewhere overseas. The programme was a big success with listeners. The programme was always on a Sunday lunchtime, so I can smell the Roast beef, the mint sauce and I can see the kitchen window steaming up as I listen to that old favourite. I first began to notice music at a very early age, but one of the earliest records that influenced me was Doris Day singing ‘Whatever will be Will be (Que Sera Sera) I have no idea why, but it must have been played a lot in 1956, because it got to No 1. The main pop charts started four years earlier..
But we have to go back to the beginning of the fifties when the charts were determined by the sales of sheet music, the biggest pop paper production of the day was the Musical Express and Accordion weekly, but sales were on a downward spiral so the owners gladly accepted a £1000 offer to buy them out in late 1951
Maurice Kinn the purchaser had always wanted to buy and own his own paper and was overjoyed, by March 1952 he had launched the New Musical Express, it soon became a hit with the youngsters whose only other choice at the time was the Melody Maker.
The American Billboard charts had begun way back in 1936 and was always improving, Maurice had followed their history with enthusiasm and looked to do the same sort of thing with his paper, together with Percy Dickins, and editor Ray Sonin, he decided it would be a good idea and provide a circulation boost to start publishing similar charts to reflect UK record sales. For the next 8 months the small editorial team planned furiously.
The result was that on November 14th 1952 (10 months after my birth) the New musical Express became the first to print a chart of the top selling records in Britain, since the early fifties it was not so much the song as the recording of a song that was bringing the youngsters of the day into record shops.
And so the music charts began, it didn’t take off immediately and the sheet charts would be around for a further 3 years although the death knell had been sounded.
The very first printed chart was listed as a top 12 but was in fact the top 15 because positions 7, 8 and 11 all had two equal listings. The sheet music which had been No1 since 25th October was ‘Here in my Heart’ by Al Martino (later in the 70’s had Blue Spanish eyes at No1) so it was inevitable that on the first ever chart on November 14th 1952 he would be listed as No1. The two previous No1’s on the sheet chart were also in the Record chart, they were Homing waltz and Auf Wiedersehin both recorded by Vera Lynn. The forces sweetheart also had a third hit in the record chart called Forget me Not, she was a definite favourite until Frankie Laine began to dominate the charts in 1953.
The main thing about the first chart was that there were no duplicated songs in two different versions, this was a favourite with the publishers of the day, they would get two of their singers to record the same song and therefore reap in the profits from both for one piece of music. But it didn’t last long, in the chart of December 17th Nat King Cole was singing Because You’re Mine right alongside the same song by Mario Lanza which was one of the very first to be recorded in the 45rpm as opposed to the 78rpm.
The first song to disappear off the chart was Jane Wyman with Zing a little Zong was a duet with Bing Crosby. Miss Wyman ex-wife of Ronald Reagan was the first ever one hit wonder would never chart again although Bing went on to have many more hits.
Hope you enjoyed this quick look at the charts.
Mrs H has been complaining that the way we communicate as a couple has been ruined by my constantly being on facebook – so I’ve blocked her!
1905 The birth, in Farnworth near Bolton, Lancashire of Hylda Baker, British comedienne, actress and music hall star. Her most famous role was in the comedy series 'Nearest and Dearest' with comedian Jimmy Jewel. They bickered on screen as part of the script, but the insults continued off screen. The two disliked each other intensely and their arguments became showbiz legend.
Also on this day in 1920, another comedy legend Norman Wisdom, actor & star of many comedy films, was born. In 1995 he was given the Freedom of the City of London and also Tirana in Albania where the population were devoted to him and referred to him as 'Pitkin'. He received an OBE in the same year and was knighted in 2000. He retired from acting at the age of 90 after his health deteriorated and died in October 2010.
There were 20634 new cases today and a further 915 more deaths.
Friday 05/02/2021 – Day 328
Overslept this morning, didn’t get out of bed until 7.00pm, I spent most of the day yesterday painting, well, when I say ‘most of the day’ what I really mean is around five hours, I don’t seem to be capable of doing much more in this cold weather, I go out there raring to go and a few hours later the cold starts creeping in to these old bones, I seem to have acquired a bit of the old Arthur (arthritis) in a few places on my body as well, my shoulder – which I injured over four months ago – still gives me some pain, and the big toe I broke last year is now throbbing like a bad case of gout lol.
As I said, I spent most of the day painting the supporting posts and other woodwork on the canopy, this included a six foot fence at the side of it, well I went out this morning and because it was too cold for the paint to dry quickly – it had all washed of the fence – stop laughing – so I have to do it all again, now I know how Tom Sawyer felt, trouble is, there’s no-one around gullible to take on the painting of the fence as there was in his story, but hey, hang on a minute – Mrs H, would you like to pop out here for a moment!
On this day in 1953 there were thousands of happy kids running around when something special happened, I actually wrote a poem about it:
Best Days of our Lives
It was February fifth nineteen fifty three I jumped out of bed with a feeling of glee, Pulled up my short trousers over slightly scarred knees slipped my Winter shirt on pulled up braces with ease.
The old socks on the floor would do for today had no time to look for clean ones anyway, I recalled yesterdays news, my heart skipped a beat today would be brilliant - a wonderful treat!
I ran down the kitchen where lovely old Mum sat me down at the table with an ultimatum, 'Eat every little bit or you're going nowhere- did you wash behind your ears, have you combed your hair?
My sister in her highchair was having a spree flicking food everywhere, and sharing it with me, As it slid down my face I Just wiped it away I swear there was nothing could upset me today.
I gave her a smile as porridge set in the bowl why was every breakfast such a rigmarole, The weather outside was looking so bleak as Mum spit on her pinnie rubbed dirt from my cheek.
'Go on then young Jimmy' she said with a smile 'Get out, enjoy it, it's been a long while'. I ran through the rubble still there from the blitz held tight in my hand my two threepenny bits.
Billy stood waiting at the end of our street his family were poor so I promised him this treat, I gave him his thruppence we headed off to the shop but our dreams were shattered as we reached the Co-op.
The queue was so long it reached around the back of Charlie's coal yard filled with nothing but slack, It wasn't just kids, lots of adults were in the queue men in bowler hats - fur coated women too!
With sadness in our hearts we joined the long line I assured young Billy that all would be fine, The queue started moving and in an hour or more our spirits were lifted, as we could see the front door.
Billy said it was great and well worth the pain then the sun disappeared and it poured down with rain! At last we were stood in the old Co-op shop on the ends of our noses a glistening dew-drop.
As we both looked around, we felt so bereft the glass jars were empty, one toffee apple left, So I quickly snapped it up to share with my friend on the day sweet rationing came to an end.
New cases stubbornly high again today at 19114, but 10,000 less than last Friday, registered deaths for the last 24 hours were 1014.
Saturday 06/02/2021 – Day 329
I was up bright and early this morning because I’ve got myself a new senior citizen satnav for the car, it came yesterday, it’s brilliant, not only does it tell you how to get there, it also tells why you went there in the first place.
I may have mentioned this before but I really do love a nice cup of tea, for years now I have been subjecting myself to the dregs of tea swept up from the floor after all the proper tea bags have been finished, well dear reader, no more, I have put my foot down with a firm hand and bought proper Yorkshire Tea bags, a bit pricy but well worth it, for a start they don’t leave your mug (drinking vessel not face) looking like it’s just been emptied of hot chocolate, and secondly, the taste is simply superb, perhaps in my 69th year I have become a connoisseur of real tea, either that or I have simply stopped being a tight-fisted old git!
Well I am cock a hoop, the Rugby is back today on TV in the six Nations tournament and we are playing the old enemy – Scotland, bring out the Guinness and bring it on! It started on this day last year but was halted before the end of the matches.
Went around to the doctors for my jab at 12 noon, I was tempted to sing ‘Do not forsake me Oh my darling’ but thought better of it as the nurses looked too young to appreciate the gesture. I must say though it was really well organised, I was shown straight in to the room, the girls asked a few questions as I rolled my sleeve up, I felt something touch my arm and the other young nurse said, “That’s it Mr Harvey, all done”. I then had to sit down in the waiting room for fifteen minutes. I sat there thinking, had they actually given me my jab? Why hadn’t I felt anything. Those thoughts soon faded and fifteen minutes later I thanked the young lady and left.
There were 18262 new cases today bringing my weeks total to 133,747, a massive 43,000 less than last week, the number of deaths were 828, bringing my total for the week to 6521, this is almost 1800 down on last week, there were also 1,889,878 people who have recovered, this was almost 216,000 up un the previous week, this only proves that the lockdown and the vaccination programme is working.
Well, I’ve finally got some pictures of the canopy I’ve been building for a couple of weeks, to be truthful, it went up in a week, but Mrs H wouldn’t let me show you it until it was presentable, she urges me to tell you that she now has to ‘dress and furnish it’ so my work is almost done and hers has just started, will show you more when it is furnished.
Sunday 08/02/2021 – Day 330
Got up this morning to put last weeks ramblings on facebook and it felt really cold in the Harvey Mansions, so I threw caution to the wind and put a pullover on,(bet you thought I was going to say I turned the heating up didn’t you).
I’ve had some wonderful feedback on the new canopy, but it isn’t really completed yet, The lovely Mrs H has got to cast her magic wand over it – if she can find out where I’ve hidden my wallet!
On this day in 1812 my biggest hero Charles Dickens, English journalist and novelist was born. He is considered the greatest novelist of the Victorian period. He created characters such as Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby and David Copperfield and amongst his other works were The Old Curiosity Shop, A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, Bleak House and many, many more. If I had ten per cent of that man’s writing talent, I would be a very happy writer.
Also on this day in 1974 Prime Minister Edward Heath announced a general election and appealed to the miners to suspend their planned strike, anyone remember when to reduce electricity consumption, and thus conserve coal stocks, Conservative Prime Minister, Edward Heath, announced a number of measures on 13 December 1973, including the Three-Day Work Order, which came into force at midnight on 31 December. Commercial consumption of electricity would be limited to three consecutive days each week. Heath's objectives were business continuity and survival and to avoid further inflation and a crisis. Rather than risk a total shutdown, working time was reduced to prolong the life of available fuel stocks. Television broadcasts were to shut down at 22:30 each evening, and most pubs were closed; due to the power surges generated at 22:30, the Central Electricity Generating Board argued for a staggered shutdown on BBC and ITV alternating nightly, and this was eventually introduced. The television broadcasting restrictions were introduced on 17 December 1973, suspended for the Christmas and New Year period, and lifted on 8 February 1974. My Mum had a pub at the time and it was complete chaos when all the beer was brought up from the cellar by electric.
Our Winter Sundays as youngsters were often spent around the 14 inch TV screen watching Old Mother Riley, George Formby or Tommy Trinder in films that you just don’t see now, all we seem to get is sport!, But there would be at least seven of us sat there, if the old man was in a generous mood we would have had sixpence pocket money, so inevitably we’d all be sat there chomping on Pineapple chunks, pear drops or the quieter Dolly Mixtures and Wine gums. At Teatime mum would open a tin of Carnation milk and a couple of tins of pears or peaches and we’d happily tuck into that for our tea, mopping up with a slice of Mother’s Pride or a ‘piece’ as we called it back then. Sometimes mum would make some of her lovely custard and it would be poured over either apple pie (homemade of course) or she would open a tin of prunes, it was always strange to see half a dozen bowls – the ones with those rims on them – on the drainer with half a dozen stones around the rim, another favourite of course was Jelly and custard, even from an early age we were encouraged to drink tea, so that would have been our beverage, it was either that or council pop (water). But they were happy days and I remember them with great fondness, every time I write about them another big chunk of information comes to mind, so the story keeps unfolding as I get older.
Monday 08/02/2021 – Day 331
I was lay in bed this morning remembering something that always makes me wince, apparently a snail can move across the edge of a razor blade without hurting itself, it produces so much slime that it can glide with ease, I lay there thinking that I know a few people like that!
The plan today was to go outside and paint the decking, but the ‘Beast from the East two‘ has put a stop to that, although we are only having snow flurries it is bitterly cold out there, I know this for a fact because I had to go down to the fridge in the shed to get more milk at 6.30 am this morning, why don’t I check on a night? – I have no idea!
Mrs H has woken up and the poor thing doesn’t feel very well, she is aching all over and looks poorly, so she’s gone back to bed after taking a couple of paracetamol. I will keep checking on her during the day, but it is a little worrying as to how quick it has come on.
On this day in 1952 when I was just 12 days old Princess Elizabeth formally proclaimed herself Queen and Head of the Commonwealth and Defender of the Faith. Lords of the Council, numbering 150, representatives from the Commonwealth and officials from the City of London, including the Lord Mayor and other dignitaries witnessed the accession of the deceased king's eldest daughter
Also on this day in 1983 Shergar, the Aga Khan's Derby winner, was kidnapped from a stable in County Kildare, Ireland. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of £2 million, which was never paid. The horse was never seen again. I’ve backed a few horses like that!
Some of you ask how Mrs H and I get on so well during lockdown, well, I’m here to tell you that it’s because we are both so loving toward one another, for example – over Christmas she helped me look for my chocolate bar that she had eaten the day before- now that is sheer love!
Tuesday 09/02/2021 – Day 332
I was lay in bed this morning thinking, isn’t it strange that as you get older your eyesight gets weaker, yet your ability to see through people becomes a lot stronger!
Report on Mrs H who is feeling a bit better today but still feeling drained – beginning to wonder if she’s turned into an empty wine bottle poor thing. But I looked after her yesterday, I took her umpteen cups of coffee, made her some soup and toast, but most importantly, I let her sleep and rest, on the evening she remarked that I had neglected her and left her on her own, I put it down to the lack of human contact all day!
This got me thinking about when we were young, unlike todays mum’s ours didn’t have to go to work (mostly) so most of the time it didn’t raise any problems, but there was always the chance that you were ‘swinging the lead’ (skiving) because you had PE or maths that day. However, if your mum was like mine, she could take just one look and know without fail whether you were ill or not, the ‘look’ was usually followed by a hand to the brow, a slight warmth to the forehead would ensure a day off, I personally always found a hot cup of tea to the forehead while she wasn’t looking did the trick alright. Then out would come the mixture usually a dose of Castor oil or some similar item held in the medicine cupboard, then it would be back to bed, mum would bring the inevitable bottle of Lucozade up the stairs, this was promised to cure any ailment in a child, it would be a small miracle when you would jump out of bed like a spring chicken the very next day. Of course, childhood illnesses in my day weren’t a thing to be sneezed at (sorry), doing PE outside in freezing cold weather in pants and vest - while your teacher stood there all wrapped up sucking on a woodbine - didn’t help of course. All those star jumps, press ups, and touching of the toes designed to keep you warm – didn’t! Then you would be taken inside shivering and forced to drink a third of a pint of milk that had arrived frozen earlier that morning, so was put by the radiators to thaw out and was now luke warm. I always wanted to be a milk monitor, no-one ever noticed if they drank theirs or not. Visits from the school nurse would break up the daily routine. But of course, all that came to a halt in 1971 when Thatcher the Milk snatcher stopped the free milk, then a few years later, all those kids that were robbed of their daily nourishment voted her in as Prime Minister, do we Brits never learn? Back then there was also Nora the nit nurse who used to make regular visits to check for headlice and all the children in each class would line up to be examined in turn, their hair being combed nay scraped with a shiny metal nit comb to see if there was any infestation, of course, what we didn’t know as we carried our purple liquid on the ‘walk of shame’ past the long line of children waiting to go in, was that nits were only found in clean hair. There were also routine eye and hearing tests, and visits from that sadistic butcher laughingly known as the school dentist. No wonder so many of my generation have false teeth those dentists put us off for life, I have since learned that they got paid for each extraction and each filling, but they had to provide their own anaesthetic, explains a lot.
There was also the polio vaccine, given at school to every child on a sugar lump. Measles, German Measles and Mumps were not vaccinated against; most children contracted these diseases in regular childhood, so, if like me, you came from a large family it would spread like wildfire throughout the household. German Measles, or Rubella, could also affect unborn babies in the womb if contracted in pregnancy, and so if a girl in the class caught German Measles, it was not uncommon for her mother to throw a tea party for the rest of the girls so they could also catch the disease.
I could go on about this forever, I may have to revisit childhood health again.
Talking of school, I am so glad I was taught to play the recorder whilst there, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve solved a problem with a quick blast of Three Blind Mice!
It’s no wonder that I was forever feigning illness!
Wednesday 10/02/2021 – Day 333
Woke up this morning and thought I’d try my luck on our talking scales, I got on and they said I should be aware of social distancing, could the other person please get off!
Turned on the TV, which is a rarity for me as I can’t stand Piers Morgan, and there he was staring out at me, eating his breakfast, he left Susanna Reid looking on in horror as he gave the viral Weetabix and baked beans combination a taste test live on Good Morning Britain.
The journalist, 55, didn't hesitate to sample the dish on air after social media was sent into meltdown earlier this week when Weetabix tweeted out their bizarre new recipe - to a decidedly divided response.
Never one to shy away from controversial matters, Piers Morgan happily tucked in to the pile of loaded cereal, while rationalising the recipe. Rest assured dear reader, I won’t be trying it, Mrs H says I spend far too much time in the loo as it is.
I have spent the majority of today indoors in the warmth, however, there is no rest for the wicked as most of my readers know, so I began to change three of Mrs H’s large candle lit lanterns into more permanent electric ones. Remember in the seventies when you’d had a romantic meal and shared a bottle of Mateus Rose wine, the idea was that you kept the empty and turned it into a table lamp, there are dozens of them at car boots after acrimonious break ups etc. Well Mrs H had a couple of those huge glass and metal lanterns that were designed to hold a candle but were costing a small ransome in batteries, so I sent off for the correct lamp fittings and set about changing them to electric. I always have my music on whilst I work and I was just about to test the first lamp when ‘Come on Baby Light My Fire’ by the Dors started to play, so, just to be on the safe side I waited a few minutes. The result is that Mrs H has now got three brand new table lamps and they have cost less than a fiver each.
I hate mobile phones so I always tend to leave mine in the kitchen, I was in the lounge next to Mrs h last night, she was enjoying a quick snack and texting on her phone (don’t you just love multi-taskers?) as we watched TV, then I heard my phone ring in the kitchen, I went in and read the message, it was from Mrs H and read “On your way back bring the salt with you” can you believe the cheek of the woman.
Thursday 11/02/2021 – Day - 334
I was lay awake this morning thinking wondering, do you realise that your good health and future is linked to the common sense of others? Frightening isn’t it!
I had to finally brave this freezing cold weather and go out into the repair shop to tidy the place up, I vowed when it was completed that I would never let it become like the old garage used to be – a dump! But over the past few weeks whilst I was doing her highness’s canopy, I let it get into a bit of a state, in fact, it looks like a council estate rummage sale five minutes after the doors were opened, and believe me, I know that’s true, I’ve been to enough of them myself. But dear Mrs H was right behind me as usual, suggesting that I go in and put the heater on for an hour before I started! Anyway, the upshot is that I now have a nice clean work area once again, everything is back where it should be and I am ready for Mrs H’s next command – when it gets warmer of course.
On this day in 1975Margaret Thatcher won the Conservative Party Leadership and became the first woman leader of a British political party. And also in 1976John Curry became the first Briton to win a gold medal for men’s figure skating. The result of these two historic events is that we have all been skating on thin ice ever since.
If you see a man holding the car door open for his wife, you can be sure of one thing, his car is brand new or his wife is!
Isn’t it strange how, in these days of uncertainty you just can’t trust anyone, I read this in the paper yesterday. A bride, on her wedding night turned to her new husband and whispered;
“I have to confess darling, I was once a hooker.”
“Mmm’ he said unperturbed by the revelation, “That sounds interesting, quite erotic actually, tell me more.”
“Well” she replied, “My name was Nigel and I played for Wigan.”
Friday 12/02/2021 – Day 335
The trouble with living in a semi-detached is the thin walls, my neighbours are complaining about the loud moans and groans accompanied with lots of puffing and panting coming from our bedroom every morning – if only they knew that I was just trying to put my socks on.
On this day in 1809Charles Darwin, English naturalist and author of The Origin of Species, was born, in Shrewsbury. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection. He published his theory with compelling evidence for evolution in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species. By the 1870s the scientific community and much of the general public accepted evolution as a fact. George reckons that if there are any of you out there that don’t believe we came from apes, then you should nip down to his local any Saturday night after lockdown.
Also on this day in 1993A 2 year old boy, James Bulger, was abducted from the Strand Shopping Centre, Bootle, and later killed by two 10 year old boys, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson. They were the youngest people to be charged with murder in England and Wales during the 20th century. A mere eight years later, in June 2001, the parole board ruled that the boys were no longer a threat to public safety and could be released. They were given new identities and moved to secret residence locations but on 2nd March 2010 Jon Venables was returned to prison, short term, for a violation of the terms of his licence of release.
When I was little my siblings always called me ‘spoiled brat’ because I got everything that I asked for, but it wasn’t my fault that our parents just kept having babies until they found one they liked, it is so not my issue!
Mrs H and myself have hardly sat down all day, firstly I had a delivery from B & Q, then I had some more timber delivered to make Mrs H some planters, at 11.30 Mrs H’s dozen red roses arrived with her Valentine card, she still won’t tell me who sent them, just joking, it was me of course. At 2.30 the Tesco delivery arrived and we’d only just finished and the door bell rang again, it was the blinds we’d ordered for outside which were supposed to be coming next week! Avery busy day.
Earlier on I tried to get Mrs H registered for her up and coming pension. First of all she had to be identified, Well, I wish I hadn’t bothered! We were both so stressed by the end of the attempt that we were exhausted, three times we gave them all the information and three times we ran out of time! I even had one of those virtual employees and was speaking to her online still to no avail, in the end I messaged her and told her we weren’t going to bother, we would wait for the official letter. I’ll just have to wait and see if Mrs H is worth hanging on to – moneywise.
Saturday 13/02/2021 – Day
I hadn’t heard from George for ages and decided to give him a ring, Rose answered, “Oh, the silly bugger’s only gone and got Covid hasn’t he, well he hasn’t got it but he went next door to borrow one of his tools and a few days later he got a text telling him he had to isolate for ten days, he phoned the neighbour and the air was blue! It seems the neighbour caught it from his Granddaughter after she took him groceries, hang on I’ll get him for you.”
A rather pathetic sounding George came on to the phone.
“Hello, oh alright Eric, yes got a bit of the lurgy, only one more day left though, I need to get out to get Rose a Valentine’s card.” I suggested he stay inside and use Moonpig or Funky Chicken.
“Oh no”, he protested, “The last time I trusted someone to do something for me I got into all sorts of bother. It was when I was courting the first wife back in the fifties I wanted to buy a birthday present for her.
We hadn't been seeing each other for very long and she lived in Birmingham and I lived in Kidderminster.
So I consulted with my sister and we decided, after careful consideration, that a pair of good quality gloves would strike the right note... not too romantic and not too personal, know what I mean?.
Off I went with my sister to Marks and Spencer’s and we selected a dainty pair of fur lined quality, leather gloves.
My sister bought a pair of sexy knickers for herself at the same time.
Marks and Spencer’s had a "Free Gift Wrap Offer" on as it was Valentine’s. But the shop assistant mixed up the two Items, my sister got the gloves and I – unknowingly - got the knickers.
I was quite excited that I’d found something so I sent off my gift wrapped present in a parcel with the following Letter.
I chose these because I've noticed that you are not wearing any when we go out in the evenings. If it had not been for my sister, I would have chosen the long ones with the buttons, but she wears shorter ones (which are easier to remove). These are a very delicate shade, but the lady I bought them from, showed me the pair she had been wearing for the past three weeks and I hardly noticed any marks. I had her try yours on for me and she looked really smart in them even though they were a little bit tight on her.
I wish I was there to put them on for you the first time, as no doubt many other hands will touch them, before I have a chance to see you again.
When you take them off, remember to blow into them a little bit, because they will be naturally a little damp from wearing.??
Just imagine how many times my lips will kiss them during the coming year.
I hope you will wear them for me on our next date.??
All my love,
P.S. My mum tells me that the latest style. Is to wear them folded down, with a little bit of fur showing.
He put the phone down so now I have no idea whether or not George was telling the truth, but at least he was back to normal.
Sunday 14/02/2021 – Day 338
I woke up this morning with love in my heart, it is after all Valentines day. I have always tried to be a romantic, I did however have to question George’s outlook on life when he said in a sort of drunken stupor in the pub one night;
“Women are alright, but there’s nothing like the real thing.”
I questioned him about his statement next day and he couldn’t remember ever saying it!
Today of course is the Feast Day of St. Valentine, patron saint of lovers. In fact there were fourteen Saint Valentines of ancient Rome. Of the Saint Valentine whose feast is on 14th February nothing is known, except his name and that he was buried at the Via Flaminia north of Rome on this day. The day first became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. Gretna Green, historically the first village in Scotland, has been performing weddings since 1754. They originated from cross-border elopements stemming from differences between Scottish marriage laws and those in neighbouring countries. Mrs H and I visited it with our friends Janet and John when we toured Scotland a few years back.
The oldest known Valentine's Day message in the English language has recently been uncovered by the British Library. Written in Norfolk more than 500 years ago, it was loose in a book they acquired from a donator, but has only just been discovered, while the language used to word them may have changed, the sentiments expressed in the message would find sympathy with many people living today. While technology may have changed beyond recognition since medieval times, it seems some things remain the same. Men still shy away from commitment, women still take care of the nitty-gritty of wedding arrangements - and a girl's best friend is her mum and has been for over 500 years. The Valentine message, which dates back to 1477, is from Margery Brews to her fiancé, John Paston. In it, she tells John she has asked her mother to put pressure on her father to increase her dowry, while at the same time saying that, if he loves her, he should be prepared to marry her anyway.
This is what Rebecca wrote to John;
"Unto my right well-beloved Valentine John Paston, squire, be this bill delivered. "Right reverent and worshipful and my right well-beloved valentine, I recommend me unto you full heartedly, desiring to hear of your welfare, which I beseech Almighty God long for to preserve unto his pleasure and your hearts desire. "And if it pleases you to hear of my welfare, I am not in good health of body nor of heart, nor shall I be till I hear from you. "For there knows no creature what pain that I endure, And even on the pain of death I would reveal no more. "And my lady my mother hath laboured the matter to my father full diligently, but she can no more get than you already know of, for which God knoweth I am full sorry. "But if you love me, as I trust verily that you do, you will not leave me therefore. "For even if you had not half the livelihood that you have, for to do the greatest labour that any woman alive might, I would not forsake you. Love you truly "And if you command me to keep me true wherever I go, indeed I will do all my might you to love and never anyone else. "And if my friends say that I do amiss, they shall not stop me from doing so. "My heart me bids evermore to love you truly over all earthly things. "And if they be never so angry, I trust it shall be better in time coming. "No more to you at this time, but the Holy Trinity have you in keeping. "And I beseech you that this bill be not seen by any non earthly creature save only yourself. "And this letter was written at Topcroft with full heavy heart.
"Be your own Margery Brews."
Well. How romantic is that! It is thought the couple did eventually tie the knot and had two children.
On this day in 1963British politician Harold Wilson was elected leader of the Labour Party following the death of former leader Hugh Gaitskell. Reminds me of that old joke when Harold’s secretary said to him, “Can I borrow your dictaphone?” he supposedly replied, “No, use your finger like everyone else!” (sorry ladies, that joke is older than me, I couldn’t resist it).
In 1984British ice skaters Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean won the ice dance gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, gaining maximum points for artistic expression. This was the famous ‘Bolero’ dance.
Don’t you think that life is strange? You finally get your head together – and your body falls apart!
The number of new cases today were 10972 almost 5000 down on last week, the number of registered deaths were 258.
Monday 15/02/2021 – Day 339.
My old mind was doing overtime when I was lay in bed contemplating on getting my idle frame into first gear, did you know that the first ever jigsaw was created by a chap called John Spilsbury? Apparently in 1770 he cut around the countries on one of his maps after pasting it onto hardboard, of course it was I who created the first ever 3 D jigsaw when I broke Mrs H’s best vase and had to glue it all back together, and yes, she did notice.
I was deleting some old stuff from my phone when I came across an old text message my daughter sent me asking why I didn't do something useful with my time..........Like sitting around the garden and drinking wine was not a good thing.
Talking about my "doing something useful" seems to have been her favourite topic of conversation. She said she was "only thinking of me" and suggested I go down to the local club and hang out with a few of my friends.
I did this and when I got home that night I decided to teach her a lesson about staying out of my business. I e-mailed her and told her that I had joined a parachute club.
She replied, "Are you nuts? You are 68 years old, and now you're going to start jumping out of airplanes?"
I told her that I even got a membership card and e-mailed a copy to her. She immediately telephoned me, "Good grief, where are your glasses! This is a membership to a Prostitute Club, not a Parachute Club."
"Oh dear” I replied, “I'm in trouble then; I really don't know what to do... I signed up for five jumps a week." The line went quiet and her friend picked up the phone and said that she had fainted.
Life as a senior citizen is not getting any easier but sometimes it can be fun.
On this day in 1952The Queen's father, King George VI, was laid to rest in St .George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
And of course, the other big news 1971was that the British Government launched a new, decimal currency across the country. The familiar pound (£), shilling (s) and pence (d) coins that had been in existence for more than 1000 years were to be phased out in the space of 18 months in favour of a system with 100 pennies to the pound rather than 240. I was working for a supermarket at the time, all those poor little old ladies delving into their purses and paying with an old pound note just to get decimal money in their change. A lot of them didn’t want it of course, but we weren’t allowed to give them old money back by law. Comments like ‘Mickey Mouse money’ and ‘The biggest con of the century’ were rife.
Been working outside today, it was like Summer, compared to the last week, it was probably about 9 degrees but by the time I’d been out there ten minutes I’d got my coat off! I love days like that where it’s mild and no rain.
The number of new cases continue to fall and were once again nearly 5000 down on last Monday, registered deaths were at 230.
Tuesday 16/02/2021 – Day 340
When we first went into lockdown Mrs H and I decided to write down everything we didn’t like about each other – Mrs H is still writing hers!
I was sat typing this load of garbage ready for my readers perusal, (He lives in Outer Mongolia) when I suffered a severe case of lethalogica, when I looked the word up it meant the inability to remember the word that you want!
Well, today is the day every child in the country has been waiting for (unless their mum is a terrible cook, in which case they’re dreading it). Pancake day was always eagerly awaited in our house and my dear old mum would start preparing the mixture early in the morning. There was none of this ready made mixture available today, there were no ‘microwave pancakes’ ready to warm up and put disgusting toppings on.
So by the time we got home from school the pan was already hot and sizzling, there would be one of those really large light brown mixing bowls – which every housewife had back in those days – full to the brim with the yellow mixture. Mum would dip a cup in to the bowl and pour the liquid into the frying pan, the sizzling sound was sometimes deafening, she’d allow the mixture to find its own level and then wait for the pancake to start bubbling, this was her cue to grab the handle and with great dexterity she’d toss the contents into the air and we’d all watch as it miraculously landed back in the pan with sheer perfection – and the other side up. There was then a scramble to see who was going to get the first one! My Mum’s pancakes were so thick and large that it was all you needed for your tea. As I said, there were no fancy fillings or toppings, just a sprinkling of sugar, roll it up and you were ready to go, mum would go on to make a dozen perfect pancakes, one for everyone, but we always hung around in case there was enough batter for a second one, sadly there never was. We would all be crowded into a small kitchen filled with the smells of oil etc, so as soon as we’d had a veritable feast, we would go outside to our mates who would immediately say;
“You’ve just had pancakes haven’t you?”, I always wondered how they knew!
Shrove Tuesday always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday, so the date varies from year to year and falls between February 3 and March 9. So that is why in 2021 Shrove Tuesday falls today on February 16th. Shrove Tuesday was the last opportunity to use up eggs and fats before embarking on the Lenten fast and pancakes are the perfect way of using up these ingredients. The pancake has a very long history and featured in cookery books as far back as 1439. The tradition of tossing or flipping them is almost as old: “And every man and maide doe take their turne, And tosse their Pancakes up for feare they burne.” (Pasquil’s Palin, 1619).
The ingredients for pancakes can be seen to symbolise four points of significance at this time of year: Eggs ~ Creation Flour ~ The staff of life Salt ~ Wholesomeness Milk ~ Purity
So. I hope you have enjoyed your pancakes today, Mrs H is doing ours for lunch and I can already taste them.
Registered deaths have risen today to 799 which is half of the numbers a couple of weeks ago. Meanwhile new cases were 10624 over 2000 down on the previous week.
Wednesday 17/02/2021 – Day 341
The recycling bin was due to be emptied this morning, our bin men have to don ear defenders due to the terrible noise Mrs H’s empties make as the bottles clatter into the back of the bin wagon!
Well, I hope you all survived your pancakes yesterday. Today is Ash Wednesday Are you wondering why a small dusty cross anoints the foreheads of Christians once a year? No?, well, I’m going to tell you anyway, so grab a cuppa, Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, a 40-day period of penance for Christians around the world. It always falls on the Wednesday six and a half weeks before Easter, which Christians believe is the day Jesus was resurrected.
The origins of Lent trace to 325 CE, when it was more commonly used as a preparation phase for baptisms. The holiday's length is an homage to Jesus Christ’s 40-day fast as he travelled through the wilderness after being baptized and before he began his ministry. This period is considered by Christians to be God's test of Jesus's spirituality and ability to withstand temptation. Mrs H and I have failed this test miserably on many occasions.
Today, Christians use the holiday both to repent and reflect. The ash cross marking observers’ foreheads is meant to represent mortality and penance for their sins. It is applied by a priest during a morning mass, often along with a small blessing: Sadly, not ‘well done young Eric’ but "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return." Many choose to keep it on all day. The ash is made from the burned palm leaves used during the previous year’s Palm Sunday, which commemorates Jesus's arrival to Jerusalem. It’s believed that residents welcomed him by waving palm fronds.
Ash Wednesday sets the tone for Lent, which is considered a time for self-improvement. I fear this is far too late for Mrs H and I, Originally, Christians observing Lent were allowed only one meal a day and were forbidden from eating meat or fish during the entire period. Well this is definitely too late as we’ve already had breakfast and lunch! This tradition was relaxed by Roman Catholics around World War II. While some still abide by a strict version of the fast on Fridays during Lent, many instead choose to give up indulgences like alcohol and social media. (In that case we are all worthy, especially after the last twelve months) Lent ends on Easter, (Thank Goodness) more than six weeks after Ash Wednesday. (Sundays are not counted in the 40-day observation period.)
There you are you disbelievers, another snippet from the useless info department.
Anyone remember when wallpaper came with perforated edges, I can remember my Mum bashing both sides off a roll of wallpaper. She used to hit it on the edge of the table. And it would miraculously drop off, the ends were there to protect the edges of the thin wallpaper, It was like a half inch edge that hadn't been printed on. Once pasted and on the wall it looked great and the edges matched perfectly. The decorators on building sites where I worked, would use a bricklayer’s trowel, one chop and it was gone!
New cases were slightly up today at 12,718, while the death count was at 738.
Thursday 18/02/2021 – Day 342
Nothing much happening today so let’s have a trip down memory lane.
On this day in 1949Opportunity Knocks was presented for the first time (on BBC radio) by its creator, Hughie Greene. It later transferred to Radio Luxembourg then went on to become a popular television programme, the original radio version started on the BBC Light Programme, where it ran from 18 February to 29 September 1949, but moved to Radio Luxembourg in the 1950s. It was shown on ITV from 20 June 1956 to 29 August 1956, produced by Associated Rediffusion.
The late Freddie Starr was one of the first to win, Su pollard who’s character later became chalet maid Peggy in Hi de Hi. Paul Daniels the magician also now sadly gone, a group called Los Caracas who later became the Pop group Middle of the Road, had hits with ‘Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheep Cheep,’ and Where’s your Mama Gone’.
On the comedy side there was Royston Vasey later to become Roy (Chubby) Brown, in a cleaned up act, Little and Large, Frank Carson. Max Boyce and my all time favourite Les Dawson, I watch repeats of his show now and he still cracks me up.
On the entertainment side there were acts like Bonne Langford, Bobby Crush, Pam Ayres whose ‘ I wish I’d looked after me Teeth’ was a smash hit.Deborah Stephenson, Lena Zaveroni. Who could forget the muscle twitching Tony Holland, known as the Muscleman, he would come on and flex his muscles to music.
On the singing side there was Mary Hopkin who went on to have a No1 with ‘Those Were The Days’. Berni Flint who had a smash hit in 1977 with ‘I don’t Wann Put a Hold on You’. Millican and Nesbitt appeared in 1973 and had a top 20 hit with ‘Vaya Con Dias’.
Peters and Lee, remember he was blind, had a No1 in 1973 with ‘Welcome Home’ which funnily enough was No 1 on the day I got married to Mrs H the first time. Neil Reid a young lad had a No 1 with a song called ‘Mother of Mine’ Paper Lace who had a string of hits were also winners. Gerry Munroe appeared in 1969 and had a lot of hits with classics like ‘My Prayer, and ‘It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie’.
How many of you remember Barry and Paul Elliot? perhaps If I told you that they later became ‘The Chuckle Brothers’.
Several winners of Opportunity Knocks (notably Tammy Jones, Champagne, Tony Monopoly) later attempted to represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest, taking part in the ‘A Song for Europe’ competition. Lee Evans appeared in 1986 but was rejected and did not make it past the initial audition. Kaz Hawkins appeared in the 1980s' revival as a child.
Twenty years after the start of Opportunity Knocks, on February 18th 1969Hundreds of people clamoured to see the marriage of pop stars Lulu and Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees in a Buckinghamshire church. They divorced in 1973, the same year Mrs H and I got married.
It’s a shame that their marriage didn’t last as long asBill Cooper (83) and his wife Laurel (82), who had spent the previous 36 years sailing round the world and clocked up 100,000 nautical miles, they returned to the UK to retire, because their health was starting to fail. They had sold their home in Chatham, Kent, and set off from Lowestoft, Suffolk, in June 1976 on their 50ft. vessel Fare Well.
New case figures were once again over 10000 but only just at 12057, registered deaths were at 454.
Friday 19/02/2021 – Day 343
Mrs H and I were up very early this morning as we both had a telephone appointment with someone who was going to write our Last Will and Testament – no, this does not mean that you’ll see the end of me any day now – it is a precaution. We are taking advantage of an offer to have mirror Will written, I don’t know why we’re bothering, what’s mine is hers and what’s hers is her own!
We had a chap come round about 15 months ago with the same offer, he sat in our front room and drank copious amounts of our tea, He was there so long that I started to look around for his suitcase, the standard Will was no problem, but then he started to try and scare more money out of us, mentioning things like local authorities taking the house when sorry - if Mrs H should finally lose the plot, he was insisting that the house would be taken to pay for her keep, I could argue that she’d still be capable of washing up etc, but I doubt that it would hold much water with our council, they hate anything old and we have a rubbish town to prove it.
Anyway, I digress, this chap was in our house so long that even when we got our nightclothes on and put the cat out he didn’t budge, in the end I reluctantly wrote a cheque for the £1200 he was asking nay demanding, he then finally clicked his briefcase shut and left with a smug grin on his face, he hadn’t even unlocked his car door before I was on the phone to the bank to cancel the cheque.
So we thought we’d give it another go, on the initial phone call I explained all this to the chap setting up the phone call and he responded with ‘oh no, we don’t do that sort of thing Mr Harvey.’ So we waited for the phone call and we had everything ready, the first 15 minutes was a breeze, then he started his spiel, it was basically a repeat of what the previous chap had said, do they have a standard manual that the read from, are they all trained the same way and at the same place, do I have MUG stamped across my forehead, we had to let him go through the motions as he said he was obliged to tell us these things by law, but this chap did at least give us five minutes to make up our mind on whether or not we wanted to part company with £1400 of our hard earned money, when he came back on the phone a simple ‘no’ was enough to see him close the phone call by saying our ‘ bog standard’ Will would be with us soon,
Only problem is that dear Mrs H thinks that we’ve saved all that money and is now demanding all sorts of stuff, clothes, gardening stuff etc – Help!!
Today I received a second letter from the Health Secretary, I have so much correspondence from him that he is now on my Christmas card list, anyway the contents revealed that I now have to self-isolate until the end of March, he will write to me again (bless him) in the middle of March to let me know how things are shaping up, how very kind of him.
New registered deaths today were at 533, but new cases were holding steady at 12027.
Saturday 20/02/2021 - Day 344
Woke up to the realisation that in just two weeks time I will have been in lockdown for exactly one year, I have been out of the house twice, and one of those was for my jab, my dustbin has been out 26 times, how is that remotely fair dear reader?
Well, the day has finally arrived! At 11.00am this morning Mrs H is going along to have her first jab. I have heard of women who have refused their jab – because it reveals their age lol!. It is once again pizzitively possing down outside, and it looks as though it’s in for the day. I had a visit from some people yesterday to have my photograph taken, can’t say what for at the moment but watch this space.
I’ll be glad when the sun shines again and I can put my sunglasses on, I like sunglasses, you can look at people without them knowing, a bit like Facebook.
George’s neighbours phoned him up after the severe winds this week to tell him that his trampoline had blown into their garden, he told them he didn’t own a trampoline, it seems that a pair of Rose’s knickers had become unattached to the clothes line. Both are naturally reluctant to reclaim them.
I was wondering – in these days of lotteries (which in my humble opinion is the biggest con on God’s earth) does anyone still do the football pools? My dad used to sit there religiously marking his football coupon desperately trying to get the desired 8 score draws and win the £75000 jackpot (in the late fifties). In those days Littlewoods were the main people, but there was also Vernon’s, collectors would come round the houses giving out the coupons on a Monday and would collect them on a Thursday, they were also available on Public house bars. I must say that the odds on winning a substantial amount were a lot better than todays lottery, have you noticed how many times there is a ‘rollover’ since they increased the number of balls? If you think about it, there is absolutely no sense in doing the lottery for the first three or four weeks as the chances of winning it are very, very small, but on the fifth rollover the law says it has to be won, so if there is no outright winner then it is shared by the second in line, why don’t they just take those extra balls away again? Because they are making a lot of money that’s why.
I hate rainy days and being shut up in the house, not because I’m claustrophobic or anything like that, oh no, the explanation is a lot simpler than that, in short it is Mrs H. ‘Lets go online’ she says, ‘I could do with a couple of things from Dunelm’ she says, Over £100 later – I hate rainy days!
Todays new case figures were once again really low in comparison to two weeks ago, they were at 10,406 today, a drop of 16,700 on last week and almost half of two weeks ago. The registered deaths were 445, sadly still far too many but again half of two weeks previous, and 1,360 less than last week’s total. The total number of weekly recoveries also continues to rise, today the figure was 2,331,001 a rise of 205,670 on last week. It looks as though the lockdown is beginning to bite at last, if we could only stop those selfish youngsters having mass raves – we could all get through this.
Sunday 21/02/2021 – Day 345
Well, dear reader, here we are at the start of a brand - new week and just under 3 weeks from my first year in isolation, has it been fun? Well, the answer has to be yes, the Harvey mansion is all looking spic and span although – as dear Mrs H keeps reminding me constantly – it is still ongoing. Has it been busy, of course it has, I am now at the stage where I will be glad to get back to work for a rest! But I am sorry to have to inform you all that even when this horrible virus is gone, you will still have to put up with my weekly missive – all that will change is the title and the content, as I will have a lot more to moan about.
On this day in 1910it was the birth of Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader who lost both his legs while attempting aerobatics in 1931. As an RAF fighter ace during the Second World War he was credited with 20 aerial victories, many shared victories and 11 enemy aircraft damaged. As a POW he was a thorn in the side of the Germans, and he made so many attempts at escape that the Germans threatened to take away his legs. He was brilliantly portrayed by one of the best actors of the time Kenneth Moore in the 1956 film ‘Reach for the Sky’, one of my favourite black and white films.
1952The government of Winston Churchill abolished Identity Cards - "to set the people free". Funnily enough I was ‘set free’ that year (or was it my Mum), I was born in January.
Also in 1952A year after her first divorce, Elizabeth Taylor was married for the second time. This husband (number two of eight) was Michael Wilding. The marriage lasted for five years. Elizabeth Taylor was as famous for her love life as her acting. There were no fewer than eight marriages - though only seven husbands, as she married Richard Burton twice.
Here’s a useless fact for you, the man who created Micky Mouse has a phobia, Walt Disney suffers from musuphobia – a fear of mice! I have discovered recently that Mrs H certainly doesn’t suffer from Oenophobia, it is a fear of wine!
1961The Beatles appeared for the very first time at The Cavern Club, Liverpool. They went on to make a total of 292 other appearances there.
1988The grave of Boadicea, the warrior queen who fought the Romans in Britain nearly 2,000 years ago, was located by archaeologists under Platform 8 at King’s Cross railway station, London. British Rail said they had just refurbished the platform and anyone wanting to dig it up would have to come up with a strong case. And they did! Makes you wonder – do you think anyone will dig Maggie Thatcher up in a few hundred years time – no, I doubt it as well.
As you all know, I’m not known for my generosity, so when Mrs H asked for some money, I asked innocently, “What have you done with the housekeeping from last week?” she replied, “Turn sideways and look in the mirror!”.
On this day in 1997Three men (James Robinson and cousins Vincent and Michael Hickey) were released from prison after serving 18 years for the murder of Midland schoolboy Carl Bridgewater when the Court of Appeal ruled that their convictions were unsafe. I remember that case well, he was delivering newspapers a couple of miles from where I live and it was thought he stumbled across a burglary, the doorway where he was murdered has now been bricked up and a new doorway put in elsewhere.
Also on this day in 2001The European Commission banned all British milk, meat and livestock exports following the UK's first outbreak of foot and mouth disease for two decades. That bunch have beaurocrats have been putting their foot and mouth into us ever since, until we kicked them into touch!
2008The death of Sunny Lowry, the first British woman to swim the English Channel (1933). She was berated as being a 'harlot' as her light two-piece suit, which was considered very daring at the time, bared her knees. So, does that mean all the young girls of today with their ‘torn jeans’ look are all harlots?
On this day in 2014, 28 year old footballer Wayne Rooney's signed a new contract with Manchester United. The deal will earn him more than £70m over five-and-a-half years - (up to £300,000 a week) what was that wartime expression? Oh yes, overpaid and over here. He was the worst ambassador for the kids, constantly mouthing off on the pitch and forever spitting.
In 2015 Mevagissey council in Cornwall abandoned plans to name a road "Hitler's Walk" after protests from across Britain. Councillors said the road has been called Hitler's Walk unofficially by locals for decades, not in memory of Adolf Hitler, but after a local man called called Wright Harris. In his self-appointed role as enforcer of harbour fees in the 1930s Councillor Harris was fond of recording the comings and goings of fishing vessels from a vantage point at the top of the Cornish village.
I was wondering if they ever named a road after Mrs H, there would never be any potholes or maintenance needed – she would make sure of that – believe me, I know, but I still love that woman to bits.
There were 9834 new cases today and also 214 newly registered deaths, but these are weekend figures.
Monday 22/02/2021 – Day 346
I woke up at 5.30am this morning and do you think I could get back to sleep, despite watching the TV until 1.30am ( We are currently binge watching ‘White Collar’ on Netflix) so I lay there with my mind doing overtime. It could have been worse, it is a well known fact that worker ants never sleep!
It is, as usual pouring down with the wet stuff, although it was mostly dry yesterday, I am seriously thinking about going into the business of building Arks, if it wasn’t for the cost of delivery for timber I would. But my first job today is to go and tidy the Repair shop, yes I know, I only did it last week, but every time Mrs h asks me to do a job It gets into a mess, doesn’t stop her asking though.
Been reading this morning about the Government needing volunteers between the ages of 18 and 30 to lie in bed all day, their meals will be brought to them on a tray, and they will have free access to the TV in a room on their own. One of the best perks is that they will be injected with an unknown substance, apart from the fact that they will get paid £4600 for the two weeks they are there, I know a couple of thousand that will already suit this job, in fact, it is a job made in heaven for the majority of Britain’s youth.
I need to go out and finish painting the decking, but it keeps raining, the new ‘Garden House’ (this is what Mrs H has decided to call the new outside room, I wanted to call it the ‘Orangery’ but she told me not to be so stupid as the building is mostly white – yes I know) is now fitted out with clear blinds which keeps the weather out but allows us to keep the view of the garden, they do the job really well.
I was feeling a bit romantic last night so I said to Mrs H, “Shall we change positions later?” I didn’t think much of her answer,, she replied, “What, you mean you’ll stand at the ironing board while I lie on the sofa watching TV?”.
On this day in 1857The birth of Sir Robert (Stephenson Smyth) Baden-Powell, English hero of the siege of Mafeking during the Boer War. His innovative approach to the situation kept morale high and his experiences led to the founding of the Boy Scouts. Exactly 32 years later on the same day in 1889The birth of Lady Olave Baden-Powell, Robert’s wife. She was Chief Guide for Britain in 1918 and World Chief Guide in 1930. Her autobiography Window on My Heart was first published in 1973. 22nd February is also World Thinking Day, celebrated since 1926. It is a day of international friendship, speaking out on issues that affect girls and young women, and fundraising for 10 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world.
Well. After the disastrous start to the day the weather finally cleared up and by midday we were basking in sunshine, I managed to get quite a bit of painting done and Mrs H spent her time getting the cushions and accessories out for the Garden room. By 2.00pm it was so warm ion there that we had to open the blinds!
Boris came on TV at 7.00pm to explain his roadmap out of lockdown, I was so pleased that he hadn’t been bullied into doing things too quickly, even though some of his own MP’s were giving him grief, I’d sack the lot of them!
The number of new cases today was 10641 slightly up on previous figures, the number of registered deaths was 178.
Tuesday 23/02/2021 – Day 347
I really thought that getting up early yesterday morning would have seen me have a lie-in today, but no, 5.45 I was awake again, by 6.15am I was downstairs and eating my four Weetabix.
A couple of weird things happened to us today, I was having a conversation with she who must be obeyed when the subject of tea came up - this is food tea, not drinking tea for the more elite - amongst you, anyway, Mrs H was asking me what I’d like for the said tea, I couldn’t make up my mind, as I normally eat whatever my love puts in front of me, until she suggested egg, chips and beans (once my favourite meal), she could see by the look on my face that I didn’t want that.
Mrs H So, what would you like?
Me Anything except cardboard chips (oops)
Mrs H What do you mean? (oh dear, me and my big mouth)
Me I’ve just gone off frozen chips, no, I hate frozen chips, I need proper chips!
Mrs H Why didn’t you say so before?
Me (stuck for words) I didn’t like to, you seemed quite happy dishing them up
Week after week (oops again)
Mrs H You only had to say, I thought you liked them!
So, the conversation went, the problem is that Mrs H won’t have the house stinking of fat when chips are cooking, and I really don’t blame her to be honest, but what we managed to do was reach a compromise, most of our outside area is under cover, so we have agreed that when I want ‘real chips’ I will go outside and cook them, a small price to pay! Talk about striking while the fat is hot, within minutes I was on the faithful old laptop looking for a deep fat frier online, I saw the perfect one at Curry’s and less than £20, perfick! I ordered it straight away. The only problem being that I went onto my mail later in the afternoon and wondered why I hadn’t had an E mail from Curry’s about my order, probably because I hadn’t actually ordered it! I had to go back and do it all again.
But I wasn’t as bad as Mrs H, earlier this morning she stripped all the bedclothes off and I saw her take them downstairs, we were sat having a nice relaxing cup of tea this afternoon when her eyes went the size of saucers, “Oh my God!, I’ve put all the washing in the machine and forgot to switch it on.”
Welcome to my world Mrs H, welcome to my world.
There were 8489 new cases today, the number of deaths were at 548, I know this is still high, but it is a lot lower than previous weeks, so it is going the right way at last.
Wednesday 24/02/2021 - Day 348
I was up so early this morning that I don’t know why I bothered going to bed! But after my usual four Weetabix I was off outside into the wonderful Spring weather that has been gifted to us for a few days. I am still working on the Garden room, we have now made a decision to go ahead and fit double-glazed units to the building, it will still be a wonderful garden room but means that we could use it all year round, sort of makes the Summer house slightly redundant, but hey ho. We didn’t go on holiday last year and we won’t be going anywhere this year, so we thought why not, It will take up to five weeks to make the four units, but watch this space.
Now we know where those American protesters who stormed the White House got their ideas from, on this day in 1909Suffragettes attempted to break into the Houses of Parliament. The police made 29 arrests. As usual the yanks were well late again.
On this day in1920Lady Nancy Astor, (the first woman to ever hold a seat in the House of Commons), became the first woman to speak in Parliament. Apparently she was still speaking when they all went home and returned the next day!
Today in 1926was the birth of Jean Alexander, BAFTA Nominated English television actress. She is best known for her role as Hilda Ogden in the soap opera Coronation Street, a role she played for 23 years and also as Auntie Wainwright on the longest running sitcom, Last of the Summer Wine from 1988 to 2010. The poor downtrodden Hilda always had the viewers feeling sorry for her, what with having to work her fingers to the bone to support the ‘great lump’ brilliantly played by the late Bernard Youens, but that scene in the street when he died was worthy of a Bafta.
Also on this day in 1962the Beatles played a concert at the Birkenhead YMCA for a fee of £30. The audience didn't enjoy the show and the Beatles were booed off stage. They left early for a second gig at Liverpool's Cavern Club, and the rest, as they say, is history. But in all honesty, they were not that good live.
1981The Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer ended months of speculation by announcing that they would marry in the summer. That poor woman, if only she had known that she would become a pawn in Charlie and Camilla’s life.
There were 9938 new cases in the last 24 hours with a further 442 registered deaths,
Thursday 25/02/2021 – Day 249
We actually sat outside in the Garden room and had breakfast this morning, the sun was shining and it was a wonderful mild Spring day, I half expected a little lamb to poke its head around the corner!
When I ordered some sheet materials for the Repair shop way back last October they came on a dirt great wooden pallet which was worth more than the materials it was carrying, but one of the strange idiosyncrasies of the British way of life seems to be that whatever is dropped on your drive belongs to you. I mean, how much could they knock off the price if these companies were forced to recycle the hundreds of thousands of wooden pallets that they literally ‘dump’ on unsuspecting customers every year. We obviously pay for them – indirectly – so why not reduce the cost of the purchase and take their pallets back?
Anyway, I digress (nowt wrong with a good whinge thee knows) what I am trying to say is that for almost six months Mrs H has been eyeing this pallet up. It’s actually eight feet by four feet, but that doesn’t faze Mrs H, oh no, in her mind it can be used to make outdoor furniture, planters, sanded down for various other jobs etc etc etc. Have any of my readers actually ever tried to dismantle one of these things without splitting the planks, trapping fingers or getting a handful of splinters, you have more chance of re-floating the Titanic!
But Mrs H in her infinite wisdom looks at this lump of wood and it miraculously transforms into a Bar before her very eyes, she even told me how to cut it so I had a front and two sides! She is watching far too many of these afternoon DIY programmes. I look at it and see an out of shape twisted item which is only good for firewood. But Mrs H insists that I use it to construct a Bar for the Garden room, so I have struggled most of the day just to get the monstrosity square in order to hide it with proper wood, I need another day just to finish it, beam me up Scotty.
We have one of those solar lamp posts outside our house and it hasn’t worked for over a month, being on a main road it makes it quite dark so I messaged one of my friends who is a local councillor and she asked me a bit of information, within 48 hours Mrs H has seen the light again.
The number of new cases continue to hover around 10,000, with todays being 9985 along with 323 new deaths.
Friday 26/02/2021 – Day 250
I was outside this morning attempting to resuscitate the lifeless lump of wood that Mrs H wants me to turn into a wonderful Bar when a record came on the radio that took me right back to my childhood, the record was Charlie Drake singing ‘My Boomerang Won’t Come Back’.
For a few minutes I was transported back to the days of Uncle Mac (Derek McCulloch) who did Children's Hour every Saturday morning at 9.00am. Some of those songs back then were real classics and we would sit in awe listening and hoping that our song would play. Uncle Mac did the show from 1954 to 1965. A
Can you remember this song? ‘There was an old man named Michael Finnigan, he grew whiskers on his chinnigan. He shaved them off and they grew on agaiin, poor old Michael finnigan’. Then you’d begin again. Each time you sing it you have to sing it faster and faster. Bernard Cribbins was a favourite with ‘Hole in the Ground’ and Right said Fred’. One of my personal favourites was a 1961 song from Tommy Cooper. 'Don't jump off the roof, Dad
You'll make a hole in the yard
Mother's just planted petunias
The weeding and seeding was hard.
It ends with us telling him to Jump in the lake instead.
Burl Ives was another favourite with ‘I Know an old Lady who swallowed a Fly’. And ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain’. I think he also did ‘The Ugly Bug Ball’. Meanwhile our own Max Bygraves serenades us with classics such as ‘I’m a Pink Toothbrush, You’re a White Toothbrush’ and ‘Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer Katzenellen Bogen By The Sea’. Many a happy hour spent getting my young mouth around that one.
Lonnie Donegan gave us, ‘Does your chewing gum lose its flavour on the bedpost overnight.’ And the wonderful ‘My Old Man’s a Dustman’.
New Christy Minstrels sang, ‘Three Wheels on My Wagon’, and always a favourite ‘The Laughing Policeman by Charles Penrose’.I mean, have you seen the video to that song – it would terrify any little ones today lol.
Meanwhile Harry Belafonte told us that ‘There's a hole in my bucket dear Liza’.. I loved that one. Then there was what I called the Puffing Billy song - started with "Down by the station early in the morning, See the little pufferbillies. All in a row. See the station master. Turn the little handle. Chug chug puff ...” I don’t recall any more, but it was either Tommy Dorsey or the Four Preps who sang it.
.Ronnie Hilton sang about ‘A Windmill in old Amsterdam...A little mouse with clogs on well I declare’ while Patti page asked ‘How much is that doggy in the window’.
Another favourite I can’t leave out was ‘Hallo mother , Hallo father’ by Alan Sherman, but I'd forgotten ‘Mommy gimme a drink of water’. That was by Danny Kaye I think.
We mustn’t forget Val Doonican with ‘Delaney's donkey’ - Riley pushing it and shoving it the day Delaney's donkey ran the half mile race.’Paddy McGinties Goat’ was another and of course O’Raffert’s Motorcar’.
A couple more to finish with Mandy Miller with ‘Nelly the Elephant’, and Anne Murray with ‘The Teddy Bear’s Picnic’.
Well, that’s a bundle of information from one song on the radio, Uncle Mac retired in 1965 and Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart took over the reins, but the name was changed to Junior choice. I hope you enjoyed my walk down memory lane.
Figures continue to fall as there were 8523 new cases reported today, death numbers are falling also, although still too high at 345.
Saturday 27/02/2021 – Day 251
Today we join the rest of the nation in saying goodbye to the much loved, Captain Sir Tom Moore. He epitomised the spirit of our wartime generation and was an inspiration to millions, bringing us all together in the most challenging of times. A modern day hero and a man who will be sadly missed.
We were watching TV last night and a couple of rather overweight mothers were having a chat, “Why are married women always a lot bigger than single women?” I asked inquisitively. She said “Single women come home, see what’s in the fridge and go to bed, Married women come home, see what’s in bed and go to the fridge.”
That bar of Mrs H’s has driven me to distraction, as I said, she insisted that we recycle this enormous pallet to form a sort of shell, that thing has caused me so many problems, anyway, I was sat there with the love of my life having lunch yesterday when I glanced through the patio windows at the almost completed bar, I kid you not – it looked enormous! I had visions of Mrs H having to climb a set of steps just to get served, I knew all along that there was something wrong with it, and that it seemed out of proportion, but that one glance confirmed it, I did ask Mrs H how tall she wanted it, she actually marked it out on the wall, I remember looking and thinking ‘that looks a bit tall’, The upshot was that after lunch I went back outside and sawed a further twelve inches off the offending article, I stood back and it looked a lot better and more in keeping to the situation. Hopefully I will finish it today, but it has been a long haul.
Breaking news! A man who has taught his dog to play the trumpet on London’s underground is over the moon, apparently he went from Barking to Tooting in less than an hour.
Remember me telling you earlier in the week that some people came around to take my photograph, well, contrary to popular opinion I wasn’t the star of Police Five (Remember that? Keep em peeled with Shaw Taylor) no, apparently I was nominated for a very prestigious award for supplying this load of garbage every week, it seems my fan in the Outer Hebrides thought I should get an award for keeping you all happy every Sunday with this massive missive. So, my photo went into the local paper (no-one’s noticed since Thursday lol) and I was presented with a special certificate for supporting the Community and looking after people’s wellbeing during lockdown.
Seriously, whoever nominated me, thank you very much, it really does mean a lot to me.
Mrs H is not a happy bunny, for the first time in half a century she volunteered to make the second cuppa this morning, as she opened the patio blinds a pigeon the size of Wales flew at her, it seems that it had been trapped in the Garden room most of the night having flown in through the doorway, I never knew that one of those things could mess so much, poor Mrs H has now got the washing machine on and is washing the four or five cushion covers that the bird managed to crap on, this is another good reason for putting in permanent windows and doors.
I think Mrs H is cheating on me, she was in the garden weeding this morning and kept mentioning for Pete Sake, Gordon Bennett and Willy Eckerslike.
The number of new cases was at its lowest for the whole week, there were 7434 new cases giving a total of 64,844 for my week, that is over 14,000 less than last weeks total. The number of registered deaths for today was 290, that gives a total of 2360 for my week, almost 1100 less than the previous week. Figures show that the vaccines are now beginning to work, recoveries to date were at 2,846,208 that is a massive 514,000 up on last weeks total.
I will leave you with a photo of my presentation, please feel free to download it and pin it on your fireplace – it will keep the kids away from the fire! Oh and a photo of that pigeon whom I have now called ‘Lucky’ because he is lucky Mrs H never took its head off!