• harveyvickie

Diary of a Self-isolator week 51 - 55

Sunday 28/02/2021 – Day 352

Here we are at the start of week 51 and just 13 days away from the first time I ever foisted this pile of garbage on to you – the unsuspecting reader.

Another frosty start but what promises to be another warm day here in downtown Kidderminster. I opened my AOL mail this morning to be greeted by pictures of thousands of people on the South coast basking in the mild weather, even after they have been told not to relax yet, will they never learn?

I went downstairs very apprehensively this morning, I opened the blinds to check for trapped pigeons, happily there were none to be seen.

Opposite where I live there is a big patch of greenery where there is a most splendid show of daffodils every Spring, sadly it is also a place used by the many dog owners in this area, I have this theory, I reckon dogs are the most intelligent life force on this planet, Why? I hear you cry, well dear reader, the dog is pampered all day, taken for walkies, then it poops anywhere it likes and guess who has to carry it home? I rest my case M’lud.

Today in 1888In a Belfast street, a small boy named Johnny Dunlop was riding his tricycle under the supervision of his father. The two rear wheels of the tricycle were the world's first pneumatic tyres and he was testing them. The test was so successful that his father was granted patent number 10607 on 23rd July.

I have a question for my male readers, When you’re 25 you play football, when you’re 45 you play tennis, then at the age of 65 you play Golf, Have you noticed that the older you get – your balls get smaller?

On this day in 1918The birth of Alfred Burke, British actor best known for his portrayal of Frank Marker in the drama series Public Eye, which ran on television for ten years from 1965 to 1975.

Also on this day in 1925The birth of the actor Harry H. Corbett. In the early 1950s, he added the initial "H" to avoid confusion with the television entertainer Harry Corbett, who was known for his act with the glove-puppet Sooty. A chance meeting with writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, who had been successful with Hancock's Half Hour, changed Corbett's life. He is best known for his starring role in the popular and long-running BBC Television sitcom Steptoe and Son. Early in his career he was dubbed 'the English Marlon Brando' by some sections of the British press, Steptoe and son first appeared on our screens in 1962, there were four series up until 1965, but for some inexplicable reason it was then dropped for five years until 1970, then it came back onto our screens until 1974. A classic comedy, who can forget Albert the ‘dirty old man’ having a bath in the kitchen sink whilst eating pickled onions, and I’ll bet there aren’t many of you know the name of their horse! Oh dear, I suddenly feel very old.

Mind, You know that you’re old when you start planning your afternoon nap while you’re still lying in bed at 8.00am.

There were 6035 new cases reported today, while the number of deaths were at their lowest since last September at 144.

Monday 01/03/2021 – Day 353

White rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits, no dear reader they’re not breeding, that is what we say on the first of the month around these parts.

Well, it were a real crispy job this morning, everything was white when I hauled this sack of bones from the comfort of our bed, having said that, I don’t think it was quite that cold, it’s just that we’ve been really spoilt over the last few days with the above average weather. I had my four Weetabix and popped my head outside as the rest of my body didn’t seem to want to know, it was far too nippy so I decided to leave it a few hours before venturing out.

It was a good job I was up early, my timber delivery arrived at 7.30, a nice cheerful chap with no mask and no gloves knocked the door, I swear, I’m going to put a great big red ring around our doorbell, no-one seems to use it, anyway, I had to tell him I was shielding so I couldn’t help him unload the order (besides the fact that it cost an arm and a leg) “No problem” he said cheerfully - and he got on with the job – leaving me feeling a little guilty. The poor chap, it took him longer to undo all the straps than it did to take my delivery off, then he had to do them all up again!

Did I tell you that at the moment our post is a little non-existent? It turns out that over fifty of the local postmen have tested positive for the virus, it’s not surprising I suppose, given the number of letters and parcels they must handle every day, my heart really does go out to them and their families who also have to isolate for ten days.

Around 11.00am it seemed to be a bit warmer, so I donned my coat and off I toddled outside to sort out the electrics for the Garden room. We are ok for lighting as there was already a light there, but we have no sockets for Mrs H to plug all her lamps into, or to plug her mini bar into, I mean, heaven forbid that she is forced to drink warmish White Zinfandel.

The doing of the job in hand wasn’t a problem, I just had to get a cable from the nearby Garage fuse box and into the Garden room – doddle of a job – or so I thought. Have you ever used one of those tightly wound cable drums? It was fine at first it started coming out nice and straight and I thought I’d be finished for lunchtime, then it started to twist – and knot – and twist again, the cable was doing more twisting that a three thousand strong fan club at a Chubby Checker re-union party! The more I tugged the worse it got, in the end I was forced to bow to the supremacy of the twisted 25 meters of cable and roll it out flat down the garden, twisting it back flat as I went. It was 3.00pm when I finished, and that was only placing the cable, tomorrow I have to attach the sockets – why me Lord?

I went back into the warmth of our lounge and sat down to relax, then Mrs H walked in, took one look at me crushing her best cushions with my dirty clothes and then looked at me, I got out of there quicker than a speeding bullet.

New cases continue to fall as the vaccines do their job, the number registered today was 5455, the number of deaths were half of what they were two weeks ago and numbered 104. We’re not there yet but we are heading in the right direction.

Tuesday 02/03/2021 - Day 354

I was lay awake this morning contemplating the fact that it is physically impossible for pigs to look up to the sky, that is very true, trust me, would I lie to you? Here’s another startling fact that I read last night (I lead such an interesting and varied life – yawn) Rats multiply so quickly that in just eighteen months two rats could have over a million descendants, no wonder Roland always looked so happy on TV.

We had so much post today that the poor old postman had to ring the doorbell it would have taken him ages to post it all through the letterbox, I don’t have a fan club and neither does Mrs H, it was all bills and circulars!

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock was on TV at teatime yesterday, it seems that they have lost a male/female who has got the Brazilian strain of the virus and is running around freely. Otherwise it was a back patting exercise for the NHS. I’m sure all those hard working Nurses and Doctors would rather see a big thank you in their wage packets – nuff said!

On this day in 1918the birth in Kenmare, Ireland, of Sir Peter O'Sullevan, horse racing commentator for the BBC for fifty years, from 1947 to 1997.He lost me a pretty packet on nags that he said came in first instead of my choice.

Also on this day in 1930David Herbert Lawrence (known as D.H. Lawrence), novelist and poet, died from tuberculosis in Vence - France at the age of 44. His books included Lady Chatterley's Lover, Women in Love and Sons and Lovers. This reminded me of my schooldays, I was naughty and started smoking at a very early age, we used to gather down a mate’s entry for a quick smoke before school, one day he brought out his Dad’s secret copy of Lady Chatterley’s lover, we didn’t have to search for the best bits as all the best pages were dog eared from constant use by his dad!

1947The birth of Harry Redknapp, former English footballer with a long career in football management, starting in 1983 with Bournemouth and manager of Tottenham Hotspur from 2008.

And finally, on this day in 2015 The last surviving Dambusters pilot (Squadron Leader Les Munro) decided to sell his gallantry medals awarded for the famous raid and donate the proceeds to the newly-built Bomber Command Memorial in London, dedicated to the 55,573 airmen killed during the Second World War. The Dam Busters was the first film I ever went to see at the cinema, I went with my older brother Mick, I was about four years old at the time but that stirring music score has stuck in my mind all my life, If I hear it now it still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. In those days there were always two films shown, the other film starred one of my childhood favourites Tommy Trinder, the film was called ‘You Lucky People’ and also starred Dora Bryan I think. Happy days back then.

Didn’t venture outdoors till around 11.00 am as it was quite cold, but within an hour the sun was out and I was working in just a T shirt, I had jeans and shoes on as well of course, I managed to complete all the electrics for the Garden room which included three double sockets, It was getting pretty chilly again by four o clock so I thought I’d connect it to the mains tomorrow as I didn’t want to make a mistake and have a batch of unwanted curly hair! Don’t worry, my friend who is a qualified electrician is going to check it all out when it’s done.

The Government search for the last Brazilian variant suspect has been whittled down to just 379 homes in the South East of the country. All those people will be contacted to see if they had a test on the 13th or 14th February and have not had their results back yet. Meanwhile the usual Tuesday surge after the weekend hasn’t occurred this week, New cases remain stable at 6391 and registered deaths in the past 24 hours were 343, half of what they were two weeks ago.

Wednesday03/03/2021 – Day 355

I read last night (yes, I can read) that Honey is the only known food that doesn’t spoil, it seems that honey that was found in the tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs was tasted by archaeologists and was found to be edible, we only know this fact because the archaeologist lasted just long enough to utter the words (just Joking, but the honey fact is true).

It was with some trepidation that I went into the Repair shop today, why? Well the main fuse box for outside is in there and I had to connect all the sockets that I had fitted yesterday, It wasn’t a job I had been looking forward to as I do like my hair quite straight, I stripped the wires and poked them into what I assumed were the right places – then I threw the switch – bit of a result, there were no loud bangs, no sudden flashes or surges, so either the sockets weren’t working or I had done the job correctly, I plugged my drill into the first socket, yes perfect, I tried each socket in turn and each was fine, the Garden room was now live – if you’ll excuse the pun!

Then it started to rain, just as ‘Singing in the Rain’ came on my radio, I decided that it was a day for relaxing so I grabbed a book and sat down to do just that, I was reading about some of the great British Dramas that had been on our TV screens and it was quite fascinating to read about it, I suppose you all recall the excellent ‘Dixon of Dock Green’, but do you remember that PC George Dixon started life as a bobby in a film called ‘The Blue Lamp?’, he was actually killed off in the film but resurrected by popular public demand. Who can forget the eccentric Siegfried and his brother Tristram, they were accompanied by James, the series ran from 1978 to 1990, it was set in Yorkshire and was based on the books of real Vet James Herriott.

Speaking of Yorkshire series can you remember a series called ‘Sam’ about a young man played brilliantly by Mark McManus, making his way up in the property business it ran from 1973 -1975, I’ve always been a sucker for nostalgic series and one of the best was ‘When the Boat Comes In’ starring James Bolam and covering events in Gallowshields in the North East of England as Jack Ford leaves the army after the end of World War One.

You’d have to go back a fair old way to recall ‘Dr Finlay’s Casebook’ though, a Scottish series set in the small town of Tannochbrae in the 1920’s and based on A J Cronin’s books ‘A Country Doctor’, It starred Bill Simpson as Dr Finlay and Andrew Cruickshank as Dr Cameron, but the real star of the show for many was the housekeeper Janet, played wonderfully by Barbara Mullen. It was re-made in the early nineties but never had the same impact as the original series.

A series that was considered a bit steamy and Taboo at the time was ‘Bouquet of Barbed Wire’, it was about the relationship of a father played by Frank Finlay and his daughter played by Susan Penhaligon, some of the scenes for that period were quite explicit and kept many a housewife on the sofa while the old man was down the local! The first screening was in 1976, but it was so popular a sequel was ordered in 1977 called ‘Another Bouquet’ using the same characters but later in life. A New version was made in 2010 and starred Trevor Eve, it also did quite well in the ratings.

Another brilliant series was of course ‘A Family at War’, It revolved around the Ashton family from Liverpool covering the years from 1930 to 1945, there were three series from 1970 to 1973.

And finally, what I considered was one of the best dramas on TV was ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ about an upper crust family who reside at 165 Eaton Place in London's fashionable Belgravia, and their servants ("downstairs"). The series covered the period 1900 to 1930 and ran from 1971 to 1975, it made big stars of a lot of the then unknown cast. Two of the best loved characters were played by John Alderton and Pauline Collins who were Husband and wife in reality, a spin off series called ‘Thomas and Sarah’ was created for them, such was their popularity.

I hope you enjoyed my quick look at British Drama, made in a time when good acting and writing was imperative and Drama didn’t rely on two men in a relationship, two women kissing or a host of foul language.

Well, Mrs H and I sat there at 12.30 pm watching good old Rishi Sunak giving it his best shot in Budget 2021 – and we both fell asleep. Rock on Rishi, the best thing ever for insomnia!

New cases continue to hover just above the 6000 mark, today they were 6385, newly registered deaths were at 315.

Thursday 04/03/2021 – Day 356

Got up a bit late this morning because I started watching a new tv program last night, it’s about a bloke who only drinks blood but eats everything.I think it was called Vampire the Buffet Slayer.

My calculator has stopped working without warning. I don’t know what’s wrong with it, It just doesn’t add up.

I can’t wait for this lockdown to end and I can go to friends weddings again, the last wedding I went to the groom was a quizmaster, He said to all the men in the room “Go and stand next to the person who has made you the happiest for most of your life.” The poor barman was almost crushed to death.

I finally heard from George today, “Where have you been” I asked, he said he’d been building a chicken coup in his garden, he’s decided to get some hens because he’s fed up of buying stale ones at the supermarket, besides the fact that he was fed up of putting his mask on and gelling all the time.

“I went to Sainsbury’s the other day to stock up on eggs, and I was there for literally 5 minutes. When I came out there was a parking attendant writing a parking ticket for being in a disabled spot. So, I went up to him and said, "Come on, mate how about giving a guy a break?"

He ignored me and continued writing the ticket. So I called him a pencil-necked horse jockey He glared at me and started writing another ticket for worn tyres. So I then asked him if his psychiatrist makes him lie face down on the couch cause he's so ugly. He finished the second ticket and put it on the windscreen with the first. Then he started writing a third ticket! This went on until he’d placed 5 tickets on the windscreen. The more I insulted him, the more tickets he wrote.

I didn't care. My car was parked around the corner.”

“And apparently. last week a car similar to mine was used in a robbery, on the way home from Sainsbury’s I was stopped by a police car, he got out and asked where I was between 6and 7, I don’t think ‘school’ was the answer he wanted.”

Sigh! I’ve missed George.

I’ve been putting the finishing touches to Mrs H’s Bar (as in drinking) I have to say the whole thing has been a logistical nightmare, just to keep it square took all my skill and knowledge, I wish I’d never seen that pallet, in fact the next time I order sheet materials I am going to insist that they take their rubbish pallet home with them!

New cases were at 6572 today, the highest number for the week, newly recorded deaths were at 242.

Friday 05/03/2021 – day 357.

Do you remember I was doing an article about children’s favourite songs last week? Well, I came across an episode of ‘Torchy the Battery Boy’ on You tube this morning, how on earth I watched that as a youngster I will never know, he was really quite creepy looking and put the recent ‘Chucky’ well in the shade. I must do a piece on what we used to watch on TV as children, I mean, everyone knows about the old favourites like Andy Pandy, the Woodentops etc, but I can think of a few that’ll jog your memory, watch this space.

I was forced – through no fault of my own – to watch bits of Coronation street last night, what a dire lot! There is absolutely no-one in that show who is a true character, which of course means that the programme is a waste of time, it’s not the actor’s fault, it is the so-called writers who churn out this garbage and expect the viewer to believe it. I recall the days of the 70’s and 80’s when you cared about the likes of Hilda Ogden, Ena Sharples, Minnie Caldwell, Annie Walker, because they were proper characters drawn from real life, Even lovable rogues like Jack and Vera Duckworth, Stan Ogden and Eddy Yates were all real people, everyone knew someone like them in real life. The writers in my humble opinion have really lost their way and get their characters to just stumble from one crisis to another, because there are no real writers with an ounce of imagination left in any of the soaps – it’s no wonder we all live in the past! Rant over.

I’m off outside to finally paint the Bar, I really will be glad to see the end of this project, it has dragged on so long.

Air supremacy played a big role on this day in 1936The British fighter plane Spitfire made its first test flight from Eastleigh, Southampton, powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. It was designed by Reginald Mitchell and was the fighter plane that helped to win the Battle of Britain. Mitchell died in 1937 without ever knowing how successful his aircraft would become. The Spitfire was first put into service with the Royal Air Force in 1938 and they remained in active service (as photo reconnaissance planes) with the Royal Air Force until 1954

Also on this day in 1943The first flight of the Gloster Meteor jet aircraft. It was the first British jet fighter and the Allies' first operational jet. The Meteor's development was heavily reliant on its ground-breaking turbojet engines, developed by Sir Frank Whittle.

These events reminded me of a children’s TV programme I used to watch in in the end of the fifties, Nearly 30 years before The Flying Doctors (early 90’s) took off from Cooper’s Crossing, tall, handsome American doctor Greg Graham (Richard Denning), his blind colleague and old friend Dr Jim Harrison (Peter Madden) and his trusty nurse, Mary (Jill Adams), were life-savers in the Australian outback. Responding to urgent radio messages, they winged their way (always just in the nick of time) to remote patients in a small plane piloted by their friend, Charley (Alan White). Anyone else remember this?

New cases for today were 5947, the number of deaths continue to fall and today were at 236, half of last Friday’s figure.

Saturday 06/03/2021 – Day 358

Woke up this morning with another silly fact going through my head, it seems that if you flew a plane to the Sun it would take you twenty years to get there, it would be a lot quicker to get a taxi to number 1 London Bridge Place and visit the editor there!

After my four Weetabix this morning I decided it wasn’t too bad outside so I went out to mow the lawns whilst they were still dry. I had forgotten that I’d buried the mower somewhere in the middle shed, beneath a mixture of packing and ladders, half of which I had to remove just to get the merest glimpse of the new mower I bought last year and which has only been used twice. I stretched out my arm and just about touched the handle with my fingertips, I strained to get a grip (not for the first time in my old life dear reader) but It was no good, I was going to have to empty at least another quarter of the shed if I was going to rescue the mower from all the crap I had thrown on top of it during those jobs in the Winter.

I eventually managed to retrieve it and pushed it triumphantly down the path to the waiting forest, I plugged it in, started it up and immediately got a covering of grass cuttings – I had forgotten the collection box – and guess where it was? Yes, I had to remove the final quarter of the shed to retrieve it, the garden was now looking like the council tip, covered in all matter of stuff that I am too tight to throw away, serves me right!

On this day in 1961The death of Lancashire born entertainer George Formby from a heart attack, 'king of the ukulele'. The man who had shone out from our TV screen most Sunday afternoons died at the early age of 56. Formby was buried alongside his father in Warrington Cemetery with over 150,000 mourners lining the route. The undertaker was Bruce Williams who, as Eddie Latta, had written songs for Formby. An hour after the ceremony the family read the will, which had been drawn up two weeks previously. Harry Scott—Formby's valet and factotum—was to receive £5,000, while the rest was to go to Pat Howson the woman he was planning to marry later that year; at probate Formby's estate was valued at £135,000. Formby's mother and siblings were angered by the will and contested it. In the words of Bret his biographer, "mourning was marred by a greedy family squabbling over his not inconsiderable fortune".

Todays new cases were 6040 bringing the total for the week to 42,825, still quite high but a huge 22.000 down on last weeks total. Newly registered deaths were 158, bringing the total for the week to 1,542, that is just over 800 down on last week, the chance of survival are also rising rapidly, to date, 3,199365 people have recovered, that again is 353,357 more over the week. Things at last are starting tolook a lot better, let us pray that it continues.

Week 52

Sunday 07/03/2021 – Day 359

Well, I woke up with a spring in my step this morning – probably because my foot had gone through the mattress! This of course is my final week of the first year of typing this drivel and putting you all through a lot of misery.

I’ve had some lovely comments about the new Bar, although it isn’t quite finished yet, we have to stock up with more alcohol. The bank balance and I just can’t keep up with Mrs H.

In 1876The Scottish-born inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, patented the telephone. Bell's father, grandfather, and brother had all been associated with work on elocution and speech, and both his mother and wife were deaf; factors that profoundly influenced Bell's life's work. Ironically, Bell considered the telephone an intrusion on his real work as a scientist, it was far too easy for his wife to get hold of him and he refused to have a telephone in his study just after his Mother and wife discovered his number.

But it would be on this day in 1926 before the first transatlantic telephone call was made, from London to New York.

Also on this day in 1946Doctors mounted a campaign to oppose the introduction of a National Health Service. Between 1946 and its introduction in 1948, the British Medical Association (BMA) mounted a vigorous campaign against this proposed legislation. In one survey of doctors carried out in 1948, the BMA claimed that only 4,734 doctors out of the 45,148 polled, were in favour of a National Health Service. That was a massive ten to one against the scheme, they feared that they would lose income, and they would become pawns of the Government, a compromise was done by allowing doctors surgeries and practises to remain private.

1968The first news programme in colour was broadcast on BBC2. But we have to go back quite a bit earlier to find the first programme, sometime between 1946 and 1950, the research staff of RCA Laboratories invented the world's first electronic, colour television system. A successful colour television system based on a system designed by RCA began commercial broadcasting on December 17, 1953. BBC2 broadcast its first colour pictures from Wimbledon in 1967. By mid-1968, nearly every BBC2 programme was in colour. Six months later, colour came to BBC1. By 1969, BBC1 and ITV were regularly broadcasting in colour. BBC 2 viewers were really relieved when BBC 2 broadcast snooker in colour, not to mention the presenters!

Every time I get something stuck in my throat I drink a bottle of beer to dislodge it – I call it the Heineken manouvre.

There were 5177 new cases reported today, there were also 82 registered deaths, but figure are always low on a Sunday.

Monday 08/03/2021 – Day 360

As we continue the countdown to day 365, I was awoken this morning not by the alarm clock but by a massive sigh of millions of mothers as their little honey monsters returned to school for the first time in over12 weeks, of course it must be said that there are also millions of children whooping with joy that they’ll see their long lost friends again. Some worldly wise parents sent their kids back last Monday, the kids protested that they weren’t due back for another week, but as the canny parents kissed them goodbye with a big smile they just told them to walk very slowly!

I was a tad annoyed as I watched Boris on the 4.00pm update today, one of the early questions was ‘Did they expect a slight surge in new cases as schools re-opened ‘, of course they did was the answer, but hopefully most of the top four groups had been vaccinated anyway, then the next idiot Robert Preston asked immediately ‘ ‘Would the Government now reconsider speeding up the back to normal process as recent results are a lot better than first expected’, I mean, is it me? That man is the Political correspondent for ITV, and yet he doesn’t seem to listen. Another complete moron from the Sun newspaper wanted Boris to answer a question about whether or not he thought the Royal Family were racist, what is wrong with these people? No wonder our country is in such a mess, sorry but it really infuriates me that we have to listen to such garbage, I mean, you only have to read my blog, can you imagine me being let loose on the box? No, I didn’t think so.

Today dear reader it is National Women’s Day, Women from every corner of the globe come together on March 8, which is also a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Every year, this day is celebrated with a theme. The theme for this year's International Women's Day is “Choose to Challenge”. I posted a poem on my site which I wrote a while back, it was about Edith Cavell a first World war nurse who really was a heroine when she secretly helped over 200 soldiers back home, sadly, she was caught and executed by the Germans, that, to me is what this day should be all about, if my mother in law was still here she would claim it about her!

Today is also Commonwealth day, which is not celebrated as much as it was back in the days when it was called Empire Day.

Today’s new case numbers were 4712 while the number of deaths also went down to 65.

Tuesday 09/03/2021 – Day 361

I usually start the day with good Intentions – then I get out of bed, and that’s where it all usually starts to go wrong.

I have some bad news, I’ve not been feeling my best over the last few days I just wanted to let everyone know that I have been admitted into hospital and I'm staying in. Mrs H has only gone and poisoned me, thanks to her lack of cooking skills. What she thought was an onion for my salad turned out to be a daffodil bulb. The good news is that they said I should be out in early spring.

Well, what a debacle over the last two days and especially last night, I refer to of course - the interview – Mrs H made me sit through two agonising hours of Meghan and Harry (or Has as Meghan prefers to call him). I have no idea why they wanted to share their past lives with the world, or why they chose Old Oprah to do the interview, (except for the fact that she was invited to the wedding of course), While I have every sympathy for them both I fail to comprehend why they should make such racist allegations against the Royal family, they had absolutely nothing to offer to substantiate the very harmful words that they spoke about the conversations had about the colour of the babies skin, neither did they have any proof that it was indeed Kate who made Megan cry and not the other way around. Thankfully, they were quick to announce that the ‘colour’ conversation had nothing to do with his Grandfather or Grandmother, but that was after the show had gone out in the USA. That was the only time his Grandfather was mentioned, with the exception of a sort of matter of fact bit of editing at the end. In my humble opinion they did themselves no favours, they need to go away quietly now and let the wounds of those over there and those over here just heal. Nuff said!

Talking of sensationalism, I couldn’t believe it when I read this on today in history, on this day in 1946 33 fans were killed and hundreds injured when a barrier collapsed at the Bolton Wanderers' football ground. The dead and injured were taken from the stand, with those who had perished, they were then laid along the touchline and covered in coats. Incredibly, a little under half an hour after leaving the pitch, the game was restarted, with a new sawdust lined touchline separating the players from the bodies. It was the deadliest football stadium-related disaster in British history until the Ibrox Park disaster in 1971. I just cannot believe that the match was continued whilst the dead were lay down a few feet from the touchline!

I’ve always been a supporter of bringing National service back, but I have never supported the premise of capitol punishment, one of the reasons is that on this day back in 1950Timothy Evans was hanged for the murder of his wife. Three years later John Christie admitted killing her and several other women, and that dear reader is why I won’t condone hanging, just my opinion of course.

The number of new cases didn’t surge today as they are normally expected to do after the weekend, there was a slight rise up to 5766, the number of registered deaths rose to 231, high but only half the number of 2 weeks ago.

Wednesday 10/03/2021 – Day 363

With just 2 more days to go I am wondering how to celebrate my first year in captivity, I can’t go out for a meal or a drink to celebrate, I have no idea if Mrs H has baked me a cake – but I’m hoping not – and I can’t even shake a congratulatory hand! So, as Phil Collin’s once said “It’s Just another day in paradise.”

It seems that my old adversary Piers Morgan went a step too far yesterday on TV, The presenter made dismissive comments about Meghan’s claims to have had issues with her mental health during the show. I have never hidden the fact that I don’t like Morgan, he is a bully and a loudmouth, but worse still – he is never wrong in his eyes.

The watchdog received more than 41,000 complaints about his remarks on Monday during ITV’s Good Morning Britain. His comments were criticised by the mental health charity Mind. The upshot is that the bigoted monster is now on the transfer list and available for other TV companies to take up the reins. I reckon I ought to e mail him and let him know that there’s an opening for a TV presenter in Nauru which is the worlds third smallest country with a population of just 10,000, he couldn’t upset many of them surely? No, wait a minute, breaking news, the vacancy has been successfully filled by some chap called Trump, but have no fear Mr Morgan, the way things are going, you could be the first TV presenter on the moon!

Unlike Piers Morgan, I have to say, I’ve never pretended to be anything I’m not - except sober, I’ve pretended to be sober a few times when I’m not.

Bit of Pop history for you now, on this day in 1967 Singer Sandy Shaw released her record 'Puppet on a String' which won the Eurovision Song Contest for Britain. But the truth was that she absolutely hated that song, even though it gave her a No1 smash. She had to sing all six entries on Rolf Harris’s show, then the public would vote. Of the songs performed, "Puppet on a String" was her least favourite. In her own words, "I hated it from the very first oompah to the final bang on the big bass drum. I was instinctively repelled by its sexist drivel and cuckoo-clock tune." She was disappointed when it was selected as the song she would use to represent the country, She had to be convinced by Adam Faith (the man who discovered her) to actually go to the contest.

Also on this day in 1997The Spice Girls made pop music history by becoming the first group to top the charts with every one of their first four singles. The run was only interrupted by a re-entry of another earlier song. But the first group to have their first three records go straight to No 1 was from Liverpool, it was of course – yes you’ve guessed it – Gerry and the Pacemakers, (how many thought it was the Beatles?) they were, ‘How do you do it’, ‘I Like It’ and the evergreen ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ which still makes the hairs on the back of my nek stand up when I hear it.

There was a further 5926 new cases reported today along with 190 more deaths registered.

Thursday 11/03/2021 – Day 364

Well, here we are on the penultimate day of my first year in this asylum we now call self-isolation. It has been a terribly stormy night with wind coming from all directions (No dear reader, not that wind) it is now throwing it down outside and has prematurely woken me at 5.00am. I lay awake thinking what I could write for a nostalgia spot this week and for no particular reason animals came to mind, it set me thinking about the number of programmes I watched as a child which involved animals.

One of the earliest animal shows I can remember was Muffin the Mule, probably due to repeats. Now the butt of many adults humour, it was originally a TV programme featuring the animal character which was presented by Annette Mills, who was the sister of actor John Mills. It was broadcast live by the BBC from 1946 to 1952. Annette and the puppet continued with programmes that were broadcast until the year 1955, when Annette Mills died. The series then transferred to ITV in 1956 and 1957.

The first wildlife series I can recall that was aimed at children, was on ITV in 1956, with London Zoo's animal specialist Dr Desmond Morris, from the outset he argued that the animals would be more at home and more likely to be better behaved in familiar surroundings, a special residential television studio, was built within the grounds of the zoo, and the TV show, hosted by Desmond Morris himself, was broadcast from there weekly. We tuned in to see many animals but the highlight of most kids of my age was the chimpanzees, I seem to remember a chimp called pongo or Congo that used to draw stuff, his images were all over the walls of the studio,

Does anyone remember Animal Magic? it first aired on 13 April 1962 and ran for 22 years with host Johnny Morris mixing tips on animal care with information on wildlife and zoos, while providing the animals with quintessential English voices – the blustering retired colonel, the spinster maiden aunt, the tongue-tied suitor . . .

The qualities he attributed to his menagerie always had an innate gentleness though, and what he was doing was child’s play: anthropomorphising animals as children have always done with pets and toys.

Horses played a big part in children’s TV back then, although, having said that, there wasn’t really any genuine Children’s TV programmes, they seemed to be more family orientated, but kids like me loved them. The first that comes to my mind was an American series called ‘Fury’, from what I remember it was about an orphan boy who is adopted by a rancher Jim Newton,(Played by Peter Graves who I always wished was my dad) who had just lost his wife and children. Jim brought Joey to Broken Wheel Ranch, where the boy became enchanted with Jim’s unbreakable black stallion, Fury. The boy Joey made friends with Fury and they got into many scrapes, he also had friends called peewee and Packy, there was also an old ranch hand whose name escapes me.

The second most famous horse of that era was ‘Champion the Wonder Horse’ again it was about a young boy who lived on a ranch and was broadcast by the BBC I think, the signature tune was made famous by Frankie Laine, but he didn’t sing the signature tune of the TV series that was a chap called Mike Stewart. The horse became famous through Gene Autry who made many films and presentations with him.

But we can’t complete this look at the fifties animals without the most famous dog of all time, this was ‘Lassie’, Everyone I knew in my age group watched the show religiously, it was stories based on the friendship of a Collie dog and his owner Jeff, it ran for over 18 years and was shown on ITV on Friday’s.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane with some of the famous animals from that era.

New cases reported today totalled 6753, whilst the number of registered deaths were181.

Friday 11/03/2021 -Day 365.

Well dear reader here we are at last! We have arrived at the one - year anniversary of the start of this excruciatingly painful missive which has assaulted your eyes since Monday the 16th March 2020. In twelve months I have written over 200,000 words and posted nearly 200 images about Mrs H, George and Rose, Janet and John and of course all the antics of my life since I was first placed into lockdown.

The most surprising thing is that people seem to like this Sunday morning presentation, I now have over 2,000 followers, Now, whether or not this number will dwindle when this old planet returns to normal is yet to be seen, if it does then I will gently drift away into the oblivion from whence I first came, but I have to say it has been an emotional and a joyous trip with my only real fan right up there in that damp dark candlelit croft on the isle of Unst in the Shetlands where he lives alone with his Shetland pony.

I have known Angus McCoteup since two weeks after I first started writing this spectacular piece of garbage, he got in touch by e mail and asked - nay begged that I stop writing this blog as he saw it as an insult to the intelligence and an affront to his ponies delicate senses, (apparently he reads it out loud to his pony affectionately named ‘shorty’ every Sunday. But it seems that he mistook his ponies whining for hatred and a cry to stop, it was a few weeks later that he realised his mistake when Shorty refused to listen to the Sunday Times Supplement, but when Angus read my blog out loud Shorty perked up again. Which just goes to prove that I am not a one-trick pony. Either that or Shorty has taken a liking to Mrs H.

Anyway, the three of us have been in contact ever since and all on the isle of Unst is now quiet and calm once again, Angus has requested that as he missed the first ever two missives would I repeat them for him and Shorty, so here they are;

Monday 16/03/2020. Day1.

So, today unofficially starts my self-isolation time even though the weekend counts as two days, I left work on Friday the 13th, yes, sadly I am one of those poor sods who come under the veil of ‘underlying problems’ and so with the help and understanding of my brilliant employers, I am now on my own little lockdown, in all fairness it’s not too bad considering I am virtually a prisoner in my own home. The point is do I risk going out shopping etc, I have already had to cancel my next charity quiz, anyway Boris and his health sidekicks are saying limit all contact with other human beings, so I think not.

The first problem is that with my ‘underlying problems’ if I did manage to catch this miserable virus then my days would surely be numbered. Second problem is that I am not ill, I am as they say; ‘As fit as a butcher’s dog’, so how am I going to keep myself occupied, how am I going to stop myself climbing the walls?

Well, for a start I cut my lawns for the first time today, got halfway through the edging and thought – hang on a minute, what am I going to do tomorrow? – so I went back indoors to get under the feet of my darling wife and get back on my computer, seven hours later and it’s time for bed, it really isn’t all that bad – this self -isolation thing, quite looking forward to tomorrow.

Tuesday 17/03/2020. Day 2.

Well today I should have been at work for 8.30 am, but as I said the bosses at Screwfix as always are one step ahead and have approved my stay of abstinence. Abstinence of course is a self-enforced restraint from indulging in bodily activities that are widely experienced as giving pleasure. Most frequently, the term refers to work abstinence, or abstinence from alcohol, drugs, or food. As I am not on drugs apart from those that keep this old heart ticking – then all these things apply to me – with the exclusion of the food of course!

So, as there was no work, what should I do to fill my day, there was always the lawn edging to finish – no, can’t be bothered – but the front drive has looked like no-one lives here since last Summer, after getting dressed (advisable) I went to the shed and collected my trusty garden vac which blinked as it hasn’t seen daylight for 6 months, then out to the front drive to suck up all those stalwart leaves that have been too stubborn to rot down since last November, I wouldn’t mind but they’re not my leaves, they belong to the council trees opposite, the ones that they have decided to spare as this council are known tree haters.

Decided to dig over the borders while I was there, stood by the wall by the pavement in my own little world when someone decides to pass the time of day, I don’t mind but he had no mask on! So, I’m keeping a fair distance from him yet still being polite, thankfully my wife called him in for a cup of tea – I really must stop my son visiting!

By 2.00pm it was job done so it was back inside for a bit of quality time on the old laptop, it was then I decided to try online shopping, I have no idea why but I went on to Iceland’s very organised site, 30 minutes later with the help of the wife we had proudly ordered everything that was available – whether we liked it or not – and went to book a slot, everything was booked up until next Tuesday, after banging a few buttons thinking my computer was broke I decided to wait until later, after all it must change to next day at 9.00pm because that was the last slot, 9.00pm came, I waited with bated breath to hit that ‘enter’ button, but to no avail! In fact nothing happened at all, just a long list of ‘Sorry this slot is fully booked’, then I thought, of course it wouldn’t change until midnight, bleary eyed at 11.00pm I carried the trusty laptop up to bed, almost in dread of touching the wrong button and losing the page, drifting in and out of consciousness I waited – finger at the ready, then 11.59, suddenly 12,00am came I hit the button so hard it woke the wife, I sat there flabbergasted as I read the message for Wednesday 19th March – ‘Sorry this slot is fully booked’, I am sat there thinking, how can that be possible? No-one has access to this day until midnight! I lay there for the next hour fuming, I finally drifted off to sleep with visions of Iceland staff taking backhanders from people desperate for a slot.

Ok reader, you can safely come back to this day now.

The number of new cases reported today were 6609 with a further 175 deaths, still far too many but at least they are going down.

Saturday 13/03/2021 – Day 366

Up nice and early this morning to get all those irritating little jobs done so I can settle down for the afternoon with a few cans of Guinness to watch the =Rubby, starting with Italy V Wales which is basically going to be a walkover, but the match that follows is England v France and we need a win desperately.

Today was one of the saddest days in recent British history when in 1996Thomas Hamilton, a lone gunman carrying 4 handguns killed 16 children and their teacher at a school in Dunblane, Scotland. The killer fired randomly around the school gym in an attack that lasted just three minutes, but caused carnage in the class of five and six year olds. He then turned the gun on himself. Hamilton had been a scout master briefly before being sacked by the Scout Association. The event became a rallying point for anti-gun legislation. Two days after the shooting, a vigil and prayer session was held at Dunblane Cathedral and on Mothering Sunday, the Queen and Princess Anne attended a memorial service at Dunblane Cathedral.

Mrs H and I have started joinery lessons, our neighbour said I didn't know you were Carpenters....

.... I said, ‘We've only just begun’.

Government sources say that their stocks of road cones have risen dramatically, something to do with the pubs being shut and no drunkards taking them home.

And finally, on a serious note, I heard a Doctor on TV this morning saying in this time of Coronavirus staying at home is difficult, but we should focus on inner peace. To achieve this, we should always finish things that we started as we could all use more calm in our lives. I looked through my house to find things I'd started and hadn't finished, so I finished off a bottle of Pinot, a bottle of Gin, a bodle of Baileys, a butle of wum, tha mainder of me valiumun srciptuns, an a box a chocletz. Yu haf no idr how blumin fablus I feel rite now. Sned this to all who need inner ****. An telum u luvum. And two hash yer wands, stafe day avrybobby!!!

Today there were 5534 new cases, this brings my weekly total to40,477, just 2348 down on the previous week, the number of recorded deaths was 121 giving a total for the week of 1045, this means the numbers have dropped by almost a third to 1045. The number of recoveries rose dramatically to 3,424,092 up by a whopping 775,473, which tells us that the vaccines are now taking effect.

Week 53

Sunday 14/03/2021 – Day 367

Well, dear reader here we are at the start of our second year! We get off to a flying start today with Mother’s Day. Yesterday afternoon, our one daughter and Granddaughter arrived to bring gifts cards and plants, they sat in the Garden room which is more or less outside. Our son and Daughter in law turned up this morning carrying a massive bouquet along with chocolates

I continued the pampering by taking the gorgeous Mrs H breakfast in bed this morning, well, when I say ‘breakfast in bed’ what I actually mean is a couple of pieces of toast spread thinly with wormy lime marmalade, I have never – since my childhood days – been able to come to terms with marmalade with all those ‘stringy’ bits in them, but hey it is Mother’s day and I am here to please Mrs H not have a whinge. I had managed (courtesy of my daughter) to get her a Mother’s day card which said Wife on it, that was put proudly alongside the last card Vickie had bought for her.

It’s a bittersweet day for us really, a day when Vickie comes to the fore of our minds, not that we don’t think of her every single day – there is not a day passes when she isn’t spoken of or in our thoughts – but times like today, Father’s day, Christmas and her birthday are extra special days when we miss her more than ever. We were dressed and having our second drink of the day when ‘My Girl’ played on the radio, this was one of the songs played at Vickie’s funeral, so every time it comes on we know she is near, we sat in reflective silence listening intently, it may seem a little morbid but it really does help.

So, we pottered around for a few hours when Mrs H started to think about lunch, “No need” I said, “It’s all in hand,”

“Oh my Lord, you’re not cooking are you?” she gasped.

“No, of course not, lunch is ordered and will be here at 2’00pm, a full three courses.”

The next 15 minutes were spent in conversation about her being on a diet, and that she didn’t think she could manage three courses. Ding dong, saved by the bell, and right on time too!

The young man handed her the two bags, wished her a good day and was off like the speed of light, we unpacked the well presented boxes, got the plates out and started with big slice of melon and fresh fruit, meanwhile the dinner was keeping warm in the oven. It consisted of Boiled potatoes, Roast potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, peas and roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and gravy, they certainly hadn’t skimped on the contents, we were wondering if we would manage to eat it all, but twenty minutes later there was two empty plates, we were going to have the pudding later, but the thought of fresh apple pie and custard was far too much of a temptation to miss, it was absolutely gorgeous, in fact the whole meal from the Eagle and Spur in nearby Cookley was outstanding. My final act was to do the washing up whilst Mrs H relaxed.

She asked why I had done all that, as she wasn’t my mother, “no” I agreed, “But you look after me 364 days a year so it doesn’t hurt to spoil you, besides the fact that I love you more than my mum.” I didn’t want to say that I knew how upset she was with Vickie not being with us, but I knew she was thinking about her all day.

In the afternoon our other daughter and granddaughter turned up with a lovely pot full of plants for outside, they stayed for quite a time catching up on events, I was popping in and out checking the Rugby match – Scotland v Ireland – score.

Mrs H and I sat down on the evening and I laid back on the recliner and dropped off to sleep! But she told me later that she’d had a wonderful day, and that was all that mattered to me!

Thankfully, today’s death figures were quite low at 52, whilst new cases were also low at 4618.

Monday 15/03/2021 – Day 368

Woke this morning with the sun streaming into the room, it was 7.45, that was a lie-in for me. Had my four Weetabix (considering increasing the intake as I’m hungry a couple of hours later, need a bigger bowl) and took Mrs H her latte up, we sat discussing what we would do today, I have literally finished the Garden room until about three weeks time when – hopefully – the windows and doors arrive.

It was quite mild out side so it was decided that we’d do a Spring clean up in the garden, we only intended to clean up the part nearest to the house, which entailed cleaning off a fifteen foot stone circle and then trimming all the foliage surrounding it, Mrs H suspected that this would take most of the day, but it took just over two hours, by the time we sat down for a cuppa most of the garden was done and our Brown garden bin was almost full.

On this day in 1964Film stars Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor married in Montreal. They later divorced then remarried. It wasn’t that they didn’t like each other, just that they both loved wedding cake.

Also on this day in 2003The death of Dame Thora Hird, British actress. She is best remembered for her role of almost two decades in Last of the Summer Wine but played many other roles in her long career. She won a BAFTA Best Actress award for her roles in two of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads monologues and a BAFTA for Best Actress in Lost for Words. Mrs H always reminded me of her character in Last of the Summer Wine, especially the scenes where she would put newspaper down on her kitchen floor as her poor downtrodden husband walked across it, oh yes dear reader, I’ve been there and done that.

And finally, on this day in 2014We bid a fond farewell to TV Cook Clarissa Dickson Wright, at the age of 66. Christened Clarissa Theresa Philomena Aileen Mary Josephine Agnes Elsie Trilby Louise Esmerelda Dickson Wright, she became famous as one half of 'The Two Fat Ladies'. Wright and the late Jennifer Paterson travelled the country on a Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle and sidecar and would prepare meals for members of the public. (Female forerunners of Si and Dave, the Hairy Bikers) A former barrister, Clarissa Dickson Wright was, until 2013 the youngest woman ever to be called to the Bar, passing her exams aged 21.

Mrs H is sat in the lounge as I type, she has her tired feet up and is pushing out the zzzz’s, I reckon all that fresh air and being on her knees most of the day has taken its toll eh?

Well once again todays figures are considerably low with 5089 new cases and 64 more new deaths registered, these are of course weekend figures which are always low.

Tuesday 16/03/2021 – Day 369

I was lay in bed last night watching ‘Suits’ when someone explained that there is a human medical condition called exploding head syndrome, (I kid you not), it is a rare sleep phenomenon that consists of a loud noise, this thing usually happens when you are dropping off to sleep or sometimes even when you are fully asleep. It is said to be a violent explosion that has gone off in your head – but it is only imaginary. Unless of course, you happen to be lay next to Mrs H who has many of these explosions as she lies there gently snoring and I turn the volume on the TV up to maximum.

We have had another good day in the garden in this Spring like weather we are enjoying at the moment, the sun came out about nine and is still out at 3.45pm as I type this. So the garden is now up to date, my pond is more or less sorted, Jaws and his mates have survived the harsh Winter months and all is well with the world.

George phoned as we were about to go into the garden, he is once again in the doghouse, It seems that Rose had to work on Sunday and was very disappointed that he hadn’t even bought her some flowers for mother’s day, so during her break she decided to drop a few hints’

Rose Three girls have had flowers delivered today, they are absolutely gorgeous.

George Oh that’s probably why then!

He still didn’t understand what he’d done wrong until Mrs H pointed it out to him.

He asked his little grandson why he had only spent £3 on his Mum for mother’s day, “That’s all she had in her purse” was the casual reply.

On this day in 1973Queen Elizabeth II opened the new London Bridge. The old one was sold to an American oil tycoon for £1m and transported to the United States. Robert McCulloch had an expanse of land which he was developing, but he couldn’t sell it because of the heat and humidity of the area, His Real estate agent heard that London Bridge was up for sale, but it took a lot of scotch and negotiation to get a price out of the London Authorities. As a sweetener, McCulloch tacked on an additional $60,000—$1,000 for each year old he would be when the bridge reopened at Lake Havasu. In April 1968, for a final price of $2,460,000, Robert McCulloch became the proud owner of the world’s largest antique.

Good news on the figures, we don’t seem to be getting those massive surges after the weekend now, todays figures were 5294 new cases and 110 registered deaths, but the number of survivors continues to rise thankfully.

Wednesday 17/03/2021 – Day 370

Well, naughty Mrs H and I sat up until 2.30am this morning watching episodes of ‘Suits’, it was so engrossing that even at that time of the morning we didn’t want to turn the TV off, but I needed my beauty sleep – Mrs H didn’t!

To all my Irish readers I wish you a happy St Patrick's Day. St. Patrick was born Circa AD 387 and is the Patron Saint of Ireland. There are many legends associated with the life of St. Patrick. According to one, he miraculously drove all the snakes of Ireland into the sea. He is said to have used the three leaflets of the shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity. He reportedly raised as many as 33 people from the dead.

Also on this day in 1951The comic strip character Dennis the Menace appeared in the Beano for the first time. His red and black striped jumper did not feature until a few weeks later and his pet dog Gnasher did not make an appearance until 31st August 1968. But it started me thinking about all the comics that we had in our house as a child, Now, you’re not going to believe this, but they were initially bought for my dad!, We all had to wait until he had read them before we could, let me explain, he worked permanent nights and reading these comics in bed was the only way he could get off to sleep,

I think The Dandy was my most favourite, with Korky the Kat on the front page and Desperate Dan on the inside with his massive pies. sadly they stopped publication in December 2012. The Beano was my second best, Its characters include Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx, The Bash Street Kids, The Numskulls, Roger the Dodger, Billy Whizz and Tricky Dicky, but one of my favourites was Lord Snooty.

Then there were the bigger comics like the Topper with Beryl the Peril – a mischievous girl similar to Minnie the Minx, although she appeared to have the same parents as Dennis the Menace. There was also the Beezer with Ginger on the front page, these two comics would merge later in the nineties, Another favourite was Buster who was billed as ‘The son of Andy Capp’. I enjoyed the Eagle, The Hotspur and numerous other comics of the day.

But my sisters preferred their own comics (which I also quietly read) In Bunty. I knew more about the Four Mary’s than I knew about my own sisters. There was also Judy with Bobby Dazzler and Mandy, I think they later combined. Jackie is another that comes to mind, but there were literally dozens of them!

There were 5758 new cases reported today whilst the number of deaths were the highest so far this week at 141.

Thursday 17/03/2021 – Day 371

Woke with a start this morning, Mrs H suddenly started talking, then she said she thought I was awake – well I was then! I got the old frame out of bed and went to make Mrs H her customary cup of latte.

I put a survey on my site yesterday and asked “Am I the only one disgruntled with seeing the same old so-called celebrities presenting everything?”, the results were astounding, the most annoying celeb by far was Philip Schofield, I never realised how many people disliked him, I had 452 responses (so far) and he had most of them, Second was Rylan Clark Neal, who is presenting a re-hashed Ready Steady Cook, Third was Amanda Holden, fourth was Holly Willoughby and fifth was Davina McCall who most people reckon has a look-alike as she turns up to everything, interesting eh.

Two years ago I broke my big toe by dropping a cupboard door on it, it snapped in two and I was off work for a while, (about 8 weeks), now that toe has come back with a vengeance, I seem to have a touch of Arthritis in it which when throbbing is almost the same as gout. It reminded me of my school days when PE was looming in lessons, I hated PE (physical exercise) as you can tell by my photograph, so I always had a bout of athletes foot when it came around, this is a sort of fungal infection that affects the feet – specifically between the toes. So, it was easy to remove the sock and agitate the skin between the toes just before a lesson, The Teacher a Mr Reynolds must have had some sort of foot fetish because he always asked me to remove my sock - complete with holes – to inspect the offending digits. But sometimes he knew I was trying to dupe him. Another excuse was that I’d forgotten my PE kit, this never worked and was probably the most embarrassing episode of my entire school life.

If you had ‘conveniently forgotten’ your kit, then there was a large wicker basket in the changing rooms, this was a basket that everyone avoided, even with the lid on it omitted such smells as to turn one’s stomach, it was full of shorts, tops, pumps and socks that even the lowest of the low had abandoned. That basket is where you were sent when you had no kit, I came out of the changing rooms looking like one of those Victorian exhibits in BT Barnums freak show. My top was a sort of pink which was badly mud stained and had one arm missing, the shorts had hardly any backside in them and had once belonged to one of the Roly Polys,and I couldn’t find a matching pair of socks so I had one long red sock and a short green striped sock, My plimsols were split and squeaked and flapped as I walked, I was walking down the corridor toward the playing field thinking life couldn’t get any worse when – walking towards me was the girl I was supposed to be meeting that weekend for our first date, she actually put her exercise book up to the side of her face to hide her obvious embarrassment as she passed me, needless to say I waited outside the cinema for overran hour on my own. I never forgot my PE kit again.

I’m in trouble with the local police, I had a constable knock the door this morning, he said he was looking for a man with one eye, I replied that he’d probably find him a lot quicker if he used both his eyes.

The highest number of new cases were reported today, they stood at 6303, whilst the number of registered deaths were once more below 100 at 95.

Friday 19/03/2021 – Day 372

Lay awake for a time this morning waiting for daylight to appear and I remembered something that happened in 1998, the Japanese group Sony accidentally released a Night Vision camcorder that had the ability to see through people's clothes. ... Dark clothes like swimsuits went transparent in front of those camcorders and it was in no matter of time, nude pictures of ladies were trending on the internet. Technology eh!

On this day in 1649The House of Commons passed an act abolishing the House of Lords, declaring it 'useless and dangerous to the people of England', why on earth didn’t they carry on with it, mind you, had they done that then a lot of elderly folk would have had nowhere to sleep.

1969The 1,263 ft. tall TV-mast at Emley Moor in Yorkshire collapsed due to a build up of ice. The current Emley Moor transmitting station, built in 1971, is the tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom and is a Grade II listed building. No wonder I couldn’t get my episode of ‘Till Death Us Do Part’ on that cold Friday night.

We had some devastating news today and it really has knocked Mrs H and myself about, so please forgive the lack of humour from here on.

The number of new cases today were 4802 with a further 101 deaths registered.

Saturday 20/03/2021 – Day 373

Had a job to drag these old bones out of bed this morning, Mrs H and myself didn’t get much sleep throughout the night, when I finally got up I decided to clad my wooden garage doors in UPVC to take my mind off things, what was supposedly going to be a simple job turned out to be a bit of a nightmare, I got through almost a packet of buttermints whilst working it all out, this of course got me thinking about the old sweet shops I used to frequent on my way to school and what I used to buy in them.

Penny sweets were the buy of the day, with 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.

For a penny (2d) more you could imitate your parents by buying a pack of Barratt's sweet cigarettes with their little red ends, the sweet itself didn't taste too good but you felt really grown up riding home on your little red three wheeled trike with the sweet cigarette precariously shoved between the two fingers Churchill and Harvey Smith had recently made so famous. If you wanted to be seriously old of course you opted for the liquorice pipe and the blob of mottled sweets in the end that resembled the bobbly and squashy liquorice allsorts. Or of course you could be really adventurous and stay with a quarter of boiled sweets like Rhubarb and Custard, Pineapple chunks, Pear drops, Sherbert lemons, or if you had toothache you went for Dolly mixtures, Wine gums or little gems, definitely not those chocolate chewy nuts with hard toffee centres, I lost quite a few baby teeth to those. Drumsticks were raspberry and milk flavoured chewy lollipops. They were created by the Swizzels-Matlow Company in 1957, Derby, England. At the time it was created, it was the only chewy lolly in the world.

For the whole threepence you could buy a packet of Rolo's or Spangles, the trouble with spangles being that you had to make sure you weren't given the Aniseed, Liquorice or treacle ones, Ughh!Then there were Love Hearts with all those quirky little messages on them like Kiss Me, Tease me, Hold me, I adore you and be my friend. If you were lucky enough to have more than threepence you were into the big stuff, a Mars bar in those days would cost you 4d, but they were a lot bigger in those days, or a Marathon (Now known as a snickers). Five centres was great as long as you liked all the sections or had a mate who preferred the ones you hated. The 4d chocolate cream bar had orange, coffee, lime, blackcurrant and raspberry fillings. I remember when I first saw the ad for Rowntrees fruitgums, i was a bit shocked that he was telling his mum NOT to forget them, I know I wouldn't have dared!

Of course chewing gum or bubble gum was the thing of the day, every shop had a machine outside with penny bubblegums in them, drop the penny in turn the handle and out popped the gum - supposedly! Then there was the flatpacks of gum which also gave you a free card which you had to collect, this assured that you went back for more when funds were available.

Should you have a desire to quench your thirst there was always the good old Jubbly which gave you brain freeze, or a tasty orange Kia Ora (the same as you would buy in the Cinema), But the best Orange juice I ever tasted came courtesy of the Co-Op milkman, a taste I have never been able to replicate to this day. The drink of my day was of course Corona, delivered on a Saturday afternoon, the various flavours included lime and lemon and one of my personal favourites Dandelion and Burdock. Of course, if you were lucky enough to go to the pub with your Dad then it had to be Vimto to wash down those crisps with the little blue bag of salt.

The new cases today numbered 5587, so the total for my week was 37,451 just over 3000 down on last week, the number of registered deaths were 96 for today, my total for the past 7 days is 659, almost 400 down on the previous week. The good news is that there are 3,650,226 recoveries to date, that is 226,134 up on last week.

Week 54

Sunday 21/03/2021 – Day 374

Woke up this morning with heavy heart, our family crisis continues. But I need to keep my mind off things so apologies but this is a bit of a thrown together weekly diary.

On this day in 1935The birth of Brian Clough, English footballer and manager of Nottingham Forest from 1975–1993. Clough was widely considered to be one of the greatest managers of the game and the greatest English manager never to have managed the England team. When I was younger it was always Brian Clough for England manager and Enoch Powell for Prime Minister, who knows what a formidable team they would have been.

On this day in 1997 The death of Wilbert Vere Awdry, Anglican cleric, railway enthusiast, and children's author. Better known as the Reverend W. Awdry, he was the creator of Thomas the Tank Engine, the central figure in his Railway Series. Awdry was born at Ampfield vicarage in Hampshire and his father was vicar of Ampfield Church. Among his friends were Harvey (No. 27) a maroon crane tank locomotive. He is very cheerful and helps clean up after other engines' crashes. Well I was born on the 27th so I think that the name and number are very appropriate.

1999Ernie Wise, comedian, died aged 73. 'Morecambe and Wise' were a comedy legend for generations of people in Britain. They were honoured with posthumous fellowships at the British Academy Television Awards. Fifteen years earlier his partner Eric Morecambe had died on the 28th May, I like many of you, had grown up with the best comedy pairing since Laurel and Hardy. Their Christmas shows were legendary, who could ever forget Dame Shirley Bassey’’s lovely shoes being swapped for a Miner’s boot, or all those Newsmen singing and dancing to ‘There Is Nothing like a Dame’. And of course Angela Ripon revealing more than her talent for dancing. But the best of them all for me was the 1971 Christmas special with Andre Preview Previn, trying to conduct Greig’s Piano Concerto, with Eric on the piano it was never going to end well, but it did – with Eric grabbing Previn’s lapels whilst protesting “I’m playing all the right notes – but not necessarily in the right order” sheer brilliance that attracted more than 28 million viewers at its height.

It all came to reality on this day in 2020 It became Day one of the closure of all the UK's cafes, pubs and restaurants (except for take-away food) in an effort to combat coronavirus. All nightclubs, betting shops, casinos, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres were also told to close as soon as they reasonably could. The government said the situation would be reviewed each month and that it would pay 80% of wages (up to £2,500 a month) for employees who were not able to work.

There were 5312 new cases recorded today, with just 35 new deaths registered.

Monday 22/03/ - Day 375

Another very restless night for the both of us, our family crisis continues.

Apparently om this day in 1774Mary Cooper published the first book of English nursery rhymes. Called Tommy Thumb's Song Book, it included Baa Baa Black Sheep, whose 'three bags full' is thought to refer to a tax imposed on the wool trade in 1275. Well of course, this started me thinking just how other Rhymes were derived.

Did you know for instance that Humpty Dumpty was not a person at all, but a massive siege cannon that was used by Royalist forces (the king’s men) during the English Civil War that raged between 1642 and 1651. It was during the siege of Colchester in 1648, the Royalists hauled Humpty Dumpty to the top of the church tower of St Mary-at-the-Walls, and for eleven weeks Humpty (sat on the wall and) blasted away at the attacking Roundhead troops, defending the town. Old Humpty’s great fall came when the church tower was in time blown up by the Roundheads, the canon had fallen into, and had become buried, deep in the surrounding marshland. It wasn’t long before the king’s men led by Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle were soon overrun by the Parliamentarian soldiers of Thomas Fairfax.

The ‘Georgie Porgie’ in the rhyme was actually the Prince Regent, later George IV. A tad on the tubby side, George weighed in at more than 17½ stone with a waist of 50 inches (Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie), and George became a source of ridicule by the press of the day.

Despite being grossly overweight, George had a poor reputation for his lusty romps with women, this meant that several mistresses had a string of illegitimate children. At 23 he fell in love with the beautiful Maria Anne Fitzherbert; he was so besotted with her that he persuaded her to go through with a secret marriage. The marriage would never have been allowed as Maria was a commoner, but much worse; she was a Roman Catholic! George later went on to marry Catherine of Brunswick, whom he hated so much that he had her banned from his coronation. In doing so George had made both the women in his life miserable (kissed the girls and made them cry).

George was basically a cowardly type. That said, he did enjoy watching other people display these attributes; he was a great fan of bare-knuckle boxing. During one of the illegal prize-fights that George attended, a boxer was knocked to floor and subsequently died of his injuries. Frightened of being implicated, the prince made a very quick exit from the scene (when the boys came out to play, Georgie Porgie ran away).

There’s a small village of Kilmersdon in north Somerset that lays claim to being the home of the Jack and Jill rhyme. Local legend recalls how in the late 15th century, a young unmarried couple regularly climbed a nearby hill in order to conduct their liaison in private, away from the prying eyes of the village. Jill fell pregnant, but just before the baby was born Jack was killed by a rock that had fallen from their ‘special’ hill. A few days later, Jill died whilst giving birth to their love child. Their tragic tale unfolds today on a series of inscribed stones that leads along a path to that ‘special’ hill.

And finally, the most famous of all was ‘Ring a Ring of Roses’ While there are disputes, it is widely accepted that this song came from times of plague. Sources differ on whether this was the Black Death of the 1300s or the Great Plague of 1665. The ‘ring o’ roses’ means the red lesions that victims got on their skin, the ‘pocketful of posies’ refers to the herbs people carried to protect them from the disease (and possibly dampen the smell), and at the end everybody sneezes and falls down dead, this led to the original words being changed to ‘Atishoo, atishoo, we all fall down.

A further 5342 new cases were recorded today, the death count – thankfully – continues to fall and is now 17, we may see an increase tomorrow as these are weekend figures.

Tuesday 23/03/2021 – Day 376

Our family crisis continues as does my limited diary.

On this day in 1929Dr. Roger Bannister, the first person in the world to run a mile in under four minutes was born. His world beating record time was 3 min 59.4 sec

On this day in 1985Ben Hardwick, Britain’s youngest liver transplant patient at just three years old, died in hospital. He inspired a national fund raising campaign and became a celebrity through appearing on the BBC television programme That's Life! after his parents appealed for more awareness of organ donation when their son, who suffered from biliary atresia, urgently needed a transplant. While he also became the first child in the country to receive a liver transplant, the initial transplant failed. After a second transplant the following year, he died of complications at the age of 3. Following this event, at least £10,000 (£31000 today) was raised in Ben's name to support other seriously ill children.

In his memory, his family set up the Ben Hardwick Memorial Fund, which aimed to offer financial support to the families of children who suffer from primary liver disease. British celebrity Esther Rantzen, who hosted That's Life! and co-wrote a book based on Ben's story, was a trustee on the fund's board. The Ben Hardwick Fund took over the work of the Ben Hardwick Memorial Fund in 1997. Esther Rantzen is patron of the present fund, which helps children suffering from primary liver disease with costs associated with their illness.

In that same year Marti Webb released as a tribute a cover version of the Michael Jackson song "Ben", which reached number 5 in the UK charts, the royalties being donated to the Memorial Fund.

On this day in 2011Dame Elizabeth Taylor, one of the 20th century's biggest film stars, died in Los Angeles at the age of 79. Throughout her adult years, Taylor's personal life, especially her eight marriages (two to the same man), drew a large amount of media attention and public disapproval. According to biographer Alexander Walker, "Whether she liked it or not ... marriage is the matrix of the myth that began surrounding Elizabeth Taylor from [when she was sixteen]". MGM organized her to date football champion Glenn Davis in 1948, and the following year, she was briefly engaged to William Pawley Jr., son of US ambassador William D. Pawley. Film tycoon Howard Hughes also wanted to marry her, and offered to pay her parents a six-figure sum of money if she were to become his wife. Taylor declined the offer, but was otherwise eager to marry young, as her "rather puritanical upbringing and beliefs" made her believe that "love was synonymous with marriage". Taylor later described herself as being "emotionally immature" during this time due to her sheltered childhood, and believed that she could gain independence from her parents and MGM through marriage.

On this day exactly one year ago the prime minister, Boris Johnson, addressed the nation and told the public that they were only permitted to leave their homes for essential needs, in an attempt to reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic. A minute's silence, held at midday, was part of a day of reflection to mark one year since the first coronavirus lockdown. One year on, the UK's official death toll had risen from 364 to 126,172. Tonight at 8.00pm people all across the UK are being asked to stand on their doorsteps and shine a light for all those who have fallen victim and died from this terrible disease.

As predicted, the number of deaths rose to 112 today, new cases recorded still hover around the 5000 mark at 5378.

Wednesday 24/03/2021 – Day 377

Still no good news yet re-our crisis, so I’ll continue with my limited diary.

On this day in 1877The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race on the River Thames ended in a dead heat. Legend in Oxford has it that the judge, 'Honest John' Phelps, was asleep under a bush when the race finished, leading him to announce the result as a 'dead heat to Oxford by four feet'. 74 years later in 1951 on this day, theOxford boat sank during the University boat race. Cambridge won the rematch two days later.

1970Boxer Henry Cooper retained his British heavyweight title beating challenger Jack Bodell. In May 1971, a 36-year-old Cooper faced 21-year-old Joe Bugner, one of the biggest heavyweights in the world for the British, European, and Commonwealth belts. Referee Harry Gibbs awarded the fight to Bugner by a quarter of a point score (which was subsequently abolished partly because of the controversy that followed). An audience mainly composed of Cooper fans did not appreciate the innately cautious Bugner, and the decision was booed with commentator Harry Carpenter asking, "And how, in the world, can you take away the man's three titles, like that?" Cooper announced his retirement shortly afterwards. Cooper refused to speak to Gibbs for many years, but eventually agreed to shake his hand while they were at a charity event.

A slight rise in new cases today as 5605 cases are recorded, also aslight drop in registered deaths at 98.

Thursday 25/03/2021 – Day 378

Things are still the same, I thought I’d share a story from my archives about the late, great Matt Monro.

I only have to hear 'Walk Away' to be transported back to 1964 and the kitchen of our council house, My dear old Mum cooking Sunday lunch, the smell of roast beef and 2 way Family Favourites on the radio which never moved from the window sill, of course, the next time it surfaced was as one of the Krays beat the hell out of two blokes who were admiring his car, not a good memory. Matt Monro was born Terence Edward Parsons in north London on 1st December 1930, to Alice and Frederick. He had three brothers, Arthur, Reg and Harry and a sister, Alice. It was a tough childhood, his father died of TB when he was three, two years later his mother suffered a nervous breakdown and was admitted to a sanatorium, he was fostered out for two years until his mother was once again well enough to look after him. Sadly his Mum died later from a brain tumour and Matt was once again fostered out. Moved from one school to the next, he hardly ever turned up to lessons at any of them and his childhood became even more disrupted when the war forced his evacuation to the country until his Nan got him back to London. .

Leaving school at 14, he tried a succession of jobs without sticking at any of them for very long, he enlisted for National Service before his call up at age 18. Matt became a tank driving instructor in the army with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) and was posted to Hong Kong. It was there in 1949 that he got his first break on a radio station owned predominantly by Radio Rediffusion who would eventually become the Television company.

He had sung in public from an early age, notably at the local Tufnell Park Palais, and in Hong Kong he took to entering local talent contests, winning several. In fact, he became so successful he was eventually barred from competing. Instead they gave him his own radio show, simply called Terry Parsons Sings. Following demob he returned to London in 1953

Before too long, however, pianist Winifred Atwell heard a demo of his voice and recommended him to her recording company, Decca, they signed him up. She also helped choose his new name, Matt Monro. Matt coming from Matt White, a journalist friend, and Monro was her father’s first name.

When his first proper girlfriend Iris Jordan became pregnant with his son Mitchell, Terry felt obliged to marry her which he duly did in 1955 but it was a loveless marriage. The responsibilities of being a father didn’t help with his ambition to be a star. He got a job as a London bus driver and would sing in the evenings.

After a separation Iris and Matt were finally divorced a few years later.

When he joined Decca he met a young female music promoter, Renate Schuller, whom everyone called Mickie. Like Matt she too was in a troublesome marriage, at first she thought Matt pompous and overbearing, but one day something clicked and the two of them hit it off.

Matt married Mickie in 1959 as soon as their divorces came through.

they had two children, Michele and Matthew. He began unglamorous but lucrative work singing jingles for TV commercials. It was at this stage that Mickey insisted that Matt should go professional and she worked really hard for the family while the transition took place.

Suddenly Terry Parsons had a new life, a new career, a new wife and a new name. But his life really changed for the better when he was asked to sing for a Peter Sellers album called Songs For Swinging Sellers. The album was being produced by George Martin, who would later produce The Beatles’ records. Sellers had to sing the first song of his new album 'You Keep Me Swingin’ in the style of Frank Sinatra and as Martin had heard that Matt’s voice was similar to Sinatra’s, he asked him to sing it so that Sellers would have someone to copy. In the end Sellers and Martin were so impressed with Matt’s version that they included it on the record. Sellers realised he couldn’t improve on it himself and the recording was included on the LP under the name of Fred Flange. When word got out who the singer really was and what a fine voice he had, George Martin knew he was onto a winner.

This resulted in Martin giving Matt a Parlophone contract Almost within weeks the combination of Monro, Martin and arranger/conductor Johnnie Spence had UK hit parade success with Portrait of My Love it reached No3 on the charts in December 1960 and stayed on the chart for 16 weeks.

3 months later in March 1961 he would reach No5 with the more upbeat 'My Kind of Girl' and fans were starting to warm to his smooth baritone vocals.

In February 1962 he came back with another wonderful ballad called 'Softly As I Leave You' which got to No 10 in the UK charts. But once again his next two releases didn't make the top 20, then in 1963 he was to record a song that would endear him to a more worldwide audience, he was approached to sing the new theme song for James Bonds 'From Russia With Love'. the record sold well but disappointedly only reached No 20 on the charts.

Matt also represented the UK for Copenhagen Eurovision 1964 with "I Love the Little Things". Matt finished 2nd with 17 points for the UK, while he was performing there he heard a song which he thought was excellent, The Austrian entry "Warum nur Warum?", was later translated to English by Don Black and became 'Walk Away'.

In 1964 this for me was his best ever record, 'Walk Away' was a beautiful record which suited his baritone voice perfectly, as I mentioned earlier it was used in the film 'The Krays' while two men were savagely beaten for just looking at his car. It reached No 4 on the charts yet was his biggest success staying in the top twenty for 20 weeks.

His last foray into the British charts came in November 1965 with 'Yesterday' - there is a strange story attached to the song according to Matt's son, he recalls "The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein had told Paul McCartney that he didn’t want some songs recorded yet, one being 'Yesterday.' So Paul went to Dad and said: ‘Do you like this song?’ Dad became the first person ever to record it and had a hit with it long before The Beatles did!” Matt's version reached No 8 in 1965.

The following year in 1966, Matt sang the Oscar-winning title song for the film, 'Born Free'. It was his second collaboration with John Barry, following 'From Russia With Love'. Matt went on to record two further songs from Barry film scores: "Wednesday's Child" (from the film 'The Quiller Memorandum,' 1966) and "This Way Mary" (from Mary Queen of Scots 1971). Both Born Free and "On Days Like These" (from the film The Italian Job 1969) had lyrics by Don Black. Strangely none of these records with the exception of From Russia with Love were released as singles as far as I know, if they were they certainly didn't chart, yet they were among his best loved songs.

Unfortunately, there was a side to Matt that he kept well hidden from the public and his many fans. He was a heavy social drinker and also a heavy smoker and battled alcoholism from the 1960s until 1981 He was however always the true professional and therefore his performances appeared unaffected by the effects of alcohol, despite the pleas from his friend and manager Don Black he continued to drink, so, eventually and almost inevitably, his health suffered and he gave up drinking on doctor's advice. He was diagnosed with cancer of the liver but continued working. Doctors suggested a liver transplant as a last resort to save him, but during the operation at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge it was discovered the cancer had spread widely and a transplant would have been pointless.

He died on the 7th February 1985 at the Cromwell hospital in London at the age of just 54. His last performance had been a triumphant one at London's recently opened Barbican Centre.

He left a son, Mitchell Terence Parsons whom he had with his first wife, Iris.

There were also two other children with Mickie: Michele (b. 1959) and Matthew Frederick (b. 21 February 1964).

Matt Monro was without doubt the best ever British singer of his time, His smooth baritone voice brought so much pleasure to so many millions worldwide, he is sadly missed by those fans and of course his family. Why he never had a No 1 hit has always baffled me, but then, thinking about it, he was one of the very few to survive the invasion of the Liverpool groups in the sixties. I personally felt that he still had so much to give but sadly it wasn't to be.

There was a slight rise in new cases today which stood at 6220, the number of recorded deaths was 63.

Friday 26/03/2021 – Day 379

Had some slightly better news this morning, but otherwise, things continue as they did a week ago today. So apologies, but I’ll continue with my temporary diary.

On this day in 2006From 6 a.m. the prohibition of smoking in all substantially enclosed public places came into force in Scotland.

Also on this day in 2015 Richard III, the only English monarch without a marked grave, was reinterred at Leicester Cathedral after much wrangling, including High Court action over his final resting place. Richard III's body was buried in the now demolished Franciscan Friary in Leicester and was discovered in September 2012 under what had become a car park. From 28th March 2015 the area of Richard III's tomb was open to the public. This funeral crown was commissioned by an historian who was involved in the dig that discovered Richard III's remains. Leicester city Council agreed to waive the overdue charges Richard had accumulated over the years.

For the second time in a row the new cases were over 6000 and were recorded as 6187, there were 70 deaths registered.

Saturday 27/03/2021 -Day 380

On this day in 1880The Salvation Army uniform was authorized, but the distinctive bonnets for women did not appear until June. This reminded me of the Saturday evenings spent in the local with Mrs H, inevitably the Sally army girl would come in clutching copies of The War Cry and The Young Soldier under her arm, most people in the pub willingly gave a donation but rarely took either of the newspapers, those that did would always leave them on the seat at home time..

Another regular on a Saturday night was the cockle man, punters would wait eagerly for him to appear carrying his wares in a large wicker basket, he would wear a white trilby and a pristine white coat that would give away the fact that he was meticulous in the selling of his seafood, people wouldn’t buy off a man who had a stained coat or no hat, so that basically was the uniform of the cockle man. He would have cockles, whelks, mussels, crab and even jellied eels, I was never a fan and won’t eat seafood to this day, even though I’ve never tried it!

Then there was the local entertainment, the chap you’d seen on a loom earlier in the week would suddenly turn up in a group to entertain you for the night, for a paltry ten pound each in most cases. Or that chap who emptied your dustbin just yesterday may turn up with his guitar and sing most of the night whilst perched precariously on a rickety wooden stool that threatened to collapse beneath him every time he reached out for his pint between sessions. Then of course there was the girl from the office who you never gave a second glance to as she passed you in the factory, suddenly, there she was in front of you, but you wouldn’t recognise her, because her make up was completely different and she was wearing a long blonde wig, gone were the dreary everyday clothes – all exchanged for an eye-catching gown which would put Shirley Bassey to shame.

I miss those wonderful smoke filled pubs and clubs on a Saturday night, especially since lockdown, the supermarkets are all going back to basics by returning to the corner shop syndrome, so why can’t these breweries go back to basics and bring back the old traditional boozers of the fifties and sixties.

There were 4715 further new cases today, the total for the week is 38759, a rise of 1308 on last weeks figures. The number of deaths registered was 451, this was 208 lower than last week. The number of recoveries has risen by 137,086 to 3.787,312.

Week 55

Sunday 28/03/2021 – Day 381

The family crisis continues but I will continue to attempt to cheer you all up and of course myself and Mrs H.

After a four week wait my windows and doors for the Garden room finally arrived yesterday at 5.30pm. We had a call from the company on Friday giving us a rough time of between 4.00pm and 6.00pm so that was fine. What they failed to tell us was that they were sending the most miserable git they could find to deliver them.

We watched him from the comfort of our lounge as he got his more than ample frame out of the cab of the large white van, (Had we come across the original neanderthal white van man?) the poor sod struggled to pull the blind up on the back, he eventually disappeared into the back, I went around the side of the house to unlock the side gate, and I waited, and waited and waited. What you should know at this stage is that when our side gate is open you are virtually stood in a wind tunnel, the wind that day was very cold, so after watching the van swaying from side to side (no dear reader, it wasn’t the wind, just the chaps weight) I thought I would retreat to the comfort of my lounge once more.

Sure enough as soon as I got there the chap came out of the back carrying the smallest window. I went out to him as he handed me the window and the following conversation took place.

Him, Where do you want this?

Me. Yes good afternoon (sarcastically) could you put it just through the gate

please. I’m surprised they haven’t sent someone with you. I have been

self-isolating for over 12 months.

Him. (sarcastically) This is supposed to be a kerbside delivery!

Me. I wasn’t told that, what exactly constitutes a kerbside delivery? Does this

That you are going to remove my goods and dump them in the kerb?

Him. It means that I am not allowed on your property, but I am going to need a

lift with the French doors, they’re really heavy.

Me. Who helped you lift them on?

Him. A chap at the depot

Me. Then you had better get him here, I am not insured to get in the back of your


Him. (sarcastically) Did you not read the paperwork? It said kerbside delivery.

He shoved the frame he was holding towards me and I caught a whiff of fish and chips, cigarettes, and body odour. I resisted asking him if he would like a shower while he was waiting. So I had to carry everything from the van to the side of the house as he the Eddie Large lookalike handed them to me. Even then he was sweating profusely, then it came to the French windows, We finally agreed that if I helped him get them off the van then he would help me carry them to the side of the house. He grunted like a pig, struggling as I picked up one end with ease and we carried the frame to its place.

Him. That’s it, you should have everything.

Me. It is normal for me to tip a delivery man at least a tenner.

This is where his little red chubby face lit up in expectation and he grinned for the first time since he arrived.

Me. But of course, since I have done most of the work I think I’ll keep it myself.

I smugly shut the gate with the word b------d ringing in my ears, and me feeling a bit like Victor Meldrew. Within minutes all my clothes were in the wash bin and I was in the shower thinking to myself - no wonder this country is going to the dogs!

A new low of 3862 cases today, the lowest for a long time, the number of deaths were also very low at 19.

Monday 29/03/2021 – Day 382

We had a bit of good news today, hopefully things will improve for us.

I woke this morning with my big toe throbbing and pulsating, it seems I have contracted a touch of arthritis in it. This all stemmed from three years ago when I was fitting our new kitchen. It is drummed into us at work that we must wear steel toe cap boots at all times, in fact you are not allowed in the warehouse without them, but of course, this doesn’t apply at home does it. So, I put this large cupboard door down at the side of me while I adjusted another door. Can you recall those paper cutting guillotines at school? Well this cupboard door dropped just like that on my big toe!

I hopped around the kitchen a bit, the air was blue to say the least, Mrs H was out shopping and thankfully, I was all alone. I sat down for ten minutes and then got on with the job, the toe – as you would expect – was very sore. I went to work the next day limping like Tiny Tim. I got the usual barrage that you would expect from colleagues as I explained what I had done.

That was on the Monday and I hopped around like the Easter bunny until Thursday when the pain was so bad that I had to sit on the tills for a couple of days. (Not literally you understand) On the Saturday the pain was excruciating, so I had no choice but to go to the local hospital. After having it x-rayed I was informed that I had actually snapped my big toe in half. An emergency appointment was made for me to visit a specialist at Redditch hospital on the Monday. Meanwhile the nurse strapped my big toe to its neighbour. I went home and continued the work on the kitchen with Mrs H giving the occasional ‘Tut’ because I wasn’t resting.

Having hotfooted it to Redditch on the Monday I saw the specialist - a lovely Chinese chap called Michael, first thing he said as I took my sock off was 'Who on earth has done that?', I meekly replied 'Well it was me, I dropped a cupboard door on it',

'Not that' he said staring down at my big toe leaning badly to the left, (My toe not the specialist) 'Who strapped it up?'.

Apparently, by strapping the big toe to its neighbour they had opened up the crack between the top half of the toe and the bottom half.

'I'm sure I saw him smile as he said 'I'm going to have to straighten it up if it's going to heal, and I'm sorry but it is really going to hurt'.

The words 'Will it be like a Chinese breakaway' had hardly left my lips when I felt the most excruciating pain ever - as he grabbed the toe and wrenched it back into line.

Resisting the temptation to shove my good foot where he would need an operation to move it, I sat gasping for breath as he said 'Of course if that hasn't worked then I will need to freeze your foot and have another go at it'

I hobbled off for an Xray which fortunately showed that the Chinese burning on my toe had worked.

Next I was sent to a big woman with muscles in her spit to have a 'boot' fitted, this is of course no ordinary boot - no - this boot lifts you by three inches, but just on the one side!

Anyway I digress - the large lady decided that my new boot was going to fit come hail or shine, so - using the throbbing toe as a lever she pushed it back toward the heel with the force of a hurricane!

As I peeled myself off the ceiling for the second time that morning she calmly pushed a crutch under my other arm to level me up!

Never was I so glad to get out of that Hammer house of horrors, and just to put the icing on the cake we had to pay over five pounds in the Car Park!

To say I've had better days would be an understatement!

Once again the number of deaths are thankfully low at 22, New cases saw a rise to 4654 though.

Tuesday 30/03/2021 – Day 383

Things are much the same with our family crisis, It was a lovely sunny day as I woke around 6’30 so after my four Weetabix I took Mrs H her cup of Latte up and decided to get dressed and get out to the Garden room to remove those damn covers from the doorways and windows at last. I needed to get those doors and windows in which had arrived last Saturday.

By twelve midday I had got the large window in and all was going really well, but I kept looking at those French doors, I wasn’t looking forward to putting those in. The overweight slob who had struggled to help me carry them was swapped for my red-haired petite wife – who handled them with no problem, after a few little mishaps and a lot of help from Mrs H I was getting ready to glaze them, what a really good day, just one more door and a window and I’d be finished, but by 5,00pm I’d had enough, the rest could wait until tomorrow.

Back in the sixties were you a mod or a rocker, when I was at secondary school you either liked the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, you couldn’t openly like both, though I suspect that many secretly did. This would define who you were, on this day in 1964the seaside holiday resort of Clacton was the scene of pitched battles by rival gangs of 'mods' and 'rockers'. People fled for their lives from hundreds of youths using anything as a weapon to decimate the opposition. Even the seagulls fled the carnage, police were helpless at the time, but after weekends of violence and destruction they eventually got organised and stopped the gangs on the motorways.

Also, on this day in 1974Red Rum won the Grand National at Aintree for the second year running.

On this day in 1987The picture 'Sunflowers', painted by Vincent van Gogh was sold at auction by Christie's for £24,750,000.

Sadly, on this day in 2002Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, (born August 4th 1900), died peacefully in her sleep, aged 101.

There were 4040 new cases registered today with 56 more deaths reported.

Wednesday 31/03/2021 – Day 384

Our situation is ongoing but there are improvements happening as I type. Put myself on the scales this morning before I got dressed. I was a little worried as I had gained quite a few pounds over Christmas, in fact it’s truthful to say that I was nearer to thirteen stone than I was to twelve. So, I jumped on the scales and they screamed in agony, actually; I weighed in at just under twelve stone, but my hair weighs ten pounds so I will deduct that. The blame for my hirsute head is squarely on the shoulders of Mrs H who – for over three weeks now – has been promising to cull the curly locks hanging down my neck. I even bought new trimming scissors along with a pair of thinning shears, she did do it once but that was over three months ago. From the front I actually don’t look too untidy – once you get past the ugly mug! But from the back I look like a caveman, I wouldn’t look out of place scrawling pictures of bears and sabre tooth tigers on a cave wall – now, where did I put that club – Mrs H I need you!

I have discovered today that poor Mrs H hurt her back yesterday whilst giving me a lift with those French doors, She seemed to have twisted her back as we carried it up the step into the room.

A few facts from this day in the past.

1912Both the Oxford and the Cambridge boats sank in the annual university boat race. Two weeks later another boat called the Titanic did exactly the same.

1930Scottish engineer John Logie Baird installed a TV set at 10 Downing Street, and we’ve been watching consistent repeats from there ever since.

1939Britain and France agreed to support Poland if Germany threatened to invade, and just six months later they did just that, the rest as they say is history.

2013Easter Sunday was confirmed as the coldest Easter day on record, with the lowest temperature recorded as -12.5C in Braemar, in the Scottish Highlands. Mm I wonder what the weather forecast is for this coming weekend.

I am desperate for chocolate! We did our shopping last Friday and ordered Easter eggs for our Grandchildren, according to Tesco, we were entitled to a free egg, now I knew it wasn’t going to be anything elaborate or costly, but I didn’t even get my free egg, that is like taking bottle away from a new- born baby half way through, I am desperate for chocolate!

Tried to give George a ring but no answer, then I realised that the rules had been relaxed, he and Rose were probably catching up with their son Michael.

There were a further 4052 new cases today, while the number of deaths registered was 43.

Thursday 01/04/2021 – Day 385

Thankfully, things continue to improve, but there is a long way to go yet.

Well, here we are for the second time in my diary, celebrating April 1st. There are lots of different stories and theories surrounding its history, but one of the most popular takes us back to medieval times when Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar (the Gregorian calendar) to replace the old Julian Calendar, in 1582. The new calendar called for New Year’s Day to be celebrated on 1 January, when previously it was marked between 25th March and 1st April.

But there were many people who either refused to accept the new date or didn’t hear about it and they continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on 1 April. It wasn’t long before these traditionalists became the butt of jokes and people would tease them by calling them fools for believing that the year started on 1 April. This eventually led to the custom of April Fool’s Day, and it became acceptable to play a prank on others in the name of fun.

Here in the UK, the first British reference to April Fools’ Day was in 1698 when an article was written about people being tricked into going to the Tower of London to see the lions being washed. This has now grown into a big thing with the media especially – looking for new ways to fool their readers or viewers, it has to be done before midday to be genuine.

Of course the most famous and elaborate hoax came courtesy of the BBC in 1957 , the BBC broadcast a film that showed Swiss farmers picking freshly grown spaghetti, in what they called theSwiss Spaghetti Harvest’. The BBC was later flooded with requests to purchase a spaghetti plant, forcing them to declare the film a hoax on the news the next day.

On April Fools’ Day, 1976, the BBC convinced many listeners that a special alignment of the planets would temporarily decrease gravity on Earth. Phone lines were flooded with callers who claimed they felt the effects.

In 2008, BBC again telecasted news saying penguins in Antarctica started flying. It’s not just that! It stated that those penguins had flown to South America’s tropical rainforests. Dear BBC, we love your sense of humour!

Mrs H continues to suffer with her back, the poor lady is now having to take Ibuprofen, but alas, they don’t seem to be working.

I ordered some stuff off the internet last month and it still hasn’t arrived, seems it was en-route via the Suez canal on a ship called the Evergreen, some of the excuses these companies make up eh!

There was a further 51 deaths registered today with another 4473 reported new cases.

Friday 02/04/2021 – Day 386

Things continue in the same vein for our predicament, but as I said earlier, there is some improvement.

Well, they told us that the weather was going to change, but after a cold start this morning it has been a really beautiful Spring day. The Garden room is now coming to completion and Mrs H has already started to order lots of little things to place around the room. Considering it only started as a request for a ‘canopy’ to keep the rain off, the structure has come on in leaps and bounds and dare I say it – I am quite proud of my achievement.

Today of course is Good Friday, So, despite its name, Good Friday is a day for sombre reflection. Each Friday before Easter, Christians solemnly honour the way Jesus suffered and died for their sins. They might attend a service that recounts Jesus's painful crucifixion, and some even refrain from eating to show their sorrow. Some Christian followers impose the meat ban for every day of the 40 days of Lent which lead up to Easter. As an alternative, many opt for fish, which is permitted for consumption on Good Friday as it is seen as an alternative form of flesh.

Meanwhile, back in time on this day in

1877The first Human Cannonball Act was performed at London's Amphitheatre when acrobat Lady Zazal, attached by elastic springs, was fired into a safety net. Trouble was it didn’t really count as she kept being pulled back in, hence the expression, ‘Their relationship’s on an elastic band, they keep springing back together’.

1940The birth of actress Penelope Keith. She became a household name in the 1970s when she played Margo Leadbetter in the sitcom The Good Life. She was also the lead character in another BBC sitcom, To the Manor Born, a show that received audiences of more than 20 million.

1982Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic, a British possession for 149 years. The British government dispatched a naval task force to engage the Argentine Navy and Air Force. The resulting conflict lasted 74 days and ended with the Argentine surrender on 14th June 1982, which returned the islands to British control. During the Falklands conflict the Royal Navy requisitioned more vessels registered in Hull than from any other British port.

And finally, in 2007 A smoking ban came into force in Wales, making it illegal for anyone to smoke in an enclosed public place and within the workplace.

George decided to phone me this morning after I had made several attempts to contact him this week. After the usual greetings he had a tale of woe for me;

“So, I woke up and Mad Max (his black Labrador cross, what it is crossed with has never been discovered, but I suspect it was a Yeti) is laying on the back patio covered in dirt with a rabbit in his mouth. The rabbit's not bloody, just dirty. My neighbour's kids raise blue ribbon rabbits and I instantly knew it was one of theirs.

Well naturally, I panicked and snatched the rabbit away from the dog, rushed inside, and washed all the dirt off it before my neighbours could come home. It was stiff but I’ve heard David Attenborough say that some animals play dead when they’re afraid, but my memories not too good so I couldn't remember which ones. I took it and placed it back in one of the cages in their back yard then I ZOOMED back home.

It was about 30 minutes later I hear my neighbours screaming so I go out, pop my head over the fence and ask them what's wrong? They tell me their rabbit died three days ago and they buried it but now it's back in the cage. Honestly Eric, I can’t do right for doing wrong, Rose is very upset with me.”

After I replaced the receiver I went and checked the calendar, Yes I was right, April the first had definitely passed us by.

Dear Mrs H continues to suffer with a bad back, I am feeling really guilty after making her lug those French doors.

New cases today were at their lowest for over a week, there were 3402 cases reported, the number of registered deaths were 52.

Saturday 03/04/2021 – Day 387

Our situation has improved over the week, but I am still unable to say any more at this point.

For the second week in a row I didn’t get my free Easter egg from Tesco’s. I would phone up and complain to the misers. but they would only apologise profusely and offer a refund of 50p which was the cost of the egg, but that’s not the point, this was my egg! And I am now off to throw all my toys out of the pram.

When we were young we had to rely on relatives to bring us an Easter egg, this was a rare event however, my mum could never afford to buy a dozen eggs let alone chocolate ones. But occasionally on Easter Sunday a kindly Aunt and Uncle would turn up clutching a large tin of biscuits, they obviously didn’t like the ever-growing gaps in some of our young mouths. Sometimes however, I would run an errand for a neighbour, my reward would be one of their children’s eggs – of which there were quite a few I hasten to add.

I remember some of the neighbour’s children playing that game that has been with us since time immemorial, it was called ‘hunt the egg’. The idea was that the dear parents would hide their darling little cherub’s egg in hideous places where children rarely went, places like the outside loo, the garden shed or even the attic. This served two purposes, 1, It kept them out of the way whilst preparations were made for lunch. 2. It made sure that their appetites weren’t spoiled for the aforementioned lunch. My Mum and dad were the utmost king and queen of this particular game, they must have been, because as I mentioned earlier, we never actually found any eggs!

The only other chance I had of ever getting my little mitts around one of those chocolate beauties was to go onto the stage at the Saturday morning Minors at the local ABC cinema. This would involve an excruciatingly embarrassing two and a half minutes while you attempted to screw yourself into the stage whilst trying to dance to Chubby Checker’s ‘The Twist’. Who's that, flyin up there? Is it a bird? Noooooo, Is it a plane? Noooooooo, Is it the twister? No, it’s some poor kid with holes in his shoes and no arse in his short trousers, showing his dirty knees to screaming kids and trying hard to win an Easter egg. And no dear reader, I never did win one. It was always the cute nine-year old girl with blonde hair and freckles (who probably already had a cupboard full of eggs at home) being wolf-whistled and cheered on by the many smelly lads in the audience.

On this day in 1993The Grand National was declared void after a series of events at the start reduced the world-famous horse race to a shambles. 30 of the 39 riders failed to realise a false start had been called and set off around the racetrack, completing both laps of the course and passing the finish line before they realised their mistake.

Also. on this day in 2014A 25 year old student was fined and given penalty points after he was caught driving a car with all 4 doors removed, along with the headlights, front and rear indicators, bonnet, grille, and rear brake lights which he had removed to sell on-line. He had been attempting to take the car to a recycling centre five miles from his home in Nottinghamshire, to sell for scrap. The good news is that he sold the car to a film company who were about to shoot a new feature length film of the Flintstones.

There was a further 3423 new cases yesterday bringing the weeks total to 27,911 which is 10,848 down on the previous week. The number of registered deaths was 10 bringing the total for the week to 253 which is 198 less than last week. A further 101,145 people recovered bringing the total recoveries to date to 3,888,455.

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