• harveyvickie

Diary of a self-isolator Weeks 56 - 60

Sunday 04/04/2021 – Day 388

Had some news this morning, although, the family crisis continues – we seem to be taking one step forward and three steps back. Things are no better than they were 16 days ago– so frustrating!. I will however continue with my blog as it keeps me sane.

Well, dear reader, what a terrible Saturday night on TV last night, absolutely nothing worth watching on BBC unless you are a fan of hospital drama and believe me – that is the last thing we need to watch right now. Ant and Dec used to be top of their game but thankfully it was their last Saturday Night Takeaway last night, it was all a bit samey if you know what I mean, the constant laughing at their own unfunny jokes and sketches, and the programme being propped up by all the ex ‘Get me out of here’ contestants. Perhaps they should stop trying to emulate one of the best comedy duos of all time, the immortal Morecambe and Wise, so many little things ‘borrowed’ from the two greats. Time for a rethink lads!

This was followed by the ever-popular Alan Carr with a re-hash of the old classic ‘Play Your Cards Right’ at least the little chap doesn’t try to emulate Bruce Forsyth who -like him or loathe him – was the King of the game show. Just the same old tired celebrities starring though.

This was followed by the roguish Jeremy Clarkson in a new TV critic show, it was quite good, but Clarkson is a Marmite sort of guy, you either hate him or love him, as I said the show was quite good, but I got the feeling he was being held on a tight rein. Welcome to Ericbox by the way.

Sometimes life is so unfair, two people had sex in the early fifties, and I end up paying a mortgage and utility bills!

I am over the moon with myself, I don’t mean to brag, but I actually went into a room and remembered why I went in there in the first place – it was only the bathroom but hey, it’s a start.

On this day 1873The Kennel Club was founded. It is the oldest, recognized kennel club in the world and was the first official registry of purebred dogs in the world. Its role is to act as governing body for various canine activities including dog shows, dog agility and working trials. I am writing to them to ask them to overlook the various canine activities on the green opposite my house, they will need to bring numerous blue bags, wellingtons and a shovel though.

1934Yorkshireman Percy Shaw laid the first "cats' eyes" along the centre of the road at an accident black spot near Bradford. There wasn’t a cat to be seen within a hundred-mile radius for the next ten years.

1964British pop group The Beatles occupied the first five places in the US singles pop charts with: - 'Can't Buy Me Love', 'Twist and Shout', 'She Loves You', 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' and 'Please Please Me'. It was the first and only time anyone ever monopolized the entire top five. The Beatles are the best-selling pop band in history, have had the most number-one albums in the UK charts and have held the top spot longer than any other musical act.

Well, Mrs H’s back is finally back to normal after she twisted it last week whilst helping me to carry the French doors to the Garden room. My weight however – is another story, it is up and down like a proverbial Yo-Yo, one day I am below twelve stone and a few days later I am over twelve stone, I am worrying so much that it’s causing me to lose weight!

There were 2293 new cases today with 10 deaths recorded.

Monday 05/04/2021 – Day 389

Things are much the same re-our family crisis on this Easter Monday.

Mrs H is concerned that I keep falling asleep whenever I relax, but it is 1.00am in the morning, what’s the problem!

Well, here it is, Easter Monday, and you are surrounded by children/grandchildren with chocolate covered faces, so far, in the last two days the little darlings have had chocolate eggs for breakfast, elevenses. Lunch, high tea and supper. Still, cuts down on the laxatives I suppose.

We had two visitors yesterday, firstly my daughter Gemma who was a football widow for most of the day, her hubby and two sons are all football mad, they will watch anything that involves a ball if it’s on TV. So, Gemma walked (another Easter miracle) around to our house, she also brought gifts bless her, I had a Terry’s chocolate orange, and a bag of sweets and Mrs H had a slab of dark chocolate (her favourite), she also brought a chocolate marble cake, home-made I hasten to add, I wanted to ask who she was and what had she done with the real Gemma, but it was Easter, so I refrained.

Our other visitor was Mollie, our Granddaughter, she is an incredibly talented 18-year-old artiste and had come around for Sunday lunch. She immediately fell in love with the Garden room. Apparently, the light and airy room is perfect for doing her artwork, and she spent the whole afternoon in there working, she is now considering moving in permanently. (Just joking Mum).

On this day in 1922The birth, in Preston, Lancashire of former footballer Sir Tom Finney. He was famous for his loyalty to his league club, Preston North End and for his performances in the English national side. He played his entire career for his local club, appearing 433 times and scoring 187 goals.

1999Richard Dunwoody became the most successful jump jockey of all time when he clocked up his 1,679th win at Wincanton. (The record is now held by Tony McCoy with over 2,000 winners.) I have a wonderful story to tell about the Grand National, back in 1985/86.

I was working as a jobbing builder and had a lot of work to do at a stable block in Elmley Lovett in Worcestershire. The place was a National hunt stables owned by trainer Michael Oliver aided by his brother Martin. One of my first jobs was to mend a stable door, the horse inside was called West Tip. This wonderful horse had often gone walk-about in the yard and Michael thought it was the dodgy door. So, I fixed it, went back the next morning and West Tip was in the yard saying hello to the other residents. Everyone was perplexed, I checked the door again, nothing wrong there. I was working in the yard later that day when I saw West Tip poke his nose out of his stable and push the bolt across, within a few seconds he had come across to me to say hello. I put a spring-loaded bolt on the door and that was the horses last foray into the yard.

This was 1986, the year before Michael had entered West Tip into the 1985 Grand National, with Richard Dunwoody riding. The horse started as favourite but fell at Becher’s Brook.

What a lot of people didn’t know was that in 1982, West Tip was injured in an accident involving a lorry just down the lane from the stables It was a foggy morning and Oliver's string was waiting for the arrival of jockey Philip Hobbs to join them riding out. As the horses were walking along Walton Lane the lorry approached and went past them. West Tip was the last in the string and whipped round as the lorry went by. Unfortunately, a hook on the bed of the lorry caught West Tip on his near side hindquarters and tore a huge hole. The lorry did not stop. West Tip required over 70 internal stitches and many external stitches. It was feared that the horse would have to be put down, but thanks to the expertise of veterinary surgeon Peter Thorne, the horse made a complete recovery and went on to win on his racecourse debut at Warwick on 29 December 1982, at 50-1, ridden by Philip Hobbs. West Tip was left with a distinctive large scar on his hindquarters.

Richard Dunwoody was convinced that West Tip had a lot more to offer, so it was decided to enter him into the 86 Grand National. He started the race 15/2 second favourite under a weight of 151 pounds, he was always amongst the leaders and jumped the last fence in second place behind the Scottish-trained outsider Young Driver. West Tip took the lead on the run-in and got the better of a sustained struggle with Young Driver to win by two lengths.

I was working for Michael the week of the race; the poor chap was a nervous wreck! But he was confident! When I went to collect my wage on the Friday which was about £300 he offered to put it on West Tip for me, but I had a young family and a mortgage and politely declined. Had I taken him up on his offer I would have won close to £3000, I became one of those in the category of ‘also ran’.

I remember them coming home on the Monday, there were hundreds of people there to welcome them, I shared a glass of champagne with Michael and that week there was an extra £200 in my wages.

A further 2757 cases today and 26 new deaths recorded.

Tuesday 06/04/2021 – Day 390

Woke up this morning to a covering of snow.! The sun is out but it looks pretty cold out there, we need milk, so I’ll send Mrs H down to the shed in her dressing gown, she’ll soon tell me what the weather’s doing.

Alas, we have nothing to report on our family crisis, after much improvement we are now back to where things started over two weeks ago, the stress for both of us is tremendous.

Today I need to go into the Repair shop and put away all the stuff I’ve used in the past week finishing off the Garden room, the place looks like a bomb’s hit it, this is my fault, because each time I do a big project I get too enthusiastic, then I do far too many hours and by the end of the day all the stuff I’ve used just gets thrown onto the bench.

I was in there tidying up and got to thinking (as you do) about those poor people who first discovered mushrooms and had to go through all the trials and errors, like – this one tastes like beef, this one killed Brian immediately, this one was magic and gave you hallucinations which included being re-united with your mother-in-law, I can’t begin to imagine what they thought of the Shiitake mushrooms! And who named them?

I bet you won’t believe this but a little while back I applied to join our local Gym, I even had my own personal trainer, after half an hour - although I was out of breath and quite tired I thanked him sincerely, and said that I already felt a lot better, he replied, “That was only the guided tour!”.

Today is also the start of the new tax year, here are a few facts, on this day in 1944Pay as You Earn (PAYE) income tax was introduced into Britain. It was devised by Cornelius Gregg. In 1990Married women in Britain became independent entities for income tax purposes for the first time, making them responsible for their own tax declarations. Their income was no longer assessed with that of their husbands. And finally, in 1993Following public disquiet, Queen Elizabeth II began paying income tax.

After tidying up the old Repair shop I decided to relax in the warmth of the Garden room. I sat in the hazy sunshine drifting in and out of consciousness, when a terrible thought entered my head, when the Pubs are officially re-opened on the 17th May what shall I do to celebrate, do I pop down there with all my mates, or do I book a candlelit meal for myself and Mrs H, well of course there’s no contest! I was straight on the computer to inbox my mates and set it up!

New cases recorded today were 2374 and new deaths registered totalled 20.

Wednesday 07/04/2021 – Day 391

Nothing has changed in the family crisis situation so we carry on as best we can. It is absolutely freezing outside again, a brass monkey and spherical things come to mind, someone on radio mentioned the return of the ‘Beast from the East’. I look out of my office window and all the clouds are coming from the West – such is life!

I did manage to get out to the Repair shop however, it is once again back to its habitable state, but my fingers are dropping off and I am frozen stiff.

Mrs H and myself are really struggling to find something decent to watch on Netflix, we finished nine series of ‘Suits’ last night ( You know, the one with the uppity princess in it), we are already having withdrawal symptoms, missing Harvey, Louis and Donna, when I asked Alexa to find something similar she brought up five series we have already watched, so dear reader – any suggestions would be very welcome.

I’ve just received a brochure about a new wine for elderly people (cheeky sods) apparently, it is distilled from an ante-diuretic hybrid grape and reduces the number of times you visit the toilet, it’s called Pino More.

I’ve been spending my time the last two weeks entering lots of writing competitions, poetry competitions and almost anything that involves writing, anything basically that’ll keep my mind off recent events, even this pile of garbage that I inflict on you every week dear reader, and I must apologise for it. Some competitions are excellent, but I really do have to watch out for the garbage among the offers. There’s one that claims (very loosely) to have 100,000 members, they offer prompts every Friday to get you to write a story, now, remember how many members they have, the prize every week is $50, not even five prizes just one prize, so they are getting a minimum of 500 stories sent them every week for a total of $50, what a scam!

There were 2758 new cases recorded today while deaths more than doubled from yesterday at 45.

Thursday 08/04/2021 – Day 392

Nice and sunny out there today, but the wind chill factor is keeping things quite cool, we are still no further forward with our family crisis though.

You would think that after all this time that I’d be bored, and restless? I suppose that depends on your outlook on life, I am one of those rare creatures that actually enjoys the company of my other half, we both like doing the same things, we both like the same TV programmes, but I do have to admit that dear Mrs H doesn’t share my love of music, I have some source of music in almost every room, and if I’m on the move then I have my I pod, whereas Mrs H likes to sit in peace and quiet I’m afraid I don’t. I have to have background noise, unless of course, I’m writing, then peace and quiet are the order of the day. However, that is the only way we differ, except clothes of course – we don’t share our clothes, anyway -hurrying on - more importantly we have been in each other’s company for over 50 years and married for nearly 48 of them, so we both enjoy life to the full. (Mrs H said I am an exceptionally good boy for posting this and I have earned lots and lots of brownie points).

I was listening to Gold radio this afternoon and they played the theme tune to Z Cars, the memories came flooding back, The BBC were looking for a new cop show with a bit more bite to it, rather than the policeman on the beat solving crimes, the answer was to introduce “modern” Ford Zephyr patrol cars and Z Victor One was soon cruising around with Northerner PC William “Fancy” Smith (Brian Blessed) and Scotsman PC Jock Weir onboard. Z Victor Two contained Irishman PC Herbert Lynch and redhead PC Bob Steele.

Before he became famous as a movie star, Michael Caine turned down the part of Police Constable Bob Steele, as he did not want to be typecast in a television series. It went to Jeremy Kemp.

That was all the conversation was about in 1962 as I was about to leave Junior school, everyone seemed to be talking about what happened on Z cars after every episode.

The names of the key actors became almost as well-known as those of their characters: Stratford Johns (Inspector Barlow), Frank Windsor (Det.Sgt Watt) the duo went on to a spin off called Softly Softly in 1966. The theme music was arranged by Fritz Spiegl as a military march, from the traditional Liverpool folk song “Johnny Todd”. It spread across the nation like a cultural virus. Everyone could whistle it – we even sang our own stupid songs to the tune with cod-Scouse lyrics. In fact, the theme tune was so popular that Liverpool-based soccer side, Everton F.C., immortalized it as their theme tune as the teams enter onto the field, a tradition that remains. Elton John enjoyed the theme so much that he also adopted it at the club at which he presided as chairman, Watford.

Windsor made a final appearance as Watt in the last episode of Z-Cars, "Pressure", in September 1978, with Robins (John Phillips), the detective chief superintendent from the original series who had risen to chief constable. Jeremy Kemp, Brian Blessed, Joseph Brady and Colin Welland also appeared, though not as their original characters.

By March 1962 there were two versions of the theme tune in the top 40 from Johnny Keating and Norrie Paramor. I only know that when I hear those old theme tunes I am transported back to an era that is sadly – long gone.

After nearly 48 years of being married to Mrs H I have learned to read her like a book, I can also tell a lot by the way she uses her hands, for instance, If she slaps her hand on her knee then she is exasperated, if she sits there wringing them then she is fretting, if she waves them about she is annoyed, but if they are around my throat I know she’s really angry and I’ve done something terribly wrong!

Deaths once again continue to rise and today 53 were registered, there was also a slight rise in new cases at 3023.

Friday 09/04/2021 – Day 393

Bit of a damp start here in downtown Kidderminster, but we have had some encouraging news at last re-the family crisis.

The new flooring arrived late yesterday afternoon via White Van Man, (actually it was silver, but who’s quibbling), the thing was that I’d been waiting most of the day, so at 4.30 I decided to go back into the house after doing a lot of little jobs I’d been meaning to catch up on for weeks. The back gate had been open all day in expectation of the delivery. So, Mrs H and I are sat having a cup of the old rosy lea when we heard the letter box go, you know those moments when the phone rings and you sit looking at it and wondering who that could be? Well, we did the same! Then it dawned on me, I went to the front door and noticed the card from B&Q, then I ran outside just in time to see the delivery man getting back into his van,

“I didn’t think there was anyone in,” he explained.

“You didn’t ring the bell or knock the door.” I retaliated, “I kept the gate open all day in case you called.”

“We’re not allowed onto your property for health and safety reasons.” He replied. What is it with these delivery people? I had one earlier last week saying the same or using the same excuse for a shoddy delivery service, this Covid has got a lot to answer for.

Meanwhile, on this day in 1983English trainer Jenny Pitman became the first woman to train the winner of the Grand National (Corbiere) at Aintree, Liverpool. How do I know this amazing fact I hear you ask, well I had a tenner to win at thirteen to one and had £140 back for my trouble, a good return in those days?

The death was announced of Prince Philip (aged 99), husband of Queen Elizabeth II for more than 70 years. He officially retired from royal duties in May 2020 after 22,219 solo engagements. The Duke was the longest-reigning consort in British history and had recently been treated at King Edward VII Hospital and St Bartholomew’s Hospital for an infection. But what you probably didn’t know was that he has died on the anniversary of the funeral of the Queen Mother which was held on this day at Westminster Abbey in 2002. It was also the wedding anniversary of his son the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles. They were married, in a civil ceremony at the Guildhall in Windsor in 2005. So, it seems that April 9th is not a particularly good day for the Royals one way or another.

While Mrs H was very sympathetic toward the Royal family, she was not amused when they took off Gardeners World to show exactly the same programmes about the life of Prince Phillip on both BBC 1 and BBC 2, It seems that they had to set up a separate phone line to cope with the thousands of complaints from views. The whole of ITV was also taken up with it all evening. She was not a happy bunny.

The number of deaths were at their highest in over two weeks, there were 60 deaths recorded in the past 24 hours, the number of new cases also rose to 3150.

Saturday 10/04/2021 – Day 394.

Slight frost last night but once again our family crisis continues to improve, fingers crossed!

I have to finish the flooring in the Garden room today, we looked at all options but eventually went for a ‘floating floor’ option, these are boards that click together and look like painted floorboards. I used the calculator on the B& Q site which -when you put in the room measurements – tells you how many packs you need, It will also ask if you ‘want to allow for wastage’, well of course you do, nothing worse than getting to the last bit and discovering you are one plank short, it turns out that the calculator errs on the side of caution as I have one and a half packs left over.

There’s no peace for the wicked, as soon as I’ve finished the flooring I start putting up the window and door blinds, one of the few jobs I hate doing.

Last Christmas (sounds like a Wham record) I bought Mrs h a lovely present of perfume, she said she loved it, well, she must like it very much as I could smell it all over the downstairs area. On investigation I discovered that the lovely Mrs H is using it as an air freshener in the downstairs toilet!

Can you remember the first record you ever bought? My dear old mum had just bought a Formica matching tables, chairs and sideboard, in the sideboard was a built-in record player and radio. So as far as I can remember the first record we ever bought was ‘Big Bad John’, it was originally recorded by Jimmy Dean, but for some unknown reason in the dark depths of my mind I thought it was recorded by Lorne Green of Bonanza fame. He was a singer as well as an actor and in 1964 he had a No1 hit with a song called ‘Ringo’, (no, not the Beatle, the sheriff and the baddie, try and stay with me here) The thing is that I can find absolutely no proof of him ever singing ‘Big Bad John.’ Funny how the memory plays tricks isn’t it.

I remember the second record I ever bought, it was titled ‘The sound of wasps’, when I got home and played it I couldn’t hear any wasps at all, then I realised – I was playing the Bee side.

There were 2,589 new cases today that brings my total for the week to 18,944 which is 8.967 less than last weeks numbers. There were a further 40 deaths registered which brought the total for the week to 254 just one above the previous week’s figures. Meanwhile a further 73,283 people had recovered, this brought the total of recoveries to3,961,738.

Week 57

Sunday 11/04/2021 – Day 395

Another cool and brisk morning here in Kidderminster, our family crisis continues but there are improvements.

Finished the flooring in the garden room yesterday, the difference in the temperature is amazing, still a few odds and ends to complete, today I will put up the blinds (hopefully).

Mrs H and I had a dabble on the Grand National yesterday, our first-choice horse which was the favourite (Cloth Cap) stopped to pick his cap up near to the end, but our second choice Burrow’s Saint came in at 9/1 giving us a return of £14, it was great to see the female influence in the race, especially Rachel Blackmore becoming the first ever woman to win the prestigious £750,000 race. It all started in 1977 when Charlotte Brew led the way and became the first female rider, then in 1982 Geraldine Rees was the first female rider to finish the race. It would take a further thirty years before Katie Walsh became the first female rider to finish in the top three in 2012.

Well, since last week we can all sit outside and have a drink with two friends, but Mrs H and I have been looking at the rules of such a treat and to be quite honest – we find them a little perplexing.

1, You can walk inside a pub to get outside, then you can sit inside a covered area as long as it’s outside.

2. You can go inside to the toilet, but you can’t go to the toilet outside.

3. You can go inside to pay, but you must stay outside to drink.

4. If it rains then you can all sit inside the covered area, but only if it’s outside.

5. If you decide to go home, you can walk inside the pub to get outside to walk home and be inside again.

6. You can walk past the bar to go to the toilet inside, but you must not carry a pint back outside, this is only safe if done by bar staff.

7. You can only sit with six people, unless you have a massive family, then you can sit with as many as you like.

8. A substantial meal no longer protects you while you are drinking, the virus no longer comes out after 10.00pm, as long as you are outside.

Are you as confused as Mrs H and myself? Just go and get a drink and you will be.

We’ve been having a few problems with Pigeon power over the last week, as you all know, I am no great lover of pigeons. But I have a particular bird who I have nicknamed ‘Stubby’ which is a shortened version of stubborn. Allow me to enlighten you. From the bedroom window where I type this drivel – I have a great view of the garden, we have three trees in which pigeons love to nest and rear their offspring to annoy us even more in the future, pigeons, it has to be said are not fussy birds, no elaborate nests lined with fur for these Kings and queens of the airways, no, all they require are a few well-placed twigs to nest upon. Over the past few weeks, I have successfully evicted at least three birds, not because I’m cruel but because these overweight fat birds ruin the trees they nest in by constantly flying in and out. Then last week Stubby arrived, I sat and watched him on Thursday morning as he collected twigs in preparation for the love of his life, around 11.00am I wandered down the garden, looked up and sure enough the half-built nest was there, I got the broom and knocked the twigs to the ground below. On Friday morning I watched in amazement as Stubby returned time and time again carrying twigs and building his second nest for his version of she who must be obeyed. At 11.00am I went down the garden with the broom and knocked the twigs away. On Saturday morning I just couldn’t believe my eyes, Stubby was there again – re-building the same nest in exactly the same spot, now I was really angry, (my eyes bulged, my muscles flexed, and my chest and body expanded, sorry, that was the Incredible Hulk, got a bit carried away there) I stormed down the garden and shook the tree till all the twigs fell to the floor. So, I am sat here this morning and – well you can guess the rest, Stubby is now building his fourth nest and I’m sat here thinking that the poor bird must be under real pressure from the love of his life, so I won’t be going down the garden path this morning, Stubby has earned the right to nest in that tree!

There were 1730 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours with thankfully a new low of seven deaths.

Monday 12/04/2021 – Day 396

Some excellent news re the family crisis, things are looking good at last. It is a DaD day here today (Dull as Dishwater) but for the first time in weeks we are all upbeat.

I spent a few hours yesterday putting up blinds in the Garden room, I must say Mrs H has got good taste (well, she married me didn’t she) they look really good, have to admit though, we are going to need some sort of shading on the ceiling, is there no end to it?

From today you girls can go and have your hair and nails seen to while you lucky chaps can brave the Winter weather and sit outside having a pint and a snack while you wait. Keep heart though boys, in five weeks you can sit inside whilst the good lady spends your money.

Mrs H has a new philosophy on life, it is as follows.

If you’re happy and you know it stay in bed

If you’re happy and you know it stay in bed

If you’re happy and you know it getting up will surely blow it

If you’re happy and you know it stay in bed

I’ll bet you were all singing the words to that weren’t you, and now it’s going to be stuck in your heads all day.

On this day in 1954American, Bill Haley recorded 'Rock Around the Clock'. It was first record to sell a million copies in Britain.

Mrs h sent me down the garden today to re-site some posts I removed when building the Garden room, it should have only taken an hour!, but I didn’t allow for Mrs H’s thinking. I should have heard the alarm bells when she casually remarked ‘I really could do with a little more border you know.’

I was already going to move one board from the decking, but Mrs H was already one step ahead of me, ‘Why don’t you move those four other boards?’ she said casually, ‘That will leave you with a nice straight edge to put up the posts. Yes, she was quite right, although, she didn’t mention the fact that it would leave her with another substantial sized border, I had been conned yet again, you’d think I would have learned by now.

The result was that I must finish the job off tomorrow.

There were 3567 new cases and a further 13 registered deaths today.

Tuesday 13/04/2021 – Day 397

Had a phone call this morning with some wonderful news at last, hopefully, by the end of the week I will be in a position to tell you all what has been going on with our family crisis.

Despite the gloomy weather forecasts, it seems to be another bright and sunny day out there, we had a slight frost but now the sun is streaming in from the office window.

Forgot to tell you that Mrs H and I have found a new drama series to watch, it is Australian (why do the Aussies and Canadians make better programmes than us?) It is called ‘Offspring’ and has five series; we have already watched series one and it’s really good.

Found out today that the BBC (Blooming Boring Company) have to date received over 100,000 complaints about the coverage of Prince Philips death last Friday, no-one denied that it was top news, but when the BBC put mirrored programmes on both BBC 1 and BBC2 it was a bit much, Viewers tuning into BBC Four were greeted with a message urging them to switch over for a “major news report”, while BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 5 Live also aired programmes about the duke.

Well, I have to take advantage of this ‘gloomy weather’ and go and complete the project I started yesterday – unless Mrs H gets any more bright ideas of course.

Mrs H and I have been thinking of adopting a pet skunk, it seems that they’re the best pets for guaranteed social distancing.

A further 2472 new cases today with 23 registered deaths/

Wednesday 14/04/2021 – Day 398

Things are really looking up at last and we are hoping that we have finally turned the corner with our family crisis. This, of course be why I suddenly started to think about medical dramas of the past and present.

It all started with Emergency Ward 10 which was a British medical soap opera series shown on ITV between 1957 and 1967. Emergency Ward 10 is considered to be one of British television's first major soap operas. It was shown twice weekly for 30-minute episodes, Lew Grade who ran ATV at the time said cancelling it was one of the biggest mistakes he ever made.

Dr Kildare was an NBC medical drama television series which originally ran from September 28, 1961, until August 30, 1966, for a total of 191 episodes over five seasons on BBC. Richard Chamberlain became an instant heart throb and girls had his picture all over their bedroom walls alongside Elvis and Cliff. But Chamberlain was also a singer, besides other music he recorded the signature tune as Three Stars Will Shine Tonight which reached No12 on our charts.

General Hospital was one of the first British daytime soap opera’s produced by ATV that ran on ITV from 1972 to 1979. It was not modelled after the American drama of the same name. Rather, it was an attempt to replicate the success of its predecessor, Emergency – Ward 10 after Lew Grade had a pang of conscience..

Angels is a British television seasonal drama series dealing with the subject of student nurses, it was twice weekly and was broadcast by the BBC between 1975 and 1983, it was once described as the "Z-Cars of nursing". The series provided valuable early TV exposure for a variety of young actresses who became better known on British TV, including Fiona Fullerton, Érin Geraghty, Lesley Dunlop, Julie Dawn Cole, Angela Bruce, Clare Clifford and Pauline Quirke.

The District Nurse is a British television series, produced by BBC Wales and shown on BBC One between 1984 and 1987. It starred Nerys Hughes as Megan Roberts, the titular district nurse fighting to improve living conditions for the people living in a poverty stricken mining town, Pencwm, in South Wales during the late 1920s.

Next came the BBC drama Casualty, a British medical drama series that airs weekly on BBC One. It is the longest-running emergency medical drama television series in the world, and the most enduring medical drama shown on prime time television in the world. It was first broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC One on 6 September 1986 which means that it has now been on our screens for 35 years!

Children's Ward (retitled The Ward from 1995 to 1998) was a British children's television drama series produced by Granada Television and broadcast on the ITV network as part of its Children's ITV strand on weekday afternoons.

Doctors is a British medical soap opera which began broadcasting on BBC One on 26 March 2000. Set in the fictional West Midlands town of Letherbridge, the soap follows the lives of the staff of both an NHS doctor's surgery and a university campus surgery, as well as their families and friends. Initially, only 41 episodes of the programme were ordered, but due to the positive reception, the BBC ordered it as a continuing soap opera. Doctors was filmed at the Pebble Mill Studios until 2004, and was then relocated to the BBC Drama Village

Holby City is a British medical drama television series that airs weekly on BBC One. It was created by Tony McHale and Mal Young as a spin-off from the established BBC medical drama Casualty, and premiered on 12 January 1999.

The Royal is a British period medical drama produced by ITV and aired normally on Sundays in the early evening slot. The show consisted of eight series of one-hour episodes and was broadcast on ITV from 2003 until the show was cancelled in 2011/

So, as you can see dear readers, we’ve had more than our fair share of medical dramas, I was going to cover cookery programmes next week but there are so many that it would have taken up the whole blog for the week!

On this day in 1912The British built luxury liner Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic shortly before midnight and sank in the early hours of the next morning. 1500 passengers and crew were killed.

1983The first cordless telephone, capable of operating up to 600 feet from base, was introduced. It was made by Fidelity and British Telecom and sold for £170. Problem was, it was so big you needed a pram to carry it around in.

And finally on this day in 1985The death of Noele Gordon, English film and television actress. She was credited as the first woman to be seen on colour television sets, as she took part in the BBC's early tests in colour broadcasting in the 1940s. First in 1969 and then during the following decade, she won the TV Times award for most popular television actress on eight occasions. In 'Crossroads', she took the role of motel owner Meg Richardson (later Meg Mortimer) and was the only member of the Crossroads cast who had a permanent contract.

New cases reported today totalled 2490 with a further 38 deaths registered.

Thursday 15/04/2021 – Day 399.

Things are really getting better for us in our family crisis situation, hopefully, better news to come.

I have the gloves on with Microsoft and PayPal at the moment. If you are considering a PayPal account – beware! This company will throw you to the wolves if necessary. My Problem began on the 7th of April when Microsoft took £59.99 from my PayPal account for a product I had not ordered. I got in touch with Microsoft immediately and they said PayPal would re-imburse me. PayPal refused, saying it was up to Microsoft to re-imburse me. Microsoft admit that my account may have been ‘compromised’ that someone could have invented an e mail address for this purpose. I have tried everything but neither of them will budge, Microsoft say they will re-imburse me if I let them know the email address on which the original order was set up – but if my account was compromised – how am I supposed to know the address? Stalemate.

Meanwhile George popped round today, he was holding what seemed to be a bundle of white fur.

“What’s that George?” Mrs H asked.

“It’s a – er dog.”

“Well let’s have a look at it then.”

George reluctantly pulled the white bundle from beneath his jacket, it was a puppy!

“Rose bought it for a bit of company for herself while I’m down the pub.”

“But the pubs haven’t been open for months.” I said.

“I know, that’s what I can’t understand, do you reckon she thinks I’m boring/”

Mrs H started to say something, but I tapped her hand just in time, I couldn’t quite make out the breed.

“What breed is it?”

“A Shitz-poo.”

Mrs H almost choked on her coffee, “You mean a Shih-poo don’t you George?”

“You haven’t seen it around the house” George replied, ‘I’m constantly picking up after it, the dog doesn’t like me, it keeps nipping at me, I keep it under my coat in case any of my mates are around, it’s so embarrassing.”

“I didn’t want to ask but felt obliged, “Does it have a name?”

George’s face went red, “Sweetie pie”.

That was it, Mrs H and I just burst out laughing, thoughts of him calling out ‘Come here Sweetie pie,’ when it runs off on a dark Winter night were just too much to take in.

George, slipped the little bundle back beneath his jacket and slinked off, but as Mrs H discovered later as she ran around spraying air freshener everywhere – Sweetie pie, wasn’t so sweet, he’d left his calling card behind the chair in the Garden room.

A slight rise in new cases today, there were 2672 reported, whilst the official number of deaths was 30.

Friday 16/04/2021 – Day 400.

Well, here we are, at day 400, can you believe it? I have been on furlough now for 400 days!

Mrs H and I are avid fans of Countryfile (I know, sad isn’t it) they do some great reporting about farm life and the environment, but they seem to have lost their way recently, sometimes it’s like watching an episode of Coast to Coast. But the main thing to watch for is the six-day weather forecast at the end of the show. This last week it was supposed to be frosty nights (true) and mornings (true), it was also supposed to reach a maximum of 10 degrees (False) and stay cloudy most of the day (also false). I don’t know where you live dear reader, but we are in the West Midlands in the county of Worcestershire in Kidderminster, this week has been an early frost with full sunshine and clear skies, the temperatures have been so high by 11.00am that I was forced to strip off down to just my T shirt (and jeans and shoes of course) I have been painting outside all week, so come on Countryfile, get your act together and stick to what you know best.

On this day in 1889Charlie Chaplin, English-born film actor and director was born. but did you know that he penned Petula Clarkes No 1 hit ‘This is my Song’. It was also recorded by Harry Secombe and the two had a race up the charts, Harry’s version halted at No 3.

Also, on this day in 2020 Shortly before 06:00 this morning, Tom Moore, a 99-year-old war veteran from Bedfordshire, who is walking 100 laps of his garden with the aid of a walking frame before he turns 100, had raised nearly £12million for the NHS. More than 600,000 people from around the world donated money to his fundraising page since it was set up the previous week.

Another slight rise in new cases brings the total for the last 24 hours to 2756, the number of deaths reported was 34.

Saturday 17/04/2021 – Day 401

It is another beautiful sunny day again, a slight frost this morning but it’s a small price to pay for the wonderful sunny and warm days that follow.

The news on the family crisis is greatly improved today. So, as promised here is what has happened in the last four weeks.

It started over four weeks ago when our daughter Sarah was complaining about stomach pains, she visited the doctors twice that week and was eventually given anti-biotics. Sarah lives with her 18-year-old daughter Mollie.

On Thursday 18th March she had been awake most of the night and very poorly, at around 5.30am that morning Mollie called an ambulance and Sarah was taken into Redditch Hospital with a serious infection. By teatime, the doctors were phoning other hospitals to get her in for an emergency operation, it seems that the infection had become deep seated in her kidney, meanwhile her breathing became so erratic that they put her on a ventilator.

You need to know at this point that Sarah has poor health anyway, she is a diabetic (since childhood) and insulin dependent, she also suffers arthritis.

On Thursday evening she was taken by ambulance to Worcester Hospital where she was to have an operation to have her Kidney flushed. On Friday 19th she was taken down to theatre. We were phoned at around 5.30 by an ICU doctor who told us that the news wasn’t good, the operation had gone ok but whilst they were flushing the Kidney Sarah suffered Septic shock. She was now dependant on a ventilator, and they had heavily sedated her, in short – it wasn’t looking particularly good for her, and the next 24 hours were critical.

Mrs H and I spent most of the night praying that we weren’t going to get that phone call, we both eventually slipped into a sleep and woke about 7.30. We rang the ICU ward immediately and were told that she’d had a steady night, she was on two lots of ante-biotics, and the sedation along with the ventilator were doing their job. We phoned two or three times a day over the weekend, but nothing had changed, we were not allowed to visit because of the Coronavirus epidemic. There was no change in her health for the next three or four days, the following Thursday they weaned her off the ventilator gradually, by Sunday she was only on a very low dose of oxygen, on the Monday 29th she was moved back to Redditch ICU,

It was Tuesday morning when Mrs H’s mobile rang, I heard her shriek, it was Sarah! It had been almost two weeks since we had heard from her, apart from being a little croaky she sounded ok, she was absolutely drained after what she had been through, but we were elated. Then on Wednesday she was moved back to Redditch, she phoned us on the Thursday and said that she now had to go to Birmingham Queen Elizabeth hospital where she was to have a tube fitted.

We didn’t hear anything else, so we phoned the ICU ward on Friday 2nd April and were told that she was poorly again but stable, after a phone call on Saturday we were told that they were thinking of putting her back on a ventilator because she was having difficulty breathing.

On Easter Sunday we had another phone call from the doctor at the Queen Elizabeth, He told us that Sarah was back in the ICU and that once again the outlook wasn’t very good, she was basically back to the same condition she was in on Friday 19th, Once again Mrs H and I had a terrible night, it is the worst thing in the world to be waiting for a telephone call.

Mollie was coming round to our house quite regularly and eating with us, she couldn’t stay because they have a dog, we could sense how stressed the poor girl was.

Over the next few days Sarah’s health started to improve, once again on Friday 8th she was moved back to the ICU at Redditch, by the following Monday they were once again slowly coaxing her off the ventilator, on Tuesday they moved her to a private room on the ward, to our great joy we got a phone call from her on the same day, most of her tubes had been removed and she had tried to eat something.

She is now improving a little every day, but there is still a way to go, having already lost one daughter to leukaemia we are just so relieved to have her back from the brink.

All we have to do now is locate her bags that have sort of got mislaid in the many moves, a small price to pay I think.

You should all go now and give your daughter/son/siblings a great big hug and tell them how much you love them, and if there is a rift in the family then heal it – life is far too precious.

There were 2206 new cases today bringing the total for the week to 17,893 just 1051 less than last week, there are press reports about the virus beginning to rise again in some areas, let’s hope they are exaggerated, the number of deaths for the week was 180 which was 74 down on the previous week. But there was a huge rise in the number of recoveries which shows us that the vaccine is doing its job, recoveries rose by 184,072 to a total of 4,145,180.

Well dear readers, we are at the end of another very eventful week, but for the first time in over a month I am at least ending on a more positive note, many thanks to the hundreds of you who have given Mrs H and myself a lot of support over the past few weeks. Have a great week and stay safe.

Week 58

Sunday 18/04/2021 – Day 402

It’s once again a lovely sunny day here in Kidderminster, a very slight frost but another good day to look forward to. I have a confession to make, in celebration of the good news about daughter Sarah – I over-indulged on the Guinness slightly yesterday afternoon, not enough to give me a hangover, but enough to send me off into the land of make believe zzzzz. The result was that whilst ordering some stuff while sat at my computer I nodded off, Mrs H had to wake me to tell me my tea was ready, and I hadn’t even ordered my things!

Having said that, I wish Mrs h had let me sleep, what a boring night on TV again, what on earth has happened to British television? We used to be the best in the world with countries lining up to buy any shows or drama’s that had been made by the BBC or by ITV, but today’s offerings are just cheap tv and no-one wants to buy any of them except for a few programmes from the likes of David Attenborough. Last night was yet another night of ‘Celebrity’ offering, these shows are usually the same old tired faces or so-called ‘celebrity’s’ so obscure that hardly anyone knows who they were. BBC’s flagship for Saturday night is either Casualty or the spin off Holby city, great if you like hospital drama, but Mrs H and I have had our own real drama over the past month. And what on earth is that ‘I can see Your Voice’ all about? The highlight of ITV’s evening was chatty man Alan Carr with a re-hash of an old TV gameshow called ‘The Price is Right’. I always get the feeling that Carr is struggling with these programmes and seems to strain on the jokes. ITV and the BBC are consistently advertising past programmes ‘to stream’ on their sites for the simple reason that the viewing figures were so pathetic the first time around. Apologies dear reader but I love a good whinge as you know.

Our daughter Sarah is still doing very well, she’s in Redditch hospital at the moment, there is still a bit of infection in her kidney which is causing her temperature to keep spiking, but the doctors are hoping that a different and a stronger ante-biotic will blast the last stubborn bit of infection. Fingers crossed.

On this day in 1912The Cunard liner RMS Carpathia brought 705 survivors to New York from the RMS Titanic that had sunk on 15th April 1912 after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton.

Hayley Mills is 75 years young today, I always had a bit of a crush on Hayley as a lad, I first saw her in the 1961 film ‘Whistle Down the Wind’ when she played Kathy. Three Lancashire farm children discover a bearded fugitive (the Man/ Alan Bates) hiding in their barn and mistake him for Jesus Christ. They come to this conclusion because of their Sunday School stories and Blakey's shocked exclamation of 'Jesus Christ!' when Kathy, the eldest child, accidentally discovers him. In Sunday School the children quiz their teacher and become even more convinced in their belief. But her best film for me was ‘The Family Way’ where she starred as Jenny alongside Hywel Bennett as Arthur, they were newlyweds who have to get over the trauma of living in a two up, two down terraced house with parents.

The number of new cases today was 1882 with 10 registered deaths.

Monday 19/04/2021 – Day 403

I was awoken by the sun streaming through the window this morning, I don’t know about you dear reader - but with me, once the sun is up, then so am I – no matter what the time is, that doesn’t mean that if it doesn’t rise till the afternoon then neither do I.

Mrs H had a phone call from Sarah in Redditch Hospital this morning, the doctors are really pleased with her progress and things on the infection side are looking good. But the best news is that she can have one visitor tonight, well, there was only one choice wasn’t there, so Mollie (her daughter) is visiting her between 7 and 8 for the full hour.

I don’t know if you recall from last week, but whilst Sarah was sedated and being moved from one hospital to another they managed to lose her bags with a lot of precious things in them, her computer tablet, her I pod, her watch her glasses but most important of all, her insulin pen which she uses for her twice daily intake, the doctors have her taking insulin through a line but they are struggling to find the right amount for her, if she had her pen she could easily do her own injection.

I rang the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) last Wednesday and had to leave a message, On Thursday Keya rang me and I explained the problem and how urgent it was, she said she would sort it. Keya rang back on Friday and asked if the ward had been in touch, I told her no, and it was getting really urgent as we knew there would be nothing done over the weekend. We didn’t hear from anyone, so this morning I rang again, Keya wasn’t in at all today so I spoke to another girl who promised to sort it out and ring back, we are still waiting.

I did have some good news though, if you remember, I had £60 taken from my PayPal account at the beginning of the month and have been fighting to get it back ever since, well, this afternoon a nice chap from Microsoft rang me and said he heard I was having problems with my refund, I explained it all to him and he told me that they had taken a further £60 in 2020, but he was now going to cancel the contract and would re-imburse my PayPal account with £120, now I’m not normally that way inclined, but if Mike had been sat in front of me I would have kissed him! Within an hour it was refunded back to my account and I was once again solvent.

On this day in 1951The first Miss World Contest was won by Kiki Haakonson, a 21-year-old from Sweden. There were 30 contestants and 25 came from Britain, although all nations could enter. The contest was devised by Mecca publicity officer, Eric Morley, as part of the Festival of Britain celebrations. Sweden won it again in the year I was born 1952, but it would be ten years before the United Kingdom won it in 1961, Rosemarie Frankland was a Welsh Model, actress and beauty queen. 1951Helen Morgan (born 29 September 1952) is a Welsh actress, model, TV Host and beauty queen who won the 1974 Miss Wales, Miss United Kingdom and Miss World pageants. Morgan became the first winner to resign, and the second (after Marjorie Wallace) not to finish her reign as Miss World. It seems that the great British press discovered that Helen was an unmarried mother of an 18mmonth old baby, although this wasn’t against the rules the press gave her such a hard time she had no choice but to resign. It has been 38 years since the United Kingdom won the title.

There were a further 2963 new cases reported today, the number of registered deaths dropped to 4.

Tuesday 20/04/2021 – Day 404

Sarah’s health continues to improve although the infection is still there, but she certainly sounds a lot chirpier on the phone.

Bit cloudier here early morning but no frost. Having a trip out to my daughter Gemma’s house this morning, my son Mark and I are going to put up the framework for a covered canopy at the rear of her house, all the timber is there and waiting but at this moment in time we don’t have a roof. The reason is that we live in the United Kingdom. So basically, when you order anything here you must pay for it then you wait for an email telling you that you have done well by paying for it, but they can’t give you a dispatch date until it is sent through to despatch. This small act of sending it a few yards down the yard normally takes a couple of days, (a little bit longer now due to Covid). So, you wait patiently – opening your e mails excitedly for a couple of mornings only to find – nothing, zilch, zero nothing. When they eventually remember that they have a wad of your hard-earned dosh they send you an e mail. This e mail says in large capital letters; WE HAVE A DELIVERY DATE FOR YOUR GOODS, like we should all go out and throw a party or something (but you can’t because of Covid), The e mail tells you to scroll down to delivery, when you finally get there it says that your items have been dispatched and should be with you in 1-2 days (depending on Covid). Now, am I being unreasonable here? All I ask for is a delivery date, not an estimate of a delivery date.

The best of it is that they cannot guarantee a time, so they expect you to wait in for two whole days and look out for their van. But as you read on it gets better, not only do they expect you to wait by your window for two days, but they also want you to go outside and help the delivery man unload YOUR delivery, the delivery that you’ve paid an arm and a leg for because you wanted to support the British Industry, they cannot provide a second helper because of – yes you’ve guessed it – Covid! Next time I want something I’ll shop at Amazon, who not only send two men on large deliveries, but you are guaranteed next day delivery.

Some of you may or may not know that I don’t drive, I did put in for my test once but during the question part, the examiner asked me what sign I would expect to see down a country lane, apparently ‘eggs for sale’ wasn’t the right answer.

Fortunately, Mrs H and I no longer must face the ordeal of an MOT test, the rigorous shaking of the head, all those sharp intakes of breath, the scratching of the head with oily fingers and sucking in of the dentures. Then you had to walk away from your beloved motor to await the phone call, the same phone call that would either drain the bank balance or cause you to do somersaults down the High street, Sadly, the last one we had in the nineties was so bad that the mechanic called in the priest.

It just so happens that on this day in 1961it was the birth of actor Nicholas Lyndhurst, best known for his roles as Rodney Trotter in Only Fools and Horses, Gary Sparrow in Goodnight Sweetheart, and as Adam Parkinson in Carla Lane's series Butterflies.

Also, on this day in 1981Boring Steve Davis became the world snooker champion at 23 years of age, beating Doug Mountjoy at Sheffield. On 17th April 2016 he announced his retirement, aged 58. Davis won six world titles and 28 ranking titles, putting him joint second on the all-time list with Ronnie O'Sullivan and John Higgins.

There were a total of 2524 new cases today, but deaths rose to 31.

Wednesday 21/04/2021 – Day 405.

It’s a grey old day here and it is drizzling, that’s what some of you may know as ‘spitting’ as opposed to bucketing it down or torrential rain, it really doesn’t matter what you call it, all I know is that it makes you quite wet!

Had another phone call from Sarah this morning, everything is going well apart from her diabetes, they can’t seem to get it right, if she had her lost diabetes pen she could do it herself.

I am sure that you will all join me in wishing the Queen a very Happy Birthday, her majesty will mark her 95th birthday today in a private and low-key way, four days after the funeral of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. There will be no public celebrations as the monarch continues to observe two weeks of mourning until Friday. No photograph celebrating the day is expected to be released this year, as is customary. Some of the Queen's family are thought to be with her in Windsor, as well as around 20 staff, dubbed HMS Bubble.

Had a very successful day at Gemma’s yesterday the structure for the roof was up in just under two hours with Harvey & son on the job, reminded me of my old days as a self-employed builder. Gemma and hubby are over the moon, just a pity that the delivery of the roofing sheets was so long-winded.

George popped around this morning on his way to town, he’s back in the doghouse once again, apparently, he asked Rose what time tea would be ready while she was still mowing the lawn, will that man never learn respect for the female, I mean, it’s took me 48 years.

Drizzly days like this always tend to take me back to the fifties and my childhood, as you all know I came from a large family of four brothers and five sisters, so it goes without saying that on a wet day our house was a tad overfull, besides the fact that my dad worked permanent night shifts, so he was in bed all day asleep, everyone had to be as quiet as a mouse and beware if he ever got woken up. We had to make our own pleasure back then, so with a scrap of paper you could always play ‘Hangman’. In that game you made up a word whilst your opponent tried to guess one letter at a time, if the letter wasn’t there then you drew the first part of the gallows, the idea was that you guessed the word before the poor chap was hanged.

You could always have a game of cards, not snap though, far too noisy. If on your own you could play patience, problem was that in our house there always seemed to be a card missing from the pack, or the pack was so badly marked that you knew every card from the back of it. There was always snakes and ladders, it was inevitable that one of my siblings had a compendium set for the previous Christmas, but wait, another problem, the first thing that went missing was always the dice, and it was always on Christmas day, this of course rendered most of the compendium set about as useless as a one-legged bloke in an ass kicking contest, unless you knew how to play chess or draughts, but there would inevitably be a piece of that missing too. It would never be anyone’s fault, which brings me nicely on to the ghost in our house, as though there wasn’t already enough children in the house there was always an eleventh child who got the blame for everything!

The one thing that was strict in our house was that the boys never went into the girls bedroom and vice versa, so this limited the number of rooms available for any privacy on a rainy day, our nan had moved herself in two years previously and was living in the big room, this left the Kitchen (far too much going on) the small living room (far too overcrowded) or the bedroom (hated it in there, far too many beds for comfort) or the bathroom (too many visitors). So, on a cold wet day I would stand in our entry (covered alleyway) shivering and praying that the rain would stop or one of my mates would come around to see if I wanted to play at his house.

These children today don’t realise how lucky they are.

On this day in 1983one-pound coins replaced notes in England and Wales, and with that decision went the good old days of when your dear old Nan would press a folded note into the palm of your hand and put a finger to her lips to keep it secret.

New cases dropped slightly to 2396 today, while the number of registered deaths also dropped to 22.

Thursday 22/04/2021 – Day 406

Well, it is another cold and frosty start to the day, but it does guarantee that we have a warm and sunny day coming our way – eventually.

Which is a good thing really, because today is our grandson Mason’s 18th birthday, he should have been born yesterday but didn’t want to take the glory away from Her Majesty the Queen. At least we can see him this year, we will go and have a lunch with him, outside of course, then I think his day will be overflowing with family and friends wanting to spend time with him, he really has turned into a wonderful grandson, happy birthday Mason.

Great news this morning, they have at last found Sarah’s belongings, if you recall the staff mislaid her bags which held her computer tablet, glasses, i-pod, and an expensive watch, but most importantly it held her insulin pen, so at least she can get her diabetes back on track and it will be one less thing for the overstretched doctors to have to worry about. A massive thank you to PALS and the ward manager at ward 620.

On this day in 1915The second battle of Ypres started when German troops released clouds of deadly chlorine gas on British troops. It was the first major gas attack of World War I. I wrote this poem about it,


Conditions were perfect for an enemy attack,

I rummaged for a ciggy inside my backpack.

I sat on the fire step - smoking Woodbine I'd found,

Feeling nice and relaxed with my putees unwound.

The lad on the periscope was new to the game.

His christening in trenches was, thankfully, tame.

He shouted, "Hey, sergeant, this is really profound,

There's a yellow green cloud rolling over the ground."

Grabbing my bayonet, I banged on a spent shell.

Some other trenchers raised the alarm as well,

With less than twenty seconds before it arrived.

only the quickest and smartest survived.

I picked up my gas mask, pulled it over my head.

The lad on the periscope was already dead!

I saw him sink to the mud, clutching his throat-

An awful way to die in a place so remote.

Pandemonium reigned for a while in our trench.

We fixed our bayonets with a twist and a wrench.

More new men lined the fire step - took up the slack,

Crouching -waiting for the imminent attack.

The company mascot lay muddied and froze.

His saturated paws were covering his nose.

The animals suffered ... the horse and the mule.

All the rats died adding to the cesspool!

Then, over they came, their bayonets glistening.

I prayed to dear God...He must have been listening...

They came in full force, but we repelled the attack.

We were all exhausted, but we turned them back.

My head seemed to burst - I heard a crack in my ear.

The trench turned to a snake; my vision unclear.

My mask was leaking - pins and needles everywhere.

I felt myself drifting and lost consciousness there.

I awoke with a start as fresh air filled my throat,

I was lay on a stretcher, beneath a great coat,

Examining my mask - a bullet had gone through:

Gas had penetrated but I hadn't a clue.

The damage to my lungs terminated my fight.

I was honourably discharged...went home to write.

This was supposed to be the war to end all war,

But, twenty years later, we had to face more!

This poem is part of 37 more that I published on Amazon books under World War One in Verse.

Also, on this day in 1943Britain discontinued printing £1,000 notes. I didn’t realise that there was any such thing!

It seems that after all the rows and arguments with the Russians lately, the main man of the Russian pyramid team has been deported and now they don’t have Oleg to stand on.

A further 2729 new cases were reported today with 18 deaths.

Friday 23/04/2021 – Day 407

Another clear blue skies but frosty start to the day. I am venturing out to Sarah’s house today to cut the lawns and tidy up the garden in anticipation of her coming home. She was a little poorly last night after having gone to theatre to have a line put in.

Today is of course St Georges Day, but we seem to have lost our identity on this our patron Saints day, well, when I say ‘lost it’ what I really mean is that we have had it taken away bit by bit, by various rules and regulations foisted upon us in the last 30 odd years. We should return to the way that the Irish celebrate St Patricks day, there should be street parades in every town and parties in those streets, but we let it slip away into oblivion and it just becomes a normal day. St George was born sometime around the year 280 in what is now Turkey. He was a soldier and rose through the ranks of the Roman army, eventually becoming a personal guard to the Emperor Diocletian. He was executed for being a Christian on April 23, 303, and is buried in the town of Lod in Israel.

St George is most widely known for slaying a dragon. According to legend, the only well in the town of Silene was guarded by a dragon. To get water, the inhabitants of the town had to offer a human sacrifice every day to the dragon. The person to be sacrificed was chosen by lots. On the day that St George was visiting, a princess had been selected to be sacrificed. However, he killed the dragon, saved the princess, and gave the people of Silene access to water. In gratitude, they converted to Christianity. It is thought that the dragon represents a certain type of pagan belief that included the sacrifice of human beings.

St George's Day was once celebrated as widely as Christmas. But the celebrations waned by the end of the 18th century after England had united with Scotland on May 1, 1707. In recent times, there has been a push, involving campaigns and petitions, to make the day a public holiday in England.

On this day in 1968The first decimal coins appeared in Britain - the 5p and 10p pieces which replaced the 1 shilling and 2-shilling coins. With these coins went a whole host of traditions, I mean ‘5p a job week doesn’t have the same appeal as Bob a Job week. Got 5p for the meter doesn’t have the same ring as got a shilling for the gas. There were two types of the florin issued during the reign of Elizabeth II. The first was issued only in 1953. The second, with a change in obverse inscription, was issued from 1954 to 1967.

It was superseded by the 10p coin in 1968 in preparation for decimalisation in 1971, when all florins were revalued at 10p.

The florin was demonetised along with the large size 10p coins on 1st July 1993 after their replacement by a new small 10p coin first issued in the previous year.

There were a total of 2678 new cases today with the highest number of deaths this week at 40.

Saturday 24/04/2021 – Day 408

Another wonderful sunny start to the day here in Worcestershire. Our daughter Sarah is doing quite well in Redditch hospital, she still has a kidney infection but at least it is being managed, she is still very weak and not able to come home yet, but there are plenty of volunteers ready and willing when she finally does.

Mrs H and I spent yesterday round at her house, Mrs H was giving the house a top and bottom while I tackled the front and back garden in the beautiful sunshine, the lawns were almost a foot high and the borders couldn’t be separated from it, but a few more hours today should see most of it finished,

I got up this morning feeling as swift as a Gazelle – an old one that is riddled with arthritis and got run over by a Land rover last week lol.

George actually got one of those things that are rarer than rocking horse muck – a doctor’s appointment! He has been plagued by a dodgy shoulder for a few weeks now and fears he may have strained it (lifting a full glass of beer). But the new doctor he saw obviously wasn’t ready for him.

Doctor. Do you play any dangerous sports?

George. Well, I argue with the wife sometimes.

Today the Daily Express is 121 years old, 1900The first issue of the newspaper was issued today. It was founded by Arthur Pearson. The only paper I ever remember my dad buying, he would get off his bike on the way home from night shift at 6.10am every morning to buy it. I used to love reading Rupert the Bear, and satirical cartoons by Carl Giles which it began publishing in the 1940s. and it was the newspaper which started off my love of doing crosswords. It would inevitably end up propping up a dodgy cushion on the three-piece suite or starting the fire on a cold Winter morning. It has gone from a circulation of over 5 million in the fifties to just 250,000 today.

There were 2061new cases today bringing the total for the week to 17,233 a fall of 660 on last week. The number of deaths was 32 and the total for the week was 157 a fall 0f 23 on last week’s total. The number of recoveries now stands at 4,183,543 this is a rise of 38,363 on the previous week.

Week 59

Sunday 25/04/2021 – Day 409

This is about the ninth sunny start in a row, you have to ask yourself – will it snow in May, is this our Summer?, The way our weather is going – who knows? It is so unpredictable as it is throughout the world at the moment.

Mrs H and I had the youngest Grandson staying with us last night, I have to say he’s no trouble at all, he just goes up to his room and we slide the bolt across until next morning, just joking. Actually, he is a very quiet 12-year-old who – when he isn’t making us watch horror films – is usually glued to his computer watching any football match anywhere in the world.

Sarah continues to recover well, but she now has what the doctors think may be a bad case of vertigo, she is incapable of standing and when she raises her head off the pillow she goes lightheaded and feels nauseas. But, thanks to the wonderful NHS there is a medicine for that, so we are hoping that she’ll be back home for next weekend, fingers crossed.

Today is ANZAC’s day (Australia And New Zealand Army Corps). No one knows who came up with the term Anzac. It is likely that Sergeant K.M. Little, a clerk in Birdwood's headquarters, thought of it for use on a rubber stamp: 'ANZAC' was convenient shorthand, and became the telegraph code word for the corps. No one knows who came up with the term Anzac. It is likely that Sergeant K.M. Little, a clerk in Birdwood's headquarters, thought of it for use on a rubber stamp: 'ANZAC' was convenient shorthand, and became the telegraph code word for the Corps. The Anzacs first saw action at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. The small cove where the Australian and New Zealand troops landed was quickly dubbed Anzac Cove. Soon the word was being used to describe all the Australian and New Zealand soldiers fighting on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Later it came to mean any Australian or New Zealand soldier.

After a rather hectic week Mrs H and myself are having a laid-back Sunday, Mollie is coming round to us for lunch, and I will be firing the BBQ up for the first time in what seems like an age. They must have been ok because Mollie – who is about 7 stone wringing wet – demolished 3 of them!

On this day in 1932 William Roache MBE was born, the British actor is known for his role as Ken Barlow in the soap opera Coronation Street. He is the longest serving cast member, having appeared since the first episode on 9th December 1960. Roache is also the world's longest-serving television actor.

On this day in 1969The BBC Radio serial Mrs. Dale's Diary ended after 21 years and more than 5,400 episodes. Her final words were: "I'm rather worried about Jim...."

And finally, on this day in 2012 A new initiative paired the Scottish hamlet of Dull with an American town named Boring. The Dull and Boring plan was hatched after a resident of Dull, near Aberfeldy in Perthshire, cycled through Boring in Oregon.

My friend John is a keen golfer – it takes a lot of balls to play golf the way John plays.

There were 1712 new cases reported in the UK today and 11 deaths.

Monday 26/04/2021 – Day 410

Well, it’s another fine sunny day here after a mild frost to the start of the day, but it seems that rain is on the way tomorrow, great news for gardeners who haven’t seen any rain for over ten days, but for us lowly DIY’ers it’s not so good.

Had some brilliant news from Sarah today, she thinks that she may be allowed home tomorrow, it all depends on a couple of tests, the physiotherapist is against the idea though, so we’ll have to watch this space.

Mrs H and I were in bed last night, she was watching TV and I was reading a book on Escapology, she said “You need to get out more”.

Spent a few hours around at my other daughter’s house today, I was fitting the corrugated sheets to her roof which we put up last week, Mrs H supervised from the comfort of a garden chair whilst the spit from her mouth (Gemma) also sat in the sunshine and watched me toil, even so, a few hours and a couple of cups of tea later and all was done, the grandson can now play pool in the dry.

Who can remember the Tiller Girls? On this day in 1889John Tiller created the Tiller Girls' Dancing Troupe. He noticed that the girl dance troupes of the day had poor co-ordination, so he simply formed his own group and got them to link arms, this solved the problem. They first performed as 'Les Jolies Petites'. He originally formed the group for the pantomime 'Robinson Crusoe', subtitled 'The Good Friday That Came on a Saturday', in 1890 at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Liverpool. From this were founded the Tiller School of Dancing and the Tiller Girl troupes. The number of troupes grew to dozens, and their fame spread around the world. The original 1960’s line up that performed regularly on Sunday Night at the London Palladium officially retired in April 2011, their final dance was a cabaret in aid of Vera Lynn's Children's Charity. The women were then in their late 60s and early 70s, a rare achievement for any dancer, and the joy and pride of bearing the Tiller Girl name was thus passed on into its third century, with the baton being passed to the relaunched Tiller Girls. Betty Boothroyd former speaker at the house of Commons and Gretchen Franklin who played Ethel Skinner in EastEnders were former Tiller girls.

There was an accident outside our house today A cement mixer collided with a prison van. All the prisoners escaped. Motorists are asked to be on the lookout for 16 hardened criminals.

1984 The re-opening of the reconstructed Cavern Club in Liverpool, it is located next to the original Club. In the early 1960s the Cavern Club became the most publicised pop music venue in the world, with regular performances from the Beatles, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Billy J Kramer, Cilla Black and many more 60s groups and solo singers.. On 7th August 1957, The Quarry Men Skiffle Group made their first advertised appearance at the Cavern Club. Band members included John Lennon, Len Garry, Rod Davies, Colin Hanton, Pete Shotton and Eric Griffiths. During the performance Alan Sytner told John Lennon to ‘cut out the rock’! Paul McCartney joined the Quarrymen in 1958. I personally thought they should have left the original club alone, going to the new one is a bit like trigger’s broom in Only Fools and Horses, you know, the original one where he’d had ten new heads and eight new handles.

Well, would you piggin believe it? On this day in 1989Naas, County Kildare, in Ireland held their first annual pig race watched by over 7,000 people. One punter won £200 on the favourite, Porky’s Revenge, and the bookies handed the remainder of their money to the charity People in Need.

Mrs H has decided to sell her hoover; it’s just collecting dust.

New cases rose slightly to 2066 whilst thankfully, deaths were down to 6.

Tuesday 27/04/2021 – Day 411

A very dull day here today with a promise of rain later, we wait with bated breath to see if Sarah will be allowed home this afternoon, the signs are good, but she will still need professional care, a district nurse will call on her twice a day with carers calling in three times a day, but we are sure that being back at home will improve her health by at least 50%, once again fingers crossed.

Meanwhile Mrs H has had me on my hands and knees, no, I wasn’t begging her for mercy, I was getting some fresh compost out of our large square compost bin, I filled up four very large bins full before the tunnel I had created collapsed on my hand.

Building work for the new KFC in Kidderminster town has halted momentarily because of the discovery of human remains.

Work was halted on Friday afternoon after the discovery of several human bones, the police forensic team were called but passed the case on to the archaeological and anatomy anthropology department of Birmingham University. Professor Doug Hole head of both the department's, and lead on the excavation has concluded that these are remains from the 1800's and likely to be that of gravediggers from the old town cemetery who went on strike whilst protesting about the depth they were digging below ground, sadly, the men weren’t of the highest intelligence and they decided to strike while they were still in the hole, Later that night Grave robbers who thought they were on to a good thing dropped dead on the spot when they tried to move the gravediggers and they woke up.

KFC have stated that a plaque will be placed in store and out of respect they will be only serving boneless chicken for the first two weeks. Would I lie to you?

On this day in 1944the birth of Michael Fish, British meteorologist. He became infamous in the wake of the Great Storm of 1987 when it was rumoured that there a hurricane on the way to which he commented 'Well, if you're watching, don't worry, there isn't!' That evening, the worst storm to hit South East England since 1703 caused record damage and killed 18 people.

My boss at work went bald a few years ago, but he still carries an old comb in his pocket – he just can’t part with it.

The number of new cases soared today to 2685, the number of recorded deaths were 17.

Wednesday 28/04/2021 – Day 412

28th April is International Workers’ Memorial Day, the day each year when workers come together and remember those who have been killed and injured at work. The slogan for the day is 'Remember the dead – fight for the living'.

It’s a grey and wet morning out there today, but this is the first real rain we’ve had for over two weeks so Mrs H isn’t complaining (not until tomorrow when it is still raining) she says it will do the garden good, especially the new plants and roses she put in yesterday.

Poor Sarah didn’t make it home yesterday, too many things were against her, there was special equipment to be delivered to her home, there were carers to book and then last night her sugar levels went up to 28, we hope that she’ll be home today though.

I have been busy writing short stories, I’ve managed to enter five competitions so far, one poetry competition of which I don’t hold out much hope, most editors today like the stuff that doesn’t rhyme, I personally find it more boring than an editorial in a newspaper, with poets using words you have never heard of, poetry should flow – not make you stop and think ‘what on earth does that mean - but only my opinion of course. The other four competitions are short stories, I think mine are good but again, that is only my opinion.

You can't beat a good old chat with a friend, can you?

But now I know what the word 'chat' used to mean, well no more chats for me I can tell you! I will stick to having a good old gossip or even a talk from now on! You see, back in the Napoleonic Wars and in The First World War a chat was a nickname for a body louse!

Soldiers in the Napoleonic Wars referred to body lice as ‘chats’ and so did the men in the First World War. Chats were rife in the trenches, congregating in the seams of uniforms, they bred in huge numbers, causing great discomfort. When they got the chance, men attempted to de-louse their uniforms, they sat in groups talking as they did so and were said to be ‘chatting’. Now the term has been adopted to describe talking, rather than hunting for lice! Anyway, there you have it. I never knew that! Shall we have a chat about it!?

On this day in 1923The first FA Cup Final was held at Wembley Stadium. 200,000 people arrived at a stadium which was only designed to hold 125,000 and when 60,000 irate fans rushed the turnstiles a human torrent swept onto the pitch. Players were engulfed by the crowd and 1,000 men, women and children were injured. Finals were made 'all ticket' after that. The game began one hour late, and Bolton beat West Ham 2-0.

Mrs H and I were enjoying a family holiday in Portugal when My mother-in-law fell down a wishing well, I was amazed, I never knew they worked.

New cases reported in the last 24 hours were 2166, whilst the number of registered deaths rose to 29.

Thursday 29/04/2021 – Day 413

A bit brighter here this morning with hazy sunshine starting to peak through the clearing skies, but we are told that more rain is on the way.

Some bad news from Sarah last night, as you know, her blood sugar levels rose to 28 yesterday, well they have managed to get the levels back down, but she now has a high temperature, doctors think she may have another infection, we won’t know until later today when she has a scan, meanwhile a special mattress and other items have been delivered to her house in readiness for her eventually going home. So, we just have to sit and wait once again.

I’m sure you will all join me in wishingPrince William, 2nd in line to the throne, and Kate Middleton a happy tenth anniversary, they were married on this day in 2011 at Westminster Abbey. The day was declared a bank holiday in celebration. They will spend the day celebrating at their London residence with their children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis. And while details will remain private, it’s likely the royal couple will give each other traditional gifts to commemorate the occasion.

On this day in 1938the birth, in Bolton, Lancashire of Fred Dibnah MBE, English steeplejack. He had a fascination for steam vehicles and mechanical engineering and became a cult television personality. His former home in Bolton became the Fred Dibnah Heritage Centre until its closure in 2018. Fred was one of the best in my opinion, he was down to earth (no pun intended) and a wonderful role model for the young of today, the man’s knowledge was insatiable, and his opinions of life had a great influence on myself and thousands like me. This was way back when the BBC made programmes worth watching. My favourite episode was the one where he’d scooped a dead pigeon from his water tank in the loft, he then wiped his hands on his trademark flat cap and caught an infection. On his birthday in 2008 the unveiling took place, in his hometown of Bolton of the 8ft memorial statue. He had been awarded the MBE in the 2004 New Year Honours for services to heritage and broadcasting.

Talking of the vermin of the airways (No dear reader, not Radio one DJ’s) these pigeons are taking liberties with my kind and generous nature, remember I told you a couple of weeks ago about my battle with Stubby the overweight pigeon, if you recall he kept bringing twigs to a tree down the garden, I kept knocking them out again, the next morning they would be back, he was so determined that I allowed him squatters rights and his missus has taken up residency permanently. Well, it seems that Stubby has spread the word amongst his family and I had a constant battle with either his brother or his equally fat cousin who from herein shall be called Chubby, this scruffy looking pigeon has been trying most of the day to build a nest in our Red Robin tree, this is a beautiful tree that stands about twelve feet tall, and has been nurtured by Mrs H from a sapling, now Chubby and his betrothed are wrecking the tree by constantly diving in and out with twigs, and I am wrecking my health by constantly diving in and out with the broom to shoo them away. Watch this space.

Whilst we are on the subject of birds, remember Bouncer? He came back to the mirror and bench temporarily, then he disappeared no more white reminders on the bench, then Mrs H went down to the open room further down the garden, the room has a lovely arched mirror above a wicker coffee table, which is now covered in – wait for it – bird mess, yes, Bouncer has moved on about ten metres.

And finally on this day in 2014A campaign poster advertising Nigel Farage's UKIP was inadvertently placed next to a 'Go Outdoors' poster for inflatable tents that bore the slogan - 'No Poles Required'. You just couldn’t make it up could you!

New cases rose again today to 2445, the number of registered dropped slightly to 22.

Friday 30/04/2021 – Day 414

Well can you believe that we’re at the end of yet another month of 2021, a third of the way through the year already, I woke up this morning wondering if they ever have any strikes at a stress ball factory.

Sarah is still in hospital at Redditch, but at least they discovered yesterday that she doesn’t have another infection, so if they can get her diabetes right she may well be home today, if not it won’t be until Tuesday as they are short staffed over the Bank Holiday period.

Human beings are funny creatures, why is it that when someone tells you that there are over a billion stars in the universe, you believe them, but if they tell you there is wet paint somewhere, you have to touch it to make sure?

Today would have been the 101st birthday of Captain Tom Moore. On 6th April 2020 he set out to raise £1000 for NHS Charities Together by walking 100 lengths of his 25-metre garden and ended up raising almost £30M in donations. It was the largest-ever amount raised by a JustGiving campaign. He later featured in a charity cover version of the song "You'll Never Walk Alone" with Michael Ball, with proceeds going to the same charity. The single topped the UK music charts and made Captain Moore the oldest person to ever achieve a UK number one. He was made an honorary colonel on his 100th birthday, receiving more than 125,000 birthday cards and was made an honorary England cricketer by former captain Michael Vaughan. A Great Western Railway intercity express train (No. 800025) was also named in his honour on his birthday and an RAF flypast took place over his house.

On this day in 1952 just three months after I was born theBritish public got the chance to read 'The Diary of a Young Girl', written by Anne Frank who hid from the Nazis in Holland during the war. Anne was born in Germany but after Hitler became popular and took advantage of the rampant antisemitic sentiments in Germany, the family moved to Amsterdam. On 1 September 1939, when Anne was 10 years old, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, and so the Second World War began. Not long after, on 10 May 1940, the Nazis also invaded the Netherlands. Five days later, the Dutch army surrendered. In the spring of 1942, Anne’s father had started furnishing a hiding place in the annex of his business premises at Prinsengracht 263. He received help from his former colleagues. Before long, they were joined by four more people. The hiding place was cramped. Anne had to keep very quiet and was often afraid. On her 13th birthday Anne was given a Diary, for the next two years she wrote about her time spent in the secret annex. No-one knows how but the secret annex was discovered, most of Anne’s writings were preserved, two other helpers took the documents before the Secret Annex was emptied by order of the Nazis. Upon arrival at Auschwitz, Nazi doctors checked to see who would and who would not be able to do heavy forced labour. Around 350 people from Anne's transport were immediately taken to the gas chambers and murdered. Anne, Margot, and their mother were sent to the labour camp for women. Otto ended up in a camp for men.

In early November 1944, Anne was put on transport again. She was deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp with Margot. Their parents stayed behind in Auschwitz. The conditions in Bergen-Belsen were horrible too. There was a lack of food, it was cold, wet and there were contagious diseases. Anne and Margot contracted typhus. In February 1945 they both died owing to its effects, Margot first, Anne shortly afterwards. Only her Father survived the atrocities.

Also, on this day in 2013A 40 thousand piece, 19.5ft. by 8ft. jigsaw commemorating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee crashed to the floor just days before it was due to go on display at Sandringham. Creator Dave Evans, who had spent five weeks creating the jigsaw believed that it would enter the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest jigsaw.

Apparently Adrian Dunbar who plays Superintendent Ted Hastings in BBC’s excellent ‘Line of Duty’ fixes bicycles when he’s not acting, he told a local reporter, ‘I am interested in one thing, and one thing only – bent choppers.

In the last 24 hours there were 2,381 more new cases, but deaths dropped to 15.

Saturday 01/05/2021 – Day 415

Woke up this morning with a violent headache, but decided to leave her in bed as I went downstairs for my four Weetabix, there was slight rain but not too bad, at 8.00am the postman rang the bell with my latest delivery from Amazon, the Summer house which I built last year at the beginning of my isolation now needs a little bit of tlc on the inside, The problem was that I had so many jobs to do that I only gave the interior a quick lick of paint, so now it needs doing properly and hopefully it will last at least five years.

Sarah rang from Redditch hospital, she seemed a lot better, there is no doubt that she can come home, but it is Bank Holiday weekend, and the hospital chemist is closed, this means that they are struggling to gather enough insulin pens for her to come home with, once that is done she can be taken home.

Had a visit from George and Rose today, they brought their Shitzpoo (George’s name, not mine) Sweetie pie along. The visit wasn’t intentional, it seems that they had just got off the local Dial a Ride outside after it got a bit overcrowded, two women got on and were arguing very loudly, over who had the last seat, the driver intervened and shouted, ‘Let the ugly one have it’, they both stood for the rest of the journey - very diplomatic.

Women say that giving birth is far more painful than a bloke getting kicked very hard in the crown jewels, I don’t necessarily agree with this, why? well a couple of years after giving birth a woman will say ‘It’d be nice to have another baby’, but you never hear a man say, ‘it’d be nice to have another kick in the crown jewels’, I rest my case.

As it’s the First of May I thought you may (see what I did there) like to read my poem.

May Day

The sun beating down, a wonderful day, as England prepares for the first of May. When new life emerges and crops start to sprout, frogs in the duck pond pop their heads out.

The last snow of winter cleared yesterday, allowing the breeze to blow dead leaves away. Exposing the hidden heads of flowers, bursting through soft soil in just a few hours.

New-born lambs skip around in the valley, while in the village - Morris men rally; Around the old pub, next to the bandstand, with bells on their knees and sticks in their hands.

Resplendent in white - crossed baldrics on chest, forever prepared to give of their best. Accordion music plays nice and loud, ready to dance for the gathering crowd.

There's dancing and games, on the village green, the annual crowning of the May queen. With maypole dancing...hobby horses too... young maidens washing their faces in dew.

It's rumoured to keep away spots and disease, keeping them pretty - bring men to their knees! Girls make May garlands, they cover the hoops, stroll round the village, different age groups.

The festival of sweeps on first of May, when chimney sweeps put their brushes away. The village ablaze with forget-me-nots, cowslips and bluebells adorning clay pots.

Well dressing with panels, mosaic views, covered with petals and branches of yews. Elaborate scenes from berries and moss, even pictures of Jesus - bearing the cross.

Only natural things, like leaves and seeds; tree bark and grasses and dried water reeds. All-natural bounties, still here today, and used on Well dressing - on first of May.

Traditions passed down...from fathers to son, so no one forgets what has to be done. These things still happen, in England today, and all carried out - on the first of May!

E Harvey

1840The first British Penny Black stamp went on sale. Invented by Rowland Hill, it was the world’s first adhesive postage stamp, and it became valid for postage on 6th May. Why is this worthy of a mention I hear you ask, well, Rowland Hill was born and raised here in Kidderminster less than two miles from where I live. But the local council decided to knock his house down in the thirties in the name of ‘progress, they built a telephone exchange on the ground, which has since been converted to flats, sheer sacrilege!

There were a further 1907 new cases reported today which brings the weeks total to 15,160, 2,703 less than last week. The number of deaths today were down to 7 giving a total of 107 for the week, 50 down on the previous week, meanwhile, the number of recoveries rose by 34,629 giving a total so far of 4,218,629, which is really good news. There are many areas that haven’t had deaths now for two weeks.

Week 60

Sunday 02/05/2021 – Day 409

I was lay in bed this morning wondering, why does a frisbee appear larger the closer it gets? Then it hit me.

It’s another fine sunny day here in Kidderminster the DEAD centre of the Midlands, Sarah is still not home, seems that they’re having a few problems finding her Insulin supplies as everything grinds to a halt in hospitals over the weekends and all the chemists close down. We are hopeful that she may be home today, but we won’t hold our breaths after last week.

Do you believe in monsters? On this day in 1933 the Loch Ness monster was claimed to have been seen for the very first time. A local couple, George Spicer and his wife were driving along the banks of Loch ness and claim to have seen “an enormous animal rolling and plunging on the surface.” The story of the “monster” (a name chosen by the editor of the local newspaper) became a media phenomenon, with National newspapers sending correspondents to Scotland to investigate, a circus even offered a 20,000-pound reward for capture of the beast. A few months later another couple claimed to have seen the monster on land, but it turned out to be his future mother-in-law spying on him (just kidding).

In November that same year, Hugh Gray captured the first photograph that was thought to depict the Loch Ness Monster, now affectionately known as “Nessie.” Gray claimed to see a large creature rise above the surface of the water and snapped several photographs, but only one contained any information. The picture revealed a shape appearing to have a long neck and thick body. At this time in photo history, many people believed a photograph to be indisputable proof of evidence. Although manipulation techniques were common, the general public was not as familiar with them as they are today. Even so, many critics believed Gray’s photograph to be a dog swimming with a stick in its mouth, instead of the elusive monster.

Then, in 1934 came the infamous ‘Surgeon’s picture’ of Nessie, it was the headline and front-page news of the Daily Mail, it took 60 years before the photograph was revealed as a hoax. Christopher Spurling verified the photograph as a hoax by admitting his involvement in its production. Spurling was the stepson of Maramaduke Wetherell, a famed big-game hunter who had been hired in 1933 by the Daily Mail to find the Loch Ness Monster. He returned from his expedition with evidence of enormous footprints leading from the lake’s shore into the water. However, Natural History Museum researchers concluded the tracks had been made with a dried hippo’s foot, which were popular umbrella stands at the time. Humiliated, Wetherell retreated from public view. After Spurling revealed the photograph as a hoax, he explained that Wetherell had enlisted his help to create a model of the monster’s neck and place it on a toy submarine. Robert Kenneth Wilson was chosen to give the photograph to the media because of his trusted reputation as a doctor. It is now widely assumed that ‘Nessie’ does not exist.

Call me cynical, but the fact that there’s a roadway to hell and only a stairway to heaven says a lot about anticipated traffic numbers.

There were 1671 new cases reported today with 14 deaths reported.

Monday 03/05/2021 – Day 410

Woke up this morning remembering that the electric chair was invented by a dentist, now doesn’t that make sense.

So far today it is a DAD (dull as dishwater) day, it is typical Bank Holiday weather, but we have not got the predicted heavy rain and high winds that the forecaster said last night were on their way. Bank holidays were first introduced by a man named Sir John Lubbock who was a scientific writer, banker, and politician, and the first Baron of Avebury. (He is also reported to have studied ants and tried to teach his poodle how to read!) In 1871, he drafted the Bank Holiday Bill. When it became law, he created the first official bank holidays. Initially, it was just banks and financial buildings that would close, which is where the name comes from. But as time went on, businesses, shops, schools, and the government all joined in. People don't have to take off a bank holiday if they don't want to - it all depends on their job contract. Royals can also add extra bank holidays if they want to. For example, the millennium bank holiday on 31 December 1999 and the Golden Jubilee bank holiday on Monday 3 June 2002 were extra special days when many adults got an extra day off work. There you go, another snippet from the useless information department.

We have some excellent news, Sarah is home at last!, She was brought home by ambulance yesterday afternoon around 4.00pm and carried up to bed by ambulance personnel, we had a call from a very worried doctor at 3.45 asking if she was home yet, we said we didn’t know as she didn’t live with us. The doctor went on to explain that part of her medicine had been left at the hospital and they needed someone to come and collect it. This sent everyone into panic mode, Sarah’s boyfriend had gone to the club on the lunchtime and Mrs H had drunk a glass of wine with her lunch in celebration of Sarah’s homecoming. So, who was going to go to Redditch and pick up the medicine? Well, less than an hour later and Mollie (Sarah’s daughter) phoned to say that a lovely nurse had just dropped off the medicine. Life was once again wonderful.

I feel at this stage Mrs H and I should send out a massive thank you to all the ICU staff at Worcester, Birmingham and Redditch, not once but twice they saved Sarah’s life and we will always be eternally grateful for their wonderful dedication and care in these times of crisis, thank you each and every one of you and all doctors and nurses who work for the NHS, we don’t realise how privileged we are in this country.

Watched the finale of the excellent ‘Line of Duty’ last night, and to use a familiar phrase- what a cop out. I have been an avid fan since the first series in 2012, but the ending and the discovery of H the supposedly chief villain was a complete whitewash, H or Det Supt Ian Buckells, played by actor Nigel Boyle, had hidden in plain sight since he first appeared in series one in 2012 because no one thought the “blundering fool” capable of being a crook. Then he was re-introduced in series 6 this year, but there was no way anyone would have known. Writer Jed Mercurio seems to have dipped into the cast members and made H the first one that came up, very disappointing end – or was it? We could all have been duped once again in order for a new series to be written.

Talking of TV, on this day 65 years ago Granada TV broadcast for the first time at 7.30 p.m. With the ending of the BBC's monopoly on broadcasting, viewers in the North West saw their first television advertising and four days later Granada did the first sports outside broadcast. TV advertising in the UK began on 22 September 1955. The first commercial was for Gibbs SR toothpaste. All it featured was a block of ice, a tube of toothpaste and a commentary about its “tingling fresh” qualities. But the Ad was a bit of a con, the ‘ice’ wasn’t ice, it was a block of clear plastic because the ice kept melting under the hot lights, and the actress was brushing with a dry brush, it deemed was too mess to actually put Gibbs SR on the brush.

Today in 2007three-year-old Madeleine McCann went missing from her family's holiday apartment at the Ocean Club, in Praia da Luz, Portugal. To date, she has not been found, but there have been some cruel and malicious remarks about the family, mostly unfounded, I just know that I wouldn’t like to be in their position.

Today’s jobs include cleaning the Garden room roof. When I finally finished it about six weeks ago we had some torrential rain, I thought that would test it, but the rain that fell was full of sand, apparently, this happens a lot, this ‘rain dust’ comes courtesy of the Sahara Desert, which lifts dust high into the atmosphere during a sandstorm. A southerly wind can carry this dust to the UK, and any rainfall washes it out of the air and onto the Earth's surface below. to cut a long story short this has left a couple of horrible patches which I can see as I sit here typing, so I am going to give it a quick rinse.

There were a further 1649 deaths reported in the past 24 hours, with just one death registered, the lowest possible and ever!

Tuesday 04/05/2021 – Day 411

Well, what a night, nothing but wind (no dear reader not that sort) It was howling throughout the night and is still gusting this morning, I had a slight leak in the Summer house, but I’ll be on the job as soon as the wind dies down. Meanwhile as they say on the set of Star Wars – May the fourth be with you.

We’ll be popping around to see Sarah later, couldn’t go yesterday as I’ve not been very well and the last thing we need is to be taking any infections with us, but I do feel much better this morning so ‘orf we jolly well go’.

On this day in 2014Science students at the University of Leicester concluded that the wooden puppet Pinocchio (who was prone to telling tales and whose nose would double in length for each lie) could only have told a maximum of 13 lies. After 13 lies it was concluded that the nose would be 140 metres long and the force exerted downwards would cause his neck to snap. Well, what a bunch of killjoys, I can quite honestly assure them that they are wrong, Mrs H does have a bit of neck pain, but it hasn’t snapped yet.

Mrs H and I took the bull by the horns and went into McDonald’s today. An old man stood in front of us, we thought he was on his own as he placed an order for one beefburger, French fries, and a drink.

As he sat down he unwrapped the plain hamburger and carefully cut it in half, placing one half in front of his wife.

He then carefully counted out the French fries, dividing them into two piles and neatly placed one pile in front of his wife.

He took a sip of the drink, his wife took a sip and then set the cup down between them. As he began to eat his few bites of beefburger, the people around them were looking over and whispering.

Obviously, they were thinking, 'That poor old couple - all they can afford is one meal for the two of them.'

As the man began to eat his fries I went over to the table and politely offered to buy another meal for the old couple. The old man said they were just fine - they were used to sharing everything..

People closer to the table noticed the little old lady hadn't eaten a bite. She sat there watching her husband eat and occasionally taking turns sipping the drink.

This time Mrs H went over and begged them to let her buy another meal for them. This time the old woman said 'No, thank you dear, we are used to sharing everything.'

Finally, as the old man finished and was wiping his face neatly with the napkin, I once again went over to the little old lady who had yet to eat a single bite of food and asked, 'What is it you are waiting for?'

She answered.


There were 1946 new cases reported today with 4 deaths registered in the whole of the UK.

Wednesday 05/05/2021 – Day 412

Lovely sunny start to the day, but I have to wonder how long it will last, my jobs are starting to build up now, I made a start on the summerhouse décor yesterday while the weather outside was atrocious, Mrs H attempted to bring me a cup of tea down but by the time she reached me it was just rainwater. For this week’s nostalgia I thought I’d take a look at old game shows on TV.

The first game show whose name still means anything to anyone is What's My Line?, which ran on the BBC from 1951. It was another simple panel game, nevertheless it ran in numerous different versions on two different channels through to the mid-90s. The programme was the first US import of a Goodson and Todman show - many more were to follow.

The second show I remember was also imported from America; we have to go way back in the fifties to remember the gameshow on Sunday Night at the London Palladium. Beat the Clock -the format of which was borrowed for Bruce Forsyth's later hit in The Generation Game - featured couples having to perform a trick or stunt, like even changing clothes (previously put on, on top of their ordinary clothes) with each other within a set time. If a couple could complete both stunts, the wife must rearrange words stuck to a magnetic board and people had to "arrange them into a well-known phrase or saying" in 30 seconds. If she succeeded, the couple won a major prize. Whenever a bell rang, the couple who played at that time would play a jackpot stunt for a cash bonus worth £100 for each week since the last jackpot win.

In 1955 commercial TV began and Associated Rediffusion, one of the ITV franchise companies, hit the big time with Take Your Pick, the first commercial show to offer money prizes. It was presented by Michael Miles a later revival starred Des o Connor. Contestants were picked from the studio audience play a game for cash prizes where they must answer questions without ever saying the words "yes" or "no". If they did a gong was enthusiastically hit by a chap called Alec Dane.

Companion show Double Your Money by Hughie Green offered a top prize of £1000. Thereafter, the money ramped up quickly - one contestant won over £2,000 in 1956 and another won over £5,000 in 1957. This was a Quiz show in which every time a contestant answers a question correctly on their chosen subject their prize money doubles, starting at £1 up to £32. If they get a question wrong however they lose everything. The best player then goes on to a £1000 Treasure Trail. It would not be until 1993 that it was possible to give away unlimited prizes - until then, the limit was £6000. Bubbly hostess Monica Rose had been plucked from the audience to play, she chose ‘Famous Women and won just £8. But Green was so impressed with her attitude that he invited her back to host, she died later of a drugs overdose.

In 1967 we were introduced to The Golden Shot hosted by Bob Monkhouse; he was assisted by Ann Aston who became famous for her inability to add up. It was a show that reached popularity when it was moved into the traditional graveyard slot of Sunday afternoons. After two more hosts (Norman Vaughan and Charlie Williams) the show ended in 1975 with Bob Monkhouse once again hosting.

Meanwhile in 1971 the BBC were playing safe with shows like Ask the Family, but then The Generation Game came along. Bruce Forsyth was the ideal host, he came up with many catchphrases and his hostesses were also guaranteed fame He married Anthea Redfern, but in a later show his hostess was Rosemarie Ford, the other great host was Larry Grayson who brought his own special personality to the show with hostess Isla St Clair. The show was axed in 2002 when host Jim Davidson decided to quit.

TV game shows were getting more popular in the 70’s and 80’s and were a cheap alternative to costly live entertainment shows. Then Yorkshire came up with a game show which even embarrassed its host Ted Rogers aided by a mechanical dustbin, no-one could understand the clues. 321 was born and the popular gameshow era died.

New cases rose today but only slightly to 2144, the death figure also rose to 27.

Thursday 06/05/2021 – Day 413

Did you know that the lifespan of a housefly is just two weeks? But not in this house, if a fly dares to enter these hallowed spaces Mrs H goes into battle mode, out comes the aerosol spray and suddenly this almost pensioned, delectable creature becomes a sprightly, lithe athlete, (Mrs H, not the fly) performing tricks that would win her the admiration of the Red Baron. But like the Canadian Mountie, she always gets her fly.

Update on Sarah, we went around to deliver her some medicine yesterday, she has to start another course of ante-biotics as a visiting doctor has detected another slight infection, she seems perky enough and has to go for a scan at Redditch today, an ambulance is taking her at 8.00am. She has decided to take a bag just in case, fingers crossed for the umpteenth time.

Do you remember the pure orange juice we used to get from the milkman? It used to come in bottles about the same size as a school milk bottle, but the taste was so exquisite. Well apparently, there is a new Orange Juice being marketed today, it is called CEX, (pronounced sex). The new information leaflet says Cex is marvellous, it boosts the immune system and keeps you slim because of its unique formula. The leaflet goes on to say that Cex is good for you at any time of the day, but morning is the best time as it just goes down better, but the leaflet goes on to say that it could be good at any time of the day, So, have Cex on the breakfast table it will guarantee a great start to the day, or have Cex in bed, it really doesn’t matter where you have it. If you are on a picnic then have Cex on the tablecloth next to your cheese and tomato sandwiches, Cex on the beach is also quite good but beware of seagulls and wasps. Interested? Then order Cex from your milkman as soon as possible, He will be pleased to deliver, if not Cex is available at your local supermarket, just go into Sainsbury’s and ask any colleague for it. Cex will turn you around and leave you feeling wonderful. Once started finish Cex as soon as possible. Please write in and let me know what you think about this new product and don’t forget Cex is good for you.

It seems today is national No Diet Day, started in 1992, it celebrates the importance of body acceptance, diversity, and respect for all body shapes and sizes. Well dear reader I am here to tell you that Mrs H and myself fully support this worthy cause and in the Harvey household any day that ends in a ‘Y’ is a No Diet Day.

The highest number of new cases was recorded today at 2613, there were 13 registered deaths.

Friday 07/05/2021 – Day 414

A very sunny day here, the sky is azure blue but we have still had a slight frost, up North they have had snow, so I’m not complaining, supposed to be a half decent day today weatherwise so I will temporarily abandon the painting of the interior of the Summerhouse and do some jobs outside.

Update on Sarah, the ambulance that was supposed to transport her to her scan never arrived, she was contacted a few hours later by the co-ordinater who wanted to know why she hadn’t attended. Sarah explained, she also told her about the Doctors visit and the fact that even though she had another infection she had the wrong ante-biotics. The result is that she will be picked up today and taken either to Worcester NHS or Bromsgrove NHS, they will fit a line to her system so that the District nurse can call every day to give a stronger ante-biotic through her line.

I see the PC brigade managed to get onto the Good Morning show this week, there was some heated debate on Wednesday's Good Morning Britain over whether Disney's Snow White has encouraged children that 'kissing without' consent is acceptable.

Hosts Adil Ray and Susanna Reid were joined by guests dating historian Nichi Hodgson and relationship therapist Emiliana Silvestri who clashed over whether the Disney interpretation of classic fairy tale Snow White and a new ride inspired by it promotes 'kisses without consent.' This is the scene where the Prince kisses Snow White to bring her back to life. It seems that the fact that she was ‘asleep’ at the time is the wrong message to send out to young children.

It is shows like this that promote unease on our screens, this is basically a load of hogwash where a struggling pair of women make known their views to promote their own ego’s.

What happens next? Well, animal rights are going to complain about mice being used in Cinderella, Vegans are going to sue the writer of Red Riding Hood because he was shown as a meat eater. And Goldilocks is going to be taken to Court for theft. Beam me up Scottie (actually, he never said that) is this going to bring the wrath of the Writers Guild upon my head – do I care?

On this day in 1945Germany signed an unconditional surrender in a small school in Rheims (France) when General Jodl, German Army Chief of Staff, signed his name on documents that formally ended six years of war in Europe. At 2:41 a.m. on 7th May, he signed the surrender, which was to take effect from 8th May at 11:01 p.m. There have been many debates since about how many more men needlessly died in the thirty-two hours and twenty minutes before it was officially declared.

There were a further 2490 new cases reported today, and 15 registered deaths.

Saturday 08/05/2021 – Day 415

I wish I hadn’t bothered to get up, after yesterday’s lovely sunny day it has now retreated to the cold, dreary drab and rainy day we have all come to expect in this seemingly waterlogged country of ours, two weeks ago most gardeners were praying for a drop of the wet stuff – but when it starts it just doesn’t know when to stop, ok relax, that’s my whinge of the day out of the way.

A nurse went to Sarah’s house yesterday to take bloods, they all seem outraged at the way she has been sent home without any ante-biotics or any set care, she has basically been put in her bedroom and left to get on with it. A sort of out of sight out of mind syndrome. We should know later if she does have another infection or not, but what we do know is that she is still very poorly.

On this day in 1926David Attenborough, English naturalist and broadcaster was born. A very happy 95th birthday to one of TV’s best ever presenters who has enthralled TV audiences for over 75 years.

1945VE Day in Europe. After five years, eight months, and five days of massive devastation, the end of the European phase of World War II was celebrated. Victory in Europe was commemorated with celebrations all around the world in recognition of the unconditional surrender of all German forces, which was signed in Reims, France, the previous day. People all over the United Kingdom quickly put together street parties with hoards of hidden food suddenly making an appearance, the streets of London swarmed with crowds, Amongst those crowds Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) and her sister, Princess Margaret blended anonymously, apparently enjoying the celebrations for themselves first hand.

Trestle tables were acquired from church halls with every seat and bench available, the tables were laden with things like trays of dripping, potato pie, this was one of the most widely cooked dishes during the war, consisting of diced potatoes and vegetables with a potato or pastry topping. Offal was often found in wartime dishes. Faggots were very popular, they were basically meatballs made of offal and off-cuts, wrapped in fat and fried. Mash and gravy (easily available) were a must-have accompaniment. All meat was scarce and therefore a luxury, so it would have been saved for special occasions. But you might have been treated to Homity pie. Corned beef hash or Liver casserole. Sweet treats weren’t totally off limits, but you had to be a little more ingenious because of limited ingredients. Eggs were rationed so people had to learn how to bake without them, and anything with the also rationed sugar was saved for a very special day.

Beer would run out in most places long before the 10.30pm curfew.

George and Rose popped in on their way back from the supermarket, Mrs H mentioned that George looked really traumatised.

“Did he have a bad experience I Sainsbury’s?”

Yes, with the cashier.” Rose replied.

“Oh” said Mrs H, “Some of those cashiers can be quite rude and surly, did he tell them off?”

Well,” said Rose, “If he did, he was talking to himself – he was at the self-service checkout.”

I was sat watching the rubbish on TV last night when I had a real craving for cake, not a particular cake, but any cake, the craving got so bad that at 7.00pm Mrs H offered to drive me down to the Co-op store. Then her phone rang, it seems that Mrs H had put my cravings on the family app, and Alisha, our Granddaughter had phone a place called Delicious Deserts and they were delivering cakes in 30 minutes. Now THAT is pure love, thank you Alisha xx.

There were 2067 new cases reported today, that brings the total for the week to 14,560 which is 600 less than last weeks total. There were also a further 5 deaths registered, which brings the total to 79 for the week, this is 28 lower than the previous week. To date there are 4,245,744 recovered, 27,542 more than last week.

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