• harveyvickie

Diary of a self-isolator Weeks 66-70

Week 66

Sunday 13/06/2021 – Day 451

No sign of the promised sun yet, but I am sure it will make an appearance. I love Sundays, it reminds me of my childhood when Mum would have to peel about twelve pounds of potatoes for lunch. I would eagerly await the peelings and then run down the estate to a lady who kept chickens, she would always give me one penny for them. Of course there were no shops open in those days, but down in the village the petrol station was always open. The owner’s mother lived in the sweet shop next door so she also opened on a Sunday. She sold the best homemade ice cream in the Midlands, sadly, they were threepence and I couldn’t afford one, but that penny gobstopper lasted a very long time.

Today in 1842Queen Victoria travelled by train for the first time, from Slough (near Windsor Castle) to Paddington, accompanied by Prince Albert. A special coach had been built earlier, but the Queen had been reluctant to try this new form of travel. On her first journey, the engine driver was assisted by the great civil engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. When they say ‘assisted’ it conjures up images of him throwing shovels full of coal into the engine.

Also today in 1910Birth of Mary Whitehouse, English co-founder of the ‘Clean up TV campaign’ and Honorary General Secretary of the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association. I used to hate this lady when I was a teenager, always moaning about one of my favourite programmes, ‘Till Death us do Part’. Every week she would count how many times Alf Garnett said ‘bloody’. Yes, I used to hate her but I dearly wish she was still with us now, the poor woman must be turning in her grave at the absolute rubbish on TV today. Not to mention the language.

And finally on this day in 2013A man was given a warning after he dialled 999 to complain about a prostitute's looks. A police spokesperson said, "The caller claimed that the woman had made out that she was better looking than she actually was and he wished to report her for breaching the Sale of Goods Act." The Sale of Goods Act 1979 gives consumers legal rights, stipulating goods which are sold must be of satisfactory quality, be fit for purpose and must match the seller's description. Only in England eh?

There were 7490 new cases reported today with a further 8 deaths,

Monday 14/06/2021 - Day 452

The day is once again starting off really cloudy and threats of rain continue all morning, but at least it gave us the opportunity to do a lot of those little garden jobs that have been piling up in the hot weather.

It’s ‘B’ day today. At 6.00pm this evening Boris will address the nation on what is going to happen on 21st June. Will he extend the deadline for another 4 weeks? That seems to be the general consensus at the moment.

Commiserations to Scotland losing 2- 0 to Czechoslovakia earlier today, never mind lads, still two more opportunities, including us on Friday. My old friend in the Shetlands Angus Mc Coatup is not very happy, he paid an enormous amount of hard-earned cash so he could receive Sky Tv, He was complaining because Skye is only 350 miles away and he thought he’d have got a free signal. I understand he is now demanding a refund, but not until after Friday evening.

Talking of disasters (just joking Scottish readers) my Flymo leaf Vacuum stopped sucking today, it will blow ok but refuses to suck. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I tried out the irrigation system earlier, and the timer has gone Kaput. It is no longer working. So it was back to Amazon and those rob dogs at Flymo have now put their garden vacs up to almost eighty pounds. I have only had this one two years and I paid £39.99 for it then. Some of these miserly companies are determined to regain their lost revenue from the pandemic. But I bought a Garden vac that does exactly the same as theirs for £38, so it is their loss.

I’ve just had a thought – it’s Father’s Day on Sunday – I may even recoup the £38 with the help of my offspring, Result!

On this day in 1982Argentine forces surrendered at Port Stanley, ending the Falklands War. 255 Britons and 652 Argentines died in the conflict, Tension first started to boil over when a group of Argentine scrap metalworkers landed on British-controlled South Georgia, 810 miles east of the Falklands, on 19 March and raised the Argentinian flag. Then, on 2 April, around 3,000 Argentine special forces invaded Port Stanley, the islands’ capital, setting the scene for conflict.

Today on the 14th June 2021, the people of the Falkland Islands and British Forces South Atlantic Islands, will celebrate in Stanley the 39th anniversary of Liberation Day, that is when the Argentine occupying forces surrender to the British Task Force sent to the recover the Islands.

The day will commence with a Thanksgiving Service which will be held in the Christ Church Cathedral, followed by the Liberation Day Parade and Ceremony at the Liberation Monument. The Ceremony at the Monument includes an Act of Remembrance and the laying of wreaths by government representatives and military officials. Members of the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force, and the Falkland Islands Defence Force will be on parade.

A further 7742 new cases were reported with deaths thankfully dropping to three.

Tuesday 15/06/2021 – Day 453

Did you know that Rats multiply so fast that in just eighteen months two rats could have one million descendants? Think about that the next time you leave the cheese out overnight.

Busy day for Mrs H and I yesterday, cutting the grass, trimming all the bushes, feeding the fish, sorting out the irrigation system, and moving some plants, I have no idea what Mrs H did.

Off to get the paint for Sarah’s decking today, it is in dire need of a coat of paint, has to be non-slip of course – for safety. It will allow her – when possible – to sit outside in the sunshine.

Prior to decimalisation in 1971, there were 12 pennies (written as 12d) in a shilling (written as 1s or 1/-) and 20 shillings in a pound, written as £1 (occasionally "L" was used instead of the pound sign, £). There were therefore 240 pence in a pound. For example, 2 pounds 14 shillings and 5 pence could have been written as £2 14s 5d or £2 14/5.

The farthing was in circulation as early as 1200. Farthing means ‘fourth part’ of a penny, it was taken out of circulation on December 31st, 1960.

The halfpenny, often called a "ha'penny" (pronounced HAY-p'nee), plural halfpennies ("ha'pennies") for the coins, halfpence ("ha'pence") for the monetary amount. It was demonetised on 1st August 1969, although it would make a return in 1971.

The ‘penny’ was a large copper coin which wore holes in your pockets and made your purse bulge. there are many expressions using the penny: ‘penny for your thoughts’, something or someone is ‘ten a penny’ (i.e. very common, nothing special) or children asking ‘Penny for the guy’ before November 5th. they were used in circulation from 1714 and the last One Penny was struck in 1967 and taken out of circulation in August 1971 before the introduction of the ‘New’ Penny in 1971.

The thrupenny bit was always my favourite coin. Plain 12-sided coin with a crowned portcullis and chains on the reverse. Although originally made of sterling silver up to 1920, the threepence was minted from nickel brass after 1944. Often called a ‘thruppenny bit’ or ‘thrupence’ in spoken English, these coins were often put in Christmas puddings to be found by the luckiest person at the table. The silver threepence was often called a ‘joey’ but whether you used this nickname would have depended on what part of Great Britain you came from. Then of course it was the coin you would receive when returning an empty pop bottle to the grocers shop. It went out of circulation in August 1971.

The ‘tanner’ was the next pre-decimal coin. After 1947, sixpences were made of cupro-nickel rather than silver. Sixpences have always had the reputation for bringing good luck. In some parts of Britain brides would put a sixpence in their shoe or people would put the coin in the cork from a wine or champagne bottle. Sometimes they were used in Christmas puddings instead of threepences. In my childhood it would allow you access to the Saturday morning minors at the ABC

Their nickname was a ‘tanner’; it’s believed this dates back to the early 1800s and comes from the Romany gypsy word ‘tawno’ (meaning ‘small one’). There were many references to sixpences in songs, etc. including the nursery rhyme ‘Sing a song of sixpence. A sixpence also used to be called a ‘bender’, probably because it’s high silver content meant it was easy to break in half. They were often given as love tokens for this reason and there are traditional stories where the man returns from a long sea voyage and is only recognised because the two halves of the broken sixpence match. From this slang word we get the expression ‘going on a bender’ because sixpence was enough to get completely drunk.

The shilling or the old ‘Bob’ was in circulation in one form or another from 1502 to 1970. When decimalisation came in, the 5-pence coin was deliberately made the same size as the shilling to make it easier for the public to familiarise themselves with the new decimal coins. For that reason, the shilling remained legal tender until 1990 when 5-pence coins were made smaller.

The Florin Also known as ‘two-bob’ or two shillings (2/-), the florin was the first decimal coin since they were worth a 1/10 of a pound. The name ‘florin’ came from the name of an early 14th century Florentine coin called a ‘floren’ (flower) because the original Victorian coin had the picture of a lily on the back. Originally made from sterling silver, they were minted in cupro-nickel after 1947. The new 10-pence coin was minted the same size as the florin in 1971 to help the public recognise it and so it remained legal tender until 1993 when 10-pence coins were reduced in size.

The Half Crown sometimes known as "half a dollar" was demonetised in August 1971 just prior to the new decimalisation.

The 10-shilling note disappeared from our pockets in 1971. The first Bank of England Ten Shilling notes appeared in 1928 but in 1971 were eventually replaced with a 50 pence coin.

Back in the early 1980s you could buy a lot more things with £1 than you can today; a pint of milk cost 21p, a loaf of bread cost 38p, and a whole pint of larger only cost around 93p!From 1983 the £1 banknote was gradually replaced by the £1 coin, and the note ceased to be legal tender on 11th March 1988.

The number of new cases were above 7000 for the fifth day in a row, 7673 new cases were reported whilst deaths increased to 10.

Wednesday 16/06/2021 – Day 454

Another beautiful start to the day, no need to go out watering the garden though, I bought a new timer for the irritation irrigation system and the garden is nicely watered while Mrs H is still in bed pushing the z’s out.

We called in at Sarah’s yesterday and we were nicely surprised to see her sat up in bed without any support. Next step is to find a way to get her downstairs and out into the garden and the sunshine. That’ll do her much better than being in a stuffy bedroom.

Speaking of the garden, Mrs H and myself are going to give Sarah’s Garden a bit of a facelift. It looks ok since the grass was cut and the borders weeded, but with the decking given a fresh coat and the garden woodwork re-painted, it’ll look a lot better. Whilst I am doing this Mrs H will plant a few roses and plants and give the borders a makeover.

Whinge of the week. Where I sit in our lounge I have a good view of the road and the green on the other side, it is a wonderful, grassed area with large trees and a host of daffodils which come up every year. I believe it is owned by the council as the grass is cut regularly. But now some of the people in the cul-de-sac opposite are starting to abuse it. They are turning it into a car park. There has been a van parked on there now for over a week, there is another car parked at the end because the young couple save a few yards by parking there, such a shame, it is the equivalent of people parking cars on a golf course. What is wrong with folk today? Whinge over.

Another regular site is an old chap walking his dog. I see him at least eight times a day, (not that I just sit in my armchair all day you understand.) He is not actually walking the dog – the dog is taking him for a run – he is pulled along at a great pace and his one arm must be at least six inches longer than the other as he is tugged along. I mentioned it to Mrs H the other day and the old chaps regularity, and it seems that he has two identical dogs!

On this day in 1915the foundation of the Women's Institute, regularly referred to as simply the WI. Its two aims were to revitalise rural communities and to encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War. It is now the largest women’s voluntary organisation in the UK.

There was a sharp rise in new cases today and for the first time since January the figures were over 9000 at 9055. Registered deaths were at 9.

Thursday 17/06/2021 – Day 455

Had a very productive day at Sarah’s yesterday, while I gave the sorry looking decking a nice coat of anti-slip slate grey, Mrs H and mollie painted the trellis, the flower boxes and moved the furniture around and gave the garden a general ‘once over’.

Shefali our local weather forecaster has struck once again. She told us on last night’s news that we would probably be awoken in the middle of the night by thunder and lightning, the only thing that woke me was a full bladder (apologies ladies). When I rose this morning there had been a shower enough to form a small puddle where Lake Geneva normally is on the road outside. So, basically it didn’t rain ‘Cats and Dogs’.

Have you ever wondered where some of our old sayings came from? Here are some of the more obscure but fascinating one’s.

There’s an old Hotel/Pub in Marble Arch, London , which used to have a gallows adjacent to it. Prisoners were taken to the gallows, (after a fair trial of course) to be hung. The horse drawn dray, carting the prisoner, was accompanied by an armed guard, who would stop the dray outside the pub and ask the prisoner if he would like ''ONE LAST DRINK''. If he said YES, it was referred to as “ONE FOR THE ROAD” If he declined, that prisoner was “ON THE WAGON”.

The next time you are washing your hands and complain, because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some more strange facts. Most people got married in June, because they took their yearly bath in May and they still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to smell, brides carried a bouquet of flowers, to hide the body odour. Hence the custom today, of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water!"

Houses had thatched roofs, thick straw piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom, where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top, afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, "Dirt Poor." The wealthy had slate floors, that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh, until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway. Hence: a thresh hold.

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon, to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, "Bring home the Bacon." They would cut off a little, to share with guests and would all sit around talking and ''Chew the fat''.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning & death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided, according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or ''The Upper Crust''.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days.. Someone walking along the road, would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of ''Holding a Wake''.

Churches were old and graveyards small and the local people started running out of places to bury people. So, they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, thread it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night, (the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, ''Saved by the Bell '' or was considered a ''Dead Ringer''

When it’s sunny I want to sit in the beer garden. If it’s raining I make my way to the pub, if it snows then I sit in front of the TV with a case of beer, I’m beginning to think I’ve got a problem with the weather.

Another dramatic rise in new cases today saw the highest number since February 20th. There were 11007 recorded. Also a substantial rise in registered deaths up to 19.

Friday 18/06/2021 – Day 456

Well, despite the doom and gloom weather forecast for yesterday we eventually had enough rain to dampen a glass top table. According to the forecasters Armageddon was to be foisted upon us, but it never happened.

Mrs H and I returned to Sarah’s to finish off the transformation of the garden. Mrs Green fingers H did all the planting and I finished off the painting. But it was us that had the best surprise when our granddaughter Mollie disappeared and came back with her mum! Sarah had kept it a secret that with Mollie’s help she was able to walk a little. Fortunately, she has two handrails on her stairs and with Mollie’s help she managed to get down. She was determined to see her new garden. We sat and chatted for a while till it started to rain, so it was straight inside. We made sure she was back upstairs before we left. But what a brilliant surprise and a wonderful day.

The other good news is that I may have finally fixed the leak in the Garden room. We call it the ‘DC or Dominic Cummings’ leak, because it is irritating and pops up at the most inconvenient times to remind you that you are not as good as you say you are.

Did you know that on this day in 1583The first Life Insurance policy was sold in London, and when a claim was eventually made, it was disputed. Some things never change do they.

Today is the first anniversary of the death, aged 103, of Dame Vera Lynn. She was known as "The Forces' Sweetheart" and her songs helped raise morale in World War Two. Ahead of the 75th anniversary of VE Day in May 2020, Dame Vera spoke about the bravery and sacrifice that characterised the wartime nation and in the same month she became the oldest artist to get a top 40 album in the UK when her Greatest Hits album re-entered the charts at number 30. One of her best-known songs, We'll Meet Again, was referenced by the Queen earlier in 2020, during a speech to Britons, separated from families and friends during the coronavirus lockdown. Dame Vera was also remembered for her songs The White Cliffs of Dover, There'll Always Be an England, I'll Be Seeing You, Wishing and If Only I Had Wings.

There were 10,476 new cases reported with a further 11 deaths registered

Saturday 19/06/2021 – Day 457

The expected thunder and lightning which was threatened by our own dear Shefali never materialised again. She is definitely now off my Christmas card list. The rainfall over the last three days wouldn’t have dampened a tea-towel, despite warnings of torrential downpours. Why am I telling you all this? Because had I known we were going to have a dry week then I would have put a new roof on my shed. The materials I need were delivered a few weeks ago, so it is really annoying that the forecasters can’t get it right. Excuse me for a moment whilst I email Shefali.

That’s better, now, where was I? Oh yes the whinge of the week, last night’s terrible England v Scotland European clash. What a load of rubbish. England were on the backfoot for most of it and the only players worthy of being on the pitch were all sat on the bench. Harry Kane is a non-starter; he should retire with immediate effect. He showed no leadership whatsoever and limped off the pitch after 60 minutes.

1925The birth of Charlie Drake, slapstick English comedian. His catchphrase 'Hello, my darlings' came about because his short (5' 1")stature placed his eyes directly level with a lady's bosom!

1975An inquest jury decided that the missing Lord Lucan murdered the 29-year-old nanny of his three young children.

1978Cricketing star Ian Botham became the first man in the history of the game to score a century and take eight wickets in one innings of a Test match.

Tomorrow is a very sad day for me. Every day is tinged with sadness for Mrs H and I, but tomorrow emphasises our loss. Although I know that I’m going to have a brilliant day with my other 3 children and my four Grandchildren part of me will be elsewhere. Apart from Her birthday and Christmas it is the time I miss our daughter Vickie the most. I have written many poems about our loss and here is one I wrote for Father’s Day. My heart goes out to any dads out there who have lost a child of any age.

Father’s Day

Some angels in the book of age Wrote down Victoria’s birth, Then whispered as they closed the page Too beautiful for earth.

They let her bide with us a while Till she was fully grown They watched her life her loving smile Then took her for their own.

A million words throughout the years Won’t bring her back to me, Neither would a million tears For this was meant to be.

The memories sneak from my eyes Come rolling down my cheek, When lips cannot explain goodbyes Crying is how I speak.

I’ve tried to write just how I feel Living with empty heart, But words I scribe are so surreal The pages fall apart.

I held your hand that fateful morn Fell to my knees to pray, But from my clutches you were torn They came – took you away!

So God no longer lives inside Now that I’m old and grey, And I can’t hide the tears I’ve cried Every day on Father’s Day.

There were 10321 further reported new cases today, this brings the weekly total to 63767 a rise of 15898 on last week. There were also a further 14 deaths giving a weekly total of 74 a rise of 14 on last week’s total. There was a total of 4,299,835 recoveries a rise of 18,670 on the previous week.

Week 67

Sunday 20/06/2021 – Day 458

I woke up this morning determined to eat less, drink less and exercise – but that was four hours ago when I was younger and the world was full of hope.

Today as you all know is traditionally Father’s Day. This is when all your siblings descend on you bearing gifts for men. I have to say, I am the worst person in the world to buy for. Birthdays, Christmas and Father’s day, my lovely children struggle to think of something to buy me. The problem is that I am in the fortunate position that if I want something, then I just go out and buy it. But there are those father’s out there who aren’t so lucky. Sadly, there are a lot of struggling families in today’s society. So that little handmade card done lovingly in school and presented this morning along with cold tea and toast is the most wonderful thing that any father could have. Cherish the day dads.

On this day in 1837On the death of William IV, Queen Victoria, aged 18, acceded to the throne. At the time of Victoria's death her reign of 63 years and 7 months was longer than that of any other British monarch and the longest of any female monarch in history. On 9th September 2015 Queen Elizabeth II overtook Queen Victoria as the longest serving monarch of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

How has the world changed eh? Apparently on this day in 1949American tennis player 'Gorgeous' Gussie Moran caused a sensation at the Wimbledon Championships by wearing lace-trimmed pants under a short skirt. If only those people knew what was to come.

Well, we have all the family coming around today, and hopefully, this will include Sarah who is being brought round by her boyfriend. Despite the damp weather we are having a BBQ. I know it’s Father’s Day but guess who’s cooking? This is after the near disaster by Mrs H a few years ago.

“I’ll cook.” She announced, “It’s Father’s Day, you should relax.”

So, while I was ‘relaxing’ at the top of the garden one of the grandchildren ran up from the bottom and asked if there should be flames shooting up from the BBQ. It seems that Mrs H had abandoned it to ‘warm up’, the BBQ at that time was housed under a timber and UPVC clear corrugated roof. As I got there the flames were licking the roof timber and the plastic roof was melting. It took a whole day and about £60 to repair that roof. And that dear reader – is why I am doing the cooking today.

Talking of food, the mother-in-law (who as you all know I cherished) came to dinner once, As the dog sat by her she looked daggers at me and asked.

“Why does the dog sit there staring up at me?”

“Because you’re using his plate.” I said.

There were 9284 new cases today with 6 registered deaths.

Monday 21/06/2021 – Day 459

Today is the longest day of the year, and had the sun been shining it would have offered us at least 17 hours of sunshine. But it isn’t, so we are subject to 17 hours of dull grey skies. Today also marks the start of Summer solstice Hah!

On this day in 1982Diana, Princess of Wales, gave birth to a boy, (Prince William) sixteen hours after checking in to St Mary's Hospital, in London. I am sure you will all join me in wishing our future King a very happy birthday.

What an absolutely fantastic day we had yesterday. We had the whole family around for most of the day. I had some brilliant presents but one of the best was that Sarah had managed to make it thanks to the help of her boyfriend. This is the first time we were all together for a few years now due to one thing or another. I managed to BBQ without the aid of a safety net and without burning anything. Mrs H did various different salad bowls to accompany the burgers and sausages. We were sat there chatting when the most extraordinary thing happened. Gemma said

“Look at that outside.”

We all looked round in time to watch a perfectly white feather float gently down (despite quite a breeze) and settle on Mickey Mouse’s nose. Vickie was a big fan of Disney and her bedroom is full of memories. The Mickey Mouse statue was bought by her sister on the anniversary one year and stands proudly by her garden memory box.

So, you can imagine what we read into the fact that a white feather landed on the statue’s nose. I left the room to quietly wipe away a stray tear.

On this day in 1675The laying of the foundation stone of the new St Paul's Cathedral happened in London. The cathedral was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and the site faced that of the church destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.

And on this day in 1854The first Victoria Cross, Britain's highest medal for bravery, was awarded to Charles Lucas, who was awarded it during the Crimean War for conspicuous bravery. The medal was made from metal from a cannon captured at Sebastopol. The Victoria Cross was extended to colonial troops in 1867 and to date a total of 1,356 Victoria Crosses have been awarded. The largest number of recipients for one campaign is the First World War, for which 628 medals were awarded to 627 recipients. The most medals awarded for one skirmish happened when eleven Victoria Crosses (VC) and five Distinguished Conduct Medals were awarded to survivors of Rourke’s Drift. One of the VCs went to Corporal Christian Schiess (1856-84). Not everyone at Rourke’s Drift died a miserable death. The last survivor, Frank Bourne, lived to be 91. He died on 8 May 1945 – VE day. Elizabeth Webber Harris (1834–1917) was an English nurse who was awarded a replica Victoria Cross (VC) in 1869, with the permission of Queen Victoria, for her bravery during a cholera outbreak in India. She remains the only woman to be awarded a VC of any description.

In 1954The birth, in Oldham, Lancashire of actress Anne Kirkbride, best known for her long-running role as Deirdre Barlow in Coronation Street, which she played for 42 years from 1972 until her death in 2014. In January 2014, the soap left its long-established Quay Street in Manchester city centre and moved to a purpose-built set at MediaCityUK

I remember those days before Covid and many years ago. I waited nervously and yet so proudly as I watched Mrs H walk down the aisle towards me, My heart beat really fast and the excitement was unbearable. It seemed to take an age but eventually she was stood beside me. I looked lovingly into her eyes, gave her a cheeky wink and said.

“Get that trolley over here love, they’re doing three for two on Guinness.”

There were 10633 new reported cases today with a further 5 deaths.

Tuesday 22/06/2021 – Day 460

We have wall to wall endless blue sky here in sunny downtown Kidderminster, haven’t been outside to see how warm it is yet though. Today I am going to tackle the shed at last, No, not the roof but the inside, It takes an average of ten minutes to find my lawn mower and other gardening tools. I also want to start making homemade wine again. This entails emptying at least thirty demijohns full of old wine, although, I could bottle it and use it on my chips.

We had a bit of a lazy day yesterday, Mrs H and I. Although, for the umpteenth time I found myself on the roof next to the Garden room. We were all sat there on Father’s Day when the grandson asked if I was trying to wash him, he had just walked through the patio doorway and water had dropped on his head. I looked round and there was a drip, drip drip, from the edge of the roof, the annoying thing was that it wasn’t even raining at the time. And so there I was on a very breezy morning on the roof, I soon located the problem and hopefully fixed it.

In a way, it was a good thing, ‘because one of the sealed units in Vickie’s bedroom (we still refer to it as Vickie’s room) had been blown for a while now. When a sealed unit is ‘blown’ it is usually letting air in between the two sheets of glass and therefore steams up between them and you can’t see out through the window. So while I was up there I measured it and ordered a replacement from a local glazier. A pleasant surprise as well, it was nowhere near what I expected to pay.

On this day in 1986The 'Hand of God' football match. England were beaten 2-1 by Argentina in the quarterfinals of the World Cup in Mexico. Both Argentine goals were scored by Diego Maradona - the first with the deliberate use of his hand which went unseen by the referee. It was the first match between the two countries since the Falklands War in 1982.

Also on this day in 2001The Parole Board decided that Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, the two schoolboy murderers of 2-year-old James Bulger should be released, and their identities protected, after serving just 8 years for a crime that shocked the nation. James was lured away from a shopping centre when his mother took her eyes off him for just a few seconds, he was taken to a railway line and was tortured and murdered.

A sharp rise in new cases saw them rise by over a 1000 to 11625, there was also a dramatic increase in registered deaths to 27.

Wednesday 23/06/2021 – Day 461

Another wonderful and sunny day here, Shefali has promised us a rain free day with temperatures up to 21 degrees.

I finally got the middle shed sorted out yesterday, Mrs H can now walk in and access any garden tool she requires without having to do her imitation of Sherpa Tensing and climb mountains of stuff to get to them. We went around to Gemma’s house last night to watch the England game against Czechoslovakia, which England won 1 – 0, making them top of their group. Commiserations to the Scotland team who were bottom.

Whinge of the week. Have you noticed how your bills are increasing suddenly? This is because the cap has been lifted off the price of energy. It gives the energy companies a licence to charge whatever they want to. My electricity provider, Bulb were the cheapest on the market. Then they raised the price in March which I suppose was fair enough. But then I had a letter two weeks ago saying a further rise was due in June. That was bad enough , but then an email from Martin Lewis’s money tips said, ‘If you are with Bulb you need to find another provider, they are hiking their prices in June again and then once again in October, this will eventually make them the dearest company on the market.

So, I searched the website and switched, I am now paying just slightly more than previously, but I’m safeguarded for the next 2 years, no more price hikes, result!

Also went to fill up on petrol last week, what the hell happened to the £1.21 a gallon? The robdogs down the end of my road were asking £1.33 a gallon, whilst the supermarkets wanted £1.29. Supermarket prices are increasing despite them making record profits during the pandemic.

And as for the council tax, well that is a disaster. I started the year paying £20, then £21 in May, For June they require £72. If I return to work next month as planned, it goes up to £198 a month. I only earn about £100 a week part time, so I will have to work 2 weeks to pay the greedy B’s at County Hall.

I guess my point is that now we are almost out of the restrictions the caring Government have given everyone a licence to re-gain all the money they have lost during pandemic. The virus may have gone but we have to say a big hello to the return of ROB or Rip off Britain. Whinge over.

Mrs H says that all this taking of your temperature when you are entering a store is a scam. It actually erases your memory. She went in for bread and milk and came out clutching six bottles of wine!

On this day in 1940The BBC’s Music While You Work programme was first broadcast on radio to brighten up the lives of munitions workers doing boring factory jobs. It was announced in the Radio Times as a "half hour’s music meant specially for factory workers to listen to as they work". It was broadcast twice a day. The first two programmes featured Dudley Beavan at the theatre organ in the morning, and organ trio The Organolists in the afternoon. It proved a hit with general listeners too, becoming a light music institution which outlasted its origins in the dark days of Work War II. From October it also boasted a memorable theme tune in Calling All Workers, written by Eric Coates.

The final edition of the original run of Music While You Work came in 1967, with a performance by Jimmy Leach and his Organolians, a new version of the band that first appeared in 1940. The programme was revived briefly in the 1980s and 1990s.

1989The Home secretary announced that the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad had been disbanded in the wake of allegations of malpractice. I should think so, I got a parking ticket back in 1988.

On this day in 1997Diana, Princess of Wales was forced to apologise for taking her two sons, Princes William and Harry, to see the 15 certificated film The Devil's Own, about an IRA assassin. Little did they know what tragedy would occur just nine weeks later.

And finally on this day in 2016 at the EU Referendum. The UK voted to leave the European Union. (The Union reached its 28 member countries with the accession of Croatia on 1st July 2013. The British public voted by 52% to 48% to leave, This would be disputed many times over the next four years and the nation would be divided with long lasting friendships cast aside with the mark of a pen.

I remember when we had our first GPS in our new car. We were heading off to Telford to visit the graves of Mrs H’s Gran and Granddad. We entered the nearest postcode and the name and were really pleased with the clear and precise directions. All was fine until we reached the cemetery gates and the lady proudly announced, ‘You have now reached your final destination.’

There was a four and a half thousand increase to the new cases figure today which saw the total at 16134, this is the highest daily figure since very early February. Deaths registered totalled 19.

Thursday 24/06/2021 – Day 462

It’s a DAD day today (Dull As Dishwater) although we’ve just had a sprinkling of rain. I’ve seen wetter babies nappies. As you all know, football is dominating our TV screens at the moment. It seems that Portugal completed 850 passes in their match the other night. The only way England could equal that is if they put Harry Kane on Mastermind. There is no need to worry too much about the heavy and over the top football coverage because Wimbledon starts on Monday for two weeks of agony.

Spoke to Sarah yesterday, she is doing really well and now has regular carers who actually do care, the previous carers were temporary and said they weren’t allowed to do anything except for bringing her a bowl of water to wash. I must get round there and finish painting her shed, and I daresay the lawns need cutting again.

It is my youngest grandsons birthday today. With Hatton reaching the grand old age of 13 it now means that all our grandchildren are now teenagers.

Had my four Weetabix this morning as usual and my mind drifted back to when I was at school. My Mum always made sure we went off to school with something in our stomach. Breakfast in those days was classed as the ‘best meal of the day’. During the colder months there was always an enormous saucepan of porridge on the top of the gas cooker. (I realised much later that this enormous saucepan was the same one that mother used to boil the babies nappies, ugh!)

Then during the warmer months there was toast, there was no electric toaster in our house, the toast had to be done in the ‘eye-level grill’. It would be a few years before we woke up to a full English. But. Having said that, around 1960 when I was only knee high to a grasshopper, there was a young twenty-year old chap in our street called Ron Hadley. He was a Co-op milkman and had the biggest milk round in the area. On a Saturday morning I would get up around 4,00am and go and help him on his round. Saturdays was the traditional day for paying your weekly milk bill. In those days it was safe to leave cash out by the empties. If you didn’t want to do that you could go to the Co-op store and purchase plastic milk tokens. All these would have to be collected on the way round and then marked off next to the customer’s name in the book.

Customers also had little plastic crates with a dial, the arrow would then be pointed to the number of bottles required. It’s surprising how many people had sterilised milk in those days. When you got to the posher areas the orders would change to pasteurised or full cream. In the winter months the milk would freeze and push the top out with the cream. It was a common sight to see a Robin helping itself.

But the best part of this tale was when we got back to Ronnie’s house in our street. It would be about 10.am and marked the halfway point on his round. We would enter his mum’s house and there would be a proper cooked breakfast waiting for us. Proper free-range eggs, bacon where the rind actually went crispy, mushrooms, and either tomatoes or beans or both. There would be fried bread or toast and a hot steaming cup of tea. To an 8-year-old lad this was sheer luxury and I had never seen the like. After eating we would carry on with the round and eventually finish around 1.00 pm. Ron would give me two shillings (an absolute fortune for a lad back then) and he would head off back to the depot, which used to be at the end of the road I now live in.

I helped Ron for a few years until during one particularly bad Winter, he was delivering to an old couples house who hadn’t managed to de-ice their path. Ron slipped and fell onto his smashed bottles, the glass sliced through his wrist, I had never seen so much blood. He was taken to hospital by ambulance and was off work for months. Meanwhile his round had been split into two separate rounds as no-one else could cope with it. Ron never went back.

Once again the new case total exceeded 16000 at 16703, Deaths registered today totalled 21.

Friday 25/06/2021 – Day 463

Ok, so I said to you all at the end of last week that I had to make a life changing decision. Well today I have made it, Mrs H and I are going to get divorced – just joking dear reader. The truth is that I Have today decided to retire fully. I have been working at Screwfix part time since just before my 64th birthday. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time there and have made some fantastic friends, every one of them a lot younger than me lol. I am going to miss them all terribly. But the situation with this new Delta virus is far too risky, my doctors keep telling me that I should take no more risks than necessary and that if I can avoid people then I should. So, sadly, from the 1st July I am retired, unless my children find me lots of work!

Of course, the only problem with retiring is that I am basically no longer self-isolating. Should I change the name of my diary or stick with it – over to you.

Had a most wonderful night at Gemma’s house last night. Although it hadn’t been sunny during the day, it was still quite warm, so Mrs H and I set off to Gemma’s house for Hatton’s 13th birthday at 4.30pm.. It was a family only affair so we were all safe. The food was absolutely delicious and everyone had a great time, in fact it was so good it was 6 hours later when we finally arrived home at 10.30pm.

George heard about my pending retirement and popped around for the first time in a fortnight, he had the Schitzpoo puppy called ‘Sweety pie’ with him. It seems that the dog had now become HIS problem since it soiled Rose’s best white shag pile carpet in the lounge. For some unknown reason we got around to talking about the Euro’s football. Then George came out with this gem…

“Since the Euro football began, Rosie and I have discovered a new favourite sexual position, we call it ‘The England Football Team.”

I was almost frightened to ask, “Why?”

“Because neither of us know why we’re there. Neither of us know what we’re doing. There’s no passion, There’s no communication and we never make it past the first round. It’s over far too quickly and when it is, we know it’s not going to happen again for another four years.”

On this day in 1967An estimated worldwide audience of 350 million in 26 nations watched the world’s first, live, televised satellite hook-up; the Beatles' recording of 'All You Need Is Love' at Abbey Road. The event, which lasted just over two hours, had the largest television audience to date and around 10,000 technicians, producers and translators were involved.

There were 15295 new cases today with a further 18 reported deaths.

Saturday 26/06/2021 – Day 464

What a storm yesterday, it left a lot of local areas flooded. Many cars on the road outside our house were forced to drive slow as their wipers couldn’t keep their screens clear. The rain was bouncing up off the road about six inches and Lake Geneva (the massive puddle outside the house) made an appearance within seconds. Even though the torrential rain eventually abated it rained all evening.

Mrs H and I lived dangerously yesterday and went out to buy new shoes. When we returned I placed them on the table – and all hell broke loose. Mrs H started shouting “Get those off the table, it’s bad luck.” So I googled the question and it seems that there are lots of reasons why it’s considered bad luck to put your new shoes on the table – none of them are pleasant. Let’s look at the death-related reasons first.

It could have been because criminals were often hanged still wearing their shoes, or because it’s associated with a laid-out corpse. Back when shoes were more expensive and poorer folk had only one pair, it could also be a way of identifying a body. Which brings us to why new shoes are thought unlucky; when shoes were pricy, they’d be passed from the dead person onto another family member, as a “new” pair. If not for deathly reasons, you don’t need to be a mastermind to understand why you might want to keep the soles of shoes away from anywhere involved with food. Back in less hygienic, less medicated times, it was quite possible the resulting illness could lead to another pair of shoes going spare...

Here are a few more interesting facts for you to ponder, that last one is particularly relevant.

1. In the 1400s a law was set forth in England that a man was allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb.

Hence we have 'the rule of thumb.'

2. Many years ago in Scotland , a new game was invented. It was ruled 'Gentlemen Only...Ladies Forbidden'... and thus the word GOLF entered into the English language.

3. Doornails are the large-headed studs that were used in earlier times for strength and more recently as decoration. The practice was to hammer the nail through and then bend the protruding end over to secure it. This process, similar to riveting, was called clenching. This was the source of the 'deadness', as such a nail would be unusable afterwards, hence ‘Dead as a doornail.

4. In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase......... 'goodnight, sleep tight.'

5. It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month, which we know today as the honeymoon.

6. Since 1966,England fans have said they are going to win the cup at the start of every football competition, hence the phrase ‘deluded fool.’

Mrs H and I signed up to a weight loss club. The introduction told us to wear loose fitting clothes. If we had loose fitting clothes, we wouldn’t have signed up in the first place!

There were a further 18270 new cases today bringing the weekly total to 117,620 a massive rise of 53,853 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 23 bringing the weekly total to 119 a rise of 45 on last week. There were 4.314,125 recoveries a rise of 14290 on last week’s total.

Week 68

Sunday 27/06/2021 – Day 465

A bit of a strange day yesterday. It started off with light rain and very grey skies, so I intended to spend the day in the Repair shop catching up on some projects I was doing, (in reality, it was work that Mrs H had sneaked in there) But one phone call changed all that. By 12.30 we were ferrying some of the family to the local paintballing centre a couple of miles away as the sun also finally made an appearance. Paint balling for the great uninitiated is basically getting dressed up in camouflage overalls, being presented with a gun that fires paint balls and being let loose in the woods to fire at your enemies, i.e. the rest of your family. When said family is found, you then let loose with a bombardment of paint bombs which -depending on which part of the body they are distributed – can cause bruising. Not the sort of pastime for old uns like Mrs H and I.

This was Hatton’s idea of a birthday treat for himself and his friends, but his Mum Gemma, wanted to be a ‘cool mum’, which of course meant that she had to join in the fun and games. We were told later that she hid in a bush for the duration and came back with the overalls cleaner than when she had put them on.

While all this was going on, Mrs H and I went off to a couple of nearby garden centres, that just happened to serve a nice hot lunch. This was followed by a continuous wiping of hands with gel, and a good look around the plants. So, while Gemma was hiding in bushes in an attempt to escape her bruises and blushes, I had my own lucky escape, and only spent £25. Result!

We arrived home in time to watch a very brave Wales side get thumped by Denmark. Wales are now on their way home and our commiserations to them. Whilst supping a couple of Banks’s best bitter I also watched the 20/20 cricket with England v Sri Lanka. Bit of a no contest really as England were already leading 2 – 0, they thrashed the visitors again making it a 3 -0 victory.

It is fifty-four years ago since a transformation in the way people obtained and used cash happened, the world’s first ATM was turned into gold for celebrations of its fiftieth anniversary. The brainchild of Scottish inventor Shepherd-Barron, the first ATM (automated teller machine) was opened on June 27, 1967, at a branch of Barclays bank in Enfield, north London, the first of six cash dispensers commissioned by the bank. English actor Reg Varney who starred in the British TV comedy show “On The Buses”, was the first person to withdraw cash from the new machine.

The Queen showed her true courage and great strength on this day in 2012 when 'The Belfast Handshake' took place, the first historic encounter between the Queen and the former IRA commander, Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness, who went on to become Northern Ireland's deputy first minister. (Prince Philip's uncle, Lord Mountbatten, the Queen's second cousin, was assassinated by the IRA who blew up his fishing boat in County Sligo in 1979.)

Today in 2014 Health and Safety showed its true ridiculous colours whenStaff at Dartmoor prison had offered sun cream to inmates who had managed to climb on to a rooftop during sunny weather the previous week, the Ministry of Justice confirmed. They said that the offer of sun cream was a standard procedure, as part of the jail's 'duty of care' that was in line with health and safety rules. It’s a wonder they didn’t send them cold beers , should they get a dry throat.

And final on this day in 2014The mummified body of Anne Leitrim, who was in her 70s, was discovered in her flat in Bournemouth, where she had lain undiscovered for six years. Her remains were finally found when bailiffs visited the property to collect unpaid debts. How could that possibly happen in a so-called ‘civilised society?’.

There were 14,562 new cases reported today with 11 deaths registered.

Monday 28/06/2021 – Day 466

Welcome to the great British Summer, it is raining cats and dogs outside, the good news is that I have finally fixed that infernal leak on the Garden room. It’s took three months and a lot of patience, but it seems that it’s finally sorted.

I spent most of the day in the Repair shop yesterday, I was working on Mrs H’s latest Pinocchio list which – like his nose – grows daily.

I was washing my hands this morning when I began to remember the soaps from when I was a mere youngster. No, not Crossroads or Coronation street, but the soaps we used to wash with back then. I have to admit that I only use soap once a day, mostly in the mornings. Other times we have liquid hand soaps and gels, I wouldn’t dream of washing myself in the shower with anything else but shower gel’

But it seems that good old-fashioned soap is making a comeback on the supermarket shelves. Barred soap sales are now growing faster than both liquid soaps and shower products, with almost 70 million pounds of sales in the last year in the UK alone. Today’s best seller by far is the popular Dove soap. Not much to look at, just a white bar of soap. But consumers like the shape and smell of it, which leads to record sales.

It’s a far cry from the horrible green carbolic soap I used as a child and usually had to wrestle from my brother’s grip, as we were forced to bathe together to save hot water.

There were of course some lovely soaps available back then. Soaps like Knight’s Castile, Palmolive, Lifebuoy, Camay, Lux, Bristows lanolin toilet soap. Lux, Cadum pink, Sunlight, Wright’s Coal Tar soap, Pears, Imperial leather, Shield and Zest. How many of those ring a bell with you?

I had a friend as a child who used to hide his money under the soap as none of his family ever used it.

On this day in 1914Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie were killed by a Bosnian Serb nationalist during an official visit to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. The killings sparked a chain of events that led to the outbreak of World War I. Then in 1919exactly five years to the day after Franz Ferdinand's death, Germany and the Allied Powers signed the Treaty of Versailles, officially marking the end of World War I. Although the armistice, signed on 11th November 1918, ended the actual fighting, it took six months of negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude the peace treaty.

Also on this day in 2015 The broadcast of the final episode of Top Gear with presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May. Clarkson's contract was not renewed earlier in the year after an 'unprovoked physical attack' on producer, Oisin Tymon at a hotel in North Yorkshire in March 2015. His co-hosts refused to present future shows without him.

A dramatic rise in new cases was recorded today when they rose to 22,628, the highest figure for almost six months. Thankfully, registered deaths don’t seem to be following the trend, there were 3 today.

Tuesday 29/06/2021 – Day 467

It’s a grey old day here in Kidderminster and Shefali informs us that there will be no sign of the sun all week, so we have some hope.

Off to B in a Q today. Mrs H is desperate for a bag of compost. This is because that lovely delicate lady is wonderful in the garden. We keep buying more plants and she keeps finding more places to place some more. I have to say that the garden is looking resplendent with a host of colourful roses and shrubs.

Whilst it was raining yesterday, I refurbished a nest of tables and a wrought iron plantstand. Oh and I gained a few extra brownie points from Mrs H.

My task today is to pick up a new sealed double 1927 glazed unit from near to B & Q, one of our units frosted over some time ago and now we can hardly see through it. So a week ago I measured it and it was 34” x 18”, I thought it was going to cost an arm and a leg. But when I rang yesterday the glazier said it was just £25, that is a good price.

I’ve had to temporarily stop sucking on my favourite Butter mints. The reason for this is that I desperately need to lose weight. I weighed myself on Sunday and I had put on over six pounds. I had realised that my T shirts were getting a bit tight but fobbed it off. But when I saw the pictures of Father’s day that clinched it. So my aim is to get under 12 stone in four weeks. This means cutting out all cakes, biscuits, and my beloved Butter mints, will this suffice? – watch this space.

Mrs H and I were having a heated debate about something and I bravely said

“How can you be so beautiful and stupid at the same time?”

Mrs H replied without looking up.

“God made me beautiful so you’d be attracted to me, he made me stupid so I’d be attracted to you.”

Today in 1801Britain held its first population census - producing a population figure of 8,800,000. I’ll bet everyone knew each other.

Also today in 1927For the first time in 200 years, a total eclipse of the sun was seen in Britain. Those at Giggleswick in Yorkshire were able to see a perfect, full eclipse which lasted for less than 1/2 minute

On this day in 2010The England football team returned home after being knocked out of the second round of the World Cup by Germany. England ultimately lost 4-1, suffering their worst defeat to date in a World Cup finals match. (In 2014 England were eliminated at the group stage of the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 1958, with just two goals scored. It was their worst goal tally since 1950 and the worst World Cup showing in the history of the national team.)

I have to say that if you’re not a lover of Sport then your weeks ahead are going to be dire. Yesterday, the BBC who are always in touch with their viewers hah! Decided to treat us to Wimbledon on both BBC 1 and BBC 2. Meanwhile on ITV there was football – all night, till turned ten o clock when the news finally came on, followed by – yes you’ve guessed it – football highlights! I bet you wish you’d invested in Now Tv or Netflix now don’t you?

Having said that, Mrs H and I have just binge watched the excellent drama called ‘Time’, starring Sean Bean (Sharpe),. A moral tale that really is well worth a watch.

Once again new cases came in at 20,325, but registered deaths rose to 23.

Wednesday 29/06/2021 – Day 468.

Another grey overcast day, but at least it’s going to be a dry day, having said that, we haven’t had much rain for a few days now.

I always hated Wednesday as a child, it was the day when all the shops shut at lunchtime for half day, and everywhere became like a ghost town. There were no exceptions, every shop in the town closed its doors at 1.00pm. You came out of school and there was nowhere to buy sweets should you be lucky enough to have any money. We would always hang around the shop during the day. The large canopy which stretched about nine feet out above the window kept us shaded from the hot summer sun, and in the winter kept us all dry. Besides there was always the odd shopper who would want help carrying those spuds or groceries home.

It was like the whole world had closed down. The normally busy area was as quiet as a mouse. The only good thing about Wednesdays was the fact that my mum always made bread pudding on that day. I have no idea why it was always a Wednesday, perhaps because after the mayhem of washing on a Monday and ironing on a Tuesday a Wednesday was the first quiet day of the week. I don’t suppose for one minute that it was because my Auntie called every Wednesday afternoon for a couple of hours, and the smell of that pudding wafting down the entry masked a host of other unwanted smells, like the stew that would be simmering all day Monday. That stew soaked into the plaster on the walls and lingered for a few days. But by the time she had left all that remained was a cloud of used cigarette smoke on the ceiling

My old friend from the Shetlands, Angus McCoteup told me that he once went to study at an English university and was living in the hall of residence, with all the other students there.

After he had been there a month, his mother came to visit him.

"And how do you find the English students, Donald?" she asked.

"Mother," he replied, "they're such terrible, noisy people. The one on that side keeps banging his head on the wall and won't stop. The one on the other side screams and screams all night."

"Oh Donald! How do you manage to put up with these awful noisy English neighbours?"

"Mother, I do nothing. I just ignore them... I carry on quietly, playing my bagpipes."

Today in 1937The world's first emergency telephone number, 999, was introduced in London. 999 was chosen was because it could be dialled on the old rotary dial telephones by placing a finger against the dial stop and rotating the dial to the full extent three times, even in the dark or in dense smoke. This enabled all users, including the visually impaired, to easily dial the emergency number.

1956‘I’m Walking Backwards For Christmas’, written and performed by arch-Goon Spike Milligan, entered the British singles chart ..... six months after Christmas.

1957The British Egg Marketing Board stamped a crowned lion on British eggs as a sign of freshness. In the first week 80% of all eggs sold carried the stamp.

1960The London production of the stage musical Oliver opened in the West End. I personally loved the black and white version in 1946 with John Howard Davies cast as Oliver, while Alec Guinness portrayed Fagin and Robert Newton played Bill Sykes (Bill Sikes in the novel). A young Anthony Newley also starred as the Artful Dodger.

But I have to say that the musical version in 1968 starring Ron Moody as Fagin, Oliver Reed as a brilliant Bill Sykes, Harry Secombe as a resplendent Mr Bumble and Mark Lester (Oliver), Shani Wallis (Nancy) and Jack Wild as The Artful Dodger.

But the biggest star of both versions for me was that supergrass Bullseye.

Another dramatic increase in new cases today, up by 6,000 on yesterday’s figure at 26,068 the highest since mid-January. Registered deaths were 14.

Thursday 01/07/2021 – Day 469

White Rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits, right, that’s out of the way, another overcast cloudy grey day here in Kidderminster. Having said that, it’s certainly not cold and the afternoons and into the evenings have been very pleasant.

Today my retirement is official. I officially finished working for Screwfix last night at 12.00 midnight. I am going to miss them all. I made some wonderful friends while I was working there and it was a great company to work for. But what will I do with myself now? Hah, Mrs H and my lovely children will all make sure I’m not idle. It's said that idle hands are the devil's workshop, an old saying dating at least as far back as Chaucer in the twelfth century who called idle hands the devil's tools. ... IDLE HANDS ARE THE DEVIL'S TOOLS - "Idleness is the root of mischief. the devil finds work for idle hands, I see now that my family are just trying to keep me from harm – I think.

Talking of idle hands, Mrs H and I had a very busy day yesterday, We started by tidying up the front garden, I got scratched everywhere when the delicate Mrs H (who is afraid of heights and ladders) asked me to ‘tidy’ up the rambling rose around our front porch. She wanted me to dead head the beautiful red roses and tie up those that were hanging over. She stood demurely at the foot of the ladder - making sure I didn’t come to any harm – listening to the oohs, aahss, ouches and profanity as I did her bidding.

I survived enough to continue around the side of the house where I trimmed the privet hedge, I swear, I could see that bloomin hedge growing from the kitchen window! The hedge between me and my neighbour also needs trimming again, I only did it two weeks ago.

I read with dismay this morning that the so called ‘football fans’ were posting terrible remarks about the England v Germany match on Tuesday. It was bad enough when the idiots booed all the way through the German National anthem, but when the second goal was scored the cameras zoomed in on a little German girl sobbing into her dad’s arm. The resulting comments by the moronic English imbeciles on Social media made me ashamed to say that I was British. I know for certain that this would never have happened at a Rugby match or at a Cricket Match. We have bred an army of uncouth yobs.

Today in 1916World War I: Almost 20,000 British soldiers were killed and a further 57,500 were injured on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. It was the greatest number of British casualties in a single day's fighting in modern history. British casualties on day one were greater than the total combined British casualties in the Crimean, Boer, and Korean wars.

Today in 1961Diana, the Princess of Wales, was born. She should have been celebrating her 60th birthday. Sadly missed, you have to wonder what good deeds she would have done by now.

And finally on this day in 2015 the death (aged 106) of Sir Nicholas George Winton MBE. He was a British humanitarian who organized the rescue of 669 children, most of them Jewish, from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia during the 9 months before war broke out in 1939. The operation was later known as the Czech Kindertransport.

New cases rose by 1800 today, the total was 27850, registered deaths also rose to 22.

Friday 02/07/2021 _ Day 470

Weather’s a bit better today, bits of blue peeping out from big balls of fluffy cotton wool.

Mrs H is anxiously awaiting our Tesco home delivery. Although our delivery slot is actually 11.00 am to 12.00 midday they have varied from 10.00 to 12.00 o’clock. Last week they turned up at 9.45 and Mrs H was still in her dressing gown.

I had to get up early to clear out the space beneath the stairs. We have just changed our gas and electricity over to Octopus energy after we were being ripped off by our previous company. Our new company are sending a chap today to fit smart meters. We have no idea what time so I got up early to clear everything and give the poor chap a head start.

It used to be a pantry with access from the kitchen, but a few years back I blocked the doorway up and put a new access in from the hallway. It then became like everyone else’s cupboard under the stairs – a dumping ground.

So one day in the deep mid-winter I took everything out and fitted shelving, put in a little table and chair, and turned it into my library. There was still a space at the end where the gas meter lived, so I put double doors on and hid that away. This then became a glory hole, used to keep anything like light bulbs, and basically anything Mrs H didn’t want others to see.

So, I am clearing it out and there’s a backpack picnic set, umpteen pairs of shoes for DIY, Gardening etc, old slippers which were kept just in case. An old metal crutch which we always meant to return to the hospital – 24 years ago, and a massive black boot which I was forced to wear when I broke my big toe last year. These all came along with resident spiders and other things which live quite happily in the dark confines of a cupboard.

In fact, it reminded me of my Mum’s glory hole beneath the stairs when I was a child. The poor gas man opened the door to empty the meter and almost passed out. The smell of old shoes was very strong, no-one ever went in there only the gasman. To add insult to injury, the meter would be half full of flattened sterilised milk bottle tops. My dear old mum had got it down to a fine art. She could often be seen with a heavy coal hammer flattening them on the back doorstep. They then fit perfectly and substituted the old shilling piece in the meter when times were hard. Good job the gasman knew her and lived on our state, happy days.

On this day in 1819The first Factory Act was passed in Britain. This banned the employment of children younger than 9 from working in textile factories, whilst those under 16 were allowed to work for 'only' 12 hours a day! It would take another couple of acts and 80 years before the practise of child labour stopped.

On this day in 1865At a revivalist meeting at Whitechapel, London, William Booth formed the Salvation Army. Early-day Salvationists started wearing uniform as a natural consequence of the 'army' adopting a military character. I remember them calling at the pubs on a Saturday night selling the Young Soldier and the War Cry.

2001Barry George was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of television presenter Jill Dando. He was released in 2008 after doubt was cast on the reliability of gunshot residue evidence.

And finally in 2018British divers, John Volanthen, (an IT consultant based in Bristol) and Rick Stanton, (a former Midlands fire fighter), discovered 12 young Thai footballers and their coach, after nine days trapped in caves in northern Thailand. More than 1,000 people were involved in the global operation. All 13 were rescued after 17 days underground. It was the most challenging underground rescue in history.

Once again new cases were over 27,000 at 27,125, deaths also rose again to 27, it doesn’t bode too well for the 19th July.

Saturday 03/07/2021 – Day 471

It’s a really wet day here today, it seems to have been raining most of the night and continues this morning, Lake Geneva has made another appearance and walkers precariously walk the narrow strip of tarmac on the path.

I was working in the garden yesterday when Mrs H came to me and said that Sarah and Birdo (her boyfriend, Sarah’s not Mrs H’s) wanted us to join them at the local eatery down the road at 6.30pm, as a sort of thank you for all we’d done. I was really chuffed we don’t get out much these days and I normally have to dust my best clothes off. Then around 5.00pm my other daughter Gemma rang up and asked if she could borrow my decorating kit. I thought this was a bit strange as she hadn’t long returned it to me. Nevertheless I went to the Repair shop and gathered it all up for her. This meant a journey to her house around 6 o clock then we’d have to return home and park the car up as the pub was only a short walk down the road.

At just turned six we pulled up at the rear of Gemma’s house. I got the stuff from the boot; Mrs H was acting sort of strangely and hanging back. I opened the gate and was greeted by a host of party poppers and all my family screaming ‘Happy Retirement dad.’

I had been well and truly duped; they had secretly organised a retirement party for me. It was a very emotional moment and I was slightly overwhelmed. We had a great night with lots of good food from Gemma and far too much Guinness. It was almost midnight when we reluctantly all said goodnight. I love my family to bits.

On this day in1954The end of food rationing in Britain - almost 9 years after the end of World War II. Smithfield Meat Market in London opened at midnight instead of 6am to cope with the demand for beef.

1969Brian Jones, a founding member of the British rock group Rolling Stones, drowned in his swimming pool after taking a drug overdose.

There were a further 24885 new cases today bringing the weekly total to 163484 a massive rise of 45,864 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 18 bringing the weekly total to 118 a drop of 1 on last week. There were 4,332,181 recoveries a rise of18,056 on last week’s total.

Week 69

Sunday 04/07/2021 – Day 472

Another drizzly start to the day, but hopefully it will dry up like yesterday.

So England march forward into the semi-finals of the European cup after thrashing the Ukraine 4 – 0 last night. But let’s not get too complacent, their next opponents at Wembley are a formidable lot. But if they play like they did last night then they should get the better of Denmark.

Anyone remember the News of the World. My dad used to buy it in the early sixties. If I recall it was a bit of a scandal sheet and would highlight cases of adultery with some very vivid descriptions. I didn’t read them of course – I was only interested in the crosswords, they printed four very large ones which was very useful if you made a mistake as the four of them were all the same.. The paper was printed as a broad sheet which meant basically when it was opened it would make a good tablecloth.

Other newspapers of the time included The Daily Herald which was a British daily newspaper, published in London from 1912 to 1964 (although it was weekly during the First World War). It was published in the interest of the labour movement and supported the Labour Party. It underwent several changes of management before ceasing publication in 1964, when it was relaunched as The Sun, in its pre-Murdoch form.

The Daily Sketch was another newspaper I remember for some unknown reason, it was established in 1909 and sold on to many different companies until it went out of circulation in the late forties when it merged with another paper. But in 1953 it was revived. It struggled through the 50’s and sixties with its main rival the Daily mirror. In 1971 it merged with the Daily Mail.

On the 4th March 1986, a new tabloid paper emerged on the market. The Today newspaper was like a breath of fresh air at the time. Better laid out, and better stories than the established tabloids of the day. Launched by regional newspaper entrepreneur Eddy Shah, it was bought by Tiny Rowland's conglomerate Lonrho within four months. Shah subsequently launched the short-lived, unsuccessful national tabloid The Post in 1988. Alastair Campbell was political editor and his girlfriend, Fiona Millar, was news editor. Alongside the daily newspaper, a Sunday edition was launched. Sunday Today suffered from having three editors in less than a year and was closed early in 1987 as a cost-saving measure.

The newspaper began a sponsorship of the English Football League at the start of 1986-87, but withdrew after a season, Today was sold to Rupert Murdoch's News International in 1987.

Today ceased publication on 17 November 1995, the first long-running national newspaper title to close since the Daily Sketch in 1971. The last edition's headline was 'Goodbye, it's been great to know you". The editorial said: "Now we are forced into silence by the granite and unforgiving face of the balance sheet".

0n this day in 1829Britain's first regular scheduled bus service began running, between Marylebone Road and the Bank of England, in London. Seems by the route that only the very rich could afford it.

Anyone remember Paul Gascoigne’s crying episode on the pitch. Much maligned by the Spitting image team, it was on this day in 1990Footballer Paul Gascoigne's booking, (that would have excluded him from the World Cup Final, had England got there), resulted in the famous on pitch crying scenes from Gascoigne, and thousands of housewives all over the country fell in love with the soft lad.

There were 23858 new cases today with a further 15 deaths.

Monday 05/07/2021 – Day 473

Did you know dear reader, that the silk produced by spiders is stronger than steel? Another snippet from the useless information department.

Found out an interesting fact yesterday after taking a shower, I have been battling with my weight problem since Christmas. The real problem arose two weeks ago when I jumped on the portable scales and was horrified to discover that I’d gained over four pounds in a week! So, I cut out the Butter mints, the biscuits, the cakes, in fact anything that was nice. Anyway, yesterday I showered, put the scales down and checked my weight. I had lost over four ponds in a week! I had to be sure so I picked the scales up turned them off and on again. I then inadvertently put them down in a different spot – and the reading was different! I checked two more positions and got two more different scales. Time to buy some new scales methinks.

Did you know that regular sex helps improve the memory? Merry Christmas everyone

Today 73 years ago almost 50 million people woke up to a new National Health Service. In recognition, the NHS has been awarded the George Cross by Her Majesty The Queen. The award comes in recognition of 73 years of dedicated service, including for the courageous efforts of healthcare workers across the country battling the coronavirus pandemic. A bit of a shame that they couldn’t have been thanked in a monetary way though.

On this day in 1888three match girls were fired at the Bryant and May match factory in London for giving information about working conditions. The other 672 employees went on strike, a landmark for women workers in Britain that led to the formation of a Matchgirls' Union. The strike was caused by the poor working conditions in the match factory, including fourteen-hour workdays, poor pay, excessive fines, and the severe health complications of working with allotropes of white phosphorus, which caused phosphorus necrosis also known as phosphorimus chronicus or phossy jaw, and was sparked by the dismissal of one of the workers on or about 2 July 1888.

Local Social activist Annie Besant along with her friend Herbert Burrows, published an article in her halfpenny weekly paper The Link on 23 June 1888. She then became heavily involved in the situation. This had angered the Bryant & May management who tried to get their workforce to sign a paper contradicting it, the workers rightly refused to do the bosses bidding. This led to the dismissal of three workers (on some made up pretext), which set off the strike. With around 1500 women and girls refusing to work by the end of the first day. The management quickly offered to reinstate the sacked employees. But the women then demanded other concessions, particularly in relation to the unfair fines which were deducted from their wages. A small deputation of women went to the management but were not satisfied by their response. By 6th July, the whole factory had stopped work.

Besant helped the women at meetings with the management and terms were formulated at a meeting on 16 July, in accordance with which it was stated that fines, deductions for the cost of materials and other unfair deductions should be abolished and that future, grievances could be taken straight to the management without having to involve the foremen, who had prevented the management from knowing of previous complaints. Also, and most importantly, meals would now have to be taken in a separate room, where the food would not be contaminated with phosphorus. These terms were accepted and the strike ended. Those brave ladies became the forerunners of the women’s rights movement.

The number of new cases rose by 3,000 today to 27020. Thankfully, deaths went down to 9.

Tuesday 06/07/2021 – Day 474

The weather just doesn’t know what to do today. It has rained most of the night and there’s no sign of it stopping with grey skies overhead.

I was getting dressed when I look in the wardrobe mirror, Mrs H was lay in bed when the following conversation took place.

Me I reckon I’m getting a good tan, what do you think?

Mrs H (without looking up) Probably from the light bulb in the fridge!

Lesson one from Mrs H in how to win friends and influence people.

It reminded me of my younger days when I would get ready to go out and meet the future Mrs H. For some unknown reason lads back then always wore a tie when going out. Although, we looked quite smart I thought. My look would be completed with a heavy splash of Old spice aftershave.

Isn’t it strange how the smell of a fragrant scent can take your memory back to years long gone? Memories of mothers or fathers long gone. The smell of your Nan as you sat on her lap. I am reliably informed that – depending on your age of course – Estee Lauder ‘Youth Dew’ was the perfume a lot of ladies wore during the fabulous fifties. Those times of glamorous stars like Marilyn Monroe, Doris Day, and the stunning Grace Kelly. Other popular brands were ‘Evening in Paris, Lily of the Valley. White Fire and 4711. Men mostly made do with Old Spice. Yardley or English leather.

In the sixties ladies scents turned to perfumes. Favourites like Aramis, Tweed, Occur by Avon, Oh de London, Elizabeth Arden, Chanel No 5, Yardley Flair, all designed to capture the youth of the era, Those young hippies or the mini-skirt clad girls seen on British streets. For the men there was Hai Karate, Brut, British Sterling or Cabbucci.

The 1970s were an earthy decade, from the brown and orange colour tones in our homes to the shaggy hairstyles on our heads. So it's no surprise that the perfumes and scents of the era were appropriately musky and woodsy. Perfumes for girls were getting very popular, Coty was one of the leaders with L’Aimant and Styx, Another market leader was Revlon with Intimate, Charlie and Ciara. Avon was also becoming popular with perfumes like Pretty Peach and Roses Roses. Other good perfumes available were Adagio, Anais Anais, Aqua Manda, Blasé by Max Factor, or Babe by Faberge. I’m quite sure you’ll all have your own favourites.

For the men of the day Brut became the best seller and was an aftershave that was advertised by Henry Cooper and Kevin Keegan. The slogan for the after shave was "Splash it all over". The aftershave was quite strong smelling but smelt nothing like anything that had been around before. It came in a green plastic or glass bottle and it is a very distinctive masculine fragrance.

Another popular aftershave was Denim launched very successfully in 1976, Blue Stratos, and Tabac were also very popular.

On this day in 1952After nearly a century of service, trams made their final appearance in London.

Bill Haley was born on this day in history in 1925. The single Rock Around The Clock was released in 1954 and scraped into the bottom of the charts, selling 75,000 copies. But the following year it was used on the soundtrack of Blackboard Jungle. The film, which starred Glenn Ford as a teacher dealing with rebellious students – including a young Sidney Poitier – was a huge hit and Haley's re-released song shot up the charts, spending eight weeks at Number One in America and other parts of the world.

Also on this day in 1957Future Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney were introduced to each other when Lennon's band, the Quarrymen, performed at the St. Peter's Church Hall fête in Woolton, Merseyside. The rest as they say is history.

Mrs H and I are going out today, we may have a spot of lunch. One day I’ll do amazing things, meanwhile, today, I’ll be happy not to spill soup down my T shirt.

New cases continue to rise and today there were 28606 reported. Sadly, registered deaths were up to 37.

Wednesday 07/07/2021 – Day 475

Some big dark clouds passing over today, we had more than our fair share of rain yesterday, with downpour after downpour.

Mrs H and I were at a loose end yesterday, can you believe that after 68 weeks we have actually caught up with the garden and all my jobs. That statement is a bit of a fib actually as I still have my shed roof to replace. Problem is that the roof is at minimum a three-day job, and it houses our spare freezer and fridge (still in use) so I need the promise of a few good days weather, perhaps we’ll have that heatwave that I mentioned we were promised a couple of weeks ago. I think we’ve got more chance of knitting fog.

Anyway, I digress, the upshot was that Mrs H and I did go out to lunch. We actually sat inside the local for the first time in over eighteen months. The waiter came over and asked us if we would like to order drinks while we were perusing the menu. I noticed that they had a bitter called Hobgoblin and ordered that whilst Mrs H had a Lime and lemon. That beer was absolute nectar and it wasn’t too long before I was ordering a second sample. We both ordered Hunter’s chicken, which is a piece of breast chicken topped with bacon, cheese, and a lovely BBQ sauce, this was accompanied with side salad and chips. Guess who had extra chips? The place was quiet for a lunchtime but the landlord assured us we were there at the best time as it was rammed from 3.00pm onwards. We were home half an hour before that, I went straight onto my computer to check my notifications, Within ten minutes Mrs H came up to find me fast asleep with my feet up. Was it the fact that I had risen at 5.0-0am, the extra chips or the extra drink? I like to think that it was a combination of all three,

Having finished our latest Netflix series Mrs H and myself needed to look for another one. We came across The Gilmore Girls, we have watched half a dozen episodes so far and can highly recommend it. It has excellent and witty writing and the acting is superb. Seven series to watch.

Is anyone interested in watching tonight’s semi-final? A mate of mine has 2 tickets to the England v Denmark match.

He bought them months ago on spec for £600 each including hotel and transport but didn't realise when he bought them that it was on the same day as his wedding!

So he is looking for someone to take his place if you are interested?

It's at 3pm at Portsmouth Registry office. Bride's name is Nicola, 5'6", quite attractive, has her own income and is quite a good cook apparently.......

On this day in 1919the actor John Pertwee was born, best known for his role in the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who, in which he played the third incarnation of the Doctor from 1970 to 1974. He was also the title character in the series Wurzel Gummidge and for 18 years he was on BBC Radio as Chief Petty Officer Pertwee in The Navy Lark.

One of the surviving Beatles Ringo Starr is 81 years young today.

And finally on this day in 1955Dixon Of Dock Green began on BBC TV with Jack Warner as George Dixon. The programme ran for 367 episodes over 21 years.

Good luck to the England football team tonight, don’t get complacent though.

New cases rose again by 4000 to 32548. Deaths were once again high at 37.

Thursday 08/07/2021 – Day 476

The sun is out, the sky is blue, we’re in the final, how about you? What a match! I am not a great fan of football to be honest, more of a Rugby Union and cricket man myself. Mrs H is no fan either, but we sat there last night and watched England beat Denmark 2 – 1 to win a place in the final on Sunday against Italy. Neither of us have any fingernails left. It took me back to the sixties and Dr Who, when we used to hide behind the sofa as the monsters appeared ( actually, that may have been when the rent man appeared, oh well). We were absolutely exhausted when the 90 minutes were up, then we had to watch an agonising 30 minutes more as extra time played out. I could never describe how my heart nearly stopped when Harry Kane took the penalty and the Danish goalkeeper stopped it, then the elation as it bounced off the goalie and Kane knocked it back in for a goal. For the first time in an age – I was proud to be British.

So, last night after the match, Mrs H and I decided to have an early night as there was nothing on TV worth a second glance. To cut a long story short things were getting a little heated in the old passion department when suddenly Mrs H jumped out of bed.

“Sorry, I’ve just remembered something I need to add to our shopping list.”

This small act knocked me for six to say the least. I was gobsmacked. She obviously hadn’t been concentrating on our passion. I was still aggrieved as she got back into bed, so I asked her what had been so important.

“Small cocktail sausages,” she replied, “I just don’t know why I suddenly thought of them.”

Speaking of TV, TV, TV, no, that’s not a typing error. I was just emphasising the number of repeats that are once again on our televisions. In the eighties when they first started showing programmes again, they at least had the decency to wait until the Summer or Autumn. But with the advent of satellite TV you can now watch the same programme on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. As if that isn’t bad enough, they show you the original show, then they’ll show you the same show but just add the ‘so called funny takeout’s’ on the end and call it a new programme. Then They’ll show us the original again. In this age of DVD recorders why do those programmers bother? Well, basically, they’re offering us another chance to watch a programme that we never wanted to watch in the first place.

On this day in 1996 Four young children and four adults were attacked by a man with a machete at St Luke's Infants' School in Blakenhall, Wolverhampton. Teacher Lisa Potts's arm was almost severed in the attack and four children were injured. In 1997, Queen Elizabeth presented her with the George Medal for her heroism in saving the children's lives. Her attacker, Horrett Campbell, was sent indefinitely to a secure mental hospital.

Also on this day in 2006 the death of the actor and voice artist Peter Hawkins. He voiced Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men, Big Ears & Mr. Plod from The Adventures of Noddy, all the voices for the animated series Captain Pugwash, The Adventures of Tintin and many more. He also voiced several characters on Doctor Who in the show's early years, most notably the Daleks and the Cybermen. During the 1960s, 70s and 80s Hawkins was one of the most sought-after voiceovers for television and radio.

For the second day cases were over 30,000 at 32,382. Deaths registered totalled 35.

Friday 09/07/21 – Day 477

Bit overcast today, even though it was nice and sunny at 6.00am.

Mrs H and I went around to Sarah’s yesterday to cut the lawns and tidy up the garden. The idea was that I cut the lawns while Mrs H did the weeding and dead heading. Best laid plans of mice and men, after an hour doing the front lawn and weeding the paths etc I went around the back of the house to find Sarah, Mollie and Mrs H all sat around a table chatting away. Mrs H was clutching a small bunch of roses that she’d obviously dead-headed some time before. She did manage to extract a few weeds a little later. Still, it really was good to see Sarah up and about, even if she does walk like Ozzie Osmond (her words not mine lol).

Today we lament the loss of the much-loved village idiot, with the internet now available countrywide he/she has gone global.

On this day in 1947 Princess Elizabeth (the Queen) and Philip Mountbatten announced their engagement. They were married on 2oth November just four months later.

Also on this day in 2008 a teenager, who thought movement in her underwear was caused by her vibrating mobile phone found a bat curled up asleep in her bra. Abbie Hawkins, aged 19, had been wearing the bra for five hours when she plucked up the courage to investigate. - 'I put my hand down my bra and pulled out a cuddly little bat. I felt quite sorry for it. Perhaps I should have left it there and given it a good home.'

And finally on this day in 2014, The Times Higher Education magazine's annual exam howlers competition came up with these and many others. (1) All cars will be be fitted with Catholic converters (2) Hitler's role in the Second World War is often overlooked (3) The hole in the ozone layer is caused by arseholes (4) Stalin was extremely surprised when he was taken from behind by Hitler.

Had some sad news about Sarah today, A few weeks back she called in an optician for a home visit as she was getting headaches continuously. The optician checked her eyes and said she thought that there was blood behind them. Today, she had to go to hospital for a scan. When the results came back she was told an ambulance would take her to Worcester hospital for a Brain scan. If all was ok then she would be allowed home tonight, but she will have to return later this week for a lumber puncture on her spine to check if there is a Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tear. We really do feel for her and feel so helpless.

Another large rise in new cases today, they were up 3,000 to 35707. Deaths stood at 29.

Saturday 10/07/21 – Day 478

A really dull day out there today, grey and overcast with rain forecast for later, but all that doesn’t really matter because we had some great news last night. Sarah rang from Worcester to tell us that the results of her scan were clear. She was allowed to go home. But she’ll still have to return next week sometime for the spinal check. Like our strong daughter, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. We are all overjoyed.

Don’t you just hate house flies? I was sat there last night falling and out of consciousness while watching something indescribable on TV when I heard that distinctive sound. It doesn’t matter how comatosed I am, that buzz will bring me back to life with immediate effect. These flying black beasts are attracted to me (don’t go there, I know what you’re thinking, about where flies always land) for some unknown reason. I mean if they flew in and climbed up the curtain or sat on the window catch staring out, then I wouldn’t mind. But why do they insist on buzzing around my ears, can they see daylight the other side? Then they use my knee as a landing pad.

My eyes follow the noise but my head doesn’t move. I carefully and quietly roll up a newspaper as he sits there staring up at me. But as soon as the paper is raised off he goes. The only thing guaranteed is that he’ll be back within a minute. Sure enough, there he is on Mrs H’s head, she is sleeping like a baby. Should I dare? – no, I like my body parts where they’re supposed to be. But he’s back on my knee, I raise the paper and off he goes again.

I am now having anxiety problems It’s not the fact that I can’t swat it, it’s the fact that I am repeatedly outsmarted by an insect. I mean, I am an intelligent bloke, I passed my cycling proficiency test first time and have a certificate telling me that I can pull the perfect pint of Guinness. While all that fly can do is – well, fly – and land on stuff that dogs leave on the verge over the road. In fact I’ll go so far to say that flies are lower in the evolutionary scale than a Love Island contestant or viewer. Yet they still get the better of me – so frustrating!

On this day in 1947 the Government announced that Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) would get extra clothing coupons for her wedding dress.

Also on this day in 1958 Britain's first parking meters were installed, in Mayfair, London. This was the governments way of scraping back people’s hard earned after telling them the previous year that they had never had it so good, and so began the first stage of ROB (Rip Off Britain).

There were a further 32367 new cases today bringing the weekly total to 212488 a massive rise of 49,004 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 34 bringing the weekly total to 192 a rise of 74 on last week. There were 4,355,423 recoveries a rise of 23,242 on last week’s total.

Week 70

Sunday 11/07/2021 – Day 479

It seems to be a very colourful day today. There’s a big orange thing trying to burst through a grey sky with hints of blue. I look out of my window on a sea of red and white flags and I am feeling in the pink. Not normally a big football fan as you all know, but this final has swept everyone along no matter how young or how old they may be. So good luck tonight England, we certainly need this win, after 18 months of coronavirus and sheer misery, it will give everyone a massive boost – no pressure then.

I wish to state two weeks into my retirement that I was forced into it. Yes dear reader – forced! My local council decided that because I was working part time through retirement then I should pay through the nose for the privilege. My council tax would have gone up from £70 per month to almost £200 per month. This is because it is Mrs H’s birthday on Thursday and the government have reluctantly agreed -after a six-year absence that she and countless millions like her were robbed of - to allow the dainty little lady to collect her pension. So, all those councillors who meet once a week and get paid for it have now agreed between them that I should work two whole weeks just to pay my Council tax while they sit in a beautifully decorated chambers and argue among themselves over who gets a grant and who doesn’t. I have reams of paper since April telling me that my Council tax has been altered, no less than eight alterations in the amount I pay, this has used up almost seventy pages of paper, ink and time and resources. If they got it right in the first place then they could reduce everyone’s tax, but it’s easy money isn’t it, So why should they bother? Well dear councillors – not as long as I have breath in my body will I give you any more money than I need to, and that dear reader is my official excuse for retiring.

On this day in 1859 Big Ben, in the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament, tolled for the first time. But in September the bell cracked under the hammer, this was just two months after it officially went into service. According to the foundry's manager, a hammer more than twice the maximum weight specified had been used and for three years Big Ben was silent.

And on this day in 1950 Andy Pandy, Teddy and Looby Loo first appeared on BBC TV. The episodes were repeated for more than 25 years, until the film wore out.

Finally on this day in 1987 War veterans returned to the scene of the bloodiest battle of World War I to commemorate its 70th anniversary. The fields of Passchendaele in Belgium claimed the lives of 250,000 troops of the British Commonwealth between July and November 1917.

Anyone remember the door-to-door salesmen of the fifties who toted their wares in large bags. These could be household goods like dusters, cleaners, new gadgets etc. Some even sold vacuum cleaners. They have all been replaced by cold callers, these salespeople are called cold callers because no-one ever lets them in even during inclement weather. I think that it’s reasonable to say that they are about as welcome as the pandemic or a plague of rats.

These unscrupulous callers have changed their plush cases for a beat-up old pick-up or a white van that has so many dents that it could be mistaken for a jelly mould on wheels. You watch from the window as two dubious spotty, well-built youths alight from the van which immediately breathes a sigh of relief and rises a further six inches from the road. They are looking up at your roof, rubbing their chins, then they make their way to your front door. They greet you cordially in an accent you have never heard. You do manage to catch the words ‘roof chimney’ and ‘fall down’. The only other thing you hear prior to slamming the door in their face is £246,000.

Mrs H and I were sat quietly in the confines of our front lounge when I spotted a young smartly dressed lad coming up the drive. I was at the front door before he could ring the bell, I have discovered this always puts them on the back foot. Now then, the window cleaner had called two days previously and the windows which had been replaced twelve weeks ago are sparkling. So this lad stood in front of me and with a broad Liverpudlian accent asks,

“Iya mate, are yer interested in replacement windows, I can see they’re long overdue.”

Why doesn’t our local authorities allow us to pour hot oil on nuisance callers from the upper window, like they did some 500 years ago?

There were 31466 new cases reported today with a further 26 deaths.

Monday12/07/2021 – Day 480

Since last Saturday morning I have had a very sharp pain in my back, no, Mrs H hasn’t driven a knife in. The pain is worse when I breathe in. Mrs H did suggest at one time that it would help if I perhaps stopped breathing, I chose to treat the remark with the contempt it so rightly deserved. Anyway she was very concerned and worried about the pain etched on my face. She made all sorts of queries. Things like ‘Where did you say the Insurance policies are? What did you say the password for the bank was?’

But to top it all, this morning she made me take a covid test. We have had these tests in our possession for a couple of months – just for emergencies you understand. Neither of us had deemed it necessary to test them until today when Mrs H got it into her head that I might have coronavirus. After studying the details for the best part of an hour she gave me what was basically a twelve-inch cotton bud and ordered me to shove it down my throat and then up my nose. I looked carefully at it and almost told her where she could shove it. Then I came to my senses as I really didn’t have a death wish.

I did put my foot down with her though, I absolutely refused to do it in front of her. So off I toddled into the bathroom clutching a cotton bud that could have been used as a javelin in the forthcoming Olympics. I could hear her stifling a laugh in the bedroom as I shoved the bud down my throat and immediately gagged. I heard her stifle another laugh as I shoved the offending article up my nose too sharply and met a gristly resistance causing my eyes to water.

I took the thing back to her and she put it into a little vial with liquid in it. The bud was swirled around viciously and then squeezed as she pulled it out. She then shook it vigorously any visitor could have been forgiven for thinking the Mrs H was mixing me a Pina Colada. Two drops were then put onto an oblong box. We had to wait 30minutes while it worked its magic. If two red lines appeared it was positive, if only one red line appeared it was negative. Mrs H impatient as ever, checked it every five minutes, I am relieved to say that only one red line appeared. Then Mrs H wondered if we had done everything correctly and should I do it again. I don’t like bad language but in this case I made an exception.

I ended up getting the doctor to phone me. When I told him what was happening he suggested a divorce. No, just jesting, he did suggest however that he should examine me. The result is that I have to have a chest Xray. As long as Mrs H isn’t involved I am quite happy to do that.

Watched the match last night. I sincerely think that penalties should be banned in finals. There is no gamesmanship involved whatsoever. It should be a re-match after 120 minutes. I was however disgusted to see today that so called football fans had sent racist remarks to the very same black players that were their hero’s 24 hours previously. One of the reasons I am not a great fan of football.

New figures rose to 34323 and deaths were 6.

Tuesday 13/07/2021 – Day 481

Much better day today with a promise of plenty of sunshine. I had to get up very early this morning to take paracetamol as the pain in my back woke me. Can’t believe that the doctor I saw yesterday never offered any type of pain relief, oh well. I had a full day of rest yesterday as ordered by aforementioned doctor, but I was bored stiff within hours!

I have found it strangely amusing that as I near the grand young age of 70 years everyone wants to offer me money, Allow me to explain. Fifty per cent of my emails each day have offers of loans platinum credit cards, money for cars or cheaper mortgages. We are fortunate enough to be financially secure, we don’t like credit, we have a nice car and we no longer have a mortgage. But it wasn’t easy getting here.

My point is, where was that snotty little weasel of a bank manager forty years ago when I needed him. I actually went into our bank to enquire about a personal loan. My manager made me feel as welcome as a dead rat in a box of cereal. He sat in his shiny black leather chair suppressing a smile as he read through my monthly statements.

The obnoxious wimp sat there smiling with that gap between his teeth and might as well have told me that a punter who’s only security was Big Bertha in the 4.30 at Kempton was a better risk than me. Then they show you the door and ask you to perhaps try again in a hundred years.

The Bank manager has long since disappeared, either that or he is totally inaccessible, But if he were around today I would take great joy in telling the little runt where he could shove his credit card. He could then take out one of his own personal loans and pay a proctologist to remove it.

On this day in 1911 on the eve of the 1911 census. A suffragette hid in a broom cupboard in the House of Commons so that she could record The House of Commons as her address, ‘thus making my claim to the same right as men’.

Meanwhile in 1955 Nightclub hostess Ruth Ellis became the last woman to be hanged in Britain - executed at Holloway Prison for the murder of her lover David Blakely.

After her death, the whole family suffered great tragedy. Ellis's husband, George Ellis, descended into alcoholism and died by suicide, hanging himself at a Jersey hotel on 2 August 1958. In 1969, Ellis's mother, Berta Neilson, was found unconscious in a gas-filled room in her flat in Hemel Hempstead; she never fully recovered and did not speak coherently again.

Ellis's son, Andy, who was aged 10 at the time of his mother's hanging, took his life in a bedsit in 1982, shortly after desecrating his mother's grave. The trial judge, Sir Cecil Havers, had sent money every year for Andy's upkeep, and Christmas Humphreys, the prosecution counsel at Ellis's trial, paid for his funeral. Ellis's daughter, Georgina, who was three when her mother was executed, was fostered when her father killed himself three years later. She died of cancer aged 50.

In 1983 The House of Commons voted 361-245 against the restoration of the death penalty.

And finally in 1985 two simultaneous 'Live Aid' concerts, one in London (Wembley Stadium) and one in Philadelphia, raised over £50 million for famine victims in Africa. Prince Charles and Princess Diana officially opened Live Aid. The 16-hour 'super concert' was globally linked by satellite to more than a billion viewers in 110 nations.

Once again new cases rose to 36660 whist registered deaths rose to 50.

Wednesday 14/07/2021 – Day 482

It’s a beautiful sunny day here in downtown Kidderminster and I feel crap. Mrs H has also informed me that she is aching all over too. The pain in my back is still there but I too am aching all over and – like Mrs H - feeling very lethargic. It’s the lovely ladies birthday in just three days so I hope she gets better.

Talking of feeling unwell, George called this morning on his way to a hospital appointment. It was around 10.30 am.

Mrs H. What time’s your appointment George?

George, About ten o clock, I think.

Mrs H. But you’re already half an hour late.

George. When was the last time you had to visit the hospital? You get a ten-o-clock appointment and by the time you arrive, there are already 20 people waiting, all with earlier appointments than you. Every one of the poor sods is very ill and you have to sit with them in a space about four metres square. There are only two consultants who saunter in around Ten o clock after eating a hearty breakfast which you were forced to miss because of an early appointment. They are already an hour late with their appointments.

Mrs H. Oh I’m sure it’s not that bad.

George. At 2.30pm after you’ve been seen you casually ask the consultants receptionist why and how this has happened. She looks up at you over her glasses leaving her crossword book temporarily and gives you a look that would make Anne Robinson of the ‘Weakest link’ cower. So, if you want another appointment in the next ten years you politely wish them Good afternoon and leave.

On this day in 1939The government announced that all infants and nursing mothers would get fresh milk free or at no more than two pence a pint.

Also on this day in 1962 The Beatles played their first gig in Wales when they appeared at The Regent Dansette Theatre in Rhyl. While five years later in 1967 Abortion was legalized in Britain.

And finally in 2014 2014 the Church of England General Synod approved women bishops. The announcement was followed by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, leading the General Synod in a rendition of 'We are Marching in the Light of God'. The Rt. Rev. Libby Lane became the first female Church of England bishop, when she was consecrated Bishop of Stockport in a ceremony at York Minster.

New cases went up by over 5000 to 41882, deaths were stable at 49, one less than yesterday.

Thursday 15/07/2021 – Day 483

They promised us sunny days for the foreseeable future, but it is as dull as dishwater out there at the moment with thick grey cloud everywhere.

Sarah had to go to Worcester hospital early this morning to have her lumber puncture treatment. Fingers crossed.

As to my own health, apart from the pain in my shoulder from an injury back in January, I am once again as fit as a Butcher’s dog. This horrible illness which I have bore very bravely (there, there) since last Saturday, has gone as quickly as it came, perhaps it’s gone to find a much younger body.

Despite our living conditions in the fifties and sixties I can hardly remember being ill or losing any time from school. When I was around eight years I had something that we then called ‘pink eye’ (conjunctivitis). If I remember correctly it started off as a stye. Gradually it got worse and worse, I would have to go to a local clinic every morning and have a scab taken off that had formed since the previous morning. It was a really painful process and left me with damaged eyesight in that eye – but I never missed one day from school.

Later on I would break my arm but there was no respite, I still had to attend school. I remember in 1965 when I was 13 years old, my best mate ‘onker’ Harris persuaded me to take my first ever day off from school. In other words, I played truant. We had cross country running that day so I was easily persuaded. I have to admit, it was exhilarating climbing trees and sitting on banks smoking dog ends (half cigarettes, relieved from my mother’s coat pockets including a red lipstick mark which we could both taste), I had at last lost my ‘goody goody two shoes’ image and become one of the gang.

We stood behind a tree watching the cross-country runners go past, puffing and panting, covered in mud and dirt. At precisely 3.15 we headed of home. I got in the house where my mum was just getting a large tray of bread pudding from the oven. She asked me if I’d had a good day at school, I replied it had been ok. Then she asked what lessons I’d had, by this time I was getting a bit suspicious,. It was usually straight into the house, get changed and straight out again, hardly a word spoken.

Then my older sister Carol came into the kitchen with a blanket wrapped around her. “Feel any better?” mum asked her, Carol nodded and I was foolish enough to ask what the matter was. It seems that a boy was sent around to our house with a note from the school. (we only lived a couple of minutes away) it said that Carol was ill and could mum fetch her from school. This is how the conversation went when mum arrived.

Teacher. So sorry to have bothered you Mrs Harvey, but she really was too ill to attend lessons.

Mum. That’s ok, I’ll take her home.

Teacher, Has young Eric got the same complaint? These things do go through families like a dose of salts. Only he wasn’t at registration this morning.

Mum. Er, oh yes, I meant to send a note.

Mother was just about to cut into the bread pudding, she was wielding a large knife, she turned and gave me ‘that look’ as she calmly finished relating the tale.

I turned on my heels and ran. I kept running, I ran so far that I may as well have gone to school and done cross-country. Still got a belt when I finally went home because I was so hungry.

That was the first and last day I ever played truant.

On this day in 1685 Charles II's illegitimate son (the Duke of Monmouth) was executed for rebelling against James II. His head was then put back on his shoulders so that his portrait could be painted. Hence the look of shock on his face.

On this day in 1996 Prince Charles and Princess Diana were granted a decree nisi. Princess Diana could no longer be addressed as Her Royal Highness but was to be known as Diana, Princess of Wales.

And finally on this day in 2000 Two men caught on camera for dangerous driving escaped prosecution in a landmark case, as it had violated their human rights. This was the start of a great country going to the dogs.

New cases took another sharp rise to 48354 today, Deaths also went up to 63

Friday 16/07/2021 – Day 484.

Mrs H and I are off for a walk into town this morning. We both have to have ours eye tested at Specsavers. They hadn’t been done now for three years. I am putting my glasses on to watch TV and when I take them back off the picture is cleare3r.We have also got to have an OCT test, how exciting for us eh. I am just hoping that Mrs H’s aren’t too good and she stands back in shock/horror when she next sees me.

What I am about to relate to you is true. Apparently, the inventor of Vaseline used to eat a spoonful of the stuff every day. Bit of a slippery devil methinks.

Good news. Sarah’s lumber puncture yesterday wasn’t half as bad as she was expecting, relief all around, we just await the results now.

It’s been a bit of a strange up to now. It is only 9’00am and so far I picked up a teacup this morning and the handle dropped off. I was drawing the curtains and the mechanism fell off. The thing is – I am now frightened to death to go to the bathroom.

I had a terrible fit of the hiccups this morning. We were in a shop, fully masked I hasten to add, and every time I hiccupped ii had to pull my mask from over my eyes and back over my nose and mouth. The more I tried to stop hiccupping the louder and more embarrassing they became. By the time we had reached the perfume counter I noticed that Mrs H had abandoned me as I was now hiccupping with such force that the glass mirrors in the display cabinets were rattling. Persistent hiccups are a bane of anyone’s life. But don’t despair over just a bout, American Charles Osborne had hiccups for 68 years, from 1922 to February 1990, and was entered in the Guinness World Records as the man with the longest attack of hiccups, an estimated 430 million hiccups.

Here is a list of ways of getting rid of hiccups that never work.

  1. Drink a glass of water quickly.

  2. Have someone frighten you.

  3. Pull hard on your tongue.

  4. Bite on a lemon.

  5. Gargle with water.

  6. Drink from the far side of a glass.

  7. Use smelling salts.

Here is a list of cures for women to get rid of their husbands hiccups, guaranteed to work.

1. Tell him you’re pregnant (the older you are, the better this works)

2. Tell him the home help is pregnant (as above age wise)

3. Tel him you’ve just maxed his credit card.

4. Tell him you’ve just crashed the car – into someone else’s new house.

If all the above fail buy a stun gun or a Taser gun.

On this day in 1439 Kissing the missus when you left to plough the fields or shoe horses was banned in England because of the Plague.

On the eve of Mrs H’s birthday 1955 Stirling Moss won the British Grand Prix at the Aintree track near Liverpool - the first time an Englishman had triumphed in the race. His success in a variety of categories placed him among the world's elite and he is often called 'the greatest driver never to win the World Championship'.

Once again there was a rise in new cases today, for the first time since early January they were over 50,000 and the total figure was 51,870,Registered deaths were 49.

Saturday 17/07/2021 – Day 485

I look out of the window and it is a perfect summer sky, azure blue and not a cloud in sight. How wonderfully appropriate for the good lady’s birthday. Yes, dear reader Mrs H has finally caught me up and become a pensioner. One week from today she will get her first pension payment. I will make an honest effort to spoil her rotten all day because she has been my rock for the last 50 years or so since we first locked eyes across a crowded room. I will tell you how it went tomorrow.

As we all know so well, life is full of disappointments, some are quite simplistic, things like finding out at Christmas that the last chocolate left in the humongous box you bought yesterday is a coffee crème. Or when you’re expecting an important delivery and you are slumbering in bed when the doorbell rings. You panic, you rush downstairs half dressed, hair a mess, only to find the postman clutching a parcel for next door, who have gone out because unlike you they are not lazy sods. Whilst the next day you still haven’t learned your lesson and you lie in bed when there is a large thud by the front door and the rattle od the letter box. You are thinking what a popular fellow you are with around ten items on the mat. But as you check there are three for pizzas which you hate to eat, one from Saga offering you a cruise at an exclusive and amazing price which you saw in the paper last week for two thousand pound less. Offers to join Reader’s Digest at a lower price for 12 months. A book full of exclusive offers for the elderly (how do they know? And furthermore, how dare they!) Conservatory brochures, offers of incontinence pads at a cut price, and then finally, you come to the only letter addressed to you. It’s a reminder from the council about your annual wheelie bin payment. You console yourself with the fact that it was actually addressed to you and not ‘The Homeowner’ or ‘The Occupant.’

But the good news is that Mrs H and I have enough money to last us the rest of our lives – as long as we don’t actually buy anything.

On this day in 1917 World War 1: The British Royal Family, in a proclamation issued by George V, adopted the name of the House of Windsor in place of their German family name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha due to the anti-German sentiment at the time.

In 1918 the RMS Carpathia, the ship that rescued the 705 survivors from the RMS Titanic, was sunk off Ireland by the German SM U-55, with the loss of 5 lives.

There were a further 54,674 new cases today bringing the weekly total to 299,229 a massive rise of 86,741 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 41 bringing the weekly total to 284 a rise of 92 on last week. There were 4,390,942 recoveries a rise of 35,519 on last week’s total.

24 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Week 101 Sunday 13/02/2022 – Day 697 My old mind was doing overtime when I was lay in bed contemplating on getting my idle frame into first gear, did you know that the first ever jigsaw was created by

Week 96 Sunday 09/01/2022 – Day 661 How can someone wake up feeling absolutely shattered? No, I have no idea either, but I did! Must be getting old I reckon. Absolute rubbish on TV last night for a Sa

Week 76 Sunday 22/08/2021 – Day 521 We had a really bad thunderstorm last night, I have never seen rain like that before, the drains and guttering couldn’t cope with the deluge. It only lasted 30 minu