• harveyvickie

Diary of a self-isolator Weeks 71-75

Week 71

Sunday 18/07/2021 – Day 486

Temperatures peaked at 31 degrees yesterday, and my mate on Gold Radio has just announced that they are going to be even higher today.

Well Mrs H has informed me that she had a really wonderful day yesterday on her 66th birthday. I am still left bewildered. after buying her shoes, dresses, and perfume I asked what else she would like, her answer? An exercise bike! Apparently, she needs to exercise and lose weight, I’ve seen more fat on a greasy chip and more meat on a butcher’s pencil. I am the one who needs to lose a few pounds so we will be sharing (should have got a tandem). Anyway this bike does everything except make tea, it even tells you your pulse rate. I have shot myself in the foot though, I made the mistake of putting it together in my beloved wine making shed. She thought that was brilliant and now wants me to do it all up and turn it into a mini gym, oh woe is me!

All the family turned up and she had a wonderful day with lots of cake and wine (not necessarily in that order) we finished the day off with best friends Janet and John. We ordered a Chinese takeaway and ate al fresco – until the gnats decided they wanted to dine as well - on us. That was our call to step inside to a very hot house and finish the evening off with coffee and tea.

It was very rare as a child for me to be invited to children’s birthday parties, no-one seemed to have them only the extremely rich, and believe it or not , I didn’t mix in their social circles. The first children’s party I ever remember was probably a Christmas one from my dad’s carpet company

I remember being in awe at the wonderfully laid out long table with its pristine white table- cloths. The shiny metal cutlery and proper glasses not those awful smelling coloured plastic things we used at school. There were plates of sandwiches every three or four places, with plates of fairy cakes etc in between those. Waitresses with those black uniforms and white frilly caps bought out bowls of jelly, custard, blancmange and spooned them into the waiting bowls. These were hastily consumed by the boys and daintily consumed by the girls. There was lashings of lemonade and orange squash. I remember looking at those pristine tablecloths when it was all over and wondering how on earth they were going to get them clean again.

The tables were cleared away, the jelly and custard wiped from the floor and then we were all entertained by a clown who was really funny, He was followed after a fifteen-minute break by the worst magician in the universe, he didn’t get one trick right, he also looked remarkably like the clown. After two hours sixty boys and girls queued up for their presents. I had a Yoyo, but the string broke on the first drop.

So that was my very first experience of a children’s party, yet I still cannot ever remember going to a private birthday until I was sixteen. Sadly, by that time, jelly, custard, and blancmange weren’t on the menu. Would I still have eaten it if it was? Yes gladly.

You think it’s hot here, but back in 1901 The water supply was turned off in Manchester as a heat wave hit the U.K. with the temperature reaching 35 degrees Centigrade.

On this day in 1920 the unveiling took place of the Cenotaph War memorial in Whitehall, London, it was to commemorate the war dead. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and takes its name from the Greek words kenos and taphos meaning empty tomb.

Also on this day in 2000Police confirmed that the body they had found in a West Sussex field the previous day was that of missing eight-year-old Sarah Payne. Sarah disappeared on the evening of 1 July 2000 from a cornfield near the home of her grandfather Terence Payne and his second wife Lesley, in Kingston Gorse, West Sussex, England. Sarah had been playing with her two brothers (aged 13 and 11 at the time) and younger sister (aged 5) when she disappeared. A police search of the local area commenced, and quickly transformed into a nationwide search and national news story, with members of the Payne family (mostly her parents Michael and Sara) making numerous television and newspaper appeals for her safe return. Her murderer, Roy Whiting, was convicted in December 2001 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The number of new cases reported today were 47,476 with 25 registered deaths.

Monday 19/07/2021 – Day 487

And yet another beautiful Sunny summer day, problem is that it’s too hot to sit outside in the sun, but then, we Brits are never happy.

Well today is the day of Boris’s madness. We have an escalating virus with a third wave upon us, the number of deaths are once again rising, and no-one in Government had the guts to say, ‘ We are going to keep the face masks and social distancing for now, until things improve’. This simple statement could have saved a lot of unnecessary suffering and a lot of lives. Still, they know best don’t they. Stay safe!

A man who won over 20 million on the lottery last weekend was asked by a reporter what he was going to do with all the begging letters, he replied.

“Nothing’s going to change – I’ll still keep sending them.”

So, with Boris relaxing the rules you can all now consider going on holiday. The problem is that there is hardly anywhere in the world you can go without self-isolating for a further ten day when you return. Ok for us oldies but not young families. Therefore your only other choice is to holiday here in Britain, because we do have some beautiful places to go to. But again, there is a slight problem, unscrupulous landlords and landladies have more than doubled prices in order to claw back lost revenue from last year. These people know what the situation is about going abroad, so even that grotty little B & B you sneered at 2 years ago because the price was £500 is now fully booked at £1500 per week. But eventually you find a converted cow shed in the heart of the country for less than a £1000 a week – result!

But first you have to check a few things in your wardrobe, are those speedo’s really suitable for the countryside. Are those Hawaiian shirts going to make the local horses rear and bolt?. Then of course – the most important thing – the weather. You watch Countryfile for the weekly weather, but the problem is that the weather here changes every three days, so you may as well ask a Psychic Octopus.

Here are some hints I’ve compiled to see what the weather will do.

1, If the cows are sitting in a field – it’s going to rain.

2. If the cows are standing in a field, it’s because the grass is too wet because it’s just rained’

3. if cows are sitting in a field with their brollies up – it is raining.

Hope this helps all you potential holidaymakers. Mrs H and I will be sat in our garden getting exactly the same amount of sunshine for nothing.

On this day in 1837Isambard Kingdom Brunel's 236 ft steamship, the Great Western, was launched at Bristol. She was the first ocean-going craft with an iron hull or screw propeller and was also the largest vessel in the world. On the same day in 1843, Brunel's 'SS Great Britain', the first Atlantic liner built of iron, was also launched. She is now restored and can be viewed at the Great Western Dockyard in Bristol.

And on this day in 1919Following Peace Day celebrations marking the end of World War I, ex-servicemen, unhappy with unemployment and other grievances, rioted and burn down Luton Town Hall. During the riot people broke into Farmers Music Shop and dragged pianos into the streets for dancing and singing, including, ironically 'Keep the home fires burning'. The mayor at the time, Henry Impey was smuggled out of Luton never to return.

There were 39,375 new cases today and deaths had thankfully dropped to just 19. Still 19 families mourning loved ones though.

Tuesday 20/07/2021 – Day 489

The heatwave continues, but I was reliably informed on Midlands Today last night that it come to a thundery end at the weekend. Yes that young stalwart of the weather maps Shefali Ozra has warned of impending rainstorms from France.

Today Mrs H and I share our 48th anniversary. Forty-eight years of wedded bliss. I would be lying if I said it had all been smooth going. We like many others have had our trials and tribulations

Our first wedding way back in 1973 was in a registry office. It was a beautiful day and neither of us regretted it. But over the years I discovered that Mrs H was always sad that she had never walked down the aisle.

So in January eight years ago, my daughters and myself started to plan another wedding in which Mrs H and I would renew our vows. Over the next six months we booked the church, arranged the reception, bought the dress, and sent out the invitations swearing everyone to secrecy.

Then on July 17th – Mrs H’s birthday, we all went out for a meal, the whole family and a few more. After the meal we all went outside and I gave Mrs H her anniversary card and told her there was a surprise on it. She scrutinised the card and announced that there was nothing in it. I told her to look on the back, she then found the invitation. The look on her face was well worth all the trouble. That was bad enough but then she read the card properly-

Mrs H OMG! It’s this Saturday! I haven’t got a dress; I need to get my hair done. What about my make up?

I explained to her that it had all been arranged, all she had to do was turn up. Everything went really smoothly, right down to the speeches. We had a most fantastic day with friends and family.

On this day in 1943it was the birth of the actress Wendy Richard. She played Miss Brahms in the BBC's Are You Being Served? and Pauline Fowler in EastEnders. She was also the female voice that contributed a few lines on a number 1 hit single in the UK chart, entitled "Come Outside" featuring Mike Sarne in May 1962. Despite being associated with a London accent foe most of her career Wendy Richard was born on July 20, 1943, in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, England as Wendy Emerton. She was an actress, also known for Gumshoe (1971). She was married to John Burns, Paul Glorney, Will Thorpe and Len Black. She died on February 26, 2009, in Marylebone, London, England.

And finally on this day in 1968During a BBC radio interview, actress Jane Asher announced that her engagement to Beatle Paul McCartney was off. On 18 April 1963, the 17-year-old Jane interviewed the Beatles and began a five-year relationship with Paul McCartney. In December 1963, McCartney took up residence at Asher's family Wimpole Street town house and stayed there until the couple moved into McCartney's own home located in St John's Wood in 1966. McCartney wrote several Beatles songs inspired by her, including "And I Love Her", "You Won't See Me", "I'm Looking Through You" and "We Can Work It Out". Paul and Jane announced on Christmas Day 1967 that they were engaged to be married. In mid- 1968, Jane returned to London from an acting assignment in Bristol earlier than expected and discovered McCartney in bed with Francie Schwartz.

A fan who loitered around Paul's Cavendish Avenue home claims to have witnessed the incident, saying: "Paul brought this American girl home, shortly another car turned into Cavendish Avenue—it was Jane. She'd come back... earlier than she was supposed to. Jane went into the house. Immediately storming out again and driving away." Shortly after, Margaret Asher drove to Cavendish Avenue to collect her daughter's things.

For the second time this week new case figures were over 40,000, they came in at 46,127. But I am sad to report that there was an horrendous rise in deaths, they went up to 96. It seems that we are taking one step forward and two steps back with this pandemic.

Wednesday 21/07/2021 – Day 490

It is five in the morning and I am lay here sweltering and listening to the gradual build-up of traffic on the road outside, I was contemplating getting out of bed when a thought came into my head. Did you know that it’s impossible to lick your elbows? And that it’s extremely hard to ‘hum’ whilst holding your nose shut. Yes, that’s exactly what I thought – time to rise.

Today is our official 48th wedding anniversary. Exactly 48 years ago today Mrs H and I walked into Kidderminster registry office. Well to be honest, I arrived first, I was the most nervous groom in the world. The stag night the previous evening with the ensuing tour of every pub within walking distance, hadn’t had the slightest effect on me.

I was far too nervous to get inebriated. So I was stood there nervously in the corridor of the registry office when I noticed a door open slightly, a man was looking through the crack beckoning me to come in with the bend of a single digit. Despite having reservations I went into the room and was relieved to see that it was the registrar. ‘Have you got it?’ he asked.

‘Got what?’ I replied.

‘The fee, for the marriage license. We can’t continue until it’s paid.’

I had completely forgotten about the fee of three pounds fifty pence. I tapped the pockets of my suit – nothing. I was beginning to sweat profusely now; I looked out through the window and watched the future Mrs H stepping out of the ribboned car.

‘Is there anyone who can lend it you?’ the registrar interjected.

I opened the door to the corridor and beckoned my brother in, he was to be my best man and was about to become my money man. Fortunately for me he had money with him. The alternative was asking the future father-in-law to loan it me, which would mean that he was paying me to marry his own daughter!

The reception was held at my parents pub up the road. I went into the men’s toilet, as I returned I heard two of the new Mrs H’s aunties saying.

“I’ll give it six months, he’s not good enough for her.” I walked past them pretending I hadn’t heard anything, but I never forgot.

So, as I said, today is our 48th wedding anniversary. And come to think of it, I can’t ever remember paying my brother back.

On this day in 1545The French invaded the Isle of Wight. However the French had little local knowledge and as the attacks were expected, local forces reached the high grounds of Bembridge Down to oppose them. The French had a long history of attacking the Island and this was their last attempt at capture.

Also on this day in 1909Six suffragettes, jailed for breaking windows in Whitehall, were released for insubordination, for kicking and biting female wardens and for going on strike. When women were women!

Well Mrs H and I along with two daughters and our Granddaughter Mollie – who is nineteen years old today – are off down to the local hostelry to partake of a little lunch and a spot of beverage to celebrate Mollie’s birthday. Then Mrs H and I will have a nice quiet night in with a Chinese Takeaway. Lovely jubbly

New cases reported were 43907, registered deaths remained high at 73..

Thursday 22/07/2021 – Day 491

Well. According to Shefali, this is our last day of really hot sun, it seems that tomorrow will see a change in the weather with temperatures dropping down to normal levels. There is also rain sweeping through on Saturday, we’ll see.

On this day in 1939Terence Stamp, actor, was born, in Stepney, London. He had an off-screen romance with Julie Christie, while they were filming Far from the Madding Crowd. But did you know that the Terry and Julie mentioned in the Kinks No1 record ‘Waterloo Sunset’ were them, or were they?

Terry meets Julie, Waterloo Station, every Friday night But I am so lazy, don't want to wander, I stay at home at night But I don't feel afraid As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset, I am in paradise.

It is often claimed that the line, "Terry meets Julie, Waterloo Station every Friday night" is about the relationship between actor Terence Stamp and actress Julie Christie. However, Ray Davies denied this in his autobiography. He subsequently revealed that it was "a fantasy about my sister going off with her boyfriend to a new world and they were going to emigrate and go to another country." According to Kinks biographer Nick Hasted, Terry was Ray's nephew Terry Davies, whom he was close to in early teenage years. Further confusing the matter, Davies told Rolling Stone in 2015 that Julie and Terry were "big, famous actors at the time." The actors had been dating since the early '60s and starred together in the film Far From the Madding Crowd, which is often cited as the direct inspiration for the song, but the film didn't come out until six months after the single's release.

Some rich people think they are above the law but back in 2010A luxury Koenigsegg CCXR (one of only six ever made), valued at £1.2m and a £350,000 Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SuperVeloce were clamped outside Harrods in central London after being illegally parked. The cars were released for £70 each as the fines were paid within 14 days.

New cases reported today were 39906, Registered deaths were once again high at 84,already more than last week’s full total.

Friday 23/07/2021 – Day 492

Slightly overcast today, thank goodness. It has been far too hot the past week, I don’t mind the heat but when you can’t even sit out in it then what’s the use?

Mrs H and I went around to Sarah’s yesterday and brought the garden up to scratch, Mrs H pruned and weeded as I mowed the lawns back and front and trimmed the laurel hedge. We were sat there afterwards having a cuppa when the Nice biscuits made an appearance from nowhere. Nothing untoward there I hear you say, but a couple of years ago, I was addicted to Nice biscuits, the sugary coconut taste had me in its grip. I would sit at my computer and eat a full packet before I knew it. At one stage we were buying a dozen packets a week as they were on offer at 3 for a pound in the supermarkets. To say I ballooned is a gross understatement. I was a Nice addict; it took me over a year to wean myself off them. I had less of a problem giving up smoking. And there they were sat on the table, staring at me, Sarah was unaware of my predicament of course. It was ten minutes before I reached over and grabbed the packet. I shook as I touched one, I was sweating profusely, my heartbeat was racing. I took one out and gave it to the dog, then pushed them away again. It was only then that I knew I was finally cured – if only I could do the same with Butter mints.

All gardeners know the signs, they walk down the garden path and the signs are there for all to see. When I was younger, the only slimy things in my life were the Bank Manager, Estate agents, Lawyers, and the mother-in-law. But as you get older your priorities change, now, the slimy pests were appearing in the garden every night. I am of course referring to those slugs that blight everyone’s garden, virtually eating them out of house and home.

There are many tried and tested ways of getting rid of these garden pests.

1. If you don’t have pets, then a liberal sprinkling of slug pellets would do the trick, problem is that if you have visiting hedgehogs, they are harmful.

2. An island of gravel surrounding your precious babies is another way of stopping them. It is a well-known fact that a snail can slide across the sharp edge of a razor blade and feel nothing because its slime protects it, so gravel is going to be a walk in the park. But the tell-tale signs of nibbled leaves next morning tell you that it really doesn’t work. In fact, they seem as happy as a pig in the proverbial.

3. You could encourage frogs; they absolutely love a midnight feast. The problem here is that if you are inundated, all you end up with is a garden full of bloated overweight frogs that can’t cope.

4. I have heard that ground coffee works. I tried it and all that happened was that the slugs and snails had a boost of caffeine which kept them up late and allowed them to munch even more.

5. The other way I’ve heard of is saucers full of MY best ale. They seem to like a drop of alcohol and drown in it. I am dead against this method as all I can see is lots more slugs and snails enjoying a late-night party with MY beer. Anyway, they have munched their way through half my garden and I am going to treat them to a beer as a thank you, I think not.

No, the only positive way to get rid of these pests is on a dark rainy night, don wellies raincoat and hat, go outside into the darkness with a torch and you will see them all, but them in a deep bowl and when you’ve gathered enough sling em over the neighbours garden. Of course if you are surrounded by houses, even this simple act has its drawbacks. The main one being nosey caring neighbours. They look out of their bedroom window and all they see is a dark figure with a flashlight messing around in your garden. The next lights you see will be blue and flashing.

I actually wrote a poem about these pests.

A slugs life.

Unwanted and unwelcome we stalk

the very places you have to walk.

Leaving tell-tale signs with slimy track

Well, we’re seeking revenge and payback

for those mini blue pellets that kill

spread on the soil, left there until

we crawl away to die alone

in your undergrowth well overgrown

Sometimes you bring a torch late at night

creep down the path, giving is a fright,

Then you scrape us up into a tin

freeze us till dead, throw us into the bin

Encouraging the hedgehogs to thrive

simply because they eat us alive.

Well, enough is enough, this is war

We’re going to eat your plants forevermore!

Your tulips, delphiniums and Hosta’s our prize

Gerberas will disappear before your eyes,

We’ll eat the tubers of new-sown peas

potato’s and lettuce attacked with ease,

We’ll all gang together to clear your plot

and eat most everything you’ve got

Those little blue pellets are your downfall

Spread them well because you won’t get us all!

The new figures for coronavirus drop once again, today there were 36,389 cases reported, a lot of these cases are youngsters in their twenties. The number of registered deaths fell to 64.

Saturday 23/07/2021 – Day 493.

What a change to the weather, we haven’t had any rain yet but are promised torrential downpours by Shefali.

Mrs H and I were up early this morning. Our Granddaughter Alisha works at a Day nursery called Hickory Dickory Dock. Well it was their Summer fete today; Mrs H was told that they had a plant sale and that was all it took. Of course a plant stall meant that we had to be among the first to show – bit like a car boot sale, the early bird gets the bargain – so we arrived at 10.03. This allowed 3 whole minutes to show that we weren’t too keen. To be truthful, both of us were expecting the plant stall to be full of little spindly plants in old plastic teacups. We were well surprised; a lot of the local plant nurseries had donated some absolutely wonderful plants. Mrs H was like a kid in a sweetshop. The dearest plant was £3 with many at less. We had a great selection for just £30. Then it was over to the Tombola where we won 3 prizes. I just had to visit the cake stall, I had lemon drizzle cake with my cup of tea when we got home. Alisha told us that the nursery had raised around £900.

The rest of the day was spent cutting the lawns, tidying the borders etc. Two or three times we had spots of rain, but that was about it.

Thought I’d leave you with a classic joke this week.

Murphy, a furniture dealer from Dublin, decided to expand the line of furniture in his store, so he decided to go to Paris to see what he could find.

After arriving in Paris, he visited with some manufacturers and selected a line that he thought would sell well back home. To celebrate the new acquisition, he decided to visit a small bistro and have a glass of wine.

As he sat enjoying his wine, he noticed that the small place was quite crowded, and that the other chair at his table was the only vacant seat in the house. Before long, a very beautiful young Parisian girl came to his table, asked him something in French (which Murphy could not understand), so he motioned to the vacant chair and invited her to sit down.

He tried to speak to her in English, but she did not speak his language. After a couple of minutes of trying to communicate with her, he took a napkin and drew a picture of a wine glass and showed it to her. She nodded, so he ordered a glass of wine for her.

After sitting together at the table for a while, he took another napkin, and drew a picture of a plate with food on it, and she nodded. They left the bistro and found a quiet cafe that featured a small group playing romantic music.

They ordered dinner, after which he took another napkin and drew a picture of a couple dancing. She nodded, and they got up to dance. They danced until the café closed and the band was packing up.

Back at their table, the young lady took a napkin and drew a picture of a four-poster bed. To this day, Murphy has no idea how she figured out he was in the furniture business.

For the fourth day in succession new cases dropped. There were a further 31795 new cases today, over 23,000 less than this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 284,717 a drop of 14,521 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 86 bringing the weekly total to 447 a rise of 183 on last week. There were 4,434,997 recoveries a rise of 43,997 on last week’s total.

Week 72

Sunday 25/07/2021 – Day 493

It’s been a very muggy night once again. I spent an hour yesterday watering the garden, which was just as well because the rain that Shefali promised us, did not happen, there wasn’t enough to dampen a moist cloth!

As the nigh continued it got a little cooler, so I decided to throw my half of the duvet over myself just to keep off the chill. An hour later I woke, shivering and feeling like I was lay on the lawn outside. Mrs H was hogging the duvet, I tried in vain to pull it back but she was like the sausage in a sausage roll and had wrapped the thing right around her. The vice-like grip she had on it was reminiscent of a Scotsman hugging a one-pound coin. It just wouldn’t budge.

Then she woke this morning all smiles and stretching and asks, ‘Did you sleep well? I did, I had a wonderful night’s sleep,’

Tonight, I am going to take my electric stapler to bed, then when she’s pushing out the z’s I’ll staple that duvet on all four corners and on the edges, then pray that she doesn’t need the loo during the night.

On this day in 2009The last British survivor of the World War I trenches, Harry Patch, died, aged 111. A remarkable man who spent his latter years going around schools telling children of his life.

Does anyone remember Saturday teatimes in the fifties and sixties as a child? In our kitchen in the fifties we had a Bakelite radio, one of those big brown things that took a few minutes to warm up. There would be at least nine of us in that kitchen. Mum would be mashing about eight bananas and scraping margarine on almost a loaf of Mother’s Pride. If the banana’s weren’t mashed then there simply would not have been enough to go around. Then at exactly five o clock the pips went and it was time for complete silence whilst dad checked his pools coupon.

The football pools back then were every family’s dream of becoming rich, much like the lottery today. The jackpot would have been around £75,000. When you think that the average wage was about £7 per week then it brings it back into perspective. There was a chap called Horace Cyril Batchelor (22 January 1898 – 8 January 1977) he was what was known as an English gambling advertiser. He was best known during the 1950s and 1960s as an advertiser on Radio Luxembourg. He had invented a way to win money by predicting the results of football matches. His spelling out of Keynsham, (pronounced Canesham) a town in western England where he operated, made it famous.

Batchelor sponsored programmes on Radio Luxembourg to promote his "Famous Infra-Draw Method", a system that he claimed increased the chances of winning large sums on the football pools long before the National Lottery with Noel Edmunds started in 1994. The "Pools" was the only way to win large sums for a small stake. Listeners were asked to submit their stakes to Batchelor, who then determined how the stake was placed. He was paid only if the bet won. Infra-draw was thus not dependent on his predictive talent for its financial success. Horace invited listeners to write for details of his "Famous Infra-Draw Method for the Treble Chance" that he promised was able to predict the drawn games on which winnings depended.

I’m not sure if he was successful but following his death in 1977, The Times published his will on 3 March of that year, showing he left just under £150,000., which sounds good to me.

Anyway I digress, my dad would religiously check that coupon every Saturday teatime, hoping to win the jackpot of £75,000. I seem to remember him winning a fiver in all those years.

The pools would be delivered and collected by a Littlewoods or Vernon’s agent from your door. Otherwise they could be found on the bar of your local. The reason for telling you this is because on this day in 2013the retirement happened, of James Alexander Gordon aged 77, voice of the classified football results for 40 years. He pioneered the much-mimicked technique of raising his tone for the winning side's score and dropping it in sympathy for the losers. He never officially read the score line with which he was indelibly associated - 'East Fife 4. Forfar 5.' but in October 2011 fans across the country raised their hopes during a clash which finished, disappointingly, East Fife 4 Forfar 3. On Sunday, 22nd July 2018 that result finally happened for the first time in the fixture's history when the Scottish League Cup Group B tie between the sides went to penalties after a 1-1 draw. The final score after the penalty shootout was East Fife 4 Forfar 5!

For the fifth day in a row, cases have fallen to 28,879, there were 28 registered deaths.

Monday 26/07/2021 – Day 494.

I have been reliably informed today that if I substitute all my snacks and Butter mints for healthier fruit, I will successfully lose up to 90% of what little joy I had left in my lowly existence!

Today, Mrs H gets her first official pension payment, It will be for ten days only and will continue every four weeks from today. Just a shame that all her payments go into my personal bank account isn’t it. Just joking, we have a joint bank account, so what’s hers is her own and what’s mine is hers.

Going back to yesterday’s pools discussion does anyone recall a woman called Vivian Nicholson (born Vivian Asprey; 3 April 1936 – 11 April 2015). She was a British woman who became famous when she told the media she would "spend, spend, spend" after her husband Keith won £152,319 (equivalent to £3,362,478.00 adjusted for inflation to 2019) on the football pools in 1961. Nicholson became the subject of tabloid news stories for many years due to her and Keith's subsequent rapid spending of their fortune and her later chaotic life.

Viv had suffered a terrible child with a father unable to work and an asthmatic mother she was expected to look after the family from a very young age. She left school at 14 and worked in a factory making Pontefract cakes. At the young age of 16 she had a baby and married Matthew Johnson, but left him to marry her neighbour, Keith Nicholson, two years later. By 1961, she had four children.

Keith won the pools on 30 September 1961, when asked by the press what she would do with the winnings Viv answered, ‘Spend, spend, spend.’ And so she did, they bought cars, fur coats, houses, household goods. They had world trips, tours of Great Britain and bought jewellery. By her own admission Viv just couldn’t cope with so much money. After her husband Keith died in a car accident, Viv Nicholson's fortune rapidly dwindled to nothing: Banks and tax creditors made her bankrupt, and declared that all the money, and everything she had acquired with it, belonged not to her but to her deceased husband’s estate.

In 1968, Nicholson won a three-year legal battle to gain £34,000 from her husband's estate, but rapidly lost it all through more uncontrolled spending, as well as taxes, legal fees, unpaid bills, and bad investments.

Viv would have a further four husbands, she died in 2015, after having a stroke and suffering from dementia.

This is the sixth day in a row for falling cases, todays total was 24,684. The number of deaths was 14.

Tuesday 27/07/2021 – Day 495.

Today is a sad day in the Harvey household, Today our daughter Vickie would have been celebrating her thirty second birthday. We lost her to cancer in December 2013. She was just 24 years old. If you recall last week I told you that Vickie (my profile picture) was at our wedding renewal because she was in remission. I know for a fact that had she not been there it wouldn’t have gone ahead.

She was diagnosed with AML ‎(Acute Myeloid Leukaemia) the previous year, but after a donor was found she was given a transplant on Christmas day 2012, It worked and by May 2013 she was in remission, As you know, the wedding went really well, the whole family was over the moon. I have always had the strongest feeling that she was given a few months of respite to be there for our wedding renewal. Everything was fine until September that year when we took her to her regular clinic and we were told that it had returned, desperate months followed and despite the odds she fought very bravely, there are a lot of things happened – good and bad - that one day I will be brave enough to put into words, but for now it is still too raw and upsetting for us all. We lost Vickie on the 10th December 2013. There were over 600 people at her funeral and we miss her dearly every day. It’s only our love for each other that has allowed us to survive, thankfully we have a very strong family and birthdays etc are now seen as a celebration of her short life and not a mourning of our loss. Although, for Mrs H and myself anniversary’s involving her are always upsetting.

But today the whole family will get together, we will have a BBQ which Vickie always loved, then we will release balloons in her memory.

I thought I’d share a poem I wrote.

Since You've Been Gone

Since you've been gone we've learned to cope

we won't forget or give up hope,

We look for signs most everyday

that prove you haven't gone away.

Since you've been gone I cannot sleep

in darkness tears begin to creep,

I wake next morning feeling tired

and face the day so uninspired.

Since you've been gone life's not the same

the winds of change blew out the flame

of love that let this old heartbeat,

without a fire there is no heat.

Since you've been gone my blood runs cold

there's emptiness in this household,

We look for signs that you're still here

some little sign to bring us cheer.

Since you've been gone my mind is numb

I pray most days - so does your Mum,

For help to cope from day to day

cope with the pain that comes our way.

Since you've been gone uncertainty

became a way of life for me,

Yet love is more intensified

we feel your presence at our side.

Since you've been gone our lives have changed

turned upside down, been re-arranged,

But Mum and I both think as one

life's incomplete - since you've been gone.

Once again the number of new cases fall to 23,204, but a shock rise in deaths which are 131.

Wednesday 28/07/2021 – Day 496

It was a really emotional day yesterday, a bit of a roller coaster ride I suppose. Fortunately I had built a cover over the BBQ last year, so the rain that fell didn’t make any difference to the proceedings. It was just that everyone had to eat inside. It really was nice to have the whole family back together for the special occasion. There was a short break in the weather when everyone went down the garden to release the balloons for Vickie’s birthday.

Tonight, we will all meet again down at the Indian takeaway to celebrate Sam’s (Alisha’s boyfriend) birthday.

David Beckham got into a cab in Dublin airport, The driver looked at him through the rear-view window, and just kept looking till he finally said after five minutes.

“Go on then, give us a clue.”

Beckham smiled, and sighed

“ Well I had a glittering career with Manchester United, I married a Spice girl and played over a 100 games for England. Is that enough?”

The cab driver glared at him, “No you tick idiot, where are you going?”

On this day in 1935the birth of Simon Dee, Does anyone remember the golden boy of the late sixties?. In 1969 there wasn’t a bigger name in showbiz than that of Simon Dee. Whenever you switched your TV or radio on he was there. He had a successful BBC chat show, he did advertisements and voiceovers galore, he had his own newspaper column and even a book of his own thoughts crammed with pictures of his life – entitled The Simon Dee Book.

Then Suddenly, just a year later and he was gone, never to be seen again despite several desperate attempts to make a comeback..

Simon Dee had started his career on Radio Caroline South, where he was the first ever voice to be heard when the station began transmissions on 28 March 1964. It wasn’t long before he moved to the more popular Radio Caroline North and did stints on Radio Luxembourg and the BBC Light Programme. He helped launch one of the Light Programme’s replacements, BBC Radio 1, and broke into television by hosting BBC-1’s Top of the Pops. He had already got a bad reputation for being ‘difficult’ and clashing with management at Radio Caroline and at Radio 1 – a reputation that would only get worse as his life moved towards stardom and his lavish lifestyle followed.

In 1967 when the BBC did one of its many periodic relaunches of BBC-1, it added a 45 minute twice-weekly chat show called Dee Time to the schedules (it later moved to once a week on Saturdays – at that time, the BBC was the only channel worth watching on Saturdays). Dee’s show was immensely popular, bringing in audiences of around 18 million to what was a relatively quiet time on the network. The shows and Dee’s popularity became a virtuous circle – the biggest stars were queuing up to appear on the show due to the huge audience figures, while the audience figures were huge due to the biggest stars appearing on the show.

But Simon Dee’s ego quickly outgrew his own popularity. The closing title sequence of Dee Time featured him speeding around in an open-top Jaguar E-type with a busty blonde model beside him. This wasn’t far from the real truth, even though he was married with two children he liked to live the life of a playboy. The press made more of this than was good for his career. He threw his weight about in the studio, not only demanding which stars he would have on his show, but also the hours he would work.

When LWT started up in 1969, they were like a fish out of water, they forced Ballet, arts and drama onto the viewers, there was a mass switch over to BBC1. To counter falling viewer figures LWT poached Simon Dee from the BBC.One story, is that Dee confronted Bill Cotton, asking for more than £1000 a show. Cotton suggested his existing £250 a show should fall by 20% instead. Dee left the BBC and joined LWT.

The result was a badly placed slot on a Sunday Night – after David Frosts (these two clashed all the time). After falling figures his show was axed after just six months. Dee still had a lavish lifestyle and was quickly in debt. None of the other TV companies wanted him because of his reputation. Within 12 months he was driving a London bus. He also spent time in prison for unpaid debts.

Simon Dee died of Bone Marrow cancer in August 2009, he was 74 years old.

New cases rose slightly for the first time in over a week today, they were at 27,436, deaths remain high at 91.

Thursday 29/07/2021 – Day 497

Here’s a snippet of useless information for you, the first known contraceptive was crocodile dung used by the Egyptians in 2000bc. I can only imagine that the sheer smell kept would be lovers at bay.

I have finally realised that I am now at the age where my mind still thinks I’m 29, My sense of humour suggests I’m 12, While my body keeps asking if I am not dead yet.

Mrs H and I wandered into town last night to the Indian restaurant where Sam was celebrating his 23rd birthday. It was the first time we had been our properly since this damn pandemic cast a dark shadow over everyone’s lives. So Mrs H - quite unused to the excitement – started getting ready about 1.30 pm in order to be there on time at 7.30pm.

Whilst her hair was drying we had a quick look at holidays and short breaks in the UK. There are some very unscrupulous companies and hotels in this country who are trying to claw back all the money that have lost in the past 18 months. Knowing that they have a captive audience – because we cannot fly anywhere – they have tripled their prices for this season. Not very fair, I hope they struggle next year when people with good memories remember them.

1948King George VI opened the 14th Olympic Games in London - the first time the Games had been held in 12 years, due to World War II. these were the first Summer Olympics held since the 1936 Games in Berlin. The 1940 Olympic Games had been scheduled for Tokyo and then for Helsinki, while the 1944 Olympic Games had been provisionally planned for London. This was the second time London had hosted the Olympic Games, having previously hosted them in 1908, forty years earlier. The Olympics would again return to London 64 years later in 2012, making London the first city to have hosted the games three times.

The United states came first with a total of 84 medals including 38 gold. Great Britain The host nation was 12th, with 23 medals, including three golds.

I have to admit that I am sick to death of the internet adverts. I go onto a seemingly innocent site and an Ad immediately pops up asking if I want to date sexy Russian girls. I mean, why Russian? The ones I see mostly are built like brick outhouses. It matters not that you are happily married to a sexy lady (brownie points), they just want your money.. Most men -like myself – have to be very careful what we are doing on these computers. So, in panic we go to click on the Ad to remove it, but all your details are automatically filled in because that’s how your kind three-year-old grandson set it up. Two weeks later you are sat in your favourite armchair reading a newspaper when your wife pops in to ask you why there is a six-foot Russian girl wearing a fur hat and stockings with suspenders standing at our front doorstep and asking personally for Eric. Ooops!

New cases once again increased and were back up to 30,980, The number of registered deaths were still high at 85,

Friday 30/07/2021 – Day 498

Had a lovely glossy leaflet through the door today saying that I could still have sex at 70, No idea who lives there, or what Mrs H will say.

Had the ’besties’ Janet and John around last night for an evening of laughter and memories. First of all though we had to have a drink, I would like to thank my son Mark at this point, the Italian lager/beer he left behind went down very well thank you. The girls were gulping down copious amounts of White Zinfandel Rose. Then we had to order food, the local Chinese restaurant does a delivery service. I had my usual which was sweet and sour chicken with chips, (Yeas I know, not very adventurous, but I like it) I have to say that we don’t usually use this restaurant, but it conveniently delivered. However, the quarters of fresh tomato and the sliced raw carrot in my sweet and sour was a little off putting, I’ve never had those ingredients added before, it looked as though the chef had just scraped everything off the chopping board to create this rather unusual delicacy. A bit like dropping a potato in a bowl of apple pie and custard. Suffice to say – I left them on the side of the plate.

Did you know that on this day in 1938 The first edition of The Beano was published. It is the longest running British children's comic magazine, published by DC Thomson in Dundee. By April 1950 the weekly circulation was almost 2,000,000. The Beano reached its 4,000th issue on 28th August 2019.

On this day in 1966England won the Football World Cup in London, beating West Germany 4 - 2. This was England's first (and only) win since the tournament began in 1930. England forward Geoff Hurst became the only man to score a hat-trick in a world cup final.

And finally on this day in 2006The world's longest running music show Top of the Pops was broadcast for the last time on BBC Two. The show had aired for 42 years. 2213 episodes were screened, the first being broadcast on New Year's Day 1964. Disc Jockey Jimmy Savile (who died on October 29th 2011) was the presenter of both the first and last shows. In October 2012 numerous allegations were made that Savile had sexually abused hundreds of young people, stretching from 1955 to 2009. In the aftermath, his gravestone at Scarborough was removed at the request of Savile's family and plaques and statues of him in other locations were removed to prevent further defacement.

You are sat in your garden enjoying the warmth of the sun and a cold beer when suddenly the silence is broken by the blast of your next-door neighbour blasting out his favourite tunes. Why he thinks that everyone should enjoy the same music that HE enjoys, is known only to him. This is after last week when he invited everyone but you around for the biggest party the road has ever seen. Or the week prior to that when he almost drilled through your partition wall with a hammer drill that shook all the ornaments off your shelf. I really should send them a bunch of flowers and a case of beer in way of an apology.

New cases remained stable at 29, 672 whilst registered deaths dropped slightly to 68.

Saturday 31/07/2021 – Day 499

It’s been a bit of a hectic week one way or another, so Mrs H and I had a nice quiet night in last night, are we getting old?

On this day in 1910Dr Crippen was arrested aboard the SS Montrose as it was docking at Quebec. He was charged with the murder of his wife and was the first criminal to be caught by the use of radio.

Meanwhile in 1950Britain's first self-service store, (Sainsbury's) opened in Croydon. In 1959Cliff Richard had his first British No.1 with 'Living Doll'. And in1965Cigarette advertising on British television was banned.

The year was 1968and the very first episode (entitled The Man and the Hour) of Dad's Army, a British comedy about the Home Guard in the Second World War. The TV series regularly gained audiences of 18 million viewers during the 1970s and is still repeated today.

Only four members of the main Dad's Army cast are still alive:

  • Bill Pertwee who played Warden Hodges

  • Frank Williams who played the Reverend Timothy Farthing

  • Ian Lavender who played Private Pike

  • Pamela Cundell who joined the cast in 1969 and played Mrs Fox

And finally the joke of the week.

A young boy went up to his father and asked, "What is the difference between potentially and realistically?"

The father answered, "Go ask your mother if she would sleep with Robert Redford for a million dollars. Also, ask your sister if she would sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars. Come back and tell me what you have learned.

"So the boy went to his mother and said, "Would you sleep with Robert Redford for a million dollars?" The mother thought for a moment and replied, "Don't tell your father but of course I would!! I wouldn't pass up an opportunity like that”

The boy then went to his sister and said, "Would you sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars?" Without hesitation the girl replied, "Oh my God! I would just love to do that! I would be nuts to pass up that opportunity!!"

The boy then thought about it for two or three days and went back to his dad. His father asked him, "Did you find out the difference between potential and realistic?"

The boy replied, "Yes, potentially we're sitting on two million dollars, but realistically we're living with a pair of loose women."

For the fourth day in succession new cases dropped. There were a further 26,144 new cases today, over 5,000 less than this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 190,949 a drop of 93,768 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 71 bringing the weekly total to 488 a rise of 41 on last week. There were 4,508,650 recoveries a rise of 73,711 on last week’s total.

Week 73

Sunday 01/08/2021 – Day 500

White rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits, Ok, now we have got that out of the way, welcome to the middle of Summer, yes, it’s pizzitively possing down outside, how else would we know it was Summertime.

If you haven’t already noticed, it is also my 500th day in self-isolation, which of course isn’t strictly true as I sort of retired last month. But it does mean that you poor regular readers have had to put up with this verbal garbage for the last 500 days, I sincerely apologise to you all.

I spent most of the day yesterday teetering on a stepladder whilst giving Mrs H’s wooden greenhouse a fresh lick of paint. This all came about in the middle of last week (my parents used to threaten to knock me into the middle of next week) when I was cutting the neighbour’s hedge. Mrs H kindly came round to help me clear up, I was getting the bin when I heard,

“Oh my God!” from Mrs H.

“What on earth’s the matter?” I shouted, half expecting to find Mrs H has disappeared into a thirty-foot chasm.

“Look at the state of my greenhouse roof” she shrieked.

The problem is that you can’t see the greenhouse roof from our side of the garden, so it tends to be one of those out of sight out of mind things.

“It’s not very nice for poor old Ken (our lovely neighbour) to look at is it?”

Well No 1, Ken is certainly not poor and No 2, I did mention to him the last time I cut the hedge that I must give the greenhouse a lick of paint and his answer was ‘Oh don’t bother on my behalf, I never get that far down the garden anyway.’ That out of sight out of mind thing again.

Not many lads are called Lance in these modern times, but in Medieval times they were called Lance a lot.

A sad day in history today in 1914World War I began with Germany's invasion of Luxembourg. The same day, Germany and Russia declared war against each other. It was supposed to be the war to end all wars, yet just twenty years later the world would do it all over again.

On this day in 2015the death (aged 72) of the English singer and television presenter Priscilla White, known by her stage name Cilla Black. She was sunbathing at her home in Estepona, Spain when she stood up and lost her balance, resulting in a fall. According to coroner's records, Cilla died of a head injury, but it is widely thought that she had a stroke resulting in the fall.

A lot of my friends at school at that time couldn’t stand her, they said she had a ‘raspy’ voice. She had gained a part-time job as a cloakroom attendant at Liverpool's famous Cavern Club and her impromptu performances impressed the Beatles, leading to an audition by the music entrepreneur Brian Epstein.

Epstein was introduced to her by John Lennon, who persuaded him to arrange an audition which proved unsuccessful. All was not lost as, on the 6th of September 1963, Epstein signed Cilla as his only female vocalist after seeing her by chance perform at the Blue Angel club. On the 27th of September 1963, Cilla Black made her debut on the British singles charts with her first record “Love Of The Loved”. However, it was not until her next single, “Anyone Who Had A Heart”, that superstardom came knocking at her door. Epstein discovered the Hal David and Burt Bacharach song on a trip to the USA. It had already proved to be a massive hit for Dionne Warwick. Cilla, a keen follower of the US ‘Top 100’, already liked the song before Epstein suggested she record it. Her knockout rendition went on to become her first No. 1 of 1964. George Martin, renowned producer of The Beatles, soon realised that she was worthy of signing to Parlophone Records.

George Martin acquired the perfect follow-up, a dramatic ballad entitled “You’re My World”. This song of Italian origin earned Cilla the title as Britain’s 2nd girl in UK chart history to have two successive No. 1s.

Cilla’s immense popularity continued thereafter through an array of successful tours, pantomimes, TV sitcoms and her prime-time British TV shows which included ‘Surprise!, Surprise!’ (1983-1997), ‘Blind Date’ (1985-2003) and ‘Cilla‘s Moment Of Truth’ (1998-2001). In 1999, after 30 years of marriage, Cilla’s beloved husband Bobby passed away. Her eldest son Robert, following in his father’s footsteps, took over as her manager.

Cilla had hosted over her lifetime more than 500 television shows of her own and made over 400 guest appearances on other British shows making her one of the most watched female stars in the history of British television!

There were 24,181 new cases today as the figures continued to fall. A further 65 deaths were recorded.

Monday 02/08/2021 – Day 501.

A lovely sunny morning here in downtown Kidderminster, so it’s a day catching up on some gardening chores.

Mrs H and I went off to a local country fete yesterday, The Trimpley Vintage steam festival is about three miles up the road. It is a really good day if you are a petrol head and love old cars and those little steam engines that I call ‘putt putts’ simply because that’s what they sound like. The field was packed with chaps wearing flat caps, rubbing their chins with wonder as they looked at old engines. It took us about an hour to look around and then - if you weren’t into engines and their parts - it got a bit boring so we decided to go out for lunch.

We chose a place in nearby Bewdley, as we hadn’t booked we were told that they could find us a table but they would need it back in about an hour and half. We agreed and the waitress guided us two almost empty rooms and into a third room with about ten tables in it, there was only one other couple in there. We ordered our cooked lunch and it soon arrived; we had also ordered a portion of cauliflower cheese which we both love. But when it arrived it was just a cheese sauce poured over partly cooked cauliflower, but we didn’t complain.

I was finishing my pint when the waitress asked if we wanted anything else, Mrs H ordered a Latte coffee. Ten minutes later it arrived – without a spoon. Mrs H called after the waitress and asked for one. Ten minutes later still no spoon, so she asked a waiter for one. He returned with a long sundae spoon as he couldn’t find a teaspoon. The original waitress returned after fifteen minutes with a dessert spoon and casually said “Oh, you’ve got one” and seemed really put out as she had made a special effort. Then they charged us almost forty pounds, what a nerve!

Tell people there's an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure.

Today in 1925Alan Whicker, broadcaster and writer was born. With a TV career that stretched nearly six decades, he was best known for his long-running documentary series, Whicker's World. The show, which ran from 1959 to 1988 on both the BBC and ITV, saw him travel all over the world.

The series featured Whicker reporting on the unusual and bizarre, interviewing all types of people from millionaires and monks to gangsters and dictators.

He once said he counted himself one of the luckiest men in the world because he enjoyed his work so much. Valerie Kleeman, Whicker's partner of more than 40 years, said she was "lucky to have shared" his life.

Alan died in the early hours of Friday morning 0n 12 July 2013 at his home in Jersey, he had been suffering from bronchial pneumonia.

On this day in 197351 people were killed when fire swept through the Summerland Amusement Centre at Douglas on the Isle of Man. It was one of the worst British peacetime disasters involving a fire since 1929 when the Glen Cinema in Paisley, Scotland caught fire. It killed 69 children and injured 40 others.

New cases fell again to 21,622 whilst the number of deaths also fell to 24.

Tuesday 03/08/2021 – Day 502

Another lovely sunny day here. Mrs H and I had a very productive day yesterday. We started off at the front of the house by trimming the large tree. This simple act served two purposes. 1. It allowed in more daylight. 2, It evicted the pigeons that I had watched from my armchair, building nests over the last two days. We then took advantage of our neighbours being away and went round and partly cut down a tree and pruned and trimmed a couple of others.

We have to pick Sarah up this morning and take her to the local hospital for a blood test. They tried to take some last week but the poor girl hasn’t put on much weight yet, so it proved very difficult. They told her to go away and drink plenty of fluids for a week. They did however give her a steroid injection which has helped improve her mobility greatly. Still a long way to go for her to gain full health though.

I had my haircut last week by my other daughter Gemma, She has been cutting my hair now for over 25 years and has saved me a fortune. I remember as a child a chap called Mark Evans used to come around to our house and cut all our hairs (My dad and four brothers) it was always cut in a semi-crewcut, which helped keep the hair clean and the nits at bay.

Then as I grew older in the early sixties, I remember going to the barbers and asking for a short back and sides with a square neck. In those days there were shaving mugs hung on hooks above your head. And by the side of the chair were ‘strops’ usually leather where the cutthroat razors were sharpened with some dexterity. I was always glad I was too young to shave. The barber would always finish by asking if I wanted Brylcreme, then a great big dollop would be applied and rubbed in ferociously, then styled in the style of the day.

In the later sixties It was always the Beatles style, with the mop hair and fringe, I was really glad of this style as I had a very high forehead. After that it was back to the short back and sides and the square neck until Gemma passed her hairdressers exam and started cutting it. I am almost seventy and still have a good head of hair which still grows thick and fast. Unlike two of my brothers who are bald as coots, I always thought there was something dodgy about them.

A woman was on her deathbed, Her husband stood by her side as she started to talk

“There’s something, I must confess,”

“Hush, Hush,” he said reassuringly, “There’s nothing to confess at this stage.”

“But I must” she insisted, “I must go with a clear conscience. I have made love to your brother, His friend, his best friend and your father.”

“I know” he whispered, “That’s why I poisoned you, now close your eyes.”

On this day in 1963The Beatles performed at The Cavern Club (on 10, Mathew Street, Liverpool), for the 292nd, and last time. They received a fee of £300 pounds for the performance. The club has long since been demolished in the name of progress and a replica built across the road A bit like having a Latte without any milk in it.

New cases remained stable at 21,313, But registered deaths rose dramatically and were recorded as 138.

Wednesday 04/08/2021 – Day 503

I know that some of you out there are struggling with harsh weather, but once again it is a warm sunny day here in Kidderminster.

Mrs H and I were really naughty yesterday. The idea was that we would take Sarah to the hospital for her blood test (very successful at last) and wait for her. All was well when we dropped her off at home. We then went on to Bewdley to the little farm shop for some fruit and veg. The town was packed, as would be expected on a lovely warm summer day by the river Severn.

We walked around a little and decided to have lunch at the local George hotel. We decided to eat outside – bad decision – within seconds of the food arriving we were being attacked by wasps. So we moved away and sat elsewhere. Lunch inevitably included a pint of Old Speckled Hen, we had already decided that we were going to have a lazy day, so after our meal we decided to go nearer the river for another drink. But, as I said, the place was packed. We managed to find a seat and the waitress was promptly with us, she then informed us that we could only sit there if we were eating. Having just eaten a humongous all-day breakfast with extra fries we decided against it and moved on. We decided to go home and sit in the garden.

Somehow, on the journey the car decided to head towards the Queens Head in the picturesque village of Wolverley. That is where we ended up for the afternoon, Mrs H on soft drinks and me drinking Wainwrights best bitter. We finally arrived home around 5.00pm, the best days are the unplanned days.

I went to the Butchers today and asked for some tripe. He gave me a boxed DVD set of Love Island.

On this day in 1987Moors murderer Ian Brady claimed that he was involved in another five killings. The pair were charged only in the deaths of John Kilbride, Leslie Ann Downey and Edward Evans, and received life sentences under a whole life tariff. The investigation was reopened in 1985 after Brady was reported as having confessed to the murders of Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett. After confessing to these additional murders, Brady and Hindley were taken separately to Saddleworth Moor to assist in the search for the graves.

And finally on this day in 2000Celebrations took place all over the United Kingdom to mark the 100th birthday of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. She was the first ever member of the Royal Family to reach her centenary.

Do you get as frustrated as me when you answer the phone and need to scribble down a number? Why is it that the pen which has sat comfortably next to the phone for such emergencies decides not to work on the pad that you also keep there. I am a writer; I have sixty or so pens all over the house but the one by the phone is the only one that doesn’t work. So, you end up etching – nay carving – the precious number onto the pad, tearing the thin paper in the process. You rigorously shake the thing up and down, going red faced in the process, you take a deep breath and exhale onto it in an attempt to ‘wake up the sleeping ink’, all to no avail. Then your darling wife, hearing the cursive language brings you another pen. After the phone call you pick up the original pen and it works perfectly. It’s called ‘Sod’s Law’ around here.

Today the number of new cases rose substantially to 29,060. The number of registered deaths fell slightly to 119 although still very high.

Thursday 05/08/2021 – Day 504

Here is a special announcement from the useless information department. Don’t ever lose a Tarantula spider in your house, they can live up to 30 years. End of announcement.

Been out in the repair shop most of the day as it is pouring down with the wet stuff. Can’t complain though, it’s the first rain we’ve had for ages. So I went in there to use some old decking up. I’ve made Mrs H a couple of wooden planters to hang on the fence, accumulated quite a few brownie points in the process. We have these big tin plate metal butterflies that stand in the garden, but one of them is rusting and the paint is peeling off. So I wire-brushed them down, gave them a good sanding and a new coat of paint, but the rust keeps coming through. Looks like I’ll have to invest in a tin of hammerite.

Came across these snippets of letters received from various councils over the lockdown period.

1. It’s the dog mess I find hard to swallow.

2. I need some repairs done to my cooker as it’s backfired and burnt my knob off.

3. Their 18-year-old son is continually banging his balls against my fence.

4. There are tiles missing from the outside loo roof. I think it was a result of bad wind the other day.

5. My toilet seat is cracked. Where do I stand?

6. I am writing on behalf of my sink which is coming away from the wall.

7. Can someone repair my garden path, My wife tripped on it and now she is pregnant.

8. I request permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen.

9. 50% of the walls are damp. 50% are crumbling and 50% are plain filthy.

10.I am still having problems with smoke in my new drawers.

11.The toilet is blocked and we can’t bath the children until it’s cleared.

12.Will you please send a man to look at my water, it’s a funny colour and not fit to drink.

13.Our lavatory seat is broken in half and is now in three pieces.

14.I want to complain about the farmer across the road. Every morning at 6am his cock wakes me up, it is getting too much now and I can’t take any more.

15.Our kitchen floor is damp. We have two children and would like a third. Please send someone around to do something about it.

16.I am a single women in a downstairs flat. Could you please do something about the noise the man on top of me makes every night.

17.Please send a man with the right tool to finish the job and keep my wife happy.

Only in Britain eh! Hope no-one was offended. That wasn’t the intention.

The number of new cases remained high at 30,093 today. The number of deaths fell once again but only to 86.

Friday 06/08/2021 – Day 505.

It’s a bit of a wishy-washy day today but it promises to improve – a bit like my school reports of yesteryear.

My school reports , no matter how hard I tried were always middling or fair. I don’t mean fair in the sense that they were reasonable, I mean fair in the sense that they weren’t ‘poor’. School reports back then were always written by hand and by the teacher who taught you that particular subject. Comments were followed by an alphabetical score ranging from A+ to D-.

I reckon that the teachers ran out of things to say after being enthusiastic about the first forty or so that they commented on. Things like.

‘Eric is a star pupil who contributes to the class enthusiastically and always enjoys the lesson.’

These first forty remarks were swiftly replaced by comments like.

‘Could do better in the classroom.’ Or ‘Enthusiasm wanes after the first ten minutes.’

And this was how my reports continued throughout my secondary school. There was no incitement to make you do better, in fact the whole process was so disappointing after you had spent a full year studying your heart out only to be told that you ‘could do better.’

I would have done a lot better with a bit of encouragement from the teacher. But of course, you were leaving their class and going on to the next year, so basically , they didn’t give a toss about whether or not you or your parents were upset at your marks and their words. So therefore, in our Secondary Modern school, no one actually did do better, what was the use, you weren’t told if you had improved. Many a dream was shattered in those dismal places of the sixties.

Karl Marx is a historically famous philosopher, but no-ne ever mentions his little sister Onya, who invented the starting pistol.

On this day in 1809Alfred Tennyson, English poet was born. He is the second most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, (after Shakespeare). Tennyson wrote a number of phrases that have become commonplaces of the English language, including "Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all", and "Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die".

Also on this day in 1949The 'acid bath murderer' John Haigh was sentenced to death. He was convicted of the murders of six people, although he claimed to have killed a total of nine, dissolving their bodies in concentrated sulphuric acid before forging papers in order to sell their possessions and collect substantial sums of money. Although Haigh confessed, he did not think that he would be charged with murder for two reasons. He claimed in court that he was insane. This would let him off the murder charge, and he would spend the rest of his life in a psychiatric hospital prison like Broadmoor. This plea failed however. His other reason was that he thought he couldn't be charged with murder if the body was never found. He was wrong in this.Haigh was given the death sentence, and on 10th August 1949 he was hanged.

Bit of sad news today Mrs H has had her credit card stolen, we haven’t reported it because whoever’s got it is spending a lot less than her.

New cases were rising agin and today there were 31, 808. Deaths rose slightly to 92.

Saturday 07/08/2021 – Day 506

The old weather doesn’t seem to want to make up its mind today, we have snatches of blue sky interspersed with dark grey and white fluffy clouds.

Do you remember I was ill about five weeks ago and suffering chest pains? Well I am off to the hospital this morning at 10.00am to have a chest Xray!

I was searching through some online information today and out of the blue popped up a Radio Times front page from 1958. It featured of he then cast of Mrs Dales diary which ran on radio from 5thJanuary 1948 to 25 April 1969. A few days after the final episode, a new serial drama, Waggoners' Walk, took over the time slot.

The programme was first broadcast on the Light Programme at 4pm on Monday 5th January. A new episode was broadcast each weekday afternoon, with a repeat the following morning.

The star of the show was not a star. In fact, she had earned less than £30 a week. (£534.75 in today’s money) But her voice was as well known in Britain as that of Queen Elizabeth II, for it was heard twice a day by seven million devoted listeners.

Who could forget Marie Goossens' harp introduction to the programme or the reflective comments of Dr. Dale's ever-earnest wife?

The title character was a nice middle-class doctor's wife, Mary, and her husband Jim who lived at Virginia Lodge in the Middlesex suburb of Parkwood Hill.

They had a son called Bob played by Nicholas Parsons, Hugh Latimer, Derek Hart, and by Leslie Heritage for nearly twenty years. and a daughter called Gwen who was successively Virginia Hewitt, Joan Newell, Beryl Calder and (for many years) Aline Waites. Bob was married to Jenny and they had twins. Gwen was married to her, not always faithful, husband David who was Jenny's brother but was eventually left a widow when David was killed water skiing in the Bahamas whilst holidaying with his rich mistress. Derek Nimmo was brought in at this time to play Jago Peters a boyfriend for Gwen.

Mrs. Dale's sophisticated sister, Sally, (always pronounced "Selly") lived in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, and ran a dress shop and also had a country cottage with a housekeeper called Zenobia.

There was also a char lady called Mrs. Morgan (played by Grace Allardyce) who subsequently married Mr. Maggs (played by Jack Howarth later to become Uncle Albert in Coronation street.).

The neighbour across the road, the grumpy Mrs Mountford (played by Vivienne Chatterton) had a nervous companion called Miss Marchbanks and a parrot called Coco along with a liking for chocolate cake.

But things were about to change drastically. On 19 February 1963, an overweight and bitterly disappointed fifty-six-year-old character actress called Ellis Powell walked out of Broadcasting House for the last time.. Miss Powell was Britain's most sacrosanct fictional paragon, Mrs. Dale, in the radio serial Mrs. Dale's Diary. And now, after fifteen years in the role she had created, the BBC had summarily fired her partly because of her drinking habits, and partly because it was felt that the role, and also the entire programme, was in need of a makeover. Her role was taken over by Jesse Mathews. The real truth was that Ellis Powell’s marriage to actor Ralph Truman had foundered. She had never appeared on television or in films, she took the rejection very badly and her drinking (rumoured to be part of the reason she was replaced) got worse.

Three months later, at the age of fifty-seven, Ellis died. Her friends believed she never recovered from the shock and distress of her summary dismissal by the BBC. In the last weeks of her life she worked as a demonstrator at the Ideal Home Exhibition and as a cleaner in an hotel.

Today new cases dropped slightly. There were a further 28612 new cases today, about the same as this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 186,689 a drop of 4,280 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 103 bringing the weekly total to 627 a rise of 139 on last week. There were 4,622,268 recoveries a rise of 113,618 on last week’s total.

Week 74

Sunday 08/08/2021 – Day 507

I was going out to cut my lawns today but the persistent rain says otherwise. I do have a bit of decorating to do, but I was saving that for the Winter months.

When I started on the building work in 1967 decorators – if hanging wallpaper – would wear white gloves. There was only ever one wall papered in the new home and that was usually the feature wall in the lounge. The reason was that it was so time consuming, plus the fact that the building had to have time to ‘settle’ as small cracks would appear in the plasterwork over the first Twelve months. Hence the expression ‘Papering over the cracks.’

In those days wallpapers were very thin and came with a protective edge which would have to be trimmed off before the paper was pasted and hung. This as I said, was very time consuming and meant rolling the paper out and carefully trimming the edge with scissors before re-rolling. Sometime in the sixties some bright spark came up with the idea of perforating the protective edge, This not only gave a better and neater edge but also saved time. The decorators where I worked were always looking for quicker ways. One of them – after a lot of thought - worked out that if you pleced the rolled up paper on a pasting board you could, with a lot of skill, get a bricklayers trowel (clean of course) and bring it swiftly down on the perforated edge in order to remove the whole thing in one quick swoop. You had to have a good eye mind you, otherwise you ended up trimming with scissors again.

My mum did all the decorating in our house. My dad worked permanent twelve-hour night shifts. So, at six o clock on the evening my mum, my siblings and I would set about stripping the walls of the old paper. The paper back then was very thin and would cling to the wall very tightly. Armed with knives, metal spatulas, normally used for getting fried eggs out of the pan, we would set about stripping the walls. With a bowl of warm water, a sponge and radio Luxemburg playing in the background our work would begin.

It was a laborious job and you will never know the deep joy and satisfaction of reaching an air bubble and tearing off a long strip of wallpaper in one go. Around nine o clock we would all have to down tools and get off to bed. But we would get up the following morning and the room had been re-papered, all the mess cleaned up and all back to normal.

My dad would come home from work and not even notice. A few weeks later he would be sat in his armchair, he’d turn to mum and say.

“This room looks different, have you re-papered?”

Did you know that by replacing your normal cup of tea with green tea, you can lose up to 90% of what little joy you have left in your life.

1296The Stone of Scone, on which Scottish kings had been crowned for centuries, was seized by King Edward I of England. But on Christmas Day 1950, four Scottish students removed the stone from Westminster Abbey in London. Three months later it turned up 500 miles away – at the high altar of Arbroath Abbey. In 1996, the stone was officially returned to Scotland.

On this day in 1834The Poor Law Amendment Act was passed in Britain. The Act dropped the system whereby parishes cared for their poor by a rate of poor relief and replaced it with the workhouse. A classic case of ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’ I think.

And finally on this day in 1963The Great Train Robbery, in which over £2.5 million was stolen, took place near Bletchley, Buckinghamshire. The day of the train robbery also happened to be the 34th birthday of Ronnie Biggs, one of the robbers. After tampering with the lineside signals to bring the train to a halt, a gang of 15, led by Bruce Reynolds, attacked the train. With careful planning based on inside information from an insider the robbers escaped with over £2.6 million (equivalent to £55 million in 2019). The bulk of the stolen money was never recovered. Though the gang did not use any firearms, Jack Mills, the train driver, was beaten over the head with a metal bar. Mills was so severely injured that he never worked again. After the robbery, the gang hid at Leatherslade Farm. After the police found this hideout, incriminating evidence led to the eventual arrest and conviction of most of the gang. The ringleaders were sentenced to thirty years in jail.

There were 27,147 new cases today with 39 deaths.

Monday 09/08/2021 – Day 508

I read an article today that said ‘A single ant can live up to twenty nine years.’ I was so amazed that I emailed the author and asked how long a married ant could live, I haven’t had a reply yet.

Went around to Sarah’s on Saturday. She has decided that she needs to have new flooring in her lounge. So Mrs H volunteered me to go round and lift the old wooden flooring and prepare it for the new flooring. I must be getting old, what should have been an hour’s work took three times longer and left me with back ache.

Mrs H and I went to the garden centre yesterday. She has decided that she’s not too happy with her hanging baskets at the front of the house, we only bought them a few weeks ago and they are looking really sorry for themselves. We were walking along the riverside at Bewdley last week when we passed a pub which had the most beautiful hanging baskets on display. They were begonias and really looked stunning, you could see them long before you reached them. So, we were at Rowberry’s in Chaddesley Corbett and they had Begonias on sale at just a pound each.

Needless to say we bought some, I have just used some old decking planks to make Mrs H some window boxes, so they will make a stunning display in them, and the hanging baskets of course – we love a bargain.

Another thing we did yesterday was book a midweek break for the end of the month. We just needed to get away for a few days. We remembered that a few years back we went on a day trip with our local Horticultural Society to Lincoln. We hardly had anytime in that wonderful city, so that’s where we are heading in a few weeks’ time, really looking forward to it.

On this day in 1958Cliff Richard performed at Butlin's Holiday Camp in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, as Cliff Richard and The Drifters. The Drifters were actually the Shadows, they were forced to change their names after it was discovered that there was already a group called the Drifters in America.

Also on this day in 1963ITV transmitted the first edition of the pop music programme Ready Steady Go to rival the BBC's Top of the Pops. The best known presenters were Keith Fordyce and Cathy McGowan, though early shows were introduced by Dusty Springfield. The show was occasionally presented by David Gell and Michael Aldred. Both McGowan and Aldred joined after answering an advertisement for "a typical teenager" as adviser. They found themselves presenting the show, and McGowan's status as a fan was evident in her style; stumbling over lines, losing her cool and her inexperience made her more rather than less popular, and by the end she was presenting alone. She also joined in fun and games, including miming with the Rolling Stones to other people's records, notably "I Got You Babe".

The show went out early on Friday evenings with the line "The weekend starts here!” and was introduced by the Surfaris' "Wipe Out ", later by Manfred Mann's "5 4 3 2 1", then Manfred Mann's "Hubble Bubble (Toil and Trouble)", and finally The Rolling Stones "Goin home". There is also the possibility that The Who’s "Anyway Anyhow, Anywhere" was used as the theme music for a short period. It was more youth-orientated and informal than its BBC rival (from 1964), Top of the Pops It was notable for featuring the audience as dancers, and for the interaction of artists and audience. Artists appeared on different mini stages, sometimes on studio gantries and stairs, or on the main floor for solo artists, closely surrounded by the audience. The producers chose the audience in London clubs, picking out the best or the most fashionably dressed dancers. This ensured a hip audience in tune with the artists.

Owing to scheduling of local news in parts of the UK, several ITV regions joined the show part-way through.

Initially, RSG! artists mimed but by late 1964 some performed live and the show switched to all-live performances in April 1965. It was noted for allowing artists to perform the full version of songs rather than short versions demanded by other shows.

The show was popular among young people. It had a particular following among the Mod youth subculture of the 1960s.

But by late 1966, the 'beat boom' was beginning to fade, the show was cancelled, despite its popularity.

New cases dropped slightly to 24,851, whilst deaths dropped by 2 to 37.

Tuesday 10/08/2021 – Day 509

The sun has got his hat on, hip hip hip hooray, you’re now going to have that tune stuck in your head all day – the same as me.

Went around to Sarah’s yesterday to cut her lawns, she really does look a lot better since the steroid injection last week. Today I am going to finish off MrsH’s planters so she can fill them.

I can’t remember if I’ve told you this before, this is one of the things about getting on in age. Anyway, Mrs H and I are watching a programme on Netflix (or is it Amazon prime, there’s that ‘age thing’ again) called the Gilmour Girls. If you like a well written and warming easy going programme then this is for you. There are around 175 episodes which are fast paced witty and funny, Highly recommended.

We all suffer from some sort of phobia, I have to state at this point that Mrs H definitely does NOT suffer from Oenophobia which is ‘a fear of wine.’ Me? Well I suffer from 'gametophobia'. Ideally it should be 'fear of wife' but sources say that it's gamete+gamos (marriage) SO it's actually 'fear of marriage.’

Our granddaughter Alisha has her driving test today in Worcester at 12.00 noon (high noon). We have everything crossed for her. It has taken over three months to get this test, should she fail then it will be another six months or more before she can get another test. What is happening to this great country of ours? Every utility company, petrol company and almost every Government department are using the pandemic as an excuse for more expensive goods, and a terrible service,

126 years ago today in 1895The first Promenade Concert (The Proms) was held at the Queen's Hall, London, conducted by Henry Wood. Long may they continue.

On this day in 1911British MPs voted to receive salaries for the first time. And boy, have they been adding to them substantially since, they’ve more than made up for lost time.

Also on this day in 2003The temperature in Britain exceeded 100° F for the first time when 101.3 °F (38.5 °C) was recorded in the hamlet of Brogdale near Faversham, Kent.

New cases dropped slightly again to 23,269. But there was a massive hike in registered deaths up to 94.

Wednesday 11/08/2021 – Day 510

Overcast and cloudy here in Kidderminster, but still very warm indeed. Off round to Gemma’s this morning to perform miracles with some false grass (don’t ask)

I am being Hijacked by my two daughters, granddaughter, and Mrs H today. I am being dragged kicking and screaming to the Merry Hill (Merry Hell more like) centre for a day of shopping. I would like to n=know what I have done so wrong to have this torturous experience foisted on these old bones, I really would rather pull my eyeballs out with cocktail sticks.

Sorry to report that Alisha didn’t pass her driving test. It seems that the test examiner took her onto a very busy large traffic island. Both the windows were down (supposedly because of covid) and he had the radio on. So she didn’t hear him ask her to move into the next lane, she panicked and an irate lorry driver spent a few seconds blasting his horn at her, this is why she failed it seems. She now has to wait until January 2022 before she can take it again at a further cost of £60. Unless she applies for a cancellation, in which case she will have to pay a further £20 on top of the £60. Very convenient way for test examiners to stay in a job I think. Welcome to Rip Off Britain.

George -Who I hadn’t heard from for a while rang me this morning to ask how my diet was going, I told him it wasn’t too bad but I was missing the alcohol side of it,

“Alcohol?” he said “ That reminds me of when I took my lad Colin for his first drink, I bought him a Carlsberg first, he didn’t like it, so I had to drink it, So I thought he might like a Fosters – but no, he didn’t like that either so I had to finish that as well, it was the same with the Guinness and the cider, by the time we got to the whiskey I could hardly push his pram home”.

I put the phone down.

The 1960s were a great time to be growing up, especially if you were lucky enough to have pocket money to spend at the sweet shop. It was also a decade that saw many changes to the way we eat, with the first Chinese and Indian takeaways opening and foreign dishes like Spaghetti Bolognese appearing on our plates at home.

It was a real treat to be taken out as well. It usually only happened for us on a Whitsun weekend when we would all have our new clothes or school uniforms, We would sit in the back yard of the pub drinking Vimto and eating crisps. Smith's crisps came in greaseproof paper bags with a generous serving of salt twisted up in blue paper, and they were the only crisps we knew until ready salted and flavoured crisps began to be sold in the 60s.

The earliest known recipe for something similar to today's potato chips is in Englishman’s William Kitchiner's book The Cook's Oracle published in 1817, which was a bestseller in the United Kingdom and the United States. The 1822 edition's recipe for "Potatoes fried in Slices or Shavings" reads "peel large potatoes... cut them in shavings round and round, as you would peel a lemon; dry them well in a clean cloth, and fry them in lard or dripping"

But as usual the Americans eventually got credited with the creation of potato chips with Saratoga Springs, New York, decades later than the first recorded recipe. By the late nineteenth century, a popular version of the story attributed the dish to George Crum, a cook at Moon's Lake House who was trying to appease an unhappy customer on August 24, 1853. The customer kept sending back his French-fried potatoes, complaining that they were too thick, too "soggy", or not salted enough. Frustrated, Crum sliced several potatoes extremely thin, fried them to a crisp, and seasoned them with extra salt. To his surprise, the customer loved them. They soon came to be called "Saratoga Chips", a name that persisted into the mid-twentieth century.

But trust me dear reader, Potato crisps are a British thing.

New cases rose today to 29,489. Deaths also rose slightly to 104.

Thursday 12/08/2021 – Day 511

A beautiful sunny and blue sky greeted me today as I opened the bedroom curtains at 6.30am.

The day to our local shopping centre yesterday didn’t turn out too bad. After doing a few jobs at Gemma’s house we eventually got away at around 12.00 midday. Mrs H, Gemma and Sarah, our granddaughter Mollie, (who, may I add has a wicked sense of humour) and myself were soon being turned back from our regular route by roadworks. We went to the only other available route and were greeted by - wait for it – yes, roadworks.

Our council don’t plan things, they just sort of let them happen. It took us well over an hour to do a 25 minute journey. We eventually arrived and went into the first shop. I have to add at this stage that I absolutely hate Merry Hill which is a sprawling concrete structure with tiled floors that tire your feet within minutes. Sarah had taken her wheelchair and was using it for just support for the first half an hour. Mollie, not wishing to be seen with a bunch of oldies and a wheelchair, went her own way and disappeared into the myriad of shops.

By the time we had exited Sarah had to sit in her wheelchair to rest. I pushed her around and we entered the second shop, by the time we had finished (Four long hours later) My feet were killing me and I was wishing that she would move over and share her wheelchair with me so Mrs H could push us both around But she was already sharing it with half a dozen mustard coloured cushions and a mustard coloured rug.

We met back at the car and left the centre, (you see, there is a God) as we neared our beloved Kidderminster the traffic got heavier and soon it was really bad. There was only one thing for it, right turn into the pub foe a meal and a drink. It sort of made up for my day.

On this day in 1964 A massive manhunt got under way across Britain after Charlie Wilson, one of the gang involved in the Great Train Robbery, broke out of the high-security Winson Green prison in Birmingham. It was in 1960 when Wilson began to work with Reynolds and planned to get into the criminal big league. In 1962, a gang led by Reynolds stole £62,000 in a security van robbery at London Heathrow Airport. They then robbed a Royal Mail train at Swindon, which netted £700. But Reynolds, looking for his career-criminal defining moment,[4] started planning his next train robbery over a period of three months.

Reynolds organised a gang of 17 men to undertake the 1963 Great Train Robbery. Wilson was the gang's treasurer who gave the robbers their cut of the haul: £150,000 each. He was quickly captured, and during the trial at Aylesbury Crown Court in April 1964 he got the nickname "the silent man" as he refused to say anything at all. Sentenced to 30 years, he was held at HMP Winson Green, where after just four months on 12 August 1964, he arranged for a three-man gang to break in and break him out.

He was on the run for four years, before being finally re-captured in Canada and returned to jail in Britain, where he served out the rest of his sentence. Wilson then moved to the Costa del Sol in Spain, was alleged to have become involved in drugs dealing and was shot dead by a hitman on 23rd April 1990 as he relaxed by his swimming pool.

New cases rose again today, 10,000 up on two days previously. Deaths dropped by 10 to 94.

Friday 13/08/2021 – Day 512

Happy Friday the Thirteenth! Are you cowering under the covers, hoping to escape the horrible tragedies that are doomed to hit you should you set foot out of bed? If you answered yes, we are sorry to say that you are Frigga triskaidekaphobia (that’s fear of Friday the Thirteenth)There are some people who will not even venture outdoors on Friday the thirteenth. But why do people always think something bad is going to happen when it comes around?

Well, the truth is that no one's sure what the exact origin of the superstition is. Just like walking under a ladder, crossing paths with a black cat or breaking a mirror, many people hold fast to the belief that Friday the 13th brings bad luck. A lot of people think it may be Biblical, Judas was the thirteenth disciple and betrayed Jesus. Even today there are very rarely thirteen guest’s at a seated dinner party. Should this unhappy event occur by accident, then a teddy bear or other similar toy would sit in the fourteenth place.

Then, In Norse mythology, a dinner party of the gods was ruined by the 13th guest called Loki, who caused the world to be plunged into darkness.

It is taken so seriously that some hotels won’t have a room thirteen, In some high-rise hotels the thirteenth floor is omitted altogether with floors jumping from twelve to fourteen.

For all those who actually do freak out on this day, I have some good news, there is only one Friday thirteenth this year, and only one next year.

The tenor Enrico Caruso was fond of posing in his many motor cars but never learned to drive. On 13th August 1908, in London, his wife Ada Giachetti eloped with their chauffeur. You couldn’t make it up!

On this day in 1946 The death of the writer Herbert George Wells (often referred to as H.G. Wells). He is now best remembered for his science fiction novels including The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897) and The War of the Worlds (1898). Wells was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times.

Also on this day in 1976 The first observation, by Dean R. Campbell, of the day marked as ‘International Left Handers Day’ which has been celebrated every year since. Around 10 per cent of the world’s population is left-handed, scientist Sir Isaac Newton, former prime minister David Cameron, the wartime prime minister Winston Churchill and also Prince William, the future king. Left-handed people have been considered unlucky and even evil - the word "sinister" comes from the Latin word for left. In Britain in the Middle Ages, "lefties" were associated with the devil and often accused of the crime of witchcraft, meaning they would get burned at the stake.

There were 32,750 new cases today and a further 100 deaths were recorded.

Saturday 14/08/2021 – Day 513

Well we are all hoping for good weather today. I can finally tell you why Mrs H and I have been spending so much time at our daughter Gemma’s house. On August 21st. (a week today) it is our granddaughter Alisha’s twenty first birthday. But they are all off to Liverpool for the weekend to celebrate. Mrs H and I were invited, but we declined, as the average age of the group will be fortyish. So when Alisha asked how we were going to celebrate, it was suggested that we have a family BBQ the week before (today).

Or so she thinks! Her mum has been secretly planning a surprise party complete with over fifty guests and a Disco. She is coming around to her mum’s at 3.30pm today, expecting to see her aunt, Uncle and Mrs H and I for a BBQ.

Photos will follow.

Well apart from the surprise of the year it’s a bit of a slow day today so I thought I’d share this joke with you.

Mrs Malone comes to visit her son Anthony for dinner. He lives with a female roommate, Maria.

During the course of the meal, his mother couldn't help but notice how pretty Anthony's roommate is. Over the course of the evening, while watching the two interact, she started to wonder if there was more between Anthony and his roommate than met the eye. Reading his mom's thoughts, Anthony volunteered,

“I know what you must be thinking, but I assure you, Maria and I are just roommates.''

About a week later, Maria came to Anthony saying,

“Ever since your mother came to dinner, I've been unable to find the silver sugar bowl. You don't suppose she took it, do you?"

"Well, I doubt it, but I'll email her, just to be sure."

So he sat down and wrote an email:

Dear Mother,

I'm not saying that you "did" take the sugar bowl from my house; I'm not saying that you "did not" take it. But the fact remains that it has been missing ever since you were here for dinner.

Your Loving Son,


A few days later, Anthony received a response email from his Mother which read:

Dear son,

I'm not saying that you "do" sleep with Maria, and I'm not saying that you "do not" sleep with her. But the fact remains that if she was sleeping in her OWN bed, she would have found the sugar bowl by now.

Your Loving Mother.

Today new cases rose slightly. There were a further 29520 new cases today, about the same as this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 200,050 a rise of 13,568 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 93 bringing the weekly total to 561 a fall of 59 on last week. There were 4,622,268 recoveries a rise of 174,506 on last week’s total.

Week 75

Sunday 15/08/2021 – Day 514

I woke this morning with the hangover from hell after yesterday’s surprise 21st birthday party for Alisha. I made the classic mistake of thinking that I was 21 again. One thing about my daughter Gemma, she sure knows how to throw a party! The Facebook and social media pages are inundated with photographs from the event.

It was today in 1962 that unhappy with Pete Best's role in The Beatles, Brian Epstein and the other three members decided to sack him. He played his last gig at The Cavern, Liverpool, two years, and three days after he first performed with them. after playing drums as a Beatle for the previous two years in Germany and England, he started his own band, the Pete Best Four. He later joined and started many other bands over the years. He is one of several people who have been referred to as the Fifth Beatle although he was one of four Beatles before being replaced. eventually replaced Best on 16 August 1962, when the group's manager, Brian Epstein, fired Best at the request of John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison following the band's first recording session. Over 30 years later, Best received a major monetary pay out for his work with the Beatles after the release of their 1995 compilation of their early recordings on Anthology 1; Best played the drums on a number of the album's tracks, including the Decca auditions.

On 6 July 2007, Best was inducted into the All You Need Is Liverpool Music Hall of Fame as the debut Charter Member. Best was presented with a framed certificate before his band performed. Liverpool has further honoured Best with the announcement, on 25 July 2011, that two new streets in the city would be named Pete Best Drive and Casbah Close.

Anyone remember my namesake? On this day in 1971 Controversial horse rider Harvey Smith was stripped of his £2,000 winnings and a major show jumping title for allegedly making a rude V-sign gesture. I remember the news and the media being full of the story, I was thinking that would be the end of his career as well.

Controversial horse rider Harvey Smith was stripped of his £2,000 winnings and a major show jumping title for allegedly making a rude gesture. Mr Smith was seen to make a two-fingered 'V-sign' in the direction of the judges after winning the British Show Jumping Derby. The rider has protested his innocence, claiming the judges mistook his gesture.

"It was a straightforward V for victory. Churchill used it throughout the war," Smith said.

Both signs are made using an upwards motion with the first two fingers extended. However the victory sign is made with the palm outwards and the obscene gesture with palm inwards. The judges said that Harvey Smith was clearly seen to make the latter gesture towards them.

Known as "Heathcliff on horseback" Harvey Smith is credited with bringing show jumping to a mass audience. His rebellious attitude has made Smith - the son of a Yorkshire builder - the scourge of the genteel show jumping world but endeared him to the public. Since taking up the event in the late 1950s he has frequently clashed with the sport's administrators and event judges. Smith is said to have had heated words with one judge, Douglas Bunn, on the morning of the competition at Hickstead in West Sussex in southern England.

He arrived without the winner's trophy which he took home after his victory last year. The rider said he had 'forgotten' it but critics claimed it was because he arrogantly assumed he would be taking it home again. The trophy arrived from his home in Yorkshire, northern England, just in time for it to be presented to him once more.

And finally in1987 Caning was officially banned in British schools (excluding independent schools).

George and Rose have had another of their famous rows, we were talking in the conservatory this morning. He has this theory that women live a lot longer than men because they don’t have wives. No wonder they row all the time.

There were 26,501 new cases today with 61 more deaths.

Monday 16/08/2021 - Day 515

Well, it’s raining on and off here, the sky is full of grey clouds so there is more to come.

Our Granddaughter Alisha who is celebrating her 21st birthday on the 21st August went into work today and her colleagues presented her with a special present, this is how it affected her.

“I walked into work today, and I was told my friend had a present for me. I’ve been speaking lots about how much I miss Vickie and especially during these special times in my life, where she isn’t here. She has had this present done for me and it is by far one of the most special and thoughtful presents I’ve ever received, I have cried lots but happy tears”.

The present was a specially framed picture of her and our daughter Vickie. It seems that Alisha’s friends had overheard her saying that all the pictures of her and Vickie were from when she was very young. So her friends had their two pictures put together and framed. There wasn’t a dry eye in the workplace. How loving and thoughtful was that.

Had a trip down to B & Q today, the reason was to get Sarah a couple of things she needed for the house and to price up some paint. I was quite surprised to see most people wearing their masks ( as we did), but there were quite a few staff who didn’t bother, although some had them on.

That Alexa is getting far too knowledgeable, a little boy trying to outwit the machine asked.

“Alexa, where is my dad right now?”

Alexa replied, ‘Your dad is in a strip club in Las Vegas’.

“Ha” said the little boy triumphantly, “Got ya, my dad is sat right here next to me.”

‘No, your mum’s husband is sat next to you, but your dad is in a strip club in Las Vegas.’

Did you know that the famous Tate gallery is named after the sugar baron Henry Tate? When its role was changed to include the national collection of modern art as well as the national collection of British art, in 1932, it was renamed the Tate Gallery after Henry Tate of Tate & Lyle, who had laid the foundations for the collection in 1899. Wasn’t that sweet.

On this day in 2001 Paul Burrell, former butler to Diana, Princess of Wales, was charged with theft from her estate relating to a total of 342 items, reportedly worth £5m. Paul Burrell, aged 44, stood in the dock of Court One at the Old Bailey, accused of stealing 310 items together worth £4.5 million. Other items taken from his house were not listed because they allegedly belonged to either Charles or William, and neither wished to appear in court as witnesses. The case against former royal butler Mr Paul Burrell has been dropped after he was found not guilty of three charges of stealing from the estate of Diana, Princess of Wales, the Prince of Wales, and Prince William.

Burrell, arrived at the Old Bailey in London, November 1, 2002, only to be freed. The trial of Paul Burrell, accused of stealing 310 items from the late Princess's estate, collapsed after he was found not guilty on all three theft charges. It emerged Mr Burrell told the Queen that he had been keeping items belonging to Diana, Princess of Wales, for safe keeping.

After hearing submissions from the prosecution and defence, the judge, Mrs Justice Rafferty, instructed that Mr Burrell was not guilty on all three counts of theft. She discharged the jury in its absence in the third week of the trial and told Mr Burrell he was free to go. Mr Burrell left the courtroom surrounded by his lawyers and police without comment. The trial was halted when it was said that Mr Burrell had told the Queen in a private conversation following Diana's death that he had kept some of the princess's possessions for safe keeping, according to prosecution barrister William Boyce QC.

New cases were up slightly to 28,187, Registered deaths were down to 26.

Tuesday 17/08/2021 – Day 516

I have been observing Mrs H more closely lately. Studying her face, taking more notice of what she says. This is because I discovered that people who lie to you tend to look up and to their left during conversation. I am pleased to relate that Mrs H does neither of these actions. I just wish I could control my own eyes.

Now I am safely in retirement I have been giving a lot of thought to work. It never bothered me before, mainly because I didn’t have time to think about it. But when I think back, I reckon I have been incredibly lucky. By lucky I mean that I didn’t end up as a lollipop man on one of the worst roads in Kidderminster. I also never ended up like Ken Barlow, forced to collect abandoned trolleys from nearby streams or gardens.

I have to admit though, we do live in a bit of an ageist society. Pensioners trying to eke out their pensions by taking part time jobs as washer uppers in the local greasy spoon for a lot less than the minimum wage.

Or perhaps a pensioner could become one of those Pizza delivery boys. I mean, you order a pizza at 6.00pm and the lad is banging on your front door before you can get your mates a cold beer from the fridge. But, if grumpy old gits delivered your pizza they would first have to learn how to use a sat-nav, this would take an absolute age. If the delivery method was by motorcycle it would take forever for the old boy to don leathers and helmet, not to mention having to find the road.

Another option to choose into old age could be taxi driving. Us old un’s could spend all day putting the world to rights with a captive audience in the back. Just let them in and hit the door locks, then start talking, remembering of course not to unlock before you have received a hefty tip – but wait a minute – young taxi drivers already have the monopoly on that.

I have always wanted to be a Doctor’s receptionist, oh the power they hold, most elderly people spend a lot of time talking about illnesses anyway, so it would be heaven to discuss other people’s problems and perhaps compare notes. But the problem here is public confidentiality, I would be too tempted to get to the pub to tell everyone with a pair of ears that George is suffering from erectile disfunction, or that old Elsie has a severe case of haemorrhoids.

But I personally would prefer to be a toilet attendant, In my advanced years it’s always handy to be really close to a toilet. According to statistics, a person over the age of 65 spends an average 90 minutes either stood or sat at a toilet. May as well combine a paid job with a hobby I reckon.

George and Rose are really not getting on. He’s seems to be spending more time at our house than his own. Mrs H is not very happy. He reckons he can’t sleep so he was up till the early hours playing rock music when his neighbour banged on the wall and shouted.

“Hey, can we have a little respect please?”

George replied that he wasn’t an Aretha Franklin fan, but he’d play it for him anyway.

New cases fell back to 26,307 today. But registered deaths rose dramatically to 170.

Wednesday 18/08/2021 – Day 517

Another overcast gloomy day today, I blame all those who complained about last month’s hot spell.

I am off to Sarah’s today to do some decorating, I have been promising for a couple of months so it is well past time. We took her to the hospital yesterday for a check up on her eyes, so went and picked up her paint while we were waiting.

One week today we’ll be on our way to Lincoln, and both of us can’t wait, we both need a well-deserved break I think.

In the late fifties while I was at school I would sometimes be fortunate to catch the bus to school. This expense would be a necessity if one of the famous fifties fogs had descended. We lived on the top of a hill where the smog (a mixture of smoke and fog) would descend quickly and heavily. You literally couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.

A fog so thick and polluted it left thousands dead and wreaked havoc on London in 1952. The smoke-like pollution was so toxic it was even reported to have choked cows to death in the fields. It was so thick it brought road, air, and rail to a standstill.

Smog had become a frequent part of London life, but nothing quite compared to the smoke-laden fog that shrouded the capital from Friday 5 December to Tuesday 9 December 1952. While it heavily affected the population of London, causing a huge death toll and inconveniencing millions of people, the people it affected were also partly to blame for the smog.

During the day on 5 December, the fog was not especially dense and generally possessed a dry, smoky character. When nightfall came, however, the fog thickened. Visibility dropped to a few metres. The following day, the sun was too low in the sky to burn the fog away. That night and on the Sunday and Monday nights, the fog again thickened. In many parts of London, it was impossible at night for pedestrians to find their way, even in familiar districts. In The Isle of Dogs area, the fog there was so thick people could not see their feet.

About 4000 people died and animals at a local cattle market became asphyxiated by the smog. Breathing problems affected the NHS for years following.

A series of laws were brought in to avoid a repeat of the situation. This included the Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968. These acts banned emissions of black smoke and decreed residents of urban areas and operators of factories must convert to smokeless fuels.

People were given time to adapt to the new rules, however, and fogs continued to be smoky for some time after the Act of 1956 was passed. In 1962, for example, 750 Londoners died as a result of a fog, but nothing on the scale of the 1952 Great Smog has ever occurred again. This kind of smog has now become a thing of the past, thanks partly to pollution legislation and also to modern developments, such as the widespread use of central heating.

But there is still danger today even though smog or even fog is rare. Fumes pumped out from cars and lorries are also at dangerous levels, but these issues are being addressed.

On a very sad note on this day in 2012 The death of Winnie Johnson, mother of Keith Bennett. He was murdered, along with three others, by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in 1964. For decades she had fought tirelessly to find the location of the grave of her son on Saddleworth Moor. Experts suspected that Brady had manipulated her and the media by promising information about the grave location and then withholding it. Hindley and Brady really were the animals that people said they were.

A local man appeared in court in Kidderminster accused of attacking a man with sandpaper. His defence said that he only wanted to ‘rough him up a bit.’

New cases rose by over 7000 to 33, 695. Deaths were at 111’

Thursday 19/08/20021 – Day 518

Did you know that the first self-propelled vehicle capable of carrying passengers was invented by a Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot in 1770. It weighed over two and a half tons and was powered by steam. Its top speed was two miles an hour – reminds me of our first car!

During my working years I tried to start a new business. I called it ‘Learn to Levitate’, but it never got off the ground.

Spent about five hours at Sarah’s yesterday, trying to get the decorating done before the flooring specialist gets there next week. Mrs H and I then went to Iceland (the shop, not the country) to stock up our freezer, we only needed some chicken thighs. By the time we exited we had spent £75, back to online shopping I think, far too tempting in the shop.

On this day in 1960 Penguin Books received a summons in response to their plans to publish Lady Chatterley's Lover. It reminded me of around 1964 when I was at Secondary school. We had ‘entry’s’ to the backs of our houses. About five or six of us would gather in our mates entry opposite our house. It was mostly for the purpose of having a quick smoke before we went to school.

We had to depend on ‘dog ends’ or half-finished cigarettes found in our parents ash trays. My mum had one of those pump action things. Where you pressed the top down and the ashtray span, swallowing the cigarette butt. The top came off for emptying and there was a veritable gold mine of unfinished cigarettes. Problem was that my mum wore heavy red lipstick and the tips would taste of it. So my mates and I were the first to wear lipstick to school.

Sometimes though someone would have made a bit of money over the weekend. This would enable them to buy five Park drive tipped cigarettes - the cheapest on the market at the time – from the machine on the wall outside the Grocers shop. But they were cheap for a reason, by the time that tipped cigarette had been passed around for everyone to have a draw on it, the tip was red hot and you were literally smoking tar.

But I digress, we would gather down the entry and one of the lads had a well-worn version of Lady Chatterley’s lover, there was never any need to search for the juiciest bits, they were all well dog eared. The book belonged to his father!

I innocently asked Mrs H ‘How do I turn Alexa off?’

She replied, “Have you tried walking around the room naked?”

You can go off people you know.

New cases rose to 36,463, deaths were 113

Friday 20/08/2021 – Day 519

I finished off Sarah’s decorating yesterday, well, enough for her to have her flooring put down at least. The result is that I am having a really lazy day today. With most of the family on a weekend trip to Liverpool for Alisha’s 21st birthday, we are looking after the youngest grandson Hatton until Sunday. Although, he is thirteen years old and no trouble at all.

I’ve always been one for keeping busy and never rested on my laurels. If I sit down for a while I sit there thinking that I could be doing this or doing that, even if it is only writing. In short - I love working. Even so, I can’t do a full day’s work like I used to, twelve-hour days were nothing to me. But Mrs H also feels the same. I used to have to drag her in from the garden at nine o clock at night. But she admits now that a few hours are enough.

It was July 1967 when I left school, there was no time off between leaving and getting a job. I was fifteen years and five months old. We left school on Friday 21st July at 3.15pm in the afternoon to the usual writing on shirts, dousing of flour and eggs and of course the obligatory setting off of the school fire alarm. The Head and teachers must have dreaded that day every year.

But by the following Monday July 24th, I was starting my first day at work. I started as an apprentice pipefitter at the princely sum of £3 10 shillings per week, I had to give my mum £3 a week for my keep, so in effect I was a lot worse off when I started work. I had been getting a couple of pounds for working in a local scrapyard most weekends – the difference was that I kept a pound of that money.

So, as you can work out, I was ten shillings a week worse off. The thing was that most of my schoolfriends went into the carpet factories, and they were earning around £10 a week. My weekends were miserable, I couldn’t afford a trip to the cinema, a meal out or anything that my friends took for granted. But, I wanted a trade, I wanted to be capable of making enough money when I was older to support my wife and family – should I ever marry.

I struggled through on a pittance and was doing really well, then in 1968, due to bad management, the company I worked for had to make cutbacks, so the apprentices were the first to go. I managed to get another apprenticeship as a carpenter for a building company. I’ve always enjoyed working with wood so I was in my element. I went to college every Monday and then did four days on the site. I really enjoyed that job. But in 1969 the company had to pay a hefty fine for breaking building regulations. Yes, you’ve guessed it, they got rid of all the apprentices first. I finally went into the carpet factories, but I wasn’t very happy working there.

For the third day in a row new cases rose to 37314. Registered Deaths remained stable at 114.

Saturday 21/08/2021 – Day 520

Mrs h and I are on the last series of The Gilmour Girls on Netflix. So she is already panicking about what we will watch when the final episode shows. Mrs H has done this for the last five series we have watched together. As I am scrolling through the programmes I will say ‘How about this?’ the answer I always get is ‘I don’t fancy that’. I inevitably end up choosing something myself, Mrs H sort of half watches it pretending she isn’t interested. By the end of the third episode she is usually well and truly hooked. I look forward to the challenge in a few weeks’ time.

Speaking of Tv. I don’t normally watch the soaps, I am sat in the room and Mrs H is watching them whilst I am writing or on my laptop. But I recently became aware of a storyline in which a ten-year-old girl sets fire to her estranged father’s love nest. The soap showed her taking the girlfriends keys and sneaking up to the flat. The girlfriend – who was pregnant – is lying asleep on the sofa. Hope (the daughters name) sees her, smiles , and sets fire to the empty baby’s cot. The result is that the girlfriend loses the baby.

After weeks of faffing about with a storyline that was going nowhere, Hope is finally caught and questioned. The scriptwriters make it abundantly clear that Hope doesn’t give a fig about what she has done. The lines they give her show her contempt for human life.

Where am I going with this? Well last night it was the ten-year old’s trial, The female judge is a sweet lady who just about stopped short of giving Hope a big present and a huge bag of sweets. She had purposely set fire to a flat using an accelerant, she had attempted to murder her dad’s girlfriend, and she had inadvertently caused the death of an unborn baby. Within one hour she was back in the bosom of her family and told she must see a specialist.

I know I am an old fuddy-duddy, but what sort of message does that send out to all the youngsters that are watching? The soap is aiming their programme at youngsters because the cast has now grown really young. They no longer have an elderly audience because of the unbelievable storylines the viewers are expected to swallow. The programme is basically trash, but they still have a moral obligation to send out the right message to their younger viewers. I wonder how many ten-year-olds are out there now thinking that it’s ok to commit arson and manslaughter, because the system is too soft to punish them correctly.

As I said, I am an old fuddy-duddy, but this wouldn’t have happened twenty years ago, the correct punishment would have been handed out, to show youngsters that crime doesn’t pay. The scriptwriters need a lesson in modern ethics. Rant over.

When I was younger I had a job in a Garden centre, I picked up a 6-meter roll of bubble wrap and asked the boss what I should do with it. “Just pop it in the corner” he said. It took me four and a half hours!

Today new cases fell slightly. There were a further 32508 new cases today, but still about 5000 more than this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 218,216 a rise of 18,166 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 104 bringing the weekly total to 699 a rise of 138 on last week. There were 5,020,635 recoveries a rise of 224,461 on last week’s total.

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