• harveyvickie

Diary of a self-isolator Weeks 76-80

Week 76

Sunday 22/08/2021 – Day 521

We had a really bad thunderstorm last night, I have never seen rain like that before, the drains and guttering couldn’t cope with the deluge. It only lasted 30 minutes but I’ll bet there were flash floods everywhere. The lake at the front of our house soon became a sea and there was no sign of the pavement for a good hour.

Mrs H and I have had a really laid-back couple of days. We have been looking after our Grandson Hatton whilst his mum and the rest of the family plus friends headed off to a weekend in Liverpool. The last work I did was at Sarah’s house on Thursday. So, to say thank you, she is taking us all out to lunch today at a nearby pub called The Eagle and Spur which is owned and run by a very good friend of mine. Hatton is off to play football in Halesowen and will join us there after he has won.

Just three more days and we are travelling to Lincoln, hopefully, the coronavirus isn’t as bad as it is here. I have learned in the last few days that my brother and his wife were taken to hospital and are quite poorly. My brother is the worst and openly admits that he didn’t have any jabs, he has been moved to the ICU.The worrying thing is that his wife had both her jabs and is still very poorly.

In the words of dear old Max Bygraves ‘ I wanna tell you a story:

A sweet grandmother telephoned St. Joseph's Hospital. She timidly asked, "Is it possible to speak to someone who can tell me how a patient is doing?"

The operator said, "I'll be glad to help, dear. What's the name and room number of the patient?"

The grandmother in her weak, tremulous voice said, Norma Findlay, Room 302." The operator replied, "Let me put you on hold while I check with the nurse's station for that room."

After a few minutes, the operator returned to the phone and said, "I have good news. Her nurse just told me that Norma is doing well. Her blood pressure is fine; her blood work just came back normal and her Physician, Dr. Cohen, has scheduled her to be discharged tomorrow." The grandmother said, "Thank you. That's wonderful. I was so worried. God bless you for the good News."

The operator replied, "You're more than welcome. Is Norma your daughter?"

The grandmother said, "No, I'm Norma Findlay in Room 302. No one tells me anything."

This is a real and true story, but no sweet little old ladies were harmed in the telling of it.

On this day in 1485 Richard III of England was defeated and killed at The Battle of Bosworth Field, in the last of the Wars of the Roses between the Houses of Lancaster and York. He was the last English king to die in battle. He was reinterred in Leicester Cathedral on 26th March 2015 after his body was discovered under what became a car park. On 24 August 2012, the University of Leicester and Leicester City Council, in association with the Richard III Society, announced that they had joined forces to begin a search for the remains of King Richard. The excavators announced on 5 September 2012 that they had identified Greyfriars Church and two days later that they had identified the location of Robert Herrick's garden, where the memorial to Richard III stood in the early 17th century. A human skeleton was found beneath the Church's choir.

Improbably, the excavators found the remains in the first location in which they dug at the car park. Coincidentally, they lay almost directly under a roughly painted R on the tarmac. This had existed since the early 2000s to signify a reserved parking space.

On 12 September, it was announced that the skeleton discovered during the search might be that of Richard III. He was identified by wounds. These included a relatively shallow orifice, which is most likely to have been caused by a rondel dagger, and a scooping depression to the skull, inflicted by a bladed weapon, most probably a sword. Following the discoveries of Richard's remains in 2012, it was decided that they should be reburied at Leicester Cathedral.

Also on this day in 2014 'Upton Chippie' in Gainsborough, which uses a coal-fired range and a 66-year-old batter recipe, was listed alongside the finest restaurants in Britain in the Good Food Guide. Its first owner, Kathleen Longden, ran the shop for 55 years, before being succeeded by family members.

I was so sad to read about the death of Don Everley yesterday aged 84. I grew up to the brilliant sounds of the Everley brothers and have most of their albums. I personally thought that they were brilliant.

There were exactly 32000 new cases today with 49 registered deaths.

Monday 23/08/2021 – Day 522

It started off grey and gloomy here today, But now the sun is shining and it’s lovely and warm. It was like this yesterday when Mrs H and I decided to go for a drink at the pub down the road. Our day started with a wonderful lunch at a nearby village called Cookley. The Eagle and Spur pub gave us a wonderful Sunday lunch and our daughter Sarah paid for it. The landlord Dean came and asked if our meals were ok. and there was plenty more if we wanted any. This was after the waitress fetched out our plates with meat and roast potato’s already on in them. Then she brought out bowls of Cauliflower, Cabbage, sprouts, beans, Carrots, and peas. Plus roast parsnips!

After that meal and three pints of Guinness I was fit to bust – until Mrs H suggested we walk it off as the sun was shining. So that’s how we ended up half a mile away sat outside the pub on a warm evening drinking more Guinness, now that’s my kind of exercise.

Meanwhile, the countdown has started to our getaway on Wednesday to Lincoln. For some reason known only to Mrs H and dragged from the dark depths of her mind, everything has to be washed, including the bedclothes. Then everything has to be ironed, the garden has to be left pristine in case anyone visits whilst we are away ???? and many other numerous tasks that are never ever done while we are at home.

On this day in 1858 The Round Oak rail accident occurred in Brierley Hill in the Black Country. At the time, the Board of Trade inspector said, 'It is decidedly the worst railway accident that has ever occurred in this country.' 14 were killed and 50 injured and the guard, who had six passengers drinking and smoking with him in the rear van was convicted of manslaughter as they had broken the train couplings whilst playing around with the train's brakes. (Note: The worst rail disaster in Britain to date took place at Quintinshill (Gretna Green) in Scotland on 22nd May 1915, killing 227 people and injuring 246.)

Also today in 1961 Police launched a murder hunt after a man was found shot dead and his companion seriously wounded in a lay-by in Bedfordshire. Valerie Storie, who survived the shooting, identified James Hanratty as her attacker. Hanratty was convicted of the murder in 1962 and sentenced to death, becoming one of the last people to be hanged in Britain before capital punishment was abolished.

And on this day in 1965 Security guards at a Manchester TV Studio hosed down 200 Rolling Stones fans who broke down barriers while waiting for the band to arrive for a performance. The news report said it was the first bath that the fans had taken for two years.

And finally, on this day in 2010 Publisher Harper Collins and the BBC began a court battle over a book that revealed the identity of Top Gear's The Stig to be the former Formula Three driver Ben Collins. Henceforth Collins was always referred to by the Top Gear presenters as 'Sacked Stig'. I would have thought they would have named him ‘Sig of the Dumped’.

There were 31635 new cases reported today whilst registered deaths were 40.

Tuesday 24/08/2021 – Day 513

Another overcast day today, but if it’s anything like the last two days it will be very hot after lunch. Mrs H and I are at a loose end, she has spent the last two days panicking about what we have to do before our trip, and we are both now very bored.

Even been around to Sarah’s and cut her lawns, then popped to the Co-op to buy some drinking water on the train as it is five times dearer in the station.

Do you ever wonder that when you’ve sold your house very quickly that you should have asked for more money?

Mrs H and I have been happily? Married for 48 years this year. When we got married in 1973 we didn’t have a home as we were still looking. So we went to live with her Nan and Grandad in the house that we are actually living in now, their son John also lived here. It was a lovely start to our married life and they really looked after us. Then Mrs H became pregnant and just before the baby was born we moved in with her mother and father as there was more room. A Month later, we moved in with my mother and father. By this time we had found a house but it was a little run down (there was a great hole in the roof and the only lighting inside was from gas mantles) so we got a grant on it and had a bathroom built on with an extension to the kitchen.

But unbeknown to us at the time. The builder was going bankrupt! The extension had hardly been touched for over a month. Once again we had to move, but this time we found a flat above a shop, it was a cold desolate place, but it was ours, Mrs H soon had it looking like a home. My mother came round and gave me a quick lesson in wallpapering (she hung one piece and told me to get on with it). So we were soon as snug as bugs in a rug. Then finally our house was ready to move into. That was in 1974.

By 1978 we had two children, the house was fine but it only had two bedrooms, there was a large attic we could have converted but the thought of our two little ones upstairs in the attic didn’t appeal. That was when we decided to move. The sign went up on the Tuesday. We were sat watching TV that night when there was a knock on the door. It was a Mother and daughter who lived a street away. She implored us not to let anyone else buy the property as she wanted it for her newly married daughter. The upshot was that the estate agents didn’t even have to advertise the house, the details had been printed and were still wet when we exchanged.

Mrs H and I moved to the place I had been born and raised in. But she hated it, even though it was a step up from the small, terraced house we had moved out of. If we could have picked that house up and moved it to where we had come from, she would have been in her element. So I spent a lot of money on the house, trying to get it to a high standard to make up for the fact that she didn’t like the area, although I loved it.

Around 1988 her Granddad sadly passed away. Mrs H couldn’t imagine anyone else living in that house. So once again, we put our house on the market. And once again, the house was sold within a week. That is why – after you have taken the Estate agents advice – you are left wondering if they were just after a quick profit. Looking back, I think they were.

We have friends who exercise vigorously, they do press-ups every morning and they jog every evening. Me? Well I’m lay on the sofa watching a programme I can’t stand because the TV remote has dropped onto the floor.

A further 30514 new cases today but as expected there was a big rise in deaths up to 174.

Wednesday 25/08/2021 – Day 523

Well, our friend Jan is coming to pick us up this morning at 9.00 am to catch the 9.30 am train to Birmingham We have three changes before we get to Lincoln but should arrive by 1.30pm.

As I won’t be taking my laptop with me I thought it might be a good idea to visit the Golden era of radio in case I don’t have time to complete my diary before Sunday morning. We don’t get back home until 7.00pm Saturday evening so it may be a bit of a push.

Cast your mind back to 1946, the war has ended and a little back street pub which looks out of place in London. Major James Grafton has just been demobbed and takes over the pub from his ancestor who opened the Grafton arms in the mid-19th century. The pub has seen hard times during the war and has just about scraped through. But with troops returning home, trade was once again steady.

One of the Grafton’s early post-war customers was an ex-intelligence officer named Michael Bentine. He was a comedian and friend of Royal Artillery signaller Harry Secombe. While fighting in North Africa, Harry had had a near-death experience when sitting quietly inside a radio truck beneath a cliff. Upon hearing a deafening noise outside he was horrified to see a 25-pound Howitzer come hurtling down the cliff beside his van. The gun belonged to another Royal Artillery unit which was stationed above the cliff, and it had slipped out of its placement and fallen over the edge. One of the men from this second unit – Gunner Spike Milligan – came clambering down the cliff to assess the damage. He called out: “Has anyone seen a gun?” To which Harry Secombe replied: “What colour was it?”

The men hit it off immediately and Bentine, Secombe and Milligan frequented the Grafton Arms as their local pub after the war. Spike Milligan rented a room above the pub and even helped out behind the bar to help pay his rent. The pub was a popular meeting place for actors, comics, and writers in the early post-war years, with landlord and scriptwriter Jimmy Grafton serving up advice and encouragement along with the beer. It was In 1948 when the three men met Peter Sellers – an ex-wartime ENSA performer – and the four began meeting regularly at the Grafton on a Sunday night. When his wartime friend Harry Secombe, introduced him to Peter Sellers and Michael Bentine Grafton became known as KOGVOS, Keeper of Goons and Voice of Sanity and began working on comedy scripts with Spike Milligan.

They then started recording their conversations and became known as The Crazy People. By 28th May 1951 they were on the radio under that name. For the second series in January 1952 the BBC agreed that they could change the name to The Goons.

The cast of the first series (Crazy People) were: Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, Spike Milligan, Michael Bentine, The Ray Ellington Quartet, The Stargazers, Max Geldray and The BBC Dance Orchestra conducted by Stanley Black. Announcer Andrew Timothy. Produced by Dennis Main Wilson. Wallace Greenslade announced from series 5 onwards.

Some of the main characters were:

Mr. Henry Crun : Peter Sellers Miss Minnie Bannister : Spike Milligan Ned Seagoon : Harry Secombe Lance Brigadier Grytpype-Thynne: Peter Sellers Major Dennis Bloodnok : Peter Sellers Eccles : Spike Milligan Moriarty : Spike Milligan Bluebottle : Peter Sellers

The final episode in the tenth series was broadcast on 28th. January 1960. Peter Sellers died of a heart attack July 1980, following an illustrious movie career. Michael Bentine, who enjoyed solo success, died in November 1996. Harry Secombe died, following a stroke, in April 2001 after many TV, radio and stage appearances as an actor, singer and presenter. Spike Milligan was awarded a British Comedy Award for lifetime achievement in 1995, and the Prince of Wales gave him an honorary knighthood in 2001, a year before his death in February 2002.

A significant rise in new cases today up to 35515, deaths fell to 111.

Thursday 26/08/2021 – Day 525

One of the highlights of my Sundays as a child was a show on radio called The Clitheroe Kid. I always thought he was really funny.

Jimmy Clitheroe was born in Clitheroe, Lancashire, England on Christmas Eve 1921 at 58 Wilkin Street (now called Highfield Road. Both his parents were weavers and believe it or not Jimmy didn’t have to change his name. An only child, he was named after his mother's younger brother, James Robinson Pye, who had been born in Clitheroe in 1894 and was killed in action in the First World War. He left school in 1935 as the rules of the time stressed that 14 was the age to leave school.

At the age of 16 he was 3 ft 6½ ins. His father was over 6 ft tall but Jimmy never grew any taller than 4 ft 2in the average height of an 8-year-old lad. He finally grew to the height of an 11-year-old which was the role he played on radio.

He was too small to go into the weaving sheds with his parents as most did when they left school, he was too short to reach the loom. After touring locally he made his first pantomime appearance in 1938, alongside the bumptious "Two Ton" Tessie O'Shea. In pantomime he was usually cast as Buttons, Tom Thumb, or Wishee Washee. He moved into films from 1940 after a chance meeting with top of the bill stars Arthur Lucan and Kitty McShane (Old Mother Riley and daughter) and went into radio from 1954

His long-running radio programme on the BBC, The Clitheroe Kid, was broadcast from 1956 until August 1972. His catchphrase was "Don't some mothers 'ave 'em!" Two versions of the radio series were produced for television on the ITV network: That's My Boy! (which ran for seven episodes in 1963), and Just Jimmy (which ran for 5 years, between 1964–68). Mollie Sugden, who had worked with Clitheroe in his stage shows, played his mother in the latter series. The BBC cancelled his show The Clitheroe Kid in 1972 after a 16-year run.

Jimmy never married but lived with his mother and lived a normal life. He even drove a Mercedes with large blocks on the pedals to allow him to reach them.

He was devoted to his Mum, On 30 March 1973,Jimmy collapsed in his hotel room in Plymouth, while touring in a variety show, and spent four days in hospital.

Just three months later on 6 June 1973 Jimmy died from an accidental overdose of sleeping pills, combined with seven brandies. This happened on the day of his mother's funeral. He was found unconscious in bed by relatives and died later that day in hospital in Blackpool. His mother had died five days before, aged 84.

New cases once again rose to 38056, registered deaths were 140.

Friday 27/08/2021 – Day 526

The Navy Lark was based on what was then known as the Senior Service or the Royal Navy. It had a good run-on Radio from 29th March 1959 to 1976, This was because it was one of the best loved and well-written shows on the radio.

It was also one of the longest running comedy shows ever. The first series was set on an island off Portsmouth and later the fun took place aboard HMS Troutbridge. (a play on HMS Troubridge, a Royal Navy destroyer) The crew consisted of the Number One, played by Dennis Price and later Stephen Murray, the Sub-Lieutenant (Leslie Phillips) a silly-ass whose cry of "Left hand down a bit" meant impending doom for whichever port they were docking in, or whatever vessel was nearby, and Petty Officer Pertwee, played by Jon Pertwee.

Other characters were (Un)Able Seaman 'Fatso' Johnson and Lieut-Cmdr Stanton (both played by Ronnie Barker), Able Seaman Goldstein, The Governor - Sir Willoughby Todhunter Brown, and the crusty Admiral (all played by Tenniel Evans).

Richard Caldicott as Commander Povey, Heather Chasen as the Commander's secretary, and Michael Bates made up the other cast members. The series was devised by Laurie Wyman.

he programme was strong on creating identifiable characters, the listener was able to clearly differentiate each person Laurie Wyman created; many of whom acquired enduring catchphrases, most notably from Sub Lieutenant Phillips: "Corrrrr", "Ooh, nasty...", "Oh lumme!", and "Left hand down a bit". "Ev'rybody down!" was a phrase of CPO Pertwee's, necessitated by a string of incomprehensible navigation orders by Phillips, and followed by a sound effect of the ship crashing. Also, whenever Pertwee had a menial job to be done, Able Seaman Johnson was always first in line to do it, inevitably against his will: "You're rotten, you are!". The telephone response from Naval Intelligence (Ronnie Barker), was always an extremely gormless and dim-witted delivery of "'Ello, Intelligence 'ere" or "This is intelligence speakin'".

Other recurring verbal features were the invented words "humgrummit" and "floggle-toggle" which served to cover all manner of unspecified objects ranging from foodstuffs to naval equipment. Unspecified illnesses include "the twingeing screws", an illness to which Pertwee was a martyr, especially when hearing about being under sailing orders. Ronnie Barker's versatile contributions were recognised and Laurie Wyman (later known as Lawrie Wyman) was asked by the producer to write more parts for Barker.

New cases rose to 37314 and deaths stood at 100.

Saturday 28/08/2021 – Day 527

Well, dear reader we have made it safely back from a wonderful four days in lovely Lincoln, I have so much to tell you about Mrs H and my holiday so I will reveal all next week, suffice to say that you won’t be disappointed one bit.

I would however, just like to say what a mess British rail is in. We only went to Lincoln, three changes going and four coming back, and it was complete chaos, the trains and the seats were mostly dirty and the timetable was in tatters, more next week.

A massive thank you to our friend Janet for safely dropping us at the station and for picking us up again.

On this day in 1933 For the first time, a BBC-broadcasted appeal was used by the police in tracking down a wanted man (murder suspect Stanley Hobday). One Sunday night in August 1933 Mrs Fox was woken up by sounds from downstairs. She thought she heard the sound of breaking glass. She nudged her husband and whispered to him what she had heard. Reluctantly he got up and went downstairs to investigate. He walked into the sitting-room and emerged moments later with a knife in his back. Mrs Fox's husband died in her arms.

Police investigating the killing in Moor Street, West Bromwich, soon found out that this had not been the only break in that night. There had been another break-in at a butcher's shop, owned by a man named Newton, in nearby Bromford Lane. The burglar had taken a few pounds that had been in the till but most extraordinarily the burglar had left behind a few things. To start with he had left a bowl of soapy water and Newton's razor. While in the shop he had actually shaved himself. Secondly, he had left out a sewing basket where he had used a needle and thread, perhaps to replace a missing button. Finally he had helped himself to a bottle of milk and in doing so had left it covered in his fingerprints.

With such a good clue it did not take long for Chief Inspector Fred Cherrill of Scotland Yard One of the greatest experts in the field of fingerprinting to identify the culprit responsible for the break-in at the butcher's and, probably, the murder. It was the first time that the BBC used its network to broadcast the description of a man who police wanted 'to help them with their inquiries'.'

Hobday was on his way north from Birmingham in a stolen Jowett motorcar. An Irish labourer was working in a field near High Leigh, in Cheshire, when he was astonished to see a car come hurtling through the air, turn a full somersault and land back on its wheels. The driver got dazed but otherwise unhurt and walked away. As usual Hobday always seemed to leave something behind and this time it was his suitcase. He started to walk towards Carlisle and he passed a farmer moving a herd of cows for milking. The cowman thought he recognised the man from the broadcast he had heard on the radio so he called the police.

A couple of hours later he was arrested by PC Elder, of the Cumberland Constabulary. He did not cause a fuss but went quietly with the policeman. He was charged and his trial took place at Stafford Assizes in November 1933. The evidence was overwhelmingly conclusive and the jury had no difficulty in finding him guilty. He was hung on the 29 December 1933 at Winson Green prison by Tom Pierrepoint at 8 am.

And finally on this day in 2016 The last remaining 22 branches of BHS closed, (Has it really been five years?) bringing an end to 88 years of British retail history. The department store’s collapse in April led to the loss of 11,000 jobs, affected 22,000 pensions, sparked a lengthy parliamentary inquiry, and left its high-profile former owners potentially facing a criminal investigation. The company had 164 stores throughout the United Kingdom at the time it entered administration, and 74 international stores across 18 separate territories.

Today new cases fell slightly. There were a further 32406 new cases , about the same as this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 238,035 a rise of 19,869 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 133 bringing the weekly total to 787 a rise of 88 on last week. There were 5,357,919 recoveries a rise of 317,284 on last week’s total which is good news.

Week 77

Sunday 29/08/2021 – Day 528

Well we are back from a wonderful refreshing few days in Lincoln. The only thing Mrs H and I miss while we are away, is the comfort of our own bed. That was the only complaint I had whilst staying at the Holiday Inn. The hotel was spotless – as was the room, the staff were really friendly and I would give the place five stars easily. But oh those beds, although springy when you jumped on them, there was absolutely no give when you lay on them, it was the equivalent of sleeping on a floor. The other thing was that it was very high, almost thirty inches from the floor to the top of the mattress. Next time we go I’ll take some folding steps. But that was all that was wrong with our stay, I’ll tell you more as the week goes on.

I told you last week that my Brother and sister-in-Law were admitted to hospital with Covid. We came back yesterday to be told that my sister-in-law was back at home. But my brothers illness got worse and he was taken into ICU with breathing problems and on 100% oxygen intake. Fingers crossed.

So, we arrived home at 7.30 last night, and I went down to feed my fish as the neighbour had been kindly feeding them. For fifteen years or more we have kept some sort of nets over the pond. But Mrs H has been adding more pots to the surrounding area in the last few months. The nets look unsightly, so we decided to take them away.

To cut a long story short, I lifted the blinds in the back bedroom and saw the biggest and ugliest Heron sat on top of the Summer house. My heart sank as he flew away. I went down the garden to the pond and saw Jaws our largest fish hiding beneath the decking that covers the one end. But the other fish were nowhere to be seen. That ugly bird had eaten the lot with the exception of one which it had obviously had trouble swallowing but was near death anyway.

The thing is, that we had been re-assured that Heron’s needed lots of room to land, they had difficulty stepping up and a problem taking off after feeding. Of course, all this information was of no use to the fish in my pond. The thing is, do I buy some more or just plant the pond, I will have to think about that one.

Under the category of ‘You couldn’t make it up’ is this story, on this day in 2011 Private security firm G4S sacked two members of staff who tagged the false leg of 29-year-old Rochdale offender Christopher Lowcock, allowing him to remove it and flout a court-imposed curfew for driving and drug offences, as well as possession of an offensive weapon.

Have you got to the stage of ‘forgetting’ the simple things yet? The things like walking into a room and forgetting why you went in there in the first place. Or parking your car in a multi-storey carpark and – after shopping – you forget which floor you left it on. Then, the worst of all, you go through all your children’s names before you get to the right one, The reason I ask is that I have finally reached this stage, Ten years ago, I could have told you when a record was made, who sang it, how high it got in the charts etc. I can still remember a lot but not all of that valuable information I once stored in the dark depths of this ageing mind.

At one stage Mrs H and I were walking through the town centre when someone greeted us by name, we stood there and had a ten-minute conversation with them, I was getting along very well, As they bid us goodbye and walked away I turned to Mrs H and asked.

“Who was that?”

Her reply was, “I have no idea, I thought it was a friend of yours.”

The rest of the day is spent trying to remember who you had a ten-minute conversation with, sadly, to no avail.

Did you know that being British is all about driving a German car to an Irish bar for a Belgian beer, Grabbing a Chinese takeaway, or a Turkish Kebab as you sit on Swedish furniture watching American shows on a Japanese TV?

I went to the Bakers and all the cakes were priced at 50p with the exception of one. I said to the baker “Why is that one a £1?”

“Ah.” He replied, “That one’s madeira cake.”

There were 32946 new cases today, with a further 61 deaths.

Monday 30/08/2021 – Day 529

Still no news of my brother but his wife was allowed to go and see him yesterday, we are not sure if that is good or bad news.

I spent a couple of hours yesterday cleaning out my pond and topping up the water of what I thought was an empty pond, but on closer inspection I saw something moving in the bottom, it was a fish. I looked closer and I could see at least another two cowering in the dark depths. I continued to clean out the pond and I am sure I saw another. The fish are traumatised but hopefully, there are at least four survivors – besides Jaws – hiding. I have now put all the nets back on and the remaining are once again safe.

Well, it’s been a busy weekend one way or another. Our Grandson Mason has been at the Reading Festival since last Thursday and is due home today, my daughter is not looking forward to doing his washing. Meanwhile, Alisha our granddaughter is in Spain with her boyfriend Sam. With all the restrictions Sam had been unable to see his parents who live in Spain permanently. They had two planned trips cancelled because of covid, so you can imagine the joy when they finally got to the airport in Spain.

Do you know what the five scariest words are ? They could be ‘Mother’s coming to stay tomorrow’ or ‘Next doors pet python escaped’ or your wife handing you the phone and saying, ‘It’s the taxman for you’. But for me it’s ‘Just putting you on hold,’ and that is it, no giving you a hint of just how long they are putting you on hold, just music, no good music, droning music on a loop. Do any of these companies ever try phoning their own companies?. I have been watching a programme called ‘Undercover Boss’ where the bosses of big corporations have their identities changed and they join their own employees to find out what the problems are. A good programme with a feelgood factor. So why doesn’t someone come up with a programme called ‘Telephone Boss’? No need for expensive make-up or outside broadcasting, just hand him/her a telephone and say ‘Right, now phone your own company. But don’t reveal who you are’

They would get one hell of a wake-up call. First on my list would be the head of the Tax office, he would be ripping his toupee off within the first half hour. This could be followed by the heads of any Government department or Bank. Followed closely by doctors receptionists.

They should be made to listen to their own taped music. They should be made to feel that sense of relief when the tone changes and you think you are connected, just to hear someone say, ‘We are extremely busy at the moment (mostly because their service is utter crap) but your call is important to us, please continue to hold.’

Having said that, our Doctor’s receptionists have now got a new system. You phone up and it tells you that you are ‘now 69th in the queue.’

Beam me up Scotty!

We were looking after our little grandson while both his parents were at work. It was time for school, he went to his nan and said.

“My ear hurts.”

“inside or outside/” she asked.

He went outside and came back in.

“Both.” He replied.

I’m wondering if his parents are trying too hard to save money for his college.

A substantial drop in new cases today, down to 26227, but a further 48 deaths.

Tuesday 31/08/2021 – Day 530

A dull as dishwater day today, I do believe I saw a drizzle of rain falling a few minutes ago. We are off to take Sarah to the hospital for a check-up later. Mrs H and I will then attempt to put her lounge back to normal after she had new flooring fitted last Saturday.

My brother’s health seems to be deteriorating rapidly. They are struggling to get oxygen into his lungs.

This time last week Mrs H and I were getting all excited about the upcoming trip to Lincoln, I will start a full day by day, blow by blow report tomorrow as if I were reporting on the day it happened.

I have recently started this new Japanese art of decluttering. The idea is that you hold any article or thing and if - it doesn’t bring you joy – then you just dump it in the bin. So far I have dumped the TV, the electric bill, the bathroom scales, my underwear, all the mirrors in the house, and Mrs H’s cooker!

On this day in 1900 Coca Cola first went on sale in Britain, fourteen years after it was first sold in the U.S.A. Charles Chandler, the eldest son of the founder came to Britain with a jug of cola syrup. It proved so popular that five more gallons were ordered immediately from America.

On this day in 1939 Nazi forces, posing as Poles, mounted a staged attack on the German radio station at Gleiwitz, in Poland, creating an excuse to attack Poland the following day, thus starting World War II in Europe.

As someone recently said.

“The world isn’t getting dumber, it has just become easier for dumb people to voice their opinions.”

Once more new cases rise above 30000, today they were 32006 with 50 registered deaths,

Wednesday 01/09/2021 – Day 531

Can you believe it’s now September! What on earth happened to August, a grey and comparatively cool month. Let’s hope this month shows a little improvement.

Well, this time last week Mrs H and I were waiting for our friend Jan to transport us to the railway station. Mrs H had manged to squash all our clothes and necessities into one of those small cases that is usually reserved for hand luggage on aeroplanes. It took two of us to zip it up by sitting and pummelling but we managed. It weighed as heavy as a normal suitcase but hey needs must.

So, at exactly 9.00am Jan pulled up outside, I attempted to roll the bulging suitcase over our gravel drive, but it wasn’t having any of it, I had to pick it up like a spoiled brat and carry it to the car.

Thirty minutes later we were on the first stage of our four-and-a-half-hour journey. Travelling from Kidderminster to Smethwick Galton Bridge where we had to wait almost 30 minutes to catch a train into Birmingham New Street. The actual journey to New street took nine minutes.

So far so good, we sat on platform 3a anxiously awaiting the train Nottingham. There was a train sat on the track which clearly said out of service. Then a bald headed scouser who looked old enough to know better came along screaming and shouting. He was banging on the closed doors demanding to be let on. Then he saw a station Guard who immediately told him that the train was out of service and that he needed to calm down. This just served to infuriate baldy even more. He got as close to the guard’s face as humanly possible without kissing and asked him who the effin ell he thought he was talking to.

Baldy then waltzed off down the platform cursing like a trooper and demanding justice, and that the guard be hung, drawn, and quartered. Another guard turned up and he was getting the same treatment. This went on for a further 10 minutes until the British Rail Police turned up and arrested him.

Meanwhile, while all this was going on Mrs H was muttering ‘He’s going to be on our train, in our carriage, in the seats opposite us.’ She was so relieved when the police turned up.

The journey to Nottingham went smoothly, as did the trip from Nottingham to Lincoln.

It was when we alighted that things got worse.

Mrs H What’s the name of the hotel?

Me. I’ve forgotten.

Mrs H. Didn’t you print it off?

Me. Well, I thought I was bringing my laptop. All the info was on there.

Mrs H. And you were going to open it in the middle of the station and expect to get a signal.

Me. No, I would have checked on the train.

By this time we were both very stressed. Then I suddenly remembered that the name was something Inn. We both agreed that it had got to be the Premier Inn, Feeling very relieved we joined the taxi rank. A few minutes later a taxi arrived.

Me. Premier Inn please mate.

Driver. Which one?

I suddenly felt very ill again and could feel Mrs H’s eyes piercing through me. Then relief again. I looked at Mrs H confidently, I had this covered.

Me. Town centre one please.

Driver. Which one?

Again, I could feel her eyes on me, and the silent yet loud huffing and puffing. But once more I came up trumps.

Me. The tallest one.

Driver. They are both very tall.

For some unknown reason the words of ‘There’s a hole in my bucket’ came into my head around this time. Eventually he dropped us off at the Premier Inn. The person on the desk searched his guest list to no avail. Mrs H’s eyes were now burning a hole into the side of my head. I was eternally grateful when the chap said he would check out the other Premier Inns. He apologised and said we weren’t booked in at his hotels.

We were out on the street when I spotted a pub. I thought Mrs H would like a drink to cool her down. With the mood she was now in, I refrained from buying her anything alcoholic, should she beat me to a pulp. We sat there in silence. Mrs H was getting more and more stressed. I went to the barman and asked if he knew of any Town centre Inns. ‘There are a couple of Holiday Inns’ he replied.

Had I been that way inclined, I would have kissed him. He tried to give us directions but instead told us where we could get a taxi. We walked in silence to the taxi rank. We got in a waiting taxi.

Me. Holiday Inn please.

Driver. Which one?

My heart sank and the colour drained from my face as I heard Mrs H take a sharp intake of breath. The driver noticed that there was a problem when the screen between us iced up.

Driver. Look, I’ll take you to the first one, and if that isn’t right then I’ll just nip you around to the second one.

My heart started to beat again as we drove off along the dual carriageway. We approached the first Holiday Inn, it didn’t look anything like the one I remembered. So the driver continued onto the second one. When we arrived I could plainly see that it wasn’t that one either. I could hear Mrs H thumping the keys on her phone. She managed to get the photo’s up of the hotels in Lincoln.

Me. That’s the one!

Driver. Let me have a look, mmm yes, that’s the one we’ve just come from.

He took us back and I warily stepped inside the foyer with Mrs H behind me. I gave the young girl our names. It seemed an age that she was searching her computer. Then, to my dismay, she said, ‘ Give me a moment’ and disappeared into the office. She returned a few minutes later, “Sorry about that, your room’s all ready for you.”

I nearly dragged her over the counter to hug her. An hour later Mrs H and I were walking hand in hand towards the town centre. All was quiet on the Harvey front.

New cases rose substantially to 35585, but registered deaths rose to 207, the highest since January.

Thursday 02/09/2021 – Day 532

I was awake at 4.00am this morning, feeling very restless and unsettled. My sister phoned me yesterday at 4.00pm. She explained that our brother had been moved to Worcester hospital from Redditch. He was having great difficulty breathing. At 6.00pm she rang again, the doctors had found blood clots in his groin area and said that they may amputate his legs. He was taken down to theatre, but on examination, it was found to be too late, there was nothing more they could do for him.

He passed away peacefully at 8.00pm. We never met up much, as we had totally different lifestyles. But I was still deeply saddened that he’d lost his life to covid. I apologise, but I won’t write anymore today.

There were 38154 new cases today and a further 178 deaths.

Friday 03/09/2021 – Day 533

They say the weather is going to improve, but it’s still a grey washed out morning here in Kidderminster.

So, We had arrived in Lincoln, had a quick scout around the town and retired back to the hotel.

On the following day (Thursday) we went down for a sumptuous breakfast of bacon, eggs, beans, toast, cereal and lashings of tea and coffee. Mrs H had forgiven me for the previous day and we prepared to go into the town which was a ten-minute walk away. First thing to do was find a Weatherspoon’s. They may be cheap and cheerful, but if you like a drink with your meal they are ideal.

It turned out that there was one along the waterfront. We headed toward the town to take a look at the cathedral. From the town centre it seemed just a few yards away. So off we set, as the road started to rise. Mrs H thought it would be a good idea to have a quick cuppa before we attempted the climb. We sat outside at a nearby café. Then we noticed the cakes!

After Latte, tea, and umpteen cakes we made off toward the hill. We were about a quarter way up when I started to regret having that last slice of chocolate sponge. As we looked up it seemed that we only needed to get to a certain point, turn right and we would be at the cathedral.

I discovered something on that first day – I discovered that I wasn’t fit. We reached what we thought was the top, then looked up at the steep cobbled street which lay before us. I sat down, pretending to admire the stunning view, but in reality, I was taking a rest. We eventually started the climb, past the most beautiful little shops full of old curiosities, books, and cakes. I was just beginning to require oxygen when – thankfully – Mrs H’s phone rang. It was our son, this would give me at least half an hour to rest and continue.

I sat wondering why I had smoked so many cigarettes in my younger days, images of mother’s half smoked dog-ends and lipstick on the tip wandered aimlessly through my mind, pictures of a gang of us , sucking on Park Drive tipped cigarettes down a mates entry before school, I was just beginning to imagine the smoke-filled pubs I frequented when I felt Mrs H nudge me. I looked at the cobbled hill in front of me , sighed a big sigh and we continued.

I could see the end of the road ahead and even manged a bit of a spurt over the last couple of metres. When we got there I couldn’t believe my eyes. I felt like a starving dog chained up outside a Butcher’s shop. There, lay before us, was another even narrower, even steeper street leading up to the cathedral. My heart sank along with everything else on my pain-racked old body. Mrs H asked if I needed a cup of tea, I almost kissed her.

After more tea accompanied by a large slice of cake we continued. By the time we eventually reached the top I was looking around for a shop that sold Union Jack flags so I could jab it in the ground and have my photo taken with it. I stood there gasping for breath, getting my bearings, and wondering why there wasn’t snow up there when I noticed a small restaurant!.

After lunch, we headed off to the cathedral, after paying to get into what was basically our heritage we waited twenty minutes for a guided tour of the glorious building. Good decision, that man was so knowledgeable, he told us things we would never have known just wandering around.

After an hour of surveying the area we started to head back down the hill. I proudly walked past gasping pensioners, chirpy kids, and red-faced overweight people. The further down we got, the wider my smile got. I passed people smirking and thinking ‘mugs’ and ‘you don’t know what lies ahead’. Towards the bottom we even passed a chap of about forty already struggling to push a weighty old woman up the hill in the wheelchair. Mrs H assumed it was his mum as his family were walking behind. The devil in me assumed it was his mother-in-law, and that the brake would fail as soon as they reached the brow of the hill.

We ended the day having an evening meal in a lovely little pub, but Mrs H wasn’t feeling too well. She blamed it on me for force-feeding her those cakes, toasted teacakes, and gallons of latte all day. It was then that we decided it was time to go home.

For the fourth day in a row the number of new cases have risen, todays total is 42076, there were 121 deaths registered.

Saturday 04/09/2021 – Day 534

Continuing with the break in Lincoln, we both woke up as fresh as daisies on the Friday morning. Down to the restaurant for a nice healthy fried breakfast then back into town. We decided that we ought to go and visit the castle which was at the top of the massive hill we had climbed the previous day.

We refrained from drinking tea and eating cakes on this climb, it had made Mrs H bilious the previous day, she’s a bit of a lightweight when it comes to sweets, cakes, savouries etc, but I could eat all day and I have the figure to prove it!

But by the time we had reached halfway we’d both had enough of doing impressions of mountain goats. As we turned to head back down I noticed a book shop. It was a bit of a mixture of my love for books and needing a rest that found us climbing the few steps to the shop. I found 2 books that I thought I couldn’t live without. I took them to the desk only to be told that their card machine was broken. The nice old gentleman – sat with his wife -said that there was a cash machine in the Tesco’s at the bottom of the hill.

Off we trundled to the bottom and we searched high and low for the cash point. There wasn’t one, so it was back into town for the bank. By the time we returned to the bookshop we were both gasping for air. I offered the old gent my money and he casually said, “ I owe the wife 50p, we had a bet on whether or not you’d return.”

We had a light lunch as I had booked a romantic candle-lit meal for the evening. The rest of the day was spent window shopping. We returned to the hotel for coffee before we got ready for our evening out.

The meal was really good 9although well overpriced, but I swore I wouldn’t moan) although, the Guinness was even better. We ended with a pudding, we had Eton Mess, it was massive! I couldn’t even finish mine, I had no more room for Guinness so we went back to the hotel.

Thankfully the journey home the following day went without incident, except for the Nottingham - Burton on Trent incident. We were sat comfortably in the last of eight carriages, we were just coming into Burton on Trent when the driver decided to tell anyone that was sitting in the last four carriages needed to be in the first four as the train would not stretch that far into the station. Never seen such a mad rush!

My brother always had a good sense of humour, so, on what was a very sad week I’ll leave you with a joke.

A very elderly couple are having an elegant dinner to celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary. The old man leans forward and says softly to his wife, “Dear, there is something that I must ask you. It has always bothered me that our tenth child never quite looked like the rest of our children. Now I want to assure you that these 75 years have been the most wonderful experience I could have ever hoped for, and your answer cannot take that all that away. But, I must know, did he have a different father?” The wife drops her head, unable to look her husband in the eye, she paused for a moment and then confessed. “Yes. Yes he did.” The old man is very shaken, the reality of what his wife was admitting hit him harder than he had expected. With a tear in his eye he asks “Who? Who was he? Who was the father?” Again the old woman drops her head, saying nothing at first as she tried to muster the courage to tell the truth to her husband. Then, finally, she says, “You.”

Today new cases fell slightly. There were a further 37578 new cases , still about 5000 more than this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 244,590 a rise of 6,505 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 120 bringing the weekly total to 785 a drop of 2 on last week. There were 5,586,491 recoveries a rise of 248,572 on last week’s total which is good news.

Week 78

Sunday 05/09/2021 – Day 535

Here we are at the start of a brand-new week and we are promised a lot of sun before it finally gets washed away by the end of the week. Yes I know, it’s being so happy that keeps me going.

Mrs H and I have spent a few days overhauling the garden, When I say ‘overhauling’ I really mean, making it look like someone actually lives here, we had neglected it a little.

I was in the garden yesterday when I suddenly became very fatigued, it was just as though someone had drained all the life out of me. My arms and all my joints ached, but there was no temperature, just tiredness. I am grateful to report that this morning I am feeling ok, just my upper body aching.

Mrs H and I have now finished the excellent ‘Gilmour Girls’ on Netflix. We watched the last four films which were released ten years later, they were based on Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn. But I have to say, they should have left it alone when the series ended. In my humble opinion, the actors seem to be struggling with the scripts and the plots were contrived, they did leave it on a cliff-hanger of sorts. Should it ever return they should bring back the original screenwriters – or not bother!

Just to let you know, I had a date last night – tonight I’m going to try a fig.

On this day in 1666 The end of the Great Fire of London, that had started on 2nd September at the bakery of Thomas Farriner on Pudding Lane. 13,200 buildings including St. Paul's Cathedral had been destroyed, the fire made over 70,000 people homeless, but miraculously, only 6 people are known to have died. Back in 1666, they didn’t have proper firefighters like we have today which meant they didn’t have many tools to stop fires. The Navy were called in and used gunpowder to blow up houses that were in the fires path. They hoped that by doing this, it would cause a firebreak and it would eventually stop the fire travelling. It ended up working but took four days.

Businessmen looked upon this as an opportunity to make money, so they started insurance companies. They had to be careful because if another fire started they could lose a lot of money. To get around this, they ended up hiring their own fire brigade just in case a fire did start! This is when the first brigade started.

Did you know that being British is all about driving a German car to an Irish bar for a Belgian beer, Grabbing a Chinese takeaway, or a Turkish Kebab as you sit on Swedish furniture watching American shows on a Japanese TV?

Also on this day in 1935 The birth of the actor Johnny Briggs. He is best known for his role as Mike Baldwin in the soap opera Coronation Street, in which he appeared from 1976 to 2006. He received a lifetime achievement award at the 2006 British Soap Awards for his thirty years of contribution to the show.

And finally on this day in 1946 The birth (in Stone Town, Zanzibar) of the British musician, singer, and songwriter Freddie Mercury. As a songwriter, Mercury composed many hits for Queen, including 'Bohemian Rhapsody', 'Don't Stop Me Now' and 'We Are the Champions'. He died of bronchopneumonia brought on by AIDS on 24th November 1991, only one day after publicly acknowledging that he had the disease.

There were 36,614 new cases today with 68 registered deaths.

Monday 06/09/2021 – Day 536

This sun is far too good to waste, so Mrs H and I have returned to those hazy, crazy, lazy days of Summer. We are spending the day lounging in the garden. I am reading Charles Dickens ‘Pickwick Papers’ and Mrs H is lay there, looking around – thinking.

This, dear reader is a very dangerous process in our household. No, not sunbathing, Mrs H thinking. This one act alone is ensured to keep me in work for the foreseeable future. By the afternoon we have fictionally (In Mrs H’s head) moved the bar that I sweat over last year down to the garden seating area, the large churchlike mirror will be removed to its new spot in the garden room. The large, winged armchairs that were ‘perfect’ for the Summer house are now being moved to the Garden room, to be replaced by the existing chairs.

I’m now waiting for her to tell me that because the Heron visited last week we should now move the pond.

It seems our Grandson, Mason, who spent three days at Reading festival last week has now got Covid. He had to go for a test today and is awaiting the results.

Mrs H and I spent the day at a local Village fete yesterday. It was at Cookley where I spent a lot of my childhood in the fifties. I have to say, what a brilliantly organised day. There was plenty to do, plenty to eat, and plenty to drink. Well, for me anyway, Mrs H was driving, which is why I reckon she dreamt up the moving of furniture in the garden. I knew there’d be a price to pay, don’t I ever learn? Seems not.

A pensioner drove his brand-new BMW to 100 mph, looking in his rear-view mirror, he saw a police car behind him. He floored it to 140 , then 150, ... then 155, ... Suddenly he thought,

"I'm too old for this nonsense!"

So he pulled over to the side of the road and waited for the police car to catch up with him.

The officer walked up to him, looked at his watch and said,

"Sir, my shift ends in ten minutes. Today is Friday and I'm taking off for the weekend with my family. If you can give me a good reason that I've never heard before, why you were speeding... I'll let you go."

The Man looked very seriously at the policeman, and replied :-

"Years ago, my wife ran off with a policeman, I thought you were bringing her back." !!!

The Cop left saying,

" Have a good day, Sir "

On this day in 1866 Three British tea clippers reached London within 2 hours of each other after a 16,000-mile race from China as there were big bonuses for the first ships home with the new season's tea crop. Tea was as precious as gold in those days. The lady of the house would have a tea caddy that locked up and she would own the only key to that caddy. If a maid needed to make tea, then she would take the pot to the Lady, who would carefully measure out the tea, then re-lock the caddy.

Also on this day in 1986 The first series of the British medical drama television series 'Casualty'. Was screened. I can honestly say that after thirty-five years I have never watched an episode of this programme or it’s follow up ‘Holby City’. Mrs H has a dread of hospital programs or anything involving hospitals.

And finally, on this day in 1997 The funeral service for Diana, Princess of Wales, was held in Westminster Abbey, London. The whole nation ground to a halt as the service took place of the People’s Princess. An estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide watched the service on television.

A rise of new cases today came to 40,748, there was also a further 45 deaths.

Tuesday 07/09/2021 – Day 537

A beautiful hot and sunny day in store for us here in sunny downtown Kidderminster.

However, I am off to the dentist surgery today, I need two teeth removed and I am dreading it. This of course, all stems from my early days at school when dentists used little anaesthetic and even less care. They would be paid for the amount of teeth they removed or fillings that they completed, but teeth were more money than fillings. I hate school dentists to this day.

Mrs H and I Started watching ‘McCleod’s Daughter’s’ on Prime a few nights ago, I hope it improves a little, the storyline seems forced and spasmodic, but we’ll stick with it until the end of series one at least.

Back to school for all the children around here today, the traffic is already quite heavy and there will be a guaranteed standstill by 9.00am. Plus a lot of relieved mothers of course.

On this day in 1665 The death of George Viccars, the first plague victim to die in the village of Eyam in Derbyshire. He had ordered a roll of cloth from London and as he unrolled it he noticed it was damp. As he dried it in front of the fire the warmth released the plague infested fleas. The rector William Mompesson decided to take sermons outside in Cuckleft Delf. Cucklett Delf was also the secret meeting place of sweethearts Emmott Sydall, from Eyam, and Rowland Torre, who was from a neighbouring village. After the decision was taken to close the village to contain the plague, they would call to each other across the rocks, until Emmott Sydall herself became a victim of the plague. Six of the eight Sydall family died, and their neighbours lost nine family members.

the village was supplied with food and essentials from surrounding villages. The Earl of Devonshire himself provided supplies that were left at the southern boundary of the village. To pay for these supplies the villagers left money in water troughs that were filled with vinegar. With the limited understanding they did possess, the villagers realised that vinegar helped to kill off the disease. Other measures taken included the plan to bury all plague victims as quickly as possible and as near to the place they died rather than in the village cemetery. They were correct in their belief that this would reduce the risk of the disease spreading from corpses waiting to be buried. The Riley graves, close to Riley House Farm and approximately 1/2 mile from the village house the bodies of the husband and six children of farmer Elizabeth Hancock. All died within a week of each other. Because of the high risk of infecting her neighbours she had the traumatic task of burying them all herself. Even more tragic is that the infection probably came to her family when she helped bury another villager's body. Twelve months after the death of George Viccars, the plague was still claiming its victims, and on 25th August 1666 Catherine Mompesson, wife of the recently appointed rector William Mompesson (aged 28) , died of the plague. She had loyally stayed with her husband and tended the sick, only to become a victim herself. The plague raged for 14 months. Out of a population of 350 people, only 80 survived.

Also on this day in 2009 it was the end of an era as Sir Terry Wogan announced that he was to step down as presenter of BBC Radio 2's breakfast show. The veteran broadcaster first hosted the breakfast show in 1972, returning to the role in 1993. Wake Up to Wogan was the UK's most popular breakfast radio show with 7.93 million listeners each week.

New cases dropped slightly to 37,148, but deaths were an astonishing 209.

Wednesday 08/09/2021 – Day 538

Another gloriously sunny day here today. Mrs H and I had a wonderful day yesterday. It started out with a visit to the dentist at nearby Stourbridge, due to restrictions Mrs H had to remain in the car whilst I went in and had a tooth removed from the orifice on my face. The young female dentist was very kind and very patient, (she must have read my blog about 50’s dentist’s) and at every step kept asking if I was alright. Apert from the needle to freeze the gum, it was a breeze. As I returned to the car I could hear Mrs H and daughter Gemma who were facetiming each other.

Mrs H. It’s been a long time, I hope he’s alright.

Gemma. Perhaps the poor dentist’s fell in and they can’t get her out.

This profound statement was followed by raucous laughter which wouldn’t have been out of place in the ‘Witches of Eastwick’ or on Pendle Hill.

Mrs H Shhh, he’s coming.

As I climbed in the car I couldn’t say much as my whole bottom jaw was as frozen as the icecap, and I was dribbling from my mouth.

It had been pre-arranged that as we were out that way, we would visit a popular garden centre. Yes Mrs H is on the hunt for more plants, even though the borders are so full that it’s a struggle for me to cut the hedge. But – as Mrs H says – there is always room for one more. So we are in search of grasses, not the ones that tip their mates off about wrongdoings. No, these are the same grasses that you and I would run through when we were kids. The only difference being that some enterprising fool made them popular and they now cost an arm and a leg.

My speech had now partly returned, but my suggestion that we simply just go to a field with a spade did not go down too well with she who must be obeyed. After an hour of walking around, discussing possible grasses, I suggested we look in the already established gardens. And there it was, a two-metre superb grass that was compact and looked very compact and sturdy – a bit like myself. Mrs H has this app on her phone which tells you what the plant is within seconds of taking a photograph. She was absentmindedly on it a few weeks ago as she took a picture of me in the garden, the answer came through immediately.

Plant Unknown. This is probably a common weed (common?, excuse me!) it is very invasive in its roots (true) and should be pulled out and composted immediately.

Well, there was no arguing with that description, anyway, I digress, the plant came up as a type of Bullrush, but there were none in the centre, just that one in the garden. Again I suggested returning in the darkness with a spade, I thought Mrs H was going to hit me at that stage so moved swiftly. It seemed that any sympathy for tooth extraction had now long gone.

Sarah, meanwhile, had a hospital appointment in Worcester, they picked her up at around 8.00 am, She had to have fluid extracted from her back for a check-up. As you all know, Sarah is diabetic, it’s a good job she had the foresight to pack a lunch, it was 2.00pm before she was seen and the operation done. But it was 8.00pm before they dropped her back at home. The last time she had this done it was a four hour round trip.

We ended our day watching our Grandson Hatton playing football, his team won 5 – 2, very impressive they were.

New cases in the last 24 hours were 38,797, registered deaths remained very high at 191.

Thursday 090/09/2021 – Day 539

Very damp and gloomy day today, far from yesterday’s glorious sunshine which was interrupted by a devastating fire a quarter of a mile away.

Mrs H and I were sat in the garden soaking up the rays when we heard a tremendous roaring, we thought initially that it was distant thunder. But, as I rose I could see thick black plumes of smoke heading our way. Then the explosions started. We ran out to the front of the house and the traffic was already grinding to a halt. The flames from the factory were leaping high into the air. We assumed that it was the local Associated Tyre Service unit and that the billowing lethal black smoke was from burning tyres. I put my Facebook on and the first thing I saw was a video of the fire, it had been just five minutes since it started.

Every road around had been closed, fire appliances struggled to reach the factory because of cars blocking the road. Then the Air Ambulance arrived along with three or four Ambulances. Every fire appliance in Kidderminster was in use. Hereford and Worcestershire were sending back-up appliances and extra help. By the peak – two hours later – the fire had spread to other units and around 20 fire appliances were attending. There were no reports of any fatalities or injuries at this stage.

The next thing that flashed up on my screen was a notice urging everyone to close all their windows and doors. The explosions were now very regular and the last one we heard was at 7.30pm nearly five hours after the fire started. By 9.pm the fire appliances had been reduced to ten vehicles. But such was the widespread devastation that they would be attending all through the night just damping down.

We could still see the smoke at 9.00pm. Today (Thursday) all the schools in the whole of Kidderminster have had to shut because of contaminated air. It seems that a factory treating waste hazardous materials was at the centre of the blaze. Anyone with breathing difficulties has been advised to remain indoors with all windows shut. Mrs H and I are staying in today. But the most important thing is, that as far as we know, no-one was hurt.

An Englishman, an Irishman, a Welshman, and a Scotsman are captured by the Iraqis.

The Iraq troop leader says, "we’re going to shoot you, but we will give you one last request."

He says to the Welshman, "what’s your last request? “The Welshman says, "I want a thousand Welshman singing "Land of my Fathers”. “Okay, you’ve got it.

What about you?" he says to the Scotsman. "I want a thousand Scots pipers piping Scotland the brave," says the Scot. "You’ve got it" says the Iraqi.

"What’s your last request?" he says to the Irishman. "I want a thousand Irishman doing the Riverdance" says Paddy. "It’s yours" says the Iraqi.

Turning to the Englishman, he says, "and your last request?"

The Englishman says, " Please, shoot me first".

Apologies to all my Welsh, Irish and Scottish friends.

New cases remained stable at 38,013 today. Registered deaths were still high at 167.

Friday 10/09/2021 – Day 540

Happy birthday to our daughter Sarah, She has had a really tough year but has pulled through against all the odds. We will be taking her out for lunch and her friends will join her this evening, so the lass has got a busy day ahead. Please don’t overdo it Sarah.

I had to phone the doctors on Wednesday. Whilst we were walking to Hatton’s football match I had really bad pains in my chest. It didn’t really bother me as I’ve been having these pains for about four years now. Unfortunately they are becoming more frequent. But this one was different, it caused pain around my heart and down my arm to my elbow. I normally find that it goes away if I rest, which it did in this case.

Mrs H was very worried and insisted that I phone the doctors, which, being the good boy that I am, I did immediately. I got an appointment for 12.00 noon (High Noon?) with my own doctor, a miracle in itself. So, off I trot, (actually Mrs H took me) and when I explained to Doc what was going on he sent me down to the nurse for an ECG and to have some bloods taken (almost an armful that girl took). Then he called me back in and informed me that my heart was ok. But, and there’s always a ‘but’, he was concerned about the arteries going to my heart. He thinks I may have a form of angina. So he booked me into a Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic for more assessment. The appointment came through the post just 24 hours later, now that’s what I call a good service. I have to go next Thursday, and if they can stop me falling asleep whenever I sit down it will all be worthwhile.

On this day in 1963: American Express comes to Britain. American Express, one of the world's largest banking houses, has opened a credit card service in Britain. ... Until now, American Express card holders have been able to use their cards in this country, but only if they could settle their accounts in dollars.

Also on this day in 1967 Almost 100 per cent of the voters of Gibraltar rejected Spanish rule in favour of retaining British sovereignty.

It was on this day in 2001 that Charles Ingram won one million pounds on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. He was later accused of cheating by having his wife, Diana, and an accomplice, Tecwen Whittock, cough as Ingram announced the correct answer from the available choices. The Ingrams and Tecwen Whittock were convicted, on 7th April 2003, by a majority verdict of 'procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception'. All three were fined and given suspended prison sentences. In October 2004 Diana and Charles Ingram were declared bankrupt. There has since been a drama made about the scam.

Saturday 11/09/2021 – Day 541

A lovely sunny day here today. We had a wonderful lunch for Sarah’s birthday yesterday. Sarah, her daughter Mollie, Gemma her sister and her Mum Mrs H went on a bit of a shopping spree before picking me up at home and heading to a restaurant alongside the river Stour in town. Sadly, it was too damp to sit outside, but we were just as comfortable inside. The staff were all very welcoming and friendly.

On this day in 1895 The prestigious FA Cup trophy was stolen from football outfitters William Shillock of Birmingham. 68 years later an 83-year-old man confessed he'd melted it down to make counterfeit half-crown coins.

Also on this day in 1966 the housing charity, Shelter, said up to three million people in Britain were living in damp, overcrowded slum conditions. they’ve been campaigning since 1966, and say they won’t stop until there’s a safe, secure, affordable home for everyone.

They were formed in 1966 by Bruce Kenrick (founder chairman) and Des Wilson (founder-director), in response to the country’s massive housing crisis.

Their vision – along with co-founders Edwin Barker, David Reid, Rev. Eammon Casey and Lewis Waddilove – was to establish one organisation to speak for the millions of ‘hidden homeless’ living in overcrowded slums.

That same year the BBC screened Cathy Come Home; a Ken Loach directed film, about a young family pulled apart by worsening housing conditions. England was in a bad way after the War. War costs money and sometimes you wonder who won the war (or battle) as Japan and Germany seem to come out like Phoenix out of a fire. What went horribly wrong that so many people were left homeless, landlords allowed to rent hovels and the "No Children" clause. Separated families, men in one lodgings, wife, and children in another. No visitations after 8pm. The ‘Wednesday play starring Carol White and Ray Brookes was watched by over 12 million people, its impact inadvertently led to the formation of Shelter, it helped and ensured public empathy and support for Shelter from the very beginning.

And finally, on this day twenty years ago, the '911' terrorist attacks in New York. In the aftermath, Prime Minister Tony Blair deployed British troops in the invasion of Iraq (March 2003), supporting the US President George Bush and his 'War on Terror'. On This Day hijackers crashed two airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in New York City, killing everyone on board and thousands of those working in the buildings. Both towers collapsed within two hours, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others. A third airliner was crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth plane was redirected towards Washington, D.C., targeting either the Capitol Building or the White House, but it crashed in a field near Shanksville in rural Pennsylvania after passengers attempted to retake control of the airliner. There were no survivors from any of the flights.

Today new cases fell slightly. There were a further 29547 new cases , about 8000 less than this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 258,489 a rise of 13,899 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 156 bringing the weekly total to 983 a rise of 228 on last week. There were 5,767,761 recoveries a rise of 181,270 on last week’s total.

Week 79

Sunday 12/09/2021 – Day 542

Our Grandson Mason had a Covid test last week after being poorly, I am overjoyed to report that it came back negative and he is now back to full health.

Stopped up late last night to watch the brilliant eighteen-year-old Emma Raducanus win the US tennis open. She had an equally brilliant and young Canadian opponent, but Emma’s resilience and strength finally overcame her and earned her $2.5 million. All Britain's major newspapers carried the story of unseeded 18-year-old Emma Raducanu winning the US Open, after beating Leylah Fernandez in straight sets. She did not drop a set through qualifying or the main draw, was the first qualifier to ever win a Grand Slam and was the first British woman to win a Grand Slam trophy since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977.Brilliant television viewing. A lot better than the rest of the crap the two main TV channels were offering.

I can remember when the BBC and ITV took care about their planning on a weekend. Their best TV was kept for a weekend with Saturday night being the prime spot for any show. We were treated to Morecambe and Wise, Dixon of Dock Green, lots of variety shows. I have to ask – what on earth happened. The BBC had the news at 5.00pm followed by Celebrity Mastermind. Then at 6.05 Celebrity Catchpoint, this was bad enough but it was even a repeat!. At 6.35 we had a repeat of The Wall. Followed at 7.35 by The Hit List Celebrity special, and yes, you’ve guessed it, another repeat. At 8.10 they gave us a program that just about summed up their evenings mundane rubbish, it was conveniently called Pointless celebrities. At least we had Last night of the Proms.

ITV didn’t do any better, They offered us Celebrity Tipping Point, a program where Celebrities manage to show just how thick they really are. This was followed by Celebrity Family Fortunes, a big mistake asking celebrities to actually guess something. Then we had Celebrity Catchphrase, followed by the most annoying person on TV (Phillip Schofield) and the equally annoying Cube. To end the peak viewing, we were invited to Beat the Chasers.

I really hate this rubbish they throw at us, it is always the same C list celebrities, or ‘celebrities’ from Love Island or one of those other fly on the wall sick programmes where the ‘celebrities’ were filling shelves at Morrison’s just a few weeks ago. We can’t even escape to the pub as most of them have either closed down or been turned into eateries. Thank goodness for Netflix, Now TV and the other choice of free channels.

Rant over!!!!

On this day in 1885 The Scottish football team of Arbroath beat Bon Accord (from Aberdeen) by 36 goals to nil in the first round of the Scottish Cup, making it a record-breaking score for professional football. Thirteen goals were scored by centre-forward John Petrie.

Also on this day in 1960 Ministry of Transport (MoT) tests on motor vehicles were introduced in the UK. Meanwhile ten years later in 1970 The supersonic Concorde passenger jet landed at Heathrow Airport for the first time to a barrage of complaints from nearby residents about noise.

Apparently, Thames police pulled a man’s body out of the water yesterday. It seems that he had consumed copious amounts of alcohol, fell in and drowned. He was heavily made up with bright red lipstick, eye shadow etc, he was wearing stockings, high heels and a tutu with an arsenal shirt. The police removed the arsenal shirt to save his families embarrassment.

There were 28,625 new cases today with a further 56 deaths.

Monday 13/09/2021 – Day 543

Quite a lot of rain last night, which has cheered Mrs H up no end, she reckons it’ll do the garden a power of good, and save me from getting the hosepipe out of course.

Monday morning blues today is defined as ‘feeling sad when the weekend is over and returning to a job you don’t particularly like.’ But for our mothers, back in the fifties it meant something entirely different.

Monday morning blues to our mums or nans meant the start of a day of hard work and toil, it was literally the hardest day of the week for a mother of children, The more children, the harder the day. Let’s take 1955 for example. My mum would have been 29 years old, she would have already had 6 children between ten years ond one year, and another on the way. But it was Monday morning at 5.30am and there was work to be done.

She would start the day with a cup of tea and a couple of cigarettes as she sorted through the huge mountain of washing into two separate piles. Then the boiler had to be dragged out from the slot by the side of the sink. This was always hidden by a curtain on a wire. She would plug the gas hose in and light the boiler after filling it with hot water. Then in went the first lot.. Next job would be to wake the eldest for school. Make sure they got dressed and washed and then feed them. By 8.30 am there would be just mum and two toddlers in the kitchen.

The first load of washing had to be taken out of the boiler using a U-shaped pair of wooden tongs with a metal spring holding them together, they would be rinsed in cold water and put through the green mangle mauled in from the outhouse. Then the next lot went in as the first lot was hung on the line using wooden dolly pegs and hoisted high into the air using a wooden ‘prop’ usually made from a long forked branch specifically cut for the purpose. This process would be repeated at least four times during the day. In between she would have to prepare a meal for the family, usually a huge pot of stew which could simmer most of the day. It would contain vegetables, potato’s, and the remains of Sundays meat, including any bone. Later in the day dumplings would be added. On the gas ring next to the stew another massive pot bubbled away, it would be boiling the babies nappies.

By around 3.00pm the washing would be finished, damp clothes would be laid over wooden chairs outside, or on a wooden clothes horse, because the line was full. This was the time she would finally sit down for another cup of tea and a cigarette, before the children came home from school. As they arrived home each of them would be given a ‘piece’ which was basically bread and scrape (butter) with a sprinkling of sugar. Then they would change into play clothes and have to go out while dad got up.

He had been in bed all day as he worked permanent nights. He did four twelve-hour night shifts from six to six. So he would leave around 5.15pm and the kids would be called in for tea. All this time I (3years old) was clinging on to mothers apron whilst she was holding my younger brother in her arms.

All the children were in bed by 7.00pm, if it was Summer and still light, then the blackouts were put up. These were basically thick dark curtains that stopped the light coming in. But it didn’t stop the shouts and laughter of other children playing in the street. Once everyone was tucked up in bed my mother would stand precariously on a chair and plug the iron into the light socket using a two-way special adaptor. It would be close to midnight before she switched off the light and retired to bed. She had just done an eighteen-and-a-half-hour day, and she would be up at 5.30 the following morning to make my dad’s breakfast when he returned from work.

New cases rose slightly to 30,263 whilst registered deaths were 61.

Tuesday 14/09/2021 – Day 544

Been raining most of the night here in Kidderminster. This has left a grey and overcast sky with a promise of more rain to come.

Had some fantastic news to start the day. Our granddaughter Mollie (Sarah’s daughter) is one of the most brilliant artist’s I have ever seen. She can put her hand to anything. She has been attending a course at our local college now for the past twelve months. She then took her exams back in June. The poor lass has been waiting ever since for her results. She went into college last week and asked for them, they didn’t have them to hand and promised to email her the results. They finally came through today, she passed every one of her exams with flying colours, so proud of her. She is now looking for a University to take her on.

Meanwhile Mrs H has had me mauling all the furniture about. Remember that bar she insisted on me building from an old pallet? Well, she has decided that it is to big and bulky now to sit in the Garden room for which it was originally created. Now, you would think that I am being an old misery, after all, we only have to move the bar which I had put on rollers anyway. But what you don’t realise dear reader is that this one simple task has resulted in the upheaval of three different buildings.

So try and stay with me as I take you through the mornings tasks. Firstly, I had to take the shelves and the back of the bar. We then had to move umpteen pots and plants in order to get it into the building down the garden. With thoughts of ‘To me, to you’ and ‘Cooee, Mr Shifter, do you know the piano’s on my Foot’ drifting through my head, we started the intrepid journey down the garden.

Actually, it didn’t go too bad considering how handicapped I was (Mrs H) we just gouged out a long line through the lawn. We mauled it into the gazebo. Then I had to unfix a large, arched mirror and take it to the Garden room ready to fix. Next, we had to move the two large mustard winged armchairs from the Summer house to the Garden room. Are you still with me? Then the two chairs that were in the garden room had to be carried down the garden to the Summer house.

I am so fortunate, apart from helping move the bar, Mrs H let me get on with moving all the other heavy stuff on my own. Wasn’t that kind of her. We finally finished after Mrs H had worked her magic with all the odds and ends.

We stood back and looked at our work, and do you know, Mrs H was right all along, everyone of those three rooms looked a lot better for the change. Don’t tell her I said that though.

Meanwhile, I had bought a very large wood and glass bow fronted unit a few days ago. They delivered it after lunch. I will now work my magic (hopefully) and bring it into the twenty first century with a makeover.

A further 26,191new cases today, but registered deaths rose to 185.

Wednesday 15/09/2021 – Day 545

Well, after a dull as dishwater start to the day the sun decided to pop its head out and we have a beautifully warm sunny day.

I decided to make a start on the new cabinet that was delivered yesterday. It all had to be washed down with sugar soap and then rinsed off with cold water. It would then need a slight sanding to allow the new paint to key in.

Mrs H had other ideas though. We had moved the bar down to the gazebo yesterday, but I hadn’t screwed it back together. In order for Mrs H to finish off the gazebo this had to be done straight away.

Later, I was in the Repair shop when I heard someone shout my name. I had completely forgotten that the chap had come to service the central heating boiler.

Today is Battle of Britain day. On Sunday 15 September 1940 the Luftwaffe launched its largest and most concentrated attack against London in the hope of drawing out the RAF into a battle of annihilation. Around 1,500 aircraft took part in the air battles which lasted until dusk. The action was the climax of the Battle of Britain.]RAF Fighter Command defeated the German raids; the Luftwaffe formations were dispersed by a large cloud base and failed to inflict severe damage on the city of London. In the aftermath of the raid, Hitler postponed Operation Sea Lion. Having been defeated in daylight the Luftwaffe turned its attention to The Blitz night campaign which lasted until May 1941.

Battle of Britain Day, 15 September, is now an annual commemoration of the battle in the United Kingdom. In Canada, the commemoration takes place on the third Sunday of September.

On this day in 1960 London introduced Traffic Wardens onto the streets of the capital., they became known as the ‘yellow perils’.

A word of advice lads, never argue with the wife when you’re in bed and overtired.

Mrs H: What would you do if I died? Would you get married again? Me: Definitely not! Mrs H: Why not... don't you like being married? Me Of course I do. Mrs H: Then why wouldn't you remarry? Me Okay, I'd get married again. Mrs H: You would? (with a hurtful look on her face). Me (makes audible groan).

Mrs H Would you sleep with her in our bed? Me: Where else would we sleep? Mrs H Would you replace my pictures with hers? Me That would seem like the proper thing to do. Mrs H Would she use my golf clubs? Me: No, she's left-handed. <deafening silence>

There were 30,402 new cases reported today, registered deaths rose to 201.

Thursday 16/09/2021 – Day 546

Another sunny day for us here, once the mist had cleared we had a lovely day. With my upcoming hospital appointment looming at 2,00pm I couldn’t concentrate on anything. The fact that I rose at 5.30 am didn’t help matters. So I spent most of the morning writing.

At 1.30 Mrs H dropped me off at the hospital for my half hour appointment. I sat nervously in the waiting room, with current Covid restrictions Mrs H wasn’t allowed into the hospital. I was called in by a nurse at bang on 2.00pm, taken to a room and given an ECG, Then I had to wait outside for a few minutes to be called in by the consultant whose name was Julie. She asked me lots of questions about my health and daily routine, how I felt when the pains started in my chest etc.

Then she took my blood pressure, she looked a little concerned and took it again. This was when she informed me that my blood pressure was quite low. She listened to my heart with a stethoscope and after a few more questions she confirmed that I did indeed have Angina. The problem she had now was to find me a medicine to suit my case. Betablockers were the answer, but they tend to lower your blood pressure, she explained that if I took them I would probably drop to the floor and black out. It took her 15 minutes to find a medicine that wouldn’t knock me out or interfere with my Asthma medicine. But at least she found something and at least I now know where I stand – as long as I don’t take betablockers.! Mind you, I was a bit perturbed when I was telling Mrs H and she asked me where I kept the Life Insurance papers.

On this day in 1485 Yeomen Warders, the bodyguard of the English Crown - popularly known as 'Beefeaters' - was established by King Henry VII. Yeoman Warders work full time at the Tower of London. They are retired from the Armed Forces, have at least 22 years of service and must also hold the Long Service and Good Conduct medal. Additional note from Dave Phillips - "Yeomen of the Guard work at St. James' Palace on a voluntary basis, around 10 days a year and are often incorrectly referred to as Beefeaters."

Also on this day in 1915 The opening of Britain’s first Women’s Institute, (regularly referred to as simply the WI) at Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Anglesey, Wales. Its two aims were to revitalise rural communities and to encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War. It is now the largest women’s voluntary organisation in the UK.

And finally on this day in 1968 Britain introduced a 'two tier' postal system - First and Second Class. Letters and parcels bearing the more expensive 1st class stamps would be given priority of delivery. And another great con was performed on the British public.

It was getting too crowded in Heaven, so, for one day, it was decided only to accept people who had really had a bad day on the day they died.

St. Peter was standing at the pearly gates and said to the first man, "Tell me about the day you died."

The man said, "Oh, it was awful. I was sure my wife was having an affair, so I came home early to catch her with him. I searched all over the apartment but couldn't find him anywhere. So I went out onto the balcony, we live on the 25th floor, and found this man hanging over the edge by his fingertips. I went inside, got a hammer, and started hitting his hands. He fell but landed in some bushes. So, I got the refrigerator and pushed it over the balcony and it crushed him. The strain of the act gave me a heart attack, and I died."

St. Peter couldn’t deny that this was a pretty bad day, and since it was a crime of passion, he let the man in. He then asked the next man in line about the day he died.

"Well, sir, it was awful," said the second man. "I was doing aerobics on the balcony of my 26th floor apartment when I twisted my ankle and slipped over the edge. I managed to grab the balcony of the apartment below, but some maniac came out and started pounding on my fingers with a hammer. Luckily I landed in some bushes. But, then the guy dropped a refrigerator on me!"

St. Peter chuckled, let him into Heaven and decided he could really start to enjoy this job.

"Tell me about the day you died?” he said to the third man in line.

"OK, picture this; I’m naked, hiding inside a refrigerator...."

New cases dropped to 26911 today but I don’t think these figures included Scotland. Meanwhile deaths dropped to 158.

Friday 17/09/2021 – Day 547

Very overcast here in Kidderminster. Had some bad news this morning, yet another local young girl who had been battling cancer for three years has lost her battle last night. Megan Smith was a nurse. A page was set up to raise money to send her to America for an operation that could have saved her. This gave her an additional nine months of precious life. She was so brave and an inspiration to everyone whose life she touched. RIP Megan.

I have another dental appointment in Stourbridge this morning. I have one more next week and hopefully that will be my last appointment for a time, I just can’t understand why the words of Pam Ayres ‘I wish I’d looked after me teeth’ keep going through my head on the journey there.

After quite a busy week there’s quite a bit of work to catch up on, Mrs H has a border to sort out whilst I need to get my lawns cut and my pond cleaned out. Had to have a talk with my elderly neighbour yesterday, I’ve told him that I won’t be able to cut the sixty-foot-long hedge for a while as I’ve been diagnosed with a dodgy ticker. I asked if his gardener might cut it for a while, I offered to pay half, his answer was.

“No, I’ll pay for it, you’ve been cutting that hedge for the last twenty years, I think you’ve done your share, you just look after yourself.”

What a lovely fellow!

The morning's newspapers carried the story of the death of Sir Clive Sinclair who died yesterday, aged 81. Sinclair popularised the home computer, the pocket calculator and the Sinclair C5 "a small, one-person battery electric recumbent tricycle." He launched the first affordable consumer computer in 1980, costing less than £100.

When I was a child I absolutely loved Fridays. Perhaps it was because it was the end of the school week and we had all the freedom of the weekend. The sun always seemed to shine in my memories, even though I know that was an impossibility. But we would play in the street on a warm Friday evening. The milkman would call for his money or milk tokens. He would be followed by the greengrocer, John Fletcher had an aptly green coloured van that was kitted out with wooden shelves. He sold everything that was available in the summer months. My mum would visit his shop in town on most days, but with four or five children hanging from a silver cross pram, and having to walk everywhere, things like potato’s were too heavy to cart the two miles back home, and up a steep hill. Those were the days when there was normally only one type of potato, which were normally King Edwards, Most housewives would dread the ‘new potatoes’ in Spring, they couldn’t be peeled, but you could rub the skins. They were great for a roast dinner, but no good for homemade chips which was our staple diet.

In those warm days of the late fifties coal was delivered by horse and cart. A couple of men would go up to the railway station and fill the one hundredweight coal sacks from the mountainous piles dropped by the trains. They would come round on Friday evenings, my mum would often buy one bag at a time to stock up for the coming Winter, it was always cheaper to buy in the Summer months. I can still see my mum stood there arms folded and sucking on an embassy cigarette as she watched that they didn’t drop any slack or stone in the coal.

Take Your Pick with Michael Miles and Rawhide or Wagon Train always brought memories of a Friday night too. We were always allowed to stay up an hour later as well. Happy Days.

After yesterdays blip new cases rose to 32,651, deaths also rose to 178.

Saturday 18/09/2021 – Day 548

We had every intention of going to a car boot sale this morning, but by the time we’d had our tea/coffee, got washed, shaved (me not Mrs H , although….) it was ten o clock. The car alarm has gone off three times in the last 24 hours. The last time was at 1.15 this morning. It went off again at 9.00am and again an hour ago. As we investigated I opened my passenger door and a large Crane fly was clinging to the handle, Mrs H had left the windows slightly open last night, she must have shut it in there when the alarm first went off and she closed the windows. We are hoping that was the problem, otherwise our neighbours won’t get too much sleep tonight.

Did you ever go to your local market on a Saturday morning?. We used to go after the Minors at the ABC cinema. It really was a wonderful place, our local market was an indoor one, it was designed in the shape of a cross with three different entrances and exits.

I used to buy second-hand records that had originally been on Juke boxes in cafes and pubs, You could buy them for 3d instead of the usual 1shilling. Problem was, that to put them on the Juke box, the centres had to be pushed out. But someone came up with a plastic centre which could be pushed back in. There was also around plastic insert that went on your Dansette record player to allow you to play your records without the centres.

Another favourite was swapping your old comics or books, I would take ours in and swap them for comics we couldn’t afford or didn’t normally read. It would cost a halfpenny so you could have a dozen swaps for a tanner or sixpence. Then, when you’d read them all you’d simply swap them the following week. Great service.

Joke of the week.

An Irishman, who just moved to London from Dublin, walks into a bar and orders three pints of Guinness. He sits in the back of the room, drinking a sip out of each one in turn.

When he finishes them, he comes back to the bar and orders three more.

The bartender approaches and tells the Irishman, "You know, a pint goes flat after I draw it. It would taste better if you bought one at a time."

The Irishman replies, "Well, you see, I have two brothers. One is in Belfast , the other is in Cork. When we all left our home in Dublin, we promised that we'd drink this way to remember the days when we drank together. So I'm drinking one Guinness for each of my brothers and one for myself."

The bartender admits that this is a nice custom and leaves it there.

The Irishman becomes a regular in the bar, and always drinks the same way. He orders three pints and drinks them in turn.

One day, he comes in and only orders two pints. All the regulars take notice and fall silent.

When he comes back to the bar for the second round, the bartender says, "I don't want to intrude on your grief, but I wanted to offer my condolences on your loss."

The Irishman looks quite puzzled for a moment, then a light dawns in his eyes and he laughs.

"Oh, no, everybody's just fine," he explains.

"It's just that my wife and I joined the church and I had to quit drinking."

“It hasn't affected my brothers though."

Today new cases rose slightly. There were a further 30,144 new cases , about 600 lmore than this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 211,978 a fall of 48,511on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 164 bringing the weekly total to 983998 a rise of 15 on last week. There were 5,958,691 recoveries a rise of 198,931 on last week’s total.

Week 80

Sunday 19/09/2021 – Day 549

Lovely sunny day here in Kidderminster, but we had heavy rain through the night, I would have gone out to cut the lawns but my head and my stomach won’t allow it. I blame Mrs H, we popped around to the local at 2.00pm yesterday to help support the Macmillan morning. Umpteen Guinness later and we left at around 12.30 am. Needless to say that I’m feeling very fragile today.

Sad news today, 2021 The death of Jimmy Greaves (James Peter Greaves), English professional footballer. the highest goal scorer in the history of English top-flight football (357 goals). He also scored more hat-tricks (six) for England than any other player. After retiring as a player, Greaves went on to enjoy a successful career in broadcasting, most notably working alongside Ian St John on Saint and Greavsie from 1985 to 1992

1839 Birth of George Cadbury, the chocolate manufacturer. A Quaker, he believed in taking care of the welfare of his workforce, and he created a model village for his employees at Bournville, Birmingham. The Cadbury brothers were concerned with the quality of life of their employees and their village provided an alternative to grimy city life. As more land was acquired and the brothers moved the factory to a new country location, they decided to build a town (designed by architect William Alexander Harvey), which was not exclusive to the employees of the factory. This village became known as Bournville after the nearby river and French word for "town". The houses were never privately owned, and their value stayed low and affordable. Bournville was a marked change from the poor living conditions of the urban environment. Here, families had houses with yards, gardens, and fresh air. To the present, the town offers affordable housing.

1879 The famous illuminations in Blackpool were switched on for the first time, a month before electricity was generally available in London. The first display was known as 'Artificial sunshine’ and consisted of just eight Arc lamps which bathed the Promenade.

1960 The new traffic wardens issued the first 344 parking tickets in London. Britain's first parking ticket was issued to Dr. Thomas Creighton, who had parked his car outside a London hotel while treating a patient.

1975 The first episode of comedy show Fawlty Towers was broadcast by the BBC. Mrs H and I actually met his Belgium cousin when we went on a weekend trip to Ostend with a group of people. The Ferry was late getting in so we were late getting to the hotel. It was between 12.00 midnight and 1.00am when we finally arrived. There wasn’t a problem until next morning at breakfast. Mein Host was a six-foot skinny chap minus the moustache that the real Basil Fawlty sported.

He started out being very nice – until someone asked him for more toast. He flew into the kitchen and a few minutes later he slammed the rack of toast onto the table.

Guest. I’m sorry, is there a problem.?

Basil 2. You English people are the problem. You arrive here in the early hours and you expect to book in without ze problem. You were up and down in ze lifts until ze early morning. We do have other guests as you are probably aware.

Guest Pray tell me, how were we supposed to get our luggage up to our rooms without using the lift?.

Basil 2 You do not have stairs in England.

Guest. Yes we do, we also have very accommodating hotels whose managers are very obliging no matter what time of day or night it is.

Basil 2 Ah yes, your good old British ospitality, but we see your ospitality on our TV, we see that hotel in Torquay where the Basil Farty is very rude to everyone, but we are expected to welcome you with open arms.

Guest You did in World War Two. (a huge cheer from the other guests.

That was the last we saw of the Belgian would be Basil. We later discovered that he was in fact of German origin.

There were 29023 cases in the UK today, also 56 deaths.

Monday 20/09/2021 – Day 550

A beautiful sunny day here in Kidderminster today. I was up with the lark and went out to tidy up the front drive. We have five or six seventy-foot-high trees opposite us on a green. Beautiful to look at in the Summer but when Autumn arrives we are up to our knees in leaves. Great for composting though or using as leaf mould.

The ground was so dry, despite a downpour on Saturday night. I had to drag the hose out to water the plants, Then it was round the back garden to mow the lawns and do a bit of tidying up.

Mrs H and I watched Countryfile last night, it featured the hopyards of Bromyard which is around 25 miles from here. My Mum and dad went hop picking there in the forties and fifties. It was treated as a holiday by families back then. Today, 25 miles is nothing, but in the days of just horse and carts and no-one having cars, it was more practical to stay on the farm for the month.

So people would pack up their pots and pans, tin mugs, and plates etc. They would stay in the barns which were mostly full of straw. Considering the fact that everyone smoked in those days, I never once heard of a fire. My old Nan who lived with us at the time, used to tell me stories of the hop yards. The first thing to do on arrival was sort out your accommodation. Long sacks were stuffed full of straw for you to sleep on.

In 1939 when war broke out, my dad went to join the army at Worcester. He was accepted immediately, but two days later his mother turned up to get him back. He had lied to recruiting officers about his age, he was only sixteen at the time. He enlisted again in1941 but this time he joined the Royal Navy. He was trained as a stoker (men who threw the coal into the massive boilers on board ship).That same year he was to be deployed to HMS Prince of Wales. In late August he was sent home on leave prior to joining his new ship. But back in Kidderminster he met his future wife – my mum.

So, instead of joining his ship he went Hop picking with her in Bromyard. Three weeks later he was reported by someone and arrested at the farm by NP’s (Naval Police). He was sentenced to six months hard labour and ordered to re-join his ship when it was completed.

But in December 1941 HMS Prince of Wales was attacked by Japanese aircraft and torpedoes, she went down with most of the crew, my dad being in the engine room wouldn’t have stood a chance. He served his time and fought on through the war with the Royal Navy with no more mishaps.

Mum and dad went hop picking through the fifties when she wasn’t carrying a new baby.

My Gran used to organise nostalgic coach trips back there in the early seventies. I went on one in 1971. I hadn’t been in a hop field since I was two years old, but I recognised that smell straight away.

Did you know that the Flat Earth Society (those who believe that the world’s flat) boast that they have members all around the globe.

A further 35328 new cases along with 49 registered deaths.

Tuesday 21/09/2021 – Day 551

The sun is trying to break through on what is a dull as dishwater day. My younger brothers funeral is tomorrow, so my baby brother (sixty-one years old and the youngest sibling) is coming up from Dorset to attend the funeral. He messaged me yesterday to say that they’d be arriving at around 7.00pm this evening. So we will pick them up at 7.15 and take them to the local eatery for food, drink and a catch-up.

Haven’t seen Paul and Maria for a few years now, so we have lots to discuss, last time we saw them we were holidaying in Weymouth and caught the train to go and see them down at Wool where they live quite close to the sea. They managed to get all their teenage children together for the occasion and we had an all-day party in their local pub. To say Mrs H and I were a bit wobbly on the return journey would be a gross understatement.

Took Sarah to the hospital yesterday foe laser treatment on her eye, all went well and she will have the other eye done at the end of September. Bit of a shock when we pulled up outside her house though, the green lawn is covered with invasive yellow flowers. I will pop around tomorrow and cut them down with the lawnmower, I believe she has a list of jobs for me as well, some things never change. But I do like to keep busy.

On this day in 1756 John Loudon McAdam, the engineer who invented and gave his name to macadamised (tarmac) roads, was born in Ayr, Scotland. It was then that the name tarmacadam was invented.

And on this day in 1915 Stonehenge was sold at auction to Mr C H Chubb for £6,600 as a present for his wife. Mr Chubb presented it to the nation three years later as his wife didn't think it suited her and she preferred more precious stones around her neck.

And finally on this day in 1986 Prince Charles admitted that he talked to his plants. This revelation caused women all over the country to disappear into their greenhouses for a bit of a chinwag with their plants, and Prince Charles popularity with husbands grew tremendously overnight.

Old Chinese proverb, ‘ A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows public opinion.’

Worst joke of the week. What do you call birds that stick together – Vel-crows.

I suppose we’ll have lots of empty supermarket shelves now that the idiots on TV have announced that there will be shortages because of the lack of Gas. On our local news last night they even reported that children’s toys will go up threefold because of transport problems. Some chap was urging everyone to buy their children’s Christmas presents NOW, because they won’t be there in December. Of course they won’t be there in December if everyone goes out and buys them NOW you idiot. Has the entire world gone insane? The only panic buying years ago was when the barman shouted last orders.

There were 30948 new cases recorded today, but deaths rose to 203.

Wednesday 22/09/2021 – Day 552.

Mrs H are debating that while the weather is still good, we should have some friends around to stare at their phones.

Today I have to say goodbye to another brother, but sadly, I won’t be attending the funeral. Here in Kidderminster we have a crematorium where a service is held and everyone says goodbye. But the last time Mrs H and I were in that building was at our daughter Vickie’s funeral. We can’t even bear to pass there. I have lost three siblings and been unable to attend any of their funerals. It would just open up so many wounds and bad memories for both of us to enter that building again. If there was a church service we would go. Most of my remaining siblings thankfully understand what we mean.

Today in 1955, almost 20 years after the launch of BBC television – the world's first public television service – the Beeb was served up with a competitor: “Independent Television”, or ITV as we would eventually know it. Only six minutes of advertisements were allowed each hour (bliss) and there was no Sunday morning TV permitted. The first advertisement screened was for Gibbs SR toothpaste. Many people were worried that commercial broadcasting would lead to a dramatic fall in standards. So a requirement to produce quality programmes was included. Six franchises were put out to tender. And at 7:15pm on 22 September, Associated-Rediffusion – which had been awarded the London weekday franchise – began broadcasting.

The first thing to air was a five-minute introductory film. The launch night began with a grand opening ceremony at London's Guildhall, and an announcement that today sounds both parochial and overly formal. As the camera showed aerial shots of the capital, the presenter announced: “Zero hour is on us. Here, high above the heart of old London, we salute you.

“Ready, the OB vans at Guildhall!

“Ready, the vision mixer, sound mixers, cameramen, directors!

“Ready, all those who’ve made this possible!

“Ready, our friends, you citizens of London! Wish us Godspeed. Over to Guildhall. Good luck, all! Here we go!”

Then – lucky people! – there was a chance to hear speeches from the Lord Mayor and the Postmaster General, and a rendition of the National Anthem.

Later, there was a variety show featuring Hughie Green and Harry Secombe, and a performance of The Importance of Being Earnest, starring John Gielgud.

Then it was off to London's Guildhall, where viewers were treated to a gala evening of live variety entertainment. Just under an hour later, Britain's first TV advert was aired for Gibbs SR toothpaste.

Top of Form

On this day in 1991 Bryan Adams made chart history when his song - Everything I Do, I Do It For You, had its twelfth consecutive week as the UK No.1. That record really got on my nerves, it didn’t help that an elderly woman in my local insisted on putting it on the juke box five times in a row every hour. The landlord was forced to take it off after a week.

Also on this day in 1999 Screaming Lord Sutch's Official Monster Raving Loony Party honoured his memory with a two-minute scream at a pub in Ashburton, Devon. The singer, born David Sutch, hanged himself on 16th June 1999. He was just 58 years old.

After 100 years lying on the seabed, Irish divers were amazed to find that the Titanic's swimming pool was still full.

A further 34,143 new cases today, registered deaths were 166.

Thursday 23/09/2021 – Day 553

It’s actually ‘spitting’ with rain here this morning. Good job I went around to Sarah’s yesterday and cut her lawns, there were yellow flowers a foot high with heads the size of daffodils, what’s all that about then. I also put up a lot of large photograph frames which have been awaiting my attention for almost a month now.

Ok dear reader, picture this, It’s Friday night and you’re in the supermarket, the place is heaving and the queues at the checkout are so long that they are encroaching into the aisles and beyond. You count a line of thirty tills, eighteen of which are not in use. You could have gone to the Spar shop on the corner of your road, but you’re canny when it comes to money and there’s no way you’d pay their prices.

So, you’re standing there clutching your pint of milk, your thick sliced loaf, a tub of best butter, a pack of beer, a can of deodorant and a toilet roll all a snip at the price of your corner shop. Your head rolls from side to side looking for an opening or a shorter queue.

Then you spot it, right down the end, a big sign that says those magical words. ‘Express Checkout baskets only,’ without any further thought you head down there, as you get closer your eyes focus on the small print, which anyone with half decent eyesight would have spotted immediately. Your heart sinks as you read ‘Five items or less.’ Looking down at your basket you count six items. Thoughts flood into your head, what can you realistically leave behind without it affecting your present life. Well. The bread and butter are exactly what they say they are, and a great necessity to sustain life.

The milk is needed for a cup of tea, more importantly, the wife’s early morning coffee, without that milk all hell would break loose and any marital rights would be withdrawn. The pack of beer doesn’t even warrant thinking about, how are you supposed to relax to obtain the aforementioned marital rights? The beer is definitely a big No No. That just leaves the deodorant and the Toilet roll. You sniff your armpits, not too bad, you could do without the deodorant for another day, but would she accept your marital advances without smelling nice. So there you are in the central aisle trying to find a suitable hole to dump a six pack of scented Aloe Vera toilet rolls. You could just tell your beloved that there’s a shortage.

You lose the toilet rolls and head towards the long queue at the express checkout swinging your basket cheerfully, even though the queue is long, at five items per customer you’ll soon be served. As you get closer your jaw drops, the long queue of people are struggling under the weight of their overloaded baskets and you may as well have gotten into one of the other queues.

You leave your basket in the middle of the floor and head toward the Spar shop on the corner of the road.

Speaking of supermarkets, all the empty shelves are being filled up with absolutely anything to do with Halloween including framed pictures of my mother-in-law, when more shelves become empty, they cram them full of mince pies. Have I fell asleep for a month or are we still in September?

Have you ever noticed that if you look very closely into a mirror, it is made up of eyeballs. Just saying!

The Merchant Royal, also known as Royal Merchant, was a 17th-century English merchant ship that was lost at sea off Land's End in rough weather on 23 September 1641. On board were at least 100,000 pounds of gold (over 1 billion in today's money), 400 bars of Mexican silver (another 1 million) and nearly 500,000 pieces of eight and other coins, making it one of the most valuable wrecks of all time.

The Merchant Royal spent two years trading with Spanish colonies in the West Indies from 1637 to 1640. England was at peace with Spain at this time. The Merchant Royal and her sister-ship, the Dover Merchant, called into Cadiz on their way home to London. By all accounts she was leaking badly after her long voyage.

When a Spanish ship in Cadiz at the same time caught fire just before she was due to carry treasure to convert into pay for Spain's 30,000 soldiers in Flanders, the Merchant Royal's Captain Limbrey saw his chance to make a little more cash for his owners. He volunteered to carry the treasure to Antwerp on his way home.

The Merchant Royal kept leaking after she and her sister-ship left Cadiz and, when the pumps broke down, she sank off Land's End in rough weather on 23 September 1641.

Eighteen men drowned in the sinking. Captain Limbrey and 40 of his crew got away in boats and were picked up by Dover Merchant. It is not likely that the treasure was taken aboard the Dover Merchant.

Two years ago an anchor which was the same as the missing ships anchor was caught in a trawlers nets. But up to date the treasure trove has never been found.

New cases rose to 36709 today, whilst registered deaths came in at 182.

Friday 24/09/2021 – Day 554

I’m a bit worried about the new doctor at our surgery, when I asked him what the cause of dry skin was he replied ‘Towels.’

Did you ever wonder why we say, ‘For Pete’s sake’?

“For Pete's sake” originated as a substitute for “for Christ's (or God's) sake,” and other similar expressions—as using a shortened form of the disciple St. Peter's name instead was considered less offensive.

On this day in1842 Bramwell Bronte, brother of the Bronte sisters, died of drugs and drink. He was the model for the drunkard Hindley Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights.

Today, back in 1942 The birth of Gerry Marsden of Gerry and the Pacemakers. In 1963 he reached the UK No.1 with his record 'You'll Never Walk Alone', now the anthem of Liverpool Football Club. They were the first act to reach number one in the UK Singles Chart with their first three single releases: "How Do You Do It?", "I Like It" and "You'll Never Walk Alone".[2] This record was not equalled for 20 years, until the mid-1980s success of fellow Liverpool band Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Another of their most famous songs, "Ferry Cross the Mersey", refers to the River Mersey, which flows past Liverpool. The group's original name was Gerry Marsden and the Mars Bars, but they were forced to change this when the Mars Company, producers of the chocolate Mars bar, complained. The group narrowly missed a fourth consecutive number one when "I'm the One" was kept off the top spot for two weeks in February 1964 by fellow Liverpudlians The Searchers' "Needles and Pins".Ah ..... nostalgia!

And finally on this day in 2009 The UK's largest haul of Anglo-Saxon treasure was discovered buried in a field in Staffordshire. Terry Herbert, who found it on farmland using a metal detector, said that it was a metal detectorist's dream. Experts said that the collection of 1,500 gold and silver pieces, which may date to the 7th Century, was unparalleled in size and worth "3.3 million". Terry Herbert made the discovery using a £2.50 metal detector from a car boot sale.

He uncovered the ancient gold and silver haul on farmer Fred Johnson's land, The pair would go on to find fame and fortune - but are now at loggerheads.

Mr Herbert claims Mr Johnson wanted the riches all for himself. Well I’m off to the car boot to find an old Metal detector.

There was a slight fall in new cases today to 35623, a further 180 new deaths were registered.

Saturday 25/09/2021 – Day 555

It was really warm yesterday, Mrs H and I went shopping to Aldi and Tesco’s. Remember when you went on holiday and you stepped off the plane in another country. The heat would hit you like a hammer, well it was like that when we came out of the supermarkets yesterday, yet there was little sun around.

Talking about Tesco’s, our store has a garage attached to it, we had to wait until last night to get our shopping because hundreds of panic buyers were blocking the route to the store by queuing up for petrol. These greedy people have been told umpteen times that there was no need for panic buying, there is no shortage of fuel in the UK, just drivers to deliver it. There are lots of HGV drivers in the army, why doesn’t this government use them to deliver the petrol to placate all those idiots in those queues, just saying.

Mrs H, Gemma, Sarah, and I popped off to our local social club at Franche village yesterday at 10.30 am. No we are not alcoholics, (Can’t vouch for the girls though), we went there to support the annual Macmillan morning. I certainly did my best, by eating a copious amount of home-made cakes. The Victoria sponge just melted in your mouth.

Met a few friends of this blog while we there, one lovely lady has lived just one hundred metres away from us over the road and I had never met her until yesterday, we have both lived here in excess of thirty years. Such is today’s society I’m afraid. But I hope the Franche village club raised a lot of money, they certainly made everyone welcome.

I finally picked up my tablets for my newly acquired angina problem. They contained a tablet that I was already taking for cholesterol. The specialist I saw over a week ago told me that my cholesterol was fine. Yet they had given me more tablets at twice the strength. Problem was, do I take the 20gram and the new 40 gram together. The other tablet was to thin my blood I believe, but it said It would lower my blood pressure. The specialist last week told me that I already had low blood pressure.

I decided to phone the surgery to clear the problems up. After a 2-minute introduction I discovered I was No 25 in the queue, after three or four minutes I was No 24 in the queue. There was an option to hold your place and they would ring you back, this was certainly better than listening to the odious broken music tape whilst on hold. An hour later the phone rang, it told me I was now No 2 in the queue.

I finally got through to the receptionist and asked if a doctor could ring me back, she wanted to know why, when I explained she wanted to know what the problem with the medicine was, what my name and address was, what I had for tea, what time I went to the toilet and what time I would be going to bed. After she had finished all the niceties I was no further forward and was feeling a little anxious. She brought my records up on her screen! Remember, this is a receptionist who could live a few doors away from me and had access to all my personal details, what’s all that about?

She then informed me that I should discard the 20gram tablets and continue with the double dose tablets. And – this was a classic – if I should feel ill after taking the new tablets that may cause low blood pressure, then I should ring the surgery and speak to a doctor urgently. That reminded me of that old children’s favourite on a Saturday morning, now, what was it called? Oh yes,

‘There’s a hole in my bucket dear Liza, dear Liza’

If I die next week I will come back and haunt that woman and the surgery!

Mrs H Do you want anything to eat?

Me What are the choices?

Mrs H Yes or No.

Today new cases fell slightly. There were a further 31,348 new cases , but still about 1100 more than this time last week,bringing the weekly total to 233,122 a rise of 21,135 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 122bringing the weekly total to 958 a fall of 40 on last week. There were 6,159,135 recoveries a rise of 200,444 on last week’s total.

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