• harveyvickie

Diary of an Ex isolator weeks 96 - 100

Week 96

Sunday 09/01/2022 – Day 661

How can someone wake up feeling absolutely shattered? No, I have no idea either, but I did! Must be getting old I reckon.

Absolute rubbish on TV last night for a Saturday, the only thing worth watching was Michael McIntyre’s ‘Spin the Wheel, unless of course you’re a Casualty fan, which Mrs H and I are not.

I’m not a great football fan, but yesterday I spent almost two hours chomping at my nails as Kidderminster Harriers – the lowest ranked team left in the FA cup – played the much superior Reading who went ahead in the closing moments of the first half. But Kidderminster came back out, all guns blazing, and equalised, on the 82nd minute they went ahead. The game reached full time with us still in front, then the ref added a further 11 minutes! The agony of those 11 minutes are evident by the stumps of fingers I have remaining. The fourth-round draw gave us another home match – against West Ham. I’m forever bursting bubbles.

Those damn Pitts have a lot to answer for, on this day in 1799 Income tax was introduced into Britain by William Pitt the Younger, to raise funds for the Napoleonic War. The rate was two shillings in the pound. Young upstart, should have been hung, drawn, and quartered.

Today in Rochdale Lancashire, we welcomed Grace Stansfield into the world. As Gracie Fields she became one of the top ten film stars in Britain during the 1930s and the highest paid film star in the world in 1937. She was known affectionately as Our Gracie and the Lancashire Lass and for never losing her strong, native Lancashire accent. She was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) and an Officer of the Venerable Order of St John (OStJ) in 1938, and a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1979.

Gracie made her first stage appearance as a child, in 1905, joining children's repertory theatre groups such as "Haley's Garden of Girls" and the "Nine Dainty Dots". Her two sisters, Edith Fields and Betty Fields, and brother, Tommy Fields, all went on to appear on stage, but Gracie was the most successful. Gracie Fields' most famous song, "Sally", which became her theme, was worked into the title of her first film, Sally in Our Alley (1931), a major box office hit. She went on to make a number of films, initially in Britain and later in the United States (when she was paid a record fee of £200,000 for four films). Regardless, she never enjoyed performing without a live audience, and found the process of film-making boring. She tried to opt out of filming, before director Monty Banks persuaded her otherwise, landing her a lucrative Hollywood deal. Fields demanded that the four pictures be filmed in Britain and not Hollywood.

The final few lines of the song "Sally", which Fields sang at every performance from 1931 onwards, were written by her husband's mistress, Annie Lipman. Fields claimed in later life that she wanted to "Drown blasted Sally with Walter with the aspidistra on top!", a reference to two other of her well-known songs, "Walter, Walter", and "The Biggest Aspidistra In The World".

Gracie’s health declined in July 1979, when she contracted pneumonia after performing an open-air concert on the Royal Yacht which was docked in Capri's harbour. After a spell in hospital, she seemed to be recovering, but died on 27 September 1979. The press reported she died holding her husband's hand, but in reality he was at their Anacapri home at the time, while Gracie was home with the housekeeper, Irena. She is buried in Capri's Protestant Cemetery, in a white marble tomb. Her coffin was carried by staff from her restaurant.

And Finally on this day in 1972 British miners began their first strike since 1926, campaigning for improved pay and conditions. A season of power cuts quickly followed.

There were 139,577 new cases registered today along with a further 96 deaths.

Monday 10/01/2022 – Day 662

Well, I really don’t know how to start todays blog, it was sort of unreal and at one stage I really thought I was dreaming.

It started last night at 10.00pm. I was taking my inhalers as I always do at that time of the night, I always take them with water because the powder stick to the inside of your mouth. I was particularly thirsty, so swallowed almost a full glass of water.

That’s when I was hit by a searing pain in my chest, it was as though I had been stabbed, the pain was incredible. Thinking I had got heartburn I reached up into the cupboard for Gaviscon, I took two large teaspoons – which normally does the trick – but on this occasion, it didn’t work. By the time I had got up the stairs I was in real pain and breathless.

Nothing gets past Mrs H; I was wincing as I sat on the bed to rest and get my breath.

“What’s the matter?” she asked.

I explained what had happened downstairs and got greeted with the response-

“Oh my God, you’re having a heart attack, I’m phoning an ambulance.”

I pleaded with her not to, those poor souls have enough on their plate without having to deal with some old git who has a bad case of heartburn. We got into bed and watched TV, problem was this pain wasn’t getting any better, I suddenly became very tired, and my old ticker was pounding like a base drum. I could feel Mrs H’s eyes burning through me, full of worry and concern.

I eventually dropped off to sleep, but I was woken every 90 minutes with the pain in my chest. I woke up at 7.45 and went downstairs to make my usual cuppa, by the time I had reached the kitchen the pain was so bad that I couldn’t even lift the kettle to fill it. By the time I got back upstairs I thought my heart was going to burst. I phoned the doctors at 8.00am expecting to be first in the queue, after a two-minute introduction I was told I was 26th in the queue. Thirty minutes I was twentieth in the queue. I decided to get dressed whilst I was waiting, this was when Mrs H woke and could see I was in pain. She said she was going to phone an ambulance, this time, I didn’t argue with her.

Ten minutes later I was covered in wires and plugged into a heart machine. I was told almost immediately that I wasn’t suffering a heart attack. But my heartbeat was through the roof! A normal heartbeat is between 70 and 80 beats per minute – mine was fluctuating between 155 and 162. The ambulance woman was more concerned that it had been beating like that for almost 12 hours.

The result was a very fast blue light trip to Russell’s Hall hospital. A thirty-minute trip took just 15 minutes. I was taken into a room with just three patient places, within seconds I was linked up to their machines and two inserts were placed into my veins. My heart was still racing at 160bpm, they gave me morphine to ease the pain in my chest. Over the next two hours they tried two or three different procedures and medicines to slow my heart rate, all to no avail.

Eventually a team of doctors came from the Cardiac Aftercare Unit. There was a bit of an argument about the use of Beta blockers to slow the heart rate. It seems that Beta blockers are dangerous for asthmatics. But the team from upstairs decided that they had no choice but to risk it, I could go into cardiac arrest at any time soon. Reluctantly, the others agreed, it was administered, and a mixture of about seven nurses and doctors watched the screen with trepidation. The numbers started to fall, then they rose again, slowly, they fell back down to around 72. I half expected a round of applause from the team and could hear the sigh of relief.

For the rest of the day I was kept in for observation, by the time 7.00pm arrived I was safely back in the arms of Mrs H, I was absolutely shattered, but alive thanks to the staff at Russell Hall Hospital and the ambulance staff, I thank them all from the bottom of my healthy heart.

A further 139,212 new cases were recorded today, there was also 77 registered deaths.

Tuesday 11/01/2022 – Day 663

Woke up very late this morning but felt a lot better than I had for some weeks. Took my first new tablets, let’s hope they do their job.

I.ve had so many wonderful messages from people on other sites, it really is heart-warming.

I was sat in that room at the hospital yesterday, in a world of my home when Tipping Point came on the TV, I’m not a great fan of this programme, I find it quite mundane with contestants and so-called celebrities unable to answer the easiest of questions in general knowledge.

This got me thinking about old game shows, the oldest I can remember was Take Your Pick, this show actually started on Radio Luxemburg (remember the top twenty) in 1952, but with the start of Independent Television in 1955 it was converted for TV, Michael Miles was the host and contestants would have to pass the opening game, the host asked the contestant a series of questions in a 60-second span. The contestant could not say "yes" or "no", nor could they nod or shake their heads. If they did, the co-host would bang the gong and the next contestant would be introduced. Those completing the minute successfully were awarded a £1 prize, a princely sum back then. For the second part contestants would be asked general-knowledge questions. If they answered three out of four questions correctly, they picked a key from a set of ten, corresponding to one of the first ten boxes. The host would then try to buy back the key with increasing amounts of cash, up to about £50. One box also included a key to box 13, which would trigger another round of bidding while the contestant had to choose between their first prize, cash, or box 13 which could have an expensive household item or a booby prize. The show ran from 1955 to 1968.

An updated version hosted by singer and TV presenter Des O'Connor became the second version, which aired from 1992 to 1999. His future wife, Australian born Jodie Wilson, was one of the hostesses; she would later be replaced by former Neighbours twins Gayle and Gillian Blakeney, also from Australia. When I was at secondary school, we had a sadistic geography teacher who also had a macabre sense of humour, if you misbehaved in his classroom, he would send you down to the lockers to ‘open box 13, inside was a large size thirteen slipper, you would take it back to him and he would dish it out accordingly.

Another favourite of that era was Hughie Greens Double Your Money, Hughie Green brought this show to TV from Radio Luxembourg in 1955, with the very first episode airing on Monday 26 September of that year. Contestants had to choose from 42 (originally 58) available subjects and went through preliminary rounds, beginning at £1, leading up to the £32 level, with each question worth twice as much as the preceding one. At that point, a contestant would exit and return the following week to decide on entering the ‘Treasure Trail,’ leading to the £1,000 jackpot prize. Contestants could quit at any time and leave with their winnings. In order to enable the contestants to concentrate completely, and to avoid any possible answers shouted from the studio audience, all questions from £32 on up were asked while contestants were sealed inside an isolation booth.

Of course, the Granddaddy of them all was Bruce Forsyth’s Beat the clock which featured on Sunday Night at the London Palladium. It was an American import and would feature after the Tiller Girls had done their spot. A young thirty-year old Bruce Forsyth took over from host Tommy Trinder in 1958, after years of music hall and treading the boards Bruce became an overnight star, he brought a whole lot of fun to beat the clock, and some say that this was the forerunner of the ’Generation game’. Prizes and money could be won by couples who had been plucked out of the audience moments before. Games involved a mixture of skill, co-ordination, and luck, and were usually cobbled together by cheap props such as balloons, musical instruments, or magnetic letters. The featured couples would have to perform a trick or stunt, like changing clothes (previously put on, on top of their ordinary clothes) with each other within a set time. If I remember rightly If a couple managed to complete both stunts, the wife had to rearrange words stuck to a magnetic board and people had to "arrange them into a well- known phrase or saying" in 30 seconds. If she succeeded, the couple won a major prize. Whenever a bell rang, the couple who played at that time would play a jackpot stunt for a cash bonus worth £100 for each week since the last jackpot win. Well, that was a bit more long-winded than I had planned, but I hope you enjoyed the memories.

New cases dropped substantially today, there were 119,655, almost twenty thousand less than yesterday. There was also a massive increase in registered deaths to 379.

Wednesday 12/01/2022 – Day 664

There I was lay in bed with my tummy rumbling at 6’00am when I suddenly remembered that a cockroach could live up to nine days without its head before it actually starves to death, it was at this point I went downstairs to prepare my four Weetabix as I didn’t fancy starving to death OR losing my old head, as useless as it is I do like it in-situ.

Following Monday’s visit to the hospital, I thought I’d share this with you all:-

A man suffered a serious heart attack while shopping in a store.

The clerks called 999 when they saw him collapse to the floor.

The paramedics rushed the man to the nearest hospital where

he had emergency open heart bypass surgery.

He awoke from the surgery to find himself in the care of nuns

at the Catholic Hospital he had been taken to.

A nun was seated next to his bed holding a clip board loaded

with several forms and a pen. She asked him how he was going

to pay for his treatment.

"Do you have health insurance?" she asked.

He replied in a raspy voice, "No health insurance."

The nun asked, "Do you have money in the bank?"

He replied, "No money in the bank."

"Do you have a relative who could help you with the payments,

asked the irritated nun?

He said, "I only have a spinster sister and she is a nun."

The nun became agitated and announced loudly,

"Nuns are not spinsters! Nuns are married to God."

The patient replied, "Perfect."

"Send the bill to my brother-in-law!!..

You’ve got to laugh, even in the face of adversity!

On this day in 1899 Unable to launch their lifeboat at Lynmouth because of heavy storms, the crew, horses, and helpers dragged their 10-ton lifeboat Louisa and carriage, in the dark, the 15 miles overland to Porlock Weir. The 11-hour journey across Exmoor included a haul over Countisbury Hill (gradient 25% : 1 in 4) followed by descending another 1 in 4 hill down into Porlock where the corner of a house had to be demolished to gain access. Their rescue of the 18 crew from Forrest Hall was successful. The journey was re-enacted in daylight on 12th January 1999.

Today in 1959 Henry Cooper (Our Enry) defeated Brian London on points over 15 rounds, becoming British and European heavyweight boxing champion. Cooper was the first to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award twice (in 1967 and 1970). He is the only British boxer to win three Lonsdale Belts outright and he was knighted in 2000.

And finally, today in 1982 Mark Thatcher, son of the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, went missing in the Sahara while taking part in the Paris-Dakar Rally. He was rescued two days later, and it turned out that he had lost his way. The incident provoked a tidal wave of jokes and cartoons making fun of his sense of direction.

New cases rose slightly again today to 128,345, deaths also rose up to 398.

Thursday 13/01/2022 – Day 665

It’s freezing cold out there again today, in fact it’s cold enough to freeze the balls of a brass monkey!

Do you know where that phrase comes from? Well allow me to enlighten you. In the past, war ships carried iron cannons, which required cannon balls nearby. The cannon balls were stored in a square pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four, resting on nine, which rested on sixteen. In order to prevent the sixteen balls from rolling away, a metal plate called a monkey with sixteen round indentations was secured near the cannon. As iron rusts quickly, the plate was made of brass. Whilst the rusting problem may have been solved, brass contracts much more and quicker than iron in cold weather. As a consequence, when the temperature was extremely cold, the brass indentations would shrink, and the cannon balls would roll off the monkey. The temperature was therefore cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.

Little Georgie was always being teased by the kids in the street, they would gather around him, treating him like an idiot. They’d offer him a pound in one hand and a fifty pence piece in the other hand, Georgie always proved them right and took the fifty pence, they’d all laugh and run away.

One day, a watching neighbour said, “Georgie, they’re mocking you, don’t you know that a pound is twice as much as fifty pence?”

“Of course I do,” Georgie replied, “But if I took the one pound they’d stop, and so far I’ve got £22.50.”

Once again new cases fell to their lowest levels this week, there were 109,133 reported, deaths fell slightly to 335.

Friday 14/01/2022 – Day 666

Had a bit of a lie in this morning, it was almost eight o clock when I got my backside out, I wish now that I hadn’t bothered! It was a horrible damp, foggy and cold day outside. Speaking of horrible, have you seen what day we’re on today? Isn’t 666 supposed to be associated with the devil?

I’ve heard a new sensory supermarket is opening in our town, it has an automatic mister that is used to keep the produce fresh, just as you approach you hear distant thunder and get the smell of fresh rain. As you get near to the milk aisle you can hear the cows mooing and get the smell of fresh hay. Then, as you approach the egg trays you can hear the cackle of hens and smell bacon and eggs cooking. As you enter the vegetable section you can smell the hot buttered corn on the cob, however, I’ve been advised by George and Rose not to go down the toilet roll aisle!

Talking of rubbish, In my present ‘don’t overdo it’ condition I was sat reading a book last night when the dulcet tones of the introduction to Emmerdale came on the TV. It normally goes over my head, but on this occasion I looked up and noticed that the same maniac - that was in it the last time I looked up - was still there.

Yes I am talking about a character called Mena (or perhaps meaner in this case). If you watch this soap then you’ll know that Mena is supposed to be a nurse, a pillar of the community. Yet the writers want us to believe that in a village population of less than a hundred, she has managed to kill three of them, and she is about to kill a further two. But she is waiting for her ex-boyfriend to turn up so she can kill him too, which will bring her total to six. Mena dances around an old barn like a raving banshee as the local Doctor comes in and knocks her out with a single punch. He then struggles to untie the two victims he has rescued, not thinking to turn off the engine of the van which is pumping out toxic fumes and slowly killing them all.

And of course, despite the presence of every copper in Yorkshire, Mena manages to escape and hitch a lift to Glasgow. Brian Rix would have been so proud of these scriptwriters who don’t seem to be bothered whether or not their scripts are believable. Pure rubbish at its best

For the first time in over five weeks, the new case total has dropped below 100,000, today there were 99,652 new cases reported. Registered deaths continue to be high at 270.

Saturday 15/01/2022 – Day 667

This is day five of me taking my new tablets and besides a little niggly pain at the top of my heart I feel fine. Hopefully, I’ll be back to posting on my sites on Monday.

She who must be obeyed has been given an exercise machine which is supposed to shake the fat from your body as it vibrates and pulsates beneath you, yes, it’s as simple as that. The only problem was that the donor (friend Janet) didn’t have an instruction manual with it.

After a quick search on Google, I found a site called ‘Get any Manual.’ Feeling as pleased as punch I got all the necessary information from the machine and entered it on their site. Of course I had to set up an account with my card, so I paid 95p. I had an e mail saying my order was being processed. We waited a week before I enquired were my instructions were, this was their response:-

Dear Valued Customer, You have requested the instructions manual for the brand Medicam b slimmer FT-F125N. If you could please specify the exact model of the product, as well as valuable description about the product (including inventory plate), so that we are able to find the corresponding instructions manual and send it to you, it would be most appreciated. Thank you for your time in advance. With best wishes, Getanymanual.com Team

This sort of flummoxed me, what more info could I give them?

Yesterday I went onto my online banking and this bunch of robbers had taken a further £24.95 from my card without doing anything at all! What’s more, they will take this amount every two months! I have sent them a polite e mail asking them to return my money and remove my card from their files, I wait with bated breath.

On this day in 1797 The first top hat was worn by John Hetherington, a London haberdasher. He was fined £50 the first time he wore his new creation, 'for causing a disturbance'.

Also today in 2015 The death of Ethel Lang, aged 114. At the time of her death she was the oldest person in Britain and the last living British person to have been born during the reign of Queen Victoria. She lived to see six UK monarchs and 22 prime ministers.

Two 90-year-old men, Bill, and Bob had been friends all of their lives. When it was clear that Bill was dying, Bob visited him every day.

One day Bob said to Bill, “we both loved playing football all our lives, and we played all through school. Please do me one favour: when you get to heaven, somehow you must let me know if there's football there.”

Bill looked up at Bob from his deathbed and said, 'Bob, you've been my best friend for many years. If it's at all possible, I'll do this favour for you.'

Shortly after that, Bill passed on.

A few nights later, Bob was awakened from a sound sleep by a blinding flash of white light and a voice calling out to him, 'Bob, Bob.'

'Who is it', asked Bob, sitting up suddenly. 'Who is it?'

'Bob -- it's me, Bill.'

'You're not Bill. Bill just died.'

'I'm telling you, it's me, Bill,' insisted the voice.

'Bill! Where are you?'

'In heaven,' replied Bill. 'I have some really good news and a little bad news.'

'Tell me the good news first,' said Bob.

'The good news,' Bill said, 'is that there's men's football in heaven. Better yet, all of our old friends who died before me are here, too. Even better than that, we're all young again. Better still, it's always Springtime and it never rains or snows. And best of all, we can play football all day if we want, and we never get tired.'

'That's fantastic,' said Bob. 'It's beyond my wildest dreams! So what's the bad news?

Bill replied, "You're in goal on Tuesday.”

Week 97

Sunday 16/01/2022 – Day 668

For the first time in almost a week we haven’t woken up to frost and fog. I am now feeling a hundred per cent better than I did a week ago.

People keep asking if I am going to stop my blog because of my recent health scare. In seven weeks’ time it will be the second anniversary of this blog, which I started for a bit of fun during lockdown. During those two years I have made many new friends and acquaintances. But I have also made a few enemies, not in people but in Admins on other groups.

In two years I have been banned from five sites for no other reason than Admin showing their power and supremacy over their sites. These people have given me no reason for a ban, they just block me. I have recently been arguing my case with two more sites, the thing is that they are not concerned about how many people may follow the blog, their followers are of no interest to them. A site called Birmingham History even laughed at my protests that I’d done nothing wrong, they just blocked me.

I hasten to add that not all Admin are like that, most are very nice people, and should I do anything wrong, they’ll inbox me, which is the right thing to do. I post to around eight other sites at the moment, two of which are trying to find a nice way of saying – no more please. It takes a substantial part of my day to produce this blog, two hours per day on average – this is precious time at my age, and with my recent health scare I have to take a look at what is important in my life, and what really matters to my followers.

But please rest assured, I will continue with my drivel as long as there are people out there who want to read it

Under the category of ‘you couldn’t make it up’ comes on this day in 1769One of the worst riots in theatre history occurred at the Haymarket Theatre, London. Crowds had packed out the venue to see a conjuror who claimed he would get himself into a quart tavern bottle. The conjuror never arrived, and the crowd erupted.

Today in 1945Adolf Hitler moved into his underground bunker, the so-called Führerbunker. It was located beneath Hitler's New Reich Chancellery in Berlin and was the last of the Führer Headquarters to be used by Hitler. It became the epicentre of the Nazi regime, and it was here during the last week of April 1945 that Hitler married Eva Braun shortly before they committed suicide.

On this day in 1950Listen With Mother began on radio with the words "Hello children. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin". Listen With Mother was first heard on 16 January 1950. It offered a mix of nursery rhymes, stories and music for the under-fives and their mothers but over the years developed a following across the generations. Each episode ended with the Berceuse from Faure's Dolly Suite, played on the piano by Eileen Brown and Roger Fiske.

Listen with Mother was broadcast at 1.45pm when children would be ready to concentrate after their lunch, and mothers would have time to sit with them. The presenters - including Daphne Oxenford, Julia Lang, and Dorothy Smith - adopted a new intimate tone, talking as though to each child alone. The centre of the programme was the story, preceded by the calming phrase "Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin". The question, originally an ad lib by Julia Lang, became so well known that it ended up in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. When the series ended in 1982 there was a national outcry

Also on this day in 1957The Cavern Club opened in Liverpool. It provided a showcase for many young rock ‘n’ roll musicians, among them the Beatles. The Cavern Club is a nightclub on Mathew Street, Liverpool, England.

The Club opened in 1957 as a jazz club, later becoming a centre of the rock and roll scene in Liverpool in the early 1960s. The club became closely associated with Merseybeat and regularly played host to the Beatles in their early years.[1]

The Cavern closed and opened on a new site in 1973 and was filled in during construction work on the Mersey rail underground rail loop. It reopened in 1984.

There were 74.494 new cases reported today along with 91 registered deaths.

Monday 17/01/2022 – Day 669

Had a bit of a shock this morning, firstly, I got straight through to the pharmacy to renew my prescription, then I got through to the receptionist at the doctor’s and got a phone appointment for tomorrow, seriously thinking of doing the lottery tonight.

I read today that the reason for High Gas prices was that companies and others were moving away from coal and coke and resorting to using gas. When I was a youngster I remember with fondness the delivery men in our street. In the late fifties no one had a car, our coal was still delivered by horse and cart. Jack Wassel and Pete Bennett would go up to the coal yard at the top of station hill by the railway. They would spend most of the Friday shovelling coal into the large one hundredweight hessian sacks. Then, on the evening, they would take it around the estate by horse and cart.

If they called at our house my mum immediately rolled up her sleeves, lit up a cigarette and stood outside the coal shed. She would count the bags and check the coal for too much ‘slack’ or anything that wouldn’t burn - like rocks. Those chaps never once protested or complained though.

The coal fire was only ever lit once a week, always on a Sunday as the back boiler would heat the water. We did have an immersion heater, but it was far too costly to use. The warmest room in the house was our kitchen where the oven was permanently on in the winter months. We had a heater on the landing which used pink paraffin, but it caused so much condensation on the inside of the bedroom windows , that they would freeze up in the middle of the night. You haven’t lived until you’ve stepped out of a nice warm bed and trodden on cold lino. We got quite adept at dressing under the covers.

But then, by the time you managed to get into the bathroom, there was no hot water left, mum could only afford to put the immersion on for half an hour. Somedays it was warmer outside than it was in our house – with the exception of the kitchen of course. Hard days, but happy days that I loved as a child.

On this day in 1912 Captain Robert Falcon Scott reached the South Pole, only to find that the Norwegian Roald Amundsen had beaten him by one month.

Also today in 1968 The motor manufacturer British Leyland was formed, from the merger of British Motor Holdings Ltd. and Leyland Motor Corp. Ltd. This is a tongue in cheek poem I wrote a couple of years back, no offence intended to anyone who actually worked there.

The Factory.

Morning. Torrents of smoke from the black chimney stacks, Cars parked and bicycles put into racks, The bull sounded to give people warning, That it's here again - that Monday morning, The clatter of heavy boots over stone, Occasional smiles , more often a groan, "Allo old mate", one man shouts to another, "Morning" Shop Steward called to his brother. Ten minutes later the final bull blew, Warning all latecomers - they're now overdue, Last to arrive are the creepers who cringe, Hangover heroes from a Sunday night binge, Big burly men start up heavy machines, Busty young women in tight fitting jeans, The men perspire, foreheads covered in sweat, And they haven't even started working yet! As soon as machine starts first thing to do, Is get out the kettle - make a nice brew, Then out with the paper while supping tea, Skipping the front page it's straight to page three, A chorus of wows and 'cor - look at that', From Bill the sweeper and loo cleaner Pat, Two hours go by and it's tea time again, Teapots are filled and the contents are drained. The skilled men get out their chicken and ham, While the boys have bread, margarine and jam, A doughnut swapped for a chocolate eclair, then swapped again , for an apple and pear, Finally eaten by young Sid Guddin, Who - due to its state thought it black pudding, By the time they'd eaten and supped their fill, It was time for elevenses, brought round by Lil. Lil made the tea, a woman of the world, Tea was like treacle - her butties were curled, She kept her soft job by flaunting her wares, Ruddy complexion and an oversized pair- -of shiny earrings and - if I heard right, Given by Foreman one hot steamy night! By the time Lil was gone it's time for lunch, Meant smoking ten fags and having a munch. Afternoon. Bad coughs blamed on factory conditions, They go to the Doc because he won't listen, to their chests and lungs, just asks "Do you smoke? A terrible cough for such a young bloke, How much you drink, are you getting enough? You work in machine shop - that's pretty tough, Take lots more rest, Here's a note for sick pay, You best get off home - have three months away!" That's how it works on the shop floor you see, It's one rule for them, and another for me, At lunch some play football - others cricket, using an oildrum with painted on wicket, At five to one they will wander back in, To heat of the factory and the din! But something's happened - the shop steward's there! with the works foreman, a row has flared. "He used my spanner, I saw him - no doubt" "Ok", said the steward, "Everyone out!" Within five minutes a meet was convened, They all made their way to the staff canteen. The flat capped steward with thumbs in lapel, said, "The bosses are in breach, give em hell" No one listened, they were all drinking tea, Too busy chatting and chuckling with glee. The debate went on three hours or more, Agreement reached, they returned to the floor, Not that they were glad - not being shirty, but - because, it was almost four thirty! Time to go home , put on slippers and snooze See how the strike went on the six o clock news! So - in the seventies, I've set you this rhyme, Took you back to the Unions - back in time. This could be any place in this fair land, But this was a day at British Leyland!

It seems as though cases in the UK are starting to fall considerably, although deaths seem to be increasing. There were 84,042 new cases and 85 more deaths.

Tuesday 18/01/2022 – Day 670

I was awake quite early this morning contemplating a fact that I saw on a very interesting documentary last night, did you know that Dolphins, some types of monkeys and humans are the only animals to have sex for pleasure? No neither did I, I wonder where we are going wrong.

Being of the older generation I am very fortunate to have someone call me every day to check up on me, he is from India and is very concerned that I may have had an accident or may have been sold the wrong insurance.

I had a phone call yesterday from what sounded like a sweet old lady. Before I tell you what happened I have to let you know that one of my pet hates is when I answer the phone with ‘Good Morning’ and a voice on the other end says-

“Is that Mrs Harvey?”

Now, you all know me, I am quite placable under most circumstances, but people insisting that I sound like a woman on the phone really infuriates me, so I was on the backfoot already:-

Me Hello.

Lady Oh, good morning is that Mrs Harvey?

Me Does it sound like Mrs Harvey?

Lady (stupid giggle) Ooops sorry, Well is it you or Mrs Harvey that is disabled?

Me That’s a very personal question, why do you want to know?

Lady 9totally ignoring me) Do either of you have a wheelchair, ar a mobile scooter?

By this time I have registered the fact that the sweet little old lady is trying to flog me something to help my mobility.

Me No we don’t have any wheelchairs; may I suggest you try the mobility shop?

Lady (laughing nervously) Oh sorry, I’ve confused you, I don’t need a wheelchair,

What about scooters, do you have any scooters?

Me (feigning ignorance) Scooters? I thought they were illegal, our local Bobby

arrested a couple of kids for riding them around here.

Lady (giggling) Oh no Mr Harvey, not those sort, the sort you sit on to help you

with getting around.

Me That would be a bit low to the ground wouldn’t it?

The phone clicked and I was gratefully left to my own thoughts.

On this day in 1879 The first edition of Boy’s Own Paper was published. The editor was S.O. Beeton, the husband of Mrs. Beeton, the cookery book writer.

And today in 1934 the first arrest was made in Britain as a result of issuing pocket radios to police. A Brighton shoplifter was arrested just 15 minutes after stealing three coats.

Finally on this day in 1958 The Bunty was launched by publishers D.C. Thompson. It was the first comic aimed at a young female readership.

New cases seem to be rising slightly again, there were 94,225 today. Deaths rose dramatically to 439.

Wednesday 19/01/2022 – Day 671

The weather seems to be a bit milder today so Mrs H and I have decided we might have a tour of the local garden centres as she is planning a major change to the area around the pond, I really can’t contain my excitement.

I waited patiently for my phone call from the doctor yesterday. The phone rang around 10.30 and I thought ‘wow, that’s a really good service.’ But it was a lovely lady from the Coagulant department at Russell Hall hospital. It was a courtesy call to put my mind at rest about the coagulants I was taking. I learned that I am going to be on them for life, but she also went through all the facts and things I would need to know. She allowed me to ask any questions and is sending a back-up pack in the next few days. What an Invaluable service, our NHS is absolutely wonderful.

Mrs H and I have booked a break at Stratford Upon Avon in February, we are treating ourselves to a lovely plush hotel with slippers and dressing gowns free. Mrs H isn’t a fan of these types of hotel, she says the towels and the dressing gowns are far too fluffy and she can’t shut her case.

The doctor phoned around 2.45pm. I was told he was phoning late morning, but the poor chap sounded so stressed out that I thought it best not to mention it. Even so, he certainly put my mind at rest about my recent heart scare – bless him. I wouldn’t have their job for all the money in the world.

On this day in 1915 More than 20 people were killed when German zeppelins bombed England for the first time. The bombs were dropped on Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn.

Under the category of ‘You couldn’t make it up’ on this day in 2013 A piece of music that was composed by waiting for bird droppings to fall onto giant sheets of manuscript paper received its premiere at the Tate Liverpool art gallery. Artist Kerry Morrison said that the music represented the role that birds play in the environment.

I heard that Google is looking for new staff, although, apparently, you don’t need to apply as they already have all your information.

New cases rose again today to 108,069 whilst registered deaths were at 359.

Thursday 20/01/2022 – Day 672

One week today is D Day in my life. I will be leaving the sixties and entering into unknown territory.

Mrs H took me walkies yesterday, well, when I say walkies, she actually drove me around the local garden centres. It always amazes me why people visit these garden centres in deep mid-winter, there’s hardly anything to buy, and if you do you will have to nurture it until Spring. You wonder why you can’t get a car space o the car park. Then you get to the restaurant, and it’s rammed, full to the hilt, overflowing with pensioners spending their pensions on overpriced food. Then there are the young mothers who have decided to arrange an impromptu meeting with all their friends, each one of them has a baby or toddler in a highchair at the side of them.

I mean what are you supposed to do under those circumstances? Well, the easiest thing to do is find an empty table and join them, I really enjoyed my ham, eggs, and chips.

Speaking of food, did I tell you that dear Mrs H and I are once again - for the umpteenth time – attempting to lose weight. We started two weeks ago, I weighed in at 12 stone 11 pounds, a week later I was down to 12 stone 10 pounds, this week I was back up to 12 stone 11 pounds and 8 ounces. As you can gather dear reader, this attempt at losing weight is not going too well.

When we got back from our day out yesterday, the illusive postman had decided to call on us for the first time since Christmas! I knew he’d been before I opened the door,, because I had a hell of a job to push my front door open, most of it was circulars, but there was mail there from the 10th of December, how much longer are these companies going to use the pandemic as an excuse for a pathetic service?

They reckon that money can’t buy happiness, But as a good will gesture I am accepting all donations to prove the theory.

On this day in 1936 George V died and was succeeded by Edward VIII who abdicated 325 days later because of his insistence on marrying American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

Also today in 1986 France and Britain finally decided to undertake the Channel Tunnel project, promising that trains would run under the Channel by 1993. When it eventually opened, on 6th May 1994, it left Eurotunnel with debts of £925m a year later.

And finally, under the category of ‘You couldn’t make it up’ was the story that in 2014 Dr. Michael Ramscar and a team of scientists suggested that the brains of older people only appear to slow down because they have so much information to compute, much like a full-up hard drive. “The brains of older people do not get weak. On the contrary, they simply know more.” Ooh, my head’s hurting.

Once again new cases are over 100,000, the number reported today is 107,364. Registered deaths fell slightly to 330.

Friday 21/01/2022 – Day 673

By gum lass, it’s reet cold out there today, it reminds me of the terrible winter of 1962/63, although, from what I remember, not as bad.

The snow had come down really heavily on Boxing Day 1962. But It wasn’t too bad and had started to thaw which left a lot of soft snow (slush) on the roads and pavements. But on the 27th the wind changed, it brought Arctic weather from the north. Snow fell onto already frozen slush making conditions treacherous for both driver and pedestrian. By the beginning of January 1963, we had dangerous three-foot-long icicles hanging from our guttering. One slam of the front door could have killed someone. My younger brother had been using his Christmas paintbox and the day before he’d been painting in a book, he left the glass of water used to clean his brush on the windowsill, next morning it had been frozen solid, inside the house!

Mum sent me to the shop around the corner to fetch a can of paraffin for the landing heater. She gave me a note for cigarettes and for some washing powder. I was halfway down the street when I heard mum shout at the top of her voice: ‘Don’t forget my Tulip.’ In those days, if you bought a packet of certain washing powder you received a free plastic flower. It could be Daffodils, roses or in this case tulips, mum would display these plastic flowers proudly in a vase in the front window. She even put water in the vase to make them look more authentic.

When I got to Mr Bagley’s (the shopkeeper) the shop was empty, lots of wet footprints on the floor though. He gave me the cigarettes and the washing powder plus the plastic flower, but when he saw the can in my hand, he shook his head and said his tank was empty. I took the other stuff home. Mum wasn’t too happy, she lit a cigarette and stormed around to the shop. She returned ten minutes later with a can of paraffin, It seems that Mr Bagley had a few gallon remaining, but was selling it for cash only. Because mum was having it on tick he’d said no, until she went round, Tick or no tick she was still one of his best customers.

The freezing conditions continued as lakes, rivers, canals and even the sea froze over. The temperature in some places was minus eighteen centigrade. Eighty mile an hour gales forced snow into 20-foot drifts in some parts of the country, telephone wires and power cables snapped under the weight of the frost and snow gathering on them. Thousands of birds and wildlife died, simply frozen or starved to death.

Schools had closed down for Christmas and didn’t re-open until March when a slow thaw set in. It had been 64 days of hell. In the first week of march temperatures suddenly went up to seventeen degrees.

On this day in 1846The publication of the first edition of the Daily News, edited by my hero Charles Dickens. Dickens handed over editorship of the paper to Forster, who had more experience in journalism. Forster became Editor for a year, although continued behind the scenes to run the paper until 1870. In 1901, the chocolate manufacturer George Cadbury took over The Daily News. A Quaker, Cadbury used the paper to campaign for issues he was concerned for, including old age pensions, sweatshop labour and opposition to the Boer War.

The Daily News continued as a daily newspaper until it was amalgamated with the The Morning Leader in 1912. The last edition of The Daily News appeared on Saturday, 11 May 1912, although it continued in a merged form two days later, as the Daily News and Leader before this title disappeared too in 1928 under further consolidation in the newspaper industry. In its final edition, The Daily News acknowledged its liberal roots under Charles Dickens: It merged with the Daily Chronicle to form the News Chronicle in 1930 and was ultimately absorbed by the Daily Mail in 1960.

Mrs H and I were in the Co-Op yesterday, we couldn’t find the tinned potato’s, so I asked a young girl, she replied, ‘I’ll see’ and walked off leaving us stood there. Another lad who worked there walked past, I asked him the same question, he too said, ‘I’ll see’ and left us stood there. In the end I gave up and found them myself in Aisle C.

New cases dropped again today to 95,328, there was a further 288 deaths.

Saturday 22/01/2022 – Day 674

When I was too old to go to the ABC Minors I took on a string of Saturday jobs for extra cash. One of these jobs was at a local fruit and vegetable distribution centre in Blackwell street. The name of the company was Brooke Brothers and they supplied produce for a lot of supermarkets and local shops.

They would receive tons of bananas in their natural state, it was just as though they had been just cut from the tree, even though in truth they had been cut down weeks earlier. These bananas would be green, and they had to be hung in a warm room on a chain linked contraption which would go around in an oval shape, the problem was that the machine couldn’t ‘turn’ the massive bunches. And yes, you’ve guessed it, that was where I came in.

I would spend six hours every Saturday just turning bananas, all for the princely sum of five shillings (25p). I would get home around Saturday teatime to mum’s regular tea of mashed banana sandwiches! I got to hate bananas for a while, and I never once gave a thought that those large bunches may be hiding a Tarantula.

On this day in 1879The Zulus massacred British troops at Isandlwana, the first major encounter in the Anglo–Zulu War. Later, at the Battle of Rorke's Drift, two British officers and 150 British and colonial troops defended their garrison from the attacks of between 3,000 and 4,000 Zulu warriors. Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded to the defenders, along with a number of other decorations and honours. The battle was immortalized in my favourite 1964 film Zulu, starring Michael Caine. In 1923 the Havard Chapel at Brecon Cathedral became a War memorial to the South Wales Borderers (the 24th Regiment of Foot) as they served with such distinction and the regiment's colours have been preserved for posterity in purpose-built Perspex cases.

Week 98

Sunday 23/01/2022 – Day 675

Just Four days to the big event. Well it looks a little milder out there today, perhaps it’s because there is no frost on the roofs for the first time in a week. Granddaughter Mollie is coming round for her lunch today, then hopefully Mrs H and I will have a stroll up to the social club. It’ll be a very welcome break as I haven’t had a drink since Boxing day and I’m going a bit stir crazy now.

Had the big weigh in yesterday morning, and at long last I have lost two and a half pounds! It may be something to do with the walking Mrs H and I are doing, or it could be the fact that I have now completely refrained from eating biscuits and cakes. I still have the butter mints but only a few a day, a man has needs you know.

To start off the week I thought I’d share this feelgood story with you.

A factory worker who scooped £2 million on a scratch card almost decided not to buy one due to roadworks outside his usual shop.

Ian Black, 61, from Carlisle, had just finished his night shift as a production operator when he called into the Spar Euro Garage in Wigton Road on his way home at about 6am on January 13. Mr Black told the PA news agency he usually stops at the shop to buy a paper – but almost skipped doing so that morning.

He said: “There were a lot of roadworks outside and I wasn’t sure if I was going to go in. It was a last-minute decision. I got a paper and bought a £5 scratch card.”

Mr Black said he scratched the card on the petrol station forecourt and “screamed” when he saw he had won £2 million. He then made his way home to his wife Sandra, 55, to tell her the news.

He said: “I was shaking when I was driving. I woke her up and shouted, ‘Get down here – I need you to check this, it’s important.’

“She thought I was saying something had happened to the dog.”

Retired care worker Mrs Black checked the scratch card twice before telling her husband to call Camelot, which confirmed the win. She said: “I just couldn’t believe it. I thought that doesn’t happen to us, there must be something wrong with the card. When I looked at him he was white and shaking and I knew he wasn’t having me on.”

Mr Black then rang his boss at Pirelli Tyres, where he has worked for 42 years, and handed his notice in. He said: “I told him I wouldn’t be in work that night, or for the rest of the week. Then I said, ‘I’m not coming back.’

He said, ‘What’s going on?’ and I said, ‘I’ve just won £2 million on a scratch card on the way home and I’m retiring.’ He was pleased for me.”

Mr and Mrs Black – who have twin sons aged 38, three daughters aged 19, 31, and 36, and 10 grandchildren – have decided the first thing they will do with their winnings is pay for an operation for their rescue dog Meg. Meg has already had one operation on one of her legs which cost £2,500 and will undergo surgery on the other on Friday. Mr Black said they will then look at spending their winnings on a new car and TV, helping their children get on the property ladder, and then build their dream home to enjoy their retirement in.

He added: “To think I almost didn’t go into the shop on that morning because of the roadworks. I really was so close to just driving past. Never did I believe I would ever get to say this. You always dream about it, but it just doesn’t happen to people like Sandra and I – well now we are proof it does.”

On this day in 1900Second Boer War: The defeat of the British at the Battle of Spion Kop, 24 miles west-south-west of Ladysmith on a steep terraced hilltop. But did you know that many football grounds in the English Premier League and Football League, have one terrace or stand named 'Spion Kop' or 'Kop' because of the steep nature of their terracing.

Also on this day in 1985PC George Hammond was viciously stabbed while on the beat in London, and it took more than 120 pints of blood to save his life. He had continual nightmares and never recovered from the injuries suffered in the attack. His right kidney was removed, and his left kidney never functioned properly again. This had led to chronic heart problems, culminating in a heart attack and kidney failure shortly before his death in Kings College Hospital on 13th December 1995.

There were 54,984 new cases today, also 73 deaths.

Monday 24/01/2022 – Day 676

Three days to go! The weather here was supposed to be milder this week, but I went out to the shed this morning and there was still a real arctic chill in the air. It feels cold enough for snow!

Of course, when you were small you used to get really excited when it snowed, if you didn’t have gloves or mittens you would beg an old pair of woolly socks off your mum and get over to the nearest bank with your home-made sled. This would be the same grass bank which you happily slid down in the Summer precariously sat on a large cardboard box obtained from the local grocer who was - in those days – glad to see the back of them, we would slide down the grass hoping and praying that the cardboard lasted to the bottom of the hill, otherwise you were sliding down on the already thin material of your short trousers which you had inherited from your elder brother. But the snow was better, at least you had something to lie on until of course the thing disintegrated leaving you rolling toward a thicket of snow laden brambles or stingers, that was painful, believe me, I still bear the scars.

The other thing was the playground slide, compact snow would freeze, and we’d make the longest slide possible, I know all our generation say it, but we really did attend school during a heavy snowfall, the teachers would say ‘If I can get here then you can get here as well.’ Then the real cheek of it was when the head would knock on the classroom door and ask for volunteers to clear the playground of snow! Mind you, there was never any shortage of hands shooting up, especially during Maths or geography, besides, it gave us all a chance to have a sneaky cigarette as no teacher was brave enough to stand out in the cold supervising us. Great days!

On this day in1930it was the birth, in Norfolk, of Bernard Matthews, the poultry industry figure. He won a scholarship to the City of Norwich School, but found it difficult to settle, regularly failed his exams and left school with no qualifications. Nevertheless, when he died, aged 80, in November 2010 he had amassed a fortune estimated at over £300m and a motor yacht, a Cessna private jet and a Rolls-Royce motor car.

Also on this day in 1965 the death of Sir Winston Churchill, aged 90, world famous soldier, politician, historian, and Prime Minister of Britain. He was First Lord of the Admiralty at the time of the battle of Dogger Bank. He had correctly predicted that he would die on the same date as his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, who had died exactly 70 years previously. The graves of Winston Churchill and his father are in St Martin's Churchyard at Bladon, Oxfordshire

And finally on this day in1972Japanese Sgt. Shoichi Yokoi was found hiding in a Guam jungle, where he had been since the end of World War II. He was among the last three Japanese holdouts to surrender after the end of hostilities in 1945, almost 28 years after the island had been liberated by allied forces in 1944.

Did I ever tell you that After I retired, I went to the Social Security office to apply?

for Social Security. The woman behind the counter asked me for my driver's License to verify my age. I looked in my pockets and realized I had left my wallet at home. I told the woman that I was very sorry, but I would have to go home and come back later.

The woman said, 'Unbutton your shirt'.

So I opened my shirt revealing my curly silver chest hair.

She said, 'That silver hair on your chest is proof enough for me' and she processed my Social Security application.

When I got home, I excitedly told my Mrs H about my experience at the Social Security office.

She said, 'You should have dropped your trousers. You might have gotten disability .

New cases rose by 33,000 up to 87,242, deaths were slightly down at 85.

Tuesday 25/01/2022 – Day 677

Two more days to go! It seems a little milder out there today, Mrs H and I are off around to Gemma’s to have our hair cut.

This got me thinking about when we were kids,, I had four brothers, so it was a very expensive time for my mum to have to pay to for us all to have a haircut. There was a lad on the estate Called Mark Evans, in the late fifties he was a trainee hairdresser, so to make a little money he would come to our house and cut all the boys hair and my dad’s.

The most economic haircut of the day was called a semi-crewcut, it was a grade up from a crewcut, which was just short of having your head shaved and I believe, came from the American GI’s. Our hair was left around a quarter of an inch long. This was no joke when you had ears like jug handles, Prince Charles had nothing on us.

As I left school I used to go to a really old-fashioned hairdressers. There was a distinct smell of shaving soap and Brylcreem. The chairs were black leather and had a link on the side for the 'strop' which was a piece of thick leather used for sharpening the razors that they once used, there were still a few of the older generation that insisted on being shaved with the old 'cut throat' open razor, as you sat back in the plushness of that shiny leather chair, you looked up and there -above your head -hung all the shaving mugs of various sizes, some would have been personal to ex customers, inside some of them were personal brushes used to whip up the stick of soap into a white lather and ready to dab onto the awaiting stubble.

Look ahead and the oak framed huge mirrors are just starting to show age by resulting black spots or oxidisation. the barbers of which there were three if memory serves wore white aprons and had those bands on their arms which held their striped shirt sleeves out of harm’s way.

In those far off days of the mid-sixties I only used the shop if the barber on the Stourbridge road was shut (Bob Crew, with the yellow door), and of course they had the latest comics, but I must admit - as I entered that ever-open door, I half expected them all to break into song lol.

It was on this day in 1858that Mendelssohn's Wedding March was first played .(Here comes the bride forty inches wide)... at the wedding of Queen Victoria's daughter Princess Victoria and Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia.

In the category of ‘you couldn’t make it up’ comes this story from today in 2013 when Thorpe Park rightly ordered experts to redesign its £20m new rollercoaster 'The Swarm', due to open on 15th March, after dummies lost limbs during dry run tests.

Confucius say: ‘Behind every angry woman stands a trembling man who has absolutely no idea what he did wrong.’

New cases were up to 93,634, deaths rose dramatically up to 439.

Wednesday 26/01/2022 – Day 678

A happy heavenly birthday to my younger brother Colin whom we lost to covid last year.

Just one day left! I have to say I am feeling a little lightheaded today after Gemma popped around yesterday and trimmed my hair. When I say trimmed, it’s a bit like when Tony Hancock gave a pint of blood and said it was an armful, I looked down yesterday as Gemma finished and I swear there was enough hair to stuff a couple of cushions.

I don’t usually do politics on here, best to stay away. But I would just like to say that whilst the Russians are threatening the Ukraine why are the BBC and ITV making such a to-do over what happened 18 months ago. Yes I understand that these issues need addressing, but I watched the Lunchtime news yesterday at one. They spent the first 15 minutes going on about Boris’s birthday bash – which he apparently attended for ten minutes, they find only those people who lost loved ones on that particular day. This was followed by just a four-minute report on Russia. I’m left wondering if the BBC’s onslaught would have been drastically reduced had the Government not been threatening their cushy little lifestyles by freezing the TV licence. Either way I am sick to the back teeth of listening to it. Just saying, and I will never mention politics on here again.

I must wish all my Australian friends a Happy Australia Day.

On this day in 1922The birth of Michael Bentine, British comedian, comic actor and founding member of the Goon Show radio show with Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, and Harry Secombe. Although he was a founding member, Michael was the least well known among the four regulars.

In today’s category of ‘You Couldn’t make it up’ is a story of a motorway and a parrot. Back in 2014Police stopped a learner driver for speeding on the M62 in West Yorkshire. She was accompanied only by her pet parrot. 'Since parrots are not allowed to supervise learner drivers, her vehicle has been seized,' police tweeted, or should that be chirped?



Now home from honeymoon and settled in our new home. It's fun to cook for Tim. Today I made an angel food cake and the recipe said beat 12 eggs separately. Well, I didn't have enough bowls to do that, so I had to borrow 12 bowls to beat the eggs in. The cake turned out fine though.


We wanted a fruit salad for supper. The recipe said serve without dressing. So I didn't dress. But Tim happened to bring a friend home for supper that night. They both looked so startled when I served them, I think it was the salad.


I decided to serve rice and found a recipe which said wash thoroughly before steaming the rice. So I heated some water and took a bath before steaming the rice. Sounded kinda silly in the middle of the day. I can't say it improved the rice anyhow.


Today Tim asked for salad again. I tried a new recipe. It said, prepare ingredients, then toss on a bed of lettuce one hour before serving. I hunted all over the place for a garden and when I got one, I tossed my salad into the bed of lettuce and stood over there for over one hour so the dog would not take it. Tim came over and asked if I felt all right.

I wonder why? He must be stressed at work; I'll try to be supportive.


Today I found an easy recipe for cookies. It said, "put all ingredients in a bowl and beat it." Beat it I did, to my mum's place. There must have been something wrong with the recipe, because when I came back home again, it looked the same as when I left it.


Tim went shopping today and brought home a chicken. He asked me to dress it for Sunday. I'm sure I don't know how hens dress for Sunday. I never noticed back on the farm, but I found an old doll dress and it's little cute shoes. I thought the hen looked really cute. When Tim saw it, he started counting to ten. Either he was really stressed because of his work, or he wanted the chicken to dance.

When I asked him what was wrong he started crying and shouting out ......why me? why me ??

Hmmm....It must be his job!!

For the fourth day in a row new cases were up to 101,836, there was also 346 deaths today.

Thursday 27/01/2022 – Day 679

Well it has finally arrived, the day I have been trying to avoid for 70 years – my seventieth birthday. Yes dear reader I have finally arrived, I am now officially a septuagenarian, a seventy something or a seventy-year-old.

Woke up this morning to a lovely, cooked breakfast and a decorated dining room with balloons and banners everywhere. The girls are all coming round later this morning so I may take them all down the local hostelry and treat them to a light lunch. We are all booked in at a restaurant in town tonight so can’t really stuff ourselves.

On this day in 1896Walter Arnold of Kent was the first British motorist to receive a speeding fine, for exceeding 2 mph in a built-up area. He was doing 8 mph as he passed the house of the local policeman. The constable gave chase on his bicycle and after a 5-mile chase Mr. Arnold was arrested. He was fined one shilling for his offence.

Also today in 2014A report by the Commons public accounts committee found that the Queen’s advisers were failing to control her finances, while the royal palaces were 'crumbling'. MPs said that her advisers had overspent to such an extent that her reserve fund had fallen from £35 million in 2001 to just £1 million. The Queen's courtiers were advised to take money-saving tips from the Treasury.

Got so excited today, I actually finished a jigsaw after just six months, it said 2 – 4 years on the box, what a result!

There will be a lot of people removing masks today, there will also be a lot of shocked people when they are removed.

New cases came in at 96,657 with 338 registered deaths.

Friday 28/01/2022 – Day 680

Woke up feeling a little fragile this morning, but what a brilliant day yesterday. The girls arrived at 11.00 am. Even though they are taking Mrs H and I on a mystery weekend trip next week they still brought presents for me.

I have finally been dragged into the 21st century screaming and shouting as Gary and Gemma bought me a new iPhone. My old phone wasn’t very good, but the new one does everything except make a cup of tea, it’ll take a bit of getting used to, but I love it.

Mollie bought me a new cover for the phone, and I had an array of gifts from Sarah. Alisha, Sam, Hatton and Mason have paid for an afternoon tea for Mrs H and me at a local historical hotel, really looking forward to that when the weather gets warmer. As you all know, we have already had a wonderful weekend in Oxford courtesy of John and Janet. But Mark, Ellen, Gemma, and Sarah are taking us away for another surprise all expenses paid weekend, we have no idea where to though.

So I took the girls down to the pub at lunchtime where I had my first pint of Guinness since Christmas. After a light lunch we headed off back home. Janet and John visited with yet more gifts. After an enforced catnap (courtesy of the lunchtimes Guinness) it was time to get ready for the evening at the restaurant. I had a great night with all the family ending up at the local club. A birthday I won’t forget in a long time.

On this day in 1953one of the century’s biggest miscarriages of justice occurred when 19-year-old Derek Bentley was hanged at Wandsworth Prison. On 2nd November 1952, he and 16-year-old Christopher Craig were attempting to rob a confectioner’s warehouse in Croydon when they were caught by police. Derek Bentley was hanged on the 28th of January 1953.

On the 30th of July 1998, the Appeal Court finally ruled (after 45 years of campaigning by his father, sister Iris and since Iris' death the previous year, by her daughter, Maria Bentley Dingwall), that his conviction was unsafe.

Derek Bentley was illiterate and is alleged to have had a mental age of 11. He also suffered from epilepsy as a result of a head injury received during the war. On Sunday the 2nd of November 1952, Derek Bentley went out with his friend, 16-year-old Christopher Craig, to see if they could carry out a burglary. Bentley was armed with a knife and a knuckle-duster which Craig had recently given him. Craig had a similar knife but was also armed with a .455 Eley revolver. Craig normally carried a gun, and it is reasonable to suppose that Bentley would have known this. They were thwarted in their attempts on their first two targets and finally chose to break into a warehouse belonging to a company called Parker & Barlow in Croydon, Surrey. As they climbed onto the roof of the warehouse, they were noticed by a little girl who lived opposite and whose mother phoned the police. The nearest patrol car arrived very quickly and contained a detective constable (DC Fairfax) and a uniformed constable.

Craig and Bentley were on the roof as the police arrived and attempted to run but DC Fairfax quickly detained Bentley (note I do not say arrested). Craig decided to shoot his way out and fired at DC Fairfax wounding him in the shoulder. At some time during the shooting, Bentley is alleged to have said the now famous words "Let him have it, Chris". Bentley offered no resistance to Fairfax and stood by the injured policeman without any restraint for the next 30 minutes or so. (Hardly the action of a desperate young thug who could very probably have easily overpowered the wounded and unarmed Fairfax) Other officers arrived on the scene within minutes, some of them armed. Craig continued shooting at anyone that moved and as the first of the reinforcements, PC Sidney Miles came up the stairs and through the door onto the roof, he was shot through the head and died almost instantly. Craig eventually ran out of bullets and threw himself off the roof in a vain attempt to avoid capture. He landed on a greenhouse roof 30 feet below and broke his back. Both Craig and Bentley were charged with the murder of PC Miles. But should Bentley have been charged with murder at all? There were reasons for such a charge, but they took no account of his retarded mental state or the undisputed fact that he neither had possessed nor fired a gun. Perhaps in the climate of 1952 London where gangs of armed young thugs were striking terror in the populace, it is not surprising that they both were arrested. Four policeman had been murdered in 1951.

Saw this sign at a bowling alley yesterday:-

Due to coronavirus restrictions please do not touch other players balls, and please remember to wash your hands after touching your own balls.

New cases were down to 89,186 and deaths down to 377,

Saturday 29/01/2022 – Day 681

Well, it’s a beautiful morning here in downtown Kidderminster, the sun is out but it’s a little windy, I haven’t ventured out yet so don’t know if it’s mild.

Does anyone recall the lovely little sweet shops of the fifties and sixties? They were always well laid out with rows of jars on wooden shelves, the easy to buy penny articles were always placed on top of the counter right in front of eager eyes, all designed to relieve you of that ‘hot’ penny, or ‘threepenny bit’ clutched tightly in your hand. The other thing I remember fondly was that these sweet shops were mostly run by older ladies, rarely men.

Penny sweets were the buy of the day, clutching the threepence deposit back off an old pop bottle you had found on the tip and cleaned up, you proudly walked into the sweet shop, you would of course have to allow at least 15 minutes to absorb what was affordable and what was not, Our sweetshop owner was the most patient and kindest lady ever, never in a rush to serve you. My most frequent shop was the one nearest to St Mary Junior and was situate on the corner of Duke street and Churchfields. The top shelves were normally the jars of higher priced sweets, out of reach of anyone who wanted to help themselves. But all we were interested in were the penny sweets at the front, designed very cleverly to attract young boys and girls and relieve them of those big brown coins getting very warm as they were held in a clenched fist, Mrs Simms hovered patiently - much like Auntie Wainwright in Last of the Summer wine, or Arkwright in Open all Hours, - either way you walked out with a handful of sweets and an empty pocket! For a penny you could buy Blackjacks, White mice, Flying saucers, liquorice wood. Pontefract cakes, Liquorice allsorts, Raspberry drops, Dolly mixtures, sherbert fountains of which there was an art to disposing of the dip, you either bit the end of the liquorice and sucked up the sherbert, or you simply sucked and dipped which normally left you with a soggy mess. The bargain was always the penny gobstopper, or indeed Aniseed balls which could be sucked on all day, then you had the everchanging gobstopper which as you sucked changed different colours, you could be digging around in the dirt or messing with worms when absent-mindedly your fingers went into your mouth to see what colour the gobstopper had become, it was then popped back in along with every germ known to mankind, such innocence! Remember the candy necklaces worn with pride by your little sister, or the liquorice Catherine wheel which stretched out forever till you got to the bobbly sweet in the centre. Of course there were lots more, but we made our money last back then.

On this day in 1943The birth of Tony Blackburn, English disc jockey. He broadcast on the "pirate" stations Radio Caroline and Radio London in the 1960s and was the first disc jockey to broadcast on BBC Radio 1, in 1967.

And finally, a good news item, on this day in 2015 There were tears of joy for widower Stan Beaton as he heard again the answerphone message of his late wife Ruby. The message had been accidentally deleted during an upgrade by Virgin Media, but engineers searched through thousands of recordings and eventually managed to restore the message, which he had kept on his phone for 14 years.

Week 99

Sunday 30/01/2022 – Day 682

It’s another warmish sunny day here in Kidderminster. Good job as well, Mrs H and I are off to Bewdley to watch the grandson Hatton (Golden Balls) play his football match this afternoon, then we’ve been invited to Gemma’s for lunch! I tell you; Mrs H is a lucky lady.

I have to admit that Mrs H and I don’t much like any of the Saturday night TV programmes, as you all know, we do like ‘’The Wheel’ but in all fairness that’s about it, not like when we were younger, there were some brilliant shows on TV, Television companies made it their main night for entertainment.

I don’t know why but Saturday nights always bring back to my memory of TV cowboys, perhaps it’s because in those days we would be put to bed at 6.30, in the Summer months my Mum used to put up black out curtains to keep the sun out of the bedroom, but it was terrible listening to all your mates playing in the streets. Back then I slept in a room with three other younger brothers, we had bunk beds, Mum used to say to me ‘Get them off to sleep and you can come back downstairs and watch the TV for an hour, I reckon this is where my storytelling came from lol. I made them up by the dozen!

Growing up in the fifties and sixties the main talk in the playground at my school was inevitably about the cowboy shows on TV. If you had a birthday or if it was Christmas and you were lucky you would without doubt get a cowboy outfit complete with a pair of pistols that fired caps.

If you attended the Minors on a Saturday morning you would come out two hours later slapping your backside and riding a pretend horse in pursuit of the baddies, that was it you see – you were always a goody and never a baddie.

This of course was influenced by the amount of TV shows and films being shown at that time, shows like Rawhide, with the relatively unknown Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates, Wagon Train with Ward Bond, Cheyenne with Clint Walker, Bonanza with Lorne Green and Michael Landon, Sugarfoot starring Will Hutchins, Bronco with Ty Hardin, Gunsmoke with James Arness, Laramie with Robert Fuller, The Lone Ranger with Clayton Moore, and Jay Silverheels as Tonto. As you can see – the list is endless and we – as children lived every one of them in the playgrounds of the late fifties early sixties.

As you know I write and present quizzes for charities one week we had a tiebreaker, so I asked both teams to name three fish starting with the letter ‘K.’ one old boy who was very competitive came running up to the stage gasping and wheezing. He managed to stammer out:-

“Killer shark, Kippered herring and Kingston.”

“Kingston’s not a fish,” I protested.

“It is” he replied indignantly, “It’s a place.”

On this day in 1937it was the birth of the actress Vanessa Redgrave. She remains the only British actress ever to win the Oscar, Emmy, Tony, Cannes, Golden Globe, and the Screen Actors Guild awards. She was also the recipient of the 2010 BAFTA Fellowship 'in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film'. I personally loved her film ‘Howards Way’ from 1991.

Today in 1965 The state funeral, in London, of Sir Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of Britain. It was the biggest state funeral of its kind since the burial of the Duke of Wellington in 1852. After his state funeral service, his body was taken by train to Bladon, Oxfordshire and there the private burial took place, conducted by the rector. By contrast with the earlier service, only relatives and close friends were present. The grave of Winston Churchill is in Bladon churchyard . The bells in the church were rung for 2 hrs and 40 minutes.

On this day in 1969On 30 January 1969, the Beatles performed an unannounced concert from the rooftop of their Apple Corps headquarters at 3 Savile Row, within central London's office and fashion district. Joined by keyboardist Billy Preston, the band played a 42-minute set before the Metropolitan Police asked them to reduce the volume. Although the concert was conceived just days before, the Beatles were planning a return to live performances throughout the early sessions for their album Let It Be (1970). They performed nine takes of five songs as crowds of onlookers, many of whom were on their lunch break, congregated in the streets and on the roofs of local buildings. The concert ended with the conclusion of "Get Back", with John Lennon joking, "I'd like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we've passed the audition. Footage from the performance was used in the 1970 documentary film Let It Be and the 2021 documentary series The Beatles: Get Back. The first performance of "I've Got a Feeling" and single takes of "One After 909" and "Dig a Pony" were also featured on the accompanying album. On 28 January 2022, the audio of the full rooftop performance was released to streaming services under the title Get Back — The Rooftop Performance.

There were 65,259 new cases today with a further 90 deaths.

Monday 31/01/2022 – Day 683

By gum that winds really blowing out thee’r lass. It’ll blow the cobwebs away. Having a lazy day today, the sun’s out but that wind chill is ferocious.

Who can remember those freezing cold mornings when we were at school? I used to wake in a morning with my other three brothers in the same bedroom. Mum had tucked us in tight the previous night with a hot water bottle ( I loved the smell of that hot rubber) and thrown a couple of heavy winter coats on the bed. That was the only part of my life– with the exception of hospital stays - when I remember wearing pyjamas, but after the initial shock, we were as snug as a bug in a rug.

It was the following morning that was the problem, I’d wake up and pop my head out of the blankets, if I breathed out and could see my breath in the room I was going to take some prising out of that bed. Inevitably I’d have to get out sometime because it was a schoolday. I used to wear thick woolly socks in bed as well, not bedsocks, just socks that mum hadn’t had time to darn. The consequence of this action was that your big toe would be popping out of the aforementioned sock. It was that big toe that would test the temperature in the room. Much like testing the water in the swimming baths or the local cut (canal) before taking a dip in Summer. So, that toe would be forced out from the end of the bed avoiding the stone-cold hot water bottle and waggled about. A year prior to this morning, I had got it down to a fine art, I would reach out an arm, pick up my clothes from the floor and wriggle into them beneath the covers.

But Mum in her infinite wisdom had decided that four lads topping and tailing in one double bed wasn’t healthy. She had only got 12 months left to pay on the double decker bunk beds that we now lay in. When they were first erected it was decided that the younger lads may well fall out of the top bunk, so us elder brothers got the top bunks. It hadn’t been a problem until now, but I now had to descend the ladder, step onto freezing cold lino, a quick scrape of the ice on the inside would confirm that it hadn’t snowed overnight. I’d wipe the dewdrop that had formed on the end of my nose, then I’d hurriedly get dressed and make a run for the only warm room in the whole house – the kitchen.

In that sanctuary down there, we would be served a piping hot bowl of porridge and a mug of dark brown steaming tea, but boy, was it welcome on those cold dark winter mornings of the early sixties. It was a quick wash in the kitchen sink (far too cold in the bathroom, and no hot water anyway), then out into the street for our long walk to school. I swear, sometimes it was warmer in the street than it was in our bedroom.

Today in 2016 The death of the radio and TV broadcaster Terry Wogan, aged 77. He presented Children in Need, Wake Up to Wogan, Come Dancing, the game show Blankety Blank and he was the BBC's commentator for the Eurovision Song Contest from 1971 to 2008. His weekday radio programme on BBC Radio 2, 'Wake Up to Wogan', had eight million regular listeners, making him the most listened to radio broadcaster in Europe. He was granted a knighthood in 2005 and was entitled to use 'Sir' in front of his name as he held dual British and Irish citizenship.

82,740 new cases and 57 registered deaths.

Tuesday 01/02/2022 – Day 684

Another dry day in store for us here in the Midlands, but there’s definitely a nip in the air this morning. Did you know that ‘A nip in the air’ supposedly comes from the second world war? It seems that when Japanese pilots were attacking this statement would be made. But I personally doubt that very much, the Oxford dictionary rightly says that a nip is a quick pinch, therefore it is a shortened version of a sharp frost which ‘nips’ your nose.

Speaking of which, on this day in 1884 The first volume (A to Ant) of the Oxford English Dictionary was published. James Murray was its most famous editor, but he had only reached the letter T after working 44 hours per week for 35 years, so hundreds of people sent in their own contributions.

However, despite the weather conditions, I am going to have to brave them and tidy up the front drive and garden. It looks as if no-one lives here anymore. The drive is strewn with moss from the roof, begrudgingly leaving its home during the recent high winds. This has also left the guttering overflowing with the stuff, fortunately our window cleaner has all the right gear for cleaning them out, he uses a sort of sucker (no dear reader, not me) which vacuums all the rubbish out of the gutter, he doesn’t even have to climb a ladder. But how do you know he’s cleaned them out properly? That’s simple, he attaches a small camera to the long pole he uses and shows you the nice clean gutters on film.

It was on this day in 1939 that a British White Paper proposing the formation of the Home Guard (which became better known as Dad’s Army because of the average age of the volunteers) was published. The hugely popular TV series of Dad's Army was first aired on 31st July 1968 and ran for 9 series until 13th November 1977. The 2016 Dad's Army film had its premiere on 26th January 2016, but sadly, it was a bit of a washout as the originals were a hard act to follow. Principal filming took place on the beach at North Landing (Flamborough Head) and at nearby Bridlington. Sadly, most of the cast has passed away since the last episode aired, but the legacy of their time in the show lives on to this day. Out of the seven main cast members, only one is still alive today, Ian Lavender who played Private Frank Pike. Frank Pike was the youngest of the group, known for his earnest look at life and his non-regulation scarf. Lavender’s career mainly shifted to theatre following the end of the show, though the star did appear in a few on-screen roles since. Most notably, Lavender appeared in Coronation Street, EastEnders, and Keeping Up Appearances.

And finally, it was on a version of Top of the Pops on this day in 1965 P.J. Proby, the US rock singer, was banned by ABC Theatres and the BBC after he had deliberately split his trousers during his act. The mainly female audience and the tabloids, who claimed Proby’s act was obscene, went wild. It was the beginning of the end for the flamboyant performer.

New cases were up to 112,452 today, a surge in deaths resulting in 279.

Wednesday 02/02/2022 - Day 685

It was really warm yesterday, at around 10.30am I ventured outside to gather up all the moss that had rolled off the roof and onto the front drive. A quick dig around the borders and a quick sweep made sure the front was once again looking pristine. I do, however, have one slight problem. I planted the daffodil bulbs in the front garden last November, that’s not the problem, I was quite proud of myself. No, the problem is that some of those bulbs have yet to show their little shoots. Some have, but others seem a bit reluctant to make an appearance. Every time we go out to get into the car, Mrs H has a look around and ‘mentions’ the fact that they still haven’t appeared, knowing full well it was me that planted them. I reckon I may have been thinking about the mother-in-law whilst planting them last November, and I’ve put them a lot deeper than I should have!

Really looking forward to this weekend away – part of my 70th birthday celebrations - a gift from my darling children. The only problem being that those same darling children haven’t even given me a hint of where they are taking me. All I know is that Mrs H and I have to have a bag packed ready for Friday morning, sounds a bit like the apprentice, when he phones the house at 4,30am and expects 14 youngsters to get read and meet him in 30 minutes.

Today is Candlemas, It is based upon the account of the presentation of Jesus in Luke 2:22–40. In accordance with Leviticus 12, a woman was to be purified by presenting a lamb as a burnt offering, and either a young pigeon or dove as sin offering, 33 days after a boy's circumcision. It falls on 2 February, which is traditionally the 40th day (postpartum period) of and the conclusion of the Christmas –Epiphany season. While it is customary for Christians in some countries to remove their Christmas decorations on Twelfth Night (Epiphany Eve), those in other Christian countries historically remove them after Candlemas. On Candlemas, many Christians (especially Luthanians, Anglicans and Methodists) also bring their candles to their local church, where they are blessed and then used for the rest of the year; for Christians, these blessed candles serve as a symbol of Jesus Christ, who referred to himself as the Light of the World.

On this day in 1901 The state funeral of Queen Victoria. At the time of her death, her reign of 63 years and 216 days was longer than that of any other British monarch and the longest of any female monarch in history. (On 9th September 2015 Queen Elizabeth II overtook Queen Victoria as the longest serving monarch of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.)

Today we remember the first anniversary of 2021 Captain Sir Tom Moore. He raised more than £32m for the NHS by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday and was knighted for his fundraising efforts by the Queen at Windsor Castle in July 2020. In December 2020, he took a family holiday to Barbados after British Airways paid for his flight and before the UK government's strict rules on travel came into place. On 31st January 2021, Sir Tom was admitted to Bedford Hospital after testing positive with COVID-19 and being treated for pneumonia. His family said that sadly, due to other medication he was receiving for pneumonia, he was unable to be vaccinated.

There were 92, 578 new cases today, but deaths almost doubled at 534.

Thursday 03/02/2022 – Day 686

Another really mild day out there today, Mrs H and I managed a few hours in the urban sprawl that we call our garden yesterday. I managed to get the grease bands put around the fruit trees and re-erected a trellis that had come astray during the Winter. Problem is of course, that with all this mild weather, we are being lulled into a false sense of security. I have watched in awe as some of my neighbours went out and gave their lawns their first trim – far too early! I was walking on our lawn yesterday and the ground is still too soft, I won’t be cutting my green stuff until it starts growing again. Besides the fact that I read a report that says most of Britain down to the Midlands could be basking in snow next week!

Does anyone remember the kitchens of their childhood? Ours was the hub of the home, in the Winter it was full of steam and kids, in the summer it was empty of kids and full of flies. My dear old mum had fly papers strewn across the nicotine covered brownish ceiling and hanging precariously over the food cooking on the gas oven. They were covered in remains of those bluebottles courageous enough to fly near them.

We lived in a council house, so it was basically fitted, mum had one of those posh tall larder cupboards, It was free standing and around six foot tall. The two top cupboards would hold essentials such as bread and butter, tea, and sugar etc. The middle section had a large door which dropped down and became a very useful work surface. I’ve seen many a piece of bread and scrape (Mothers Pride loaf) done on there, a sprinkling of sugar or a spread of tomato ketchup and you had an instant tummy filler after school. The bottom cupboard was full of plates, bowls, and dishes. On the top sat an old brown Bakelite radio which was mainly tuned into the light programme ready for the pools results on a Saturday afternoon.

There was a built-in tall cupboard in the corner which had two painted water pipes running down parallel. These pipes had an old mirror tied to them; it was where dad mostly shaved. The pipes fed the sink unit which was a sort of cream colour. It was where most of the face washing went on in our house, the reason being that the fire with the back boiler to heat the water was only ever lit on a Sunday. We had an immersion heater, but it was expensive to run. So it was easier to put the kettle on the gas ring, when it whistled it was poured into the bowl in the sink, cold water added, and five or more kids would have their daily wash in it. Even the baby would be bathed in the kitchen sink. The towels hung on the side of the corner cupboard and were held there by rubber suckers, you just pushed the towel into the hole and hey presto. Beneath the sink was a place to keep the box of Persil, the lifebuoy soap and stuff like Ajax or Vim. This was all hidden nicely by a piece of curtain wire and an old curtain.

Next to the sink and beneath the draining board was the gas boiler which would be filled with water, a gas hose was then plugged into a socket below and that was how mum did her washing. On Mondays (washday) the walls and cupboards would run with condensation.

The gas oven was the main thing in our kitchen, it provided a cuppa, it boiled nappies in a huge saucepan, it cooked all our food, but the main thing it did was provide warmth. The bottom oven was always on permanently in the winter and there would be many a hustle and a bustle to warm your backside.

In the mid-fifties I can’t recall anyone having a fridge, and certainly not a freezer, most post war houses came with a built-in larder that would have a window with a wire mesh covering and a cold marble slab. But we didn’t have one, we just had cupboards which – because of the constant clothes washing – were always permanently mouldy.

But despite all this we had a brilliant childhood, and I would never change any of the things I have written about. Times were really hard, but we didn’t seem to notice it back then.

On this day in 1935 The first 'League of Ovaltineys' created by the manufacturer of the drink Ovaltine. It became a children's 'secret society', promoting high morals and consideration towards others. At the height of its popularity, there were over five million members, and I was one of them! In 1975 the song 'We Are The Ovaltineys' came back to a new audience when it was used by Ovaltine in a TV advertisement and also released as a single record.

There were 87,349 new cases today with 259 deaths.

Friday 04/02/2022 – Day 687.

I was lay in bed this morning, anticipating the journey I was about to take to God knows where. This was part of my 70th birthday celebrations which was paid for by my children and their partners. So at 9.30am eight of us will be setting off to the railway station for a weekend away. Until then I have absolutely no idea where I am being taken, but I do know that I’m really looking forward to it.

Another thing that passed through my thoughts was when a friend asked me if I had ever regretted not taking my driving test. My simple answer was no. I have no desire to be behind the wheel, keep death off the roads has always been my motto.

But it was only today in 1963 that Britain's worst learner driver, Margaret Hunter, was fined for continuing to drive on after her instructor jumped out of the car shouting 'This is suicide.' Margaret may have terrified the wits out of her instructor – but I suspect there have been many far worse than Margaret since then.

For instance, In 2016 a man finally passed his practical test on his 39th attempt…. Not far behind – a woman from Sutton Coldfield and a man from Weston-super-Mare, both of whom took 36 attempts. The record for theory test failures is even greater…. A 30-year-old women from Ilford had failed the test 113 times by her last attempt in 2015….and a 40-year-old man has since racked up a fail score of 107 at exactly the same test centre. Meanwhile, a female driving instructor has been identified as Britain’s worst instructor in recent years – with a pass rate of just 15% amongst her students (the national pass rate is above 40%) and one of her pupils failed the practical test 27 times.

According to the Drivers Standards Agency it takes an average of 47 lessons to pass…. Since the driving test was introduced in 1935 over 50 million tests have been taken. At first the test was on a voluntary basis – in an effort to reduce the anticipated flood of applicants when it became compulsory on the 1st of June 1935. A Mr.J.Beene was the first ever to pass the driving test, it cost him seven shillings and sixpence…. The authorities were right to expect a flood of applications – 246,000 applied to take their driving test – with a 63% pass rate…. It was also at this time that legislation was brought in requiring learner drivers to display a red L plate on the front and rear of their car.

To start with there were no test centres; candidates would have to meet at an appointed location, often a car park or railway station…. Throughout the country 13 supervising examiners and 250 driving examiners were appointed. The test included:- general questions on the Highway Code, correct use of hand signals, emergency breaking on command, pulling away on a steep hill, a three-point turn and a reverse manoeuvre…. Little was to change within the driving test until more recent times. In 1939 driving tests were suspended for the duration of World War 2 and resumed again in November 1946. They were suspended again ten years later during the Suez Crisis, resuming in 1957.

In 1965 a central licensing system was set up at a new centre in Swansea – the DVLA – taking over from individual councils…. From 1970 all driving instructors had to be officially registered and from March 1973 green computerised licenses were issued, replacing the old-style red booklet…. From 1975 onwards it was no longer a requirement to demonstrate hand signals.

1996 saw the first major change to the driving test, with the introduction of the theory test, replacing the verbally asked questions on the Highway Code….and in 2000 the touchscreen theory test was introduced….

2017 brought an even bigger ‘shake-up’; with an increase from 10 to 20 minutes of independent driving time and the need to show the ability of following directions from a sat nav. The reverse-around-corner and turn-in-the-road manoeuvres were dropped from the test….candidates instead having to demonstrate parallel parking, parking in a bay or pulling up, reversing 2 car lengths and re-joining traffic….and finally the answering of safety questions….

Since the introduction of the new test the pass rate has slightly declined – but perhaps it is too early to know if this will be a continuing trend….

A further 83,898 newly reported cases today, deaths were 254

Saturday 05/02/2022 – Day 688

It’s a freezing cold day here in Liverpool, the rain is lashing down but the day has been really brightened up with the surprise arrival of our son Mark and wife Ellen. More on the big trip next week.

Joke of the week

Students in an advanced Biology class were taking their mid-term exam. The last question was, 'Name seven advantages of Mother's Milk'.

The question was worth 70 points or none at all. One student, in particular, was hard put to think of seven advantages.

However, he wrote:

1) It is perfect formula for the child.

2) It provides immunity against several diseases.

3) It is always the right temperature.

4) It is inexpensive.

5) It bonds the child to mother, and vice versa.

6) It is always available as needed.

And then the student was stuck.

Finally, in desperation, just before the bell rang indicating the end of the test, he wrote:

7) It comes in two attractive containers and it's high enough off the ground where the cat can't get it.

He got an A+.

Week 100

Sunday 06/02/2022 – Day 689

Here we are again, and I can’t quite believe that I have been writing this garbage for 100 weeks, neither can I believe that I have almost 1100 followers plus all those that don’t comment but do read it. Thank you all very much for your wonderful support.

I thought you might be interested in our trip to Liverpool over the weekend. It started on Friday morning when we jumped in a taxi to Kidderminster railway station. My three children and their partners had organised a trip over the weekend for part of my 70th birthday celebrations.

The problem was that I had no idea where we were going.

We sat having a cuppa as we waited for the train and they were all agreeable that Gemma should tell me where I was going, so she handed me a piece of paper, it read:-

Dear Dad,

Alright, Alright, Alright! Calm down!

I bet you’re going on your Magical Mystery Tour. We have all Come Together and got you this Ticket to Ride, because you’re our favourite Paperback Writer. We have lots to do so please Don’t Let me Down.

We will say Hello today and Goodbye on Sunday. We hope you enjoy your weekend and hopefully won’t shout Help.

You deserve this dad, as you look out for all your family 8 Days a week.

So, just sit back and enjoy, I’m sure we’re gonna have a Lorra, Lorra laughs.

All Our Loving, we will give to you!

Love Mark & Ellen

Sarah & Birdo

Gemma & Gary xxxxxxxxx

Ps, Have you guessed where you are going yet???

I had already guessed by the time I got to Help.So we got on the train to Galton Bridge where we had to get the train to Liverpool. We’d only been on the train ten minutes when an array of snacks beer, Guinness and drinks for the girls were magically produced from nowhere, (actually, they had been well hidden in carrier bags.

They were trying to make it a perfect day for me, the only thing missing was Mark and Ellen, Mark had sadly tested positive for covid on the Monday after feeling poorly over the weekend. He was still positive on the Friday we left so they couldn’t come with us.

By the time we got to Liverpool at 1.00pm those two carrier bags were empty!

We stepped off the train to a very bracing North wind accompanied by rain, but nothing was going to dampen our spirits. It was just a short walk to the Hotel and within 20 minutes we were putting our cases in our rooms and heading out to lunch. The girls made me wear a whopping badge which announced to the world that it was my 70th birthday.

We had almost finished our lunch when over the Tannoy came the first strains of ‘Happy Birthday to You,’ and a parade of staff carrying a cake with a sole candle headed toward me, soon the whole of the crowded restaurant were singing along too.

I asked Gemma if she had organised it, she said no, and explained that it was because of my badge.

We had a couple of hours in a lovely pub that resembled a Yellow submarine and was called by that name. Next stop was the famous ‘Peaky Blinders’ pub where we spent another hour.

At 6.00pm it was still howling and raining outside on the streets, so we settled down in a bar called ‘Smokin Mo’s’, There was a brilliant chap who kept everyone entertained for the evening, around 8.30 pm the whole pub sang happy birthday to me once again.

Everything after that was a little vague I’m afraid, but Mrs H – bless her – helped me get back to the hotel which fortunately was just a few metres away from the pub.

I awoke at 7.00 am the next morning with a mouth like the bottom of a budgie’s cage. I felt quite unwell and was in desperate need of food. By 10.00am everyone was finally ready, and we headed downstairs to go for breakfast. As I walked down the exterior steps someone mimicking a Liverpool accent shouted to me. I looked to my left and there was Mark and Ellen!

Wow, what a surprise, it seems that Mark had been clear on the Friday and again on the Saturday, so they caught the next available train. I have to say, it really made my day, it was a wonderful surprise.

We headed out to the same restaurant as the previous day, and I felt a lot better after a massive English breakfast.

I’ll tell you more tomorrow.

There were 60,075 new cases today and 75 new deaths recorded.

Monday 07/02/2022 – Day 690

After breakfast we made our way down to the Albert Docks, if you remember the Good Morning ITV team had a massive floating map of the British Isles where the weather reporter used to jump around on it. It was still cold, but down by the water it really was bitterly cold.

It was around 11.30am and I was about to totally ruin Gemma’s well thought out itinerary, the problem was that our hometown of Kidderminster were playing West Ham in the fourth round of the FA cup at home. We needed to find a pub that was showing the match as it was a 12.30 kick off.

It was about 12.00 midday when we found a decent pub, we told the landlady we were from Kidderminster, and she sat us in a booth right near the TV which she turned up loud for us. I still couldn’t face Guinness or beer, so I was drinking shandy.

Within twenty minutes Kidderminster Harriers scored, and that was how it stayed until the final minute of injury time when West Ham equalised. This forced extra time, all was going well, and it looked as though it was going to a penalty shootout, then in the very final minute West Ham scored again. Kidderminster’s FA cup dream was finally ended by a team that were forced to field their very best players to win.

Everyone agreed – including Alan Shearer and the other commentators – that Kidderminster was the far superior team and deserved to win.

So, nursing our bruised ego’s we headed back to the chilly docks and into the Beatle Experience museum, it was expensive to go in but well worth the money, there was lots of things I hadn’t known about the Fab Four.

Then it was back to the hotel for a quick change of clothing, just in time to see England beaten by the Welsh in the six nations Rugby. Saturday so far was not going too well sports wise.

We went back out into the cold, windy and stormy evening to go to the Chinese restaurant down the road, but it was Christmas all over again and there was no room at the inn, or the Mr Chinn in this case. We went int the ‘Only Fools and Horses’ venue for a drink, what an amazing place, there was lots of places where you could have a photo shoot. There was even a replica of the bar which Del Boy fell through, and you could do the same as well. I declined for the simple reason that I have had a dodgy shoulder for a year now and I didn’t want to risk it.

This was all well and good, but we still hadn’t eaten, we were all starving. We left the venue and back into the cold wet streets, as we turned the corner I got a whiff of Fish and Chips, meanwhile Ellen had crossed the road to a steak house, so we stood outside the chip shop trying to decide which place to eat in. It was almost decided when Ellen said that if we ate in the steakhouse we could get a beer with our meal, until a perfect Liverpool voice from behind the counter shouted:-

“Orr ay, you can get beer in ere”

That was decided then we sat at the tables, and I had the biggest fish I had ever seen in my life. We spent the rest of the evening in Smokin Mo’s.

The next morning we headed off to the Railway station to face changes, delays, and different routes, It had been the most wonderful weekend, but I have a sneaking suspicion that we were all just a tad happy to get to the warmer Midlands I think.

A further 57,019 new cases today, there were also 45 deaths reported.

Tuesday 08/02/2022 – Day 691

We had a visitor yesterday, no not the usual mouse (wonder why he hasn’t visited yet?) but our local friendly plumber. Darren came to fit two radiators in the Garden room.

Since time immemorial Mrs H has been complaining that the garden room – which I built last year – was too cold to sit in. Basically, it was a no-go area once the cold weather arrived, so I asked Darren to give us a price to fit and plumb in two extra radiators. His price was really reasonable, so he turned up yesterday to do the job.

Within five hours it was so hot in there that we had to turn the radiators down!

Mrs H is over the moon and even had breakfast in there this morning.

Just need to get some shading now, to cool it down in the Summer.

This little task has as usual created more little jobs for me, I now have to box in the pipework that goes to the new radiators.

It was on this day in 1855 The Times of London reported on a series of strange tracks left overnight in the snow around the towns of Topsham, Lympstone, Exmouth, Teignmouth, Dawlish, and Exeter, in Devon County, England. The tracks appeared overnight after a large snowfall, and immediately caused concern among the local populace due to their odd appearance and location. They ran for 40 miles "on the tops of houses and narrow walls, in gardens and courtyards, enclosed by high walls and palings, as well as in open fields," The imprints in the newly fallen snow were described as one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half inches across, and resembled a "donkey's shoe." Their pattern resembled more that of a biped than a quadruped, with approximately eight inches between hoofprints.

The Times reported that "The superstitious go so far as to believe that they are the marks of Satan himself

Other explanations have been added more recently, including the ever-popular mass hysteria, in this case caused by the misinterpretation of several different sets of animal prints; an experimental balloon trailing two shackles from its mooring ropes that was accidentally released from the Devonport Dockyard, and covered up due to the property damage it caused; and hopping mice, who leave imprints in the snow similar to a cloven hoof due to the motion of their limbs as they leap.

Also today in 1952 Princess Elizabeth formally proclaimed herself Queen and Head of the Commonwealth and Defender of the Faith. Lords of the Council, numbering 150, representatives from the Commonwealth and officials from the City of London, including the Lord Mayor and other dignitaries witnessed the accession of the deceased king's eldest daughter.

It's hard to believe but 67 years ago today in 1965, cigarette adverts were banned from the TV, and ads for other tobacco products, including cigars, have been prohibited since the early 1990s. However, current advertising codes weren't designed with e-cigarettes in mind. I can remember the atmospheric ‘Lonely Man’ Strand cigarettes advert, Allegedly the biggest ever UK advertising flop - but actually, it wasn't a very good cigarette. The Ad was shot by Carol Reed, who directed The Third Man.

And final, on this day in 1983 Shergar, the Aga Khan's Derby winner, was kidnapped from a stable in County Kildare, Ireland. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of £2 million, which was never paid. The horse was never seen again.

I was so touched when Mrs H opened the car door for me yesterday – Just a shame that we were going at 70mph.

New cases were up slightly at 66,163, registered deaths also increased deaths up to 314.

Wednesday 09/02/2022 – Day 692

Had a very rare visit from two of my sisters today, Rita and Cheryl actually call round to bring me some belated birthday cards, both had a substantial amount of cash in them (the cards, not the sisters). We had a good old catch-up on the family and local gossip. It really was special to see them both again, we don’t see enough of each other. Cheryl hasn’t been too well lately after having suffered a severe stroke.

I wonder dear reader; can you recall whether or not you were born in a hospital? Another memory from this old head was the fact that I and at least eight of my siblings were born at home. The last of our tribe was Paul and he was the only one who was actually born in a hospital in 1960.

My first sister was born in 1944, then from 1948 onwards my mum gave birth to another nine children. It seemed the house always smelled of either Johnsons Baby powder which was lovely, or nappies being boiled in a huge saucepan on the gas ring – not so lovely! National Dried milk was the mainstay of babies diets in those days. It came free if you produced vouchers. In a tall tin with bold blue writing and instructions on the back.

Two years after my birth however, there was a fierce debate in the house of Commons regarding the feeding tables on the back of the tin. One speaker suggested that the serving instructions were inadequate and that babies were undernourished, causing them to wake in the middle of the night hungry and crying. That is my excuse for my stunted height and (once) diminutive frame. Another part of my staple diet as I got bigger (albeit very slowly) was Farley’s rusks. They were so nice that my elder siblings would literally take them out of my hand for a quick nibble. I can even remember eating them myself when mum bought them for Paul in the early sixties.

The other strange thing that stands out in my mind from my early childhood was the fact that we very rarely drank pop or water for that matter. Most of our meals were accompanied by a steaming hot mug of tea, I later graduated to Camp coffee which came in a bottle. If memory serves there was a Scottish officer being served coffee by an Indian servant, more controversial than the golliwogs on Robertsons jam I reckon.

There are 3 signs of old age, the first is memory loss, I can’t remember the other two!

It was on this day in 1942 that a humongous cheer was heard throughout the land by boys when during World War Two, soap rationing began in Britain.

Whilst on the subject of boys, today in 1964, the British invasion began when seventy-three million Americans tuned in to the Ed Sullivan Show to watch four youths from Liverpool (the Beatles) appear in America for the first time.

And finally, on this day in 2002 The Queen's sister, Princess Margaret, aged 71, died in her sleep after suffering a stroke and a heart attack. Her body was laid to rest at Kensington Palace in order for the Royal Family to pay their respects.

New cases rose again slightly today reaching 68,389, registered deaths were 275.

Thursday 10/02/2022 – Day 693

Got a trip to the hospital today, Russell Hall to be exact. A nurse rang up yesterday and said that they had five appointments spare and did I want one. I have been waiting to go for a cardiogram for the last six months. So at 10.00am Mrs H and I arrived at the hospital.

In the room I was asked to strip off my top and lie on the couch, then a cold gel was applied to a sort of microphone and for twenty minutes or more it recorded different parts of my heart, much like when a pregnant woman has a scan, it made some very strange noises and I now await the results with anticipation.

When I was but a mere boy with the backside out of my trousers and iodine stains on my knees, a child’s role in life was simply to sleep as little as possible, eat as much as could be afforded, learn as much as possible and play as late into the evening as could be reasonably accepted ( ie, before mother called you in). The latter of this group had to involve your imagination, just as our sisters had dolls and prams and would play mothers and fathers (the fathers were always a lot younger as none of the older boys would play), we boys would utilise almost anything for play. Dustbin lids became shields, dustbins had three white lines painted or chalked on them and became cricket stumps, best coats and jumpers doubled up as goalposts. A mere lamppost in the street suddenly became Mount Everest and had to be conquered, if it was one of the old type lampposts with the ladder bar near the top, then a rope had to be tied to the bar and it suddenly became a swing.

The good thing in our street was that everyone was in the same boat, there was a sense of camaraderie and neighbourly wellbeing. I knew every person and every neighbour in the street of around 60 families. Adults were called Mr or Mrs and never addressed by their first names. The street always seemed busy, even though, until 1962 no-one owned a car. It was busy with children! Adults on doorsteps chatting, smoking, and sharing a snippet of local gossip. We, as children hadn’t known any different sort of life, we didn’t know we were poor, because everyone of us was in the same boat.

We all had shoes on our feet, and most of us during the winter had cardboard in those shoes to keep out the rain and snow, albeit temporary. If we fell out of a tree and grew a massive bump on our forehead mother simply rubbed butter on it. To this day I have no idea what that butter did, or even if it worked, but within minute of mum ‘kissing it better’ I was charging down that street to conquer the same tree I had fallen from minutes earlier. I only ever remember being taken to the hospital once in my early years, and that was when I broke my arm after falling five metres from a swing nicknamed ‘The killer’ by local kids.

The killer was a rope swing that was tied to a huge oak tree on the side of a steep grass bank. The idea was that you’d swing out in an arc and halfway around you had to snag yourself on part of a broken branch, the resulting jog would jolt you off and it was a trip to the hospital with a broken arm or leg, no-one ever thought for a moment that we might break our neck!

Things got so busy at the infirmary, that the fire brigade were sent to cut down the swing, this happened umpteen times over the long Summer months, but as quick as it was cut down, it was put back up again. I never understood why they hadn’t realised that if they cut the offending broken branch off, then the accidents would stop anyway, the excitement would be gone. But then, we were only dumb kids.

On this day in 1824 The birth of Samuel Plimsoll, British politician, and social reformer. He devised the Plimsoll Line, to thwart unscrupulous ship owners who regularly overloaded their 'coffin ships'. His safe loading line painted on the ships acted as a regulation for the weight that ships could safely carry. Rope sandals for sailors were also named after him.

New cases fell slightly today and were 66658 in number. Registered deaths also fell to 206.

Friday 11/02/2022 – Day 694

Our day started with us giving our daughter Sarah a lift for the very last time in the foreseeable future. No. Mrs h and I haven’t turned on Sarah, we merely picked her up to go and collect her new car, although her mum and boyfriend will be on the insurance should she feel need them.

We had a visit from one of Vickie’s friends this afternoon, she brought her little daughter Emmy and baby son George with her – two of the cutest and loveliest children I have ever met, a wonderful family! We had a great catchup.

When I was at home the larder cupboard in the corner of the kitchen held two important things, one was the half dozen corona pop bottles, and the other was on the top cupboard – it held all the medicine needed for a large family. It was high up to keep out of the reach of young prying hands and eyes. It was a cornucopia of fifties medicine.

A bottle of Calamine lotion ready for any child who was unfortunate to get chicken pox. For the odd cuts and grazes there was a tube of germoline with a distinctive and re-assuring hospital smell. Another medicine with a distinct smell was Beecham’s powders for headaches. For those irritable winter coughs we were spoon fed Veno’s cough mixture. Also antiseptic iodine for those grazed knees and of course the obligatory roll of plasters, which had to be cut to size with scissors depending on the damage done.

Glad to report that there was no Castor oil though.

It was on this day in 1983that Police launched a mass murder investigation in London after discovering human remains in drains. Civil servant Dennis Andrew Nilsen, 37, was later charged with 12 murders and sentenced to six life sentences. Dennis Andrew Nilsen (23 November 1945 – 12 May 2018) was a Scottish serial killer and necrophile who murdered at least twelve young men and boys between 1978 and 1983 in London. Convicted at the Old Bailey of six counts of murder and two of attempted murder, Nilsen was sentenced to life imprisonment on 4 November 1983, with a recommendation that he serve a minimum of twenty-five years. This recommendation was later changed to a whole life tariff in December 1994. In his later years, Nilsen was imprisoned at Full Sutton maximum security prison.

All of Nilsen's murders were committed at the two North London addresses where he lived between 1978 and 1983. His victims would be lured to these addresses through deception and killed by strangulation, sometimes accompanied by drowning. Following each murder, Nilsen would observe a ritual in which he bathed and dressed the victim's body, which he retained for extended periods of time, before dissecting and disposing of the remains by burning them in a bonfire or flushing them down a toilet.

Nilsen became known as the Muswell Hill Murderer, as he committed his later murders in the Muswell Hill district of North London. He died at York Hospital on 12 May 2018 of a pulmonary embolism and a retroperitoneal haemorrhage, which occurred following surgery to repair an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Another fall in new cases to 58,899, registered deaths also fell to 193.

Saturday 12/02/2022- Day 695

Had our grandson Hatton (golden balls) staying over last night. I can remember when he was younger and had a stayover – we needed a removal van to ferry all the stuff he brought with him for one night. Yesterday he walked out of his house with nothing, just himself. Why do they have to grow up so quickly?

Been over to Bewdley this morning, we stopped in a lovely little place which was a delicatessen and had a lovely tearoom at the back. Mrs H and I forgot the diet momentarily, threw caution to the wind and had scones with jam, cream, and butter, they were delicious. We sat there chatting as four people came and sat on the reserved table next to ours.

Ten minutes later as we got up to leave, Mrs H was donning her hat and coat when one of the gentleman said to me:-

“See you Mr Harvey.”

Well I am totally useless at names and faces, I didn’t recognise him. Then one of the ladies said:-

“Are you Eric Harvey? Do you run that site on Facebook?”

My heart sank, what had I done or said wrong was the first thought that entered my head, thankfully she continued:-

“We love your site, and your stories, so beautifully written.”

Well, they had to widen that entrance for me to get out of the shop!

Joke of the Week.

A young Portsmouth woman was so depressed that she decided to end her life by throwing herself into the sea but just as she stood on South Parade Pier, a handsome young man stopped her.

"You have so much to live for," said the man. "I'm a sailor, and we are off to Australia tomorrow. I can stow you away on my ship. I'll take care of you, bring you food every day, and keep you safe, in return for love."

With nothing to lose, combined with the fact that she had always wanted to go to Australia, the woman accepted. That night the sailor smuggled her aboard and hid her in a small but comfortable compartment in the hold. From then on, every night he would bring her three sandwiches, a bottle of rum, and make love to her until dawn.

Two weeks later she was discovered by the captain during a routine inspection.

"What are you doing here?" asked the captain.

"I have an arrangement with one of the sailors," she replied. "He

brings me food every day and I get a free trip to Australia."

"I see," said the captain.

Her conscience then got the best of her, and she added, "and of course, he's screwing me."

"He certainly is," replied the captain. "This is the Gosport Ferry."

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