• harveyvickie

Diary of an Ex- Self isolator weeks 81 -85

Week 81

Sunday 26/09/2021 – Day 556

The promise of a lovely sunny day here in Kidderminster. It was chaos at the petrol stations all around here yesterday. Queues of traffic were blocking the roads to all of them. In our town both Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s supermarkets are beyond the petrol stations, so the same access road is used for both. This of course meant that no-one was getting any shopping done. What on earth is wrong with people? I saw people getting out of their cars with umpteen petrol cans to fill up. At least some of the petrol stations had the good sense to limit purchases to £30.

Mrs H said our car was running on fumes, but unlike the rest of those idiots, we went for a quiet stroll down to our local Social club and had lunch with Sarah and her boyfriend. I hasten to add that not a drop touched Mrs H’s lips. We spent a very pleasant afternoon putting the world to rights. Then around 6.00pm we strolled back home, jumped in the car, and headed off to Tesco’s. Just five minutes later I was filling up the car, no queues, no hassle, no problem, and no idiots. The lady at the kiosk said,’ ‘It’s been miserable here all day, everyone moaning about queues and petrol shortages. There are no petrol shortages but people can’t get it into their thick skulls, if everyone bought normally it would be fine, but the road outside was blocked at 6.00am this morning, utter madness.’

We went home and watched Strictly Come Dancing, apparently a lot of people have stopped watching because of the same sex couple dancing together.

Today in 1887 was the birth of Sir Barnes Wallis, scientist, engineer, and inventor of the bouncing bomb used by the RAF in the 'Dambusters' raid to attack the dams of the Ruhr Valley during World War II. They practiced their techniques at the Derwent Dam in Derbyshire where there is a memorial to them. I mention this fact because it is the very first film I went to see at the local cinema. My elder brother Michael, held my hand tight as we negotiated the roads in the town. I was only four or five years old. My brother and I were sent out whilst my mum had her eighth baby at home, so the year must have been 1957. That stirring theme music still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I hear it.

You could go into the cinema in those days and stay all day, the films were on a continuous loop, so if you went in halfway through a film, then you just stayed until you’d seen the first half. There was always two films on as well, the other film alongside the Dambusters was called ‘Private’s Progress’ and starred Ian Carmichael as a conscript into the second world war. There was also the Pathe news during the interval in the two films. It was basically the news of the day but shown in a more interesting way.

On this day in 1953 Sugar rationing in Britain ended. This meant that sweets were once again available in the shops without coupons. This is a poem I wrote about that day.

Best Days of our Lives

It was February fifth nineteen fifty-three I jumped out of bed with a feeling of glee, Pulled up my short trousers over slightly scarred knees slipped my Winter shirt on pulled up braces with ease.

The old socks on the floor would do for today had no time to look for clean ones anyway, I recalled yesterday’s news, my heart skipped a beat today would be brilliant - a wonderful treat!

I ran down the kitchen where lovely old Mum sat me down at the table with an ultimatum, 'Eat every little bit or you're going nowhere- did you wash behind your ears, have you combed your hair?

My sister in her highchair was having a spree flicking food everywhere, and sharing it with me, As it slid down my face I Just wiped it away I swear there was nothing could upset me today.

I gave her a smile as porridge set in the bowl why was every breakfast such a rigmarole, The weather outside was looking so bleak as Mum spit on her pinnie rubbed dirt from my cheek.

'Go on then young Jimmy' she said with a smile 'Get out, enjoy it, it's been a long while'. I ran through the rubble still there from the blitz held tight in my hand my two threepenny bits.

Billy stood waiting at the end of our street his family were poor so I promised him this treat, I gave him his thruppence we headed off to the shop but our dreams were shattered as we reached the Co-op.

The queue was so long it reached around the back of Charlie's coal yard filled with nothing but slack, It wasn't just kids, lots of adults were in the queue men in bowler hats - fur coated women too!

With sadness in our hearts we joined the long line I assured young Billy that all would be fine, The queue started moving and in an hour or more our spirits were lifted, as we could see the front door.

Billy said it was great and well worth the pain then the sun disappeared and it poured down with rain! At last we were stood in the old Co-op shop on the ends of our noses a glistening dewdrop.

As we both looked around, we felt so bereft the glass jars were empty, one toffee apple left, So I quickly snapped it up to share with my friend on the day sweet rationing came to an end.

2013 The funeral service was held for 5-year-old April Jones, in her hometown of Machynlleth, mid Wales. 47-year-old Mark Bridger murdered her almost a year previously, sparking the biggest missing person search in UK police history. Her body was never found. At the time of her disappearance, ribbons were tied to the railings around the town's clock tower, on shop doors and pinned to trees.

There were 32,258 new cases today along with 58 registered deaths.

Monday 27/09/2021 – Day 557

What a night! No, not that, I meant the torrential rain. Good job it was through the night because no-one would have got past Lake Geneva outside our house, the whole pavement was swamped.

Been a bit poorly over the weekend, it happened every time I took my new tablets for angina. Mrs H insisted that I phone the doctor’s. I really hate going there, but first I had to get past the receptionist. It was a Monday morning which is usually ten times worse than any other day. I rang and was only number seventeen in the queue. That’s a result for Monday, so I patiently hung on, listening to the absolutely terrible music that wasn’t actually anything I had ever heard before. It must have been created especially for mundane situations. Half an hour later I heard those wonderful words, ‘Hello, can I help you?.’

I explained what was happening and there was no argument, I was offered an appointment for 9.30 am. We saw the doctor at 10.05 am (yes I know). It was a good job I listened to Mrs H though. It seems that the tablets were causing my blood pressure to drop too low and it was quite dangerous. He told me not to take any more and was going to write to the cardiac specialist and request another appointment. Good job Mrs H was with me because as he summed everything up all I could hear in my head was ‘This ole heart of Mine’ by the Isley Brothers.

1968 The musical Hair, (which took advantage of the end of British stage censorship by including a scene cast in the nude), had its first London performance. It played 1,998 performances until its closure was forced by the roof collapsing in July 1973.

1979 Gracie Fields, the Rochdale born wartime singer, died aged 81, in Canzone Del Mare, Capri. Her most famous song was 'Sally' which she sang at nearly every performance she made from 1931 onwards. This statue of her was unveiled in her hometown of Rochdale on 18th September 2016 by Roy Hudd, who was President of the British Music Hall Society until his death on 15th March 2020.

2016 The late Sir Terry Wogan (who died on 31st January 2016) was honoured in a special memorial service live in Westminster Abbey, on the 50th anniversary of his first BBC radio broadcast. Love him or loathe him that gentle Irishman had a wonderful charm and an even better sense of humour.

Mrs H keeps a big oval potato masher in the cutlery draw, she says it’s to keep my mind active and my strength up when we struggle to find a way to open it after it jams.

New cases rose by 5000 today to 37,960, registered deaths were down to 40.

Tuesday 28/09/2021 – Day 558

Woke up as fresh as a daisy this morning. I took my last dodgy tablet yesterday morning at 7.000am. I know it’s all probably in the head, but as the day wore on I began feeling better and better, no more over-tiredness, no mor headache and no more overheating.

Mrs H is talking about removing all the bedding from the borders, she also wants all the cushions stored away for the winter, and it’s only rained twice in a fortnight! Meanwhile my lovely old neighbour next door has arranged for his gardener to cut the eighty feet of privet hedge that lies between us. One of the old guard and a proper gentleman.

When I was a young boy there were no supermarkets open. You had to depend on the local corner shop or the town centre to get all the groceries. All fresh food was seasonal and there were normally just two types of potato, they were new or old. We hated it when the ‘new’ potatoes came out, it meant that there was a shortage of large potatoes for chips, which were our staple diet at that time. The very first supermarket here in Kidderminster didn’t come along until 1958. At first, timid housewives found shopping in these new supermarkets daunting. After all, shopping etiquette was ingrained in British society. You went in and chatted with the shopkeeper, while the shop assistant ran around dividing and measuring out the items on your list. You didn't handle the goods – you might be called a thief.

Of course, attending to one customer at a time is hardly economical. But while Americans had been helping themselves since the 1930s, self-service didn't come to Britain until after the Second World War (although the London Co-op ran a trial in 1942).

With the arrival of self-service came the stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap approach to retail, and prices fell. Many of the shops that clung on to the old ways soon found themselves out of business. Premier Supermarkets , a subsidiary of Express Dairies, lost no time in opening a self-service store in Streatham in 1951 and sales rocketed. Marks & Spencer followed that same year in Wood Green.

Changing consumer habits came as a boon to supermarkets. But today, with customers shopping online and preferring to visit smaller, in-town stores, the big supermarkets are finding out what it's like to be on the wrong side of change.

Speaking of supermarkets, on this day in 1884 Simon Marks, a Polish immigrant, and Yorkshireman Tom Spencer opened their Penny Bazaar in Leeds, setting the foundations for the Marks and Spencer chain. They opened their first food supermarket in Wood Green in 1951.

On this day in1923 The Radio Times was first published. I don’t know what it was like in your house but in ours at Christmas time we would eagerly await this publication to see which films were on over the festive season.

Finally, on this day in1996 At Ascot, Frankie Dettori became the first jockey to win all seven races at a meeting. The odds on this happening were 25,095 to 1. Bookmakers lost over £18 million pounds as a result. A great result for all those hard pushed punters.

There are rumours circulating that because of the national fuel crisis some children have been forced to walk the 300 metres to school.

There were 34,526 new cases today, but as usual, after a weekend the deaths figure rose to 167.

Wednesday 29/09/2021 – Day 559

The only trouble with our wonderful country is that it never knows when to stop weatherwise. Firstly we had an abundance of sunshine (no complaints there) now we have an abundance of rainfall, be nice if it sort of evened itself out a bit wouldn’t it.

Well Mrs H and I managed to put all the cushions and garden paraphernalia safely away yesterday, but we didn’t manage to clear the bedding plants, every time we went out to attempt it the heaven’s opened up. But the sun is out today so we will have another go. Supposed to be going round to Gemma’s to have our hair cut though, decisions, decisions.

Meanwhile I am restoring a massive glass cabinet, it had a lacquered finish so I had to sand it all down to provide a key for the new chalky paint.

Hadn’t seen my mate George for ages, but he called in on his way to town. It had been so long that even Mrs H welcomed him. Then he informed us that he and girlfriend Rose had fell out again. He explained.

“We had one of those plastic bags come through the door, you know, the ones that collect clothes for charity. Well the missus said she was going to donate some of her old clothes, when I asked her why she said that it was because some women in other countries are starving. I only said that any woman who’d fit into her clothing wouldn’t be starving.”

Mrs H nearly spit her coffee everywhere.

On this day On the morning of 29th September 1942, when the bombing of Bristol and other cities north of Somerset was intense, a lone German bomber flew in from the south at roof level and dropped four time-fused bombs on the factory. In the few seconds before the detonation, some people managed to scramble out, but when the explosion came it wrecked the building and killed nine of the employees. Houses all round were damaged and many people were injured or shocked or had lost a father, a mother, a brother, or a sister. But it was wartime, so little was said in the press and everyone carried on as well as could be managed.

The site remained derelict until after 1960. Then the chimney was demolished, and Cow & Gate agreed to sell part of the site to the County Highways Authority as a depot, part to the County Education Committee for the new Infants School, and part for a new fire station. The company was persuaded to donate the remaining land as a children’s playground in perpetuity.

Also on this day in 2011 Britons basked in record-breaking temperatures of 29C (84F). The mercury peaked in the East Midlands, beating the previous 29th September high of 27.8C (82F), which was recorded in York in 1895.

New cases numbered 34,476 today, the number of deaths seems to have stabilised and today there were 150.

Thursday 30/09/2021 – Day 560

Today we say goodbye to one of the warmest September’s on record, but only six years ago on 10th November 2015 he UK’s balmy winter weather reached new heights as the record for the warmest November night in history was broken.

Millions of Britons were left sweating under their duvets as freakish summer-like conditions swept across the country. The night temperature record was broken in Murlough, Co. Down, where the thermometer only dropped to 16.1C in the early hours of today. That is the region’s average daytime temperature for June - and 12C warmer than a usual November night.

The previous UK record stood at 15.9C, which was recorded in Eastbourne, East Sussex, in 2005.

Meanwhile it has been pizzitively possing down all night again. I had to go out in the pouring rain yesterday because the council refuse collectors had left my neighbours bin in the middle of the path, forcing mothers and schoolchildren to walk through water to get past. I have complained about the lake outside our houses, but our Council is as useful as a one-legged chap in a backside kicking contest.

Stretch your mind back a little, did you or your mum have one of those telephone tables in the hallway?. My mum made herself very comfortable when our phone rang. There was a velvet covered seat with an attached table space, On that table would be three important items. The phone (ours was off white), a flip up contact pad with all the names and numbers in it, and the obligatory ash tray.

There should have been a pen in a holder on there, but in a houseful of schoolchildren this never remained for more than an hour or so. Oh I forgot the little box with a slot in the top. This, as we grew older, was to help with the payment of the telephone bill by all teenage users. Although, I can never ever remember anything being in it. Probably disappeared along with the pen.

Today is one of corries last decent characters birthday. 1933 It is the birthday, in Oldham, Lancashire of Barbara Knox, best known for playing Rita Tanner (née Littlewood, previously Fairclough and Sullivan) in the television soap opera Coronation Street . She has been a 'regular' since 1972 and In 1989 she won the TV Times award for best actress following her involvement in the dramatic Alan Bradley storyline. Having said that, the recent storyline of Rita and Audrey falling out over past hair rinses is pathetic and contrived. I hasten to add that it was on in the background whilst I was writing this.

On this day in 1939 Identity cards were issued in Britain. I reckon they should bring them back, only my personal opinion of course.

Today in 1967 The BBC Light Programme, Third Programme and Home Service were replaced with BBC Radio 2, 3 and 4, Respectively. BBC Radio 1 was also launched, with Tony Blackburn, a former Radio Caroline DJ, presenting the first show. The first ever record played on Radio 1 was ‘Flowers in the Rain’ by The Move. But it wasn’t specially selected. The studio was quiet, Tony Blackburn sat waiting for the start of his programme and he realised he hadn’t set up his first disc, he grabbed a record and shoved it on the turntable. He had no idea what it was. After a simulcast with BBC Radio 2 hosted by Paul Hollingdale, Blackburn was the first DJ to be heard on BBC Radio 1 when it officially launched at 7 am on 30 September 1967, with his first words on the new station being "And good morning everyone! Welcome to the exciting new sound of Radio 1”.

New cases up by 2000 to 36,480, registered deaths were 137.

Friday 01/10/2021 – Day 561

Well, here we are at the start of yet another month, and of course a little closer to Christmas. There’s a local pub near us that has already got its Christmas tree up in the lounge to promote their Christmas food menu. Ads are also starting to appear on TV for Christmas. Be sure to look out for the Easter eggs in the supermarkets from November.

A bit of British History from this day, In1925 London's first red buses with roofed-in upper decks went into service, but they had been in use in Widnes, Cheshire, since 1909. When I was young in the mid-fifties our double decker buses had to climb one of the steepest hills in the midlands. I could never understand why they didn’t send a single decker bus instead of the huge double decker bus. Then I recently found an old story from our local newspaper, it read, ‘ passengers left fuming at bus stops when Midland Red send a single decker bus.’ It seems that so many people used that bus route from the estate that there wasn’t any ‘room up top.’ Lol.

It wasn’t too long before they resumed the old service, apparently sending along two single buses wasn’t economically viable. I remember, as a youngster queuing up at the bus stop which was partially covered in to shelter you from the weather. The shelter would be full of cigarette smoke, just about anyone over the age of ten liked a cigarette back then.

You would feel relieved when you saw the bus in the distance, it was about ten minutes early but that was good on a chilly winter day. But the bus would pull up, the driver would get out, the conductor would get out and they’d close the doors and light up a cigarette! So, imagine this scenario, it’s a cold winter day, there is a bus shelter full of passengers all sucking heavily on a Woodbine, a Park drive or a Senior service. The kind driver has left the engine ‘ticking over’ so that it’s nice and warm for his passengers, that same bus is spewing exhaust fumes into the crowded bus stop, but no one notices because it’s already full of cigarette smoke. No wonder people had a lot of chest complaints, and no wonder we had so many foggy days.

Today marks the 60th anniversary of BBC’s longest running religious programme ‘Songs of Praise’. The series was first broadcast on October 1st, 1961. On that occasion, the venue was the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Cardiff. It is one of the longest running series of its genre on television anywhere in the world. At its inception in October 1961, the programme was broadcast at 6:15 pm. From September 1962, it moved to 6:50 pm and then to 6:40 pm from April 1977 with a daytime repeat, generally shown on the following day with BSL

Sadly, because of changes in the programmes structure it has sadly lost its way according to many home worshippers. The simplicity of singing hymns and hearing from people and their religion have long gone, along with the viewing figures.

Two cannibals were eating a clown, one said to the other “Does this taste funny to you?”

Saturday 02/10/2021 – Day 562

Guess what, yes it’s raining here – again. Shefali has promised us the ‘day from hell’ as heavy rain is replaced by torrential downpours, So, I’m looking forward to a calm and partly sunny day as that young lady is hardly ever right.

I have to say, I sometimes feel sorry for you ladies, there are a lot of advantages to being a male. For instance, we are capable of finishing a phone call in under a minute. We can go clothes shopping in less than thirty minutes, it’s straight in and straight out for us. But best of all, we don’t have to queue for the loo. If you’re at a theatre, or a festival there is always a queue for the ladies toilet. But men saunter in, do their business and saunter out. Perhaps it’s because a lot of men don’t bother to wash their hands unless they’ve taken a seat, I have to add that I always do, but the amount of men who just walk out is quite astounding. Then of course, they have to wait for their wife who hasn’t even yet made the first door into the ladies.

Nowadays a lot of the larger public toilets require a small fee to use them. But it is most welcome, for the girls, who have no other choice than to sit, it means a clean and well-maintained toilet to park their derrieres. For us men it’s a lot better than urinating in a brown stained metal tray full of cigarette butts and a three-month-old toilet freshener, and a lot more value than saying to your beloved ‘penny for your thoughts.’

woman has given birth to six babies in what is being hailed as the first recorded case of live sextuplets in Britain.

Sheila Thorns from Birmingham underwent a Caesarean section early this morning during which six children - four boys and two girls - were delivered.

Mrs Thorns gave birth two months prematurely - on her 30th birthday.

All the babies were placed in incubators after being delivered but one - a girl - died shortly afterwards while being given a blood transfusion.

Twenty-eight medical staff from Birmingham Maternity Hospital were present at the delivery and the five surviving babies - Ian, Roger, Lynne, Julie, and Susan - are now being cared for by a specialist team.

Doctors say around one birth in 3,000 million will result in sextuplets.

Just three of the Thorns sextuplets survived.

On this day in 1991 Ron Chassidy (who had been jailed for not paying his poll tax) was released after a 'whip-round' at his local pub so that he could play in a dominoes match! Only in Britain eh!

Just a thought......

If fuel has a shelf life and covid lockdown meant fuel has been stored for too long, government decide to leak a potential shortage so everyone goes and uses all the old fuel up...sorted

Aaaand now they can also fill all stations with the E10 stuff everyone been complaining about, just killed two birds with one dodgy stone.

Today new cases fell slightly. There were a further 30,301 new cases , but still about the same as this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 241,578 a rise of 8,456 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 121 bringing the weekly total to 800 a fall of 158 on last week. There were 6,387,267 recoveries a rise of 228,132 on last week’s total which is good news.

Week 82

Sunday 03/10/2021 – Day 563

It’s quite cold outside but it’s the first day for a week that it hasn’t been raining when I opened the blinds. Well. This is not a good start to the week, or to October, I have a younger sister in hospital who’s very poorly with a suspected heart attack, and now my younger brother Paul has been admitted with suspected Pancreatitis. I will keep you informed of their progress.

I was thinking this morning about when I first started to partake of a pint or two. No, not when I was thirteen and the landlord only caught us outside because my mate ordered a Mars bar with every pint.

This was when I was drinking legally so it would have been about 1970. A regular thing back then was to organise trips to other pubs in other towns or in the country. These trips always happened on a Sunday. A charabanc would be paid for by taking weekly subscriptions from men only. These were basically the first organised pub crawls. The landlord – knowing his pub was going to be very quiet anyway – usually went along too. His wife would provide plenty of sandwiches and he’d provide crates of bottled beer. It’s illegal to drink alcohol on most coaches today, but back then, without the beer no-one would have gone.

The day would begin by gathering in the pub at around 8.30ish depending on how far you were travelling. Legal opening hours were 12 till 2.00pm. But the canny landlord, knowing his trade would be down for the day, opened the bar for the thirsty punters. Around 10.00am the coach would leave, already an hour late. As soon as we were on the road the bottles were handed around followed swiftly by the landlord with his hand out for payment.

There would be a stop about halfway to the destination, it would be a remote place in a field where 45 men would relieve themselves of their liquid intake, they’d still be clutching half empty bottles when someone would bring out a football. A great cheer would go up and the older ones would suck on their woodbines as the teams were chosen.

Half an hour later they’d be back on the road reaching their destination for spot on opening time. They’d be about twenty miles from home! Entertainment was always laid on for these trips by the welcoming pub. It would normally be just a man on the piano and another on the drums singing all the old drinking classics. If you were really lucky you might get a young up and coming group who were basically practising till something better came along.

After almost drinking the host pub dry, thrashing them at domino’s, cribbage, and darts, we’d all pile onto the coach at around 2.30. Then it would be off to another town for a look around, this was classed as the culture part. Although most just found a bench and drifted in and out of a boozy sleep. Back on the coach and the remainder of the crates would be passed around by the landlord who’d had a little too much to drink and forgot to take the money. By the time we had stopped once more for the usual we were only half an hour from home.

At exactly 7.00pm after a quick whip round for the driver, we would arrive back at the local. Now you’d think that 45 men who had been drinking since 8.30 am would want to get off home. But no, men were made of sterner stuff back then, they would all pile back into the pub until 10.30. The juke box was turned up full blast, the landlord’s wife would keep giving her husband death stares as he sat blasting ‘Show me the way to go Home’ at the top of his lungs, and there would be a lot of men vacant from work the following morning.

On the third of October 1952 News of the end of tea rationing meant the prospect of unlimited 'cuppas' for the first time in 12 years. During a speech in Newcastle the Minister of Food, Major Gwilym Lloyd-George, said rationing and price controls on tea would be lifted on Sunday.

Major Lloyd-George said the Ministry of Food had taken advantage of a steady improvement in supplies of tea since the end of the war. The price of tea would not rise due to the abolition of price controls, Major Lloyd-George added.

On this day 2013 The cost of a National Lottery Lotto ticket doubled to £2. The rise was the first since the lottery started in 1994. Two years later they added an extra ten numbers. This was about the last time I bought a ticket. The greedy lottery organisers had made it virtually impossible to win it. There are now regular 3 weeks without a winner, then on the fourth week they have a ‘must be won’ draw. The biggest con trick since decimalisation.

There were 29500 new cases today, and 43 deaths.

Monday 04/10/2021 – 564

Well missus, it’s a reet miserable day here as they say up in Yorkshire. The skies are full of rain and it’s making its way toward us.

Messaged my brother this morning, he’s doing very well and they’re taking him down for an ultra-scan a little later, otherwise he’s quite comfortable. I’ve been for my final dental appointment and – thank goodness – I don’t have to return until the New year.

Mrs H and I went along to watch the youngest Grandson (golden child) play football yesterday, I must say he’s very good, he’s all over the pitch and doesn’t care how big the opposition are, he gets stuck in. As we arrived they were a goal down, the opposition looked a formidable lot, and they played really well. But our team came out in the second half and were all over them like a rash. The final result was 8 – 2 to us.

Then someone suggested we should all nip to the local to celebrate. So ff we went, Mrs H, Gemma, Gary our granddaughter Alisha and her partner Sam, and of course golden child and me. Five pints later and Mrs H and I walked home. Did I tell you Mrs H is doing a sober October?

The Boys' Brigade was founded on this day in 1883 , in Glasgow, by Sir William Alexander Smith. The interdenominational Christian youth organisation combines drill and fun activities with Christian values. In May 1903, Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout Association, became their vice-president. By 2003, there were 500,000 Boys' Brigade members in 60 countries. I am very proud to say that I was a member of this illustrious group.

On this day in 2010 we lost one of Britain’s best stars when Sir Norman Wisdom died at Abbotswood nursing home on the Isle of Man at the age of 95. Norman and his brother were brought up in a life of poverty and often beaten by their brutal father. After joining the army and being demobilised in 1945 Norman made his debut as a professional entertainer at the age of 31; his rise to the top was phenomenally fast. Initially the straight man to the magician David Nixon, he had already adopted the costume that would remain his trademark: tweed flat cap askew, with peak turned up; a suit at least two sizes too tight; a crumpled collar and a mangled tie. The character that went with this costume — known as the Gump — was to dominate Norman's film career.

Norman made a series of low-budget star-vehicle comedies for the Rank Organisation, beginning with Trouble in Store (1953). This film earned him a BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer to Film in 1954. It was the second most popular film at the British box-office in 1954 and exhibitors voted him the tenth biggest star at the British box office the same year. By 1955 Norman was one of the top stars of that era and had a string of successful films behind him. He was another favourite of our Sunday afternoons watching TV,

But I personally remember Norman for his rendition of ‘Don’t Laugh at me (Cos I’m a fool) It came from the film ‘Nobody’s Fool’ and was one of the best sung ballads of that era.

New cases rose to 34,088 and there were a further 33 deaths.

Tuesday 05/10/2021 – Day 565

Rained all night here again and the sky looks treacherous this morning. It didn’t help that some idiot was letting off fireworks last night, it’s far too early, our cat was so frightened that she hid in the Christmas tree!

My sister and brother are doing very well in their individual hospitals. Maggie still has breathing problems and Paul had a CT scan yesterday for which he is awaiting the results.

Mrs H and I had a trip over to Stourbridge yesterday. Mrs H was looking for something tall enough to display Pampas grass plumes in the garden room, she wasn’t too pleased when I dragged a two-foot length of underground pipe in. (no sense of humour that woman). She managed to find a repro milk churn, but it had been painted white, so I will give it a quick coat of grey chalk paint to make it look more authentic.

It’s a sign of the times when even charity shops have closed down, we used to visit at least ten in Stourbridge town, now there are only five that have survived the pandemic. I used to visit these shops to collect Videos of classic films or TV series, then it changed to DVD’s as the shops phased them out, now I just look for good books, I ask you, is it a sign of the times, or is it old age creeping up on me – don’t answer that.

On this day in 1930 the British airship R101 crashed at the edge of a wood near Beauvais in France en route to India on its maiden voyage, killing 48 of the 54 passengers, including the British Air Minister Lord Thompson who may well have contributed to the disaster. He brought luggage on board equivalent to the weight of about 24 people, and the crash of the 777-foot craft was thought to be a result of overloading. Had it not been for this disaster aviation could have been quite different in the following years.

Also on this day in 1936 The start of the 'Jarrow March' - around 200 unemployed shipyard workers from Jarrow in northeast England began walking to London to protest about the lack of jobs. The protestors arrived on 31st October. A Bronze sculpture was unveiled in Jarrow Town Centre in 2001 as a memorial to the 1936 Jarrow March. Only men participated in the historic march, apart from Jarrow's female MP, Ellen Wilkinson.

And finally on this day in 2015 The government imposed a new law in England, which required that all supermarkets (or large businesses employing 250 or more full-time equivalent employees in total) must levy a charge of 5p per 'single-use' plastic carrier bag used by customers, including plastic bags used for deliveries.

A further 32,770 new cases today with recorded deaths rising to 166.

Wednesday 06/10/2021 – Day 566.

Mrs H and I had a trip out to Bromsgrove yesterday. It’s about 7 miles from where we live and is a busy town, not quite the same size as Kidderminster, but still quaint. It is around two years since the last time we were there. I have to say, it’s a bit of a shock at how many shops have closed since we were last there before the pandemic outbreak.

It is also alarming at how much prices have risen in those two years, the car park prices have all but doubled. Everything we shopped for has gone up in price. We stopped at a Wetherspoons pub for a bit of lunch and were pleasantly surprised to discover that Mr Weatherspoon wasn’t ripping anyone off and yet he still made a nice profit. Take heed all you supermarkets, garages, and clothes stores.

Been round to Sarah’s today, just to do a few odds and ends before she goes on holiday. Yes, that’s right, Sarah is off on holiday on Friday, somewhere in Spain I believe. She is going with her boyfriend and a host of others who have all promised to look after her.

Years ago, when we were young this would be the time we would start collecting stuff for our bonfire. Everyone in the street would be in on it, old three-piece suites abandoned earlier in the year for something a little more update or a bit ‘posher’ would be put to one side for the big night. Of course, it would be no good going down the back looking for old coins, that was the first thing everyone did when throwing out chairs and a settee. The sacking around the bottom would also have been pulled away in search of the elusive florin or half crown.

Garages were visited for old threadbare tyres, Woods all around the area would be ravaged for old wood or broken branches, these would be dragged back to the site of the proposed bonfire. We never did too much damage though, we were always respectful of our surroundings.

On this day in 1895 Conductor Sir Henry Wood instituted the Promenade Concerts: known worldwide as 'The Proms', at the Queen's Hall in London. And so It is said that every year, one man will be guaranteed to attend every Prom that takes place at the Royal Albert Hall. Well, in a way.

That man is Sir Henry Wood (1869-1944), whose bronze bust sits proudly in front of the organ for the duration of the season – and on the Last Night, his matchless record of attendance is famously and deservedly decorated by the Prommers with a laurel wreath. To a lot of music lovers, the BBC Proms are still, and will always be, the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts, a title that recognises his part in their founding in 1895. Founder and chief conductor of the Proms for nearly 50 years, Henry Wood was just 26 when he put on and conducted the first ‘Prom’ concert, held at Queen’s Hall on 10 August 1895.

Wood and co-founder Robert Newman had a vision for a series of concerts that anyone could attend, regardless of how much money they earned. In 1895, Promming (standing) tickets to these concerts cost just a shilling; approximately 60p in today’s money. In the first seasons, a tradition was established of a ‘Wagner Night’ on Mondays and a ‘Beethoven Night’ on Fridays and, as the seasons went on, Wood continually presented an enterprising mixture of the familiar and the adventurous, programming new works each season. By 1920 Wood had introduced many of the leading composers of the day to the Proms audiences, including Richard Strauss, Debussy, Rachmaninov, Ravel and Vaughan Williams.

Also on this day in 1991 Michael Jackson gave away the bride at Elizabeth Taylor's seventh wedding, held at Jackson's Neverland Ranch. The Groom was construction worker Larry Fortensky, whom Taylor would divorce in 1997.

New cases rose sharply to 39144 whilst recorded deaths were 143.

Thursday 07/10/2021 – Day 567

I have to wish my younger brother Paul a very happy birthday today, not that it’s going to be much fun for him, His wife Maria has just informed that they have decided to operate on him today. He won’t forget his 61st in a hurry.

We’ve been promised a lovely warm day today, but at the moment it’s as dull as dishwater out there. Mrs H and I have a very sad day today, We have to attend a funeral for the first time since we said goodbye to our daughter Vickie, Our daughter in Law Ellen tragically lost her only brother two weeks ago. The funeral service is at the Catholic church at 1.30pm. We are going to the church service, but we still can’t bring ourselves to go to the crematorium. So we will join them again at the celebration of his life.

It seems that George was in the pub was in the pub the other day with a mate when he pointed to two old codgers sat across the room

“That’ll be us in ten years’ time,” George said.

His mate replied, “That’s a mirror you idiot.”

Today in 1927 was the birth of American singer Al Martino. He had the 1952 US & UK No.1 single 'Here In My Heart' which became the first No.1 in the New Musical Express singles chart. It remained in the top position for nine weeks in the UK, setting a record for the longest consecutive run at No.1 a record which, over 50 years on, has only been beaten by six other tracks. Martino also played Johnny Fontane in 1972 film The Godfather. He died on 13th Oct 2009 aged 82.

Maurice Kinn had always wanted to buy and own his own paper and by March 1952 he had launched the New Musical Express, it soon became a hit with the youngsters whose only other choice at the time was the Melody Maker.

The American Billboard charts had begun way back in 1936 and was always improving, Maurice had followed their history with enthusiasm and looked to do the same sort of thing with his paper.

The result was that on November 14th 1952 (10 months after my birth) the New musical Express became the first to print a chart of the top selling records in Britain.

And so the music charts began, it didn’t take off immediately and the sheet charts would be around for a further 3 years although the death knell had been sounded.

The very first printed chart was listed as a top 12 but was in fact the top 15 because positions 7, 8 and 11 all had two equal listings. The sheet music which had been No1 since 25th October was ‘Here in my Heart’ by Al Martino (later in the 70’s had Blue Spanish eyes at No1) so it was inevitable that on the first ever chart on November 14th 1952 he would be listed as No1. The two previous No1’s on the sheet chart were also in the Record chart, they were Homing waltz and Auf Wiedersehin both recorded by Vera Lynn. The forces sweetheart also had a third hit in the record chart called Forget me Not, she was a definite favourite until Frankie Laine began to dominate the charts in 1953.

The main thing about the first chart was that there were no duplicated songs in two different versions, this was a favourite with the publishers of the day, they would get two of their singers to record the same song and therefore reap in the profits from both for one piece of music. But it didn’t last long, in the chart of December 17th Nat King Cole was singing Because You’re Mine right alongside the same song by Mario Lanza which was one of the very first to be recorded in the 45rpm as opposed to the 78rpm.

The first song to disappear off the chart was Jane Wyman with Zing a little Zong was a duet with Bing Crosby. Miss Wyman ex-wife of Ronald Reagan was the first ever one hit wonder would never chart again although Bing went on to have many more hits.

New cases rose again slightly to 40,317, registered deaths were 122.

Friday 08/10/2021 – Day 568

Paul’s operation went really well, they removed his gallbladder and he is happily out of pain, They will observe him today and he’ll be back home in the bosom of his family tomorrow sometime.

The funeral went as well as expected and I caught up with a few old friends including two of my sisters. I had a couple more Guinness’s than were good for me and Mrs H and I slipped quietly home.

Our good friend John popped around this morning, his wife Jan was at work and he came in for a chat. It was really brilliant as I haven’t seen him for a couple of months, we had a good laugh and a good old catch up.

On this day in 1908 The Wind In The Willows, Kenneth Grahame's classic children's book, was published. It has never been out of print in its entire history.

Today in 1928 The birth of the actor Bill Maynard. He appeared with comedians Terry Scott and Ronnie Barker, played in some of the Carry-On films and for 9 years he was the old rogue Claude Jeremiah Greengrass in the popular and long-running television series Heartbeat.

In my later years I have come to the conclusion that there is far too much music out there. We were having a drink in our local and the Juke box was on. Most of the songs blaring in the background were unrecognisable or were classics where the singer has ‘sampled’ an old tune and completely destroyed it until it no longer sounds anything like the original. So I decided to get up off my backside and put my sort of music on.

I sauntered up to the machine which was suspended precariously on the wall. Then I had my first shock – the wanted two pounds to play five records. The last time I went to a Juke box it was half a crown for ten plays. Reluctantly, I fed my hard-earned cash into the slot. I pressed a few buttons to turn the pages but there was nothing.

“What you doing mister?”

I looked down to see a pint-sized kid sucking on one of those Kojak lollies. That’s another thing about new pubs, I used to go in there for a quit pipe, recently I have become a reluctant babysitter. The parents sit outside in the sun whilst their kids run riot indoors. I looked down.

“I’m trying to work out how this garbage works.”

He gave a loud tut and pulled a stool from a nearby table, Climbing up he said:

“Just press this button then turn this, then select the number and press play. A child could do this.”

I looked at the ‘child’ and said, “Show me again.!

With a loud sigh he showed me once more, then again and again, by the time I’d got the hang of it there was only one play left, the little blighter had put on four of his own records. I pressed the buttons and sat back down waiting to hear my selected record.

A few minutes later there was a deadly hush as Harry Secombe began to sing ‘The Old Rugged Cross.’

All the young heads looked at me,

“It wasn’t me, It was that young kid.”

I drank up and went home to play my Harry Secombe LP.

New cases fell slightly to 36,060. Registered deaths were 124.

Saturday 09/10/2021 – Day 569

Well, I don’t know about your part of the country, but here in the Midlands we’ve seen none of that sunshine that Shefali promised us. Perhaps she doesn’t live around here. It is once again overcast and grey, but quite mild for the time of the year.

Among my many attempts to earn a penny or two when I was a youngster was a job which involved bananas. Those of you who read me regularly will know that I absolutely love bananas, We had them every Saturday teatime, they were mashed and spread on bread and butter, I still enjoy a banana butty to this day, but Mrs H refuses to do them, it makes her physically sick.

Anyway, down in our town in the early sixties was a fruit and veg wholesalers. They used to get shipments of bananas which were as green as grass. When received these three-foot-long bunches were hung up on hooks in a specially lit ‘warming room,’ This was to ripen them ready to go out to the shops for selling. The problem was that they wouldn’t ripen properly just hung there. So my job was to keep turning them as they went around on a sort of chain pully system. I did this for eight hours every Saturday for around six months. I went right off bananas and Saturday teatime I had to have jam sandwiches instead.

I grew so sick of the smell of them that I had to leave.

The boss called me into his office to give me my last pay and said:

“We’ll miss you lad, you’re a good little worker, but you really have been lucky, you haven’t been bitten by a spider while you’ve been here, we still find them in the bunches, vicious big things they are, some of them can kill.”

I got out of there as quickly as I could.

Today in 1799 the sinking of HMS Lutine off the coast of Holland, with the loss of 240 men. The ship's bell was salvaged from the wreck and was later presented to shipping insurers Lloyds of London. The Lutine Bell has been rung ever since to mark a marine disaster.

John Lennon would have been 81 years old today. Born in Liverpool in 1940, Lennon became involved in the skiffle craze as a teenager. In 1956, he formed his first band, the Quarrymen, which evolved into the Beatles in 1960. He was initially the group's de facto leader, a role gradually ceded to McCartney.

Today new cases rose slightly. There were a further 34,950 new cases , but about 4000 more as this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 246,829 a rise of 5,251 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 133 bringing the weekly total to 767 a fall of 33 on last week. There were 6,619,351 recoveries a rise of 232,351 on last week’s total which is good news.

Week 83

Sunday 10/10/2021 – Day 570

It’s a beautiful sunny day here and Mrs H and I are going to have a day in the garden. The idea is that we get it tidied up enough to go through the winter months. Both my sister Maggie and my brother Paul are now safely back home and recovering well, so our week has started well.

Mrs H and I went down to our local club yesterday to see our granddaughter Mollie who works there four days a week. We stayed for a spot of lunch. I went with the 8oz Beefburger and chips while Mrs H tried the Hawaiian pizza. It came to less than £12. My meal was enormous and by the time I’d eaten it there was no room for anything else, including beer. My burger was stacked so high that I had to ‘dismantle’ it and eat it with a knife and fork, It was too big, even for my mouth – don’t go there! Meanwhile Mrs H is chomping her way through an 11-inch pizza eating all except the crusts, it didn’t help that Mollie said that she wouldn’t eat it all, that was a red rag to a bull where Mrs H was concerned. She ate it all! We wobbled home the long way in an attempt to walk it off.

Wasn’t too happy with Strictly, they keep pushing a certain aspect of it that I’m not comfortable with, so I usually spend the majority of its screen time writing.

When I was nine years old in 1961 I was still at the Junior school. One of our projects at the time was following a volcanic eruption on the island of Tristan da Cunha. The eruption occurred on the Queen Mary’s peak and forced the evacuation of 264 inhabitants. After being ferried by smaller boats to Cape Town the entire population of the South Atlantic island of Tristan da Cunha was evacuated to Britain. The whole class had to bring in newspaper reports and cuttings to form a scrapbook, this was a regular thing in the Junior school at the time. It taught us to take note of what was going on in our world. I have no idea what happened to the scrapbooks. Most of the families returned to their beloved island in 1963.As of October 2018, the main island has 250 permanent inhabitants, who all carry British Overseas Territories citizenship. The other islands are uninhabited, except for the South African personnel of a weather station on Gough Island.

London Bridge was originally built in the 1830s and formerly spanned the River Thames in London. But on this day in 1971 it was sold (to Robert McCulloch, chairman of the McCulloch Oil Corporation)it was then dismantled and moved to the United States, London Bridge reopened in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. McCulloch and his business associate C.V. Wood had concluded that London Bridge was exactly the kind of thing that Lake Havasu needed to make it an attractive resort city and a tourist destination. The gamble paid off and land sales in Lake Havasu City soared. From a population of just a few hundred in the 1960s, the town blossomed to 10,000 by 1974. That year, the bridge drew almost two million visitors to the new city.

1975 Elizabeth Taylor got married for the 6th time. She had been married 8 times in her lifetime:

  • Conrad Hilton Jr. ​ ​ ( m. 1950; div. 1951)​

  • Michael Wilding. ​ ​ ( m. 1952; div. 1957)​

  • Mike Todd. ​ ​ ( m. 1957; died 1958)​

  • Eddie Fisher. ​ ​ ( m. 1959; div. 1964)​

  • Richard Burton. ​ ​ ( m. 1964; div. 1974)​ ​ ​ ( m. 1975; div. 1976)​

  • John Warner. ​ ​ ( m. 1976; div. 1982)​

  • Larry Fortensky. ​ ​ ( m. 1991; div. 1996)​

She re-married British actor Richard Burton at a remote location in Botswana. They divorced the following year.

On this day in 1999 Thousands gathered to watch the giant Millennium wheel become the latest landmark on the London skyline.

Mrs H complained last night that I didn’t appreciate her cooking, So, just to prove her wrong I ate another slice of gravy.

There were 33,593 new cases reported today, also another 38 deaths.

Monday 11/10/2021 - Day 571

Woke up at 5.20 am this morning, pitch black outside, and I just couldn’t get back to sleep. So I made a cup of tea, put four Weetabix in a bowl and went up to the office to do a bit of catching up on my computer. Next thing I knew Mrs H was getting up. It was only 7.45 what on earth was going on?

Then I remembered, our elderly neighbour was taken ill on Friday evening and they had to call an ambulance to her. The daughter works all the hours under the sun. So when Mrs H rang up to see how our neighbour was she agreed to go to the doctor’s surgery in order to get him to ring her today. It is absolutely no good trying to ring on a Monday morning. Anyway the upshot is that the doctor will ring her husband this morning and it will be sorted out.

Watched the new version of The Darling Buds of May last night. re-named The Larkins it stars Bradley Walsh as Pop Larkin, but why do they have to change the characters, to be PC friendly the writers sacrifice the original story. The script in last night’s story was so bad that even the brilliant Bradley Walsh couldn’t save it. Or was it that David Jason is a really tough act to follow?

On this day in 1966 the Post office decided in their infinite wisdom that to stop all our precious mail going astray and postmen getting lost, we should all have our own personal post codes.

Also on this day in 1982 The Mary Rose, which had been the pride of Henry VIII's English fleet until it sank in the Solent in 1545, was raised, by the Mary Rose Trust. It was one of the most complex and expensive projects in the history of maritime archaeology. She was one of the largest ships in the English navy and was one of the earliest examples of a purpose-built sailing warship. Since the mid-1980s, the hull of the Mary Rose has been kept in a covered dry dock in Portsmouth whilst undergoing conservation close to Nelson's Victory.

And finally on this day in 1987 A huge sonar exploration of Loch Ness failed to find the world-famous monster, known affectionately as Nessie. The "surgeon's photograph" is reportedly the first photo of the creature's head and neck. Supposedly taken by Robert Kenneth Wilson, a London gynaecologist, it was published in the Daily Mail on 21 April 1934. Wilson's refusal to have his name associated with it led to it being known as the "surgeon's photograph" According to Wilson, he was looking at the loch when he saw the monster, grabbed his camera, and snapped four photos. Only two exposures came out clearly; the first reportedly shows a small head and back, and the second shows a similar head in a diving position. The first photo became well known, and the second attracted little publicity because of its blurriness.

For 60 years the photo was considered evidence of the monster's existence, although sceptics dismissed it as driftwood, an elephant, an otter, or a bird. The photo's scale was controversial; it is often shown cropped (making the creature seem large and the ripples like waves), while the uncropped shot shows the other end of the loch and the monster in the centre. The ripples in the photo were found to fit the size and pattern of small ripples, rather than large waves photographed up close. Analysis of the original image fostered further doubt. In 1993, the makers of the Discovery Communications documentary Loch Ness Discovered analysed the uncropped image and found a white object visible in every version of the photo (implying that it was on the negative). It was believed to be the cause of the ripples, as if the object was being towed, although the possibility of a blemish on the negative could not be ruled out. An analysis of the full photograph indicated that the object was small, about 60 to 90 cm (2 to 3 ft) long.

Since 1994, most agree that the photo was an elaborate hoax.

Talking of hoaxes I find it funny how drinking the recommended eight pints of water a day seems impossible, yet seven pints of beer and six shots in two hours go down like a fat kid on a seesaw.

New case rose by 6000 today, a further 39,497 cases were reported along with 28 deaths.

Tuesday 12/10/2021 – Day 572

Brrr – cold this morning, I had to put the heating on. It is grey and calm outside, but if it turns out like yesterday then we’ll be happy. Mrs H and I spent yesterday in the garden in lovely warm sunshine. That was after we had been to the doctor’s for the neighbour.

Around 10.00am we were sat having our second cuppa when the doorbell rang. What a lovely surprise it was our friend John. The brown garden recycling bins were due to be emptied that day. Being a newbie to the garden rubbish game, he needed to know how thick the branches had to be before you could put them in the bin. After ascertaining how big the branches were, we decided he should have a quick cuppa and we’d go back with him so I could cut the branches into smaller sections and see what could go in the bin. Half an hour later we were back at home job done.

Me What’s for tea?

Mrs H Nothing

Me We had nothing last night

Mrs H I know, I made enough for two nights.

The next time it rains and you have to wear a Mac, remember that on this day in 1823 Charles Macintosh of Scotland began selling raincoats, now better known as - Macs. He was first employed as a clerk but before he was twenty resigned his clerkship to take up the manufacture of chemicals. The essence of his patent for waterproof fabrics was the cementing together of two pieces of natural India-rubber, the rubber being made soluble by the action of naphtha, a by-product of tar. For his various chemical discoveries he was, in 1823, elected a fellow of the Royal Society.

On this day in 2020 Charity fundraiser Lloyd Scott completed his Three Peaks challenge climb (Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon) wearing a 59kg. (9th.) diving suit. A veteran of 30 years of fundraising and more than 50 events, Scott famously completed the London Marathon in 2002 in a deep-sea diving suit. His other challenges have seen him cycle across Australia on a penny farthing, complete an underwater marathon and walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats dressed as a T-Rex - all of which has helped him raise more than £5m for charitable causes.

Just heard on the radio news that the new re-incarnation of my childhood hero Superman will be bisexual, is no memory sacred anymore?

There were 38,076 new cases today, Deaths rose to 181.

Wednesday 13/10/2021 – Day 573

Another cold and overcast start to the day, but it says it’s going to brighten up later, we’ve had a lot of rain overnight and the sky looks very threatening with dark clouds.

Have I already told you how much I dislike Wednesdays?. It stems from my childhood when shops were open all day Saturday and therefore closed for a half day at 1.00pm. That would be our meeting place as children, it was outside those shops that we’d meet up and decide where we were going and what we were doing for the day.

Everyone on the estate popped in at some time or another, you could earn a penny carrying someone’s heavy shopping home. In the Winter months we would gather beneath the great awning that stretched out from the shop over the pavement. The orange glow emitting light from the shop just seemed so warm, even though, in reality it wasn’t.

Those few shops were the hub of our community. The shop was always a major factor in soaps like Coronation street which used the interior to introduce new characters, and with the help of those characters to show what was happening around the street.

When the shop closed for half a day, it was like the whole world had been closed down, like the whole community had gone away.

And that dear reader is the simple reason that I dislike Wednesdays.

It was today in 1904 that the birth, in Halifax, of Wilfred Pickles OBE, actor and radio presenter happened. Wilfred was a proud Yorkshireman and was the first newsreader to speak in a regional accent. His BBC Radio show 'Have A Go', ran from 1946 to 1967 and launched such catchphrases as 'What's on the table, Mabel?' and 'Are yer courting?', all delivered in Wilfred's inimitable style. He appeared in the show with his wife Mabel, whom he had married at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, Ainsdale, Southport on 20 September 1930.

He also starred in ‘For the Love of Ada’ The sitcom stars Irene Handl as Ada Cresswell, a Cockney widow, a pensioner who is prone to malapropisms. She lives with her daughter Ruth Pollitt (Barbara Mitchell) and son-in-law Leslie (Jack Smethurst). Ada starts a relationship with Walter Bingley (Wilfred Pickles), the gravedigger who buried her husband, after meeting him at the cemetery while laying flowers on her husband's grave. Walter is a Yorkshireman; his relationship with Ada slowly changes from one of companionship to one of romance. They get engaged, and later marry, after which they move in together at his cemetery lodge abode.

Also today in 1963 The term Beatlemania was coined after The Beatles appeared at the Palladium. They made their debut as the top of the bill on ITV's 'Sunday Night at The London Palladium.' The Beatles appearance was very popular – about 18 million people watched this show. By then, the Beatles already had 3 number one hits, and been on TV many times, but all on shows geared towards teenagers. The Palladium show was the first time they had been on an ‘family’ show. They topped the bill on the show, which was presented by Bruce Forsyth. Forsyth whipped the audience into a frenzy by counting down to the Beatles appearance. They sang From Me To You, I’ll Get You, She Loves You and Twist and Shout. They also appeared, together with the rest of the cast, right at the end of the show, to wave goodbye to the audience on the Palladium’s revolving podium.

No film of the show remains, as TV bosses at the time did not think anyone would want to watch this performance of the Beatles after it was first shown.

This morning I was sitting on a park bench next to a homeless man. I started a conversation by asking him how he ended up this way. He said, "Up until last week, I had it all. I had plenty to eat, my clothes were washed and pressed, I had a roof over my head, I had TV and Internet, and I went to the gym, the pool, and the library. I was working on my MBA on-line. I had no bills and no debt. I even had full medical coverage. I was living the dream" he sighed heavily. "It all slips away so quickly" I felt sorry for him, so I asked, "What happened, Drugs, Alcohol, Divorce, Market crash, Death in the family?"

"Oh no, nothing like that," he said. "I got out of prison."

New cases rose substantially once again to 42,776 Registered deaths were 136.

Thursday 14/10/2021 – Day 574

A very cold start to the day today, had to put the heating on, I asked Mrs H to don another cardigan but she refused and I had to give in and fire up old Betsy to placate her. Of course, it didn’t bother her that I had to walk down to the fridge in the shed dressed only in my dressing gown to get milk. Then , just to rub salt in the wound, Sarah sent us a lot of pictures showing a very hot sun in Spain where she is holidaying until Monday, you can go off your offspring you know.

This comes under the ‘I don’t believe it’ category. I’m sat here minding my own business, typing away, when the news came on the radio. It seems that the Government have now put aside 250million pounds extra to give to doctors surgeries. This is to encourage GP’s to see more patients face to face. Now before I continue, I know that a lot of our local GP’s work hard and are under a lot of pressure. But before this pandemic started everyone who phoned was offered a face-to-face appointment, well, they were around here anyway. So what changed? Why do the government feel it is necessary to bribe doctors to meet their patients?

Have I missed something? I thought the idea was that as the pandemic eased then the practise of offering appointments would return back to normal gradually. Perhaps some doctors have forgotten the practise in the last 18 months and the 250 million is a sad attempt to remind them of their duty to their patients. Just saying.

Today in 1940 one of Britain’s best pop stars was born. Cliff Richard, (Harry Webb). Is Britain's most successful solo artist, his first hit was in 1958 the UK No.2 single 'Move It', then 1959 UK No.1 single 'Living Doll' He once worked as a clerk at Fergusons TV factory.

In 1963 when I was 11 years old, I spent the day digging a neighbours garden, This was a regular thing back then, I would do anything to earn a few pence. I was paid the princely sum of 9d (3p today) I would later charge two bob or half a crown to do the same job. But in 1963 that was a tidy amount. It was in the Summer holidays, so the following day I walked into town to the ABC cinema to watch a new film called ‘Summer Holiday’ starring Cliff Richard. But when I got down there I what a shock. The queue was stretching across the front, down the side and into the car park at the rear. My head dropped, but then I thought, it’s a big cinema, they’ll soon get all these people in. I reluctantly joined the queue. Half an hour later I was next in line at the pay booth. I looked at the girl in the booth, she had more make-up on than any clown I had ever seen. Finally it was my turn, the painted lady looked so bored as she chewed her gum like a camel chewed its food, then I almost collapsed as she said:

“Upstairs only, one and sixpence please.”

It would be nearly twenty years before I finally saw ‘Summer Holiday’ on the TV.

Today way back in 1969 the good old ‘Ten bob note’ was removed from circulation and replaced by the 50 pence piece, this was prior to complete decimalisation.

Friday 15/10/2021 – Day 575

A little bit brighter today, Mrs H informs me that it’s going to remain quite mild for the next few days and into next week. I wonder how she knows, has she got Shefali’s number in her phone next to Mrs Hinch- who may I say – continues to cost me an arm and a leg with her ideas.

Talking of Mrs H, she has a dental appointment today, I will go along for the ride and hold her hand, if you know what I mean.

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but for men who wear waist coats the fashion has always been to leave the bottom button undone. Well dear reader I have discovered where this came from. It seems that back in 1666 Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary that Charles II had started wearing the first known waistcoat. The King was so overweight that he left the bottom button undone, a fashion custom followed to this day.

Bit of football history for you, Today in 1887 Preston North End beat Hyde 26-0 in an FA Cup tie, the highest goal score ever by an English club in a major competition, with James Ross the first player to score seven goals in a 1st Division match. No wonder the opposition called themselves Hyde lol.

On this day in 2017 The round £1 coin, introduced in 1983, went out of circulation at midnight. Its replacement was 12 sided and had additional security features.

One of my favourite TV programmes in the sixties had to be Top of the Pops which was mostly broadcast on a Thursday evening at 7.30. But I hadn’t realised that when it began in 1964 it went out on a Wednesday evening at 6.30. Later in 1964, the broadcast time was moved to one hour later, at 7:35 pm, and the show moved from Wednesdays to what became its regular Thursday slot. Additionally its length was extended by 5 minutes to 30 minutes. In September 1985, the programme moved to a new regular half-hour timeslot of 7pm on Thursdays, where it would remain until June 1996.

TOTP was traditionally shown on a Thursday night, but was moved to a Friday starting on 14 June 1996 originally at 7 pm, but then shifted to 7.30 pm, a change which placed the programme up against the soap opera Coronation Street on ITV. This began a major decline in audience figures as fans were forced to choose between Top of the Pops and an episode of the soap. The programme eventually ended up in a Sunday evening ‘dead spot’ on BBC 2. This move signalled the beginning of the end.

On 20 June 2006, the show was formally cancelled and it was announced that the last edition would be broadcast on 30 July 2006

Mrs H says she wants to chat to me about my immature behaviour – Huh, like that’s going to happen in the conker season!

Saturday 16/10/2021 – Day 576

Not a bad day here in downtown Kidderminster. Today Mrs H and I are doing our Good Samaritan bit. Firstly we have to ga and pick Gemma up from Aldi supermarket. When we arrived the poor girl was laden down with groceries, it’s her own fault, if she’d gone to Tesco or Sainsbury’s she wouldn’t have had half as much. We loaded her groceries into the car and Mrs H said casually:

“Oh we should have asked you to get your dad some Butter mints while you were in there.”

Gemma disappeared, and in a flash she returned with umpteen packets. Now here’s the thing about greedy supermarkets. How come Tesco sell Butter mints at 75p per packet (65p three months ago) Sainsbury’s sell them at 80p (65p three months ago) and yet Aldi, sell the same packet at the same weight for 45p. No wonder Aldi and Lydll are taking over as leaders.

Anyway, that’s enough whingeing, after we dropped Gemma at home with her thirty bags of groceries (there’s only four of them in the house) we popped around to Sarah’s house to give Mollie a hand to sort out her bedroom. She had promised to do it while her mum was away on holiday, but like all youngsters, things crept up on her. Sarah is back in 48 hours and Mollie was panicking.

Joke of the week.

A woman was out golfing one day when she hit her ball into the woods. She went into the woods to look for it and found a frog in a trap:

The frog said to her. "If you release me from this trap, I will grant you 3 wishes."

The woman freed the frog.

The frog said. "Thank you, but I forgot to mention that there was a condition to your wishes. Whatever you wish for, your husband will get 10 times more or better!"

The woman said. "That would be okay."

For her first wish, she wanted to be the most beautiful woman in the world.

The frog warned her. "You do realise that this wish will also make your husband the most handsome man in the world, an Adonis, that women will flock to."

The woman replied. "That will be okay because I will be the most beautiful woman and he will only have eyes for me."

So, KAZAM she's the most beautiful woman in the world!

For her second wish, she wanted to be the richest woman in the world.

The frog reminded her. "That will make your husband the richest man in the world and he will be ten times richer than you."

The woman said. "That will be okay because what's mine is his and what's his is mine."

So, KAZAM she's the richest woman in the world!

The frog then inquired about her third wish and she answered.

"I'd like a mild heart attack."

Moral of the story:

Women are clever.

Don't mess with them.....

Today new cases rose slightly. There were a further 43,423 new cases , but about 7000 more as this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 286,719 a rise of 40,251 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 185 bringing the weekly total to 830 a rise of 63 on last week. There were 6,879,735 recoveries a rise of 260,119 on last week’s total which is good news.

Week 84

Sunday 17/10/2021 – Day 577

Woken this morning at 5.30 am by torrential rain, Shefali said – nay promised – that we were in for a dry spell with the weather back to double figures. Shefali is now off my Christmas card list.

Mrs H and I caught up on the excellent ‘Our Yorkshire Farm’ last night as we weren’t able to catch it in the week because of some football match. You had to have a heart of stone not to wipe a tear, when their fourty year old Shetland pony died of a heart attack during the night. The two youngest children five-year-old Clemmy, and four-year-old Nancy gathered with the rest of the family in the stable to say a last goodbye. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Mum Amanda Owen was in tears as she watched her children say goodbye to their 40-year-old Shetland pony, Little Joe.

The enterprising children later gathered together to lay a hand painted log plaque on the pony’s grave. All the little ones were concerned about was that they had looked after Little Joe well, and that it wasn’t their fault that he’d died. The most emotional and best programme on TV at the moment.

We are not well known for tornados in good old Blighty, thank goodness, but apparently way back in 1091 A tornado struck London. It was Britain's earliest reported tornado. occurring on Friday, 17 October the long wooden London Bridge was demolished, and the church of St. Mary-le-Bow in the city of London was badly damaged, four rafters twenty-six feet (7.9 m) long were driven into the ground with such force that only four feet (1.2m) protruded above the surface. Other churches in the area were demolished, as were over six hundred, mostly wooden, houses. For all the damage inflicted, the tornado claimed just two known victims from a population of about 18,000.

In pop on this day in 1987 The Bee Gees became the only group to have a UK No.1 single in each of the three decades, (60s, 70s & 80s), when 'You Win Again' went to No.1 on the UK singles chart. The brothers fifth and last No.1.

The No1 in the charts on this day 60 years ago was ‘Walking Back to Happiness’ by a 14-year-old Helen Shapiro.

The No1 in the charts on this day 50 years ago was ‘Maggie May’ by a very young Rod Stewart. It would stay there for 3 weeks and on the chart for 19 weeks.

The No1 in the charts on this day 30 years ago was ‘It’s My Party’ by Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin. A remake of the 1963 Lesley Gore classic.

If our dad hadn’t kicked us all out the previous night our winter Sundays as youngsters in the fifties were often spent around the 14-inch TV screen watching Old Mother Riley, George Formby, or Tommy Trinder in films that you just don’t see now, all we seem to get is sport! One of my favourite films was ‘The Bells go Down,’ with Tommy Trinder playing a WW2 firefighter in the heart of London during the Blitz.

Another favourite was ‘The Quiet Man’ with John Wayne an ex Irish boxer returning to his roots after he had tragically killed a man in the ring. It also starred , Maureen O'Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond and the wonderful Victor McLaglen in one of the longest fight scenes ever screened. But there would be at least seven of us sat there, if father was in a generous mood, we would have had sixpence pocket money, so inevitably we’d all be sat there chomping on Pineapple chunks, pear drops or the quieter Dolly Mixtures and Wine gums. At Teatime mum would open a tin of Carnation milk and a couple of tins of pears or peaches and we’d happily tuck into that for our tea, mopping up with a slice of Mother’s Pride or a ‘piece’ as we called it back then. Sometimes mum would make some of her lovely custard and it would be poured over either apple pie (homemade of course) or she would open a tin of prunes, it was always strange to see half a dozen bowls – the ones with those rims on them – on the drainer with half a dozen stones around the rim, another favourite of course was Jelly and custard, even from an early age we were encouraged to drink tea, so that would have been our beverage, it was either that or council pop (water). But they were happy days and I remember them with great fondness, every time I write about them another big chunk of information comes to mind, so the story keeps unfolding as I get older.

There were 44,653 new cases today and a further fifty-seven deaths.

Monday 18/10/2021 – Day 578

Well, it’s a dull as dishwater day here today, although I’m sat by a window, I’ve had to put my lamp on.

I would like to thank everyone who messaged me re- the homophobic row with a reader on here. I removed it from my page after she finally did the same. I wanted an apology but knew that I had more chance of knitting fog, such is the lady’s way of thinking. I hope to draw a line under it all now.

I have some excellent advice for you all. Never wear an orange top in Sainsbury’s, to cut a long story short, I am now covering David’s shift on Sunday night.

Today in 1910 the trial began at the Old Bailey of the American Dr. Crippen, accused of murdering his wife Cora Henrietta Crippen. Born in Michigan in 1862, Hawley Harvey Crippen moved to Camden in 1897 and became the first suspect to be captured using the aid of wireless telegraphy. When he and his lover Ethel Neave were spotted escaping on board the liner Montrose the authorities were alerted, and Crippen was arrested as the liner entered the St. Lawrence River.

On this day in 1966 The Queen granted a royal pardon to Timothy Evans, wrongly convicted, and hanged in 1950 for the murder of his wife Beryl, and his infant child Geraldine at their home in Notting Hill. The real murderer was John Reginald Christie who had been hanged for mass murder in 1953. During his trial, Evans accused his downstairs neighbour. John Christie, who was the chief prosecution witness, of committing the murders. On 20 September 1947, Evans had married Beryl Susanna Thorley, whom he had met in January 1947 on a blind date. The couple initially lived with Evans's family at St Mark's Road but after Beryl discovered she was pregnant in 1948 they moved into the top-floor flat at 10 Rillington Place where Christie also lived. Three years after Evans's execution, Christie was found to be a serial killer who had murdered several other women in the same house, including his own wife (Ethel). Before his execution, Christie confessed to murdering Mrs. Evans. An official inquiry concluded in 1966 that whilst Evans had probably murdered his wife (Beryl), Christie had probably murdered Evans's daughter (Geraldine), and Evans was granted a posthumous pardon. The case generated much controversy and is acknowledged to be a miscarriage of justice. Along with those of Derek Bentley and Ruth Ellis, the case played a major part in the abolition of capital punishment in the United Kingdom for murder in 1965.

Today in 2014 A flock of sheep was left feeling rather woolly-headed after greedily munching on £4,000 worth of cannabis plants that had been dumped in their field, at the edge of Fanny’s Farm (Yes dear reader, really) in Merstham, Surrey. By the time that the police arrived, much of the evidence had been gobbled up by the sheep who were as high as kites and seeing black and white furry dogs everywhere. Only in Britain, eh?

New cases continue to rise today there were 48,820, there were also a further forty-five deaths.

Tuesday 19/10/2021 – Day 579

Well dear reader. I have had the morning from hell. It started with a final demand for paying my Council tax. I pay in instalments and couldn’t find the phone number to pay, the way I normally pay. Anyway, I decided to use their online service, I went on there and was told my payment had been accepted. It seems that it hadn’t been. But until this final demand dropped on my doorstep today, I knew nothing about it. So, I decided to phone the Council – big mistake – the lady more or less told me to pay up or go to prison (well not quite that bad, but it made me feel better writing those words). The thing is that I do have to pay, it seems that the council think they are as hard-faced as the HMRC and can make any demands without question.

But my morning got worse. The lady then started to demand £180 outstanding from last year, even though I paid every instalment they asked for. What gives these councils the right to make these demands without proof. So, she put me through to an accessor, who said that her assessment was taken from a wage slip that showed I picked up £800. I have to say that I only worked 16 hours per week, and I told her this. I also explained that it was a large tax rebate. She said it was immaterial and that was the wage they used to work out my council tax. The annoying thing is – I only earned £157 the month after, why couldn’t they use that wage? It now turns out that the wage slip they used was in the year 2021 – 2022. Could some clever fellow or girl please tell me how that makes my bill for last year underpaid? Rant over (for now).

Did you ever go to Bingo? When I was a teenager men and women alike used to attend the Sunday night Bingo (as long as there was a bar to prop themselves up against). Bingo halls all over the country were packed to the hilt. As far as British culture goes, it doesn’t get more quintessentially British than a session of bingo followed by fish and chips and a last orders pint at the local on the way home. In the 1960s, after bingo was transformed from a recreational activity into one with monetary rewards, the Liverpool Echo revealed that club membership was believed to be around fourteen million. That was over a quarter of the population which in 1965 was around fifty-four million. A single club said that they had a daily intake of 150,000 players per day in the mid-sixties, while there were more than 1,000 halls in the UK. Today, attendance figures have plummeted by 75%, leaving people wondering whether bingo will ever return to its heyday. It is a big ask, yet the numbers suggest the game is in a very healthy place. Of course, the banning of smoking hasn’t helped the cause. When I first met Mrs H in 1971 her dad and a few of his mates used to go to the local social club to play. I of course went along with them because I was smitten by the future Mrs H’s smouldering beauty, besides the fact that she had a car.

That smoke filled bar was terrible, people used to suck on those white tubes a lot quicker as they awaited one number for a full house which would pay them the huge amount of five pounds, a veritable fortune back then. And of course, they would chain smoke, lighting up another cigarette from the remnants of the one that they were just finishing. This would result in the ceiling being hidden in a plume of cigarette smoke around eighteen inches to two feet deep. Firefighters at the time used breathing equipment for lesser scenarios.

In 1961 Dave Carey even had a top forty entry with ‘Bingo, Bingo, I’m in Love.’

Bingo! Bingo! I'm in love

Kelly's eye, I'm the guy and she's my number one

Number three, up a tree, she's got me on the run

Number five, man alive, by all the stars above

Bingo! Bingo! I'm in love

The Bingo halls may operate half empty today, but it doesn’t mean it’s no longer popular, it just means that lots of those smoking, beer swilling people that attended those halls now prefer to sit in the comfort of their own home with a cup of char and their slippers on. Over one year from 2018 to 2019, the activity generated over £1 billion in revenues. The online gross gambling yield from the Gambling Commission says that bingo has a GGY of almost £200 million. Offline, it’s higher – £669 million. It’s one of the top six most popular games in the UK, and it’s gaining popularity across the pond and in Europe and Asia.

So, eyes down and look in for a full house if the battery doesn’t die on your computer.

New cases fell by 5000 to 43,540, But deaths were 223, the highest one-day figure for months.

Wednesday 20/10/2021 - Day 580

Had the day from hell on this computer today. Every morning I put my posts on my other site called Down Memory Lane. I tried to get on there today and it just wasn't happening. Every other site I owned was working fine, DML was loading ok, but there was no content beneath it. Eventually I was forced to reset the whole of my computer, which entailed wiping it clean and then re-instating everything. It took over four hours to reload and a further 2 hours to reload Facebook etc.

And it still wouldn't come on! In sheer frustration I asked Facebook for help - they still haven't got back to me yet, perhaps I should have put a nude photograph of myself on, they'd have soon been in touch (perhaps not, it isn't Halloween yet). Anyway, to cut a long story short, it came on again this morning, it seems that it was a Google fault on just my computer, and on my own site. Technology, eh? I prefer to think that someone put a curse on me, it's more believable.

Mrs H and I went shopping yesterday. We went to Aldi, bought almost a trolley full of food including a two and a half kilo Turkey crown. We got to the checkout, and I struggled to beat the cashier who was faster than the speed of light, I won by throwing everything into the trolley. The bill for all that was a mere £25 and a few pence. As always, there were a few things that Aldi didn't have so we nipped across to Tesco's, we had a hand basket, didn't buy anything too expensive and left the shop almost £40 pounds lighter.

So, the next time Sainsbury's and Tesco's are telling you in an advertisement that over four hundred items are Aldi price checked, part of that may be true but it is normally their own brands and normally things that aren't in your everyday shopping. No wonder Aldi are fast becoming the Nation’s top supermarket and long may they reign. If they can keep prices down then so can the leaders, but the difference between Aldi and their opposition Sainsbury's, Tesco's and Morrisons is sheer greed from the latter three.

On this day in 1842 The death (from consumption) aged just twenty-six, of Grace Darling, an English lighthouse keeper’s daughter from the Longstone Lighthouse. She rowed out on 7th September 1838, to rescue survivors of the Forfarshire off the Farne Islands and became a national hero. The Grace Darling memorial is within St. Aidan's churchyard, Bamburgh, Northumberland.

Today in 1946 'Muffin the Mule', a wooden puppet operated by Annette Mills (sister of actor Sir John Mills) first appeared in a children's television programme on BBC TV.

Also, on this day in 1960 D.H Lawrence's controversial novel 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' put Penguin Books in the dock at the Old Bailey, London. They were accused of publishing obscene material but were eventually found not guilty.

New cases rose by almost 6000 to 49,139 the highest for over six months. Deaths were 179.

Thursday 21/10/2021 – Day 581

The old weather has a distinct improvement today, Yesterday I was woken by thunderstorms in the early hours, today the sun is shining and it’s a lovely day without a cloud in the blue sky.

I spent a couple of hours at Gemma’s papering a wall in the grandson’s new bedroom. Problem was that the girls (Gemma and Mrs H) went to collect the wallpaper the previous night, there were just two rolls remaining at a knockdown price of £5.Gemma – being just like me – snapped up the bargain. I had always told her when buying wallpaper to check the batch number. I was halfway across the wall when I opened the second roll, I adjusted my eyes and rubbed them. The second roll was darker than the one I had just hung. I shouted the girls up and Gemma protested that she had checked the numbers and they were the same, she pointed to them on the labels – they were the pattern numbers, the batch numbers were completely different. “It’ll be OK,” they both insisted, so I continued to the other corner. I once again called them up when I’d finished, the looks on their faces said it all. They managed to hide the different paper behind the wardrobe. I did warn them!

On this day in 1966 the school clock in Aberfan stopped at 9.15 am. 144 people, 116 of them children, were killed in the small Welsh mining village of when tons of slag, from a nearby coal tip was weakened by days of heavy rain. Despite repeated warnings from local residents and some experts to the Coal Board it slid downhill and engulfed the village school, a farm, and a row of terraced houses. The tragedy occurred at the beginning of the school day and on the day before the school closed for the half-term holiday. It was one of the biggest tragedies of the century. Even after the disaster the shameless coal board tried to deny all responsibility. Although the inquiry report laid the blame for the disaster squarely with the National Coal Board (NCB), no NCB employee or board member was demoted, dismissed, or prosecuted, nor did the board face any corporate sanctions after the disaster. Eventually, the NCB paid out a total of pounds 160,000 pounds five hundred for each child, money for traumatised survivors and compensation for damage to property. The children are buried in Aberfan's cemetery, on the hillside above the valley.

New cases rose to over 50,000 today, the highest figure since January, and the government still refuse to act despite pleas from their own advisors. Today’s figures were 51,189 new cases and 115 further deaths.

Friday 22/10/2021 – Day 581

While I was typing this blog, I heard a familiar sound emitting from the TV. I looked up and yes, there it was, a Christmas Advert. I love the festive season, but honestly, it’s another 66 days away yet. No wonder that by the time the day actually arrives we are all sick to the back teeth of it.

Well to be honest that’s not fair. There are people who – in just four weeks – will be putting up their tree and delighting in it. Fair play to them, that’s what I say, I mean, there are some out there who don’t actually take their decorations down. I have seen many a Santa clause flapping around on a roof in the middle of Spring plus in the summer strings of festive lights hanging from the gutter.

When I were a nipper (I know, here he goes again) no- one dared to mention that word until at least the week before. Except of course for the likes of Fanny Craddock and her poor downtrodden husband. She would be the first to demand that you cook the mince pies the way she does and prepare the Xmas pudding way before the day. But these days it is forced upon us by greedy advertisers who have promised that they will more than double the vast profits they made last season.

It doesn’t help that all the news channels are telling us that we have to buy toys now, because there is a shortage and because they won’t be on the shelves in December. Remember what happened when these same news channels told everyone that there was a petrol shortage? There wasn’t of course, but it sounded a lot better than saying that there was a shortage of drivers. There were fights on the forecourts about queue jumping or taking more than needed. Does this mean that thanks to the media we are going to see handbags at dawn as two grannies fight over the last Galactic Snackin' Grogu Animatronic. (Baby Yoda – don’t ask) for their spoilt little grandson. It wouldn’t be a bad thing if the toy shops were empty this year, parents would be thousands better off and can you imagine the looks on the little darlings faces when they wake up to a stocking on the end of their bed containing an apple, an orange, a small bar of chocolate and a brand-new shiny pound coin in the bottom? – no, neither can I.

Of course, the other thing they are saying is in short supply is Turkey. How will we all survive without a turkey, I was in Iceland the other day and they were almost out of them. But don’t panic, because as soon as the word has gone around and the price has doubled, those empty freezers in all the supermarkets will suddenly be overflowing. Trust me, I knew Bernard Mathews at school, or was it, Bernard Manning?

Joke of the week.

A woman awakes during the night to find that her husband is not in bed. She puts on her robe and goes downstairs to look for him. She finds him sitting at the kitchen table with a hot cup of coffee in front of him. He appears to be in deep thought, just staring at the wall. She watches as he wipes a tear from his eye and takes a sip of his coffee.

'What's the matter, dear' she whispers as she steps into the room, 'Why are you down here at this time of night

The husband looks up from his coffee, 'It's the 20th Anniversary of the day we met'.

She can't believe he has remembered and starts to tear up.

The husband continues, 'Do you remember 20 years ago when we started dating, I was eighteen and you were only sixteen,' he says solemnly.

Once again, the wife is touched to tears. 'Yes, I do' she replies.

The husband pauses the words were not coming easily. 'Do you remember when your father caught us in the back seat of my car'

'Yes, I remember' said the wife, lowering herself into the chair beside him.

The husband continued. 'Do you remember when he shoved the shotgun in my face and said, "Either you marry my daughter, or I will send you to prison for 20 years'

'I remember that, too' she replied softly.

He wiped another tear from his cheek and said, "I would have gotten out today."

Once again new cases were high at 49,298, registered deaths rose again to 180.

Saturday 22/10/2021 – Day 582.

Good morning, all, a very bland day here in downtrodden Kidderminster and our lovely postie - still wearing shorts – has just delivered my letter from the NHS.

If you recall, a few weeks back after severe chest pains around my heart and down my left arm, I had been diagnosed with Angina. I had an appointment with a cardiac specialist within two days. The specialist gave me the wrong tablets, I was nearly passing out when I took them. My own doctor told me to stop taking them as they were reducing my already low blood pressure even further and were quite dangerous. He would make another appointment with the cardiologist for me. That was five weeks ago.

I opened my NHS letter with trepidation and read that I do not need to attend hospital, but I have a telephone consultation on – wait for it – the 26th of November at 15.15. So, just another 5 weeks to find out if I croak it from a heart attack, oh, and it all depends on the questions I am asked and the answers I give. Beam me up Scotty!

Today in 1972 Access credit cards came into use in Britain and a lot of husbands cried on their way to work.

On this day in 1982 Culture Club were at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'Do You Really Want to Hurt Me', the group's first chart topper and the first of 12 UK Top 40 hits. The song became a major hit after their memorable debut performance on Top Of The Pops when they stood in for Shakin' Stevens who was ill and not able to appear. All I seem to remember were the arguments next day at work over whether the lead singer was male or female. The debate went on for quite a time until the revelation came that he was called Boy George. He and the group went on to make some brilliant music during the eighties and George himself has made many comebacks.

Today new cases rose slightly. There were a further 44,985 new cases, about 1800 more as this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 331624 a rise of 44,905 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 138 bringing the weekly total to 937 a rise of 107 on last week. There were 7,116,179 recoveries a rise of 236,446 on last week’s total which is good news.

Week 85

Sunday 24/10/2021 – Day 584

We had a lot of rain here again last night, but it seems that after a showery day tomorrow we are in for another mild week with temperatures reaching 18 degrees on Wednesday and Thursday. There is a North/ south divide though, with the north sadly getting more than their fair share of rain

Mrs H and I popped down to the local playing field this morning, I thought it was quite cold as we stepped out through the front door. But Mrs H insisted that it was quite mild, anyway, we went to watch our youngest grandson (golden balls) Hatton play football. Within half an hour Mrs H was complaining at how cold it was, at half time the referee approached her and said that she was putting off the wingers, as her teeth were chattering too loudly, he asked if she could stand back twenty metres from the touchline. Then it started to rain, and guess who had come out without a hood on her coat because it was so mild? But in all fairness she had bought an umbrella with her. I remember buying that umbrella while we were on holiday one year, it started to rain, and we nipped into a pound shop to purchase the emergency brolly for £3 (yes I know). She put the brolly up and all was fine, it was doing its job and keeping the rain off her, then the wind started blowing. She spent the next twenty minutes wrestling with her cheap brolly and trying to stop it blowing inside out. The referee blew his whistle again giving Mrs H the impression that it was full time. I heard her whisper under her breath ‘Thank the lord for that.’ But the young referee approached her again and asked if she could put the brolly down as it was distracting the striker lol. The match finally ended in a 2 – 1 defeat for our side. But in all fairness if it hadn’t been for ‘golden balls’ it could have been a lot worse, the lad deflected at least four on goal shots. By the time we left the field Mrs H, and I were at least six inches taller, it took ages to get the mud from off our shoes. I wonder if Mrs H will go next week.

A welcome return to channel 4 last night for the brilliant ‘Escape to the Chateau’. Mrs H and I have watched this brilliant series about a couple Angel and Dick, who, along with their two young children buy a Chateau in France and start doing it up as a wedding venue. Their energy and enthusiasm are unbelievable. Dick is a very young 62 years of age, nineteen years older than Angel. But they just click in everything they do. The best thing of all though, is the fact that it comes up against the dire new remake of The Darling Buds of May, no contest at all.

On this day in 1896 one of Britain’s best loved actors Jack Warner was born, When I was young PC George Dixon of Dock Green came to symbolise everything that was good with the world, he stood for honesty, steadfastness, and most of all integrity. There was something really homely and re-assuring about this presence on our TV sets on a Saturday evening, starting with that salute and those famous words " Good Evening all". But there was still a lot I didn't know about this remarkable actor who once said ''Never turn anything down ... stars come and go but as a character actor, you'll work until you're ninety.''

From 1935 Jack performed in cabaret at the London West End as half of the double act of Warner & Darnell. They entertained as two comedians.

But it was in 1947 he achieved lasting popularity on screen in the role of Joe Huggett, patriarch of a Cockney family, in 'Holiday Camp', This was so popular that it was quickly followed by 'Meet the Huggett’s' in 1948 with the addition of a young Petula Clark, Gainsborough studios knew by now that they were on to a good thing and so released 'Vote for Huggett' in 1949 and the final film 'The Huggett’s Abroad' also 1949. Then came the famous role of PC George Dixon in the well rated 1950 film 'The Blue Lamp', although Jack's part in the film lasted just 21 minutes it left a lasting impression on the cinema audiences of the day, in the film he approaches armed robber Tom Riley (Dirk Bogarde), but the robber shoots him and makes a run for it, Dixon dies later in hospital.

So, it was another five years in 1955 before PC George Dixon was resurrected for the BBC tv series 'Dixon of Dock Green'. It's interesting to note that Jack was already 60 years old when he reprised the role, Dixon of Dock Green ran for 21 years until 1976, in all 432 episodes were recorded, Jack was reaching eighty-one in real life, most definitely the oldest 'Bobby' on TV.

He was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1965 Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to drama.

Jack died of pneumonia in London in 1981, aged eighty-five. The characterisation by Jack Warner of Dixon was held in such high regard that officers from Paddington Green Police station bore the coffin at his funeral.

There were 39,817 new cases reported today along with seventy-two deaths.

Monday 25/10/2021 – Day 585

Another showery day today so Mrs H and I aren’t in a hurry to go down the garden and plant the five hundred Spring bulbs she bought last week.

Whilst remembering my sixties yesterday I started to recall my first day at work. I’d had just two days since I’d finished school on the Friday. I felt so proud walking down our street at 7,00am on that sunny Monday morning on July 24th, 1967, knapsack slung over my shoulder containing an oxo tin which in turn contained my ham sandwiches. My old school shoes making the same sound as a pair of hobnail boots thanks to the metal Blakey’s shoe protectors I had hammered on the heels over the weekend.

I was on my way to my very first real job. I had quit the scrapyard the previous weekend and the boss had paid me a ten-pound bonus as a farewell gift, as he placed it in my hand he told me that if ever I was in any trouble then I should go to him, whatever it was he’d sort it for me.

But now I was on my way to Proberts, they specialised in plumbing and Central heating. I was to be apprenticed for the next five years. I caught the bus into town then walked the rest of the way, we didn’t start until 8.00am so I had plenty of time. When I arrived at the depot I was given some basic tools and told that I would need to add to them over the coming years. I was put with a plumber called Ron. He was a great chap and we got to know each other quite well by the time we reached our first job in Malvern,’

It was a large posh house and Ron was fitting central heating in the property. He’d already been there a few days the previous week and had done most of the preparation. The first thing I noticed when he opened the door was the smell. The whole house reeked of apples. They were on every windowsill in the place. He looked at me and said:

“I know, you’ll get used to it, we’ll be finished by the end of the week.”

The smell really was bad, and I noticed that all the doors had a large patch of black grime on them around the handles.

“What does the owner do?” I asked innocently.

You could have knocked me down with a feather when he said that they were both eminent surgeons. I learned quite a lot that first day, how to lift boards effortlessly in order to lay the pipes, how to hang a radiator and a lot of other small things that helped Ron complete the job in the allocated time.

On the Friday it was time to switch it all on. While Ron did that, he told me to go around and clean up any mess that we might have made. We had an inspection by the foreman later that morning, so it was imperative that everything was clean and tidy, things like dirty finger marks on the walls. I went into every room with a sponge and hot soapy water, wiping away any dirt that I found. The house was getting nice and warm when the doorbell rang.

I opened the door to a stocky chap wearing blue overalls, he had a pencil wedged between the top of his ear and his flat peaked cap pulled down on his head. His face was round and ruddy he had a thin moustache and as he spoke, I noticed a gap between his front teeth. If he had been taller and thinner, he’d have been the spitting image of the actor Terry Thomas.

“Ah, you must be the new lad, how you are liking it, fine, what’s this then, nothing to do? where’s Ron?”

I told him he was upstairs, as he opened the hall door, he stopped and just stared at the handle, as if he’d forgotten something.

“Has Ron asked you to clean up lad?”

“Yes.” I answered proudly, “I’ve been in every room.”

He looked at me, then back at the door.

“Evidently not lad, this door has got grime all over it.”

“But that was already there when we arrived, it’s the homeowners grime.” I protested.

“First valuable lesson learned son, it may well be their grime, but trust me, you will get blamed for it, by the time they get home, it will be your grime, I want every door cleaned off and spotless.”

It took me the whole afternoon, but I did as I was told.

On the way home Ron told me how proud he was of me and that I was a quick learner so we should get on well. “You’ve learned two valuable lessons today,” he said.

“Two?, what was the other lesson.”

“Always look busy young Eric, never open the door empty handed, grab a broom first.”

That advice has always stood me in good stead, and I’ve used it to my advantage on more than one occasion.

Today was the first fall in new cases for quite a time, there were 36,578 reported. The number of deaths registered were 38.

Tuesday 26/10/2021 – Day 586

Mrs H and I were in town last week on the Tuesday, on top of everything else wrong with me, I have recently acquired poor hearing – yes I know, I’m a walking disaster – anyway, Mrs H suggested we pop into spec savers and make an appointment to check if there is anything else between my lugholes other than daylight. It would also allow her to turn the TV down about ten decibels at night. For some unknown reason, a lot of shops are using the pandemic to keep the great unwashed out of their premises until they’ve been thoroughly inspected (The customer not the premises).

We waited at the door by the great lump of wood designed to keep us out. There were a couple of ladies milling around the desk in the distance trying to look important. It wasn’t exactly a warm day either. Eventually, one of them decided to come across to us.

“Can I help you?”

I wanted to tell her no thanks, the wife and I were just testing her doorway to see if it would suit us when we dossed down in it later tonight. But Mrs H seeing the look of disgust on my face pre-empted this action by digging her elbow in my ribs.

“Yes.” I said, gasping for breath, “I’d like to make an appointment for a hearing test please.”

“Right if you give me your details, I’ll pass them on to the hearing section and they’ll ring you in the next 24 hours.”

I gave her all my personal details whilst shivering in the cold doorway.

I never gave it another thought until on the Thursday Mrs H reminded me that they hadn’t phoned. I shrugged, smiled, and walked away because I hadn’t quite heard what she’d said. On the Friday morning the phone rang, I answered it:


“Oh, hello Mrs Harvey, could I speak to Mr Harvey please?,”

Doesn’t that really annoy you lads, you answer the phone in your best Paul Robeson voice, and they ask to speak to the man of the house. I counted to ten before I answered.

“Speaking.” (The only word I could utter without foul language)

“Ah yes Mr Harvey, I understand you required a hearing test.”

“Yes, I stood in the cold of your doorway on Tuesday three days ago asking for one.”

I waited for the apology, or the standard covid excuse, neither were forthcoming.

“No, are you NHS or private, if private we have some excellent hearing aids starting from £1200.”

Remember, that at this point, the woman hadn’t even ascertained whether or not I needed a hearing aid. There had been no tests and she was trying to sell me one.

“Twelve pounds.” I replied mockingly, “that’s not too bad, I’ll go private.”

“No Mr Harvey, £1200, you must have misheard me.”

“Oh, in that case I’ll go with the NHS please.”

“Right.” She said, “Then in that case, you’ll need to contact your doctor, tell him you need a hearing test and he’ll arrange one here for you, thank you and have a good day.”

“What if I go private?” I enquired.

“Wait one moment please, ah yes, we can get you in tomorrow morning if that’s convenient.”

As I slammed the phone down had a song going around in my head, it went:

‘There’s a hole in my bucket dear Lisa dear Lisa, there’s a hole in my bucket, dear Lisa a hole.’

I just couldn’t believe my ears.

New cases were up again today with 40,934 reported. Deaths were an astonishing 263.

Wednesday 27/10/2021 – Day 587

I really don’t know what’s happened to the weather forecast on Countryfile. Old gits like myself follow their weather advice religiously. This is simply because at my age, we need to know what to put on. But I have to say that so far this week they haven’t been very accurate. Today it’s blowing a gale and they forecast a warm sunny day with a temperature of 18 degrees. Oh well.

Went out last night (whoopee) with the besties Jan and John. Nipped to the local hostelry first to buy John his long-awaited birthday meal, His birthday was actually way back in August, but with one thing and another the four of us haven’t been able to get together. We took them over to the social club after for a couple of drinks. (Non-alcoholic) They are always good company, and we had a brilliant evening.

We were chatting about where to go on holiday next year, none of us are too keen on travelling abroad with all the rigmarole that comes with the airports. So, we have decided that there are far too many palaces in our own country that we’ve never seen. Next year is looking like a trip to either the Lake District or Cornwall, basically whichever one I can convince them to travel to.

Don’t forget that we all get an extra hour in bed this weekend. Have you ever wondered why we put the clocks forward and then back?

At 1am on the last Sunday in March, clocks 'spring forward' by an hour

At 2am on the last Sunday in October, the clocks 'fall back' by an hour.

The idea of summer- time or daylight - saving time was first mentioned in 1784 by Benjamin Franklin, the American inventor, scientist, and statesman. (Didn’t you just know that it would have started in the USA) However, it wasn't until 1907 that a serious proposal for daylight saving time was made in Britain by William Willett. Angry at the waste of daylight during summer mornings, he self-published a pamphlet called "The Waste of Daylight".

In 1916, a year after Willett’s death, Germany became the first country to adopt daylight saving time. The UK did the same a few weeks later, along with many other nations involved in the First World War (1914-1918).

Within a few years of its introduction, many countries across the world adopted Daylight Saving Time. However, the benefits of it have been an ongoing debate since it was first introduced.

During the Second World War (1939-1945), British Double Summertime two hours in advance of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) - was temporarily introduced for the period when ordinary daylight saving would be in force. During the winter, clocks were kept one hour in advance of GMT to increase productivity.

With the war over, Britain returned to British Summer Time except for an experiment between 1968 and 1971 when the clocks went forward but were not put back, (I didn’t know that) The experiment was discontinued as it was found impossible to assess the advantages and disadvantages of British Summer Time.

Campaigners have sought a return to British Double Summer- Time or a permanent British Summer Time to save energy and increase the time available in the evenings. An attempt was made by backbench MPs to change BST but The Daylight-Saving Bill 2010–12 was not passed by the House of Commons.

Opponents pointed out that in the north it would create social disadvantages: for instance, in the far north-west of Scotland sunrise would occur at about 10am in winter, and over much of the north children would have to travel to and from school in darkness.

So, there you have it, still confused? The next time you’re thinking “when do the clocks go back?” simply memorise the phrase “spring forward, fall back.” The clocks always spring forward an hour on the last weekend in March and fall back on the final weekend of October.

New cases rose once again today up to 43,622. Deaths were registered at 207.

Thursday 28/10/2021 – Day 588

It is 5.30 am and I am lay in bed thinking that I’m at the age where my mind thinks I am still twenty-nine, my sense of humour suggests I’m twelve, while my body keeps asking mostly if I’m sure I’m not dead yet.

It was at this stage that I decided to get up.

Mrs H had me out in the garden for a few hours yesterday, not just doing the mundane stuff like pulling weeds out, oh no, she let me plant a few daffodil bulbs as a reward for digging over the hardened ground first. I feel so honoured and blessed to be married to this wonderful lady.

I am wondering what to do with the fifty thousand or so leaves covering the driveway. I wouldn’t mind, but they come from the council trees opposite. If I drop a piece of litter on that ground, I could be fined. If someone allows their dog to mess on that ground and doesn’t pick it up, then they can be fined. But I have to put up with their leaves blocking my driveway and gutters without any recompense. Good job I’m not a complainer lol.

No one will tell me what the lowest rank in the army is.... every time I ask someone says, "it's private"

On this day in 1938 David Dimbleby, TV journalist and commentator was born.

Also, today in 1959 The first use of a car phone, with a call from Cheshire to London. A mere twenty-five people had paid the astronomical sum of £200 each for one of the phones.

On this day in 2014 105-year-old Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved 669 children, most of them Jews, from the Nazis was awarded the Czech Republic's highest state honour, the Order of the White Lion(1st class), by Czech President Miloš Zeman . was a British banker and humanitarian who established an organisation to rescue children at risk from Czechoslovakia. Born to German-Jewish parents who had emigrated to Britain at the beginning of the 20th century, He was aged 29 when he arranged trains to take the children out of occupied Czechoslovakia and for foster families to meet them in London. His work went unnoticed by the world for nearly 50 years, until 1988 when he was invited to the BBC television programme That's Life!, where he was reunited with several of the children he had saved. The British press celebrated him and dubbed him the "British Schindler".In 2003, Nicholas was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for "services to humanity, in saving Jewish children from Nazi Germany occupied Czechoslovakia".. He died peacefully in his sleep, in 2015, at the age of 106.

New cases came down to 39,842 today, Deaths were also down to 165.

Friday 29/10/ 2021 – Day 589

I was lay in bed this morning remembering those wise old words my dad imposed on me during mine and Mrs H’s engagement party:

“Remember son, a man is incomplete until he’s married – then he’s finished,”

I looked over at Mrs H gently sleeping and thought it best to go and make a cuppa.

Speaking of sleeping or non-sleeping in this case, I heard today that there’s a new drug out for to cure insomniacs, but one of the possible side effects is drowsiness.

I spent a few hours yesterday sending my proposed book ‘Memoirs of a Baby Boomer’ off to five unsuspecting Literary agents. It will take them two to ten weeks to get back to me and either announce that the stories are no good, or that they like them and want to see some more. Hopefully, it will be the latter and I will have my 80,000 words of my early life up to the age of eighteen published. We have to wait and see, fingers and toes crossed meanwhile.

Meanwhile, poor Mrs H hasn’t been sleeping too well of late. Before you jump to conclusions, no, it isn’t my snoring, neither is it my ‘bothering’ her in the middle of the night. If the truth be known it is that she has given up the drink. She is coming to the end of sober October. Now I think this is a splendid idea and I told her so at the beginning of the month, little did I know that my good lady wanted to drag me along on her dreary dry journey. I have forgotten what Guinness looks like let alone tastes like. I’ve a good mind to take her on MY monthly challenge in Movember, where you you grow a caterpillar on your top lip and get family and friends to sponsor you the problem is, I suspect that by November 5th, Mrs H will have her own caterpillar and it’ll be the same colour as Zinfandel Rose’.

I have no problem at all dropping off to sleep. Staying asleep is my problem. We always put the TV on anyway when we go to bed, so, by around 12.00 midnight I am dropping in and out of consciousness. Then, regardless of how much liquid of any sort I have imbibed, I need the loo at 1.30. When I was younger I would think ’Sod it that can wait.’ Then I would happily turn over and go back to sleep for the rest of the night. But not now, it is a matter of urgency to get to the bathroom in time. I have found that one of the great mysteries of life is – how can you drink four pints and then pass ten pints – answers on a postcard please. Anyway, I go back to my nice warm bed and drop off to sleep again. Then at exactly 3.15 am I need the loo again. I lie there looking at those red lights on the radio alarm that we never use, determined not to give in this time, but inevitability soon takes the place of complacency, quickly followed by urgency. Once more I go back to a wonderful sleep. Then at 5,00am precisely I wake up, no, not for the loo, this time I am wide awake. Help!!!!!

Saturday 30/10/2021 – Day 590

Did you know that a giraffe can clean out its own ears by simply using its own tongue, I tell you this startling fact simply because my mother-in-law was able to do exactly the same thing?

Had another heavy night of rain, but we’re not as bad off as some of those poor souls that have been flooded out of their homes this week.

At exactly 4.45pm on Sunday 21 September 1961 we were sat in the ‘best room’ watching TV when I heard one of the most striking tunes. It has stuck in my mind ever since and is one of those recordings that summon up lots of memories from that year.

The song was ‘Stranger on the Shore’ by an up-and-coming jazzman at that time called Acker Bilk. The tune was originally called ‘Jenny.’ But in early 1961 the BBC had a script drop on their desk by writer Sheila Hodgson.. The show was described by some as a "children's serial", It was about a young French au-pair.

Marie-Helene (Jeanne le Bars) was from a boarding-house in Normandy: she knew little English, mainly just snippet she had learned from tourists. This was her first visit to England, and she found it a very strange place. She arrived at Victoria Station tired and bewildered after an arduous journey, she clutched her sole possessions in a small brown suitcase. What would appear to us as ordinary behaviour was a constant wonder to the naïve Marie-Helene. She gradually adjusts to the culture shock of being an au-pair with a young family in Brighton.

A follow up series was made called ‘Stranger in the City’ with acker Bilk once again providing the more upbeat version of Strangers on the Shore.

Acker Bilk went to No1 in in a lot of countries worldwide including America, some incorrectly say that the Tornado’s with ‘Telstar’ was the first British No 1 in the charts of over there. But this is what America’s Billboard says.




Weeks at number‑one


May 26, 1962

"Stranger on the Shore"

Mr. Acker Bilk



December 22, 1962


The Tornados



February 1, 1964

"I Want to Hold Your Hand"

The Beatles


Today new cases fell slightly. There were a further 41,278 new cases, about 3700 less as this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 285,354 a drop of 46,354 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 166 bringing the weekly total to 1096 a rise of 159 on last week. There were 7,325,785 recoveries a rise of 209,606 on last week’s total which is good news.

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