• harveyvickie

Diary of an ex Self Isolator weeks 86 - 90

Week 86

Sunday 31/10/2021 – Day 591

I sincerely hope that you’ve all remembered to put your clocks back one hour this morning or last night.

It is pizzitively possing down here again. To quote the Yank in an episode of Fawlty Towers as he shook the rain from his coat, “Does it ever stop raining in this God damme country?” No my American friend, it seems not. Our Lake has re-appeared outside the house and there is just six inches of pavement for people to pass without actually wading. But this council are about as much use as chocolate teapots and refuse to recognise the problem.

Well, here we are on the morning of the busiest night for Mother-in-laws all over the world,

I’m not sure if Halloween ought to be cancelled this year, I mean, we’ve all been wearing a mask and stuffing ourselves full of chocolate and sweets for 18 months or more so what has changed?

Remember back when we were kids, I can’t recall there being any pumpkins around at that time, we had to carve turnips. They were so hard! By the time you’d finished your hands and arms were aching. Although it was well worth the effort when darkness came and that spooky face was peering out into the street – no, not your dad – the turnip. We had all heard of Halloween of course but there was none of this ‘trick or treating’ business. We did celebrate Halloween, but it was more subdued, with things like apple dipping and carving faces.

Anyway it’s here, the witching hour is upon us, I hear a lot of people saying that it’s just another ‘American’ idea foisted on us, but actually, that isn’t true, Halloween had its origins in the festival of Samhain among the Celts of ancient Britain and Ireland.

Halloween dates back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain when it was believed the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead become blurred. It marks the beginning of the new Celtic year, and the souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes on Samhain Eve, the witches, goblins, black cats, and ghosts were said to roam abroad. It means” summer’s end” and the festival marked the close of the harvest season and the coming of winter. The Celts believed that the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead were thinnest at this time and the dead could return and walk where they had before. Halloween or Hallowe'en (a contraction of “All Hallows Eve” is celebrated on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day. It begins the observance of All Hallowtide, the time of the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows) and martyrs. It has its roots in England and Ireland but by the 19thC had become secularized and introduced into the United States where it is now mainly celebrated by children using “trick or treat” calls on neighbours. The festival itself has been in existence for over 2000 years. Foods associated with Halloween: Barmbrack (Ireland), Bonfire Toffee (Britain), Candy Apples/Toffee Apples (Britain and Ireland) and pumpkins. Observances: Church services, prayer and fasting. Significance: First day of All Hallowtide.

When large numbers of immigrants, including the Irish, went to the United States beginning in the mid- 19th century, they took their Halloween customs with them, and in the 20th century Halloween became one of the principal U.S. holidays, particularly among children.

And so dear reader, we inflicted Halloween on America.

On this day in 1888 Scottish inventor John Boyd Dunlop patented pneumatic bicycle tyres and there were a lot of very sore bottoms the width and breadth of the UK eternally grateful.

Also today in 1940 World War II: The Battle of Britain ended. Britain had successfully avoided a possible German invasion. The battle was the first to be fought entirely in the air. It had started on 10th June and was critical in stopping any invasion. The Blitz however, continued on till May 1941.Winstom Churchill summed up the battle with the words, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

Only in the UK eh? Today in 2008 Officials asked for the Welsh translation of a bilingual road sign which in English read - "No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only." When the automatic e-mail came back from Swansea council it read "Nid wyf yn y swyddfa ar hyn o bryd. Anfonwch unrhyw waith i'w gyfieithu" and this was duly printed on the road sign. Only later was it discovered that the Welsh part of the sign said "I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated."

There was a slight drop in new cases today, falling by over 3,000 to 37,606. There were 74 registered deaths.

Monday 01/11/2021 – Day 592

I was lay in bed this morning thinking, I wish Oxford and Cambridge would settle their differences, I hate to see them rowing.

Well the honeymoon period is over; I haven’t done much over the past couple of weeks. But I’m sorry to tell you that it’s all about to end. Mrs H has woken and spoken. She who must be obeyed has decided that not only does she want the front lounge re-decorated, but she wants the Dining room dismantled too.

The chaos will start with the change of the Dining room as we know it. This is what I started today.

The existing fireplace (which fits beautifully in between the built-in cupboards I erected a few years ago has got to come out. Mrs H has decided that she wants one of those great chunky pieces of wood that just seem to ‘float in mid-air. I dismantled the fireplace carefully, (The last time I did this a dead pigeon dropped from the neck of the chimney) and the cover used to stop such things dropping into the fireplace felt quite heavy. I lowered it gently and there was a huge pile if old soot and debris on the board, then I saw what I thought was a bird’s leg, I got a screwdriver and moved the debris around gently, it turned out to be one of many twigs that those dumb pigeons had dropped down the chimney after the overweight feathered friends stopped off for a rest and a breather whilst nest building.

I filled half a black bag with the contents of five years accumulation, (the last time I disturbed the fireplace).

So, there I was staring at a great hole in the wall with the remains of the previous fireplace – which I had built – staring back at me. Then I had a moment of insanity, for some reason, known only to those mad professors in those old sixties films, I decided to go all the way and remove the hearth which I thought had been laid over the floating wooden floor.

Big mistake! I spent almost three hours of my day matching the floor with some spare boards I had kept, all the time wishing I had let sleeping dogs lie. By 3,00pm I had done enough, I needed to sit down and take stock. The saga will continue tomorrow.

On this day in 1848 WH Smith opened its first railway bookstall, at Euston Station in London. What I don’t understand is why their prices almost double at railway station shops, you can go to their shop in the High street and get it a lot cheaper.

Today in 1922 The first radio licences went on sale in Britain at a cost of ten shillings (50p). I don’t think I’ve ever owned a radio licence; I wonder if you still have to buy one.

And finally today in 1956 Premium Bonds first went on sale in Britain with the winning numbers picked at random by a machine with the acronym 'ERNIE'. (Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment) The first Premium Bond was bought by the then Lord Mayor of London, Sir Cuthbert Ackroyd. After putting in 15 years of service, Ernie 4 has been decommissioned and replaced with a faster machine to cope with the increasing volume of numbers that have to be produced every month

New cases were up to 39,569 today, the number of deaths was 42.

Tuesday 02/11/2021 – Day 593

Back to the fireplace and that dear lady whom I truly love. But oh my, she can be wearing. Allow me to explain, I occasionally buy pieces of furniture with the idea of shabby chiking them and selling them on. I did a wonderful glass cabinet earlier in the year, my daughter Gemma was doing up her outside canopy at the time. To cut a long story short she took a shine to my beautifully restored cabinet. She and Mrs H got to work on me and within a week it was being proudly displayed under her canopy. I have to tell you that no money changed hands.

So, a couple of months ago, I acquired a beautiful wood And glass bow fronted cabinet with a three-drawer base. ‘Oh good’ I thought, that’ll be a nice project for those rainy days when I can go in the Repair shop and do it up. Which is what I’ve been doing for a couple of weeks now. L

Last week Mrs H came into the repair shop, I could sense her lingering an I could see her eying up my hard work. I thought she was appreciating the expertise that had gone into my project.

Then I noticed that a tape measure had gone missing. I never gave it a second thought; I knew it would turn up eventually.

Which it did, the next day, only problem was that it had Mrs H attached to the end of it. She started immediately.

“I’ve been thinking darling.”

Those words always make my heart sink, when I hear them then I know I am in for a negotiating period.

“You know that lovely oak sideboard we have in the dining room?”

“Oh, you mean that lovely, polished sideboard that you made me paint last year.”

“Yes that’s the one, (totally oblivious) well I was thinking (groan) If we moved it into the Garden room, we could put this gorgeous unit in its place.”

“You mean the unit that I’m doing up to sell?”

“Yes.” She replied, “I think it would look brilliant in there don’t you think?”

I had nowhere to go, I was trapped in my own repair shop with Mrs H blocking the door and thereby covering any sort of escape I may have been thinking about. I tried the old standard.

“It won’t fit.”

“Yes it will,” she replied assuringly, “I’ve measured it, and it fits perfectly.”

I had been done up like a kipper and was £50 out of pocket as there is absolutely no way that Mrs H is going to pay me.

The upshot is that the good lady has spent most of the day making sure that the sideboard fitted into the Garden room, and the most annoying thing is – that it looks great.

On this day in 1936 The world's first regular TV service was started by the British Broadcasting Corporation at Alexandra Palace at 3:00 p.m. It was defined as 'high-definition' (with 200 lines of resolution) and was renamed BBC1 in 1964. An estimated 100 TV owners tuned in. They would mostly have been very rich, or employees of the BBC.

Today in 1954 The comedy series 'Hancock's Half Hour' was first broadcast on BBC Radio.

On this day in 1960 Penguin publishers were cleared of obscenity for printing the D.H. Lawrence novel 'Lady Chatterley's Lover'. The first edition was printed privately in Florence in 1928 but the unexpurgated edition could not be published openly in the United Kingdom until 1960. The book was notorious at the time for its story of the physical relationship between a working-class man and an upper-class woman, with explicit descriptions of sex, and its use of then-unprintable words.

Also on this day in 1963 Gerry & the Pacemakers reached the number one spot with 'You'll Never Walk Alone'. This was the third of their first 3 hits to reach No 1. The previous were ‘How Do You Do It’ and ‘I Like It.’ It would be over 23 years before this record was equalled by another Liverpool group called ‘Frankie Goes To Hollywood.’

And finally, today in 1964 the first episode of the television soap opera 'Crossroads' was broadcast on ITV. Who can remember the shaking walls when a door was slammed shut, everyone at school were coming out with the latest Miss Diane and Benny jokes, There was also Amy Turtle and Shughie McFee, some great memorable characters?

New cases were down to 33,482, the number of deaths rose dramatically to 292.

Wednesday 03/11/2021 – Day 594

Did you know ladies, the best person you could safely share a secret with is your own husband, he will never repeat it to anyone – because he isn’t listening!

Drove Mrs H mad yesterday with my music, the deal is that if she wants jobs done around the house then she has to listen to my playlist, it’s quite a collection actually and there are some great singers on there, Des o Connor, Ken Dodd, Pinky and Perky – need I go on?

Got most of the fireplace finished then had to down tools to go shopping. I was hoping that while we were out a group of master-builders would break in and finish the project, but alas, no, it was still waiting for me after we’d blown £100+ on silly things like food.

Well dear reader, I have been banned from my first Facebook site, just because of one sad woman’s opinion. People like her should not be allowed as Admin on sites. The site is Birmingham History and Stuff. Let me enlighten you. I am at the moment putting my world war one poems onto around 15 sites. I add one poem a day until we get to the 11th. Well, about 2 years ago I was using the sales of my book to raise funds for the RBL, so I had to include the name and the site, In this instance 2 days ago I forgot to remove the name of the book as I copied and pasted. No-one else complained, just this sad old admin woman who said I was using my poems and the deaths of these heroes for financial gain. I didn’t tell anyone where to get the book or how much it was, but she kept putting sarcastic remarks under other people’s posts. She should hang her head in shame. As I said, I have now been banned from the site, it is just so frustrating that people like her have so much power, and she obviously doesn’t give a damn for all those who gave her the right to make those remarks.

Just discovered that the purest form of love is being kissed whilst asleep – unless you’re in prison!

On this day in 1906 The signing of an international radio agreement at Berlin approved SOS as the radio telegraph distress call for ships at sea, a distress signal that had been adopted by Germany on 1st April 1905. With multiple distress calls already in use, it took years for SOS to become the standard distress signal. Prior to the agreement, in 1904, the Marconi company suggested the use of CQD for a distress signal, a derivation of CQ commonly used by telegraphers and wireless operators to address all stations at once. CQ followed by D meant distress. A strict interpretation would be "All stations, Distress."

1941 English broadcaster Roy Plomley conceived the idea for 'Desert Island Discs'. The programme was first broadcast on BBC Radio in January 1942.

2002 Lonnie Donegan, singer, musician, and legendary skiffle king, died at the age of 71.

New cases were back up to their highest level this week at 41, 062. Recorded deaths were 217.

Thursday 04/11/2021 – Day 595

My mum always complained about the price of things, £1 for a cup of tea, £1.50 for a piece of cake. I used to ‘say look mum you called in to see me, I didn’t Invite you’

Well Mrs H has had me stripping all day (down girls), The Dining room is almost ready for re-decorating, then I just have to do the lounge, kitchen, annex, hall, stairs and landing etc. All this has come from Mrs H wanting the fireplace opening altered. But I am also to blame, I make a rod for my own back sometimes lol. I have no idea what is going on with this tired old body though, this time last year I was working outside for an average of eight hours a day, these days I am completely shattered after a paltry 6 hours. I came upstairs to the office to type this load of garbage about 4.00pm. It is now turned 5,00pm and I have just woke up, I haven’t typed one word yet.

My old friend John, (he of Janet and John fame) popped in for a cup of coffee this morning, always good to see him, we always have a laugh, problem is that he thinks he’s making a nuisance of himself if I am working. I have to reassure him that he definitely is not. Us old gits need to take a break now and then.

On this day in 1890 The Prince of Wales travelled by the underground electric railway from King William Street to the Oval to mark the opening of what is now the City Branch of the Northern Line. It was the first electrified underground railway system. I haven’t told many people this, but a few years back I bought the mother-in-law a chair that had to be plugged into the electric, but she refused to sit in it.

Today in 1922 English explorers Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter discovered the Tomb of King Tutankhamen, in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor, Egypt. It had been undisturbed since 1337 BC.

And finally on this day in 2011 The magazine Woman's Weekly celebrated its 100th anniversary with a special exact facsimile re-publication of the very first edition. The 4th November 1911 edition sold around 500,000 copies and reached its peak in 1950 when it regularly sold more than two million copies a week. Quote from the publishing director Sandy Gale - "The past one hundred years of Woman’s Weekly provides a unique record of the lives of women and social issues of the last century and it remains as resolutely and proudly relevant to its hundreds of thousands of readers today."

Mrs H (yelling from upstairs) do you ever get a sharp pain in your heart like someone’s got a voo doo doll of you and they’re sticking pins in it?

Me No.

Mrs H How about now?

New cases once again dropped slightly to 37,269. Deaths were over 200 for the third day running, the number was 214.

Friday 05/11/2021 - Day 596

I feel like I haven’t been outside for days, only to the Repair shop. Finally manged to get the walls stripped in the dining room yesterday. The walls around the fireplace opening have all been plastered and are ready for cross-lining.

Mrs H is leaving me today. She is off to Wellington, Telford to the cemetery where her Nan and Granddad are buried. Today is the anniversary of her Nan’s death. Her lovely Nan was what we call around here the ‘salt of the earth. Always there to help in any situation and dearly loved by Mrs H. It is their house we live in now as Mrs H couldn’t bear the thought of anyone else living here when her Granddad passed away.

She will be going with daughter Gemma. I wasn’t initially going with them, After all, it would be like being sat in a live version of ‘Loose Women’ for over two hours with no escape. But I’ve had a bit of a traumatic week so the decorating can wait, and I’ll take my earphones and music lol.

Today we celebrate Bonfire night, well, to be honest, it’s got to be more like World War 3 with the modern fireworks rattling the tiles on the roof. The local school is the worse for this. It is located in a heavily populated area full of pensioners, a lot of those pensioners also have pets who are frightened to death for an hour. All to raise money for the school which shouldn’t really have to be raised to survive.

We went with our grandson a couple of years ago and there were lots of little children crying because of the loud explosions. This school seem to go out of their way to get the loudest and biggest fireworks on the market. You would think they’d know better. There is more pressure now to stop these random displays, there are also silent fireworks available, but I doubt our local school will bother with them.

Sad news yesterday as it was announced that Lionel Blair had died at the age of 92. Lionel, whose stage, and screen career spanned eight decades, died early on Thursday morning.

Best known as a team captain on game show Give Us A Clue, in recent years he acted in Ricky Gervais's Extras and also appeared on Celebrity Big Brother.

Born in Canada in 1928, he moved to the UK as a young boy and began performing in air raid shelters in World War Two. But it was his self-taught dancing skills - inspired by watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers at the cinema and then copying their routines at home with Joyce - that Blair became best known for through his long career. He married Susan Blair in 1967 and the couple had three children.

On this day in 2013 The village of Wool, in the Purbeck district of Dorset became wool less when they reported that at least 160 sheep had been stolen from nearby fields, sometime between 1st and 3rd November.

Two Glaswegians, Archie, and Jimmy are sitting in the pub discussing Jimmy's forthcoming wedding.

"Och .... it's all going' pure brilliant," says Jimmy. "A've got everything organised already - the fluers, the church, the cars, the reception, the rings, the minister; even ma stag night".

Archie nods approvingly.

"A've even bought a kilt to be married in!" continues Jimmy.

"A kilt?" exclaims Archie. "That's magic, you'll look pure smart in that.

Whit's the tartan?"

"Och," says Jimmy, "A'd imagine she'll be in white."

Saturday 06/11/2021 – Day 597

I can’t believe how quiet it was around here last night, when I say quiet, what I mean is that there was no repeat of the ‘blitz’ we had to suffer last year. There were fireworks going off all night, but they were normal fireworks – not the ones that shake the tiles on your roof. Perhaps we will have to suffer it tonight.

Mrs H was very upset yesterday. As you know, we went over to Wellington to her nan and Grandad’s grave to lay some flowers. They aren’t the only relative’s buried in the churchyard, there are many more, including a youngster called Rose, who died in 1902 at the age of eight.

Mrs H was very upset because it seems that the cemetery authorities have moved the child’s grave two metres to the left. As far as she knows no-one gave permission for this, and they could see that the grave is tended to regularly, what she is more concerned about is -did they remove the remains as well as the stone?. Hopefully, a phone call on Monday will clear it up.

Watched Gogglebox on Channel 4 last night. Where on earth do they get all those strange and weird programs from? Oh yes, Channel 4.

On this day in 1942 The Church of England relaxed its rule that women must wear hats in church. It took all day Monday to get the dandruff off the pews.

Today in 2004, The death of one of my hero’s, aged 66, Fred Dibnah MBE - Bolton born steeplejack, industrial historian, mechanical engineer, steam engine enthusiast and television presenter. His coffin was towed through the centre of Bolton by his restored traction engine, driven by his son, followed by a cortège of steam-powered vehicles. His former home in Bolton is now the Fred Dibnah Heritage Centre. He is buried in Tonge Cemetery, Bolton..

And finally on this day in 2014 Sheila Marsh, a 77-year-old grandmother-of-four, was granted a final wish of seeing her favourite horse for one last time - after the animal was brought to visit her in her hospital bed at Wigan Royal Infirmary. She passed away from cancer just hours after the horse, named Bronwen, was brought to see her.

Today new cases fell slightly. There were a further 30693, new cases, about 11000 less as this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 253,696 a drop of 31,664 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 155 bringing the weekly total to 1185 a rise of 89 on last week. There were 7,560,948 recoveries a rise of 235,163 on last week’s total which is good news.

Week 87

Sunday 07/11/2021 – Day 598

There seems to be a UFO staring down at us from up above, it’s round and has a sort of orange glow about it, I wonder what it can be.

The dining room is coming along well, I gave it a first coat of paint yesterday, then we realised the error! I was waiting for it to dry and noticed a sheen on the paper, I checked the tin and realised I was putting Vinyl silk on. No problem, we didn’t mind silk or Matt finish. We had bought two tins anyway, then Mrs H mentioned that she thought she’d picked up a tin of Matt paint.

I opened up the repair shop and sure enough, there it was, an unopened tin of Matt paint. So, we had a tin of matt and a tin of silk. We needed to go to B&Q where we made the original purchase. Our concern was that the paint we’d selected was on offer and was in the clearance area (I know, I’m a cheapskate, but hey, needs must), so we were panicking a little as we’d bought the paint a week ago.

After trawling our way through ridiculously heavy Saturday traffic we finally arrived. We went down the paint aisle, no sign of it, we searched all the paint aisles, but to no avail. Mrs H swore we had bought it from here, but there was no sign. In sheer desperation I asked the young lad at the paint desk, he was really helpful when I explained our dilemma.

“We don’t actually sell Johnsons paint sir.”

“But I bought it from here last week.” I protested.

“Are you sure it wasn’t our own brand sir?”

By this time I was doubting myself, we returned to the car to check out the paint I’d brought with me. No, it was definitely Johnsons. We stood there perplexed. That was when the lightbulb thing happened.

“We didn’t buy it from here, we bought it from the Range.”

I had remembered that we didn’t actually go in there to buy paint earlier in the week, but when we saw the paint and the colour we wanted, I had to go back outside to get a trolley.

We got to the Range and picked up the last tin. The reason there was one tin left was because Mrs H had pushed it right to the back in case we needed some more. Love that woman I do.

On this day in 1942 The birth of Jean Shrimpton, leading English model whose face and figure, enhanced with a miniskirt, set the fashion for the 60s. She was an icon of Swinging London and is considered to be one of the world's first supermodels. She appeared on numerous magazine covers including Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Vanity Fair, Glamour, Elle, Ladies' Home Journal, Newsweek, and Time.

She became affectionately known as ‘The Shrimp.’ Shrimpton embraced privacy after retiring from modelling. She opened an antique shop in Cornwall before meeting her husband, Michael Cox. After marriage, the couple bought the Abbey Hotel, which they run to this day.

Today in1964 The country's first drink-driving advertisement was shown on television, with the message "Drinking and driving are dangerous."

Today in 1996 The closure of 'Butlins - Barry Island' in south Wales. This was where Mrs H and I honeymooned. But we weren’t alone! My mum and dad and all my younger siblings were also there, they were in a separate chalet I hasten to add. This was a week after we actually got married on the 21/07/2021. We shared a chalet with friends and their new-born baby. Chaotic isn’t a strong enough word to describe the week we had! This was Billy Butlin's last-built and smallest holiday camp. At the time of its closure it was owned by Majestic Holidays and was sold for £2.25m to Vale of Glamorgan Council who demolished the camp and sold it to Bovis Homes for housing development.

Also today in1998 Families of World War 1 soldiers executed for cowardice or desertion laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in Whitehall in the first ceremony of its kind to pay tribute to the 306 servicemen who died. Those soldiers now have a memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

And finally today in 2016 The death (aged 95) of the veteran broadcaster Sir Jimmy Young. He spent almost three decades at BBC Radio 2 and was one of the original Radio 1 DJs when the station launched in 1967. He was a much-loved personality. Early in his career in the 1950s he had two number ones, "Unchained Melody" and "The Man from Laramie", both in 1955, and several other top ten hits in the UK chart, but he became better known for his long-running show on BBC Radio 2, The JY Prog, which ran from 1973 until 2002.

There were 30,079 new cases reported today along with a further 62 deaths.

Monday 08/11/2021 – Day 599

We went out yesterday – yippee! We were invited for Sunday lunch by our Granddaughter Alisha and her boyfriend Sam. We arrived at around 2.30pm after picking up the son in law Gary and our eldest grandson Mason. Hatton and his mum had already been there for a couple of hours putting up the Christmas tree and the decorations.

Yes, I know what you’re all thinking – far too early!, but Sam’s mum and dad have recently moved to Spain, so, on the 8th of December they will be jetting off to spend 10 days with them. Hence the early decorations. We had a wonderfully cooked Sunday roast all cooked by Sam himself. That lad is very handy to have around if ever Mrs H kicks me out.

Came home and enjoyed another hour of Escape to the Chateau where they were treating what seemed like one hundred children to a good old English tea party, not sure that the Union Jacks spread everywhere had any effect on the children’s French parents though, but the kids didn’t seem to mind.

I remember as a youngster my dad coming home from the night shift around 6.30 am every morning. He would stop at the paper shop and buy a copy of the Daily Express, why am I reminded of this I hear you ask. Well, it’s because it is on this day in 1920 that Rupert Bear made his first appearance in the Daily Express. I used to sit there waiting for him to put his paper down and go off to bed so I could read the latest adventure of Rupert and his best friend Bill Badger, some of the most enduring pals are an elephant (Edward Trunk), a mouse (Willie), Pong-Ping the Pekingese, Algy Pug (who actually pre-dates Rupert) Podgy Pig, Bingo the Brainy Pup, Freddie and Ferdy Fox, the identical twins Reggie and Rex Rabbit, and Ming the dragon. The kindly Wise Old Goat also lives in Nutwood and helps Rupert in some of his adventures. One of the most unusual and evocative characters is Raggety, a woodland troll-creature made from twigs, who is often very grumpy and annoying. In the 2006 television revival of the series, Raggety has been transformed into a friendly elf with broken English. There is also a recurring country Police Officer who is an adult dog named PC Growler.

He was drawn wearing a red jumper and bright yellow checked trousers, with matching yellow scarf. Originally depicted as a brown bear, his colour soon changed to white to save on printing costs,] though he remained brown on the covers of the annuals. Ah, happy days, old grumpy in bed and me reading my favourite cartoon strip.

Also today the popular weekly Melody Maker published its first ever British chart. The charts at that time had been going for around six years, but never published as a weekly event. Although the Record Mirror had published the first UK Albums Chart in 1956. MM was founded in 1926, largely as a magazine for dance band musicians, but it was slow to cover rock and roll and lost ground to the New Musical Express (NME), which had begun in 1952. MM fought back and launched its own weekly singles chart (a top 20) on 7 April 1956, and an LPs charts in November 1958.

In January 2001, it was merged into "long-standing rival (and IPC Media sister publication) New Musical Express.

A further 32,208 new cases were reported today. Registered deaths were 57.

Tuesday 09/11/2021 – Day 600.

Well, would you believe it, it seems I have now been churning out this garbage for six hundred days, War and Peace didn’t take that long to write. Seriously, I would like to thank you all for your continuing support, even though some weeks (like last week) I cannot answer you all.

I’m going to make a serious attempt at finishing the dining room today, it just seems to have been hanging on for ages, but there’s always something else cropping up, I really do need to be left alone so I can get on with it.

On this day during World War 1 the first ever Women’s Institute meeting was held at a public house at Singleton in West Sussex. The name of the public house was ‘The Fox Goes Free,’ was it chosen specially? Who knows!

Brian Epstein was going through his books on this day in 1961 when he noticed an extraordinary amount of requests of records from his shop for an unknown group called the Beatles. He went to a lunchtime session at the Cavern club to find out what all the fuss was about. Although he wasn’t overly impressed with the group at that time, he later became their manager.

I live around five miles from the house where newspaper boy Carl Bridgewater was murdered on 19th September 1978. was shot dead at Yew Tree Farm near Stourbridge, West Midlands, while delivering a newspaper to the house. The occupants of the house, elderly cousins Mary Poole and Fred Jones, were not home at the time. Police thought that Bridgewater may have disturbed an intruder or burglar and was subsequently forced into the living room of the house where he was shot once in the head at close range with a shotgun. The Bridgewater Four were Patrick Molloy, James Robinson and cousins Michael and Vincent Hickey. On this day in 1979 three of them were convicted of murder at Stafford Crown Court. on 21 February 1997, the latest in a number of appeals finally saw the men's convictions overturned.

No-one else was ever convicted but the house lay empty for years and was put up for sale, no-one wanted to buy it. But eventually new occupiers moved in and the original doorway where the paper was delivered was bricked up and a new doorway built to the side of the property.

And finally, today in 2012 we said goodbye to one of Britain’s best loved characters when Bill Tarmy died. He had played roguish Jack Duckworth in Coronation street for over thirty years. n 1968, Tarmey gave up his job in the building industry to work as a nightclub singer and entertainer. In order to supplement his income, he took on work as an extra on shows such as Coronation Street, amongst others. Despite suffering a serious heart attack in 1976 and a stroke in 1977, he was eventually offered the role of Jack Duckworth, He underwent quintuple bypass surgery in 1987, and had a pacemaker fitted after suffering a second heart attack in 2002, which was used as a storyline in Coronation Street to explain his absence. In April 2006, when he turned 65, Bill announced he was thinking of retiring, which prompted letters of protest from fans. In 2009, he wanted to leave his role in Coronation Street due to his multiple health problems. The show's producers, however, persuaded him to stay until the 50th anniversary, in December of the following year. News of his departure was announced on 9 April 2010. Commenting, he said, "I've had the most amazing 30 years playing Jack. Because of him I've made fantastic friends and travelled all over the world. I'll be sorry to say goodbye". Bill's departure was pushed forward to 8 November 2010 episode because of his declining health; in this episode Jack died asleep in his chair in a manner similar to the death of Vera (although Jack had a storyline illness).

A Coronation Street spokesman confirmed that Tarmey died in Tenerife from a heart attack on the morning of 9 November 2012 at the age of 71.

There were 32,622 new cases today. Deaths rose alarmingly to 262.

Wednesday 10/11/2021 – Day 601

A horrible drizzly day today, not pouring down but just enough to get you soaked through. On days like this as a youngster, we either stayed in or sheltered down someone else’s entry. Staying in meant reading the same old comics for the umpteenth time or getting out that jigsaw which you knew had at least three pieces missing. If you stayed in you had to be as quiet as a church mouse, because his lordship had been working nights and the slightest sound upset him. So the majority of the time, no matter how cold or wet, outside was preferential to inside. And so began my dislike of cold wet Wednesdays. I mean, other days of the week were bad but Wednesdays when the shops were closed for a half day were dire. There was just nothing to do.

That lovely Mrs H has had me slaving all day, but I think the result in the dining room was well worth the effort, onwards and upwards to the next room!

What is it with local councillors? I have been talking to ours for over 8 months now about a problem, it still isn’t sorted. Think I’ll put up for the seat next year – can’t do any worse.

Remember when you were little? There were none of these close coupled toilets with a low flush. No, we had great chambers high above our head and a long pipe going down to the back of the toilet. The cistern was flushed by using a chain, it used to put the fear of God into me when I was young, I have no idea why, perhaps it was the noise. I tell you this because on this day in 1810 it was the birth of English sanitary engineer and plumber George Jennings who invented the first public flush toilets. The rubbish you learn on here eh?.

Today in 1942 British Prime Minister Winston Churchill tried to flummox everyone when he said: 'This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.' These words came after an announcement of the Desert victory at El Alamein.

Anyone remember those packs of cereals that had about 8 mini boxes of different varieties, There was enough just about to feed a very very small child. We went through a phase in the seventies where Mrs H would buy these extortionate items. With two small and growing children at that time, I would always be left with the crap that they didn’t eat, which was basically anything that was supposed to be good for you or tasted like eating a bale of hay. Worse still, I had to pile at least three of these ‘healthy ‘portions into a dish to get my full quota. So in one bowl there would be shredded wheat, Multigrain shapes, and all bran. To mask the taste of the vile concoction I would have to smother the contents of the bowl with lashings of milk, dessert spoonful’s of sugar mixed with really sweet honey. Basically, It was no longer healthy by the time it hit my gut, but even back then I was not the healthy type.

New cases rose to 38,834 today, just as you think things are improving they get worse once again. Registered deaths were 214.

Thursday 11/11/2021 – Day 602

Well, there is absolutely no need to explain what todays blog will be about, today at 11.00am we honour the men, women, and civilians who sacrificed their lives to give us our freedom. Also the hundreds of thousands of animals that were sacrificed. Today is also the one hundredth anniversary of the entombment of the Unknown warrior in Westminster Abbey. This is a poem I wrote about the Unknown Warrior.

The Unknown Soldier.

From the war-torn battlefields, Where the poppies abundant grew, This bloody soil, a body yields, What of his name? there's none that knew.

A Fathers lad, a Mothers son, Someone’s Nephew, someone’s Niece, A Brother who is known to none, Carried back home, to be at peace.

For him no more, the cannon rings, The sound of guns, the sound of war, For he shall lie among the kings, Where guns are silent evermore.

That he should lie alone in peace, Known just to God, and God alone, Ne'er more to carry his valise, Ne'er more an armies steppingstone.

To be entombed in this great church, Beneath our Lords own imagery, Will mean no mother has to search, For laying here, her son could be.

The soldier from his mother’s womb, Where once he fought for freedom too, Was placed into the empty tomb, Back to darkness, to start anew.

The lord did open heaven’s door, Thus from his duties he'll dismiss, This warrior who gave life and more, Greater love, hath no man than this.

The war to end all wars did not! For wars and killing still increase, The bodies on war fields do rot, Whilst Unknown soldier rests in peace.

Out of respect for the fallen I will leave it there for today except for the figures.

New cases rose once again today and there were 41,916 reported. There were also a further 195 deaths.

Friday 12/11/2021 - Day 603

Every morning this week so far we have woken up to rain, it usually clears up by lunchtime, but it means it’s impossible to do anything outside. I go down to the shed to get some food to throw to the fish, but for the last five days as the pellets hit the water they just sort of lie there looking up at me as if to say: -

“Food?, you must be joking, I’m not coming out in that weather, it’s pouring down.”

Started on the TV room today, I was doing very well when all of a sudden I started to feel quite bilious. I have no idea what was wrong with me but despite Mrs H saying I should stop and have a sit down, I carried on, brave little soldier that I am. I managed to get the walls done but the gloss work will have to wait until tomorrow, I feel like I’ve been hit by a lorry.

Our Granddaughter Mollie (Sarah’s daughter) is off to Florida in the USA a week today. She has literally worked her socks off and saved over £3000 to take a Disney vacation with friends she knows over there, so proud of that young lady.

Did anyone watch BBC one last night at 8,00pm? There’s a lovely lady on there, presenting a show about decluttering your house. They go into someone’s home, empty it then set it all out in a massive warehouse and ask the family to either donate some it, sell some of it or bin some of it.

My point is that the lady presenter is Stacy Solomon. Stacey Chanelle Clare Solomon is a British singer and television personality. She finished in third place on the sixth series of The X Factor in 2009. Stacey also won the tenth series of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! in 2010. Her partner since 2015 has been Joe Swash. Mrs H follows these two on Twitter or Instagram, the thing is that despite being quite wealthy, they are the most loving couple.

Unlike most celebrity couples they don’t pretend to be anything that they’re not, they do all their own repairs in the house, make lots of practical things for their own use. I know Mrs H follows Mrs Hinch and a few more, but I know instantly when Stacey’s on, she never stops laughing, she has the most infectious personality I have ever known. I defy you to watch the programme next week and not have a massive feelgood feeling at 9.00pm.

Talking of TV, been reading rumours lately of a split up between Amanda and husband Clive in Channel Five’s hit series ‘Our Yorkshire Farm.’ These rumours started because a nosey villager saw Amanda visit a local B & B a couple of times. I can’t believe for a moment that such a doting and loving mother would even contemplate such a thing!

Actually, We were watching TV last night when Mrs H suddenly said

“I’d love to go somewhere expensive.”

So I took her to the petrol station and let her watch me fill up the car.

Today in 1984 It was announced, by Chancellor Nigel Lawson, that the pound note, after being in circulation for more than 150 years, There would basically no more of ‘the folding stuff’. It would be phased out and replaced with the pound coin. A pocket full of coins wearing the lining of your trouser pocket out isn’t the same as a large wedge in the back pocket. He should have stuck to cooking – oops sorry, that was his daughter Nigella.

When I was about 9 years old, I accompanied my father to the funeral of a friend of his, someone who I didn't even know. When we got there, I stayed in a corner waiting for the time to pass.

Then a man approached me and said, 'Enjoy life kid, be happy because time flies. Look at me now, I didn't enjoy it.' Then he passed his hand over my head and left. My father, before leaving, forced me to say goodbye to the dead person.

When I looked in the coffin, I was horrified to see that the man in the coffin was the same man who had spoken to me!

I was so traumatized I couldn't sleep properly. I had terrible nightmares. I was terrified of being alone. I couldn't sleep without a night light for many years. I saw many psychologists, endured much turmoil throughout my adolescent years.

It got better as I aged, but I would still occasionally wake up screaming in fear. Years later, I discovered something incredible that changed my life.

The dead man had a twin.

Once again new cases were high at 40,375. Reported deaths fell slightly to 145.

Saturday 13/11/2021 – Day 604

I usually start the day with good Intentions – then I get out of bed, and that’s where it all usually starts to go wrong.

It’s a mild and overcast day here in cloudy downtown Kidderminster. Today I’ll be painting the woodwork in the TV room, then it’s on to the kitchen which shouldn’t take too long. That will just leave the Lounge, the Hall, Stairs and Landing, the bathro……. Zzzzzzzzzz

Watched a really good England side thrash Albania by five goals to nil. Kane scored a hat trick. But can someone tell me why the commentators in the studio have to be so snide with bad remarks against the players on the pitch. The opinions they express are personal to them, we don’t want to know their personal thoughts. The match commentators are no better. I hate sport on ITV. They are so unprofessional.

I don’t know about you dear reader, but I am in awe of the job the Lifeboatmen around our coasts do. In my humble opinion they are as brave as the troops that protect us from others on a daily basis. Today in Caister (Norfolk) 1901 the lifeboat was launched. In a rare unsuccessful rescue all the crew were lost in heavy seas. The following day eight bodies were recovered, but a ninth body – that of Charles Bonney George was washed away, it was April the following year before the body was washed upon a beach. The whole crew are buried in Caister cemetery.

The total number of lives which the lifeboats at Caister have saved during the past forty-three years is 1281, a 'record' as regards the lifeboat stations of the United Kingdom. Closed in 1969, the Caister Lifeboat station re-opened as an independently run lifeboat station and continues to save lives today.

And finally, an appeal on behalf of my 95-year-old neighbour. “For those of you who are placing Christmas lights / decorations in your garden, can you please avoid anything that has Red or Blue flashing lights together?

Every time I come around the corner, I think it's the police and I have a panic attack.

I have to brake hard, toss my beer out the window, fasten my seat belt, throw my phone on the floor, turn my radio down, and push the hash under the seat, all while trying to drive.

It's just too much drama, even for Christmas.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.”

Today new cases rose slightly. There were a further 38,351 new cases, about 8000 more than this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 252,985 a fall of 705 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 157 bringing the weekly total to 1,092 a fall of 93 on last week. There were 7,792,578 recoveries a rise of 231,630 on last week’s total.

Week 88

Sunday 14/11/2021 – Day 605

We had a little visitor last night, no, not the annual visit of the fieldmouse, our grandson Hatton (golden balls) stayed the night. He is a typical thirteen-year-old, loves his football, likes his Xbox games etc. But Mrs H soon bought him back down to earth when she made him sit through the full edition of Strictly Come Dancing. Just as well that he likes the best gameshow on TV at the moment, because the Wheel followed. He did watch most of the Remembrance Service from the Albert hall, but he had an important game the following morning so went to bed at 10.00am.

Mrs H and I attended the local Remembrance day service at our local Parish church of St Mary’s. It really was heart-warming to see so many people turn up on the day, there were a lot of families with small children which was lovely. Normally, the parade would go into the church to continue the service after the two-minute silence but due to covid restrictions the whole service was held outdoors.

We left the service and managed to get back to watch golden balls team win by five goals to three.

As you all know I had worked very hard all week, so on the way home Mrs H asked, “What shall we do now?.”

“let’s go for a drink” was my swift reply. So, to kill two birds with one stone, we went for lunch as well. We were treated to a wonderful roast dinner at the Eagle and Spur, a lovely pub in a local village just three miles away. Trouble is that by the time Mrs H has bought all the food and cooked it, well, it’s just as cheap to eat out, and I get a couple of pints as well – result!

Today in 1896 the speed limit for horseless carriages in Britain was increased from 4 mph (2 mph in towns) to 14 mph. It was marked by the first London to Brighton Car Run, which only became a regular and official event from 1927, when it was sponsored by the Daily Sketch. The 1953 film ‘Genevieve’ (one of my favourites) is based on this rally, It stars John Gregson, Dinah Sheridan, Kenneth More and Kay Kendall as two couples comedically involved in a veteran automobile rally.

Also today in1936 The birth of Freddie Garrity, singer, frontman and the comical element in the 1960s pop band, Freddie and the Dreamers. The group disbanded in the late 1960s, but he formed a new version of Freddie and the Dreamers and toured regularly for the next two decades until 2001, when he was diagnosed with emphysema. He died on 19th May 2006. A few friends and I were stood outside Kidderminster Town Hall in 1964, I was a great fan and we had come into town hoping to catch a glimpse of Freddie and the Dreamers. We were sat next to the hot dog stand when a little chap wearing a woolly hat and spectacles came over and said:

“Can’t you get in lads? Too young I suppose, never mind, come on I’ll get you all a hot dog.”

I recognised Freddy Garrety straight away, but the others didn’t, as he squirted ketchup onto our hotdogs he missed mine and it went over my hand, I never washed it for a week.

On this day 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, since the early fifties it was not so much the song as the recording of a song that was bringing the youngsters of the day into record shops.

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.

Britain’s first music chart was published, in the New Musical Express, with Al Martino’s ‘Here in my Heart’ at No. 1.

Remember today in 2014? This was the day that Parliamentary authorities defended their decision to ask a gardener to remove each leaf manually from trees outside the House of Commons. A Commons spokesman said: “If we waited for the leaves to fall off it would waste a lot of time raking them up. It is more time efficient.” Only in Britain eh?

New cases today numbered 36,000 a rise of 6000 on last Sunday, there were 62 registered deaths.

Monday 15/11/2021 – Day 606

Well, he’s back! Looked out of the window this morning and ‘Bouncer’ was jumping up and down in the mirror in the garden. For those of you who don’t remember, Bouncer was a little bird that turned up regularly at this time of the year to practise the art of ‘bouncing’ up and down in front of our garden mirror over a bench. The result was that there was white droppings all over my new paintwork. The little fellow has now moved across to another mirror where it doesn’t matter how much he leaves his droppings (I know it’s a male, a female wouldn’t leave that much mess) bless his little furry feathers.

Bit of a dilemma last night on TV. The BBC have decided to put the new series of Top Gear on at the same time as Escape to the Chateau, thank goodness for catch up TV eh?.

Having finished the majority of decorating I now have to retreat to the Repair Shop and give it a good old fashioned clean out. You know what your kitchen looks like when you’ve had a day baking – well, I rest my case.

1897 The birth of Aneurin Bevan, often known as Nye Bevan, Welsh Labour Party politician who was the Minister for Health in the post-war Attlee government. He spearheaded the establishment of the National Health Service, to provide medical carefree at point-of-need to all Britons.

1922 Children's Hour was first broadcast on the radio. It established a tradition of drama and storytelling and built up a devoted audience of over three million at its peak. It was one of the earliest radio programmes and was broadcast until 1964. children’s Hour on radio had many popular features: much-loved presenters like 'Uncle Mac', and long-running series such as Norman and Henry Bones, boy detectives; Jennings at school; Toytown; 'Romany' and great dramas such as The Swish of the Curtain by Pamela Brown and John Masefield's Midnight Folk and The Box of Delights.

It dominated the BBC's output for children well into the 1960s and in a way was the template for the early TV service, complete in the early days with Uncles and Aunties.

Go for It, the last children's radio programme on a mainstream channel, was only cancelled in 2009.

On this day in 1932 The birth of Petula Clark, singer, actress, and composer which a career spanning seven decades. One of the most loved stars of my childhood she entertained from a very early age in film and in song. In early 1961 I first heard the song 'Sailor' The song gave PetuIa her first No1 hit, I was 9 years old, and I had fallen in love!

In 1967 she was about to enter a friendly race up the charts with a song called ‘This Is My Song’, (taken from the film A Countess from Hong Kong.) It had been written by the silent film star Charlie Chaplin, but Harry Secombe also recorded the song, and sales of both records soared, Petula eventually won by getting to No1 while Harry’s version peaked at No3.

New cases continued to rise and figures for today were 39,342, with 47 deaths.

Tuesday 16/11/2021 – Day 607

Mrs H had her booster jab yesterday at 5.30, well that was her appointment time at least, she went into the doctors at 5.20pm and came back out at 6’15pm. I refrained from taking the mick too much as it’s my turn tonight at 4.30pm.

Earlier, we had to take daughter Sarah to the Doctors as she had a routine diabetes check-up, an examination revealed that she has another Kidney infection. They couldn’t get any blood from her to find out the cause of the infection so she will have to return on Friday.

My lovely old neighbour must be really bored, he put his bin out yesterday morning, it isn’t even emptied until tomorrow!

Talking of neighbours, we watched yesterday as a local company emptied the neighbour’s house over the road. We had known the old couple for around twenty-five years, we would bump into them on Horticultural trips, the old boy always had a joke ready for Mrs H, his wife would admonish him gently and tell him we’d probably heard it before, but he went ahead and told it anyway bless him. The lady was quite bad on her feet, but he linked his arm into hers and they walked together everywhere, he was obviously her rock. Then one day last year we saw a blue light ambulance arrive. We watched as they wheeled the old boy out in a wheelchair, but he still had that lovely warm smile on his face, so we naturally thought that all was ok.

But he never came back home. Then a few months ago his dear wife was also taken into hospital. She came back home, and we would see the carers arrive most days. We hadn’t seen anyone for a while, then one day a procession of cars arrived at the house, it was that dear old lady’s funeral.

They had left one daughter who was obviously heartbroken, the house had been empty for over six months, but it was as though she couldn’t bring herself to move anything, so she decided to get a house clearance company in to clear the house.

It was just so sad to see that couples lifetime of memories put onto a couple of vans and driven away in just one day.

Today in 1934 the death occurred of Alice Hargreaves (nee Liddell) who inspired Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. She was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium and her ashes were buried in the graveyard of the church of St Michael and All Angels Lyndhurst.

On this day in 1960 The TV personality with a reputation for outspokenness, Gilbert Harding, died as he left the BBC's Broadcasting House in London, he was about to climb into a taxi. The cause was an asthma attack. He was 53 years old.. Harding was notorious for his irascibility and was at one time characterised in the tabloid press as "the rudest man in Britain". His fame sprang from an inability to suffer fools gladly, and many 1950s TV viewers watched What's My Line? less for the quiz elements than for the chance of a live Harding outburst. An incident on an early broadcast started this trend when Harding became annoyed with a contestant and told him that he was getting bored with him. Harding's rudeness off-screen was also commented upon; at a wedding reception at which a guest remarked that the bride and groom would make an ideal couple, Harding replied "You should know, you've slept with both of them". He became increasingly unable to move anywhere in public without being accosted by adoring viewers. On one occasion he asked a mother with two children if "your children are crippled", because they had stayed seated on a railway bench.

New cases fell slightly today and numbered 37,111 with 214 deaths,

Wednesday 17/11/2021 – Day 607

Mrs H and I were chatting last night, and we got talking for some unknown reason about our final hours, I remarked casually that I’d like to go in my sleep. Mrs H said:

“I know how it will all end for me, One of the kids will unplug my life support machine to plug their mobile in.”

I am getting a bit concerned at the moment. I told you all that our Granddaughter Mollie was off to America on Friday. Well her, Mrs H and Gemma have all piled into the catmobile and gone off to Merry Hill. It is a large shopping complex about ten miles away. I did all the usual things – hid my wallet etc – but forgot that Mrs H has her own bank card. I am left wondering how the bank balance is looking at the moment, I mean, three females let loose in a shopping centre full of clothes shops and make-up, be still my beating heart.

Had a day trying to clear up the leaves outside yesterday, made a good impression on the front of the house, but not a lot on the back. At 4.00pm I had to go for my booster jab. I was a bit apprehensive as Mrs H spent most of the day nursing a very sore arm from her booster the day previously. In I went, I was chatting to the nurse, sleeve rolled up and waiting, expecting the horrible needle, then she said: -

“There you go, all done.”

I hadn’t felt a thing, and with the exception of a little soreness for the first hour, I have felt nothing else since. But then, Mrs H has always said I was braindead.

On this day in 1919 King George V proclaimed Armistice Day, later to be known as Remembrance Day.

Today in 1970 Stephanie Rahn became the Sun newspaper's first 'Page Three Girl' and the sales of the Sun Newspaper tripled overnight. There were quite a few of the girls featured who went on to become celebrities, Linda Lusardi and Samantha Fox being just two of them. Page 3 was banned in 2015 following a three-year campaign led by Lucy-Anne Holmes. The author launched a petition in August 2012 calling on then editor Dominic Mohan to stop publishing pictures of topless women.

2014 According to Dutch scientists, a single 10-second kiss can transfer as many as 80 million bacteria. The research was published in the journal Microbiome, this is the sole reason that Mrs H will only give me a peck on the cheek. Either that or it’s the halitosis.

The meetings I used to attend for people who’d had plastic surgery were really interesting, there were always a lot of new faces in there.

There were 38,314 new cases today with a further 201 deaths.

Thursday 18/11/2021 – Day 609

It’s another fine and dry day out there, so Mrs H and I will be spending a few hours out in the garden removing the last few leaves. It’s our last brown bin (Garden rubbish) on Monday so we need to get the most out of it.

When I was a youngster I used to wonder why my mum was always the last one out of the house. I thought, for a while, it was because she took the longest to get ready. I figured she sometimes waited until the last minute. I had the suspicion she didn’t want to go out in public without her hair done or lipstick on, even though I couldn’t imagine why a mother would care so much, really. A long time ago I worked out the answer, after I became a parent myself. Because while the rest of us waited outside, all bundled up in the scarves and jackets and hats she had pulled from the cupboard to make sure we were warm, or waiting, smothered in sunscreen she had smeared on our faces while we clutched the flip-flops and swimsuits she had doled out, and rolled our eyes about how long she was taking. Mum was filling flasks with hot chocolate, packing lunches, making sure the bathroom light was off, refilling the dog’s water bowl, grabbing a spare change of clothes for us just in case, searching through the junk drawer for a coupon, and taking a hot minute to use the bathroom by herself for a change. Maybe dabbing on a bit of lipstick. And whenever she did finally appear, pulling on her coat as she locked the front door, she was always met with an exasperated reply, ‘Come OOOONNN, Mum!’ To which she would respond by shooting daggers from her eyes. For the longest time, I didn’t get it. She had started at the same time we did!

Then I became a parent.

So it finally dawned on me that my mum wasn’t the last one out because she was lazy or disorganized or slow or overly concerned about her appearance. It was because she took care of absolutely everyone and everything else before she took care of herself. And that’s just what mothers do.”

Today in 1983 Jan Walton made headlines around the world in 1983 when she gave birth to world's first all-girl sextuplets 'the Walton Sextuplets’ at Liverpool Maternity Hospital. They were named Hannah, Lucy, Ruth, Sarah, Kate, and Jenny. Happy 38th birthday to all six of them.

On this day in 1987 The worst fire in the history of the London Underground killed 30 people. The blaze began in the machinery below a wooden escalator in King’s Cross Underground station and soon filled the tunnels with dense, choking smoke and intense heat.. At 19:42 the entire escalator was aflame, producing superheated gas that rose to the top of the shaft enclosing the escalator, where it was trapped against the tunnel ceiling, which was covered with about twenty layers of old paint from past repainting. As the superheated gases pooled along the ceiling of the escalator shaft, the layers of paint began absorbing the heat. Just three minutes later there was a ‘flashover.’ The fire seemed had seemed minor until it suddenly increased in intensity, and shot a violent, prolonged tongue of fire, and billowing smoke, up into the ticket hall, killing thirty people.

Also today in 2014 Tony and Jan Jenkinson were 'fined' £100 by the Broadway Hotel in Blackpool after they wrote a damning review about it on TripAdvisor. After their stay, the couple found that their credit card had been debited, as the hotel had a 'no bad review policy' included in its terms and conditions. The money was later refunded, and the policy changed.

Mrs H bought some counterfeit Mr Kipling cakes the other day. I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised, they were exceedingly good fakes.

New cases reached their highest since October when they came in at 46,897. Deaths numbered 199.

Friday 19/11/2021 – Day 610.

Our Granddaughter Mollie id now on a ten-hour flight to Florida, USA. We picked her up from the hairdressers yesterday then had a bit of a misty farewell as she was leaving early this morning. We hope she has the experience of a lifetime with her friends over there.

We have to pick her mum Sarah up today as she has a hospital appointment. Meanwhile tonight, we are out for a meal with besties Janet and John. I should imagine it will go something like this.

‘Look John. It’s a restaurant’ said Janet.

‘I know,’ said a grumpy old John. ‘I’m not stupid.’

‘Shall we eat in there John?’

‘What on earth else are we going to do in there, you silly girl?’ said John who hadn’t been anywhere since the pandemic began.

Janet tittered.

‘There, there,’ said Janet rubbing John’s shoulder affectionately, ‘At least we have Eric and Lynn for company.’

‘You are determined to completely ruin my night aren’t you?’ said John.

I’ve been giving this Global warming thing some serious consideration, (actually, it was so mild outside and I just wondered if it was anything to do with the aforementioned GW). I mean, we have David Attenborough every Sunday afternoon telling us that the poor Polar Bears are actually sitting on Glacier Mints because there’s nowhere else to go as the ice melts.

Do you think this is why we of the ‘Baby Boomers’ generation always look back fondly on those warm sunny days of our childhood? Those days before you had to don umpteen layers of clothing to protect you from the suns burning hot rays, in my day, you went on the annual day trip, got burnt on the beach and got a good slapping all over with calamine lotion. We also spent more time outside topless with just shorts and sandals on, during long hot sunny days. We were kicked out of the house at 8.00 am and told never to darken your mum’s doorstep until at least 5.00pm. Then, the calamine lotion would make another appearance.

It certainly didn’t cost £20 of your hard earned to sooth the burning.

Then there was the other side of the weather, They say Global warming is mostly responsible for all the consistent flooding. I feel really sorry for all those people who year after year are flooded out. It may have helped if local authorities - desperate for building land – hadn’t turned a blind eye to building companies erecting homes on flood plains.

In our day, we were kicked out of the house come rain or shine, if it was raining and the skies were black mum would say: -

“It’s only spitting, go out and play it’ll soon clear up.”

Then, a few hours later when you returned looking like a drowned rat with your shoes squelching, she’d say: -

“You’re absolutely soaked. Well it serves you right if it was raining that heavily you should’ve come back inside.”

As she rubbed your head raw with a towel that felt like a Brillo pad.

Today in 1924 the birth of the actor William Russell. I wonder how many of you remember him in the title role in The Adventures of Sir Lancelot on ITV in 1956.to 1957. There were just 30 episodes of this brilliant series. It was one of the very first to be sold to America.

Also today in 2012 A rather embarrassed Father Christmas was left dangling 20 metres from the ceiling for 30 minutes after his beard became trapped while abseiling inside a Reading shopping centre as part of a Christmas lights switch-on show. The mana ger of the centre said: -

"He could have just taken his beard off and let himself down, but he was such a professional and he didn't want to let the children down,. He lost his footing as he came through the hole in the ceiling and there was a sudden jolt and he got caught in the clip on the rope. Some people were absolutely mortified while others thought it was the funniest thing ever. They had to let another rope down and get him down and there was such a roar from the crowd. Usually after the lights switch-on the centre empties but there were so many people still there waiting to see if Father Christmas was going to get down."

Saturday 20/11/2021 – Day 611

Today is the 48th birthday of No1 son Mark. He is popping up today for a bit of a family get together, just cake etc followed by a few beers – Hic!

Went out for a bite to eat last night with besties Janet and John. They gave me a wonderful surprise! It is my 70th birthday in January, so they have booked us a wonderful weekend in Oxford next week. I am over the moon, how brilliant is that, So on 26th November they are driving us to Oxford, and we are staying in a hotel and coming back on the Sunday. They have also paid for a 48 hour hop on and off tour bus. That’s what real friends are all about.

On this day in1947 Princess Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth II) married Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten (Duke of Edinburgh) at Westminster Abbey. The BBC made the first tele-recording of the event, which was broadcast in the US 32 hours later. It is her first wedding anniversary since the death of Prince Philip.

The difficult milestone, seven months after Philip died at the age of 99, would have seen the royal couple celebrate 74 years of marriage.

According to ITV News' Royal Editor Chris Ship: 'She is at Windsor Castle, marking the moment “privately” according to palace aides.'

Today in 1970 The ten-bob note (50p) was officially withdrawn by the Bank of England.

And finally on this day in 1992 Fire severely damaged the 'Brunswick Tower', at Windsor Castle when a spotlight ignited a curtain. The castle is the largest inhabited castle in the world and one of the official residences of Queen Elizabeth II. The question of how the funds required should be found raised important issues about the financing of the monarchy and led to Buckingham Palace being opened to the public for the first time to help to pay for the restoration. The Queen would later describe 1992 as her ‘Annus Horribilis’.

Today new cases rose slightly. There were a further 40,941 new cases, about 2000 more than this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 282,847 a rise of 29,862 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 150bringing the weekly total to 1,020 a fall of 72 on last week. There were 8,050,466 recoveries a rise of 257,889 on last week’s total.

Week 89

Sunday 21/11/2021 – Day 612

It’s a lovely day here in downtown Kidderminster, the sun is shining but it isn’t too warm outside. We are deciding whether or not to go along and watch our grandson Hatton (golden balls) play his Sunday morning Football match.

We have a table booked at the local hostelry for lunch. We are taking Granddaughter Alisha and her beau to lunch to say thank you for the wonderful meal we had at their flat a couple of weeks ago.

Have you ever been unfortunate to have suffered the hangover from hell? I haven’t had to suffer it too much in my later years, but when I was younger, it was a different story.

It was the annual Christmas staff party at a company I was working for. The boss had left an open ‘tab’ on the bar.. A tab is when anyone from the company is allowed to go to the bar and order whatever they wanted to drink. There was only about ten of us so it wouldn’t be much of a problem. This was about four days before Christmas, and we had just finished our last day at work. The pubs were only open until 10,30 back then so time was of the essence. The idea was to go out and drink as much as humanly possible in a few hours.

My mate and I sat there quite happily drinking our pints of Mild ale when he noted that the others were going to the bar quite frequently. Then we noticed – they were all drinking spirits, whiskey, rum, brandy, in fact anything that could be imbibed swiftly in the short, allotted time.

The juke box in the corner was blasting out Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas everybody’ for the umpteenth time as the sandwiches and mince pies were brought out on trays. We were half an hour into our allotted time before we finished our first pint. My mate looked at the others already very merry and suggested that we too should start drinking shorts (spirits). The only problem was that neither of us liked any of the spirits, he suggested we should try sherry. So he went to the bar and ordered two sherry’s. He carried them back to whoops, shouts, and wolf whistles from the rest of the lads. It seems that sherry came in a glass called a schooner which was basically for ladies. Despite the comments we drank them and were quite pleased that we liked them. I went up for two more but asked the landlady to put them into brandy glasses – which she kindly did. No more jeering.

By the time last orders came we had emptied three bottles of the pubs best cream sherry. I can’t really remember how I got home but the next morning all I remembered was Mrs H wasn’t speaking to me. She announced in that ’I hope you feel terrible’ voice that she was off to do some Christmas shopping. To be honest I was just so grateful to be left alone.

She hadn’t been gone long when the doorbell rang. I ignored it thinking they’d go away. But it rang again, this was followed by a loud fist hammering on the door. Then I remembered that I’d ordered something from a catalogue for Mrs H for Christmas. Reluctantly I swung my legs out of bed as the room span round and round. The words to Connie Francis’s ‘Who’s Sorry Now’ were going around in my head. I struggled as I tried to put two legs in the same leg of my jeans, and I stumbled out of the bedroom as the doorbell rang again.

I pulled the front door open and was faced with a post woman, her eyes dropped immediately to my crotch area. I looked down in horror to see I was wearing my underwear over my jeans. But that was where the similarity to Superman ended. I just remember thinking that it was all worthwhile and well worth it to get back into Mrs H’s good books when she returned and saw what I had bought her for Christmas.

The Post girl handed me the cardboard box and I thought it was a bit large for Mrs H’s present.

“Thank you.” she said in a cheery voice. “This is for your neighbour, but I can’t get an answer, would you take it for them?”

And off she toddled, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

On this day in 2003 An acoustic guitar on which the late Beatle George Harrison learned to play, fetched £276,000 at a London auction. I wonder if anyone’s interested in an old, tarnished recorder I played at school.

Television gardening broadcasts began on 21 November 1936 when gardener Mr Middleton presented In Your Garden from a purpose-built plot at Alexandra Palace in the first month of the BBC's official television service. Such was Middelton's fame, even at this stage, that a comic actor, Nelson Keys, dressed in a mangy coat, impersonated him on television, making such irreverent observations as "the thistles are doing nicely today".

Today there were 39,845 new cases and a further 61 deaths.

Monday 22/11/2021 – Day 613

We’ve had a reet good frost overnight, everything is white over, and I reckon winter has landed with a vengeance. It also shows all those homes that need to top up their loft insulation – that’ll be the ones with no frost on their roof.

Granddaughter Mollie has spent almost two full days in Disney World in Florida, some of the snapchats she’s sending back are amazing. Our daughter Vickie absolutely loved anything to do with Disney, which is one of the main reasons Mollie wanted to go there, she still has another ten days of her holiday to go.

Had a wonderful lunch at the local village yesterday, we were accompanied by our other granddaughter Alisha, and Sam her boyfriend, Mrs H overdid it slightly and never ate another morsel for the rest of the day.

I am still having problems with the notifications on my computer, Notifications are when someone writes a message beneath your post, which a lot of you kindly do beneath this load of claptrap. Anyway, the problem is that my notifications are arriving a day or more late. So now, when I click on them, instead of saying ‘a few seconds ago’ it now says, ‘a day ago,’ so frustrating!

I must tell you this wonderful story. An old lady handed her bank card to the teller and said, “I would like to withdraw £10”. The teller told her “for withdrawals less than £100, please use the ATM.

The old lady wanted to know why... The teller returned her bank card and irritably told her “these are the rules, please leave if there is no further matter. There is a line of customers behind you.”

The old lady remained silent for a few seconds and handed her card back to the teller and said, “please help me withdraw all the money I have.” The teller was astonished when she checked the account balance. She nodded her head, leaned down and respectfully told her “you have £300,000 in your account but the bank doesn’t have that much cash currently. Could you make an appointment and come back again tomorrow?”

The old lady then asked how much she could withdraw immediately. The teller told her any amount up to £3000. “Well please let me have £3000 now.” The teller suddenly became very friendly and smiled as she counted out £3000 and handed it to her.

The old lady put £10 in her purse and asked the teller to deposit £2990 back into her account.

The moral of this story is....

Don’t be difficult with old people, they spent a lifetime learning the skill.

It was on this very day in 1946 that Hungarian Laszlo Bíró who was born to a Jewish family, sold the first Biro pen, he later sold the patent to a company called Bic, who – to date – have sold over 100 billion pens worldwide.

Also today in 1995 Britain's most prolific female serial killer, Rosemary West, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of 10 young women and girls. She is 67 years old. She collaborated with her husband, Fred West, in the torture and murder of at least nine young women between 1973 and 1987;[1] she also murdered her eight-year-old stepdaughter Charmaine in 1971. The majority of these murders took place at the West residence in Gloucester. Rose is an inmate at HM Prison New Hall, Flockton, West Yorkshire, after being convicted in 1995 of ten murders; Fred died by suicide in prison that same year while awaiting trial, following the couple's arrest in 1994.

There was another rise in new cases today with 44,915 being recorded. Registered deaths were 45.

Tuesday 23/11/2021 – Day 614

I was so bored yesterday that I ordered a chicken and an egg from Amazon – I’ll let you know!

Mrs H and I went clothes shopping yesterday, well, when I say Mrs H and I went clothes shopping what I really mean is that Mrs H went clothes shopping and dragged me along because she’s forgotten the pin number on her bank card. We went downtown on the pretence that the dear lady was shopping for some of those black warm tight things. Will I never learn? She was sorting through all the dress, Jumpers, boots, and shoes in every shop. It was warmer outside than it was in Matalan, so just to get back home I said half-jokingly: -

“I shouldn’t bother dear, there are probably lots of shops in Oxford this weekend.”

We got out of there relatively lightly at just £27, but as I said, will I never learn? I saw the look of delight on Mrs H’s face as we left, it was the same look that said ‘Gotcha.’

I had occasion to buy a new shirt not so long ago. At least, I thought it was a shirt, it was more like a pin cushion. I counted 29 pins as I disassembled the new purchase. There was also a couple of lethal plastic strips beneath the collar that had edges sharp enough to cut your throat. These were protected - yes protected – with a thin strip of cardboard. Then there was the sprung plastic clips on the cuffs, they could have taken your eye out as they shot across the room. By the time I had unpacked the shirt it had gone out of fashion!

On this day in 1806 it was the birth of the Reverend William Webb Ellis, Anglican clergyman, and the alleged inventor of rugby football. It was whilst he was a pupil at Rugby School - according to legend, - that Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it during a school football match in 1823. The William Webb Ellis Cup is presented to the winners of the Rugby World Cup. Rumours that William Bunter – who also attended at that time – was running with the ball and fell on it thus producing the oval shape. Are grossly exaggerated.

I got mugged by six dwarfs last night – not Happy!

A slight drop in new cases today, down to 42,545 but deaths were up to 165.

Wednesday 24/11/2021 – Day 615

I have no idea what’s happened to my body clock, but for the last two days I haven’t woken up until past 8.00 am.

Didn’t even bother to venture out until after midday, it was a bit cool to say the least, but I had to go out and clear the mass of leaves from the pavement by our wall before some poor unsuspecting mother lost her child in them on the way to school, by the time I had finished the pavement outside ours and the elderly neighbours house Gemma had arrived to cut the forest which had appeared on the top of my head since my last haircut.

After my hair-raising experience, my second job of the day, was a bit more delicate, the ball valve in the upstairs toilet, for a few months it had been making a terrible noise when flushed, but more recently, it had shuddered and roared so badly that the neighbours could probably hear it next door. The reason I say delicate is because of the amount of time Mrs H spends in there, she seems to be in there for hours these days, the reason is that we have done away with her old dressing table mirror, so she has to use the bathroom mirror to put her warpaint on. Again, I knew exactly what the problem was, it was probably a bit of grit vibrating in the feed valve, so I turned the water off, dismantled it and sure enough there it was, no bigger than a grain of sand, but the noise it made wow, I put it back together and all was once again quiet in the Harvey household. Now then, where did I put that cold can of Guinness?

A trip down to B in a Q today, it has now turned into the most expensive DIY store in the history of DIY. Most – if not all their products have gone up so much in price that it is now cheaper to go to the wholesalers. But our light self-imploded last night and I need a new fitting, otherwise I wouldn’t bother with the store.

Mrs H had me for her personal bitch yesterday. It was far too cold to go outside so she asked me to clean the PVC on the inner patio doors with something called Pink Stuff. I did this and I must say that with a bit of elbow grease they came up really well. Problem was that it went onto the glass, so I ended up cleaning all the interior windows. I looked around a couple of times and I swear I saw Mrs H smiling.

On this day in 1831 Michael Faraday read his first series of papers at the Royal Society in London on ‘Experimental Research into Electricity’. I’ll wager that he wouldn’t ever dream that his experiments would lead to vehicles using what he’d invented to get around the roads. Or for that matter – the extortionate prices that the product would demand.

Today in 1941 Pete Best was born, he was the original drummer with the Beatles. Best was drummer for the group from 1960 until 16 August 1962, when the band and their new manager, Brian Epstein, fired him and replaced him with Ringo Starr. The reason was because when the band auditioned for EMI, record producer George Martin was not satisfied with Best's drum skills, and planned to replace him on their recordings. Best was devastated and tried to form other bands with little success. He attempted suicide in 1965. He went on to work as a civil servant. In 1995, when The Beatles released their Anthology albums, which featured Best on some recordings, he received a large sum of money from the sales. He also found a new career, appearing at Beatles-related events such as conventions, where he sometimes played drums, with more skill than he showed in earlier days. when he was kicked from the Beatles.

On this precise day in 1972 One of only eight 1933 pennies minted was auctioned at Sotheby’s for £7,000. Another has since sold for £72,000. I only tell you this because if you do find one then you can send it directly to me for verification – you’re welcome.

Also today in 1991 Freddie Mercury, English rock singer, died at the age of 45, just one day after he publicly announced that he was HIV positive. (born Farrokh Bulsara; 5 September 1946 – 24 November 1991) was a British singer, songwriter, record producer, and lead vocalist of the rock band Queen. Regarded as one of the greatest singers in the history of rock music, he was known for his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave vocal range. Mercury defied the conventions of a rock frontman, with his highly theatrical style influencing the artistic direction of Queen.

There were 43,676 new cases reported today with a further 149 deaths, a lot lower than this time last week.

Thursday 25/11/2021 – Day 616

I was lay in bed thinking that on average a Panda feeds for about 12 hours a day, this is the same as an adult in quarantine, so, is that why it’s called a ‘pandemic’?

So Orf we jolly well go tomorrow, Oxford lock up all your shops, the girls are on their way.

I’m looking out of the office window and the view is wonderful, the sun is out, and it resembles a lovely Spring day. Then I had to go down to the shed for some milk, OMG! It was cold enough to freeze the balls on a brass monkey. One of those classic cases of ‘all is not as it seems.’

Do you think the weather’s changing for the worse? Well, back in 1703 was the Great Storm of 1703, the greatest windstorm ever recorded in the southern part of Great Britain, reached its intensity which it maintained through to 27th November. Winds gusted up to 120 mph, and 9,000 people died.

Today in 1984 Band Aid rock stars gathered at Sarm Studios in London to record 'Do They Know It's Christmas', a song written in 1984 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure in reaction to television reports of the 1983–1985 famine in Ethiopia. It was first recorded in a single day at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill, London on 25 November 1984 by Band Aid, a supergroup put together by Geldof and Ure and consisting mainly of the biggest British and Irish musical acts at the time. The single was released in the United Kingdom on 3 December 1984 and aided by considerable publicity it entered the UK Singles Chart at number one and stayed there for five weeks, becoming the Christmas number one of 1984. It became the fastest selling single in UK chart history, selling a million copies in the first week alone and passing three million sales on the last day of 1984, on the way to displacing Wing's "Mull of Kintyre" as the biggest-selling single of all time in the UK. It held this title until 1997 when it was overtaken by Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997", released in tribute to Princess Diana following her death. The original version of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" has sold 3.8 million copies in the UK. In a UK-wide poll in December 2012, it was voted sixth on the ITV television special The Nation's Favourite Christmas Song.

Also on this day in 2005 Former football star George Best died in hospital at the age of 59 after suffering multiple organ failure. He was a talented and charismatic player and became one of the first celebrity footballers. Best's subsequent extravagant lifestyle led to various problems, most notably alcoholism, which he suffered from for the rest of his adult life. A common description of his place in football history is summed up by the quote 'Maradona good; Pelé better; George Best.'

New cases rose to their highest for three months today, there were 47,240 cases reported. There were also 147 more deaths.

Friday 26/11/2021 – Day 617

Woke up to a really blustery day here, the rain is torrential and battering the windows as I type. Oh yes, and I also have a raging toothache. This on the morning that we’re heading off to Oxford – beam me up Scotty.

Did I ever tell you about when I was helping our local milkman, I was about 11 years old, well before I had the worst paper round in the history of Kidderminster, there was a milkman in our street who worked for the Co-op dairies, he had one of those electric floats that didn’t do much above 10mph, I used to go and help him on weekends, Ron was only in his early twenties but as fit as a Butchers dog, he had the biggest round on the co-op which included our street, it was basically up at 5.00am and delivering by 6.00am.

We had some great times on that milk float, bombing down the main roads at 10miles per hour, Ron had a few of his favourite customers as well, mostly young daughters who would make sure they were appropriately dressed on his arrival, but there were a few naughty housewives as well, over the course of my first weekend I went from wanting to be a policeman or soldier to wanting desperately to have my own round as a milkman.

I used to love it when we got to our street, Ron would pull up outside his house and his mother would be waiting with a pot of hot tea and the most superb breakfast I had ever tasted in my life. Bacon, eggs, sausage, beans, tomatoes and lashings of fried bread and toast, problem was that neither of us wanted to do the second half of the round – but of course – we always did.

Back then a lot of the customers paid with plastic Co-op tokens, this meant that they could leave payment out without being disturbed in the morning, and of course, it was a lot safer than leaving cash out, you’d be surprised how many people did though, you certainly couldn’t do it today.

As I said, we had some real laughs, especially some of the scribbled notes that were rolled up and placed into the neck of the empties, these are some I can vaguely remember.

Sorry not to have paid your bill before, but my wife had a baby and I've been carrying it around in my pocket for weeks.

Dear milkman, I have just had a baby and would like another one.

No milk please, and don’t leave any milk at No 13 as he is dead until further notice.

Please leave an extra pint of paralysed milk.

But my real favourite was this one, I’ve never forgotten it “Sorry, but I’ve lost my milk tokens, but if you knock on the door perhaps we can find another way to pay.” I passed the note to Ron and his face was a picture, the woman at that house was in her eighties!

Another favourite of the time was those milk bottle crates for the customer, it had a little clock or a dial on it which would tell the milkman how many they wanted, one night some little miscreants went over almost the whole of the estate altering the dials to almost treble the amount, we hadn’t got halfway round when we had to turn back to the depot for more milk, by the time we got back there the depot had been inundated with calls about excess milk lol.

A year later Ron slipped on an icy pavement, he crashed to the floor and the bottles slashed his wrist, he lost so much blood so fast that he was lucky to survive, he never went back to the Co-op after he recovered.

1988 Mrs. Rita Lockett of Torquay, Devon, spent £10,000 to repeat her daughter’s wedding two months after the event, because she did not like the video. The couple went through the reception with all 200 wedding guests wearing the same outfits and having to listen to the same speeches, this time with a professional video crew on hand.

There were 50,091 new cases today, the highest number for over 6 months, there was also 161 deaths.

Saturday 27/11/2021 – Day 618

I was sat in bed this morning wondering that if you drove an electric car – would you require a current licence?

George isn’t known for his diplomacy, he popped in for a coffee today and was having his usual whinge.

Mrs H Don’t you ever stop moaning?

George I can be very nice when I choose to be. Only yesterday I was in Asda with a trolley load of Christmas drink. There was a little old lady stood behind me with just a pint of milk. I asked her if that was all she had, she smiled sweetly and said yes. So I advised her to go to another till, as I was going to be ages!

Life is like a hot bath – the longer you stay in it the wrinklier you get.

Today in 1814 The Times newspaper was, for the first time, printed by automatic, steam powered presses built by the German inventors Friedrich Koenig and Andreas Friedrich Bauer. It signalled the beginning of the availability of newspapers to a mass audience.

Also today in 1905 The Irish political party Sinn Fein was founded by Arthur Griffith in Dublin.

On this day in 1919 Nancy Astor became Britain's first woman MP, holding a safe Plymouth seat for the Conservative Party in a by-election caused by her husband's elevation to the peerage.

Also on this day in 1935 The Miles quadruplets (Ann, Ernest, Michael, and Paul) were born in Cambridgeshire and were the first British quads to survive infancy.

And finally on this day in 1967 All horse racing in Britain was suspended 'indefinitely' to help prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth disease.

I’ll tell you more about Oxford this coming week.

Today new cases fell slightly. There were a further 39,563 new cases, about 1500 less than this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 307,926 a rise of 25,704 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 131 bringing the weekly total to 865 a fall of 152 on last week. There were 8,951.833 recoveries a rise of 901,467 on last week’s total.

Week 90

Sunday 28/11/2021 – Day 619

Well, where do I start? Janet and John had paid for a weekend in Oxford as an early seventieth early birthday treat for me. After I lost a lot of sleep overnight due to a raging toothache, I dosed myself up with Ibuprofen and we left Kidderminster on Friday morning at around 10.00am in the wonderful company of Janet and John. We were aided by a very quiet lady on Sat Nav, yes I know – shocking isn’t it. You normally have quite a task in hand to turn the volume down on the sat nav, but try as she might, Janet could not turn her up. I refrained from saying what a refreshing change it was.

Despite her whispers, we arrived at the Holiday Inn, Pear tree Island. at around 11.30 am. We had a really warm welcome on a cold day. We couldn’t get into our rooms until 2.00pm though, so after free tea and coffee, we jumped on a bus and headed off to the city centre. The first thing you notice about Oxford is just how busy it was, there were queues on all the main roads in, I can now understand why most cities have special bus routes.

Our first port of call was to a Weatherspoon’s pub. We soon found a table and were eating within 20 minutes; don’t you just love Weatherspoon’s? Just £24 for four meals and four drinks. We had a bit of a look around the shops and caught the bus back to the hotel around 4.00pm. Once again, the staff went out of their way to be helpful. On Friday evening the weather was starting to turn so we decided to stay at the hotel and eat.

We had a good night’s sleep in one of the biggest beds Mrs H and I have ever seen, it was so big that when I was snoring through the night Mrs H stretched her leg out to give me a kick – but she couldn’t reach me! We went downstairs to a sumptuous breakfast with as much as you wanted to eat. Tea and coffee was free all day. So we sat eating our bacon and eggs watching huge snowflakes falling outside. Saturday was a bitterly cold day with a freezing wind. Mrs H had a furry long bear coat and was quickly nicknamed ‘Fozzy.’ I was wearing a really warm coat beneath a thinner coat and was quite warm as the four of us got into a taxi. The city was packed with Christmas shoppers despite the cruel and harsh weather.

All was going well as we got onto the tour bus which Janet had booked as part of the surprise. As we boarded the floor was awash with water and the lower deck was freezing cold. So John – being a nice chap – began to shut the windows when a voice from the driver at the front boomed out

“Keep those windows open, Covid!”

This just confirmed my suspicions that we were being driven around by a woman who was similar to the overweight bully in BBC’s excellent series ‘The Outlaws’ But I have to say that despite the cold, the poor chap who was narrating from the upper deck was absolutely brilliant and so knowledgeable. The tour lasted about an hour with the driver popping out every now and then for a quick smoke.

We were dropped off outside the Westgate shopping centre. This centre must be brilliant in the Summer, as most of it is in the open with lovely bridges connecting the different sections. But on the coldest day of the year so far it was pure hell. It was like living in the largest wind tunnel in the world with no respite from the wind unless you actually went into a shop. Very crafty those architects. Anyway, we were stood on a corner, braving the elements when I suddenly started to feel very strange. My teeth were chattering, and I felt extremely cold. Mrs H looked at me and asked if I was alright, she told me later that the colour had drained from my face, and it had turned white. We went into Mark and Spencers and to their café, after a pot of tea all was well once again, I think I had mild hypothermia, I know that the wind was getting through my coat and my bones were actually cold.

We left the café and Mrs H insisted that I go and buy a thermal coat. We went downstairs to the men’s department and had a look. I found a coat and turned the label. I almost passed out again the price was £180.

To be continued:

Monday 29/11/2021 – Day 620

It was freezing cold again this morning, but Shefali is promising that it’s going to be a lot milder by tomorrow. First thing I did was try the dentist at 8.00 am, all to no avail, it seems that they weren’t open. I tried again at 8.30 got the same message but with an option to leave a voice mail. By this time I am in absolute agony. I tried again at nine thinking that they must surely be open by now, but no, just the same message as previously. I had given up all hope of a reply when Mrs H came running upstairs and informed me that she’d tried the dental surgery again and someone answered. The result was that I had an appointment at 12.40.

180 minutes of the worst morning of my life later and I walked into the best building I had seen for years – the dentists – to one of the surliest sour faced receptionists I had ever had the misfortune to meet. She was either in love with herself or just didn’t want to be there. But I couldn’t care either way, thirty minutes later I was pain free and on the way home.

1965 Housewife Mary Whitehouse began her Clean Up TV Campaign by setting up the National Viewers and Listeners' Association to tackle 'bad taste and irresponsibility'.

2001 George Harrison, musician, actor, songwriter, and former lead guitarist with the Beatles died of lung cancer, aged 58. Often referred to as the 'quiet Beatle', Harrison became an admirer of Indian culture and mysticism, and introduced it to the other Beatles, as well as to their Western audiences.

Oxford – continued.

Fortunately, the Next shop was close by, so we popped in there, but the cheapest decent coat in there was a hundred plus. There was no way I was willing to pay that much. Mrs H then suggested Primark which was nearby. Now I don’t normally go for these sort of shops after the many tales I’ve heard about child exploitation etc. But I was so cold that I reluctantly went in and had a look. Straightaway, I found a suitable thermal coat for £35. I clutched it as though someone was going to take it away from me and headed towards the queue which was very long. But within a few minutes I was being served. I paid with my card, but when I checked the receipt it was only £30.

I was like a dog with two bones, I dumped my two coats in the Primark carrier and put on the new coat, it was heavenly, I was as snug as a bug in a rug. We walked out into the main street and although the wind was really cold I was very warm. It was 4.00pm and we needed to find somewhere to eat. Every pub or restaurant we popped into was heaving. Those youngsters in Oxford really do know how to party.

We seemed to have been walking forever, we had already made our mind up that due to the adverse weather conditions we would take some drinks and snacks back to the hotel and stay in on the evening. Janet put shops into her phone and there was a Sainsburys convenience store about a mile away. We had almost given up on food when we passed a hotel/bar. We had a look at the menu, and it was very reasonable, all we needed now was a table. Fortunately, we found one.

To be continued….

Tuesday 30/11/2021 - Day 621

Well it’s certainly a lot warmer today, when I say warm I really mean mild compared to the last two or three days. Went out into the garden to have a good old last tidy up before winter really does set in. It took me almost two hours just to suck up the remaining leaves at the front of the house. Then it was down the side and finally around the back of the house. We were quite lucky in the storms over the weekend, the only damage was a couple of posts that held some ornate trellis had snapped. The pond was in a bit of a mess, full of leaves and tree debris. But by 2.00pm I was back in the house, and all was well with the world.

Mrs H has had a pain in her back since we got home, she seems to think she may have pulled a muscle as she got out of the car.

A very happy St Andrews day to all my Scottish readers. He is the patron saint of Scotland, also of golfers and fishermen. Speaking of which, on this day in 1872 The first football match between England and Scotland took place, at Hamilton Crescent Glasgow. It ended in a 0-0 draw.

Also on this day in 1960 Gary Lineker, footballer, and former England captain, was born. Despite his long career, Lineker was never cautioned by a referee for foul play, a feat equalled only by Billy Wright, John Charles, and Sir Stanley Matthews.

Today in 1968 The Trade Descriptions Act came into force making it a crime for a trader to knowingly sell an item with a misleading label or description. It’s still not caught on in some of the shops I visit.

Oxford continued..

The restaurant/bar was really excellent, the food was really good, and they had real ale on tap. I had the best Club sandwich I had ever tasted; it was accompanied by lovely French fries. None of us were in a great hurry to get back into the cold streets so the girls had yet more Pornstar Martinis as John and I sampled all the real ales. But eventually, we had to get back home. Reluctantly, we left the warmth of the restaurant and headed towards Sainsbury’s. The plan was, to get some drink and snacks and phone a taxi to head back to the hotel in time for Strictly. The first part went fine, but Janet couldn’t get through to any of the taxi companies. There was a lovely young girl stood outside and the girls got chatting to her. She was in Oxford visiting her brother who was shopping in Sainsbury’s. She explained that there was a one hour wait for taxi’s if you even managed to get through to them. She told us that our best bet was to flag one down. It seems that if a taxi has a green light on, then he is ready to hire. Just then she put her hand up and the cab turned and pulled up at the kerbside. We naturally assumed that it was for her and her brother. But she said no, she had hailed it for us. How nice was that?

She wished us a good evening and waved us off. Within half an hour we were back in the hotel bedroom all nice and comfy and watching Strictly Come dancing. They then announced that ‘I’m a Celebrity’ had been cancelled because of severe damage to the site caused by the storm. For me, that was a great result as I’m not a big fan. So after ‘The Wheel’ we all relaxed with another drink and more snacks. It was turned eleven when Mrs H and I finally returned to our own room.

To be continued……..

Wednesday 01/12/2021 – Day 622

Well a very happy December 1st to you all, I sincerely wish you all a happy and stress-free month.

Not as cold as predicted earlier this week, quite pleasant outside if you’re digging a big hole somewhere. Mr s H has gone to pick the girls up (Gemma and Sarah) as they are coming to help put up the trees and decorations for Christmas. But first of all they have to call in at the Range down the road, so I can expect at least a couple of hours of peace and quiet.

Had some really good news today, Alisha our granddaughter has been working at a nursery for the last couple of years looking after the really young babies, She took her written exam a couple of weeks ago and easily passed. But last week she had an oral exam. This is basically where a panel fire questions at you, and you have to supply the correct answers. She was understandably very nervous on the day and told her mum later that she didn’t think she’d pass. The panel obviously allow for nervousness and today she had her results, She had passed with distinction, we are so proud of her.

Mollie returns from her ten-day trip to Florida tomorrow, so hopefully we’ll all be together for Christmas.

Oxford continued……

We rose the next morning and went down to breakfast at 9.30 am. Big mistake – there must have been a lot of guests sign in the previous day, so it was a bit chaotic. But the staff were so polite despite the pressure. We only had to wait five minutes until we were seated.

We left the Hotel at 11.30, the idea was to return to Kidderminster via the Cotswolds, so basically we were being treated to a sight-seeing tour by the lovely Janet. This would also avoid the motorway. The weather was not too good as we left the carpark, it was snowing quite heavily, but thankfully it soon turned to rain. Fourty five minutes later we were parking in one of the best Cotswolds villages – Bourton on the Water. Mrs H and I had stayed there 9 years previously when all our children (Including Vickie) paid for a five day stay at the Mousetrap hotel for my 60th birthday.

We couldn’t believe how busy the village was, the weather wasn’t too good, yet the place was packed with sightseers from all over the world. We had a tour of the shops as the girls bought Christmas decorations etc. Then stopped at a lovely place called The Cornish Kitchen where they sold an abundance of different Cornish Pasties. We didn’t indulge; however, it had been less than two hours since we had eaten an enormous breakfast. We just had hot drinks.

On leaving the village we headed on towards Broadway, but by the time we got the weather had turned for the worse, so it was just a slow drive through. Somewhere on the road to Evesham we came across a pub with a carvery so stopped for a late lunch at around 3.00pm. It was dark by the time we left and got back on the road towards Evesham. Driving conditions were atrocious as we entered the town. Strange really, it’s only 18 miles from home but we’ve never visited the town. It was beautifully decorated; and we have vowed to revisit when the weather is better.

Mrs H and I arrived home at around 4.30. The house was in darkness as we turned the key. Whose idea was it to turn the heating off while we were away? It was warmer outside than it was inside. It took two days to get the house back up to 21 degrees. So it was an early night for us after a wonderful weekend with two really good friends.

There was a substantial jump in new cases to 48,080 today. Registered deaths numbered 171.

Thursday 02/12/2021 – Day 623

Went to bed last night (as you do) and had the headache from hell. It didn’t matter what I took, it just wouldn’t’ go away.

I opened my eyes this morning, well, when I say I opened my eyes this was only partially true, because my eyes were only partially open. I tried to lift my head off the pillow, but it was akin to lifting Mrs H and running upstairs with her, in other words it was never going to happen.

I had caught the dreaded bug!

I often read on Facebook that someone has caught the bug, or that there is a bug going around. I always get this image of a big hairy oval bug walking around on its back legs with a sledgehammer over its shoulder ready to lash out at any disbelievers (like me) who think it’s just a figment of other people’s imagination.

Well, Bugsy visited me during last night and hit me with the aforementioned sledgehammer. It was probably something to do with a Facebook comment I put a smiling face against, some chap was saying that he’d got flu and it had confined him to bed for three days, In my humble opinion that deserved a smiling face. But obviously Bugsy didn’t like my attitude and decided to pay me a visit.

Result was that I was laid up in bed all day yesterday with my fairy godmother (seasonal eh?) waiting on me hand and foot. Problem was that within an hour I was so bored. I really didn’t want to do it, but I felt my hand grab the remote control – I dearly wish I hadn’t! It was basically just mundane rubbish designed to convert the ordinary viewer into a complete and absolute moron. I caught up with some old familiar faces on what they called Classic Emmerdale, I am here to tell you dear reader that it was originally called Emmerdale farm and was about a family up in Yorkshire (the Sugdens) running a farm. In those far off days you actually saw farm animals like pigs, cows, and sheep. There was a lovely pub in the village run by Mr Henry Wilkes and that master of sideburns Amos Brearley. They even had an original rogue poacher called Seth Armstrong. But the shows main players were Annie, Jack, Joe and Grandad, helped along by Matt skilbeck and wife Peggy, later to become Dolly – no, not the sheep, Matts second wife. It may have been a bit boring back then, but at least it was true to life, unlike todays episodes where you are expected to believe that a nurse can murder three individuals and get away with it.!

In the afternoon I treated myself to a couple of Christmas films on channel five. Now it has to be said, that these American films are specially made to tug at the old heartstrings. As grumpy old Mr Potter said in the excellent Christmas film ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ it’s all ‘Sentimental Hogwash.’ But they don’t do any harm and if you are a sentimentalist as I am, then they’ll probably draw a tear. (I told Mrs H it was my tablets making my eyes water.

The rest of the day was spent drifting in and out of consciousness as the drugs Mrs H pumped into me began to take a hold. She joined me later to watch the cheery Stacy Solomon tidy up yet another disorganised house.

If you are not yet convinced that I’ve been poorly then read my poem which I wrote to Mrs H.

I’m not well

Just know one thing If I should die Twixt dusk and dawn here where I lie, That I loved you with all my heart, These words of love I must impart. But if I should survive the night My ghastly face all pale and white, Nurse me my love throughout the day, Till this man flu just goes away.

New cases went up to the highest since April, they were reported as 53,945, there were a further 141 deaths.

Friday 3/12/2021 – Day 624

Woke up with a real headache this morning but then she got up and went downstairs to make a sickly old git a nice cup of char. I had a nice hot shower and felt a lot better. I am now left with the most irritating cough which Mrs H has nicknamed Eric ( I assume this is because it is irritating), I just need to take care that it doesn’t give me a chest infection. I am beginning to sound like a right old hypochondriac, I don’t want to be like my mother-in-law, if it was going around and she couldn’t catch it – she’d buy it.

Today in 1795 Sir Rowland Hill, postal pioneer, and founder of the 'Penny Post' was born. Why am I so proud of this fact I hear you shout? Well, good old Rowland Hill was born here in my hometown of Kidderminster. He was born in a humble two up two down cottage in a busy part of the town, his father Thomas Wright Hill was a schoolmaster. Rowland was a sickly child who had constant spinal problems and spent most of his infancy in a prone position, but -as he grew he got stronger- his aspirations also grew and thoughts turned to those of his future, he didn’t know what he was going to do at this time but even at an early age he knew that he wanted to leave the world better for him having been on it.

Folklore would have us believe that Rowland first had thoughts about a better postal system at the young age of 8 years, Post in those days was very expensive and most couldn’t afford it, nothing was put in envelopes as this added to the already high cost, Rowland was talking to a young woman whose fiancé had written a love letter to her, he had witnessed her perusing the letter and then handing it back to the deliverer, she couldn’t afford the postage and refused to accept it, but legend has it that her lover in London devised a strategy of signs on the outside of the letter that would tell her he was well and still loved her.

In 1837 his Post office reform was published, it went through quite a few republications and fast became the great debate of the day, he suggested that a stamp about one inch square should have a glutinous back for easy fixing and should cost a penny which would be paid by the sender, over two years more than two thousand petitions were presented to parliament, the Postmaster general finally endorsed Hills proposals.

They became law on 5th December and took effect on 6th May 1840, the very first postage stamp bore a portrait of Queen Victoria, it was black and cost one penny, the low price even allowed the poor to send letters, it was so popular that the Post office could not meet demand. Of course as with every new product there were teething problems, the stamps were printed out at 240 a sheet and sold for a £1, but even at that cheap rate unscrupulous people would peel off the stamp and use it again and again, a technique to postmark the stamp with an unremovable ink was later invented.

Also on this day in 1988 Junior Health minister Edwina Currie provoked outrage by saying that most of Britain's egg production was infected with the salmonella bacteria. I suppose we could have ‘curried’ them if in doubt.

Saturday 04/12/2021 – Day 625

You’ll be glad to know that I’m almost back to normal, healthwise that is – the other is impossible. So dear Mrs H and I started to put up the decorations that we normally put up on the 1st day of the month. It’s all looking very festive hear in the Harvey household.

Have you ever wondered how Christmas became so popular? Well, we have the Victorians to thank for some of it It's hard to believe now, but at the beginning of 1900 Christmas was rarely celebrated. Many businesses did not even consider it a holiday. However, by the end of the century it had become the biggest annual celebration and eventually it took on the form that we all recognise today.

Before Victoria‘s reign started in 1837 nobody in Britain had heard of Santa Claus or Christmas Crackers. No Christmas cards were sent, and most people did not have holidays from work. The wealth and technologies generated by the industrial revolution of the Victorian era changed the face of Christmas forever. Sentimental do-gooders like Charles Dickens wrote books like “Christmas Carol,” published in 1843, which actually encouraged rich Victorians to redistribute their wealth by giving money and gifts to the poor – Humbug! These radical middle-class ideals eventually spread to the not-quite-so-poor as well. Gift giving had traditionally been at New Year but moved as Christmas became more important to the Victorians. Initially gifts were rather modest – fruit, nuts, sweets, and small handmade trinkets. These were usually hung on the Christmas tree. ... The roast turkey also has its beginnings in Victorian Britain.

On this day in 2012 The highest lottery prize ever to remain unclaimed (£63.8m) eventually went to good causes as the winner did not come forward by the deadline of 23:00 GMT.

Today new cases rose slightly. There were a further 42848 new cases, about 3000 more than this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 315,294 a rise of 7,368 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 127 bringing the weekly total to 865827 a fall of 41 on last week. There were 9,188.131 recoveries a rise of 235,298 on last week’s total.

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