Diary of an ex self isolator - weeks 91-96
Sunday 05/12/2021 – Day 626
After my recent bout of the lurgy, I now feel a lot better. I still have a chesty cough but after what has happened to my body in the past week that is a walk in the park.
Looking out of my office window I can quite clearly see that the clouds are travelling very fast. This tells me that it’s very windy out there not to mention cold. The reason I observe these mundane everyday things is because Mrs H may be expecting me to go out there in these atrocious conditions and put up the Christmas decorations.
I made the annual journey to the loft yesterday morning to maul down the umpteen well packed boxes of Christmas decorations. Plus of course the three Christmas trees. We must have had plenty of time last year, thanks to the lockdown, because every box was perfectly sealed and labelled with the room they belonged to. Within an hour the lounge was almost completed with colour co-ordinated tree and décor (this year it’s silver).
By mid-afternoon we had done the lounge, Hall, stairs, dining room and the rest of the rooms. All that remains is the Garden room and those dreaded outside decorations. I think I may well feign a relapse - at least until the weather improves.
Mrs H and I are trying to work our way through the Christmas gifts that we need to purchase, at least we would be if our dear and darling Grandchildren would send us their lists of desired presents. Last year we gave them all money, basically because we were in lockdown and had no other choice, But Mrs H is determined that this year we will give them something to open on Christmas day.
Today in 1952 the Great Smog started. A cold fog descended on London, combining with air pollution, and killed at least 12,000 in the weeks and months that followed. A period of unusually cold weather, combined with an anticyclone and windless conditions, collected airborne pollutants—mostly arising from the use of coal—to form a thick layer of smog over the city. It lasted from Friday 5 December to Tuesday 9 December 1952, then dispersed quickly when the weather changed. In the inner London suburbs and away from town centres, there was no disturbance by moving traffic to thin out the dense fog in the back streets. As a result, visibility could be down to a metre or so in the daytime. Walking out of doors became a matter of shuffling one's feet to feel for potential obstacles such as road kerbs. This was made even worse at night since each back streetlamp at the time was fitted with an incandescent light bulb, which gave no penetrating light onto the pavement for pedestrians to see their feet or even a lamp post. Fog-penetrating fluorescent lamps did not become widely available until later in the 1950s. "Smog masks" were worn by those who were able to purchase them from chemists.
Also today in 1973 During a petrol shortage, the government imposed a 50mph speed limit to save fuel. They needn’t have bothered as petrol was soon to be rationed anyway.
And finally on this day in 1993 one of the worst records ever aired was released. The record by Mr Blobby, a pink-and-yellow spotted BBC television star, reached number one in the charts. It was the first ever No1 by a non-human, but sadly there would be more mundane records by non-humans to follow.
I was in the repair shop listening to Gold radio, as usual the Christmas records are being played more frequently as the time edges nearer. One of the most endearing songs for me is ‘When A Child is Born’ sung by Johnny Mathis in 1976 and getting to No1 in that year, yet the strange thing is that it doesn’t even mention Christmas. The most famous seasonal song of course is without doubt ‘White Christmas’ with Bing Crosby, the song encapsulates the whole period just so perfectly. But I wonder how many of you thought I was going to say Slade’s 1973 smash ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’. There are rumours that Noddy Holder wrote the song in five minutes whilst sat in a Wolverhampton pub, but that’s all they are – rumours, they had been in the pub all night so part of it was true, but the lyrics were worked out overnight at Noddy’s mother’s house. Noddy had written the basic tune in 1967, after pressure from Manager Chas Chandler to record a Christmas song bassist Jim Lea remembered the tune discarded by Noddy six years earlier when they were known as the ‘N Betweens’. He initially came up with the idea while taking a shower. They actually recorded it in the Summer of 1973 in New York, the rest as they say is history. But for sheer class the best song has got to be ‘O Holy Night’, Mariah Carey did a version of it in 1994, it wasn’t bad – but forgive me – she is a bit of a screamer in my book, the best version I have ever heard is by ll Divo, pure class!
I had eczema, diarrhoea, and haemorrhoids over the weekend... I must say that was my best game of Scrabble ever.
There were a further 43,352 new cases today with 54 registered deaths.
Monday 05/12/2021 – Day 627
Well that damn flu I had last week has finally settled on my chest, it’s sat there like a big fat bug. I had to start my emergency anti-biotics and steroids this morning. These are what I have to keep at home, so I don’t have to bother the doctors. So as soon as I feel an infection starting then I start taking them. I will finish them on Friday. Brings back memories of early last year when I had my last attack.
Talking of memories, Mrs H bought me a Thesaurus for Christmas last year, but when I unwrapped it and opened the book the pages were blank. I had no words to say how angry I was.
We saw Mollie today, this is the first time we’ve seen her since her infamous trip the Florida and Disney world, we heard all the details when we picked her up to take Bruce to the groomers (Bruce is her pet dog by the way, not someone she brought back from the USA). Really lovely to catch up as we waited, Mollie had missed her Nan’s hot chocolate.
Watched the brilliant Return to the Chateau last night. Dick and Angel are certainly wonderful entertainment, but I have to ask the burning question of the week – where on earth do they get all their money from?, For example, Dick – with the help of his very friendly neighbours - was clearing out a shrubbery, when they uncovered half of an apple press, which was basically a large round trough where the apples would sit, then a horse or donkey attached to a pole from the centre would walk around the outside as the wheel crushed the fruit. Within weeks Dick had sourced, paid for, and had delivered another half of sections which would complete the circle – not cheap!
Then they were sat on the chateau steps when Angel suddenly decided that they should have the walls outside re-rendered whilst the scaffolding from restoring the new roof was still up. Dick looked at her aghast and simply said:-
“And you were going to tell me when?”
I Love this program.
So brave Dan has gone from Strictly has finally bowed out last night. I personally think that were at least 2 other couples that should have gone before him. Today in 1963 English call-girl Christine Keeler, one of the models named in the scandal involving British Secretary of State for War John Profumo, was jailed for 9 months for perjury arising from the trial of an ex-boyfriend.
Also on this day in 2013 communities on the east coast of England began assessing the damage caused by the previous night's worst tidal surge for 60 years. Thousands had abandoned their homes; 1,400 properties were flooded, and seven cliff-top homes collapsed into the sea at Hemsby - Norfolk. It was the start of a winter of severe floods and storms that affected many parts of Britain. In 2015, exactly two years later, communities in Cumbria and the Scottish Borders began assessing the damage caused by the previous night's rainstorms that broke riverbanks and flooded properties in towns and villages, including Appleby, Cockermouth, Keswick, and Hawick. Residents were evacuated from their homes and all trains between England and Scotland were cancelled.
New cases rose to 50,378 today, registered deaths were 41.
Tuesday 07/12/2021 – Day 628
Those steroids and anti-biotics woke me up after four hours sleep. So it was 4.00am when I got my sorry backside out of bed. Considering storm Barra was on its way it was very quiet outside, but, as they say, the calm before the storm methinks.
Had a visit last night from daughter Gemma and granddaughter Alisha with her boyfriend Sam. Alisha and Sam are off to Spain tomorrow morning to visit Sam’s parents who moved there last year. But they’ll be back in time for Christmas here.
I have to ask today ‘Whatever became of good manners?’. When I was knee high to a grasshopper I would like to think I was polite. I would call anyone older than me Mr or Mrs. If I passed them in the street I would say good morning. In fact, back then, if adults were out for a stroll they always said ‘hello’. I mention this simply because whilst Mrs H and I were out for a constitutional today, we passed a slovenly youth whose knuckles dragged the ground as he walked – nay slouched – his way towards the town. His jeans were hanging off his backside and were obviously in a contest with the knuckles to see which would scrape the tarmac first. His baseball cap with the letters NY was turned around to the back of his neck, his unkempt long hair straddled his face in fact, to be quite honest, if it hadn’t been for the acne a stranger wouldn’t have known whether he was coming or going. As he neared I bid him good morning, you could have knocked me down with a feather when he answered, ‘Good morning both.’
But on our walks, why do we only ever see people of our generation taking in the air? Is it because the youngsters between 20 and 30 can’t move just 25 metres without getting into their 4 x4 gas guzzlers? And as for 40 somethings, well, you’d more chance of eliminating Coronavirus than one of them getting their more than ample backsides off a seat to let you sit down on the bus you had to catch because after your stroll, you’re far too knackered to walk home. OMG! I’m turning into a Grumpy old Git before my time.
On this day in 1940 the birth, in Liverpool, of the comedian Stan Boardman who broke into television via Opportunity Knocks and The Comedians. Stan was evacuated with his family to Wrexham during the Second World War, and after the family returned to their Merseyside home mistakenly thinking the area had escaped the German bombs, his elder brother Tommy was killed in a bombing raid. This prompted him to become known for his anti-German jokes, with his claim that "the Germans bombed our chippy" during the Second World War. Today Stan has is celebrating his 84th birthday.
Also on this day in 1983 my hero and chief chimney-toppler Fred Dibnah was halted in his work after a ginger tomcat got to his latest assignment first. Troublesome feline George has climbed a height of 160 ft (49 m) up an industrial chimney and is resisting attempts to bring him back down.
His escapade has stopped Lancashire based Fred, 45, in his tracks. An attempt by Fred to reach the ginger feline failed when George climbed even higher. An emergency meeting was called between the fire brigade, the RSPCA and Fred to resolve the issue. It was decided George should be left on the chimney in the hope a lonely night at such a height without food may encourage him to come down. Fred later said: "If we leave it up there all night it might get so fed up and hungry that it might come down on its own”.
Fred returned the next day, but George was still there. “He’s stuck there with a glue and fear,” an increasingly frustrated Fred said, and all attempts to coax, starve and shift the cat failed. After 30 hours, an animal expert managed to grab the feline interloper and remove him to safety. From that day on, Fred was not a cat person.
New cases dropped to 45,168 whilst registered deaths reached 180.
Wednesday 08/12/2021 – Day 629
Shefali (our local TV newsreader ) struck again last night on the 6.30 news. She blatantly told us that storm Barra was already leaving the district and things would get calmer during the night, well I have news for you Shefali, it didn’t go away at all, it was a little calmer around lunchtime today, but now the winds are back. I think I’ll nickname you Shef for short, because you sure do cook up some fibs young lady.
Alisha and Sam are on their way to see his mum and dad in Spain this morning, they should arrive about noon. They are both hard working and really need and deserve this break. Oh by the way, did I tell you that they’re over there for Sam’s mums fiftieth birthday? Have a great time kids?
Mrs H has dragged me all over town looking for oasis, no not the band, that stuff you stick your flower arranging in. We couldn’t find what we needed anywhere. Not a complete waste of time though, we popped to a local garden centre and found some Christmas wreaths and crosses at a really reasonable price. We also stopped there for a wonderful lunch, Just as we were leaving the car park the petrol warning sounded, we were less than half a mile from a garage, but when we pulled on the forecourt we noticed that petrol was 10p a litre cheaper than anywhere else in the district. Now that’s what I call a good day out!
Through no fault of my own I sort of half caught an episode of Eastenders last night, I was working on my computer and Mrs H was watching it. Well, all I can say is that I’m glad I don’t live down in London, if they are all that depressed it wouldn’t be worth it. It was all moaning, dirty looks, and threats. By the time it had finished I was so down in the dumps that I was looking for a length of rope. Never again.
Today the News and the national papers carried damning allegations that No. 10 Downing Street held a Christmas party on 18th December 2020 when the rest of the country was prohibited from holding mass gatherings and office Christmas parties. To avoid confrontation, the Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, cancelled a planned TV appearance, vaccines minister Maggie Throup pulled out of a planned round of regional television interviews and Prime Minister Johnson did not take his usual morning run! I’ll leave you to make up your own minds about this.
On this day in 1864 they had the opening of the Clifton Suspension Bridge over the River Avon at Bristol, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel when he was aged just 24. A plaque on the bridge commemorates Brunel's work. Sadly, there have been over 500 suicides since the bridge was opened, including the tragic death of Charlotte Bevan and her new-born baby Zaani Tiana, whose bodies were discovered at the foot of the gorge on 3rd and 4th of December 2014 respectively.
And on this day in 1952 Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth announced that she would permit her forthcoming coronation to be televised. I of course don’t remember this, I was only 11 months old, but I’m sure she did a fine job, bless her.
And finally, on this day in 1980 John Lennon, former member of the Liverpool group The Beatles, was shot dead by Mark David Chapman who opened fire outside the musician's New York apartment. A music legend lost forever to a senseless murder.
New cases were back up today to 51,060. Registered deaths were 161.
Thursday 9/10/2021 – Day 630
The sun has finally agreed to make an appearance this morning. The plan is to go outside, get up the remainder of the leaves and put the Christmas lights up at last, Mrs H has waited patiently now for over a week.
I have 1 day of my steroids left and 3 days of my anti-biotics, but this chest infection doesn’t seem to be shifting, can’t quite remember but I think I had to have a ten-day course the last infection I had.
It was today in 1960 that the first episode of Coronation Street was screened on ITV. It is the world's longest-running television soap opera. It opened with a shot of the corner shop as owner Florrie Lindley settles in
The series’ first introduces Florrie Lindley (Betty Alberge), who has bought up the local Corner Shop from Elsie Lappin (Maudie Edwards), who has now retired after working there for many years. Elsie warns Florrie about the residents and stays around to show her the tricks of the trade.
At No. 11, Elsie Tanner (Pat Phoenix) berates her 18-year-old son Dennis (Philip Lowrie), who has recently been released from prison. She wants him to find work, which is not easy for him because of his criminal record, but she accuses him of not trying hard enough. Because he went to prison for theft, she also accuses him of stealing two shillings from her purse. Elsie tells Dennis that she wishes they were more like the Barlow family, who apparently do not argue all the time.
At No. 3, 21-year-old student Ken Barlow (William Roache) is eating dinner with his parents, Frank (Frank Pemberton) and Ida (Noel Dyson). Frank starts accusing Ken of being too snobbish and being embarrassed by his working class family, but Ken defends himself, and Ida tries to keep the peace. Ken states that he is taking his middle class girlfriend, Susan Cunningham (Patricia Shakesby), to the Imperial Hotel, which Frank angrily forbids, as Ida works as a cleaner in the kitchens there and he does not like the thought of Ken spending money in the same establishment where his mother works hard to earn it. Ken's younger brother David (Alan Rothwell) arrives home from work and tells his father that his bicycle has got a puncture, which Frank is more than happy to repair. David sits at the table and asks Ken what is wrong, and Ken tells him about the argument between him and Frank, which David is not surprised about. The two brothers seem to get on fine despite their differences.
Ken heads to The Rovers Return Inn, run by Annie Walker (Doris Speed). Ken orders cigarettes, while Dennis enters and orders a half pint of mild. Annie seems to approve of Ken more than Dennis. Dennis begins to wind up Ken about him being smart and being at university. When Dennis cannot afford cigarettes because of his drink, Ken gives him a pack. Annie disapproves of this, telling Ken not to waste his sympathy on Dennis, and that it is Elsie she feels sorry for.
Meanwhile, Elsie's daughter Linda Cheveski (Anne Cunningham) comes to inform her that she has separated from her husband Ivan (Ernst Walder) and is planning a divorce, but refuses to explain why. Elsie decides to let Linda stay at No. 11. At the Corner Shop, Florrie serves her first customer, Ena Sharples (Violet Carson), the live-in caretaker of the nearby Glad Tidings Mission Hall, who fiercely questions her about her background and religious values. Ken goes to Number 1 to visit his friend, pensioner Albert Tatlock (Jack Howarth). Ida comes to inform Ken that Susan has arrived at No. 3. They go home, where Ken is relieved to find out that Susan likes his family.
A closing date for conducted tours of 31st December 2015 was confirmed for the original street, as the site had been sold for redevelopment.
There were a further 50,867 cases confirmed today. Deaths registered totalled 148.
Friday 10/12/2021 – Day – 631
Today is a very sad day in the Harvey household, eight years ago today our daughter Vickie (Victoria) died from Leukaemia, at 8.40am I was holding her hand and she just drifted away, we knew she couldn’t be saved and had known for months, but we kept it from her as she told us she didn’t want to know anything bad. All was fine until the most uncaring and selfish Doctor at Worcester hospital told her the truth, even after we begged her not to, Vickie cried all the way home, she just lost the will to live and went downhill after that. I don’t have a hateful bone in my body, but I have never hated anyone so much as that vile woman at the hospital. We all knew Vickie was never going to recover, but that woman took away her last Christmas with us. To try and curb our grief we started Vickie’s Wish, we raised over £20,000 for various charities. So, if it’s ok, I’ll just leave you with this poem which I wrote for her the day after she died.
For our brave darling daughter
We woke up this morning in darkness and gloom
we opened the door to your empty bedroom
the Minnie mouse duvet lay over your bed
over Minnie mouse pillows where you laid your head.
Your personal things still lay all around
we listen for you, but don’t hear a sound
you’re not here anymore, God has taken you away
but your memories are here and here they will stay.
Memories of a beautiful young girl who grew
into a beautiful young lady that thousands knew
they’ve written their memories upon your timeline
the words of kindness flow like a good wine.
We read bubbly and happy, a fantastic friend
gorgeous and stunning the words never end
as you can imagine, our hearts are broken for life
to know we can’t hold you, just cuts like a knife.
For the last fifteen months you’ve been through hell
and yet most of your friends could never tell
you fought it so bravely, but it wasn’t to be
for now, you’re in heaven and finally free.
We know God will love you, keep you in his care
but he is only a guardian until we meet you there
so, goodnight our darling Vickie, you’ll never be far
because we’ll look to the sky, see a new shining star.
There was a large increase in new cases to 58,194 today. There was also a further 120 registered deaths.
Saturday 11/12/2021 – Day 632
It was a very emotional day for my family yesterday, but we celebrated the life of Vickie throughout the day, starting with the family and Vickie’s friends gathering at the house for mince pies, present swaps, and a hot chocolate bar,
Then it was outside to let off loads of balloons in her memory I think we all did Vickie’s memory day justice, I know that she would have been at the forefront, God bless my darling we all miss you so much.
On this day in 1952 one of the biggest miscarriages of justice happened when Derek Bentley, aged 19, and 16-year-old Christopher Craig, were found guilty of the murder of a policeman in south London. Because of his age, Craig was sentenced to be detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure, while Bentley, who did not fire the gun, was sentenced to hang. The whole case was built around the phrase @Let him have it’ as a gun was pointed at the police officer. The jury had to decide whether or not he meant the gun or the bullet. Despite a public outcry, the sentence was carried out on 27th January 1953 on my first birthday.
Joke of the week.
Paddy McCoy, an elderly Irish farmer, received a letter from the Department for Work & Pensions stating that they suspected he was not paying his employees the statutory minimum wage and they would send an inspector to interview them.
On the appointed day, the inspector turned up.
"Tell me about your staff," he asked Paddy.
"Well," said Paddy, "there's the farm hand, I pay him £240 a week, and he has a free cottage.
Then there's the housekeeper. She gets £190 a week, along with free board and lodging.
There's also the half-wit. He works a 16-hour day, does 90% of the work, earns about£25 a week along with a bottle of whisky and, as a special treat, occasionally gets to sleep with my wife."
"That's disgraceful" said the inspector, "I need to interview the half-wit."
"That'll be me then," said Paddy!
Today new cases rose heavily. There were a further 54,073 new cases, about11000 more than this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 353,452 a rise of 38,000 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 132 bringing the weekly total to 836 a rise of 10 on last week. There were 9,453.429 recoveries a rise of 265,298 on last week’s total.
Sunday 12/12/2021 – Day 633
Read an interesting fact last night on Facebook, apparently, newscasters in Russia can be fined for broadcasting an inaccurate weather forecast, what a novel way for the BBC to raise much needed funds.
It’s very mild outdoors today, wish this weather would stay like this until March, we’d all be a lot fitter. Well, my flabber was really ghasted last night. I don’t know if you’ve been following the antics of that mob in Wales who are stopping in a castle (I’m a Celebrity, Get Me out of here) anyway the reason I am shocked is that the red-hot favourite David Ginola was the latest to come out of the camp. Only three left tonight when the winner will be revealed. I think it’s time to put this very tired programme to bed now, it’s always the same, year in year out, it’s become so boring.
Today in 1948 Britain introduced National Service for all men aged between 18 and 26. It extended the British conscription of World War II into peacetime. I reckon they should bring it back, but of course that is only my humble opinion.
In the ‘You couldn’t Make it Up’ category this week is the story of the hapless burglar. In 2013 Daniel Severn, a 27-year-old burglar who had 80 convictions for 32 court appearances was jailed for two years and four months. The court heard that Severn became trapped while trying to raid someone's house and ended up with his head resting on the toilet for an hour and a half, with one foot trapped in the window that he had used to gain entry. When he had tried to call for help he dropped his phone in the bath. Severn was told "It would be funny if it were not such a serious offence."
This time of the year always takes me lovingly back to my very early schooldays at the Infants school. We would have started making our own personal Christmas cards (made from paper) with stick images of our parents painted onto the paper alongside a really suspect Christmas tree. We would also be put to work sticking together the hundreds of loops that would eventually become a paper chain to hang from wall to wall.
Then there were the rehearsals for the school nativity play. My biggest ambition was to be Joseph, or at least a king or a shepherd. But sadly, whilst less deserving children stood around with mum’s best tea-towel on their heads I was never chosen. I was always in the background with a cardboard cut-out of a sheep stuck to my face, so even if my dear old mum had bothered to turn up, she wouldn’t even have seen me.
The end of the Christmas period would be celebrated with the school Christmas party. Lots of jelly and custard served up with lashings of orange squash, a veritable feast for a little five-year-old. Then the entrance of the big fat jolly fellow dressed on red and sporting a long white beard. Well, when I say white, it was actually stained terribly with what most old men snorted in those days – snuff! There was also a feint whiff of cigarettes and stale beer as you sat on the chaps bony knee, (This was long before the strict rules we have to adhere to today). I had a small bible, but I cherished that little book for years because no-one had ever given me a present before.
Talking of Christmas, I Just have to share this with you.
On the first day of Christmas, my true love said to me ,I'm glad we bought a turkey and a proper Christmas tree.
On the second day of Christmas much laughter could be heard, as we tucked into our turkey, a most delicious bird.
On the third day we entertained the people from next door, the turkey tasted just as good as it did the day before.
Day four relations came to stay, por gran is looking old, we finished up the Christmas pud and ate the turkey cold.
On the fifth day of Christmas, outside the snowflakes flurried, but we were nice and warm inside and had our turkey curried.
On the sixth day I must admit, the Christmas spirit died, the children fought and bickered, we had turkey rissoles fried.
On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love he did wince, when he sat down at the table and was offered turkey mince.
Day eight, nerves were getting frayed, the dog had run for shelter, I served up turkey pancakes with a glass of Alka-Seltzer.
On the ninth day the cat left home, by lunch grandad was blotto, he said he had to have a drink, to face turkey risotto.
By the tenth day the booze had gone (except our home-made brew) and if that wasn't bad enough we suffered turkey stew.
On the eleventh day of Christmas the Christmas tree was moulting, the mince pies were as hard as rocks and the turkey was revolting.
On the twelfth day my true love had a smile upon his lips, the guests had gone, the turkey too, and we had fish and chips.
There were 48,151 new cases reported today. There were also 52 deaths registered.
Monday 13/12/2021 – Day 634
Mrs H and I were at a bit of a loose end yesterday. So we just had a day lolling around and doing nothing. Now, You male readers will know from personal experience that this is a very dangerous thing to do with a wife who has an overactive imagination.
Here we are in the deep mid-Winter and Mrs H sat there and completely re-designed a whole section of our garden. We are now going to completely replant the whole area around the pond it seems. I felt a bit like poor Dick in Escape to the Chateau when his wife Angel traps him on the steps with a glass of wine or even a cup of tea. Then she hits him with the latest renovations!
Having said that. I am also guilty of coming up with all the wrong ideas. The first thing we have noticed recently is that our Garden room is going to need some sort of heating. I looked at it, worked out all the materials required etc. Then I thought that I could do most of the work myself, then I just need to get a plumber in to make the connection to the system. I found the perfect site where you put in what you needed done, then a ‘qualified’ chap will get back to you and give you a price. That’s a doddle I thought to myself. Then, next day I excitedly opened the e mail and nearly had a heart attack.
The company wanted £200 to make just two connections! Even draining down and then re-filling is only at the most two hours. They hadn’t got to supply anything, just labour. At in excess of £100 per hour it is daylight robbery. No wonder our wonderful country is going to the dogs!
Today in 1973 The British Government ordered a 3-day working week following an Arab oil embargo and industrial action by the country's miners. Anyone else remember the misery of getting halfway through cooking a dinner when the power was cut? Mrs H and I were still courting ( love that word), and we’d be sat in the pub when the lights would suddenly go out. The candles would be spread around the tables, and it created quite a nice ambience. Mrs H by candlelight is a sight to behold – trust me. But the problem was that all the beer was drawn up from the cellar by electric pump. Good job I also liked bottle beer.
I was talking with Mrs H while the ads were on, an Ad for slimfast came up, so I jokingly said:-
“You should wash your clothes in that, cut out the middleman.:
To say she wasn’t amused would be a massive understatement. Anyway next morning I went into my bedside drawer for clean underwear, as I pulled them out a load of dust fell from them. So I shouted her and asked why she’d put Talcum powder in my underwear.
“That’s not talcum powder,” she shouted back, “It’s miracle grow.”
New cases increased by 5,000 to 53, 923 while registered deaths were38.
Tuesday 14/12/2021 – Day 635
Today’s words of wisdom from yours truly “If you see a toilet in your dreams – don’t use it!” Watch this space for more pearls of wisdom.
Ok dear reader it’s whinge time, what has happened to this wonderful country of ours? A Country which once prided itself on good service and fairness. A country which always stood for truth and fairness. Well, I can sum it up in just one word ‘Covid.’ That is what happened to this great country of ours.
Companies and shops that just can’t be arsed to get their backsides into gear all blame covid. Companies and shops that just need any excuse to not deliver goods or to make those same goods very late – blame covid. Over the last week, I have ordered radiators, piping, fittings from one company. I have also ordered plasterboard and timber from another company. Nowt wrong with that I hear you cry. The thing is that I ordered all those items on a specific day, just so I was able to be here to accept the items. Both companies also insisted that I give them a mobile number so that the depot/driver could text one hour before delivery to tell you it was on the way. Fair dinkums, I thought – and supplied them with the aforementioned number.
Now all the deliveries were booked for Tuesday between 7 am and 7pm, I didn’t mind as I wasn’t going anywhere on Tuesday. So Mrs H and I are sat watching some garbage on TV on Monday afternoon, we are both semi-comatosed by whatever drivel it was that we were watching, when the bell rang, (the front door, not the one in your head that tells you to get a life). I opened the door to a chap who had just stepped out of a white van the size of Wales. He was holding a coil of plastic pipe and bore a resemblance to Zebedee from the magic roundabout.
Driver. Got your delivery.
Me. Great, that was quick, I’ll open the gate for the rest.
Driver. Rest? This is it.
Me. But I ordered two radiators and more fittings.
Driver. (scratching the back of his head and removing a bubble with a wipe of his
hand, which had just appeared from his left nostril) Must be on another
delivery it happens all the time.
Me. Well it never used to.
I needed to get rid of him before he flooded my porch with his runny nose, so I took the coil of pipe, thanked him, and bid him good day. I went back inside and gelled – many times.
An hour later the doorbell rang again, Aha I thought, he’s got to another job and discovered my missing items. I opened the door to another lad.
Lad. Alright Guvnor got a delivery for you from the builders merchants.
Me. Brilliant, great service, I’ll open the gate.
This lad and his mate proceeded to carry in three large sheets of plasterboard.
Lad. There you go then Guv, have a good day.
Me. Hang on a minute, where’s my timber and insulation?
Lad. No Idea guv, could be anywhere between here and the Falklands, it’s on
Another lorry. Good day.
The other goods from both deliveries turned up the following day. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for keeping youngsters employed, and I am all for free delivery. But think about what just happened with the builders merchants. It took two journeys, three men and two hired vans to deliver three different items. We are now paying almost double for goods from a builders merchants since covid. I reckon that they are making such a vast profit that they could reduce the cost of goods by half if they resumed proper deliveries by their own people. In other words, this pandemic has been an excuse to inflate the prices of all goods, or if you prefer – a licence to print money. Rant over!
New cases continued to rise today, they reached 59,o5o, the highest for almost 12 months, deaths rose to148.
Wednesday 15/12/2021 – Day 636
Started work on the installation of radiators in the garden room yesterday. First job was to remove a built-in planter and put some re-enforcement behind the stud wall. These little jobs always seem to take an age, I had to patch up the wall and the floating floor and make it look as though it was always that way. I got it done and downed tools around 3.15pm.
We had to go and pick up Hatton (golden balls) from his school. He’d stayed on for football training and Mrs H had arranged to take him into town to buy his Christmas present.
Today in 1942 The birth, in Tottenham, of Dave Clark, English musician with 'The Dave Clark Five' was born. He founded the group in 1958. Their single 'Glad All Over' knocked The Beatles' 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' off the top of the UK singles charts in January 1964. They had 12 Top 40 UK hits between 1964 and 1967 and disbanded in late 1970. In 2008, to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the band, the Dave Clark Five was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, located on the shore of Lake Erie in the United States.
It was quite a time before I actually realised that Dave Clark was the drummer in the group. It was Mike Smith who sang most of the lead vocals. Dave Clark was also the band's manager and producer of their recordings. Following the group's break-up, Clark set up a media company. In the process, he acquired the rights to the 1960s pop series Ready Steady Go!. Additionally, he wrote and produced the 1986 London stage musical Time – The Musical where he directed the last performance of Sir Laurence Olivier. A two-disc vinyl album was released in conjunction with the stage production featuring music recorded by Julian Lennon (singing DC5's song "Because"), Freddie Mercury, Stevie Wonder, Cliff Richard, Ashford & Simpson and Olivier's selected dialogue. This double album was digitally remastered and released on iTunes in May 2012. In short Dave Clark became a very rich man.
Also on this day 1984 'Do They Know It's Christmas' by Band Aid for the Ethiopian famine entered the chart at No.1 and stayed at the top for 5 weeks. At the time it was the biggest selling single ever in the UK, with sales of over three and a half million. t 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 death. The song was the brainwave of Bob Geldoff (Boomtown Rats) and Midge Ure (Ultravox). Geldof's cautious hope was that the single would raise £70,000 for Ethiopia, but "Do They Know It's Christmas?" raised £8 million within twelve months of release.
I love Mrs H because she is really romantic. The other day she sent me a text from town it read:-
‘If you’re sleeping, send me your dreams. If you’re laughing send me your smile, if you’re crying, send me your tears, if you’re eating, send me a bite. I love you.”
Of course I’m not as much a romantic as Mrs H so I texted back:-
“I’m sat on the loo – please re-advise.”
The highest ever recorded new cases happened today, there were a staggering 78,339. There were 165 registered deaths.
Thursday 16/12/2021 – Day 637
The installation of the radiators in the Garden room is all going very well so far, or have I spoken too soon. Spent all day yesterday creating a new false wall where the one radiator will eventually sit. As the room was never intended to be used as anything but a room to relax in the Summer, I had to do quite a lot more work to make it inhabitable all the year around.
This meant moving electric sockets, and other objects that were fine where they were until we decided to install heating. Oh well, as they say, ‘all these things are sent to try us.’ Or as my old dad used to say, ‘if things don’t change they’ll stay as they are.’
Talking of change (see what I did there?) do you recall when traditional Christmas began to change for the worse? The first thing I remember is my mum coming home and plucking vast rolls of different coloured crepe paper from a paper carrier bag.
“Look at this kids.” She shouted excitedly, “these are the new-fangled garlands, we just unroll them and pin them to the ceiling, no more sticking loads of cardboard together to make chains.”
I looked but I wasn’t impressed, I liked spending hours gluing lots of bits of paper together. I was eight years old, and it had been part of my Christmas preparations since I was old enough to hold a pair of scissors. There was something magical about mixing that wallpaper paste in a bowl, or if you hadn’t got any then you mixed a bit of flower and water. It was hilarious when everyone was sat quietly watching TV and one of the links would suddenly give way through lack of paste, it was hilarious watching my dad trying to unravel it from around his neck. Why couldn’t we keep the paper chains? Why did things have to change?
Yes crepe garlands were only the tip of the iceberg, as I grew into adulthood lots of things called labour saving devices would rear their ugly heads – they may well have saved work, but they weren’t always good. It would mean yet another piece of our history, yet another tradition had been consigned to the ever-growing scrapheap of the past.
I was looking out of the front room window and the local bus pulled up. I saw George step off; he had a face like thunder. As I opened the front door I asked what was wrong.
“I hate kids.” He said. “All the way from town this little brat in front kept turning around and pulling faces at me. I told him that when I was young, my mother said to me that if I kept pulling ugly faces and the wind changed then I’d stick with that ugly face. He turned, looked at me and said:-
“Well you can’t say that you weren’t warned!”
The health officials are getting quite worried about the rapid increase in new cases following Omicron, the number of cases increased by 10,000 up to 88,376 an unprecedented number. Thankfully, deaths haven’t begun to increase, although, any deaths are upsetting. There were a further 146 registered today.
Friday 17/12/2021 – Day 638.
I have to admit that I have a penchant for a good biscuit, you can discover this by the size of my stomach, believe me ‘my eyes will never be bigger than my belly’ as my old mum used to say when I left food. The reason I like biscuits so much is that if you buy a nice healthy salad and leave it in the fridge too long, it goes all brown and mushy – biscuits don’t do that!
Mrs H had to nip to the school yesterday after lunch. It seems that our Grandson Hatton (golden balls) put his hand up to stop a ball and it bent his two middle digits back. His mum was at work, so his nan had to pick him up. It turns out that he had sprained them and that he was going to be ok. Still, it’ll stop him giving me ‘the finger’ for a few days.
I have finally finished the new stud wall in the Garden room. The plaster board has been put up and then I’ve cross-lined it with a heavy 1200-gauge lining paper. For the new decorators among you, this means instead of going down with a wallpaper, you go across the wall. This Liner as it dries, tightens up and takes out all the imperfections, leaving a nice flat surface to decorate. There you go, another snippet from the useless information department.
It was on this day in 1843 that my hero Charles Dickens began inscribing copies, for friends, of his new novel A Christmas Carol. There were 10 pre-publication presentations made 'on this day' and the novel went into general publication on 19th December. It was an immediate success with the public and the initial print run of 6,000 copies was sold out by Christmas Eve. It went a long way to sorting out Social injustices of the time, such as workhouses, Wealthy people began to look at their relationships with the poor in a different light.
Today exactly 85 years ago was the birth of Tommy Steele, English singer, and actor. Most of Steele's 1950s recordings were covers of American hits, such as 'Singing the Blues' and 'Knee Deep in the Blues'. But strangely, I always remember him for singing ‘Little White Bull.’ His career to date has included over twenty hit singles, twelve hit musical movies and countless award-winning stage musicals. The musical Scrooge has enjoyed two successful runs at the London Palladium and made him the theatre’s all-time record - breaking performer, having headlined more performances than any other star in its history. But even today he isn’t safe from the Trolls and keyboard warriors who are given too much space on Facebook, News of Tommy’s death spread quickly earlier this week causing concern among fans across the world. However, the July 14, 2019, report has now been confirmed as a complete hoax and just the latest in a string of fake celebrity death reports. Thankfully, Tommy is alive and well. And at 85 years young, has never touched alcohol all his life.
Mrs H “What’s the most terrifying thing that could happen in your life?”
Me, “The toilet not flushing in a friend’s house.”
New cases have once again risen to a new record today. There were 93,045 recorded in a 24-hour period. This is getting quite scary now, I really do believe that the government will have no choice but to order another lockdown in the New Year. The death toll was 111.
Saturday 18/12/2021 – Day 639
Just another week until the jolly fat fellow greets you all (I was referring to Santa, not myself), I sincerely hope that you have all at least made a start on your Christmas shopping. I have bought the delectable Mrs H part of her Christmas gifts, but more needs to be done to keep the good lady amicable over the festive season. But all the rest of the family have been catered for and will no doubt be amazed come Christmas day.
We must also give a thought for all those who have lost loved ones over the past twelve months, and especially those who live alone. If you know of such a person nearby, just pop round and say hello, I promise, you will make their day. Just another and last shout out for those who are homeless. In most cases the scenario is through no fault of their own. Perhaps you would consider a donation this year, a lot of people are donating instead of sending cards.
I have to tell you - people are normally shocked when they find out I’m not a very good electrician. (think about it).
So tonight, we did have three contestants remaining in the Strictly final, But sadly A J Odudu has been forced to pull out of the final due to an injury sustained in rehearsal. I would dearly love Rose to win she is an inspiration to all deaf people all over the world. I’ve never been much of a dancer myself; I was once so drunk that I staggered across the dancefloor to the bar for another drink, and I won the dance competition.
On this day in 2013 The Bank of England announced its plans to press ahead with switching to plastic banknotes, starting with the new Sir Winston Churchill £5 note in 2016. The decision will mark the beginning of the end of 320 years of paper notes from the Bank.
A man driving a huge truck pulls up at traffic lights, a young girl pulls up alongside him, gets out of the car and taps on his window. As he winds the window down she says:-
“Hi, my names Karen ,sorry to bother you, but you’re spilling some of your load.”
He drives off, at the next set of lights she once again pulls up alongside and says:-
“Hi, Karen again. Look I’m sorry to bother you, but you really are spilling some of your load.”
Unperturbed the truck driver once again drives off; at the next set of traffic lights he sees her pull alongside again. Before she can get out of the car he jumps from his cab and taps on her window. As she winds it down he says:-
“ Hi, I’m Kevin – and I’m driving a bloody gritter lorry.”
Breaking News - Mrs H and I have just watched the Strictly final, it’s fantastic that Rose has won, in a world of great uncertainty and sadness she has given inspiration to millions.
Today new cases rose heavily. There were a further 90,418 new cases, about 36,000 more than this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 511,302 a rise of 138,000 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 125 bringing the weekly total to 785 a fall of 85 on last week. There were 9,741.854 recoveries a rise of 283,425 on last week’s total.
Sunday 19/12/2021 – Day 640
I wonder if anyone else on here can share the memories of visiting Santa Clause in his grotto at the Co-op. I daresay children today would mock the wonderful scenery and the actual setup, but to a little boy of just five years old in 1957 the whole place was a veritable winter wonderland.
I had spent previous weeks pasting hundreds of links to make up the paper chains that were suspended from corner to corner in our house, not to mention the vast amount needed at St Mary’s Infants school. We had the usual Nativity play with lots of kids proudly displaying their mother’s best striped tea towels upon their head. It was always my ambition to make the role of Joseph my own, but alas it was never to be, I was always a sheep or a cow and so was hidden at the back with a cardboard cut-out mask. So even if my hard pushed mum had turned up, she wouldn’t have seen me.
The next day would be the Christmas party, when all the teachers who had hated you throughout the previous year , were forced to wait upon you hand and foot. To gain entrance to this particular festivity, you would be required to take your own spoon, small plate, dish, and beaker to school. After copious amounts of jelly and custard accompanied by cakes and lashings of watery orange squash, it was time for home.
Home would be a relatively quiet affair with hardly a hint of Christmas until a few days before. The only excitement would be an Auntie and Uncle turning up unannounced clutching a large tin of biscuits or sweets to share between the seven or eight children in the house. (times were hard back then).
We – like many others in our street – went carol singing, out in all weathers, in the dark. The problem was that no-one really wanted to know until the week before the main event, but if it allowed you to buy a small trinket for your special mum, then it was all worth it.
Unlike today we never put our garlands up before a few days prior to the 25th. The reason being was that everyone would get fed up to the back teeth picking up tinsel from the floor. Another reason was that we didn’t live in the ‘best room’ most of the year, that would mean lighting the fire, which was only lit on a Sunday night, (bath night). But the main reason was the tree. Trees back then would dry out very quickly, by the time they’d been in that room with that fire for a few days they would start to drop needles faster than the speed of light. By the time the tree was taken out to the back garden, it was barer than a Badger’s arse!
And this is why the Co-op was a Godsend, it broke up that one-week period between the breakup of school and the beginning of the festivities at home. It also meant a rare visit into town. Back then my mum hardly had any need to go any further than the Horsefair.
As I said, children today wouldn’t be impressed, but climbing those stairs to the grotto was emotional. After paying and queuing we entered a massive room., well it seemed that size at the time, it was probably around 3 meters square. You would be taken to the sleigh by an elf ( who I recognised from the shoe department a few months back). You would sit on the hard seat in great anticipation. Then with a shudder, it would start up, for your trip to Lapland and Santa.
It would be hard to describe the excitement of that trip, the movement of the sleigh, the reindeer’s backsides being the only view, but your mind was taken off that by the repetitive moving scenery at your side, and the constant Ho Ho Ho of the fat jolly chap who was obscured by the reindeer’s buttocks.
After a very short time, the sleigh shuddered to a halt and the same elf that had shown you your seat three thousand miles ago miraculously re-appeared to show you into Santa’s grotto.
As you entered that magical place there was none of the paraphernalia of today, you were picked up and sat unceremoniously upon Santa’s bony knee. As he spoke you would get a feint whiff of either cigarette smoke or pipe tobacco, as he asked if you had been a good boy all year round. To be honest, you were never going to tell him the truth anyway, then after the grilling about what you would actually like for Christmas it was present time.
The one thing about it I can recall most is that as kids we applied a bit of know-how to the situation.
Santa's sacks of gifts were separated into different age groups. Something like Under 5's, 5 to 7's, and 8 to 10's. We noticed the pressies were bigger & better the higher the age group. So when it was time to chat to Santa, instead of telling him our correct age, five, for example, we'd say we were six, and he'd take something out from the appropriate sack!
Well, it was the difference between getting a water pistol or a Luger with a silencer!
You were shown out clutching your present into the cold and stark realism of a pensioners paradise – otherwise known as the Co-op. It had been the most monumental experience and it would never ever leave your memory, not even sixty-five years later.
If memory serves, the Co-op sleigh last appeared in the mid-eighties never to be seen again. Happy days.
I hope you liked this little amble down memory lane.
There were 82,083 new cases registered today with a further 44 new deaths.
Monday 20/12/2021 – Day 641.
It’s a day for remembering for Mrs H and I. Today, eight years ago, we had to say goodbye to one of the most precious things in our lives,’ our darling daughter Vickie. The church was packed with lots more people forced to wait outside throughout the service. They estimated that six hundred or more had attended. We have never known such pain in all our lives, and that hurt and pain continues to this day.
I was lay in bed this morning, wondering why alcohol companies don’t use drunken actors to recommend their products, are they ashamed of them?.
I officially locked up the Repair shop yesterday, this was around 2.00pm when I had finished decorating the new false wall I had erected in the week. That wall has made the room so much warmer, increasing the warmth by about 50%, well worth the effort.
Mrs H and I were meant to be going shopping yesterday, but for some unknown reason we decided to do it on Saturday instead. The town was strangely quiet considering it was the last weekend before Christmas, but it just meant that we got around quicker, and that there were plenty of car parking spaces. I tell you this because, both my daughter and my son attempted to do their shopping yesterday, and the town plus all the shops were rammed to the hilt. People were arguing over spaces in car parks and purposely hitting people’s ankles with trollies in the supermarkets. Mrs H and I agree that Vickie is indeed looking down on us.
On this day in 1928 The England cricket team scored a record 636 against Australia in Sydney, including 251 scored by Walter Hammond. England won the Test match by eight wickets. A lot better than what’s happening down there at the moment, perhaps I should e mail them and tell them about this – they certainly need some inspiration.
Today in 1969 the disgraced Rolf Harris had the Christmas No.1 of 1969 and the last No.1 of the 1960s with 'Two Little Boys'. The song stayed at No.1 for six weeks. On 4th July 2014 84-year-old Harris was jailed for 5 years 9 months for 12 indecent assaults against four girls - including one aged 'just seven or eight'. He was also stripped of his CBE and his OA (Order of Australia).
New cases have risen again and are now up to 90,943. Deaths were 44.
Tuesday 21/12/2021 – Day 642
It’s a bit chilly out there this morning. How do I know this scintillating fact I hear you cry – because I had to go down to the fridge in the shed at 6.45 to fetch more milk! Still, the good news is that today is the shortest day, tomorrow we start the countdown to Spring.
Took Sarah to the doctors for her booster jab yesterday, we will pick her up at 12.45 later today. She has to see another specialist about her dizzy spells which haven’t gone since her serious illness way back in March.
1880 An act passed by the House of Keys on the Isle of Man granted women the vote, provided they were widows or spinsters with a property rated annually at £4 or over. The first opportunity to vote was in April, the following year. In 1901, Norwegian women were allowed to vote, but in local elections only.
Today marks the anniversary from 1988 when a Pan American jumbo jet bound for New York was blown out of the sky by a terrorist bomb and crashed onto the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing all 259 passengers and 11 people on the ground. It remains the deadliest aviation incident ever to take place in the United Kingdom. The Garden of Remembrance and the Lockerbie Air Disaster Memorial are at Dryfesdale Cemetery, Lockerbie. Mrs H and I visited it with Janet and John whilst we were touring Scotland a few years ago. It is a very special place indeed.
And coming under the ‘worst joke of the week category.’
A man is driving along quiet stretch of country highway with his girlfriend in the passenger seat, when suddenly a hare runs across the road in front of them. The man slams on the brakes but unfortunately hits the poor animal. They both quickly exit the vehicle and run to the front of the car where they find the hare appears to be quite dead.
"Wait" yells out the woman, "I've got this". She walks to the back of the car, opens the trunk and rummages around in her suitcase. She comes out with a tall spray bottle, runs back to the front of the car, and sprays the dead animal all over. The hare immediately springs up and hops away down the road. As the man stares after it in awe, the hare turns back towards him, raises his paw and waves, then continues hopping down the road. Every minute or so it turns back, waves its paw at the couple, then continues its journey.
"OMG, what's in that spray bottle?" the man asks his lady. "It's just my new conditioner" she says, handing him the bottle so he can read the label...
'Revives dead hair , adds permanent wave'
New cases were high again today as they reached 90,365. Deaths were high and registered numbers were172.
Wednesday 22/12/2021 – Day 643
Freezing outside this morning, white rooftops everywhere, nice, and warm in this house though. I do feel so sorry for all those that are struggling out there at this time of the year. I was watching re-runs of Corry and Emmerdale yesterday afternoon, all the ad breaks included asking for donations for one cause or another. Yet not one Ad for the needy in our own country. There are so many families on the breadline – through no fault of their own. There are so many people that are homeless on the streets – again, through no fault of their own. I wish I could wave a wand and eliminate all hunger and homelessness; it breaks my heart.
Speaking of Ads, have you caught the one with Professor Chris Whitty yet? It’s the one where he just stares at the screen, there is no emotion in his words, no emotion in his eyes. In fact he never ever blinks either. I am completely mesmerised by him every time it comes on, even though I know it’s been recorded, I still sit there waiting to blink. His voice is so droll that I have nicknamed him Isaac (I suck). Let’s start a campaign to get him on Strictly Come Dancing and see what he’s really made of, I bet he’s a great bloke really.
On this day in 1716 Lincoln's Inn Theatre in London put on England's first pantomime which included the characters Harlequin, Columbine and Pantaloon. Oh yes They did – Oh no they didn’t.
Also, 55 years ago today the government introduced an 'experimental' speed limit of 70mph on motorways in England. They must have forgotten about it because the limit is still in force today. There is probably some poor chap in a back office, a bit like Miss Haversham in Great Expectations, covered in cobwebs and awaiting the order to change the limit.
And finally, in 1962 Pop group the Tornados started a three- week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with their record Telstar. It was also the first major hit from a UK act in the American charts where it went to No1, they used to practise a couple of miles from here in Bewdley.
Christmas day in our house was nothing like other people’s houses, although we only had one present each (there were 11 of us) the rush to the tree the next morning was reminiscent of the Klondike Gold Rushes in America 1900, only the fittest survived, the poor tree was stripped of any remaining chocolate figures
Christmas lunch was a bit of a strange affair, try as I might, I can’t for the life of me remember us all sitting down to a table to eat it, perhaps we did, I remember my dad always went to the pub at lunchtime (as did every other father I knew), he would come back at around 2.30 after we had all eaten. He would eventually have his dinner on a tray in front of the TV. That was, if he hadn’t brought anyone back from the pub with him, this would happen quite often on Christmas day, I felt sorry for Mum, she would have to pander to their needs even though she had been up since 5am.
Christmas TV throughout the fifties was a bit of a dire affair in the first half of the decade, BBC had a monopoly on what was shown, presenters in evening suits and wearing dickie bows would introduce the programmes. The day would start with Carols from a famous place like St Pauls, this would last an hour and then television closed down until the afternoon. A film would be shown at 3.00pm and then a close down for 45minutes, children’s TV would come on for 90minutes then – yes you’ve guessed it – a 45minute shutdown. At 7.30pm there was a show called Christmas party with the BBC true to form showing snippets of programmes and stars who had appeared throughout the year, this was then followed by a farce (comedy play) usually involving the BBC favourite Brian Rix.
Closedown was at 11.15 with the national anthem and the screen closing to a white dot.
And that was basically it every year until 1955 when ATV began broadcasting.
Their Christmas offering in 1955 included Sunday Night at the London Palladium with the ever popular Beat the clock, this would be followed with a thirty -minute playhouse presentation and a comedy like I love Lucy or Sergeant Bilko with Phil Silvers.
By 1957 ITV were wiping the floor with the BBC in the ratings by showing shows like Take Your Pick, (Michael Miles) The Army Game, The Larkins, (with Peggy Mount and David Kossoff) and Life with the Lyons (Life with the Lyons featured a real American family. Ben Lyon and his wife Bebe Daniels, they had settled in London during the Second World War). The BBC at the same time offered a mixture of Ballet, Opera, Sport, and a feature film.
By The end of the decade the BBC still hadn’t learned from their mistakes and were very rarely seen in the ratings. Things were beginning to change on commercial TV though, parents were beginning to get bombarded by their children for popular toys they had seen in advertisements – sound familiar? Not of course in our house – we knew better than to ask – and we knew how hard mum struggled to get us anything.
It would be 1957 before her Majesty the Queen gave her first televised speech, although both ITV and the BBC broadcast her speech previously but without pictures.
So, we were left to our own devices in the afternoon, Compendium sets were played with but try as we might we never got our parents to play, Jigsaws were set up on the table, While Mum and the eldest girls washed up, we made our own fun.
Then we’d all settle down to watch Billy Smarts circus on BBC usually followed by Billy Cotton’s Christmas show.
My Mum had hardly been sat down five minutes when she was up again preparing the tea, this would normally consist of cold turkey sandwiches and pickled onions, followed by tinned fruit with carnation condensed milk poured over it.
All too soon it was time for bed, the familiar pyjamas, the hot water bottle – it was like Christmas had come and gone in a jiffy, all those weeks of excitement over in just a few hours! No-one wanted the day to end – except Mum!
The next day was always a bit of a non - event, children would be out in the streets on their new trikes with those bread bins on the back, or they may have been lucky enough to have a new bicycle, father’s would be off down the local sporting their new jumper and a sort of quiet would descend on our house, young eager eyes would scour the Christmas tree (in vain) looking for a last chocolate that may have been missed, while others would be searching for the most important part of the compendium box – usually the dice – which had gone missing in the excitement of the previous day, or the final piece of that jigsaw which had been mischievously hidden somewhere.
The eldest girls would help to tidy up, the tree was already beginning to shed its needles! TV was a no-no as it was always horse racing or some skiing from a mountain no one had ever heard of, basically Boxing day was a bit of a let-down, it was another 364 days until we could do it all over again.
By December 27th the only thing left in that massive box of fruit was a packet of dates, no one was ever hungry enough to eat those things, they would be kicking around for weeks until finally ending up in the dust bin. There would also be a few nuts left, the ones that even dad couldn’t crack open! But apart from the inevitable pile of pine needles beneath the tree, Christmas was well and truly over for another year and there was nothing to show that it had ever happened!
For the first time, new cases went past 100,000, there were a 106,122 registered today. Deaths reported were 140.
Thursday 23/12/2021 – Day 644
It’s a real pea souper out there today. Mrs H and I are waiting for the fog to lift so we can take a trip over to Telford to put the Christmas wreaths on her Gran and Grandad’s graves.
Went out last night with the famous Janet and John – our besties. We took them to a local hostelry for a Christmas meal. Only problem was the pub wasn’t doing a traditional Christmas menu! It was very disappointing, but we made do with steak and chips. Always have a wonderful evening with those two-no matter where we are.
On this day in 1987 The first ‘Scrooge’ award by the Low Pay Unit was made to a Wiltshire stable owner who paid a qualified groom only £28 a week. The runner-up was a doctor employing a telephonist for 30p an hour. The prize was a copy of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
On this day in 1716 Lincoln's Inn Theatre in London put on England's first pantomime which included the characters Harlequin, Columbine and Pantaloon. Oh yes They did – Oh no they didn’t.
Also, 55 years ago today the government introduced an 'experimental' speed limit of 70mph on motorways in England. They must have forgotten about it because the limit is still in force today. There is probably some poor chap in a back office, a bit like Miss Haversham in Great Expectations, covered in cobwebs and awaiting the order to change the limit.
And finally, in 1962 Pop group the Tornados started a three- week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with their record Telstar. It was also the first major hit from a UK act in the American charts where it went to No1, they used to practise a couple of miles from here in Bewdley.
Reported deaths rose yet again today and were up to 119,789. Deaths were 147.
Friday 24/12/2021 – Day 645.
Another damp, foggy and murky start to our Christmas Eve here in downtown Kidderminster. Mrs H and I are nicely relaxed, all our shopping is done, and we are spending tomorrow at Gemma’s house. So, all is good here and we sincerely hope that it is the same in your home.
This Omicron really is causing chaos in our hospitals again. All reports are telling us that over 50% of new cases have not had any vaccinations. They are pleading for them as they are admitted to hospital, but of course, you cannot have any vaccinations once you have covid, it must run its course, and others are left to pray that you survive. How many must die before those idiots who prey on the more gullible stop posting that the vaccines are not good for you. I am not normally a hateful person, but I hate those people with a vengeance.
It was on this day in 1914 World War 1 - Not a shot was fired, as German & British soldiers played football & handed out drinks, cigars & souvenirs. It was possibly the most poignant moment of the 'Great War' & for several days afterwards the two sides appeared reluctant to fire on the men they had met face to face. Will we ever learn from history of the futility of war? This is another story that some decide to refute, but I did a lot of research into this about twenty years ago, and there were many surviving soldiers at that time who were actually there.
Mrs H and I have been trying very hard to get into the Christmas spirit but neither of us could get the top off! I have to say that after the announcement by the government last week asking us to be careful, Mrs H and I were on our own last year, so this Christmas there is no way that we are not seeing family and friends. You can do what you like, but We will be welcoming them. So, on Christmas Day, the following family will be at the table......
Auntie Stella & Uncle Jameson, with Cousin Bailey, Malibu & Smirnoff, and the twins Gin & Tonic,
Scottish cousins Johnny Walker and Glen Moray, & from across the pond, bringing some old - fashioned southern comfort with them our old cousins, Jack Daniels, and Jim Beam,
Our French mate Remy Martin & his friend Pernod, my Spanish mate Jose Cuevro & his cousin Martini, Bianco, and her daughter tequila, also my Greek friends Ouzo & Sambuca,
Our friends Brandy, Fosters, Snowball, and mickey slim, and finally our neighbours Captain Morgan, the Grants, the Bells, the Cointreau's, and the Henneseys, Time to party!
New cases rose yet again today, there were 122,188 reported. There were also 137 deaths.
Saturday 25/12/2021 – Day 646
Woke up very excited this morning, I actually rushed downstairs to make Mrs H’s Latte, at 7.45 I woke her up and wished her Happy Christmas, then I fetched the 4 presents that she didn’t know about, I have to tell you at this stage that the dear Mrs H always tells me what she wants for the big day, this will be via the daughters or even the Granddaughter’s in the form of subtle hints, in short, if I buy her anything in the two months prior to Christmas it is always received with the words ‘I’ll have that for Christmas’. But this time I actually fooled her; I ordered her a load of jumpers + perfume + other items.(she never has enough).
We’re off around to Gemma’s for our Christmas dinner today, really looking forward to having all the grandchildren together for the first time in ages.
Joke of the week:-
During lunch at work last week, I ate 3 plates of beans (which I know I shouldn't). When I got home, Mrs H seemed excited to see me and exclaimed delightedly, "Darling I have a surprise for dinner tonight"...
She then blindfolded me and led me to my chair at the dinner table. I took a seat and just as she was about to remove my blindfold, the telephone rang. She made me promise not to touch the blindfold until she returned and went to answer the call. The beans I had consumed were still affecting me and the pressure was becoming unbearable, so while Mrs H was out of the room I seized the opportunity, shifted my weight to one leg and let one go . It was not only loud, but it smelled like a fertilizer truck running over a skunk in front of a garbage dump! I took my napkin from my lap
and fanned the air around me vigorously. Then, shifting to the other leg, I released another. The air was worse than cooked cabbage. Keeping my ears carefully tuned to the conversation in the other room, I went on releasing atomic bombs like this for another few minutes. The pleasure was indescribable! Eventually the telephone farewells signalled the end of my freedom, so I quickly fanned the air a few more times with my napkin, placed it on my lap and folded my hands back on it feeling very relieved and pleased with myself...
My face must have been the picture of innocence ,when Mrs H returned, apologising for taking so long. She asked me if I had peaked through the blindfold, and I assured her I had not. At this point, she removed the blindfold, and twelve dinner guests seated around the table, with their napkins to their noses, chorused: "Merry Christmas"...
The cases for today have not yet been reported. Overall in the six days to the 24th there were about 102,374 more than this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 613,676. The number of registered covid related deaths for the 25th were not available. But the total for six days was 681 a fall of 104 on last week. There were 9,961.369 recoveries a rise of 219,515 on last week’s total.
Sunday 26/12/2021 – Day 647
Had a really brilliant day at Gemma’s yesterday, we were treated to a sumptuous Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. The intention was to go over to the local for a couple of drinks before lunch, but there was no way we were going into a public space packed with people not wearing masks.
It was bad enough when we ordered a taxi and for the second time in a week the driver wasn’t wearing a mask! It’s not as though it was one of those black cabs where the driver is isolated – these were ordinary cars.
So, of course today is Boxing day and Christmas is officially over with.
Over the years Boxing Day has become synonymous with carrying on the Christmas feast, slobbing out on the sofa watching movies or going on a country walk (the first being my preference).
Nowhere in the bible is there a mention of Boxing Day which makes the holiday, celebrated the day after Christmas, all the more curious - just why do we celebrate it?
The name is derived from an age - old tradition of rich masters giving their servants Christmas boxes which they could share with their families on December 26, after all the formal festivities.
There is an array of different answers to this question, but the most commonly believed is that the tradition started in the Middle Ages.
Boxing Day. Through the year they would take money from churchgoers in the form of a collection and hand it out at Christmas. Many of them stored the collection money in a box, which they opened on Christmas Day. The money was then handed out to the poor the next day - on Boxing Day.
Today, those boxes aren't as popular. However some people leave out extra money for people like paper boys and girls in the weeks before Christmas and call it a Christmas box. The Victorians were the first people to really start creating designated public holidays.
The Oxford English Dictionary dates the term to the 1830s. Neale clearly recognised the association of the day in the public mind with charity, and in 1871 St Stephen's Day was designated a bank holiday.
Only a few countries celebrate Boxing Day which falls on December 26. Mainly countries that have historical links to the UK celebrate the day such as Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, and a few European countries.
I have learned over my 48 years of marriage that when Mrs H starts a sentence with those immortal words “When you get a chance,” this actually means ‘right now’. I may as well put on my shoes and start straight away. Follow me for more marriage tips.
There were no figures available for today.
Monday 27/12/2021 – Day 648
Well, I can finally share with you some great news. Mrs H and I are to become Great Grandparents in July 2022. Granddaughter Alisha and Sam told us a couple of weeks ago, but we were sworn to silence until Alisha had got her 12-week scan. To say we are ecstatic and over the moon is a massive understatement. It’s about time our family had some good news at last.
Even though I am in a happy mood, I have to ask, ‘Does it ever stop raining in the West Midlands?’, we have had nothing but rain since Christmas day.
Mrs H and I stepped out yesterday and went up to the local village social club for a spot of lunch and a bit of banter. We were sat by Sarah and her boyfriend. I have to say that the Guinness went down far too well. By the time we’d eaten I was already on my fourth pint, I had a couple more and we left around 5.00pm, I had a feeling if I had stopped any longer it would have been late evening before we got home.
Today is the anniversary of the first oil rig disaster in1965 thirteen people were killed when Britain's first North Sea drilling rig (Sea Gem) capsized. the rig was located approximately 67 kilometres (42 mi: 36 nmi) off the coast of Lincolnshire. The crew were in the process of moving the rig to another site approximately two nautical miles (3.7 km; 2.3 mi) away. This process involved lowering the rig onto the surface of the water, to float it to the new site. When the rig was lowered, two of the legs crumpled and broke, causing the rig to capsize, with equipment and people sliding off and into the freezing cold of the North Sea.
As the radio hut was among the equipment that fell into the sea, the rig never sent out an emergency signal. The nearby British freight ship SS Baltrover observed the capsizing. Her crew sent out emergency signals and proceeded to help rescue the crew together with a Royal Air Force and civilian helicopter.
Today in 1975 The Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Acts came into effect in Britain, and they are still struggling to implement it 46 years later.
On this day in 2012 The death, at the age of 83, of Gerry Anderson, the creator of hit TV shows including Thunderbirds, Stingray and Joe 90. His other creations included UFO, Space: 1999, Supercar and Fireball XL5. I used to love all these wonderful shows. Having said that, I looked back on a few of the earlier shows and was a little shocked. I guess you couldn’t see the strings in black and white lol.
I absolutely loved the theme song to Fireball XL5, remember these lyrics?
I wish I was a space man.
The fastest guy alive.
I'd fly you round the universe,
In Fireball XL-5.
Way out in space together,
Compass of the sky,
My heart would be a fireball,
Every time I gazed into your starry eyes.
We'd take the path to Jupiter,
And maybe very soon. We'd cruise along the Milky Way,
And land upon the moon.
To our wonderland of stardust,
We'll zoom our way to Mars,
My heart would be a fireball,
A fireball If you would be my Venus of the stars....
The opening theme music features saxophones as well as series composer Barry Gray's first use of an Ondes Martenot. The closing theme song – "Fireball", arranged by Charles Blackwell and performed by Don Spencer – was a minor hit in the UK. It spent 12 weeks in the country's music charts, peaking at number 32 in March 1963.
And finally today in 1997 Windsor Castle was reopened to the public following restoration work. 100 rooms of the palace were damaged in a fire in 1992.
Seen in the rear window of a car:-
‘Please be careful on the roads, Men have been drinking and they are allowing their wives to drive.’
There were 97,942 new cases reported today which is quite low considering we have had no results for over two days, new deaths reported were high at 142.
Tuesday 28/12/2021 – Day 649
What can I say after yesterday’s brilliant news. Well, I could tell you that it’s still raining here and that it’s a dank, dark miserable day, but that’s too boring.
In fact, we are now in a sort of ‘no man’s land’ where no-one knows what to do with themselves. Of course, this wouldn’t have happened in the early sixties, as soon as Boxing day was over, our parents went back to work. The corner shops re-opened, and everything returned to normal until the New Year. As I’ve said many times when we were young we only ever had one present each, so as a consequence we spent our days outside (weather permitting) in the street staring in awe at the wonderful presents our friends had been given and hoping for ‘a go’ on the brand-new shiny bike or trike of the neighbours spoilt brat who never gave it up.
There was always the other neighbours kid who had received a railway track and trains, and which was all laid out on the linoleum floor covering in his bedroom. But it was no good popping round to his house if he never let you touch anything and you just had to sit there watching the boring train going around and around in circles.
Every child in our street was basically in the boring stage of the Christmas holiday. The needles on the tree had started to fall onto the floor and mother was cursing ever having bought a real one, not that there were many imitation trees around back then. The garlands you had pinned across the room from corner to corner kept falling apart and falling on people’s heads, the lovely balloons, always innocently placed in a phallic symbol with a long one in the middle and two round ones either side were now looking very limp and deflated.
Yes, all the excitement, the build up to Christmas and the expectation had disappeared, and New year was a bit of a non-event for kids back then, so in the Winter of 1962/63 we were all wishing we were back at school.
Today in 1904 The first weather reports relayed by wireless telegraphy were published in London and so the guessing game began.
Also on this day in 1934 Dame Maggie Smith, British actress was born. She made her stage debut in 1952 and has won numerous awards for acting, both for the stage and for film, including five BAFTA Awards, plus the BAFTA Fellowship Award. She currently stars in the drama, Downton Abbey as Violet Crawley, the Dowager-Countess of Grantham, for which she has won an Emmy.
1943 The birth of Richard Whiteley. He was best known for his twenty-three years as host of the game show Countdown. At the time of his death in 2005 Whiteley was believed to have clocked more hours on British television screens than anyone else alive.
1963 'That Was The Week That Was', television’s first satirical show, was broadcast for the last time. It was taken off air while still commanding huge audiences because 1964 was to be election year and it was felt that the show could influence voters.
Despite the feeling that it seemed to be permanently on our TV screens there were actually only 37 episodes produced. Originally proposed to the BBC under the title "Saturday Night," this late-night satirical review of current events built a huge audience, going from 3.5 million viewers on its opening (November 24, 1962) to ten million by end of its first season (April 1963). The most famous "TW3" sketch, "What Is a Mum?" (aka "Mother's Day"), was written by Dennis Potter and David Nathan from an idea by Jack Rosenthal. Using a format introduced on Jackie Gleason's recordings ("What Is a Boy?", "What Is a Girl?"), popular during the 1950s and also satirized by Steve Allen ("What Is a Freem?"), "What Is a Mum?" depicted a housewife in terms of ad slogans: "She thinks every washday is a miracle. And since she adds the extra egg to everything except the bacon, she is probably constipated as well." Other Potter-Nathan sketches satirized Tories, predictions in the "Sunday Express," Q&A with a spokesman for the South African government, Adam Faith songs, and Hugh Carleton Greene. The American "TW3" (introduced in a November 1963 special) never equalled the stunning success scored by the original British "TW3.
There were two presenters who were in this show that I really couldn’t take to. Lance Percival and Millicent Martin (neither could sing in my humble opinion) were two of the main satirists, no matter what they appeared in later, I just couldn’t stand them. There were some brilliant artistes too of course, the show was ideal for presenter David Frost, Willie Rushton, Kenneth Cope, and the excellent Roy Kinnear were well suited to the fast and furious short sketches and every one of them went on to bigger and better things.
The show believe it or not, was so popular that it was pulled just before the General election of 1964, the fear was that it could sway voters with its sketches and jokes
Cases rose today to 168,306 along .with a further 29 deaths.
Wednesday 29/12/2021 – Day 650
Well, as I said yesterday, we are in a sort of ‘No Man’s Land’ at the moment, that time between Christmas and New year where everyone is stuffed to the hilt and sick to the back teeth with turkey. You’ve had turkey rolls, turkey kebabs, turkey stew and even as I speak now, your significant other half is scraping the remnants of that once magnificent bird into a wok to prepare turkey stir-fry. Go on, you know you love it!
You can’t face another tinned beer or glass of wine, you search desperately for something half decent to watch on the TV so that you can at least vegetate quietly on the sofa, but TV bosses all seem to think that it’s only children who bother to watch during the day, so all you find are cartoons, even the kids films are repeats! Then comes the evening, you have semi-comatosed most of the day, drifting in and out of consciousness, only being disturbed by the wife’s ‘You’re not asleep again? No wonder you can’t sleep at night, what on earth is wrong with you?’ You are tempted to answer her with something witty, but you are too tired to be bothered so drop off again to the loud sounds of tuts ringing in your ear and praying for it all to over soon. By the time it’s bedtime you are wide awake and ready to party, but alas, there is no-one to party with, just the wife, however, please remember, she is probably thinking exactly the same as you and is equally as bored with your drab company.
Looking forward to going to son Mark’s on Thursday night for a post-Christmas drink and a catch up.
Last night Mrs h and I were watching TV, one of those programmes about the factory where things are made. This program was all about Bailey’s Irish Cream, which I mentioned to ‘er indoors’ that I’d never tried. In the flash of Zorro’s blade she had a couple of small glasses on the tray in front of us. I’m not a natural lover of whiskey having got extremely drunk on it in my early teens, but I must say what a pleasant drink, I felt it go all the way down to my stomach, very nice!
On this day in 1675 Parliament ordered the closing of all coffee houses on the basis that they were centres of malicious gossip about the Government. Have you noticed that all the pubs and cafés have been closed recently?
Two stories from the category of ‘You couldn’t make it up’
On this day in 2013 A painting bought for £400 and featured on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow was revealed to be a Van Dyck portrait worth about £400,000. Father Jamie, who runs a retreat house in Whaley Bridge, on the edge of the Peak District, said that he was planning to sell the piece by the 17th Century Flemish artist to buy new church bells.
Also on this day in 2014 Christopher Hooson (33) who stole an Android tablet from a Whitley Bay charity shop, only to try and donate it to them eight days later as it did not work, was recognized by staff from his CCTV images. He was ordered to pay £85 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.
I was walking around the kitchen holding a rolled-up newspaper:
Mrs H What are you doing?
Me Swatting these damn flies.
Mrs H Have you caught any?
Me Yep! Three male and one female
Mrs H That’s good, but how can you tell them apart?
Me Three were on a beer can and two were on the phone.
New cases rose once again to 183,037, the number of deaths rose to 57.
Thursday 30/12/2021 – Day 651
Raining yet again this morning, but it’s remarkably mild out there, temperatures are forecast to reach 17 degrees in the next two days. Mrs H and I are both feeling terrible, with no tests available it’s impossible to know whether or not it is the virus, we are both aching and fatigued, Mrs H is suffering from a permanent headache.
Sadly the Omicron virus has reached our family with son in law Gary and Alisha’s boyfriend Sam both having it. They were all due to go down to Pontins today for the New Year celebrations with the families, but that is now cancelled.
I know they say that no man is an island but believe me – I am about three pounds away from google maps listing me as a roundabout! As soon as I’ve eaten the last tin of sweets, the three boxes of mince pies and the remains of the Christmas cake – I’m going on a diet!
It was one year today that I reported this on my Diary:-
‘Great news today as the Health Secretary announced that the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has been approved in the UK for mass rollout. The jab, which has been described as a "game changer", was given the green light by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The UK has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine – enough to vaccinate 50 million people.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: "The Government has today accepted the recommendation from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to authorise Oxford University/AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine for use.
"This follows rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA, which has concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness."
The vaccine will start to be rolled out from Monday; it doesn’t require the same ‘deep freeze’ conditions that the other vaccine needs. this hopefully means that most of the country will be vaccinated by the Spring.’
On this day in 1937 Gordon Banks, English goalkeeper, was born, in Sheffield. The International Federation of Football History & Statistics named Banks the second-best goalkeeper of the 20th century, after the Russian Lev Yashin. On 22nd October 1972 Banks lost the sight in his right eye in a motoring accident and announced his retirement in August 1973. He was a member of the England team that won the 1966 World Cup. His consistent performances in goal led to the re-wording of a common English phrase to 'As safe as the Banks of England.'
Also today, can you believe that in 1946 Football league players threatened to strike over the proposed maximum wage of £11 a week, what on earth were they expecting – thousands of pounds a week? Lol.
Today in 2014 Tommie Rose, a 15year old schoolboy, who made £14,000 from his school tuck-shop to pay future university fees for a business studies degree was threatened with suspension, as his shop breached the school's healthy-eating guidelines. He said he had been inspired by Dragons Den and the Apprentice, both programmes endorsed the lads skills. But with suspension threatening Tommie decided to close the shop, he handed out all his remaining stock to the homeless on the streets of Manchester.
New cases rose again for the third day in a row, there were 189,213 reported. It seems that the missing figures are now trickling in with a massive 332 new deaths being registered.
Friday 31/12/2021 – Day 652
I was lay in bed this morning thinking ‘If liar, liar pants on fire’ really worked our MP’s would get a lot more viewers and people would certainly pay a lot more attention to them – just a thought.
I felt fine as I lay in bed but as I dressed every bone in my body ached. Mrs H hasn’t fared any better, she looks very poorly and can’t get rid of her headache, she doesn’t even want her cup of latte.
When I was knee high to a grasshopper having gone from a three-year-old with a flock of blonde hair to a nine-year-old with jet black hair I found that I was in high demand with the superstitious (and rather merry) neighbours in our street.
According to the Scottish superstition of first footing, the first person to enter a household in the new year will dictate its fortunes for that year. A “lucky” first footer is a dark-haired male who arrives bearing a coin, lump of coal, piece of bread and a drink (which would be whisky, in an ideal world). These items are said to represent financial prosperity, warmth, food, and good cheer. Dark-haired males are preferred because back when the Vikings invaded, the arrival of anonymous fair-haired men on your doorstep would have signalled trouble.
So, at the strike of twelve I would venture out into the street and tap on the front door of the noisiest party in the street, this would guarantee the highest payment. I would be welcomed in with open arms, a lump of coal wrapped in a tea towel (thoughtful people back then) a bag of coins and a lump of bread were thrust into my arms.
I would be marched through the hallway, and then into either the dining room or the kitchen, wherever the table might be. I had to then walk around the table three times and exit through the back door and onto the next house. I made almost £3 one year – a veritable fortune in those days.
In Worcestershire, the first footer role has been transferred to the first carol singer to cross the threshold in the new year, although, I have to admit, I live here and have never heard of this practise. While in Yorkshire, they’re less fussy about whether the arrival is dark haired or not, but he must definitely be male. But woe betide any red head that tries to get across the threshold first. Who needs that kind of jinx on the entire year?
Today, people celebrate first-footing by visiting each other’s homes after midnight, to share.
Saturday 01/01/2022 – Day 653
A Happy and a prosperous New Year to each and every one of you, may 2022 bring you lots of happiness and joy.
I don’t mind talking to myself, I don’t even mind when I answer myself, but lately I have had to start repeating things to myself because I wasn’t listening and that is not acceptable.
Did you know that recent research has uncovered a Masonic connection to why revellers around the world link arms when they sing Auld Lang Syne at new year.
A study of Robert Burns’ best-loved song links the practice to freemasonry, where singing with arms crossed and hands joined was a parting ritual in many lodges. University of Edinburgh musicologist Morag Grant – who has published a book about the song – spotted the Masonic link while sifting through the archives of Glasgow’s Mitchell Library.
A newspaper report of an Ayrshire lodge’s Burns Supper in 1879 describes the song being sung as members formed “the circle of unity” – a common Masonic ritual also called the “chain of union”.
Dr Grant said the tradition of singing the song at times of parting, and doing so with crossed hands, emerged in the mid-19th century, not just among Freemasons, but in other fraternal organisations. Burns was a Freemason all his adult life and the organisation was instrumental in promoting his work during his lifetime and after his death. Dr Grant studied a range of historical sources – including written accounts, newspaper reports, theatre playbills, printed music and early recordings – to illuminate the song’s path to global popularity.
“Auld Lang Syne’s sentiments didn’t just resonate with Freemasons,” she said.
“Some of the earliest reports of the song’s use at parting come from American college graduations in the 1850s.”
Within decades, the use of the song at graduation had crossed to Japan, where the tune — known as Hotaru no hikari — is still played at the close of business in some shops. Dr Grant’s study shows Auld Lang Syne’s global fame predates the invention of sound recording and radio, despite many commentators having previously linked its rise to the dawn of the broadcast era. Her book records that in 1877, Alexander Graham Bell used it to demonstrate the telephone, and in 1890 it was one of the first songs recorded on Emil Berliner’s gramophone.
The song’s use at new year emerged around the same time, principally through exiled Scots gathering outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London, but also expatriates living abroad. By 1929, the tradition was so well established internationally that a line from the song was displayed on the electronic ticker at new year celebrations in Times Square, New York.
The Scouts also played a key role in spreading its fame. The song was sung at the end of the first World Scout Jamboree in 1920 and versions in French, German, Greek and Polish soon followed. Dr Grant’s book, Auld Lang Syne: A Song And Its Culture, also explores the song’s origins and Burns’ role in creating the modern song from older models. She said: “It’s remarkable how this song, written in a language which even most Scots don’t fully understand, has become so synonymous with new year the world over.
“The many traditions and rituals associated with the song – as well as its simple, singable tune – are key to understanding its phenomenal spread, and why we still sing it today.
“Auld Lang Syne is a song about the ties that bind us to others across the years and even though its appeal is now global, it’s very much rooted in the world Burns inhabited.”
One of the biggest errors in pop history occurred on this day in 1962when the Beatles had an audition for Decca Records, who turned them down and signed Brian Poole and the Tremeloes instead for the simple reason that they lived closer to the recording studio. Oops!
The cases for today have not yet been fully reported, we just have England. Today new cases rose heavily. There were a further 162,572 new cases, about 40,000 more than this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 1,010,916 a rise of 397,240 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 154 for England bringing the UK weekly total to 916 a rise of 237 on last week. There were 9,961,369 recoveries a rise of 403,893 on last week’s total.
Sunday 02/01/2022 – Day 654
So, here we are, on the start of yet another New year, every time we wish it could be better than the previous one, but sadly that rarely happens. This year however, we are expecting our first new arrival in the Harvey clan for over thirteen years when Hatton (Golden balls) came along, we now have the first positive start for an age. Granddaughter Alisha and boyfriend Sam are expecting their baby in July, we are already inundated with birthdays and anniversaries in that month, but hey – who cares.
Mrs H and I have had a really quiet Christmas and New Year, we are both feeling a lot better since last week. Problem is that the UK is absolutely soaked with the new strain of Omicron, when children go back to school they are being asked to keep their masks on all day, even during lessons. It is going to take a lot of luck to keep us out of yet another full lock down. All the experts are predicting dire consequences if the government doesn’t act soon.
Ad seen in a local newspaper; For sale 2021 Diary and Calendar, brand new unused and still in box.
What is it with those people who insist on putting their cooked meals all over Facebook? You know the ones who put it on a plate and take a picture of it prior to eating. Me? I look at the state of those pictures and thank the Lord I don’t have to live in that family!
Sadly, it was on this day in 1971 thatsixty-six spectators were crushed to death and more than 200 others injured at the Ibrox football ground in Glasgow at the end of a Rangers v Celtic derby. The official inquiry into the disaster concluded that someone, possibly a child being carried on his father's shoulders, fell whilst exiting the ground, causing a massive chain reaction pile up of people. It was the second major loss of life at the Ibrox, the previous one being in 1902 when 25 people died and 517 were injured when a Stand collapsed after heavy rain. A statue of John Greig, who spent his career with Rangers, as a player, manager and director commemorates those killed in the 1971 tragedy.
Under the ‘You couldn’t Make it up’ category, was the story of this day in 2013when thieves in Manchester dug a 100ft (30m) long 4ft high tunnel directly under a cash machine, using machinery to cut through concrete. They escaped with only £6,000 because the machine had not been re-filled after the New Year bank holiday. A similar plot was foiled in the same area in 2007, and police believe it may have been carried out by the same gang.
Seems that George hasn’t got off to the best start of the New year, he is once again back in the doghouse. He told Mrs H and I why when he called in for a coffee.
George apparently said to his girlfriend that his new year’s resolution was to stop putting his foot in it and upsetting people. That was fine but adding that he bet that Rose’s new resolution was going to be that she lose weight was not.
Mrs H’s New year resolution is not to tell any more lies, so her first job yesterday was to remove the Welcome’ mat from the front door!
There were 146.498 new cases registered today with a further 72 deaths.
Monday 03/01/2022 – Day 655
Another Bank Holiday, we seem to have been inundated with them over the holiday period. Of course, it’s because Christmas day. Boxing Day and New year’s day have all fallen on a weekend, therefore they have to be carried forward to the Monday and Tuesday.
I have had a dislike for bank Holidays for most of my life, I think the reason is the same that I don’t like Wednesdays, everything seems to grind to a halt, there were no shops open and little traffic on the road. Today, it is a different tale, the roads are overcrowded, even in the Winter if anyone puts a special event on. But in the Summer it’s terrible.
I live within one mile of the West Midlands Safari park and the Severn Valley scenic railway. You’d think that would be wonderful wouldn’t you? It is until you try to get around the town’s roads and there are 4-mile tailbacks.
When the Safari park first opened, they gave all local residents a free pass to say sorry for the chaos on the roads. Problem was, we couldn’t get near the place for traffic.
Today is supposedly the last day of the fantastically mild weather that we’ve been enjoying, such a shame, Mrs H and I would have enjoyed this up to Spring, it’s been absolutely great.
On this day in 1883it was the birth of Clement (Richard) Attlee, Labour politician who served as Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951, and as the Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955. He was also the first person to hold the office of Deputy Prime Minister under Winston Churchill, in the wartime coalition government. He then led the Labour Party to a landslide election victory over Churchill's Conservative Party in 1945. He was the first Labour Prime Minister to serve a full Parliamentary term, and the first to command a Labour majority in Parliament. His government undertook the nationalisation of major industries and public utilities as well as the creation of the National Health Service. His government also presided over the decolonisation of a large part of the British Empire when India, Pakistan, Burma, Ceylon, and Jordan were granted independence.
Today in 1942it was the birth, in Gorton, Manchester of actor John Thaw, who starred in the TV dramas The Sweeney, Inspector Morse and Kavanagh QC. A heavy drinker, and a smoker from the age of 12, Thaw was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in June 2001. In early January 2002 he was told that the cancer had spread, and he died on 21st February 2002, seven weeks after his 60th birthday. John also starred in one of the best dramas I have ever seen on TV, it was a film called ‘Goodbye Mr Tom.’ It had everything that a truly great drama needed to make it great. I wish I had written that film and it’s my ambition to write something similar before I shuffle off this mortal coil.
On this day in 1946William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) was hanged for treason, in London. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he had broadcast propaganda from Nazi Germany during the Second World War to both Britain and the United States. The broadcasts started on 18th September 1939 and continued until 30th April 1945, when Hamburg was overrun by the British Army.
And finally in 1961The production of the millionth Morris Minor, designed by the Greek born Sir Alec Issigonis. He considered the Morris Minor to be a vehicle that combined many of the luxuries and conveniences of a good motor car, but at a price suitable for the working classes.
Did you ever wonder where the saying ‘Touch wood came from? one explanation states that the tradition derived from the Pagans who thought that trees were the homes of fairies, spirits, dryads and many other mystical creatures. In these instances, people might knock or touch wood to request good luck, or to distract spirits with evil intentions. When in need of a favour or some good luck, one politely mentioned this wish to a tree and then touched the bark, representing the first "knock." The second "knock" was to say, "thank you." The knocking was also supposed to prevent evil spirits from hearing your speech and as such stop them from interfering. Alternatively, some traditions have it that by knocking upon wood, you would awaken and release the benevolent wood fairies that dwelt there.
The idea that knocking or touching wood would ward off evil or bring you good luck, may have been adapted by Christians, as were many early pagan beliefs. In a number of Christian communities, the belief is that by touching wood, you are touching the wood of the Cross and as such are seeking the protection of God. On this same token, there were people who believed that by carrying pieces of wood or the true cross, that this would bring you good luck.
New cases rose to 157,751, but registered deaths fell to 42.
Tuesday 04/01/2022 – Day 656
We were told today that both Granddaughter Mollie and Granddaughter Alisha have both tested positive for Coronavirus. This wouldn’t normally present a problem as both are young and health. But Mollie lives in the same house as our daughter Sarah, if you recall, she was seriously ill last year and we nearly lost her, her immune system has never fully recovered. Meanwhile, as you all know, Alisha is expecting our first Grandchild in July. She informed the midwife who has assured her that she should be ok, apparently if she had been a lot closer then it could have caused premature birth.
It’s still a very worrying time for us all though and np-one can relax until both girls get the all clear.
Well it’s official, Mrs H and I are now living in a Christmas free zone, we took all the decorations down yesterday and they are now safely ensconced back in the darkness of the attic for another year. All except the tree lights at the front of the house. In a moment of madness, I decided that the rather large tree in the front garden would look nice covered in lights, it took me ages, tottering around on the last rung of the ladder, weaving them through all the branches.
As I said, it took ages, so there they will stay until the Spring pruning, I would have left them in situ, but sadly, I’m a bit too handy with the pruner to allow that to happen!
Managed to order the test kits for coronavirus at last, after ten days of trying to be simply that there weren’t any available, our daughter Sarah rang this morning and said she had successfully ordered the kits. I went straight online and hey presto!
Today in 1938Bertram Mills’ Circus became the first circus to be shown on television. This was also the first time that a paying audience for any event had been televised, and audience members were informed that they could request seats out of range of the cameras. Originally from Paddington, London, his circus became famous in Britain for its Christmas shows at Olympia in West London and his troupe were the last to perform with live animals on the Drury Lane Theatre stage.
And today in 1967Donald Campbell, 46-year-old son of Sir Malcolm Campbell, died in his attempt to break his own world water speed record on Coniston Water in the Lake District. His boat, Bluebird K7, somersaulted at high speed, and Campbell died instantly and is buried in Coniston graveyard. The wreckage of Campbell's craft was recovered by the Bluebird Project between October 2000, when the first sections were raised, and June 2001 when Campbell's body was recovered. It is intended to return a rebuilt Bluebird to Coniston before permanently housing her at the nearby Ruskin museum.
On this day in 2021 Brian Pinker, aged 82 and from Oxford, became the first person in the world to be given the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, at Oxford's Churchill Hospital.
And finally, on this day in 2021 Scottish MP Margaret Ferrier was arrested and charged by police after she admitted using public transport in September while infected with Covid-19. She admitted travelling to London and attending debates in the Commons despite taking a Covid-19 test. After being told her test was positive, Ferrier then travelled home by train from London via Glasgow, and later acknowledged visiting several businesses in her Rutherglen constituency on the day she took the test.
New cases rose to 218,724 today, the number of registered deaths were 48.
Wednesday 05/01/2022 – Day 657
I was lay in bed this morning wondering if worms ever have heart attacks, after all, they do have five hearts.
Well, that’s a bit of a shock to the system, everything was white over when I drew the curtains this morning, I really must get some colouring pencils.
The good news is that everyone in the family who have tested positive in the past few days are all feeling fine, they have all just basically suffered headaches and colds. We are now beginning to think that perhaps these test kits are actually picking up on normal Winter colds and flu, but better safe than sorry eh?
Don’t you just hate it when doctors ask you if you are sexually active? I mean, it depends on what they mean by ‘active.’ There are volcanoes that are active but haven’t gone off in over fifty years!
On this day in 1922Sir Ernest Shackleton, British Antarctic explorer, died of a heart attack off South Georgia. At his wife's request he was buried there. It was his fourth expedition, aimed at circumnavigating the Antarctic in what he described as the one remaining object of Antarctic journeying; the crossing of the continent from sea to sea, via the pole.
Today in1938The BBC began broadcasting Bandwagon, its first radio comedy series, The first series featured Arthur Askey and Richard Murdoch. In the second series, Askey and Murdoch were joined by Syd Walker, and the third series added Diana Clare for two episodes. Together with Monday Night at Seven, it established the practice of broadcasting a regular comedy and music programme at the same time each week. The show ended in 1940, allowing Askey to pursue a career in film and Murdoch to join the Royal Air Force. A show of the same name and starring Askey and Murdoch with Tommy Trinder was playing at the London Palladium when the Second World War broke out. The following year, another version - with Norman Evans in place of Trinder - played at the Blackpool Opera House.
And finally on this day in 1941Amy Johnson, record-breaking English aviator, died whilst flying an aircraft from Blackpool to Kidlington (Oxfordshire) in foggy conditions as her role in the Air Transport Auxiliary that ferried new, repaired, and damaged military aircraft between UK departments. Her plane was found, 100 miles off course, in the muddy water of the Thames, but her body was never recovered. Reportedly out of fuel she had been seen alive in the water, but a rescue attempt failed, and the incident also led to the death of her would-be rescuer, Lt. Cmdr. Walter Fletcher. Amy Johnson was the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia in 1930 and she also set numerous long-distance records during the 1930s. She was born on 1st July 1903.
A further 194,738 new cases were recorded today, Registered deaths – some from previous days – totalled 343.
Thursday 06/01/2022 – Day 658
Did you know that one of the most dangerous insects in the world is the common house fly? It carries and transmits more diseases than any other creature in the world.
The coronavirus has struck yet again in the family, Daughter Gemma has been very poorly for two days, and now Grandson Mason has tested positive, will this virus ever go away.
Once again I had forgotten to get the milk out of the fridge in the shed, this meant a trip down the path in dressing gown at 6.00am in the freezing cold and for some unknown reason my first day at school came back to mind. That too was a really cold day.
We were ushered into a little room called the cloakroom, the walls were half tiled in a bottle green colour with a whitewash wall above, splattered with the graffiti of the day – crayon marks!, There was a stack of empty crates containing small empty bottles, the remnants of yesterday’s milk allowance, each of us was allowed to choose a peg, these pegs had stickers of animals next to them and whichever one you chose became your peg for the next two years, As I said earlier, I was a bit worldly wise for my years and noticed a peg away from the door and by a big cast iron radiator, in the winter if it snowed or rained that would be the best peg to dry out my coat, should I have one. I was torn between the lion or the elephant, I chose the lion!
The school was of the old type with three classrooms around a central hall which doubled up as an exercise room for playing in. There were around forty - seven of us and we were escorted to the big classroom and told to sit, a scramble was made for the small desks at the back of the room and obviously the furthest away from teacher, I was far too slow and inevitably ended up on the front row! As I looked around there was an actual sandpit in one corner, in another corner was a massive dolls house and then a circle of small tables covered in all different colours of previously spent paints.
A very elderly woman ( I suspect now that she was only probably about thirtyish) swept into the room with a rousing ‘Good morning children’ and met with a deafening silence, Undaunted she continued to tell us that her name was Miss Smith and that she would be teaching us for the next twelve months, she went round the room asking each of us our name and I cannot remember her ever asking again, yet within the hour she knew every one of us personally. The morning continued with us basically doing whatever we wanted to as long as it was in the confines of the classroom. I was in my high delight, coming from a large family we didn’t have things like paints, crayons and my personal favourite plasticine, there were soldiers, cowboys and Indians and I eagerly ran from one item to another like a child in a sweet shop.
At twelve o clock precisely the bell rang again and we were all dismissed for lunch, The teachers just left you to it, they didn’t seem to mind or care where you went or what you did, but, having said that, the streets were a lot safer than they are today, there were no school dinners in those days, you either took sandwiches or you went home, Wandering towards the door I had earlier come through I saw my seven year old sister waiting, she had walked from the junior school down the road to escort me home for dinner, it was almost two miles home and the same back to school, between those two journeys I had around about half an hour to eat my dinner which had already been prepared by Mum, Four miles today seems a long way but I was young, fit and able, the amazing thing was that it felt like a short stretch of the legs to me. But, as the old saying goes – they were without doubt the happiest days of my life.
On this day in 1960luscious Nigella Lawson, TV chef, writer and daughter of Nigel Lawson, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, was born. Renowned for her flirtatious manner of presenting, Lawson has been called the 'queen of food porn'. Chef, Gary Rhodes, spoke out by suggesting that her viewers were attracted to her smile rather than the cooking itself!
There were 179,756 new cases reported today, registered deaths went down slightly to 231.
Friday 07/01/2022 – Day 659
Mrs H and I were sorting out the cupboards yesterday (yawn) when we discovered that our passports are running out in May. Now don’t get me wrong, we have no intention of going abroad whilst those pandemic rules the world, so we’re not in a hurry to renew them. But then we thought – what if someone wanted to pay for a holiday abroad for us? – yes I know, we have more chance of knitting fog, but hey, we have to stay positive don’t we? The upshot is that we will be sending off for them asap.
What on earth has happened to the prices in this country? Mrs H and I (well me mostly) decided that our built-in wardrobes needed a bit of a refurb. So like the good little hubby that I am, I sat down and worked out how best to utilise the space we have inside our existing fitted wardrobes. I drew up a lovely plan together with scaled measurements.
All that was needed to bring my brilliant plan to fruition was a couple of new hanging couple of white melamine boards, these are the same boards that your kitchen units are made of. I went online and looked for prices, that was when things turned sour. The boards I was looking for – that I bought last year for less than £10 each – were now just under £20 each, so they had doubled in less than a year! I went onto B & Q’s site, and it was the same on there, the thing is that I worked for Screwfix, and I knew for a fact that thousands of the boards I was looking for were stacked to the ceiling in massive warehouses. These unscrupulous companies have taken advantage of the pandemic and doubled all their prices without regard. They are all going to enjoy massive profits next year, they should hang their heads in shame.
On this day in 1988the death of the actor Trevor Howard. Howard was one of England's finest character actors. The 1945 film Brief Encounter launched Howard's career. Much of the film was shot at Carnforth railway station in Lancashire. The station still retains many of the period features present at the time, such as the buffet room and the station clock, which became a powerful icon in the film. His works included such films as Mutiny on the Bounty, Von Ryan's Express, The Charge of the Light Brigade, Ryan's Daughter, Superman and Gandhi. He was awarded, but declined, a CBE in 1982.
A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales. The teacher said that it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human as its throat was too restricted. The little girl argued that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. Annoyed, the teacher re-iterated that it was not possible for a whale to swallow a human.
The little girl said, “When I get to Heaven, I’ll ask Jonah.”
“What if he’s gone to hell?,” the teacher mocked.
“Then you can ask him.” Said the little girl.
There were 176,308 new cases today with a further 229 deaths registered.
Saturday 08/01/2022 – Day 660
Did you know that the hippopotamus is both faster ON land as it is in water than us humans ??? This means that in a triathlon the only chance we've got of winning against a hippopotamus is ON A BIKE !!!
The things that keep me awake at night, Like, when they caught the one-armed man in the TV series ‘The Fugitive’ how did they handcuff him?
Well yesterday I removed everything from the large wardrobe which I fitted about 30 years ago, I then removed all the innards (sounds gruesome doesn’t it lol) I then refitted the whole inside, making room for Mrs H’s vast amount of clothes (even though she says she has nothing to wear) and her copious amount of shoes, even then she struggled to get them all in. It was a long day for me, I started at 10.00am and didn’t finish until 6.00pm. But it was well worth the effort, just a few simple tasks to finish today.
On this day in 1967 The Forsyte Saga, the television adaptation of Galsworthy’s novel, screened its first episode. It was so popular that for the six months of its run, many churches had to change the times of their services! The series follows the fortunes of the upper middle class Forsyte family, and stars Eric Porter as Soames, Kenneth More as Young Jolyon and Nyree Dawn Porter as Irene. It was originally shown in twenty-six episodes on Saturday evenings between 7 January and 1 July 1967 on BBC2, at a time when only a small proportion of the population had television sets able to receive the channel. It was therefore the Sunday night repeat run on BBC1, starting on 8 September 1968, that secured the programme's success with 18 million tuning in for the final episode in 1969.
Also on this day in 1989 47 people were killed and over 80 injured when a British Midland 737-400 jet crashed on the M1 motorway. Remarkably nobody travelling on the motorway was hurt. The plane had developed a problem in its left engine shortly after it took off from Heathrow. The pilots mistakenly believed that the fault was in the right-hand engine which they shut down, leading to the crash, just yards from the runway of East Midlands Airport.
Today new cases fell slightly. There were a further 146,390 new cases, about 16,000 less than this time last week, bringing the weekly total to 1,202,085 a rise of 191,169 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 313 bringing the UK weekly total to 1279 a rise of 361 on last week. There were 10,722,342 recoveries a rise of 357,100 on last week’s total.