• harveyvickie

Weeks 34 to 40

Updated: Mar 21, 2021

Sunday 01/11/2020 – Day 232

Did you all go through the white Rabbits scenario this morning? The good news is that there are only 60 days remaining of this really rubbish year, there are only 54 days remaining to Christmas day as well.

Speaking of Christmas here is a bit of useful information I thought I’d share with you. Do you remember when you bought a new TV years ago, the store would have to register your name because of the TV licence fee, well today you need to be careful when you order your Christmas Turkey from your Butcher, he knows where you live, I mean, a 25kilo turkey for just two people? Just saying.

Mrs H and I still haven’t decided where to go for Christmas – the back room or the front room, but I daresay she will make up her mind by then – I don’t think!

I have got to mention the fact that England won the six nations last night, this was their first win since 2017. Ireland failed to beat the French and so the honours went to us, bit of a damp squib though, They interviewed Owen Farrell after the game finished, You’d have thought he had just lost a tenner and found a shilling, well done anyway lads!

The other big news is that I have now lost a stone since the beginning of my own self-inflicted diet plan started about 8 weeks ago, Mrs H won’t tell me her weight but she looks really good at the moment, perhaps she is waiting to shock me by saying she too has lost a stone. The shoulder is sadly no better, there is still a lot of pain when I do certain things, like hanging from the bedroom window by that arm or scratching my head with my arm up my back, we will survive!

Mrs H and myself are having a really lazy day today – so lazy in fact that I’ve had to convince her that I need to eat lunch!

There were 23254 new cases registered today, there were sadly a further162 new deaths recorded.

Monday 02/11/2020. – Day 233.

Woke up this morning with a bit of a problem, I had either slept in a funny position all night or had slept on my arm, either way it damn well hurt, more so than any time since I had initially done the injury to my shoulder ten days ago.

I got out of bed and then it really started – a searing pain all down my back ad my arm on the right hand side, worse still, it was painful to breathe, Fearing the worst I immediately got out my pen and began writing my will, (Just Joking), I went downstairs and made a cup of tea thinking it was probably cramp, took a couple of paracetamol and went back upstairs.

An hour later I went to make Mrs H’s usual morning Latte and the pain had worsened, by the time I was back upstairs I was almost gasping for breath, On waking Nurse Harvey (remember her Gripe water for babies) asked what was wrong, within a minute she had googled the symptoms and it appeared that it could be anything from trapped wind to a stroke or a heart attack with a further 30 scenarios in between.

Now, I don’t know what your local doctor’s surgery is like but at ours, getting an appointment at any time is a task worthy of Indiana Jones, but, on a Monday it is virtually impossible. Firstly, you have to get past the receptionist who has suddenly - overnight – become a fully fledged nurse, nay, that is an insult, a fully fledged doctor who will diagnose your situation from the few pathetic words you manage to wheeze out. You almost have to give them the name of your undertaker before they will give you an appointment, but not with the doctor, oh no, they are the Gods of the surgery and put to one side for real cases even though you are now gasping for breath. No, you are entrusted to a nurse, now to be quite honest I haven’t managed to reach a doctor for almost 18 months even though I have serious underlying problems with my health, but those nurse at our doctors have a greater understanding and knowledge than many of the twenty or so doctors that change weekly.

So, dear reader, the upshot is that I didn’t bother, the pain was bad enough but I didn’t fancy spending my last few hours listening to that constant beeping and a voice saying ‘the number you have called is busy, please try again later’. I have heard that voice so many times that the lady is now on my Christmas card list and comes to all our family events.

But here I am moaning about a pain in my side when there are hundreds suffering and dying daily, so the paracetamol will do along with a heat pad for now.

Another 18950 new cases recorded today plus a further 136 deaths recorded, I am dreading the figures tomorrow as these figures represent the weekend when traditionally they drop.

Tuesday 03/11/2020 – Day 234

The pain has eased this morning but is still there when I breath in, so I have taken the drastic decision not to breath in – just out! Mrs H and I have been waking up for a long time now with aches and pains, neither of us is getting a decent nights sleep, it doesn’t bother me, I only need 6 hours maximum, but Mrs H must have her 15 hours or she cannot be lived with. Anyway, we have both decided that it is our mattress that’s at fault.

This mattress was bought last year at Mrs H’s suggestion, we had a perfectly comfortable Silent Night pocket sprung job, but Mrs H had to have one of the latest memory foam jobs when we bought a new bed.

It arrived and was tightly packed in one of those polythene bag things where a machine sucks all the air out and shrinks it to a manageable size, very convenient I thought.

Two chaps dropped it in the hallway and would not under any circumstances drop it upstairs, they took a lot of convincing not to leave outside in the pouring rain on the gravel drive!

Then, clever old me made the ultimate mistake, I took the wrapper off whilst the damn thing was still in the hallway – downstairs. Have you ever seen one of those inflatable dinghie’s which automatically inflate when you pull a cord – well you get the gist. Within seconds, what was once a quite manageable lump of foam, had become a swollen oblong mass of uncontrollable material, worse still, how were we to get it up the stairs? I could have sworn I heard she who must be obeyed utter that immortal word ‘Berk’ under her breath.

Ever the gentleman I asked Mrs H which end she wanted, she didn’t want to lead so opted for the pushing end, I didn’t have that heart to tell the dear lady that she would have all the weight as we went up the stairs.

After a lot of grunting, groaning and cursing (from Mrs H) we had final got it onto the landing, the other ‘perfectly good’ mattress had earlier winged it’s way to our daughter’s house, so it was straight into the bedroom and onto the waiting frame.

We rolled into bed that night and I heard a big sigh from Mrs H as she literally sank into the cushioning foam, peace at last I thought.

The next morning I awoke and looked up at Mrs H, and I mean ‘looked up’, I have no idea what had happened but I was at least six inches lower than her, my foam had collapsed, I rolled out of bed almost immediately hitting the floor as it was so low, I watched the foam mattress spring up gently to it’s proper position as though nothing was wrong.

Mrs H woke up blissfully happy so I didn’t mention the ‘dip’ on my side, this went on for a few weeks until it was time to turn the mattress which you should do every six weeks or so. This of course meant that the ‘dip’ would now be on Mrs H’s side. We went to bed that night and I waited for the inevitable ‘What the hell’, but it never happened!

This went on for a further six weeks until it was time to turn the mattress again.

“Thank God for that” Mrs H remarked, “There’s one hell of a dip on my side”

So, since that day we have had to put pillows beneath the dropped side to support it, this worked very well for a couple of months, but the mattress just gradually began to lose it’s shape, this was about the same time coincidentally that Mrs H and I decided to start our diets, nothing to do with the extraordinary shapes and indents that were suddenly starting to appear in the mattress..

The result is that a brand new Silent night pocket sprung mattress will arrive today as the foam mattress makes its way to our daughters house, and good riddance to bad rubbish – the mattress – not the daughter.

As I said yesterday I was dreading todays figures, the number of new cases fortunately have not increased by much, but as predicted the death count has really increased, in the last 24 hours there were 397 deaths registered.

Wednesday 04/11/2020 – Day 235

And so here we are on the run up to bonfire night, Bonfire or Fireworks Night is a uniquely British event. It commemorates the successful foiling of a plot to blow up King James I and Parliament by Catholic subversives in 1605. The fireworks are a reminder of the gunpowder that was placed by the plotters under the Houses of Parliament.

Back in the early sixties this major event in any child’s calendar would have started around the beginning of October when small armies of young boys would be walking around with axes freshly honed by their father, can you believe that, youngsters running around with axes and machetes?

Everything within walking distance would be chopped down mercilessly and dragged off to the field in which our street always held theirs. It was also an opportunity for the locals to get rid of all their rubbish too, that sofa long past its sell by date, the hessian sacking unceremoniously torn away in the search for lost coins, and then of course there was always the old stained mattress, the stains would be blamed on the resident gran or grandad to ease the householders conscience.

Over the next few weekends the bonfire would get bigger and bigger until the weekend before the event the father’s would get involved, they would make sure there was not going to be any nasty surprises like gas bottles. The night before someone had to guard the stack of wood, there were unscrupulous lads on the estate that would wilfully set it alight.

Standard Fireworks – would usually appear in the shops two weeks before, these would consist of Catherine wheels, rockets, Roman candles and of course sparklers. But if you were a young lad of 10 years these paltry things didn’t interest you, we wanted bangers and jumping jacks (both now banned) the jumping jacks were particularly popular for throwing amongst a group of unsuspecting girls, putting the fear of God into them. Bangers were usually saved for running up behind someone you didn’t like and giving them a fright.

These would all have been paid for from begging when I say begging what I mean is ‘A penny for the Guy’, many a brother and sister would stand outside the shops with a ‘Guy’ in an old cart, it would be dressed in dad’s best jacket, and old pair of trousers and stuffed with straw, a bit like an early Worzel Gummidge I suppose. In the sixties children could purchase fireworks but the law made it illegal to sell to under 18’s in 2004.

Another regular event would be the annual Blue Peter safety talk, Valerie Singleton would go through all the motions of lighting the blue touch paper and retreating at haste. Wearing gloves while holding sparklers and never ever touching them if they had just gone out.

On the actual night there would be lots of children from the street all dressed in woolly hand knitted hats, scarfs and mittens which would have to be removed as they held their very first sparkler. Doing circular motions in the pitch darkness.

Then the big light, always done by a responsible adult, if it had been raining this was always a bit of a game, but dry paper would be fetched and eventually everyone was gradually taking a few more steps away from the searing heat, then the firework display would start, rockets, fountains, and roman candles lighting up the faces of the young onlookers clutching a spent sparkler. The Catherine wheel was never a success, it was either nailed on too tight so it wouldn’t spin, or it was too loose and would spin off into the crowd.

As the fire died down mothers shielded their faces to bravely drop potatoes into the embers, these were eaten with great gusto by the hungry children, within a few hours months of planning, collecting and building were over for another year. Well, not quite – the next day there was the great search for spent rockets and fireworks, with a bit of luck you just might find a live one, but that was very rare. Bath night only happened on a Sunday for most kids, so children would go to school next day reeking of smoke and fireworks! Then of course the milkman would have blackened bottles returned after they had been used for rockets.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this nostalgic trip down memory lane. Now back to this day.

My arm has got worse over the past couple of days and I have a stabbing pain in my right side every time I breathe in, I finally bit the bullet and got a telephone call with my doctor, after a series of questions and answers we were both of the same opinion, I had a chest infection.

Fortunately I have an emergency pack of a week’s course of steroids and ante-biotics which I started immediately, he has also (for caution) advised that I take a Covid test, I will see how the tablets go before bothering anyone with that, the aforementioned tablets do two things (1) Give you a boost of energy, whilst making you eat everything that doesn’t move, bang goes the diet. (2) Makes a normally happy old fellow into the most grumbly old git imaginable with mood swings bigger than Bing Crosby’s – Would You Like To Swing On A Star (1944)

Todays figures have increased frighteningly, newly recorded cases have risen by over 5000 to 25177 for the last 24 hours, New deaths also rose by a further 100 to 492, our government keep telling us that these figures still are nowhere near the March epidemic, but the March figures included every death in the UK, today the figures are purely Coronavirus related.

Thursday 05/11/2020 – Day 236

Lay in bed this morning on the luxurious new mattress purchased online, Today is the official start of the National Lockdown, 56 million people will become under government control, on average around 50% of them will attempt in one way or another totally ignore the rules, which is basically the reason we are in this mess now. A lot of it is down to the restless younger generation unknowingly and sometimes uncaringly spreading this terrible disease.

The thing is that if this virus was reversed and it was the youngsters that were catching it, every parent, Grandparent and Great Grandparent would do their utmost to protect the youngsters, sadly this is the age we have created and now live in.

Anyway, enough of this remorse, I am now officially back on furlough after a letter from my employers. It seems that the scheme has been extended to March 2021, does someone know something that we don’t, asking for a friend.

Sign we are in lock down again here in Kidderminster If it wasn't enough with people taking all the loo roll last time it seems that panic buying has reared its ugly head again, a shopper in Morrisons earlier today cleared the entire stock of prawns, crabs, mussels and cockles from the chiller. Shellfish pratt!

Once more it is the male population that suffers the most, no more pub, no more restaurant, no more mates meetings and no more football, while the women still live their normal lives, cooking, cleaning, washing, it’s just not fair!

Well it is bonfire night and we are on lockdown, but that doesn’t stop the night skies being awash with every type of firework available, I don’t mind them myself but some of those big ones that actually shake the tiles on your roof are a bit iffy, I feel sorry for the elderly living alone and for those who have pets, as I said I don’t mind ordinary fireworks, but the problem is that according to previous years we have at least two more weeks of them yet.

Meanwhile in the news on this day in 1909 Woolworths opened its first British store, in Liverpool. Almost 100 years later, (at the end of the first week in January 2009) the last remaining stores closed for the last time. I loved the sleigh ride at our local Woollies, not as good as the Co-op’s mind you.

In 2013 the village of Wool, in the Purbeck district of Dorset, reported that at least 160 sheep had been stolen from nearby fields, sometime between 1st and 3rd November, My younger brother Paul lives there, I must ring him and ask if he’s got any spare lamb!.

We’ve had another update from Boris Johnson who has claimed that people will be able to have “as normal a Christmas as possible” if they comply with the lockdown rules. Speaking at his press conference this evening, he said:

“I have every confidence, if we follow this package of measures [ie, the lockdown] in the way that we can, as we have done before, I have no doubt that people will be able to have as normal a Christmas as possible and that we will be able to get things open before Christmas as well.”

There will also be tough fines for those who flout the new rules. So, all we have to do is keep our fingers crossed that everyone is as sensible as us eh dear reader?

The figures for today were 24141 new cases and sadly a further 378 more deaths recorded

Friday 06/11/2020 – Day 237.

I was lay in bed this morning reminiscing. Do you recall the days when football stadiums were packed to the hilt and the pitch would be littered with toilet rolls – you don’t see that today.

My breathing problem has eased, but I am still having problems with my arm – lifting it that is, haven’t been able to do a tap all week, just typing this blog has to be done in bits and dabs, I have to rest my arm after just a few minutes, but, as they say, there is always someone out there who is a lot worse off, and sadly there are far too many these days.

The medicine I am on has got me hyper, I went to sleep at 2.00am and was up at 5.00 am unable to sleep, this is a common occurrence when I am taking my steroids.

I recently started saving, well, when I say saving what I really mean is that I have started throwing 10p into a bucket every time I got irritated, I now have £45 – I only started yesterday.

Meanwhile on this day in 1938 Singer P.J. Proby was born. He was later banned from performing when his trousers regularly and 'accidentally' split on stage, he was immediately banned for showing more flesh than Pan’s People.

Also on this day in 1942 The Church of England relaxed its rule that women must wear hats in church, it was rumoured that ladies hairdressers had full bookings for months after.

And finally on this day in 2004 The death, aged 66, of my hero Fred Dibnah MBE - Bolton born steeplejack, industrial historian, mechanical engineer, steam engine enthusiast and television presenter. His coffin was towed through the centre of Bolton by his restored traction engine, driven by his son, followed by a cortège of steam-powered vehicles. His former home in Bolton is now the Fred Dibnah Heritage Centre. He is buried here, in Tonge Cemetery, Bolton. I had followed Fred since his very first series when his first chimney came down and he uttered those immortal words 2Did thee like that”, RIP Fred you are sadly missed.

I wonder what Fred would have had to say about this pandemic, there were 23287 more new cases today with another 355 deaths recorded.

Saturday 07/11/2020 – Day 238.

Went bed at 10.30 last night watched TV until 2.00am (we are watching a brilliant series called Heartland at the moment) and was up again before 5.00am, the good news is that my Christmas poetry collection has grown substantially, it is painstakingly slow to type anything of length still, but the pain has now completely gone from my side so I can at least breathe a lot better, and I now just have the aching in my shoulder and arm.

Mrs H is in a mood with me at the moment, it all started when I put this survey on my local Facebook site:

Ok lads, when this second lockdown has finally gone, if you could choose between a foreign holiday with the wife or a steak and a few beers down the local with your mates which would you choose.

1. Well done

2. Medium

3. Medium rare

4. Rare

I mean what’s wrong with that?

On this day in 1942 The birth of Jean Shrimpton, (the Shrimp) leading English model whose face and figure, enhanced with a miniskirt, set the fashion for the 60s. There’s a lot of men in this country who owe that lovely lady a lot.

1964 The country's first drink-driving advertisement was shown on television, with the message "Drinking and driving are dangerous." Still a lot of fools out there though.

1967 British heavyweight champion Henry Cooper beat challenger Billy Walker to become the only boxer to win three Lonsdale Belts outright. A few years earlier of course ‘Our Enry’ had knocked the then Cassius Clay on his arse backside in the fourth round of their first fight, Henry sadly went on to lose in the fifth when Clay’s corner happened to find a rip in his glove, the time taken to replace it allowed Clay to recover from what was a fight winning blow, he came out and pummelled Cooper, cutting his eye badly in the process, the ref had no choice but to stop the fight and give the win to Clay.

And finally on this day in 1996 The closure of 'Butlins - Barry Island' in south Wales, Billy Butlin's last-built and smallest holiday camp. At the time of its closure it was owned by Majestic Holidays and was sold for £2.25m to Vale of Glamorgan Council who demolished the camp and sold it to Bovis Homes for housing development. Not only was was the brilliant ‘Gavin and Stacey’ filmed in Barry Island, but way back in 1973 Mrs H and I had our honeymoon at Butlins camp.

Stop laughing you lot, times were hard and money was tight back then.

Another 249557 people have tested positive today bringing the total over 7 days to a staggering 141,817, a further 413 deaths today bring that total over the week to 2333, and some are still saying this virus is not real!

Well, that’s me done for another week dear readers, my books are still available on Amazon


don’t forget to at least stop what you are doing at 11.00am today for the 2 minute silence, it isn’t much to ask, I will be on my doorstep with – hopefully – millions of others.

Sunday 08/11/2020 – Day 239

Had a lie in this morning, finally fell asleep at 2.00am and didn’t wake up until 5.45am, with the end of my steroids tomorrow am I going to come down to earth with a bump and like Rip Van Winkle fall asleep for twenty years, I could of course become sleeping beauty but Mrs H doubts this very much!

I lay there for a few minutes looking at my reflection in the wardrobe mirror, the unkempt hair, the unshaven face and I’m thinking to myself the more I stay at home the more homeless I look. It was at this stage I decided to haul my sorry backside out of bed.

On this day in 1605 Robert Catesby, the ringleader of the Gunpowder Plotters, was killed by gunshot, along with other conspirators at Holbeche House, on the border of Staffordshire. He was buried close by, but the bodies of Catesby and fellow conspirator Percy were exhumed and decapitated and Catesby's head was placed on the side of the Parliament House. You have to wonder if this was where Burke and Hare got their ideas from.

Also 1656 The birth of Edmond Halley, English astronomer and mathematician best known for the comet named after him and for his work predicting its orbit. He also produced the first meteorological chart. It was just a pity that weather forecaster Michael fish didn’t bother to study them better, after his disastrous forecast of 15th October 1987, his words of ….

"Earlier on today apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she'd heard there was a hurricane on the way," he confidently told viewers.

"Well, if you're watching, don't worry, there isn't."

…are now as famous as Kenneth Wolstenholme's famous 1966 World Cup commentary quotation, "they think it's all over...it is now!"

And finally, on this day 1920 Rupert Bear made his first appearance in the Daily Express. Rupert Bear Annuals have been produced since 1936 and are still in production today. The Rupert Annual is still one of the top three Annual titles sold worldwide. My Dad always bought the newspaper and I couldn’t wait to see what Rupert, Bill Badger, some of the most enduring pals are an elephant (Edward Trunk), a mouse (Willie), Pong-Ping the Pekingese, Algy Pug (who actually pre-dates Rupert), Podgy Pig, Bingo the Brainy Pup, Freddie and Ferdy Fox, the identical twins Reggie and Rex Rabbit, and Ming the dragon had been up to.

We must not of course lose sight of what today is really about, at 11.00am this morning the nation stood still for all those who had made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Sadly there was no-one around my area that I could see, perhaps they will make an appearance on Wednesday 11th at 11.00am.

Figures for the last 24 hours were a little better today, but we are in weekend mode, the number of new cases was 20572 whilst the number of deaths dropped significantly to 156.

Monday 09/11/2020 – Day 240

A very foggy evening last night, I was a bit disappointed that some of the morons that live in and around Kidderminster couldn’t cease from letting their stupid fireworks off even on Remembrance Sunday, they were going on all night around here, some people have just no respect whatsoever, but I’m afraid this is the selfish society we have created, I personally would have happily rounded up these morons and made them cut War Graves grass for the next 12 months – but with scissors – that way they would be on their knees to the people who gave them their freedom, apologies for the rant but they are so callous! Rant over, resume reading.

Well what can I say except THE BITCH IS BACK! Yes, I have woken up this morning (after 4 hours sleep) and feel as fit as a Butcher’s dog. I had my last dose of steroids and my 4 Weetabix, I was then raring to go.

I took Mrs H’s latte up to her and she asked as I beamed down at her

“Ok, who are you and what have you done with the grumpy old git I’ve been living with for five days?”.

I was so full of vitality I decided to let that one go over my head.

By 10am I was back to the place I know and love well, working, It had been almost a week since the work had stopped on the boudoir (bedroom) and I was eager to see the back of it, so far if you recall, all I had managed to do was put together the bedside cabinets and the chest of drawers, we also purchased a new mattress, I did manage to do a little painting.

Anyway, let me get you up to speed, the idea is to re-paint the cream paintwork in white, this will include wardrobe doors and part walls, that will leave the very expensive gold wallpaper on two walls with the mirror wardrobes opposite.

Mrs H has bought new crushed velvet Champagne curtains to match the material on the sled bed we bought last year.

So, I ran the roller over the walls a few times, painted all the woodwork – twice – and then a third time for luck. By 6.00pm it was all done and nicely dried, Mrs H was having a power nap downstairs, so, being the nice chap that I am I decided to hang the new curtains for her to save her little arms.

By the time she had come out of her coma sorry, sleep, it was all done, I took her into the bedroom and she looked – and looked – and looked, then she dropped the bombshell.

To be continued when I have cooled down!

Really good news out today is that they may have a vaccine ready for Christmas, a vaccine being trialled now is 90% positive to stop the virus taking over your body.

Boris was live from Downing street at 5.00pm and rightly urged caution, he wasn’t trying to put anything or anyone on a downer, but he said we must cautiously carry on as we are until this vaccine is proven to be 100% safe, and I think he’s right. He had this to say:

“The Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine has been tested on over 40,000 volunteers and interim results suggest it is proving 90 per cent effective at protecting people against the virus.

But we haven’t yet seen the full safety data,

and these findings also need to be peer-reviewed.

So we have cleared one significant hurdle but there are several more to go before we know the vaccine can be used.”

The government have ordered 40 million vaccines, but, as this is a two-dose vaccine it will only treat about one third of the UK’s population. I think that in these dark days any glimmer of hope is welcome.

A slight rise in both new cases and recorded deaths today, new cases were 21350 while recorded deaths numbered 194.

Tuesday 10/11/2020 – Day 241

Had a very unsettled night as I was having dreams, nay nightmares about the gold wallpaper in our bedroom growing a mouth and biting me everytime I put a scraper under it, This was of course due to the fact that we had been watching Heartland, on Netflix, a Vet had gone to syringe a horse and it bit him, and that dear reader is all it takes to set this old imagination into nightmare mode.

As my eyes slowly opened at 5.30 after another 3 hours sleep I could see that the wallpaper was still on the wall. I went downstairs for my cup of tea and my 4 Weetabix not relishing what Mrs H had in store for me in the bedroom today, (stop that! I mean decorating).

So, to recap, Mrs H walked into the bedroom yesterday and dropped a bombshell. She no longer liked the very expensive gold wallpaper that had only been on the walls for just over two years!. It just didn’t go with her crushed velvet Champagne curtains or the big crushed velvet sled bed with the Olympic sized new mattress.

But now Mrs H wanted everything white.

No problem you might think, but there was, the problem being 1. Do I strip all the gold wallpaper off, which would mean repapering with lining paper before painting, or 2. Do I just paint over the existing gold wallpaper with a white emulsion.

Before I could decide, Mrs h blurted out “we’ll just paint it as it is”.

This was the darling lady using the royal ‘We’, whereby I get to do all the work while she makes umpteen cups of tea and confers with Mrs H and Uncle Tom Cobbly and all..

In a temporary moment of insanity I actually toyed with the idea of trying to strip the wallpaper off in full sheets and selling it on e bay – but it passed.

It is well known that I am no stranger to the old decorating, so I knew straight away that to cover this depth of gold It was going to take a minimum of 3 coats and possibly even a fourth.

But that still wasn’t the problem, our real problem was getting it to dry, I gave it a first coat and two hours later it was still wettish, even though I had sweated bucket loads because Mrs H was cold and had turned the heating up! It eventually dried enough for a second coat, but by 3,30 it was still tacky and still patchy, I gave up for the day and will try again tomorrow.

As expected, the weekend figures are now in and they don’t make good reading, there were 20412 new cases reported, but the number of deaths jumped up to a frightening 532.

Wednesday 11/11/2020 – Day 242

I was lay in bed this morning thinking that if the Government banned shredded cheese – would this make Britain grate again?

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

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

A Father's lad, a Mother's son, A picture on a mantlepiece A Brother who is known to none, Carried back home, to be at peace.

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

That he should lie alone in peace, Known just to God, and God alone, Ne'er more to carry his valise, Ne'er more an army's stepping stone.

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

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

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

But Mother's o'er the world will cry, For wars and killing still increase, The bodies neath the poppies lie, Whilst Unknown soldier rests in peace.

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

Once again there is a rise in the number of new cases, up by 2500 to 22950, worse still is the recorded number of deaths in the past 24 hours, these are also up to 595.

Thursday 12/11/2020 – Day 243.

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

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

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

The bedroom had actually dried out beautifully when closely inspected ( ie, with eyes wide open) the third coat had done the trick, so all was good, just a matter of the delectable Mrs H adding all the extras. Lampshades, bedcovers, pillow cases, framed sayings and my wallet, the wallet is now in a black frame and in mourning after taking a right pasting from she who must be obeyed.

On this day in 1847 The first public demonstration of the use of chloroform as an anaesthetic was given by James Simpson, at Edinburgh University after he accidentally sniffed it and knocked himself out.

1933 The first photograph of the ‘Loch Ness monster’ was taken by Mr Hugh Gray. He managed to take five pictures altogether but after processing, four of them were blank and the fifth was not confirmed as being Nessie but a close up of his ogrish neighbour with the hump.

1974 A salmon was caught in the Thames, the first since around 1840. It was an 8lb 4 1/2oz female and she was discovered entangled in the protective nets around West Thurrock power station It was regarded by Thames Water authority as a vindication of the £100m of public money they had spent on effluent control. The only problem was that no-one had a tin opener.

1984 It was announced, by Chancellor Nigel Lawson, that the pound note, after being in circulation for more than 150 years, would be phased out and replaced with the pound coin. He should have stuck to cooking – oops sorry, that was his daughter Nigella.

1997 Great train robber Ronnie Biggs, was celebrating after Brazil's Supreme Court rejected a British request to extradite him, for the 2nd time. The court in Rio de Janeiro ruled that because Biggs' crime was committed more than 20 years previously, he could not be extradited.

Did anyone watch the Repair shop last night? It featured one of our local chaps trick cyclist Alf Tabb, his two Granddaughters took in a miniature twelve inch high bicycle which Alf – all six foot two inches of him – rode all over the world, he kept a five pound note in his pocket wherever he went, this was the reward for anyone who could ride the bike for five yards.

Alf died in 1976 aged 93, Later, there was talk of erecting a statue in the Horsefair, during these discussions Alf’s name was put through as a better suggestion as his shop had been just off the Horsefair in Stourbridge road.

Alf lost out to an iron horse made from Horseshoes!

A record number of UK coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours was down to Brits enjoying one "last hurrah" before lockdown, experts say. Infections leapt yesterday by half to 33,470 in the biggest 24-hour rise - bringing to total number of UK cases to 1.2million. The number of deaths sadly hovered at just below 600 as they have most of the week, there were 563 recorded.

Friday 13/11/2020 – Day 245

Woke up this morning and realised that it was Friday 13th, I was born really unlucky, if I’d have been one of Dolly Parton’s triplets I’d have been the one on the bottle!

When I was born, I looked poorly, my mother asked the midwife, “Will he live?” she said, “Only if you take your foot off his throat.”

I know one thing for sure, with my luck I’m never going to bungee jump. I was born because of broken rubber and I’m certainly not going go the same way. With these bizarre thoughts swimming around in my head I went downstairs for my tea and Weetabix.

I was in the Repair shop about 1.00pm when Mrs H brought in a very welcome sandwich, as I was feeding my handsome fizzog I began to think about the history of the sarnie (I know, don’t you just feel sorry for me).

I was raised on sandwiches as a staple diet, from the very first day my dear old Mum passed me a jam splattered quarter with the crusts cut off, I was hooked, my highchair I daresay would look like a scene from a massacre by the time that humble butty had been aimed at the mouth and missed on many occasions.

When I first started school I graduated to the ‘sprinkled sugar butty’. This would involve coming home hungry and Mum saying “Have a bit of bread and scrape”, I had to ask if I could have a sprinkling of sugar on it. I remember the old Tate and Lyle bags where mum used to pour the last remains into a sugar bowl and then rub the bag vigorously between her hands to get the last remains of sugar out, these days there is nothing left but back then the sugar stuck to the bag, perhaps it was the condensation in the kitchen caused by a constant rainbow from boiling terry towel nappies..

Then as I grew there was the old stalwart – the chip butty – this was used many a time to stop a tummy from consistently rumbling, on weekend evenings as soon as the parents left for the pub the blackened chip pan would come out, I remember being capable of peeling a potato before I started school. Mother had a device back then called a chipper, you would put the peeled spud into it and push down hard on the handle, this would push the potato toward a grid with squares, one more good push and your chips popped out the other side. Then it was into the boiling hot lard - I can still smell them cooking now – once cooked, they were carefully placed onto a doorstep of a sandwich, lashings of tomato sauce was added and miraculously you no longer had a rumbling tummy. Prior to this of course, on a Saturday teatime whilst the old man checked his pools coupon, hoping to win the £75000 (the jackpot back then) mum would mash up about 8 bananas and make a full loaf or more of sandwiches, the bananas had to be mashed or they wouldn’t go around my 4 brothers and 5 sisters, I still enjoy a mashed banana sandwich even today.

On leaving school and starting work my mum didn’t have much imagination when it came to providing butties. It was mostly Lemon Curd spread very thinly on bread and butter, Lemon curd was used to save the embarrassment of seeing strawberry jam oozing out of your bread, sometimes I would have a bit of corned beef, fishpaste spread or even a cold fried egg sandwich.

Speaking of embarrassment, the worst thing my mum could ever give me was boiled egg sandwiches! Just Imagine being sat in a hut with a lot of burly bricklayers and labourers, when suddenly someone opens an Oxo tin with egg sandwiches freshly made 13 hours ago and placed into a Mother’s Pride bread wrapper, you then open it – the stench was unbelievable, and no-one spoke to me for the rest of the day because they had to take their break in the rain!.

A few years later I graduated to Bacon and egg sandwiches, these were frequently bought from café’s, II would eventually graduate to the Bacon, Egg and tomato sandwich, this doorstep took a lot of skill to negotiate, the skill was to manage to eat it without the contents drippling down the clean T shirt your mum had given you that morning.

When I got married Mrs H’s skill with a piece of bread, cheese and tomato was unsurpassable, remember when you were little and you had real jam sandwiches, remember the delight of seeing that lump in your sandwich – the days when whole strawberries were put into jam – well, Mrs H’s were like that in the early days, the only different was the lumps were blocks of cheese and quarters of tomato, it has taken me 47 years to get her to actually slice the ingredients and not rip a block off and shove it between two slices of bread – bless her. A special mention for the salad sandwich, can I just say that watching someone biting into one of these in a cafeteria with mayonnaise running down the corner of their mouth is not a good look!

And finally, along came the BLT, for those not in the know this is a Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sarnie. Who on earth thought that it was a good idea to put a usually crisp and refreshing lettuce leaf together with a red hot slice of bacon? The result was a mish mash of a sandwich that tasted like the equivalent of eating a dishcloth after it had been in a hot washing up bowl for the duration.

No thank you!

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed my look at the humble butty.

I don’t normally wish ill on anyone but today Peter Sutcliffe – aka the Yorkshire Ripper – died with Coronavirus, his death may bring closure to the thirteen families of the women he brutally and mercilessly butchered back in the 1970’s, may he never rest in peace.

There was a lot of Cummings and goings at No 10 this afternoon when Dominic Cummings, left Number 10 Downing Street "with immediate effect" (at just after 5:30pm). Dare I say ‘That’s two wrong uns gone today’.

Saturday 14/11 2020 – Day 246.

Well, here we are at the end of week 35 already, where has the time gone? Mrs H and I actually went to sleep at 2,00am after watching 5 episodes of ‘Heartland’ a massive series from Canada set on a horse training farm. Well worth a look with over 200 episodes in the series.

The weather has turned, it’s as dull as dishwater, actually, that is wrong.The original simile, dull as ditchwater, dating from the 1700s, alluded to the muddy water in roadside ditches. In the first half of the 1900s, perhaps through mispronunciation, it became dishwater, that is, the dingy, greyish water in which dirty dishes had soaked.

Todays project has been passed to me by Mrs H, it’s a bit like the challenges on Top Gear when someone pops over and hands them a card with a task on it, (actually, Mrs H is a big fan, Mmm is that where she got the idea?) So, on our landing we have an old chair which Mrs H’s Granddad used to sit on as he worked in the shed down the garden, To say it is looking a little tired would be underestimating the situation, so todays challenge task is to strip all the varnish off it and paint it white with touches of copper on the legs, this will bring it in line with the colour scheme in our hallway. Watch this space!

Prince Charles has a birthday today, he is 72 years young, but more to the point, today in 1936 The birth of Freddie Garrity, singer, frontman and the comical element in the 1960s pop band, Freddie and the Dreamers. The group disbanded in the late 1960’s but he formed a new version of Freddie and the Dreamers and toured regularly for the next two decades until 2001, when he was diagnosed with emphysema. He died on 19th May 2006. I still have the image of those crazy dances and swinging across the stage on a rope, completely zany, but he proved he had a voice when his record ‘I Understand’ reached No5 in 1964.

Also, today in 1969 The BBC began colour television programmes. This was a great relief to the producers of Pot Black and other snooker programmes, mind you some presenters had to have hasty makeovers lol!

Has anyone realised yet that in one of the most bizarre role reversals of 2020 our kids are now shouting at us for going out! The good news is that there are less than 7 weeks left in this tragedy of a year. There are also just 40 days left to Christmas, there you go, that’s cheered you up no end I’ll bet.

Todays figures are the highest weekend figures to date of this second lockdown, there were 28,860 new cases and 462 recorded deaths. The total for the last seven days is 172,915 new cases and 2,878 recorded deaths. The government are saying that the next two weeks are vital if the lockdown is to end on December 2nd.

And on that sad not dear reader I will leave you for another week, don’t forget to tell your friends about this pile of garbage you receive every Sunday morning, because I’m not going anywhere until March at the earliest – God willing.

Have a wonderful week but most importantly – stay safe.

Sunday 15/11/2020 – Day 246

Had a bit of a lie-in this morning, the reason? It was so dark outside! One of the bleakest and darkest days to date, I went downstairs, made my tea and Weetabix, not in the same receptacle you understand, went back upstairs and all hell broke out outside, there was a sort of mini-storm, the rain was hammering at the windows so hard I thought they would break, the wind was swirling it around like a whirling dervish, I watched in amazement as it suddenly stopped and the sun broke through, I pinched myself to see if I was awake.

Well, it is now official, I will be vacating my office this week! Mrs H has decided that it needs a makeover, I built the desk and shelving some years ago and have been quite happy with it, but Mrs H hasn’t, she constantly complains that she can’t get her Ken Dodd ‘tickling stick’ across the unfinished paintwork as it cags! So I asked my son Mark to look out for some dark grey paint to do the shelves, the desk and the immediate walls around it, the rest of the room is ok and finished in a mustard colour so it should go ok with the grey. Mrs H has seen this idea on either Mrs Hinches blog, the queen of clean or one of the many other ladies she follows on whats app.

The only time I’ve ever heard those words was on the Bugs Bunny show when he uttered those immortal words ‘What’s app Doc’, my hero.

Talking of cartoons there have been some brilliant ones over the years, My old dad was a big fan of Popeye the Sailor man, whether or not this had anything to do with him being in the Royal Navy during the war, I have no idea. Popeye, the muscled sailor with a tattoo of an anchor on his arm first appeared in 1929 in a theatre, he went on to become a comic strip, in the 1950’s he transferred to the TV, the spinach eating sailor had become a hero to children (and my dad) all over the world.

Popeye was involved in a love triangle, along with Bluto (his arch enemy) and Olive Oyle his girlfriend. I can still hear the playground chants coming from my school friends in the playground where the lyrics of the song would be changed.

I’m Popeye the Sailor man

I live in a caravan

I cut my hair, with the leg of a chair

Cos I’m Popeye the sailor man.

I’ve heard some very suspect lines based on that theme song during my early years in the playground.

It wasn’t long before we were watching more sophisticated and complex cartoon shows like the Flintstones, The series takes place in a romanticized Stone Age setting and follows the activities of the title family, the Flintstones, and their next-door neighbours, the Rubbles (who are also their best friends) who live in caves next door to each other. It was originally broadcast on ABC from September 30, 1960, to April 1, 1966, and was the first animated series to hold a prime time slot on television.

Then of course came Top Cat or TC as he was affectionately known, it was based on the films of ‘The East End Kids’, but its more recent roots were firmly in ‘The Phil Silvers show, Maurice Gosfield who played Private Duane Doberman in The Phil Silvers Show, provided the voice for Benny the Ball in Top Cat, and Benny's rotund appearance was based on Gosfield's. Along with Fancy-Fancy, Spook, Benny the Ball, Brain, and Choo Choo the gang was complete, except of course for the other main character Officer Dibble, the downtrodden police officer who patrolled Top Cat’s alley.

Now we have the likes of the Simpsons, with its wonderful scripts and special guest stars, but they will never beat the early days of those TV cartoons.

So, back to reality, Mrs H and I have had a really lazy Sunday, Mark turned up with a 2.5 ltr pot of grey paint he had found in in the bargain basement of the local be in a queue, it cost the princely sum of just £7, which I haven’t paid him yet, ‘near enough, that’s a result’ I thought to myself as I put the paint in the Repair shop.

The number of new cases today were 24,962, the recorded figures for deaths were down to 168, but we mustn’t forget that these are weekend figures.

Monday 16/11/2020 – Day 247

A bit brighter this morning, Mrs H greeted me with, “I’ve heard about history repeating itself – but this Monday thing has got to stop”.

Mrs H and I were so bored yesterday that we sort of binge watched the latest series of ‘The Crown’, on Netflix, if you can believe all that is written and portrayed, Charles really did dump on Diana from day one and from a great height, his affair with Camilla was quite notorious. We are only halfway through it so far, watch this space, Talking of Charles, he appeared on the News later honouring the war dead of Germany at a ceremony, I am a royalist but I don’t think he did himself any favours by going there, I didn’t see any representatives of Germany at any of our ceremonies recently, but then I have always advocated that Charles should give up his place in the line-up to his son William who seems to be much more in touch with the public of today, only my opinion of course and I have now finished my rant of the week.

After breakfast I started the task of clearing the shelves in the office, how on earth did I accumulate so much stuff? It took almost two hours just to clear everything in order to paint. Mostly built in MDF I was wondering how the grey paint would take, it looked very pale in the tin and we wanted it a dark grey. Well, I was pleasantly surprised, the paint covered exceptionally well considering how long the wood had laid there bare, I used the same paint for the wood and the walls and it looked great.

After a light lunch (no, not bulbs) I gave it a second coat, it dried really well but I still hadn’t finished until about 3.00pm, I looked at the piles of books and paraphernalia on the bed behind me and thought, Sod it, I’ll put it all back tomorrow, I told Mrs H – who was now running a critical hand across the dried desk top – that it may be touch dry, but if I attempted to put stuff back then it would surely stick. She swallowed my feeble excuse hook, line and sinker and went downstairs to start the tea, phew!

At 4.30pm there was a coronavirus update on BBC with the Health secretary Matt Hancock looking very pleased after he announced that a second vaccine was now being trialled, but this second vaccine had a 95% recovery rate. Meanwhile, there were a further 21,363 new cases registered whilst there was another 213 deaths recorded.

Tuesday 17/11/2020 – Day 248.

Mrs H and I once again binged on the Netflix series Heartland, my poor lady hasn’t been too well for the last couple of days, she has been suffering queasiness and light -headed phases where she kept going dizzy. So yesterday she fell asleep on the sofa for almost four hours, we both have a catnap sometimes but this length of time was very unusual for Mrs H. The result was that when we finally went to bed she wasn’t very tired, it was 2.15am when we finally turned off the TV and I was eating my Weetabix five hours later. I vowed to myself that if the love of my life wasn’t better this morning then I would phone the doctor.

I heard her stirring a couple of hours later and took her latte up to her, she said she was feeling a lot better but had just woke up with a bad headache, I am pleased to say that after a couple of paracetamol she was back to her normal self and instructing me as to where I should put my own stuff back in the office, what I should keep and what I should throw away, well, you get the general drift, but I was so pleased that she was ok, I hate it when she’s poorly.

Fortunately, neither of us suffer from much serious illness, I put it down to all the exercise I take – I don’t think! I hated PE at school, there was absolutely no pleasure taken in exercising with a load of lads who hadn’t washed their feet since the last PE class. I had more cases of athletes foot than the whole of the Olympian world team, this was deemed to be very infectious and would get you excused from PE, of course Athletes foot is basically a fungal infection found mainly in unwashed feet – ooops!

Another great excuse for skipping PE was the old stalwart ‘I forgot my kit sir’ or ‘My Mum didn’t get it dried on time sir’. But we had a ruthless PE master who seemed to spend most of his spare time in the PE Mistresses office, he would point to the sorry looking basket in the corner and tell you that there was plenty of spare kit in there, so help yourself. Yes there was plenty of spare kit in there, I swear, you could actually see the fumes rising from that basket, there was a permanent fog around it and not many brave souls ventured there. As I lifted the lid some wag had pinned a note on the underside;

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here

I sorted through the contents, mostly unwashed stuff that had been deserted by its previous owner because of sheer embarrassment – nay shame, so, I would run out to football wearing a mud splattered shirt that smelled like a gardeners muck pile on an allotment, one sleeve was missing and the other was hanging by the merest thread of cotton, it stretched down to my knees, which, was good in a way as it hid the torn shorts beneath, when I say torn , I mean torn in the only possible place where if you were in a hurry for the toilet it wouldn’t be a problem, the whole look was completed by two different coloured pumps of varying sizes, both were good for my athletes foot though, as they let plenty of air in through the holes.

And that dear reader is why I hated any form of exercise that didn’t involve chasing girls around the playground, and why I now have the body of Tinky-Winky from the Teletubbies.

I digress, where was I – oh yes, it took most of the day to sort out the years of accumulated rubbish office stuff, but when it was finished what a difference, I knew Mrs H was back to good form as I came back from the Repair shop and heard the hoover going in the office.

There were a further 20,051 new cases in the past 24 hours, the number of registered deaths once again jump to 598.

Wednesday 18/11/2020 - Day 249

I’m lay in bed remembering that last night Mrs H opened a jar of pickles on her own, I can’t help thinking that my days around here are numbered.

Having eaten my four Weetabix I was looking at my messages on my laptop in my new plush office, , when Alexa just came on without asking, well, you know that the ads say you can ask Alexa anything, ignore it, I asked her what women really want and she hasn’t shut up for the last hour!

Today’s job is a bit of a doddle, I have to take the top off a padded round stool and re-upholster it in black, then I have to paint the legs in black, Mrs H has assured me that this will go great with my black leather easy chair in the office, the burning question of the day is should I put some small tears in the new fabric to match my leather chair? If you ever watched the American series ‘Frasier’ then you’ll know that his dad had an easy chair that was held together with duct tape, it was in a right old state in a plush apartment. Well, my old leather chair is like that, it doesn’t look much, but after a hard days work I can go up to the office, sit in it and be in the land of make believe within seconds, there is not another chair in our house that does that for me.

I may have to do a bit of a clean-up outside before I attempt the stool though, it is uncannily mild at the moment and according to the forecast on Countryfile this is the last opportunity for a while to tidy up.

My dear daughter Gemma has acquired a sort of sixties glass cabinet for me to revamp in the Repair shop, it is just chipboard with glass sliding doors but I am really looking forward to revamping it, might even make a few bob. Watch this space.

I’m not quite sure how many mince pies it takes to make you happy, but so far 23 isn’t the answer.

I saw a lovely newborn baby pic on Facebook today, the baby had a T shirt on which said ‘Guess who didn’t practise social distancing’.

Once again figures for new cases are hovering around the 20,000 mark and today are at 19609, but the number of new deaths recorded remains at 529, the second time this week.

Thursday 19/11/2020 – Day 250

I was lay in bed contemplating on whether or not I should arise when a thought came into my head, If this pandemic had happened 20 years ago I would have been stuck with a Nokia 3100 with 300 texts, 100 minutes call time and dial up Internet, it was at that point I decided to get up.

I have been having a problem with my desktop computer (tower), so earlier this week I decided to have a look at it, to put it in a nutshell it is like me - knackered! It seems to have gone into sleep mode and I can't wake it up to access it, I have tried everything except a hammer and that was passing through my mind about an hour after I started, fortunately I save everything on sticks so nothing on there is of any real importance.

I searched online for another tower I don't believe in splashing the cash for something I am just using as a back-up so I looked for a refurbished one. Wasn't bothered about windows 10 either, I saw a tower for the princely sum of £45 and checked it out, it had Windows 7 which was good enough for me, the upshot is that It came today and I have spent the whole day setting it up with all my information.

The only drawback is that it's another Dell, I just hope it doesn't go permanently asleep like its predecessor or indeed - before me!

Which reminds me of when Mrs H had her new I pod, she was setting it up when it asked her to create a password, she typed ‘chicken’ the machine responded with ‘password must contain a capital’, I actually saw Mrs H type ‘chickenkiev’.

On this day in 1924 The birth of the actor William Russell. His big break was the title role in The Adventures of Sir Lancelot on ITV in 1956. The series was sold to American NBC network and became the first UK television series to be shot in colour. I had completely forgotten this series yet I remember watching it along with William Tell with Conrad Phillips (1958 – 59) Robin Hood with Richard Greene (1955 – 60) and Ivanhoe with Roger Moore later to become James Bond (1958 -59). There were some terrible scenes played out in our Junior school playground after watching our hero’s the previous night.

In 1994 on this day 1994 Britain's first National Lottery draw. It had a jackpot of £7M and was shown live on BBC television. A £1 ticket gave a one in 14-million chance of correctly guessing the winning six out of 49 numbers. I gave it up when the odds went up to 1 in 45million, specifically designed to keep the rollovers going so that you have more chance of knitting fog than actually winning the jackpot.

And finally on this day 2012 Father Christmas was left dangling from the ceiling for 30 minutes after his beard became trapped while abseiling inside a Reading shopping centre as part of a Christmas lights switch-on show.

I hadn’t heard from George for a while, so I decided to give him a ring. He said he hadn’t been too well and that once again he had been in the doghouse, reluctantly, I asked why:

“We were at a wedding last Saturday one of Rose’s relations, and I turned around to the person next to me and just to make conversation I said, Everyone’s got a right to be ugly but that bride abuses it”

“Do you mind?” the person said, “That’s my daughter you’re talking about”,

“So sorry” I replied embarrassed, “I didn’t realise you were her father”,

“I’m not” came the reply, “I’m her bloody mother”,

And that’s when the fighting started.

Figures for the last 24 hours have once again risen with 22915 new cases being registered and a further 501 deaths, that’ over 1500 in just three days.

Friday 20/11/2020 – Day 251

I lay awake in bed this morning wondering why there are more airplanes underwater than there are submarines in the sky – I know, time to get out of bed.

Some special paintbrushes that I ordered came today, they are for painting on chalk paint when I finally start doing up furniture, I may as well make good use of the Repair shop and keep myself busy.

Speaking of keeping busy someone sent me a newspaper cutting of one of Mrs H’s Instagram friends, it seems that Mrs Hinch has cleaned up in the first year of her online blog. Mrs Hinch - also known as Sophie Hinchliffe - is the cleaning influencer who took Instagram by storm and garnered millions of followers within a year. The Instagram sensation, who is good friends with TV star Stacey Solomon, made headlines for the rise in sales of home cleaning buys; from Zoflora disinfectant to the Minky M cloth. A former hairdresser, Sophie lives in Essex with her husband Jamie and their baby boy Ronnie and their beloved dog Henry. Through her popular Instagram account she has garnered a 'Hinch Army' of 3.8 million loyal fans and has appeared on This Morning alongside Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby. She is also a best-selling author and fans are desperate for a homeware collection from the cleanfluencer. Her fortune is said to be around £1.5 million. I say, well done Mrs Hinch, and I’m looking for ways for the other Mrs H to make me a few bob.

I saw this Advert under personal in our local paper, ‘Are you alone this Christmas, no-one to share it with, please call me on this number – I need to borrow some chairs!’

It’s my son Marks birthday today, he is a builder, but I must share with you what he has been doing the last two weeks, he was watching a report on the news and some of the people hadn’t been able to speak to their parents for months because of the lockdown, this upset him quite badly, so he made a few discreet enquiries. He discovered that some local care homes had residents that hadn’t seen their families for months, so Mark has financed, and built special pods for visitors to sit in whilst they visit their relatives, to say I am proud of him is an understatement! But then, they say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Mrs H and I haven’t got an Advent calendar this year, so we’ve decided just to open kitchen doors daily and eat whatever’s in there. Talking of eating, I have just two pounds of weight to lose in order to reach my desired weight, this will mean that I have shed over a stone since I started.

Talking of health, the Health secretary Matt Hancock was back on at 5.00pm today to try and convince us that all was in hand and vaccines were on the way soon, once they’d passed the strict guidelines, meanwhile the registered new cases were again at 20252, while the latest recorded deaths were over 500 for the fourth day in a row, the figure was 511.

Saturday 21/11/2020 – Day 252

Have you ever had one of those days when you wish you hadn’t bothered to get out of bed? Well I’m having one today, I’ve just spent the last two hours trying to adjust this horrible new Facebook site, for the last few months I’ve been able to take it back into the ‘old mode’ for 48 hours, but today they have stopped everyone doing that, I really don’t like the new version, so expect mistakes lol.

Two new blinds delivered today, one for the office and one for the back bedroom, I thought it was going to be a doddle, they were both exactly the same size as the existing ones, what could go wrong, everything that could go wrong -did. The bracket were different, the existing holes were in the wrong place and the new ones were about 10milimetre shorter! So, as usual a ten-minute job took about 2 hours, but the result was well worth it.

Later this evening we had a video meal with our brilliant friends Janet and John, no, not those two from schooldays, No, not those two from the Terry Wogan show, these are our real friends Jahn and Jan who are just as hilarious as Terry Wogan’s version and are wonderful people to be around. They paid for a home delivery from a very plush Hotel chain, it involved every sort of sandwich describable, a variety of scones and cakes that any baker worth his salt would be proud of, this was all washed down with wine for the ladies and Guinness for us gents. It was over two hours before we all said goodbye after loads of fun and banter, we really miss them but hopefully, it won’t be too long before we meet in real life again.

George went into a shop today, he’d had another argument with Rose his girlfriend, so he was a little worse for wear after drinking at home, he said to the assistant@

George “Could you tell me where the Irish sausage is please”

Assistant Are you Irish?

George This racism thing has gone too far, If I asked for Italian sausage would you ask if I was Italian, If I asked for Danish Bacon, would you ask if I was Danish, of course you wouldn’t, so why are you asking me if I’m Irish.

Assistant Because you are in Halfords sir.

Just thought I’d share that with you.

Today’s figures reveal that there were !9875 new cases and a further 341 registered deaths.

Well, that’s it again for another week dear friends, I really can’t believe that we are starting our 37th week together tomorrow.

On the countdown to Christmas, today is Stir-up Sunday, look out for my blog.

Have a good week, but please – stay safe.

Sunday 22/11/2020 – Day 253

Didn’t even bother to venture out until after midday, it was a bit cool to say the least, but I had to go out and clear the mass of leaves from the pavement by our wall before some poor unsuspecting mother lost her child in them on the way to school, by the time I had finished the pavement outside ours and the elderly neighbours house our garden waste bin was full to the brim. That was another reason for cleaning up, tomorrow is the last empty of the year, so I thought I’d give the council their leaves back from the trees opposite. I’ve always liked Sundays.

When we were knee high to grasshoppers our Sunday evenings were sort of set in stone, at 6.00pm we would all be waiting our turn for our bath, due to the number of siblings we had to double up (well, the youngest of us, the oldest had their own clean bath), all this happened while the old man listened to ‘Sing something simple’ on the radio as he got ready to go out. After our bath the oldest of us would be allowed to stay up and watch the highlight of the weekend, it was Sunday Night at the London Palladium.

This ATV show ran from 1955 (the year commercial TV started) to 1967, it was re-introduced in 1973 to 74.

Debuting on the first weekend of commercial television in the UK, from the very start 'Sunday Night at the London Palladium' established itself as the highlight television show of the week for Britain's viewing millions - and immediately climbed to the top of the TV ratings. The show was the topic of conversation for millions in factories, offices and shop floors on Monday mornings. The British viewing public had never seen anything as spectacular as this on their TV sets before as the world's most celebrated stars and the best of home-grown talent was bought into their living rooms in an extravaganza of music, dance and comedy. 'Sunday Night at the London Palladium' was very probably the one show, above all others, that helped establish Commercial Television.

After the Tiller Girls and the lesser acts in the first part was a game show imported from America, Beat the Clock, the format of which was rather like Bruce Forsyth's later hit in The Generation Game. It featured couples having to perform a trick or stunt, like even changing clothes (previously put on, on top of their ordinary clothes) with each other within a set time. If a couple could complete both stunts, the wife must rearrange words stuck to a magnetic board and people had to "arrange them into a well-known phrase or saying" in 30 seconds. If she succeeded, the couple won a major prize. Whenever a bell rang, the couple who played at that time would play a jackpot stunt for a cash bonus worth £100 for each week since the last jackpot win.

The very first host of this popular show was Tommy Trinder,(You Lucky People) he compered from 1955 to 1958,his guests on the first show were Gracie fields and Guy Mitchell, the show would always open with the Tiller girls high kicking dance routine, the host would then come on – say a few words – tell a few jokes and then introduce the minor acts. In part two it would be time to play ‘Beat The Clock’, this was an American derived parlour game where members of the audience were selected to do silly tasks (such as catching table tennis balls in a net this was all done against the ticking of the large clock on the backdrop. Part three (there were only two commercial breaks every twenty minutes in those days, ah bliss!) belonged to the big stars.

A young thirty year old Bruce Forsyth took over from Trinder in 1958, after years of music hall and treading the boards Bruce became an overnight star, he brought a whole lot of fun to beat the clock and some say that this was the forerunner of the ’Generation game’. It is recorded that the biggest ever audience was in 1960 when it reached 20 million viewers, the host was Bruce with the stars being Cliff Richard and the Shadows.

In 1960 -61 little known comedian Don Arrol took over from Bruce who had become ill in that year, He did a good job but wasn’t up to the standard required for a top TV slot, he went on to host the ‘Black and White Minstrel show’ and then ‘Candid Camera’.

In 1961 I was nine years old and there would be at least five of us plus a baby sat watching the return of Bruce much to the delight of Producers and the audience, but this was only going to be a one year stand, he had committed heavily to stage and other work, although he did make honorary host appearances up to 1964, guests were The Bachelors, Hope and Keen and Frank Ifield.

From 1962 – 1965 Norman Vaughan (Swinging, dodgy) took over as host. Every kid at school was going around doing the ‘swinging, dodgy’ thing with their thumb. He introduced such famous artistes as Harry Secombe, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Judy Garland and Tommy Cooper, but the ones that always stick in my mind were The Crazy Gang, after leaving Norman went on to do an extensive ‘Roses grow on you’ ad campaign for Cadburys Roses chocolates, he also hosted the ‘Golden Shot’ ‘Mr and Mrs’ and helped develop ‘Bulls Eye’.

1965 – 1967 was the time of the ongoing Liverpudlian revolution, so who better to become the next host than Jimmy Tarbuck, the comedian/singer had made quite a few guest appearances and was well loved at the time. He would be the last host of the show in its existing format. I have to admit that by this time I was losing interest in the programme that had kept me in on a Sunday night.

Lew Grade axed the show in 1967 along with ‘Emergency Ward 10’, he said later that they were the two biggest mistakes of his life.

The show was revived for one year in 73 – 74, it was hosted by Jim Dale but didn’t take off. The second revival came in 2000 under the title Tonight at the London Palladium, and third from 2014 until 2015 under the title Sunday Night at the Palladium, dropping London. From 2016, the show is called Tonight at the London Palladium and is presented by Bradley Walsh

Hope I revived a few memories for you. I enjoyed researching it.

Today is ‘Stir up Sunday’ the traditional day for doing the mix for the Christmas pudding, when all the family would gather to stir the mix for good luck.

The figures for the last 24 hours were slightly down at 18662 new cases and 398 recorded deaths.

Monday 23/11/2020 – Day 254

I was lay in bed this morning thinking ‘When one door opens and another one closes’ you are probably in prison.’ Then I looked at the bedside clock and it was 8.30, I had overslept by at least two hours! Mrs H and I are going to have to stop binge-watching Heartland, but they keep ending it so you need to watch the next one.

Actually ordered our Christmas wreaths today, not a bad price either at just £5 each and free delivery.

Mrs H has been buzzing around all day, cleaning, cooking, washing, she even pulled my dressing gown off my back ready to wash it – then she woke up and I handed her her morning Latte.

Boris and co were on TV again this evening, it seems that the new Oxford vaccine is coming in at 70%, but then one of the scientists or one of the helpers ‘accidentally’ discovered that when tweaked the vaccine went up to 90%, but you have to ask – did someone ‘accidentally’ administer an overdose – in order to discover this little snippet of information?

Mrs H reckons that her idea of drinking responsibly is not to spill any of it! I overdid it slightly yesterday when I found out that I’d regained my taste for Guinness, I had seven cans in one session!

Dr Who started on this day back in November 1963, but on its debut was wrought with problems, firstly there were power cuts over a lot of the country, and secondly it was overshadowed by the assassination of John F Kennedy the day before, but I still recall cowering behind the sofa when the creations appeared on the show at 5.15 that Saturday, and the fun we had the following year when the Daleks arrived.

Once again the figures have dropped, there were only 15450 new cases and deaths recorded were right down to 206, dare we hope?

Tuesday 24/11/2020 – Day 255

Lay in bed at 5.30am wide awake and thinking ‘It's the start of a brand new day, and I'm off like a herd of turtles’.

By 6.00am I am sat with two computers on catching up on the night’s events whilst eating my four Weetabix, The reason dear reader, that I have two computers is that Facebook have made a right royal cock-up of revamping their site. Last Friday I had a perfectly good laptop which functioned very well, on Saturday the powers that run FB decided that there was no more nice guy (up until then you could switch back to the old version) and they would pull the plug on the old version and force everyone to use the up to date one. I kid you not when I say that it has slowed my computer down by 50%. It now takes twice as long to post stuff on the four sites that I run, and if I open more than three windows my laptop continuously freezes. The reason for the nerds at FB doing this is simple, most people under the age of fifty log on to FB via their mobiles, the old FB was never geared up to this – but it is now – at the expense of those working from laptops or desktop computers. So basically, they have speeded up mobiles and slowed down computers. Simples,com. And that dear reader is why I have two computers on the go, they have rendered my Windows 10 laptop virtually useless, but my desktop is windows 7 and runs a lot better with the new system.

Mrs H and I were feeling really brave today, the good lady has been promising herself for the last two weeks that she should go out into the garden and plant her Spring bulbs, she has made every excuse under the sun, like “it’s a bit windy today, I’ll wait till the wind drops a bit” or even “ The chap on countryfile said it was going to rain today sometime, I don’t want to start and not be able to finish”, Yes, the little lady was right, the man on Countryfile did say to us that it was going to rain today, but it was overnight – and it was in the Scottish Highlands! Anyway, to get around the problem Mrs H decided that she would put all the bulbs in pots and then suddenly produce them in the Spring so that the neighbours can be amazed at her ingenuity and prowess as a gardener, Meanwhile she allowed me to put up all the new lighting around the garden as she was ‘sick to death’ of solar powered lights that only came on when the sun shone, Er solar Mrs H, does the word not mean anything to you.

The total new cases has dropped dramatically to 11299, but sadly, the number of deaths has once again risen to 607.

Wednesday 25/11/2020 – Day 256

Here I am wide awake again at 5.45, Mrs H and I were in bed watching Heartland at just turned nine last night, age 68 might be the new 48, but 9:00 pm is the new midnight, as I got my sorry backside out of bed trying not to wake Mrs H, I remembered the pong gone days when I was able to get up without making any sound effects.

We had a really lazy morning actually, I never ventured outside until 12.00 midday, I went into the garden and it was surprisingly mild, so I got the sucker out, no, not Mrs H - the one I use for the leaves, and proceeded to have a right good tidy up, hopefully for the last time this side of the Lord’s birthday, by the time I had blown the last leaf onto the bottom border I was feeling the cold a bit, so I couldn’t be bothered to suck them all up, I decided that I’d tell Mrs H that I’d left them there to protect her tender plants over the coming Winter period!

As I went back inside, I could hear the dulcet tones of the hoover from the lounge, Mrs H entered all hat, bothered and flustered:

“Been through the whole house” she gasped, but why she wanted to divulge this information I had yet to discover.

“Everything’s spotless, I even managed to clean your two computers, the grime that came off them was unbelievable”

Now dear reader, I don’t know if you can recall the wonderful comedy ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ but Thora Hird played Edie, she was very houseproud and everytime her poor downtrodden husband Wesley (Gordon Wharmby) entered the house she would use a weeks old newspapers – dropping them wherever he dared to tread, Well, that is exactly how I feel when Mrs H has tidied up, I thought it best not to tell her at this moment in time that I’d covered her plants with leaves.

Just when we thought things might be getting better, the number of new cases is once again up to 18213, but even more hurtful is the fact that the death toll has risen up to a new high at 696.

Thursday 26/11/2020 – Day 257.

I was lay in bed thinking that on average a Panda feeds for about 12 hours a day, this is the same as an adult in quarantine, so, is that why it’s called a ‘pandemic’? Don't bother walking a mile in my shoes. That would be boring. Spend 30 seconds in my head. That'll freak you right out.

We had a white out this morning, it actually looked as though it had snowed quite heavily, but it was only old Jack Frost making his presence known.

I switched our outside lights on last night and blew all the lights in the house, fortunately it was only a matter of throwing up the master switch to return the inside lighting to normal, I tried the outside switch again and once again it blew. So after breakfast of 4 Weetabix I set about finding out what the problem was, it has to be said that once again my hair is quite long, not wanting to have a permanent perm I decided to turn off the outside electricity from the mains.

It was pretty obvious – even to a buffoon like myself – that there was water getting into the electrics somewhere along the line, I had a pretty good idea what the problem was so headed there straight away. It was a junction box by the spotlight under the tree, I undid it and sure enough there was moisture in there, after thoroughly drying the offending box I resealed it, went inside and threw the switch – success! One job less to do.

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

The government today have announced the new tiers for each county, we - here in Worcestershire – are in Tier two, yet we are only 18 miles from Birmingham who are tier 3, strange how it has been worked out.

Friday 27/11/2020 – Day 258

I had a very strange dream last night, I dreamt I was at the hospital and I had my patience tested – it came out negative! I got out of bed to do my exercises, Up, down, up down, up down, I did this thirty times then did the other eyelid.

I took Mrs H’s latte up to her about nine o clock and was greeted with the question “What are you doing today?”.

“Nothing” I replied, and got a very strange look from Mrs H so I added “When you ask me what I am doing today, and I say "nothing," it does not mean I am free or that I am walking around in the nude. It means I am doing nothing”. It turns out that the good lady wanted me to venture up into the attic amongst the various wildlife and spiders to get the Christmas decorations down read for the first of December which is - yes, you’re one step ahead of me – four days away! But, being the gentleman I am I went up there and battled through the cobwebs, where on earth do they come from, the place is dark and barren, nothing lives up there except spiders, does that mean that they’re all cannibalistic?

It took the best part of 30 minutes to get the 10 boxes and three Christmas trees down, I vowed to myself that I would put some flooring down in there next year. I was settling down again when Mrs H asked:

“Have you left anything up there, I can’t find my bannister garland?”

I knew I wasn’t going to get any peace despite her saying that ‘it really didn’t matter’ and ‘I’ll manage somehow’ in that pathetic voice that she knows always gets to me, so, up I went once more, I was rummaging around when a matter of fact voice shouted up “It’s ok, I found it, don’t bother”.

Which reminds me, exactly 4 weeks today you will be lay back in your armchair with dried gravy on your chin, mouth wide open and snoring your way through the Queen’s speech, oops sorry, that’s me.

On this day in 1967 President de Gaulle said ‘Non’ to British entry into the Common Market. Why oh Why did he not make it permanent, it would have saved us all a lot of grief.

Harry "Buster" Merryfield, English actor best known for starring as Uncle Albert in the BBC comedy series Only Fools and Horses was born on this day in 1920, it would have been his 100th birthday.

Also on this day in 1987 A young man in Somerset tried seven times to kill himself following a row with his girlfriend. He threw himself in front of four cars, and jumped under the wheels of a lorry. He tried to strangle himself and jumped from a window. The real victims were a driver of one car who suffered a heart attack, a policeman who injured his back trying to restrain the man, and a doctor who was kicked in the face when the struggling man reached hospital.

Good news today, reports say that the crucial R number is coming down and now lies between 0.9 and 1.0. meanwhile it seems that the number of new cases is also falling and today they were 16022, deaths sadly show no signs of abating and are still over 500 at 521.

Saturday 28/11/2020 – Day 259

So here we are at the end of week 37 and I have just realised that in a mere14 weeks I will have been in isolation for a year! Also of course on this day in 4 weeks time it will all be over, all that hard work, all that planning, all that money and what are you left with – a very nervous disposition, flat broke and losing the will to live – all just for one day, bah humbug!

Today Mrs H and myself have been putting up decorations all over the house, well, when I say we, what I mean is that Mrs H instructed me on which lights went where and on which tree, I then dressed all the trees including the one of the porch while the light of my life decorated the rest.

There was a special moment when we were hooking the green garlands on the archway, always a bit precarious but we were coping, we had Gold Radio on listening to the Golden oldies when they played My Girl by the Temptations, we both stopped in our tracks and Mrs H said:

“I think Vickie approves”.

My Girl was one of the songs played at our daughter Vickie’s funeral 7 years ago, the other was ‘Stand by Me’, we lost her to Cancer when she was just 23, so every time we hear that song we know she is near.

While I was I was out in the front garden a couple of joggers went past, the female was giving the male – who was short of breath – a real rollicking over something, I hate it when a couple argue in public, and I missed the ending and don't know whose side I'm on. I almost ran behind them down the round.

At four o clock I settled down with a couple of cans of Guinness to watch England play Wales in the Autumn Nations Cup, England won 24-13 and now face France in the final next weekend.

I feel for Boris Johnson, not a big fan but it seems that whatever he does it just isn’t right, he even has his own MP’s giving him grief now. Meantime another 15871 new cases in the last 24 hours, this brings the UK total to 1,605,172, the number of new deaths recorded was 479 bringing the total deaths to date to 58, 030. We are being assured that the R rate is falling, but the figures say otherwise.

Before I go, allow me to leave you with a snippet from the useless information department, sometimes, someone unexpected comes into your life out of nowhere, makes your heart race, and changes you forever. We call those people the police.

Well that’s it for another week, doesn’t seem like seven days since I was posting the last load of rubbish on here,.

Sunday 29/11/2020 – Day 260

Well it’s a real pea-souper out there, I was awake as usual at 5.30am, by 6.00am I was having my Weetabix. We finished putting the Christmas decorations up yesterday but we still have to clear the mess up, I have a load of empty boxes to put into the attic and Mrs H has at least one hours hoovering to do. I still have to put up the exterior lights, but maybe not today brrr!

Mrs H doesn’t know this yet but she is having a bouquet delivered today, for the past couple of months she has been bemoaning the fact that there are no flowers in the house, so, I saw a site online that have a very good reputation and decided to put that right, along with a card and a slab of mint chocolate (her favourite) it will be delivered today between 8.00am and 6.00pm, I can’t wait to see her face – and of course to collect all my Brownie points.

Just flushed the loo and the colour drained from my face – as did the water in the pan, it disappeared without trace leaving just the echo of a gurgle, this happened about a month ago and the drains were blocked, I have a horrible feeling the same has happened again, the problem is that our pipes go across the neighbours garden into their manhole and then onto the other neighbours garden manhole before it drops into the main pipework in the street..

I am not looking forward to tomorrow, the job will have to be tackled, the last time I did it I managed to wrench my shoulder and it’s been playing up since, oh well, perhaps this will put it back right, but I sincerely doubt it. There was only one thing for sure – it certainly wasn’t getting done today, Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, and rest I shall, until Mrs H wants me for something of course, no-one’s that brave.

This got me thinking about the religious shows that used to be presented on a Sunday, the earliest I can recall was when Jess Yates developed Stars on Sunday as a replacement for outgoing show, Choirs on Sunday. It ran from about 1969 -1979. The new format was a religious variety show with sets of a house and grounds created in the YTV studios in Leeds. One backdrop was the towering west front of the house; other scenes took place in the grounds, a waterfall and lake, the rose garden, the hall of dreams, a ruined abbey and a paddock. His TV presenting career ended in 1974 when it was publicly revealed that he had been having an affair with young actress Anita Kay, although he was separated from his wife at the time. It was later revealed that his daughter Paula was not his daughter, but the daughter of Hughie Green.

Anyone remember Highway? It was a British television series, broadcast from 1983 until 1993. Presented by ex Goon Sir Harry Secombe, the show was a mixture of hymns and chat from various locations across Britain produced by their respective regional ITV franchise holders. Guests sang religious songs, gave readings or talked about their lifestyles and spiritual feelings. The series was broadcast on Sunday evenings. The final series was moved to Sunday afternoons.

Songs of Praise is a BBC Television religious programme that presents Christian hymns sung in churches of varying denominations from around the UK. Since 2016, its presenters have included former BBC Breakfast co-presenter Bill Turnbull and Good Morning Britain sports editor Sean Fletcher.The series was first broadcast in October 1961. On that occasion, the venue was the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Cardiff. It is one of the longest running series of its genre on television anywhere in the world.

Of course, I would have missed most of these shows as I was always at Sunday school – they did some great squash and doughnuts afterwards, but that wasn’t the only reason I went – honest!

Todays figures - as expected over the weekend - are well down, new cases sare 12155 and the number of new deaths are 213.

Monday 30/11/2020 – Day 261

I have woken up with the Monday morning blues, very unusual for me, but I know what most of the day has in store for me!

After my usual four Weetabix I fetched my steps out of the repair shop and proceeded to put up the exterior lights around the porch, it doesn’t matter how careful you were the previous year it always takes an absolute age to untangle them, once done it only took ten minutes to hang them from the gutter, we had already put a Christmas tree on the porch so it just remained for me to put the other lights on the bush by the window, I was absolutely soaked by the time I had finished, it had rained an hour ago and the bush – still in leaf -was sopping wet! So, that was it, all done and ready for the big switch on tomorrow.

How things have changed over the years, twenty years ago Vickie and I would gleefully go shopping much to the dismay of Mrs H, we loved all those garlands that stretched out from one corner to another, skilfully crossing in the middle of the room, then there were those bells, the ones that opened up ad formed a complete bell, you just had to bend them back to stay open, a skill in itself. To complete the job we’d blow up the balloons to pin in between the gaps that were left, always two round ones with a long one in the middle, never failed to get everyone giggling, except Mrs H of course, she hated the way Vickie and I decorated the rooms, she wanted to see more greenery, more sort of Victoriana with lots of holly and stuff adorning the walls and cupboards, it would be ten years before she got that. Then of course the Christmas tree, as far as I can remember we had a false one, real ones in the nineties would have been as bare as a badgers backside within a week, this was always adorned with fairy lights, crackers, loads of tinsel and wads of cotton wool to emulate the snow, globes of all colours were enhanced by little chocolate treats hanging from the tips of the branches. Happy days!

Anyway back to today, those drains had to be tackled so with gritted teeth I brought out the drain rods, I lifted the manhole cover and rodded down the pipe, but I kept hitting something hard, I had to access the next cover in the line, problem was – it was under the decking! With great trepidation I proceeded to dismantle the decking outside the back door, after a substantial amount of cursing and cussing I finally lifted the second lid, I wasn’t expecting what I saw! The drain which was about three feet deep was chocker block with roots from a bush we have growing about five feet away, no wonder I couldn’t budge it. Two hours later I had filled a black bin bag with roots, I got Mrs H to flush and all was once again well with the world, all except one thing, I had been splattered nearly everywhere, I was in need of a shower, I went upstairs threw all my old clothes into the washing basket (Mrs H wanted to burn them) and jumped into a refreshing hot shower. But my shoulder was now ten times more painful than it was before. Oh the sins of being a DIYer.

Once again, the figures are looking good with just 12329 new cases and 205 recorded deaths.

Tuesday 01/12/2020 – Day 262

Well, here we are finally in what must be the worst year on record for most, just 31 days left of this terrible time, happy December everyone!

At 5.15am I was wide awake, but manged to lie in until 5.45, quite a bad frost last night leaving everything with a white coating. After repeating ‘White Rabbits’ three times I got up for breakfast. ‘Bouncer’ was out and about early this morning, bouncing up and down in front of our garden mirror whilst doing his business all over our memory bench – bless him!

Decided to give George a ring before I ventured outside to the Repair shop, as I hadn’t heard from him for a while, I was not surprised to hear that he is in the doghouse yet again, Rose asked him what would stop the stairs squeaking, apparently Slimming World was not the right answer!

I have a few little jobs awaiting me outside, I have to retrieve a large coffee table from the Summer house and just give the top another lick of paint, apparently the divine Mrs H has agreed a swap with our other daughter Sarah, she gets a new refurbished coffee table and we get one that belonged to her mother, which will of course be unrecognisable by the time I have finished with it.

Mrs H also has a brass box depicting Cavaliers sat at a table in an Inn, it too is looking a little neglected, it was her Gran’s, so we have decided to spray it a copper colour which will blend in with where it sits in the hallway. I was a little apprehensive, but the finished result really was quite stunning.

And finally I have to strip off two sides of a cocktail cabinet which has splintered melamine on it, when I say cocktail cabinet it isn’t at the moment, but it will be by the time I have waved my golden wand over it.

On this day 90 years ago, the birth of the singer Matt Monro, who became one of the most popular entertainers on the international music scene during the 1960s. Throughout his 30 year career, he filled cabarets, nightclubs, music halls and stadiums throughout the world. His music brings back so many memories for me, especially ‘Walk Away’, every time I hear it I am transported back to the early sixties and my Mum listening to the song on Two Way Family favourites on the radio as she cooked the Sunday dinner.

Also on this day in 1990 a feint whiff of garlic came through when Britain and France were joined for the first time in thousands of years as the last wall of rock separating two halves of the Channel Tunnel was removed. Thousands of rats made a run for it.

And finally on this day in 2014 Christopher Law, the former owner of Britain’s last surviving temperance bar (Fitzpatrick’s, in Rawtenstall, Lancashire - was prosecuted for drink-driving, you just couldn’t make it up could you lol.

Wel[, the figures are in for the past 24 hours and were not what I was expecting, the new cases were only up slightly at 13430, perhaps we are getting hold of this virus at last, sadly deaths are up to 603, but should hopefully start to fall soon.

Wednesday 02/12/2020 – Day 263

Managed a bit of a lie in this morning, didn’t get myself out till 6.45am, it’s looking very good outside so I’m off to the Repair shop. Today is the end of the lockdown and prayers will be said everywhere that people are going to be sensible.

Last night Mrs H and I had the official ‘switch on’ of the Christmas lights in memory of Vickie, we never put any decorations up until 2 weeks before Christmas, but when Vickie became ill she convinced her mum that they should go up on the 1st of December, we have stuck to that day ever since, so it is a bittersweet day for us.

It was at this time in the late fifties that the festivities began in earnest at school, usually three to four weeks before the big day, although every other child I knew would start their countdown after November 5th. Around the end of November we would start pasting all those endless coloured paper chains together, looking back it was a bit tedious, but to young eyes they looked magnificent strung up from one corner to another, at home we would do the same but we used a mixture of flour and water for a glue. Story time in the class was always about the baby Jesus and we loved every minute of it! We were encouraged to make our own Christmas cards to take home as well, but the main thing that sticks in my mind from the age of five was the Nativity play.

Even at the tender age of five or six there was always a lot of competition to play the part of Mary and Joseph, I sadly never made it (apparently Joseph was huge and didn’t have stunted growth) I was always a shepherd and not even one that visited Jesus in the stable, so, for almost half an hour I stood robed in a striped bath towel and one of mums best tea towels around my head. Inevitably as with all youngster’s mistakes were made, one year the donkey fell off the stage, another year Mary fainted, and there were always long drawn out silences as children were prompted to remember their lines.

Then before the Nativity play we always had the Christmas party, I can’t recall where all the food came from, I am pretty sure it didn’t come from the parents as it would today in some schools, but that didn’t matter, what I do remember is that a long table had crackers, hats and plastic tumblers in each place, we were then treated to such delicacies as Jelly and custard, blancmange, yule log and fairy cakes, all washed down with orange squash, the best thing was of course being waited on by the teachers. After a bit of a clean - up (tables and faces) the games would begin, Musical chairs, pass the parcel, pin the tail on the Donkey and so on, but the highlight of the party would have to be the arrival of Santa, it was the most exciting time I can remember in my childhood, I now suspect he was the school caretaker as I’m sure Father Christmas didn’t smoke or drink whisky, but this was what I always got a whiff of as he asked me what I would like for Christmas, Then the present was handed over, If I recall correctly it was always the same for the boys and girls and was usually a reading book to aid schooling, a book like Janet and John.

And that was the end of school Christmas, we broke up a couple of days before Christmas eve after the Nativity play usually, this depended on which day Christmas fell, Working parents finished work on Christmas eve, usually around midday and after the inevitable passing around of the drinks.

I hope my ramblings have brought back a few childhood memories for you.

Figures for today have seen a substantial increase with new cases at 16169 and recorded deaths at 648.

Thursday 03/12/2020 – Day 264

Rain, rain rain, that’s all we’ve had all night, very heavy rain as well not that fine rain that soaks you right through. So, what were Mrs H and I going to do with our day I hear you ask, well, the simple answer is – absolutely nothing!

It was far too wet for anything outside, and it was far too cold for the repair shop, so the plan was to look through thousands of photographs we’ve accumulated throughout the years. Mrs H has a cherished photograph of her Nan and Grandad which has sadly faded quite badly, we did put the feelers out to one of those experts who restore these things – but even they replied that the photo was like me – too far gone.

So somewhere in the two drawers full of photo’s is the original one of her Nan and Grandad, the plan was to search through these photo’s and find it. But I’m ashamed to say that at 11.45am we decided to get dressed, this was after we had done our online order for Tesco’s, and after we had ordered numerous Christmas presents for a few family members. In fact. we were on our fourth cup of tea and Latte by the time we realised that time had stolen away our morning, so it was turned midday before we were both dressed. A very unreadable and soggy local newspaper dropped through our letterbox as I headed toward the kitchen for the fifth cup in what had so far been a very short day, I nearly shouted after the idiot that he had a rainproof flap on his paper carrier, but had a change of heart when I saw it was just a young lad as wet and as soggy as the rubbish he was putting through letterboxes. Still, it’ll save having to dampen it down for the compost heap.

My ample stomach gave me a timely reminder that it had been almost six hours since I had eaten, by the time I had eaten my sandwich it was 1.30pm. I went back to my computer in search of some things for Mrs H’s Christmas presents, the problem was, what do you buy for the woman who has everything? She had already dropped a few subtle hints that she had plenty of both her favourite perfumes, so I was actually surfing sites for lingerie and dresses, but the only problem is Mrs H keeps appearing from nowhere suddenly and I have to quickly change sites, that’s all well and good, but I cannot hide the red blushes in my face, a bit like a naughty schoolboy who has just been caught logged on to a pornographic site, I had just survived one such incident when the doorbell rang. It was George’s son Colin he had dropped us some potatoes in the porch, he seemed a bit tired and irritable, when I asked him what the problem was he said ,”My neighbours knocked on my door at 2.30 am this morning – 2,30am, can you believe that – fortunately, I was still up playing my drums”.

I looked at him in disbelief, like father like son!

Todays figures are once again slightly down on yesterdays, new cases drop to 14879 and the latest death figures are at 414.

Friday 04/12 2020 – Day 265

Had another lie in this morning, I don’t know what’s wrong with me, must be these horrible dark mornings I think. A lot of people around us seem to have a Winter sprinkling of snow, thankfully, we didn’t here in Kidderminster, having said that I have known all surrounding area’s to have had substantial snow fall and we have had none, the dead giveaway is cars coming into town from other area’s with a foot of snow on their roof. But Kidderminster is in a depression, no I don’t mean that we’re a bunch of saddo’s, I mean that there is no way out of our town without going up a hill so we are literally in a big valley and surrounded by hills.

Well I apprehensively ventured into the Repair shop even though it was quite cold, I put the radiator type electric heater on to take the chill off, but it was about as useful as a candle in an igloo! Even so, being the brave bunny that I am I soldiered on and got a few little jobs done, I had a big jumper on and a coat, but still I wasn’t warm, I did however, manage to get the drawers to fit back into an old dresser I was working on, I also tried to get my Router working, no ladies, that is not a Sat-nav, it’s a machine used for rebating and contouring timber, but, just like me it was old and knackered!

Which of course gave me the excuse to switch off the pathetic heater and join Mrs H inside for a hot cuppa and a browse on Amazon, well I browsed and browsed but nothing was interesting me, it was then that I remembered that I was still working for Screwfix and that I was only furloughed. Within minutes I had found the one I was looking for, I phoned my boss and he ordered it for me with £10 off already and my discount of 20% I had quite a substantial saving and a really good router as well.

By 3.00pm I was so bored that I phoned someone in India to see if they’d had an accident!

Can you believe that it’s only three weeks today, 3 weeks tomorrow we’ll all be wondering what all the fuss was about and where all our money had gone! Then we’ll all be counting down to New Years Eve, not that there will be any linking of arms or kissing – yeah, I know – it’s being so happy that keeps me going.

Seems that new case numbers are slightly rising again, the papers are saying that there is a problem In Wales and in London with cases rising again, There were a further 16298 new cases, the highest in a week and there were 504 registered deaths.

Saturday 5/12/2020 – Day 266

Guess what – yep, it’s pizzitively possing down again this morning, it’s hardly stopped for three days, and just to put the icing on the cake it’s blown my outside lights, there seems to be some sort of water penetration so I’ve now got to find it – think I’ll have six Weetabix this morning.

I am fed up with Amazon, I ordered four large letters off them two days ago, they were supposed to say NOEL they arrived today but when I arranged them they said LEON, anyone have a son by that name, they can have them for free.

The daughter and her boyfriend popped round yesterday, it seems that Mrs H had arranged a swap with her, she gets a newly finished coffee table and we get a part completed hall table with barley twist legs in need of some TLC, she also brought a large mirror for me to refurb, oh well, they say that the devil finds work for idle hands don’t they.

I was giving them a rub down in the Repair shop whilst listening to Gold radio and Rawhide came on sung by Frankie Lane, the memories came flooding back, those Friday and Saturday nights in the late fifties watching the cowboys on TV, all the girls were mad about Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates in Rawhide, there was also Ward Bond in Wagon Train, Clint Walker as Cheyanne, Bonanza with Lorne Greene, Bronco with Ty Hardin, Fury with Peter Graves, Have Gun Will Travel with Richard Boone, The Rifleman with Chuck Connors and my favourite Laramie with Robert fuller.

Then there was the brilliant cop shows of course, Z Cars which included: Stratford Johns (Detective Inspector Barlow), Frank Windsor (Det. Sgt Watt), James Ellis (Bert Lynch) and Brian Blessed ("Fancy" Smith). Barlow and Watt were later spun into a separate series called Softly Softly. There was also No Hiding Place with Raymond Francis as Inspector Tom Lockhart, and a young Johnny Briggs as Sergeant Russell. But surely the best of that time had to be Dixon of Dock Green. It starred Jack Warner as London Bobby George Dixon, the role had been reprieved from an earlier film, The Blue Lamp was made in 1950 and starred Jack Warner as Pc George Dixon, but in the film Dixon was shot dead by gangster Dirk Bogarde, there was such an outcry at the time that as I said, the role was reprieved and was on our screens for 21 years. There was something very homely about that old -fashioned copper who at every episode spoke the lines "Evening, all" and "Goodnight, all", and a suitably moral homily, from outside Dock Green police station.

I didn’t get to sleep until late last night, I was engrossed in a really good book that I just couldn’t put down, in fact I didn’t stop colouring till nearly 2.00pm

The figures for today are 15539 new cases, the total for the week is now 100,799, the registered deaths are 397 the total for the week is now sadly 2984.

Well, just as I was getting into my stride it’s the end of another week, let’s pray that the figure’s get better next week.

Sunday 06/12/2020 – Day 267

Another dollar another week as they say (I Think)

Had a lovely little Christmas present from my Electricity supplier, they have given us £140 from the Warm House scheme, I was so happy that in a moment of madness I told Mrs H to turn the heating up a notch – such impetuosity, but I soon snuck it back down.

So, I have been waiting for this all week, England v France in the Autumn Nations Cup Final, at 2.00pm I settled down with a pint of Guinness for a good match, My darling wife even brought my roast dinner in on a tray, now in all fairness, England haven’t played too well in the first half, they are 13 – 6 down, but they are so close to scoring, the last thing you want to hear from Mrs H is:

“Well if they can’t score from a few feet away, they’re not going to score at all”

Thank you, Mrs H, beam me up Scotty, I am now waiting for the second half, but if England want to win this then they need to go up five gears.

Update on the rugby, England won after extra time and I am now back in love with Mrs H.

Today in history is the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas day, he was a Christian bishop who helped the needy. After his death, the legend of his gift-giving grew. Saint Nicholas transformed into the legendary character called Santa Claus, who brings Christmas presents to children around the world.

On this day in 1888 The birth of William Thomson Hay (known as 'Will' Hay); English comedian, actor, film director and amateur astronomer. His half hour weekly Will Hay Programme began in August 1944, and was broadcast live from the Paris Cinema, which still exists in a basement just off Piccadilly Circus. I still love the old films he made, always brilliant with his two sidekicks Moore Marriott ( The old fellow) His first appearance with Hay was in the film Dandy Dick (1935), but he was a significant supporting performer in Hay's films from 1936 to 1940, and while he starred with Hay during this period he played a character called "Harbottle" that was based on a character Marriott usually played. His character Harbottle was originally created by Hay when he used the character in his "The fourth form at St. Michael's" sketches in the 1920s. Graham Victor Harold Moffatt (6 December 1919 – 2 July 1965) was a mid-20th century English comedic character actor. He is best known for a number of films with Will Hay as 'Albert': a plump cheekily insolent street-savvy youth. The three of them together made excellent films I think

Also on this day in 1897 The world's first fleet of motorised taxi cabs started operating in London. I wonder if they had to learn ‘The Knowledge’.

The best news of the day is that I have my wine back, three months ago Tesco’s stopped stocking it for some reason, but it’s now back, It’s a Rose’ Echo Falls Summer Berries and tastes of strawberries, absolutely divine!

Today there were17272 new cases, these seem to be rising again and 231 registered deaths.

Monday 07/12/2020 – Day 268

Mrs H and I stayed up until 2.15am watching Heartland on TV, it was coming up to the end of series 10 and there were a lot of loose ends to tie up, so I eventually turned the TV off at 2.15, it would surely follow that I’d have a lovely lie-in after going to sleep so late, but no, I was wide awake five hours later and downstairs preparing my four Weetabix.

We have got an Iceland delivery today, this is about the fourth since my lockdown began, I was surprised to see so many delivery dates available, I had been on Tesco’s earlier and their December dates were as rare as hen’s teeth, but on Iceland there were dates all week, we did our order yesterday and it’s arriving today.

Today I’m back in the Repair shop, Mrs H is screaming for the table I started on Saturday and my Daughter needs her mirror back as she hasn’t been able to comb her hair and put any make-up on for three days lol! I was in there 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 slyrics 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, diarrhea and haemorrhoids over the weekend... I must say that was my best game of Scrabble ever.

The new cases for the past twenty four hours were 14717, but recorded deaths were well down to 172, these are as you know weekend figures.

Tuesday 08/12/2020 – Day 269

Up like the lark this morning and full of beans! Owing to the fact that I had a really good six and a half hours unbroken sleep, so refreshing.

I was lay in bed thinking, that if everyone left Santa an alcoholic drink this year he was going to get even fatter than he already is – because every drink must be accompanied by a substantial meal/

Mrs H was awoken by the arrival of the workmen next door, Our neighbours are obviously looking to their old age and are gravelling a large expanse of garden on the front/side of their house, it’s going to look pretty good when finished.

I am back in the repair shop, I finished the hall table for Mrs H yesterday and she was overjoyed, it is now in-situ and matches the existing one. I still have to finish the daughter’s large ornate mirror – not as easy as I thought it was going to be, and I am still working on the retro cocktail cabinet, I have ordered some special paper for it and now I await delivery.

Well, today is a landmark in history, the first citizens of the UK will get their vaccination against coronavirus. A UK grandmother has become the first person in the world to be given the Pfizer Covid-19 jab as part of a mass vaccination programme. Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 next week, said the injection she received at 06:31 GMT was the "best early birthday present". There was also a couple of elderly interviewed on the news last night, they were over 80 and will be among the first today, but of course they have to have a second injection in 28 days and then wait a further 6 weeks before they are safe enough to nip down to the local for a good old knees up.

Well chuffed! While I was getting the Christmas decorations down from the loft I found an old copy of the Radio Times from December 20th 1982, so don’t have to buy a copy this year, I already know what’s on TV this year!

I asked Mrs H why she married me, “Because of your sense of humour, you are really funny” she replied.

“Oh, I thought it was because I was good in bed” I said disappointedly.

“There you go” she said, “That’s hilarious”.

The number of new cases has dropped today, the figure for the last 24 hours was 12282, but sadly the number of recorded deaths is once again very high at 616, there are going to be a lot of sad families this Christmas and my heart goes out to every one of them.

Wednesday 09/12/2020 – Day 270

I was lay in bed thinking this morning and I remembered back to the first time Mrs H and I flew back in 1996, I was very nervous and was asking the stewardess all sorts of ridiculous questions, like “How often do planes crash?”, just once wasn’t the answer I was expecting.

In the Repair shop today working on an old cabinet which I had given me, the in thing seems to be cocktail cabinets so I am hoping to spruce this cabinet up and turn it into a desirable item, I have already prepared it and added hairpin legs, Mrs H says it is starting to look good – praise indeed. My daughter Sarah called today and took away the mirror that was supposed to take me a couple of hours to prepare and paint – it was a nightmare lol. She has left me with three very large photo frames to paint, fortunately I have to use spray paint for them, so in practice it should be a doddle Hah!

I get bored whilst preparing stuff so my mind normally goes on its travels, I started to remember what happened when we had finally broke up from school in the early sixties, Mum was - as always – up to her neck in work.

So for a couple of days we were left to fend for ourselves as mum was busy in the kitchen making mince pies etc, her Christmas would have started weeks before with the cooking of the Christmas pudding in the burco copper, this was always done at night while we were in bed (less hassle for mum) but the smell that filled the whole house was beautiful. Like most mums of her day she would also make her own mincemeat for the pies on the day. I seem to recall that she always made her own Christmas cake and pudding as well, complete with a couple of sixpences mixed in, this wasn’t available to buy unless of course you ordered it from Fortnum and Masons lol!

I remember there was a chap down the estate that used to keep chickens, and about 2 days before Christmas his son invited myself and a few friends to his house, we had only been there a few minutes in the back garden when his Dad came out carrying an axe, he immediately grabbed one of the chickens, lay it on a log and chopped off its head! The chicken ran around headless for what was probably only a few seconds but seemed like an age, my friends and I ran off with the screams of laughter ringing in our ears, that lad and his dad had set us up! We got our own back next day when we asked him out to play, we covered him from head to toe in itching powder, he had to have his first bath for a month and was probably red raw by Christmas day lol!

There was also the inevitable carol singing, we would go from house to house sing a carol and always end with -

‘We wish you a Merry Christmas

We wish you a Merry Christmas,

We wish you a Merry Christmas

and a Happy New Year

We would knock the door and await payment, sometimes no one came but mostly we would get paid, a favourite song to sing was ‘When the herds were watching’ as it was quite a short hymn and got you to the next house a lot quicker. I remember one year I hadn’t had a particularly good evening moneywise so I plucked up the courage to call in at the Queens Head pub on the way home, one old fellow who was worse for wear with drink made everyone shut up as I burst into ‘Away in a Manger’, as I sang he took off his flat cap and went around the customers, I left the pub to rapturous applause and almost twelve shillings richer!

Throughout the year mum had all her Vegetables delivered by a chap called Fletcher who would bring his van around the streets and people would buy from the back, so on the day prior to Christmas eve he would turn up with the biggest Christmas tree we had ever seen, it would have a log attached to it so we didn’t have to put it in a bucket, he would struggle in with it and every year we would have to cut the top off to get it into the room. Fletcher was a really nice man and appreciated his loyal customers, so he would bring a very large wooden case about five foot long, three foot deep and two foot wide crammed full of apples, oranges, bananas, nuts and of course the inevitable dates in an oval casing. This large wooden case was always placed at the side of the TV but God help you if you touched any of it until next day, I am pretty sure Fletcher never ever charged its full worth either.

The turkey was also fetched fresh the same day, for such a large family it had to be a large bird and was always around 20 to 24 pounds in weight, Mum knew what size would fit into the gas oven – but every year it was a struggle! Thinking back, they were the happiest times of our childhood.

I have learned in 47 years of marriage never to laugh at Mrs H’s choices, after all – I was the first.

There were a further 16578 new cases today, sad to say that the figures seem to be increasing again, today there were 533 new deaths registered.

Thursday 10/12/2020 – Day 271

Today is a very sad day in the Harvey household, seven years ago today our daughter Vickie (Victoria) died from Leaukeamia, at 8.40 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 went downhill after that, this was when 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 I have written for her today

Was it only seven years ago today

we withered and fell like an Autumn leaf

Downtrodden and shattered upon the floor

a devastated family, stricken with grief.

I sat with you on that fateful morning

when an Angel came, took your hand from mine,

Then whispered softly 'Your work here is done',

and took you away to a place divine.

Grief's bitter coldness consumed us all

at twenty four your whole life lay ahead,

Now it's God who's holding you in his arms

'Suffer little children' Jesus said.

But It is those that are left who suffer

no purpose in life, nowhere to go,

Lives torn apart, no sense of direction

nothing to stem the tears that will flow.

So many words now lie unspoken

so many things were still left to do,

Great souls die leaving others in pain

there was never a greater soul than you.

There is no relief in the passing of time

I hunger more for the light in your heart,

Whover said, 'time will make it better'

have never had their life torn apart.

Sometimes a memory sheds light in the dark

it eases our pain like a soothing balm,

For a tender moment we are at peace

and life is serene, happy and calm.

Now you're in heaven, looking after those

who went before just to show you the way,

I hope and pray that when my time is near

you'll be there on that beautiful day.

As I feared, the figures for new cases seem to be exploding once again, there were 20964 new cases again today, that’s over 5000 up on yesterday, recorded deaths are once again over 500 at 516.

Friday 11/12/2020 – Day 272

I woke up this morning next to a woman I had never seen before, turns out it was Mrs H smiling in her sleep! Yesterday went very well, when I say well I mean as well as we could have expected, we tend to forget how many friends we hove out there, but most of them messaged us.

I’m back into the Repair Shop today after our good friends Janet and John brought me a balloon back chair in need of a little tlc, they also brought a few cans of Guinness and a bottle of port for Mrs (hic) H. we had a bit of a catch up from the safe distance required, and it was really nice to see them again. My daughter Gemma, Granddaughter Alisha and the two Grandsons came round later in the afternoon to let off the traditional balloons, Everything, of course was done at a safe distance, but it really was so nice to see them, it also gave Mrs H and I a bit of comfort on a very sad day for us.

Heard the sad news about Barbara Windsor today, such a lovely actress who led a very colourful life after being married to Ronnie Knight a well known London criminal, she also had a six month affair with Charlie Kray and a brief affair with his brother Reggie. But ‘Babs’ as became affectionately known, had a heart of gold and was very popular in the ‘Carry on’ films, but the highlight for her of a very illustrious 65 year career was getting the role of Peggy Mitchell in Eastenders, she actually based the character on the mother of the Krays!

I was reading a magazine in the dentist waiting room earlier this year and I was surprised to find out Ford have stopped production of the Cortina and are launching the Sierra.

After I had come in from the Repair shop Mrs H reminded me that I had to renew my car insurance over the phone today which I quickly did, and as I was about to hang up the woman on the other end asked if I had a pet.

I said, "Yes, I’ve got a dog."

She said, "Would you like to insure him too?"

I said, "No thanks, he can't drive!"

Boris is warning that there well may be a deadlock on the agreement with the EU and an agreement before the 31st, he is warning that there may well be a No Deal, of course everyone is up in arms and they are saying that he has not delivered what he promised, but should he go the other way and agree to living by their rules and agree that they should take all our fish – well basically, he will be hung , drawn and quartered by the same people, so he is in a terrible position at the moment.

George is a dab hand with lawn mowers, so I thought while we were in the midst of Winter he might take a look at mine for me, I have no idea whether he was serious or not.

This was the conversation;

” When our lawn mower broke and wouldn't run, Rose kept hinting to me that I should get it fixed. But somehow, I always had something else to take care of first, the shed, the boat, making beer. Always something more important to me. Finally, she thought of a clever way to make her point. When I arrived home one day, I found her seated in the tall grass, busily snipping away with a tiny pair of sewing scissors. I watched silently for a short time and then went into the house. I was gone only a minute and when I came out again, I handed her a toothbrush. I said, "When you finish cutting the grass, you might as well sweep the driveway."

The doctors say I will walk again, but I will always have a limp.”

This was followed by raucous laughter and he put the phone down, it was three hours before he rang back and asked if I was serious about the mower.

Once again new case figures were over 20000 and stood at 21671 with a further 425 deaths recorded.

Saturday 12/12/2020 – Day 273

Woke up this morning feeling fine, got something special on my mind, Oops, sorry slipped into Herman’s Hermits mode there for a moment, I

One thing I have learned in my almost 69 years on God’s earth is that some things are better left unsaid, I usually discover this about two minutes after I’ve said them. I wish Mrs H had the same thoughts. I was sat peacefully on the computer ( when I say ‘sat on the computer – I don’t actually mean – oh never mind) this afternoon when she came up with her latest idea! Now, I was trying to finish this blog so my mind was obviously elsewhere, but she insisted in letting me know her thoughts despite my deep concentration.

It seems that Mrs H has decided in her wisdom that she would like part of the decking outside the patio doors covered in, this would mean putting some sort of canopy over the existing space, but she doesn’t want the whole of the decking covered, just so far out, at that moment in time I refused to be pulled in by her womanly wily ways, even though she continued for the next twenty minutes to describe exactly how she wanted it and how it would look. Not being very brave I eventually clicked on to a site that sold the roofing sheets I’d require. So My good lady is only looking over my shoulder and notices that delivery is available before Christmas, she makes this known by screeching these words in my ear;

“Oh my God, look, they can deliver, you could have this up for Christmas”

I turned around and looked at her in sheer disbelief, “I was only joking” she said, but I have been married to this beauty long enough to know that was a complete fabrication.

Actually it was a nice surprise to find out that I could put up a two and a half meter by four metre cover for under £500, Anyway Mrs H has said that you would all take her side and agree with her, I think you are all a lot nicer and wouldn’t inflict this on a pensioner so late in the year, over to you lovely people. Yes, for Mrs H or No for me.

The final figures for this week don’t look too good, new cases were at 21502 whilst the number of deaths were at 519.

Sunday 13/12/2020 – Day 274

Had yet another late lie in this morning, I am turning into a lazy slob, but you nice ladies out there have put a stop to that, I asked yesterday if I should attempt to put up a canopy over the decking so Mrs H could sit out there during milder days. You overwhelmingly voted yes, there were a few ladies that felt sorry for me and kindly thought that I had done enough for Mrs H this year, but alas, they were outvoted, I thank you anyway, and Mrs H thanks all of those who voted yes. So now I have to order all the stuff which is going to be around £600, I will of course be lucky to get it delivered this side of Christmas, but either way the job is going to get done.

Been in the Repair shop for a few hours today, I must say that for the time of the year it is very mild outside. Anyway I have been stripping off – no not my clothing , God forbid – but the chair that Janet and John brought around last week, It basically needs re-upholstering so I had to carefully take off the existing material in order to use it as a template for the new stuff, all going well so far, watch this space!

On this day in 1925 Dick Van Dyke, actor (Rob Petrie-Dick Van Dyke Show), was born in West Plains, Missouri. I remember his show on TV in the 60’s, in those days he was as famous as Lucille Ball, on film I will always remember him for his portrayal of Bert the Chimney sweep in the adorable Mary Poppins, I personally don’t think the film would have worked without him in that role. But all the film critics ever went on about was the fact that he had the worst cockney accent they had ever heard, sort of took the edge off a great performance I thought. Happy 95th birthday Dick, I liked you.

Also, on this day in1951 future British Prime Minister Margaret Roberts (26) wed businessman Denis Thatcher (36) at Wesley's Chapel in City Road, London, Now despite her reign of terror in the eighties all I remember her for is stealing the schoolchildren’s milk in 1971, funny how some things stand out in your mind isn’t it.

The number of new cases seems to be flatlining at last with 18447 today, the number of deaths are well down at 144, but these are weekend figures.

Monday 14/12/2020 – Day 275

I was lay in bed at 6.00am this morning thinking, ‘I thought that getting older would have taken a lot longer!’

This new Facebook system is going to be the death of me, it now takes twice as long to post stuff on my sites, one of them is called Down Memory Lane and instead of about an hour a day posting it is now well in excess of 2 hours, with my other site this now means that I am spending around 5 hours every morning on my computer, but I am not writing my stories or poems – so much wasted time!

On this day in1959 the shortest murder trial in British legal history took place. In just 30 seconds, at Winchester Assizes, Brian Cawley pleaded guilty to the murder of Rupert Steed and was later sentenced to life imprisonment.

Also on this day 2013 it was the death of the 81-year-old actor Peter O’Toole, who starred in Sir David Lean’s 1962 film classic Lawrence of Arabia. The film earned him the first of eight Oscar nominations, with others coming for such films as Becket, The Lion in Winter and Goodbye, Mr Chips.

It was turned twelve before I finally unlocked the repair shop, I had painting and preparation to do but there was nothing very urgent so a couple of hours later and I was back in the house looking for something to do.

Of course - had I been at work - this would have been about the time for the Annual works do, commonly known as the Christmas party, I have had a few dodgy ones in my time I can tell you, mostly forgettable, on one occasion I was working for a company that installed Fire protection sprinklers, the boss came up to us the day before Christmas eve and said he had put fifty pound behind the bar at the pub down the road, this was 1972 and a £50 was the equivalent of £600 today, I wouldn’t have minded but there was only 12 of us! Anyway, the upshot was that all the others were drinking shorts to use up the money, me and my mate didn’t drink shorts only beer, so we were a little put out to say the least, we had to find something we could drink, so we went on the sherry, not those namby- pamby little glasses you give to a visiting Aunt whom you don’t like. Oh no, we were drinking schooners of the stuff! By closing time at 2.30 we still hadn’t had enough, At that time I was lodging at my sister’s house so me and my pal went there and raided her drinks cabinet, by 6.00pm we were knocking on the door of the public house we had vacated just three hours earlier, and my sister was three bottles of sherry lighter, the rest of the evening was a bit of a blur, but I cannot even stand the smell of sherry to this day.

My mate George and his girlfriend Rose have been arguing on and off now for a time, he finally decided to put his foot down with her;

“Right, I’ve had enough of this, I’m off down the pub, when I come home I want my supper on the table, I want a bottle of my favourite beer, when I’ve drunk it you can get my slippers and run me a bath, and when I get out of the bath guess who’s going to dress me and comb my hair?”

George was a little taken aback when Rose replied “The funeral director?”

Recorded new cases were up again today at 20263, deaths also rose by 100 to 232, every time we think things are improving.

Tuesday 15/12/2020 – Day 276

It was light very early this morning so I sprang out of bed at 6.00am, well, when I say ‘sprang’ what I really mean is that I gingerly put one leg out followed by the other as they’ve always been quite close.

In the Repair shop my cocktail cabinet was waiting for its final coat of paint, the stripped down chair needed another coat of paint and my daughters picture frames needed spraying, she had supplied a can of spray paint which was supposed to change the colour from cream to a silvery glitter, Well, I shook that can till my arm was dropping off, the little ball was running freely and I started to spray – I could see straight away that there was something not quite right, it was all sort of glitter and water. I stopped spraying, shook the can very vigorously for what seemed like an age and tried again, it was a bit better so I thought ‘onward and upward, then halfway through the can ran empty – oops! I was between the devil and the deep blue sea, do I wipe off the existing or leave it, it was mostly covered but just in glitter, I decided to let it dry and continued with my other jobs, I went and looked an hour later and it looked like someone had just sprinkled silver glitter onto a cream frame.

I decided to phone my daughter and give her the bad news, “Oh” she said, “That’s probably my fault, I’ve had that spray a long time now, it’s probably no good, just paint them the same colour as the other stuff”. I was elated and exasperated at the same time.

By three I had finished all the painting and papering on the cocktail cabinet, so I called it a day and went inside to join Mrs H for a cup of tea, I was all sprayed out.

It seems that the scientists and some of Boris’s advisors are now running scared of the plans for households to mingle on Christmas day, the talks between the four Nations leaders will continue tomorrow, I wouldn’t like to be the one to tell those millions of families that they cannot now visit each other, but then, those that are shouting the loudest won’t have their jobs on the line for turning the decision on its head.

The number of new cases once again hovered between 18 and 19 thousand, there were 18450 today, but once again the number of recorded deaths have risen to 506.

Wednesday 16/12/202 – Day 277

I was telling you last week about my family’s run up to Christmas, I thought you might like to read what went on at Christmas eve’

Christmas Eve in our house was always really busy, the turkey had to be stuffed, the bachelors dried peas put into a saucepan to soak overnight, sprouts had to have outer leaves removed and those crosses cut into the stems to aid cooking, and an endless ammount of spuds to be peeled, I can’t think of how my poor mother coped. On the evening Dad would be down the pub till about 10.00pm he would then feel quite perturbed that he was kicked out half an hour earlier.

Meanwhile we would be decorating the tree which greengrocer Fletcher had brought earlier, it would be adorned with glass coloured baubles, sprigs of holly, loads of tinsel and little chocolate figures in wrapped in foil, the crème de la crème would be the switching on of the tree lights, they were quite dim compared to today’s lights but we loved them, they had to plug in to the main ceiling light, this meant of course that apart from their light and the soft flickering of a lovely hot coal fire there was no other light in the room, it created a wonderful cosy atmosphere in the evening. I seem to remember that someone invented a double bulb holder which allowed you to have both the tree lights and the main light on, I never liked it though, it sort of killed the ambience.

Then the chain garlands were pinned around the room usually on the picture rail, this would be followed by the tallest child standing on mum’s best chair and pinning balloons to the ceiling. The final act would be a long piece of string on the door to drape the Christmas cards over.

With all preparations completed it was off to bed for us over excited kids, We didn’t have Christmas stockings or pillow cases, we had my eldest brothers long socks (recently washed I hasten to add), Myself and three brothers slept in one room and my three sisters (two more babies yet to come) slept in another room.

So with smell of mince pies mingling with the paraffin heater on the landing we went up the wooden hill with our hot water bottles vowing to stay awake till the early hours to get a glimpse of the jolly overweight fellow who’d bring us our presents, needless to say that never happened! I would tell my younger brother’s stories until they finally nodded off (this was to become a regular thing but more about that later) then I would snuggle down under the blankets with my torch and read comics.

Next thing daylight was creeping through the chinks of the blackouts in the room, the batteries had run out in my torch but nothing mattered, our bulging stockings were awaiting at the bottom of the bed and great excitement ensued, an ordinary child today would have been disappointed and tipped the contents out onto the patchwork bedspread, but not us, everything had to carefully taken out to prolong the excitement, firstly a red rosy apple, followed by an orange and perhaps a pear, sometimes a banana, as you neared the bottom the excitement grew to a crescendo, there would be something like a twopenny chocolate bar or perhaps one of those white or pink sugar mice, then right at the bottom would be two brand new shiny pennies.

(Did you know why the traditional Christmas stocking had to have shiny new coins? It all began with St Nicholas the 4th Century Greek saint.

Nicholas liked giving presents to people who were less fortunate than him. He preferred to give gifts anonymously. He heard a story about a local nobleman who had lost both his wife and his money. The nobleman had been forced to move into a peasant’s cottage with his three daughters, all of whom were of marriageable age. At the time, a bride-to-be needed a dowry to offer her groom’s parents. Sadly, the nobleman couldn’t afford to feed his daughters, let alone give them a dowry. St Nicholas knew that the nobleman would be too proud to accept charity. So when he spotted that the girls had hung their stockings to dry on the chimney ledge, he decided to climb down the chimney and put a bag of silver coins into the oldest girl’s stocking. The next day, St Nicholas climbed down the chimney again and placed a bag of coins into the second daughter’s stocking. The day after that, St Nicholas tried to do the same for the youngest daughter, but the nobleman was hiding in the room and caught St Nicholas in the act. St Nicholas begged the nobleman to keep it a secret, but word got out and soon everyone was hanging stockings on their fireplace. (So, our new shiny coins are supposed to represent the gold!)

That was our waking hours, we would sit there gleefully tucking into what remained of our stockings with no thought about spoiling our appetites, or to the fact that our mum had already been up a couple of hours ago to put that gigantic turkey into the oven. Unlike the kids of today we wouldn’t have dared run into the parent’s bedroom jumping on the bed to wake them up – they would have killed us!

We waited patiently till we heard mum downstairs, she would be savouring the short spell of silence. As soon as we heard the slightest sound that was our call to go quietly down the stairs to the best room and discover what lay under the tree.

As I said we weren’t well off but Mum always made sure that every one of us had something to open no matter how small, the presents usually comprised of Compendium sets, which basically was a box of games including Draughts, snakes and ladders, ludo and the impossible tiddlywinks, I can’t ever remember getting that damn tiddly into the cup and even to this day do not believe it possible lol!

There may have been a box of paints, thankfully we didn’t have carpets in those days - just linoleum – because the mixture of coloured water in the jam jar would inevitably end up spewed across the floor! There may have been toy lead soldiers or cowboys, the other favourite for boys at that time was the ‘Magic set’, this comprised of a magic wand and a host of tricks that never worked, you would always lose one of the main parts before the day was over, perhaps the only thing that survived was the squirty flower which you got someone to sniff as you gave their face a dose of cold water. Another favourite was the cowboy outfit complete with cap gun, the only problem was mum would always forget the caps (a bit like forgetting the batteries today) the shops weren’t open for another three or four days either, so you sat forlorn at dinner wearing your cowboy hat with an empty gun and not a cap to be seen.

My sisters might have a nurses outfit, or maybe a doll that could be dressed and undressed, things like dolls prams, dolls houses or bicycles were always well out of Mum’s price bracket, but then, there was always some lucky child in the street who wanted to show off and eventually share theirs and that was what we mostly looked forward to.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my Christmas eve ramblings, I’ll share our Christmas day with you next week if you like.

There has been a sharp increase in new cases today with the total going up by almost 7000 to 25161, there was also a rise in the number of deaths recorded , there were 612 in the last 24 hours.

Thursday 17/12/2020 – Day 278

Another very frosty morning today, I was up at six, I didn’t intend to, but my stomach was rumbling and I needed my four Weetabix, it was cold downstairs as the heating hadn’t kicked in yet, but not as cold as it was outside on the walk down to the fridge in the shed to get some more milk, I wish I’d have looked last night!

I had a couple of hours on the computer and was contemplating going into the repair shop when Mrs H informed me that the Health Secretary Matt Hancock was about to announce the new tier system for the country, so I thought I may as well wait, but – up there for thinking, down there for dancing – I popped into the repair shop to put on the heater in readiness, on my return I raided my favourite cupboard and helped myself to three mince pies, I was going to have another but I managed to stop myself, actually, truth be known it was Mrs h who stopped me with those immortal words;

“You’ve already had three, surely you’re not having another?”

Guaranteed to stop a chap in his tracks. Anyway, I digress, we waited, and waited and waited, I was just about to clear off when they announced Hancock was in the house, I remember thinking ‘shouldn’t he be in Parliament, I haven’t got all day! He stood up and I swear I saw mince pie crumbs on his lapel, either that or he had bad dandruff. The upshot was that he told us absolutely nothing! It was just a mish-mash of what Boris had said on TV yesterday, he did announce that some counties were going up to tier three and that our neighbouring county Herefordshire was going down to tier one, I spent the next half hour trying to find out what tier Worcestershire and in particular Wyre Forest was in, after all that it seems we are staying in Tier two until the end of December.

I went out to the repair shop slightly deflated and thinking to myself ‘I just knew that this year was going to end in tiers’.

I opened the door and the heat hit me, I’d forgotten that I’d left the heater on, it was hotter than the Gobi desert in there, I stood and wept as held the door open and let all that costly heat out, Cheers Mr Hancock, you’ll be getting my bill.

I thought yesterday’s new case figures were steep but they have almost doubled since Wednesday and stand at 35383 for today, that does not tell us that things are improving, those figures do include a missing 10000 from Wales. there were also 532 new deaths registered in the last 24 hours.

Friday 18/12/2020 – Day 279

Well, my son Mark who is a local builder, is all over facebook at the moment after the local newspaper picked up on his story, back in November Mark got very upset after watching an article about people who could not chat to their parents in Care homes. He dipped into his own pocket and made one for a Care home that was desperate, he soon had three more to build, problem was that they were £200 each and he had to pay for the materials to make them, Then someone found out and started up a ‘Fund Me’ page , within a week there was enough to build another five pods which he has done since. To say I am proud of him is a gross understatement.

Did I tell you that I have a mate who works for the Royal Mail? Well, part of his job is to process all the mail that has illegible addresses. One day last week, a letter came to his desk, addressed in shaky handwriting, to Father Christmas. He thought he should open it in case it was from a distressed child. He opened it and it read:

Dear Father Christmas,

I am a 93-year-old widow, living on a very small pension. Yesterday someone stole my purse. It had £100.00 in it, which was all the money I have until my next pension money. In a couple of Fridays it will be Christmas day, and I have invited two of my friends over for dinner. Without that money, I have nothing to buy food with. I have no family to turn to, and you are my only hope. Can you please help me? I could really do with you delivering anything before Xmas Day.

Sincerely, Edna

My mate was so touched that he showed the letter to all of the other workers. Each of them dug into their wallet and came up with a few pounds. By the time he made the rounds, he had collected £96.00, which they put into an envelope and delivered in the post the next day to the woman. He told me how all of the workers felt a warm glow for the kind thing they had done. Then a few days ago, another letter came from the old lady, to Father Christmas again. All the workers gathered around while the letter was opened. It read:

Dear Father Christmas,

How can I ever thank you enough for what you have done for me? Because of your gift of love, I am now able to fix a glorious dinner for my friends. I'm sure we'll all have a very nice day and I've told my friends of your wonderful gift. By the way, there was £4 missing. I think it must have been those thieving sods at the Royal Mail ...

Sincerely, Edna..

Even if you take into consideration the extra 10.000 new cases from Wales yesterday, todays figures are still very high again at 28507, there was also a further 489 registered deaths.

Saturday 19/12/2020 – Day 280

One week today it will be Boxing day and it will all be over, pity we can’t say the same about this pandemic, amid concerns of worrying figures in the South East the Government ministers have been meeting this morning, Boris has called a special press conference at 4.00pm today.

On the lighter side, as I said earlier, we had a bit of a vote last week on whether or not Mrs H would get a canopy over the back patio, now I don’t think some of you quite grasped the situation correctly as you voted overwhelmingly in Mrs H’s favour, there were a few common -sense answers that said I needed a rest, but sadly, it was but a few. Anyway, I won’t go on about how most of my lovely readers have dumped on me from a great height, I will tell you though, that the completed canopy will be fifteen feet long and ten feet wide, in fact it is so big that the Tories have approached me to make preliminary enquiries about holding their next party conference in it. The good news is that it would cost over £1500 pounds to buy one that big, I have ordered all the materials and they have cost me £450, Just need to build it after Christmas – any volunteers?

The figures for today are not good, there were 27052 new cases bring the 7 day total to 173,273, the number of recorded deaths was the highest this week at 534, the total for the week is 3049 an average of 436 a day, that’s a lot of families who will have a very sad Christmas, my heart goes out to them all.

As I said, the next time we meet it will be all over, so may Mrs H and I take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you and your families, a very Happy Christmas, just enjoy the day but please stay safe.

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