Lockdown week10 - sketches can capture moments and staying active

Glimpses, sketches

Short form - Clear and concise. Getting your point across, rather than showcasing expertise. It's a skill in itself. Drawing, image, story, poem, lyric, microblog.

Keeps the old man mentally active.

Leaves stuff out to let the reader in.

Current events/corona-wise


Durham bound
or maybe the Lords
he's not leaving
To summarise Giles Coren, the Times May 30th 'everybody decided to break the rules too,' thereby ruining 'my lovely lockdown'. 'Empty roads, empty parks, loads of exercise in the sunshine, didn't have to meet my dreary friends or review poncey restaurants ... '

To paraphrase Matthew Parris, the Times May 30th 'The ordinary people' chose 'how to interpret the advice ... "29% of Britons admit breaking lockdown" ... This relaxed approach is not available to our masters ... '

As I said last week, a range of opinion. Dom was not appointed because he is a paragon of virtue. Looks like he will survive.

There is a new distance and time measurement - London to Durham.
As in 'how long does it take to get from London to Durham'.

Anybody else confused by the mixed information coming out of briefing sessions - none of it hangs together to make a coherent story. Multi-author, committee or some other many limbed creature.

For all those who can stomach unplanned variation in pitchclic here for 'Don't let the covid in'

Garden glimpses

Not many people are aware of the close relationship between weight lifting and keeping wicket.

  Tomato 1 - Dave 0

  bit of a quiet circle this week

grasses nearly my height - no cutting just yet

5 o'clock

Staying sane and alive in lockdown week10


in the middle
tough isolation
sanity and isolationstaying sane in isolationThey are still at it, queuing for Lloyds Bank way past the butcher on the bridge in Holmfirth.Staying sane, we had a great coffee/pilates/thursday/zoom meet yesterday. We were split on Dom. Two of us had broken lockdown rules to help out with children who had mental health problems. Another would have if need be. So I think it finished 2-1 with an abstention, in favour of Dom going. He was not appointed to be a paragon of virtue. He breaks the rules, that's what he does. Robin Pagnamenta in the Telegraph this week writing about the future of our technology, 'At a time like this - with a pandemic that is fast reshaping ideas about government and how decisions should be made - a maverick provocateur in Whitehall is a good thing to have.'I found the reference to Ian McEwan, an inspiring guy to say the least, and time from the Today programme, Radio4. When plans cannot be made about the future, there's a tendency to dwell on the past. This applies to people of my age, and Ian's, as a matter of course. To everyone he says, 'My hope is that we can take from this extended tragedy a memory and lesson in timelessness and stillness.' Guilt is still guilt however you reflect on it.
staying sane in lockdown


                                            pink white grey blue
                                            it had to start sometime
                                            beach pebbles

sanity and lockdown
The jury's out but we might have baffled the squirrel            

gardem glimpse

garden glimpse

These wild flowers were perfectly flat
and now they are in cups

Time and staying forever young - lockdown week 9

Garden Glimpses 

  garden glimpses - timeless short form clipart
This is a clipart, short form version of a Pile of Stones, one of a series of garden sculptures
that have appeared during lockdown

  Andrew Marr's guest on Radio4 Start the Week was a highly successful American author who I didn't know and hadn't read. He regarded the short story as an inferior form of writing. These two statements triggered inadequacy. There is a choice so I don't need to feel this, especially at my age. But a corner of me realises I'm not reading widely so I am not informed in a literary sense (sadly I cannot cope with Hilary Mantel for example). My interest in the short form of things could have been crushed, except I don't have time for anything else. 
  So who was on Radio4 this morning? Ian McEwan talking about time - Clive H take note. Not the fractions of the earth's movement time, but lockdown time. Then the window cleaner came. I caught Ian's last sentence which went along the lines that maybe we will have more time for stillness and reflection. No idea what happened in the middle. It's a senior moment. Ian is 71.

garden glimpses

This could be the ideal time to get my stuff in some sort of order. Except it's all over the place. 
  Just heard one of my articles is in a new book on occupational medicine, the editor being Barry Hobson's (ex-holmfirth gp) son. No connection.
  And Covid this week. More journalists banging on how useless the government is. Martha on Radio4 Today telling a minister off for slow track and trace. Then the science expert telling her that track and trace doesn't really work until 'R' is well under one which has only just happened. I switched off.
  Andrew, our autistic lad, was due back at his flat today. Delayed by a day because of a domestic.

garden glimpses


                 long shadow
                 short men stand tall
                 keeping the light on
garden glimpses


pebble bridges
gateways in shadows
what lies beneath


Staying forever young - lockdown week 8

the men move round again - no cricket just now
More post Covid thoughts 


game over                        game over
captivated                        caught captivated
released                            then released

Pile of Stones

standing sitting
monumental eternal
changes every week

not stone henge but it could beRadio4 this morning, a guest philosopher suggested that Covid is giving us more space to make choices. In our previous worried and busy lives we had FOMO - fear of missing out.

What about the stroppy lady golfer on Women's Hour? Nobody is going to tell her what to do.

We might rely even more on online shopping after Covid. Sadly I did just this with my phone battery today. Support your local whatever could be a brilliant outcome.

Simon Armitage on Desert Island Discs. What a nice lad. Poetry is  revenge on his primary school teacher who did not put his Christmas poem on display. One of his choices was Pratty Flowers. He's allowed to be Poet Laureate for 5 minutes in a morning, then he has to do the washing up.

The squirrel finally won this week. It broke the bird feeder, so we bought a new one - from the pet shop in Holmfirth. Posh metal one. The tree rat can still get to it, but will struggle to break it.

Not a good time for Boris and his gang this week. I don't follow the adversarial nature of our media, but there is a mild smell of incompetence attached to Boris' inner circle, especially when Sir Kier is about and when poorly prepared ministers do a briefing. They are what we've got - I hope they learn about the pandemic problem and also the process of formulating and communicating policy. We don't really know what's going on, but the perception is not good.

Staying forever young - VE Day on our car park

Two pics that escaped from VE Day - I look as if I've escaped from somewhere else. Colin is the Punch and Judy man, watching his daughter Melissa, one of our sopranos.

We watched Blade Runner the other night. Ages since I'd seen it and it's great. Neon lights and shadows. A crime and police procedural. Violent. At heart it asks what it is to be human. The pretty well perfect robots or replicants have no emotions built in, until the latest model. They also have a date when they, or their batteries, run out.

Staying forever young - Lockdown week7

Not only has one of my buddleia cuttings survived but is also thriving.

More Radio4 talk about the future and how we come out of lockdown. Health and the economy are interdependent, so no time for wimps. As with the retreat from globalisation, so maybe look more to local solutions and cut some slack in the regions where they know their folk best. Wales, Scotland and N Ireland are intending to try things differently. Smaller and perhaps more fit for purpose. Sounds like the NHS could learn something from this.

The squirrels are getting to me, or more specifically to my seeds. I've caged the seeds on three sides and still the they get through. It's chicken wire next. Or, simply live with it.
  My anti-squirrel feeders don't seem to attract the birds.

 Taking tea

the men
in a queue
one direction

Pile of stones

polished round
in a circle

Using the short form of things is important to me. There is a limited amount of time and it easily gets filled. Clive H could tell us more. For the struggling oldie, trying to do a lot of stuff is impossible. So we are taught to talk to ourselves or others, come to priorities and do a SMART analysis on the top one or two. The short form gets around some of this. It means leaving things out which also lets the reader in.
  The photos are taken with a beaten up phone and briskly downsized. The drawings are deliberately done within minutes and some are copied and slightly computed. I don't tweet at the minute, but the posts on Foreveryoung are short and I hope readable. Haiku is new but fulfils the criteria. Tradition has it that a moment and an image inspire three short lines which can be literal, yet open to the reader to interpret. I cheat (title and pic) because it's more fun, but the basics are there. Very much the beginner.
  There are longer projects ...


Staying forever young - life after Covid

Drying and preserving wild flowers

fleeting meadows
colours stay moisture leaves
beauty forever

heavy blossom
colours stay moisture leaves
beauty forever

Life after Covid

Some more hints as to life after Covid. We already suspect commuting will take a long time to return to previous levels, along with a permanent place for home working. Interesting that the 19th century growth of towns and factories meant families lived within walking range of work. Could we go back to a bit of that?
  Matthew Parris, Times May 2nd - Enjoys a local pint with his partner in their local. It's a cry for government financial help on behalf of all of our great pubs. Another plug for working and taking our pleasures closer to home.
  What is your favourite local? Mine/ours is The Stumble Inn at Hinchliffe Mill. Not too noisy, spread of generations, friendly landlords, good blonde ale and some not too intrusive sport on TV. If it's soccer it's usually Liverpool.
  What is your favourite pub in England/UK? Mine - The Swan at Fradley on The Trent and Mersey - a great canal pub on the junction with the Coventry. What a place to put a 57ft boat into a three point turn in front of all the regulars. It's Christmas tree is upside down. 
  Sir Michael Palin was interviewed on TV by Andrew Marr on Sunday morning. A great advocate for finding places to trip off to in England, Wales and Scotland. And spend time getting to know them in some detail.
  Christopher Somerville and Chris Haslam, the Times Weekend, May 2nd, supply lists of UK walks and breaks - staycations - perfect for the non-flying public.
 Andrew Marr in Start the Week, Radio4 interviewed experts in globalisation, in history and now. Globalisation weakening and nationalism is on the rise. I guess it would be no bad thing to start sourcing and supporting our own industries more. Will Covid accelerate this movement? It's a growing trend within a lot of local towns and villages.
  Finally in this section. One thing, despite Covid, that I doubt will change, is NHS finance and management. Clare Foges, Times, May 2nd, thinks it should but doesn't make any practical suggestions. Why treat everything the same - that way goes the psychopathology of the average? Think funding fit for purpose: we are private for our ophthalmic appointments though I recently braved it at Acre St, I worked privately for myself in occupational health, I am insured at the dentist, the childbride volunteers for the hospice which has a pitiful central grant and wonderful fund-raisers. Okay, I haven't used the NHS for a while, but would appreciate the emergency services being on hand. Same general point for management - go for quality and however that's achieved. I cannot be more specific on this point, but more nuance would be good.

Best of the rest

Katya Adler, the lovely BBC Europe correspondent, did One to One again this week, Radio4. How much do interviewees and interviewers reveal themselves and how much of a mask do they wear? Does this help in our understanding of personality? Apparently today older people are interviewed more often. Their broadcasts are more rewarding and less confrontational. Older people are more at ease with themselves and have less to hide anymore.

Last week's deliberate mistake. Dom attended the SAGE meetings not COBRA.


More or Less, Radio4. A very disheartening take on the week's Corvid stats, including the number of tests per day and the death rates. Derran from our zoom/coffee/pilates/thursday group suggested to not take a lot of notice of the news - stick to the briefing meetings with the scientists. Useful intelligence on home car-washing and pub take-aways from Greg and Derran.


Yes I have tried to press some wild flowers, with limited success.


Do give us a glimpse of your favourite pubs and a sentence as to why.

Staying forever young - the coffee/pilates/thursday/zoom meet

Bob, Greg and Derran with a weed, lilac, palm and don't know, possibly primrose.

Greg and I have been going to Little Anne's pilates for about 5 years. Bob has thrown in the towel.

I struggle with naming all the wild flowers. I thought about pressing them and then studying them. Greg was worried what the big guys down the rugby club would think. Derran suggested an online help which so far has not helped. I need to get used to it, but I promise to persist.

Bob's treadmill arrives today. He will not be going up hill, especially as it is a manual setting.

We still have coffee. 11.15am Thursdays. Only Derran is doing online pilates. 

Greg's wife, Pauline, is making scrubs for the NHS. They are a male pattern for a organisation which is 75% female. And don't get Greg on procurement, either for the NHS or the armed forces.

 It's good isn't it?

Staying forever young - lockdown week 6

Our wildflower collection is starting up again. Try as I may I cannot name them, but I'll keep trying.

I could press them and investigate at leisure. Greg promised not to grass on me down the rugby club.


"Jim" Al-Khalili had Brian Green on the Life Scientific, Radio4 this week. He's big into String Theory as a way of unifying theoretical physics/mathematics - big 'Relativity', little 'Quantum' and one equation. The strings are fantastically small, vibrate in 10-11 dimensions and cannot be practically demonstrated. Apparently the collider is too weak to detect them. Based on supersymmetry. What does it all mean? Over to you Clive H.
  Brian has feelings of hollow dread. He has taken his equations billions, trillions and squillions of years into the future when everything disintegrates. He thus reflects on the impermanence of stuff. We need to leave a trace - the here and now is it he says. A bit of mindfulness. 
  So he is simply one of us.

Katya Adler - very pleasant Brexit-Europe news presenter had James Cracknell on One-to-One this week. An olympic gold medalist who had a severe head injury 10 years ago. There were serious medical problems and then the lifestyle consequences of frontal lobe injury. I think also that his story contained strong elements of depression. He was very candid about his pre injury behaviour - selfish, determined, stubborn, lacking empathy. All advantageous to enable sporting performance at the highest level and all, according to him, not great qualities for normal life. He was told these might become more pronounced post-injury.
  Most of us would struggle with a small portion of his story. After 10 years he has come through it and I think, I'm not sure, he thinks he is not that different from before. Apart from being more reflective. "We are all works in progress".
  Another fellow traveller. 

Dom attended Cobra meetings - well someone with a bit of clout needs to. 
  It does look, with the help of hindsight, that we are late getting into testing, track and trace. No point having a funny turn, but the number of bereaved families is high.


I'm increasing the reach of the blog by email and twitter. We already use Facebook. Thank you to the Thursday NHS retired team who read Lockdown 5 and commented. There are a few extracts here:

'Read through your blog and found it very interesting (I shouldn't really say that because it may encourage you) and was drawn to continue all the way through. You come across as being a bit curmudgeonly – you've certainly kept that side of your personality very quiet.'                                                                                                                           Dave Whalley

'Still here still got 10 toes!!'     Allen Jones [a reference to Allen's magnificent fight with his arteries - ed]

'Did the GP prescribe you anything for the grumpiness?'         Dave Devlin

'Welcome to the blood pressure group I am a long standing member.
But GP's desire to create the blood pressure of a 20 year old in the body of a 70 year old means dizzines and the occasional failure to stand at all.'             
 John Rotchell [John famously fainted during a concert in Cornwall. Geoff Gill, fellow bass, kept him upright while still singing - ed]                                           

I have to admit to a certain amount of grumpiness. Like James Cracknell, it has always been there, and it doesn't necessarily mellow with age. Nor should it. There are some daft things around apart from me. There's no cure. 

Staying forever young - Myfanwy still has the power

Big Dave, my pal from Linlithgow near Edinburgh is curating an anthology of events that have had a musical impact on individuals from Cadenza and the Edinburgh Bach Choir. I said I would do one. I could have chosen Abide with Me at Wembley or You'll Never Walk Alone at Anfield. I went for Myfanwy in my back garden.

One evening in 2014, sat in the garden, looking over to Cartworth Moor, I listened to Myfanwy. An episode in Radio4’s Soul Music series. A podcast during which guests talked about pieces of music that were important to their life story. The final contributor in Myfanwy told of his intended trip from S. Wales to Hereford via the Rhondda in October 1966. They stopped for breakfast and saw a mountain move. Houses and a school were in its path. Slurry and water crossed the road. They started digging. He found a hand, an arm and then a dead little girl. After 48 years he was still heartbroken and cried and so did I. The last line of the song goes, ‘So give me your hand, my sweet Myfanwy, For no more but to say "farewell".’

Myfanwy is a Welsh song of unrequited love. It is warm and melancholic and stirs up feelings of loss and grief. Loss of the Welsh landscape to coal-mining. Loss of many miners in pit explosions and in 1966 the loss of 28 adults and 116 children to an Aberfan spoil heap.

The song was a favourite with Ynysowen Male Voice Choir. Formed in 1966 the choir raised money for the Aberfan disaster fund. They sang at the 50th anniversary, 2016. The last entry on their website is 2018.

I joined New Mill Male Voice Choir in 1994 when my mother was dying. The MD, Len Williams, was a retired Welsh Opera tenor who taught us Myfanwy. A lot of music was emotional just then. Twenty years later it hit me again and it still does. Along with another favourite, Abide with Me, it is sad but more of a comfort nowadays.

It is thought that Joseph Parry composed the music to a poem by Richard Davies. Published in 1875.

Myfanwy is for everyone who has lost someone and it pretty much does it again in 2020.

Radio 4 podcast

Male Voices

Old guys in lockdown week 5

These are my raggy tulips.

I had to save them from the child bride who left them literally to rot in the back yard following several weeks water logging. I must have missed out on the drainage holes.
So I took them down to the bottom deck to join the wild flowers, and they have thrived.
But, they are a bit raggy. Upright of stem, openly proud and beautiful yet shy and scalped round the edges.
A bit like me really.
And a bit like this week's coffee/pilates/thursday meet. I muddled the codes. Bob took 20 minutes to join us. He's bought a treadmill - I wonder how long he will take set it up. Derran and Greg had some concerns about my tulip thoughts - droopiness and dead-heads. Greg's limericks on the theme, 'There was a young man from Slawit', were hilarious. (publish later when I have them)


Ann Treneman from the Times, April 18, has a recipe for gardening. (1) Sit on a step and talk to the cat/dog/robin. (2) Declare war on weeds and do one small patch a day. (3) Plant a few seeds and don't worry how to do it 'right'. (4) Sit and draw a flower or a plant. (5) Have a cup of tea and let your thoughts roam.
  Yes I get some of this. We weed once a year. After the spring offensive it's pointless as everything is so overgrown. I've never done 'right' gardening. My drawings are quick and stylised. It's beer and roaming.


The childbride is into zoom pilates, except her ipad demands an OS upgrade before it will let her have the app. Having experienced all my programmes not working following an OS upgrade, I am loathe to help out with zoom. So she does her exercises from the imac.

Download your upgrade
Forward maybe, back likely
It ends in circles


I've had a sheltered life. I always thought 'trannie' was someone who enjoyed wearing women's clothes. 
Stuart Maconie in Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North, 2007, Ebury, informs me it refers to a George Harrison devotee who sits and empties his brain a lot. Come to think of it what about a Dracula nut?

I'm going to stop complaining about younger people with their victimhood, bleating on about veg and dairy and slagging each other off on social media. They are the ones who have to sort all this lot out when it's over and then get the business and political will lined up to deal with climate change. David Attenborough said so. So it must be right. 
  The men are discussing just this. It's pretty clear they agree though they are concerned about my chippings and whether they take spin. The wheelbarrow is a great touch.


Even in lockdown time still passes - where does it go?

On my pile of stones.

Radio4 this morning had a guy on talking about several different sorts of time. Clive H, a New Mill bass, will probably tell us more. The bloke did say the space created by the pandemic in our lives enables contemplation of our mortality. He described this as serene. So another moment of epiphany maybe. Or just an older person like the rest of us.

Andrew is home, not sure for how long. He enjoys darts, so we are in training. Watch out, 'importance of being an Alan' (a reference to Two Guvnors, the MD of New Mill Male Voice Choir and the Friday boules annual darts match), bandits about.


Our boulesmaestro, Dave Talboys recently let his achievements in lockdown be known. Considerable they are. 

My small mammal real estate, wonky birdtable which is not squirrel proof and bug hotel make pallid comparisons, albeit utilising stuff lying about unused.

Staying forever young - inspiring older role models

Wild flower

Lovely spring bluebells,
Ringing mournful curly girls,
Don't pinch 'em, love 'em.

Captain Tom Moore is brilliant, and he must have a brilliant machine behind him, including no less than Michael Ball.
  One note of caution from a cynical ex-NHS worker. I hope he and his team have some control where the money goes, otherwise it will get swallowed by a big black hole.
  Anyone know how the money is being used?

(Donations are going to the NHS Charities Together coronavirus appeal, which is raising funds to support NHS staff and volunteers during the crisis by offering mental health counselling, providing food and wellbeing packs and covering for travel costs, among other things. - See more at: https://www.civilsociety.co.uk/news/captain-tom-moore-s-fundraiser-for-nhs-charities-passes-26m.html#sthash.6fVrdHBO.dpuf)

A Sense of Ending - a Julian Barnes novel adapted for a movie. Sadly the novel is one of my 50 page failures, along with Hilary Mantel and others.
  The movie is great. Like The Mule it depicts epiphany in an older male. Events precipitate reflections which result in action. In The Mule the events are Clint Eastwood's relationships in real time with members of a drug cartel and the policeman tracking him down. He returns to the family, sits with his dying ex-wife in hospital and reconnects with daughter and granddaughter. Finishing in jail, at least his family knows where he is.
  In A Sense of Ending the events are in the past and unreliable, but powerful enough for Jim Broadbent to think again about the importance to him of his ex-wife, daughter and grandchild.
  It's like what David Bowie said in the titles at the top of the show. But, if you want the scientific explanation, clic here.
  There is a good quote from the film. 'History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.' 'What you end up remembering isn't always the same as what you have witnessed.'
  Whatever we have done or think we have done, there are still chances to be happier with ourselves, with those we choose. The virus might physically restrict that, but ...
    Or, from Second Marigold Hotel 'There's no present like the time.'


Staying forever young - lockdown week 4

forever young poppies and bluebell

The first wild poppies and bluebells. We bought one bunch - not sure where the others came from.

forever young stones, real estate and tulips

There are two rogue tulips. I have a habit of rescuing some of the childbride's bulb castoffs, so I'm guessing I planted them in the wildflower patch. Along with rogue daffodils. They had baby hedgehogs on TV recently, so I built a bit of real estate, but I fear it's too small. Something might crawl in there. 
  The stones have changed. Higher and more difficult to build. It's a skill.


Much like the other weeks. Media harassment of ministers and advisers in the name of holding the government to account. This weeks topics: PPE scarcity, care home neglect and when and how is the lockdown going to end. And then some more from care home providers and specialist wonks.
  Maybe things have been a bit slow, but nobody goes to work to mess up. We are unaware of some of the other forces at work in addition to the obvious. Hancock melted down. The frequency of ums and era is up, along with overlong answers and prevaricating statistics. You wouldn't do it.

I wouldn't. Guilty. But pretty good at letting other people look after us. Or that's how it feels. It's actually called isolation or lockdown, depending whether you are Tom or me.


A barrel of Saltaire Blonde on offer from Holmfirth Civic this week. Yes, but 36 pints have to be drunk within 3 to 5 days of opening it. Bob from our pilates/coffee/zoom/thursday meet suggested I phone a friend. I'll fill a few bottles for the kids. Andrew will like it - he's still in lockdown on his own, but I managed to fix him up with Netflix which pleased him.
  No news on the tadpoles. They haven't grown much and, unless they've gone deep, there are not many left.
  The buddleia cutting is hanging on.
  I thought I heard a swarm of bees or wasps yesterday. I'm told it was a drone.

Greg's wife Pauline is sewing for England - head gear and gowns for the care homes. Brilliant apparently except the language has been alarmingly choice. The sewing machine is on the blink and needs supplementing by hand. Greg is another pilates/coffee/zoom/thursday meeter. Last week he thought everyone would go back to the way they were. Now he thinks commuting might change, given the success of conference software. He might be on to something.


The Holmfirth Oxfam bookshop has a table just as you walk in. A layer of different books, fiction and non-fiction and it changes. A great selection and attractive. A young lady is responsible and looked discomforted by my complements. I bought three just before the lockdown. Phonetics, The North and Radio 4 to add to my garden birds, Classic FM and stoic philosophy. Should keep me out of mischief.

Staying forever young - some more 2020 senior moments

Leaving water tap running - twice. I'm not going into detail, but my bathroom carpet got a soaking from which it has more or less recovered. Daughter Louise was less than sympathetic "serves you right for having carpet."

Knocking over a glass of red wine - a small one.

The childbride put ear drops in my eye. Olive oil. I thought it stung a bit. It's supposed to be steroid, but now I can hear out my right eye. Won't be getting syringed any time soon.

Check out my wonky bird table, twinned with my bug hotel - side effects of the crates that the firewood arrived in. I have broken the plastic tray since this pic and need to fashion a replacement. There's plenty of wood.

The childbride has washed the cricketers, but she says they really need a paint overhaul. Another lockdown job, if I've got the appropriate stuff - acrylic latex apparently.

Matthew Parris is somewhat controversial this week, the Times, April 11th:
 'I'm encountering what is for me an almost intolerable level of guff about reconnecting with nature, learning the joys of contemplation, home-cooking, realising how much more there is to life than nine-to-five, putting the rhythm of lovely walks and daily exercise back into life, birdsong etc.'

Hmm, yes it can get a bit twee, but it can also help with lockdown. According to one of my Thursday morning coffee zoom pilates pals, Greg, 'It will all get back to how it was'.

And Matthew agrees, somewhat chilling:

'...  bit by bit, messily and patchily, we return to normal this and next year. The shadow it will cast will not be over attitudes, lifestyles or values, to which our attachment (and in which our inertia) runs deeper than we know. We'll be just the same, but poorer and, sadly, somewhat fewer.'

Hmm, I'm at the stage of future ambivalence.

Staying forever young - lockdown week 3

The latest from the tadpoles. Swimming everywhere now, though I think there are less of them.

I have tried to take a buddleia cutting and despite 3 failures, I'm hopeful for a survivor. It can go in the garden and be a home for butterflies in due course.

The full moon, but not pink.

A pile of stones. Some say an aid to navigation. Others say it promotes extinction of certain species. These stones are from Glenelg just inland from Skye on the west coast of Scotland. If we all took stones there would be no beach. My only defence is there are only a few people up there and odd ones like us. I've spent several weeks up there, walking, doing some Munros - about 12. Last I heard there were 282.

I tbink it's a weed, but nice colours.

A solitary large bee on tulips that have just come out.

Jack and Jill with a new coat of paint that's been left. I suspect it is not the original hue. The thought is that the pot hot water bottle is from Grannie Addy's of Whitestone Lane, Hillhouse. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. It's an heirloom that became a doorstop, until one of our builders dropped it and it broke into two pieces. Now it's a curiosity.

Grandson Jenson's birthday present to me. A briocastle. It's brilliant.

Tom, a bass from New Mill Choir, and I exchanged messages this week, in lieu of going to the pub. We both admit to certain advantages when it comes to the present crisis. He refers to his relatively normal 'isolation', writing and studying. For me it's definitely a lockdown - avoiding people.

The old fart in lockdown week 2

I've noticed unintended consequences from the lockdown. First, cutting my own toenails - apologies to all those foot squeamish people. Thing is, our chiropodist, Andrew, collects great amounts of local trivia which keeps us as up to date as any computer app.
  Second, doing my own hair. I have been doing this now for 3 months courtesy of Rod Gooch from New Mill Choir, but now so relevant. There is an Amazon waiting list for electric cutters through til May.
  Third, talking to people over the phone, on zoom, FaceTime whatever. I usually talk to myself so I'm in overload, fatigued. As I keep saying there is survival value in being grumpy - it's one quality for surviving lockdown.


  My shed  

Gardening was the great pastime for lockdown week 1. Quote in the Times March 28th from Joe Swift, 'Gardening means a lot to me ... It's physical, healthy, therapeutic, hugely creative, sometimes sociable, sleep-inducing and life-affirming'.
  Wow and he goes on a lot more - 3 column inches, finishing with a mangled quote from Voltaire 'In these troubled times, we must cultivate our garden, even if it's just a small pot or two on the windowsill.'
  More wow, but I think he might be on to something.
  Stephen Anderton has a list of essential spring jobs, one of which is cleaning out my shed, and like the grump who had a bath last year, I cleaned it out last year.
 Whilst I suspect we have all had a recent tidying up garden moment, I mostly sit, wonder and drink beer in mine. 


Is anyone else aware of all the futurologists appearing out the cupboard? What is going to change as a result of covid19. Nobody knows but I guess more working together in a number of areas might be on most people's wish list.
  Radio4 this week, Start the Week, had Nick Timothy and Danny Dorling chatting about the relationships between state/government/political policy and markets/business and people/society. Plenty of permutations, remembering that the overarching value at the moment, prior to corvid19, is freedom to do whatever (social and economic liberalism). Harare popped up today to add his three penneth - the contrast between voluntarily joining in say lockdown vs compulsory - and nations going it alone vs a global solution to things such as economies. Bangladesh looks a bit fragile just now.
  Danny Dorling discussed his findings that lots of stuff is slowing down - change well underway before corvid19. The major characteristic of preindustrial life was that nothing changed and the opposite has been true of life post 1830. Population, life expectancy and data to name a few. But how large can the money cake get? Stuff has to slow down. We lead very different lives to our parents, but more or less the same as our kids. We are having fewer children, the number of inventions has fallen, increase in height has slowed and there is no way we can keep track of all the information. Economic growth is much slower. So how does the cake get cut? Right wing vs left wing - well off them/poor us vs totalitarianism.
  Danny finished up by discussing a few freedoms we could do more of. Freedom from fear and precariousness, freedom to have a nice life, freedom from keeping up with celebs. He cites the sales guy who tries to sell him a pair of trousers he doesn't want - neither gets off in these roles. 
  I don't keep up with it all, there is too much, and fairly soon it is not going to matter to our generation. Nice to be thoughtful.


Do I have to take all these tablets doc?

Just before lockdown, I visited the gp. A nearly empty waiting room and no queue at reception. I entered myself into a wall-mounted machine and sat. A TV on silent, adverts for helpful services, announcements crossing a display. A bald dapper guy in a waistcoat and open-necked shirt popped in intermittently, inviting one of the sitters to join him. A trickle of people came and went. There was hush, apart from the telephone, because no one was there. And this a busy village surgery. So different to my childhood experiences of an urban fifties practice. A single doctor working out of his front room. A full-to-bursting waiting room where, like a barber, everyone knows their place in the queue. A beep from the ether announcing invitations to join him. It was nearly always a him.
  My visit was intended as a routine event to review medication. For those who are interested, I take stuff for gout and viral keratitis (herpes in my optic nerve). Also one for blood pressure and one for cholesterol which I have now stopped as it was making me ill (anyway an Irish study suggested no benefit if you haven't yet had a stroke or a cardiac event - and no jokes about the Irish please). Finally one to counteract any stomach side effects and a vitamin pill for macular degeneration.
  Phew - whilst I was there I mentioned my shoulder pain which he thought was 'impingement' and recommended an ultrasound to which I replied 'what will that tell you that will change anything?' So he put me on the waiting list for a joint injection.
  Finally finally I told him about my unsteadiness and vertigo, particularly turning over in bed and during pilates. He nodded as I suggested a middle ear benign condition of older people. No suggestions for treatment though. Could he also take my blood pressure? Yes he could and it was elevated. What next? Medication was mentioned, but the look on my face must have put him off. So I'm measuring it at home again.
  Finally finally finally, I couldn't help notice a scruffy medical student frantically writing stuff down in a notebook. I'd signed the appropriate consent form in the waiting room. 'What have you learned today?' I asked. To which he replied in a mangled accent 'I'm not good at remembering stuff', which is a distinct disadvantage as a student. 
  I think the gp was somewhat battered and confused by all these exchanges. He's a good lad. And a snappy dresser. My last visit had been more of a battle, a lady who doesn't take no for an answer. Hence taking a cholesterol-buster which I didn't want, just because of my age and some probability I might have a stroke in the next 10 years. She is well aware of my grumpiness as I am of her spikiness. It's mutual admiration.
  My blood pressure varies from highish to I should be fainting right now. Because I'm recording the results, next to the jumble of numbers is an ordered list, so I do know the date and day of the week. I have not had my joint injection. I'm not taking pain-killers thankfully. The vertigo is gradually settling though I need to be careful bending my neck backwards, needed when the childbride puts in my eyedrops. Eyesight is good - one thing is at least.
  So there it is, a geriatric masterclass.

Oldies get into the garden in lockdown week 1

 The meerkat gets everywhere

The bug hotel is underway

Week 1 of the lockdown was a great opportunity to get the garden in some short of shape. Not that we are gardeners. Controlled neglect is our style

There is a bee on the heather

Apologies to all those with a weak stomach, but we have been following our frogspawn