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.