Week 634


Sunday, 14th February, 2021

What is this Valentine’s rubbish. Every day is one of love-and-gratitude-day in our household. How lucky are we? So many we know no longer have the reassurance of their loved one by their side. It must be scarcely bearable and we feel for them.

At last today the heating can be turned off. We will not fall below 8C/47F over night which is fine. I’ve done my workout for the day. I’ve only missed 3 days in the past 49. When it gets to this stage, it is harder not to do it than to do it. To see my stats with a blemish hurts more than the exercise itself.

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We received our Covid jab invitations yesterday. We probably won’t take them up. It is a national letter and the nearest place is in the centre of Brighton about 20 miles/32 km away. Our local one will be in the Community Centre about 10 mins walk away from our house. We will probably wait for that.

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A multiplicity of email clients

I’ve spent the main part of the morning working on our email/address book clients. We use Windows 10 Mail cloud client alongside Outlook mail client. Each have an integrated but separate address books. On our iPads, we use the Apple mail + address book client and, on our smartphones, we use Gmail +address book email client. I have organised the emails to synchronise across different platforms but the address books are a nightmare and the calendars are even worse. I’ve resorted to doing these manually. Still, I’ve got so much slack time at the moment that it doesn’t really matter.

Monday, 15th February, 2021

A damp, mild start that turned in to a grey, mild day. Actually, ‘mild’ is only a relative term. It has been 9C/48F and the breeze makes it feel cooler. We walked down to the Pharmacy attached to our Surgery to collect our repeat prescriptions. The round-trip walk takes about 70 mins and we wouldn’t have even considered it 12 months ago. Now, it doesn’t even occur to us to drive. If the weather’s alright, we walk. Wonderful, homemade Chicken & Sweetcorn soup for Lunch and then some Office work before a session in the Gym.

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Xmas 1979

I am loving using my new computer and I’m organising all my data sets in the cloud. Following that process this morning, the photograph above popped up and took me back to those exciting times 41 years ago on the Pennines. This is the first Christmas cake Pauline made for us and she has made at least one every year since.

I wrote only recently about not being a fan of fiction and it has been true all my life. This pandemic and the restrictions has helped to show me what can be gleaned from good drama. Particularly as national and international sport was restricted in the first half of the year and the empty stadium sport so lacking in atmosphere in the second half, we have searched for alternative forms of entertainment. We subscribed to Sky Cinema and to Netflix and found a wealth of compromises.

The compromise started off as dramas based on actual events. I have really enjoyed Thrillers connected to historical events. For example, Red Joan which is based on the Cambridge graduate of the late 1930s – a Fellow Traveller as they became known – who fed the USSSR with vital information which hastened the pace at which the Soviets developed nuclear bomb technology. Judy dench plays the eponymous Joan and I am comforted in knowing that much of this actually happened.

Recently, this leap of credibility has allowed me to move on to a psychological thriller set in Ireland on the North – South border. The geographical mood music feels right. The psychological tightness of border tensions appears accurate. That drew me in. having watched 2 Series each of 6 episodes, I feel rather committed but I have a hankering suspicion that the plot has spun nonsensically out of control. Although it seems a bit pointless going on, I find myself saying, Well you’ve come this far. This is the essence of my problem with Fiction.

Tuesday, 16th February, 2021

We have found Covid-19 Vaccinations slots at the Chichester Centre which we can attend together and provisionally booked both 1st and 2nd jabs there. If our own Surgery comes in with a booking before we go then we will cancel the Chichester one. Jab-1 is on February 26th and Jab-2 on May 14th exactly 11 weeks later.

We decided to go and look at the Centre to get out of the house and give our car a much needed run. As soon as I put the post code in, I thought we were going abroad. The Centre is on Via Ravenna which is located off Avenue de Chartres. We only deal in cosmopolitan culture down here.

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Our Covid Jab Centre – Italy.

I was amused to see a shop on Sifnos being offered for rent. It was fairly new when we were there and we used it to create our House Sale sign. This was almost 8 years ago now. Unbelievable!

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Gate painted & For Sale sign attached – May 2013.

The shop is attached to a grubby little 2* hotel in Kamares. It was quite impressively kitted out for digital Sign Writing and we were one of its early customers. We were so pleased with their work which attracted lots of attention.

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Shop for Rent after Pandemic destroys economy.

Addendum: By chance this afternoon, we became aware of a message from a local person saying that we could book our Covid test at our local Community Centre. The GP website didn’t say we could and their recorded message didn’t say we could. We phoned and booked our jabs for two days time. We learnt that this government is trying to dissuade the public from being jabbed by GPs but pushing them to attend distant, mass vaccination centres instead. Centralised control continues. We now have vaccinations booked in two areas although our local one is much earlier so we will cancel the other but not until the first is successfully completed.

Wednesday, 17th February, 2021

Woke up late today and stayed in bed listening to R4 Today until 7.50 am! Wednesday has added routines for me. Apart from shaving and cleaning my teeth (recharged my tooth brush last night and nearly lost my teeth this morning!), Wednesday is bedlinen changing. My job is to strip the bed and take the linen down to the Utility Room. Pauline is expert in using the washing machine so she puts the white things on to wash. I would almost certainly shrink and re-dye them given a chance. Pauline remakes the bed because I hate doing it. This is how division of labour works in our house.

I forgot to mention. I haven’t got dressed yet. Having stripped the bed stark naked (me & the bed), I go into the dressing room. Having got dressed, I open the blinds and look out on to the back garden. Everything looks fine …. apart from a demented little blob of fur going frantically round and round on the spot on our patio. It is chasing its tail. When I get downstairs and onto the patio, I realise that it is a tiny, Field Mouse. It has obviously been using the plant pots for cover and come out to enjoy the warmer morning and some sunshine.

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Strange sights in Greece.

While we are enjoying warmer weather, Greece is suffering snow – quite heavy snow. Sifnos island has been covered with dramatically heavy snow. Athens has a heavy blanket of snow. As they say, views of the Acropolis surrounded by thick snow are quite rare and some are considering skiing down the side. I, for one, would love to see it.

Vaccinations tomorrow morning. If there’s no Blog tomorrow night, send flowers.

Thursday, 18th February, 2021

On the morning we prepare for our first Covid-19 vaccination, this appears in the news headlines:

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The dilemma is immediately obvious. What confidence can one have in returning to normal life after effectively sheltering for a year? Wanting to believe something is effective does not bring that about. What would it be like to sacrifice a year of one’s life to succumb when one least expects it?

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No guesses which vaccine we had today. We were at our local Community Hall with rows of chairs spaced out for customers to wait. We were wearing double masks and visor but I felt more vulnerable there than I have anywhere for quite a while. I haven’t been in a closed environment with so many people for almost 12 months. Very efficiently run, we were in and out in about 30 mins including having to wait for 15 mins afterwards to see if the jab had killed us.

We felt comparatively alive as we went home for coffee. I should be alright to do my gym routine later. I’m looking forward to continuing a film I am watching on Netflix called Rebellion which honours the 100th anniversary of the start of the Easter Uprising in 1916, a defining moment in Irish and British history. It is not the best dramatisation I have seen – a bit sanitised and light weight but it does remind one of the sacrifices the Irish have been prepared to make to throw off the yoke of British Imperialism. What none of them could have conceived of is that Membership of the European Union and a foolhardy Brexit is the most likely avenue to delivering a United Ireland.

After all that bloodshed and colonial stiff upper lip, to subjugate a people who were entitled to self determination and who will almost certainly get it by the unthinking hand of British, right wing extremists. How ironic!

Friday, 19th February, 2021

Incredible how light it was at 6.00 am as we got up for our Sainsbury’s delivery. The Spring is creeping up on us. Snowdrops and Daffodils are starting to decorate the landscape. The Summer is coming! Unfortunately, as time marches on, so do we. I have to wish my brother, Bob, a very happy 69th birthday today.

We last shared a bedroom 52 years ago although, perhaps, I shouldn’t talk about it. He certainly seems happy and contented with his life and what else can one ask for? We wish him another 69 years of happiness.

A grey & bitterly cold day on the beach.

We nipped down to the beach for a few minutes of bracing sea air and it certainly was ‘bracing’. The official temperature at 9.30 am was 8C/46F but the wind chill effect of the sea breeze almost took our breath away.

School Trip to the beach.

It was nice to see (from a distance)a crocodile of little kids enjoying the beach. There were even a couple of people in the sea wind surfing fearlessly. You certainly wouldn’t catch me doing it.

Saturday, 20th February, 2021

Getting a Little Woman in.

In Retirement, Saturdays are always difficult days. After that Friday Night Feeling was satisfied by a Chinese Takeaway and a bottle – sometimes two – of wine followed by a complete ‘slump’ at the end of a hard week’s work, we would have been up at the crack of dawn to make the most of our ‘day off’. Usually there were so many jobs to fit in that couldn’t be done during the week. We were always some of the first shoppers in to Sainsbury‘s and home for coffee. Then the house jobs of cleaning, washing, ironing, gardening, car cleaning had to be done. Sunday was papers and politics before school work and other preparation for another hard week ahead.

I still quite often get up and think, I don’t have to go to work; I still dream sometimes of walking the school corridors and hearing the teacher-class hum. Even after 12 years away, I still wake up in a blind sweat occasionally worrying that I haven’t done everything needed for my new day. The Friday Feeling is long gone, Sunday preparations are no longer required and Saturday has lost its impetus. Nothing has to be done. We have all the time in the world to get jobs done.

It will be 12 years in the first week of April since we retired and it will be 5 years in the first week of April since we moved in to our new home. We are now responsible for its complete upkeep. We try to set high standards for ourselves in maintenance of our properties. Cleanliness, tidiness and presentation are important. Fortunately, Pauline loves DIY and, particularly, decorating. We have toured every inch of the house together with clipboard and pen, noting every scratch, chip, smudge, which needs attention. Pauline has done all the repairs, repaints of the walls and is just completing the same with the woodwork.

Martin McGuiness

I used to feel embarrassed about my lack of contribution but, after 43 years of marriage, we have come to the agreement that it is best left to Pauline. I have spent my day exercising, watching football and reading some historical background to the formation of the Irish Republican Army.

I have been transported back to my youth in the 1960s – 70s and how Sinn Féin IRA were spoken of as murderous criminals. It took quite a while before I realised the injustice of that position. I have long believed and supported the concept of a United Ireland. It was a major move forward to see a former IRA Leader and Sinn Féin politician as Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland but it is even better to see the complete failure of the DUP to defend the Union through Brexit.