Week 730

Sunday, 18th December, 2022

Today has opened warm and wet and rather dark. It is exactly a week since we landed back in UK from the bright, stark sunshine of Florida. I would like to say that I’m feeling completely better but I’m not. I’m tired all the time. I’m tired of feeling tired. I should be out walking, exercising in the Gym and keeping the years at bay. At the moment, I feel old, weak and emotional.

Probably not the time to watch Lady Chatterley’s Lover as we did last night on Netflix. It is the third version of the book I have seen in film with this being made for Netflix in 2022. I first read the book at Grammar School in around 1966. It was almost my only sex education I received there other than reading Somerset Maugham’s, Cakes & Ale. All the important pages had been well thumbed by many boys before me. D.H. Lawrence’s book, of course was prosecuted for obscenity. The prosecution was lost and it marked the end of the old world of restricted morality and the welcoming of a more liberal, new world.

The chief prosecution barrister turned to the jury with disdain and asked them if this was the kind of book “you would wish your wife or servants to read“. It showed how out of touch the old, pre-war world was from the new world anticipating the white heat of technology. No wonder the prosecution failed.

This latest film version took some liberties with the original narrative but I found it moving. Too moving. For 50 years I have tried to keep my emotions in check, to live on a ‘flat’ plane of emotional control. I didn’t read and watch fiction for fear of its effects. Letting myself go is difficult … almost scary. I am safer with politics or sport.

Monday, 19th December, 2022

Every day a little bit stronger. I have driven today for the first time for three weeks. We did some shopping – Pauline needed ingredients to make Christmas biscuits and home made chocolates. The Christmas cakes and puddings were made and delivered before we left for Florida but this picture from 13 years ago in our Huddersfield kitchen echoes the same, old rhythms of the season. 

Christmas 2009

We drove down to the beach but I was struggling to make the most of the walk so we didn’t stay long. As you can see, not many did on a grey day like this. 

I am getting increasingly frustrated with my lack of energy even though I am pushing myself to try harder, go further. I feel pathetic. You probably feel I am too.

Tuesday, 20th December, 2022

Although the Blog began on Christmas Day 2008, in numerical terms it began its 15th year this week. It has become part of my life and has reached out, quite surprisingly, to many people. I write it for myself but I am pleased others read it and I try not to be too self conscious in that knowledge. I am too old to be embarrassed about expressing what I think and feel. I am what I am – here to be accepted or rejected according to your understanding of my character. For those still with me, you need to live at least another 29 years before you can rest.

Regular readers will know that history and statistics are important to me and for 26 years – since 1996 – we have been shuttling two Christmas cards between ourselves and a Norwegian friend, Bjorn, and his wife, Anne-Marie.

This is the card that we chose in 1996. Each year it either leaves us bound for Edinburgh or leaves them bound for us. It contains a newsletter and is now so thick and well used that it is re-spined with grey, sticky tape. It is like a 26 year old blog in that it chronicles two couple’s lives over that period. I love it.

Sainsburys set up for those with cash.

It is an absolutely gorgeous, warm and sunny day down here. A day to be relished. A day to be walked in. I wish I could do it justice. Maybe soon. We made a special trip to Sainsburys this morning to buy things for the local Food Bank which is currently appealing for help. I cannot imagine what it must be like to have to rely on charity for food. The fact that people do shames our country.

Wednesday, 21st December, 2022

A dark and misty start to the day in total contrast to yesterday. It is, of course, the shortest day of the year. When you’re 71, what you need is as much time as possible with long days and as little time wasted sleeping as possible. The only thing about the shortest day is that it can only get better from here.

Yesterday, we went to Sainsburys to buy things for the local Food Bank. I think we spent about £50.00. The request from the food bank was for long-life food and not fresh fruit and vegetables or other perishable goods. We just bought lots of tins of meat and vegetables with ring pulls because many don’t even have can openers

As we walked out, a member of Sainsburys staff stopped us and offered us two, free bunches of flowers and they are lovely. Really like the purple, Ornamental Cabbage set against the blush of the Lilies.

I am feeling better but not ready to do my 10 mile walk yet. I am going to try a bit on the treadmill in the Gym today. Hope that works and I can regain some confidence. I had thought that the Health bills from the USA were settled. I had even gone as far as to initiate a claim with the insurance arm of my bank. I now find that the American Healthcare system has other ideas.

Further invoices for another $579.00 have come in from the Testing Centre – labcorp – and the Hospital – Care One – which I will have to phone them to settle. I’m going to use my Skype phone through the internet to do that – something I haven’t done for years. Assuming this is an end to it, our insurance will be paying $1,014.00 to pay the bills.

Thursday, 22nd December, 2022

Slept well and feeling decidedly better today. Well, until we went to Sainsbury’s … again. I don’t know why we don’t live there at the moment. It was packed at 9.30 am but Pauline is responsible for salad Starters and alternative Sweets for Christmas Dinner so they couldn’t be bought too early. She assures me this was our last shop this week. We’ll see!


Former flat mate, Chris Tolley, who I haven’t seen since 1972, sent me best wishes this morning which was nice. It must be part of the aging process but these things mean so much more to me now. Not sure about the jumper though!

Toned-down Lights

We really don’t celebrate Christmas other than to be social with others. Some of the houses in our street have children although we virtually never see them. For the last few years, the houses have been covered in Christmas lights. The children are a bit older and the lights, this year, are distinctly toned down. Our lovely Italian neighbours from across the road came over last night and brought a nice bottle of wine to wish us well. I’m not drinking alcohol at the moment but it will go into the Chiller for when I am.

I have spoken to the insurers this afternoon and they have confirmed that they will pay my claim in full which is nice to know. There is no reason why they should challenge it but they usually do so it’s good to have a straight forward payment this time.

Friday, 23rd December, 2022

It’s an absolutely horrible, dark and wet day down here this morning. I’m feeling a bit lost and moody. I said I was going in the Gym on Wednesday but didn’t feel up to it in the end. Going to try again this morning. Looks like we have dodged the coldest Christmas in Florida for 50 years so every cloud has a silver lining.

I am working in the Office to the soundtrack of James Taylor which is a bit worrying. It is the soundtrack to sadness. Got to stay positive.

Nat.West Black Account Insurance not only said they would pay us out in full for our Florida expenses but actually did so on the spot without my having to provide any proof of my bills. They just took my word for it and thanked me for coming back early to the NHS to limit the charges. Quite refreshing.

Having spoilt Pauline with a new steam iron, I really went mad yesterday and ordered this robot vacuum from Currys. It is a Samsung which can be controlled from our smart phones and will map the house floors over the first few outings allowing us to use it selectively or just leave it to roam one entire floor of the house at the time we set.

Saturday, 24th December, 2022A warm night and a brighter start to the day. I was right to be sceptical about no more shopping. Pauline suddenly realised that she didn’t have any Mascarpone Cheese for a sweet she was making. We have 5 superstores within about 3 miles of each other but the ingredient couldn’t be found in WaitroseSainsbury’sTesco or Morrisons. Finally, we went to Asda and there was plenty.

Pauline’s hair is dancing.

Mind you, the frantic whirligig of the search just typified for me everything which is wrong about these festivities. Had lovely contacts from Kevin and Julie yesterday plus e-cards cards from Caroline in Ireland and Ruth in Bolton which was heartening. I even managed 15 mins on the treadmill for the first time in a month.

CT Scanner

By January, I intend to build back up to a couple of hours. Pauline wants me to pay for a CT Scan after Christmas so we can finally eliminate some of our wilder fears. I don’t know anything about these sorts of things but, apparently, it is a whole-body scanner which is able to see deep into the body and provide images of internal organs like the Liver and Pancreas. Looks like I will be given no choice.

The turning tide this morning.

Tradition in our Christmas over the past 40 years has been Christmas Day with family and then Boxing Day picnic on the beach – Blackpool & Fleetwood for Pauline’s Mum and Scarborough & Whitby for our choice in the North. Here it is so much nearer. Just over 5 mins and we are there. This morning the tide was high and turning as joggers/walkers enjoyed the beach.

Pleased to report that not only did I manage a walk on the beach this morning but I did 30 mins on the treadmill in the Gym this afternoon. It gave my confidence a boost.

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