Week 737

Sunday, 5th February, 2023

Lovely, sunny day which is useful because I’ve got jobs outside to do today. We will be meeting the Honda sales team tomorrow morning. It will involve valuing our car and trying to sell us a new one. Important jobs this morning include valeting the car so it is presented at its best tomorrow but first I am seeking a market valuation guidance to go armed with.

There are so many online purchasers now that valuations are easy and keen. I was pleased to find that there was reasonable consensus around £33,500 which gives me strengthened bargaining power…

…. It’s 2.30 pm. I’ve been working for about 3 hrs and the car looks so good even I’d buy it again. It is a gleaming example of Japanese quality. I’m not gleaming. I’m shattered and now I have to do my Gym workout. At least I have a gripping, WW2 drama to watch. On Sky Movies, I’m watching Colin Firth and Penelope Wilton in a true story about a counter intelligence running a plan involving a ruse to persuade the Germans that they were about to defend Greece whereas they were really concentrating on Sicily. Entitled Operation Mincemeat, it’s central character is a corpse. You’d love it!

In the Gym, I’ve got myself back up to 7 miles a day for the past 10 days. I’m getting it back but slowly. When you’re in the maelstrom of illness, you don’t always appreciate the severity of your condition. To be honest with you, for quite a while I was out of it completely. It is only now that Pauline tells me how worried she was for my existence. At least someone is. When I complain how long it is taking me to return to full strength, she reminds me how ill I was.

My Windows PC opens with new photos each morning. Today it was this wonderful snap of tree trunks. Click on it to open it fully. I absolutely love it. Hope you do to.

Monday, 6th February, 2023

The lovely morning of gorgeous sunshine started with an early call from the Hospital Urology Investigation Team. I have an appointment for February 21st. I could even pick my own time slot out of 3 in the afternoon. I chose the earliest to get it over as quickly as possible.

Then out to Honda just 5 minutes away. I parked our car, gleaming in the sunshine, right in front of the salesman’s desk. It looked so good, he didn’t even bother to go out and check it over which was a pity because I had done a wonderful job on the interior.

Honda showrooms are always quiet, with respectful sales staff sitting quietly at desks, using their computers as shiny, new cars make their own statement. The salesman today is one who has already sold us two new cars over the past 5 years and he already knows he will sell us another one today. We also know that he will come up with an attractive enough proposition that we will buy one today.

Modern Steel Metallic

He has the cars in the country and available for delivery in about 2 weeks. He offers a Honda incentive of £1,500.00 off the list price plus 5 years ‘free’ servicing. He will handle all the transfer of the ‘cherished numberplate’ that we have used for 25 years.

Most important of all, he has the colour we (I) want – modern steel metallic. It cost £670.00 more but we have driven silver cars for years and I decided it was time for a change. It may be a bit too garish and bright for you, Dear Reader, but the condemned man gets to choose.

As the salesman went into a flurry of paperwork, urgent phone calls, form filling for the DVLA, etc, we shook hands and left with this folder. The car should be available just before I hear of my fate from the hospital.

Tuesday, 7th February, 2023

Glorious blue sky but … we’ve got frost. Athens, of course, had snow yesterday but weather is certainly changing.

Julie’s off to a party. Kevin’s out on his bike. I’ve been scanning some old photos of a friend. She wants to send them to people. Past & Past in a nutshell!

The permanent globe trotter, Dave Roberts, is in Australia now. I’m never going to keep up with that.

Looked a bit stormy over Sydney Harbour yesterday. Even so, I would have liked to have been there for the experience. I had to make do with Littlehampton Marina. Mind you, it was a lovely day and remarkably warm.

Still got an hour to do in the Gym before Dinner. Pauline’s cooking Stuffed Peppers tonight which I love. We are both on a strict regime of no alcohol, no carbs and full exercise routine. It’s always hard getting back into the straightjacket of self discipline but it has to be done.

Wednesday, 8th February, 2023

Another cold start to the morning with some frost on the ground. Beautiful sky. Drink in the bright colours. First job this morning is moving money around for the new car which is only a couple of weeks away. Always hurts to take money out of a savings/investment account. I am dedicated to increasing not depleting it. Re-reading the paperwork, the salesman has got the details of our current, trade-in car wrong again. This will be the 4th car we have bought from him since 2016 and he’s lazily just accessed the details of the 2016 car by mistake. I think he did that last time as well. It all needs to be put right before the forms go off to the DVLA.

Our ‘landline’ phones were converted to digital VOIP status over a year ago by BT. This morning, they are unusable because of severe interference. There is nothing wrong with our broadband service so I need to contact BT to find out how to deal with it. Why isn’t life simple? For months, we have been concerned that a couple of kitchen doors were showing bubbling in the paintwork on the edges. The suppliers Symphony Kitchens agreed to supply and fit new doors.

Twice now, the company have sent replacement doors and twice they have been the wrong size. Twice they have booked a fitter and twice they have cancelled him. On each occasion, they don’t want the doors back. Keep them or throw them away, we are told. They are for our kitchen and would fit elsewhere so we (or whoever lives here) will have replacements for the next 20 years but we are left having to rebook, re-receive deliveries and make new arrangements for the fitter. It is incompetence and costly .. for them. Mind you, they are from Barnsley so …!

We are regularly being told to beware the growing threat of Chinese technology which has built in spyware. Phones, televisions, Fridge/Freezers, etc all have computer board controllers which can be engineered to monitor you in your dressing gown, what you are doing and who with.

A couple of weeks ago, we bought some very expensive, Egyptian Cotton bed linen. Pauline had to buy an extra sheet to cut up and make pillow cases because the standard ones don’t fit our huge pillows. In doing so, she cut off the manufacturers tab. Of course they were made … in China and each tab on each sheet and Quilt cover contained one of these specifically sewn in to the fabric. They are circuit board chips. Were they spying on me in bed? I can’t say I blame them!

Our landline is working again after I contacted BT and I didn’t speak to a single human being. I searched the BT website, was told to send a text with my phone number and the word HELP and a web bot told me it would refresh my Office hub remotely and then reconnect my phone system to the net. A bot is a software application that is programmed to do certain tasks. Bots are automated, which means they run according to their instructions without a human being intervening. True to its word, we were up and working 5 mins later.

Thursday, 9th February, 2023

A dull but mild start to the day. After juice/tea/coffee and porridge, we have to do our monthly test for the Office for National Statistics Covid-19 Infection Survey. They only pay us £40.00 each month now instead of £50.00 but it’s the act that counts.

Preparing to give blood.

Mouth and nose swab is the easy part. Next we have to elicit a phial of blood from our finger. Over the sink in the kitchen, we soak our hand in hot water and then jab one finger with a sharp, medical lance. Over the next 5 minutes and squeezing the flesh hard, blood flows and has to be scraped into the little glass pot until it is full. I collapse at the sight of blood so I have to get a friend to squeeze my finger but she tells me it flows well.

Next we have to access the website to answer some straight forward questions about the test procedure and our current health and then parcel up the swab and the phial of blood and take it to a Priority Mailbox in the village. We are sent a voucher for £40.00 which we convert into a Sainsbury’s voucher online and go out and spend it. We get back two results – Covid Infection = yes/no and Antibody Level = High/Moderate/Low. We both have no Covid and have never had it and our Antibody Level is High. It is always good to know as the infection levels in our area soared recently.

Our new pool is rapidly taking shape. It is hard to imagine Florida weather without one but this is going to be great. We may even let M&K use it as well … when we’re not there.

Friday, 10th February, 2023

I have started the day as a chauffeur. Pauline is having her hair cut and the parking is difficult. It is a beautiful day but the strong sun makes driving quite difficult. The strobe effect through the trees is the hardest part. Good job I’m not epileptic.

Huddersfield Town Centre

I spent much of last night haunted by my past. It was painful, emotional. To be so far away and yet I chose it. When we left West Yorkshire where we lived for 35 years, I embraced a new future in the South. Yes, I missed the North and its moors, I missed the people but I was moving forward. For the first few years the landscapes of West Yorkshire and Lancashire formed the backdrop to my dreams. The accents, the dialects played the soundtrack. The stone walls and buildings loomed large in my imagination.

As you will know, Dear Reader, all things fade and we get on with our lives. New landscapes/seascapes start to appear normal, everyday, comfortable and the nagging memory of the past is pushed away. But, with me, the past constantly bleeds back into my memory. The last few days have seen just that.

We never watched Happy Valley when it was shown on TV. Sarah Lancashire, an Oldham girl who was educated at Hulme Grammar School, plays the central character of the drama. Suddenly, the last episode of the final series was lauded by so many on the media that we thought we should try it. I downloaded Series 1, Episode 1 from 2014 and we were hooked. Although it is set in Halifax and we lived in Huddersfield, so many familiar scenes came back instantly.

Of course I know that we cannot go back to our past. We all grow and move on but that is not an excuse to shun it completely. I love to revisit … places, people, to touch them and remind myself of what went before, what made me the person I am now, to understand time and distance is only a construct which can be broken down in an instant if we only will.

Just as a foot note: Sarah Lancashire was married to a lad called Gary Hargreaves for a decade. He was Pauline’s former boyfriend. Fame at last!

Saturday, 11th February, 2023

To sleep, perchance to dream ..

My Prostate biopsy is on Tuesday, 21st February. I am expecting the worst while hoping for the best. I have no real idea even what the biopsy entails …. well I didn’t until this scary item appeared.

Just as I was going to bed last night, the Saturday Times arrived with this article. It is a shocking and quite long read but worth it if you want to know the potential nightmare for about 20% of the male population. At 11.45 pm, I had to read it but wished I hadn’t.

Of course, there is nothing I can do about it. I must have the biopsy and I must live/die with the consequences but I resent it. I want another 28 years+ and I have much to do in that time. I accept, I deserve it. I have been reckless with my lifestyle and many have warned me of the dangers. I am obstinate in all things and I deserve my fate.

Ironically, my fitness levels are returning fast now. I am back to 7 miles a day and 10 will not be far away. The mild, dry weather drew us outside today for a walk in the Spring air. The mornings are light and the sun is going down later.

Snowdrops are flowering profusely in our village and even daffodils are opening up. The strange dichotomy between a personal death sentence and the emergence of new life in the natural world makes me so sad. At times like this, I retreat deep into myself. My wife never understands it but it is the only way I know to deal with personal threat. I have to fight it alone.

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