Week 741

Sunday, 5th March, 2023

Some say that maintaining a Blog for over 14 years, as I have, underlines my obsession with the Past. I am exhorted to forget the Past and just live in the Present. I have been interested to hear that one of the current concepts doing political rounds as people discuss the failings of Brexit, the failures of Tory policy during the Pandemic, the failure of the Tories to deal with Immigration is based on the observation of the 19th century Philosopher, Kierkegaard:

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.Soren Kierkegaard

I could have chosen it for the Header of the Blog. It is exactly why I record things so that I can refer back in future times. Often what I record is mundane and boring but it is amazing how often I go back and check events, actions, thoughts, across the years. I think it is part of the human condition to view their existence through the passage of time. Even basic animals do it. They remember successful, enjoyable events or things which failed or hurt them and go forward on the basis of those memories. I like to think that I follow this principle on a more sophisticated level.

Little Catherine

After all, we feel the need to keep in touch with those who have died particularly on their anniversary. We understand the passage of time by acknowledging, even celebrating, birthdays. This week marks the 68th birthday of my little sister, Catherine. Brings me up short … and I need to be brought up short by the significance of that event. It tells me about myself and my journey across time. Who could imagine being 72? Too old for anything!

Too old to be cold that’s for certain! It is 11.00 am and still cold outside – just 5C/41F. It’s a good job I’m such hot stuff! I’m going to generate my own heat in the Gym now while reminding myself what a good barrister I might have been. Yesterday’s Blog will explain.

Our Office, in particular, and our house, in general, is full of charging points, USB points, wi-fi extender points, etc. They have been gradually accumulated over the past 7 years. Many are used when we travel so Laptops, iPads and phones can go with us and remain charged and connected to the web. This morning, I received a product recall warning from Amazon.

This multi-USB socket has been working under my desk since 2019. This morning, the government have instructed suppliers to contact customers because of imminent dangerThe product poses a high risk of electric shockCustomers should stop using it immediately. Fortunately, I bought mine from Amazon which is where I source most things. They have a full customer database and could contact me easily. They say I don’t have to send the product back but they will immediately refund the money.

Could have been a shocking experience. Even so, it might have short circuited the Prostate Cancer problem!

Monday, 6th March, 2023

The day is cold. The atmosphere is cold. The forecast for the week is cold. My Medical Secretary is phoning the Hospital this morning – two weeks since my biopsy – to see why I have not been called to discuss the results, to find out how cold it is really going to become.

…. The message is that my case will be reviewed on Wednesday by a meeting of doctors who will decide the way forward and I will be contacted on Thursday. Icy!

Kevin’s been researching solutions for my as-yet-to-be-defined problems which is nice of him. Unfortunately, it makes it feel even more real.

Of course, the prize is not just a long life but a long and healthy life. My really old sister, Ruth is currently recovering from a hip operation. I am spending more than two hours in the Gym each day wondering what is growing inside me. I really don’t have any symptoms. Bob had obvious ones which led to his cancer being diagnosed very early.

I have been Covid-free. There are so many who have been having their lives blighted by Long Covid. Our region has just recovered from a massive spike in Covid infections and is now almost entirely free.

The Sunday newspapers were full of features about growing your own and eating seasonably. There were lots of allotment users featured telling their stories about providing fresh fruits and vegetables for their families through allotments. It suddenly struck me that it would be a good project for Julie in North Yorkshire.

I’ve suggested a Blog but she says she struggles with words so I’ve suggested she combines her photographic skills with her first time Allotment experiences to produce a photographic record of her exploits. It would be an interesting little project for the year. We all need something to achieve.

Angmering Village 2023

Having said that, context is all. If you want to know how insignificant you are, whatever your personal problems, just look back in time.

Angmering Village 1883

Everyone you can see in this photograph is dead. They may well have experienced two World Wars, Serious Pandemics and little or no medical assistance. Their lives may have been loving and happy but they will have been harder, poorer and lacking the warmth, light and softness that marks out modern lives. It’s all relative.

Tuesday, 7th March, 2023

Just 14 years ago this week, we were deep into the final stages of negotiating an exit from work. The final stages of such a process is always nerve wracking and one has to be strong to get the best outcome. We vacillated between success and disaster for a few weeks which is not the way one expects to leave a long career but it was worth it. We held our nerve and won strong settlements.

But 14 years! Just saying those words makes it both real and unbelievable. Could it really be so far away? I can still see and walk the corridors and feel I could drop back into that life easily but I was shocked to read that Lisa (Head of Humanities) is just 55 today.

There is a tendency to think that, when we leave a scene, the film stops. It doesn’t. The story just goes on without us. To think that she has been fighting all the same battles, going through the same daily efforts, making all the same decisions for the past 14 years and still has a few more to go before she can escape the Rochdale cold and enjoy the warmth of her Spanish home. It makes me tired just to think of it.

One of the things about aging, though, is regretting all the innovations we will miss. Those people living in yesterday’s photo from 1883 won’t have enjoyed a life with central heating, television, the internet, foreign travel …. Whereas I will probably not benefit from guilt-free travel as suggested in The Times article above.

Most batteries for electric cars and for devices from drones to smartphones are powered by lithium, which has to be mined, but Bill David, Oxford Professor of Materials Chemistry, thinks that they will be overtaken by batteries made from sodium, which can be extracted from seawater, baking powder and salt. The future of air travel could also be greener thanks to biofuels.

I long to see those days … but I have to be satisfied with today – the now of time – and it is grey and moody. Dear Reader, are you with me?

Wednesday, 8th March, 2023

You know that you’re having a slow day when weather is the main topic of interest. My weather app told me it was snowing outside. Wrong. It was raining and not cold. We haven’t even got the heating on this morning.

Snow from Surrey to Scarborough this morning …

M messaged us – She was trying to sell her Mother. – to say it had snowed in Surrey and my sister, Liz, announced she was having coffee with the Countess of Wessex this morning if she could get through the snow in central London. I didn’t even know who that was and had to look her up. It is something to do with International Women’s Day. Do they do an International Men’s Day? Very few of us would like coffee with that strange guy with her! Now who is he?

According to my Medical Secretary, I can expect a phone call this afternoon or tomorrow morning. I suspect that will tell me absolutely nothing other than to invite me in to a meeting with the Consultant. She will give the thumbs up/down or something in between.

K in Florida sent me a nice message with his Wordle answer this morning: Dum Spiro SperoWhile I breathe, I hope ….

Thursday, 9th March, 2023

A grey, wet but warm morning. Little Cathy is 68 today. We wish her a very happy day. I’ve made her a card. Homemade ones are so much more appreciated.

Time Frame

She doesn’t look too bad for 68, does she? She gyms and swims a lot and it shows. Mind you, I don’t think she would be swimming much today ….

And I will find comfort in the rhythm of the sea …

Warren Buffet famously said, Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked. … It was on its way out this morning but I didn’t stay long enough to view the nude swimmers.

This morning, I have been told the Urology Department want to see me next Thursday to discuss the results of my Biopsy … so another week in suspense or, as Kevin suggested, another drunken week.

Friday, 10th March, 2023

Warmest night for weeks. We didn’t fall below 10C/50F. It is one of those times when those of us in the South can gloat unless, of course, you like skiing. After 40 years of driving back and forth across the Pennines each day, facing terrible blizzards, snow drifts, ‘white-outs’ – setting off very early, trying to be in school before all the rest of the staff and students arrived. So often when we got there, the campus was so dangerous that the school had to be closed anyway but that decision had to be taken.

The new building has moved to lower ground but it is closed once again today. Staff and many pupils can’t get there and remote learning is in place.

Honda Prelude

In the early years living in Meltham, we would drive over the A62, across Standedge Moor, through Delph, up to Grains Bar and down into Oldham. For many years, we drove sports cars. We had lots of low-slung, Honda Preludes which could never really cope with thick snow.

Grains Bar this morning. A typical winter scene.

Just when I had got over the Moors and begun to relax, Grains Bar hill would prove even worse. This morning, I grabbed this picture from a video clip posted on Faceache.

M62 – a regular scene.

In later years living in Salendine Nook, near to Ainley Top, it was easier to take the M62 and the motorway from Junction 23 to Junction 22, Rishworth turn off is known as the highest piece of motorway in England. Dave Roberts sent this photo of Norden

Norden, Rochdale

Just been phoned by the hospital to have my appointment brought forward to Tuesday morning. Don’t know whether that’s a good sign or not.

Helleborus Orientalis / Lenten Rose

One good sign this morning is the Lenten Rose flowering at the side of our drive. Well, that’s what my mother called it with a sense of religious conviction. It is actually called Helleborus Orientalis.

Saturday, 11th March, 2023

Sunny, bright and pleasant day. Life goes on. Yesterday, the burglar alarm was serviced and next week the central heating will be serviced. The affairs of life continue.

Oh, I can’t get it out of my head
No, I can’t get it out of my head
Now my old world is gone for deadE.L.O.

I wonder if you know the feeling when your first thought on waking and your last thought before going to sleep are the same as the thought that haunts you during the day. I am no stranger to it. It is the way my mind works. I have learnt to compartmentalise the day, as so many of us do; to refocus on other things however trivial. In the waking hour 5.00 am – 6.00 am, I have developed a fascination for farming. BBC Radio 4 at 5.45 every morning has Farming Today.

This is the Future!

I am an expert on Pork MarketsWelsh Upland Sheep RearingVertical Salad Horticulture and the effects of Brexit on Farm Subsidies and Food Prices. It may sound weird but it works … sort of … until it doesn’t.

During the day, as I’ve written before, I retreat into myself, the Gym and Film. I’ve just finished a fascinating film on Amazon Prime called Enigma based loosely around the wartime Bletchley Park attempts to crack the German Enigma Machine which encrypted messages into gobbledygook at one end, transmitted it and deciphered it at the other end without the enemy understanding it.

It took an intelligent man and, later, an intelligent woman – Kate Winslett – to crack the code behind the machine and read the German’s messages and subsequently save many Allied lives. The whole thing was based on numbers and logic. I love numbers and logic. Pauline doesn’t but I’m making her watch the film now I’ve finished it so that we can discuss it.

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