Diary of a self-isolator – week 37

Sunday 22/11/2020 – Day 253

Didn’t even bother to venture out until after midday, it was a bit cool, to say the least, but I had to go out and clear the mass of leaves from the pavement by our wall before some poor unsuspecting mother lost her child in them on the way to school, by the time I had finished the pavement outside ours and the elderly neighbour’s house our garden waste bin was full to the brim. That was another reason for cleaning up, tomorrow is the last empty of the year, so I thought I’d give the council their leaves back from the trees opposite. I’ve always liked Sundays.

When we were knee-high to grasshoppers our Sunday evenings were sort of set in stone, at 6.00pm we would all be waiting our turn for our bath, due to the number of siblings we had to double up (well, the youngest of us, the oldest had their own clean bath), all this happened while the old man listened to ‘Sing something simple’ on the radio as he got ready to go out. After our bath the oldest of us would be allowed to stay up and watch the highlight of the weekend, it was Sunday Night at the London Palladium.

This ATV show ran from 1955 (the year commercial TV started) to 1967, it was re-introduced in 1973 to 74.

Debuting on the first weekend of commercial television in the UK, from the very start ‘Sunday Night at the London Palladium’ established itself as the highlight television show of the week for Britain’s viewing millions – and immediately climbed to the top of the TV ratings. The show was the topic of conversation for millions in factories, offices and shop floors on Monday mornings. The British viewing public had never seen anything as spectacular as this on their TV sets before as the world’s most celebrated stars and the best of home-grown talent was bought into their living rooms in an extravaganza of music, dance and comedy. ‘Sunday Night at the London Palladium’ was very probably the one show, above all others, that helped establish Commercial Television.

After the Tiller Girls and the lesser acts in the first part was a game show imported from America, Beat the Clock, the format of which was rather like Bruce Forsyth’s later hit in The Generation Game. It featured couples having to perform a trick or stunt, like even changing clothes (previously put on, on top of their ordinary clothes) with each other within a set time. If a couple could complete both stunts, the wife must rearrange words stuck to a magnetic board and people had to “arrange them into a well-known phrase or saying” in 30 seconds. If she succeeded, the couple won a major prize. Whenever a bell rang, the couple who played at that time would play a jackpot stunt for a cash bonus worth £100 for each week since the last jackpot win.

The very first host of this popular show was Tommy Trinder,(You Lucky People) he compered from 1955 to 1958, his guests on the first show were Gracie fields and Guy Mitchell, the show would always open with the Tiller girls high kicking dance routine, the host would then come on – say a few words – tell a few jokes and then introduce the minor acts. In part two it would be time to play ‘Beat The Clock’, this was an American derived parlour game where members of the audience were selected to do silly tasks (such as catching table tennis balls in a net this was all done against the ticking of the large clock on the backdrop. Part three (there were only two commercial breaks every twenty minutes in those days, ah bliss!) belonged to the big stars.

A young thirty-year-old Bruce Forsyth took over from Trinder in 1958, after years of music hall and treading the boards Bruce became an overnight star, he brought a whole lot of fun to beat the clock and some say that this was the forerunner of the ’Generation game’. It is recorded that the biggest ever audience was in 1960 when it reached 20 million viewers, the host was Bruce with the stars being Cliff Richard and the Shadows.

In 1960 -61 little known comedian Don Arrol took over from Bruce who had become ill in that year, He did a good job but wasn’t up to the standard required for a top TV slot, he went on to host the ‘Black and White Minstrel show’ and then ‘Candid Camera’.

In 1961 I was nine years old and there would be at least five of us plus a baby sat watching the return of Bruce much to the delight of Producers and the audience, but this was only going to be a one year stand, he had committed heavily to stage and other work, although he did make honorary host appearances up to 1964, guests were The Bachelors, Hope and Keen and Frank Ifield.

From 1962 – 1965 Norman Vaughan (Swinging, dodgy) took over as host. Every kid at school was going around doing the ‘swinging, dodgy’ thing with their thumb. He introduced such famous artistes as Harry Secombe, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Judy Garland and Tommy Cooper, but the ones that always stick in my mind were The Crazy Gang, after leaving Norman went on to do an extensive ‘Roses grow on you’ ad campaign for Cadburys Roses chocolates, he also hosted the ‘Golden Shot’ ‘Mr and Mrs’ and helped develop ‘Bulls Eye’.

1965 – 1967 was the time of the ongoing Liverpudlian revolution, so who better to become the next host than Jimmy Tarbuck, the comedian/singer had made quite a few guest appearances and was well loved at the time. He would be the last host of the show in its existing format. I have to admit that by this time I was losing interest in the programme that had kept me in on a Sunday night.

Lew Grade axed the show in 1967 along with ‘Emergency Ward 10’, he said later that they were the two biggest mistakes of his life.

The show was revived for one year in 73 – 74, it was hosted by Jim Dale but didn’t take off. The second revival came in 2000 under the title Tonight at the London Palladium, and third from 2014 until 2015 under the title Sunday Night at the Palladium, dropping London. From 2016, the show is called Tonight at the London Palladium and is presented by Bradley Walsh

Hope I revived a few memories for you. I enjoyed researching it.

Today is ‘Stir up Sunday’ the traditional day for doing the mix for the Christmas pudding, when all the family would gather to stir the mix for good luck.

The figures for the last 24 hours were slightly down at 18662 new cases and 398 recorded deaths.

Monday 23/11/2020 – Day 254

I was laying in bed this morning thinking ‘When one door opens and another one closes’ you are probably in prison.’  Then I looked at the bedside clock and it was 8.30, I had overslept by at least two hours! Mrs H and I are going to have to stop binge-watching Heartland, but they keep ending it so you need to watch the next one.

Actually ordered our Christmas wreaths today, not a bad price either at just £5 each and free delivery.

Mrs H has been buzzing around all day, cleaning, cooking, washing, she even pulled my dressing gown off my back ready to wash it – then she woke up and I handed her her morning Latte.

Boris and co were on TV again this evening, it seems that the new Oxford vaccine is coming in at 70%, but then one of the scientists or one of the helpers ‘accidentally’ discovered that when tweaked the vaccine went up to 90%, but you have to ask – did someone ‘accidentally’ administer an overdose – in order to discover this little snippet of information?

Mrs H reckons that her idea of drinking responsibly is not to spill any of it! I overdid it slightly yesterday when I found out that I’d regained my taste for Guinness, I had seven cans in one session!

Dr Who started on this day back in November 1963, but on its debut was wrought with problems, firstly there were power cuts over a lot of the country, and secondly, it was overshadowed by the assassination of John F Kennedy the day before, but I still recall cowering behind the sofa when the creations appeared on the show at 5.15 that Saturday, and the fun we had the following year when the Daleks arrived.

Once again the figures have dropped, there were only 15450 new cases and deaths recorded were right down to 206, dare we hope?

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Lay in bed at 5.30am wide awake and thinking ‘It’s the start of a brand new day, and I’m off like a herd of turtles’.

By 6.00am I am sat with two computers on catching up on the night’s events whilst eating my four Weetabix, The reason dear reader, that I have two computers is that Facebook have made a right royal cock-up of revamping their site. Last Friday I had a perfectly good laptop which functioned very well, on Saturday the powers that run FB decided that there was no more nice guy (up until then you could switch back to the old version) and they would pull the plug on the old version and force everyone to use the up to date one. I kid you not when I say that it has slowed my computer down by 50%. It now takes twice as long to post stuff on the four sites that I run, and if I open more than three windows my laptop continuously freezes. The reason for the nerds at FB doing this is simple, most people under the age of fifty log on to FB via their mobiles, the old FB was never geared up to this – but it is now – at the expense of those working from laptops or desktop computers. So basically, they have speeded up mobiles and slowed down computers. Simples.com. And that dear reader is why I have two computers on the go, they have rendered my Windows 10 laptop virtually useless, but my desktop is windows 7 and runs a lot better with the new system.

Mrs H and I were feeling really brave today, the good lady has been promising herself for the last two weeks that she should go out into the garden and plant her Spring bulbs, she has made every excuse under the sun, like “it’s a bit windy today, I’ll wait till the wind drops a bit” or even “ The chap on Countryfile said it was going to rain today sometime, I don’t want to start and not be able to finish”, Yes, the little lady was right, the man on Countryfile did say to us that it was going to rain today, but it was overnight – and it was in the Scottish Highlands! Anyway, to get around the problem Mrs H decided that she would put all the bulbs in pots and then suddenly produce them in the Spring so that the neighbours can be amazed at her ingenuity and prowess as a gardener, Meanwhile she allowed me to put up all the new lighting around the garden as she was ‘sick to death’ of solar-powered lights that only came on when the sun shone, Er solar Mrs H, does the word not mean anything to you.

The total new cases has dropped dramatically to 11299, but sadly, the number of deaths has once again risen to 607.

Wednesday 25/11/2020 – Day 256

Here I am wide awake again at 5.45, Mrs H and I were in bed watching Heartland at just turned nine last night, age 68 might be the new 48, but 9:00 pm is the new midnight, as I got my sorry backside out of bed trying not to wake Mrs H,  I remembered the pong gone days when I was able to get up without making any sound effects.

We had a really lazy morning actually, I never ventured outside until 12.00 midday, I went into the garden and it was surprisingly mild, so I got the sucker out, no, not Mrs H  – the one I use for the leaves and proceeded to have a right good tidy up, hopefully for the last time this side of the Lord’s birthday, by the time I had blown the last leaf onto the bottom border I was feeling the cold a bit, so I couldn’t be bothered to suck them all up, I decided that I’d tell Mrs H that I’d left them there to protect her tender plants over the coming Winter period!

As I went back inside, I could hear the dulcet tones of the hoover from the lounge, Mrs H entered all hat, bothered and flustered:

“Been through the whole house” she gasped, but why she wanted to divulge this information I had yet to discover.

“Everything’s spotless, I even managed to clean your two computers, the grime that came off them was unbelievable”

Now dear reader, I don’t know if you can recall the wonderful comedy ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ but Thora Hird played Edie, she was very houseproud and every time her poor downtrodden husband Wesley (Gordon Wharmby) entered the house she would use a weeks old newspapers – dropping them wherever he dared to tread, Well, that is exactly how I feel when Mrs H has tidied up, I thought it best not to tell her at this moment in time that I’d covered her plants with leaves.

Just when we thought things might be getting better, the number of new cases is once again up to 18213, but even more hurtful is the fact that the death toll has risen up to a new high at 696.

Thursday 26/11/2020 – Day 257

I was laying in bed thinking that on average a Panda feeds for about 12 hours a day, this is the same as an adult in quarantine, so, is that why it’s called a ‘pandemic’? Don’t bother walking a mile in my shoes. That would be boring. Spend 30 seconds in my head. That’ll freak you right out.

We had a white-out this morning, it actually looked as though it had snowed quite heavily, but it was only old Jack Frost making his presence known.

I switched our outside lights on last night and blew all the lights in the house, fortunately, it was only a matter of throwing up the master switch to return the inside lighting to normal, I tried the outside switch again and once again it blew. So after breakfast of 4 Weetabix I set about finding out what the problem was, it has to be said that once again my hair is quite long, not wanting to have a permanent perm I decided to turn off the outside electricity from the mains.

It was pretty obvious – even to a buffoon like myself – that there was water getting into the electrics somewhere along the line, I had a pretty good idea what the problem was so headed there straight away. It was a junction box by the spotlight under the tree, I undid it and sure enough there was moisture in there, after thoroughly drying the offending box I resealed it, went inside and threw the switch – success! One job less to do.

My second job of the day, was a bit more delicate, the ball valve in the upstairs toilet, for a few months it had been making a terrible noise when flushed, but more recently, it had shuddered and roared so badly that the neighbours could probably hear it next door. The reason I say delicate is because of the amount of time Mrs H spends in there, she seems to be in there for hours these days, the reason is that we have done away with her old dressing table mirror so she has to use the bathroom mirror to put her warpaint on. Again, I knew exactly what the problem was, it was probably a bit of grit vibrating in the feed valve, so I turned the water off, dismantled it and sure enough there it was, no bigger than a grain of sand, but the noise it made wow, I put it back together and all was once again quiet in the Harvey household. Now then, where did I put that cold can of Guinness?

The government today have announced the new tiers for each county, we – here in Worcestershire – are in Tier two, yet we are only 18 miles from Birmingham who are tier 3, strange how it has been worked out.

Friday 27/11/2020 – Day 258

I had a very strange dream last night, I dreamt I was at the hospital and I had my patience tested – it came out negative! I got out of bed to do my exercises, Up, down, up down, up down, I did this thirty times then did the other eyelid.

I took Mrs H’s latte up to her about nine o clock and was greeted with the question “What are you doing today?”.

“Nothing” I replied, and got a very strange look from Mrs H so I added “When you ask me what I am doing today, and I say “nothing,” it does not mean I am free or that I am walking around in the nude. It means I am doing nothing”.  It turns out that the good lady wanted me to venture up into the attic amongst the various wildlife and spiders to get the Christmas decorations down read for the first of December which is  – yes, you’re one step ahead of me – four days away! But, being the gentleman I am I went up there and battled through the cobwebs, where on earth do they come from, the place is dark and barren, nothing lives up there except spiders, does that mean that they’re all cannibalistic?

It took the best part of 30 minutes to get the 10 boxes and three Christmas trees down, I vowed to myself that I would put some flooring down in there next year. I was settling down again when Mrs H asked:

“Have you left anything up there, I can’t find my bannister garland?”

I knew I wasn’t going to get any peace despite her saying that ‘it really didn’t matter’ and ‘I’ll manage somehow’ in that pathetic voice that she knows always gets to me, so, up I went once more, I was rummaging around when a matter of fact voice shouted up “It’s ok, I found it, don’t bother”.

Which reminds me, exactly 4 weeks today you will be laid back in your armchair with dried gravy on your chin, mouth wide open and snoring your way through the Queen’s speech, oops sorry, that’s me.

On this day in 1967 President de Gaulle said ‘Non’ to British entry into the Common Market. Why oh Why did he not make it permanent, it would have saved us all a lot of grief.

Harry “Buster” Merryfield, English actor best known for starring as Uncle Albert in the BBC comedy series Only Fools and Horses was born on this day in 1920, it would have been his 100th birthday.

Also on this day in 1987 A young man in Somerset tried seven times to kill himself following a row with his girlfriend. He threw himself in front of four cars and jumped under the wheels of a lorry. He tried to strangle himself and jumped from a window. The real victims were a driver of one car who suffered a heart attack, a policeman who injured his back trying to restrain the man, and a doctor who was kicked in the face when the struggling man reached hospital.

Good news today, reports say that the crucial R number is coming down and now lies between 0.9 and 1.0. meanwhile, it seems that the number of new cases is also falling and today they were 16022, deaths sadly show no signs of abating and are still over 500 at 521.

Saturday 28/11/2020 – Day 259

So here we are at the end of week 37 and I have just realised that in a mere 14 weeks I will have been in isolation for a year! Also of course on this day in 4 weeks time it will all be over, all that hard work, all that planning, all that money and what are you left with – a very nervous disposition, flat broke and losing the will to live – all just for one day, bah humbug!

Today Mrs H and myself have been putting up decorations all over the house, well, when I say we, what I mean is that Mrs H instructed me on which lights went where and on which tree, I then dressed all the trees including the one of the porch while the light of my life decorated the rest.

There was a special moment when we were hooking the green garlands on the archway, always a bit precarious but we were coping, we had Gold Radio on listening to the Golden oldies when they played My Girl by the Temptations, we both stopped in our tracks and Mrs H said:

“I think Vickie approves”.

My Girl was one of the songs played at our daughter Vickie’s funeral 7 years ago, the other was ‘Stand by Me’,  we lost her to Cancer when she was just 23, so every time we hear that song we know she is near.

While I was out in the front garden a couple of joggers went past, the female was giving the male – who was short of breath – a real rollicking over something, I hate it when a couple argue in public, and I missed the ending and don’t know whose side I’m on. I almost ran behind them down the round.

At four o clock I settled down with a couple of cans of Guinness to watch England play Wales in the Autumn Nations Cup, England won 24-13 and now face France in the final next weekend.

I feel for Boris Johnson, not a big fan but it seems that whatever he does it just isn’t right, he even has his own MP’s giving him grief now. Meantime another 15871 new cases in the last 24 hours, this brings the UK total to 1,605,172, the number of new deaths recorded was 479 bringing the total deaths to date to 58, 030. We are being assured that the R rate is falling, but the figures say otherwise.

Before I go, allow me to leave you with a snippet from the useless information department, sometimes, someone unexpected comes into your life out of nowhere, makes your heart race, and changes you forever. We call those people the police.

Well that’s it for another week, doesn’t seem like seven days since I was posting the last load of rubbish on here,.

Meanwhile, just one request, let’s be careful out there, and most of all please stay safe.

It’s been emotional!

About the author

3250 Up Votes
Hi, I am a grandfather of four beautiful Grandchildren, I have one son and three daughters, We lost Vickie to Cancer in December 2013, she was 23 years old, whoever said time heals haven't lost a child. My profile picture is of Vickie and I haven't changed it since she died, I have a wonderful loving wife without whom I would not have made it through. My escape is writing poetry, I have had five published to date, I now have two books published 'World War One In Verse' is available on Amazon books and 'Poetry From The Heart' is available on Amazon or Feed a Read, just enter the title and my name Eric Harvey. If you love the 50's, 60.s and 70's my new book of poems will take you back to those days, 'A Poetic Trip Along Memory Lane' will jog your memories of bygone days.

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