Diary of a self-isolator – week 50

A lighthearted look at a few memories and the situation over the last seven days in our house.

Sunday 21/02/2021 – Day 345

Well, dear reader, here we are at the start of a brand – new week and just under 3 weeks from my first year in isolation, has it been fun? Well, the answer has to be yes, the Harvey mansion is all looking spic and span although – as dear Mrs H keeps reminding me constantly – it is still ongoing. Has it been busy, of course it has, I am now at the stage where I will be glad to get back to work for a rest! But I am sorry to have to inform you all that even when this horrible virus is gone, you will still have to put up with my weekly missive – all that will change is the title and the content, as I will have a lot more to moan about.

On this day in 1910 it was the birth of Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader who lost both his legs while attempting aerobatics in 1931. As an RAF fighter ace during the Second World War he was credited with 20 aerial victories, many shared victories and 11 enemy aircraft damaged. As a POW he was a thorn in the side of the Germans, and he made so many attempts at escape that the Germans threatened to take away his legs. He was brilliantly portrayed by one of the best actors of the time Kenneth Moore in the 1956 film ‘Reach for the Sky’, one of my favourite black and white films.

1952 The government of Winston Churchill abolished Identity Cards – “to set the people free”. Funnily enough I was ‘set free’ that year (or was it my Mum), I was born in January.

Also in 1952 A year after her first divorce, Elizabeth Taylor was married for the second time. This husband (number two of eight) was Michael Wilding. The marriage lasted for five years. Elizabeth Taylor was as famous for her love life as her acting. There were no fewer than eight marriages – though only seven husbands, as she married Richard Burton twice.

Here’s a useless fact for you, the man who created Micky Mouse has a phobia, Walt Disney suffers from musuphobia – a fear of mice! I have discovered recently that Mrs H certainly doesn’t suffer from Oenophobia, it is a fear of wine!

1961 The Beatles appeared for the very first time at The Cavern Club, Liverpool. They went on to make a total of 292 other appearances there.

1988 The grave of Boadicea, the warrior queen who fought the Romans in Britain nearly 2,000 years ago, was located by archaeologists under Platform 8 at King’s Cross railway station, London. British Rail said they had just refurbished the platform and anyone wanting to dig it up would have to come up with a strong case. And they did! Makes you wonder – do you think anyone will dig Maggie Thatcher up in a few hundred years time – no, I doubt it as well.

As you all know, I’m not known for my generosity, so when Mrs H asked for some money, I asked innocently, “What have you done with the housekeeping from last week?” she replied, “Turn sideways and look in the mirror!”.

On this day in 1997 Three men (James Robinson and cousins Vincent and Michael Hickey) were released from prison after serving 18 years for the murder of Midland schoolboy Carl Bridgewater when the Court of Appeal ruled that their convictions were unsafe. I remember that case well, he was delivering newspapers a couple of miles from where I live and it was thought he stumbled across a burglary, the doorway where he was murdered has now been bricked up and a new doorway put in elsewhere.

Also on this day in 2001 The European Commission banned all British milk, meat and livestock exports following the UK’s first outbreak of foot and mouth disease for two decades. That bunch have beaurocrats have been putting their foot and mouth into us ever since, until we kicked them into touch!

2008 The death of Sunny Lowry, the first British woman to swim the English Channel (1933). She was berated as being a ‘harlot’ as her light two-piece suit, which was considered very daring at the time, bared her knees. So, does that mean all the young girls of today with their ‘torn jeans’ look are all harlots?

On this day in 2014, 28 year old footballer Wayne Rooney’s signed a new contract with Manchester United. The deal will earn him more than £70m over five-and-a-half years – (up to £300,000 a week) what was that wartime expression? Oh yes, overpaid and over here. He was the worst ambassador for the kids, constantly mouthing off on the pitch and forever spitting.

In 2015 Mevagissey council in Cornwall abandoned plans to name a road “Hitler’s Walk” after protests from across Britain. Councillors said the road has been called Hitler’s Walk unofficially by locals for decades, not in memory of Adolf Hitler, but after a local man called called Wright Harris. In his self-appointed role as enforcer of harbour fees in the 1930s Councillor Harris was fond of recording the comings and goings of fishing vessels from a vantage point at the top of the Cornish village.

I was wondering if they ever named a road after Mrs H, there would never be any potholes or maintenance needed – she would make sure of that – believe me, I know, but I still love that woman to bits.

There were 9834 new cases today and also 214 newly registered deaths, but these are weekend figures.

Monday 22/02/2021 – Day 346

I woke up at 5.30am this morning and do you think I could get back to sleep, despite watching the TV until 1.30am ( We are currently binge watching ‘White Collar’ on Netflix) so I lay there with my mind doing overtime. It could have been worse, it is a well known fact that worker ants never sleep!

It is, as usual pouring down with the wet stuff, although it was mostly dry yesterday, I am seriously thinking about going into the business of building Arks, if it wasn’t for the cost of delivery for timber I would. But my first job today is to go and tidy the Repair shop, yes I know, I only did it last week, but every time Mrs h asks me to do a job It gets into a mess, doesn’t stop her asking though.

Been reading this morning about the Government needing volunteers between the ages of 18 and 30 to lie in bed all day, their meals will be brought to them on a tray, and they will have free access to the TV in a room on their own. One of the best perks is that they will be injected with an unknown substance, apart from the fact that they will get paid £4600 for the two weeks they are there, I know a couple of thousand that will already suit this job, in fact, it is a job made in heaven for the majority of Britain’s youth.

I need to go out and finish painting the decking, but it keeps raining, the new ‘Garden House’ (this is what Mrs H has decided to call the new outside room, I wanted to call it the ‘Orangery’ but she told me not to be so stupid as the building is mostly white – yes I know) is now fitted out with clear blinds which keeps the weather out but allows us to keep the view of the garden, they do the job really well.

I was feeling a bit romantic last night so I said to Mrs H, “Shall we change positions later?” I didn’t think much of her answer,, she replied, “What, you mean you’ll stand at the ironing board while I lie on the sofa watching TV?”.

On this day in 1857 The birth of Sir Robert (Stephenson Smyth) Baden-Powell, English hero of the siege of Mafeking during the Boer War. His innovative approach to the situation kept morale high and his experiences led to the founding of the Boy Scouts. Exactly 32 years later on the same day in 1889 The birth of Lady Olave Baden-Powell, Robert’s wife. She was Chief Guide for Britain in 1918 and World Chief Guide in 1930. Her autobiography Window on My Heart was first published in 1973. 22nd February is also World Thinking Day, celebrated since 1926. It is a day of international friendship, speaking out on issues that affect girls and young women, and fundraising for 10 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world.

Well. After the disastrous start to the day the weather finally cleared up and by midday we were basking in sunshine, I managed to get quite a bit of painting done and Mrs H spent her time getting the cushions and accessories out for the Garden room. By 2.00pm it was so warm ion there that we had to open the blinds!

Boris came on TV at 7.00pm to explain his roadmap out of lockdown, I was so pleased that he hadn’t been bullied into doing things too quickly, even though some of his own MP’s were giving him grief, I’d sack the lot of them!

The number of new cases today was 10641 slightly up on previous figures, the number of registered deaths was 178.

Tuesday 23/02/2021 – Day 347

I really thought that getting up early yesterday morning would have seen me have a lie-in today, but no, 5.45 I was awake again, by 6.15am I was downstairs and eating my four Weetabix.

A couple of weird things happened to us today, I was having a conversation with she who must be obeyed when the subject of tea came up – this is food tea, not drinking tea for the more elite – amongst you, anyway, Mrs H was asking me what I’d like for the said tea, I couldn’t make up my mind, as I normally eat whatever my love puts in front of me, until she suggested egg, chips and beans (once my favourite meal), she could see by the look on my face that I didn’t want that.

Mrs H So, what would you like?

Me       Anything except cardboard chips (oops)

Mrs H What do you mean? (oh dear, me and my big mouth)

Me       I’ve just gone off frozen chips, no, I hate frozen chips, I need proper chips!

Mrs H Why didn’t you say so before?

Me       (stuck for words) I didn’t like to, you seemed quite happy dishing them up

Week after week (oops again)

Mrs H You only had to say, I thought you liked them!

So, the conversation went, the problem is that Mrs H won’t have the house stinking of fat when chips are cooking, and I really don’t blame her to be honest, but what we managed to do was reach a compromise, most of our outside area is under cover, so we have agreed that when I want ‘real chips’ I will go outside and cook them, a small price to pay! Talk about striking while the fat is hot, within minutes I was on the faithful old laptop looking for a deep fat frier online, I saw the perfect one at Curry’s and less than £20, perfick! I ordered it straight away. The only problem being that I went onto my mail later in the afternoon and wondered why I hadn’t had an E mail from Curry’s about my order, probably because I hadn’t actually ordered it! I had to go back and do it all again.

But I wasn’t as bad as Mrs H, earlier this morning she stripped all the bedclothes off and I saw her take them downstairs, we were sat having a nice relaxing cup of tea this afternoon when her eyes went the size of saucers, “Oh my God!, I’ve put all the washing in the machine and forgot to switch it on.”

Welcome to my world Mrs H, welcome to my world.

There were 8489 new cases today, the number of deaths were at 548, I know this is still high, but it is a lot lower than previous weeks, so it is going the right way at last.

Wednesday 24/02/2021 – Day 348

I was up so early this morning that I don’t know why I bothered going to bed! But after my usual four Weetabix I was off outside into the wonderful Spring weather that has been gifted to us for a few days. I am still working on the Garden room, we have now made a decision to go ahead and fit double-glazed units to the building, it will still be a wonderful garden room but means that we could use it all year round, sort of makes the Summer house slightly redundant, but hey ho. We didn’t go on holiday last year and we won’t be going anywhere this year, so we thought why not, It will take up to five weeks to make the four units, but watch this space.

Now we know where those American protesters who stormed the White House got their ideas from, on this day in 1909 Suffragettes attempted to break into the Houses of Parliament. The police made 29 arrests. As usual the yanks were well late again.

On this day in1920 Lady Nancy Astor, (the first woman to ever hold a seat in the House of Commons), became the first woman to speak in Parliament. Apparently she was still speaking when they all went home and returned the next day!

Today in 1926 was the birth of Jean Alexander, BAFTA Nominated English television actress. She is best known for her role as Hilda Ogden in the soap opera Coronation Street, a role she played for 23 years and also as Auntie Wainwright on the longest running sitcom, Last of the Summer Wine from 1988 to 2010. The poor downtrodden Hilda always had the viewers feeling sorry for her, what with having to work her fingers to the bone to support the ‘great lump’ brilliantly played by the late Bernard Youens, but that scene in the street when he died was worthy of a Bafta.

Also on this day in 1962 the Beatles played a concert at the Birkenhead YMCA for a fee of £30. The audience didn’t enjoy the show and the Beatles were booed off stage. They left early for a second gig at Liverpool’s Cavern Club, and the rest, as they say, is history. But in all honesty, they were not that good live.

1981 The Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer ended months of speculation by announcing that they would marry in the summer. That poor woman, if only she had known that she would become a pawn in Charlie and Camilla’s life.

There were 9938 new cases in the last 24 hours with a further 442 registered deaths,

Thursday 25/02/2021 – Day 249

We actually sat outside in the Garden room and had breakfast this morning, the sun was shining and it was a wonderful mild Spring day, I half expected a little lamb to poke its head around the corner!

When I ordered some sheet materials for the Repair shop way back last October they came on a dirt great wooden pallet which was worth more than the materials it was carrying, but one of the strange idiosyncrasies of the British way of life seems to be that whatever is dropped on your drive belongs to you. I mean, how much could they knock off the price if these companies were forced to recycle the hundreds of thousands of wooden pallets that they literally ‘dump’ on unsuspecting customers every year. We obviously pay for them – indirectly – so why not reduce the cost of the purchase and take their pallets back?

Anyway, I digress (nowt wrong with a good whinge thee knows) what I am trying to say is that for almost six months Mrs H has been eyeing this pallet up. It’s actually eight feet by four feet, but that doesn’t faze Mrs H, oh no, in her mind it can be used to make outdoor furniture, planters, sanded down for various other jobs etc etc etc. Have any of my readers actually ever tried to dismantle one of these things without splitting the planks, trapping fingers or getting a handful of splinters, you have more chance of re-floating the Titanic!

But Mrs H in her infinite wisdom looks at this lump of wood and it miraculously transforms into a Bar before her very eyes, she even told me how to cut it so I had a front and two sides! She is watching far too many of these afternoon DIY programmes. I look at it and see an out of shape twisted item which is only good for firewood. But Mrs H insists that I use it to construct a Bar for the Garden room, so I have struggled most of the day just to get the monstrosity square in order to hide it with proper wood, I need another day just to finish it, beam me up Scotty.

We have one of those solar lamp posts outside our house and it hasn’t worked for over a month, being on a main road it makes it quite dark so I messaged one of my friends who is a local councillor and she asked me a bit of information, within 48 hours Mrs H has seen the light again.

The number of new cases continue to hover around 10,000, with todays being 9985 along with 323 new deaths.

Friday 26/02/2021 – Day 250

I was outside this morning attempting to resuscitate the lifeless lump of wood that Mrs H wants me to turn into a wonderful Bar when a record came on the radio that took me right back to my childhood, the record was Charlie Drake singing ‘My Boomerang Won’t Come Back’.

For a few minutes I was transported back to the days of Uncle Mac (Derek McCulloch) who did Children’s Hour every Saturday morning at 9.00am. Some of those songs back then were real classics and we would sit in awe listening and hoping that our song would play. Uncle Mac did the show from 1954 to 1965. A

Can you remember this song? ‘There was an old man named Michael Finnigan, he grew whiskers on his chinnigan. He shaved them off and they grew on agaiin, poor old Michael finnigan’. Then you’d begin again. Each time you sing it you have to sing it faster and faster.  Bernard Cribbins was a favourite with ‘Hole in the Ground’ and Right said Fred’. One of my personal favourites was a 1961 song from Tommy Cooper.
‘Don’t jump off the roof, Dad

You’ll make a hole in the yard

Mother’s just planted petunias

The weeding and seeding was hard.

It ends with us telling him to Jump in the lake instead.

Burl Ives was another favourite with ‘I Know an old Lady who swallowed a Fly’. And ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain’. I think he also did ‘The Ugly Bug Ball’. Meanwhile our own Max Bygraves serenades us with classics such as ‘I’m a Pink Toothbrush, You’re a White Toothbrush’ and ‘Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer Katzenellen Bogen By The Sea’. Many a happy hour spent getting my young mouth around that one.

Lonnie Donegan gave us, ‘Does your chewing gum lose its flavour on the bedpost overnight.’ And the wonderful ‘My Old Man’s a Dustman’.

New Christy Minstrels sang, ‘Three Wheels on My Wagon’, and always a favourite ‘The Laughing Policeman by Charles Penrose’.I mean, have you seen the video to that song – it would terrify any little ones today lol.

Meanwhile, Harry Belafonte told us that ‘There’s a hole in my bucket dear Liza’.. I loved that one. Then there was what I called the Puffing Billy song – started with “Down by the station early in the morning, See the little pufferbillies. All in a row. See the station master. Turn the little handle. Chug chug puff …” I don’t recall any more, but it was either Tommy Dorsey or the Four Preps who sang it.

.Ronnie Hilton sang about ‘A Windmill in Old Amsterdam…A little mouse with clogs on well I declare’ while Patti page asked  ‘How much is that doggy in the window’.

Another favourite I can’t leave out was ‘Hallo mother , Hallo father’ by Alan Sherman, but I’d forgotten ‘Mommy gimme a drink of water’. That was by Danny Kaye I think.

We mustn’t forget Val Doonican with ‘Delaney’s donkey’ – Riley pushing it and shoving it the day Delaney’s donkey ran the half mile race.’Paddy McGinties Goat’ was another and of course O’Raffert’s Motorcar’.

A couple more to finish with Mandy Miller with ‘Nelly the Elephant’, and Anne Murray with ‘The Teddy Bear’s Picnic’.

Well, that’s a bundle of information from one song on the radio, Uncle Mac retired in 1965 and Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart took over the reins, but the name was changed to Junior choice. I hope you enjoyed my walk down memory lane.

Figures continue to fall as there were 8523 new cases reported today, death numbers are falling also, although still too high at 345.

Saturday 27/02/2021 – Day 251

Today we join the rest of the nation in saying goodbye to the much loved, Captain Sir Tom Moore. He epitomised the spirit of our wartime generation and was an inspiration to millions, bringing us all together in the most challenging of times. A modern day hero and a man who will be sadly missed.

We were watching TV last night and a couple of rather overweight mothers were having a chat, “Why are married women always a lot bigger than single women?” I asked inquisitively. She said “Single women come home, see what’s in the fridge and go to bed, Married women come home, see what’s in bed and go to the fridge.”

That bar of Mrs H’s has driven me to distraction, as I said, she insisted that we recycle this enormous pallet to form a sort of shell, that thing has caused me so many problems, anyway, I was sat there with the love of my life having lunch yesterday when I glanced through the patio windows at the almost completed bar, I kid you not – it looked enormous! I had visions of Mrs H having to climb a set of steps just to get served, I knew all along that there was something wrong with it, and that it seemed out of proportion, but that one glance confirmed it, I did ask Mrs H how tall she wanted it, she actually marked it out on the wall, I remember looking and thinking ‘that looks a bit tall’, The upshot was that after lunch I went back outside and sawed a further twelve inches off the offending article, I stood back and it looked a lot better and more in keeping to the situation. Hopefully I will finish it today, but it has been a long haul.

Breaking news! A man who has taught his dog to play the trumpet on London’s underground is over the moon, apparently he went from Barking to Tooting in less than an hour.

Remember me telling you earlier in the week that some people came around to take my photograph, well, contrary to popular opinion I wasn’t the star of Police Five (Remember that? Keep em peeled with Shaw Taylor) no, apparently I was nominated for a very prestigious award for supplying this load of garbage every week, it seems my fan in the Outer Hebrides thought I should get an award for keeping you all happy every Sunday with this massive missive. So, my photo went into the local paper (no-one’s noticed since Thursday lol) and I was presented with a special certificate for supporting the Community and looking after people’s wellbeing during lockdown.

Seriously, whoever nominated me, thank you very much, it really does mean a lot to me.

Mrs H is not a happy bunny, for the first time in half a century she volunteered to make the second cuppa this morning, as she opened the patio blinds a pigeon the size of Wales flew at her, it seems that it had been trapped in the Garden room most of the night having flown in through the doorway, I never knew that one of those things could mess so much, poor Mrs H has now got the washing machine on and is washing the four or five cushion covers that the bird managed to crap on, this is another good reason for putting in permanent windows and doors.

I think Mrs H is cheating on me, she was in the garden weeding this morning and kept mentioning for Pete Sake, Gordon Bennett and Willy Eckerslike.

The number of new cases was at its lowest for the whole week, there were 7434 new cases giving a total of 64,844 for my week, that is over 14,000 less than last weeks total. The number of registered deaths for today was 290, that gives a total of 2360 for my week, almost 1100 less than the previous week. Figures show that the vaccines are now beginning to work, recoveries to date were at 2,846,208 that is a massive 514,000 up on last weeks total.

I will leave you with a photo of my presentation, please feel free to download it and pin it on your fireplace – it will keep the kids away from the fire! Oh and a photo of that pigeon whom I have now called ‘Lucky’ because he is lucky Mrs H never took its head off!

Everyone, please have a good and a safe week

It’s been emotional

About the author

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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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