Diary of a self-isolator – week 61

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

Sunday 09/05/2021 – Day 416

Read an interesting fact last night on Facebook, apparently, newscasters in Russia can be fined for broadcasting an inaccurate weather forecast, what a novel way for the BBC to raise much needed funds.

After taking bloods from Sarah on Friday no-one has bothered to get back to her since, she is being told that she has problems, but nothing seems to be done about it, we are all truly exasperated with people going to her, diagnosing different things, and then leaving it at that.

I must admit that whilst scrolling through the mishmash of crap that has now become a pathetic excuse for British TV, we don’t often venture on to Channel 5. But last year Mrs H and I came across a hidden gem. Our Yorkshire Farm is a documentary about the Owen family.

Clive and Amanda live on remote Ravenseat Farm which spans 2000 acres, and is 1,800 feet above sea level, and located three and a half miles West of Keld, Swaledale. The couple’s nine “free-range” children, roam the Yorkshire countryside and get stuck in with working on the farm, with the oldest, Raven, now at university and the youngest, Nancy, a toddler. In between (in descending order of age) are Reuben, Miles, Edith, Violet, Sidney, Annas and five-year-old Clemmy.

There is a 20-year gap between Clive 66 and Amanda 46, they met when Amanda knocked on his door one cold and dark stormy night, she wanted to borrow a torch. But it is the closeness of the family and the siblings that bring this endearing family millions of viewers, the children are taught from an early age that if you want something then you have to earn it. They have no TV or radio and the children are raised the way I was raised in the fifties.

This is by far the best programme on any channel at the moment, and everyone who watches wants to adopt five-year old Clemmy who is wise beyond her years.

You can catch this programme on Tuesday nights at 9.00pm or all the episodes on My 5, you won’t be disappointed.

On this day in 1896 The first ‘Horseless Carriage’ Show opened at the Imperial Institute in London, when ten engine-powered models went on show to the public. This was the day when gardeners and rose growers all over the UK shed a silent tear.

Also, on this day in 1960 The UK saw the start of the sexual revolution of the 1960s when the birth control pill went on the market. It was approved for release in 1960 and take-up was swift: within two years it was being used by 1.2 million American women. It was introduced in the UK on the NHS in 1961 for married women only – this lasted until 1967 – and is now taken by 3.5 million women in Britain between the ages of 16 and 49.

There were 1770 new cases and 2 recorded deaths today.

Monday 10/05/2021 – Day 417

Woke up this morning to a wonderful blue cloudless sky and the sun shining through the window, by the time I had gone downstairs and made a cup of tea it was overcast and gloomy.

I managed to get the interior of the Summer house finished yesterday, I was never too happy about the way I had finished it, but now it’s had a new paint job and I’ve fitted a skirting board, it just needs Mrs H to work her magic on it now.

Sarah wasn’t feeling too well yesterday, no-one has been back to her since Friday, they have already told her she is on the wrong ante-biotics, yet they continue to ignore her, her medication from the hospital is now running out too. We are so annoyed, it’s like the NHS closes down on a weekend, looks like a morning on the phone sorting it all out.

Well, one week today we can all sit in the warmth of the pub supping copious amounts of the amber nectar, as you all know I am a great fan of Guinness, if that’s not available then I like real ales, Mild or Bitter , I’m not really fussed, but I will not drink a glass of council pop, that is the name around here for lager, it is basically made up of all sorts of chemicals that can eventually cause great harm to your throat and indeed your health. Mrs H is prone to drop of the old wine, in particular White Zinfandel Rose, which I know is a contradiction in terms, but she likes it so that’s all that matters. She also likes a drop of sherry (Harvey’s Bristol Cream) and a drop of Port, in fact – most things alcoholic and wet bless her, the recycling bin was emptied on Tuesday last week, and the noise from her empties was so loud they recorded it on the Richter scale.

Neither of us drink shorts as that would be classed as cannibalism.

On a hot Summer day, I am prone to a nice glass of the old Cider, but only the one mind you, we call it ‘rot gut’ around here, and I have had a bad experience with it.

Way back in 1975 I went on a Sunday morning cider trip with a small group from a local Inn, when I say small – I don’t mean that they were midgets – no, these were proper lads who knew how to drink. Anyway, they were loading the minibus up with big blocks of cheese and loaves of uncut bread, when I asked what they were for I was told they were to ‘soak up’ the cider. We got to this remote pub called the Cider House out in the countryside, and I ordered a pint, the landlord looked at me and refused,

“You ever tried this before?” he asked.

“No, but I was raised on Bathams bitter, the strongest beer in the Midlands”, I answered proudly.

“Then you’ll have a half pint lad.”

I thought it best not to argue as I didn’t wish to get thrown out before I’d even imbibed. He put the cider in front of me, if you drank with your eyes you wouldn’t have touched it, the cider was a green colour, there were bits floating in it and you couldn’t even see through the dense liquid, I sniffed at it and took a sip, it tasted surprisingly good, so I took a big gulp, wow, it was good. Ten minutes later I was back at the bar with an empty glass doing my impression of Oliver Twist and asking for more.

The landlord – who I swear, was a relative of Amos Brearley from the Woolpack in Emmerdale Farm – looked at me strangely.

“Take it steady lad, we’ve only just opened, thee knows.”

I looked around at my mates and they were carefully sipping their cider, savouring every drop by the look on their faces, the bread and cheese was laid out on the table and they took one of food bite and then a sip of cider.

‘Lightweights’, I thought, I continued to drink half pints whilst my friends urged me to slow down and have something to eat, but no, I knew better than these seasoned drinkers. I

have no idea how many half pints I drank, or how I even got home after they dropped me off, all I know is that I woke up in our bedroom on Tuesday lunchtime and Mrs H never spoke to me all week!

A substantial rise in new cases today, up to 2357 whilst recorded deaths were 4.

Tuesday 11/05/2021 – Day 418

I read somewhere that one of the most dangerous insects in the world is the common housefly, because it carries and transmits more diseases than any other creature in the world, no wonder Mrs H turns into a Banshee when one dares to enter the Harvey mansion.

Sarah has finally got the correct ante-biotics, but it took a phone call from our local GP to the specialist in Redditch to sort it out, I went around to the chemists next to our doctors to pick up the prescription, there was a queue outside at 5.15pm when we arrived, by the time we got the prescription it was turned 6 o clock, but hopefully, well worth the wait. It perked Sarah up just knowing that she had at last got medical help, but it shouldn’t be like that – should it?

George popped in for a chat on his way into town, Mrs H made us a drink and left us chatting in the Garden room, I could see something was on his mind.

“What’s up George?.”

He pondered for a while, then said to my surprise, “Do you and Lynn still kiss.?”

I looked at him wondering where on earth this was going.

“Of course we do, why?”

“It’s just since we’ve had that dog Sweetie pie, I can’t bring myself to kiss Rose on the lips.”

I almost choked on my coffee.

“Surely you’re not jealous of a dog George.”

“No, of course not, I’m not that insecure, it’s just that when I take it for a walk it sniffs at everything, places where other dogs have had a wee, even other dogs business, then I take him home she picks him up and she plants a kiss on his face and he licks her lips, I still shudder when I look at them, then she expects me to kiss her.”

I was exasperated, but I understood now why we had never wanted a pooch.

On this day in 1812 British Prime Minister Spencer Percival was assassinated in the House of Commons, apparently mistaken by his killer, bankrupt broker John Bellingham, for someone else. He is the only Prime Minister in Britain to have been assassinated. But there were many unsuccessful attempts including Margaret Thatcher who narrowly escaped injury when a bomb tore apart the Brighton Grand Hotel where members of the government were staying during the 1984 Conservative Party conference. Five people, including Tory MP Sir Anthony Berry, were killed and 31 injured in the IRA bombing in the early hours of the morning.

Thatcher began the next session of the conference the following day, as scheduled. Bomber Patrick Magee was given eight life sentences at the Old Bailey in 1986. He was released in 1999 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

In 2018 a plot was uncovered to assassinate Prime Minister Theresa May. Naa’imur Rahman, 20, was convicted at the old Bailey after he was trapped in a major undercover operation involving the FBI, MI5, and police.

Rahman approached officers posing online as fellow extremists, asking them for help with an attack.

He met two and repeatedly asked for bombs – leading to his conviction.

He has now been jailed for a minimum of 30 years.

Also, on this day in 1967 It was the beginning of the end when Britain, Ireland and Denmark officially applied to join the EEC.

The number of new cases stood at 2474 while the number of deaths rose to 20.

Wednesday 12/05/2021 – Day 419

Lovely sunny start to the day once again here in downtown Kidderminster, problem is that dirty great black clouds keep coming across to ruin the day, we had thunder; a lightening and hail yesterday, and of course bucketsful of rain, yet I cut my lawns, Mrs H got a lot of her Summer planting done and I tidied up, as soon as it rained, the sun came out and within ten minutes everything was dry – crazy weather.

Good news on Sarah, the new ante-biotics are now starting to work and she is already feeling a lot better, a nurse has now given her his private number and told her to ring him at any time, if he can’t get to her then he’ll contact a doctor for her, the NHS is back on form. It is no coincidence also International nurse day today on the same day a wonderful nurse called Florence Nightingale was born.

When I was a baby my parents used to bathe me in cheap Australian lager, it wasn’t until I was 18 that I discovered I’d been Fostered.

Today in 1924 The birth of the comedian Tony Hancock. He had a major success with his BBC series Hancock’s Half Hour, first on radio from 1954, then on television from 1956, in which he soon formed a strong professional and personal bond with comic actor Sid James. After his success of the late fifties, he became paranoid that Sid James was being mentioned as much as him so he basically refused to work with him anymore. Later, he also sacked the writers Galton and Simpson who had written most of his stuff, he was gradually self-destructing. Hancock committed suicide, by overdose, in Sydney, on 25 June 1968. He was found dead in his Bellevue Hill flat with an empty vodka bottle and a scattering of amylo-barbitone tablets. In one of his suicide notes, he wrote: “Things just seemed to go too wrong too many times”. His ashes were brought back to England by satirist Willie Rushton and were buried in St. Dunstan’s Church in Cranford, London.

Spike Milligan commented in 1989: “Very difficult man to get on with. He used to drink excessively. You felt sorry for him. He ended up on his own. I thought, he’s got rid of everybody else, he’s going to get rid of himself and he did.” All I ever remember was the comedy of ‘The Blood Donor’ and ‘The Radio ham’ sketches and kids in our playground doing that famous who am I, this is where they touched their toe, then their knee followed by their hand and – I think we’ll leave it there.

Also, today in 1945 the publication of the first of the ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ series by the Rev. Wilbert Awdry. It was entitled ‘The Three Railway Engines’ and featured Edward, Gordon, and Henry. The book quickly sold the initial print run of 22,500 copies and there were a further two print runs by the end of the year. Awdry was born at Ampfield vicarage in Hampshire and his father was vicar of Ampfield Church. When the books were made into a series Ringo Starr was one of a long list of narrators. I have known a lot of ‘Fat Controllers.’ since its conception, in fact, I have worked with lots of them.

2284 new cases were reported today and the number of registered deaths were 11.

Thursday 13/05/2021 – Day 420

A bit of a dull start here today, the good news is that Sarah is starting to pick up, she is still feeling very sick most days but this is due to the very strong ante-biotics she is taking.

For this week’s nostalgia, I was remembering with fondness, the TV cowboys we used to emulate in the playground, those handsome well-dressed hunks that all the girls in my class had crushes on.

Gunsmoke 1955 – 1975 was one of the first I can remember, set In Dodge City, Kansas, Marshall Matt Dillon (James Arness) attempts to keep the peace. Other cast members include Dennis Weaver as Chester, Milburn Stone as Doc Adams, and Amanda Blake as Miss Kitty. The show ran for 20 years and 635 episodes.

Cheyenne 1955 – 1962, Everyone at school loved this cowboy, The show starred Clint Walker, a native of Illinois, as Cheyenne Bodie, a physically large cowboy with a gentle spirit in search of frontier justice who wanders the American West in the days after the American Civil War.

Wagon Train was another early memory with Ward Bond playing wagon master Seth Adams, but Bond died of a heart attack on the fourth season of ‘Wagon Train. Ward Bond died on November 5, 1960. John McIntire was brought in to replace the actor, acting as a new wagon master.

Casey Jones’ (1957 to 1958) Alan Hale, Jr., en route to Classic TV immortality as the Skipper on Gilligan’s Island, starred as the title character. His steam-powered train is the Cannonball Express. They must have repeated this a lot as it always seemed to be on in our house.

‘Have Gun, Will Travel’ (1957 to 1963) Back in the Old West, Richard Boone plays a man who goes by the name “Paladin,” and is an investigator/gunfighter who travels around working for people who hire him to help them out of the dilemmas they find themselves in.

Sugarfoot 1957 – one of my childhood heroes. Will Hutchins is Tom Brewster, an Easterner with a desire to become a lawyer who travels to Oklahoma City to do so. Unfortunately, that area requires some serious cowboy skills, which he is completely lacking (hence the nickname “Sugarfoot”).

‘The Rifleman’ (1958 to 1963) In the fictional town of North Fork, Next Mexico Territory, Union Civil War veteran, widower, and rancher Lucas McCain (Chuck Connors) attempts to raise his son, Mark (Johnny Crawford)

‘Bonanza’ (1959 to 1973) Easily one of the medium’s most-beloved Westerns. While it featured many of the themes used in other Westerns, what rooted this show and kept the audience’s attention — and affection — was the Cartwright family itself and their interactions with each other. The cast includes Lorne Greene as patriarch Ben Cartwright and, as his sons, Pernell Roberts’ Adam, Dan Blocker’s Eric “Hoss” and Michael Landon’s Joseph “Little Joe.” It was on for Fourteen years with 431 episodes.

‘Laramie’ (1959 to 1963) The struggle of Slim Sherman (John Smith) and younger brother Andy (Robert Crawford, Jr.) to hold on to the family ranch in the aftermath of their father’s murder.

‘Rawhide’ (1959 to 1966) If anyone had asked me I would have sworn this was on our screens a lot earlier. The setting is the 1860s and Clint Eastwood plays Rowdy Yates, who is one of the people in charge of moving stock over long distances. It was this show that first brought Clint to the attention of Hollywood and propelled him into a movie career, even though some director told him he’d never make a screen hero because of the size of his Adams apple.

I hope you enjoyed this quick look back at the TV cowboys of the fifties.

There were 2657 new cases reported, the highest this week, there were 11 deaths.

Friday 14/05/2021 – Day 421

A real DAD (Dull as dishwater) day today, but at least there’s no rain forecast, so Mrs H has got some big plans for me in the garden, we were really naughty yesterday and spent the day looking around garden centres.

We went to one centre and bumped into a couple of old friends who had just popped to the Butchers which was amalgamated to the centre, he was disgusted, it seems that he fancied some sausages for tea, so to save them time they went to the Butchers, it cost them £4 for eight sausages which would have cost £1.50 in the dearest supermarket.

Mrs h and I decided we were going to visit a Garden centre we’d not been to before, so after visiting our regular centre we realised that neither of us knew the way, but in our car we have a sat-nav computer, but do you think we could make the thing work, we had more chance of flying abroad than getting that contraption to understand what we needed. The thing is that we have had the car from new since last March, then of course the pandemic really took a hold, we have had the car 14 months and its only done 230 miles! Mrs H spent almost 20 minutes in a lay-by (which we haven’t done since our courting days, but we won’t go there) trying to work it out, but to no avail, looks like we’ll have to get Sam and Alisha (Granddaughter) round for a quick lesson.

The teacher in class asked her pupils what their daddy did for a living, little Jimmy put up his hand and said, “My daddy hasn’t lost a case in twenty years,” The teacher was well impressed and asked Jimmy if his dad was a Lawyer, “No.” came the reply, “He’s a baggage handler at Heathrow.”

Update on Sarah, I had to pop around to the chemist tonight, her new ante-biotics are so strong that the ante-sickness tablets she was given aren’t strong enough and she is being sick, so the consequence is that she needs a much stronger ante-sickness tablet to combat the strong ante-biotics, phew!

Mrs H once told me that ‘sex is better on holiday’, that’s not a nice thing to say on a postcard.

A further

Saturday 15/05/2021 – Day 422

I was up early this morning after being woken by the rain hammering on the bedroom window, it has rained all night – again, Lake Geneva outside the front of our house and the neighbour’s house has now turned into the Atlantic Ocean with passing lorries throwing up waves at least a metre tall and washing both our garden walls with mud, silt and whatever else is floating around in its dark depths. The five-foot wide pavement meanwhile has been reduced to a nine-inch sort of ‘walking the plank’ experience – unless you want to get your feet wet! And, whilst walking through this narrow strip of tarmac, you have to hope and pray that a lorry doesn’t pass by halfway through, or it’s an early bath even though it isn’t Sunday. Time for a letter to the council I think.

Dear Mrs H had me on my hands and knees most of the day yesterday shaping my balls, allow me to elaborate, I am a great fan of topiary, especially the Buxus balls and trees, although, having said that, my favourite at the front of our house is a yew, it started off as a sapling about 10 years ago, I persuaded Mrs H to leave it to grow and we now have a six foot x four foot  sort of dish with a big sphere floating on it, I love it and I think Mrs H has grown to like it too – but it has taken ten years. I am known as Eric Scissorhands thanks to my skill with pruning shears, we now have 14 perfectly round Buxus balls and six conical trees.

The fine English actor James Mason was born on this day in 1909. He died following a heart attack on 27th July 1984. His ashes were eventually interred near the tomb of his close friend, fellow English actor Sir Charlie Chaplin, in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Vaud, Switzerland. I know James Mason played some excellent roles, but the one that always stands out in my mind was the superb Spring and Port wine.

It tells the story of Rafe Crompton (James Mason) who works in a weaving mill. He is a proud man but not a rich man. He, and his family live in a council house. Every Friday teatime he gathers the various wages from his children and passes it to his wife, Daisy (Diana Coupland) who with Florence the eldest daughter (Hannah Gordon) keeps the family budget in order, making allowances for lending neighbours cash for emergencies such as the repossession of their hire purchase TV.

The story really starts with the younger daughter Hilda (Susan George), she refuses to eat the herring which has been prepared for “tea”. Her father determines to serve it to her every day until she eats it. The sons Harold and Wilfred (Rodney Bewes and Len Jones) are shocked when a box is delivered containing a fine overcoat together with a receipt for 40 guineas. (This is the only bit of the drama I’ve never understood, they struggle with money yet he spends 40 guineas on a coat.)

The herring issue comes to a head when the herring disappears. It is found outside being eaten by the cat. However, Mr Crompton makes Wilfred swear on the bible that he did not move the herring. Wilfred faints under the pressure. This angers both daughters and they decide to leave. Florence goes to live with her fiancé Arthur. Hilda goes to stay with the neighbours, the Duckworth’s. They discover that Hilda is pregnant. Her mum pawns the new overcoat to give money to help her. The neighbour Mrs Duckworth also shows her how to break into the bureau to get at the cash box. From this the family starts to crumble when Mr Crompton discovers the losses.

Mrs Crompton runs off in the rain. Rafe finds her under a bridge, staring into the canal. He says he doesn’t care about the coat or the money. meanwhile the boys pack and prepare to also leave.

As Mr and Mrs Compton walk home everything is resolved. At home he confesses he has always known of her trickery with the housekeeping money but as a sign of trust gives her the key to the bureau and cashbox. Florence is persuaded to stay home until she marries. They also know Hilda is pregnant but ask her to also stay. The boys are free to leave but choose not to. A brilliant film and one of the best dramas of social life of the late sixties I have ever watched.

We were sat watching TV last night I was supping on a Guinness and Mrs H was playing around with a calculator.

Me, what you doing?

Her. Working something out.

Me.  What?

Her. How many Guinness do you drink in a week?

Me.  About Twenty.

Her. At how much?

Me.  About £2.00

She starts tapping furiously on the calculator.

Her. So, that’s £40 a week, about £2080 a year and over 40 years it would be    £83,200, do you know that if you’d put that money in a savings account you could have bought a plane.

Me.  Do you drink Guinness?

Her.  You know I don’t.

Me.  (supping my Guinness) So, where’s your plane then?

Silence is Golden.

There were 2027 new cases reported today giving a total of 157602 for the week, for the first time in 8 weeks that is a rise of 1202 on the previous week. There were 7 registered deaths today giving a total of 72 for the week, that is 7 less than last week. Recoveries now total 4,273,441, a rise of 27,697 on last weeks figure.

Well dear reader that’s it for another week, I’d just like to give a special mention to Angus McCoteup my sole reader up there in the Shetlands. It seems he has had so much rain that he’s had to invite ‘Shorty’ his Shetland pony indoors for the duration, they are both comfortable and well stocked, with plenty of fuel, his only necessity otherwise, is a bucket and shovel.

Have a good and a dry week.

It’s been emotional.

About the author

3224 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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