Diary of a self-isolator – week 71

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

Sunday 18/07/2021 – Day 486

Temperatures peaked at 31 degrees yesterday, and my mate on Gold Radio has just announced that they are going to be even higher today.

Well Mrs H has informed me that she had a really wonderful day yesterday on her 66th birthday. I am still left bewildered.  after buying her shoes, dresses, and perfume I asked what else she would like, her answer? An exercise bike! Apparently, she needs to exercise and lose weight, I’ve seen more fat on a greasy chip and more meat on a butcher’s pencil. I am the one who needs to lose a few pounds so we will be sharing (should have got a tandem). Anyway this bike does everything except make tea, it even tells you your pulse rate. I have shot myself in the foot though, I made the mistake of putting it together in my beloved wine making shed. She thought that was brilliant and now wants me to do it all up and turn it into a mini gym, oh woe is me!

All the family turned up and she had a wonderful day with lots of cake and wine (not necessarily in that order) we finished the day off with best friends Janet and John. We ordered a Chinese takeaway and ate al fresco – until the gnats decided they wanted to dine as well – on us. That was our call to step inside to a very hot house and finish the evening off with coffee and tea.

It was very rare as a child for me to be invited to children’s birthday parties, no-one seemed to have them only the extremely rich, and believe it or not , I didn’t mix in their social circles. The first children’s party I ever remember was probably a Christmas one from my dad’s carpet company

I remember being in awe at the wonderfully laid out long table with its pristine white table- cloths. The shiny metal cutlery and proper glasses not those awful smelling coloured plastic things we used at school. There were plates of sandwiches every three or four places, with plates of fairy cakes etc in between those. Waitresses with those black uniforms and white frilly caps bought out bowls of jelly, custard, blancmange and spooned them into the waiting bowls. These were hastily consumed by the boys and daintily consumed by the girls. There was lashings of lemonade and orange squash. I remember looking at those pristine tablecloths when it was all over and wondering how on earth they were going to get them clean again.

The tables were cleared away, the jelly and custard wiped from the floor and then we were all entertained by a clown who was really funny, He was followed after a fifteen-minute break by the worst magician in the universe, he didn’t get one trick right, he also looked remarkably like the clown. After two hours sixty boys and girls queued up for their presents. I had a Yoyo, but the string broke on the first drop.

So that was my very first experience of a children’s party, yet I still cannot ever remember going to a private birthday until I was sixteen. Sadly, by that time, jelly, custard, and blancmange weren’t on the menu. Would I still have eaten it if it was? Yes gladly.

You think it’s hot here, but back in 1901 The water supply was turned off in Manchester as a heat wave hit the U.K. with the temperature reaching 35 degrees Centigrade.

On this day in 1920 the unveiling took place of the Cenotaph War memorial in Whitehall, London, it was to commemorate the war dead. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and takes its name from the Greek words kenos and taphos meaning empty tomb.

Also on this day in 2000 Police confirmed that the body they had found in a West Sussex field the previous day was that of missing eight-year-old Sarah Payne. Sarah  disappeared on the evening of 1 July 2000 from a cornfield near the home of her grandfather Terence Payne and his second wife Lesley, in Kingston GorseWest Sussex, England. Sarah had been playing with her two brothers (aged 13 and 11 at the time) and younger sister (aged 5) when she disappeared. A police search of the local area commenced, and quickly transformed into a nationwide search and national news story, with members of the Payne family (mostly her parents Michael and Sara) making numerous television and newspaper appeals for her safe return. Her murderer, Roy Whiting, was convicted in December 2001 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The number of new cases reported today were 47,476 with 25 registered deaths.

Monday 19/07/2021 – Day 487

And yet another beautiful Sunny summer day, problem is that it’s too hot to sit outside in the sun, but then, we Brits are never happy.

Well today is the day of Boris’s madness. We have an escalating virus with a third wave upon us, the number of deaths are once again rising, and no-one in Government had the guts to say, ‘ We are going to keep the face masks and social distancing for now, until things improve’. This simple statement could have saved a lot of unnecessary suffering and a lot of lives. Still, they know best don’t they. Stay safe!

A man who won over 20 million on the lottery last weekend was asked by a reporter what he was going to do with all the begging letters, he replied.

“Nothing’s going to change – I’ll still keep sending them.”

So, with Boris relaxing the rules you can all now consider going on holiday. The problem is that there is hardly anywhere in the world you can go without self-isolating for a further ten day when you return. Ok for us oldies but not young families. Therefore your only other choice is to holiday here in Britain, because we do have some beautiful places to go to. But again, there is a slight problem, unscrupulous landlords and landladies have more than doubled prices in order to claw back lost revenue from last year. These people know what the situation is about going abroad, so even that grotty little B & B you sneered at 2 years ago because the price was £500 is now fully booked at £1500 per week. But eventually you find a converted cow shed in the heart of the country for less than a £1000 a week – result!

But first you have to check a few things in your wardrobe, are those speedo’s really suitable for the countryside. Are  those Hawaiian shirts going to make the local horses rear and bolt?. Then of course – the most important thing – the weather. You watch Countryfile for the weekly weather, but the problem is that the weather here changes every three days, so you may as well ask a Psychic Octopus.

Here are some hints I’ve compiled to see what the weather will do.

1,   If the cows are sitting in a field – it’s going to rain.

  1. If the cows are standing in a field, it’s because the grass is too wet because it’s just rained’
  2. if cows are sitting in a field with their brollies up – it is raining.

Hope this helps all you potential holidaymakers. Mrs H and I will be sat in our garden getting exactly the same amount of sunshine for nothing.

On this day in 1837 Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s 236 ft steamship, the Great Western, was launched at Bristol. She was the first ocean-going craft with an iron hull or screw propeller and was also the largest vessel in the world. On the same day in 1843, Brunel’s ‘SS Great Britain’, the first Atlantic liner built of iron, was also launched. She is now restored and can be viewed at the Great Western Dockyard in Bristol.

And on this day in 1919 Following Peace Day celebrations marking the end of World War I, ex-servicemen, unhappy with unemployment and other grievances, rioted and burn down Luton Town Hall. During the riot people broke into Farmers Music Shop and dragged pianos into the streets for dancing and singing, including, ironically ‘Keep the home fires burning’. The mayor at the time, Henry Impey was smuggled out of Luton never to return.

There were 39,375 new cases today and deaths had thankfully dropped to just 19. Still 19 families mourning loved ones though.

Tuesday 20/07/2021 – Day 489

The heatwave continues, but I was reliably informed on Midlands Today last night that it come to a thundery end at the weekend. Yes that young stalwart of the weather maps Shefali Ozra has warned of impending rainstorms from France.

Today Mrs H and I share our 48th anniversary. Forty-eight years of wedded bliss. I would be lying if I said it had all been smooth going. We like many others have had our trials  and tribulations

Our first wedding way back in 1973 was in a registry office. It was a beautiful day and neither of us regretted it. But over the years I discovered that Mrs H was always sad that she had never walked down the aisle.

So in January eight years ago, my daughters and myself started to plan another wedding in which Mrs H and I would renew our vows. Over the next six months we booked the church, arranged the reception, bought the dress, and sent out the invitations swearing everyone to secrecy.

Then on July 17th – Mrs H’s birthday, we all went out for a meal, the whole family and a few more. After the meal we all went outside and I gave Mrs H her anniversary card and told her there was a surprise on it. She scrutinised the card and announced that there was nothing in it. I told her to look on the back, she then found the invitation. The look on her face was well worth all the trouble. That was bad enough but then she read the card properly-

Mrs H    OMG! It’s this Saturday! I haven’t got a dress; I need to get my hair done. What about my make up?

I explained to her that it had all been arranged, all she had to do was turn up. Everything went really smoothly, right down to the speeches. We had a most fantastic day with friends and family.

On this day in 1943 it was the birth of the actress Wendy Richard. She played Miss Brahms in the BBC’s Are You Being Served? and Pauline Fowler in EastEnders. She was also the female voice that contributed a few lines on a number 1 hit single in the UK chart, entitled “Come Outside” featuring Mike Sarne in May 1962. Despite being associated with a London accent foe most of her career Wendy Richard was born on July 20, 1943, in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, England as Wendy Emerton. She was an actress, also known for Gumshoe (1971). She was married to John Burns, Paul Glorney, Will Thorpe and Len Black. She died on February 26, 2009, in Marylebone, London, England.

And finally on this day in 1968 During a BBC radio interview, actress Jane Asher announced that her engagement to Beatle Paul McCartney was off.  On 18 April 1963, the 17-year-old Jane interviewed the Beatles and began a five-year relationship with Paul McCartney. In December 1963, McCartney took up residence at Asher’s family Wimpole Street town house and stayed there until the couple moved into McCartney’s own home located in St John’s Wood in 1966. McCartney wrote several Beatles songs inspired by her, including “And I Love Her“, “You Won’t See Me“, “I’m Looking Through You” and “We Can Work It Out“. Paul and Jane announced on Christmas Day 1967 that they were engaged to be married. In mid- 1968, Jane returned to London from an acting assignment in Bristol earlier than expected and discovered McCartney in bed with Francie Schwartz.

A fan who loitered around Paul’s Cavendish Avenue home claims to have witnessed the incident, saying: “Paul brought this American girl home, shortly another car turned into Cavendish Avenue—it was Jane. She’d come back… earlier than she was supposed to. Jane went into the house. Immediately storming out again and driving away.” Shortly after, Margaret Asher drove to Cavendish Avenue to collect her daughter’s things.

For the second time this week new case figures were over 40,000, they came in at 46,127. But I am sad  to report that there was an horrendous rise in deaths, they went up to 96. It seems that we are taking one step forward and two steps back with this pandemic.

Wednesday 21/07/2021 – Day 490

It is five in the morning and I am lay here sweltering and listening to the gradual build-up of traffic on the road outside, I was contemplating getting out of bed when a thought came into my head. Did you know that it’s impossible to lick your elbows? And that it’s extremely hard to ‘hum’ whilst holding your nose shut. Yes, that’s exactly what I thought – time to rise.

Today is our official 48th wedding anniversary. Exactly 48 years ago today Mrs H and I walked into Kidderminster registry office. Well to be honest, I arrived first, I was the most nervous groom in the world. The stag night the previous evening with the ensuing tour of every pub within walking distance, hadn’t had the slightest effect on me.

I was far too nervous to get inebriated. So I was stood there nervously in the corridor of the registry  office when I noticed a door open slightly, a man was looking through the crack beckoning me to come in with the bend of a single digit. Despite having reservations I went into the room and was relieved to see that it was the registrar. ‘Have you got it?’ he asked.

‘Got what?’ I replied.

‘The fee, for the marriage license. We can’t continue until it’s paid.’

I had completely forgotten about the fee of three pounds fifty pence. I tapped the pockets of my suit – nothing. I was beginning to sweat profusely now; I looked out through the window and watched the future Mrs H stepping out of the ribboned car.

‘Is there anyone who can lend it you?’ the registrar interjected.

I opened the door to the corridor and beckoned my brother in, he was to be my best man and was about to become my money man. Fortunately for me he had money with him. The alternative was asking the future father-in-law to loan it me, which would mean that he was paying me to marry his own daughter!

The reception was held at my parents pub up the road. I went into the men’s toilet, as I returned I heard two of the new Mrs H’s aunties saying.

“I’ll give it six months, he’s not good enough for her.” I walked past them pretending I hadn’t heard anything, but I never forgot.

So, as I said, today is our 48th wedding anniversary. And come to think of it, I can’t ever remember paying my brother back.

On this day in 1545 The French invaded the Isle of Wight. However the French had little local knowledge and as the attacks were expected, local forces reached the high grounds of Bembridge Down to oppose them. The French had a long history of attacking the Island and this was their last attempt at capture.

Also on this day in 1909 Six suffragettes, jailed for breaking windows in Whitehall, were released for insubordination, for kicking and biting female wardens and for going on strike. When women were women!

Well Mrs H and I along with two daughters and our Granddaughter Mollie – who is nineteen years old today – are off down to the local hostelry to partake of a little lunch and a spot of beverage to celebrate Mollie’s birthday. Then Mrs H and I will have a nice quiet night in with a Chinese Takeaway. Lovely jubbly

New cases reported were 43907, registered deaths remained high at 73..

Thursday 22/07/2021 – Day 491

Well. According to Shefali, this is our last day of really hot sun, it seems that tomorrow will see a change in the weather with temperatures dropping down to normal levels. There is also rain sweeping through on Saturday, we’ll see.

On this day in 1939 Terence Stamp, actor, was born, in Stepney, London. He had an off-screen romance with Julie Christie, while they were filming Far from the Madding Crowd. But did you know that the Terry and Julie mentioned in the Kinks No1  record ‘Waterloo Sunset’ were them, or were they?

Terry meets Julie, Waterloo Station, every Friday night
But I am so lazy, don’t want to wander, I stay at home at night
But I don’t feel afraid
As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset, I am in paradise.

It is often claimed that the line, “Terry meets Julie, Waterloo Station every Friday night” is about the relationship between actor Terence Stamp and actress Julie Christie. However, Ray Davies denied this in his autobiography. He subsequently revealed that it was “a fantasy about my sister going off with her boyfriend to a new world and they were going to emigrate and go to another country.”
According to Kinks biographer Nick Hasted, Terry was Ray’s nephew Terry Davies, whom he was close to in early teenage years.

Further confusing the matter, Davies told Rolling Stone in 2015 that Julie and Terry were “big, famous actors at the time.” The actors had been dating since the early ’60s and starred together in the film Far From the Madding Crowd, which is often cited as the direct inspiration for the song, but the film didn’t come out until six months after the single’s release.

Some rich people think they are above the law but back in 2010 A luxury Koenigsegg CCXR (one of only six ever made), valued at £1.2m and a £350,000 Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SuperVeloce were clamped outside Harrods in central London after being illegally parked. The cars were released for £70 each as the fines were paid within 14 days.

New cases reported today were 39906, Registered deaths were once again high at 84,already more than last week’s full total.

Friday 23/07/2021 – Day 492

Slightly overcast today, thank goodness. It has been far too hot the past week, I don’t mind the heat but when you can’t even sit out in it then what’s the use?

Mrs H and I went around to Sarah’s yesterday and brought the garden up to scratch, Mrs H pruned and weeded as I mowed the lawns back and front and trimmed the laurel hedge. We were sat there afterwards having a cuppa when the Nice biscuits made an appearance from nowhere. Nothing untoward there I hear you say, but a couple of years ago, I was addicted to Nice biscuits, the sugary coconut taste had me in its grip. I would sit at my computer and eat a full packet before I knew it. At one stage we were buying a dozen packets a week as they were on offer at 3 for a pound in the supermarkets. To say I ballooned is a gross understatement. I was a Nice  addict; it took me over a year to wean myself off them. I had less of a problem giving up smoking.  And there they were sat on the table, staring at me, Sarah was unaware of my predicament of course. It was ten minutes before I reached over and grabbed the packet. I shook as I touched one, I was sweating profusely, my heartbeat was racing. I took one out and gave it to the dog, then pushed them away again. It was only then that I knew I was finally cured – if only I could do the same with Butter mints.

All gardeners know the signs, they walk down the garden path and the signs are there for all to see. When I was younger, the only slimy things in my life were the Bank Manager, Estate agents, Lawyers, and the mother-in-law. But as you get older your priorities change, now, the slimy pests were appearing in the garden every night. I am of course referring to those slugs that blight everyone’s garden, virtually eating them out of house and home.

There are many tried and tested ways of getting rid of these garden pests.

  1. If you don’t have pets, then a liberal sprinkling of slug pellets would do the trick, problem is that if you have visiting hedgehogs, they are harmful.
  2. An island of gravel surrounding your precious babies is another way of stopping them. It is a well-known fact that a snail can slide across the sharp edge of a razor blade and feel nothing because its slime protects it, so gravel is going to be a walk in the park. But the tell-tale signs of nibbled leaves next morning tell you that it really doesn’t work. In fact, they seem as happy as a pig in the proverbial.
  3. You could encourage frogs; they absolutely love a midnight feast. The problem here is that if you are inundated, all you end up with is a garden full of bloated overweight frogs that can’t cope.
  4. I have heard that ground coffee works. I tried it and all that happened was that the slugs and snails had a boost of caffeine which kept them up late and allowed them to munch even more.
  5. The other way I’ve heard of is saucers full of MY best ale. They seem to like a drop of alcohol and drown in it. I am dead against this method as all I can see is lots more slugs and snails enjoying a late-night party with MY beer. Anyway, they have munched their way through half my garden and I am going to treat them to a beer as a thank you, I think not.

No, the only positive way to get rid of these pests is on a dark rainy night, don wellies raincoat and hat, go outside into the darkness with a torch and you will see them all, but them in a deep bowl and when you’ve gathered enough sling em over the neighbours garden. Of course if you are surrounded by houses, even this simple act has its drawbacks. The main one being nosey caring neighbours. They look out of their bedroom window and all they see is a dark figure with a flashlight messing around in your garden. The next lights you see will be blue and flashing.

I actually wrote a poem about these pests.

A slugs life

Unwanted and unwelcome we stalk
the very places you have to walk.
Leaving tell-tale signs with slimy track
Well, we’re seeking revenge and payback
for those mini blue pellets that kill
spread on the soil, left there until
we crawl away to die alone
in your undergrowth well overgrown

Sometimes you bring a torch late at night
creep down the path, giving is a fright,
Then you scrape us up into a tin
freeze us till dead, throw us into the bin
Encouraging the hedgehogs to thrive
simply because they eat us alive.
Well, enough is enough, this is war
We’re going to eat your plants forevermore!

Your tulips, delphiniums and Hosta’s our prize
Gerberas will disappear before your eyes,
We’ll eat the tubers of new-sown peas
potato’s and lettuce attacked with ease,
We’ll all gang together to clear your plot
and eat most everything you’ve got
Those little blue pellets are your downfall
Spread them well because you won’t get us all!

The new figures for coronavirus drop once again, today there were 36,389 cases reported, a lot of these cases are youngsters in their twenties. The number of registered deaths fell to 64.

Saturday 23/07/2021 – Day 493

What a change to the weather, we haven’t had any rain yet but are promised torrential downpours by Shefali.

Mrs H and I were up early this morning. Our Granddaughter Alisha works at a Day nursery called Hickory Dickory Dock. Well it was their Summer fete today; Mrs H was told that they had a plant sale and that was all it took. Of course a plant stall meant that we had to be among the first to show – bit like a car boot sale, the early bird gets the bargain – so we arrived at 10.03. This allowed 3 whole minutes to show that we weren’t too keen. To be truthful, both of us were expecting the plant stall to be full of little spindly plants in old plastic teacups. We were well surprised; a lot of the local plant nurseries had donated some absolutely wonderful plants. Mrs H was like a kid in a sweetshop. The dearest plant was £3 with many at less. We had a great selection for just £30. Then it was over to the Tombola where we won 3 prizes. I just had to visit the cake stall, I had lemon drizzle cake with my cup of tea when we got home. Alisha told us that the nursery had raised around £900.

The rest of the day was spent cutting the lawns, tidying the borders etc. Two or three times we had spots of rain, but that was about it.

Thought I’d leave you with a classic joke this week.

Murphy, a furniture dealer from Dublin, decided to expand the line of furniture in his store, so he decided to go to Paris to see what he could find.

After arriving in Paris, he visited with some manufacturers and selected a line that he thought would sell well back home. To celebrate the new acquisition, he decided to visit a small bistro and have a glass of wine.

As he sat enjoying his wine, he noticed that the small place was quite crowded, and that the other chair at his table was the only vacant seat in the house. Before long, a very beautiful young Parisian girl came to his table, asked him something in French (which Murphy could not understand), so he motioned to the vacant chair and invited her to sit down.

He tried to speak to her in English, but she did not speak his language. After a couple of minutes of trying to communicate with her, he took a napkin and drew a picture of a wine glass and showed it to her. She nodded, so he ordered a glass of wine for her.

After sitting together at the table for a while, he took another napkin, and drew a picture of a plate with food on it, and she nodded. They left the bistro and found a quiet cafe that featured a small group playing romantic music.

They ordered dinner, after which he took another napkin and drew a picture of a couple dancing. She nodded, and they got up to dance. They danced until the café closed and the band was packing up.

Back at their table, the young lady took a napkin and drew a picture of a four-poster bed. To this day, Murphy has no idea how she figured out he was in the furniture business.

For the fourth day in succession new cases dropped. There were a further 31795 new cases today, over 23,000 less than this time last week,  bringing the weekly total to 284,717 a drop of 14,521 on the previous week. The number of registered covid related deaths were 86  bringing the weekly total to  447 a rise of 183 on last week. There were 4,434,997 recoveries a rise of 43,997 on last week’s total.

Well that’s it for another week, hopefully and God willing I’ll return next week for another seven days of news, views and trues.

Don’t forget if you want to read more of my ramblings, stories or poems just go to www.erhblog.co.uk

Let’s be careful out there.

It’s been emotional.

About the author

3247 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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