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Growing Old Disgracefully
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Sollers' LiveJournal:

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    Thursday, October 30th, 2014
    1:29 pm
    It could have been so much worse
    Yesterday was swimming day - AquaFit, which is excellent (since I started in September I have lost half an inch off my hips and an inch off my waist). Afterwards, I had a look round the market in Ashton under Lyne and was heading towards the market hall. I noticed that the local regiment was doing some sort of PR/recruitment thing. Which, as it happened, was most fortuitous.

    As I came towards them I tripped and fell, literally flat on my face. I was immediately surrounded by a small swarm of squaddies who helped me up, took charge of my bag, took me to somewhere I could sit down and one went off to get tissues for me to clean up the blood (big blue roll, part of which they moistened for me with water from a bottle.

    As I got up I saw blood on the ground and assumed it was from my nose, which I was sure I must have broken, but it turned out not to be. Both my nose and my glasses were, remarkably, intact (apart from a small scrape on the bridge of my nose); the blood had come from my upper lip which had collided with my teeth. Which were also undamaged.

    Apart from that, I had grazes on my knuckles, the worst on the right hand, and my right knee. After I had cleaned myself up I felt woozy and nauseous and was in fact sick. At this point they called an ambulance.

    Given the risk of concussion, I was perfectly happy to go off in it, and in the short distance to A&E they went through a full range of tests, including ECG. I asked them about the results and was very reassured: blood sugar good, heart rate good, blood pressure fine ("given what's happened, I'm wondering if it was a bit on the low side before," the paramedic said) and I now have in my neckpurse a very nice, regular, healthy ECG trace.

    I had a fairly long wait at A&E, but the further checks were also reassuring: the main thing being looked at was the risk of fractures to facial bones. None. Nor anywhere else. At my age this is extremely reassuring as it suggests my bone density is good.

    I had phoned miapatrick, who called back while I was waiting to say that when they had finished with me I was to take a cab to her house as they probably wouldn't let me go straight home if I was going to be on my own. So when I got there we collected the dogs and some bits and pieces and I spent the night there. By mid morning I felt fine so am now back home - G is back now, and we're going over to miapatrick this evening so if I feel at all funny there will be people around.

    The swelling on my lip has gone down and the cut on the inside is healing. My right hand is also improving, though as I suspected there was some swelling. What I'm not seeing is any purple bruises, which is also reassuring.

    And very nice in its way was the paramedics after I gave my date of birth (in 1946); one said to the other, "I thought they [presumably the squaddies] said she was 50"

    I'm extremely glad they were around. I suspect it might have broken the monotony for them a bit, besides being beautiful PR. Anyway, they were great.

    This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

    Current Mood: relieved
    Sunday, October 19th, 2014
    8:24 pm
    Department of "you couldn't make it up"
    On re-examination of a specimen of Microbrachius dicki, a 385 million year old fish, it was discovered to be the oldest known vertebrate to have a male sexual organ.

    This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

    Current Mood: amused
    Sunday, October 5th, 2014
    9:28 am
    M has found a replacement for my minibus: same thing (ambulance type) but newer and better. Picking it up today.

    Couldn't be better: we had been counting on the old one to go and look at houses in Llandudno and later to do the move. Very fortunately my pension has come through so I have ample money in the bank (part of pension as lump sum).

    I hope it does us as well and gives us as much pleasure as the old one.

    This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

    Current Mood: excited
    Saturday, October 4th, 2014
    7:12 am
    The bad news and the good news
    The bad news came first.

    M (named driver on my insurance) was driving us in to Bury in the minibus when a brand new Mercedes braked abruptly in front of us. We were in a bus lane outside bus lane hours but the other driver hadn't registered that, panicked when he saw a police car and tried to get out of the bus lane. It takes longer for the minibus to stop - in fact, we skidded a couple of dozen yards - and we went into the back of him. Damage to the Merc was not very great, but it looks as though the minibus is a write-off. Which means, since M is still waiting for the side car to be fitted to his motor bike, that neither I nor M and miapatrick have any wheels at the m0oment, though M set to work last night to hunt down a new vehicle for me. Fortunately I have enough money in the bank to get one asap. Even more fortunately, we were all wearing seat belts; miapatrick was worst affected by whiplash as she had no warning and she was sitting facing the engine, but without the seatbelt she would have gone through the glass partition between us and the driver position.

    What with paramedics checking us out, talking to the police and waiting for the recovery vehicle, it was five hours before we got home. However, while I was talking to the insurance (thank heaven for smartphones), miapatrick got an email with an offer for the house. She phoned back asking for £2K more (but actually willing to accept £1K more); the buyers accepted the £2k more figure. There's no chain that end so things will move fast and we can now move to get somewhere in Llandudno; it looks as though the house M and miapatrick were really interested is still on the market.

    So the move has changed from "eventually" to "soon".

    What with having to get a new van of some sort and the likelihood of me moving early in the New Year, yesterday really was the first day of the rest of my life.

    This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
    Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
    1:58 pm
    Trying few days
    Toby the Jack Russell has not been well.

    It may have been a dodgy tin of dog food that triggered it: I opened the first of a new pack, he ate his and was sick, Zoe (half JR half Papillon) wouldn't eat hers. After that Toby stopped eating and became extremely lethargic.

    This was at the end of last week; yesterday I took him in to the vet. Vet couldn't find anything obviously wrong but took a blood sample (results tomorrow) and gave him a steroid injection to pep him up. He came home, slept afternoon, and when he woke up washed himself for the first time since the problem started. He then followed me out the kitchen where I did him a little bit of boiled chicken, finished it in record speed and looked up hopefully, so I gave him some more. In the evening he had scrambled egg with some boiled rice, finished it and investigated to see if Zoe had left any of her dinner.

    This morning he had chicken and rice and cleaned his bowl. Zoe was annoyed because she got dog food; looked at bowl, looked at me, looked at bowl, looked at me and started to walk away but then went back and ate it because Toby was looking interested

    So he went back to the vet again this morning, different one this time. She found a slight heart murmur which she said she didn't think was anything to worry about, and he's definitely not too comfortable with his joints. Once his stomach has settled down she agreed it would be worthwhile to take him to the doggy hydrotherapy.

    There's a bit of a problem in that I don't know exactly how old he is, but I'll talk about that another day.

    ETA Toby is much brighter now. He trotted (as opposed to ambled) into the kitchen at breakfast time and has just had words with Zoe - not sure what it was about as I was in the living room and they were in the kitchen, and when I went to investigate they both came to meet me looking as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouths. Well, it wouldn't, past experience shows that butter goes from source to stomach at something approaching the speed of light.

    This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

    Current Mood: relieved
    Sunday, September 21st, 2014
    8:12 am
    This morning, in the context of the result of the Referencum - in the context of relations between the UK and its constituent countries - within the space of 20 minutes the term "to welsh" was used TWICE.

    In particular, Andrew Marr ought to know better.


    This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

    Current Mood: irate
    Monday, September 8th, 2014
    8:53 am
    A good weekend part I
    Last winter I discovered that War Horse was coming to the Lowry. To my great disappointment I wasn't able to organise tickets. The disappointment continued for a few months, until I discovered that it had been so popular that the Lowry was putting it on again, after a startlingly short time, for a further run this summer. I moved fast this time, and got tickets.

    I thought getting there was going to be easy: get on the Metrolink, go straight through to Salford then one stop up the branch line to MediaCity.

    Unfortunately, there were Works going on. So on getting to our stop, I discovered we would have to go in to central Manchester, change to another line for a few stops then take a replacement bus. No way would that get us there in time, so we went into central Manchester and took a cab.

    It was worth it. The production was staggering, and I kept on forgetting that the horses were not real. I greatly enjoyed the use of folk songs, most of which I knew - though the one I kept on humming when I came out wasn't one of them: "Home, Boys, Home" which is very much to the point. I have to say I'm glad I found out that my grandfather was involved with railways rather than horses.

    An excellent experience. I've got the book on my Kindle but it will take some effort to read it. Under no circumstances am I going to watch the film.

    ETA A disconcerting thing happened this morning. I was sorting papers and came across what must have been my grandfather's last letter to my grandmother, in January 1919. By the end of the month he was dead of the Spanish Flu. I haven't read it yet.

    This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

    Current Mood: impressed
    Saturday, August 23rd, 2014
    9:03 am
    It has happened
    I no longer work. I have indeed retired. Yesterday, for the last time, I went upstairs at 8:30 to do battle with the work computer system. For the last time I grappled with illegible handwriting. For the last time I went through all the time-consuming procedures that could take longer than the actual piece of work. For the last time I took my dogs for their walk at the one time I could do it rather than when the weather etc were most suitable. For the last time I had to get them indoors after letting them out during a coffee break so that I could lock the back door prior to going upstairs. Done. Over.

    I felt very peculiar yesterday - I got butterflies in my stomach in the middle of the day, so bad that I couldn't eat lunch. So the day before yesterday was the last time when I had to cook a quick lunch in order to fit everything in, just as it was the last time when I had to get on with cooking dinner after finishing work at 7 (I went round to miapatrick last night; homemade burgers that were a total delight with homemade rolls). That is definitely something I won't miss; I've been preparing meals in advance for the days I worked, and all I'll say about that is that last week I got very, very bored with spag bol.

    I'm not starting the full new routine till Tuesday - today I have to sort out the computer equipment to be collected on Tuesday morning, tomorrow I'm going in to Manchester for the Gay Pride parade, and there's a strong likelihood I'll be doing something interesting on Bank Holiday Monday, though the weather doesn't look very promising. But once the front bedroom has stopped being my office and become full time music room/studio, I shall be up and running. Apart from instrument practice, writing and painting, I have a project in mind: scanning in family photographs and putting them safely into albums etc. Investigation into family history is indicated.

    The other thing I'm doing today is just plain unwinding. When I started working for the predecessor firm at the start of the century, the assumption was that I would retire at 60, so I've nearly 8 years of catching up to do. All else apart, I've got a lot of DVDs that I want to watch.

    This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

    Current Mood: indescribable
    Monday, August 11th, 2014
    6:19 am
    Back from Sidmouth
    ... and very, very happy. Both G and I have been told we look five years younger, which since we both can normally pass for ten years less than our chronological age is nice, if a bit disconcerting.

    I did all the things I wanted to, and more: learned the next stage in melodeon playing, learned to play the tin whistle and cracked playing tunes by ear. I met someone who had helped me make a quantum leap in playing the ukulele earlier this year and joined in sessions most lunchtimes. I sang, told stories and did as much Border Morris dancing as I wanted to - including joining in the torchlight procession on Friday night. I bought new cases for my ukulele and my guitar (which is now likely to get more use). I bought new clothes to go with my new look (verging on born-again hippie) and match my hair colour:

    All around my hat I shall wear a purple garland,
    All around my hat every day and everywhere:
    And if anyone should ask me the reason why I'm doing it,
    It's because the purple garland doesn't show against my hair.

    Three days of work this week, three days next week, and I'm out of it and can concentrate on the new routine (heavy on instrumental practice, writing and drawing)

    This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

    Current Mood: rejuvenated
    Friday, July 18th, 2014
    6:40 pm
    Boats have been burned
    First I was going to retire last Christmas. Then it was after Upton Folk Festival (May Day bank holiday). Then it was in time for Sidmouth. Then it was the end of October.

    Now I have grasped the nettle and put in for my retirement - last day at work will be 22 August. As I only work three days a week, have next Thursday off and will be at Sidmouth for best part of two weeks, this means a total of 8 working days between now and then.

    I started to wonder whether I had made the right decision when I found myself doing something I really love yesterday (long translation), but a) I lost half yesterday afternoon to computer problems and b) lost all of this afternoon, three hours of it waiting for IT to call me back. If they don't get me sorted soon, it will be a question of whether it is worth it; when they send me new equipment (looks like the router is kaput) it takes so long that it's likely to turn up when I've got about 5 working days left.

    It's probably about time. I had an eye test on Wednesday. Mostly all is well, but downer: "Slight signs of cataract." Further downer: "It is usual when ageing." On the other hand, earlier the optician had said, "I can't believe you're 67; you look as if you're nearer 50." He also told me the chief cause of cataracts is ultraviolet light so I should get reaction lenses. I said I'd been wearing them for 7 or 8 years, which he said had probably slowed things down. So on the whole I'm happy about it; but I don't want to work myself into the grave, and the stress at work is on line to contribute to that.

    8 more working days and I am FREE!

    This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

    Current Mood: excited
    Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
    6:52 am

    Unmarked cars with "blues and twos" are very much the province of the traffic police, and they have to go through an advanced driving course. I very much doubt that Lestrade would be allowed to drive one.

    Sunday, September 22nd, 2013
    8:37 pm
    Where were the television cameras when they could have been having a field day?
    Time: a beautiful warm sunny afternoon on the first day of autumn

    Place: a quiet cul-de-sac a hundred yards or so from our homes

    Two (allegedly) respectable women in their late 60s are out playing with their new toy. It calls itself a "Speeder" but this isn't helpful. G called it a "Landlaufer" at first, because the movement involved is like that type of ski-ing (though I think it's more like skating); I suggested "Roadlaufer" because we don't go off road, and G said, "Let's go for English and call it a 'Roadrunner'." She is now going to buy some horns to make the appropriate "beep-beep" ("meep-meep?") sound.

    What it is, is a sort of scooter, but V shaped, and steerable. You start off by scooting, then put one foot on one side and sway your body from side to side to keep it going. FUN!! We were playing with hers because I haven't had a chance to collect mine, which was my birthday present, so we took turns.

    This is something I have wanted, without knowing it, for decades. Safer than skateboarding, less iffy than rollerblades.

    (And the local shopping centre hasn't got round to banning them!)

    This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

    Current Mood: bouncy
    Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013
    5:03 pm
    Back in the oven
    Or steam room probably.

    I've had three days of total relaxation (no papers, no TV, no radio, no internet, not even any mobile coverage) on top of a hill on the Lleyn peninsula, bracketed by two horrific days of driving.

    On the way, the bus suddenly decided to go slow. I wondered about the clutch going but I've had clutches go in the past and it didn't feel like that. More to the point, after stalling (after about an hour of this) it started behaving again. Before that happened, though, someone cutting in in front of me on a bit with stripey white lines bollixed up my driver's side wing mirror.

    Then about 10 miles before my destination, a fatal accident up ahead blocked the road both ways so I had to turn round and detour. In so doing I clouted a post with the other wing mirror and bollixed that one up. By this time I was extremely tired and once I reached my destination wasn't good for anything but putting up the recliner in the shade and opening a beer. Half way through the beer it struck me that if I hadn't been slowed down so much I might have been part of the accident, and given the size of the bus, possibly made everything even worse.

    Coming home, having spent time on the wing mirrors with gaffer tape, all went well till past Chester, when I got the go-slow again. I found myself crawling up a hill at about 30 mph, which attracted the attention of the fuzz. We discussed the situation, looked at the road atlas, agreed that going off onto A roads wasn't really a viable option, so he suggested I give it a try and if I went down that low again, then go off. I managed to average 40 mph from then on; on the last leg of the journey stalled at the lights... and went back to normal. Memo to self: if it happens again, try stalling deliberately.

    Somewhat shattered at the moment after stressful journey and getting all vulnerable stuff into the house or under cover. More on the good bits next time.

    This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
    Saturday, June 15th, 2013
    6:31 am
    Arise, Sir Baldrick!
    I am utterly delighted that Tony Robinson is getting a knighthood. Not, I hasten to add, primarily because of his roles in "Blackadder", though that has been important to me. On reading Vegetius, I burst into uncontrollable giggles when I realised that the best translation of his repeated "Sollertia est" was "It is a cunning plan", which led me to adopt the gender-neutral (because third declension adjective) "Sollers".

    No, the true reason is that he is, and has been for decades, the best bloody story-teller on screen. My daughters were still at school when he did a wonderful re-telling of the "Iliad", and he has continued to be excellent.

    "A fo ben bydd bont" - "whoever is a leader should be a bridge". He has been a wonderful bridge to history to immense audiences; it takes a first class actor to ask for the umpteenth time for an explanation of crop markings, and each time sound as if he really wants to know, when by then he probably knows more than I did in the exam answer that helped get me the V. Gordon Childe prize.

    In addition to Time Team, he has involved himself in historical programmes where he interprets the past and brings it to life, including the "worst jobs" series that must have had an element of masochism - not just the pongs, but having to overcome a dislike of heights that I sympathised with; I couldn't have done it.

    None of this is the reason (at any rate on paper) why he got the knighthood, but this is why I'm so glad.

    This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

    Current Mood: ecstatic
    Sunday, March 31st, 2013
    9:31 am
    Spanish Wikipedia turns up trumps again
    All I wanted to do was find out how big Nerja was under Moslem rule. Now I've got a new chapter and a whole new character: Fatima the architect.

    This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

    Current Mood: bouncy
    Friday, February 15th, 2013
    2:27 pm
    My mother was born 100 years ago today. This gives me a very weird feeling.

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    Tuesday, January 1st, 2013
    7:49 pm
    Three in-your-face canals
    The Suez Canal, allowing ships bound for the East to bypass the Cape of Good Hope
    The Panama Canal, allowing ships bound for the West to bypass Cape Horn
    The Manchester Ship Canal, allowing ships bound for Manchester to bypass Liverpool.

    This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

    Current Mood: mischievous
    Saturday, December 15th, 2012
    6:41 pm
    Guilty pleasure
    Sometimes television scheduling gets things more right than I could have thought possible. "Cat Ballou" AND "Support Your Local Gunfighter" on the same day

    *reaches for chocolates*

    This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

    Current Mood: content
    Saturday, December 1st, 2012
    3:00 pm
    What do superheroes do about their clothes?
    Scene: A telephone booth at night. A woman is on the phone. Suddenly there is a rapping on the door. She tries to ignore it but the rapping becomes more insistent. She covers the mouthpiece.

    Woman: What is it?

    Man's voice: Excuse me, ma'am, but are you going to be much longer?

    Woman (who had been enjoying her conversation and doesn't want to end it) If your call is urgent, there's another booth just up the block.

    Man: I don't want to make a call, I just want to get my clothes.

    Deeply embarrassed, the woman hurriedly ends her call and flees, averting her eyes. Also embarrassed, Superman dives into the booth to retrieve his Clark Kent gear.

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    Current Mood: curious
    Tuesday, November 27th, 2012
    12:49 pm
    Thank goodness for being able to read Spanish
    If I couldn't, I wouldn't have been able to check out the details of the Cid's burial before his body was taken to Burgos; there is a very full entry for the monastery in Wikipedia in Spanish, but no English version.

    Very briefly: his embalmed body was on display till around 1116, when it showed major signs of disintegration (the nose fell off the previous year) so it was buried beside Jimenez, who was buried at his feet originally. There is a tradition that Babieca was buried outside the monastery.

    All very useful info for "Leila and Lily*"; Don Miguel Diaz, who has family connections with the Cid and is devoted to him, wants to visit the grave.

    *This is a story prompted by a storytelling workshop that I am concentrating on for the time being as a break from David and Anna. I'm having fun with it, and it's going better now that I have been to a lot of the places. I've also had plenty of time while my leg recovers from the fall; I don't feel that my holiday is being wasted since I am doing something really constructive - two new chapters completed and a third in progress.

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    Current Mood: jubilant
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