Still here.

Since last writing I’ve ventured out just once to start my hybrid car.  After a few weeks of not being used it sulks and the battery goes flat.  The car is in isolation (not self-isolation, it may be a hybrid but it doesn’t have the wit to do that) in an underground garage just up the road.  The car was very pleased to see me and sprang into life immediately, happily anticipating a spin up a motorway or a quick dash to Oxford to see our long lost friends.  Driving round and round an empty underground garage, narrowly missing pillars, was a poor substitute.  My brother-in-law has since suggested I should have tried some handbrake turns but my car doesn’t have a proper handbrake that you could jank up at the crucial moment.  But never mind a handbrake, what my car really needs is a starting handle!  The only way to start my very first car (an Austin 7 built in 1936) was with a starting handle. When I progressed to a Rover 12, a starting handle remained  essential  because I couldn’t afford to replace its clapped out battery.

Another excitement is that I have solved the problem of how to make Oatbix at breakfast tolerable (I know you’re agog to hear more about this!).  I should explain that I didn’t need to persist with Oatbix because my daughter kindly came to the rescue and delivered a packet of Shredded Wheat (a big one containing 30 biscuits).  However, I decided to finish the wretched Oatbix before allowing myself to crack open the Shredded Wheat (delayed gratification is good for the soul).  There are two interrelated problems with Oatbix.  Firstly, they are totally tasteless and secondly, as soon as they come into contact with any sort of liquid, they turn into a soggy mush.  I have conducted various experiments and the best solution (it may not be optimal, but these are desperate times and best will have to do) is as follows:  Carefully extract two Oatbix from the paper wrapping.  Clear up the avalanche of crumbs.  Place the two Oatbix side by side in a shallow bowl.  Squeeze clear honey (a desert spoon full) into a mug and dilute with some water.  Using a teaspoon, coat the first Oatbix with the diluted honey and eat it very quickly before it becomes soggy and/or realises what is happening .  Repeat the routine with the second Oatbix.  Congratulate yourself on a job well done.

I’m still doing 20 laps of the terrace twice a day.  I used to think this was something to boast about but, of course, Captain Tom’s staggering achievement  has ruined all that.  I almost wish I was 99 and recovering from a hip operation.  I once spoke at a conference in York where the speaker immediately before me enthralled us with an account of his recent heart transplant. It was gripping stuff and gave me a considerable ‘follow that’ problem.  It’s the only time in my life I wished I’d had a heart transplant!

I have always been irritated by quizzes (only because I don’t know any of the answers) but I have discovered the perfect antidote (a sort of quiz vaccine): invent the damn things yourself and inflict them on other people.  Here is a quiz I created yesterday and I’m hoping you will only know, say, one or two answers:

1  What composer described his father as ‘a wastrel, a compulsive gambler, a pathological liar, and a skirt chaser’?

2  What composer never plucked up the courage to say hello to Beethoven?

3  What composer ended his relationship with his lover when she published a novel with an unflattering portrayal  of their relationship?

4  What composer had to climb over barricades during the Paris revolution in order to get to the church on time and marry?

5  What composer was an uncompromising perfectionist and destroyed many of his compositions?

6  What composer married a seamstress 17 years older than him?

Finally (well, finally for now, hopefully not forever) my predilection for doggerel writing has resurfaced.  Not content with creating what I hope is an infuriating quiz, yesterday I wrote this:

My new life

I wake with a start at half past eight

How, oh how,  could it be so late?

I used leap out of bed at dawn,

Write a thousand words, cut the lawn,

Walk fields and lanes with the dog,

Sometimes even break into a  jog.

And now, wondering how it got so late,

I’m sleeping soundly till half past eight.


An empty diary stretches ahead,

Activities to be contrived instead,

I used to rush to meetings galore,

Never considering it a chore,

I’d speak at conferences with plenty to say,

And coach managers who’d lost their way.

And now, with nothing else to do,

I pen silly rhymes and send them to you.


The day eventually draws to a close,

As exhausted before the telly I doze.

I used to be such a busy bee,

Not in dispute, plain for all to see,

But now, under house arrest,

I’m facing my most daunting test.

So, I sleep like a babe till half past eight

And wonder why I’ve woken so late.




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