31 July 2016


Before I start my weekly post I must tell all who commented on an earlier post about the WASHING MACHINE that I have received a BRAND NEW MODEL plus twelve months free insurance. 

Okay, moving on to a new subject: 


For years I have suffered with a wonky back but attendance at a chiropractor’s surgery made living with a wonky back more bearable. It was mainly due to taking his advice and making sure I did my daily exercises. Actually, because I had practised yoga for years I enjoyed the regimented routine I set myself on a daily basis. Joe used to laugh at me but I didn’t let it bother me, in fact I teased him by singing I Can Do Anything Better Than You. Mostly, I exercised when he wasn’t there but it wasn’t to last once he became poorly and my time was spent looking after him. For almost three years I did no exercises. Is it any wonder my back and various other bones and muscles are screaming for attention?

It has got so bad I swear I look twice my age. Anyone who knows me would disagree, of course (koff koff), but it certainly feels that way. I walk like I am a cripple – maybe not but it feels like it - and I cannot sit for long in one chair. Yes, I know everybody should cease sitting for long spells (particularly at their computer) but when pain hits stubbornness and self-pity set in.

My plan to change chairs has been carried out, with the help of my cleaning lady's husband. It had to be done. Even though Joe’s chair is a beauty it's far too big for me. Short legs meant my back wouldn’t reach the back of the chair unless I sat with flailing legs. The chair I used was/is a Stressless, yes that’s the name of it. When I bought it I thought ‘Ah, just the thing for a painful back’ … the very word Stressless was like a soothing balm. Only the word, though, the rest of the chair actually caused more backache.

The chair is quite narrow, designed to fit the back, with support for the lower spine and little room to change one’s position. Once seated there is only a small chance of movement which is unfortunate when the theory is that one should never stay in one position for too long. It was so bad I knew I had to do something about it.  

The first move was to get rid of or move the Stressless and take over the green reclining chair I inherited from my aunt and which Joe used for months on end. It meant switching chairs from one room to another but the cleaning lady's husband came along to do the heavy stuff. Now I sit in comfort, feet up or legs up depending on my mood. It's great!

Apart from the chair, exercises are a MUST for reducing pain in the back. The only problem is that floor exercises are okay until I try to get up. I’m weak, you see, from head to flipping toe and once down there is no way up, least ways not easily.

I had thought about going back to the chiro but with probate still not proven after Joe’s funeral I don’t want to fork out loads of cash. Driving there is also a problem since the car park is acres away from the chiro’s building. Oh yes, and there’s steps! I’m not bad at climbing steps but going down is a nightmare. I blame the eyes and brain as much as the spine.

Remember in the old days when anyone with back problems was advised to lie on a hard board? Yes, I know that theory was quashed, but it is the most effective way to ease painful problems. Now, if only I could find an old door or something similar. Of course, old doors are not usually left lying around so I donned the thinking cap again and decided to go on a hunt round my estate, all five rooms of it.

You will never guess what I found in a wardrobe. No, not a door, not even something made of wood, I found my old zipped leather portfolio case which, I‘m pleased to say, had never been thrown out. It opens to twice its size and the inside is a tough material which will withstand just about any weight. I hope the neighbours didn’t hear my shout of joy as I opened it out on my bed. Oh wow, all I had to do was climb up and I have a footstool if that gets difficult. Actually getting off the bed is easier than trying to negotiate kerbstones in the street. Explain that, if you can!

The first trial on the ‘board’ was like a trip to heaven…. such relief when I pressed the spine onto a hard surface. I was able to do a complete set of exercises and would be able to do more every day.

Mid-afternoon I went for a second go. Lying flat on my back I went through each movement to a count of 20, one knee at a time then both together, then straight into a bit of ‘pedal pushing’ and rocking, and finishing with alternate leg and arm stretches. It felt good but imagine my surprise when lowering the limbs I lowered them onto Charlie, the cat, who had one leg in the air while he washed his nether region.

How long he’d been there is anybody’s guess and he didn’t want to move. If I moved a leg he edged over to take that spot, if I shuffled back, he did the same. The look on his face was a picture, like he’d scored points over me. It was so funny I couldn’t stop laughing and still he didn’t shift. In the end I left him there. Now I’m wondering who IS the boss in this house! 

24 July 2016

A Precious Commandment

Just a few headlines to greet one day, there have been many more killings since:

Partner charged with author murder
Murder arrests over teenager death            
Boy guilty of ‘fit girl’ row murder
Boy (16) charged with murder of girl
Girl arrested for the murder of elderly lady
Gang of youths stab young boy
Divorced father and children found dead in car
Elderly pensioner (lady) attacked and killed for money
Playground murder, boy arrested
Gang stab boy at bus stop
3 men and 15 year old boy arrested for murder of teenager
Man charged for partner death

Thou shalt not kill, yet every day the media carries news of more murders. Don’t they teach the Ten Commandments anymore? Don’t parents guide their kids along the right path?  I think not, since killing has become fashionable.

Murder has become popular with young boys and girls and those adults with broken marriages when husbands think nothing of killing their children to spite their wives – quite often the wife is also disposed of. What happened to love and respect and tolerance?

There are many respectable and decent kids but there are too many who have no scruples; are they or were they not taught by parents or in school that it is wrong to take a life? What sort of families do they belong to or will eventually raise?

Terrorism is another matter for obvious reasons. But it has become a fascinating challenge to younger folk. I am thankful there are no gullible kids in my family but numbers are growing elsewhere and killing is rife. 

Is there a deterrent? It seems that with all the publicity in the press and on television young people are beginning to think it’s normal to do such things? Certainly the thought of life in prison doesn’t seem to worry those who commit these terrible crimes. They probably think imprisonment is like having the cane, a few thrashes and it’s all over.

I fear for the future. It stands to reason it will get worse unless drastic steps are taken. But where do we start? Schools? Church? The media?

17 July 2016


(Signe Wilkinson's Editorial Cartoons
You’ll laugh when I tell you about a recent bout of text messaging from Hotpoint, the company who made the broken-down washing machine. It seems that phones are out of fashion except for cell phones - and computers that can send and receive text messages.

Still waiting for repair. The latest upset with the washing machine has been handled by text messaging, particularly when appointments are made.

You’re going to like this!

Text message to say when engineer is calling.
Engineer will call Wednesday 06 July
(Story was that the required part had been in stock all along)

Another text received to say parts now available for the repair. It went on like this:
‘We now require a visit date (as 4 digit day+month 0807) and our computer system will check and respond. At this moment Friday 08-JUL onward is free. Text CANCEL if repair no longer required.

I sent return text:
Have had date given to me for Wednesday 6 July. In fact I had two messages to that effect. Was told parts were available. Suggest you check it out.

Sorry, our automated system could not understand your response. Friday 8 July is first available appointment date. Text us your preferred date (in format DDMM e.g.’0807) and we will try to schedule it. Text CANCEL and we’ll cancel this order.


Well, it looked as if the other date had been pushed out of the picture so I texted back Friday 0807 agreed,

From Hotpoint
Sorry, our automated system ……

Engineer did visit on 6 July, minus the part. It was what he called ‘first visit’ to assess what was wrong with the machine.

We already knew what was wrong…. concrete slabs used to stabilise machine had been broken into small bits and were annoying the spin dryer no end. You could tell it was upset by the noise it made. This guy had the sense to tell Hotpoint. I know this because someone woke up at Hotpoint and phoned me. Actually used a phone, which I thought was amazing. How nice actually to speak to someone. She said they only operate on texts that give dates as 0806 or whatever. We sorted it out but she had no idea how I came to get the first appointment since it wasn’t on her computer. Perhaps a real person used real English words instead of text code!

It has only taken since 6 June but the great day is nigh. I had a text telling me that and apparently they’re going to send another text to tell me what time.

And then came an actual phone call from a young man who not only apologised for the upset but gave me the date of delivery of a NEW machine. Tuesday sometime but of course I will get a text to give the actual time.

Dashing off to prepare … tra la la!

Friend Judy warned me not to get too excited … er, just in case! Just what I needed to calm me down.

10 July 2016


Until a week ago I was working two computers, one ancient and one reasonably new, and there’s another one in the wardrobe that Joe used. Not one of them is what I call ‘good’. Joe’s computer has nothing on it that I can use, he wasn’t into computers so he never bothered to do anything with it except check email on the internet. He did a bit of typing with a programme already on computer but there was nothing special about it.

Two years ago Joe bought me a new computer because he assumed I could do with a new one. However, as it was a surprise he didn’t ask if there was anything special I wanted on it. The man in the shop should have known better, I mean, we’ve been going to him for computer advice and purchases for a good many years and he knew exactly what I needed or wanted. Anyway, I ended up with a ‘professional’ computer, one that was way above my head in the understanding stakes. It had none of the customary programmes that I use on a daily basis. There was no facility for carrying on the monthly news sheet I did for WI, no word art, no clip-art, and no fancy way of doing things, not even an understandable spreadsheet. You can imagine my frustration! There was only one thing I could do and that was to reinstate my old computer. Nothing wrong with that, you might say.

I happily sailed along for a couple of years without Joe knowing that I had reverted to the old machine. After all, I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. It came to an end a week ago when, after weeks of refusing an update, it was forced on me by Windows. I could almost hear it screaming ‘THOU SHALT HAVE WINDOWS 10 WHETHER YOU WANT IT OR NOT.’

I am now the not-so-proud possessor of Windows 10 and hate it. And I’m stuck with it. For a short while I struggled along in the vain hope that I would get used to it – until a few days ago when access to internet was denied. Not just denied, but blocked. COMPLETELY. I can use it for anything else but not internet access.

What to do?

I now know why I don’t throw anything away because the newer machine has come into its own for getting on line. But what an inconvenience?!

For a while I used two machines, the oldie for straightforward typing and the newer one to get on line. Interesting to be typing on one and seeing email come in on the other … interesting but not satisfactory.

For a couple of days I persevered, but transferring stuff by flash drive to the other machine so that I could send it by email or to the blog was decidedly unsatisfactory. Maybe soon, I thought, I will find a way to type on the other computer even though it would be like going back to school and my brain isn’t up to lessons these days.

I made a couple of resolutions: to buy more flash drives, or whatever they’re called these days, or have a chat with the expert up the road who would probably persuade me to buy another machine. Deep down, though, I knew the time had come to sort out all the plugs and wiring and stop being silly.

I did it yesterday. The printer was shoved along to make room for the now-not-in-use computer, which had to stay nearby just in case I needed it. The rubbish machine is at the back of my rather large desk, and still has the internet connection if required. I’ve left that where it is for the time being since everything works in the air (or something). Joe’s machine was never plugged into anything and he was in a separate room. 

Years ago I was able to do anything electrical - maybe not in an expert way but a get-something-working way. I was better than Joe for working things out and coming up with solutions, albeit make-shift. I was the practical one and he was the one with the brains. He could add up a line of figures without blinking, whereas I only had to look at the first figure for panic to set-in. I'm still the same. Tell me to write a book and I could do it but put a list of numbers in front of me and I'd be up the road and on the bus in a nanosecond. 

However, the only thing I managed to get wrong on the current front was the facility of issuing instructions to print documents from the next room, through some cloud or other. It's an amazing facility and I miss it already. Goodness only knows how I get it up and running again but I guess I lived without it before so I can (inconveniently) live without it again. 

I confess to not feeling as silly as I did a few days ago and all I have to do is learn how to type without making mistakes on an alien keyboard, one that thinks it knows what I want to write before I write it…. Oooooh that DOES make me cross. 

New machines can be TOO clever, can’t they?

03 July 2016


sorry about the angle...
I couldn't get down low

I know some readers of this blog will remember my Hoover washing machine scandal in 2013 when I wrote to the head office to complain and got nothing back but a load of headaches. Well sit yourself down and see what happened to another machine. It’s okay, this is nothing like the last incident(s) ... yet!

When we could stand the old machine no more Joe and I went shopping and bought a new washer-dryer. This time we chose good old faithful Hotpoint. We had always had Hotpoint machines before and been satisfied so I don’t why we didn’t buy one instead of the damned Hoover. Anyway, that’s in the past so moving on....

It was just under a year since we bought the latest machine and time to consider insurance. The insurance company wrote to me so I couldn’t forget about it. Now that Joe has gone I have to consider these things myself – and I’m not used to it. Joe, bless him, did everything. After much thought I decided it would be foolhardy to replace a machine every year and therefore foolish not to take out insurance. So that’s what I did. Actually it was all done slightly in advance, I still have a week or so before the 12 month free guarantee runs out but, as the girl on the phone explained, anything can happen and it would be awful not to be insured for a week or so.

It’s hard to believe what happened next. Yes, it broke down. Well, strictly speaking it didn’t break down completely it simply started to make a noise when spinning. Now, there’s noise and there’s noise, some you hardly hear and some that deafen. Mine was the latter. It was SO loud and so horrendous that neighbours three doors away could hear it. Frightened me, I can tell you.

The noise was like something grating. My thought was that something was grating on metal and that thought stayed when I saw the grey powdery stuff on the floor. Metal!? With so many stories on the news about washing machines setting on fire or blowing up you can understand my fears. Out came the plug from the electric socket and out it stayed.

I rang up and reported the problem and thereafter got loads of text messages about the actual problem, asking if I could turn the drum or was it too hard, plus numerous more questions. Finally I was offered an appointment.
The engineer who came out knew straight away what was wrong. When I explained (again) about the problem and the deposits on the floor, he said he could guess what it was. He took the machine to bits and showed me.

Inside a washing machine are concrete fitments which are there to keep the machine balanced and avoid vibration. I’ve seen inside those machines before but never noticed any concrete. Well, the lump of concrete that I saw was in the wrong position simply because chunks had been breaking off, thus loosening its position. The horrendous noise had been caused by the drum tossing concrete all over the place! Easily remedied, said the engineer, although I would have to wait for the new part. He reckoned on a week. I didn’t care so long as I could have my machine up and running again.

Four days later, three if you don’t count Sunday, I received a message that the part was not in stock and would have to be ordered. This forced me to think seriously about what to do with the bed linen.

OK, I could leave it another week but there’s no guarantee that the machine will be fixed by then or even in the near future. What to do? Well, I used to take stuff to the local launderette when the last machine went wonky so why not go back to it? This I did. I stripped the bed, bunged sheets and other stuff in a bag, did the five minute journey to the launderette and ordered a service wash. £8 wash and dry. Not bad when you think of all the electricity I’m saving. I wondered if it was the route to take and to hell with machines altogether.

Three weeks later: rang the service/repairs people at Hotpoint. It was one of those ‘press 1 or 2 or 3’ situations. I managed to speak to a helpful guy who gave me another number. He told me there would be options and not to choose the first one. He said I wanted the second option... are you with me so far? I carried out his instructions and got through to a non-English speaking girl, at least that’s how it sounded. Eventually I managed to decipher certain things and gave what I thought were appropriate replies. Wrong! She couldn’t understand me and I couldn’t understand her. She got frustrated, I got frustrated, and in the end I slammed down the phone. Stupid, I know, but that’s how aggravation works.

Later that same day my solicitor visited me at home. He was returning lever-arch file upon lever-arch file of papers he'd had in order to process probate matters. Hell, doesn't THAT take a long time?  So, after our business was finished he sat back and enquired about my health and welfare. After I told him about the washing machine and that morning's upset he offered to ring them for me. There and then, wowee! He explained who he was and I wondered later if the title 'solicitor' influenced the people at the other end!! Not only did they take notice of him but they revealed that the required part had been available for a while. SO WHY DIDN'T THEY TELL ME? An arrangement was made for them to come out next week and put things right. 

I love my solicitor! Before he left he advised that if I had any more trouble with anyone to let him or his assistant know and they would deal with it. Suddenly, I felt like dancing.

What happens next remains to be seen but please note that my choice of heading for this post stands firm... THEY DON’T MAKE ‘EM LIKE THEY USED TO.