Ridiculous pricing, From Then to Now and other things …


Unfortunately, my From Now to Then series has had to be put on hold for a while. The friend I ask to ‘proof read’ the posts is not going to be available for the next few weeks. He is in the process of changing jobs which has resulted in him emigrating to Canada. So for the next few weeks or so he only has internet access on his smart phone. Once he is settled, he has promised to continue helping. After all, I need to be as accurate as my memory serves me and it needs to be libellous free. Hopefully it will be not too long as I still have a few things to tell.

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Recently, I was asked by a friend if I could do a bit of shopping for him. All he wanted was some blade for his razor. He has a famous brand of razor that uses multi blade cartridges. They are disposable Razorand simply click into 2 Bladethe handle. Very popular as they are supposed to give a very close shave. I have never really found them to my taste as I was put off by those horrible two blade disposable razors that were becoming fashionable in the mid 1970’s. I found them very uncomfortable to hold and use, and could never get more than two or three shaves before they were put in the bin.

But to the point of this moan. I went straight to a well known supermarket and sought out the ones my friend had asked for, only to find that the pack had eight cartridges and cost just over £22. I thought that they must be cheaper than that somewhere. I tried B**ts and they were more Shaving 1expensive there and the price in Sup***rug was the same. I was very shocked to see that the packs also had security tags to prevent theft. I bought some, but vowed never to buy them for myself.

This is my wet shaving setup. The soap-mug was a present, so I don’t know the cost. The soap was bought from the previously mentioned supermarket and was about £4.00. But the real bargain was the razor and the blades. The razor was bought Bladeson eBay and cost me £2.99 postage free. I came with a pack of 5 double edged blade, an comes with its own storage box. I also bought a pack of Astra blades. They came in a box of 10 packets, each packet had 5 blades. Price, including postage £2.00. But the real bargain was the soap brush. I had originally priced them up as around £6.00 for a ‘genuine badger’ bristle. The ones I got are natural bristle and there were 10 for £6.50, and they are just as good. I usually wet shave twice a week and have an electric razor for the other days, as it is often quicker.

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At the beginning of last week I noticed a new bird in the garden. It was small, rounded, grey with a few white spots and a Diamond  Dovered ring around it’s eyes. I did a little probing around the internet and discovered that it could have been a Diamond Dove. This seemed a ridiculous notion as the bird is native of Australia. Now I know migratory birds can travel huge distances but this thing seemed far too small to travel very far. I took a picture and used, what I now know is Google Lens to try and properly identify the creature. Google Lens confirmed that the bird was in fact a Diamond Dove. I can only assume that it had been in somebodies local aviary and it escaped. It was with us up until around Thursday waddling around on the ground picking up seeds that the Starlings drop from the feeder. It now seems to have gone, which is a shame.

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September sees races in the UCI World Cycling Championship being held in Yorkshire. The main racing takes place between the 22nd and 26th, but on the 21st one of the YorkshiBuntingre 2019 Para-Cycling International legs is starting locally in Wetherby. A local Knitting/Craft shop has been  given permission to have knitted bunting both sides of a 1/2 stretch of the route. So a call had gone out for local knitters to create some bunting in the right colours. I managed to knit 20 triangles making 4 sets. I could have done another five, but was running short of a couple of the colours.

From then to now … a huge change


It was expected that future ‘outsourcing’ of services (the Council did not like the word ‘Privatisation’) would result in a Steam Boilernumber of job losses. This was especially true for the catering services providing mass produced meals. The same number of people can produce 50 meals or 500 meals. It is just a matter of scale, and the large industrial caterers were more than used to this.

In an attempt to minimise job losses, Leeds City Council came up with a plan to try and train staff in threatened roles, to work as office staff. It was quite a big undertaking, but it was surprising how few ‘manual’ workers took up the option. It was posted in the monthly staff Word Processornewsletter, but the program only lasted 1 year before it was closed down, apparently due to lack of support. The way it worked was this: one day a week for 15 weeks, a trainee would attend a variety of courses. These were, touch typing, business letter construction, Council finances, office etiquette and, although computers were few and far between, word processing. The problem where I worked was the availability of the newsletter. It first went around the 4 Care Officers (managers in a word) who usually had it for a week or so, before it was passed to the Care Assistants. There were 20 of those, so it was often out of date before the kitchen staff got their hands on it. However the newsletter in question that had the advertisement for the course, was left in the kitchen by one of the officers, so it was only by chance that I saw the advert. I applied and much to everyone surprise, I got on the course.

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The courses went really well and I passed them all without much trouble. I did struggle with the touch-typing, but I had the speed and got away with it. Each course came with a certificate. They wouldn’t be much use to anyone outside the Council as they were not recognisable awards, but it was till nice to get something for the achievement.

Another aspect of the course was interview skills. We all were given a mock 10 minute interview and then we were given an CVassessment on where we went right or wrong. That proved really useful. One of the trainers was in constant touch with various personnel departments and they got the first notification of any suitable jobs coming up. Towards the middle of July, about 4 weeks before the courses were due to finish, a job came up that I was told that I would be suitable for. They arranged an interview and on the 26th July I found myself sat in the Parking Managers office explaining about my computer skills. I have to mention here that I had a personaTexas Instruments TI99 4al computer at the time and was very proud that I had written a game, that had been published in a leading computer magazine. I explained about the need for accuracy whilst at the same time being prepared for boring repetition. I waffled on about being able to work in a team (catering) and being able to work alone (computer). Interview over, I went back to work. I was due to finish at 5pm that day but had been asked to stay until 6:30 to help with some entertainment that was happening that night.

When I finally got home, K**h told me that Car Park Section had rung and could I ring them at around 9am the next morning. I fully believed that I must have failed the interview and that they wanted to give me the feedback I had asked for. So feeling a little dejected, I rang from the phone in the APH kitchen. I’m told, that I changed colour during that call from my Doubtfulnormal flesh colour through white to red. I had got the job, and after discussing the minimum period of notice (only a week surprisingly) I rang back to say I could start the second week of August.

This did not go down too well with the staff at the home. All wished me luck, but I could tell that they thought I was making a mistake. “You’re a cook not a typist” was one of the more often used phrases, along with “You won’t last five minutes sitting at a desk”. All this could have  been true, but I knew that I was going nowhere in the current job, so really had nothing to lose.

So on Tuesday the 6th August 1990, with my expensive scientific calculator, fountain penBriefcase, pocket dictionary and lunchbox packed neatly into my new briefcase, I found myself back in the Parking Managers office having the office rules explained to me.

A new challenge had begun.

From then to now … a new start …


Now it gets a little boring as nothing much happened for the next couple of years. K**h had a few jobs which included a vacuum cleaner salesperson. She answered an advertisement in the local free newspaper Kirbyfor a demonstrator and within five to six hours she had become a reseller. Now you may remember from films, the name Kirby. It was/is a huge brand of heavy duty vacuum cleaners from America. It was K**h’s job to follow up on leads, demonstrate the cleaner and convince the householder that their lives would suffer without one.

That job didn’t last very long and she moved on to various other jobs. One was setting up and Safewaysmaintaining houseplants in offices. That got her a large amount of knowledge of gardening and plant care. Other jobs followed before finally getting a job as a cashier in what was then called Safeway. That lasted a while and then got a better job at Marks & Spencer in  Pudsey.

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I didn’t find work straight away and we decided that I should decorate the whole house first. Well I managed the kitchen, the living room and the main bedroom, before the money started to run out. After about eight weeks or so I received a letter instructing me to attend an interview at what was called the Social Security Office (SSO). It was to “Discuss the reasons for me not being employed” and I had to attend on the Thursday morning at 9:30. So ‘suited and booted’ I duly arrived at 9:00 and was told that the interviewer would be late and I should come back in the afternoon. I remember looking at the one of the pin-boards where jobs were posted and spotted one for a “Cook in Charge” at a nearby Aged Persons Home (APH) The counter staffHillside APH rang the number and I was told to go along for an interview straight away.

Finding the place was easy as it was just off the main Leeds & Bradford road. I was shown into the office and the interview began. It was a strange experience and I almost knew that, after explaining the circumstances, the job was mine. It felt like I was interviewing them. Anyway, they told me they would be in touch. I went back to the SSO, knowing now that I had missed the interview I had originally gone for. I was told that the interview would be rescheduled for the following week.

I got home, and at about 5:00pm I had a phone call. I had got the job and when could I start. It was the following Monday when took my first tentative steps in the new job at Hillside APH.

It’s that time … again!


It is just about a year since the last time K*** went away with her sister. She said then that it was a ‘one off trip’ and I thought at the time, that it could not be a one off because of the pre-holiday costs. You may remember (and I forgive you if you don’t) that I posted my feelings about it at the time. However, it all went very well, better than I thought and a lot better than I posted. R*** seemed to accept it without any issues, apart from asking every day where his mum was. Well the time has come around again. R*** went off on respite until Friday and K*** set off to her sisters soon after. So I’m “home alone” so to speak. Again, I have a list of jobs I want/need/have to do before R*** gets back and a couple more before K*** returns. For now, I’m just calming down a little. I have been a little stressed about it during the build-up, but I think I’m okay.Garden Storage

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Got to go out later. We’ve bought a storage cupboard for the garden. We usually keep compost and the like in the garage, but it is a bit of a bind when you’re working in the back garden and 18V-Li-Ion-Combi-Drill-Ahave to keep going to and fro to get stuff out of the garage. So K*** has bought one of those Keter storage boxes. I’m just hoping that I can get it in my car. It is quite a big thing and I’m a little concerned that it won’t fit in the boot, even with the seats down. We shall see, but I’m not sure of the options if it doesn’t fit.

After the problem, I had buying that drill from eBay, I ended up getting one from Aldi. I have had some of their tools before and they seem to be quite good. It’s being delivered today and when I last looked at the tracking site, there were two deliveries before mine, so anytime now I suppose. In fact, it’s just been delivered.

Churn …


Now, this is an interesting word. Are we looking at a milk churn or something churnelse?

I am actually thinking ‘milk-churn’. I am usually transported to those imaginary childhood days when I like to think of milk being delivered in churns. Those days when the milkman had imageeither a horse and cart or one of those new-fangled ‘electric’ milk floats. The horse was often a black and white shire horse, and quite often had blinkers. Those long gone days when everything seemed to happen a lot slower. Type of day that you would read about in one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books. The type of day that I never really knew, but thought I did.

Churn also make me think of job interviews. Especially those interviews where I thought I may have a chance, but it was down to me. That horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach, when you know you can do the job, but do not know the competition. That strange ‘I want to be sick, but I don’t feeling‘. That feeling you get when you see the smart-arse going in before you and you start to question why you even applied for the job. That is a stomach churn. Horrible.

Have I answered my own query …


Last month, I posed the question about upgrading to a paid plan rather than the free plan I currently use. The type of blog I write is basically a random thought blog. I think of something or something is on my mind, and I write a few words about it. My wife’s argument was that I ‘…don’t write enough to warrant the fee …’ and my counter was that ‘…it would encourage me to write more…’ Now I’m not sure who wins that particular discussion as I think both are valid. But, and there always is a ‘but’ it’s been over three weeks since I felt the need to sit down and say something, so maybe my wife is correct. On the other hand would a fee encourage me? A lot more thought needs to go into this I think.

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Mrs H is out tonight. She has gone with her sister to see a musical play at the theatre in Leeds. R*** went on respite this morning, so I’m ‘Home Alone’ as the saying goes and pondering on what I want to eat. Do I have a bacon and eggs, maybe egg and chips or quite possibly something else and chips? K*** always says ‘Have something nice for dinner …’ and I always reply that I will. It will probably be fish-fingers again. It usually is fish-fingers! Or … I could go out! Now that would be different. But where would I go and what would I get to eat? I did it once, went out that is. It was when K*** was away for a few days back in 2015. I thought ‘I’m going out to eat!’ I ended up at a McDonalds and I ordered the same as I usually order. So it looks like the usual will happen and I’ll settle for fish-fingers (yawn…)

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Been doing a bit of decorating today. The hall and staircase was the task and I had to start with the ceiling. The ceiling has three levels decreasing in size as you come down the stairs. All the ceilings except for the bathrooms have a cornice. It’s a bit 90’s style, but it does break up the height a little. The real issue with decorating the hall and staircase is the access. It almost takes longer to move the ladders round the  area that it does to actually paint the thing. The second issue, and it’s almost big an issue the access, is seeing what you have painted. I’m putting white emulsion on top of white emulsion, so you can probably see where I’m coming from. Still it’s done. The next job is the walls and for that, I’m putting ‘Pale Hessian’ emulsion on guess what? Correct, Pale Hessian. Expect the same volley of bad language as before.

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The on-going saga of the eldest son’s relationship break-up continues. His ex-girlfriend has opted to go down the road of a formal ‘separation agreement’. It’s probably the wisest move as it will legitimise the break-up and all that goes with it, but it is a cost that he cannot afford. We’ve told him not to worry about it as I can cover the cost, but it doesn’t leave him with a comfortable feeling. He doesn’t see why we should get him out of what he calls ‘his mess-up’. We have tried telling him that’s what parents do, but he still finds it difficult. It is going to be a long few weeks ahead. The big issue is that he cannot get his own place until he has been removed from the mortgage/help-to-buy agreement, and that could be a long drawn out procedure. It shouldn’t be, but it could be, if his ‘ex’ does not get the correct advice. Watch this space.

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It has now been over a year since I retired. I’ve been looking for some part-time work, but I may have narrowed my options too far. I’m looking for no more than 12-14 hours per week, in a location around about 5 miles from home, with no weekend work. I gat an application pack for a post in the local council garden centre, but when I looked into it deeper, it turned out to be a ‘zero hours’ contract with no fixed working days. Basically I could be working, for example 20 hours one week then nothing for the next couple of weeks. Just not what I wanted at all, and I’m not sure I want to work in a garden centre.. I’ve an application in to work as a receptionist at a local doctors surgery, but I’m not holding out much hope. When have you ever seen a male doctors receptionist?

It’s been a long week …


I’m referring to the holiday my wife is on at the moment. As I’ve not posted for some time, I’ll get you up to speed. Around the middle of April, K****s sister and daughter, returned from a week away in Gran Canaria. She returned with an offer that K*** should join them on their next trip. There was much discussion about this, with me having a lot of misgivings about the whole thing. Firstly, it’s a ‘beach, bar and pool type of holiday, which I understood was not the type of holiday K*** enjoyed. Secondly there was R*** to consider. How would he react, coming home from respite to find his mother not at home, and not going to be home for another 4 days. Then there is the cost. K*** tells me that it’s a ‘one-off’, but isn’t that waste of all the money it cost for a new passport? And what about all the new clothes … more expense. Anyway, she is back on Tuesday. R*** and me will both be pleased, and as I say, it’s been a long week. I had a list of jobs that I wanted to get done, which I managed to do in between the rain and the wind we had here. I suppose the worst part of the experience is the lack of conversation. I went to the pub a couple of evenings, but there is only so much you can chat about with people that you don’t really know. It will be nice to get back to what we call normality.

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I’ve been a bit lazy with this blog over the past couple of months. To be honest, I’ve not really had much I wanted to say. I wanted to stay clear of politics as that is all that people have been talking about for the past month. I know from past experience, that it is one way to ‘lose friends and annoy people. That is something I can do without any external help, thank you very much.

I tend to update this blog in the late evening. I thought, that this retirement (early) would give me lots more time to do things like this blog, but it doesn’t seem to have worked out that way. It still late at night, when K*** and R*** have gone to bed, that I think ”I must do a blog post”, and then I get distracted and end up not doing anything. I was going to look for a part-time job. That’s not happened. I signed up with a recruitment agency, but the jobs they have come up with are never appropriate. I promised myself that I would do more writing, but I don’t seem to have had any ideas that I could write about. I have done a fair bit of knitting though. A three beanie hats, five headbands, a pair of wrist warmers, a couple of scarves and I’m a quarter of the way through a sleeveless jumper. So I’ve not been sitting on my hands, so to speak.

I shall stop now as I don’t want to start rambling on about anything. I think I shall make a mental note to think about updating this effort at least once a week. I’ll put a note in my diary. See if that makes a difference!