I was in bed by ten-thirty after which I remembered nothing until I awoke for a little trip along the landing at five in the morning. It was new year’s eve but not that I’d noticed, I was too tired. On waking I should have done some exercising but my limbs were aching. Whilst I had been collecting stones from the beach the day before I noticed my posterior thigh muscles were beginning to ache. It had to be the elliptical cross trainer, well not the machine but my lack of experience on it! It isn’t as though I have been doing much on it but even the small amount of time I have spent was enough to cause my injury. Latterly I had been spending only a couple of minutes on the machine and even then with the supply switched off, in other words using it at its absolute and lowest settings. It is more the movement the legs go through rather than the resistance level though I suspect. Until I can get used to it I will have to ensure my time on it is kept to a minimum. Anyway the long and short of it was that I decided to once again take a short break from my regime. My day, new year’s day was therefore spent relaxing and doing nothing for once, oh sorry, except for taking out the trash! I don’t make resolutions for the year as you may remember which means I am not setting myself goals which I probably would find difficult to maintain anyway. If I do set myself a goal it can be anytime throughout the year and it usually involves a project of one sort or another. Those things I do keep. See last year’s posts! I do have one or two things I would like to do but whether they will come to fruition remains to be seen. In the meantime one of my aims is to get used to that damned cross trainer!
As long as it didn’t rain on Saturday (23) I intended to spend some more time in the garden again. It would be the last day in the year for doing any work for me but alas it didn’t happen. I had gotten up early and went for a long walk down the coastal road to Ainsdale. I chose that route as it was still dark at the time I went, 7.30. I wanted to take the route through the sand dunes but that could have proved very difficult in the dark. However, by the time I decided to return home it was light so I walked back through the dunes. When on the beach the sky was clear toward the south but northward it was dark and heavy. To the south I could see the mountains of North Wales, easily seen when the skies are clear. The oil rig westward out to sea was still fully lit against the dark sky. This time the tide had receded before I arrived but it had left an enormous amount of seaweed behind! I walked northward again along the beach to the point in the dunes where I would turn into them and off the beach. I was back home before 10.00 and had breakfast whilst E was busy doing something associated with her crafting hobby. As I mentioned I wanted to do a little gardening but events got in the way during the rest of the morning. After lunch I just didn’t feel like doing anything. It has been quite a busy twelve months with all the projects that I have been involved with both inside and outside the house. It helped not having to do electrical work for others, at least for the last nine months anyway. My time became my own and I could concentrate on my little domestic projects, and there were many! Just the way I like it, better for my health and well-being to have things to do to wile away the time. When I look back on the year I am amazed just how much was done, all of them written about in my posts, and there was still plenty of time to relax too. Saturday afternoon being one of them. There was always Sunday for a potter around the garden!
So many times lately have I arisen late and missed breakfast. Most unusual for me because I have been so used to getting up early over the years to go to work. Even when I wasn’t working the routine was pretty much the same because it became ingrained. Now that I am not actively seeking electrical work, though I have done a couple of jobs over the last two months, I am finding I am beginning to be relaxed about it all. Another thing I am noticing is that I am often losing track of which day of the week it is as there is no real need to know. Now that tells me I am no longer tied to the calendar or clock and it is very liberating. Many years ago I stopped wearing a watch. There were two main reasons for doing that, one was that I couldn’t get a watch I was wearing to remain working for any length of time except for the last one I wore. That watch was an electronic one and proved very reliable and accurate. The second reason for deciding not to wear a watch was that I no longer wanted it to control my life as far as it had been keeping my schedule regimented. I could decide to eat when it suited me rather than because it was a certain time of day. I didn’t need an alarm to wake me either as I did that naturally. Appointments were kept by checking the timepieces around me or asking others. Gradually I became less reliant on the clock though would need to refer to it occasionally. When the mobile phone came along I could check the time that way if I needed to. That has been the situation now for many years. It is nice not to be tied down rigidly to the time of day but I do realise it cannot be completely ignored, it just isn’t practical in today’s world. Getting up late isn’t a problem most of the time now for me, if I miss breakfast so what? I eat when I feel hungry which is the way it is meant to be I suppose. Time of day for me seems a little irrelevant now. I can sit back and watch the world at work following the clock as it needs to do. It is something I notice very clearly whenever I go for a walk. It is a nice feeling to know that I am now not so much a part of it all.
So ends the old year and a new one begins. It was Saturday, the last day of the year and I had ideas of doing a bit of garden maintenance but again I had slept in rather late and shelved the thought. I intended working for an hour or so in the morning because the weather forecast showed that it would get windy and wet later on. I awoke at 9.50 and by the time I had gotten downstairs it was 11.00. I therefore waited a while and prepared lunch instead. The wind did pick up and it was quite cold to be out in it. Soon after lunch E left the house and I thought she would be out for the day but she was back an hour later. In the meantime I potted about doing very little except watch a bit of television. It was New Year‘s Eve but I had nothing planned for the event, I never observe it.
That has been the way for many years and as far back as I can remember. When asked why I don’t observe the occasion I say that I am simply not interested, which is true but then I think to myself what would be the point? I haven’t drunk alcohol now for a number of years and as most celebrations centre around drinking the night away it would be pointless. I would feel like a fish out of water, everyone getting drunk all around me and me being sober as a judge in their company just doesn’t work. I often wonder why people think that getting drunk is a great way to celebrate anything. Some no doubt will get drunk on drugs too. Why do people treat their bodies that way? It is self destroying. So I don’t want to be a part of it. Saturday evening was spent watching a movie till late and then off to the Land of Nod and getting up on Sunday morning without a banging headache and a mouth like blotting paper. The new year for me would be just like the preceding one and the first day just treated as another day. If you really think about it that’s exactly what they are. We hope the new year will be better and that things will change but in reality they don’t because our hearts are not in it. Maybe this time…..?
On Wednesday early evening my phones never stopped ringing, yes they both ring with a traditional ringing tone, no tunes or annoying jingles. Most of the calls were from people enquiring about my electrical services. I accepted four of them, three to be done the following day and the fourth on Friday morning. Naturally I don’t accept all offers because of my age and many jobs I no longer wish to do anyway. I think that after 54 years in the trade I am entitled to pick and choose what I will take on board. I began to learn my profession in July 1962. People ask when I will retire but I tell them that as long as I am able and can work safely I will continue. In any event I limit the amount of time I work so that I don’t push myself too hard. Thursday morning was completely different from the other days in the week, I had plenty to do! Even though I limit what I will do my work still brings in a tidy income. Most of the time my earnings get saved but this year much has been spent doing my domestic projects. I can’t complain, I can’t take my money with me when I die can I? If I didn’t work and earn the extra money many of the things I have done would not have been done so quickly. I am at my happiest when I am doing something but there are times when all I want to do is go for a walk. I don’t much like sitting down for too long and get very restless if I do. Thursday was a nice day for me, I had work to do. What did I do in the afternoon though? I went for a walk.
Once gone it can never be replaced; time that is. I had some of my time wasted on Monday. I had arranged to look over a job in a small township about ten miles distant. Essentially the lady wanted her electrical supply panel replacing with a modern one; a simple thing to do in itself but there are other things to consider as well. The installation would need an inspection and some tests carried out on it else the new circuit breakers and RCDs might trip out immediately after installation. I did a quick look around to see what else needed doing and discovered an out-building supplied with an unprotected flexible cable plugged into a socket in her new kitchen. Both of those things contravene regulations in themselves.
The out-building would need a new supply fed from source, some distance away. An earthing conductor/cable had been connected in the kitchen but hadn’t been run to the mains supply either. The gas meter required earthing by the same method as it too was remote from the electrical supply. The simple job had now become far larger and she hinted that other work would be needed elsewhere as well. I apologised and told her that amount of work was more than I would normally take on but offered to get someone else to do it for her, a female electrician friend of mine. She agreed so I phoned my friend who will now be taking on the work instead. The journey therefore was from my point of view, a waste of my time. It didn’t matter, it happens from time to time. I had the morning to myself but just before lunch I was asked to look at a lighting problem for a guy for whom I had previously worked, three miles from home. He had damaged a semi-recessed lighting unit in his bathroom when trying to replace the lamp. The damage was unrepairable and therefore would need replacing. On my inspection I found that the light was an unsuitable and possibly dangerous unit to be installed in a bathroom, especially as in this case it could be reached from the floor. There were four units and all would have to be replaced with a type suitable for use in a bathroom if he wanted me to do the work. I got the impression that he was reluctant to spend the money having told me he had been surfing the Internet looking for inexpensive replacements, unfortunately of the wrong type. He asked if he could call me again once he had sourced what was required from one of our local electrical suppliers. Another waste of my time but he did call after lunch telling me he would let me know when he had received the new fittings as they had to be ordered in. In a way therefore it wasn’t a total waste of time. as long as he employs me to do the work. I told E that if any more calls came in that day I was determined to put off doing anything until the next day. Earlier I made a call to the company who will be installing our new bedroom furniture and was told that the materials would be delivered this Friday (4th) and the following Tuesday (8th) the joiner would arrive to start the work. It should be completed therefore by the end of next week. As I write this on Monday afternoon I have just completed screwing down some of the floorboards in the bedroom which were loose under foot. I am waiting for E’s nephew to call as he will be looking at what wants to be done regarding the roof repairs now that the scaffolding is fully erected. I have the feeling he won’t make it as the light is beginning to fade. We have the scaffolding for four weeks but thereafter a levy of £75 will be charged for each extra week it is up. Hopefully everything will be done much sooner than that but we are dependent upon the weather.
Throughout Monday I received but four phone calls asking me to do some electrical jobs. However I accepted none of them for they were either too large, too far away for the job to be cost-effective or asking me to repair specialist equipment in hairdressing establishments and houses. I hadn’t any work at all to do on Monday and only one job in the pipeline at that time which was scheduled for Wednesday. I was contacted about that job and was asked if I could reschedule the work for the following Wednesday instead. Very little work could be done on the bedroom project except applying the top coat of gloss paint to the woodwork but E wouldn’t hear of it as she wants to do that work herself; she has after all done all the preparation and undercoating of the woodwork so is entitled to have first choice. The only other work left to do besides perhaps changing the radiator control valve which requires a drain-down or partial drain-down of the system in order to do it, is screwing down the loose floorboards. That will only take an hour at most so as far as the project is concerned for me it is finished until the furniture has been constructed in a few week’s time. The weather has been wet and windy, though not as bad as it has been in the south of the country but nevertheless not nice for working outside. There are one or two jobs I would like to get done in the garden before the onset of Spring, pruning back some of the trees and digging out a few plants or resiting them. The weather is too poor at the moment so I have to wait. Things haven’t worked out as I had planned last year in one or two areas and had they done so I would have something to do in my at-home spare time, things like the outside toilet project which as yet has not really been started. The only thing preventing that work from getting underway is having a new opening for a door to be knocked out and an original doorway blocked up. That work could have been done in the Summer had E’s nephew found the time to do it for us. Maybe this year it will get done if all goes well and of course we have the funds to do it. At this moment all I want is four calls for work which I am happy to undertake. I have the rest of the week for it to happen!
I’m crazy so people tell me but what do they know? I actually like work! Why is that? It is all about being occupied, about not wanting the boredom that comes from having nothing to do. Now I suppose I could travel here and there and spend my time filling my life with meaningless pastimes.The problem with that is I get no pleasure in wasting time that can be spent working. The things that held my interest in years gone by have done just that, gone by. My outlook on life has changed quite a lot, especially within the last couple of years. Much of that is due to my religious beliefs for I now see just how pointless are the many things people see as being important in their lives. What does it really matter if we surround ourselves with material things or not? Does it matter if we spend all of our time travelling about or staying at home, dining out or eating in? The answer is absolutely nothing! ‘ 15 So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.’ (Ecclesiastes 8) So it all depends upon what we like to do for no matter what that might be it makes no difference. We all end up in the grave, that is our flesh of course. This being the case I fill my time working in one way or another, though naturally not all of the time. I have been eager to get into the gardens, especially the rear garden where more has to be maintained in order to do some pruning and clearing away of yet more leaves. Yes, although the leaves have ceased falling I haven’t been able to get into the garden to clear them away but they are in places where they are unlikely to move any further. I also want to dig out a few plants and one or two small trees that are over-populating one section of the border they are in. The main reason for not having done any of this work has been the terrible weather over the last week or more, high winds and rain, lots of both. As I write this on Sunday evening the weather has finally changed for the better and I may be able to do some of the work in the week ahead. E hasn’t as yet finished applying gloss paint to all the woodwork in the kitchen and therefore I haven’t been able to do any touching-up of the emulsion on the walls. That will take minutes rather than hours though and the kitchen will be finished. Maybe I’ll do it tomorrow, maybe not but it doesn’t matter does it?
The weather changed rather suddenly on Sunday. The morning was bright and sunny for the most part then the afternoon became cool and cloudy. The wind had increased too. Ideal conditions for working outdoors but not for me being as it was Sunday. To be perfectly honest I was feeling a little tired from the work I had done on Saturday. I might add though that my toothache had gone because the anti-biotics are doing their work. The brickwork and the concrete had all set solid overnight so later in the day, that is Sunday, I hosed the area to see how and if the water would drain properly. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post it is difficult to build a sloping surface with wet concrete. I would have to apply more concrete to make it better. That I hope will be done by the time you are reading this. The plan is to do more work on Monday, weather and electrical work permitting. As long as it doesn’t rain i should be able to do more. One of the Phoenix Canariensis plants is trying to push its way out of its container, an indication of root growth I think meaning a healthy plant. The sooner I can complete the flowerbed construction the sooner I can re-plant the two of the largest plants. I propose to construct two separate smaller beds to accommodate the other two plants but at this point I am not sure when I will do that. I have also been thinking about over-winter protection for all of the Phoenix Canariensis plants and what to do about it. There is plenty of time at the moment to sort that problem out. The weather might change quickly but time doesn’t thank goodness. Thinking about time though I often find that it seems to go nowhere. I wonder where my days have all gone, one minute it is Spring and then it is Autumn but that is an age thing. I remember as a child the seemingly endless days of Summer but of course children don’t have the same concept of time as we do. Speaking for myself I see the urgency in getting things done before I am overtaken by time and not being able to complete them. So far, as I write this I have nothing else scheduled and nothing to stand in the way of getting on with my project. Let’s hope there are no sudden changes for the worse in the weather in the meantime.
Today marks the time of the Summer Solstice, the point in the Earth’s annual orbit around the Sun when we in the Northern Hemisphere of our planet experience the longest daylight hours in the day. Naturally those living in the Southern Hemisphere will be experiencing their shortest number of daylight hours in the day. After today we begin once again to drift back to Winter and for those in the south, Summer. We mark time using our calendars but did you ever wonder how we ended up with the calendar, the months, the seasons, how in fact we measure time and for what purpose? We mark time because we need uniformity in our lives and to be able to conduct business and social engagements with each other. In our day-to-day routines we don’t necessarily need to have absolute accuracy in our time keeping but just enough to make things work. Below is an extract from a website dedicated to Calendars. The link to the site is shown below this extract. It is filled with some very interesting facts about our calendar…….
‘Our units of temporal measurement, from seconds on up to months, are so complicated, asymmetrical and disjunctive so as to make coherent mental reckoning in time all but impossible. Indeed, had some tyrannical god contrived to enslave our minds to time, to make it all but impossible for us to escape subjection to sodden routines and unpleasant surprises, he could hardly have done better than handing down our present system. It is like a set of trapezoidal building blocks, with no vertical or horizontal surfaces, like a language in which the simplest thought demands ornate constructions, useless particles and lengthy circumlocutions. Unlike the more successful patterns of language and science, which enable us to face experience boldly or at least level-headedly, our system of temporal calculation silently and persistently encourages our terror of time.
“It is as though architects had to measure length in feet, width in meters and height in ells; as though basic instruction manuals demanded a knowledge of five different languages. It is no wonder then that we often look into our own immediate past or future, last Tuesday or a week from Sunday, with feelings of helpless confusion.’
Well I pottered about on Tuesday with nothing to do but come Wednesday some work came my way. The first job was to refit a fan unit in someone’s sun-bed. Now I had already told the customer over the phone that I do not carry out repairs to appliances as a rule (I once did) but because her description of the fault made it sound such a simple task I said I would call in and have a look. A little after the phone call someone else phoned for my services, someone for whom I had worked previously on a couple of occasions. Most of their household lighting was out of action through a fault. I told them I would call after I had done that first small job. Now when I arrived at that first job I remembered that I had been there previously too, a couple of years ago when they had moved in and wanted some outside power outlets and other things fitted. I looked at the faulty fan and discovered it was unserviceable, the fan blades were broken and the fan bearing had worn dramatically because of that. Instead of getting the fan repaired immediately they had continued to use it making the fault even worse. A replacement fan should be easy enough to order over The Internet and I offered to fit it once they had bought the replacement unit, though in fact it could be done by themselves it is that easy. In some respects my journey there was a waste of time though I could end up returning there at a later date. That job, or non-job, was more or less en-route to the second, though the second job was twelve miles distant so although it had been, if you like, a waste of time, it wasn’t an inconvenience. Tracing a fault in a lighting circuit is far more of a challenge, especially where the circuits were installed some time ago when under the floor junction boxes were used. Fortunately this house wiring had been installed in more recent times so that all the connections could be found inside the ceiling roses or behind the ceiling light fittings. No need to lift floorboards. That was just as well for they had laid new oak flooring over the old floorboards in most of the rooms! I discovered a faulty cable inside one of the roses and disconnected it. I was then able to switch on the power. To my amazement all the lights worked despite my disconnecting that cable. Evidently someone had installed a replacement cable from the distribution board to the lights as the original one had been faulty perhaps because a nail had been driven through it. Unfortunately when the new cable was installed they had forgotten to disconnect the faulty one! How it had managed to continue to work is a wonder in itself. Perhaps the original fault had temporarily disappeared only to reappear again later. If the fault was caused by a nail in the floorboards for instance, walking on the boards might cause an intermittent recurrence of that fault. It had to be disconnected completely. In this instance it appears not to have been. I was paid well at this job which more than compensated for the first where I wasn’t paid at all, though I wouldn’t have accepted a payment in any case. I joked about my fee which didn’t include a basic lesson in electricity generation and distribution for they had asked why we now have in this country, brown and blue wiring. I had to explain some of the history behind it too. Actually (for those who are not electricians) there are three ‘live’ conductors or supplies, brown, grey and black and a blue neutral. Those colours used to be red, yellow and blue with a neutral in black. For domestic simplicity and safety the basic colours chosen within a house would be red and black (with a green earth) in the old system but brown and blue (with a green or green and yellow earth) in the new system. Electrical generation and distribution is far more complicated that this of course and I cannot expound any more here. I arrived back home and had put the van in the garage around two o’clock. A message awaited me on the house phone (why people insist on calling me on the house phone during working hours is beyond me), it was from an old lady who lives about three-quarters of a mile from my house and for whom I have done several jobs in the past, though I hadn’t been there for two years. During that absence her husband had developed cancer of the bladder and had died. One of her grandchildren had been playing inside a cupboard where an electrical cable was exposed and she wanted it disconnecting thinking it was still ‘live’. I decided to go there immediately but found that it had actually been out of use for many years and in fact had already been disconnected at source. I made the ends safe just in case and pushed the cable beneath the floor out of harm’s way. Whilst there I saw her deceased husband’s collection of cast metal toy vehicles, cars, buses and other things all inside display cabinets. They were all in pristine condition and she told me that their original cardboard boxes were stored away and were also in pristine condition. Furthermore he had a large collection of silver teaspoons in display cabinets also in pristine condition. In total there must be many thousands of pounds worth of collectables in the house. She told me they were insured to a value of £20,000. That is probably a conservative estimate considering what these things sell for at auction. I advised her to have them evaluated so that she can sell them at a fair price. She intends to do just that.I am sure her departed husband would encourage her to sell them rather than just have them taking up wall space. That would be a waste of time and money!
Well not actually a couple of days, more like five but after then the days begin to get longer once more. Trouble is the weather will get worse before it gets better, worse that is if you don’t like it cold, wet and windy! That’s how it will be here where I live anyhow. I almost hate this time of year knowing what is to come in that respect. Our house faces, that is the front of it faces south-west and if the sun is out after mid-day it shines directly into the rooms. At this time of year it lights-up the wall facing the window and illuminates half of its height upwards from the floor. As the seasons progress it begins to shine on the floor only and by the time it is midsummer it is so high as to only shine on a narrow strip of the floor close to the window. In a couple more days after midwinter’s day it will be Christmas day of course. Actually I don’t know why it is called midwinter as in fact it marks the beginning and not the middle of it! In a couple of days, in fact Christmas Eve I will be hanging up my electrical ‘hat’ for a couple of weeks, unless….well you know how it goes. The way things are going at the moment I may have to cease my electrical work anyway. I am told that I have the early stages of osteoarthritis. I can’t see the condition improving in my hands but who knows? I have found that whilst I am working or even just up and about there is no stiffness in my hands. That probably won’t last forever though. I have to take each day as it comes. In the meantime my work is still keeping me that busy I am turning down more offers almost every day. In a couple of days or so I will be able to rest from it all for a while.
Now it is three days into the Autumn by the clock, as we passed through the Equinox around the 23 rd of the month, and the weather has been surprisingly warm. I always wondered why my parents married at the Equinox for it marked their wedding anniversary when they were alive. Thinking about times and dates my youngest brother has his birthday anniversary on 23 rd of April which not only marks the anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birthday but also the day he died. It is also St George’s Day, the patron saint of England. It is easy to remember special days when they coincide with other special or noteworthy days and dates. Many folk celebrate the days of the Equinox in Winter to Spring and Summer to Autumn as well as the Solstices in June and December. I have no idea why they would want to do that even though they will have a reason or will have manufactured one. Most people I think make a special effort to celebrate certain days of the year such as New Year‘s eve and Christmas Day but not necessarily days held sacred or special to others. Days such as the Autumnal Equinox will have passed unnoticed by many people. We are three days into Autumn noted by myself if not by those around me. I remember the days like I remember my multiplication tables but not for any special reason, I don’t make a fuss or feel the need for a celebration for any of them. To me every second counts as the one before, every day is the same as the one preceding it. What is more important I feel is that each new day should bring with it enlightenment and a desire to make it better than the last. I am looking forward to Autumn without neglecting the present and I will certainly remember anything special that might happen on any day though probably not the day or date itself unless the event was exceptionally notable.
Memory is a strange thing. I can remember many things in great detail, events, people, words spoken to me, conversations and so on from years ago but not the days on which they happened and I am apt to forget things that happened only yesterday, again unless they happen to be exceptional or they are of some importance to me. It is different for everyone I am sure. The next most memorable dates for me will be 11 th and 14 th October as they are birthday anniversaries for those in my family with the second date an anniversary of sorts for me too, a day I cannot forget for it marks one of a number of very special events in my life.
When I was much younger I took the pressures of my working life in my stride, in fact I relished in it for the sense of achievement I attained in coping with it all. As I grew older the enthusiasm didn’t fade and the work was just as plentiful and demanding but again I took it all in my stride though I would end up tired at the end of a busy day. Nowadays however my workload has diminished, mostly because I have engineered it that way. I simply do not want or need too much pressure in my working life now for the simple reason that I cannot undertake the same volume of work I once could manage quite easily. I still like the pressure often involved in my work and the challenges it presents so often but I have the sense to keep my work to a minimum. Occasionally though I sometimes feel the floodgates have been opened wide and I am faced with a deluge of requests. This past week has been one of those times, the work, though small jobs, have been coming in thick and fast. The work I have been doing in the garden has been spasmodic because of this and of course the weather but this weekend, Friday E and I will be hiring a large van for the second time so that we can return our youngest sons’ furniture to Manchester and into his and his girlfriends’ newly bought house. They of course will be shifting the furniture with us. After much hassle and legal frustrations surrounding the purchase of their property they were able to gain possession on Monday. Already I have been asked to check over some of their electrical equipment and wiring! I will take a toolbox with me on Friday just in case there is something that needs immediate attention. Even as I write this on Tuesday evening I have received three calls for my services and people ask me when I am going to retire! I remember the film called ‘Predator’ where one of the characters, nicknamed Blain I believe, was wounded and was bleeding. One of the others told him that he was bleeding to which he replied ‘I don’t have time to bleed’. That’s a bit like my position, I don’t have time to retire!