Thursday 30 April 2020

100 Days - day 5 Lockdown sharing

Out on delivery today I encountered a 'share with your neighbours in lockdown' box on the windowsill of some flats in Withington. It is heart-warming to see people tentatively reaching out to others around them, and giving away books is always a winner as far as I'm concerned. So now we can spend the evening playing Exploding Kittens, having finished another puzzle yesterday:

I so enjoyed this poem by Imtiaz Dharker with my lunch today that I popped over to Bloodaxe and bought her book. "If there were to be a World Laureate, then for me the role could only be filled by Imtiaz Dharker" says Carol Ann Duffy, high praise indeed. I have resisted buying pretty much anything for weeks because I feel so angry at people buying crap and overloading the postal system, but Claire and I agreed that yarn and books were not crap and that ordering them was permissible given the circumstances (i.e. the need to read and knit things while you sit around at home). Having also been somewhat sarcastic about the fair-weather park walkers (it has been overcast the last few days and the park was pretty empty) I admit that a heavy downpour caused Dunk and I to wimp out today; I hope the cootling parents are managing without my supervision, they did seem to be keeping a close eye on it but I feel the need to check up on them.

Stay safe. See you tomorrow.

Wednesday 29 April 2020

100 Days - fourth day

It's an old photo but this is pretty much how things are. People are shopping like its Christmas and Royal Mail's response to the situation is to suspend letter deliveries on Saturdays. Quite how this is going to help they have not explained (in fact all their decisions have been taken without bothering to even inform us in advance). They have acted for weeks like the service has been unaffected by the pandemic, when in truth most people are probably getting post every other day, sometimes only one in three. And our office is currently coping well. No, that's a lie. We are not coping. Stop buying shit!
But that was not today's offload. This is:
You know those people who love to tell you how to do your job like you're stupid or something. I have one of those. I mean I like him really, but mostly he does like to think he's 'in charge', when he is just a colleague, and consults with the manager on behalf of everyone. This week I am one earlies. That makes me responsible for the cage jobs. I had it all in hand, then went out to do a tiny bit of delivery. Said colleague comes past me on the street with his delivery and proceeds to tell me something I had already dealt with and how he had sorted it out and told the manager about it. And I think I will give myself a round of applause for not telling him to fuck off with his interference. 
You know I think I could enjoy this offloading.

Stay safe. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday 28 April 2020

100 Days - Day 3 Wildlife

wikimedia commons
Dunk shared a nice photo of the heron. The nest that 'our' coots have built contains nearly as much rubbish as twigs, the one in this picture is much more photogenic. I don't have a thingy to take photos when I am out. It is one of the few things that makes me even consider getting a smart phone. At the weekend the coots in Alexandra Park had two cootlings (cootlets ... cootles ... whatever baby coots are called), but now they only have one. I wonder if coots can count. Even if not I assume they notice that one is missing. I have mentioned before how much I like even the most tame of encounters with wildlife. Are waterfowl on a pond in an urban park really wildlife? I am not sure. I do miss the countryside for that reason. Although there are plenty of foxes in the city I used to love to see buzzards, and once even a live badger (as opposed to the numerous dead ones). 
Have got Louis and Aila on the Osprey Cam loaded in another tab, you can just sit and watch them, waiting for the chicks to hatch. They are, I said to Toby, the most magnificent of birds. He disagreed and said that no, the emu is the most magnificent of birds ... because of the Emu War.

"The unsuccessful attempts to curb the population of emus, a large flightless bird, indigenous to Australia, employed soldiers armed with Lewis guns, - leading the media to adopt the name "Emu War" when referring to the incident. While a number of the birds were killed, the emu population persisted and continued to cause crop destruction." 

Stay safe. See you tomorrow.


Monday 27 April 2020

100 days - Day two Pista Chio

We have been eating a lot of pista chio nuts (that's not a typo, that's how my brain read it on the packet). When I say 'we' I mean Tish. Maybe she will turn into a pistachio nut. That's what parents say when you do stuff like that as a child. The things is the shells can't go in the worm bin and it seems a waste to throw them away. I have suggested she bury them in the tiny flower bed to add some extra bulk to the soil, and maybe help the drainage ... who knows. 

We decided not to risk food poisoning yesterday and threw out some chicken that was past the sell-by date. It felt hugely wasteful considering the circumstances, but also sensible since the last thing anyone needs right now is to get ill.
Monkey says her ear tickles; we are cleaning them out with ear cleaner stuff since they were feeling blocked up. Blocked up ears is not as bad a food poisoning but little things can feel disproportionately significant when the world is all weird.

Stay safe. See you tomorrow.


Sunday 26 April 2020

100 days - Day 1

Dunk posted yesterday about 100 Days To Offload, which sounds like just what I need at the moment. My blog posting has dropped off significantly over the last couple of years, and even more so recently. It feels as if I have lost confidence in any thought that goes through my head, an overwhelming sense of being irrelevant. I joined Extinction Rebellion in 2018 with a huge surge of enthusiasm and feeling of power, which over time had petered away to a disheartened ignoring of all their facebook posts. I have started crying at work. Even writing this is hard. Maybe if I force myself to write down thoughts ... who knows ... whatever, 

I read this book a few weeks ago, I wanted to write about it but had reached the point where I assumed only bots visit my blog so why bother. Homestead by Rosina Lippi. It was so, so lovely. It is set in a remote farming community in Austria, across the span of the 20th century, following the lives of the people. During that time, barring the devastation of the world wars, their lives remain utterly unchanged. They farm, they marry, they have children, they die. I fell in love with both the people and the place in a way I have not done with a book for a long time. 

"Barbara stood there looking back towards Half-Moon Hollow, where she had lived for just over a year, where she had been the farmer's wife, where she had thought to live out her life and bear her children and die. Then she looked up towards Bengat, the house leaning out over the cliff. Her mother's household, and after that, when one day her mother was gone, her sister-in-law Anna's.
But there was nowhere else to go, and so she climbed the path to Bengat and let herself be taken in.
The only surprise waiting for her was the sheep: her father said they were hers, in her charge. Whatever profit came from them belonged to her, and when she married again she would have a dowry any farmer would be glad of. Barbara tried to look surprised at the idea of marrying again, ashamed of the fact that this thought had come to her almost as soon as Franz Michel died. Before the last of his blood had been soaked out of her apron." (p.75)

Stay safe. See you tomorrow.


Saturday 25 April 2020

Shutdown Readathon

Life has been weird. Has your life been weird? 
Work has been frenetic. People are buying stuff like its Christmas.
The cat however does not know anything is different. 
She has become fascinated with watching for the strays that visit our yard.
Today I am off, coinciding quite pleasingly with the (last) Readathon.
I am starting when I feel like it, which is any time now 
when I have made another cuppa.
Monkey scored some plain flour at Asda so we can have pancakes.
We also have rice krispie cake.
I am reading Milkman by Anna Burns, winner of the Booker in 2018.
 It is weird. Do I really need more weirdness in my life?
I have a nice bench in the garden but have to wait for the sun to come over the yardarm.
Enjoy your day.

Thursday 2 April 2020

UPDATE: will your post be coming today?

Will your post be coming today? Possibly? Probably? Who knows?
The Royal Mail website has a nice coronavirus page full of bland statements about continuing to provide "the best delivery service for you and protect the health of our people, and our customers" but not really answering the basic question. As you might imagine, like everyone else, some staff are either ill or self-isolating for protection or care of a family member, so the Universal Service Obligation has gone right out the window. Royal Mail has neglected to make any public statements about what is happening, though I saw a brief article on Friday saying they may have to cut back services, hidden on the business pages. So, yes, you will get post. Not every day, but duties are being rotated so every address gets their turn.

2nd April update:
The 'changes to services' page on the Royal Mail website is finally admitting the shit has hit the fan. Still no apparent statement to the press yet but time will tell (not sure what they are worried about the shares are rock bottom anyway). Apparently there was a walk-out in the office yesterday morning with people complaining about the office being too crowded for proper social distancing, but mostly people are carrying on with good humour and mutual support.

Customer Service Points are still open, but as of Sunday 5th April the times are being drastically cut back, mostly 7am to 9am only (some larger offices are opening 7am to 11am) and closed completely Wednesdays and Sundays. If you do need your packet urgently please bring your P739 card and ID and keep the required social distance when in the office. Don't use the local office information on the website, it has not been updated.

The message is that everyone, not just people who are isolating or vulnerable, should please use of the redelivery service if you do happen to miss your package. 
Use the website or call 03456 021 021 

New look P739 'Something For You' cards might help a bit, but we had several irate members of the public trying to get into the office by the back door when they found that the Customer Service Point was closed.

*We are now holding all packets for 30 days, not 18 as it states on the card.*

Special Delivery items will still arrive the next day but there is no longer a time guarantee on them.

If you are expecting an item you can check the tracking system to see where your package is. It will give you some idea though we are no longer scanning items into the office. Only items marked 'available for collection' can be picked up.

Businesses: If you are closing and have no delivery point (i.e. no accessible letterbox) please contact your local office or speak to your postie. If you are still at work but closed to the public please put a clear sign on the door so the postie knows to knock to make the delivery, or indicate where you would like the mail left. We are retaining mail for closed businesses. If you want to collect your mail please come to the Customer Service Point and bring ID that has your business name/address, such as a bill or bank card (business card is not ID). This is not normal practice but we are being flexible. If you would like your mail delivered somewhere else for the time being please set up an official redirection
Call 03457 950 950 to get advice or to arrange any of the above.

Students: Some halls of residence receptions have closed. We are retaining mail, some of which is personal items for students. If you are expecting something that has not arrived please bring your ID and the tracking number to the Customer Service Point and we will try and track it down for you.

While your mail is mostly handled by machine and there is little chance of it carrying virus I would recommend disposing of envelopes/packaging promptly and washing hands after handling anything arriving through the post.

Please be aware that the whole system is moving more slowly than usual and try to be patient. I am assuming that CV19 tests and medicine deliveries, mentioned on the website, will be prioritised. 

In this difficult isolating time perhaps people could revisit the notion of letters as a form of personal contact and reassurance for their friends and relatives. Send a card, just to say Hi and raise a smile. Post some of your kids drawings or a story to their grandparents. Stay on touch.

This advice/information is not an official Royal Mail statement but has been taken from their website and is based on what we are doing on our local office.