Television advertisers know their old folks market hence all those ads for mattresses which have miracle springs that adjust to the shape of your body, the ones about how to get equity out of your house to spend on improvements you don't need, the funeral payment plans, the insurance plans for those under 80, and the ones for gadgets which work miracles on aching joints.
Then there are the advertisements urging the gullible, or those with kind hearts, to contribute to charities for dogs, cats, donkeys and other animals – you pay more for one of the cat ones than you do for water aid for children in the deserts of Africa which is rather unfortunate – or provide guide dogs for the visually impaired. In return, many of them will send a cuddly toy, possibly the last thing I could be doing with given that I still have my blue rabbit – now some 80 years old and looking a little worn sitting on the spare room bed.
You also get updates about how your supported beast or child is faring.
None of them cheer me up. Nor does the sight of the clapped out retired chat show hosts and newsreaders give me the urge to buy the product they are plugging. All it does is make me think of those still practising I wish would join them. Taking equity release is arguably a dodgy thing to do and being reminded about funerals is the last thing the so called vulnerable need, even if vaccinated twice and boosted once.
In addition, the time for Christmas card writing and receiving is about to descend and the depleted address book gets consulted in the knowledge that chances are after Christmas there will be more names to cross out. I make my own cards as I like to send an image of a watercolour I have painted in 2021, just to prove that I have not been idle all year.
Recently, I found some address labels so I will attach them to the cards of those I think may have passed on in the hope that they either come back or I am informed there is no need to send one next year. I could buy charity cards but this way I avoid wishing people a Happy Christmas – or worse, Happy Holidays. Instead, they will get wished A Guid 2022. In other words – Survival.
I planted a tree this week. This was no ordinary tree, it was a present to my wife from my boys, in celebration of her significant birthday a few months earlier in the summer. The box in which the tree arrived caused some early consternation in that it was a fair bit shorter than the expected six feet. However, when removed from the packaging, the Blossom tree which emerged was definitely six feet plus a few inches extra, as per the specification.
Last Sunday (to clear my mind of the defeat my team had suffered at the hands of Auchinleck Talbot the day before), I set about planting the precious cargo and to be honest, for one such as me, less than adept at such activity, I was pretty pleased with the job. The tree was straight. Even more importantly, my wife Karen was happy and I only had to dig three holes in the end before I was given the green light on where the tree would finally be located.
By the end of the week, I was getting nervous as it turned out last week might not have been the optimum time to be putting a tree into the ground, with firstly, gale force, rapidly followed by freezing, winds. Friday was spent in a state of trepidation, my nerves jangling, as I tried not to spend too much time glancing out the window at the poor wee thing as the winds built up from mid-afternoon, blowing across my north-facing front garden where the proud, and turns out very hardy, Blossom had been placed. Despite the winds and the subsequent snow and freezing conditions over the weekend, it survived intact. Well, intact in that the leaves which were already dropping have now been joined by all apart from the solitary leaf adorning the top most branch of the otherwise naked plant.
I also managed to cut the grass. To many, this may not seem like a significant achievement. To me, it was definitely a victory. Due to a number of barriers, I have not been able to tend to the back garden lawn and it was a relief to finally get down to the task, if only to stop the neighbours talking. That is until, with about three quarters of the grass cut, my lawnmower decided to stop complying, as the power intermittently cut out. I considered all the usual solutions -– changed the fuse, checked extension cable was working and cleared the considerable amount of clogged up grass from the cutting blade – but all to no avail. I concluded that it had to be either the starter or a loose wire. All fine and well, but I had to get the remaining area cut and it was at that point a thought crossed my mind.
I turned the lawnmower over so the cutting blade was facing upward and, on pressing the starter button whilst simultaneously engaging the two gear-like handles, the machine sprung into life. I tentatively turned the cutting mechanism downward and the machine stopped. Not to be deterred I repeated the steps with same result as the machine started, though this time instead of manoeuvring to the right when turning the machine over, I did so to the left. Miraculously, the engine kept running and I was able to complete the job. Divine intervention or what?
At the match at the weekend, I was offered a cup of Bovril by Frank (no relation) who sits next to me, with the explanation that he had inadvertently bought an additional one. (How do you do that though?) I thanked him and explained I was vegetarian. 'You are what?' was his disappointed response, adding 'You have went (sic) down in my estimation'. Who would have known that to be a Celtic fan you have to be a carnivore? Not me, anyway.
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