Seven Brides and Forty winks

It’s July 15th as I write this and it is Saint Swithuns day, unless of course you live in Norway where he gets his big moment of fame on July 2nd instead. No, before you ask, I don’t know why …….

Anyway St Swithum was Bishop of Winchester (England) in about 861 AD and had various claims to fame mostly on restoring churches but somewhat bizarrely he is also reputed to have restored a basket of eggs back to their original form that had been broken when sat on by the builders on one of his restoration projects ! Omelettes evidently were not a big thing back then.

These historical events are however somewhat overshadowed for his posthumous miracle making. It is said that if it rains on Swithuns bridge in Winchester on July 15th , then it will rain for 40 days.

I don’t think there is any time limit on this so don’t plan a house move to Winchester if you want guaranteed summer barbecues every August.

Fortunately, looking at the weather forecast things at least for this year look ok at the moment.

The number Seven is often seen in mythology, story telling and so on as a number of plenty – Seven brides for Seven brothers…indeed that number of weddings throws any father into panic at the cost and mayhem; Seven Deadly Sins – hmmm, perhaps not lets go there; Seven Dwarfs stretches many a pub quiz contestant to name them all, Seven Wonders of the World seems to be an ever changing league table and just when you think you have seen most of them they change and so the task of ticking them off becomes almost unattainable.

It seems too that forty is also number of choice – Forty Winks is deemed a reasonable length of time for a sleep and good old Swithum has opted for forty as a reasonable number for days of rain. Well, thanks Saint S, I am all for replenishing reservoirs but that is just too much!

I really do have a vested interest in it not raining for 40 days. Tomorrow is my birthday (not my fortieth sadly…that ship has already sailed) and I plan for the next few days to have some time off work (that won’t be forty days either) and enjoy walking in the hills , spending time with extended family, drinking wine in the garden and generally having fun…most, but not all of these activities are greatly assisted by a little sunshine!

Happy 15th July to you all (Norwegian’ s respectfully excluded)

Who needs socks?

A few weeks ago,  it was Father’s Day.

Every possible tie that you never wanted

Ok, I am the first to agree that this is an event fabricated by the greetings card industry to sell more cards. It has none of the historic significance of Mother’s Day and according to many a vexed and frustrated mother, every day is Fathers day anyway!

I am however a father, so of course I am happy to have my recognition on that day. But cliche as it is, I genuinely don’t want my children’s hard earned money to be spent on me, and my desire from them is seeing them healthy, happy and fulfilled.

This has always been my mantra, but true to form, over the years I have been generously lavished with cards, chocolate, handkerchiefs and socks.  

The great thing about gift socks is you get ones that you just wouldn’t buy yourself – really brightly coloured ones,  one with  boastful statements of ‘Worlds best’ Dad/Uncle/Boss  etc. and occasionally ones made with strange materials such as  recycled car tyres,  Mongolian grass cuttings and so on  that all have amazing properties to make your feet look and feel 20 years younger….so don’t ever gift them to a 19 year old! 

This year, the newly returned but temporarily resident offspring observed my bountifulness in both the hankies and socks department and went a little ‘off piste’.    I had jokingly remarked  that I always felt somewhat guilty when they had to take a walk from our house, into the garden  and then beyond the end of the garden to our allotment*  just to locate  me  to inquire  if I wanted a cup of tea. Or indeed any other sustenance  to assist me in my  weeding,  strimming  or whatever…and then  a few minutes later have to  then make another journey to deliver it,  only for me to then say  I was coming back indoors anyway.    * I think allotments are a very British things, so for  the non UK residents what is an allotment? … in the strict sense of the word  its a small plot of land often maybe only  about 300 square feet (30 sq m) ,  rented at a nominal  rent from your local council enabling flat and apartment dwellers  to grow fruit and vegetables. 

The term  is also  more loosely expanded in my case as we live on the edge of country side and this plot is really just an extension of our garden  where I grow   strawberries and gooseberries, 99% of which get eaten by squirrels,  peas that seagulls seem to eat before we get to them,  and various other fruit and vegetables  for the local insect , animal  and bird residents to feast on.  We are allowed to keep a few lettuces for ourselves though as reward for all this work! 

Anyway…back to the  aforementioned situation ……..So ingenuity was applied to the problem  and for fathers day they presented me with  a pair of walkie talkies to enable communication from garden to home and on various outdoor activities. I have had some good presents in my lifetime…but this one really tops the list.  So why not call..yes we do have good mobile phone reception, but nobody would ever think to phone someone maybe just 100 metres away would they?

This was just such a great idea and practical and useful as well as fun!   

Just one downside…next week I have a birthday,  not just any birthday but a significant one.  It ends in a zero..but thankfully just one of these,  not two.  So the bar has been set very high  and my expectations  and imagination are running riot now with wild ideas of what may be next to delight me. 

Perhaps we are back on socks then……………..

 

Birthday greetings?

Today it’s my birthday. Ok, well to be factually correct it’s only my birthday if you are reading this on Tuesday 16th July. When you think about it, it’s actually no great surprise as there was a 1:365 chance it would be and I think that is greater odds than you get for winning anything over £10 had you bought a lottery ticket.

At one time, only close family and friends (and the HR department at work) actually knew this date and excluding the HR team (unless you worked for a very touchy, feely company,) family and friends would be the only ones communicating it to you.

Social media and electronic communications have changed all of that……but only possibly for the better.

So without question you should think of this first group as the top tier or premier league. Remember these ‘Friends and Family’ are the people who might actually go to a shop, buy a card, and somewhat importantly know where you live, make the effort to write and stamp the card in advance so that you have it for the day. Now that is commitment.

Anyway to the next Level..Level 2.

These too are real people but they will know the feeling of lateness. These are the ones people who when they turn on their phones will get nice Facebook reminders saying it that it is your friends bitthday today…….yes today!!!!

A quick five second whizz around the phone keyboard and birthday greetings are sent. Duty done 😁

There are sometimes awkward feelings of guilt when you see the last communication to that ‘friend’ … was, yes a whole 1 year ago when you said ‘happy birthday!’ Oops, looks like we haven’t been in contact for a year…..

For those who use Linked In…it’s a bit more awks . Lets call this Level 3. So on Linked In, again you get birthday reminders. But the resulting communications really can be very cringeworthy . You can just tell when you are getting the dutiful greetings of your suppliers or service providers sitting on a train or in starbucks.

Or worse still that boring accountant you met at a conference 6 months now sends you birthday hugs…… even deciding how to reply then is difficult 😱

And then at the bottom of the pile there is the world of customer loyalty and marketing. My bank want to wish me happy birthday and as a special gift a chance to review my finances or sell me some insurance.

My energy supplier wants to reward my loyalty and my age with a new fixed price tariff. And my local pizza company wants to give me a bottle of Prosecco if I would only come to see them and buy two pizzas.

And the list just goes on and on….. discounts on ink for my printer and buy one get one free on toiletries…..etc.

Anyway, happy birthday to all of you too…I might be anything up to 364 days early! Did someone say cake?

Why this blog? Click to find out more…..

Ask and you might receive….

Recently I was asked by a family member what did I want for an impending birthday. Awks…as one would say if one were cool and aged 16. Anyway I had more adult response but basically the same sentiment. Difficult and awkward question, as one neither wants to give a pious answer, oh nothing your love/friendship/running club comradeship/work colleague loveliness is more than enough. Nor is it appropriate to reel off from memory an Argos catalogue number, or an Amazon URL. So how to deal with the issue? Guidance came from a surprising source.

My mother’s local priest in his sermon one week drifted on to the subject of his parishioners hard work fundraising at a recent parish coffee morning but he apologised for the very shabby and worn kitchen knives from his house that were used at the event.

The following Sunday he commenced his sermon by remarking how surprised and overwhelmed he was to find a complete set of shiny new knives giftwrapped waiting by the front door.

Continuing to beam at his loving congregation, he then said, so now to today’s sermon, can I start by saying how St John’s Gospel that we have just heard , of course might draw our mind to a 32″ Panasonic HD ready , network TV.

Very awks!