Monday, 3 May 2021


Three things really irritated me last week.

First, the sudden, unwanted e-mails lauding various brands of Bitcoin which apart from being a contributor to global warming is, as far as I can see,  the South Sea Bubble of the 21st century. Then, HSBC which is not my bank, constantly texting me to say there’s a problem on my account. When I complained to them they told me “just ignore it”. Finally both my wife and I have both been called to say “this is the HMRC; you have been named in a tax fraud; unless you return this call you will be instantly arrested.” We just ignore that too. The plan to stay off social media for a few days that celebs have advocated to protest about online racial abuse seems entirely sensible. But I have a better plan.

Change your phone as I’ve done. Everyone who has a Motorola thinks it’s wonderful. I’m an exception. I haven’t come to terms with it at all. It doesn’t seem to like me either. So it sulks in my pocket whilst I sulk outside. Now the consequence is I’m using it less and less and avoiding the stress of emails and texts I don’t want or need.

But four things pleased me last week. 

1. The continuation of Spring albeit with a nasty sneaky chill but there’s the joy of seeing brave, confident plants plumping up and thriving and this makes every morning joyful. As do the birds. I saw a goldfinch and that was magic as are the magnolia and the sound of woodpeckers.

2. A Spring dish that was a triumph. Risotto Primavera. We use orzo pasta which has something of a risotto appearance cooked in white wine and chicken stock with peas, asparagus, baby leaks and chopped broccoli heads. With a glass or two of ice cold Picpoul. Wonderful.

3. The discovery that I can actually meditate and let my mind empty of energy-sapping thoughts. I’ve spent too many years speculating about things that might happen. Now I calmly and pleasantly look at the grass, trees and horizon and lose myself like a fluffy cloud gently moving across a blue sky. 

4. Finally, we’ve been told our future lies in cyber-technology and AI. I’m rather sceptical about this. Because the art of the specialist, practical engineer is far from dead.  We have a veranda with three metal poles allegedly supporting the canopy and they were rusting at the bottom. Various people inspected them, sucked their teeth, muttered “oh dear – job for a specialist” and left. This had gone on and on with me increasingly anticipating a veranda collapse. 

Enter Dale. He arrives two days after I’d called, takes a look, suggests a pragmatic solution, sends a quote for half what I’d feared it might be and then arrives with a young man who cuts off the rusty pieces at the bottom of the poles, welds on galvanised pipe with base- plates to replace where the rusty pipe was. He then screws the base plate into the concrete veranda floor. Whoosh. All done and swept clean in less than two hours. The company has staff and a boss with refreshing can-do attitudes. If they’re an important part of our future rather than just apps and nice-to-have cyber-labour-savers, we’ll be fine.

And it’s not just climate change that’s a problem. Human beings are overheating too. We huff-puff, get querulous, quarrelsome and peevish. No need. Just watch a specialist at work or a blackbird building a nest. They really know what they’re doing and that’s so comforting.

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