Thursday, 18th March, 2021

[Day 367]

Today was quite a mild, cloudy day but no rain was forecast. We are a little delayed as we often are on a Thursday morning as the Waitrose order had been delivered and we needed to put all of the provisions away before we set out on our walk. Having collected our newspapers, I could not resist telling our newsagent a joke that had been running through my head for the last day or so i.e. ‘How does an agnostic, dyslexic, insomniac spend their time?‘ to which the answer is ‘They lay awake all night, wondering whether or not there is a dog‘ I know it’s a crap joke but it is a little quirky. After we had picked our newspapers, we needed to go into the town to send off a condolence card following the death of one our oldest academic mentors and friends in Spain. – so we needed to go to the Post Office (now housed in W H Smiths) to get this posted. On our way, we passed a little ‘ecological’ shop that sells all kinds of sustainable products and we purchased a little bar of soap, complete in its tin. Actually, if the truth be known, I only actually wanted the tin because I had spotted it some time beforehand and I thought that it might make a suitable heatsink to help to keep an external disk drive cool. This is because according to my researches, disk drives might only have a life of about 5 years (although I have several considerably older than this) and excess heat is one factor that could well shorten their life. Having completed our little foray into the High Street, we made our way into the park and coincided as we almost always do these days with our University of Birmingham friend. We had two very long and interesting but not-connected conversations. The first of these was a discussion of a video that Meg and I had stumbled upon by the classicist Mary Beard on the subject of ‘whiteness’ (with reference to skin colour) in Roman society. I said that I would hunt out the video link as we had only watched it recently which I did later on in the afternoon and then sent it on. Then we got onto the topic of the statistical connection between ‘O’-levels and ‘A’-levels and academic progress in degree courses. I had researched and then written up a couple of papers, one dating to my time in the (then) Leicester Polytechnic and the second written when I was at King Alfred’s College in Winchester. We were so delayed by our extended conversations that it was terribly late when we got home for lunch being practically 2.00pm in the afternoon so we had to raid our store cupboard for a tin of quality stewing steak which we employ when we need to get an instant meal in about two minutes. After lunch, I thought I would see if I could hunt out the couple of papers I had written and by some kind of miracle, I managed to locate them after about one minute of looking for them (one paper was 30 years old and the other was 20 years old so I impressed myself with my own efficiency – or good luck!) Anyway, I will pass these on to my friend to read to see if the findings from the students that I taught all of those years ago had the same degree of applicability to our friend’s students.

After lunch, I needed to make a lightning visit into town to return a defective disk drive back to Amazon (it worked for about a week and then refuse to format) I had got a QR code on my phone and so, in theory, I could go into one of the shops that are an agency which will scan my phone, print off the label and then return the item to Amazon. The first shop to which I went and which I had used before shut its doors about 10 seconds before I got there. So then I went off to a newsagents that I know had a system of Amazon lockers but they didn’t have the label printing facility. So I went off to a third shop but they were only agents for Hermes carriers and not UPS so my QR code was not recognised. They recommended me to another shop at which I also drew a blank. Frustrated I came home for a consoling cup of tea and consulted the web as to which shop in the area I could use for an Amazon return. I found an off-license that accepted my parcel back (and gave me a receipt) and the ironic thing is that this shop was the next door neighbour but one to the first shop I had tried. All I have to do now is hope that the refund systems within Amazon work the way they should (they have aways worked superbly well in the past, I must say)