COVID Special: November No.1 2020

Club News – Ian Payne

Alan Green is back home from hospital and recovering well.

The Committee is having a Zoom meeting on Thursday 5th November. Please get in touch with me if there is any matter you wish to raise. Tel: 01737 554449

Don’t forget to email any Newsletter items or requests etc. to

Wash Day Blues — Vincent Fosdike

Us oldies are relentlessly pursued by changing technology “out with the old and in with the new”. Well we have just had to part with our trustee old AEG washing machine when the control panel slowly lost options one by one. There was a remote chance of getting a new panel but no one wanted to fit it for fear that another item might go west immediately. It had been first class for twenty years and never needed attention. We were assured that nothing like it was made now.

How right they were! When the replacement was installed (after agonising selection from vast numbers of competitors) we faced a self-managed induction course. You may remember the very early top loading machines which had only one “programme” (start/stop) and sometimes a rubber hose to empty the water into a bucket. Ah those were the days.

Now of course our machine looks as though it might be capable of time travel.

With trepidation we tried to load it but the door opposed us, operating lights gleamed irritatingly using complex symbols to baffle us. So we had a nice cup of tea which after reading the instruction manual we felt like pouring into the soap dispenser. Still at least we had a paper manual. Often you only get an internet reference. Well we read it a lot but still could not coax the door to open. There was a central control which could be turned but it did not seem to relate to the door, only a multiplicity of programmes. The manual was of course written in five languages and at one stage I thought perhaps the English version had missed out something. There were things about locking the door but not how to open it!

Finally we realised that most of the illuminated symbols were also touch sensitive and contained hidden ring menus. At last! So, we worked through all the menus in turn, but the door didn’t open. There was a thing which glowed as a small saw blade and when pressed it said “lock,” so it was meant to be a key. I pressed it like a demented chimpanzee waiting for a banana to be given by a lab technician. No luck! Finally it was a phone call to customer care, again having prepared myself by complying with the warning sticker on the machine that if I needed to call the help line I must be able to quote the sixteen digit number on my guarantee and the other sixteen digit model number. Well you know how auto phone menus work and this gave four options each with two sub menus.

By now I was determined to outwit them so had the manual to hand open at page 63 relating to loading the machine. When the lab master answered he seemed quite human but I was not going to be fobbed off by a smooth manner. I was going to win my banana and prove myself worthy of owning their world class time travelling machine with domestic washer dryer

option! He calmly referred me to page 63 and I was ready for him and asked him to switch his screen copy on so that we could read it together. That got his attention. I finally broke him when he was forced to agree that there was in fact no instruction as to how to open the door.

So, do I get my banana now? How is the trick done? “Just a moment sir I’ll ask the technical section”.

I pictured a huddle of white coated experts behind glass just like you see in the adverts. I waited with old fashioned pen and paper to take down the answer. Apparently it requires a simultaneous operation of two touch sites with a hold down of three seconds.

This information is dispersed within the manual and is not available in one place!! There is a reference on page 82 which completes the puzzle if you spot it. Thank you for your call sir is there anything else I can help you with? In due course there was and again it was admitted that the manual did not deal with the point. Just as well I am retired and can spare the time. But you still need the patience and a blood pressure monitor to tell you when to pause the investigation.

Life in Lockdown by Ian Payne

It may now be called Tier 2, but we’ve been isolating for eight months. At first we searched for supermarket delivery slots, but there weren’t any. Even now when the slots are more available we’re limited to three of an item or given a replacement. So we found alternative outlets – the milkman for milk, bread and eggs and hand sanitiser!, a local farm shop delivering fruit and vegetables and the golf club kitchen for meat and ready-made meals.

Anything else we need is available at Amazon including groceries in bulk. Think of it – click on it and it arrives the next day or so. And now there is ‘Amazon Fresh’. The cupboards are now bulging with essentials. We’ll never be caught out again.

Our animals are surviving. The local pet shop (and Amazon) will deliver cat food in bulk and for the chicken, pellets and corn and fish food for the fish! We had an infestation of mites in the chicken coop – she refused to go in and then got ill. We put her in the garage in the old rabbit cage we keep for the purpose. She was eating and drinking nothing and we waited for her to die. But she didn’t – three days later, she picked herself up and started eating. The coop was sprayed (thank you Amazon) and the egg-laying recommenced. Incidentally, mites attack humans – I was bitten all over.

While it was warm, we entertained the family in a gazebo on the veranda where we also held meetings of up to six – the rest had to join by Zoom. Now the weather has turned, we’ve replaced the gazebo by a small marquee so that we can continue to entertain the family. This is quite snug inside especially with the patio heater we’ve been given. We have a large and a small table inside, so we keep our social distance. We even have a routine with the dishes and serving spoons to maintain the separation. Talking of Zoom, I’m still giving my grandchildren in Dubai a couple of lessons a week after school, which thankfully, has recommenced.

The chicken was ill again – this time we think it was the berries that had fallen in her run. Into the garage again and we waited for the worst, but again she recovered. We’ve adopted a fox. He waits for us beyond the trellis and gulps down what we give him so that it’s all gone by the time we come up from putting the chicken to bed (protected by an electric fence). Occasionally a second fox appears but is soon seen off after a short scuffle over the food.

We’ve taken to walking the North Downs Way in stages. Actually, the stages are quite short because we make each walk into a circular walk taking in other paths and bridleways. This means that each walk is of a reasonable length but our progress towards Canterbury is very slow. So we’re keeping fit, but longing for things to get back to normal and perhaps for a short break somewhere.

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