Taking The Edge Off


Merry Christmas to you all. And I truly mean that. I hope you have managed to have a great time, and that you have managed to stay healthy, despite Covids best efforts and those of the other seasonal diseases that tend to crop up at this time of the year.

Over past years Gerry and / or I have managed to contract one of the various bugs doing the rounds during the Christmas period. Being sick really does take the edge off things especially when it means not seeing the grandkids opening their presents.

However, an unexpected benefit of the precautions taken, during the Covid pandemic ,seemed to be a reduction in the number of these seasonal infections. Sadly, now that many of the precautions have been relaxed there are many bugs doing the rounds. And, of course, Gerry has gone down with the dreaded lurgy, yet again. I say yet again, as this must be the third bug she has contracted this year.

Usually we are scanning around for the culprit, hunting down patient zero, searching for the one that passed on their germs. However, this year there are several candidates.

On the Friday before Christmas we were visited by a friend who said her husband was suffering with something. On the Saturday, Christmas Eve and our 45th Wedding Anniversary, we were visited by our daughter Angie and her husband Jon. He was suffering with a sore throat, croaking well.

That brings us to Christmas Day itself. Our granddaughter Keeley was hosting us this year, and of course nobody wanted to call it off, but, Keeley and her eldest, were both suffering with their own lurgy variant. And we didn’t see her youngest as he was in bed all day doing battle with his own lurgy. Although we had a good time and the food was yummy, the day was a little subdued. The edge had definitely been taken off.

Obviously, the odds were not in our favour and Gerry started with a tickly, then sore, throat late on Monday, Boxing Day. And there we have it, multiple folks at which to point the finger of blame.

Our concern is, as always, that anytime Gerry contracts one of these coughy cold/flu things, it invariably travels down onto her chest and evolves into a chest infection. Earlier this year she had two such episodes resulting in three prescriptions of antibiotics.

This morning, wanting to get a jump on things, I started the marathon task of trying to get an appointment to see / speak to a doctor. To stand a chance of getting an appointment, you have to start calling Crookhorn Surgery at 08:00. I started calling on the dot, with the following results ……

75 Calls = Number of attempted calls when the line was engaged.
This is only possible when using a modern phone, hitting redial immediately the system drops the call. I can’t imagine what folks do that are still reliant on landline phones and those that aren’t au fait with modern technology.

7 Calls = Number of calls picked up by the automated system, where I had to listen, excitedly, to a message which informed me that they were busy and to call back later. At which point the call is cut leading to huge disappointment.

At 08:13, after some 82 redials, I managed to break through to join a queue where I was informed, regularly, that my wait time was one minute. After some time I actually spoke to a human. The net result, after just under 10 minutes, was that we had been triaged and informed that we would receive a call from a doctor by 13:00.

This is better than last time where we attempted to get through, and, after 40 minutes were informed that there were no more appointments that day and that we would have to call back the following morning.

The good news from this, is that we had received the call from the GP, who duly prescribed the antibiotics. At 10:21 I received a text from the pharmacy to say that the script was ready for collection. By 11:30 Gerry had taken her initial dose.

Obviously, this is an improvement over our previous experience. But it does not reflect well on the NHS. Covid regularly gets the blame for whatever ails the NHS. All I can say is that prior to 2019 we were able to get appointments fairly easily, that we actually got to see a doctor on almost every occasion. Since 2019, trying to phone for an appointment is a chore, which rarely results in a face to face appointment.

Today my wife was called by a doctor who prescribed antibiotics over the phone. He didn’t see my wife, didn’t take her temperature, didn’t listen to her chest / lungs. This is not the NHS service that we are used to. But it seems that we are going to have to accept this as the new norm.

Majestic Dinner Service


An unexpected purchase has taken me on something of a hidden history lesson.

Empire Porcelain Company Dinner Service – “Majestic” Pattern

The pictured “Majestic” dinner service was acquired as part of a larger lot at a local auction. Consequently I didn’t know anything about it. However, whilst preparing to try and sell it on eBay, I did a little research and managed to find a few references to the manufacturer, The Empire Porcelain Company. It’s amazing what you can discover on the interweb.

It transpires that the Empire Porcelain Company had been around since 1895 with works in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, England. There were actually three factories operating side by side.

The Empire Porcelain Co Ltd was an important producer of domestic and ornamental earthenware and china for the middle of the market. In the late-1920s and 1930s the company produced interesting art deco-style tablewares and notable art deco ornamental wares decorated using the drip glaze technique. Chinz-decorated wares were produced in the 1940 and 1950s.

From Pottery Histories

The pieces that I have are all dated in the 1950’s, as evidenced by the makers marks on the underside, so they are all around seventy years old.

Empire Porcelain Company marks with date stamp indicating April 1952

The letter B apparently indicates that the dishes were produced under the Wartime Concentration Scheme

TheĀ Second World War proved a particularly difficult period for the British pottery industry because severe restrictions were placed on the production of decorated pottery. Production was concentrated in a reduced number of factories in order to save materials, energy and labour as these were needed elsewhere for the war.

Pottery Histories

So there is no sentimental value to the dinner service, well not for me. But the history “behind the glaze” is interesting. Even down to the company being bought by a lawn mower manufacturer. Who would have thought they would have an interest in a pottery company.

Sadly, because the works were difficult to modernise, the Empire Porcelain Company was closed in 1967.

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