Today has seen a return of the dreary wet drizzle which we have had with us for most of the day. Once we had got ourselves together, Meg and I had our normal breakfast which is a cooked one for Meg and then looked forward to meeting with some of our ‘gang’ in Waitrose. Once we had braved the drizzle, we were delighted to meet up with our other three Tuesday morning regulars and exchanged our gossip with each other. As I had got some pictures of my newly acquired pottery on my phone, I explained to our friends how I had gone about establishing its provenance. Evidently, I had to photograph them both carefully and get the images in an accessible place on my computer. Then, I now know after advice from my son, that you use Google Images and, if you have photographs of your items, then Google will attempt to find a match for you (I gather this works with people as well) This worked like a dream for me when I tried it last night. Basically, I now know that I have a couple of German made ‘stein’ mugs made by a well known manufacturer (Marzo and Remy), the slightly smaller one dating from the 1950’s and the slightly larger and more ornate one dating from the 1880s. I see from the internet what one firm (‘Etsy’)advertises is that these pair of steins have a market value of up to seven times what I actually paid for them. Although one would be tempted to sell them on at an enhanced price, personally I feel happy with them as an ornament and certainly want to hang onto them, particularly as I now know something of their providence. So this was quite a pleasant and unexpected bonus arriving in the middle of the night. So my account of these little ventures led me onto a discussion of Meg’s engagement ring which we bought way back in 1967 in a little antique shop quite near to Manchester Cathedral, as I remember. The ring is all we could afford at the time between us and the cost was £8.00. It is quite an unusual design and is basically a sapphire surrounded by two small diamonds and then mounted in (rather than ‘on’) the gold band. Several decades later and whilst we were living here in Bromsgrove, the saphire dropped out somewhere and was lost forever. One of our local jewellers was having a huge discount offer on repairs and purchases so I took in Meg’s engagement ring, explaining to the staff that I thought the ring was probably Victorian as we knew that it certainly was not modern. Now the jewellers around here are usually exceptionally knowledgeable as they have probably had their apprenticeship in what is still known as the ‘Jewellery quarter’ in Birmingham. Upon hearing my story, our ring was repaired but the staff explained to us that the ring was older than Victorian. Their best guess according to the kind of mounting that was used was that the ring could well be Georgian. This was probably not recognised in the antique shop where it was bought as they were not specialist jewellers. Naturally, we were delighted with these news and we would never dream of selling it but it gives us quite a warm glow that a thing of such sentimental value might now be even more precious.
The rest of the day has been rather punctuated by long, and important, phone calls. I had made a call to a nurse who specialises in Meg’s health conditions to ask for some advice and when her return call came, I was actually in the middle of my Pilates session. My tutor and fellow class members did not mind when I shot outside the studio to take the call but the reception was not good inside the building so we made an arrangement to phone back on the landline after I had returned home. Now sooner had I returned home when the telephone call came which was very welcome but must have taken the best part of about 40 minutes. My contact had access to files of information on both of us and helped us to acually make contact with the social worker in adult social services for whom we form part of a caseload. She had been trying to make contact with us but this was another long but relatively fruitful phone call from which some positive consequences may flow. Eventually, Meg and I took our dinners which had been served up but not eaten and got to eat them at about 4.40 in the afternoon. So it was a strange afternoon but one where the possibility is opening up of some more proactive help with Meg’s health. I must say that once you do get through the phone/website interface to talk to an actual human, the level of professional concern and sympathy is generally commendable but getting through to have these conversations is quite an achievement in itself.
If any of us were not worried about data breaches, we ought to be so now. Details of tens of millions of voters could have been accessed by hackers who targeted the elections watchdog. The Electoral Commission revealed on Tuesday it was targeted by a cyber attack which allowed ‘hostile actors’ to access electoral registers. No votes may have been tampered with but the database can now be cross-referenced with goodness-know-what so we need to be afraid, if not very afraid.