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Skidmore's Island: Oh To Be In England, Or Anywhere Else, Now That Spring Is Here

Ian Skidmore is delighted to hear that he is looking young.

In a rose bed by our front door there is an under-planting of celandine which at this time of the year is a Milky Way of golden stars. Beyond, in all the borders, spendthrift daffodils are hurling their gold at the unseeing heads of passers-by. In the Japanese garden the camellias are shyly budding and the bonsai cherry blossom is adding its tiny treasure to the garden. Any day now its big sisters by the Buddha pond will add their flowers.

Now I wonder whether I will see them next year or if this is my last spring. It is a poignant thought which only comes with the spring when the natural world flaunts its immortality.

So it was very reassuring when a not unattractive neighbour told me how young I was looking. The reason I do not look 84 is because my body is my temple and the subject of a strict regimen. Every Monday morning I watch my gardener working, sometimes for as long as an hour.

The single malt counter is at the far end of the supermarket. Nevertheless, I insist on getting there by myself to see what offers they may have. And I limit myself to a three Martini lunch - each one vigorously stirred by hand - and a couple of nourishing drams at bedtime. I have locked away my digital watches and every night I spend a vigorous two minutes winding my own pocket watch. Sadly I can no longer prune my bonsai trees because of height issues.

Years ago in Chester I was one of a group of young bloods who had a wager that a coal man called "Cloggie" couldn't run round the racecourse with a bag of coal on his back. He could, and did. Recently it struck me that I have been carrying his weight plus coal for upwards of twenty years. No wonder I am so fit.

None of this takes into consideration my Wandering Leg Syndrome. You may recall that the moment I go to sleep my leg leaps out of bed with a glad cry and heads for the open road. How many miles it travels in the night watches I know not but the calorie reduction must be considerable.

You may also recall that the rest of me had been retired for some years. That is no longer true. I have become a full time seeker after an owner's manual for an Acer tablet computer. This form of intense exercise continues apace. This morning I rang back the company's customer support. The last time I rang I was told that no such manual exists. According to Google, it not only exists: it has gone forth and multiplied. This time, having been informed it exists, I was told how to download one.

I downloaded one and sure enough it appeared on my tablet. What also appeared was a notice saying the file could not be opened. Happily by this time I knew the customer support number by heart. I had also committed to memory the 11 digit SYM number without possession of which the operators are unable to speak. So I was quickly able to reconnect with Acer. This time the operator told me I had been given the wrong number. I should have rung their software assistance department. I did and was told I could not be helped because I did not have a contract with them. It was going to cost me 80 to discover how to open the file. I pointed out that I did have a three month warranty on the refurbished machine I bought on April Fool's Day. In that case, they said, I should ring back the original number and tell them I had been given the wrong number...

At this point my nerve broke...In desperation I appealed for help on the Acer Community Board. Within minutes a guide book appeared. Tiring of criticism of my grammar, I downloaded Grammarly.com, a programme which corrects grammar in a trice. Naturally I could not understand a word of it so at 11.30 pm I emailed a plea for explanation. The answer, plus an owner's manual, was emailed in return by midnight.


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