Sunday, 4 September 2022

Busy Start to 2022 | Part 3 - April to August ; Settling In To New Job / Time To Fix The Place Up / Unexpected Calls + Recent Wristwatches

This post will be longer, as it will cover four months and will ramble on and on, flicking back and forth between April and July. 



...Early April. The Omega Planet Ocean got a little time on the wrist.

I have a huge jar filled with old matchbooks. They come in handy for lighting the stove-top burners in the kitchen (when we run out of boxed matches) and the gas heaters in the lounge areas of the house. And the occasional incense stick. I also tend to use them in photos here and there. For atmosphere. 

I started reading The Heart of Danger by Gerald Seymour sometime in April. Written in 1995, it concerns a disgraced MI5 operative who now works for a small-time detective agency in the UK. A woman hires him to find out who killed her daughter, who had gone into war-torn Croatia and gotten caught up in the conflict. Seymour was a journalist before turning to fiction writing and he has had a prolific writing career. He writes well, and some passages are hard to get through, as he gives very brief descriptions of the atrocities occurring in this civil war in the former Yugoslavia, leaving the reader to ponder them afterwards, using their imaginations to fill in the gaps. I have two or three other books of his on my espionage shelf. One of them is an uncorrected proof copy of Holding The Zero, which I got back in the late '90s when I worked at a Borders bookstore. 
"What's wrong with your arm?", asked the girl behind the coffee machine as she was making me a latté on that Thursday afternoon in April.
I was taking a picture of the machine's logo with my watch in the frame, so I held up my arm at a slightly awkward angle while using my other hand to tap my iPhone's screen in order to focus the shot of the Tudor Ranger on my wrist.
"Oh, it cramps up sometimes along the forearm", I replied as I slid my phone back into my pocket and fished out a five dollar note to pay for the coffee. That wasn't a total fib, mind you. This forearm cramp actually happens from time to time with my right arm. If I reach into my inside-left jacket pocket with my right hand, my forearm muscle 'locks up' and feels quite tight, making it difficult for me to straighten my wrist. Gotta get that looked at someday, but it's a difficult thing to replicate in a doctor's office, as it doesn't happen to me all the time.

La Marzocco is a coffee machine manufacturer and I had never heard of them until about five or six years ago when it seemed that they were suddenly everywhere. The brand must've launched a very aggressive expansion campaign at some point because they appear to have muscled their way in to a lot of restaurants and cafés in recent years. Nice machines, and I have been told that they are one of the biggest sellers in Italy. 
July 10th, 2022
                         The extra solar panels have been installed. The battery has been fitted to a wall in the carport. Now we just have to wait for some dude from the solar energy authority to come around and inspect the work and sign off on it.
Okay, I forgot where this blog post was heading from here. Oh, that's right, work has begun on the main bathroom. And, like any renovation, the time-frame and pricing have both stretched out a little. To be expected, I guess.
This is the bathroom located to the rear of the house, close to the kid's bedrooms, so basically, they use it. The main bedroom has a tiny en-suite attached to it. My wife and I will consider getting it fixered/uppered at some point in future. 
A few other watches worn in April;

It's been ten years since my Mother died. And as the saying goes, time marches on regardless. 
I light a candle for both of my parents every year on the anniversaries of their passing and I lit a candle for them at Notre Dame when my family visited Paris in 2016, and again at a number of churches throughout Rome during the remainder of the trip. It seemed like a fitting thing to do. I think it's a tradition that I'll continue whenever I travel. 
The watch seen in this photo is a Swatch watch that I bought for Mum sometime back in the early '90s. She used to wear an automatic Citizen watch that she got back in the 1970s, but that watch stopped working a long time ago. 
The crown on this Swatch seems to be on its last legs, as it's heavily worn down. This watch was definitely put through its paces over the years and I was surprised to find that it still worked once I had a new battery installed. I bought a new rubber strap for it, because the existing metal bracelet was stretched and I couldn't be bothered removing any links from it to size it up for my wrist. I may wear it from time to time, or I just might 'archive' it. 
I bought a bamboo tray six months ago and my plan is to make a 'box frame' out of it. I plan to display my Dad's Gillette safety razor, Wyler wristwatch, and Identity Card that he received when he landed on these shores in 1952. Along with these items of his, I'll add a ring that Mum wore, one of her neck scarves, and this Swatch watch. Ideally, it will still be working, so that this box frame of items will also double as a wall clock.

This mid-1960s Seikomatic Weekdater always brings up images in my head of Japanese brands that I don't see around much anymore. Sanyo, Datsun, National Panasonic, for example. Sure, Datsun was renamed Nissan at some point, but the old name has more of a classic '60s and '70s vibe to it. 
This Weekdater can be a hassle to set the day and date function on, but it's a nice watch nonetheless. And this one is a pretty clean example, too.

Saturday, July 23rd, 2022
                          My wife and I still have these 'flu's, for crying out loud! 
I was feeling better on Thursday and then woke up yesterday with a spiky throat and spent the day at work filling my office bin (trash can) with dirty Kleenex. Keeping Kimberly-Clark in the black!
I wonder if it had anything to do with Wednesday?

And that's where things currently stand. Wait a sec. This post is all over the place, with its back-and-forth approach. 
Let me consult my diary and see if I can add a little more to an already long post. 

I had the porcelain crowns fitted to the implants that I had done back in August last year. And thus ends this long saga. Bit of luck, I'll still be able to chew on steak when I'm an old man. The dentist did tell me to floss more, and to start using an electric toothbrush as well. Man, so much to remember! I had some mild toothaches and associated headaches in the first few weeks after this procedure, but now (late July), things seem to have settled down. So that's the top part of my body sorted. I wore the Omega Railmaster 36mm on the day I had this procedure done. This is a great watch, one of my favourites, and one that I'll hold on to. 
This here is the Casio MRW-200H-1B. It's all plastic, which makes it very, very light. It's battery-powered, so you can just set it and forget it. It's got luminous hands and markers, although they are not very bright. It's 100metres water-resistant, so you could wear it snorkeling if you wanted to. It's got a day and date feature. Its $38AUD off eBay. Which makes it pretty easy to forgive its shortcomings. And yes, the bezel rotates. Very handy for lunch breaks and parking meters.
This would make a very good travel watch. If it got lost or damaged, it would be cheap enough to replace. You can also get one in steel for about $60AUD. The specs list it as 45mm in diameter, but I think it may be smaller than that because it sits quite nicely on my 6.5 inch wrist. 
Sold this watch in April. Although, I must say, eBay's cut of the profits really took the fun out of the entire process. That place is definitely a buyer's market rather than a seller's. 
Reason I sold this Oris was because I had found it wasn't getting much wear. In the interests of thinning down the collection and getting it to a stable of watches that get regular time on the wrist, I felt it better to move this one along. Also, with a diameter of 40mm, I thought it was a little large for the kind of watch that it is. 
At any rate, its new owner in Canada is enjoying it, and that's the main thing.
         Prime Minister Scott Morrison lost the Federal Election. Good. He handled this country's Covid response badly. And that's as politixy as I'll get.
I had planned on wearing the Sinn 103 St Sa chronograph one day in May and, as I was setting the time and date on it, this happened. The date disc got jammed between two numbers. Now, since I bought this watch back in 2009 and it has never been serviced (shame on you, Teeritz!), I figured it's well and truly overdue for some attention, so I contacted the Sinn Service Centre and made some enquiries regarding pricing and such. Although, I should also get my wife's Sinn 556a serviced as well at some point, as it's losing about three minutes a day. I got it for her back in 2014, so it's definitely due for some work. 

And the Tudor Ranger got some regular wear in June. I've taken it off the bracelet and put it on a strap.
Tudor released a new Ranger model in early July and it is a dead ringer for this model, except that it measures a modern 39mm in diameter instead of 34mm like this one here. Just as well, I suppose. If it had been, say, 37mm, I'd be in trouble. 
I must say, I'm a sucker for a nice expedition watch like this. It makes for a clean and legible dial layout. While there's no real definitive explanation out there regarding this style of watch, my humble opinion states that an expedition watch will tend to have fewer numerals on the dial than a military or pilot's watch, which will usually have all twelve numbers around the dial, unless they remove one for the date window or two for the date window and brand logo (or triangle) at the twelve o'clock position. 

My Nikon FE had an issue where the shutter wouldn't press down after winding on the film to the next frame. A camera repairer in the city quoted me $320.oo to service it. That was his basic price for servicing any 35mm film camera. I could have sworn his pricing was around $150.oo a couple of years ago. 
So, at the risk of making things worse, I figured I'd take a stab at fixing this issue myself. After some digging on the web, I found photos of how the underside's internals ought to look. There was one thin metal stem on the film advance section of my camera that looked like it wasn't latching on to another stem. Swiss Army Knife pliers to the rescue. Some gentle persuasion and now it looked like it would work as it should. I should mention that I had to unscrew the bottom plate ten or twelve times before I finally sorted this problem out, but the SAK pliers, some sewing machine oil and more than a little patience and I think it's going to work fine when I next load some film into it. 
Keeping time of this procedure was the Seiko SARB033. 

The Seiko Seikomatic Weekdater got a little wear in June. 
I got a lot of time - pardon the pun - for Seiko. You can buy a Seiko watch for less than a hundred bucks, you can buy a Seiko watch for a couple of grand. If you venture into the world of Grand Seiko, you could spend three thousand to fifty thousand. 
While there is talk in the industry that things may change at Seiko over the next year or two, as the new CEO has said that Seiko can no longer be all things to all men, indicating that the brand may no longer offer anything for less than a thousand dollars, in an effort to move the brand a little more upmarket, Seiko has been so prolific for so long that you could easily snag something for a couple of hundred dollars for a long time to come. That was a long sentence!

I bought the audiobook - or rather, a MP3 version of it (Read the fine print next time, Teeritz!) - of The Spy Who Loved Me, read by the wonderful Rosamund Pike. I didn't get a case with the CD, just a plain paper sleeve. 
So it was time to get a little creative. This is the original 1962 1st edition hardback artwork by Richard Chopping (picture from The Manhattan Rare Book Company);

The classic Bond book motifs are there. Chopping's trompe-l'œil style of painting, the knotted timber background, the stencil font. Of Ian Fleming's fourteen 1st Edition James Bond novels published by Jonathan Cape in London, Chopping's artwork would grace the covers of eight of them. 

So, I thought I'd create a sleeve for the CD that would be slipped into a plastic DVD sleeve that I had. First of all, I wanted a picture of Rosamund Pike. Wait a second, I'd better throw in a little bit of back-story;

The Spy Who Loved Me was published in 1962 and was Fleming's attempt at doing something different. It is told in first person, by a woman named Vivienne Michel, a French-Canadian who is escaping a string of failed romances by heading to America. She makes a pit-stop at a small motor-court motel in the Adirondacks, which is closed mid-season and soon visited by a couple of shady thugs who take control of the place and hold her and the elderly owners against their will, and it's not until about two-thirds into the story that James Bond appears.

Fleming wasn't happy with reception to the book. When the Bond film rights were sold to EON Productions, he stipulated that nothing but the title of this book could be used if it were ever made into a film. 

Okay, so I needed a picture of Rosamund Pike. I found a screen-shot from Gone Girl (Dir: David Fincher, 2014), the film that made the world sit up and take notice of Miss Rosamund Pike.    

Next up, the font. I downloaded one called 'Cargo Crate' about seven or eight years ago. I also had a font called Royal Quiet De Luxe (courtesy of Richard Polt's Classic Typewriter Page ) which I wanted to use, since Fleming himself used a Royal Quiet De Luxe typewriter. I cropped the photo down from its 16:9 aspect ratio, then ran it through Microsoft Paint so that I could add the text. 

The end result.

Miss Pike's hairstyle in this screen-cap is not properly representative of women's hairdos of the early 1960s, but I love the look on her face in this still. Looking at it now, it suits the Bond story nicely. It could be Vivienne Michel's initial expression upon seeing Bond appear as an unsuspecting guest at the motor court. She now knows that these two thugs will most likely rape and murder her before they leave and the appearance of this Englishman at the reception desk gives her some hope, without her knowing who he is or what he does for a living. Or it can also be read as the look of a woman who has just seen another guest arrive at the motel, knowing that he too will be killed by these two criminals before the week is over. 

One more photo, aiming for the counter-top of some second-rate diner of the early Sixties. It's been over thirty years since I last read this book. I should have another read of it, but I've instead started re-reading The Man With The Golden Gun, Fleming's final full-length Bond novel. 

Reason being that I recently purchased Anthony Horowitz's final Bond continuation novel, titled With A Mind To Kill, and it takes place about two weeks after the events of TMWTGG. So, I thought I'd read it again as a refresher.

I've got a couple of other books on the go as well at the moment. The Best of A.A. Gill is a collection of the late, great journalist/critic Gill's articles covering a variety of topics, from airports to Uganda, from New York to vegetarians. At times very funny, at times very moving, it's a reminder of what a gifted writer we lost back in 2016. 

This Seiko 5 DX 6106-8180 model from 1969 was on the chopping block for a few months. Then, I thought about getting a new strap for it to see how it would look. 
The case shape is very reminiscent of watches from that era and I figured I'd try turning it into a driver's watch. Not that there's any true definition of what that kind of watch would be, but I thought if I put a Rally strap onto the watch, it might jazz it up a little. Rally straps are called that because they have perforations in the leather, and this is meant to mimic the look of driver's gloves, which have those cool-looking holes on the knuckles, designed, presumably,  to provide a little breathability from the leather while driving. 
This picture, taken from...
...shows the type of gloves that I'm talking about. While I have worn leather gloves while driving on cold Winter mornings, I'm not sure that they go well with a 2006 Mazda 3 hatchback. These seem better suited to wooden dashboards and steering wheels, as evidenced in this photo. Still, in my own defence, my car is a stick-shift, with a candy-apple red paint job. 
Anyway, back to the watch strap, I opted for something that would give the watch a sportier, automotive edge. The watch has a gold-toned chapter ring surrounding the dial, so I looked for a strap that would have a little gold stitching, but this was to no avail. In the end, I settled for orange stitch. 


The bathroom renovation that was started in the second week of July is still ongoing at the time of writing. The builder found some asbestos (natch) in the walls, so that had to be removed before the work could continue. Then, over on another wall there was a patch of black mould. This was due to a leaky tap (faucet) in the laundry. 

Meanwhile, the electrician discovered a live wire in the wall between the bathroom and the kitchen. The fun never ends. 

September 4th.

I've just been very busy with work, and this flu has knocked us all around for quite a while. I first noticed my sore throat in late June. A few weeks ago, I made a doctor's appointment and was given a heap of medication to knock this thing on its head. It worked. By the end of August, I was finally back to whatever level of health I had before I got sick. My son got over his bout of this flu and my wife also saw her doctor about getting some medication for hers. It's been a nasty one this year, folks. 

My bunion op is now ten days away, and there's other personal stuff going on that I won't go into. Suffice it to say that these are some stressful times I'm living in right now. 
However, glass-half-full and all that. 

Speaking of glasses, this one had a Dry Martini in it - along with a toothpick and three slivers of lemon peel  - on a Friday night in July when I wore the Omega Railmaster. I've been adding a little more vermouth to my Martinis lately, just to see if A) I'd notice the difference, and B) whether or not I might prefer a little more vermouth in them. 
Jury's still out. 
I was drinking less (as in not at all) while I had the flu, so maybe I'll wait till the upcoming warmer months and maybe try experimenting then. 
Anyway, this post ran off the rails, so I'll sign off soon. 
To finish off, a quick rundown of some of August's watches. 
I wore the Citizen Eco-Drive Nighthawk on the first Saturday in August when my son and I had a late-ish breakfast of pancakes and coffee - at the Australian equivalent of IHOP - before catching a morning session of Bullet Train (Dir: David Leitch, Columbia Pictures, 2022). 
I enjoyed this film. Some people have complained of the violence in it, but I thought it wasn't so bad, when compared to a Tarantino flick, for example. The story moved at a nice pace, the action scenes were clever, the funny scenes were well-placed throughout, and the characters were well-written. 
It was nice to see Brad Pitt playing against type also, as a retired killer (with anxiety and conscience-ridden issues regarding his chosen profession) code-named 'Ladybug', who takes on the job of retrieving a briefcase on board the train bound for Kyoto. Problem is, a bunch of other bad-guys want the case as well. 
It's a trope that's been done a million times, so the trick is to put a new spin on this type of story. These days, I don't take too much of my Film Studies sensibilities with me when I go to the movies. First and foremost, I want to be entertained. You know, the reason they started making movies in the first place? 
The Omega Speedmaster got some wear in August as well. It's on a crappy leather strap at the moment and I think I'll either rub it down with some moisturising cream or put a newer strap on it. Right now, I'm leaning more towards sprucing up this current strap. Get a little more life out of it.
And I think that's it for now. Apologies for the rambling nature of this post. I should have written it months ago. 
Alas, life got in the way. As mentioned, my bunion procedure is happening in a week-and-a-half and I'm a little nervous about it. Mainly to do with the anaesthetic and how I'll go with it and how I'll come out of it. I'll only be in hospital overnight and then it's around six to eight weeks of recovery time, assuming there are no post-op complications. The first two weeks is where I'll need to keep the feet elevated. Of course, I'm also thinking about showering and sleeping, but I'll figure these out as they occur. 
Work-wise, I'll work from home, as best possible, once the recovery process is underway. 
Either way, we'll see how it all goes. If I feel up to it, I may do short posts during my recovery period. 

I hope you've been well, and thanks for reading!


  1. I enjoyed this a lot! Here’s wishing you the best for your operation.

  2. Good luck with the feets, at least you can keep a typewriter in your lap with elevated feet, and listen to classic Bond audiobooks. (:

  3. Wishing you a quick recovery, and very curious to hear your thoughts on Horowitz’s final Bond tale as well once you’re able to get to that.

  4. If you're an espionage aficionado, an Ian Fleming follower or a 007 devotee then you must know about puffer fish poisons, who wrote the “Trout Memo” and what it was all about. If not, and you want to be an espionage illuminatus, you had best Google “Trout Memo”. Of course, most espionage aficionados and real spies have read Bill Fairclough's epic spy thriller #BeyondEnkription in #TheBurlingtonFiles series. It was written by a real secret agent for espionage cognoscenti and actual spies and even includes many examples of lesser known spy practices that Ian Fleming would have loved.

    The protagonist of The Burlington Files, Edward Burlington aka Bill Fairclough, lived just as “fast and furious” a life as James Bond or even the Gray Man did but with one subtle difference: it actually happened. Indeed, all his exploits in London, Nassau and Port au Prince in the first stand-alone novel in the series are based on hard facts some of which you can even check out with press cuttings.

    By the way, Fairclough’s MI6 handler Mac aka Col Alan Pemberton CVO MBE knew Ian Fleming, Kim Philby and KGB Col Oleg Gordievsky. No surprise then that John le Carré refused to write a series of collaborative spy novels with Fairclough given Philby ended John le Carré’s MI6 career. Little wonder also that in hindsight Ian Fleming was thankful that he didn’t work directly for MI6.

    See and if you have any questions remember the best quote from The Burlington Files to date is "Don't ask me, I'm British".

  5. @ Ted, thank-you. I think my cat will commandeer my lap for the majority of the time I'm laid up. I'll keep a typewriter within reach so that I might write a quick typecast each day. If I'm not too ragged. After the second week, I'll be checking emails from work a few days a week.
    Best laid plans. We'll see how it all goes.

    @ Ted P, thank-you also. I'm two-thirds of the way through "The Man With The Golden Gun" and then I have a few espionage novels (by Charles Cumming, Mick Herron, and Gayle Lynds) that I might try. Although, it would make more sense to tackle the Horowitz Bond book while TMWTGG is still fresh in my head.