I’ve not been quite so well today. Jackie, who is ahead of me in the process of this particular virus, tells me that that is to be expected.

Aaron, who is to finish digging over the rose garden, arrived early this morning and made a significant start. I haven’t ventured out to see his work, which is a shame.

I have mentioned before, how my younger brother Joseph was a constant companion of me and each of my first two wives. When Michael and I returned to Bernard Gardens after Vivien’s death, Joe had to share his Mum with his younger nephew. This meant we saw even more of him. Two of my October 1966 slides, scanned today, feature him playing Pick-up Sticks with Jackie.Jackie and Joseph 10.66Joseph 10.66

There are various other names for this game of dexterity and concentration, one being Pick a Stick. It remains popular today.

220px-Jeu_de_mikadoThe game is begun by grasping the sticks in one or two hands (according to the size of the fingers) and letting them fall on the playing surface. They usually form a pyramidal stack. One stick is used to prod and prise the others free without disturbing the rest. Should you be successful you may take another turn. Should you set the wrong stick wobbling, you have to stop and hand over to your opponent. A tally is taken when all sticks have been loosed. The winner, of course, has the most in their accumulated pile. Given that it is well-nigh impossible for the most careful five-year old, successfully to dislodge the first stick in a stack, I suspect a little discreet placement on Jackie’s behalf, keeping at least some of the sticks discrete and flat on the floor, so her future brother in law could just flip a few away. .

This afternoon we settled down to watch two more Six Nations rugby matches. In the first, Ireland beat Italy 26-3 in Rome. Nothing much happened in the first three- quarters of the game, through which I dozed. The next contest, between Scotland and France in Paris, was rather more enthralling. France won 15-8.

This evening we dined on a Thai takeaway meal from Tesco. The bottle of Marques de Carano that I began on 31st January remains opened and uncontinued in the kitchen cupboard. It may be suitable for cooking now, but when I can next face alcohol with a meal it will be well past drinking.