After a month of not posting here, I was planning to write about a wonderful day Celia and I spent in Margate last weekend. The prospect of five years of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, the abandonment of safety nets for vulnerable refugees, the exclusion of Parliament from the final Brexit arrangements, all these combined with the worst cold and cough I have had in years meant I was, and to an extent remain, low in spirits.
But the wonderful day will have to wait.
Today we are a neighbourhood in shock and mourning. An elderly, frail neighbour died in a house fire this morning. Two weeks ago, her neighbour who lived in the property across the road died in her sleep. I can’t say I knew either woman well. The one who died today I would nod hello to, she sometimes nodded back. I had noted her decline over the last few years and knew friends of mine who live next door were supporting her. The manner of her death is the stuff of nightmares.
The woman who died two weeks ago I knew better. We would often chat when we met in the street, as we had just a few days before her death. She was quiet, anxious, gentle and vulnerable. She had had a spell in hospital with a broken hip and I was pleased to see her out and about again. We talked about her improving mobility and how family and neighbours had been looking after her cat and dog.
The loss of these two lives affects our community. We are sad, shocked, muted. When people tell you no one speaks to their neighbours in London they are wrong. I have lived here for such a long time. I still see in my mind the people I have known as neighbours who have died. To that number two more are added. Today my street is full of ghosts.