The Coronavirus Diaries, 24th April 2020

I spent much of today on the ‘phone, not chats with friends, though all the calls were amicable, chats about car insurance. Mine expires next Saturday. My current insurers sent a renewal notice. The cost had risen by £70 from last year for no discernable reason. I rang, it was reduced by £20. I rang other insurers. The cost was more or less the same. If I had to choose just one word to describe it, that word would be high. Two words – too high. I’ll mull it over this weekend and decide if it is worth switching to save £12.

I don’t use my car much. I keep it mainly so I can get to das Boot. But my boat, has not been relaunched because of coronavirus, after being out of the water for its/her insurance valuation inspection all winter. Lockdown looks set to continue. I have already paid for my river licence, for my mooring fees, the boat insurance is due in July, the car tax, now the car insurance, all for something I can’t access, let alone enjoy. It’s a bit surreal. Or maddening. Choose your own adjective. Actually expensive would probably be the most accurate.

So. Is this going to be the moment I decide to sell das Boot, to give up the car? Maybe the moment, but those two things will have to wait until a) I can get to das Boot and remove her to a mooring where boats are sold b) a prospective buyer can take it/her for a water trial. Until the boat is no longer mine, I need the car. Do you see a circularity? a roundabout with no current exit?

One of the insurers I called, once he had my address, said I didn’t sound like a south Londoner. I wasn’t sure if it was a judgement or what. I said, “Don’t I? I have lived in Se17 most of my life.” This is true. It turned out theta he had lived in Greenwich, though his accent suggested his origins were a couple of hundred miles north of the Thames. I resisted saying it isn’t where you are born that matters, it where you make your home. My friend Patou was born in Argenteuil. Sh has lived longer in London than anywhere. London, she used to say proudly, is my city. Then Brexit. She won’t be here much longer. I have promised to call her this evening. Time is getting on. This post will have to be curtailed.

So, briefly: Celia and I walked over to Vauxhall. I took some photos. Celia announced a) she wanted to have a drink of cider in a pub and b) as the pubs were closed she wanted cake at the Vauxhall Tea House Theatre – which is also closed. We compromised by going to the latter and staring in through the windows. I took some photos.

Maggie the Cat

Muddy Boots and Dogs Welcome

I am a bit concerned about Maggie and the dogs.

We walked up to the river. If you talk about the river in London t is the Thames. Lovely but far too many people running along the path.

Westminster from Vauxhall

We crossed over and headed back to Kennington via Black Prince Road, past the old Doulton


The Black Prince (a mosaic, not the pub)

works and the Black Prince Pub which was open for takeaway food and drink.

Plants had been for sale between one and four in the afternoon, but now it was six, so we peered through the fence like children at a sweet shop.


Plants for sale!

A dog with its master on the other side of the road, realising the walk they were on was not taking them to the park, staged a sit down strike. I like a dog with its own mind.

At Kennington Cross a very pretty and unsafely friendly cat sat outside the closed Dog House pub.

Cat by the pub


Around the corner a man sat in the evening sunlight outside his door with a glass of red wine.

Evening wine

Across the street the stay at home message was displayed with unequivocal robustness.

Stay at home

Both Celia and I enjoyed this line of washing.

Knickers on the line

My hair is a mess.

Stay well. Thanks to all our carers and to the NHS.


6 thoughts on “The Coronavirus Diaries, 24th April 2020

  1. The local cats are getting even cheekier than usual. They must miss the loving they usually get from each passerby.

    What about zipcar – or whatever your version of instant rent-a-car might be called? Or even a regular automotive rental? I think about this a lot. I also use my car only for weekend errands and the occasional trip out to see birds or friends. Or friends and birds. One needs to maintain some insurance so as not to be gouged by the rental companies. Then again when we wish we might move to a smaller less crowded community, the car will be essential

    • Zip cars work out pretty expensive, though this year an account would have been a good option! The car question always raises its head when the insurance needs to be renewed. One day I’ll say no.

  2. I feel exactly the same as Celia! A couple of times this week I’ve had an overwhelming urge to go out for a meal, on my own. It’s something I do from time to time. And no, getting a takeaway is not the same thing!
    It isn’t about the food. It’s looking at other people, chatting to the waiter/waitress, looking out of the window at people passing by in the street….

    I’m actually waiting outside the supermarket for Isobel, whilst tapping out this comment. She is shopping for neighbours who can’t get out, and we are in the middle of a socially distanced walk. I’m standing on the edge of the pavement, in a place where she can see me through the supermarket windows if she chooses to look outside. It is extraordinary that it doesn’t seem to matter where I choose to stand, people seem to find the need to walk within about half a metre of me!

  3. My weekly fruit and vege box delivery man and I had a “we want a drink in a pub” conversation at 9am on Wednesday morning as it was warm and sunny. We agreed that a drink at home just isn’t the same. As you say, it’s about the other customers, and the staff, and the chit-chat, and the beer mats…..and the shared crisps… Much as I tell myself how lucky I am with space, and books and resources galore, and a garden, and good friends and neighbours, especially Isobel to walk with and then give me an illustrated blog of that walk …. I JUST WANT IT TO BE OVER

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