The Coronavirus Diaries, 31st July-1st August

Yesterday was hot, and the evening was designed for sitting outside. Hence no post. I joined Celia and Charlie in their garden and we had pre dinner gin and tonics. Very civilised. Then they went inside to eat a fish pie and I came home for my chickpea scramble. Celia had suggested I return to sit in the garden with her and drink some wine after dinner. It sounded like a good plan. In the street two households were sitting on their steps and on garden chairs, chatting and drinking. They started doing this in lockdown, and it’s become a weekend fixture.

By the time I had eaten my dinner and washed up the light was fading. Celia and I sat in the gathering gloom. It was balmy. After a day where tasks including shopping required wearing a mask while that became increasingly uncomfortable in the heat, it was very good to feel air on my skin. Particularly on my chin which I fear will soon be a mass of spots unless I can get the right mask for hot days. A very young fox came into the garden, showed no fear of us until it had almost touched Celia’s leg with its nose, then it loped away. It returned later and again came near us. We talked about the encounter this afternoon and both agreed it was special.

Today has been cooler, mostly blue skies, but intermittently dark grey threatening ones, and at times quite muggy. I met Celia again and we went for a walk to Vauxhall. Every outside space in front of bars and cafés was busy. There were no free tables. Londoners may be eschewing the shops of the West End but they certainly want to meet up and socialise. There was one venue where people could go to eat, drink and watch the FA Cup Final on a big screen. It looked rather crowded around the entrance and ironic that people can’t go to Wembley stadium to see the match. Also strange that it was played today as it’s usually in May. Having walked this area several times in lockdown and met almost no one it felt very strange. We wandered down to the Embassy Quarter, where new blocks of flats continue to rise. Whether we had passed the mosaic of Edward Snowden before and simply missed it I don’t know. The site was obviously chosen for its proximity to the US Embassy. I can’t show it to you tonight as the internet seems to be playing up and uploading photos could take until midnight or beyond.

There were lots of new signs too, mainly to do with keeping safe in the pandemic, but some politically pointed ones expressing disapproval for the Prime Minister and the government in less than respectful language. A large billboard outside a building site for yet another tall block of flats showed the artist’s impression of what it would be like. I am always struck by these billboards, and how the future is apparently going to be bathed in permanent sunshine, everyone will be young and healthy, and, in the case of this development, white. Surely someone somewhere, in a meeting that agreed this must have objected. Or did no one notice? Disturbing and strange. Not only are people of colour written out of history, they are also photoshopped out of the future.

My need for a loo made a stop at the Prince of Wales pub in Kennington a natural choice. We sat in the square with our half pints of cider and watched groups of people playing pétanque with varying levels of skill but all with enjoyment. Dog walking hour arrived and with an influx of dogs and owners including one absolutely adorable puppy who had to be stopped from eating the cochonet. Celia is off to Brighton tomorrow for a few days to stay at her son’s. She is anticipating swims in the sea and family time. I may have gone to das Boot by the time she returns, but I am sure our walks will resume soon.

Stay safe. Keep well. Be kind.

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