The Coronavirus Diaries, 17th-18th August

I am hoping to meet my neighbour Cynthia in an hour or so for a walk with a pub as our goal. Our local pub closed at the start of the lockdown and has not reopened. It may have been sold, the owners tried to get permission for it to be converted into flats some years ago. Since then it has been listed as a community asset, and that listing is up for renewal. Some parts of London are rich in lovely pubs, Camberwell for instance. Walworth has few pubs I want to enter, so if our local does close, it would be a blow.

I have been working through tasks work related and domestic today and feeling pretty pleased with my progress. The bossy neighbour has been out which always makes for a more relaxed atmosphere. Her unshakeable belief that we are all accountable to her is somewhat wearing as well as wrong. So I have swept up leaves, hung washing out, planted some bulbs, put fat balls in the bird feeder. Romeo had a good sleep on my car. He seems to approve the new cover. I don’t like it as much as my last one, it’s much harder to do up the ties, and will be harder still in bad weather. I need it to protect the paint work from the cats and foxes.

I tried out the television from the boat and got it working, though the DVD/CD player seems to have had it. I do quite enjoy watching television on das Boot when the evenings draw in, so this is timely. The one thing I really miss about buying a hard copy of the Saturday Guardian is the the tv and entertainment guide. I switched to an online subscription shortly after lockdown began. I like not having piles of newspaper about, but I know I miss lots of articles. On the odd occasion I buy a hard copy and it’s much more satisfying. Still, the subscription means I can read the Guardian six days a week, and The Observer on Sunday. Swings and roundabouts.

I am loving A Suitable Boy. It is so well done. I caught up with Mrs America which friends have been raving about, and I enjoyed that too, but A Suitable Boy is one of my favourite novels and this tv adaptation is excellent. Andrew Davies has not lost his touch. I can see me watching the whole thing again when it ends.

Celia is in Brighton for the week and will have her second haircut since lockdown. This makes me feel I have been very frugal as I had my first last Friday. It is very pleasant not to have hair all around my face anymore and reconciles me to the cost.

Although I didn’t seem to find many books to part with, there are gaps on the shelves now which is good. If I decide I want to keep any of the books piled up waiting to be read it means there may be room for them. I am reading Margaret Drabble’s The Pattern in the Carpet. Sue gave it to me for my birthday and it was a good choice. At the time I was obsessively doing jigsaws and slightly worried about this need. I read a few pages of the book then and they struck a chord. She wrote that her husband was being treated for cancer and she couldn’t concentrate, didn’t want to watch television and was unable to go for long, solitary country walks. Doing a jigsaw, “assembling little pieces of cardboard into a preordained pattern” helped her “regain an illusion of control”.

While Ross was painting and the sitting room was awash with books I thought a jigsaw would have been ideal. However, there wasn’t room, so instead I applied paint to two boxes, one for each great niece. When Ross came round with the invoice yesterday he stayed to chat a while and we realised we both know Danny. I shouldn’t really have been surprised. Danny knows everyone hereabouts. Celia and I met him in Camberwell on Saturday afternoon. Celia had seen him on YouTube spinning discs, but I didn’t think they had met. I said so, as I introduced them. Quick as a flash Danny said, “We used to be married.” It took me a few moments to catch up.

Stay safe. Keep well. Be kind.

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