The Coronavirus Diaries, 18th December 2020

As I don’t think Celia’s son or daughter-in-law read this page, it’s probably safe to tell the story of how we almost lost a painting yesterday. If you are here in London you’ll know that unlike today which has been wet and windy, Thursday was one of those unseasonably mild days with blue skies and plenty of sunshine. I was very happy to accompany Celia over to Bermondsey where she was picking up a painting her son had bought. We strolled along, met another neighbour pushing her baby grand daughter in a push chair. The granddaughter was dressed in a red suit, and burst into tears when I spoke to her. Thank goodness I used to teach adolescents if that’s my effect on the very young. We admired buildings, the tiling on a pub:

We wondered about the Bermondsey Medical Mission and how Lena Fox was connected to it.

We collected the painting and then set off for a snack by the river, and shared a slab of banana bread. Back through the narrow streets and some enjoyable browsing in Bermondsey Street. We lusted after glass at the London Glassblowers where there was a table of items which will be in their January sale, seconds, as are all the pieces I have acquired from the London Glassblowers, but beautiful none the less.

There was a new charity shop raising money for Save the Children; food shops; puppies on the pavement. I even went to look at Christmas trees, but they were all enormous. We found a shop selling beer and books, a winning combination. More puppies. more meandering. In a park a bench dedicated to the memory of a young man killed violently drew our attention. It is beautifully done, full of personal touches, and I hope the making of it brought some healing for his grieving family and friends.

By Guy’s Hospital we wondered what had caused the damage to the barrier.


We walked on. About two hundred yards from home, Celia suddenly shrieked. I looked at her and understood. No painting. Where had she left it? We used our phones to find the numbers of the places we had stopped. Two voicemails, one answer from a very helpful woman in the charity shop. No, the painting wasn’t there, but she was going to search the street.

We made a plan, a quick pitstop in our homes to use the loo and grab a snack and then meet to retrace our steps. So twenty minutes later we were boarding bus back to London Bridge. No sign from the charity shop lady’s street search, but I kept thinking it would be found. Most people are honest. The painting almost certainly had the name of the gallery on the wrapping; we could ask there. But we didn’t need to. The glassblowers said Celia had left with her painting, so it had to be in the beer and book shop. It was. Back to the charity shop to report, and then another bus home and smiles all round. A happy ending. Just don’t tell Paul.

In other news, I have had a flu jab; I’ve learned that I am in the seventh group for the Covid vaccine, though I don’t know when that will be; my towel rail is newly installed and it is much warmer than the old one; the fairy lights are up and on; I have six real candles burning this evening and three electric ones. It’s actually beginning to feel like Christmas.

Stay safe. Keep Well.


14 thoughts on “The Coronavirus Diaries, 18th December 2020

  1. Touched and grateful that without hesitation you turned round and came back with me on the picture search. Still mystified that having had it tucked under my arm I could abandon it without a thought until sight of home reminded me of why we’d gone out!

    • No need Celia. I couldn’t abandon you at that critical moment. And two pairs of eyes are better than one. I think by the time we had reached the beer and book shop our focus had completely shifted. The picture goal had been accomplished and we were just enjoying ourselves. +
      Until you shrieked I didn’t notice you no longer had the painting.

  2. Your ‘adventure’ with the painting reminded me of a hair-raising mishap I had some years ago when taking £2000+ of my employers takings to the bank. En route, I stopped to pick up my son from nursery and took the bag full of notes off the back seat and put it ‘momentarily’ on the car roof while I strapped my boy in. On dropping him off at home, of course, I realised I no longer had the money-bag. Blood-freezing time! I drove back to the nursery and, with a pounding heart, found the zipped bag full of cash lying untouched where it had slipped off the car roof into the gutter half-an-hour earlier! I felt I had used up at least half-a-lifetime’s luck that afternoon.

    • Blimey. I can feel my stomach churning just reading that.
      I am in Guildford on Wednesday unless tier four restrictions mean my dental appointment is cancelled. I am hoping for blue skies and a wonderful view from the top of the High Street across to The Mount.

  3. Ah, give old Guildford my love! Covid has kept me away all year, since I revisited the RGS last December, for the first time since I left in 1964, which was a strange but wonderful experience! I see the weather forecast for Wednesday is sunshine and showers, so you may be in luck where the view of The Mount is concerned. Let’s hope so!
    I guess this is as good a time as any to thank you for your ever-interesting, and often uplifting, diary posts – and to wish you a very happy Christmas and, of course, a much-improved New Year!

    • Thank-you Graham. I don’t know you’ve been reading unless you comment, so it’s nice to hear that you have been here all along. You were an RGS boy? I didn’t know that. The Sturleys were my neighbours when I was a child. I was a County School girl.
      I keep intending to move to a different dentist closer to home, but it’s my one contact with Guildford and gives me a reason to return now I have no family or friends there any longer.
      I am dreading Brexit. And although I should like to say something optimistic, I fear 2021 is going to be a very hard year. Merry Christmas to you and yours. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. Thanks Isobel. That’s interesting: Mark Sturley (though known, for some reason, to the RGS boys as ‘Dan’) was my history teacher at O-level and I have a copy of his book on the history of Guildford pubs and breweries! I knew several girls at The County, though whether you were in the same year I don’t know, of course. Perhaps the names of Philippa Hunt, Joanna Smith, Scilla Hammond or Jennifer Clarke may ring a distant bell?

  5. Terry Parry-Jones (as he was back then) was school captain / head boy in 1961, and I remember him quite well. Pretty sure that Ishiguru went to Woking Grammar rather than the RGS.

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