The Coronavirus Diaries, 18th September 2022: Walking, Not Queueing

While some chose to spend the day queueing along the Thames to pay their respects at Westminster Hall where the Queen in her coffin lies in state, Celia and I headed to Essex. We took the train to from Liverpool Street which meant first taking a bus which crossed London Bridge where we saw the queue snaking along. We also saw it when we returned this evening, just before eight, when an announcement on the bus reminded us that we were due to observe a one minute’s silence.

Ironically much of our day had been pretty silent as we walked paths and met very few other walkers. Liverpool Street Station this evening was a bit of a culture shock, with hoards of people milling around and the usual crowds at the bus stops, noise and a very lovely young dog with his homeless owner. He doesn’t like big bags and barked loudly each time someone passed with one. I went to speak to his owner, a young woman and give her some money. The barking dog turned into a love hound, just wanting to make friends with me and have a cuddle. Still, if I were living on the streets I’d want a dog with a loud bark like his too.

Essex is a much maligned county, I’m not sure why, as so much of it is stunning. Today Coggeshall wowed us. It has some three hundred listed buildings, and to sit as we did looking at a fair choice of them as we ate our packed lunches on a thoughtfully provided bench was a treat. We happened to be there while buildings were open as part of a history weekend. We visited the library, formerly a Quaker Meeting House, then the museum which is small but packed with information and exhibits, and staffed by friendly volunteers. We thought we’d be too late for Grange Barn, built in C13 for the Monks of Coggeshall Abbey, but the volunteers were still packing up and let us without a murmur. Celia bought postcards and a notebook, and for just £1.50 I acquired a hardback copy of the biography of Suffragist Muriel Matters whose name should be much ,more widely known. She was the first woman to speak in the House of Commons, albeit from behind the grille in the women’s gallery. In 1908 she made a short speech which ended with the words We demand the vote.

We both want to return and brought home free leaflet with a town trail and three short local walks. I did take photographs, but I haven’t looked at them ye. The only reason I am still up and writing this is MasterB has chosen to go out, and therefore I need to stay awake for a further half hour before I let him in.

I know it’s been important for some to spend hours queueing to get into Westminster Hall, and back in 2002 I queued for around four hours when the Queen Mum was lying in state, but I think Celia and I had the better day.

Sweet dreams.

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