I know I’ve said it before, so honestly you’d think I’d learn, but the longer the time between posts the more you have to write and the harder it becomes, because, I really don’t want to sit down thinking I am going to be typing for hours, and also I have forgotten half of what has happened anyway, or it’s now irrelevant.
So I’ll start with this morning’s drama and see where it goes, though I am popping round to Helena’s shortly then cooking, and it’s The Dog House tonight, so there may be quite a long hiatus or a very short post. I was working this afternoon so this morning was crossing out things on my To Do List. I failed on the pomegranates, there were none for sale on the stall I patronise though I did get some very nice leeks. I love leeks and they are currently plentiful. I understand there’s an onion shortage in the Philippines so I expect that’s the next thing we’ll be looking at and saying How much? in aghast tones. Dijon mustard ( a. must in this flat) has doubled in price. If only I’d known I’ve had bought in bulk. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I got leafy greens and bleach in Morrison’s. Both have regularly been out of stock over the last few months so I was rather pleased.
I stumbled upon a delightful film on Film4 this evening. Finding Your Feet. I missed the first fifteen minutes or so, but the story was fairly undemanding and I think I filled in all the gaps. It’s an unassuming film, probably low budget, featuring places I recognise close to where I live, and with a gentle talented cast including Tim Spall, Celia Imrie, the late John Sessions in a minor part, and Imelda Staunton. I loved it. It was kind. Just what I needed. No car chases, no hugely dramatic showdowns, high body count or spilled blood, and somehow all the more precious and life enhancing for that. Tim Spall at the helm of a narrowboat which I know he has done many many times in his own life, particularly after his recovery from cancer.
I am finding life in this country hard. We seem to have turned into a horrible parody of ourselves; a divided divisive society, people on the edge of destitution because those elected to govern simply don’t seem to count swathes of the population as important. Horrible hateful comments about Harry and Meghan, even from people I usually respect. Maybe it was always like this. That there was a civilised veneer which was ripped away by Brexit to reveal the hideous truth beneath.
I am lucky. I have good friends who are enormously important to me. I have a beautiful, gentle cat who I love and who I dare to say loves me. Though he may love biscuits more. These are the things which make life good.
It’s suddenly Christmas. December has a habit of arriving calmly and then rushing into a mad frenzy. There are increasing numbers of people – men mostly – walking or riding bicycles dressed in Father Christmas hats or even the whole outfit -in central London. Christmas trees have been appearing for several weeks, though bizarrely not in Westminster Abbey, while in St Paul’s both Samuel Johnson and John Howard have had their statues hidden by Sandringham’s best.
No, I’m not doing any fireworks tonight. I quite like the colourful displays, but I thoroughly dislike the increasingly loud fireworks. The effect on pets, domestic animals and wildlife is appalling. So tonight I shall be mainly sitting on the sofa, watching television or reading, giving reassurance to MasterB that he is safe. To do this, I shall ignore all bangs and flashes, behave in a way that I hope convinces him there is nothing to be afraid of. It seems to work pretty well. I wish I could say the same technique is effective when it comes to storms, but sadly it’s not. Storms terrify him.
This morning was definitely cooler. Like many, I have not got my heating on. Actually I haven’t needed it, the weather has been so mild, but over breakfast I thought this might be the time when I succumb. However, as the day wore on, I realised I was perfectly warm. Yes I am wearing slippers and a thick jumper (sweater to those of you across the pond) so perhaps I’ll manage a few more days, maybe weeks, before I give in. Some people are saying they are not going have the heating on at all this winter. I don’t think I am hardy enough for that, though my first energy bill may change my mind. I’ll look out the thick socks.
UK politics continue to dismay. We have a Home Secretary and assorted underlings who seem entirely devoid of imagination, compassion or empathy. Anyone seeking asylum here is regarded with extreme hostility, housed in what are effectively internment camps. Chris Philp, a man whose smooth appearance inadequately disguises a soul so callous it seems as though he’s trying to get to the number one position in the list of Most Coldhearted Living People, most of whom are members of his own party and include Jonathan Gullis who really makes you wonder about the selection process for Tory candidates, thinks asylum seekers complaining about the dreadful conditions where they are housed is a bit of a cheek. The Daily Mail, whose long and shameful record of xenophobia is well documented, had a headline this week One in Six of Us Born Abroad. No I didn’t read the piece, but I am pretty confident it was meant to outrage (a favourite Daily Mail word) his readers. Some on Twitter pointed out King Charles III’s father, Rishi Sunak’s father, Winston Churchill’s mother, the captain of the men’s England football team’s father were all born abroad.
Up in the air and currently above the clouds, heading home after ten days in NI. In the way of these things, the time seems to have passed in a flash while the day I left home seems long ago. The weather has been kind, Uncle Bill’s birthday tea enjoyed by all but especially the man himself. The autumn colours have been beautiful, the dogs appreciative of their walks, Belfast abuzz.
On the final walk this morning there was a short shower of very fine rain. We’d left the house in sunshine, so I was doubly grateful it wasn’t a downpour, though a piece in the Guardian yesterday about the benefits of walking in wind and rain, and yesterday was very windy, may make me revise my opinion of wet weather walks (and encourage me to upgrade my waterproofs). Then there was a rainbow, arcing above the house where Poppy Junior lives. We didn’t see her, though we heard her barking in the house on the return leg. She knew we were there.
I have already got the Master B Ginger Ninja 2023 calendars printed, and some are on their way to various destinations around the globe. They are going quickly, but you have still have a chance of getting one.
I did watch the funeral today, or at least parts of it. I missed the arrival of the heads of state and the ex Prime Ministers, turning on the television as the coffin reached the abbey. MasterB was confused. I never watch television in the daytime and he evidently could not get his head around this strange occurrence. He kept checking in with me, needing reassurance in the form of cuddles and affection, so I missed other bits too. He is now outside which is why I’m at the keyboard.
The music, as you’d expect, was sublime. The shots of the abbey breathtaking. Only rare and narrow glimpses of David Hockney’s window. Why was that? There didn’t seem to be camera shots from that angle. Did someone decide it was too modern? It is the Queen’s window, one celebrating spring, her favourite season. Nearly all the women wore heels of staggering height and slenderness. I cannot imagine how they stood it. They probably have their feet soaking in warm water tonight.
By one o’clock I was funeraled out. there was a lot more to come, but I switched off and had lunch. I did catch some of the Windsor part and can only marvel at Charles’ stamina. Suddenly a half hour slot at the crematorium followed by tea and sandwiches seems a much better deal.
So to photos. Not of the funeral, of yesterday’s walk. I have a lot, so maybe some tonight, some later.
We started at Kelvedon which impressed us. One attractive building after another, though some seemed neglected.
Essex is famously Tory, so I was surprised and pleased to see Kelvedon’s councillors are Greens. The bench was a nice touch too. There were grand houses, not so grand houses and expensive cars. I don’t recall seeing any reference to food banks.
I had my booster vaccine today. It began with an M but I have forgotten its name already. Funny to think that when the vaccines first came out we learned their names overnight and compared notes on what we knew about them. Now I just want to know if I am going to have an adverse reaction.
The vaccinator – a new word to me today – asked me to expose my arm. That’s the first time I have heard that phrase. It made me laugh. He looked surprised, then laughed too. Apparently he’s been saying it for days and only when I laughed did he think it sounded odd. In future he’s going to ask people to roll up their sleeves.
In the last few days I have decided my sitting room needs redecorating. It’s not a task I relish, and I shall certainly employ someone to do it, so probably not this side of Christmas. after exposing my arm I walked to the Old Kent Road and a branch of B&Q to pick up colour samples. I had been thinking pale grey, but they all seem either too grey or too pale. My thoughts are drifting towards white. The walls are off white now, but quite which off white I don’t recall. I’ve tucked the various cards under picture frames, and lost one behind the sideboard, to stare at over the coming weeks.
The trouble with not posting for a while is you – by which of course I mean I – have too much to say so where to start, where to end, which rant to prioritise, which magic moment to celebrate, becomes the barrier to any post at all.
So I thought to try a few bullet points. Here goes, in no particular order:
It feels as though the net is drawing tighter and it’s only a matter of time until I am caught in it. Almost every day I hear of someone new who I know catching COVID. All have been vaccinated, all have escaped the virus until now. I am in a group of diminishing size. So I’m back in masks, still opening windows and sitting beside them where possible when I am on the bus, restricting my social life, washing my hands, trying to keep my distance and mainly seeing people outside, which is not hard at this time of year.
Next week, should trains and planes allow, I shall be off to NI for a fortnight, and I really don’t COVID to put a stop to that or to strike me down while I am there. Octavia was telling me of her friend Loris who has flown in from Australia, but far from enjoying a holiday she is laid up in bed feeling dreadful. Allegra went to the US to attend a family wedding. A good friend who accompanied her for the relaxing break they intended to enjoy afterwards, has also tested positive and is very unwell. Jimmy returned from a festival in Croatia , and, well you have probably guessed the rest. My neighbours across the landing succumbed last week. Celia tested positive at the weekend. Mary, who I work with tested positive yesterday.