The Coronavirus Diaries, 1st March 2021

St David’s day. Appropriately I have daffodils, two bunches, two different varieties, in two separate vases. One vase is in the bedroom, the other in the living room. There may be more daffodils in the garden but I’ve not been out much since Friday.

Friday was glorious, warm and sunny as early April, and the weekend and today have continued in the same vein. B and I strolled down to Loughborough Junction admiring this and that on the way, until I realised our admiring, look-at-that-ing risked my late arrival for the appointment with my Covid vaccination, so the last few minutes were more a brisk walk.

It was all very streamlined. I was back outside in the sunshine with B in a few minutes. I had the Astra Zeneca vaccine. B was there in case I had a bad reaction. I so didn’t have a bad reaction we almost forgot that I might have done until we were nearly back.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 12th February 2021

Tonight the wind is biting. I popped down the road to deposit something in Celia’s brown bin as we no longer have one. I had intended to ring her doorbell and have a chat, but it was so cold all I wanted to do was get home again. It’s been cold all day, but also sunny which did much to mitigate it, so long as you were on the sunny side of the street, which by and large B and I were. I was her escort or minder for the walk to and from the venue where she had the first of her Covid jabs. Pfizer for those of you who like to know these things. For once I hardly took any photographs, although there were a number of things which caught my eye. It was all too much of a faff as I am again one handed having fallen the other day and put out my hands to save myself.

My accident was like a study in the effect of falling on different surfaces, one kind, the other unyielding. One hand landed on grass and I got a muddy glove but no injury. The other landed on the pavement and the pain had me wincing all the way home and especially when I tried to take off my glove. I thought, I hoped, it was just a bruise, maybe a sprain, and wrapped an ice pack round it, covered it in arnica, put it in a sling, took paracetamol. In the morning it still hurt, but one bit where I could see a large bruise blooming, hurt more, hurt a lot more. I went to A&E at Tommy’s.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 9th February 2021

I have successfully recruited Celia and Charlie to the millet gang. Woohoo! I made a vat of the red bean stew last night, had some myself with millet and leeks and today took portions of stew plus uncooked millet and instructions for how to prepare it to B&J and to C&C. I’ve not heard from B&J yet, but C&C had theirs for lunch and I received a very positive text from Celia afterwards. Not only that but when we met up later for a walk she gave me a bag for millet she wants me to buy for her on my next visit to Fare Shares, our local co-operative shop.

I am imagining a near future where millet becomes the in thing (and probably quadruples in price) featuring on menus in all the hippest restaurants and recipes. C&C and I will be saying things like, “Millet? Oh yes, we’ve been eating it for years. Have you tried it in a pilaff?” I’m going to be a tad deflated if B&J turn round and say, “Nah, not for us.”

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 7th February 2021

A few months ago I had never tasted millet, this morning I pulled Foods for Health by James Hewitt, a book off the shelf that was Mother’s, and read this:

“‘Millet is rightfully the king of all cereals,’ says Dr Paavo Airola.”

Naturally I read on. I had looked on the internet, but although there were lots of sites which mentioned millet, none looked very reliable. Later I thought of trying the Vegan and Vegetarian Societies websites and they endorse Dr Airola. So.

Maybe I am turning into my mother. Oscar Wilde said that was a woman’s tragedy. Maybe. Or maybe I just grew up with a parent who was interested in nutrition and cooking and some of it rubbed off on me. So I am rather excited to learn about millet’s amazing properties, high in protein (though not as high as quinoa), low in starch, contains more iron than other grains, digests easily and does not cause flatulence (!); it contains lecithin, and if I had known it was gluten free when Mother was alive I might have added it to the meals I made for her as she had Coeliac disease, was gluten intolerant.

I’m sure there’ll be another ingredient I’ll go mad for in a while, but right now I am Millet Woman. My fifteen-year-old self would be disappointed in the way I have turned out.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 25th January 2021

So the last time I posted it was before the first episode of It’s a Sin. Tonight I binge watched episodes two and three. So you can probably guess I think it’s great. Heartbreaking and great. The twists and turns of how we slowly became aware of the AIDs pandemic and the lack of information are spelled out in beautifully written and acted scenes. The end of episode two was so shocking after the first of the friends dies and you see the family destroying everything to do with him; the childhood photographs, the toys, his clothes. Everything. They wipe him out of their lives and their memories. I didn’t know of anyone doing that but I am guessing this is something that happened. I’d like to think we have moved on now. Learned some humanity. I do hope we have.

Saturday night was a birthday evening by Zoom. Not my birthday, my friend Chris’. Her partner had arranged for a bunch of us to join in a Murder Mystery event. Chris knew nothing about it until Saturday morning. It was fun, much better than I had expected, and next year, if we are allowed, we are going to do something similar but all be in the same room. Just imagine!

Sunday morning it snowed. I hadn’t realised it had started until I saw a tweet from Louisa @ElephantCafeUK which made me look out of the window. It was actually snowing quite heavily and of course at first it looked beautiful. My neighbours with a small boy who turned one just before Christmas brought him outside. He wasn’t sure about it, and after only a minute turned to James, his dad, and raised his arms to be lifted up. Across the street a young black cat bounced on snow flakes. MasterB did not venture out. But I have some footage of him from several years ago when he was quite vocal on the subject of snow.

Snow Business

By today the snow had gone. Some slushy water in the gutter was almost all there was to show it had been. The skies were blue and cloudless and it was cold. For once I spent most of the day indoors, only venturing out to run errands and give clean dishes to Joe for the outdoor cats. Tomorrow is one of my days to feed them. Joe fed them today, but when they saw me the boys hurried over and followed me, evidently hoping for a second breakfast.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 2nd January 2021

Celia and went for a walk this afternoon. Our goal was the Southbank where we had seen lights and signs of festivities a few weeks ago. There were still lights and a fair number of stalls selling food and drink, but most people seemed to be enjoying the view of the river and a walk as the afternoon turned into evening.

It would appear that with the restrictions on what we can do and where we can do it, more and more people are strolling the streets. There are an enormous number of beguiling puppies. Covid has made much of the last twelve months pretty bleak, but people discovering the joys of walking has to be a positive. Those who have acquired canine companions will obviously be out pounding the pavements and parks, will the rest retire to bars and restaurants? We saw a few runners. This is the time of year when those running the London marathon start taking their training seriously. There was no marathon in 2020. What are the chances in 2021? Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 30th December 2020

The year stumbles to an end. There will be no New Year’s Eve parties, the UK’s ignominious departure from the EU may be televised, but at least we shall be spared some of the excesses the Brexshitters wanted. I confess I am not a fan of New Year’s Eve. The sentimentality, the Auld Lang Syne linked arms with people you may not know who may well have had too much to drink; the fireworks that scare and kill wildlife; the going to bed too late and feeling out of sorts as a result for the first day of the year. None of it works for me. So that I don’t regret.

If the weather permits I’ll go for a walk with Celia. In the evening I shall close my shutters against the night, and if a vague plan we have hatched goes ahead I shall eat chips and drink something bubbly in my home, while B&J, Celia and Charlie, B&J’s friends Chris and Jean, maybe some others do the same in their homes. MasterB will be protected from noisy feux d’artifice and we shall be warm. I shall probably be in my pjs before midnight, possibly asleep. I hope Hartley will be tucked up safe in Helena’s emergency cat shelter.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 26th December 2020

I hope you are all having a lovely Christmas. I am. There is something rather nice about pared down festivities, though I was amazed at how many shops were open on the Walworth Road and Bermondsey Street today. My home twinkles with fairy lights, and glows with candles. The candles are all white, but the fairy lights in the sitting room comprise pink flamingos, blue stars, and green Christmas trees. The fairy lights in the hall are white and cream. The wine in the glass is red.

I still have three presents to unwrap. When I was little the excitement was all about the actual presents, now it is the fun of anticipation. Deferred gratification has something to be said for it. That is snot to say that the presents so far divested of their paper have disappointed, far from it. Lovely books, a scarf, a t-shirt (striped), chutney (I broke the accompanying jam when I dropped the present), Booja Booja chocolates, a gift voucher for a fabulous sum. We didn’t win the lottery yesterday but it almost seems churlish to mention that.

Christmas Day was bright and very cold. As my sitting room was flooded with sunshine the low temperatures outside were something of a shock. The park was full of dogs and their people. It was good. Today looked cold; grey and dull bit was actually mild. I had a late start, enjoying a grass matinée reading my book, while MasterB slept on my leg under the quilt. Hartley and Romeo had a late breakfast.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 20th December 2020

It’s been a day of seesawing emotions. We went into a new tier, tier four, at midnight, with only a few hours notice. I can understand why, and it wasn’t exactly unexpected, but it was still a blow. Work I was due to do this morning was cancelled. All work for the immediate future and for goodness knows how much longer cancelled. Meeting friends outside for a chat, a drink, nibbles over Christmas, cancelled. Life cancelled. That’s over dramatic, but having obeyed the rules, worked out how to socialise distantly and safely, I cannot pretend I was able to just shrug my shoulders and accept this stoically. But this morning, with the sun shining, I felt a determination to find my way through.

I was doing pretty well I thought. Until a letter from Secret World set me off. I was only a few sentences in and my eyes filled with tears. As for so many charities this year has been a hard one for them. Come the new year and the horror that is Brexit, combined with the horror which is Covid, the charities will struggle more, the objects of their charity will go unaided; children, animals, you name it. The world seems a harsh unhopeful place. I know I am writing this, thinking this, through the added prism of tier four and the prospect of weeks, months maybe, of life suspended, but we know the levels of domestic violence, of abuse, have soared during the pandemic, with victims unable to escape their abusers, and the new restrictions are simply going to make that worse.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 16th December 2020

Having suddenly woken up to the fact that Christmas is at the end of next week, and not still some time off, I have put up the fairy lights, lit the candles, and hung a couple of ornaments. I may add the bells and more ornaments later.

I am not usually a big fan of candles. They look nice but I worry about fire, so the electric candles Sue gave me some years ago are generally enough. However, this year I want light, I want something that somehow means hope, and candles are the quickest, most satisfying solution. I made an unplanned visit to IKEA today and came home with a box of candles and then some. I had to go to Greenwich to get my new towel radiator which will be installed on Friday. Hurrah, warm bathroom, warm towels. I din’t even realise there was an IKEA there. When I went in I meant to buy a new door mat. I completely forgot to look for one. The candles caught my attention and held it.

I’m glad I got them as on the way home I got caught in a traffic jam. It added considerably to my journey time. Watching four wheel drives and lorries driving over the reserve between the two directions of traffic entertained me a little. Radio 4 and then Paul Simon did the rest. There was a lot in the news about covid and Christmas. I have more or less accepted that I shall not be sharing my Christmas lunch with friends as planned. However, I shall spend the time inside with MasterB and I hope to be able to meet friends outside, as indeed I did last night, our last Prosecco and chips for a while as from midnight we moved into tier three and the rule of six is suspended to a rule of none. Actually I had cava, and I think Celia had red wine, while B&J had white, and I think Octavia had champagne.

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