The Coronavirus Diaries, 11th March 2021

Just typed the heading of this post and wondered when one will start without those three words. I felt an unexpected surge of hope this morning about the future. Maybe it was the spring. Maybe the unexpected blue skies when rain had been forecast. Maybe it was a headline now forgotten.

Yesterday I received an unanticipated letter. I’m not going to say what it was, but it first puzzled me then unsettled me. I wasn’t sure of the protocol of how to respond, and I didn’t understand why it had been sent. My first reaction was that although it was an odd way to communicate with me, that wasn’t my problem. But as time wore on I wondered what the motivation had been and if I should be worried; if there was an implied threat. I told Celia about it and then B&J. I was confused and uncertain as to how I should respond. To be honest I still am. But as they say, a problem shared is a problem halved, and moral support counts for a lot.

I have been doing my physio exercises religiously. When I broke my right wrist I found the hand therapy class wonderful. I worked and worked at my exercises and was rewarded by almost complete use of my wrist. This recent break is not in the same league, thank goodness ,as the other one, so although I find myself gritting my teeth as I try to squeeze a ball, or bend my wrist up or down, I know that gradually these exercises will make a difference and restore the movement to what it was. I am trying beyond exercises to tread the fine line between being over protective and gungho. Gungho sometimes wins simply because I don’t think. Returning form a walk with Celia this afternoon we passed an empty children’s playground. Earlier we had seen another empty, and much more exciting one.

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The Coronavirus, 28th August 2020

It’s my parents’ wedding anniversary today. As both have died they aren’t, at least to my knowledge, celebrating. Though maybe on some other plane they are toasting their years together with champagne or, most likely in my father’s case, tea. I’ll do my bit with a glass of wine.

Some of their anniversaries stand out in my memory; the one when the woman for whom my mother worked as her private nurse died. That meant immediate loss of income, so not a great day. Another was when I gave them a small table that had been restored and which they admired. But it’s funny how many I have forgotten. Memory is a strange thing. How is it we remember some things so clearly and yet the days months, years before and after those events have been erased from our minds? It’s not as though everything we remember is, or appears at a distance, to be highly significant, or is that just me? Continue reading

Doughnuts, Dolls and The Dead

I don’t usually have doughnuts for breakfast, but the on the other hand I have never, ever seen a doughnut that looks anything like this.

Doughnut Breakfast

The topping contained more sugar than I usually eat in a week. But it was nice.
I didn’t buy it, it was brought by a young relative who came to supper last night. I filled us up with ribollita until neither of us could face pudding, though true to form I picked at the bunch of grapes in the fruit bowl. I eat grapes as though I’m in a competition.
It was a good evening. MasterB took to the YR immediately, striding forward with his tail hoisted like a flag. I’ve already got her marked down as a potential cat sitter.
Apart from the unexpected doughnut it has been the week of the unexpected visit to one of the magnificent seven cemeteries, in my case Kensal Green. It was a fine cold morning when I set off rather later than I’d intended as MasterB had brought up a hairball on the bed which necessitated some unplanned and urgent washing before I could leave home. I met Badger the Staffie on my way to the tube. He held up his paw. I expressed sympathy and his owner laughed, saying Badger had been milking the sore paw for days.
My visit to the cemetery came about by accident rather than design. Lindy Lou took me to Kensal Green.
Here she is, newly unwrapped from the towel in which she travelled the tube for (I’m fairly certain) the first time in her existence.

Lindy Lou

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Lost Childhoods

On the tarmac

On the tarmac

Maybe this was my ‘plane. Maybe not.

My head is still partly in NI. Talking to Aunt this evening, telling her who I had seen, what I had done, I mentioned that I have obtained a copy of my mother’s birth certificate, and was surprised to see that it was my grandmother who had registered the birth, almost a month after that auspicious event, and just two days before Christmas.

I have said before that Mother and her siblings had a hard childhood. Aunt had a particularly tough time. Both she and Mother were taken to live with a couple who treated them very badly.

Mother ran away.

Twice.

The first time she took Aunt, and they each carried their meagre possessions. As Aunt said tonight, that made their progress through hedges and across fields difficult.

They didn’t get very far before they were caught and taken back. Mother was beaten to within an inch of her life with a stick cut from the hedge. Her vest stuck to her back with blood. Aunt could do nothing but howl. Then Mother was sent to bed in a loft, told the police would come for her in the morning because of her wickedness, and Aunt was forbidden to speak to her.

The sisters were seven and four at the time.
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Damned

My holidays in Northern Ireland generally include one or more pilgrimages to places of shared family interest. As a child, I spent many holidays in Upperlands with Cousin, her parents and her siblings. So off we went to meet Cousin’s big sister for a light lunch and a walk round the dams that powered the machinery at the linen factory which used to be the main local employer.

Water power

Water power

So we walk and we talk. We recall people and events from decades ago. Cousin tells how in a moment of rage with her now husband, she threw her engagement ring onto the path by one of the dams, then had to scrabble about to find it, rather ruining her grand gesture.

It’s a great place for swans. There’s an island where they nest, safe and unmolested. Each pair had at least five cygnets. It occurred to me that this would be a perfect bird sanctuary. I said this aloud, and was distressed to learn that the land has been bought by developers and so could one day be a gated community. And I don’t mean a prison. Continue reading

Colour Me Beautiful, or Not

As a child, I saw every day objects as male and female; the ones I remember most clearly were knives and forks. I saw knives as female, forks as male, but someone had told me that a gentleman always walks on a lady’s right hand side and table place setting arrangements bothered me because of this.

I have always seen ordinal squences in a spatial arrangement and, until I read this article in The Observer last weekend, believed this was how everyone saw them.

I associate names with different colours: Lucy, Rosalind, Sarah, Alice are pinks and mauves; Alex, Anne, Chris are sharper, citrus shades. Angela has a custardy spongy density. Continue reading

Goodbyes

Off to das Boot tomorrow and visiting a toy museum along the way.
I’ll not be there to admire the displays, but to discuss giving soem of my childhood toys to the collection. I have two snakes and ladders boards, a Ludo board, my Lindy Lou doll, and Toffee, the Merryweather Cheeky Monkey Bear I have had since I was a day old.
Here he is.

Toffee

Toffee


His nose is rather skiwhiff as I used to suck it. Continue reading

Saturday Morning Thoughts of Margaret Atwood, Sheep, Henry Cooper and Lady Penelope

I can’t help it, every time I see a photo of Margaret Atwood these days I think of a sheep. She would be a true wolf in sheep’s clothing I think. Certainly not someone I should like to cross swords with. She intimidates me even from the dusty ink of today’s Guardian front page. Not that I like to cross swords anyway. I got my bronze in fencing and then gave up. It was so hot behind the mask, in the padded jacket with the melamine cereal bowls to protect my chest.
I liked the elegance of fencing, the footwork, the terms, the feel of the foil in my hand, but I realised early on I did not have the killer instinct.
Nicola Adams has been single handedly responsible for a take up in women’s boxing of more than 70%. It must get hot in that protective headgear too. Her smiling face is such a contrast with the images of Henry Cooper I carry in my head: his eyes slits in a bruised mass, his nose issuing blood. But of course that was the whole masculine trip of it I suppose, and why he got the work advertising Fabergé’s Brut. Continue reading

Under Derry’s Skies

My last evening under Derry’s skies for the time being. The weather has been more than kind, and the craic has been good.

Derry's Skies

Derry’s Skies


There are still a couple of bits of my washing drying on the line, but most things are in the bag. We went for a coffee at the new café at Upperlands and said for hours. If you are in the district do pop in, the coffee is great. There is also a working model of a beetling mill. Cousin, who spent a year working in the office at Clark’s Linen Factory, was saying that orders would come in asking for Upperlands finish, a particularly shiny linen, and the story was that this had come about by accident, with one man falling asleep and letting the linen go through the machine several times. I did take some pictures, but I shan’t download them now until I get home tomorrow night. Continue reading