The Coronavirus Diaries, 25th February 2021

So much good stuff today. I am quite excited. So it seems appropriate to have a Pointer Sisters moment now.

My friend Chris told me she and her partner have both had their first vaccinations. What? I was jealous. She told me to look online and see if I could book one. I was sceptical, but guess what? tomorrow I am booked in for the jab. Woohoo! B is going to be my vaccination buddy, so we shall walk the mean streets in February sunshine tomorrow morning. Is it going to be Pfizer? I don’t know. Watch this space.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 21st February 2021

Oh my what a weekend of lovely weather. Spring pushing away the cold of winter, filling longer days with light and promise, and filling the parks with flowers and buds, and filling our heads with giddy thoughts of post lockdown socialising.

There have been hints that we may soon be allowed to meet up with friends. Hints that have been taken by some as permission to jump the gun. I really don’t want another lockdown when this one ends so I am torn. The feeling of excitement and anticipation that the rule of six might be restored is making my heart leap. Today I sat in the garden with Hartley on my knee and thought how much he’ll love it if our drinks and nibbles routine starts up again.

But I am moving too fast. Millions have had the vaccine but I haven’t. I don’t think it will be long now, but seeing groups of twenty somethings sitting in a circle on the grass yesterday, older people going maskless into shops, some people strolling in groups of three or four down the centre of the pavement worried me. Don’t get me wrong, in the same hours that I saw these things I also saw people standing patiently in socially distanced queues, people wearing masks o the street, assiduous application of hand gel inside shops. I should hate to have got this far Covid free only to succumb the virus in the next few weeks or months.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 15th February 2021

So fifty years since the UK switched from pounds, shillings and pence to decimal currency. It was my cousin Georgina’s birthday, so the date fixed in my memory. I don’t know if there were any commemorative events today. If there were, I missed them. Until that day your purse would be a history lesson with coins from Victoria’s reign onwards. We knew what the young Victoria looked like with the *bun* pennies, and then how her jawline dropped as the reign went on. As Elizabeth II has reigned throughout the last fifty years there are coins which show her ageing, but the idea of a coin with someone else’s head on it seems quite odd.

Tomorrow I have my appointment at the fracture clinic. I am excited to learn if my wrist is fractured or not. It probably won’t make much difference, if any, to the treatment I’ll receive, but anyway I am curious. I have been spreading the rumour that my fall was due to Celia shoving me. I’m not sure the two children I told that tale to this afternoon believed me, but they were very keen and interested in the metal in my right wrist. More interested I’d say than in anything else I have ever told them. There’s a moral in there somewhere.

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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, 5th February 2021

We are having lots and lots of sudden heavy downpours of rain, usually at night, and out of the blue. Toady was more like the end of March than the start of February: blue skies, warm sunshine, a gentle breeze. The flowers are all appearing, hyacinths pushing their heads through the damp earth, snowdrops in clumps and drifts, crocii, even daffodils, and others I can’t name. Why didn’t I take pictures? Soon. Tho’ tomorrow it is set to be damp and there is even talk of snow on Sunday.

It’s J’s birthday today. Celia and I were able to present her with a bunch of flowers were had been invited to take from St Peter’s across the Walworth Road. Yesterday there had some filming there for a new tv series called Tailspin which will be on Apple TV. I don’t have Apple TV so I doubt if I shall see it. The member of the crew I spoke to yesterday could/would only tell me the title of the programme, but another today told Celia the church featured in a scene where a bride was arrested by the FBI at her wedding. Is the FBI allowed to arrest people here? I asked. Sounds unlikely. As Celia doesn’t have Apple TV either we shall probably never know.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 2nd February 2021

Sad news tonight that Captain Tom has died. His fame may not have spread beyond these islands, but here he became a hero last year, walking up and down to raise money for the NHS. He turned a hundred in 2020, just as my own father would have done had he lived. Yesterday we learned that Captain Tom was in hospital with pneumonia and had tested positive for Covid 19. He died this afternoon. The flag over Downing Street has been lowered to half mast. I’d like to think it was true respect, but I fear it’s more likely to be PR. I don’t know if it’s lockdown or age that makes me more emotional, but I cried when I heard the news.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 30th January 2021

I have never given someone a trifle as a birthday present until today. Trifle as in a dessert of fruit, cream and custard. But that is what I was advised by J that B would like, and her face did light up when she removed the wrapping paper so I know J was right. We celebrated tonight, as has become the custom, by Zoom and with chips. The audio on my Zoom was not working very well, but I have also realised that I am often much quieter at Zoom meetings than in real life where, in common with most of my family, I am generally a talker. I think it’s because I associate screens with passive activity, watching television and seeing a film, not conversing. So I am happy attending online talks, that sort of thing. That said, I did enjoy my one to one conversation by Zoom with my cousin Russell a week or so ago. When there are just two of you it’s easier to know whose turn it is to speak. I miss those social signals in an online chat.

Today has been wet and windy. Apart from trips out on errands it has been an indoor day. A grey day. That meant I got a certain amount of work done which feels good. I was domestically occupied too, cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom, washing out the cat litter tray. plumping up cushions. Dull in its way, but it wasn’t a day when I wanted excitement. My work was interesting and lead me to read and reread things which caught my imagination and stimulated my curiosity. I often find mundane tasks are conducive to new thought; as I dust or wash up I may go over things I have read, just as I do when I go for a walk or a cycle ride. New thoughts occur, new questions I want answers to. I am not saying I should like to be cleaning all day long, but it does surprise me how random and useful thoughts often arrive when I am thus engaged. There’s also the satisfaction of a tidy room, a vacuumed floor, additions to the bag destined for the charity shop when it reopens.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 15th January 2020

I can’t say I am complete convert to millet, but having used it in Red Bean Stew with Millet Pilaff tonight I am certainly going to be using it again. Or at least using up what I have still in the cupboard. Watch this space.

I have continued to be gripped by events in the US and Trump’s impeachment. Listening to and reading reports and analysis, especially about how senators are wearing body armour, employing bodyguards, fearing for their own and their families’ safety, made me think about some parallel events here. When the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Gina Miller after she took the UK government to court in 2016 over its authority to trigger article 50 without parliamentary approval she became a hate figure, received death threats, and had to have 24 hour security installed in her home. The Mail described the judges as enemies of the people, when they were exercising their independence and protecting our democracy. Ironic as The Mail tends to see itself as upholders of law and order. This headline was not just wrong, it was an attack on the judiciary, it undermined the judiciary and that is a dangerous thing to do. It is important for the judiciary to be independent and that government actions can be challenged through the courts.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 5th January 2020

In some ways I was disappointed when Celia didn’t carry out her threat to scream. Maybe it was because we were pounding the streets, not in the field which was where she said she needed to be to make loud her frustration about being once more in lockdown. Is it the third or fourth lockdown? I’m losing count. It’s supposed to be like the first lockdown, except of course it’s not because now we are much more familiar with the whole thing; our habits established back in March have for many of us remained largely unchanged. The shops have got their one way systems, sanitiser gel, perspex shields in place; the lines on the pavement which began to disappear at the end of autumn reminding us to keep two metres apart have been renewed.

In anticipation of the news I began a jigsaw. Whatever gene those who felt the first lockdown was not only the perfect opportunity to sort out their cupboards but actually did sort them have, I am missing it. Lockdown induces a kind of paralysis in me. I can walk, shop for neighbours, do jigsaws, cook, take photographs, keep this online diary, but it has a time standing still quality I struggle to get over. I was relieved when Reinhild, who I met by chance today, said her cupboards have remained similarly unsorted, but Mark, aka Mr Reinhild, was busy disposing of their Christmas tree.

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