The Coronavirus Diaries, 2nd May 2021

I am very much enjoying my birthday weekend. It has been more sedentary than I imagined as I had a procedure on my leg on Friday, and due to the site of the wound, the chances of it breaking open and becoming infected are high if I move around too much. That gave me the perfect excuse to lie on the sofa (leg raised) and watch Local Hero yesterday afternoon. What a lovely film it is.

Plans were so fluid in the morning as to be next to non-existent. We are still limited to meeting outside in groups no larger than six, and after a very dry April, scattered showers were forecast. However, the skies were blue, and on Friday night I had been talking to Celia on the ‘phone. We thought elevenses would work. So I bought croissants, some vegan, and some with butter, then pains au chocolat (butter), orange juice and clementine juice. Cynthia arrived with a bottle of champagne and glasses. So organised. Charlie had gone to Notting Hill to spend the day with his friend Chris watching cricket, so Celia was unaccompanied. Michèle met me at one gate, and B&J arrived at another. It was very jolly and as well as cards I was given perfect presents, including a new doormat with silhouettes of cats on it. It’s very handsome. I am not sure what it says about my stage of life that I can spend so much time admiring my door mat, but there it is. Books, a picture, fudge which I ate watching the film, some hand cream Celia and I had found and tried out a few weeks ago, and that most necessary accessory for summer, a wine cooling sleeve.

Naturally Hartley joined us. J has started giving him treats and has made him a toy. He stayed close to her, rolling over and offering her his tummy. That cat just thrives on love and affection.

That might have been it, but the forecast was showing less chance of rain for the evening, so we decided on a takeaway from the Vietnamese restaurant, to be eaten in Celia’s garden. Mid afternoon I had an invitation from Reinhild and Mark to join them in their garden for drinks and nibbles. I had asked if they wanted to join our al fresco dinner, Michèle and Cynthia having other engagements, but Reinhild was chilled having met friends for lunch outside the café in Russell Square, so they politely declined.

It wasn’t a late evening, and I enjoyed some time at home with MasterB and let him outside for a while before bedtime.

Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 3rd April 2021

Easter weekend which means it’s two years since Celia and I did the Guildford circular walk via Watts gallery. I am cold. I have been sitting outside with B&J having an al fresco meal. I didn’t feel cold then, but coming in I suddenly want to wrap a blanket around myself, convince MasterB he wants to sit on my lap (he doesn’t, he’s sitting across from me, on the chair, having a wash), snuggle into the sofa cushions.

The meal was delicious, from a Vietnamese takeaway close to the Elephant which I have known was there for years, but never tried. The exterior does not invite. The interior is plain, there are no takeaway menus to take away. J had heard about it, then read reviews, all of which were full of praise to the point of ecstasy. There is no website, it’s cash only in these cash less times; it’s very much old Elephant rather than the new shiny, sanitised, any place model being promoted by the developers. I’d say its days are numbered.

There are plans to put a penthouse storey on top of the council flats where I used to live. I am affronted. We called our flat the penthouse suite as it was on the top (seventh) floor with views to die for. We also called it Seventh Heaven, though that was usually ironic and when the lift wasn’t working; or the Centipede With a Wooden Leg, because of the joke and we lived at number 99. Now it seems the joke was on us.

Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 27th March 2021

What a lovely day: sunshine; surprising encounters with interesting, friendly people; scrambled tofu with lots of veg and sourdough toast for lunch; Thai green curry for dinner. Does that sound as though food is a high priority? Well, yeah, that would be about right. But the other things are also important. It’s not an either or.

I am moving slowly from sceptical about the end of lockdown and a gradual move to more freedom to feeling contained excitement. The idea that as the days warm up we will be able to meet outside in groups of up to six people seems wonderful. I already have pencilled in my diary an apératif with Michèle and a Sunday evening meal with Octavia. In fact April looks surprisingly busy after weeks and months of blank pages, I have all sorts of engagements. Admittedly these include visits to the hospital to check on my wrist and to see the physiotherapist, but still. It’s good practice for my later years when hospital appointments are likely to make up a good percentage of my social life.

Having decided the autumn was not after all the right time to move, I am back to thinking about it again. annoyingly our little syndicate has not yet won the lottery allowing me to keep a flat in London and buy a house in the Home Counties.

Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 13th March 2021

We’re Zooming again tonight but this time everyone is self-catering. I am having scrambled tofu with mushrooms, leeks, spinach, garlic and brown rice. Pudding will be blueberries and plain, unsweetened soya yoghurt. I’d like to have eaten before we meet up, but I was reading the last John le Carré lent to me by Michèle and I didn’t realise it was so late.

The new veganism is still bothering me. I am the only vegan among my friends. I cook them vegan food that doesn’t pretend to be anything else and they like it. I remain unconvinced their reaction would be positive if I were to present them with fake meat, even if I liked it. I do have some fake cheese at the moment. I quite like the fake smoked cheese, and I definitely like the soft cheeses. Except I don’t really think of them as cheese. The current cheese is different. Fake Red Leicester. It is, I have discovered, just perfect in a toasted sandwich. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.”

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading