The Coronavirus Diaries, 10th July 2020

Almost a ‘normal’ day: two lots of washing done and hung on the line, then a bus to Westminster to leave my next bag of books and esoteric magazines at an Oxfam bookshop, a chat with the woman in the shop about the various hand gels available, and then resisting buying at least four books from the stock as I had more to do and I didn’t want to carry them. Then another bus to Fleet Street, before heading into the City where it was a mixed story of shops open and shops closed.

Leadenhall Market was newly festooned with fake flowers and bunting.

Leadenhall Market redecorated

Say it with flowers

And yet more flowers


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The Coronavirus Diaries, 9th July 2020

Writing these daily diary entries brings home to me just how many days are spent in the pursuit of minor tasks, sometimes bringing minor triumphs – hurrah the washing dried on the line before the rain came down – but mainly very ordinary stuff that needs to be repeated a few days later; things like dusting, changing bed linen, cleaning the fridge, buying toilet roll. Today was another such day where my greatest triumph was a charity shop accepting a bag of very old clothes for textile recycling. I failed to understand the council’s website and still don’t know if I need to book if I walk over to the recycling centre with a small bag of defunct small electricals or not. As they don’t weigh much I may just try it. If I am turned away I’ll know I need to book. But not tomorrow. I need to go to the City to take photographs for an online presentation. I would have gone today, but the skies were once more grey and tomorrow it’s supposed to be sunny.

I am getting impatient to return to das Boot. Monday I hope. So some discipline regarding work to be done at home before then where I can usually rely on the internet.

It was nearer five than four when Celia and I went for our walk. There had been no call from the hospital and so the next time I see Celia she will have had her haircut. She’s going to say she wants an inch off, knowing a hairdresser’s inch is greater. We went to Burgess Park which I have mainly avoided as it gets very crowded. The advantage of a dull day is fewer people venture out. You wouldn’t have described it as deserted though. We met two very lovely dogs, both female both very young, both playful, both accompanied by young women. The flowers looked beautiful in a wild sort of way, and the lingering raindrops balanced on their petals only enhanced their beauty.

Wildly beautiful blue


Made more beautiful by drops of rain

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 8th July 2020

For nearly a week Celia has been in a state of suppressed, and sometimes not so suppressed excitement at the prospect of a haircut this coming Friday. So she is having to be very grown up at the moment as the appointment hangs in the balance. This morning her husband Charlie was told to go to A&E at St Thomas’ after Celia had called 111 on his behalf at breakfast time. He was allowed to come home, but there is talk of a follow up appointment at Guy’s hospital for investigations. So I imagine that tomorrow Celia will be on tenterhooks hoping that appointment will not be on Friday while at the same time hoping it is if the need is urgent. She’ll be torn.

Last night I had an email from City of London libraries to say they will reopen under certain conditions shortly. There were reassurances about books borrowed before lockdown, and advice to renew loans online if we didn’t feel ready to enter a library building. I have one book borrowed from CoL, another from the London Borough of Southwark. I live in Southwark. I have walked by some of Southwark’s libraries over the last few months, and, crucially, over the last couple of weeks. I have looked at notices, hoping for information about plans to reopen. Nothing. Nor have I received any email message. Fired up by the message from CoL, today I had a look at the LBS site. There was a notice about libraries closing due to Covid 19, nothing about reopening. Continue reading

The Coronavirus diaries, 5th July 2020

When I was a child I had a friend called Marion. It’s her birthday today. It’s decades since we were in touch and I have no idea where she is, but tonight I find myself thinking about the treasure hunts we used to make around our gardens, and the winter afternoon her grandparents taught us to play clock patience and solitaire. So happy birthday Marion and thanks for the memories of our childhood friendship.

I shouldn’t have laughed when I saw this in the Observer today, but really I could no help myself. I sent the link to Octavia with a comment asking the lines of “who would have guessed?”. When I saw Celia this evening she had had a similar reaction when she heard the police on Radio 4. It was a cynical kind of laughter I know, but these are cynical times. The economy is evidently more important to the government than people’s health, so we get the green light to get pissed but track and trace is still ineffective and a vaccine is a distant dream. Continue reading

The Coronavirus diaries, 4th July 2020

A very grey day, but dry and with a brisk wind, so having changed the bed linen and washed it it all dried on the line, and I was able to iron it and leave it to air. Always feels good. The dusting and vacuuming got done too, a bit of shopping, newspaper reading, a crossword. All very Saturday. All very local. More shops reopened today. Some pubs are back in business. Boris Johnson is calling it Super Saturday. Super Saturday was the day back in 2012 when team GB and NI won a clutch of gold medals at the Olympics. The country was united, the sun shone, we waved a flag that belonged to all of us. One of our most loved athletes was mixed race, another was born in Somalia. Our country is now fractured, the union is brittle, the far right has hijacked the flag, and nationalism not patriotism is in the ascent. Some of the media crowing Super Saturday because we can go to the pub when there have been thousands of unnecessary deaths, government ineptitude on a mind boggling scale, a prime minister whose casual approach to truth and responsibility has been glaringly on show with prevarications and lies a regular occurrence, and now the revelation of a trail of contracts to pay millions of pounds to buy PPE from companies with no apparent connection to the products required, but plenty of connections to key government figures, strikes a very sour note.

When we had our Zoom dinner date we discussed who might be Prime Minister when the Tories ditch Johnson, as they surely will before long. Neither of the names we came up with, Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove, would make me sleep better at night. Like so many others here I wonder how we came from where we were in 2012 to where we are now so quickly. I can only hope that somehow we find our way back to a being a country I can be proud of again. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 3rd July 2020

I bought the laptop. Now I am finding my way around it. It may take me some time I feel. Today I tried to use it for a Zoom event. It all seemed fine, then I realised I had no sound. Nor could I understand how to get sound. It was a quick switch to the iPad. Now I need to use it to try to join other Zoom meetings while I work out what to do. Or is there another way?

This was after enjoying a cycle ride with Octavia. She has been cycling a great deal during lockdown, far far more than I have, and she has become more adventurous, more confident. It was great to go out with her. She’s off to Yorkshire and her mother in a couple of days, so I shall have to wait until she returns for the next spin. We went to places I have walked with Celia, just to the south of where we live. It was fun. It reminded me of my helming with Stuart, how being with someone who is calm, confident helps give you confidence. It’s a good feeling. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 2nd July 2020

Our timing was pretty good, we got caught in the rain shower within a short distance of home having enjoyed a neighbourhood stroll for around an hour and a half. Celia is very excited as she has an appointment to get her hair cut tomorrow week. I am remaining shaggy and unkempt.

I decided to try i-movie only to discover my laptop is not compatible with the latest updates. I went round the corner to consult with Ahmad. He has lent me the laptop I am writing this on, and if I decide I want it, he’ll give me £200 for my current laptop in part exchange. It will still mean £300 to pay. Weirdly, this one doesn’t have a £ or a € on the keyboard, you have to open up character view. It’s not that onerous, but it does seem odd and a bit clunky. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 29th June 2020

It was a sudden decision to return home; the spur was the weather forecast. It has been windy since Saturday, and I really wonder why I have bothered to comb my hair, but when I saw that the wind speed of around 20mph was likely to increase to 40mph I decided to pack my bags and leave as quickly as I could. I had been planning to wash the rear cover, but it seemed likely it would end up being blown into the river if not the next county. Next time.

Last night MasterB was absolutely determined to march around the marina, albeit in his harness. The trees thrashed about above us and one very young calf was totally intrigued by my boy. He could not stop looking and came closer and closer to the fence for a better look. What he made of what was probably his first view of a feline I should love to know. The large black bullock didn’t care about MasterB, he wanted a head scratch and probably to lick a human arm too. It is shocking to think he’ll end up on someone’s plate. This is an animal who loves people and should be a companion bullock. He could probably have a whole career visiting care homes lapping up love and affection from entranced residents. He’s certainly a hit at the marina.

Thrashing willow

MasterB also made it clear he wanted some shore leave this morning, but when I did strap his harness on and liftEd him from the boat he was suddenly less sure, and most certainly disgusted to find this was a short outing ending in his travel carrier in the car. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 16th June 2020

Having established the London Camera Exchange had reopened I had planned to go there today. I have two cameras I no longer use, and although I attach great sentimental value to them, I really have no excuse for keeping them. I want to know what they might fetch. However, the footage of eager shoppers queuing rather dampened my enthusiasm for venturing to the West End. True, there’s no branch of Primark near the LCE, which seemed the goal for an astonishing number of young women, but I decided another day or two wouldn’t hurt. Unlike those who have spent lockdown clearing their cupboards, my cupboards remain alarmingly full. I have identified a few items and a small bag of very old clothes for textile recycling that will go to the charity shops when they reopen, and some kind neighbours are taking some defunct small electrical to the local big recycling facility for me tomorrow, but other than that no real change.

Mind I am not buying new stuff either. I really have enough stuff to last me my lifetime. Aunt used to talk about things seeing her out, I am starting to understand what she meant. I know people routinely change towels and whatnot, but my towels, which must now be in their teens, are still in good shape and show no obvious signs of wear. I am wearing a shirt today which I do not expect to last beyond the summer. I have a trio of such shirts. They are too worn to go for sale in the charity shop, so when they fall apart they’ll go in the textile recycling bag. The trousers I was wearing at the weekend are ones I think of as new, but they are in their fourth summer. This lack of need is welcome as I still don’t know if or when my income will return.

I suppose I am also surprised at the eagerness of people to shop when we have had warning after warning that there will be a recession the like of which we have never seen. I am not the only person facing an uncertain future. In my case, fear of debt makes a financial caution come into play. Part of the reason for my mental health day trip was to consider possible courses of action if my income does not return, because if it doesn’t, this might be the moment when I leave London and choose a life even simpler than the one I have now. It would be goodbye to das Boot, probably goodbye to the car. Lots to think about, but I feel as though I am doing something, not just waiting for disaster to overtake me. Views like these certainly made the prospect appealing. And with a protected garden MasterB could enjoy so much more freedom than he has now.

Boats at low tide

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 13th June 2020

In a garden very close by a group of friends is getting louder and louder. I know it’s a share house, the number of different voices suggests this is a bit of a party. From the shouting and raucous laughter I’d say drink has been taken. I have shut my windows but that’s done nothing to deaden the noise. It’s making me nostalgic for the quiet we have enjoyed all these weeks.

Somewhere this weekend has marked a new shift in lockdown. It might be called break out. Two of the three flats that have been empty for months are now occupied once more. A family down the street who went to a property in Sussex in March has returned.

At Sainsbury’s at the Elephant the barriers behind which we have queued for weeks now have gone. There was no one on the door telling us we could come in or if we had to wait. Shoppers arrived from different directions. Inside there were still notices telling us to keep apart, and most people were, but there were fewer masks, no gloves. At Baldwin’s, which is small, they were operating a strict one out, one in policy and asking customers to use the hand sanitiser before they began to shop.

I dodged the market at East Lane which seemed to be heaving, and kept mainly to side roads. My newly returned neighbours went to Kennington Park and reported it was very busy there. MasterB who firmly believes their flat is now his territory walked in and out of their home several times as we talked at a safe distance from each other on the landing. and checked out bags and a new piece of furniture. Continue reading