A day out. Yeah, I know I have been going out a lot, but this was a Day Out. Ok, I have had Days Out too, but for the last year generally alone. Today was a Day Out in Company. To be precise with Celia, my usual partner in crime in London as we go walkabout and miss Blue Plaques to Charlie Chaplin as we are too distracted by the cakes in the window of the baker’s underneath.
We went to Wivenhoe. It was sunny. The skies were a cloudless blue. There was a cool wind. We bought lunch from the Norwegian baker, went into both book shops, drank our first ciders in a pub garden for a year. It was great. Celia says it was too. She bought a coffee from the deli where we later returned for ice cream. It stocks Booja Booja ice cream. Heaven.
Lunch was by the river, tide out, with our Norwegian Bakery purchases. The cider at the pub was wonderful, though despite our carbohydrate intake we watched, with a certain amount of envy, people eating chips. Out then to the sailing club and a conversation with a lovely man who was clearing winter’s mud away from the slipway. We learned he is a diver who has lived all over the world, including Colchester, was born in east London and has lived in Wivenhoe for 18 months. Loves it.
I asked him so many questions he thought I was a journalist (I am!) rather than just interested. Then it was up the hill to the fish shop. I don’t eat fish but Celia and Mr Celia, aka Charlie, do. On previous visits I have walked passed it but wasn’t entirely confident I could find it without deviation. The barmaid at the pub gave us the exact address.
I just remembered I promised Pat I’d put a link to an excellent long read in the Guardian on the subject of whiteness and race. I’ll do that now. Here it is. I find the subject fascinating, how we started defining people by the colour of their skin not by where they were born. which explains how some people on these islands just do not understand how you can be black or brownand yet British. It’s really not that difficult. And it would be a great move forward if we could get over it. I think it’s easier if you live in a multicultural place like Walworth, where we are all colours, all languages, united by Britishness.
This morning I met Karima who I knew through my work some years ago. When I say met, it wasn’t an arranged meeting, we were walking towards each other down a street. She was wearing a wonderful pink outfit which I wrongly assumed was to to do with Eid. No, she explained, it was something she liked to throw over her pyjamas or scruffy clothes if she had to go out. She was her usual sunny self. this is a woman who spent two years with a severely ill son in hospital who the doctors told her would die. He’s now twenty, and although his legs are weak, he’s fine. She’d be at the hospital all day, come home, cook for her older children, clean, go to bed, get up, make breakfast for everyone, then return to the hospital. Her attitude is eternally positive.
I am feeling very proud of myself. Today I went to Tommy’s for my physio appointment. I have had six different exercises to do, twelve repetitions of each, three times daily, since my cast was removed. Two were easy from the word go, the other four have gradually become easier. In the middle of last week I was aware of a sudden improvement in the flexibility of my wrist.
The physio department was quieter than I have ever seen it. Where were all those people I had seen at fracture clinic? I was seen by a physio called Finn who wanted to know how I was getting on. I showed him what I could do and he seemed pleasantly surprised. That’s very good, he said. He said it quite a few more times during the session. I beamed behind my mask. We talked about other things I could do which would also be helpful. I said I had an inflatable beach ball which I had used after breaking my right wrist. He endorsed use of it again. Because he seemed genuinely interested and not likely to refer me to the psychiatric team, I told him that I had been doing the more difficult exercises with both wrists; my theory had been if my body could feel what my right wrist was doing then it might help my left wrist to get the idea. He stared at me and I wondered if he was considering calling someone to restrain me, but no, he said I was right, it did help. How wonderful.
The skies are so blue, barely a cloud, but the wind is like a knife and the blue turns to grey in an instant. Romeo and Hartley were soaking up the rays then finding sheltered spots. One moment you are enjoying the sun on your face, the next you are huddling into your coat. It has tried to snow. Temperatures are to drop to freezing tonight. Wow.
The good thing is that it discourages people from going wild and gathering in big groups, but I am guessing it is also leading to more people disregarding the rules and meeting indoors. Celia and I enjoyed a walk in Nunhead Cemetery yesterday afternoon. We were wrapped up in winter coats, scarves, gloves. Celia wore a hat. I wish I had worn one.
Yaaaaaay, I am free of my plaster cast. What a lovely moment. Fairly swiftly followed by the discovery that making a fist, flexing my wrist up or down is painful. So I have a new and rather snazzy splint to wear when I need, and six sets of exercises to do to increase strength and flexibility. Onwards and upwards. I am shedding dead skin by the handful, and moisturising at regular intervals. The physio made positive noises, saying the movement I had was good for the first day without my cast. So I am motivated and hopeful that by the start of April I will be using my left hand almost as normal.
High on my to do list is a proper dust and vacuum of the flat. I have made a start on the bathroom, and dusted the sitting room. But it was too nice a day to spend it all indoors, so there was a also a walk around Burgess Park with Celia, watching the birds, enjoying the flowers, thinking about what we might enjoy if the number of Coronavirus cases keeps falling.
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.
I have spent much of the day in front of the computer screen so this post may be short. If only I had established and maintained a streamlined online filing system life would be so much better. I spend hours searching for lost documents and pictures. Still.
Tomorrow I shall probably be glued to the news hoping the inauguration of Joe Biden will happen smoothly and peacefully, that the events of two weeks ago will be like creatures in a cheap B movie about Hallowe’en, sunk back into the ground with a ghastly but hammy sucking sound, and then swiftly forgotten.
Don’t call us, we’ll call you. And we won’t.
Reading reports it sounds as though all may be quiet, but unfortunately these abhorrent creatures will not have gone away, they will be waiting their moment. Maybe if the moment passes or seems never likely to come they will shake their head like characters in other B movies who wake and realise everything was just a dream, and resume lives as reasonable people. I hope.
Hope should not be sneered at. Sometimes it is all we have. It is easy to condemn those around Trump who are now coming forward and telling how it was for them. But being bullied is not an easy place to be, and who do you whistle blow to when your boss, the bully is POTUS?
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 TheMail 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.
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.
I am going to be brief, though not necessarily to the point as I’d like yo get to bed soo and read a while before I sleep. I’ve started a new JoJo Moyes book. I can see why she’s popular; strong feisty heroines who have to overcome obstacles in life. Easy reading, and well written easy reading which is in its own way uplifting and hopeful. Perfect for the mood I am in now. I mean now in the broader sense, not this particular minute when I am feeling pretty happy. MasterB and I have enjoyed a game on the stairs which tired him sufficiently so that he is now curled up asleep. He signalled his desire for a game when I was changing the bed linen, and also when I was putting up my flamingo fairy lights. My solar powered ones which I have had up for years, all year round, have suddenly and sadly stopped working. The flamingos, bought in Sainsbury’s sale last January, were quite tricky to untangle, and the Boy was keen to help. Again I do not understand how anyone can claim in all seriousness cats are aloof. MasterB wants to be involved with everything. He is very interactive.
I also put up the green Christmas tree shaped lights which were shorter than I thought, while the flamingoes were much longer. I have blue star lights which belonged to Aunt as well as cream and white ones in the hall, so no one could accuse my decorations of being bland.
However I am put to shame by this door which you seen before I think, or maybe that was on my work instagram account.
It’s the home of an artist, Paul Ashhurst. he likes colour. His wreath is a triumph. If you find him on instagram you’ll also see he has a tree. My photo is unfortunately not a triumph, but with luck I’ll get the chance to take another and replace this one.