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, 19th January 2021

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?

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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, 26th December 2020

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.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 22nd December 2020

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.

A rejection of Farrow and Ball

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.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 1st December 2020

So here we are again on the brink of end of lockdown, and this time we have a slightly better idea of what it means. But despite the good news about vaccines, the hope and cheer that accompanied our ease out of Lockdown1 has vanished. We have been told for months that many businesses have been on the verge of collapse, that financially 2021, already precarious due to Brexit, looked like something none of us could imagine. When the sun shines and the world keeps turning, even diminishing bank balances somehow don’t destroy hope.

The Arcadia group has gone into administration, and that move has meant the end of the line for Debenhams, already in administration, as much of the floor space in their stores was taken up by concessions from the Arcadia group. I have no regrets about Philip Green losing his empire, but for the 13,000 people suddenly facing possible unemployment, this is devastating. Add 12,000 from the Debenhams collapse, several thousand more from the group that owns Jaegar, Edinburgh Woolen Mill and Peacocks and the unemployment figures are going to rise and look as though they will continue to rise as more and more businesses fail.

Green was an asset stripper rather than a builder of businesses. He avoided paying tax in the UK by having much of his business registered in his wife’s name, a resident of Monaco. So far so familiar. He may feel he has lost a bit of face, but I doubt if he’ll be selling the yacht, or wondering if he can afford next week’s groceries.

Of all the things I should like to see a government of any colour do it would be to make tax avoidance a crime. It robs countries of their wealth. Don’t give me the spiel about these being the people who make the money and they are therefore somehow entitled to keep it. They have employees who make the money with and for them, and the employees, by and large, including those working in Amazon’s warehouses (Amazon avoids paying tax in the UK) pay taxes.

There was something the news tonight about government handouts, as though the government is being incredibly generous. Well the money comes from taxes which have been paid by people working here. So it is the honesty of taxpayers that is funding it. The amount the government is paying out is huge, but it is still peanuts compared to what is not paid into the tax system by those who circumvent the rules most of us play by. They circumvent them through using their money to employ accountants who are wise to every offshore/trust/hedge fund dodge. It may sound clever, but it’s a deeply selfish, deeply damaging tactic. I’d say it’s immoral. The UK is often referred to as a Christian country, particularly by those who embrace islamophobia, but a little more evidence of adhering to the gospels and ‘render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s’ being practised by those who have would not come amiss.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 1st November 2020

It’s my half birthday and the universe seems to be telling me to leave things alone. I repeatedly forget to buy a lottery ticket in a shop, when I try to buy one online it doesn’t work; I make the decision to put my flat on the market and I turn down the virtual tour option, a second lockdown is announced immediately. Return to Go, go back two spaces, miss a turn, or whatever board game cliché you like.

I’m not sure how I feel about the flat, certainly some relief, but whether that is simply to do with knowing I can duck out of the stress of selling and buying for a while, or if I don’t really want to move, I don’t know.

I do love London in the autumn. With the dark streets lit by the lights of cafés, bars and restaurants I almost certainly shan’t go to, even the wettest night – and we’ve had a fair few of those this past week – takes on a fairy land look. Riding on the top deck of an almost empty bus, looking out at the capital is a pleasure. Then Celia and I came across a vegan café not far away with outdoor space where, when we can socialise again, we should be able to meet, and my world seems complete.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 28th October 2020

Wow, I am reconnected: television, internet and landline. Will it last? I do hope so. It meant however that I had the dubious pleasure of watching some of the news and seeing news from Wisconsin where quite normal looking people said they intended to vote for Trump because they ‘don’t trust Biden’. I felt this needed more explanation. especially what they trust Trump with that don’t trust Biden with, though I have a feeling that would probably worry me quite a lot.

Toady has been busier than anticipated. I think I have said that before. I eventually cleared the sitting room floor of paper, but the papers weren’t as ordered as I had hoped. Still, it’s a start. Michèle gave me an old hand made quilt. I am not sure where she got it, but it was a bit damaged and rather grubby. I asked Carol’s advice about putting t in the washing machine. Yes, she said, but I’d need to repair it first. So sewing was added to my to do list. I can’t say my repairs were professional, and I think they are more temporary than permanent, but hopefully sufficient to stop it falling apart in the machine. I used the sewing machine and MasterB was intrigued by the moving needle. Not a good idea.

Parsley soup was on the menu for lunch, and I took a break from papers to make it. I had some squash to use up, so I popped that in too. Usually parsley soup is a lovely deep green colour. I can tell you that adding squash makes it look like a swamp. Tasted ok though. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 27th October 2020

There are some advantages to being disconnected from the internet. I have no idea what Trump has said or done in the last few days, and Boris Johnson may have exploded for all I know. I nearly said or care, but some poor soul would doubtless have to clear up the mess and I doubt if it would be Patel, Gove or Cummings.

I took fright at the idea of a virtual tour of my home after reading the email from the company outsourced to do it. ‘Viewers will be able to see into every corner’ they said breezily, then some stuff about putting away works of art and personal things. Where? I wanted to ask. If there is a big store cupboard I haven’t found in thirty-four years of living here I should like to know about it. And what about the patches on the walls and the empty picture hooks, or holes where they have been? So it’s photos only. I am engaged in clearing away bits of paper and reorganising files. It is quite enjoyable, and a task I have been meaning to tackle for a while. I often move furniture around, and that is when the clear outs happen. This time I am moving furniture out. A chair has gone temporarily to Celia’s. Another is off to be reupholstered. B&J have taken in two of my boxes while my Great Aunt Eve’s bone china is also with Celia. Continue reading