The Coronavirus Diaries, 6th July 2020

I think I have sorted the sound issue with Zoom on my laptop. The next online meeting will tell. However a new problem has reared its head – I can’t access my photos from my camera. The Photos app does not seem to be working at all. Tomorrow will see me returning to the shop to try to get things sorted out. At least the shop is literally just round the corner and not a bus or train ride away.

So no photos with this post. Which is a shame, as I took a couple today I’d like to share from where Celia and I walked this afternoon. We went over to Vauxhall via Kennington. It was strange to see people sitting in pubs. Not every pub has reopened. Our own local looks very closed, though we have heard it should open in ten days. But we did enjoy a cider on the way home from the Prince of Wales in Kennington which we drank in the square. It was all very civilised. Tomorrow we are going to an exhibition at the Museum of Garden History. Imagine that, an exhibition! It’s about Derek Jarman’s garden, a place I should love to visit.

I’ve finished watching Black and British – a Forgotten History. I am so glad I saw it. It has been a thought provoking and informative series. We still have a long way to go, but I am proud of living in a multi racial society, a society enriched by people from all around the world. Part of that journey must be the inclusion of black history in school curriculums, so that as children grow up they understand the long history of black people in the British Isles, and how so many of us unknowingly have black ancestry. Black history is not a niche area, it is our shared history as people on these islands, just as women’s history is. Some people would just like us to learn the dates of kings and queens, wars and battles, and say that is history. Which of course it is, but it is only a tiny part of our history and for so long it has been taught as though it is the only history that matters.

How will people learn about coronavirus in fifty, a hundred years time? The experience of lockdown, the ongoing threat has made me more curious about the flu epidemic of a hundred years ago. I think it merited a paragraph in one history book I had at school.

MasterB is making it clear he wants my attention now, so I shall stop here.

Stay safe. Keep well.

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, 1st July 2020

It was good to sleep on a good mattress. The one on das Boot is not the most comfortable. It’s ok for a few nights, but much longer and my back starts to complain. I have had a busy day doing various tasks that individually aren’t much, but together make me feel I have achieved quite a lot. So another batch of washing went on the line, dried and was ironed before the rain came. It seems that we are in for a few days of grey skies and scattered showers. Better than the 40C days we are told will soon be part of the British summers.

I looked at a flat today, one that’s for sale locally. The location is great but it’s out of my price range by quite a bit and needs work. It was worth looking at though as it confirmed my my belief that I shall not be able to buy what I should like in my neighbourhood. So it’s back to thinking about my mental health day destination. I think another excursion there very soon is called for. A conversation with a work colleague about when and if our work will ever return underlined the thought. But she also told me about some steps she has taken to keep an online presence, sent me a taster and I think I may have to experiment. It was quite exciting.

I had a brief trip to a shop and came back with a new face mask. I’m getting quite a collection. I met Celia in the street and showed it to her. I think she may get one like it too, although yesterday she bought a box of disposable ones. I am still tempted by a linen top I have seen online, o maybe mask buying will be a distraction. It’ll certainly be cheaper. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 19th June 2020

I’m still filtering and percolating (yes, I do like coffee, how did you guess?) my thoughts about Coronavirus and Black Lives Matter, plus there’s more than a soupçon of anxiety, more like a ruddy great tureen, about Brexit. Celia passed me Charlie’s copy of The Economist as she does most weeks. I have surprised myself by finding it, at least in parts, very readable. Also some starkly shocking stories.

I had never before heard of 1488 as a white supremicist reference. But there was a short piece about an app developed in the US which you can use to identify symbols and insignia and discover if they are to do with the Antifa or Aryan Nations. The 14 refers to the number of words in the slogan, “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”. That is blood chilling enough, but 88 refers to the letter H, the eighth in the alphabet, so 88 translates as HH meaning Heil Hitler. Meaning there are still people about who would happily commit genocide and replicate the worst aspects of the Third Reich. There was a little light relief in the piece when it was explained that the app, VizPol, when tested in London, identified the writers’ children as white supremicists after confusing Peppa Pig, “a cartoon character of unknown political leanings”, with Pepe the Frog, an alt right mascot.

Another piece about the death of Burundi despot Pierre Nkurunziza, possibly from coronavirus, though the official version says heart attack, says few are likely to mourn him. He became president in 2005, but when his term of office came to an end he refused to go. I had a sudden horrible vision of Boris Johnson remaining Prime Minister for the rest of my life. There are so many things, self inflicted disasters, that have occurred in the UK over the past few years which in the sunny days of my youth I would have said could never happen here, that the prospect of Johnson going on and on, blustering and bluffing, lying and obfuscating, siring more and more children, no longer seems completely impossible. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 4th June 2020

By the evening the temperature had dropped sufficiently that I put on socks, found my slippers, then later turned on the heating. It began to rain and the ropes creaked as the wind moved the boat back and forth. But we were warm and cosy, and I the television, if not the internet, was co-operating, so I watched the news while I cooked. I left the television on and settled down to half watch Location, Location, Location. Kirsty Allsop is a doubtless good at her job, but she is a very annoying woman, and no animal lover. She wanted a young couple with a baby and a dog to ‘get rid of’ the dog, saying accommodating its needs was costing them around £40k. It’ll probably save them far more than that in non-monetary terms in supporting their mental health and well-being. Somehow I don’t think Kirsty will be an RSPCA ambassador anytime soon. Nor would she be the agent I should want to help me find a home.

Finding my slippers meant also finding the spare bag of cat litter has holes in it. My first suspicion was mice, but there is no other evidence, so that was a new task to add to today’s list. Boat cleaning, like housework is never done. I didn’t see the end of Locationx3 as amazingly my ‘phone rang. It was Danny to say quite a lot I couldn’t hear very well. I did get that he is doing another broadcast on Saturday with Barrie Knight, so check the pair of them out on YouTube. Barrie knows everyone, and so there are lots of guest slots, though Barrie is not the best interviewer in the world. He prefers to tell you about the person rather than let them speak for themselves. It is both endearing and irritating. Danny is the one playing the music and frowning at the screen in front of him. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 27th May 2020

Well I did read the papers, and I can’t say I am reassured. If Cummings is the best advisor Johnson has, I’d hate to think of the damage the worst could inflict on us. Anyway I came across this thread on Titter and it is a wonderfully clear and concise breakdown of recent events. Do click and read it here. Clear and concise not being adjectives one can apply to Cummings, Johnson or just about any minister I have heard recently. Usually the words “we have been quite clear about this..” mean they have obfuscated and are continuing to obfuscate to a dizzying degree.

Thank heaven for cats say I. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 25th May 2020

Oh, how the days pass. How the government fails to convince us it has our welfare at heart. I checked in just after four to hear what Dominic Cummings had to say. But he despised the courtesy of arriving on time, so I missed his excuses. Probably just as well. It would have been a complete waste of time. Far from apologising for ignoring the guidelines, Cummings, backed by Johnson and other spineless weeds in cabinet and government, maintains his actions were completely justified. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 23rd May 2020

When all those weeks ago we had our first Clap for Carers it was great. Those of us who were suddenly living more sequestered, less social lives, our work and income gone, felt like we were doing something. We might be spending our days at home, catching up on long neglected tasks, clearing cupboards, or in my case doing jigsaws, but we knew in the hospitals staff whether medical or other were working hard. Delivery drivers came to the rescue of those who could not leave their homes; post became erratic, but still came; paramedics, fire officers, police, street cleaners, bus and train drivers have been working. So it was a shout of recognition that we knew and appreciated that often their health was compromised by going to work while we stayed safe. It was also a great chance to see neighbours, to wave at friends who stayed firmly behind closed windows. It was unexpectedly sociable. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 19th May 2020

I had something, a washing machine perhaps, where the dial would move with a satisfying click as it worked through the programme. The trajectory of our lives during the Coronavirus crisis feels a bit like that, only without the satisfying bit. We started with fear, resentment, I felt tied at the very prospect of lockdown. Then it started and worry played quite a big part, worry about falling ill, about loss of earnings, about survival, while at the same time there was a dawning feeling that this was in someway a special time. We were living through something, to use a very overused word, unprecedented in our lifetime. Flyers came through our letterboxes very early on, volunteers offering to help us if we were ill or self-isolating. The skies became quiet, the roads devoid of cars. Birdsong, not car engines was the sound of morning. Some people began to say this would be the dawn of a new world, a world of empathy, an understanding that extreme wealth is unworthy aspiration, that those underpaid workers in the NHS, at Royal Mail, drivers and cyclists delivering food and other goods (thank-you to the cyclist who brought my birthday flowers), street cleaners, refuse collectors, shop workers, are more important to us in our everyday lives than hedge fund managers, stockbrokers, influencers and A-Listers. We saw the applause for workers on nighttime balconies in Barcelona and were inspired to do something similar. The first time I went outside to call my thanks for the NHS and key workers, I was wearing a duffel coat and gloves, neighbours who didn’t know what was happening opened their windows in curiosity and then joined in. Even senior politicians who voted down a pay increase and then cheered were filmed clapping on their doorsteps. Pictures of rainbows appeared in windows, a glorious display of fake flowers declaring love for the NHS was installed outside Tommy’s. Gradually people realised that bikes would give them more freedom for their allowed exercise time. The roads filled with confident and dangerous cyclists who I look at with extreme jealousy. I do cycle, but the legacy of a badly broken wrist six years ago when a car drove across my path has made me a wimpy cyclist. Probably the lockdown cycling memory that will stay with me is the few hundred yards I cycled along the New Kent Road, just me and a few buses. Continue reading