The Coronavirus Diaries, 26th January 2023, Domestic Incident

I know I’ve said it before, so honestly you’d think I’d learn, but the longer the time between posts the more you have to write and the harder it becomes, because, I really don’t want to sit down thinking I am going to be typing for hours, and also I have forgotten half of what has happened anyway, or it’s now irrelevant.

So I’ll start with this morning’s drama and see where it goes, though I am popping round to Helena’s shortly then cooking, and it’s The Dog House tonight, so there may be quite a long hiatus or a very short post. I was working this afternoon so this morning was crossing out things on my To Do List. I failed on the pomegranates, there were none for sale on the stall I patronise though I did get some very nice leeks. I love leeks and they are currently plentiful. I understand there’s an onion shortage in the Philippines so I expect that’s the next thing we’ll be looking at and saying How much? in aghast tones. Dijon mustard ( a. must in this flat) has doubled in price. If only I’d known I’ve had bought in bulk. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I got leafy greens and bleach in Morrison’s. Both have regularly been out of stock over the last few months so I was rather pleased.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 27th December 2022, Make Mine a Benylin

When I went to buy cough medicine, something I haven’t bought for years, I couldn’t find the Benylin Original I have had before. I asked the pharmacist if he had any, and he explained that the current demand for cough medicine far outstrips the supply. After two years of keeping our distance, the trains and buses are now packed. People ignore the notices asking us to keep the windows open, and as a result cold viruses are having a field day. It seems our, or at least my, immunity has weakened too, because although the cold may only last a few days, the after effects go on and on.

I feel as though someone I don’t like, and didn’t invite, turned up for Christmas, muscled his way in, took up residence and is now settling in for New Year. An unwelcome but constant companion. Only when I am asleep am I free of this companion. I have a chesty cough and runny nose. I sound at times like someone who smokes twenty cigarettes a day. My paper handkerchief consumption is outrageous, an entire box most days. I am drinking lots of water laced with lemon juice and ginger cordial, hot pear juice (recommended by the acupuncturist) avoiding alcohol, eating mounds of fruit and vegetables, having hot steamy baths and going to bed early. Rock and Roll.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 10th December 2022: Love and Friendship

I stumbled upon a delightful film on Film4 this evening. Finding Your Feet. I missed the first fifteen minutes or so, but the story was fairly undemanding and I think I filled in all the gaps. It’s an unassuming film, probably low budget, featuring places I recognise close to where I live, and with a gentle talented cast including Tim Spall, Celia Imrie, the late John Sessions in a minor part, and Imelda Staunton. I loved it. It was kind. Just what I needed. No car chases, no hugely dramatic showdowns, high body count or spilled blood, and somehow all the more precious and life enhancing for that. Tim Spall at the helm of a narrowboat which I know he has done many many times in his own life, particularly after his recovery from cancer.

I am finding life in this country hard. We seem to have turned into a horrible parody of ourselves; a divided divisive society, people on the edge of destitution because those elected to govern simply don’t seem to count swathes of the population as important. Horrible hateful comments about Harry and Meghan, even from people I usually respect. Maybe it was always like this. That there was a civilised veneer which was ripped away by Brexit to reveal the hideous truth beneath.

I am lucky. I have good friends who are enormously important to me. I have a beautiful, gentle cat who I love and who I dare to say loves me. Though he may love biscuits more. These are the things which make life good.

It’s suddenly Christmas. December has a habit of arriving calmly and then rushing into a mad frenzy. There are increasing numbers of people – men mostly – walking or riding bicycles dressed in Father Christmas hats or even the whole outfit -in central London. Christmas trees have been appearing for several weeks, though bizarrely not in Westminster Abbey, while in St Paul’s both Samuel Johnson and John Howard have had their statues hidden by Sandringham’s best.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 16th November 2022, the Miss Scarlett Letters

I’ve just deleted fifty-four spam messages. Fifty-four! That’s what happens when you don’t post for a while. So what’s my excuse? Nothing special, just the usual, busy with this and that, cat wrangling and I have started reading Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace. I’m not sure where I picked up this copy. I had a vague idea I had read it, but a few pages in and I realised I hadn’t. It’s over 500 pages long, and it says something about how much I’m enjoying it, that I have taken it on the bus and carried it around while I’ve been working on at least two days. I seem to have a lt of reading material all of a sudden. I mean extra to the ear present pile of books by my bed. Charlie has passed me copies of the Economist, J gave me an article about Noel Fitzpatrick to read, the Guardian online is my first thing in the morning go to while I have breakfast. I’m listening to Vesper Flights by Helen McDonald which is superb. It makes me dust much more thoroughly when I have something so absorbing and enlightening to listen to.

Tonight it’s raining. Again. Where is all this water coming from? I know people think it rains all the time in England, but our rain is usually of the drizzly half hearted sort. This rain seems to have been working out in the gym. I’m working outside tomorrow, and more rain is forecast. Which is not to say it has rained all day. It was raining when I woke up, and while I had breakfast. Then the skies cleared and I went out to the City to do one or two things. At the bus stop I had to shield my eyes against the bright sunshine. When I got home there were domestic chores to tackle and lunch to make. So Vesper Flights took my mind off the mundane. I put the washing out on the line. Most of it was dry when the skies darkened again and I prudently decided to bring it indoors. I managed a good hour of Alias Grace with MasterB curled up beside me before he stirred and asked for his dinner. I started to prep my supper. It felt like the right sort of night for a curry.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 30th October 2022, in Flight

Up in the air and currently above the clouds, heading home after ten days in NI. In the way of these things, the time seems to have passed in a flash while the day I left home seems long ago. The weather has been kind, Uncle Bill’s birthday tea enjoyed by all but especially the man himself. The autumn colours have been beautiful, the dogs appreciative of their walks, Belfast abuzz.  

On the final walk this morning there was a short shower of very fine rain. We’d left the house in sunshine, so I was doubly grateful it wasn’t a downpour, though a piece in the Guardian yesterday about the benefits of walking in wind and rain, and yesterday was very windy, may make me revise my opinion of wet weather walks (and encourage me to upgrade my waterproofs). Then there was a rainbow, arcing above the house where Poppy Junior lives. We didn’t see her, though we heard her barking in the house on the return leg. She knew we were there.

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The Coronavirus Diaries 16th September 2022: Boosted

I had my booster vaccine today. It began with an M but I have forgotten its name already. Funny to think that when the vaccines first came out we learned their names overnight and compared notes on what we knew about them. Now I just want to know if I am going to have an adverse reaction.

The vaccinator – a new word to me today – asked me to expose my arm. That’s the first time I have heard that phrase. It made me laugh. He looked surprised, then laughed too. Apparently he’s been saying it for days and only when I laughed did he think it sounded odd. In future he’s going to ask people to roll up their sleeves.

In the last few days I have decided my sitting room needs redecorating. It’s not a task I relish, and I shall certainly employ someone to do it, so probably not this side of Christmas. after exposing my arm I walked to the Old Kent Road and a branch of B&Q to pick up colour samples. I had been thinking pale grey, but they all seem either too grey or too pale. My thoughts are drifting towards white. The walls are off white now, but quite which off white I don’t recall. I’ve tucked the various cards under picture frames, and lost one behind the sideboard, to stare at over the coming weeks.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 17th July 2022, Heatwave

The UK Health Security Agency has increased its heat health warning from three to four, a level described as a national emergency. So what do you do when the country is put on amber alert, rising in the next days to red for the first time as temperatures continue to pass what we think of as normal? Obviously we will all have different priorities and strategies. Imagine you are Prime Minster and there’s a Cobra meeting to discuss this emergency but you have already planned a party at the grace and favour home you are still entitled to use for the next couple of months. What choice do you make as leader? I hope most Prime Ministers would issue apologies to the guests, and do what they are paid to do. This is not the choice the Liar in Chief has opted for. Not surprising, but still somehow shocking.

Meanwhile some of the hopefuls, or probably more accurately hopeless, in the contest to be the new leader of the Conservatives are prevaricating about the commitment to achieve net zero by 2050. I suspect they will not be prevaricating about their commitment to curb immigration, somehow conveniently ignoring the fact that as parts of the world become unsustainable due to climate crisis a surge in immigration is inevitable. If they really wanted to curb immigration and not just pander to the Little Englanders they would be ardently committed to net zero before 2050, and looking at ways to alleviate climate crisis globally. We are all linked, all equally responsible, equally damned.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 15th July 2022, How Low (or High) Can You Go?

Yup, back to the Coronavirus Diaries again, as numbers are again rising here in the UK, and quite how high they may go before there’s any reaction from government remains to be seen. Personally I’m not betting on any reaction at all. As far as this lot is concerned the pandemic is over. People falling sick, people being admitted to hospital, people dying but politically this is yesterday’s news. The current focus is on who will be the new leader of the Conservative party, and, heaven help us, our new Prime Minister. So you might think the how low can you go part of the title of this blog refers to the less than inspiring, and actually frankly terrifying possibilities. There was a televised debate between the prospective candidates following the news on Channel 4 tonight. For a few minutes I thought I might watch.

From the kitchen I heard Krishnan Guru Murthy giving a brief run down of each of the candidates. I walked back into the living room as the first question was asked and managed a whole half minute of Liz Truss’ garbled opening sentence before reaching for the off button. We are doomed. When people said there was no one better in the Tory party to take over from the Liar in Chief I didn’t believe them. Sadly it seems they are right. Read Marina Hyde and John Crace in the Guardian for an idea, or if you have the stomach, watch the candidates’ videos as they pitch for the job. In other fields employers would readvertise, hoping for a better response. Maybe in the Conservative party they know that would be futile.

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The I’m No Longer Sure What to Call These Diaries, 21st June 2022

The summer solstice. The longest day of the year. After tonight autumn beckons. Still, we have a few more weeks of long light evenings to enjoy before the Christmas merchandise appears in the shops. Tonight we celebrated with Celia and Charlie in their garden. In fact they are probably still celebrating, with various neighbours and friends dropping by, enjoying a glass or several, plunge into the nibbles and relax in good company and chat. A friendly neighbourhood is a wonderful, wondrous thing. Like a good woman, or indeed a good man, it is above rubies.

I’d put a good cat above rubies too. MasterB is out in the garden. I left him rolling luxuriously on the paving stones. He has at last decided that my neighbour Simon is not the devil incarnate, but a perfectly nice human being, and has stopped shrinking to the floor or running away when they meet and instead approaches Simon with his tail held high. It’s good to see the boys bond. What MasterB has not understood is that Simon’s heart belongs to Hartley. I understand it’s the first time he has ever really got to know a cat, and it’s love. ❤️💕💖💕❤️. I was the same with Cat when he marched into my life. Taken by surprise, amazed, enchanted and fascinated, completely enthralled, smitten. Animals, when they choose to interact with you, to befriend you, have an extraordinary effect. They can unsettle you; tip you over, change the way you view the world. Four paws and a tail is all it takes.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 7th June 2022

It might be time to drop the coronavirus bit from the titles of these posts. Fewer people wearing masks, and that includes me, less fear of being with people indoors or on public transport. I hope it’s not all a false dawn.

Toady was one of those fairly dull days. I don’t mean the weather, it was sunny with blue skies, windows open, bare feet warm. I had tasks to complete, none particularly thrilling, and I was looking for some notes I know I made about a decade ago. I couldn’t find them. But after breakfast I had decided to have my first interaction with Too Good to Go, an app that aims to reduce food waste. I had a look at what was available in my area, and plumped for a vegan magic bag form an outlet on the Brixton Road I didn’t know. I paid my £3.59 online and wondered what I’d get.

The walk there in the early evening through Kennington Park before I reached the busy Brixton Road was an antidote to my day. It was dog walking time. I watched a young golden retriever enjoying a walk with her owner, bounding towards a canine friend for some racing and tumbling. Tails waving and ears cocked, they played on the grass. I had hoped I might see Tracey with her ageing Staff cross, but there was no sign of them.

Halfway down the Brixton Road, I felt a sharp pain in my right ankle. Strange. I hadn’t done anything. I walked on and the pain reoccurred. I stopped, flexed my foot a few times. That seemed to fix it. Good. At Pipoca people were enjoying coffees and eating snacks. I approached the counter, unsure of the protocol. I had Brough containers as instructed, but as I had no idea what I was going to get, I wasn’t sure if they were suitable. A friendly member of staff took me through the ropes and took my containers. I looked about me. What a nice place. The soup looked great, so I was really pleased when that turned out to be one of the things in my magic bag. That’ll do nicely for lunch tomorrow. I also got a wholemeal chocolate muffin which I ate for pudding, a pain au chocolat which I’ll have for breakfast, and little carton of milk alternative, a make I don’t know. All of it vegan. What an adventure!

Nice though the food is, the thrill was discovering Pipoca. Next to the café is a shop. a great shop. You can refill your bottles, buy food, ethical cleaning products, great soap. I found a soap bag. I only learned of them the other day, and the only place I saw them for sale was online where the postage and packing costs were more than double the price of the bag. I’ll definitely return, and I suspect Celia will be coming too.

Pipoca

On the way home I chose a different route. The sharp pain returned to my ankle. I loosened my shoelaces. Perhaps I had tied them too tightly. I limped for a bit, and suddenly the distance home seemed a very long way. More ankle flexing, more ankle rotation, more putting my foot gingerly to the ground. Gradually I was able to walk almost normally. I could still feel discomfort, but the sharp pain had eased. I enjoyed my walk home. I went by the end of the street where Celia and I met a woman called Michelle who gave us a bag of cherries in exchange for deadheading our roses. Her roses are blooming beautifully again. That was in 2020, during one of the lockdowns. Today I met a man with a beautiful Pomeranian who made friends with me through the fence. A pug being walked by a woman a little further along the path showed no desire to get to know me, and the woman didn’t smile or say hello. Oh well, not everyone is friendly, even when they have a dog.

Closer to home I admired Kenon’s garden. He has turned a limited space at the front of the house into a delight.

Kenon’s patch