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, 7th July 2020

Two days, two walks, two pubs, two glasses of draught cider, one exhibition.

This morning I went to Bloomsbury on a nearly empty bus, walked to the Oxfam bookshop through nearly empty streets, walked down to the Strand through a nearly empty Covent Garden and caught a nearly empty bus home to a much busier street. There’s an irony in that I think.

Not busy

Some punters

Preparing for business


Welcome to Covent Garden

Last night’s problem with the new laptop is fixed, but while I continue to find my way around it I suspect there’ll be others. I restrung the middle, much scratched, section of one of MasterB’s scratching posts, and Joe obliged by stapling the sisal to the post. I don’t think the boy has tested it out yet. He’ll probably ignore it for a few days in favour of the other one which will also need restringing soon.

Celia and I walked over to Vauxhall and the Museum of Garden History which is housed in the disused church of St Mary’s Lambeth. It was founded in 1977 by John and Rosemary Nicholson, who are remembered in this plaque.

In memory of John and Rosemary Nicholson, founders of the Museum of Garden History

It was all very quiet, very calm. The exhibition was great. Although I have never visited Prospect Cottage I have seen photographs, and parts of the cottage were recreated here. Our neighbour Cynthia had explained how Jarman came to adopt the term Modern nature, but annoyingly I have forgotten. I shall have to ask her again. 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, 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, 30th June 2020

Had you said to me back in March when I first began the Coronvirus Diaries that I’d still be writing them three months later with every expectation of continuing for the foreseeable future I should have stared at you. I thought maybe a few weeks, but then quite quickly I started thinking six months. Now, who knows. A year seems optimistic. At some point I shall stop the daily posts. I don’t know when, but I’d say it’s bound to happen. I am glad I did begin writing them though. This is an extraordinary time, made ordinary by how long it is continuing. Even the bargain shops are selling disposable face masks these days.

Celia and I walked up to the City this afternoon. There were some points, such as at the north end of London Bridge, by the Monument, where had I taken a photograph I don’t think there would have been anything in it to suggest it was during lockdown. We had already passed Waitrose, scene of one of our earliest lockdown shops, where Celia stood outside and I brought various items to the door to see if she wanted me to get them for her or not. Oh the nostalgia.

At Bank Junction we looked towards the Royal Exchange and it seemed to be open. We decided to investigate and found ourselves the only visitors. After availing ourselves of the hand sanitiser and chatting with security we looked around. I have never gone up to have a good look at the bar as I am pretty sure the prices would make me blench. But it was closed, so I could gawp to my heart’s content. Reon and Malik, the security guys, were amused by our evident enjoyment and we had another chat with them after we had used the loos. They have been working in the empty building for the last three months, keeping an eye on things. Now it is slowly coming back to life, and next time we call in there may well be people having coffees or a glass of something sparkling. I’m glad we saw it empty. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 21st June 2020

So we have reached the longest day. It doesn’t seem quite possible. Celia and I were talking about this yesterday: how can we be in mid summer when the usual rituals, the usual events that are our landmarks as we move through the months simply haven’t happened? I realise I am somehow waiting for them. So it’s surprising to see tomatoes and cucumbers forming on plants, surprising to find we have moved from the daffodils and bluebells to the hydrangeas and hollyhocks, surprising the days are going to start getting shorter from tomorrow.

The billboards thanking our key workers which we saw everywhere have changed too. There’s a really striking one about domestic violence saying abusers always work from home. Along the SouthBank there are pleas for cash as well alongside the poems to remind us of the poetry library and all the other wonders we cannot currently access, and which are now in jeopardy.

Support the SouthBank

Poetry diversion

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 20th June 2020

It’s due to get hot this coming week, so the boat it shall be. Today Celia and I walked up to the river to the Southbank. Celia wanted to buy a book for herself and one to read to her pre-school grandchildren. There were lots more cars, I mean really lots of cars. I suppose because people are avoiding using public transport. Walking through empty streets as we neared the river did not prepare us for the festival atmosphere around Gabriel’s Wharf.


We didn’t have to look far to see the source of the beer.

Beer for sale

The section of the foreshore at this point has a covering of sand. There are often people making sand sculptures there, so when I looked over the wall, that was what I expected to see. Not this.

Unexpected swimmers

By the looks of this chap, intently taking photos, I shouldn’t be surprised if his pictures are in a newspaper tomorrow.

This looks professional

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 18th June 2020

The rain has cleared the air of the sticky mugginess and although there are some light grey clouds, the sky is again blue. The forecast remains unsettled for the next few days, so I think I shall not return to das Boot before Monday.I have been gathering up some notes, printing articles I have found online for something I want to research. I have also been searching without success for three lost objects in my flat. They are none of them where they should be, so I am guessing that at some point I have thought they would be better somewhere else. That I can’t find them suggests I should have been wise to leave them where they were.

I went up to the Strand, wearing my mask on the near empty bus as is now required. It was raining a little and there was hardly anyone about. The LCE did not want to buy the cameras I had taken with me but sounded interested in the OM-1 which I had left at home.

In Covent Garden loud music played from one of the business premises, but there was little that was open. Preparations were being made for the hoped return of customers. In one bar workers were doing a deep clean. It was a similar story in the Jubilee Market.

Jubilee Market

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 17th June 2020

Last night’s supper with Octavia was great. The Grey Ninja was very welcoming and affectionate, and it goes without saying that the company was excellent. Tonight I have another supper date, this one’s by zoom. B&J, H&J and I will be eating and talking, drinking as well, in just over half an hour, so I need to write and post this quickly.

MasterB is in the garden, hiding from Romeo, Hartley and Mr Manx who are circling anyone who they see in the hope there might be food. I’ll pop out with a sachet and some biscuits and try to rescue my boy. Continue reading