The Coronavirus Diaries, 28th September 2022: Thin Pink Line

I tested after lunch. The control line came up quite quickly, then nothing. After five minutes I scrutinised it again. Still nothing. I shone a torch on it to check there was no thin pink line I had missed. Nothing. My spirits were on the rise. The world started to look a shinier place, even shinier than it had a little while earlier when I received a message from Celia saying she had managed to get me a marrow. The timer pinged to say fifteen minutes had passed. I looked at the cassette again. And there it was, that skinny little paler than pale pink line that said I still have COVID. Maybe tomorrow. I have started to get messages about work next week. I can’t make the commitment until I get the all clear. It’s like having one foot nailed to the floor. Even more important is that MasterB has his annual vet screening and vaccination boosters booked for Tuesday. Getting an appointment with a vet is not easy. So many people got pets during lockdown that vets are overloaded, many quitting as they are burned out.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 2nd September 2022 Hidden Bullet Points

Celia and I went to the Small is Beautiful exhibition today in South Ken. The ads for it looked good, but it was even better than we’d hoped, housed in a space which seemed to unfold as we made our way round. An exhibition can be made or spoiled by how it is laid out. This one felt like a journey of discovery and exploration. Engaging, stimulating, exciting and in the true sense of the word, wonderful.

It closes on Sunday so you haven’t got much time to see it in London, but then it’s off to New York. Might be a good excuse for a hop across the pond. There were people of all ages. Young children were both mesmerised and audibly thrilled by the whole thing. We went in the morning. We were actually the first people through the door and we spent nearly two hours there. Time flew by. Some of the pieces amused, some provoked, amazed the skill of all the artists amazed. My favourites were Simon Laveuve whose pieces I loved, and Slinkachu whose pieces I recognised, though I don’t recall from where. Anyway, check out the links.

A couple of days ago I had acupuncture for my shoulder and neck pain. I went back to Luke who I last saw four years ago. It has only just dawned me that this is now chronic pain as I have had it for months. The session has definitely helped, and I feel more positive that this is not something I am going to have to live with for ever. I go back fr more needles in ten days. Watch this space.

I’ve always been a reader, but at the moment I am never happier then when I have my nose in a book. A trip to the Barbican library netted booty: four novels to enjoy. The Barbican library is the best lending library I know. Unlike so many, it hasn’t been disemboweled and turned into a café with a few books around and a lot of computers. I think there are even still librarians working there, as opposed to library assistants. In the various lockdowns while our local libraries closed, the Barbican did all it could to make sure us borrowers could keep borrowing. We reserved our books online, then collected them from the library’s back door. It worked perfectly and gave our walks to the City real purpose.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 28th August 2022. Crisis Bullet Points

The trouble with not posting for a while is you – by which of course I mean I – have too much to say so where to start, where to end, which rant to prioritise, which magic moment to celebrate, becomes the barrier to any post at all.

So I thought to try a few bullet points. Here goes, in no particular order:

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 5th October 2021

After joining a very short queue and waiting a very long time, I finally got some new toothbrush heads today. One reason why each customer took so long to serve was the array of goods on ‘special offer’ at the till. The assistant, who I didn’t recognise and assumed to be new, felt she had to ask each of us if we would like these items. No one did. One was a pack of three face masks for £1. I am guessing shops are now seeing falling sales of masks and want rid of them. The reverse of the rush to acquire and stock them last year. Maybe it’s good time to stock up. Although more relaxed about my mask wearing than before, I am aware it’s getting colder and not only are coughs and colds likely to be more prevalent, so is the incidence of Covid 19.

I’ve been pretty busy, mainly working on a new project which I have to deliver this weekend. Money wise it really isn’t paying, but I am thoroughly enjoying my research. Some of you know what I do, some of you don’t. I tend to be a bit coy about it here as this is my personal, as opposed to my professional space. Those of you who know my professional space also know I am a bit lax about keeping it up to date.

I have two books on the go apart from the ones I am reading for work: Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin, and The Women of Troy by Pat Barker. Giovanni’s Room is for book group which I may or may not attend next week. I read this novel forty one years ago and loved it. I managed to leave it in a pub in Holborn before I had finished it and it was weeks before I got another copy. The title has remained with me along with the knowledge that I loved the novel. Yet when I picked it up last week I found I had entirely forgotten the story. It is like reading a novel quite new to me. Every now and then I get a sort of frisson of pleasurable remembrance; the joy of Baldwin’s prose; descriptions of a Paris now vanished, but which I saw the tail end of. But the protagonists, the plot – nothing. I am slightly intrigued as to my much younger self’s reaction to this book. I know in 1980 I read everything I could find by Baldwin. How or why I discovered his writing, I now have no idea. But I am glad I did.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 6th August 2021

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima, which is a reminder that there are worse things than Covid 19. I remember the date as it was also our wire haired dachshund’s birthday. Obviously she was born much later. The fact that we continue to manufacture and stockpile nuclear weapons, and some regimes have made it clear they are happy to deploy them, is also a reminder how callous and cruel human beings can be. Much of the time animals are much better company. Not that our dachshund was angelic. Like most of her breed she was stubborn and opinionated. A big dog in a small disguise.

Yesterday I rang the vet practice to make an appointment for MasterB’s boosters and annual check up. The receptionist exclaimed that she loved his name, and then referred to him as an older animal. Older? MasterB? No one has told him. He may be in his eleventh year but he still thinks he’s a youngster, a rather large kitten. But her words made me blink and wonder how many more years I have with him. Last year the vet pronounced him to be in perfect shape, perfect health, to have a perfect coat, to be simply perfect in every way. I had to agree. Now I just want him to stay that way.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 2nd May 2021

I am very much enjoying my birthday weekend. It has been more sedentary than I imagined as I had a procedure on my leg on Friday, and due to the site of the wound, the chances of it breaking open and becoming infected are high if I move around too much. That gave me the perfect excuse to lie on the sofa (leg raised) and watch Local Hero yesterday afternoon. What a lovely film it is.

Plans were so fluid in the morning as to be next to non-existent. We are still limited to meeting outside in groups no larger than six, and after a very dry April, scattered showers were forecast. However, the skies were blue, and on Friday night I had been talking to Celia on the ‘phone. We thought elevenses would work. So I bought croissants, some vegan, and some with butter, then pains au chocolat (butter), orange juice and clementine juice. Cynthia arrived with a bottle of champagne and glasses. So organised. Charlie had gone to Notting Hill to spend the day with his friend Chris watching cricket, so Celia was unaccompanied. Michèle met me at one gate, and B&J arrived at another. It was very jolly and as well as cards I was given perfect presents, including a new doormat with silhouettes of cats on it. It’s very handsome. I am not sure what it says about my stage of life that I can spend so much time admiring my door mat, but there it is. Books, a picture, fudge which I ate watching the film, some hand cream Celia and I had found and tried out a few weeks ago, and that most necessary accessory for summer, a wine cooling sleeve.

Naturally Hartley joined us. J has started giving him treats and has made him a toy. He stayed close to her, rolling over and offering her his tummy. That cat just thrives on love and affection.

That might have been it, but the forecast was showing less chance of rain for the evening, so we decided on a takeaway from the Vietnamese restaurant, to be eaten in Celia’s garden. Mid afternoon I had an invitation from Reinhild and Mark to join them in their garden for drinks and nibbles. I had asked if they wanted to join our al fresco dinner, Michèle and Cynthia having other engagements, but Reinhild was chilled having met friends for lunch outside the café in Russell Square, so they politely declined.

It wasn’t a late evening, and I enjoyed some time at home with MasterB and let him outside for a while before bedtime.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 15th April 2021

I may have missed it somewhere, but surely others have been wondering if Derek Chauvin is related in some way to Nicholas Chauvin whose legendary bigotry gave rise to the word chauvinism? I mean, it does seem a bit of a coincidence doesn’t it?

I have been reading James Walvin’s book The Zong, about the massacre that took place on a slaving ship in 1781. I knew quite a bit about it, but this book filled in gaps and joined dots. It is very well written and readable. Maybe it helped already having some knowledge because many of the names were familiar to me: Granville Sharp, Olaudah Equiano, Lord Mansfield, Peter Peckard, Thomas Clarkson. It inspired me to start another book Black England, Life Before Emancipation by Gretchen Gerzina, which I am also finding fascinating.

I was talking with a friend about these books and she assumed they had come out recently. I can’t remember her exact words, but they were on the lines of there have been lots of books published about black history in the last year. I told her the Walvin book came out in 2011 and the Gerzina one in 1996. The most recent book I have on black history is Black and British, a Forgotten History by David Olusoga (another book I highly recommend) and that was published in 2016.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 16th March 2021

Just as we were starting to think we were beginning to see an end to our current socially distanced, locked down lives, we learn there has been a case of the South African variant locally. Celia and I picked up our self testing kits this afternoon. We’ll return the swabs tomorrow and hope the results are a) quick and b) negative.

As usual I watched Channel 4 News, though I was cooking at the same time so there were quite a few moments when I listened rather than watched. Boris Johnson was on. Everything about Johnson repels me. His measly words, his lies, his vanity. Tonight was no different. As the news went on I heard about the stark warning that has been issued about the future of the NHS unless there is a huge cash injection. The government has remained silent on this issue. It is no secret that although in public the Tories laud the NHS, in private they would like to see it in private hands. I have no doubt at all that for some this will be seen as the opportunity to sell great chunks of it off and the health of the nation will suffer.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 7th January 2020

Last night I took down the cards, the various decorations and the lights that I only have at Christmas. I have left the flamingo lights, one set of white lights in the hall, and I am still burning candles, though a reduced number. Then I turned on the television to watch the news. It wasn’t quite what I expected. Like much of the world I suspect, I was slack jawed in amazed disbelief at the scenes from Washington. It was like some dystopian film. A mob, really I cannot bring myself to dignify them by calling them protesters, swarming around, threatening, breaking and intimidating; braggarts, white supremacists, conspiracy theorists, while inside the building elected representatives were told to reach for their gas masks. Trump, from the safety of the White House egged on his followers, repeating over and over the lies about the election being stolen from him, about voter fraud. It was fascism in action. Ugly, dangerous, deluded.

Where were the police? Apparently close by, the lights of their cars flashing, but as so many have commented already their softly softly approach was markedly different to the one they took against a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in the summer.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 29th November 2020

I’ve just finished watching another episode of the Brokenwood Mysteries, an episode I wanted to watch last night, but UKTV wouldn’t play, saying I needed an HDMI connection. I checked it out today, was pleased I had the said equipment in my random assortment of leads etc and thought I was good to go, only to discover no HDMI socket on the back of the television set.

A search inline suggested solutions, but as I read on they seemed less and less likely to succeed. I am a user of technology rather than someone who understands how it works. I gave up. The iPad wouldn’t play either giving me a thumbs down message when I tried to watch the programme (series 6, episode 4 if you’re interested, and actually even if you’re not). Fortunately the laptop was more compliant. I am mystified as to why suddenly the HDMI cable is needed when it hasn’t been before. A mystery I am unlikely to solve.

I am also unlikely to solve the mystery in Passenger to Frankfurt, an Agatha Christie novel I picked up. Unlikely because I don’t think I’ll be finishing it. It’s a book which makes me want to clean windows, wash floors, tidy cupboards. In other words, it fails to grip. I take it Ms Christie disapproved of trades unions, the Labour party, the Beatles and many other aspects of life in the sixties.

I have never been a big fan of her novels, although I enjoy the tv and film adaptations. She had a habit of withholding clues until Poirot did his great reveals which irritated me. So I thought her books fine to pass the time on a train ride, but that was about all.

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