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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The Coronavirus Diaries, 27th November 2020

I have been suffering from lockdown/coronavirus blues. So the fact that the end is in sight is a huge relief and mood lifter. Poor folk in tier 3 and people in Leicester in particular. Leicester has been in almost continuous lockdown for months. But bad though the lockdown blues are, I prefer them to the terrifying prospect of the virus rampaging through the population to ‘protect the economy’ as some argue, the MP for Romford, Andrew Rosindell being one. A compelling reason not to move to Romford if ever I heard one.

His interview on the tv news was a study in opinion over fact. Most statements were prefaced by the words “It seems to me..” and he clinched his ‘arguments’ by saying he had spoken to many of his constituents and they felt the measures were unnecessary and had gone too far. Even Boris Johnson, a man who cannot resist jollying up information with confusing imagery, scores higher on the talking sense scale than Rosindell. Not that it’s a high bar. The evidence is that countries who have taken controlling infection seriously have made the best economic recovery. It’s not a binary choice 0f letting people die or saving the economy, the two go hand in hand.

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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

The Coronavirus Diaries, 14th October 2020

Each time I elect to write a new post I see the new block editor again and my heart sinks. I know readers can’t see it, but I do not find it an improvement at all. I still haven’t worked out where I need to go to choose the size of any picture I want to post. Anyway.

The Ginger Ninja calendar is with the printer and we are discussing the finer details. The price should be the same as last year unless I have miscalculated the VAT. I do need to check out the post costs though. But do register your interest if you have any, and I shall I put your name on the list. I am only having twenty printed this year. The printer called me today and said he thought I could sell far more. I said if he could find me a buyer ready to order hundreds I’d happily do it. Alas he couldn’t. I think MasterB may have a new fan, and maybe there will be an extra copy of his calendar finding its way into the printer’s home.

Tonight we have candles burning in our windows to remember H&J’s fathers, both of whom have died recently. It was H’s father’s funeral today. She says it went well with good music and memories. Usually we light candles in our windows for pets, and I was a bit cautious about suggesting it for a parent, but fortunately it didn’t offend. Continue reading