The Coronavirus Diaries, 20th December 2021, Omicron Christmas

Today has had all the grey tones of a wartime film. Brief Encounter perhaps. We have just over twenty four hours to go before the days creepingly get longer again. In the meantime I would welcome some blue skies, even if it means colder weather. I have candles and fairy lights in self-defence. Or maybe that should be protection. Those cards I send are all written and posted, the ones delivered by hand all pushed through letterboxes; a rare few parcels to addresses beyond walking or meeting distance went weeks ago, and the others have been wrapped, all with MasterB’s help – unroll wrapping paper and he sits on it – and passed into others’ hands. All except the one for my six-year-old neighbour who I shall see on Christmas Day morning. The flat has suddenly started to look festive. The sideboard is covered with cards and gifts. It’s weird how one moment it seems too early to be thinking about Christmas, the next a mad dash to get everything done.

Omicron has slimmed down the actual festivities. Drinks and nibbles are off again for the second Christmas running. I did a jigsaw at the weekend instead. I expect to do another, maybe a third. I bought a Radio Times, but the Christmas television schedules fail to inspire so far. We have lots of channels now, some of which I can access, but lots of channels seems to mean lots of dross. Why people want to sit and watch a bunch of celebs doing everything from building snowmen to buying antiques mystifies me. There must be the odd nugget in there somewhere, indeed I know there is as I have started watching Outlaws which is streamed on BBC i-player, but I am hardly spoiled for choice.

Last night was live music. Octavia and I went to St Bart the Great’s for the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols which was sublime. Again I wished I had belief. The Christmas story is heartbreaking in its simplicity, in its promise of a better world, of redemption, a world saved by the innocence of a baby born in a stable. Peace on earth and goodwill to all people.

Continue reading

Oh hush the noise, ye men of strife

Night fell a couple of hours ago. The shops are closing. Celia and Charlie have left for Brighton. Octavia is in Yorkshire. In the block of flats where I live, only a handful of residents are at home, and in the section where my flat is, only my lovely neighbours opposite and I are here for Christmas. We’ve decorated our shared landing and exchanged gifts.
Inside, I have candles and fairy lights, tinsel that has so far survived MasterB’s interest, clean sheets, and parcels piled up on the table. Nanci Griffith’s voice fills the air from an old cassette tape.
I am feeling Christmassy, but not Christmassy enough to play CDS of carols. Anyway, I have managed to miswire the CD player of the stereo and sorting it out is beyond me right now. Continue reading

Doing Christmas

I read a post by JanH about Christmas that chimed with me. Rather than paraphrase or summarise it, I’ll give you the link here.

Cutting back does not mean a sad and miserable yule. Take away those ghastly hours in overheated shops looking for gifts you do not have any confidence the recipient will actually like, and suddenly you have time for the fun side of the jolly season.

With me at the Nine Lessons and Carols at St Bart’s the Great on Tuesday were my blogging pal TBM and some friends who are also neighbours.

These friends have decided not to give Chriatmas presents. Quite a brave move as their boys have not long entered double figures. The boys are with it in theory, but not entirely on side. The younger one, newly twelve, said they weren’t doing Christmas as Christmas really was about presents. His mother disagreed, and sang the carols loudly and rather beautifully. (Under normal circs, when do you discover your friends have good singing voices?)

In the last few years, I have had a pact with most friends not to exchange gifts. With some friends we go for a nice, but not expensive, gift, plus things culled from the charity shops. The charity shop gifts often cause the most amusement/amazement/delight. Continue reading

Being With Mother

Mother and I had lunch together. She was struggling rather with the spoon she had to use. I think I shall look at what might be available from the Alzheimer’s Society. Then we went to her room. She was tired and taken off her glasses and disappeared them. They later turned up up her jumper. I should have guessed. Sometimes she puts them up her sleeve. She dozed while we listened to Welsh Songs, hymns mainly. They were supposed to be Irish Songs, but the wrong CD was in the case, and Mother enjoys it.
Suddenly, she became agitated. It was about thirty minutes since she had finished her lunch, so even if I didn’t know how agitated she becomes when she wants the loo, it wouldn’t have been hard to work out. I went to find a member of staff and met the Nurse-in-Charge. I told her mother needed the toilet. She looked me in the eye and said she would have to wait as staff were having their lunch. I said my mother needed the toilet straightaway. She pursed her lips. This makes me so mad. I have had conversations with management who say that this doesn’t happen, that staff should have staggered lunches, so there is always someone who can work with a resident. Continue reading

Home on the Range Again

I left the East this evening.

I decided to stay and do some work while Not Cat played outside.
The work bit happened and I feel quite smugly pleased with myself about it, especially as the mat was piled high with forms to fill about Mother’s finances when I got home.
Not Cat played extensively first thing.

Busy Boy

But he was very put out when the chaplain came and started to set up things for the service in the lounge next door to Mother’s flat.

Not Cat growled and slunk. Only when he saw me talking to the chaplain did he relax and approach.He checked out the room which he has investigated many times, only to be aghast anew when the congregation arrived. Continue reading

Operatic Aspirations

Asleep Midwash

Not Cat was in great voice for most of the journey. I’m not sure which opera he was interpreting, but it covered most emotions including despair and rage.

I stopped at a wll known supermarket, part of a chain that I usually avoid, but I wanted a pee and to buy food and alcohol for the next few days.

I took Not Cat out of hs caddy, and put on his harness which attaches to a safety belt plug. I secured him to one of the seatbelt plugs on the back seat. Continue reading

A Day in the Garden

Home yesterday and back east tomorrow, so I had loads to do today, but I spent most of it in the garden.

My excuse? Not Cat. Flatteringly, he wanted to be both with me and in the garden. I did some work outside and took dozens of photographs. Don’t worry, I’ll only include a few.

I collected Not Cat from the cattery straight after breakfast. The noises he made on the way home were quite extraordinary. It wasn’t a long journey, and he seems to have been increasing his vocal range over the past few days. I wish I had been able to record it. I’d love to pass it to Gareth Malone. Which reminds me, he has a new series starting soon. If you’ve never watched him work his singing magic, amend your ways. You shan’t regret it. Continue reading

The Anticipated Burns

Poetry Group tonight, and a special session anticipating Burns night.

I can now truthfully claim to have drunk whisky in the library. But not to be drunk on whisky. My dry period from pre-‘flu to now is over.

David, a poet and our convenor, who works as a library assistant, had engaged the services of other staff who appeared ceremoniously with a meat haggis and a vegetarian one. We had our plastic glasses charged with Old Grouse, which make s a change from the usual apple juice. David had already read the Selkirk Grace, now he launched into Address to a Haggis and stabbed both of them (with different knives, obviously).

We also had oat cakes, trifle – that most Scottish of puddings – and shortbread. Continue reading

Christmas Cheer

Christmas started officially chez IsobelandCat on Sunday.

More for the Isobel part than the Cat bit.

Each year, on the Sunday before Christmas, I attend the service of Nine Lessons and Carols at St Bartholomew the Great, in the City of London.
For those of you who don’t know it, it’s the church where Hugh Grant didn’t get married in Four Weddings etc. As a venue, it’s dramatic, beautiful and atmospheric. The choir is semi-professional. Sometimes a group of us meet up in The Rising Sun close by and swap cards and gifts before we go and sing our hearts out. Our numbers vary; I’ve gone alone, and as part of a group of twelve. Continue reading