I still have a degree of lockdown brain fog, but this afternoon, in search of empty streets, and it being a beautiful day so the parks would be full, I headed for the Square Mile. The City is usually quiet at the weekend, lockdown or not, so I was more than a bit surprised to find hoards of people walking beside the river between London Bridge and Tower Bridge. Why? I don’t know. It was weird.
Social distancing wasn’t really evident. I mean, if you had just arrived from a Covid free place (Mars perhaps) and hadn’t heard of the two metre rule, you wouldn’t have noticed anything that would have helped you work it out. There was a photography group at work in St Dunstan’s in the East, a popular place for photography students and clubs. I took pictures too, some of which I hope to use in my work.
I have not been at my brightest and best these last couple of days; nothing wrong with my physical health, just a bit of the Coronavirus/Lockdown blues.
The urge to hibernate is very strong when I feel like this. So far I have resisted and today I enjoyed a walk with Cynthia which helped. I am doing another jigsaw which Charlie has passed on to me.. Taking things slowly, taking things easy. It’s about removing pressure, eating well, playing with MasterB. It’s just that it feels there is nothing positive on the horizon. A letter in the post reminds me it’s time to renew my contents insurance. Necessary but not exactly a cause for celebration. There is a vaccine, but I doubt a) if it’s vegan and b) if I will be able to get one any time soon. Brexit gets closer and closer and the only good thing I can think of about that is that it will mean the day we rejoin the EU will also advance.
Octavia and I realised on our evening walk that these next few weeks are going to be enlivened by Christmas decorations.
Obviously the shops have gone all out on Christmas since the day after Hallowe’en. It seems more than one Londoner has also decided the jolly season has begun. Octavia reckons it’s lockdown and people looking for enjoyment where they can find it. I am not so sure. Some people just love Christmas decorations. I have only once spent Christmas in the US. It was something of a culture shock. After lunch on Christmas Day we strolled the neighbourhood where every house, without exception, was decked in lights, lawn displays, roof displays. The national grid must have been going quadruple time. I had never seen anything like it. Except of course I had, because such scenes often figure in US films set at Christmas time. I just don’t think I had believed they were real. It was like having far too much sugar to eat in one go.
Celia and I saw our first full on Christmas decorated balcony today. I think I need to go back and take pictures one evening when night has fallen. It was quite a sight and made us gasp then laugh. We were out for our first constitutional since learning that Trump had lost the election. Well that’s a relief.
Obviously there are still some 72 million people who voted for him which suggests something extremely worrying, but at least the Toxin in Chief will soon be gone. I have no doubt he will attempt all sorts of tedious and potentially dangerous things to overturn the result and to make things difficult for Biden, but it was amazing how in the space of a few minutes he became yesterday’s man, an annoying and loud irrelevance. We drank champagne to welcome the change.
I’m going to let photos do most of the work tonight. I had my first proper, boots on, train to the start point, walk for months today. If we are locked down again it may be my last for a while too. At the last minute my friend Nicola decided to join me and we met yup at Waterloo Station. The walk is the the one Celia and I did at Easter 2019, and it was wonderful to do it in a different season. We stopped at the Watts Gallery for lunch, checked out the shop, spent some precious moments at the Chapel and revelled in the views of the countryside, the boot against the path, the blackberries in the hedgerows and the sweet chestnuts bursting from their spiny shells.
It’s hard to believe that two days ago we were enjoying warm sunshine. Today the temperature suddenly dropped mid afternoon and tonight I have put on an extra layer and started thinking about making soups. I’m watching the Grayson Perry programme. The first was on last night and I watched it earlier this evening on catch up, but I see the other programmes in the series are also available, so when I finish writing this I am going to settle back and watch the second one.
He made the programmes last year, travelling to different parts of the US by motorbike. The episode I have seen was about his visit to Atlanta and the main focus was on race. He’s a good listener. Maybe he has learned from his psychotherapist wife Philippa, and he says back to people what he has understood them to be saying which allows for further clarity if he has got it wrong. There was a performance poet whose name I didn’t get, but whose work I should like to know more of. Some of the conversations have a greater urgency about them now due to events this year – George Floyd’s killing, the BLM protests, the news today about the acquittal of the police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor, the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Trump’s intention to replace her with a judge who supports him, the increasing threats by Trump to disrupt democracy at the election. Continue reading →
Last night we had a social gathering in the garden here. By we, I mean B&J, H&J, Celia and Charlie. Hartley and Romeo naturally assumed they were invited too, and a young fox gatecrashed, at one point running off with a bag I had used to bring the olives etc outside, and my iPhone fell to the floor.
We had chips. Not the cats, and not the fox either. Chips in the garden are somehow wonderful. And they work very well instead of nibbles. Celia has investigated a newish chip shop we noticed during lockdown and gives it a good report. I shall find out if they deliver. If we are allowed to socialise this Christmas in each others’ homes I think it will be drinks and chips in at least two of them.
The young fox was very sweet, watching us with hopeful, curious eyes, close to us but far enough away for his safety. He’s not tame, which is just as well. He decided to approach Hartley and got a hiss for his pains. I think he’s the one I saw the other night waiting for the cats to finish eating so that he could have any leftovers.
This afternoon I went for a walk on my own. Celia had been swimming and that was enough exercise for her. I ended up in Ruskin Park and the streets to the west of it. It reminded me of lockdown, as this was a favourite destination when the highlight of each day was our permitted walk. The park is at Denmark Hill and the views across to the City and Westminster are great. Local residents stand at the top of the hill, south of the park to watch the fireworks on New Year’s Eve.
Looking towards Westminster
Looking towards the City
On one of the trees beside the pond I found this notice. There didn’t seem to be any others. It’s probably true, but I was a bit puzzled by it.
I love the streets to the west of Ruskin Park. This afternoon they were very quiet which enhanced the lockdown feeling. We are used to seeing fake flowers decorating shops and restaurants. It’s become something of a tend the last year or so. But this is the first time I have seen a private house given the same treatment.
More sunshine today so I was glad I had the excuse to be out and about. A bag of books (and one jigsaw) went to the Oxfam Bookshop in Westminster, then off to the City where I wanted to check something out. Lots of opportunity to walk on sunny streets.
If I do move from London I should miss walking around the capital I think. There is so much variety, and living as I do fairly near the centre, places like the Cities of Westminster and London are in easy reach. Then there was the walk to Camberwell and the pub with Cynthia the there night. From which it might sound as though I have decided to stay put, but in fact it’s still possible I may up sticks. Continue reading →
Yesterday was hot, and the evening was designed for sitting outside. Hence no post. I joined Celia and Charlie in their garden and we had pre dinner gin and tonics. Very civilised. Then they went inside to eat a fish pie and I came home for my chickpea scramble. Celia had suggested I return to sit in the garden with her and drink some wine after dinner. It sounded like a good plan. In the street two households were sitting on their steps and on garden chairs, chatting and drinking. They started doing this in lockdown, and it’s become a weekend fixture.
By the time I had eaten my dinner and washed up the light was fading. Celia and I sat in the gathering gloom. It was balmy. After a day where tasks including shopping required wearing a mask while that became increasingly uncomfortable in the heat, it was very good to feel air on my skin. Particularly on my chin which I fear will soon be a mass of spots unless I can get the right mask for hot days. A very young fox came into the garden, showed no fear of us until it had almost touched Celia’s leg with its nose, then it loped away. It returned later and again came near us. We talked about the encounter this afternoon and both agreed it was special.
Today has been cooler, mostly blue skies, but intermittently dark grey threatening ones, and at times quite muggy. I met Celia again and we went for a walk to Vauxhall. Every outside space in front of bars and cafés was busy. There were no free tables. Londoners may be eschewing the shops of the West End but they certainly want to meet up and socialise. There was one venue where people could go to eat, drink and watch the FA Cup Final on a big screen. It looked rather crowded around the entrance and ironic that people can’t go to Wembley stadium to see the match. Also strange that it was played today as it’s usually in May. Having walked this area several times in lockdown and met almost no one it felt very strange. We wandered down to the Embassy Quarter, where new blocks of flats continue to rise. Whether we had passed the mosaic of Edward Snowden before and simply missed it I don’t know. The site was obviously chosen for its proximity to the US Embassy. I can’t show it to you tonight as the internet seems to be playing up and uploading photos could take until midnight or beyond. Continue reading →
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.