The Coronavirus Diaries, 1st March 2021

St David’s day. Appropriately I have daffodils, two bunches, two different varieties, in two separate vases. One vase is in the bedroom, the other in the living room. There may be more daffodils in the garden but I’ve not been out much since Friday.

Friday was glorious, warm and sunny as early April, and the weekend and today have continued in the same vein. B and I strolled down to Loughborough Junction admiring this and that on the way, until I realised our admiring, look-at-that-ing risked my late arrival for the appointment with my Covid vaccination, so the last few minutes were more a brisk walk.

It was all very streamlined. I was back outside in the sunshine with B in a few minutes. I had the Astra Zeneca vaccine. B was there in case I had a bad reaction. I so didn’t have a bad reaction we almost forgot that I might have done until we were nearly back.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 25th February 2021

So much good stuff today. I am quite excited. So it seems appropriate to have a Pointer Sisters moment now.

My friend Chris told me she and her partner have both had their first vaccinations. What? I was jealous. She told me to look online and see if I could book one. I was sceptical, but guess what? tomorrow I am booked in for the jab. Woohoo! B is going to be my vaccination buddy, so we shall walk the mean streets in February sunshine tomorrow morning. Is it going to be Pfizer? I don’t know. Watch this space.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 24th February 2021

A short walk today with Celia. We have both been busy with other things though the fine weather was calling at least one of us. It was hard to turn away, sit down at the computer and spend the hours inside. MasterB sunbathed on the sitting room carpet. But we had the consolation of yesterday’s walk which was a good one. We met in the middle of the afternoon and, at Celia’s suggestion, walked up to St James’ Park via Lambeth Bridge. We were obviously not the only people who thought it would be great place to go. For those of you who are unfamiliar with London, this is the park that flanks the Mall (pronounced to rhyme with gal) which leads up to Buckingham Palace. It’s a bird sanctuary, has has wonderful flowerbeds, crocuses in the grass, and wildish areas for the birds, bats, and whatever other creatures make their home there. I know there’s at least one fox.

The geese were convinced we must have something for them. They came over to us, talked to us eloquently and energetically, but to no avail. Our pockets were empty. A squirrel was even more determined and climbed up Celia’s leg. If I were a St James’ Park goose I would be muttering about the parakeets. Parvenus: loud, aggressive, confident, they were the ones most people were offering food to. I’m guessing if a goose tried emulating their behaviour and landing winsomely onto an outstretched hand it wouldn’t go down too well. Again there were signs asking people not to feed the wildlife. Ignored signs by and large. People had come armed with tubs of bird seed. The joy we humans get from feeding wildlife is fascinating to witness. A heron seemed to be following us. Then we realised it was watching someone else: a litter picker who when his work is done stays on to offer feed the birds. He offered us fish to give to the heron and Celia accepted without hesitation.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 21st February 2021

Oh my what a weekend of lovely weather. Spring pushing away the cold of winter, filling longer days with light and promise, and filling the parks with flowers and buds, and filling our heads with giddy thoughts of post lockdown socialising.

There have been hints that we may soon be allowed to meet up with friends. Hints that have been taken by some as permission to jump the gun. I really don’t want another lockdown when this one ends so I am torn. The feeling of excitement and anticipation that the rule of six might be restored is making my heart leap. Today I sat in the garden with Hartley on my knee and thought how much he’ll love it if our drinks and nibbles routine starts up again.

But I am moving too fast. Millions have had the vaccine but I haven’t. I don’t think it will be long now, but seeing groups of twenty somethings sitting in a circle on the grass yesterday, older people going maskless into shops, some people strolling in groups of three or four down the centre of the pavement worried me. Don’t get me wrong, in the same hours that I saw these things I also saw people standing patiently in socially distanced queues, people wearing masks o the street, assiduous application of hand gel inside shops. I should hate to have got this far Covid free only to succumb the virus in the next few weeks or months.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 15th February 2021

So fifty years since the UK switched from pounds, shillings and pence to decimal currency. It was my cousin Georgina’s birthday, so the date fixed in my memory. I don’t know if there were any commemorative events today. If there were, I missed them. Until that day your purse would be a history lesson with coins from Victoria’s reign onwards. We knew what the young Victoria looked like with the *bun* pennies, and then how her jawline dropped as the reign went on. As Elizabeth II has reigned throughout the last fifty years there are coins which show her ageing, but the idea of a coin with someone else’s head on it seems quite odd.

Tomorrow I have my appointment at the fracture clinic. I am excited to learn if my wrist is fractured or not. It probably won’t make much difference, if any, to the treatment I’ll receive, but anyway I am curious. I have been spreading the rumour that my fall was due to Celia shoving me. I’m not sure the two children I told that tale to this afternoon believed me, but they were very keen and interested in the metal in my right wrist. More interested I’d say than in anything else I have ever told them. There’s a moral in there somewhere.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 7th February 2021

A few months ago I had never tasted millet, this morning I pulled Foods for Health by James Hewitt, a book off the shelf that was Mother’s, and read this:

“‘Millet is rightfully the king of all cereals,’ says Dr Paavo Airola.”

Naturally I read on. I had looked on the internet, but although there were lots of sites which mentioned millet, none looked very reliable. Later I thought of trying the Vegan and Vegetarian Societies websites and they endorse Dr Airola. So.

Maybe I am turning into my mother. Oscar Wilde said that was a woman’s tragedy. Maybe. Or maybe I just grew up with a parent who was interested in nutrition and cooking and some of it rubbed off on me. So I am rather excited to learn about millet’s amazing properties, high in protein (though not as high as quinoa), low in starch, contains more iron than other grains, digests easily and does not cause flatulence (!); it contains lecithin, and if I had known it was gluten free when Mother was alive I might have added it to the meals I made for her as she had Coeliac disease, was gluten intolerant.

I’m sure there’ll be another ingredient I’ll go mad for in a while, but right now I am Millet Woman. My fifteen-year-old self would be disappointed in the way I have turned out.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 28th January 2021

I finished watching It’s a Sin. I think I wept through at rest 50% of the final episode and a fair amount of the others too, so it may seem perverse to recommend it. There is humour, The acting and writing are uniformly excellent. The 80s soundtrack is wonderful. In case you hadn’t realised, the series title comes from a Pet Shop Boys’ song.

Back in the day when I did my postgrad journalist training it was in an outpost of the London College of Printing (later the London College of Communication, now part of the University of Applied Arts; sometimes it’s hard to keep up), in an old building that had once housed the Daily Mirror in Back Hill, Clerkenwell. On the other side of the road was another building which had been repurposed as we’d say now. Neil Tennant lived there. That’s before Clerkenwell was trendy. I know he was a journalist before a pop star, did he have an affiliation with the LCP? Perhaps, or maybe it was the proximity to the Guardian offices, or just a quiet part of town to live in away from the starry folk in more obvious locations. I don’t think I ever saw Tennant while I was there, but as I started to write that sentence I thought perhaps I had, but Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian at the time, was someone we saw frequently. Also Rebekah Wade, who had studied at the LCP and swept in to give a guest interview: a mass of red hair, a confident stride and an intimidating stare. The room was packed, but I don’t recall a word of what she said. Nothing about getting your scoops through phone hacking anyway.

Anyway, back to the tv programme. I’d love a Q&A with Russell T Davies about some of the characters and how they develop. I never watched Queer as Folk, so I have some catching up to do there.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 9th January 2020

A stunningly beautiful day: cold, but with bright blue skies and when you in it the sun was warm. Octavia and I met and went for a walk. There has been a short series on BBC4 this week called Winter Walks. Five well known figures have gone for a walk alone but with a camera recording a 360° view of what they saw. I have seen three of the five programmes. Don’t think car chases, or indeed anything fast, though one farmer had a fine collection of old tractors he was happy to talk about with Lemn Sissay. In some ways it reminded me of those short filler pieces between programmes back when all television was in black and white, things lies a pot being thrown. Slow, mesmeric, and somehow deeply pleasing. the filming has been edited down to thirty minutes per programme. when I have finished writing this post, I shall probably watch the two remaining episodes. The fact that the words Series 1 follow the title means, I hope that there will be more. I was struck by how in the three I have seen (Lemn Sissay, Simon Armitage and Richard Coles) at some point each muses on the power of walking and landscape to soothe, to heal, to inspire and to calm. I shall be shocked if Selina Scott and Sayeeda Warsi say anything to the contrary. The programmes made me more than ever want to get my boots on and get out into the country, but with strict instructions to stay local, Cynthia and I are planning an urban walk from our front doors to Norwood cemetery next week. we need to plot a route. The most direct way is along main roads, but they will be the most polluted, so we would be better sticking to side streets, housing estates and parks. It’s going to be an adventure.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 2nd January 2021

Celia and went for a walk this afternoon. Our goal was the Southbank where we had seen lights and signs of festivities a few weeks ago. There were still lights and a fair number of stalls selling food and drink, but most people seemed to be enjoying the view of the river and a walk as the afternoon turned into evening.

It would appear that with the restrictions on what we can do and where we can do it, more and more people are strolling the streets. There are an enormous number of beguiling puppies. Covid has made much of the last twelve months pretty bleak, but people discovering the joys of walking has to be a positive. Those who have acquired canine companions will obviously be out pounding the pavements and parks, will the rest retire to bars and restaurants? We saw a few runners. This is the time of year when those running the London marathon start taking their training seriously. There was no marathon in 2020. What are the chances in 2021? Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 28th December 2020

It’s a cold night after a cold day, but the forecast sleet did not come and I got out and about in Holborn and Bloomsbury this afternoon. I am hoping for similar walking weather tomorrow. Walking is good for me at any time, but during the pandemic it has been a lifesaver, a joy, a freedom.

Local streets and shops are often busy, so heading for areas of big shops, hotels and offices where fewer people live makes sense. We can walk alone, enjoy outside space, remove our masks. Actually I only removed my mask today as I realised it was getting and staying damp from my condensed breath. Celia wasn’t with me today. I travelled on an almost empty bus with all the windows open. Bracing might be open description. I cannot imagine travelling on an air conditioned coach where the windows stay closed and the air circulates. Death trap.

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