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, 12th February 2021

Tonight the wind is biting. I popped down the road to deposit something in Celia’s brown bin as we no longer have one. I had intended to ring her doorbell and have a chat, but it was so cold all I wanted to do was get home again. It’s been cold all day, but also sunny which did much to mitigate it, so long as you were on the sunny side of the street, which by and large B and I were. I was her escort or minder for the walk to and from the venue where she had the first of her Covid jabs. Pfizer for those of you who like to know these things. For once I hardly took any photographs, although there were a number of things which caught my eye. It was all too much of a faff as I am again one handed having fallen the other day and put out my hands to save myself.

My accident was like a study in the effect of falling on different surfaces, one kind, the other unyielding. One hand landed on grass and I got a muddy glove but no injury. The other landed on the pavement and the pain had me wincing all the way home and especially when I tried to take off my glove. I thought, I hoped, it was just a bruise, maybe a sprain, and wrapped an ice pack round it, covered it in arnica, put it in a sling, took paracetamol. In the morning it still hurt, but one bit where I could see a large bruise blooming, hurt more, hurt a lot more. I went to A&E at Tommy’s.

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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, 25th January 2021

So the last time I posted it was before the first episode of It’s a Sin. Tonight I binge watched episodes two and three. So you can probably guess I think it’s great. Heartbreaking and great. The twists and turns of how we slowly became aware of the AIDs pandemic and the lack of information are spelled out in beautifully written and acted scenes. The end of episode two was so shocking after the first of the friends dies and you see the family destroying everything to do with him; the childhood photographs, the toys, his clothes. Everything. They wipe him out of their lives and their memories. I didn’t know of anyone doing that but I am guessing this is something that happened. I’d like to think we have moved on now. Learned some humanity. I do hope we have.

Saturday night was a birthday evening by Zoom. Not my birthday, my friend Chris’. Her partner had arranged for a bunch of us to join in a Murder Mystery event. Chris knew nothing about it until Saturday morning. It was fun, much better than I had expected, and next year, if we are allowed, we are going to do something similar but all be in the same room. Just imagine!

Sunday morning it snowed. I hadn’t realised it had started until I saw a tweet from Louisa @ElephantCafeUK which made me look out of the window. It was actually snowing quite heavily and of course at first it looked beautiful. My neighbours with a small boy who turned one just before Christmas brought him outside. He wasn’t sure about it, and after only a minute turned to James, his dad, and raised his arms to be lifted up. Across the street a young black cat bounced on snow flakes. MasterB did not venture out. But I have some footage of him from several years ago when he was quite vocal on the subject of snow.

Snow Business

By today the snow had gone. Some slushy water in the gutter was almost all there was to show it had been. The skies were blue and cloudless and it was cold. For once I spent most of the day indoors, only venturing out to run errands and give clean dishes to Joe for the outdoor cats. Tomorrow is one of my days to feed them. Joe fed them today, but when they saw me the boys hurried over and followed me, evidently hoping for a second breakfast.

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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, 30th December 2020

The year stumbles to an end. There will be no New Year’s Eve parties, the UK’s ignominious departure from the EU may be televised, but at least we shall be spared some of the excesses the Brexshitters wanted. I confess I am not a fan of New Year’s Eve. The sentimentality, the Auld Lang Syne linked arms with people you may not know who may well have had too much to drink; the fireworks that scare and kill wildlife; the going to bed too late and feeling out of sorts as a result for the first day of the year. None of it works for me. So that I don’t regret.

If the weather permits I’ll go for a walk with Celia. In the evening I shall close my shutters against the night, and if a vague plan we have hatched goes ahead I shall eat chips and drink something bubbly in my home, while B&J, Celia and Charlie, B&J’s friends Chris and Jean, maybe some others do the same in their homes. MasterB will be protected from noisy feux d’artifice and we shall be warm. I shall probably be in my pjs before midnight, possibly asleep. I hope Hartley will be tucked up safe in Helena’s emergency cat shelter.

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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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