The Coronavirus Diaries, 18th December 2020

As I don’t think Celia’s son or daughter-in-law read this page, it’s probably safe to tell the story of how we almost lost a painting yesterday. If you are here in London you’ll know that unlike today which has been wet and windy, Thursday was one of those unseasonably mild days with blue skies and plenty of sunshine. I was very happy to accompany Celia over to Bermondsey where she was picking up a painting her son had bought. We strolled along, met another neighbour pushing her baby grand daughter in a push chair. The granddaughter was dressed in a red suit, and burst into tears when I spoke to her. Thank goodness I used to teach adolescents if that’s my effect on the very young. We admired buildings, the tiling on a pub:

We wondered about the Bermondsey Medical Mission and how Lena Fox was connected to it.

We collected the painting and then set off for a snack by the river, and shared a slab of banana bread. Back through the narrow streets and some enjoyable browsing in Bermondsey Street. We lusted after glass at the London Glassblowers where there was a table of items which will be in their January sale, seconds, as are all the pieces I have acquired from the London Glassblowers, but beautiful none the less.

There was a new charity shop raising money for Save the Children; food shops; puppies on the pavement. I even went to look at Christmas trees, but they were all enormous. We found a shop selling beer and books, a winning combination. More puppies. more meandering. In a park a bench dedicated to the memory of a young man killed violently drew our attention. It is beautifully done, full of personal touches, and I hope the making of it brought some healing for his grieving family and friends.

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In Which Celia and Isobel Visit Woolwich, Part One

Brexit has sapped me of energy so completely I thought I might be coming down with some ghastly lurgy. Not even the birth of a new baby in the family on Friday was enough to revitalise me.
However, a trip to SE18 was wonderfully restorative.
We set out after lunch for the Thames Barrier. There’s a great deal of redevelopment by the park on the north side of the Thames next to the barrier, but even so, what struck us was how quiet it was, how calm. Compared to our patch of inner city, this was spacious and unpopulated. I felt I could live with views like these of the river.

Thames Barrier

Rays of God

Exposed Foreshore

A tug bringing empty containers came up the river to the barrier, passed through and beyond, making for the City. This containers are filled with London’s rubbish and towed away to be burned, buried or composted.

Tug and Containers

Nearing the Barrier

There was one block of flats we both agreed was very stylish, the design owing something to an ocean going liner of the Queen Mary type. Oddly I didn’t photograph it. I made friends with a young cockapoo called Dobey who was finding his first spring immensely exciting, and Celia sat and listened to the birds and the quiet. A pair of magpies were carrying on a conversation with each other, one bird in a tree, the other perched on a balcony. Continue reading


The soundtrack to these days is Snow Patrol, despite the fact that The day thy gavest, Lord, is ending is in my ears all the time. But in the car Snow Patrol rules. There is one track that I turn up, that somehow articulates some of what I am feeling, and the fact that it has pretty, jangly, chords too seems right. It’s about a broken love affair; he doesn’t know, but she could be happy. I feel a bit like that with Mother. She isn’t able to tell me, but maybe she is happy; maybe she is happily saying a slow goodbye to her life. She has always had a strong Christian faith, so maybe she is anticipating a happy afterlife. Some months after my father died, she was walking down the road, thinking about him, when suddenly she looked up at the sky and thought, he’s a free spirit now. She told me she felt like a burden had been lifted, that instead of imagining him in his death throes, she felt he was happy, not slowed and frustrated by the illnesses he had suffered.
Another line in the same song says how somehow everything he has smells of her. It strikes a chord. How can the abstract pack such a punch?

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Poetry and Me

Having decided that I should like to do some writing in 2013 I looked at my options. The two course I really fancied were full. There were a couple of others that didn’t really inspire. I went back to my first options and looked to see what other course were available. Poetry. Poetry, hmmm. Yes I write the occasional poem, and I read poetry, but writing it properly? Me? Not sure. Actually, fairly sure, this would be hard. I wavered. I got on with other things. Continue reading

Feline Garden Adventurer

Not Cat had gone around the side of the building and not come back although several minutes had passed. I went to investigate and the view looked all wrong. It was clear through to the street.

Usually, there’s a thick overhang of jasmine shielding the way.
A lump of masonry sat by the foot of the wall.

The jasmine had come away from the wall.

It looked like a secret den we used to make as children.

I wasn’t tempted to crawl into it myself, but Not Cat was in full explorer mode.

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Coming Soon to a Garden Near You!

Not Cat has been progressing by leaps and bounds over the last few days.

Yesterday, he managed all of thirty seconds hiding away and being shy before he just had to meet the visitors.

He got on with them like a house on fire, being very sweet and playing enthusiastically with the string Althea twitched for him. He even jumped on her knee and touched her nose with his.

We all went into the garden with him to keep him company while he had his evening exercise.

I took the crossword, thinking we might do it while Not Cat got up to speed with the smells. I soon realised my visitors were less interested in 13 across than watching Not Cat. They cooed appreciatively and smiled benignly as he chased leaves and climbed the tree.

It was pretty cold so we thought we might go back indoors after half an hour had passed.

Not Cat pranced ahead of us but made a detour to the top of the wall. His first time. He liked the view. He looked curiously into the neighbouring gardens and disappeared from sight. Continue reading