The Coronavirus Diaries, 23rd May 2020

When all those weeks ago we had our first Clap for Carers it was great. Those of us who were suddenly living more sequestered, less social lives, our work and income gone, felt like we were doing something. We might be spending our days at home, catching up on long neglected tasks, clearing cupboards, or in my case doing jigsaws, but we knew in the hospitals staff whether medical or other were working hard. Delivery drivers came to the rescue of those who could not leave their homes; post became erratic, but still came; paramedics, fire officers, police, street cleaners, bus and train drivers have been working. So it was a shout of recognition that we knew and appreciated that often their health was compromised by going to work while we stayed safe. It was also a great chance to see neighbours, to wave at friends who stayed firmly behind closed windows. It was unexpectedly sociable. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 23rd April 2020

St George’s Day. I don’t know a lot about St George other than he seems quite busy and holds the position of patron saint with its attendant responsibilities in a number of places. The story goes that he killed a dragon who demanded daily human flesh in the shape of young women. A talking dragon then. It somehow doesn’t seem very likely. More fairy tale than lives of the saints.

Anyway. I was up and working quite early, making notes, finishing off my podcast. Suddenly there came an interesting work related email, future employment possible, but only if I submit something by tomorrow. I think I have it sorted. I also went to the local branch of Morrison’s for supplies. Some of my neighbours wanted milk. I think then milk section has to be the most dangerous spot in the shop. Either that or it so safe that social distancing does not apply. By the time I left I had a tight chest, and sure I was going to develop the virus. I did have some treats to put away in the cupboard though – chocolate topped rice cakes, cashew nuts and almonds. Also toilet cleaner. Not so much of a treat but fairly necessary.

With one thing and another the day passed very quickly. It must have been about five o’clock when Celia and I set out for our constitutional. At Celia’s suggestion, we decided to aim for Myatts Field, not the park by Knatchbull Road we walked through a couple of days ago, but the new development. We allowed CityMapper to dictate the route. More streets I have never walked down, more well designed houses on a human scale. The park area was busier than when we were last there when we saw almost no one. When ever there are new developments planned they put up hoardings showing what it is going to look like. It’s always sunny, people are always smiling, there are always children riding bikes and adults engaged in sporting activities, sitting reading a book, talking with friends. The flowers are always perfect. In the houses and flats around people are at windows, on balconies similarly content. Myatts Fields is actually like that. If i can’t live in Cancell Street I want to live there. The most wonderful thing about this achievement is that it was built post the financial collapse. At the Elephant and Castle, when that crisis hit, the original plans for low rise terraces vanished. Instead they are building tall blocks of flats. The contrast with what has been achieved at Myatts Fields is stark. It’s a lesson in commitment, in how good architecture, thoughtful planning can replace a rundown estate known for gangs and violence with something magical. Southwark Council please take note.

I am full of admiration for the people who pushed this through, their determination. There must have been opponents saying they couldn’t afford it, a shame but high=rise high density would have to prevail. I hope they all got gongs in the New Years Honours. And even if they didn’t, this is a testament to their political will.

We decided these players must all be living together somewhere

Open space

Flats built around a green area

Like the brochure

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 16th April 2020

I slept fitfully, dreams about coronavirus. I understand this is quite common. The things we think we are coping with during the day surface in our dreams more confusing, more menacing. Not nightmares, but unsettling.

Blue skies and sunshine helped dispel the mood. I got my washing in the machine and set to making some sage pesto. This has become my go to comfort food in recent weeks. Then some chat in the garden with a neighbour after I put my washing on the line. The morning passed in a trice. We had some post, but no New European. Last week’s didn’t arrive at all so I thought time to investigate. The website said they were not experiencing significant delays with deliveries. I rang.

Much as I love the New European I am not renewing my subscription. At the office end of things (it is published by Archant) it’s not great. I had to call before as according to my account I had received four copies when the first one was yet to arrive. It turns out my flat number was missing. Whichever neighhour received them by mistake did not give them to me. Today as then, the apologised and explained they could not supply the missing copies as they had run out. That’s fine, I said, Din’t want out of date copies. This seemed a concept customer service finds hard to grasp. The conversation continued in a circular sort of way. At one point I put my head down into a cushion in frustration. Continue reading