The Coronavirus Diaries, 2nd March 2022, in war do you wear a mask?

I seem to have spent most of the last hour crying. Now we are on the weather forecast I am sniffing and blowing my nose; there’s a heavy feeling in my heart. In my head I keep hearing the Beatles song Back in the USSR, and the lines the Ukraine girls really knock me out, they leave the West behind. I’m not sure I should be anywhere near as brave as the Ukraine girls I have just watched on Channel 4 News. Actually, I am sure, I shouldn’t be.

I was cooking, so my tears dripped into the red bean stew with millet pilaf and greens, a meal I haven’t made in a while. I finished cooking and ate, still watching the news.

Clive James, now departed from this mortal coil, used to write a TV column for the Observer. In one he made a remark about Kate Adie, saying that if Kate Adie appeared on our screens reporting from somewhere we knew it was serious. Kate Adie doesn’t report from danger zones now, but Matt Frei and Lindsey Hilsum are carrying on her tradition, both reporting from inside Ukraine, while Paraic O’Brien reports from the border with Hungary, and the rest of the impressive news team fill in the gaps from elsewhere.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 11th February 2022, parallel worlds

We’ve been living in strange times for quite a while now, but right now some things in the UK are really off the wall. We have a public school educated, billionaire chancellor who is in real terms cutting the poorest and most vulnerable families incomes so that hypothermia, starvation or a combination of the two may be their fate, and he doesn’t seem to think that more than just expressing passing sorrow for the hardship of their lives he needs to do anything. Lack of imagination, callousness, just another example of how many of us are simply expendable.He is also a front runner to take over when finally, if ever, Boris Johnson, is ousted from 10 Downing Street. The current leading alternative is Liz Truss. I can’t even bring myself to describe Liz Truss. He own party nicknamed her the human hand grenade.

Maybe it was looking at these two front runners which inspired someone, and I’m afraid I was too gobsmacked by the message to take in who it was, a politician, someone at number 10, I don’t know, to say that the Met had better think very carefully before fining the Prime Minister for breaking Covid rules on the grounds it might destabilise the country. WTF? In what parallel universe is it morally ok for a Prime Minister to break the rules over and over again he has himself set, and walk away unscathed while someone sitting on a park bench to eat a sandwich when those same rules applied to be fined?

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 14th January 2022, Party On

Parties eh, they are not always such a great idea, are they? A friend introduces you to a girl, no sweat, you might think, though she seems to think you do sweat, that you sweat a lot. We won’t go into the details of what happened, you can read about it in the newspapers I’m sure, but things apparently got intimate. And then it turned out the girl might not have been quite such a free agent as you might have thought, though of course, silly me, I’d forgotten, you don’t remember meeting her at all, let alone having sex with her.

Years pass. Whispers about the teenaged girl you don’t recall having sex with become shouts. Turns out she was trafficked by your friends, one of whom has committed suicide in jail, the other is now a convicted sex trafficker. How could you have known? You never read, thought Lolita was quite a jolly name, maybe you could have given it to one of your girls if you’d thought of it at the time. Now the girl wants to take you to court. You! Unbelievable. She doesn’t give up despite the brush offs you and your lawyers give out. She doesn’t seem to realise you are her better, one of the upper privileged classes, and if you did have sex with her, which you absolutely don’t remember, she should count herself privileged that someone of your standing, someone with your lineage – William the Conqueror no less, yes we know he was also known as William the Bastard for the obvious and other reasons, but all the same – should even touch her hand, let alone get naked and unsweaty with her. Those damned American courts don’t seem to understand who they are dealing with. Christmas was at least isolated so you didn’t have to be with a bunch of family members who had all been discussing you and were now intent on disowning you. You’ll understand, won’t you? It’s to protect the family. Mummy. But what are you without your titles? Without your vast wardrobe of uniforms and dressing up clothes? Without your entitlement and automatic access to the best of everything? A shallow, stupid man. A man full of self-pity and indeed pitiful in many ways, yet hard to pity.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 28th December 2021, Countdown to 2022

It’s that slightly strange period between Christmas and New Year. This time last week people were buying last minute cards and wrapping paper. Today I saw those items on sale at half the price. I was hoping for fresh mushrooms but was not lucky.

A couple of weeks ago Octavia was telling me she has been trying to eat thirty different types of fruit and vegetables a week. She thought I probably already did. I was and remain more doubtful. I do eat a lot of fruit and veg, but I gravitate towards the same ones, so I have started noting my intake this week. I’m starting my list from Christmas Day. I haven’t totted things up before this minute, and I haven’t been trying to eat anything I don’t normally eat, so this list will be as much an eye opener for me as it is for you.:

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 27th December 2021 Boxing Day Plus One

I thought today was Boxing Day as it’s a Bank Holiday and the day after Christmas Day is called Boxing Day and is usually a Bank Holiday but this year it was a Sunday, so the Bank Holiday is today, but Boxing Day was still yesterday. Confused? Join the club.

I was working yesterday. It was outside and first thing in the morning the rain was pelting down. I was wondering how my clients would react if I turned up in waterproof over trousers but fortunately, as promised by the weather forecast, the rain eased off.

Some people are lucky and they love their work. On days like yesterday I am one of those people. I just enjoyed the whole day. Then at home I read the paper. Finally it appears people are waking up to the reality of Boris Johnson, liar in chief and total disaster for this country. Maybe I should be happier that the truth is dawning on so many who have chosen to follow his lies, but the fact that they have so eagerly believed his nonsense makes me wonder what sort of country I am living in. And heaven help us, there are still some who think he’s doing a good job and that Jacob Rees-Mogg is a gentleman. The future does not look good. Also if BJ goes, who is in line for the job? Liz Truss perhaps, Dominic Raab, Rishi Sunak, or maybe Michael Gove who has recently been very silent, suspiciously silent in my opinion. None are examples of politicians who put country ahead of personal ambition.

I strongly believe no one should be able to be a representative, elected to the Commons, or nominated as in the Lords, who does not pay their full share of taxes to the treasury, has offshore investments, hedge funds, owns or has shares in companies who practise tax avoidance, has money left in trust funds to make sure their funds remain intact, or at least very lightly taxed, for future generations of their family while the playing field for others becomes less and less level. If you are in position to make decisions on how taxes are spent you need to pay them. Actually, even if you aren’t in that position you need to pay them. We need our roads, our hospitals, our schools.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, Christmas Eve 2021

I can hear rain against the windows, but the shutters are closed, candles lit, MasterB asleep on the chair, his nose tucked into his tail. We are cosy and warm. I am listening to A Mediaeval Carol Service from St Bartholomew the Great. It took place a few days ago, but is available to listen to and watch online courtesy of YouTube. I recommend it. Earlier I went for a walk before seeing Michèle for a glass of wine in her flat. She’s been home for over a week now, her ankle getting stronger daily, and she’s obviously loving being back in her own territory.

While I walked I was thinking about Christmas, this year and last, both shadowed by COVID but feeling very different. In 2020 we were making the best of things, not allowed to travel, so nearly all the neighbours were around. We were in it together. It was cold but dry and bright. We could meet outside, observe social distancing, exchange cards and gifts over a glass of something bubbly. But COVID has become a virus of attrition and it feels this year we are wearier, less inclined to find ways to be imaginative in our celebrations, more inward looking.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 30th September 2021

I had my winter ‘flu vaccination yesterday. I went to the local pharmacy to book an appointment and was fitted in then and there. By late evening my arm was sore and by this morning most of my upper arm was covered in an angry red rash. I felt, still feel, somewhat under the weather though probably by tomorrow I’ll be fine. Why my body should react so strongly to vaccinations I do not know.

Consequently it has been a rather lazy day. I have read a book, made some notes for a job I am doing in ten days, read emails and replied to them. I could quite happily go to bed now, but as it’s not yet five o’clock, I shall stay up a while longer. The day has been grey, windy, not cold enough to put the heating on, but cold enough to close windows and wear socks and a jumper. It’s soup weather. Soup and crusty bread, except I am deliberately buying boring bread as when I have good bread I keep eating it. Boring bread does not exercise the same appeal.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 28th September 2021

And suddenly it’s autumn. Mask wearing is increasingly erratic. Even I have forgotten to mask up on a couple of occasions. I am hoping this new feeling of relaxation is not heading for trouble. I have been comforting myself seeing figures locally dropping, the warm weather meaning we are outside a good deal and on the buses the windows are generally open. So the sudden drop in temperature is a bit worrying.

Sunday was lovely, which was great as Celia and headed off, booted and with packed lunches for Haslemere on the Surrey Sussex borders. We had each bought our tickets on Saturday though at different London stations. I had the better deal at Charing Cross with my ticket for some reason being £2 less. However, a couple of hours later the likelihood of my going anywhere was remote. I had sat down on the floor to do something necessary at the computer. When I finished and stood up my left ankle felt as though it had gone to sleep. I expected it to wear off in a few minutes, but instead it became increasingly sore and I hobbled painfully down to the neighbourhood gathering that was the annual Sausage Sizzle. Unsurprisingly I didn’t have sausages. I took a butterbean and pesto salad.

After breakfast I had managed to drop my ‘phone on my foot and it seems this ankle pain was a delayed reaction to the trauma. Anyway, after sitting for a while on the sofa with bag of frozen peas wrapped round my ankle I had an early night, swapping the peas for Ibuprofen gel. It worked. In the morning my walking skills were restored. Hurrah!

The walk instructions warned at places it could be muddy, but we hadn’t had rain for weeks (a situation that has changed this week with a dramatic downpour yesterday morning that included bouncing hail, and several heavy showers today) so we were quietly confident.

When we left London, the only hint that it was autumn was the mist. With sunrise now happening just before seven, it takes a while for the day to wake up. I have done several walks around Haslemere, it’s a lovely town surrounded by great countryside; the perfect combination. You may well recognise the first place if you have followed this page for some years as I am pretty sure I have posted a very similar picture, with a robin in it, or maybe just a reference to a robin. Obviously any walk with Celia at this time of year is going to feature fungi.

The trees were still green. We actually got almost excited when we saw a few brown leaves. Blackberries worth picking were in short supply, but I got enough to add to the crumble I shared with Octavia later. There was a fair amount of up. The walk notes used the word steep more often than I like, but it was nice steep, through woodland and on paths that twisted rather than heading up in an unrelenting slog. I kept checking the treeline to see how much further we had to climb.

I do love a fingerpost, and there were quite a few. The first three quarters of the walk were well way marked, so combined with the instructions we had no problems finding our route.

Why this footpath over a stream is described as shuttered I do not know. Can anyone explain please?

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