The Coronavirus Diaries, 10th July 2020

Almost a ‘normal’ day: two lots of washing done and hung on the line, then a bus to Westminster to leave my next bag of books and esoteric magazines at an Oxfam bookshop, a chat with the woman in the shop about the various hand gels available, and then resisting buying at least four books from the stock as I had more to do and I didn’t want to carry them. Then another bus to Fleet Street, before heading into the City where it was a mixed story of shops open and shops closed.

Leadenhall Market was newly festooned with fake flowers and bunting.

Leadenhall Market redecorated

Say it with flowers

And yet more flowers


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The Coronavirus Diaries, 9th July 2020

Writing these daily diary entries brings home to me just how many days are spent in the pursuit of minor tasks, sometimes bringing minor triumphs – hurrah the washing dried on the line before the rain came down – but mainly very ordinary stuff that needs to be repeated a few days later; things like dusting, changing bed linen, cleaning the fridge, buying toilet roll. Today was another such day where my greatest triumph was a charity shop accepting a bag of very old clothes for textile recycling. I failed to understand the council’s website and still don’t know if I need to book if I walk over to the recycling centre with a small bag of defunct small electricals or not. As they don’t weigh much I may just try it. If I am turned away I’ll know I need to book. But not tomorrow. I need to go to the City to take photographs for an online presentation. I would have gone today, but the skies were once more grey and tomorrow it’s supposed to be sunny.

I am getting impatient to return to das Boot. Monday I hope. So some discipline regarding work to be done at home before then where I can usually rely on the internet.

It was nearer five than four when Celia and I went for our walk. There had been no call from the hospital and so the next time I see Celia she will have had her haircut. She’s going to say she wants an inch off, knowing a hairdresser’s inch is greater. We went to Burgess Park which I have mainly avoided as it gets very crowded. The advantage of a dull day is fewer people venture out. You wouldn’t have described it as deserted though. We met two very lovely dogs, both female both very young, both playful, both accompanied by young women. The flowers looked beautiful in a wild sort of way, and the lingering raindrops balanced on their petals only enhanced their beauty.

Wildly beautiful blue


Made more beautiful by drops of rain

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 8th July 2020

For nearly a week Celia has been in a state of suppressed, and sometimes not so suppressed excitement at the prospect of a haircut this coming Friday. So she is having to be very grown up at the moment as the appointment hangs in the balance. This morning her husband Charlie was told to go to A&E at St Thomas’ after Celia had called 111 on his behalf at breakfast time. He was allowed to come home, but there is talk of a follow up appointment at Guy’s hospital for investigations. So I imagine that tomorrow Celia will be on tenterhooks hoping that appointment will not be on Friday while at the same time hoping it is if the need is urgent. She’ll be torn.

Last night I had an email from City of London libraries to say they will reopen under certain conditions shortly. There were reassurances about books borrowed before lockdown, and advice to renew loans online if we didn’t feel ready to enter a library building. I have one book borrowed from CoL, another from the London Borough of Southwark. I live in Southwark. I have walked by some of Southwark’s libraries over the last few months, and, crucially, over the last couple of weeks. I have looked at notices, hoping for information about plans to reopen. Nothing. Nor have I received any email message. Fired up by the message from CoL, today I had a look at the LBS site. There was a notice about libraries closing due to Covid 19, nothing about reopening. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 7th July 2020

Two days, two walks, two pubs, two glasses of draught cider, one exhibition.

This morning I went to Bloomsbury on a nearly empty bus, walked to the Oxfam bookshop through nearly empty streets, walked down to the Strand through a nearly empty Covent Garden and caught a nearly empty bus home to a much busier street. There’s an irony in that I think.

Not busy

Some punters

Preparing for business


Welcome to Covent Garden

Last night’s problem with the new laptop is fixed, but while I continue to find my way around it I suspect there’ll be others. I restrung the middle, much scratched, section of one of MasterB’s scratching posts, and Joe obliged by stapling the sisal to the post. I don’t think the boy has tested it out yet. He’ll probably ignore it for a few days in favour of the other one which will also need restringing soon.

Celia and I walked over to Vauxhall and the Museum of Garden History which is housed in the disused church of St Mary’s Lambeth. It was founded in 1977 by John and Rosemary Nicholson, who are remembered in this plaque.

In memory of John and Rosemary Nicholson, founders of the Museum of Garden History

It was all very quiet, very calm. The exhibition was great. Although I have never visited Prospect Cottage I have seen photographs, and parts of the cottage were recreated here. Our neighbour Cynthia had explained how Jarman came to adopt the term Modern nature, but annoyingly I have forgotten. I shall have to ask her again. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 6th July 2020

I think I have sorted the sound issue with Zoom on my laptop. The next online meeting will tell. However a new problem has reared its head – I can’t access my photos from my camera. The Photos app does not seem to be working at all. Tomorrow will see me returning to the shop to try to get things sorted out. At least the shop is literally just round the corner and not a bus or train ride away.

So no photos with this post. Which is a shame, as I took a couple today I’d like to share from where Celia and I walked this afternoon. We went over to Vauxhall via Kennington. It was strange to see people sitting in pubs. Not every pub has reopened. Our own local looks very closed, though we have heard it should open in ten days. But we did enjoy a cider on the way home from the Prince of Wales in Kennington which we drank in the square. It was all very civilised. Tomorrow we are going to an exhibition at the Museum of Garden History. Imagine that, an exhibition! It’s about Derek Jarman’s garden, a place I should love to visit.

I’ve finished watching Black and British – a Forgotten History. I am so glad I saw it. It has been a thought provoking and informative series. We still have a long way to go, but I am proud of living in a multi racial society, a society enriched by people from all around the world. Part of that journey must be the inclusion of black history in school curriculums, so that as children grow up they understand the long history of black people in the British Isles, and how so many of us unknowingly have black ancestry. Black history is not a niche area, it is our shared history as people on these islands, just as women’s history is. Some people would just like us to learn the dates of kings and queens, wars and battles, and say that is history. Which of course it is, but it is only a tiny part of our history and for so long it has been taught as though it is the only history that matters.

How will people learn about coronavirus in fifty, a hundred years time? The experience of lockdown, the ongoing threat has made me more curious about the flu epidemic of a hundred years ago. I think it merited a paragraph in one history book I had at school.

MasterB is making it clear he wants my attention now, so I shall stop here.

Stay safe. Keep well.

The Coronavirus diaries, 5th July 2020

When I was a child I had a friend called Marion. It’s her birthday today. It’s decades since we were in touch and I have no idea where she is, but tonight I find myself thinking about the treasure hunts we used to make around our gardens, and the winter afternoon her grandparents taught us to play clock patience and solitaire. So happy birthday Marion and thanks for the memories of our childhood friendship.

I shouldn’t have laughed when I saw this in the Observer today, but really I could no help myself. I sent the link to Octavia with a comment asking the lines of “who would have guessed?”. When I saw Celia this evening she had had a similar reaction when she heard the police on Radio 4. It was a cynical kind of laughter I know, but these are cynical times. The economy is evidently more important to the government than people’s health, so we get the green light to get pissed but track and trace is still ineffective and a vaccine is a distant dream. Continue reading

The Coronavirus diaries, 4th July 2020

A very grey day, but dry and with a brisk wind, so having changed the bed linen and washed it it all dried on the line, and I was able to iron it and leave it to air. Always feels good. The dusting and vacuuming got done too, a bit of shopping, newspaper reading, a crossword. All very Saturday. All very local. More shops reopened today. Some pubs are back in business. Boris Johnson is calling it Super Saturday. Super Saturday was the day back in 2012 when team GB and NI won a clutch of gold medals at the Olympics. The country was united, the sun shone, we waved a flag that belonged to all of us. One of our most loved athletes was mixed race, another was born in Somalia. Our country is now fractured, the union is brittle, the far right has hijacked the flag, and nationalism not patriotism is in the ascent. Some of the media crowing Super Saturday because we can go to the pub when there have been thousands of unnecessary deaths, government ineptitude on a mind boggling scale, a prime minister whose casual approach to truth and responsibility has been glaringly on show with prevarications and lies a regular occurrence, and now the revelation of a trail of contracts to pay millions of pounds to buy PPE from companies with no apparent connection to the products required, but plenty of connections to key government figures, strikes a very sour note.

When we had our Zoom dinner date we discussed who might be Prime Minister when the Tories ditch Johnson, as they surely will before long. Neither of the names we came up with, Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove, would make me sleep better at night. Like so many others here I wonder how we came from where we were in 2012 to where we are now so quickly. I can only hope that somehow we find our way back to a being a country I can be proud of again. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 3rd July 2020

I bought the laptop. Now I am finding my way around it. It may take me some time I feel. Today I tried to use it for a Zoom event. It all seemed fine, then I realised I had no sound. Nor could I understand how to get sound. It was a quick switch to the iPad. Now I need to use it to try to join other Zoom meetings while I work out what to do. Or is there another way?

This was after enjoying a cycle ride with Octavia. She has been cycling a great deal during lockdown, far far more than I have, and she has become more adventurous, more confident. It was great to go out with her. She’s off to Yorkshire and her mother in a couple of days, so I shall have to wait until she returns for the next spin. We went to places I have walked with Celia, just to the south of where we live. It was fun. It reminded me of my helming with Stuart, how being with someone who is calm, confident helps give you confidence. It’s a good feeling. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 2nd July 2020

Our timing was pretty good, we got caught in the rain shower within a short distance of home having enjoyed a neighbourhood stroll for around an hour and a half. Celia is very excited as she has an appointment to get her hair cut tomorrow week. I am remaining shaggy and unkempt.

I decided to try i-movie only to discover my laptop is not compatible with the latest updates. I went round the corner to consult with Ahmad. He has lent me the laptop I am writing this on, and if I decide I want it, he’ll give me £200 for my current laptop in part exchange. It will still mean £300 to pay. Weirdly, this one doesn’t have a £ or a € on the keyboard, you have to open up character view. It’s not that onerous, but it does seem odd and a bit clunky. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 1st July 2020

It was good to sleep on a good mattress. The one on das Boot is not the most comfortable. It’s ok for a few nights, but much longer and my back starts to complain. I have had a busy day doing various tasks that individually aren’t much, but together make me feel I have achieved quite a lot. So another batch of washing went on the line, dried and was ironed before the rain came. It seems that we are in for a few days of grey skies and scattered showers. Better than the 40C days we are told will soon be part of the British summers.

I looked at a flat today, one that’s for sale locally. The location is great but it’s out of my price range by quite a bit and needs work. It was worth looking at though as it confirmed my my belief that I shall not be able to buy what I should like in my neighbourhood. So it’s back to thinking about my mental health day destination. I think another excursion there very soon is called for. A conversation with a work colleague about when and if our work will ever return underlined the thought. But she also told me about some steps she has taken to keep an online presence, sent me a taster and I think I may have to experiment. It was quite exciting.

I had a brief trip to a shop and came back with a new face mask. I’m getting quite a collection. I met Celia in the street and showed it to her. I think she may get one like it too, although yesterday she bought a box of disposable ones. I am still tempted by a linen top I have seen online, o maybe mask buying will be a distraction. It’ll certainly be cheaper. Continue reading