The Coronavirus Diaries, 24th November 2020

Another Tuesday, another edition of The Great British Bake Off, but tonight it’s the final. So by the time I finish writing this and post it I shall probably know who the winner is. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell. To be honest I am more worried about my bike light which is not charging than the fate of the bakers’ cream slices. The front light charged perfectly, the rear does one little flash to say it recognises it’s on the charger and then, nothing. I’m going to unplug it and try again later.

It is strange as the days cool and the sun sets shortly after four in the afternoon to see the GBBO tent and the contestants sweltering away during a heat wave in high summer, all blue skies, shorts and sunshine.

More announcements from our unesteemed Prime Minister, B Johnson, about what we can expect to be able to do at Christmas. Without wanting to go all bah humbug it does sound crazy to allow up to three households to mix indoors for five days. Maybe Johnson thinks everyone lives in a big house, doesn’t realise how families cram around the dining table and squeeze into tiny sitting rooms to watch the Queen’s Speech or whatever the blockbuster movie of the day is. It always used to be The Great Escape. I must have seen that film a dozen times with my dad while my mum escaped to the kitchen. I don’t recall my sister watching it either, so she must have sloped off somewhere. If other families do the same that may make the sitting room a bit safer.

I imagine there will be some pretty intense conversations around the country with families trying to decide what’s best. Unless miraculously the infection has dropped massively by late December I think I’ll be doing the one household Christmas Day indoors with the two or three households mixing outside options.

Boxing Day is traditionally when everyone goes out for a walk to do a little towards working off the calories consumed the day before. Maybe this year we could just do long distance walks over the whole of Christmas and the New Year. Just a thought.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 17th November 2020

The semi-finals of GBBO tonight. I have been rooting for Hermine. Fear not those of you who fret I am going to give away the result before this season airs in your country. I am not planning to give anything away. So I’ll stop there before I say who else is still in the tent.

An early evening walk with Celia and we saw more Christmas decorations, but I didn’t have my camera. Celia tells me the early appearance of Christmas decorations is so widespread this year it’s been reported in the press. I know some people put them up in Lockdown1 which seemed completely nuts to me. Now I am wondering if they ever took them down. I hope they did, otherwise their rooms are going to look like an homage to Miss Haversham. I’m looking forward to hearing what the psychologists have to say.

I’m just making comfort food. Last night it was rumbledethumps, a Scottish leftovers dish closely related to Bubble and Squeak. I had some swede, not my favourite vegetable, which I wanted to use up and it seemed a good idea. I substituted vegan cheddar for real cheddar. I’m not a big fan of fake cheese, but I have had it melted and been pleasantly surprised. But what to have with it? Beans of some sort, but rumbledethumps is fairly beige in colour apart from the cabbage part, so I decided on red kidney beans. Again not my favourite bean, so that’s three ingredients not on my loved list.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 15th November

Octavia and I realised on our evening walk that these next few weeks are going to be enlivened by Christmas decorations.

Only six weeks until Christmas

Obviously the shops have gone all out on Christmas since the day after Hallowe’en. It seems more than one Londoner has also decided the jolly season has begun. Octavia reckons it’s lockdown and people looking for enjoyment where they can find it. I am not so sure. Some people just love Christmas decorations. I have only once spent Christmas in the US. It was something of a culture shock. After lunch on Christmas Day we strolled the neighbourhood where every house, without exception, was decked in lights, lawn displays, roof displays. The national grid must have been going quadruple time. I had never seen anything like it. Except of course I had, because such scenes often figure in US films set at Christmas time. I just don’t think I had believed they were real. It was like having far too much sugar to eat in one go.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 10th November 2020

So having seen our first Christmas decorated balcony the other day Celia and passed a house with a Christmas tree all set up in the living room. I have received my first Christmas card and I saw a woman wearing a Christmas themed bobble hat although the day has been extremely mild. Are these all symptoms of lockdown stress?

Not this lockdown is anything like the last one. Loads of businesses are open, we saw a P5 bus (a route that for reasons that remain a mystery to me Celia has a particular fondness for), and we stop and talk to neighbours in the street more often than we wave at them from a distance.

One thing that is the same is the resumption of daily walks. I have walked with Celia, with Octavia and on my own. I expect to walk with Cynthia in a day or two. My bike helmet broke but Bridget has rescued me by lending me one of hers; next to pump up the tyres and dust off the leaves and spiderwebs which accompanied me on my ride last week.

Celia and revisited Cancell Road and saw a house for sale. I looked it up when I got home, over £1million. So somewhat beyond my budget. Octavia and I were very taken by the furniture made from pallets by workers on the super sewer at Vauxhall.

Outside seating
A closer look
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The Coronavirus Diaries, 8th November 2020

Celia and I saw our first full on Christmas decorated balcony today. I think I need to go back and take pictures one evening when night has fallen. It was quite a sight and made us gasp then laugh. We were out for our first constitutional since learning that Trump had lost the election. Well that’s a relief.

Obviously there are still some 72 million people who voted for him which suggests something extremely worrying, but at least the Toxin in Chief will soon be gone. I have no doubt he will attempt all sorts of tedious and potentially dangerous things to overturn the result and to make things difficult for Biden, but it was amazing how in the space of a few minutes he became yesterday’s man, an annoying and loud irrelevance. We drank champagne to welcome the change.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 5th November 2020

So here we are again in lockdown, but it feels quite different to March. I remember being worried about the do not leave your house instruction last time since I have to go out for MasterB, to put out the rubbish, the recycling. This time we know a bit more, it’s more familiar. We are psychologically better prepared. There are no long queues outside shops, no scared looking people on the pavements. Is that a good thing? I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not.

I had a bit of a retro reaction knowing I was in lockdown. Time seemed to slow. I found it difficult to get through my to do list. Celia rescued me when she called while I was having lunch to say she was not making much progress with her chores either, and how about a walk. I didn’t need much persuading.

The day had started misty and grey, but as the sun rose it burned off the mist and revealed a beautiful sunny day. We set off for Vauxhall. I wanted to include some purchase of green vegetables in our outing. There’s a branch of Sainsbury’s at Vauxhall.

Also my chair was returned today by the London Upholsterers and to walk past the premises seemed an appropriate thing to do. The walk to Vauxhall was uneventful but uplifting. so many more businesses are open than in the first lockdown, so the streets were quiet but alive. the sun shone on Spring Gardens. The light at Vauxhall Cross was wonderful

Vauxhall Cross

Vauxhall bus station

Ken Livingstone’s two fingers to Tony blair

Love different, love Vauxhall

The bus station had a remembrance message.

Remembrance at Vauxhall Bus station

At Sainsbury’s we separated, I to roam the fresh veg counter, Celia in search of bread, soup tins and kitchen roll. We have different priorities. Then we headed for Wilcox Road and the London Upholsterers. We saw a puppy. an adorable German Shepherd puppy, too young to know how to control her ears and with paws she needs to grow into. She was twelve weeks old, and I fell in love.

Persephone

Persephone

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 1st November 2020

It’s my half birthday and the universe seems to be telling me to leave things alone. I repeatedly forget to buy a lottery ticket in a shop, when I try to buy one online it doesn’t work; I make the decision to put my flat on the market and I turn down the virtual tour option, a second lockdown is announced immediately. Return to Go, go back two spaces, miss a turn, or whatever board game cliché you like.

I’m not sure how I feel about the flat, certainly some relief, but whether that is simply to do with knowing I can duck out of the stress of selling and buying for a while, or if I don’t really want to move, I don’t know.

I do love London in the autumn. With the dark streets lit by the lights of cafés, bars and restaurants I almost certainly shan’t go to, even the wettest night – and we’ve had a fair few of those this past week – takes on a fairy land look. Riding on the top deck of an almost empty bus, looking out at the capital is a pleasure. Then Celia and I came across a vegan café not far away with outdoor space where, when we can socialise again, we should be able to meet, and my world seems complete.

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 28th October 2020

Wow, I am reconnected: television, internet and landline. Will it last? I do hope so. It meant however that I had the dubious pleasure of watching some of the news and seeing news from Wisconsin where quite normal looking people said they intended to vote for Trump because they ‘don’t trust Biden’. I felt this needed more explanation. especially what they trust Trump with that don’t trust Biden with, though I have a feeling that would probably worry me quite a lot.

Toady has been busier than anticipated. I think I have said that before. I eventually cleared the sitting room floor of paper, but the papers weren’t as ordered as I had hoped. Still, it’s a start. Michèle gave me an old hand made quilt. I am not sure where she got it, but it was a bit damaged and rather grubby. I asked Carol’s advice about putting t in the washing machine. Yes, she said, but I’d need to repair it first. So sewing was added to my to do list. I can’t say my repairs were professional, and I think they are more temporary than permanent, but hopefully sufficient to stop it falling apart in the machine. I used the sewing machine and MasterB was intrigued by the moving needle. Not a good idea.

Parsley soup was on the menu for lunch, and I took a break from papers to make it. I had some squash to use up, so I popped that in too. Usually parsley soup is a lovely deep green colour. I can tell you that adding squash makes it look like a swamp. Tasted ok though. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 27th October 2020

There are some advantages to being disconnected from the internet. I have no idea what Trump has said or done in the last few days, and Boris Johnson may have exploded for all I know. I nearly said or care, but some poor soul would doubtless have to clear up the mess and I doubt if it would be Patel, Gove or Cummings.

I took fright at the idea of a virtual tour of my home after reading the email from the company outsourced to do it. ‘Viewers will be able to see into every corner’ they said breezily, then some stuff about putting away works of art and personal things. Where? I wanted to ask. If there is a big store cupboard I haven’t found in thirty-four years of living here I should like to know about it. And what about the patches on the walls and the empty picture hooks, or holes where they have been? So it’s photos only. I am engaged in clearing away bits of paper and reorganising files. It is quite enjoyable, and a task I have been meaning to tackle for a while. I often move furniture around, and that is when the clear outs happen. This time I am moving furniture out. A chair has gone temporarily to Celia’s. Another is off to be reupholstered. B&J have taken in two of my boxes while my Great Aunt Eve’s bone china is also with Celia. Continue reading