The Coronavirus Diaries, 22nd September 2020

If it weren’t for the pandemic I very much doubt if we should have been sitting outside in the garden at half past eight eating chips. Is this something we will look back on fondly in years to come as we reminisce about the ways we reacted to and coped with the restrictions in our lives?

Tonight’s chips were from Shishlique. Up until now we have been patronising The Best Kebab, but we are starting to experiment. Shishlique is a new business, replacing the unlamented fried chicken shop. It is mainly take away, but a notch more upmarket than The Best Kebab. The staff were friendly, polite efficient. But Shishlique lost points immediately by serving the chips in polystyrene containers instead of wrapping them up in paper. The portions were definitely smaller which was not a bad thing, and the chips themselves were halfway between traditional fat chips of floury potato and French fries.

It’s nice to know we can choose between not just different establishments but different types of chips.

Hartley and the Curious Fox joined us in the garden.The fox played with an old shoe and a discarded face mask which she, or possibly another fox, had found and brought onto the premises. She repeatedly threw them in the air. I am guessing this is a play version of a hunting technique. She also had her eye on J’s Waitrose bag, and would have nabbed it and run off with it had J not picked the bag up and tucked it on the chair. There is something very endearing and innocent about this fox, but I fear her interest in human beings may be her undoing. Not everyone will be content to watch her play. There are some cruel people about. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 10th September 2020

Like many people I should have liked to see Keir Starmer demolish Johnson at PMQs yesterday over the EU Withdrawal Agreement fiasco. But I think John Crace is right and Starmer was correct in sticking to the Coronavirus fiasco instead. Read what he has to say here. Fiascos are officially now what the government does best, it is world beating in this area, and if Armando Iannucci or Andy Hamilton had written all this as a satirical programme for television I should be laughing my socks off (or laughing them on perhaps, as we are still at the barefoot part of the year). Unfortunately the government is supposed to be governing, and, call me naive if you like, some honesty, compassion and integrity would really not go amiss.

On to other things, by which I mean chips. I have eaten chips (fries to you across the pond) twice this week, both times in the company of neighbours. We are becoming Chip Eaters. I don’t think I could manage any more for a while, but there is something very satisfying about eating chips out of paper sitting outside in the garden. Mark seemed to enjoy it particularly. He remarked several times that it was an age since he’d had chips. He asked where I had bought them. That tickled Celia as the chip shop is right beside the bus stop and Mark takes the bus regularly. Surely he must have noticed it?

A further chip related conversation with B&J, also part of the chip eating group, ended with a vague plan to get chips from the chippy near Camberwell New road, and bring them back in insulated bags. Some may even have fish with their chips. Cynthia had seen us from her windows and seemed positive about chips too. Continue reading

Fox and Cat

I had a hint about what had kept MasterB the other side of the wall the other day.
He was happily playing in the garden when the fox appeared. He has been chasing foxes all summer, is normally keen to rush after them, but this time, he flattened his ears, scuttled towards the gate and cast anxious looks over his shoulder.
The fox looked on.
Continue reading

No Residual Trauma

I followed the pawprints and saw Not Cat standing ankledeep in the snow. As he turned his face towards me, a movement on the wall caught my eye; the fox, now jumping away into the garden beyond.

Cat didn’t like the snow; he was spooked by how noisy his footsteps were. Last year, his hearing impaired, was the first time I’d seen him look at ease in it.

Not Cat doesn’t seem to mind having crunchy footsteps. He’s been out several times. The students, from whom I adopted him, told me how they had found him crying in the snow and taken him in. When they located his owners, they were told he was no longer wanted.

I wondered if the snow might trigger some memory of being lost and alone, but there’s been no evidence of any residual trauma. The opposite if anything. This boy grows more confident by the hour. Rather grey hours today. I associate fresh snow with blue skies and crisp air, but today the sky has stayed leaden, and even misty.

I didn’t get any photos of Not Cat in the snow, but I did snap this insouciant Blackbird that he was watching covetously.

Snowy Day Blackbird