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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Losing the Lurgy, Tax Returns, I Object, and the 2019 Ginger Ninja Calendar

My clients yesterday, morning and afternoon, were very tolerant and indeed sympathetic of my almost constant nose blowing and intermittent sneezing. Where does all this fluid come from? And why? A whole big box of paper hankies used in twenty-four hours. So I made it through, considerably relieved that my colleague Simon had agreed to take on the job I was supposed to be doing today.

At home, I subsided onto the sofa and I was in bed by nine o’clock. MasterB was sweetly accommodating of my low energy. I slept almost immediately, but woke up sometime after midnight, and after that I think I slept fitfully. Anyway, I didn’t feel exactly refreshed when seven o’clock rolled around. But onwards and upwards, or perhaps upwards and onwards, and knowing I had avocado, watermelon and pomegranate seeds to top my toast motivated me into the kitchen. Continue reading

Of Vitamin Paste for Cats, Family News, Brexit (again), GBBO, and the Absence of Ethics

A quickie post as I am off to enjoy supper with Octavia shortly. We usually eat together on a Sunday and catch up with some of each other’s news. it’s always chez Octavia as she has more room than I do, so I get to catch up with the Grey Ninja too. Tonight I shall be taking the said ninja some cat vitamin paste,. I got it with the reward points I have accumulated on the one of the sites where I buy MasterB’s food. It is supposed to prevent hairballs, something I have yet to see MasterB produce, and which the Grey Ninja, being a breed (Russian Blue – her pedigree name rivals that of the Tsar) that barely sheds, is unlikely to suffer with.

The blurb said it was a taste no cat could resist and recommended it for when you have to medicate your pet. Great I thought, that should make the worming tablet less traumatic all round. But MasterB finds it all to easy to resist. I put a centimetre or so on a saucer for him as a treat. It’s still there twenty-four hours later, loooking like a short, rather fat, slug. Maybe the GN will find it more to her taste.

I became a great aunt, which was very exciting. I received an ecstatic text from Nephew who is obviously a very thrilled parent. Pictures followed, including, finally, one of his daughter with her eyes open. This good news has been tempered by news that the eldest son of my cousin Tom, also called Tom, is in a coma following a cardiac arrest. Cousin is keeping me in the loop, but they have been warned there will be brain damage. He’s forty-one, married with two little girls. Though I am not religious, I went into a church yesterday and filled in a card asking the congregation to pray for him. These are the moments when you feel utterly powerless, and prayer is the one thing you can offer.

Bake Off continued and one of my favourite bakers left the tent. Don’t worry Nadbugs, I shan’t tell you who it was. The shocking news that GBBO is to leave the BBC for Channel 4 has been a welcome distraction from what isn’t so far happening with Brexit. Some days I can almost convince myself it won’t happen at all. Then Theresa May goes and announces that Article 52 will be triggered by March 2017. My heart sinks to my boots. Does the Prime Minister and her Cabinet have a plan? If so, they have communicated precious little about it to the British electorate. BoJo said something the other day that was immediately contradicted by Number 10 – a nice example of a metonym I am sure Octavia will agree – so I just hope Armando Iannucci, Guy Jenkin and Andy Hamilton are sitting with sharpened pencils ready to satirise the whole thing and keep me off the anti-depressants. Continue reading

Square Eyes

After a day spent staring at a screen as I start on my tax return, an unispiring experience where I am shocked at how little I earn, this evening I have turned to the slighter larger screen in the corner of the sitting room. It’s been mainly Channel 4; the news, the Paralympics, The Last Leg, shortly the Paralympics again and I’ll be watching until Ellie Simmonds races just after 11.30. But I had a bit of a break on ITV remembering how much I loved Cold Feet all those years ago, and finding that this return series is again reeling me in.

I didn’t watch the first episode last week. Call me a coward, but I didn’t want all those wonderful memories spoiled by a crass revival. However the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, so tonight I decided to give it a whirl. It is rather wonderful to find that your memories are not rose-tinted, that the writing is tight and the performances warm and convincing. Hermione Wotsit (not her real name, but I can’t think of it at the minute) is great as the buttoned up Karen, now estranged from her husband David, played by Robert Bathhurst as an overgrown prep schoolboy who functions well in high finance but badly everywhere else. Born into a different class he’d could have been Arthur Daley. Widowed Adam has a new much younger wife, who despite the misgivings of his old friends turns out to be a good sort. Pete is crumbling into depression, struggling to make a living and working as a cabby and a carer. His client is a crabby James Bolam, obviously enjoying himself in his role. At the rate I am acquiring TV programmes I want to watch, going to Australia is going to be a bit of a wrench. Continue reading

Of Coventry, a Great Novel, and the Return of Bake Off

I have never been to Coventry, nor has it ever been high on my list of places I want to visit. That has now changed. Over the last few days I’ve been reading The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss.

Without giving too much away, as I don’t want to ruin it for anyone and I have raved about this book so much to Octavia that it is already on her to read list, but Coventry cathedral features quite strongly in it. Coventry was bombed to bits in the Second World War. Mother, doing her SRN training in nearby Birmingham, spoke of seeing the glow from the fires in the sky as Coventry burned. The C14 cathedral was left in ruins. Continue reading

Nadiya Begum, Our New Sweetheart; Can She Save the NHS?

I caught up with the final. Someone I was with while working on Wednesday night knew in advance but had been sworn to secrecy. I didn’t want to know. But once home, and MasterB cuddled and then released into the night, I settled down and watched.

What a perfect end to the day. And in the next few days, so many many people, including Clive James, revealed themselves as Nadiya fans. Though not the Daily Mail. I always think the subtitle of the Mail should be Spleen, and carry a health warning. The mission in life of this paper seems to be to point accusing fingers, find fault, cause division.

Often I work with people from the US. I have been baffled by comments they sometimes make about the NHS, as though to be admitted into hospital here is a sure fire ticket to the grave. Now I find that NHS bashing articles from the Mail are routinely republished in the US.

Ah.
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Bake Off: Missing the Final

What with the new kitchen and also work being done on das Boot, my outgoings are rather higher than usual. Sales of the Ginger Ninja calendar will not, alas, bring me great wealth, so I am accepting every job offered to me, yea even unto one that is going to extend my working day this Wednesday to around 9pm.

I was just wondering about sore feet, and snatched meals. But it suddenly dawned on me that I am going to miss the GBBO final.

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A New Fan for Bake Off

I have come rather late to fandom of Great British Bake Off. I had seen a few minutes of it before, but it hadn’t grabbed me. I really couldn’t give two hoots about the texture of someone’s cake icing. I don’t even like the stuff. So I would hear bits of conversation from the show’s afficionnados eagerly discussing the previous evening’s programme and mentally tune out.

For reasons I don’t recall, I watched almost the whole of the first programme in the current series. I missed the first few minutes, but sat amused and engaged to the end.

Is it always this entertaining? And do the presenters compete for who can serve up the most innuendos with a straight face? Mel and Sue just have fun being naughty; two adult women refusing to act like grown ups.

My favourite competitor is Nadiya. If she gets sent home, I am not sure if my interest will be sustained. It’s All in the Eyes with Nadiya. She’s Bake Off’s twenty-first century equivalent of the silent movie stars. Seldom have I seen a more expressive face. And she’s funny and cheeky, though I am not sure I can forgive her for putting gelatine in her icing to make it super glossy.
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