The Coronavirus Diaries, 22nd April 2020

Fortunately no pre-eight in the morning power tools this morning. Not that MasterB allows sleep beyond seven. His breakfast is a fixed star in his day. He had woke me around half past three. The unmistakable sound of a cat about to empty his stomach. He was on the bed at the time. I was up in a trice, had picked him up gently and made it to the bathroom where there is a floor that is easy to clean before anything left his mouth. I was expecting a hairball, but this looked like biscuits. As his appetite was in no way impaired at breakfast time, nor for the rest of the day, I think biscuits eaten too quickly would be my diagnosis.

After breakfast he seemed to think we should get on with the latest jigsaw.

Let’s do this!

But I had other tasks in mind.

Use of washing machines is embargoed in these flats until eight, so I was ready with my finger on the button. White towels, bed linen, bath mat, face flannels, blouses and tee shirts all drying in the sunshine felt good. I don’t know why getting the washing out on the line, blowing about and drying in sunshine should be so pleasing to me but it is. Simple pleasures. I had other work to do in the garden. My friend Michèle kindly gave me some cuttings that have rooted, and I found geraniums at Sainsbury’s. It took a while, and Celia came round with the cat food which had been delivered to her address, and some very lovely bread. We talked and mooched a bit and then she left and I continued with my raking, trimming and planting. Fingers crossed everything takes. We are due continued fine weather, so at this rate even the tomato plants should be outside before long.

Celia reckons the skies are bluer now than usual for April in London. I may have to dig out some photos from last year to see. I reminded her of the Guildford circular walk we did on Easter Sunday in glorious weather last year. She was dismissive – you’d expect bluer skies in Compton, she said.

I read tonight that social distancing may have to continue until the end of the year. So that sounds like no blackberry picking walk, and no visit to family in Northern Ireland (and therefore no lunches at the divine falafel place by the museum in Belfast). I got a message from my cousin-in-law Michele to say Uncle Bill was well and had been out in the garden. That’s good news. I had seen a postcard of Ballynahinch where he lived before Aunt Ella died and he moved in with his older son. It was from the early twentieth century, posted I think by the Linen Hall Library, with the caption ‘social distancing Ballynahinch style’. I should see if I can find it to post here. Aha, I have it! Click here to see it.  Continue reading


Small Brave Ginger

Come seven o’clock in the morning, Not Cat is a bundle of fizzing energy. Hands outside quilts are leapt on and attacked; toys are brought to the bed and played with rigorously; vocal exercises are practised from piano to full-throated fortissimo; the blind is pushed up and the outside scrutinised.

Vocal Exercises

Collar and bell on, he is allowed to his personal playground. The garden is full of new smells left by foxes and smaller things with longer tails we like to pretend don’t exist. And Sonny may be in residence. It doesn’t matter how many times Sonny tells Not Cat to get lost, my boy simply can’t get over his hero worship and desire to be pals.

King Sonny

He’s more successful with his human friendships. The other day, he met Viola, and took to her immediately. We were in the garden. Viola has corkscrew curls, and Not Cat was fascinated. He sat up on the table and gave them a gentle, exploratory pat, then touched Viola’s nose with his. Sweet. Continue reading

Hair 2010

I had a fairly unsophisticated upbringing. Life revolved around school, pets, the Brownies and my close-knit and extended families in my home town and in Ireland, where holidays, when we had them, would be spent in the middle of the countryside.

There were school trips to museums in London, usually the Horniman. There were pantos in the village hall, and once, memorably, my mother took me to see The Nutcracker at the Royal Festival Hall. I loved it. Later I found out she’d been bored silly.

In my early teens, my older sister fell in love with Shakespeare and learned how to book tickets for shows at the Regents Park Open Air Theatre. As a birthday treat she took me to see Ian McKellen playing Hamlet at the Cambridge Theatre when he was the rising star of the RSC. Continue reading