The Coronavirus Diaries, 17th-18th August

I am hoping to meet my neighbour Cynthia in an hour or so for a walk with a pub as our goal. Our local pub closed at the start of the lockdown and has not reopened. It may have been sold, the owners tried to get permission for it to be converted into flats some years ago. Since then it has been listed as a community asset, and that listing is up for renewal. Some parts of London are rich in lovely pubs, Camberwell for instance. Walworth has few pubs I want to enter, so if our local does close, it would be a blow.

I have been working through tasks work related and domestic today and feeling pretty pleased with my progress. The bossy neighbour has been out which always makes for a more relaxed atmosphere. Her unshakeable belief that we are all accountable to her is somewhat wearing as well as wrong. So I have swept up leaves, hung washing out, planted some bulbs, put fat balls in the bird feeder. Romeo had a good sleep on my car. He seems to approve the new cover. I don’t like it as much as my last one, it’s much harder to do up the ties, and will be harder still in bad weather. I need it to protect the paint work from the cats and foxes.

I tried out the television from the boat and got it working, though the DVD/CD player seems to have had it. I do quite enjoy watching television on das Boot when the evenings draw in, so this is timely. The one thing I really miss about buying a hard copy of the Saturday Guardian is the the tv and entertainment guide. I switched to an online subscription shortly after lockdown began. I like not having piles of newspaper about, but I know I miss lots of articles. On the odd occasion I buy a hard copy and it’s much more satisfying. Still, the subscription means I can read the Guardian six days a week, and The Observer on Sunday. Swings and roundabouts.

I am loving A Suitable Boy. It is so well done. I caught up with Mrs America which friends have been raving about, and I enjoyed that too, but A Suitable Boy is one of my favourite novels and this tv adaptation is excellent. Andrew Davies has not lost his touch. I can see me watching the whole thing again when it ends. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 9th June 2020

I am still thinking about George Floyd and all the issues his murder raises. Thank-you to the people who made such interesting comments. They have given me much to think about. So tonight I am going to let those thoughts percolate, and write about other things.

Jeckells, the firm who made the original upholstery covers, has been in touch and Mr Jeckell no less is going to come to das Boot so he can give me a quote on Thursday. Jeckells are a very well know firm, and I am expecting the quote to be high, so I was grateful to Stuart for giving me the name of someone else I have now contacted so I shall have prices to compare. If Jeckells can’t supply the same material as before, and I am guessing it won’t, then a cheaper source will be my preference. I have been wondering if Impala can be used on boats. Maybe the London Upholsterers are back at work and I can ask them.

Slowly slowly the ticks are growing on my to do list. Stuart is doing much of it – new light in the galley tonight and the opportunity for me to meet his lovely dog Rio. Rio sat on me and I sat on the grass. MasterB his from Stuart under the pillows. Rio is only nine months old so very much a puppy still. He spent quite a while studying the bees.

The ducks seem to have decided I am a dead loss as a food source, so maybe no more pictures like these.

Who’s that on the gunwale?

Listening to ducks above his head

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 30th May 2020

It was a wonderful evening; great company, great food, more alcohol than was good for me. A late night, a very late night in fact as I was preparing for bed and MasterB asked to go out. The positive from that was that I drank lots of water which staved off what would have doubtless been a headache in the morning. But I woke with a very blocked nose, and continued blowing it for some time. I think the blocked nose is also due to alcohol, and it is a good deterrent. MasterB is outside now, but as both Hartley and Romeo are also in the garden he is not exactly strolling his demesne. I think he’s lurking in a flowerbed waiting for them to move on so he can enjoy himself.

I have had a fairly lazy day. Late nights mean late mornings, but I still didn’t get my full quota of sleep. I did a little shopping, including buying the paper and some milk for last night’s hosts, B&J, and biscuits for Celia. She didn’t specify what kind of biscuits, other than saying (by text) she did not want chocolate ones. That still left a fairly wide choice, and faced with that choice in M&S I called. Just as well I did, because otherwise I should probably have bought the pistachio and almond ones, forgetting Charlie’s aversion to almonds.

Naturally some of last night’s chat was about Cummings. I mentioned the interview I had seen with his father-in-law. If you missed it, click here, but I do advise you to take care of your jaw or you may find it crashing painfully to the floor. It is scarcely credible that someone could hold these views, but it seems his father had an equally abhorrent attitude to those outside his circle. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 23rd May 2020

When all those weeks ago we had our first Clap for Carers it was great. Those of us who were suddenly living more sequestered, less social lives, our work and income gone, felt like we were doing something. We might be spending our days at home, catching up on long neglected tasks, clearing cupboards, or in my case doing jigsaws, but we knew in the hospitals staff whether medical or other were working hard. Delivery drivers came to the rescue of those who could not leave their homes; post became erratic, but still came; paramedics, fire officers, police, street cleaners, bus and train drivers have been working. So it was a shout of recognition that we knew and appreciated that often their health was compromised by going to work while we stayed safe. It was also a great chance to see neighbours, to wave at friends who stayed firmly behind closed windows. It was unexpectedly sociable. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 17th May 2020

On the way back from our walk in the City today a woman ran by us. Celia, I said, why is that woman wearing a wig and a false moustache? Celia didn’t know, but she hadn’t noticed either. Lockdown does strange things to us. Earlier I had become somewhat over excited at the sight of a lone canoeist on the Thames at Bankside. Yesterday we saw two canoeists as we crossed Vauxhall Bridge. If we hadn’t stopped to gaze at their wonderful, perfectly socially distanced paddling, we might not have encountered Frederick.

Yesterday’s canoeists

He had leant his bike against the barricade that protects the cycle path from the cars and was climbing over to the main carriageway. He wasn’t finding it easy. What is he doing? said Celia as we stared at him. He held up his hand as cars hurtled towards him and Celia and I gasped for his safety. Perhaps I should mention Frederick (he introduced himself later) was a man not in the first flush of youth and his appearance was a little eccentric. I’d mention wild hair, but my hair was probably looking fairly wild at the time, so I’ll skip that bit. There was a jacket on the ground, Frederick wanted to pick it up.

Amazing what you find in the road, he announced cheerfully, still the car side of the barricade. He was pleased with his find, a waxed jacket. Celia and I were now firmly in the role of audience and Frederick was playing to us. Let’s see if it’s a good make, he said and spread the jacket over the barricade to check the label. Marks and Spencer, he announced, not bad.

Still the wrong side of the barricade he engaged us in conversation, asking if we liked music, and inviting us to join the Choir With No Name, which in normal times meets on Shaftesbury Avenue, assuring Celia that her avowed inability to hold a note was no impediment. A further inducement was offered with the news that a meal, usually with a vegetarian option, was served afterwards. Some of what he said was lost to the sound of the traffic, but he told us to watch something which we think was titled The Trouble With Mother on Vimeo.

Today, as yesterday we saw people wandering along the foreshore while the tide was out.

Foreshore walking

though we didn’t notice any ducks today.

Ducks

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 14th May 2020

Thursday has come round again. It’s the night of the Great Clap. There seemed less noise tonight though I and my neighbours were out as usual making as much noise as we could. I presume the Prime Minister was on the steps of Number 10. Or maybe not, since it has been leaked that the government intends the impose a pay freeze for frontline workers. It seems an odd way to show appreciation, especially when there seem no plans to impose higher taxes on the wealthy. Rainbows in windows are all very well, but practical, financial rewards would show more of the appropriate recognition promised by government.

Thanks

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The Coronavirus Diaries, 11th May 2020

There were some great videos going round this morning after the confused and confusing message from the Prime Minister yesterday.I think Matt Lucas’ was the best. You’ve probably seen it, but if not,here you are.

I don’t know, it doesn’t feel good. I feel people are relaxing too much, too soon. A second spike doesn’t so much beckon as loom. I’m scared by the way people are behaving on the streets, a week ago people were moving aside, not today. Celia and I had a constitutional in the late afternoon. The wind today was cold, a complete change in temperature from last week, so at least Kennington Park was quiet.

I had had a strangely satisfying time going through my bank statement and crossing off the items. Normally my monthly statement is a brief two pages. Today I received a wadge of paper. I have been using my card instead of cash, and buying things for other people, then they have been paying me back. I hadn’t realised until today that B&J had been using Hunger Games as their reference. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 10th May 2020

Today’s Big News: I caught a bus. Yes. It was a number 40 from Ludgate Hill and for the whole of our journey Celia and I had the top deck to ourselves. For some of the journey we were the only passengers. I didn’t use my bus pass, I learned that travel is free on the buses at the moment. I knew you had to enter by the centre doors and the seats near the driver were taped off, but somehow I had assumed payment was still required.

We had been for a walk in the City away from our neighbourhood where social distancing has become passé for a considerable number of the inhabitants. The same for people by London Bridge too apparently. What a contrast with my two previous trips to the City. London Bridge was comparatively busy. No one was bothering to move to the other side of the pavement when someone approached from the other direction. How quickly we are resuming our old habits. Mysteriously the same people somehow vanished once London Bridge was crossed. Where did they go? We went down to the Tower, then through to Leadenhall Market, to Bank Junction and the Royal Exchange. hardly a soul. A brief segue into Marks and Spencer on Cheapside, then onto St Paul’s and then the bus stop. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 9th May 2020

Saturday but less shopping than usual. Rather nice actually, especially as there is definitely a more relaxed attitude to social distancing, so keeping away from the main road and the shops made sense. Last night I was kept awake but a thumping bass somewhere near. A party I reckon. Also much more noise from the streets, people talking, some shouting, police helicopters. I love that people are feeling safer, but I fear it’s all too premature. The weather is fabulous and of course people want to be out and enjoying themselves. Tomorrow the temperature is due to drop, so I hope that makes people stay indoors, stop and think a minute.

The other day I started wondering where my bus pass was. I haven’t used it for more than a month. I found it in my duffel coat pocket. It was like a trip down memory lane. When we were out yesterday, had there not been an open loo at Westminster I thought I might rush home by bus. Bizarrely although we are told avoid public transport it looks safe because we are avoiding it so buses are empty, rarely do you see more than two or three people on one. I couldn’t see a single passenger on a train that hurtled past us yesterday. It’s oxymoronic. If we started using them because they are empty and therefore safe, they become unsafe. But oh the temptation to take a train to the Surrey Hills and walk. Boots and backpack might be a bit of a give-away that travel was not essential. And then there would be the guilt.

Returning via parks and back streets from Elephant Sainsbury’s the only people I spoke to had dogs. I have noticed that if you smile at someone’s pet, that person smiles at you. Nice. Continue reading