The Coronavirus Diaries, 28th April 2020

When Celia and I were walking in a rainy Burgess Park this afternoon, a man walking towards us said, “Hello, my name is Corona Virus”. He was smiling, as if it were a joke, he didn’t stop, he just walked on. Celia and I looked at each other. I said something like “unfortunate name” and then, “why would anyone say that?” Under her umbrella, Celia shrugged.

Rain was forecast for today so it was hardly a surprise. It hadn’t started when I woke up, but the temperature had definitely dropped and the skies were that exhausted greyish white. Rather like someone who has been badly ill now I think of it. When the rain came it was serious. Your average London rain is a desultory drizzle or an intense shower that drenches you immediately and then stops. This was the real deal. I found it rather exotic after days and days of blue skies and sunshine.

My intention was start my tax return several months earlier than usual. I opened up a file, sorted out headings and stopped. You’d have thought a rainy day ideal for starting a tax return, but something in me was refusing. I read some of The Mirror and the Light, stripped the bed ready for when the rain stops and I do the weekly linen wash, finished Saturday’s Guardian. I bought a hard copy for the first time in weeks. The thin Guide was a startling reminder of how all entertainment venues are closed.

At eleven, I joined Celia and Charlie at the end of the square where we observed a minute’s silence for the key workers who have died in the UK so far during this pandemic. Celia had directed me while I was still drinking my morning coffee to John Crace’s piece in ten Guardian. She is kinder to/about Johnson than I am, and felt Crace had made the point while still respecting Johnson is recovering. Make up your own minds. You can read it herehere.

I used to merely despise Johnson. As Mayor of London he was a disaster. Now I loathe him. I didn’t want him to die when he fell ill, but I should like to see him retire and do something harmless. However his return to work, or rather the office, since work and Johnson are not well acquainted, was apparently desired by senior Tories who felt his charm was needed to get us, or at least the government, through this crisis. Johnson’s charm eludes me. He must have it or why would people vote for him? They certainly don’t vote for his coherent policies and strategic planning because he doesn’t have any. I suppose it’s like fox pee. Some people can smell it. Some people can’t. I can, and I infinitely prefer it to Johnson. I do however feel if he needs to convalesce he should be allowed to do so.

Anyway, that’s enough about him for the moment, or possibly for ever. Continue reading

Welcome Rain

Rain was forecast for midnight. I went to bed, but was still awake at 11.30, not because it was hot (it was still 29C) but because I was fizzing with excitement at the idea of rain. Once I realised this, I calmed myself down and went to sleep. I woke up at 2am. No rain. I looked out of the window at clear skies and a beautiful full moon and realised the rain probably wasn’t coming.

Rain was forecast for the morning. The skies were blue, with little white flutters of cloud high up. It didn’t rain. After work, in the afternoon, under skies that were still blue, I watered the garden.

A bit later I went out again with the recycling and some peelings to go in the compost. My downstairs neighbour M was hanging out her washing. She’s an animal lover, and we have been talking about her  possibly looking after MasterB from time to time if I have a long day, or if I’m away for a couple of nights. It seemed a good opportunity. I needed to do a couple of bits and pieces indoors, then some shopping, so we decided to liaise when I got back. Continue reading

Rain and Light, a Wet Weekend in January

The weekend has been a rain sandwich. Friday was glorious; bright blue skies and sunshine flooding the flat. It was warm on the street, though not exactly bikini weather, until the sun went down and the temperatures tumbled. Tomorrow is forecast to be a rerun. But the rain gods have held sway for most of Saturday and Sunday.

I was working yesterday, inside, so in the dry, but someone had definitely decided to economise on the heating. I was glad of my long sleeved thermal vest under my presentable work clothes. By the time I finished working the rain was having a pause. Good news as I was meeting Celia in a pub prior to taking in our second evening of Lumière London. We had explored installations in Mayfair and the West End on Thursday after attending a lecture at the Royal College of Physicians about William Harvey. Yes we really are that cultured, I haven’t even mentioned last weekend’s poetry evening.

On Thursday I took some photos, they probably aren’t great, I haven’t looked at them yet. But I didn’t photograph our favourite installation, seesaws in South Molton Street. They were soooo relaxing. I don’t know about Celia but I had to stop myself from entering a zen like trance. I could have seesawed for hours. We ceded our places to a young couple and walked about until the lights were turned off, impressed by some installations, underwhelmed by others. Maybe we are picky. Continue reading

Once in a Very Blue Moon

Off to see Aunt this weekend. The last time before Christmas. She sounded tired when we spoke on the ‘phone, so I am not sure what to expect. I am hopeful she will see the New Year, and that when it comes, death will be quiet and gentle, and take her while she sleeps. I know that’s what she wishes too.

Knowing someone is going to die anticipates missing them. This time next year, I do not expect to be packing the car boot with fruit juices to take to Aunt, choosing flowers to give her for Christmas. Visiting Aunt is full of these significant moments that I know could be the last time I see her mixed in with ordinary practicalities.

What are the questions I should be asking her? the conversations this time next year I’ll wish we’d had?

Each year there’s one less card to write; 2013 Mother; 2014 Aunt Nessa; 2015 Aunt Kath. My older cousins move into the position of family elders.

Yesterday while I dusted I listed to a tape of Nanci Griffith. Continue reading

Duvet Days and Cultural Craic

It's weather that tells you to curl up on a sofa with the papers or a book. Yesterday I *babysat* the puppy while everyone else attended a funeral. There were three funerals locally. Some wanted to show their faces and pay their respects at all of them.

Cousin lit a fire before she left. Yes it was that cold. Pip thought it was a great idea.

The two adult dogs, no doubt correctly reading the attitudes of the humans around them, also decided it was a day for little activity. A duvet day, Cousin called it.

The puppy, aka the Thuglet, was not on the same page. As Pip and Westie Boy snuggled into warm beds, she had just one idea on her mind; to make them play. She really didn't want to take no for an answer. Even when that no was uttered in increasingly impatient and irritated growls.

Continue reading

Back on the Boat Again

Oh it’s a hard life: leaving London in the rain and driving east to where the forecast says it’s dry, and finding it’s true. Watching the sunset go down with a glass of cider close at hand. My window frames slightly cleaner than when I arrived. Not difficult that; you could have planted potatoes in them when I got here.

Only one thing missing to make it a perfect evening. MasterB has remained in London with the lovely neighbours. It made the cleaning easier; I vacuumed, and where Cat thought the vacuum was a love rival, MasterB thinks it is a dangerous alien.

Between cleaning and dinner (and there is more cleaning to be done if anyone would like to volunteer), I went for a walk. Harvested hay; flowers by the verge, slows; cyclists enjoying the fine evening; a lone swan when I got back to the marina. Continue reading

Hydrangea Nights

Two gratuitous pictures of wet hydrangea coming up, though maybe I shall submit this as this week’s photo challenge. After days of warmth, blue skies and sunshine, and sometimes almost unbearable humidity, the skies crackled and then cracked at lunchtime today, releasing a few splashy drops of rain at first, then getting into their stride and summoning thunder, lightning and a real downpour. People ran and dodged in the City streets.

Against my plans, I made a dash for home to secure windows and shutters, grab a proper waterproof, and head back out.

MasterB was unimpressed with my turnaround time; surely I had time to play and cuddle? No, sadly not.

By this evening, things had calmed down, dried out. There is a fresh feel to the air which has been absent for the last week or two.
Continue reading

MasterB’s Shore Leave

I’m a bit wet. I have been standing in the rain between the marina and the river for several minutes. MasterB decided about an hour ago that he would like to go ashore. Once onto the gunwale, I lifted him and carried him to the path. I still don’t have a gangplank, and his leaps from prow to shore are not good for my nerves. I strapped him into his harness, sorry, make that his Mynwood Cat Jacket. I was a bit over zealous and he couldn’t move until I loosened it a bit. He made for the fence and gazed across the field. Then he turned his attention to the rise where my car is parked. The ginger and white feral was sitting there. MasterB sat down. Then he lay down. He watched. He waited. The minutes passed. Ten of them. I try to be patient, but I was getting bored. I sat down too and started talking to him, suggesting we had a little walk. I’d like to think it was my persuasive arguments, but it was probably just that he has decided the feral posed no immediate threat, and in a couple of minutes we were off again. I thought I felt rain in the air. MasterB was sniffing and watching, walking fairly steadily and calmly, his ears swivelling round at sounds. A swan paddling at some lick along the river caught and held his attention. He stared, one front paw raised above the ground. Continue reading

A Lighter Heart

I have said it before I know, but I do get spoiled by having the marina to myself, and all the peace and quiet, the tranquility, the chance to be alone for once. Today was wet. Very wet at times. I forgot my waterproof trousers, and today would have been a good day to have them. As it turned out, I was away from the marina for most of the day. A couple arrived as I was leaving, and I wondered if, although it is Friday the marina might still be empty tonight. MasterB and I had a bit of a play and a cuddle after breakfast, and it was only when he took himself back to bed under my pillows that I set off. I had some shopping to do and then it was time to see Aunt. Although I speak to her regularly on the ‘phone, I haven’t seen her for a while, and I was dismayed to see how she has slowed down. She sounds just as lively as ever on the ‘phone, so it was a bit of a shock. We had lunch together and I showed her my iPad. She tried out the keyboard and liked it. Next we checked with her telephone provider to see how much it would cost for her to have WiFi. Eureka, there is a special offer at the moment and it will actually cost her less for the first twelve months than the phone package she has now. Deal.Now I need to get her a tablet. I’m leaning towards the new Samsung as it takes a USB, and is supposed to be very straightforward, but am open to suggestions. Continue reading