The Coronavirus Diaries 29th March 2020

Coronavirus suddenly seems closer with my friend and neighbour Bridget’s brother hospitalised, and one of he nieces unwell too. Some music just works at these times, and for me Bob Dylan, someone who I like but I wouldn’t say I was his biggest fan, somehow hits the spot. Currently listening to Hard Rain which I have been thinking about since Celia and I were caught in a small hail squall during our constitutional today and Shelter from the Storm from that album began to go round my head. Perhaps a taste of the April showers due to start next week.

Not sure what MasterB was up to while I was out, but he seems unaccountably tired right now. That’s just tired, not knackered. Celia said she was knackered as we neared home. It was a good walk though. I anticipate that we shall shortly be confined much more strictly due to the number of people still behaving as though somehow the current restrictions do not apply to them. With that in mind I suggested a walk to the City so we would see the Thames and St Paul’s. Just typing that makes me realise how much of a Londoner I have become.

We saw both. We also did some shopping. Now for you who don’t know London, the City is the oldest part where the financial centre is, but it has a very small residential population, so at the weekends it is always quiet. Today it was even quieter. We gazed upon empty streets, upon empty buses and buses carrying at most two passengers. Our walk from our homes brought us few sightings of other people. The market at East Lane was closed. Unthinkable for a Sunday.

Empty East Lane

Equally empty in this direction

We crossed an empty London Bridge and looked at a Thames devoid of pleasure craft.

Empty River

I mean, really empty


My friend Nadia, who I visited just over a year ago in Wellington, NZ, used to work in Adelaide House, an office block on the north side of the bridge opposite Fishmongers’ Hall. There’s a little Waitrose next door. No queue. I went in, Celia having said she’d like some milk. I was after bread. We have now perfected our shopping technique. Celia stays outside so as to avoid accidental contact with shoppers who appear suddenly round the corner of an aisle. I collect the things she has asked for plus anything I think she might like and return to the entrance where I hold each one up for inspection. I explain to security staff what I am doing. Celia signals yes or no, and the items either go into the basket or back on the shelves.

I waved some hand sanitising wipes at her. Thumbs up. How many? I asked. Two? Her face was a doubtful question. We are being restricted to buying items in ones or twos. They have loads, I said. She held up four fingers. At the till I asked if they has cleaning products as I hadn’t seen any. I knew Celia was after washing liquid. I was directed to a corner of the shop I had avoided on my first sweep as there were people there. I returned to the window with washing liquid and kitchen rolls. Both went into the basket. Buoyed up we continued our walk.

I wondered aloud if M&S on Cheapside might be open. It’s my favourite to place to shop for food if I am working in the City at the weekend. We walked down Laurence Pountmey Hill and gawped at the house that sold a few years ago for £6 million or so. The lights were on. That was my first Property Envy spot on this walk. Only the cost of curtains and carpets consoles me. Though I suppose if I had £6 million I probably shouldn’t be too worried.
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New Year’s Day in the City

We weren’t the only ones to be out walking in the sunshine of the New Year. There was a constant stream of people using the Millennium Bridge between Bankside and St Paul’s.

Constant

Constant


It was a late night. I got to bed about three. MasterB had spent most of 31st December indoors while I was at work and then when I went out. So today, despite the sunshine, it only seemed fair to let him have the lion’s share of the day outside while I did exciting things like tidying cupboards indoors. I finally met up with one of the friends with whom I had spent the evening at around two. In unspoken agreement, we wandered over Blackfriars Bridge and headed into the City.
St Paul’s never fails to please.
St Paul's from the South

St Paul’s from the South


The dome of the cathedral is one of the iconic images of London.
Dome

Dome


The whole thing is big and bold, and that makes it easy to overlook the details, things like the swags of fruit and flowers carved into the stone by the windows, the saints who watch out over London from high up on the building. Continue reading

December at the South Bank

After all my posts about the South Bank in the summer, you might have thought of it as a place I only visit from May to September. But I’ll be there tomorrow morning, I was there last night, and on Sunday afternoon.
The book sellers are there all year round. This one, at a guess, is a Private Eye fan. Coincidentally, I saw ian Hislop at the National last night. It turned out there had just been a book launch for a new volume from Eye.

Wimmin

Wimmin


The winter festival is fun, but a bit busy for my taste. My friend and I took the stairs to the upper level so we could enjoy it from a distance.
Winter Festival

Winter Festival

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