The Coronavirus Diaries, 29th November 2020

I’ve just finished watching another episode of the Brokenwood Mysteries, an episode I wanted to watch last night, but UKTV wouldn’t play, saying I needed an HDMI connection. I checked it out today, was pleased I had the said equipment in my random assortment of leads etc and thought I was good to go, only to discover no HDMI socket on the back of the television set.

A search inline suggested solutions, but as I read on they seemed less and less likely to succeed. I am a user of technology rather than someone who understands how it works. I gave up. The iPad wouldn’t play either giving me a thumbs down message when I tried to watch the programme (series 6, episode 4 if you’re interested, and actually even if you’re not). Fortunately the laptop was more compliant. I am mystified as to why suddenly the HDMI cable is needed when it hasn’t been before. A mystery I am unlikely to solve.

I am also unlikely to solve the mystery in Passenger to Frankfurt, an Agatha Christie novel I picked up. Unlikely because I don’t think I’ll be finishing it. It’s a book which makes me want to clean windows, wash floors, tidy cupboards. In other words, it fails to grip. I take it Ms Christie disapproved of trades unions, the Labour party, the Beatles and many other aspects of life in the sixties.

I have never been a big fan of her novels, although I enjoy the tv and film adaptations. She had a habit of withholding clues until Poirot did his great reveals which irritated me. So I thought her books fine to pass the time on a train ride, but that was about all.

Continue reading

A Sign of Hope

For some weeks now, due to the bizarre political situation in the UK, I have felt like I am living in a Tom Sharpe novel. You know the ones. He wrote them in the 1980s and most were set in a dysfunctional South Africa. I never expected those scenarios to feel like real life in the second decade of the C21 in this group of islands I call home.
For nearly three years since the ill thought out referendum about the UK’s future relationship with the EU, those of us who voted Remain have been sidelined. The Breat British Public and their Will apparently excludes us and our will. We have marched, we have demonstrated. Parliament has ignored us, despite our numbers. The Electoral Commission has ruled that the Leave campaign broke the rules. Utd all government could find to say was that it was ‘regrettable’ and the referendum result must be respected. The subtext of this was of course that anyone who voted to remain, who had not broken the rules could,in the eloquent phrasing of Mr B Johnson, ‘go whistle’.
Last night, with just nine days to go to the deadline, we seemed to reach a new low. At this rate our government will surely find itself tunnelling through to Australia soon. Faced with the complacent smirk of Mark Francois, a politician whose election to office brings the whole of our system into disrepute, his intellectual capacity being either so well hidden no one has seen it yet, or possibly non-existent, saying that he is quite happy about a no deal exit from the EU, I felt deep despair and helplessness. There is no effective opposition in Parliament, no one offering an alternative. I feel abandoned.
I tried reading my next book group book (Heartburn by Nora Ephron. For such a slim volume it is taking me a very long time to finish it) but my eyes kept sliding from the page.
I turned to Twitter in search of a hashtag game to lighten my mood, and found a petition. This is a screen shot of it from earlier this evening.
Continue reading


Aunt is definitely thinner. When I hugged her, I could feel every knob of her spine and her ribs were clear under my hands. Her lovely cleaner Linda, now an honourary member of the family, was there when I arrived. Linda is a huge fan of Uncle Bill. I keep reminding her he is spoken for. Linda is the person who allows Aunt to continue to live independently. She is more carer than cleaner these days. And throughout her years of working for Aunt has become a trusted companion, a confidante, a surrogate daughter. They love each other with an uncomplicated trust and respect. They are good to and for each other. Their relationship is good to see.

In the spring, when I spoke to the Specialist Nurse, I tried to find out how long Aunt might survive her cancer. The nurse, who is lovely, but worked off her feet, told me my aunt could well die of old age before the cancer tightened its grip. However, by the end of the conversation I knew it would be unlikely Aunt would see the end of the summer.

Yet today we were talking about winter, and where we can go when the weather turns cold. As we had both wanted to enjoy Linda's company, it was quite late before we set off for an outing. Our destination was a local hotel where I had been told we could enjoy tea in the garden.

The drive took about five minutes. Maybe less. Aunt usually feels the cold, so I was surprised when she said she'd like to sit in the garden, and laid her fleece across her knees. We were the only ones outside until we saw a tabby cat emerge from a flower bed. We sat and talked, and I asked her about how it felt to know that this might be her last summer. She was philosophical. At 92, death could come any day, cancer or no. Seeing the flowers, the colours, the cat. These were the things that counted. A teapot which poured well, and a more than generous jug of milk, sunshine on the plants and the peace of the garden, moments to be stored up and enjoyed over the next weeks.

Earlier I had found her mother's signature on the. Ulster Covenant. It's available on the PRONI site. Aunt was just four when her mother died. Her memories are scant. She was moved by the sight of the signature. I should see about taking a screen shot and storing it with her photographs on the tablet.

My little Olympus with its wifi wizardry is a hit when I visit Aunt. She selects the photos she wants and I load them onto her tablet. She has a lot of MasterB. When we go out, I take more pictures so she has a record of where we have been and what we have seen. Continue reading

Communication Difficulties

First it was WordPress filling Reader up with posts by people of whom I had never heard; then my landline went on the blink giving the engaged tone when I called out, and when people called me. I checked online, thank goodness the Internet still worked, and found there had been some vandalism, and repairs were underway but with no certain date when they would be completed. By midweek I could call out, but it was only Thursday when I started receiving calls again.
On the bus home I settled myself to clear old text messages from my ‘phone. There were rather a lot, and I felt pleased with my housekeeping, but not for long. A couple of hours after all the deletions, I got a message to say my message box was full and incoming messages were being rejected. Continue reading

Technological Nonagenarian

It was good to see Aunt. She was looking very natty in a pretty lilac blouse under a beaded wine purple cardigan. Her was freshly done in soft white waves and there were roses in her cheeks. She showed me the new lights in her flat she has had installed to help with her AMD. They are most effective, and the ceiling ones in the sitting room are attractive too. Next she wanted to practise her Samsung tablet skills. She turned it on, swiped the screen until she found the email icon while I watched, impressed.
I’m not very good at this, she said, in direct contrast to what I was thinking. She is very hard on herself.
But things really took off a while later when she was talking about a book she wanted but thought was out of print. We found it on Amazon, the ebook version, and I bought it for her as an early Christmas gift. When she opened the Kindle app on her tablet and saw it there, her face was a picture if wonderment. I wish I had a photograph. It’s a new way of living, she said, round-eyed.

Continue reading

Aunt Online

Again yesterday I found a journey by car heart wrenching. I drove from the marina to visit Aunt. Each turn in the road a reminder of those days driving to and from Mother. I had thought I was beginning to scab over. These journeys tell me that there is a lot of healing yet to go. It’s not a bad thing. More a reality check.
At Aunt’s, where she had soup ready, we played with tablets and smart phones. Her wonderful cleaner, Linda, was there. She seldom emails, leaving it to the men in her family. So we had a three way message sending session. Linda, to her delight, realised how easy it is to send photos. Aunt received two pictures of her cat Charlie in various sleeping poses.
Aunt became pretty proficient at turning the tablet on and off, finding her email, opening it. Seeing the picture. I sent her some of MasterB and some from my ‘phone of mother in the last days. She finds typing laborious, not being familiar with keyboards. I suggested she could acknowledge emails with a smiley face. She liked that idea. She just needs to do the eyes before the mouth, and we’ll have lift off. Continue reading

Walking Westie Boy

The day has begun. Westie Boy, paws wet from his morning inspection of the garden, came to say hello to me and did a lap of my bed then ran across it. I wiped the footprint from the iPad and encouraged him back to the kitchen.
Wet from morning dew, by the way. The sun is lighting up the room again. Now I am outside two very good cups of coffee and a soft boiled egg, I shall take the boy for a walk.
Just in case you have forgotten what he looks like, here he is again:

20120726-104239.jpg Continue reading