The Coronavirus Diaries 16th September 2022: Boosted

I had my booster vaccine today. It began with an M but I have forgotten its name already. Funny to think that when the vaccines first came out we learned their names overnight and compared notes on what we knew about them. Now I just want to know if I am going to have an adverse reaction.

The vaccinator – a new word to me today – asked me to expose my arm. That’s the first time I have heard that phrase. It made me laugh. He looked surprised, then laughed too. Apparently he’s been saying it for days and only when I laughed did he think it sounded odd. In future he’s going to ask people to roll up their sleeves.

In the last few days I have decided my sitting room needs redecorating. It’s not a task I relish, and I shall certainly employ someone to do it, so probably not this side of Christmas. after exposing my arm I walked to the Old Kent Road and a branch of B&Q to pick up colour samples. I had been thinking pale grey, but they all seem either too grey or too pale. My thoughts are drifting towards white. The walls are off white now, but quite which off white I don’t recall. I’ve tucked the various cards under picture frames, and lost one behind the sideboard, to stare at over the coming weeks.

Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 24th June 2021

It seems ages since I posted. Blogging is so last decade, or maybe that should be last century, but it does help to clear my head, to clarify what I’m thinking, what’s on my mind.

After a few days of cold turkey (surely there must be a vegan version of that?) from spiralised courgette and carrot I am back on it as of tonight. Is there a three step programme, and if there is, is it necessary? I do not understand how these two simple vegetables, spiralised and then mixed with spinach or lettuce, with olives and dressing, with butterbeans or chickpeas taste so good. Oh I forgot to add wholemeal bread or wholemeal pitta.

It’s been. busy week. Computer problems and then when computer up and running more hours in from t of it than I care to admit. There are days, quite a few days, when the memory of those simple times of pen and paper, books and buildings housing reference libraries seem enormously attractive.

Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 15th May 2021

There’s a slender silver sliver of moon in the skies tonight. It’s beautiful. I saw it a moment ago when I went out to retrieve the Boys’ dishes. The Boys are of course Hartley and Romeo. Tomorrow is Sunday, so it’s the day I am on breakfast and dinner duty. Romeo missed his breakfast with Joe this morning. Sleeping in was Joe’s verdict, and when he, Romeo, saw me mid morning he was hopeful I was bearing food. I wasn’t. I was bearing a stack of clean dishes to return to Joe, so I told him (Joe) about Romeo and the next thing Romeo got his breakfast. Or maybe that should be brunch. Hartley’s brother Smudge approached me while I was talking to J by her front door. I have a mission to get Smudge to trust me so I can start work on the dreadful knots he has in his fur. The trusting and the removing may take many months.

April was dry. There’s a rhyme about spring weather: March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers. I used to take comfort from it when I was a child as most of the cousins on my father’s side of the family, that is the cousins who I saw on a weekly basis as opposed to the Irish cousins who I saw every other summer, had March birthdays. Mine is in May. I felt a bit left out. But this year April was windy and May is showery with temperatures see-sawing. I was working today and got caught in a couple of showers. They were short but effective. The damp has brought the slugs and snails out in the garden. I avoided them when fetching the dishes, and was relieved no slug was actually in either dish. I know Celia will pick up slugs, but I am more prissy.

Work was good for several reasons, one being it involved walking. I mean to pack a decent walk in every day until Wednesday, and shall probably walk to the hospital before my movements are curtailed for the next few weeks. Mother used to say she wanted to keep her mobility. I know what she meant. Being able to get out and around on your own two feet is a freedom beyond price.

Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 5th February 2021

We are having lots and lots of sudden heavy downpours of rain, usually at night, and out of the blue. Toady was more like the end of March than the start of February: blue skies, warm sunshine, a gentle breeze. The flowers are all appearing, hyacinths pushing their heads through the damp earth, snowdrops in clumps and drifts, crocii, even daffodils, and others I can’t name. Why didn’t I take pictures? Soon. Tho’ tomorrow it is set to be damp and there is even talk of snow on Sunday.

It’s J’s birthday today. Celia and I were able to present her with a bunch of flowers were had been invited to take from St Peter’s across the Walworth Road. Yesterday there had some filming there for a new tv series called Tailspin which will be on Apple TV. I don’t have Apple TV so I doubt if I shall see it. The member of the crew I spoke to yesterday could/would only tell me the title of the programme, but another today told Celia the church featured in a scene where a bride was arrested by the FBI at her wedding. Is the FBI allowed to arrest people here? I asked. Sounds unlikely. As Celia doesn’t have Apple TV either we shall probably never know.

Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 28th January 2021

I finished watching It’s a Sin. I think I wept through at rest 50% of the final episode and a fair amount of the others too, so it may seem perverse to recommend it. There is humour, The acting and writing are uniformly excellent. The 80s soundtrack is wonderful. In case you hadn’t realised, the series title comes from a Pet Shop Boys’ song.

Back in the day when I did my postgrad journalist training it was in an outpost of the London College of Printing (later the London College of Communication, now part of the University of Applied Arts; sometimes it’s hard to keep up), in an old building that had once housed the Daily Mirror in Back Hill, Clerkenwell. On the other side of the road was another building which had been repurposed as we’d say now. Neil Tennant lived there. That’s before Clerkenwell was trendy. I know he was a journalist before a pop star, did he have an affiliation with the LCP? Perhaps, or maybe it was the proximity to the Guardian offices, or just a quiet part of town to live in away from the starry folk in more obvious locations. I don’t think I ever saw Tennant while I was there, but as I started to write that sentence I thought perhaps I had, but Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian at the time, was someone we saw frequently. Also Rebekah Wade, who had studied at the LCP and swept in to give a guest interview: a mass of red hair, a confident stride and an intimidating stare. The room was packed, but I don’t recall a word of what she said. Nothing about getting your scoops through phone hacking anyway.

Anyway, back to the tv programme. I’d love a Q&A with Russell T Davies about some of the characters and how they develop. I never watched Queer as Folk, so I have some catching up to do there.

Continue reading

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

Why flavour a condom?

Having a bit of a sofa slump this evening after a good, but long, day at work, and catching up on last night’s tv. First up, Gogglebox which had me corpsing with the reviewers as they watched Fizz, three of the four person line up which was the eminently forgettable Bucks Fizz., then gasping with shock and shame at the terrible crisis walruses are in thanks to man made climate change. Of course of not just walruses, and it was a very sobering moment at the end of a programme which had been light and frothy. Then on to Let’s talk about sex, a programme about sex education down the years, with excerpts of past sex ed films being shown to parents and adolescent and pre adolescent children. Danny Dyer and his eleven-year-old daughter Sunnie, are for me the stars of the show. When Sunnie learns her father and her mother were having sex at fourteen, her face is an oh of shock, swiftly followed by asking him if they used protection. He looks at his hand and rubs his nails against his trouser leg as he affirms. You just know he’s lying. Here’s the clip.This is followed by a discussion on how old she should be before she has sex for the first time. Thirty, says Danny. She bargains, beating him down to twenty-two, he’s ready to get her sign the contract. Another glorious moment is when they see an info film about condoms, and different flavours are mentioned. Again her eyes widen; flavoured? Why would you flavour a condom? Her father’s discomfiture should be bottled. Continue reading

Sanity Television

Tonight there are more moves in Parliament to try to resolve the difficulties of Brexit. Ideally, we shan’t leave the EU at all, but leave or remain, the fallout will continue for years, probably decades. The referendum revealed schisms, rifts so deep in our social fabric they make the Grand Canyon look like a ditch. If we leave, the campaign to rejoin will begin at once; if we remain, the campaign to leave will begin all over again. The EU has been our whipping boy, our scapegoat, our blame hound. You could be forgiven, listening to some virulent leave supporters, for believing that the UK has had no say in EU legislation for the past forty-seven years.
That meaningless yet emotive phrase, the will of the British people, has made a recent reappearance. It is all profoundly depressing. The Labour Party wants a general election. I’m with Brenda of Bristol on that one. I’m not all that keen on a second referendum either. Our positions have become so entrenched we could have a similarly narrow result to leave, which leaves us just where we are now. Companies are leaving the U.K. the damage has been done. But it can be stemmed.
I’m no fan of Tony Blair, but I do agree with him that we elect our MPs to work for us, and having looked at the consequences of leaving the EU, I have little doubt that a cross party consensus would agree that we should cancel the whole shebang. Continue reading

Monday Miscellany

I was watching Krishnan Guru-Murthy on Channel 4 news interviewing a woman in Syria who is sticking absolutely to one line. Krishan is polite but insistent when she claims that her side is suffering few casualties. He’s witnessed the fighting, the casualties cannot be as minimal as she suggests. It’s frustrating all round; for Krishnan who isn’t getting answers; for the interviewee who is not a fluent English speaker.

The gap between different sides is evident in so many of the arguments we see on the news. Brexit is once more grabbing headlines. I just heard that dread phrase ‘the will of the people’ again a few minutes ago. It’s a phrase that simultaneously makes me rage and makes me depressed. The will of the people is presumably all the people. So as the referendum result was so close, I cannot see any justification for a Hard Brexit regardless of what Jacob Rees-Mogg and his 61 cronies want; talk about the tail trying to wag the dog.

Across the pond there has been yet another school shooting, where a young man with evident mental health issues combined with a taste for guns and the politics of the far right killed seventeen of the students at the school from which he had been expelled. This is horrific on so many levels. It seems that concerns were raised about this youth; this massacre could have been avoided. We have seen composed and articulate survivors speaking out against the culture of guns in the US, we have seen less of survivors who have injuries that will scar their bodies as well as their minds for the rest of their lives. Continue reading

Stonking Good Television, Stonking Good Drama

There have been some stonking good drama series on television in the last few months. While I was in Northern Ireland Cousin introduced me to Love, Lives and Records. Over Christmas I caught up on the episodes I’d missed. It was just great and has helped me accept the fact that The Detectorists has come to a definite end after three wonderful series. Then last night Derry Girls began. Heaven.

On the face of it the three drama series have nothing in common. Love, Lives and Records is set in a registrars’ office in Leeds; The Detectorists is about two blokes who are keen members of an amateur metal detecting group; Derry Girls is about a group of teenagers growing up in Derry City in the 90s. But like all good dramas they take a group of people in particular situations and explore universal truths. They are gentle yet challenging; the characters become people you care about very quickly. They are flawed, silly, wise, troubled, funny. Continue reading