The Coronavirus Diaries, 13th June 2020

In a garden very close by a group of friends is getting louder and louder. I know it’s a share house, the number of different voices suggests this is a bit of a party. From the shouting and raucous laughter I’d say drink has been taken. I have shut my windows but that’s done nothing to deaden the noise. It’s making me nostalgic for the quiet we have enjoyed all these weeks.

Somewhere this weekend has marked a new shift in lockdown. It might be called break out. Two of the three flats that have been empty for months are now occupied once more. A family down the street who went to a property in Sussex in March has returned.

At Sainsbury’s at the Elephant the barriers behind which we have queued for weeks now have gone. There was no one on the door telling us we could come in or if we had to wait. Shoppers arrived from different directions. Inside there were still notices telling us to keep apart, and most people were, but there were fewer masks, no gloves. At Baldwin’s, which is small, they were operating a strict one out, one in policy and asking customers to use the hand sanitiser before they began to shop.

I dodged the market at East Lane which seemed to be heaving, and kept mainly to side roads. My newly returned neighbours went to Kennington Park and reported it was very busy there. MasterB who firmly believes their flat is now his territory walked in and out of their home several times as we talked at a safe distance from each other on the landing. and checked out bags and a new piece of furniture. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 8th June 2020

I am still disturbed by the conversation I had with with the man about George Floyd. He dismissed the killing saying it was no worse than any other murder, so why were people so upset. He said Floyd had been a criminal, that black men are killed by other black men and no one starts marching. The idea that a policeman, a white policeman, murdering a black man while his colleagues looked on and did nothing, did not seem to him to make the murder more significant. The fact that black men and women in both the US and the UK are more likely to be stopped by the police when going about their business did not trouble him. It reminded me of a sketch on Not the Nine O’Clock News. But it also made me wonder if this man has formed these views on his own, or if they have been shaped by what he is read or heard. On my visits to the Co-op I didn’t look at the newspapers’ front pages. Is this the line some editorials are taking? If so, it is deeply irresponsible, deeply divisive. We live in societies that value white lives over black ones, where we have a Prime Minister in this country who talks about picaninnies and watermelon smiles, then wonders why people of all colours take offence. The pandemic has shown how black and minority ethic groups have suffered most, not because they have less immunity, but because they are more exposed, are more often to live in poorer housing. The pandemic has laid bare the inequalities of our society we have been ignoring for years.

Is it any wonder a moment comes that ignites all the frustration? When people take to the streets to protest? The vast majority of the protests are peaceful. The bursts of violence and looting are the ones that get the most coverage. Easier to condemn such behaviour than look at the fundamental injustices in our democracy that have led to it.

During our constitutional walks in London Celia and I have spent time enjoying and admiring the new estate in Myatts Fields. The old estate was a warren, and a place dominated by gangs and violence. The new one is human scale, the design has been carefully thought out to encourage openness and interaction. Our neighbour Cynthia describes it as a piece of Scandinavia in south London. It’s all the more impressive as it was built after austerity began. The council must have taken the decision to pursue its plans despite budget cuts. Yet in the short term, building high rises would have seemed the sensible financial solution. Continue reading

The Cat Ripper

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Sitting pretty on the recycling bag yesterday

MasterB loves to go outside. He is fortunate in having a large garden at his disposal, but he doesn’t always stay in it. He’s probably wondering why I am hovering around even more when he goes out, and why I am lecturing him about the dangers of taking food, especially raw chicken, from anyone outside the home. Maybe he thinks I’m worried about salmonella.

If only.

A friend alerted me to the news that there is a cat strangler operating south of London. Croydon, which was part of Surrey when I was growing up but is now part of Greater London, seems to be where this particular operator hangs out. Continue reading