Friday 27 March 2020

Glorious weather, with bluer skies than I have ever known before. And good news: Marble Hill Park is open again – closure lasted one day only. We were getting ready to complain when we woke up on Wednesday morning, to find an open gate – dog walkers – people. Thank the Lord.

On Tuesday, I went for my permitted daily constitutional along the river to Twickenham. Really difficult to keep 6 feet away in the narrow lanes. Two old biddies were walking together in the middle of the road. I faced the wall, flattening myself against it as they passed, but they failed to take the hint. On Wednesday and Thursday, I stuck to the park, where it is easier to stay away from people. Though we are all learning. Cyclists are finding it particularly difficult, and fail to pull away from the pavement as they pass.

The problem is bananas. Tom eats two a day, come hell, highwater or Armageddon. So Thursday, my priority was to get to Tesco for some more. Little Tesco now has tape on the floor. You wait at the tape until the person on the next tape moves forward. This works – intermittently. Staff are still trying to stock shelves – and it’s impossible to give them sufficient clearance. But I did find (the last) bunch of 6 bananas, together with some skimmed milk and a tiny overpriced Hovis. Also got 2 onions, because they were there. No garlic, ginger, eggs or oranges. 

The big event for Tuesday was the online tango class, using zoom. By 7.30 I had put on some black trousers and a necklace and was standing in front of my computer. And here was A, looking beautiful in her kitchen. We were all rolling our shoulders, stretching our arms and standing on one leg, making the effort. The problems came when G attempted to teach us some steps. The camera did not love G. As soon as he had told you to take a side step, zoom cut away, usually to L’s bedroom. “If everyone mutes the microphones, zoom will stay on him”, said J, the more tech savvy of the group. This failed to work.

“Not everyone is muted. We can still hear you bitching at each other,” Tom said.


“OK”, said A. “We are still learning how to do this”.

I saw P slumped in a corner, the picture of misery. But we sort of did an ocho cortada anyhow and agreed it had been a fantastic experience. The next morning P said it had been great to get an insight into everyone else’s houses.

Saturday 28 March 2020

It’s the weekend. I’m trying to make it different by not working. I’ve bought a paper copy of the Times (is that essential?) and have ignored the news section. Instead, I read the reviews and did the sudoku, sitting in the sun and drinking coffee, pretending that all was right with the world. Bliss.

“I’m having an existential crisis”, P said when I rang her. “What is the point of me?” I sort of get it. I’ve been feeling essentially useless, going on hold (like a bat in a fridge) and doing my best to keep out of everyone’s way. Not that I wasn’t just as useless before all this happened, but there was a lot more to distract ourselves from our own irrelevance.

Lawyers are feeling particularly unimportant. Last Thursday, N led off about the apparent demise of law. “The police have been shouting at people not to sit on a bench in Hyde Park, though the legislation doesn’t come into effect until tomorrow”.

D, meanwhile, has had a personality transplant, to become a neighbourhood organiser. It started with putting her phone number through people’s doors, developed into a whatsapp group and became a campaign to stop bonfires. “My next door neighbour has asthma and was really upset”, D said. “And once whatsapp started buzzing, so was everyone else”.

I’ve lost 3lbs – the result of being sick. I fantasied, vaguely, about emerging from this half a stone lighter. Who am I kidding? Food is what gets us through the day.

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