Around 5 o’clock I’m standing on the Heath watching the shadows lengthen. Usually when I look up I see vapour trails of aeroplanes continuously cross crossing each other but today the skies are empty
There are birds singing; there is a pneumatic thrum which I think must be a woodpecker, and wood pigeons are gently cooing somewhere high above me. There is no distant traffic roar.
I’m feeling anxious because people are not self-distancing, and it makes me feel incredibly wound up to watch people putting themselves at risk, potentially me and everyone else around us. A small group of maybe ten people have set up a portable football net on Parliament Hill Fields and children and adults are playing a lively game of contact football. This behaviour is mystifying to me.
There are more children out today with their parents, who I suspect must be suffering from cabin fever. No one is paying attention to the two people only rule. Groups of teens are congregating on benches, and friends meander about in threesomes.
Most of all, I am surprised by the man with his little toddler son who picks him up as we all approach the bridge over the railway tracks to the Fields. He stops halfway up the steep steps, so I halt to maintain my distance. He lifts the child and slides it up and down the metal rails, whilst its little bare hands grasps the bars. I can’t really believe what I’m seeing. He looks at me quizzically, so I tell him I’m self distancing which means I can’t move until he does. He looks momentarily confused, before finally transferring the kid to his shoulders and going on his way.
I’m finding the days are passing quickly. But that’s because I’m still in preparation mode, as opposed to settling down for the duration. This morning I finish packaging up all the food I made for my sister, and make a big batch of the mushroom soup recipe from my cookbook as I have some mushrooms that were bordering on leathery. I’ve always been extremely aware of food waste, but I’m now bordering on the obsessive.
The good weather is a bonus, although terrible from the point of keeping people from doing stupid things outdoors. I hang up my washing on the line, and move Lettice’s favourite bed into the garden so that she can sunbathe in comfort.
Lunch today is not particularly appetising. It’s the second half of the sub standard pad Thai I made for dinner last night. I added so many extra rice noodles in order to give me leftovers that I deleted the flavour to the point where it was just a shadow of its former punchy sour sweet taste.
I’ve now downloaded the governments COVID-19 monitoring app; I fill in today’s non symptoms, and set an alarm on my phone every morning to remind me to go back and fill it in again.
Online shopping from most of the major retailers who sell essentials is becoming nigh on impossible.
My sister sends me this: Ocado delivery slots must be prized above rubies these days
Lunch done, I whisk to the Chalk Farm Food Bank in Primrose Hill before ti closes at two to hand over two brimming bags: one of dry goods – tinned tomatoes, chick peas, microwaveable rice, lentils, UHT milk etc, and one of new hand soap, shampoo, nail brushes, anti bac wipes and more.
I’m rushing because I am due to speak to a writer who is filing a piece for The Observer on how people are supporting independent suppliers by buying form them online. Someone has seen one of my endless Tweets about supporting independent retailers not shopping in supermarkets and recommended me to her. It’s supposed to be out on Sunday, but as these are uncertain times who knows if it will even run.
I’ve left a sheet pan of the Bolognese I made this morning cooling on the garden table, whilst I do the drop off. It’s a great trick, as I come back after twenty minutes to find it stone cold, and ready for bagging.
I retire to my bed with Lettice to get some work done. I’ve given up on looking put together. Today I am sporting a 1989 Wonderstuff tour T shirt, thermals and leggings. All my upcoming jobs have been cancelled but there is still content to produce for my platforms, and I am doing some work with the restaurant to maintain their online presence.
I am very cheered to see a Tweet from the Transport Minister announcing that all car, van or motorcycle’s MOT expiry date will be extended by 6 months if it’s due on or after 30 March 2020. My MOT and service are due in June; right now I’m not sure how I will pay any bills at all past the next two months, and every single thing helps.
Tiny impression on my to do list made, I then, around 4pm, ferry the big pile of house-made ready meals to my sister who lives, well, normally it’s 10-15 minutes away depending on traffic, now it’s a scant five, and pick up a prescription for her from the chemist by her house.
I note that all the local halal, Somali shops and greengrocery stalls on Queens Crescent (NW5) have plenty of produce. It’s not all in the peak of condition, but there are plenty of sweet potatoes, pears, tomatoes, cabbages, squash, and cauliflowers, as well as more unusual delicious produce like pomelos. And they are very, very big in onions. At a loss to understand why people are rushing lemming-like to the supermarkets. Produce is SO much cheaper here too.
I ring Holly’s doorbell to let her know I’ve arrived. I’m wearing nitrile gloves as the elderly couple who live above her don’t really understand self-distancing, plus the wife can be frequently found pootling down the street. Still I’m very careful not to touch anything unnecessarily, and then leave everything in the hallway by her inside front door. She’s in proper lock down quarantine and, having kept her safe for the preceding ten days in Gloucestershire and Bath, I have no intention of letting any germs slip through.
Afterwards I perform an elaborate ritual with Dettol spray and antibacterial wipes before I get back into the car. Handles – inside and out, keys, steering wheel, phone. Then I throw the wipes into a sealed plastic bag, and follow up with the disposable gloves that I have been wearing. Then it’s hand sanitiser, and off to Hampstead Heath to walk Lettice.
I spend the evening glued to laptop and ‘phone. I’ve not read a single book this week. To put this into perspective, I usually motor through 3-4 novels a week as I don’t have a TV. Instead I am transfixed by the news websites and social media.
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Of course it was inevitable that at some point I would crack open the face masks. This is Dr Dennis Gross’s Hyaluronic Marine Hydrating Modeling Mask (press sample).
I’ve discovered the New York Times puzzle section and torture myself each night in bed with the word games and mini crosswords. Never has a word seemed more appropriate.
Good night all