The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci Douglas Self.

Page opened 1 Apr 2020

Back to Home PageThe Papworth Hermit

When the day's episode is uploaded, be aware that I sometimes make minor additions to the previous day, and occasionally the day before that. I won't go any further back than that.

This page has been tested on a computer screen rather than a phone.

Saturday 2 May

This is not Romeo; it is Fluffcat

This is another local cat.He lives on St James Rd, and I understand his real name is Barney. Not much of a name for a cat in my view; we have always called him Fluffcat.

We hadn't seen him for months, and feared the worst, but he turned up at the end of our road today, and was graciously pleased to accept a few cat treats. Good to see him again.

Friday 1 May 2020

Romeo makes a bum move

We have still not much much progress with playing chess. Here is another reason why.

Tuesday 28 April
As predicted, the rain has come. I'm actually quite enjoying the change in the weather. The last of the plants we bought were planted yesteday, in the very nick of time.

Molly plays chess, sort of

Jools saw Molly knock the king over, which in chess means 'I resign'. This I feel shows a certain lack of aggression on the part of Molly, since white has not yet made the first move. I thought it might be a rare example of a cat making a legal chess move, but I don't think you are allowed to resign before the game starts.

I have missed a few updates recently as frankly there has been very little to report. We plod on, dreaming of a 10-person bubble.

Monday 27 April

Sunday 26 April

Saturday 25 April

Friday 24 April
Another day spent gardening and website-fettling. Jools cleaned the front windows. My God, there's a street out there!

We are pondering the advisability of a trip to B&Q at Leyton to get some marigolds, and hopefully some Thunbergia. (Also Known As Black-eyed Susan)

It is Peroni and pizza night. Pizza from Waitrose, and we will contrast and compare with Pizza Hut's offerings. Our large stuffed-whatever cost 15, plus 2 for the driver, so I'm thinking that getting our pizzas from Waitrose will save significant money.

Thursday 23 April
For once some good news. B&Q at Leyton has reopened. A small step in the right direction.

The Papworth Hermit has just been updated again. The cat is named...

Jools and I replayed Evan's development on the giuoco piano opening. Oh, sure, it's gentle to start with, but then mayhem ensues. Very instructive on getting your pieces out there and not footling around on your back rank.

Successful zoom pub session achieved starting 10pm.

Wednesday 22 April
Another glorious sunny day with barely a cloud in the sky. Jools did a Zoom yoga session this morning, joined on the mat by Rosie. We now have Rosie's new medicine, but so far she has absolutely refused to take it; how she can detect a quarter of a tiny pill in milk without even tasting it we cannot guess. But this is a worrying development.

A little light gardening was done, trimming the edges of the lawn and planting the Verbena we bought on Monday. We did our Statutory Exercise walking to Forest Lane park to check on the newts etc. Still there in quite large numbers. We did a Zoom session at 6pm with Richard.

The Papworth Hermit has just been updated.

Tuesday 21 April
Well, to be quite frank there's not been a lot going on today. I have been for a walk with Jools, pottered a bit in the garden, (I'll be keeping my eye on you, Potter!) done the laundry, (which at this point of the year now has a reasonable chance of getting dry when I put it out on the line) and tidying a few things up generally.

I did eventually manage to buy some grass seed. I put it in some 6 days ago, and have watered it daily, but close inspection of the ground shows... absolutely nothing. Hmmm. Simon?

Virtual pub to 10pm tonight. Jools has sent out the email invites. Watched another Father Brown; a good one this time.

Monday 20 April
It is ten days since our last shopping expedition, so as planned we sallied forth, bearing gloves and respirator. The queueing time was only twenty minutes; it looks as though shopping at Monday lunch-time may be a good move. Plenty of most things (no TP shortage) but couldn't get red or green peppers or fresh tarragon. On the way home we stopped at Smallholders in Woodgrange Rd, which remains open 1:30pm to 4:30pm, and stocked up on bedding plants, because there are still some parts of the garden where earth is showing.

So the ten-day shopping cycle works, but the major difficulty is not so much milk and bread, as planning for not one but two Big Meals on Saturday night. Our freezer is now groaning at the hinges.

After heroic efforts to stash away our booty we had lunch in the garden. Sunny, but not exactly warm. Four cats attending, but I am afraid to report that Hump-phrey once again became a touch over-demonstrative with Molly. Distracts you from your slice of pizza.

Virtual pub again 10pm tomorrow.

Sunday 19 April
Last night we finally got around to having our first game of chess. It is of course important to set the board up properly; the first step is to remove the cat from it.

It actually went quite well. I won't say who won, but I can assure you it was vicious stuff, with an exchange of queens, and with brutal carnage amongst the pawns. It was hard fought to the very end, though I imagine the chess masters of history were spinning in their graves. It kept us thoroughly entertained for over an hour. I admit to some stupid moves on my part, but then my previous last game of chess was about a half-century ago. I am not sure that I have convinced Jools that castling really is a legal move.

Usual pub zoom at 10pm today. Jools has sent out the invite emails.

Saturday 18 April
And another grey day. Had to queue for 5 minutes outside the newsagent as someone was insisting on buying coffee from their machine, which had to be taken apart to make it work. Annoying.

Jenkins. Note part of ear missing. Photo by Alan Griffiths.

Jenkins turns up from time to time on the front wall, indicating that a cat treat wouldn't go amiss, if you happen to have any handy. We think he lives somewhere up the road but we have no real idea where. He is called Jenkins (so far as we are concerned) because of this.

Jools was up early for a telephone vet consultation about Rosie, who has taken to over-grooming and is losing the hair on her back legs. This is due to stress, in the sense that Rosie does not want to share the house with Molly and hisses at her each time she sees her. Molly just looks at her. Molly is Senior Cat, having got here first, and is going nowhere. Molly has excellent nose-kiss relations with Jenkins, Romeo and even Humphrey, who has taken to getting on top of her. We now call him Hump-phrey. Surprisingly Molly doesn't seem to mind this behaviour, and we are starting to suspect she likes it. Both cats have had The Operation, so nothing's going to happen. I assume.

It was concluded that Rosie needs to go on a tranquiliser, namely amytriptyline; this is going to be delivered by post.

Tonight's Big Meal is spaghetti carbonara a la mode Idmiston. I know carbonara is basically eggs, bacon. and pasta, but we are used to doing it Our Way with cheese & bacon. I plan to make the cheese sauce from scratch, which may be a bit more complex than originally planned; even the Delia Smith recipe has ten ingredients. My big book of sauces has an more complicated recipe that yields about two quarts of Sauce Mornay. Whether 'strong bread flour', which is all we could get, is good for making sauces is something we are going to find out. We did find out; it works fine. A pretty good cheese sauce, if I do say so myself...

Last night's pizza delivery was a success, though we have discovered that 'large meat feast pizza with stuffed crust' will feed at least three people, and possibly four. This was my first encounter with a 'stuffed crust' which turned out to be a very thin layer of cheese coating the inside of the hollow crust; i was not impressed, but all else was good. We enlivened the pizza with a helping of toasted pine-nuts. (Pizza Express are always very mean with these- at one point we were taking our own pre-toasted pine nuts out with us)

Friday 17 April 2020
And so another three weeks begins.

The Skamonics

You may be wondering what is happening about our Civil Partnership ceremony on 13th of June. The position is that we still have the ceremony at East Ham town hall booked, and we still have The Skamonics booked to play. No catering arrangements have been made as the lockdown hit just as we had begun talking with various catering companies.

At present it appears there is still a reasonable chance of things going ahead more or less as planned. We will update all concerned if the situation changes.

Normally we would go shopping on Friday, but as mentioned last Friday, we want to limit our exposure to Tedious Queueing as well As Morbid Infirmity. This is working well so far; a week since the last Waitrose adventure and we still have 2 pints of semi-skimmed ready to go, 4 pints of filtered semi-skimmed milk, and another 4 pints of ordinary semi-skimmed in the freezer. Looks like the limiting factor will be bread (which we also freeze on a regular basis, but our freezer space is limited) When we do go back for the Waitrose experience, we will have a carefully planned shopping list to prevent that "Oh damn, I forgot the caviare" moment. Respirators will be worn. Doctors wear Scarlet. (Obscure Simon Raven reference)

Should I water the garden? Rain is forecast for 3pm but it's past that now and not a drop in sight so far. Ah, here it comes...

Tonight at 6pm we will be zooming with my sister & nieces. Usual pub zoom at 10pm on Sunday.

We hardly ever order food to be delivered; we have so far done it once from the Eastern Palace, delivered promptly and efficiently by Alan. Friday is pizza day, so we are going to try ordering from Pizza Hut.

Thursday 16 April 2020
Well, there goes the nice weather. We had breakfast in the garden accompanied by four cats. Molly, Romeo, Humphrey, and Rosie making a rare excursion outside. Gloomy and grey all day so far. We did our Statutory Exercise in West Ham park again, which I'm glad to say remains reopened.

Last night we went back to watching Brass which we find utterly brilliant. It was made in 1983-84 so the video definition is less than wonderful but the script is so good you do not notice at all.

Virtual pub at 10pm again tonight; Jools has sent out the emails.

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Cat to King4: The Molly Gambit

Frankly we haven't made much progress to becoming chess champions, and here's one reason why.

Today we did our Statutory Exercise by taking a walk to Forest Lane park, and it was quite the nature expedition. The main lake had swans, mallards, egyptian geese, coots, and a delightful moorhen family with two small chicks. I know now that moorhen chicks have absolutely enormous feet compared with their bodies. In the rectangular pond at the front, there were a whole load of newts; to the best of my recollection I have never seen newts in the wild before. This pond was also alive with water-snails and waterboatmen. (or waterboatpersons, if you prefer) We found this cheering.

Put the last of the Verbena plants in today. Refreshed the plants in the two tubs in our front garden, and generally tidied up. There remains plenty of work to do.

We then did a 3-way zoom today with Richard and Jool's brother Keith, which worked very well. Jools got in the post a very clever little remote keyboard; you plug it into the laptop and it charges its battery and does some Bluetooth pairing, and then you can unplug it and control your laptop remotely. All clever stuff, and it works fine, though the touch-pad on the underneath of the miniature keyboard is a little tricky to use.

Tuesday 14 April
Still too cold for much in the way of gardening, despite deceptively bright sunshine. I am clearing up my desk, and enough progress has been made that you can actually see the wood in places, but it is still a rather tedious business.

Virtual Pub session at 10pm. Time to select the biere du jour.

Monday 13 April
We have decided to take up chess again. We have a full set of chessmen, but no board, and it was not easy to see how we would get hold of one. I got up the other day to find that Jools had risen magnificently to the challenge, and constructed this in the morning while I was snoozing in bed:

Chess in the time of cholera

The base is a cork notice-board that I have never got around to putting up on the kitchen wall. The white squares are cut-up adhesive labels, These are protected by a plastic document folder opened out and secured to the base with drawing pins. I call this a brilliant bit of work.

I am white, and you can see that Jools is about to succumb to the Goldendorff Gambit, Nimitz variation, (twice removed) in about 50 moves or so.

Regretfully all thoughts of gardening today were abandoned as it is damn' cold out there, despite the bright sunshine.

Tonight is an Amaro night. Then another Father Brown, which as usual deviated from the plot of the original short story, but retained more of it than the other we've seen so far.

Sunday 12 April
We had our traditional Easter brunch over zoom, tucking into bacon and eggs, followed naturally by an assault on some Easter eggs and cracking a bottle of champagne. Very pleasant. We then took the rest of the bottle and sipped it in the garden. Things could be worse. We then went back to bed.

I am glad to report West Ham park is open again.

In the evening we had another zoom pub session which worked well, technically, and definitely cheered us up, psychologically.

Saturday 11 April
More sun, but we are painfully aware that the weather forecast for Monday is not too good. Looks Sunday would be a good day to get the Verbena in.

Heading for three weeks of lockdown, with probably three more to come. We are coping with this rather better than I imagined, though I do miss the fancy dinners and the excitement of finding out if there's anything worth drinking at the Hudson. Jools certainly misses her yoga sessions and aquarobics; the yoga can and is being done on zoom meetings, but improvising a swimming bath in the living room is proving a challenge even to my engineering skills. As for the economic damage, I'm simply trying not to think about it.

As you know, Saturday is Cooking from Scratch Night here. As aforementioned, tonight we plan a cassoulet. I have chopped up the garlic but that's as far as it has got at the moment. Better get my ass in gear. Damn, I wish I'd been able to get that garlic sausage...

Jools has just returned from seeing her dad and reports that West Ham park has been shut "because of people's behaviour on Friday." Whether it will open again after the weekend is undisclosed. Jools is NOT HAPPY.

The cassoulet came out very nicely, if I do say so myself.

The Papworth Hermit has just been updated.

Friday 10 April
We are still fine here. Today we braved another visit to Waitrose, all respirator and gloves. Plenty of stock, except I couldn't get any garlic sausage for the cassoulet I plan to cook for Saturday's Big Meal; chorizo will have to do instead. We had to wait for an hour to get in, the longest time yet. Not so good, and very tedious even when you have thoughtfully provided yourself with a good book & a vacuum flask of coffee. Therefore we hope to make the next supermarket run in 10 days time rather than 7, which will also reduce our exposure to potential contagion. There proves to be no restriction on milk purchase at Waitrose, so we bought a couple of bottles to freeze. We'll see if this plan works...

The only reason that the updates have been shorter recently is that I seem to be busier than ever, without even touching on the consultancy work. Of course taking an hour out of the day for queueing doesn't help. I will strive to improve, but we bought a load more plants from Waitrose and my trowel is ready. I really do find gardening is good for the soul. So long as it does not involve sawing through branches 3 or 4 inches thick. Yes, I do have a chainsaw, but I'm reluctant to use it in these times when A&E is not a good place to go.

I have received a update of the Papworth Hermit and hope to upload that tomorrow.

Thursday 9 April
Still sunny & warm. I spent much of the day in heroic efforts to cut back the enormous buddliea bush/tree in the back garden. This plant has a history. It arrived all by itself at the bottom of the garden, and it quickly became clear that it planned to take over the world and in the process reduce the light getting to the bottom of the garden. So I transplanted it to just down from the garden shed, to replace a clematis that had utterly failed to thrive. It (to my surpise) survived the move and is now a fine floral display during the summer. The flowers are supposed to attract butterflies but I haven't seen much evidence of that myself.

Suffice it to say that I was dealing with branches 3 or 4 inches thick, and had to get out the saw. Hard work so today's Statutory Exercise was quite a short walk.

Clap for the NHS at 8pm. We went out and did our bit, but far fewer people came out than last week. I sent up another rocket, though as it gets lighter in the evenng that is going to be less and less

Had a good zoom pub session at 10pm.

Wednesday 8 April
And another fine day. Though not, unfortunately, for the tiny dead mouse on the lawn this morning. We have no direct evidence, but the finger of suspicion points to Murdering Molly, as she is known among the local rodents. She has plenty of form; only on Monday I encountered her coming up the garden with a mouse in her mouth. I perhaps pointlessly sprang into action to save the mouse, but Molly has had her prey taken off her before, (whether a mouse so rescued ultimately survives is unknown, which may be just as well) and she was two gardens away in about a second.

Yesterday we had another highly successful Zoom virtual pub session, which lasted for an hour and half before cutting off rather than 40 minutes like the first time. I suspect this may be a Cunning Ploy so you get used to the longer sessions, then it will be abruptly switched back to 40 minutes so you say "Oh dear! Better pay out for the professional version!" Time will tell if my dark forebodings are justified.

Unfortunately it only works if the Zeppelin is directly overhead.

West Ham park in the background.

Yesterday evening there was a godalmighty crash outside the window of my office/laboratory. I went out to find that a section of guttering had collapsed, all by itself and without even a hint of wind to dislodge it. This may have something to do with the virginia creeper that has long entangled it. The creeper was cut right back last year, (which is a story in itself) and I suspect (I seem to be doing a lot of suspecting right now) that the creeper on the roof was holding the guttering up rather than vice versa; now it is dead and disintegrating. Et tu Virginia? Then fall Gutter!

This afternoon was a Gardening Day. We put in the last of the plants we bought on Friday, cleared up generally, hacked back the ivy at the bottom of the garden, etc etc. I had planned to put down some grass-seed, as I have ridiculous megalomanic ambitions to have grass right up to the pond, something I have never achieved in all the time I have lived at No 14. (since December 1986) But now, with the trees lopped and not many fences left standing after the storms, there is much more light down there and I think it might work this time. This plan foundered when I discovered the green box I thought contained grass-seed actually contained fertiliser. Maybe we can get some on the next shopping expedition.

Tonight is an Amaro night.

Tuesday 7 April
Ah good, the sun is back. For the first time this year I put washing out on the line. Breakfast in the garden, accompanied by Molly, Romeo, & Humphrey. Then some spring cleaning of the front bedroom.

Yesterday we did our Statutory Exercise by walking to Jubilee Pond on Wanstead Flats. We predictably weren't the only people with that idea and our progress was a very wiggly path as we tried to keep distance with everybody; that in itself is somewhat stressful so I think we may avoid that spot in future. Went home, updated the website and the blog. Finished the day by watching more Father Brown.

It is a bit odd, in that while each episode carries the title of one of G K Chesterton's short stories, that is about it. The stories (which were quite dramatic enough in themselves, I woud have thought) are discarded totally, the plot is wholly new and wholly unrelated, and about the only thing that is retained is a catholic priest called Father Brown. On TV Father Brown runs a catholic church in the imaginary village of Kembleford, which is somehow big enough to support both catholic and anglican churches. In the stories he could be found all over the world, and he did not have a devoted housekeeper called Mrs M. I'm not too sure how this is going to work out over the ninety episodes that exist, but it is already clear that Kembleford has a rather high murder rate, and is not a safe place to live. However the evidence so far is that it is probably safer than the imaginary county of Midsomer, and definitely safer than Cabot Cove, a small coastal community in Maine where Murder She Wrote is set. Cabot Cove has been determined to be the deadliest fictional location around. I am not including dimwit superhero films in which half the human race gets murdered.

Just back from another walk in West Ham park. For the first time we didn't see anyone who appeared to be breaking the rules.

Another thought on extending the go-to-Waitrose cycle; last time we were there you were limited to two containers of milk per person, so stockpiling milk may be more problematic than I thought. Jools pointed out to me that filtered semi-skimmed milk has a longer storage life than the ordinary version. Waitrose says: "Filtered means milk stays fresh for up to one month unopened, and 7 days once opened." I also read that "filtered milk goes through an extra-fine filtration process to remove souring bacteria, and is packed in opaque bottles, which can extend shelf life up to 45 days." Well, in that moment Douglas was enlightened. Being sceptical me, I had thought filtering was just another fad like 'organic'.

Monday 6 April
More connection trouble yesterday, so Sunday's thrilling episode only got uploaded this morning. This is getting on my nerves.

Yesterday evening we had our first Virtual Pub Session on Zoom. It worked pretty well, and one vital feature of a real pub visit was preserved, ie Alan turned up late. We plan to do another session at 10pm on Tuesday. Since a session is limited to 40 minutes (unless you start shelling out money for the 'professional' version of Zoom) we plan to send out two invites next time, one for 10:00pm and one for 10:45pm. I am told this will work. George (Chadwick) refused to take part because of the known security holes in Zoom, but since we're not going to be chanting our bank details I don't see a problem.

Today we plan gardening, getting some plants in and maybe even making a start on Operation Shed, which means replacing part of the roof and the roofing felt thereon. Roofing felt only lasts about 10 years, and having failed to renew it out out of sheer inertia and sloth, part of the roof has rotted. I hope there are suitable bits of replacement panel in the cellar because I don't think I'm going to getting any anywhere else. Hmmm... why does roofing felt only last 10 years? Surely with modern technology we could make it last 100 years or forever? Is there a Roofing Felt Conspiracy of planned decay? I typed 'Roofing Felt Conspiracy' into Google, but only found some arguments about trade discounts in hardware stores. Clearly the cover-up has been effective. If only the cover-up of our shed had been equally effective.

Left: The USS Winconsin, not hunting aliens in 1990-ish

After Zooming we took our courage in both hands and went back into the world of Battleship. More plot holes than a swiss cheese, but the final 30 minutes was actually quite good, with the Alien Assault being well and truly sorted out by a battleship. Really. In this case it was the USS Missouri which was and is very real, and currently is a museum ship at Pearl Harbour. Yes, that Pearl Harbour, in Hawaii. I don't suppose I'll ever get round to seeing it, but Jools and I have been on the USS Wisconsin, which is rather more accessible on the East of the USA. It is a stupendous bit of machinery. Regrettably you can't go inside the Wisconsin (or at any rate you couldn't then) as it is festering with asbestos etc. Still an amazing experience.

Getting back to the end of Battleship, I'm afraid some light suspension of disbelief is required. You have to believe that a museum ship (which in real life last moved under her own power in 1992) would be fully fuelled and ready for sea, and would have 70-odd live 16-inch shells on board. Even better, a huge pack of veteran sailors appears from nowhere, to work the machinery, which they can do immediately without any sort of retraining. Cue many a shot of 80-year olds heaving on wheels and levers! Still, overall we enjoyed it. Earth is safe again... until the next time.

Sunday 5 April
Up betimes, as Samuel Pepys used to say in his diary, though in my case that tends to mean before noon. I will point out here that what the undiscerning may stigmatise as sheer laziness is in fact Displaced Sleep Phase Disorder, which is a perfectly respectable infirmity of the flesh. It is known to have a genetic component, and my nieces Sarah and Lucy are the living proof. Neither are enthusiasts for early rising.

Drove for about 2 minutes to buy The Observer. I could have gone on my trusty Brompton, which would have meant being on the streets for some 15 minutes, or walked, which would have been more like 30 minutes. I hasten to add all appropriate precautions were taken and I got some food supplies in, so hopefully it is legit. At present we've been doing the major food shop once a week, but we are planning to extend that to a 9 or 10 day cycle, which is basically determined by how long semi-skimmed milk will stay fresh in the fridge. Freezing a 4-pint bottle for a few days seems to work well, so we are going to reserve some freezer space for milk; we only have a small freezer. I think a 10-day cycle is doa-ble, and when you have to wait 40 minutes in a queue it's not much fun, not exactly risk-free, and best done as infrequently as practicable.

Then to bacon, fried eggs and fried bread outside in some pretty warm sunshine. The sky was a cerulean bowl of blue etc, etc. Cats attended , but only Molly and Humphrey this time.

Left: Multi-level cat storage

Here we have Romeo on top, Molly (not a good view) on the chair, and the muscle-bound thug underneath is Humphrey. He spends a large part of the day checking the back door so if anyone leaves it ajar he can wrestle it open and descend on Molly's food bowls. He is bright enough to have worked that if he gets up on his hind legs and spreadeagles himself against the french windows some poor sap (me) will take pity on him and let him in for a 2-minute orgy of cat biscuits.

I hasten to add that Humphrey looks well-fed and cared-for, and clearly has an owner nearby, though we have not a clue where. DO NOT attempt to tickle the furry tummy so invitingly displayed. There will be blood everywhere.

We then did Statutory Exercise as we walked over West Ham park again, Jools going to see her dad, and me heading back home. Most people were obeying the rules but Jools was not at all impressed with a couple of groups of four or five young lads. I did consider having a word with these dimwits, because Jools really doesn't want the park closed as it is her route to her dad, but I could see how that might end badly, so I just headed home on a serpentine route avoiding people. She was also critical of single people sunbathing, though if you are exercising by yourself in a legit fashion and stop for a few minutes rest in the sun, I don't see how you are doing anything bad. Best to have bicycle handy to make the point.

Last night our weekend feature film was Battleship, in which the US Navy fights enemy aliens to Save The World. We only got 43 minutes in; the plot, even in its details, is ludicrous, but there is some very good CGI, and explosions always work for me. Critical opinion was apparently negative, and I can see why. We may finish it tonight, or take refuge in the quieter world of Father Brown where there may be a few corpses about but alien attack is not likely.

Saturday 4 April
Glorious sunshine, and we breakfast in the garden for the second time this year, attended by no less than four cats; Mollie, Rosie, Romeo, & Humphrey. Note the Oxford comma. Bought a Guardian without difficulty; (but with gloves) I do hope the newspapers are going to carry on. Mercifully the upload link to my website is working again this morning, and so I updated the Prison Notebooks with yesterday's episode, which is an upload off my mind. There is also an update to the Papworth Hermit; my grateful thanks to Simon. The weight graph looks better than it did, but I have reservations about the polynomial (I assume a square law) used to predict the future.

Off into the sunshine, and we split up after walking about half a mile, Jools to go and see David (her dad) again, while I undertook a white-knuckle expedition (the gloves are white) to buy some mushrooms and lemons for tonight's veal stroganoff. I had to go to two green grocers which was not ideal, but I had my trusty respirator on. I shall be carrying it about in my backpack from now on, together with a few pairs of nitrile gloves. I then had to spin the cylinder of the revolver one more time with a necessary visit to the pharmacist. I was not happy with the way that other greengrocer customers brushed past me, apparently in the belief that 'social distancing' means two millimetres apart rather than two metres; no masks worn by them. I had to fight down the urge to shout "Back off buddy! You may be morbidly infirm!" though it would have sounded a bit muffled through the respirator. I had to say it to a clown yesterday, who showed a tendency to tread on our heels in the Waitrose queue. Like I said yesterday, the respirator may be protecting me, but it is almost certainly little protection from me for those around me. I am rather surprised that I haven't seen anyone else in a similiar respirator; maybe they know something I don't.

After that exertion I went home, did the thorough handwash, and contemplated a Maigret short story for a while. I think putting the new plants in will be reserved for tomorrow, as I understand the weather forecast is good.

Tonight we plan on a large glass of Amaro, a salmon starter, then the aforementioned veal stroganoff. (I have not bothered to check the spelling- you don't have to be able to spell it to cook it)

Friday 3 April
I am glad to report that Jool's Zoom yoga session went well this morning. No problems. I therefore propose we go to the Virtual pub on Sunday night. As I understand it, Jools will send you an email with a link, password, time of meeting etc. When you click on the link it will ask you if you want Zoom installed. This was trouble-free on Jool's laptop which runs Windows 10. She knows more about it than I do. I know Clive and Alan have Zoom already.

Today we took our courage in both hands and went to do the weekly shop at Waitrose. We once more had a lengthy spaced-out queue to negotiate; this time it took 40 minutes as opposed to 45 minutes last Friday. Pretty well-stocked, but I couldn't get my favourite Frank Cooper Vintage Oxford Marmalade. Shouldn't there be a Cambridge Marmalade? We got 16 rolls of TP! One source of stress is pushed back a few weeks.

Left: Breaking Bad in Forest Gate

If that doesn't scare the virus nothing will...

For shopping I was wearing a Breaking Bad respirator, as illustrated. No idea if it provides any protection against the virus, but it might help and can't hurt. It won't stop me exhaling something bad because the respirator has an exhalation valve, so the exhaled air goes straight out. Breathing in the air goes through the filter, so it may help me, if no one else. The box it came on has a red cross symbol on it but that may very well mean precisely nothing; all the text on the box is in... Chinese, because naturally it was made in China. A long time ago, I hope, and not in Wuhan, preferably. It's tricky getting a good mask seal when you've got a beard. Believe it or not I got a few admiring comments on my trendy attire.

Life is unexpectedly busy; for the last three days have been dealing with The Case of The Exploding Cooker and its fallout. Getting new cookers fitted at the moment presents a challenge. Not my cooker, I hasten to add, but one I have responsibility for. I think that it is sorted out now. If anyone is interested it was not really an explosion but more huge tongues of flame shooting out of the oven as the pipe feeding the cooker burners had rusted through. It was a rather old cooker.

No gardening got done yesterday- just too dam' busy with other stuff. But today we tackled the famous Expanding Flowerbed again and I can tell you it is back with in its prescribed perimeter. For the time being. At Waitrose we took care to buy a bunch more plants to keep us gardening. Yes, more lupins.

Thursday 2 April
You will be glad to know that contact with my website has been re-established. I am even happier to know it, because fettling my website (ie the technical stuff) and maintaining the blog is an important part of keeping busy at the moment. About a week ago we lost the internet completely for half an hour, and there was a perceptible air of panic in our normally phlegmatic household.

Another delivery arrived this morning. It was without doubt an essential supply- five bottles of Amaro. You heard me banging on about this magic fluid back on 21st March; we were down to one last glass each. Jools wasn't going to let a situation like that endure, and in no time she had ordered five bottles from an outfit called Whiskey Exchange, at a keen price. They arrived this morning. The intriguing thing about Amaro, which is I suppose counted as an liqueur, is that it has the magical property of starting out tasting sweet and then slowly evolving into bitter over the next five seconds. (Apparently 'amaro' means bitter) I don't know of any other drink that does that, but I may just be showing my ignorance; enlighten me. I first found out about Amaro from George when we were in Milan in May 2018. I'm quite glad not to be in Milan now.

There are many amaros; we bought Amaro Montenegro, which is probably the best known version. No it isn't made in Montenegro (there probably isn't room) but in Bologna, Italy. I don't suppose much more will be coming out of there for a while, so five bottles sounds to me like very reasonable panic-buying.

For Statutory Exercise today we walked over West Ham park again. I'm getting to know it quite well, because it's on the route Jools takes to visit her dad. Visits are still permitted- she is after all his carer- and he is even going to get a visit from the physiotherapist, which rather surprised us. For the first time in the park we didn't see anyone obviously breaking the distance rules.

Jools has installed Zoom on her laptop, for a virtual yoga class tomorrow. If it works then we will set up a virtual drinking session. Please let me know who would like to join in.

We plan to go shopping tomorrow, hopefully at Waitrose. Gloves and scarf round the face, I think. Not sure if the scarf will really help but it helps you feel you are doing something useful.

We did the 8 o'clock clap (noticeably more people coming out than last week) and I set off a couple of medium-sized rockets, from the front garden this time so people got a better view. It was unfortunate that the first rocket hit a branch of the tree in our front garden, but mercifully no-one was in the way as it shot all over the place. Probably not the best time for a 4-hour wait in A&E. The second launch went without a hitch. People seemed to approve. Noticeable background noise of other people setting off fireworks, some them of apparently big ones.

Wednesday 1 April
This morning I uploaded both The Prison Notebooks and the Papworth Hermit to my website. You should all have got the email with the links in. Once you are on one blog you can go straight to the other with the navigation buttons. A red 'Home' button is also provided so you can go to my front page and explore obscure steam engines, armoured motorbikes, and so on to your heart's content. I have a feeling that not many of you are going to take up this fabulous facility.

I have to tell you that shortly after the uploading I was no longer able to connect to my website, which is beyond frustrating after all the work I put in yesterday. I am therefore sending out this update by email again. The host has been emailed and hopefully things will be working again soon. All comments on the website version will be most welcome.

Back to blog. Today we were glad to see our plans for Easter made good as an Ostrich Egg was delivered from Hotel Chocolat. It is good to know that you can still get things delivered. It was a gardening day, with all but one of the bedding plants firmly bedded, and the two tubs in our front garden restocked with flowers. We then tackled the front flowerbed, which has the mysterious property of gradually extending itself over the flagstones as the plants propagate. We took that in hand, and ther'll be more tomorrow. Our labours were supervised by two robins who arrived to grab worms out of the disturbed soil. They were very confident perching on branches about two feet away and exhorting us to get the sod turned faster.

In the evening we treated ourselves to another episode of Grantchester. We're downloading the Father Brown series (the recent one) as fast as the hard disk can do it.

Two fine well-fed (if not over-fed) foxes turned up in a timely fashion for a late supper tonight. Should I rename this blog Fox News? Probably not.

Tuesday 31st March
Once again there has been something of a lack of major achievments today. I have virtuously replaced the last incandescent bulbs in the house with LED bulbs, which gets our electricity bill as low as it will go, I think.

I made another batch of Lyonnaise potatoes from the parboiled ones previously left over. I think this may be a good time to get back into serious cooking, seeing as how food shops are about the only the place you can go. Like most people I have recipe books that have barely been opened. It's astonishing how many cookery books there are in the charity shops; it often represents half their stock of books. You would think we were a nation of extremely active amateur chefs, but I've seen no other indications that this is the case.

In the evening we watched Desperate Midwives, I'm sorry, Call the Midwife. Disease of the Episode was histoplasmosis. (look it up)

Monday 30th March
Yes, I know, I put Saturday 29th on Sunday's episode. It would be nice to record stakhanovite levels of achievement today, but it would hardly be true. Gardening still on hold- too cold out there.

I did a bit of emailing and website-fettling, and Jools did some yoga (after we got Molly out from under the yoga mat) and then we had lunch, and I allowed myself a snooze after that. Time for Statutory Exercise, and we decided to play an old Boy Scout game I read in Baden-Powell's Scouting for Boys. (There must be some around here somewhere...) You go out of your gate, turn right, take the first turn left, then first turn right, and keep alternating until: a) you get somewhere interesting, or b) you get sick of the whole damn thing. We did maybe a dozen left and rights before our enthusiasm faltered. And frankly it was disappointing; we didn't end up in any odd corners of Leytonstone we didn't know about. If anyone cares we got to the corner of Crownfield Rd and Leytonstone High Rd before we bailed.

We then took a more directed route to the pond on Wanstead flats, which boasts many waterfowl including the odd-looking Egyptian geese. A heron took off unexpectedly near us, and I got a good view of a bird that's usually shy.

We finished the X-men, while some of them finished each other. (If you've seen the film, you'll know what I mean) I wasn't expecting Prof Xavier to get killed. (Though in the X-men universe that seems to be relative matter- at least some of the characters have been reincarnated from their browser history, or some such nonsense) I'm not even going to attempt to make sense of the overall plot of the X-men film series.

To go with yesterday's chicken I made Lyonnaise potatoes for the first time ever, and they came out rather good. Afterwards I had a Toasted Maple Stout (12%) which tasted as advertised and was really delicious.

Sunday 29th March
Well, it's horrible weather today. All gardening operations are suspended, not least because we've got some serious wind here and there's a non-zero chance of getting a branch on our heads. This is not a theoretical hazard; I sallied forth in Octavia to buy the Observer this morning, and as I got back to the house a mighty branch from a tree about 50 yds up the road came off and crashed onto the pavement. Anyone underneath would not have done well; fortunately the street was pretty much deserted. A few hours later no-one had moved it, so I did my civic duty and dragged it of the path for the convenience of wheeled traffic like push-chairs. I am assuming that a branch that until very recently was 50 feet up in the air was unlikely to be contaminated with any viral unpleasantness.

Yesterday I mentioned being told off in Estonian or Latvian, or something more exotic. I hasten to add I have no problem with that. The London Borough of Newham, where we reside, is I believe supposed to be the most multi-ethnic borough in the country, and for years now we've not heard a word of English spoken on the 15-minute walk to the pub, and not that much in the pub. Our usual local is the Hudson, (Spoons) and the clientele has a big African (not Afro-Caribbean) component so I hear a lot of Yoruba, or something.

But times are changing. It is about 2 years now since I was contemplating a cappuccino in the E7 coffee shop, and overheard: "Oh my dear! Forest Gate is the new Walthamstow!" ie it's where you go if you can't afford a house in Hackney, and Walthamstow has also become too expensive. I thought it was a straw in the wind, and so it proved. Now we see what are obviously English middle-class families out for Sunday walks, and the cars are fancier. Good for house prices maybe, but the pandemic will likely undo all that. The coffee shop has since gone bust and closed down, so obviously gentrification here still has some way to go. There was also a fancy pizza restaurant, but that too has died on us, perhaps not surprisingly as every other shop in the road sold pizza, and they actually set up next door to a Pizza Hut, which seems to show some deficiencies in the market research.

We are still working on ways to differentiate the weekend from the rest of the week. We duly had our 3-course meal, and we dressed up to eat it as if we were going out, which in my case just means a white shirt and my blue suede shoes. We then settled down with a bottle or two to watch 'X-men: Last Stand' which was fairly entertaining. We plan to keep Big Films for the weekend and do TV series during the week.

I forgot all about the hour change, and got up later than planned. Jools was not pleased at having to wait for her bacon & scrambled eggs. We then went for a walk in West Ham park again, Jools once more going to visit her dad. Climatic conditions were not good, (I was wearing two fleeces and my burnt-orange thermal jacket) but we took the time to look at the botanic gardens there. It's pretty impressive, and we're lucky to have it only 25 minutes walk from where we live. Tonight we're going to roast a chicken and probably will finish the X-men.

Saturday 28th March
Well, goodbye sunshine. A few impending gleams but cold with a nasty wind, which has sent our flowerpots all over the garden. Or it might have been the foxes. They have very little concept of ownership and have made off with at least two pairs of gardening gloves that we were foolish enough to leave out in the garden overnight. I once installed a small electric fountain in our ornamental lake small pond and was baffled by finding it hauled out onto dry land several times; I can't prove anything but I'll bet it was foxes having a laugh.

Some of you will know that we feed our foxes every night. A tin of the cheapest dog food goes down very well, plus any food scraps. It costs us maybe 50p a day, which we consider a bargain to see two or three lovely (and well-fed) foxes turn up every night. Recently they seem to have altered their schedule; the food still vanishes but much later and we don't see them very often. I think I need to have a word...

We put the fox food out under cover of darkness, just in case one of the neighbours gets upset. I can imagine a tirade along the lines of "You're encouraging Filthy Vermin! All our cats will be eaten!" though it might be in Estonian or Latvian. (more on that later) The rebuttal I have ready points out that this is London, and you will have foxes. They don't do lockdown. Do you want to see malnourished and unwell foxes or nice healthy ones? As for the cats, I consider myself better informed than most on cat-fox interaction, as a result of observations in the front garden, and I can tell you that foxes and cats show a mild interest in each other, but there is never any hint of aggression on the part of the foxes. The cats, however...

Now and again a cat shows up for a free meal from the fox bowl, and if a fox shows up, he/she wait their turn. If they get closer than about two feet, the cat looks up and glares at the fox, which hurriedly retreats. On only one occasion the fox didn't get the message (from a little cat less than half his weight) and the cat hissed at it. Fox backed off at warp speed. I have often thought that a kitten on its own (and no mother cat would normally permit such a state of affairs) might well be a late supper, but having seen a little kitten (old enough to leave its mother) sitting on the garden wall watching the foxes eat. They looked at it, and I tensed myself for immediate Rescue Mode. However, they just went back to eating and never approached the kitten, which carried on watching them.

In the interest of full disclosure, the kitten is now a hefty cat that it is an effort to pick up, and judging by the enormous tail he must be at least 50% Maine Coon. He is called Romeo (a name conferred shortly before it was off-with-the-bollocks, which I thought was a little insensitive) and lives two doors up the road, with a tiny dog that he apparently dominates and wrestles with relentlessly in the privacy if his own home. I can believe it, because he likes to wrestle with Molly, one of our cats. There is no yelling so I can only imagine she enjoys it as much as he does. Romeo is universally referred to as Molly's boy friend. I know cats don't arrange their sex lives like that, (and Molly has also had a little operation) but there is no question that they like to hang out together. Romeo is baffled that he cannot get in through the cat flap like Molly does- due to the chip-reading cyber-catflap, one of the greater benefits of the glorious science that is electronics. So he lurks in ambush near the front door and rushes in to find Molly when the door opens. We have taught Romeo how to go out through the catflap, because sometimes he decides to settle down for a snooze when we are going to bed. If Molly is not at home then he usually goes out pretty soon. It's not about us.

Having rambled on at some length, I think you'll want a picture. Romeo on the left, Molly on the right, hanging out together on what's left of the garden fence:
Left: Romeo on the left, Molly on the right, hanging out together on what's left of the garden fence:

I know Romeo looks like a cat you wouldn't want to cross, but he's actually a total sweetie. A complete pussycat.

Moving swiftly on, today has not exactly been a whirl of activity. I went out to buy the Guardian, and a few beers, just in case. I usually go in the car, and I stuck with that because it seems to me there's less chance of contagion in a car than walking, where you inevitably meet other people, even if they do cross the road when they see you. I breakfasted on the traditional toast & marmalade. A small thing to differentiate the weekend from the rest of the week- they tend to blur a bit now neither of us are doing the 9 to 5, so its' a little marker we make. Likewise, laundry is only done on weekdays. In our current state the week and weekend are in even greater danger of blurring, so we're adopting a few other stratagems, eg we are going to cook ourselves a 3-course meal tonight, and have a bottle of white Burgundy that should be damn good stuff if the price is anything to go by.

I decided it was too cold for any gardening today, so I just refreshed the slug-pellets. Statutory Exercise was a walk in West Ham park with Jools who was going to see her dad. Cold and not much fun, frankly. No cricket match this time, but did see a group of about 8 or 9 people close together. I don't want West Ham park closed like Victoria Park has been.

All for now, and probably quite enough too.

Friday 27th March
Still sunny, probably the warmest day of the year again. Last night we watched an episode of 'Foyles War' which we discovered rather later than most people. Some very fine acting, for whatever my opinion's worth.

Today we planned to go shopping (relatively) early in the morning. However, before we left, a phone call told us that Jools's father had had another fall, and what should they do about it? Saying 'Pick him up' is not an option. Fear of liability and litigation means that in normal times they just throw a blanket over him and call an ambulance. Ambulance crew pick him up, check him out, and go away again. We didn't think this was a great time to carry on like that so we drove over there (medical support- wholly legit) and picked him up ourselves. That does of course mean two people (required for the lifting) going into an old folk's home which is not a brilliant plan at present, but what else to do?

We then headed for Waitrose at South Woodford (we are not a member of any delivery service, and as for getting an account now, you've got about as much chance as you have of getting a thermometer) On the way there we had seen various mini-supermarkets with queues of only 3 or 4 people outside them, so it was a bit of facer to find the Waitrose queue extending out of the car park, down the street, and then round another corner. It took 45 minutes to get in; could have been worse, sun was shining etc. Inside it was pretty well-stocked, and we got everything we wanted except dishwasher capsules. And toilet paper. Not to worry, plenty of kitchen towels available... No doubt we endangered our lives today, but we did need to get some food in. Was heartened to see it well stocked, gives one more confidence for the future. Maybe. At any rate, for someone with a car it was a practical shopping operation.

Back home we had lunch in the garden for the first time this year. I had a beer with my lunch (something that is actually fairly rare) so then I unashamedly snoozed for a couple of hours, before putting more plants in. Was lucky to find Smallholders petshop open and got two big containers of slug pellets. Very necessary if you are putting in lupins; and we are. I like lupins.
Haven't decided what to watch tonight.

Thursday 26th March
Still sunny, and the warmest day of the year so far. I am sure the sunshine is helping to keep people a bit happier than otherwise. Pity it's going to stop on Monday... we will try to get the rest of the plants in tomorrow, but that will have to take second place to some food shopping. Hopefully we won't get stuck in a 2-hour queue. We have a fairly well-stocked freezer but we do need milk... and some TP wouldn't go amiss.

Hurrah! I am (I think) out of Proofreading Hell. Have just signed off the Nth set of proofs. Rather surprisingly my publisher says that there is unlikely to be much of a delay in getting it printed, though getting it onto physical bookshelves is going to be a challenge for the time being. A pity, because I rather like the idea of people panic-buying armfuls of my book and fighting over copies.

Our Statutory Exercise Walk is becoming an important part of the day. We went to West Ham park, which looked beautiful in the sunshine. Jools was going over to care for her Dad, (David) so her walk was doubly legitimate. The botanical gardens are still open (and contained a worryingly large number of people, so we did not linger too long) and we still have no clue what most of the plants are; they don't label them, which is a pity as they had some nice specimens we would like to emulate. I have heard there's a phone app- you take a picture of the plant and it identifies it for you. I was sceptical, but having seen the Shazam app identify pieces of music in a noisy pub, I realise that Artificial Intelligence has come on a long way. To my shame I can't begin to imagine how Shazam does it.

In the park we saw several groups of three or four people who didn't much like family members. People aren't taking this here distancing as seriously as they might. We then came across... a cricket match. Really. Must have been fifteen or so people. I was mildly surprised that no-one was shouting abuse at them. Probably not all family members as these young lads all looked about the same age, so unless there's been some truly remarkable reproduction going on in the past... I hear the police are setting up roadblocks to ask you where you're going. "Food shopping , officer!"

I hope you all got the clap. Umm, to phrase it better, I hope you all took part in the clap-the-NHS event at 8pm tonight. Jools and I went out in the front garden and there was indeed a lot of clapping going on, but far from every household took part. Then I heard I a firework or two, and rushed into the back garden to set off a couple of medium-sized rockets. I wonder if this will become a regular event? I've still got quite a few rockets left from November 5th.

Tonight we dine on chicken katsu curry. NOW I'm told so better stop here.

Wednesday 25th March
The sun continues to shine, which helps the mood a little. I understand it will be sunny on Thursday and Friday as well, just the job for a bit of Il Faut Cultiver Notre Jardin. Apparently that is the closing phrase of Voltaire's Candide. No, I've never read it, and don't plan to, but I did see a dramatised version by Cirque du Soliel which sticks in the mind. And not just because of the lightly-clad young women.

So, we got plants, and out we went with trowels at the ready. Normally we wouldn't be putting plants until after Easter, but it was clear we were going to need to have stuff to do so we went to the nearest garden/hardware centre as related above. We weren't very selective in our panic-buying and we have one or two odd specimens.

Today we took our statutory one Exercise Walk around six-thirty. Naturally we went to check on the park; (Apparently it doesn't qualify officially as a park, but is called the Odessa Road Open Space. No idea why) the basketplayers were down to three, but the two hoodies were there again, in exactly the same places and looking as sinister as ever. I thought of going over to ask if they had any Class-A drugs surplus to requirements, but Jools reminded me that we must maintain social distancing. I have heard from One Who Knows that the drug market is suffering as much as the TP market.

Have not yet decided what tv to watch tonight. Normally we would only watch tv on Monday and Wednesday, so three consecutive nights of it is unheard of. Hope we don't run out of decent stuff to watch. I have DVDs I have had for decades and not looked at ever. Now is their hour.

Tuesday 24th March
And so, we are locked down. I am frightened about what this will do to people's mental health. Including mine. But the sun is shining and we have plants to plant. We are having another try with a magnolia- the last one gave up for reasons unknown. There seems to be a lot to do. Not just this nascent document, but also proof-reading the next book. This alone would be enough to undermine anyone's mental stability as we are now on the fourth set of proofs and the mistakes are still many and dreadful. My publisher sub-contracts the proof-reading and copy-editing, which would be fine if the process worked but it doesn't. I submit what is quite frankly, a damn good manuscript with very few typos. What comes back has a discouraging number of mistakes inserted, like it was some kind of puzzle. Can you spot the deliberate mistakes? This is a waking nightmare for any author. Am I bitter? Yes, but I'll shut up about it now.

We took our statutory one Exercise Walk around five o-clock. Streets very empty, very few cars about. But we did find a bunch of likely lads ( 7 of them) playing basketball in a nearby park. That seemed high-risk, not just medically but because the park is surrounded by houses, and you might think someone would be moved to call the cops and grass them up. Or dob them in, if you prefer. There were also two very dodgy-looking hoodies on separate street corners.

In the evening we indulged in a glass of Amaro- which is the thing we're going to run out of first. Should have panic-bought a bottle or six. Then we watched an episode of Grantchester. (have seen better episodes) I preferred James Norton as the vicar.

Monday 23rd March
Twitchy at the thought of the parks being closed, we went for a rather long walk around almost all of Wanstead Park. (see Google maps to be suitably impressed) The sun was shining but the wind cold. The refreshment hut was open, with chairs 2 metres apart to space out the queue. A couple of jerks were wandering around, one holding a bottle of brandy, and the other lurched towards me saying "I want to ask you a few questions" I vanished at speed. Clearly mental health is already an issue.

While walking around a lake, thinking you can get bored of trees, it occurred to me that non-essential shops might be closing, so we left the park, jumped in the car, and sped to the nearest garden/hardware centre. We bought all the bedding plants we could fit into the trolley, (and there was only one trolley there, which seemed sinister) and some roofing felt for the long-planned never-started Mend The Shed Roof project. I had forgotten how heavy roofing felt is- it took the two of us to lift the roll. And I had also forgotten how expensive it is- 40 a roll. Worse than the brothels of Romford Road. However it will fulfil a heartfelt want. Driving back home we noticed that a lot of the shops were already shuttered, and they were boarding up the windows of the The Flower Pot, which was my favourite pub when I lived in Walthamstow.

Boris at 8:30pm. Worse than expected in that groups of three would have been better for us, better in that the parks are staying open. A walk in the park is about all you can do. Drink beer and watch Call The Midwife. They have not yet run out of disorders of pregnancy, but I suppose there are only so many.

Sunday 22nd March
Today we had our usual bacon and eggs (Sunday only because of the cholesterol) and then went for a pleasant walk on Hackney marshes. Surprised to see so many people about. And I gather they have been flocking to the seaside. Get back home to discover they are planning to shut the London parks. Advisable, perhaps, but that removes about the only thing left to do. We are thinking of seriously sorting out the garden (if the garden centres are open) and mending the shed roof. (if the DIY stores are open) That's the frustrating thing; it's going to take ingenuity to get through this shutdown, but you can't plan anything for sure.

The odd thing about Saturday was the number of fancy cars that have suddenly appeared from nowhere around here. Yesterday we saw two Maseratis and there was a McLaren F1 outside the shuttered Hudson (Wetherspoons) and they sold for something like 800,000. There is news of supercars congregating in Sloane Square.
Probably people are assuming driving will be banned as well so might as well get the Ferrari out for a brief glimpse of spring sunshine

Saturday 21st March
Yesterday night (Friday) was odd but not really sad like it might have been. We had a meal booked for today at Mora, which is a v good Italian walkable from home. That would keep us off the Central line. A quick phone-call and they said they would be very happy to see us a day early. First attempt at pre-dinner pint foiled by the Leytonstone Tavern being very shut. Second attempt at The Bell foiled by 'regulars only' sign on the door. Two more pubs found shut, but success at the Wetherspoons Walnut, and some Heineken was duly drunk. Then had a good meal at Mora, so it ended well. We often drink Amaro at Mora, so ordering sometimes gets confused; I have been known to ask for a glass of Amora. Waitress baffled. God knows when we'll have an evening like that again.

Jools has gone out today for a facial, (essential journey, I understand). I'm about to cut the grass for the first time this year. The sun is shining and it all feels very spring-like, up to a point. No plans for the evening at present... Jools returns and reports that she had the Central Line carriage to herself.

We are thinking of tackling things this way. Me, Julie, Averil & Alan and Clive (you would have met them at the New Year party) are a tight-knit social group. If we all isolate from other people we hope we can go on socialising with each other at home. That may of course be banned in time (cf Italy) but it is our plan for the moment. We will of course have to go food shopping, but we may nominate one member to do that in gloves etc. This may seem hopelessly naive in a week's time, but we are headed into the unknown, as I have been saying ever since the Brexit fiasco started.

In the event we cooked dinner for Averil and Alan. Not bad nosh, if I say so myself.

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