Friday 27, London A gloomy start to the day, and the negativity continued when I tried to revive a lump of bread dough I made yesterday that hadn’t risen. That didn’t work either, so I am likely to default to soda bread in future.
📌 Yesterday we got a call from Specsavers to say my new reading glasses were ready for collection, but they could post them for £3 if we preferred. We did, and they arrived early today. I quarantined the package while I took a bath (not related), then got to try them later. Perfect.
📌 It was nice to get an email from Philippa at Guardian Archive and I wrote quite a long but a bit self-pitying reply. She came back to me quickly, and what she wrote made me smile. She and Emma have been working from home for the past two weeks. I had wondered how Emma was coping with her pregnancy and the prospect of a new baby arriving during the pandemic. Philippa said that Emma had been preparing to cope with re-usable nappies and had spurned her partner Mat’s suggestion that, if they are not allowed to leave the house for a while, nappies were not essential to bringing up baby. An image sprang to mind of a newborn squirming around, crapping randomly on whatever surface of the home it happened to be inhabiting at the time.
Philippa also said that two of her friends had babies this week. It was a shame they were in hospital during such a precarious time, but they emerged safely and were now at home and actually looking forward to a period of family life without the interference of unwanted visitors and busy-body in-laws. That made me smile, too.
Saturday 28, London Signs of what the future might hold appeared in an article in the Guardian from Tobias Jones, who lives in Emilia-Romagna in Italy. Sky-high death rates persist, but flashes of a real-world adjustment to the shock are also playing out. The mad panic scramble to survive and grab has given way to greater reflection on how we are meant to behave towards one another, or so he claims. Some helpful signore was delivering sheet music for his daughter’s piano activities. Another one pops round with the newspaper. It made me happy to think that this is the road down which we might soon be travelling. It all seemed quite civilised.
📌 We had a family chat via some online bit of wizardry called Zoom. My cousin Kate in Glasgow was in her pyjamas at 4pm. She made the excuse that she had just washed her hair and her default outfit post-hair-washing is PJs. My sister in Paris had a disbelieving look on her face, but since she often wears that expression anyway, it was hard to work out whether she found the hair-washing plus pyjamas story genuinely plausible or not.
My sister explained that her son Tommy had shaved off his hair in an act of “cleansing”. It later emerged that he had attempted to give himself a trendy haircut with barbers’ clippers and it went wrong. Whereupon he thought fuck it and shaved the lot off.
Kate’s husband Pete asked whether Tommy’s naked head was a “beachball” or a “walnut”, having established that these were two of the known categories of male head. My sister replied that the top of Tommy’s bare head was surprisingly flat.
We were later joined in our cosy Coronachat by my cousin Helen and her husband Steve in Stoke. Unlike everyone else, they were Zooming live on a phone rather than a tablet. The viewing ratio was more of a square than an oblong, and that made them look like characters in a dusty repeat of a 70s sitcom. We finished the cyber group hug with a pledge to do it again on Tuesday with Champagne to celebrate my sister’s retirement.