I had not intended to write another entry until we discover what awaits us on the other side of the ‘Orange Zone’, but two observations have prompted me to do so.
The first of almost no consequence and yet it is small domestic contingencies, easily overlooked, when daily life was mainly conducted in a space away from home.
Our windows are filthy! Dido is partial culprit as she sits in the bay, ‘One aloof stand sentinel!’ She is far from aloof but stands on vociferous guard. I think it is only her beauty that protects her from the Dangerous Dogs Act, whereby even postmen are privileged to complain officially if they feel intimidated to approach the letterbox.
Anyway, our windows are filthy and there are a lot of them. I have already mentioned we now have a street What’s Ap which is different from any of the other conventional neighbourhood platforms. Only eligible are those who live in the ‘terrace’. I think its numbering only goes as far as thirty-four although the majority of houses are now converted into flats. On Wednesday someone called ‘Jamie’, who has already organised communal street wine and cocktail deliveries, which we have not participated in, sent a round robin, “Would anyone like to have their window cleaned externally, as I can barely see out of mine?” The street response was unanimous and we now have window cleaners booked to spend Friday and Monday working on our collective windows. Furthermore, it seems Friday night sun-down drinks are planned to celebrate being able to see out of them. I have to confess our dirt has nothing to do with lockdown but goes back to the beginning of the century. Almost.
Last night, after work, Tanya came to have supper in the garden. Because she has been socialising, albeit observing social distancing and is a temporary visitor to London from Hove, she is anxious about bringing infected droplets into our household. Bell was distraught with joy to see her but equally distraught not to cuddle. A sign of Bell growing towards independence and having her school iPad at home is that they exchanged telephone numbers for unsupervised texting.
I cannot associate my daughter with being a Messenger of Pestilence and wanted to throw caution to the wind and cover her with hugs. Tanya says she would never forgive herself if she was the locus of infection and insisted we conduct dinner from different ends of our small garden. John barbecued a chicken with red peppers stuffed with tomatoes and thyme, while I contributed roasted asparagus. We were all exhausted after a day’s work so, maybe my emotional defence was low and I was overcome with sadness.
Maybe, it was also the terrors of the international climate of civil indignation, unrest and human terror that has been unleashed in America that contributed. Maybe, it was the bizarre sight of a combination of outraged demonstrators and their carnivalesque COVID masked rage. Whatever, I found it intolerable to be socially distanced in the garden and treating even cutlery and china as if they were contaminated. It was intolerable not being able to hug and smell the sweet musk of her rosy perfume, despite the garden roses. I found the idea that my daughter was obsessed with keeping her distance and her fear that even the lavatory could be a potential source of infection unbearable. Yet, we are both realistic, or privileged with enough information to know that we are not out of the woods but COVID is still in pursuit, like that rough beast, through the forest and dark nights of the soul.
There was consolation. A jenny wren, not a robin, was our guest. John commented that when he was at the barbecue it had landed almost beside him and proceeded to scuttle through the iris. Later, it returned to settle in the undergrowth directly beside of Tanya’s deckchair. We were almost joined by another feral companion. A fox cub, newly separated from its pack into independence, who has been living in a neighbour’s outhouse, was sitting shadowed in the trellis-work, lured by the smell of chicken.
Someone said something disturbing today during our zoom. They already have a miniature respirator as they suffer from severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, (COPD) but now they have a fantasy, or impulse, additionally to acquire a portable generator. I had no idea why until they explained their fear of the threat of extended power cuts. I shall start stock piling Fornasetti candles along with industrial matches.