I woke this morning convinced I’d been driving a large Waitrose lorry full of food. It wasn’t clear whether I had volunteered myself as a key worker or whether I had hijacked it.  The former I hope. I have also had some alarming dreams about being summoned to Downing Street to advise them on how to increase the effectiveness of the daily briefings. Unfortunately, caught up in personality clashes and infighting, I am rendered totally ineffectual. I think this probably counts as a nightmare.  The whole experience is not dissimilar to some projects I had as an occupational psychologist where, despite my best efforts (well, I would say that wouldn’t I?) , I’d find myself caught up in a lose-lose situation.

Now that so many people on TV news bulletins are appearing remotely from their homes I must admit to being intrigued, not by what they say, but by everything I can see  behind them (I feel cheated when all I can see is a blank wall).  Books on bookshelves are by far the most frequent  background.  So far Prince Charles has had the tidiest books, either because they are never touched or because they get straightened up by the same servants that prepare his boiled eggs.  Or, might they be wallpaper and not real books at all?  I’m also fascinated by glimpses of framed pictures.  Annoyingly, interviewees often obscure most pictures by spouting away immediately in front of them rather than doing the decent thing and standing to one side.  It is also very noticeable that lots of people, people who  should know better, have their pictures hung far too high.  I once had a wealthy client with a fine collection of paintings hung abnormally low.  When I remarked on this he explained that since he spent most of the time sitting down in his rooms, the pictures were hung at the correct height to enjoy them: at eye level.

A couple of days ago I was doing my brisk walking out on the terrace (20 laps equals a mile) when I spotted a man in a  yellow hard hat up on a hydraulic platform.  I thought perhaps he was a paramedic come to rescue us even though we don’t need recuing.  But no, he was a man from the council painting a street lamp. In these times of national crisis I  found this touchingly eccentric.  It occurred to me that the man was, temporarily, one of our nearest neighbours. I called out a cheery ‘good morning’ but he was preoccupied with keeping his balance on a swaying platform. The lamp he was painting was wobbling too, with rainwater trapped inside the glass bowl slopping around as if it was on a cruise liner crossing the Bay of Biscay.  I only mention this because, in our isolation,  happenings like this have taken on a new significance.

We’ve started to do some things we’ve never had time, or perhaps the inclination, to do before.  For example, we listen to the lunchtime concert on Radio 3 whilst reading about the composer’s life on a smart phone.  So far we have ‘done’ Hildagard, Grieg, Prokofiev, Bacewicz, and Spohr.  I’ve also started to re-read some favourite books, The Wind in the Willows at present.  Before that I read a story book my mother apparently gave me in 1941 (it says so inside), Ameliaranne Goes Touring.  The story is absurd (though perhaps I didn’t think so when I was 4) but the illustrations by S B Pearse are wonderful. Of course I’ve looked her up:  Susan Beatrice Pearse who died in  1980 aged 102.

I have been busy reorganising my sheds ( I love sheds and have always made them myself. mostly  out of scraps recycled wood).  I built two sheds when we first moved here.  I don’t think they know of each other’s existence since one is on the east side and the other on the west side.  The one on the east is the senior of the two, built first and larger.  The one on the west is prettier however.  Painted pale blue it looks like a misplaced beach hut.  Over the last couple of days I have fitted extra shelves in both sheds.  Work may soon grind to a halt however because I’m running low on screws.  With presumably weeks (months?) to complete the task this may be a good thing.  I need to slow down, to spin things out.

Spring cleaning each room (one a day, but only on weekdays) is another task.  I gave the bedroom what I considered to be a deep clean a couple of days ago and proudly told my wife I had done all the edges.  She thought I’d  said ledges and ran her finger along a ledge I’d forgotten existed.  The message, as ever, is clear: must try harder.


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