Coronavirus diary

This is Francis's diary, most recent entry first, written while under coronavirus restrictions for the over-70s. It is a rudimentary blog, but if you want to comment on anything you can't do it here; send me an email.

Day 145 9/8/20
We parked at the nrarby village of Mendham and started a walk from a book of Suffolk walks. The Constable-like views of the Mendham marshes, towards the River Waveney, were impressive. But when this "walk" turned along a busy main road with no footway, and when the lane which led off it turned out to be non-existent, we aborted the walk, and repaired back to Mendham, which unlike Metfield has a functioning pub. In the evening I had a major intellectual achievement, in mastering the controls of the electric cooker. "Press this, then press that ..."'; you know the sort of thing. I got there in the end.

Day144 8/8/20
You had better be fond of wood pigeons if you come here. I awoke to their incessant song; quite musical in its way, but can pall after the first few hundred. We knew that we were in for another uncomfortably hot day, so we decided on the siesta principle. In the morning, we explored a few footpaths around Metfield, then holed up. In the evening we went to the nearby village of Mendham for a pub meal (not available in Metfield) and another short walk. All very relaxing.

Day 143 7/8/20
I am writing this in a 15th century cottage in Metfield, in north Sussex. Judith and I are here for a week's holiday, after a rather hot journey from South Woodford. So what is there in Metfield? There's a mighty church, serving the needs of a tiny village, and open for two hours a week in present circumstances, a closed pub, and community shop. And not a lot else. We have come here for a peaceful relaxing holidy, and I think we shall get it here.

Day 142 6/8/20
Some of today I have been searching or the right firm to deal with my second self-published book of West Gallery music, entitled The Parish Church Music of John Bishop. The first one was easy enough to get done, but now I am meeting problems. For example, one firm wants copy submitted as Word files; a bit tricky for music! Another seemed ideal until I found that they didn't do spiral bound; essential for music to lie flat on a stand. And asking Google for "Music self-publishing" found firms wanting me to submit my music as MP3 files, or similar. I am left with the impression that nowadays nobody is expected to be able to read that simplest of all languages, the language of music.

Day 141 5/8/20
Today is a significant birthday for Judith, and we celebrated with a visit to the Henry Moore Sculpture Park at Perry Green. It is a lovely park in itself, and the sculptures are well set out, all the better with today's sunlight. I fell to wondering why it is that I can enjoy modern abstract sculpture, and indeed modern art in general, but that despite being a musician I am unmoved by much modern music. The atonal school of Schönberg and his contemporaries leaves me cold. Yes, I know that that is a century old now, but I choose to regard it as modern. I cannot remember ever enjoying an atonal composition, and I have heard plenty.

Day 140 4/8/20
Walking in Epping Forest today, in a field I saw a group of a dozen or more people sitting in a tight group, presumably picknicking. I have no idea whether they were "legal", but they clearly had no cognisance of any "G" restrictions. "Good for them", thought I. They are using their common sense, rather than trying to make sense of the "G's" rules. The scientists tell us that it is quite difficult to transmit the virus out of doors. Let us all use our common sense, as there is such a serious common sense famine in Whitehall.

Day 139 3/8/20
Oxfam has reopened, and I took round a shedload (well, it has been in my shed) of donations. Bric-a-brac, pictures, books, CDs, yes please. Old video tapes, no thanks. But have you any vinyls? They have become collectable. No, I hadn't, they went long ago. But should I wait till video tapes become collectable, or send them to landfill?

Day 138 2/8/20
Today for the first time in my life I have played two games of go on line, using a mysterious programme called OGS. During lockdown the Arundel Go Club meets every Sunday, and finding myself free I logged on to them. You have both OGS and Zoom running at the same time. It was convivial, as far as that is possible on line, but without the other members to guide me, I would never have found my way through all the caves of OGS. It works perfectly well once you have got going, but it strikes me as one of those programmes with too many bells and whistles, which in the end make life harder rather than easier.

Day 137 1/8/20
Back to grumpy old man mode. I use Freecycle frequently, and the number of items that I have been able to give away runs into dozens now. But I do feel it is bad manners for someone to express interest in an item, make arrangements to collect it, and then simply not turn up. What is the pyschology of these people? All they have to do is open the outer, unlocked, door of our porch and take the item.

Day 136 31/7/20
It would be so easy to have another rant about the "G" following today's news, but I fell to thinking about the benefits, such as they are, that Covid-19 has brought. The environment has had a respite from the human onslaught; for how long remains to be seen. Employers and employees have learnt the value of working from home; some of that should continue. (And I have learn to use Zoom). The national declutter must be advantageous, especially if people use charity shops and organisations such as Freecycle. And "I haven't had time to do it" rings rather hollow now for many of us, though not our loyal key workers.

Day 135 30/7/20
A member of my choir intends to organise a singing session in the open air for a few of us. This has sharply divided opinion. Some are all for it; others say we should strictly observe "government" guidelines. I have the impression that this type of division obtains in the country as a whole. Some still feel bound by instructions from the "G". Others, including myself, have so little respect for the "G", following all the dithering, U-turns and downright lies, that we choose to make our own decisions. Which means that the "G" is losing control, as so many of its requirements cannot be policed.

Day 134 29/7/20
If you tried to look at this dairy yesterday or this morning, you may have had the dreaded Error 404 message. (What happened to Errors 400-403? It is not for us mortals to know.) I feared a hack of my website, but it didn't seem likely. Heart Internet, who host this site, are pretty secure and reliable, and in any case, why should anyone want to hack me? I found that the entire folder of 800+ files that comprise my personal website had vanished into cyberspace. I re-uploaded them, and all was well. I decided that an evil cyberwitch (see Day 118) had cast a spell.

Day 133 28/7/20
Today I received a letter from an MP, Dr. Julian Lewis. He was the one who lost the Concervative whip through refusing to to obey a wholly illegal and unconstitutional instruction from the Prime Minister to vote for Failing Grayling as chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee. I felt that any evidence of independent thought by a Conservative was to be cherished, and wrote and told him so. His friendly reply, as well as thanking me (a non-Conservative) for my support, told me that his postbag is 100-1 in support of his decision.

Day 132 27/7/20
A few days ago I attached a third feeder to my bird supply centre. This one had a natty little cover to keep off rain, and make it awkward for large birds to land. And I filled it up with dried meal worms. To start with, no avian interest. But this morning a murmuration of seven teenaged starlings found it and polished off the lot within minutes. I thought those goldfinches were greedy enough (see Day 127), but that gang of starlings made the goldfinches seem quite restrained. Didn't hear them doing much murmuring.

Day 131 26/7/20
I feel really sorry for holidaymakes in Spain suddenly finding that a 14 day quarantine period faces them on their return. I wonder how many will actually observe it. But once again, heavy-handed muddle from HMG. A blanket rule, as always, when there are large areas of Spain where the infection rate is no worse than in Britain. And perhaps travellers should at least have been warned of the possibility of this happening. But that would have entailed forethought ...

Day 130 25/7/20
Today was another decluttering day, this time looking at cassettes. I had over 100, of which I play no more than half a dozen regularly. There are recordings I made during my years as an advisory music teacher. Why on earth have I hung on to recordings of school concerts made over 30 years ago? And similar stuff. I shall keep a few recordings of my own concerts (see day 90) as I feel quite attached to my own school cantatas. But more than half of these cassettes are, sadly, bound for the dump. Why do we hang on to stuff that we haven't used for years and are never likely to?

Day 129 24/7/20
Today brought political news that I never expected to hear. The Prime Minister has admitted that he might have been wrong about something! Up to now I have rated him on a 10 point scale at about minus 5. Maybe he moves up to zero now. We still await the apology to the loved ones of those who died unnecessarily, especially the health workers who were denied proper equipment. Still, it's a move in the right direction. For once.

Day 128 23/7/20
Today, for the first time in how ever many months, Judith and I had dinner in an Indian restaurant. We were celebrating our 54th Anniversary. We had booked an outdoor table. The waiters dutifully wore masks, and took contact details in a book. We of course were unmasked; it's tricky eating with a mask on; but felt in no particular danger. The population of the Borough of Redbridge, where we live is about 300,000, and about 20 inhabitants are known to have the virus. There may be some more as yet unregistered, but the chances of meeting one in a South Woodford restaurant are tiny. Our risk assessment was that there was nothing at all to worry about.

Day 127 22/7/20
For our first 48 years here, we saw no goldfinches in our garden, but the ones we've got now are making up for lost time. They have nearly gobbled up my entire supply of sunflower seeds, forcing me to order more from RSPB. House sparrows have abetted, but it is mainly greedy goldfinches. This morning a marauding cat made a four foot leap from standing and got a paw on one feeding. The bird got away, minus some feathers, and we soon heard a cat warning being broadcast to the local goldfinch population. Will this experience reduce demand at my feeder? I doubt it.

Day 126 21/7/20
Today I attended a medical centre, three stops away on the Underground, for a blood test. Last time I went, in lockdown, you went in, sat it a chair for a short while till it was your turn. This time there was a 30-40 strong socially distancing queue down the street, whcih was barely moving. I find it difficult to stand for long periods, so I turned tail and went home. I phoned them later, and found that a receptionist would have come out, handed out queueing tickets, and that if I had told her that I needed to sit down she would have let me wait inside. You just have to know these things. No one tells you beforehand. And I wonder what their plans are in the case of a sudden thunderstorm.

Day 125 20/7/20
I have spent the entire day decluttering. I have much stuff that could be given to a charity shop. But when you try, they are not too keen, as so many other people have the same idea. Not wanting to have this stuff piled up inside, it has ended up in the garden shed. I hope the roof won't leak too much when it rains. Clearly a little-by-little approach will be needed.

Day 124 19/7/20
Today I had a most unusual experience. We were getting a weak wifi signal in our back room downstairs, the router being upstairs in my office. I consulted Which?, and found that we needed a wifi extender, which I ordered and arrived yesterday. Today I plugged it in to a mains socket on the landing, pressed a button on the router and another on the extender, and it worked! First time! No need to download an app, or feed in a password, or tell it my mother's maiden name. I am just not used to bits of hardware working first time. Now we have a good strong signal downstairs. Chalk it up!

Day 123 18/7/20
Today I have been thinking about risk assessment. No one can be 100% certain that they won't get the virus, as the Argentinian fishermen have recently discovered (look it up!) So when going out anywhere, I have to decide whether to wear both mask and visor, visor alone, neither, or not to go there at all. I ignore all advice from the "G", but take into account whether I am going inside, what sort of precautions will have been taken there, whom and how many I shall meet, and whether those people are likely to have been taking precautions. This enables me to live as close to a normal life as is possible. The unnuanced instructions from the "G" are a blunt instrument which I feel disinclined to follow.

Day 122 17/7/20
Today I received my new credit card. It needed validating. It the good old days, like ten years ago, you made a brief phone call, answered a few security questions, and it was valid. No longer. I had to download an unwanted app onto my smartphone (what happens to people without smartphones?) and answer a catechism of questions, includung name, address, date of birth, you name it, most of which the bank had already. This was done by poking at the tiny querty keyboard on my phone. My fat fingers were scoring about 60% success. The whole process took about 20 minutes. And then there was decommissioning the old card; that wasn't simple, either. Modern technology should make things easier, not harder.

Day 121 16/7/20
Today brings the best political news since the crisis began. The election of Julian Lewis to the chairmanship of the Intelligence and Security Committee, in defiance of instructions from No. 10, is an indication of independent thought by a backbench Conservative MP. Is there a chance that others will follow his example, leading eventually to a replacement of the present cabinet by Conservatives who have the ability to run a country? There is no immediate prospect of a General Election; the only way that the urgently needed change can come is from within the ruling party.

Day 120 15/7/20
Today I ventured forth wearing one of my newly acquired visors. They are readily and cheaply available on the internet. It feels a good deal more comfortable than a mask, though probably both together give even greater safety. It certainly makes communication easier, especially if one of the parties has reduced hearing, and is used to partial lip-reading; a point which I have yet to see mentioned in the press. I am wondering whether wearing one of these, which directs your breath downwards rather than straight ahead, will have any use in either singing or across-the-board go.

Day 119 14/7/20
I don't usually report dreams. But last night's was so special that I feel I must share it. I was watching Michael Gove being interviewed on TV. My overseas followers may not know that he is probably the worst of the right wing / libertarian / Brexiter / generally nasty group of politicians who try to give the impression of governing Britain. Several times he put his tongue out, straight to camera, and obviously towards the viewers. And lo and behold, this morning we get the news that, despite Gove denying it just two days ago, it is to become compulsory to wear face masks in shops. Not until Friday week, of course; any sooner would contravene the "G's" TLTL policy (see day 116).

Day 118 13/7/20
As reported, yesterday my internet went down. Looked at Downtracker. Virgin Media all OK. Rang VM. "The fault is in your router. Check cables; turn it off for 10 minutes; blah blah blah." Did all that. No joy. Gave up. Turned it on today. Worked perfectly, same router. Also yesterday, my external keyboard stopped responding. Did all the usual stuff; gave up. This morning, powered up, prepared for one of those computer battles; websites, forums etc. Keyboard worked perfectly. These experiences convince me that computers are not the logical entities which they are supposed to be. They work by magic, and from time to time evil spirits cast spells on them.

Day 117 12/7/20
My internet has been playing up (thank you, Virgin Media) which is why today and yesterday's entries have been delayed. What a boon the internet has been during lockdown! And how bereft we feel when it is suddenly removed! Do we depend on it too much? How would we be managing without it? Phones? Letters? It doesn't bear thinking about.

Day 116 11/7/20
Well. I am really sorry for all those people in Belgium who had been planning to visit Leicester, and have now been banned from doing so by the Belgian government. Here in Britain we have had the predictable slight rise in infection, owing to the easing of the lockdown a week ago. Will the "G" anticipate the spikes expected in other northern cities, and prepare for them in advance? Or will they apply the usual TLTL principle (too little too late)?

Day 115 10/7/20
Many food outlets have realised that there is a business opportunity in offering delivery. For example, we get good service from Osolocal2u, horrible though that name is. Today we tried Cookfood.net. They have a glossy printed catalogue of over 100 dishes, catering for vegetarian and gluten free, both of which we need. And the prices are low; I ordered on line our dinner for two for £10.50. And then at the credit card stage:"Minimum order for delivery £40; please a further £29.50 to your order." Sneaky! That was not apparent on the glossy catalogue or earlier on the website. Think before you click!

Day 114 9/7/20
I watched the Test Match summary on TV. The ground at Southampton had a tiny handful of spectators. I cannot see why some hundreds of spectators could not have been safely admitted. There would have been plenty of room for distancing. The problem seems to be a lack of nuancing in the official instructions. (I cannot bring myself to use the G word.) Another example is in the use of the age 70 as a sort of cut-off point; do you instantly become more at risk on your 70th birthday? More common sense is needed, and some less rigid rules, if rules we must have.

Day 113 8/7/20
Today I pushed the boat out a little further, if that is the metaphor that I want, by making two trips on the Underground. Just one stop, to Woodford, but I felt perfectly safe, bemasked, in a carriage with just two fellow passengers, one at each end of the carriage while I occupied the centre. Coming back I had a carriage to myself. This is where we have to use common sense. The "government" tell us to avoid public transport, and obviously a crowded carriage presents a danger. But I felt that my journey was no more dangerous than walking down the street.

Day 112 7/7/20
In 1981 I wrote a beginners' recorder tutor for the London Borough of Redbridge, which was widely used. It was based on certain ideas which I had about what children find easy and what difficult, and was intended as a means of learning to read music. This morning I heard distantly a child practising one of my tunes. So the book is still in use 39 years later! I have composed throughout my life, including an orchestral overture, a string quartet, much music for choir, and much for small wind ensembles. But it seems that the most frequently played of my legacy of compositions is to be those simple recorder tunes.

Day 111 6/7/20
Today we drove through Epping Forest, on our way to a garden centre. Those heavy logs are still in place (see day 45) as I predicted they would be for a long time. At least the concrete blocks have gone. People are allowed to go to the Forest if they want to now, but I suppose it is just too much effort to collect up those logs. I wonder where they keep them all? News from the bird feeder: we now have starlings and a chaffinch.

Day 110 5/7/20
I had no idea of the voraciousness of goldfinches. We never saw them in our first 49 years here, but since I have installed the bird feeder two of them have gorged themselves on sunflower seeds, such that they will need replenishing after less than a fortnight. Our other main visitors have been house sparrows, who seem to come behind the goldfinches in pecking order, and blue tits, though we're not seeing so much of them now. Wood pigeons try to crash in on the feast, but because of their size and weight they fall off the feeder, and have to feed ingominiously on the crumbs left on the ground by the other birds.

Day 109 4/7/20
Profressor Spector now thinks that, from the ZOE Covid-19 data that we are all sending him, he can predict where the next Leicester-style spike will be. He has specified three Midland towns. It will be interesting to see, firstly, if he is right, and secondly, if he is, how dilatory the "government" will be in taking action. I went out for a walk this evening and glanced into a few restaurants and a pub. There were few customers, but those that I saw were not generally observing the two metre rule. If London is about to lose its status as one of the safest areas, the Professor will probably be first to know.

Day 108 3/7/20
Today I received another letter about jury service (see day 93). It informed me that since I am not eligible for jury service, I shall not have to do jury service. I find it reassuring that those responsible for administering the justice system are capable of making such a logical deduction. On a more important topic, my newly installed bird feeder was visited today by a goldfinch. And I have had an illicit haircut; see my facebook page for a picture.

Day 107 2/7/20
One often hears expressed the hope that certain changes resulting from the lockdown might continue when it comes to an end. Such as working from home, reduced pollution, etc. I see today that when pubs reopen, loud music will be forbidden, so that people don't need to shout to make themselves heard, thereby projecting viruses. Hooray! Let's hope that one becomes permanent!

Day 106 1/7/20
Each Wednesday midday sees the Starmer show;
We watch the PM squirm.
Can MPs find no better CEO
To lead the Tory firm?

Day 105 30/6/20
Well well. The "government" has taken up the suggestion I made on Day 97, and realised that control of the lockdown has to be applied on a regional basis. Too little too late, as we have some to expect, but let us hope that they learn some lessons from the Leicester experience. Did you know that Kings College's C-19 scientifically collated data, (Day 97 again) has been rejected by the "g" as being "too confusing"? And by the way, apparently the practice of using quotes for the G word is spreading.

Day 104 29/6/20
Today decluttering has turned to old papers. Amongst these I have a boxful of family history sheets, tracing my mother's ancestry back to 1575. The research was carried out by a second cousin resident in Iowa City, (now deceased), who travelled to the UK many times in search of data. This was in the '90's, before the days of www.ancestry.co.uk. It would be many hours' worth of data entry to produce a family tree with modern software. But is it worth it? My son has no interest, and is childless; my one maternal cousin may be, but is also childless. So would it not end its life in recycling?

Day 103 28/6/20
Today we were invited out for breakfast; the first time for me since 1962. That was when the Master of my college regularly invited us students, so that he could have a look it us and see how we were getting along, and for which purpose we had to miss a lecture. Today it was just to meet friends, and the reason for the early trip was to avoid London traffic, which is already building up again. It was a bit windswept outside, and the local robin seemed to think that we had invaded his territory.

Day 102 27/6/20
As last Saturday, four of us assemble in a garden for bridge, as last week. But it is windy and chilly, so, bemasked, we play inside. That may well have been illegal, but we felt safe enough, and kept an eye out for any passing police. Probably not as illegal as the noisy party nearby neighbours held in the evening, and no one seemed to send for the police then. As many of the population seem to, we are easing the lockdown in our own way, and at our own speed.

Day 101 26/6/20
At last we hear something from the government about re-opening theatres. As usual, the arts come bottom of the list. And nothing about concert halls. Still, it's a start. On the BBC red button this is described as a "five-stage approach." I rather like the idea of five-stage theatres; we've had multi-screen cinemas for decades. I wonder how that will work ...

Day 100 25/6/20
And here we are on day 100! People's activities as reported today seem to be ensuring that my prediction about the second wave will be correct. And of course all this news about C-19 conveniently smothers the fact that we continue to hurtle unnoticed towards the government's goal of achieving a no-deal Brexit. And more serious that either of these is climate change; what happened to that? Which is the best one to worry about? Since there is nothing any of us can do about any of them, just pour another beer and enjoy life!

Day 99 24/6/20
So, it appears that it is government policy to have a second wave of the virus. Nothing surprises any longer from that Comedy of Asses. All we can do is to make the most of the temporary respite in lockdown. Once again, there is no specific guidance for us over-70s who are fit and have no "underlying health conditions". Except, of course, that it is OK to "follow your instinct". I wonder where mine will take me!

Day 98 23/6/20
A member of London Gallery Quire has been getting us all to send in recordings of ourselves singing our part in a well-known item in our repertoire. We have a guide track to keep us more or less in time. He then edits these into a single choral performance. The results are rough and ready, (we can do a lot better than that when we're all together) but it all helps to keep our spirits up, deprived of our regular fixes of choir practice and the occasional performance. And it was only when I listened to the recording of my own voice that I realised how dreadfully out of practice my voice has become.

Day 97 22/6/20
Each day I report my state of health on the ZOE Covid app, and I hope that anyone reading this does the same. Nearly 4m people provide data daily to Kings College, London, who analyse it scientifically and make their findings readily available. And from the data it appears that any easing of the lockdown needs to be done by regional authorities, rather than the national government, as conditions vary. This would have the further advantage that there might be more compliance, as trust in the Westminster government dwindles.

Day 96 21/6/20
Today, as we approach our century, I looked back at the resolutions I made on Day 2. Two I have carried out fully; I have been for a walk every day, and I have revised all my music files; yes, all 1135 of them. While I was at it I updated my website, prepared a catalogue of my own compositions, and did some more work on my forthcoming self-published edition of John Bishop's music. (Thats the 18th century one). I have done much decluttering, but that is never-ending. I have not done so well with the Japanese. I have found it hard to motivate myself without a class. And I have yet to play go on line, though I have two regular contract bridge online dates. Not too bad, could do better. It looks as if there is plenty of time yet!

Day 95 20/6/20
I once had a boss who said to me in a private meeting, "You must agree with me." Well I didn't, but kept quiet at the time. But that seems to be the basis on which the PM has dismissed experienced ministers from his cabinet and replaced them with ... what we've got. So now at last even some Conservative MPs are beginning to realise what an ineffective government we have. But will they realise that the only way to slay this dragon is to cut off its head?

Day 94 19/6/20
Today we visited a friend in Docklands by car. She took us for a pleasant stroll in Mudchute Park and along the Thames Path. I realised how narrow and confined my exercise excursions had become; "Which of the dozen or so local walks shall I do today?" Even Epping Forest and Woodford Green can begin to pall. It is time to become a little more bold in using public transport out of rush hour. The threat level has gone down from 4 to 3, we are told. I expect that means it's OK to do that.

Day 93 18/6/20
There are not many advantages to being in your late 70s, but one has just been brought to my attention. I have been summoned for jury service. Someone's data is inaccurate or out of date, because you can't do it if you are over 75. I have done it before, for a case which lasted a fortnight, and which in my opinion could have been over in about three days if everything had not been so ridiculously spread out. A whole day for one expert witness, whose testimony could be summed up as "I think he dunnit". So I'm glad to be out of that malarkey.

Day 92 17/6/20
This week we have some welcome rain forecast, which the garden needs. It occurred to me just how unhelpful it is to be told that there is a (say) a 60% chance of rain. That could mean the chance of getting a two minute shower, or several hours of the heavy stuff. We've had both, with the heavy stuff during the night, fortunately. But "60%" tells me nothing about whether it is wise to go out for a longish walk.

Day 91 16/6/20
I learnt a sharp lesson about modern life today. I was expecting a consultation phone call from my GP; those are what you get during lockdown; and it didn't come. So I rang the surgery, and was told that the GP had tried to phone me, but I hadn't answered. It transpired that she had rung my mobile, whereas the previous two calls had been to my trusted landline. So, I shall have to do what everyone else does; keep my mobile switched on; keep it near me; and tell it to ring instead of just vibrate. Get up to date, Francis!

Day 90 15/6/20
Today, with many a backward nostalgic glance, I chucked out for recycling the full scores of the five cantatas that I composed for my Junior School choir and orchestra in the 70s and 80s. I put a tremendous amount of effort into those. And all the parts had to be copied by hand. But no one will want them now. Junior Schools don't have big orchestras nowadays. And if they did, they'd want modern rum-ti-tum music, which I refused to stoop to. Heigh ho!

Day 89 14/6/20
People seem to be deciding for themselves how to ease the lockdown. And four of us got together in a rather attractive back garden belonging to two of us, and played contract bridge across a table for about three hours. Was that against the rules? Do you know, we neither knew nor cared. The only downside was, when the scores were totalled, my partner and I came second.

Day 88 13/6/20
"Black Lives Matter". Yes, of course they do, and so do white ones. I wonder how many of either colour will be lost through today's non-socially distanced demos. It is understandable that some people relish the chance to be out in a crowd, doing what they are used to being able to do. But will it be worth it? The Black Lives Matter movement doesn't need Covid martyrs.

Day 87 12/6/20
Today I received a phone call from my doctor. She wanted to tell me the results of a recent test, and what had to happen next. It lasted about 15 minutes. There was no sense of hurry, and I was able to ask her about a couple of other matters. During lockdown, the surgery is doing as much as possible by phone and email. No telephone scramble at 8 am for a hurried appointment at the surgery. How civilised! Can one hope that this kind of service will continue if and when lockdown ends?

Day 86 11/6/20
At last, political news that isn't about you-know-what. The government is relaxing some of its import requirements following Brexit! Yes, what a good time to have all the Brexit news swept under the carpet, so that all the problems that Brexit will cause can be forgotten and ignored until it is too late. Hello, Brexiters! We Remainers are still here, watching your every move.

Day 85 10/6/20
As predicted, ill-thought-out. "No, really officer, I do live on my own. That woman you saw in my house was ... er ... an emergency plumber". And what about someone living alone who has a disability, making travel difficult? Would it be so unreasonable for the people living in the other household to visit her/him?

Day 84 9/6/20
7x12=84. So today we end our 12 week lock down. At least, we were told that it was to be for 12 weeks. So, I await the government's new advice avidly. No I don't, it'll be the usual ill-thought-out nonsense. By the way, it was only when I applied my knowledge of the seven times table that I realised that I had missed a couple of days: 2nd April and 6th June. You have heard of senior moments; these must have been senior days.

Day 83 8/6/20
So New Zealand is Covid free. So is the Isle of Man. And in most European countries, the virus apears to be under control. Except ... How can the government possibly claim that they did the right thing at the right time, when we have the worst record in Europe for death rates? All right, I am a grumpy old man. And I shall continue to be grumpy until these asses in Westminster get a grip.

Day 82 7/6/20
How's this for confidence in the future? Today we booked our summer holiday, a week in a cottage in Suffolk. The organisation which manages these holiday lets is taking a sensible approach, in that if what we have booked turns out to be illegal when the date comes, we get most of our money back. Not all; there is a non-refundable booking fee, but that's sensible to deter non-serious bookings. They have to keep the right side of the law; as for us, we would follow Rasputin's example and trust our instinct!

Day 81 6/6/20
No entry for today.

Day 80 5/6/20
How much at risk am I? Pluses: I eat and drink as medics advise; I don't smoke; I am not obese; I have no "underlying medical condition", I exercise; and live in a low risk area. Minuses: I am male and over 70. I find it difficult to assess just how much risk I am taking on my occasinal foray into shops. And I am getting up courage to make a bemasked bus journey. I wish that HMG would not lump all us 70s together.

Day 79 4/6/20
I have composed music since I was teenaged. Today, as part of the decluttering process, I looked through a pile of old compositions. I find it really hard to just put them in the recycling; they are my babies. But will any of them ever be performed, or in some cases performed again? I have an overture for full orchestra which I have shown to three conductors. Who were all polite, but ... And many other bits and pieces. Heigh ho!

Day 78 3/6/20
I never thought I'd live to see this day.
For sheer ineptness, Johnson comes in first.
Of premiers, I'd thought that you were worst,
But now I wish: "Come back, Theresa May!"

Day 77 2/6/20
I have realised today how tense, in both body and mind, I have let myself become. No, it is not fear of the disease, it is partly not knowing when this situation will end, and partly helpless fury at the spectacular incompetence of our government. So, I have resolved to relax, consciously. And I kicked off today with a lengthy walk in the morning, and an afternoon being a couch potato, no computer work, no domestic tasks, just watching the snooker, and in the evening (unusually) there was some interesting science and history on the telly.

Day 76 1/6/20
Today we ventured forth to Waitrose, to pick up a click-and-collect order. Which took 25 minutes to arrive. We could have shopped for it in less time. And the shop seems to have things well organised. We are feeling that bemasked we could actually shop there without too much risk.

Day 75 31/5/20
My 77th birthday. And today we have decided to be a little more bold in venturing out, bemasked. I have entered a convenience store and made a purchase! And collected a takeaway meal, my birthday treat. The government's advice "Recognises that some over 70s are fit and active", but doesn't say what difference that makes. But the corollary of the Rasputin incident is that we may all be governed by instinct rather than law. So off I went.

Day 74 30/5/20
When Johnson knows his case is weak
Just presses mute; won't let them speak,
And tells police, "Don't mind the law.
It's one of us, so please ignore".
Challenge Rasputin's rule, who dares?
Free speech, the rule of law? Who cares?

Day 73 29/5/20
Oak Apple Day. And we had a nice walk in Epping Forest, but now I have a nagging worry. Not that I might get the disease; the infection rate in London is below 1%. But to see the government blatantly manipulating the news media is worrying. And it looks as if the Durham police have been "leant on". We no longer trust the BBC. Sky News seems better, but the online Guardian seems the most reliable source of news now.

Day 72 28/5/20
Today I wrote to my MP, The Right Honorable Sir Iain Duncan Smith. You can guess the contents. It won't do any good, but at least it slightly relieves my feeling of powerlessness. And I finished the latest project, a booklet catalogue of my 56 West Gallery compositions. When the West Gallery fraternity and sorority (siblinghood?) starts meeting again, I'll see if anyone wants one.

Day 71 27/5/20
I was late uploading yesterday's diary entry. Today I was contacted by a friend in Germany to ask if I was OK. I am fine, folks, and I had no idea that anyone was following my diary day by day. If at all. I am writing it as much for my own sanity as anything else. I'm OK, but the country that I live in is far from OK. I wonder if the Germans could be persuaded to swap Angela Merkel for our idiot. No, they don't deserve that!

Day 70 26/5/20
Will there be enough Tories with consciences to bring this man down? It's possble that if they do oust him that Johnson will go with him. Then what? An improvement? Or out of the frying pan? What is clear is that the new Rasputin is undermining democracy itself.

Day 69 25/5/20
It appears that thousands have signed up for a virtual visit to Durham on 31st May. I wasn't expecting quite so much fuss over my birthday, but I'll be there!

Day 68 24/5/20
Can history itself repeat?
Yes, spirits from the past can be
Amongst us yet; as we may see,
Rasputin lives in Downing Street!

Day 67 23/5/20
Today, proudly wearing my new fashion accessory (see day 65), I ventured forth to a pharmacy. There was an array of notices on the window. One asked for only two customers at a time. Another, bearing the NHS logo, recommended social distancing and handwashing, and then said "Do not enter this building". Which left me wondering if mixed messaging is now official government policy.

Day 66 22/5/20
Today, as a result of taking a wrong turning, we discovered that the Conservators of Epping Forest have unlocked the gates of the many small car parks. These were locked just before the last public holiday. And have been unlocked just before the next one! The logs preventing roadside parking are still in place, and I daresay will remain there. But once again, mixed messages and muddle.

Day 65 21/5/20
Today we welcomed our first visitor of the lockdown. And she kindly brought a hostess gift. No, not wine, chocolates or flowers. She is a brilliant sempstress and embroiderer, and she had made us some pleated face masks, the sort you can put a piece of kitchen paper into for extra protection. And of course they had attractive floral designs. I shall feel quite stylish wearing one of those!

Day 64 20/5/20
Today we watched Prime Minister's Questions on the BBC Parliament Channel, or the Keir Starmer Show, as we prefer to call it. A friend of ours, who is a retired consultant neurologist, thinks it possible that Johnson may have suffered slight brain damage as a result of his severe illness with Covid. But how would you tell?

Day 63 19/5/20
Today I finished another project; updating and tidying up my website. What next? Tidying up my toolshed. Mmm, perhaps when it's not quite so hot outside. I'm going to make a list of all my West Gallery compositions, 55 at the last count, and make a booklet out of it, together with a few samples. That'll keep me busy for a bit.

Day 62 18/5/20
I am gradually getting bolder. We have been observing the lockdown pretty strictly, as we are both in our 70s. But the scientists are telling us (not the government ones) that actually it is quite difficult to contract the virus in the open air. Yesterday I bought some fruit in a shop, the sort that has all its fresh stuff ouside. And on Sunday I sat in their garden with not one but two friends for a chat and a cuppa. If I go down with this virus, I really doubt if it will be because of either of those contacts.

Day 61 17/5/20
Today Zoom went down on a national scale. As well as closing a meeting that we were attending somewhat early, it also affected the government's daily excuses statements. By relying on Zoom, the government is effectively contracting out its communication. Should they be so reliant on a private organisation? The present custom of contracting out as much as possible means that when things go wrong, it's usually somebody else's fault.

Day 60 16/5/20
A newspaper report tells me that approval of the government is actually rising! We currently have the least competent goverment, of left or right, that I can remember in my 76 years. Brexit, the last election, and now this. My confidence in British democracy is at an all time low. If that makes me a grumpy old man, so be it.

Day 59 15/5/20
Today we went to Sewardstone, for a walk in Lea Valley Park, which is quite extensive. No sign there of closed car parks, or any other restriction. It does make all those huge concrete blocks and logs in the Epping Forest car parks seem officious and heavy handed. Later we went on a garden centre, and I spent my first cash for two months. Their card machine was kaputt.

Day 58 14/5/20
I wonder how we would have coped with lockdown during the pre-computer age, in which I grew up. I think the "I don't need a computer" brigade (yes, there are still some around) are currently learning their lesson. Since we are so computer-dependent, I spent some of today rehabilitating an old laptop, just in case my lovely Asus ZenBook were to go on strike. It swore at me for not downloading updates, but now it's functioning. As Milton wrote, "They also serve who only stand and wait." And it has a CD drive!

Day 57 13/5/20
As we begin week 9, I notice that during the lockdown I am not getting as tired as I did in "normal" life. I suppose it is the feeling that there is plenty of time, and no deadlines; nobody depending upon what I am doing being done by a certain time. There is a lesson here which I hope I can carry forward into post-lockdown. If it ever comes.

Day 56 12/5/20
I feel really sorry for English workers if they are pressurised to return to possibly unsafe workplaces. Of course I am missing the choir and the go club and talking to friends face to face. So I decided to count my own blessings. I am not alone; I am in good health; I have a generous pension; I have plenty to do; kind neighbours do our shopping; and Epping Forest is in nearby walking distance. I have much to be thankful for.

Day 55 11/5/20
To start with it was loo rolls and pasta that were unobtainable. Now you can find most things that you need, but there are national shortages of, wait for it, flour and elastic, which tells you something about what people are up to. We have made our own supply of face masks, which apparently protect others rather than the wearer. If only we all had the posh ones which let the virus neither in nor out, the epidemic could surely be controlled. But once again, there is a shortage ...

Day 54 10/5/20
So now we have seen the Prime Minister trying to look statesmanlike. This is not the place to pick holes in his speech; plenty of other better qualified people are doing that; but what intrigues me is that he has indirectly made a case for an English Parliament, as we see the UK government making rules which apply only to England. At the moment I wish I were living in Scotland!

Day 53 9/5/20
I watched a play by Fletcher on Youtube this evning; Two Noble Kinsmen. Shakespeare is supposed to have had a hand in it, but that wasn't apparent. Good acting from The Globe company, but I don't warm to a play with a ridiculous plot. Two bosom friends come to blows over a woman. She's gay and doesn't really want either.

Day 52 8/5/20
I went for a long walk around streets today. In most the idea of socially distanced street parties seems to have been something of a damp squib, with just the occasional group sitting outside and having cups of tea etc. In just one street, where some organiser must have lived, the majority of residents seemed to be outside, still observing the rules, more or less, but chatting with neighbours over boundaries. It looked harmless and sociable, though I could have done without There'll always be an England blaring out from a loudspeaker.

Day 51 7/5/20
Surprise surprise! Mixed messages! Tomorrow is VE day, a public holiday, and with sunny weather forecast. "No, I didn't say anything about easing the restrictions. Or if I did, I didn't really mean it". What a shower we have in the government, with all the experienced ministers replaced by inexperienced right wing liberterian leavers.

Day 50 6/5/20
As Michael Heseltine so wisely remarked, Johnson waits to see which way people are going, goes to the front and says he's leader; witness Brexit. The lockdown rules are fraying, so he talks of some relaxation. Tails don't wag dogs.

Day 49 5/5/20
It depends what you want, of course, but I have the impression that there is actually an improvement in the fare available on TV. Far less football and sport generally, except the snooker repeats which I have been watching avidly. Fewer unreality shows and similar rubbish, and Question Time without a studio audience can be quite civilised.

Day 48 4/5/20
So the government has at last given a vague idea about easing lockdown. And as expected, it is all about restarting the economy, i.e. making money. I wonder when the social consequences of lockdown will receive attention. I think there could become a point where mental health problems (I will not misuse that term "issues") overtake physical ones.

Day 47 3/5/20
We are told that German churches are reopening, but not allowing singing, which tends to project the virus. This bodes ill for an early return to rehearsing for the choir that I conduct. Unless of course I tell them to just hum? Then I wouldn't be able to bitch at them for poor diction. Hmm.

Day 46 2/5/20
At first it looks as if I have to eat my words of 30th April. The government claims to have reached its 100,000 tests a day target. Until you note that 40,000 of them are in the post, and may or may not have arrived and been applied. And then what happens to the results? All contacts traced? "The target has been reached" reminds me of "The battle for production has been won", in Orwell's 1984.

Day 45 1/5/20
Heavy handed or what! In Epping Forest there are heavy concrete blocks and large logs blocking off most possible parking places. I suppose this is in anticipation of the bank holiday this weekend. But it would have needed a crane to put all those blocks in place, and I wonder how long it will be before they are removed.

Day 44 30/4/20
I suppose we should have known that the "government's" target for testing would be missed. The trouble is that after so many broken promises and downright lies, from Brexit onwards, I am disinclined to trust anything that they say.

Day 43 29/4/20
I have now more or less finished a task I set myself on Day 2; revising all my West Gallery music files. And I have been for a walk each day. The other tasks haven't fared so well, but the one thing that we're not short of at present is time. I am finding a life without deadlines has taken a bit of getting used to. Next major task: updating my website.

Day 42 28/4/20
Most people indicate whether they are going left or right as you pass in the street or in Epping Forest. Often you get a smile, a "Good morning" or a thumbs up. Some are not so considerate, just walking, or often running, straight ahead. But there was no problem yesterday, now that the weather has turned cold. I met only two people on my 40-minute walk.

Day 41 27/4/20
Would you believe it; this evening the internet goes down (Virgin Media)! At a time like this! And it concentrates the mind on how much we need it. If this lockdown had happened in the pre-internet age, which we oldies remember so well, no Zoom, no working from home, no online communities, I wonder if the telephone network could have coped.

Day 40 26/4/20
The lockdown rules are getting sillier by the week. A notice outside Highfields Gardens, a small local park, forbade football and cricket. So hockey or rounders would be OK? An encouraging sign was another person sitting alone on a taped off park bench. Cometh the revolution!

Day 39 25/4/20
The press reports an increase in speeding, and that I have noticed, especially on the Woodford High Road. I have seen cars speeding at 40 or 50 mph past a very visible speedcam. I suppose the boy racers are taking advantage of the sparse traffic, but also, I suspect, because they think the police won't have time to follow up the offences. As they probably won't.

Day 38 24/4/20
So the government is coming under pressure from its own backbenchers to reveal its doubtless carefully planned exit strategy. From what I see on my daily walks many people are gradually relaxing the restrictions anyway. How sensible it would be for the government to oversee this in an orderly manner. But ...

Day 37 23/4/20
Since the local authority stopped collecting recyclables, it has brought it home to me how much reusable stuff we used to chuck. Paper and glassware, tins, etc. are piling up in our shed, and larger items in the front room. At least we have the wormery for kitchen waste. There will be have to be several car trips to the dump when it reopens.

Day 36 22/4/20
While the Asses self-distance in Commons and Lords,
The Lions risk daily their lives on the wards.
When this World War is won, and the death rate is zero
Our queen should bemedal each NHS hero.
For the Asses, who gave them too little, too late?
Ignominious discharge, their only just fate!

Day 35 21/4/20
That psychiatrist (Day 7) warned us to expect "wobbles". Well I think I've had one. I strive to keep my resolution to keep cheerful, but the wobble made its presence felt with a couple of sleepless nights. In normal circumstances we could at least show our anger with the government on a demo, but ...

Day 34 20/4/20
Some of my recent entries look like the rants of a grumpy old man. OK, I am a GOM. But I have decided to count the good things that are happening; the fantastic NHS; the kindness of neighbours; people learning use the internet in new ways; uncrowded and unpolluted London roads. Let's hope that some of these positives will continue when this situation finally ends.

Day 33 19/4/20
I have taken my weekly day off from computer work, but this has left space in my mind for me to feel inexpressibly angry at the way that the government is treating our NHS staff. And there's not a thing I can do about it. I can only hope that this gross incompetence will be remembered by the electorate, and that the next election will give this "government" the kicking that it deserves.

Day 32 18/4/20
It's very strange, this business of the authorities not wanting you to sit alone on a park bench. Walking around Wanstead Flats (part of Epping Forest) I saw plenty of people sitting alone on the ground. Some were family groups, one even committing the mortal sin of having a picnic! What harm were they doing? And anyway, the police wouldn't have the staff to prevent such activities. Yet in a park it's naughty. Very strange.

Day 31 17/4/20
It is heartening to see new delivery services springing up to fill a need. Marrfish were formerly a wholesale firm, but since the restaurants have closed they have kept their staff employed by delivering to individual customers, and a good service it is too. Likewise Osolocal2u have sprung up out of nowhere; they are just four weeks old, but deliver good value and good quality produce. Above all, they are reliable, and come when they promise. It is good to see enterprise and initiative when our news bulletins are full of incompetence and stupidity.

Day 30 16/4/20
So Captain Moore's fundraising effort for the NHS has reached £17,000,000. Well done Captain Moore. That is about 3/4 of a day's contribution from HM Government, if they had not forgotten about the £160,000,000 of new money per week for the NHS that the Brexiters were promising if the vote went their way. Well it did. So where's the cash, Brexiters?

Day 29 15/4/20
I walked through Elmhurst Gardens today, a local park, and saw that some jobsworth has officiously tied red tape round all the benches since yesterday. Presumably someone doesn't want us to sit down, though you still can do so quite easily, as I discovered. Why does a person sitting down on a bench represent more of a danger than someone standing up? Is that the London Borough of Redbridge's best idea for stopping the virus spreading? And there are plenty of other benches elsewhere where you can sit, take a rest, and enjoy the sun.

Day 28 14/4/20
Today I have assembled a folder entitled legacy. In it are copies of all my West Gallery Sibelius files, together with a spreadsheet giving details of each one, and a hyperlink to each file. I hope that it will not be needed for many a year. But to put off making it is about as sensible as putting off making a will. There is a link to it on the desktop of my laptop, and it is also on a memory stick. I hope that no one reading this will need to know it!

Day 27 13/4/20
Today I finished the first part of one of the tasks I have set myself. I have examined all 1136 of my West Gallery files, found some misplaced and some missing, made minor repairs to others, hyperlinked all of them to my database, and noted those that need major revision. In the evening J. and I watched a memorable slow TV programme about a shepherd gathering sheep from Scafell for shearing. Very scenic, relaxing, and totally free from background music! Wonderful!

Day 26 12/4/20
We are trying to give both each day and each week some structure. As last Sunday, after doing emails I turned off this computer for the rest of the day, and did domestic tasks, just for a change. And we have our weekly takeaway meal on Sunday evening. Not much, but it makes the day just that little bit different.

Day 25 11/4/20
Today we took delivery of four plastic buckets from, I regret to say, Amazon. We needed one for garden use. But you could only order them in fours; only £2 each, which means that slave labour is going on somewhere. And would you believe that although these four stack neatly inside each other, they came in four separate half-metre cube sized cardboard parcels, with much needless paper packing inside. At least all this packaging is recyclable. Oh Amazon!

Day 24 10/4/20
It seems to me that there is a chain of cause and effect between David Cameron's running scared of UKIP in 2016 and our election of this spectacularly incompetent government. A wave of anger sweeps over me each time that I contemplate those dedicated health workers without proper protective equipment. And what happened to the £1,600,000 per week for the NHS that the Brexiters promised us?

Day 23 09/4/20
Today Judith and I walked through the forest down to Highams Park lake. We sat on a bench, enjoyed the sun, watched the waterfowl (I've never seen so many coots together), had our thermos of coffee, and walked back home. According to some police, we shouldn't have sat on that bench. We should have kept moving. Why? "All right then, officer. Arrest me. Charge me with sitting on a park bench, and see what the magistrate says." Fortunately police were conspicuous by their absence from Highams Park.

Day 22 08/4/20
Today we enter week 4 of our self-isolation. I am heartened by the way we have both found plenty to do. Time is not hanging heavy; indeed I am delighted to have had time to catch up on so much which has been on the back burner. But I do feel frustrated by my inability to influence events. Write to my MP? Iain Duncan Smith; don't make me laugh. I can send money to some charities, and join the national hand-clap at 8 this evening. Drops in the ocean, but at least I feel I've done something.

Day 21 07/4/20
The Prime Minister's letter, received today, tells me that I may go out once a day for exercise. Only once? Some dogs will take a dim view. And how will it be policed? "Hello, hello, hello! Didn't I see you taking your exercise walk this morning, sir?" "Oh, this one isn't for exercise, officer, I'm on my way to the supermarket to buy ... erm ... a box of matches".

Day 20 6/4/20
So farmers and market gardeners are concerned about finding labour to gather harvest. Let us hope that Britons willing to work for the minimum wage will come forward. But might the eventual outcome be to concentrate some minds on the thought that maybe Brexit wasn't such a bright idea?

Day 19 5/4/20
Today I attended a Quaker Meeting for Worship on line. This worked well, as most of the meeting is silent, with only the occasional brief spoken ministry. Then this afternoon I played bridge on line for the first time in my life. I suppose we are all learning to use the internet in unfamiliar ways, and will probably carry on doing so after the crisis passes.

Day 18 4/4/20
There has been a scary lack of leadership talent in all our political parties. In recent years, the only leader for whom I felt any personal respect was Sturgeon, though I am not particulaly an SNP supporter. But now we have Starmer. I have met him and heard him speak. He seemed to me to possess that quality so spectacularly lacking in Corbyn, Johnson, May and Swinson: common sense.

Day 17 3/4/20
Government "thinking" in February:
"We don't need investment in breathing machines,
Nor in test kits, in masks, in research for vaccines.
This problem's Chinese, and it won't travel west,
So let's just cross our fingers and hope for the best."

Day 16 2/4/20
No entry for this date.

Day 15 1/4/20
As we enter week three of our isolation, I am still not clear just how vulnerable we are. We are well into our 70s, but have no lung-affecting "underlying health conditions". All our shopping is done by kind friends and neighbours, and we do go out for a walk once a day. We give people a wide berth when we pass in the street. Are we being over- or under-cautious? Government advice continues to be unclear, and who trusts the government? At least the police have made it clear that as far as they are concerned it's OK to drive to where you want to take your walk.

Day 14 31/3/20
I have been wondering what the upshot of this crisis will be. Things certainly won’t be the same. After WW II public sentiment swung to the left. Could this happen again, now that the disastrous results of the chronic underfunding of the NHS and other public services have been brought into such sharp focus?

Day 13 30/3/20
Yeaterday we ordered a consignment of frozen fish from Marrfish. It came today! I recommend them. If you want a lot of fish, that is. On the other hand, the local dairy that claimed to be delivering milk and many other products, has run out of, er, milk. But we can get that from the local filling station. So, be inventive, if you can't find what you want.

Day 12 29/3/20
Another Sunday, when I rested from computer work. In any case, the clock-jump always hits my body-rhythms hard. Waitrose emailed to offer us, as over-70 regular customers, one of their 400 newly released delivery slots. Four minutes later we found we were too late; all gone. But what we have found are some lesser known food outlets who are responding to the new situation by introducing deliveries, and we actually booked one, even though we have to wait a week!

Day 11 28/3/20
Today I saw a 100-yard queue of self-distancers waiting their turn to enter Waitrose, in the chilly wind. And yet within short walking distance we have half a dozen well stocked convenience stores with no queues. OK, not so strong on the fresh meat, fish or bread, but you could get most of what you need to keep alive.

Day 10 27/3/20
A correspondent suggested that we should not have made our car trip yesterday, on the way to our exercise walk. Government instructions are silent as to whether this is permissible. A police spokesman has condemned such trips as an unnecessary journey, but one from a different force pointed out that in a car you are less likely to be a danger to yourself and others than walking along the street. Mixed messages, as we have come to expect from this irresolute government.

Day 9 26/3/20
We are apparently allowed one exercise excursion per day. Today we drove to Theydon Garnon church for a short walk and rest in the sun. It was deserted and peaceful, apart from the distant M11 traffic. So in theory I shouldn't now go out again for a second walk, but who's checking?

Day 8 25/3/20
The second of our twelve weeks starts, and we are doing pretty well. The sunny weather helps me to keep my resolution to remain cheerful. I walked down to Highams Park for my daily exercise, and saw a woman with two dogs, that had been taught to pick up litter and put it in a nearby bin. It took one of them five attempts to get a discarded bag into the fairly narrow slot. I gave them a round of applause.

Day 7 24/3/20
A psychiatrist on Sky TV gave advice on keeping sane while self-isolating.

  • Create daily and weekly routines;
  • Give yourself goals;
  • Get out when you can;
  • Expect wobbles;
  • Be kind.
We think we had already worked all that out for ourselves! Gratifying.

Day 6 23/3/20
The PM has advised people like us to have our supplies delivered. We discovered today that our three local stores, Waitrose, Sainsburys and M & S, are all refusing to accept new delivery customers, as is Ocado. What a nincompoop that man is! At present we are dependent on friends and neighbours for supplies.

Day 5 22/3/20
We have decided to keep Sunday as different from other days as possible, just to give our lives some structure. I didn't turn on my computer; Judith attended an online Quaker meeting; we both went out for lengthy excursions, and we had a celebratory Indian takeaway.

Day 4 21/3/20
Judith drove to part of Epping Forest today, and said she had never seen so many parked cars and so many people of all ages in all the years (49) that we have lived here. Why? Where else is there to go now, on a sunny day?

Day 3 20/3/20
I've seen both selfish- and selflessness in S. Woodford today. Selfish are the shelf strippers; selfless are the volunteers of "Triangle support" (we live in the Church End triangle.) They are folks who have organised themselves into a support team for people like us who are heeding the request for over 70s to stay at home. Shopping, advice, and companionship are available on WhatsApp. I hope we all know how to use that. And fortunately we have other friends lining up to do shopping for us as well.

Day 2 19/3/20
The 12 week house arrest period hasn't officially begun yet, but Judith and I are taking no chances. I am relieved to find that we may go out for exercise, so long as we don't interact with anyone. I intend to spend my 12 weeks as follows:

  • Go for a walk each day.
  • Study Japanese for an hour; as much as my brain can take.
  • Learn to use KGS, and play some go on line for the first time in my life.
  • Declutter the house.
  • Check and revise where necessary all my music files. There are thousands of them.

I've started on three of these.

Day 1 18/3/20
Home from the go tournament in Portree, which looks like being the last for some time. Came home pretty tired, and with a slight cold; no, not CV, but other viruses are available. I caught up with emails in the morning, then watched bad TV programmes for the rest of the day.

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