.Today I can’t help but reflect on how quickly things change. How what was taken for granted and accepted as a norm years ago is now seen as increadible.
Whether it’s stock footage from the 70’s and 80’s with smoking thick enough to cut in pubs and restaurants or brick-like mobile phones change comes quickly.
A month ago, even three weeks ago, I wouldn’t have felt a need to justify travel, to prove its necessity. However, today, I am aware of the requirement to do so pressing on my social conscience. I merely note how quickly this has been true, I don’t seek to avoid it but my the times they are a changing.
Before I met my husband we each had our own house one in London and one is Wiltshire. For reasons of work and my having a border collie who doesn’t fit with living in London full time that’s an arrangement we’ve continued albeit we split time between the two. When we came back from Milan and self-isolated it was to London and partly due to building work there we have remained until today.
Over the past three weeks I’ve been aware that the lawn hadn’t been cut this year, the weather was getting warmer, the days brighter and that would undoubtedly lead to the grass getting longer. Although it didn’t count as justification for a trip back to the Shire (it would be pushing it for the necessary management of a household I suspect even if only monthly) I was concerned that at some point I wouldn’t be able to find Taz if he crossed the lawn.
However, a more pressing need for me was the lack of medication easily to hand. My stocks were running low and because I had a plentiful supply in the Shire it was nearly impossible to get more and that assumes I could get the two trusts, my GP and an out of region pharmacist to collaberate. As a result, for the first time in 30 days, we left Gumnut by car and drove to the Shire so my medication could be collected.
While here I also managed to cut the lawns, share a very enjoyable evening with the virtual film club watching Company, replenish our food stocks at a supermarket (Vaughan went). He gave the whole setup at Tesco an Aussie seal of approval stating ‘They’ve got their shit together in the Shire.’ Tomorrow we have a local farm delivery of vegetables, and eggs – so rare in London many of the drug dealers now offer a side of 6 organic free range large ones – so I’m told. Then partly because the Shire is not habitable until the building concludes we’ll be back to continued isolation in Gumnut.
I had my confirmation from the NHS that I should be inside for 12 weeks so look forward to day 100 in the corona house in due course.
Our journey here was uneventful and necessary. You can manage so long on a bag meant for a holiday, but things needed for job applications, bill payments and just getting on with life were needed. We weren’t stopped, checked or questioned by anyone not that I would have any concerns had we been. The motorway was down in terms of traffic by about 90% and the Shire is quiet though the village is pretty much as it always is – we’re hardly the throbbing metropolis.
So tomorrow late afternoon we will return to Gumnut with food, medication, paperwork and fresh Shire air. I look forward to being able to return when the builders can get back on site but until then Taz has had a decent run for an hour or three and all is well with this little part of the world.
The title of today’s post comes from 42nd Street. For those interested in hearing the track, it can be heard using the link below.
Day fifteen in the Corona house sees a change of emphasis rather than a change of scenery. A number of people have asked for more information on the songs related to each entry in this series. The eagle eyed among you will notice that there is a track play control at the bottom of this post and in due course on the earlier items. That will allow you to hear the track in question and tell you where it’s from if you wish to investigate further.
As I start to compile my update news is starting to detail Boris Johnston’s speech to the nation tonight. This follows a COBRA meeting earlier today without the usual afternoon press conference. What that means is unclear to both Vaughan and I but it’s caused an axiety spike at Gumnut Towers.
We would like to be able to get back to the Acreage, however, it appears the screws may be tightening so that’s by no means certain. We have to be here until Friday so it’s Pexit-day (Peckham Exit) minus four. Perhaps by the time I finish this post, it will be a little more clear as to when or whether that can be possible.
Other than the open question as to whether/if we can get back to the Shire, today has been a day of re-evaluation both on a personal and wider level. My last day of work is this Thursday at which point my role becomes redundant and a twenty three year chapter comes to an end. Perhaps surprisingly, I’m not as downbeat about it as you might expect. I don’t recognise the workplace I joined and its values have changed. So, for those of you old enough to remember Rhoda, in the words of her mother, the wonderful Nancy Walker, it’s time to roll up your tent and move to another village.
I can’t have been too concerned about the state of affairs as I was able to notice the absence of a handful of friends from Facebook. Some tactful enquiries all came back with variations on the same theme. In simple terms, people were saying they were stepping back from the fever-pitch of lunacy, selfishness and doom goblins that social media was presenting to them at present. I do hope I wasn’t one of the doom goblin in relation to Covid-19 (or as my new bff Randy Rainbow referred to it, causing me to spit tea over the floor, Covfefe 19. But more of that later).
Having taken a break from much of the social media world myself in recent weeks, I can entirely sympathise with their point of view. Spending time in self-isolation can, in the absence of routine, become a series of duvet days. While that sounds enchanting on day one, it really has a short shelf life. It’s very easy to spend excessive time listening to two entirely uninformed ‘experts’ slugging chunks of the bejeezus out of each other on Facebook, Twitter or similar. Whilst I’ve been as tempted as others to pull up a chair and see if Uber eats are doing popcorn, I’ve avoided the temptation. It’s really pretty unhelpful.
Similarly, the news channel has been relegated from our usual background chewing gum for the brain. Apart from the fact that the looping news is hardly filling us with confidence, it also steals the day. You start off with what looks like a normal day and bibbady bobbady boo before you know it the content is running through its ninth loop and it’s half eleven at night and I’ve still not finished my blog post.
One of the up-sides of the isolation is you get to find out surprising new bits of information about each other. Today I added to my list of OMG moment and in so doing identified another film to show Vaughan as part of his musical theatre education. I was discussing a particularly dim reporter at one of the morning news conferences who had a particularly squeaky and deeply irritating voice.
Without thinking anything about it, I turned to Vaughan and said ‘The last time I heard a voice like that was on Lina Lamont … an’ I can’t stand it.’
Vaughan looked at me blankly, I returned it equally non-plussed but for different reasons. ‘Lena Lomont – you know singing in the rain?’ The look I was receiving didn’t change. At this point I found myself wondering if the Ventolin inhaler left at Gumnut by Vaughan’s mum last Christmas was easily to hand. I had a very sudden feeling I might be needing it.
There are certain things as a gay man that you take for granted. The standard things. Things such as being familiar with the singing greats, Lisa, Barbara, Madge etc. Others might include being able to zhuzh up anything from a present wrapping to a boring party and having a natural ability to accessorise. However, even these are based on some basics like having watched and being able to quote from the Wizard of Oz, Priscilla Queen of the dessert and Singing in the Rain. “You have seen singing in the rain haven’t you?” I ask “Nope” comes the answer …. HOW CAN THIS BE??? I picked my jaw up off the floor, silently sang three verses of I will survive and added it to our viewing list. It’s at times of national crisis you find out the important things.
The last piece of re-evaluation may take me into the realms of the dictator in the eyes of some. However, is it just me who is getting increasingly appalled at the standards of journalism we’re being subjected to currently? As I’m stepping into commentry about the free press, I should clarify where I stand and position my complaint within the context of the accepted wisdom surrounding our press. Churchill set the bar pretty high with:
A free press is the unsleeping guardian of every other right tbat free men prize; it is the most dangerous foe of tyranny…The press will continue to be the vigilant guardian of the rights of the ordinary citizen. – Winston Churchill 1940
I’m fully in support of that position. Nor would I differ with no less a figure than Thomas Jefferson, I always get very wary when I hear people calling for controls on the press. That isn’t what I seek to do, but I am rapidly forming the view that current news reporting is broken and has developed into something I don’t class as responsible journalism.
Today, I heard reporters asking what are technically known as ‘bloody stupid questions’. One asked ‘Do you think the NHS is ready to cope with the coming crisis?’ Where had she been for the past three weeks. It would have been a naive question two weeks ago, but now it’s just bizarre.
I wouldn’t seek to control, limit or censor the free press. I may not like some of what they do either in terms of content or method, but I recognise the truth in Chuchill’s words. We would be far worse off without them. However, I think we deserve better and I wish they’d up their game.
Sometimes, more is most certainly less and there is just not enough news – at least not for 24 hour news. I suspect that we have 4-6 hours of new news on a typical day. However the rolling news cycle means we have to pad the rest with opinion, speculation and dare I say a sprinkling of sensationalism. I for one would be very happy to see the likes of BBC and Sky rolling news channels restructured to provide less but better national coverage and fill the time with important events from elsewhere, truly to educate. However, I suspect that genie is well and truly not being put back in its bottle.
This concludes today’s rant thought for today so I will close with the title that nearly was. Having seen a short clip that activated my chuckle muscles, we nearly paid homage to Dame Elaine who’s laugh is infectious – there’s something I hope you do catch.
In a story I thought was falcified, but does appear to be substantiated in a couple of interviews, it appears Madonna had infact misheard the lyric as ‘don’t cry for me I’m the cleaner’ until the point she had to learn the song for her role in Evita. I do hope it’s true as it’s so delicious I’ve already put on three pounds just by telling you.
It seems that during the time taken to write this piece, the PM has announced the next measures to be taken. Although things have been tightened up it does look as though we will be able to make a one off return journey to the Acreage in due course. So it will be an exit from Peckham (now known as Pexit) in 4 days and counting. Then isolation at the acreage.
As promised something to leave you with a smile, I hope. It seems we are not the only ones isolating.
The title of this post comes from Into the Woods and for those who have expressed an interest in hearing them can be played on the control below.
In the last week, Vaughan and I have moved from being the only people our friends knew in self-isolation to just one of a growing number of people sharing the experience. Sue, Pete, Steph, Jules, Leon and the Phillips minors, James, Martin, Graham D. builder all have followed us into their individual quarantine. You may …
A relatively short post from me today as like everyone else I find myself (even in quarantine) pulled in many directions at present which make demands both of time and available energy as well as time. I mentioned to Vaughan how it felt like sometime last month we were in Milan whereas, in reality, it …
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From the relative quiet of the lounge at Gumnut Towers, I can’t help but reflect on the different approaches being taken to the Coronavirus. In simple terms, hold back the tide or manage the flooding. Today has been both enlightening and concerning as those two positions become more entrenched. The first group of countries are …
Day three in the Corona house has been strangely musical as events have reminded me of song titles and lyrics. The title of today’s update shows where I’ve landed today, but special thanks also go to Simon and Garfunkel, who as often provide a simple lyric that says so much. In this case… Slow down …