HOPE

Yesterday I was going to write about social distancing. Why some of us are having issues with complying with the government’s edit to stay at home. Indeed when walking my dog at 7.30  last night my local park was still full of people playing football and socialising.  But you might have noticed that no blog materialised.  That is because I got so bogged down with researching into the psychology of isolation and social distancing  that I went into a bit of a meltdown.  My way of coping with all of this is to not focus on the bigger picture. To take it day by day. Baby steps.  The bigger picture is too much for me to cope with especially as I am on my own.  But yesterday my research started to take me down routes that was definitely not good for my wellbeing, so I had to shut down. Instead I watched some mind-numbing television –  Instant Hotel escapist stuff  with beautiful landscapes about hotels in Australia.

Today, however is another day. And I am writing about Hope.    The inspirational Maya Angelou  said, “Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space. Invite one to stay.” So, I choose Hope.   Because there is no other option – it is what it is.   I think this has become my mantra over the last 3 years. And in this spirit last night I started a 30-day mediation course with Deepak Chopra. It was all going very well until Izzi, unsure of what was going on and why I was sitting cross legged, silently in the middle of the floor decided that I needed a good face licking. Things got worse when I began chanting – and Izzi not wanting to be left out, –  accompanied me with some ferocious barking.  Mo sauntered off in disgust. Maybe tonight  Izzi should stay in another room.

Today began with a 6.30 walk in the woods. And there in the middle of the wild garlic hung a rainbow. With a message that read, “Rainbows make you happy – have a good day.” In the spirit of Hope what a lovely way to start the day.  There is so much wild garlic at the moment that I couldn’t resist filling, yet another bag of this wonderful herb.  Chef son Jake told me to wizz it all up with some white vinegar and salt and it would keep well in the fridge. It is actually delicious and I used it as salad dressing for lunch. Quite proud of myself – I am becoming an accomplished cook.

rainbow

Which is more than I can say for my housekeeping.  Remember the stories about the little house elves that used to arrive at night when you were asleep and clean your house – or were they fairies or  maybe they were The Borrowers? Whatever. I loved that family of tiny people who lived secretly in the walls and floors of an English house and had to “borrow” from the big people in order to survive.  But I digress whoever they are –  they are arriving at night when I am asleep and causing havoc. There is no other possible reason why I come down every morning to such a messy kitchen.   I am on my own, I cook for one person, so it is impossible that there are plates and pots and pans scattered around the kitchen.

house elves

Come on guys enough – tonight I am going to pretend to go to bed and then creep downstairs and catch you in the act.

Talking of housekeeping – I have another job ear marked for today. Cleaning up my emails.  I have 37,866 in my inbox and 14,902 of them are unread.  So, if I was to go through 250 a day, then in 140 days I would have been through them all. That’s 20 weeks which means that by the end of lock down I will have a clean inbox. Or not as they seem to multiply daily.  I keep unsubscribing but it is like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, no matter how much I empty the inbox, they keep refilling.

I am off  now  for  Day 2 of Deepak Chopra’s meditation course. Need to keep the ‘Hope’ on course.

“Lets be safe out there”

The Dynamic Duo Kushner and Trump

No control over government so time to start baking

No soggy bottom here Mary Berry – my first Banana Cake.

I am loathed to brag but…… it is delicious. I just want all the people who knew me  pre- Coronavirus not to be shocked by the newly formed rotund Roma. As survival is paramount now, I am foregoing forbidden foods and just getting on with it.

In addition to the sumptuous cake — have I already mentioned how delicious it is ?  I made carrot, chilli, sweet potato and coconut soup, and Shakshuka. All the ingredients were about to go off in my fridge. And ever mindful of waste-not-want-not they will be squeezed into my freezer for when Toby and Linda return from isolation in 2 weeks.

Yes, I should always be mindful of food waste and I am. But I guess it has all been reinforced by the fact that I cannot shop and trying to get a Waitrose delivery is impossible. Despite being loyal to Waitrose I waited on line for a slot to come up at  Morrisons. Forgetting that I was logged on 6 hours later, I  found I was still in the queue. So who is the wise one and has shares in one of the food supermarkets?  

Before I leave the culinary section of this blog, I want to share with you a little utensil that I came across and used today. It was a sombre moment for me as it was Tod’s favourite kitchen gadget. I can still hear him saying, “I know you will probably think this is silly, but I absolutely love this egg slicer.” And I know what he means. It is such a perfect little gadget for slicing hard boiled eggs. Oh, how I miss that man. I even miss his smelly tobacco, his odd eating habits and his snoring. What would he have made of this?

 

So, Trump has now put Jared Kushner, his son-in-law in charge of Coronavirus – I am lost for words. This ninkompoop  has no experience in this field, in fact little experience of anything.  Apparently when Governor Andrew Cuomo said at the start of the epidemic that New York State would need 30,000 ventilators  Kushner decided that Cuomo was being alarmist.

“I have all this data about I.C.U. capacity. I am doing my own projections and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators.” The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Oh, you poor  Americans. You have the dynamic duo  – Trump and Jared in charge of this epidemic.

To make matters even worse The Trump administration failed to follow a comprehensive National Security Council “playbook” on pandemic response which was  developed by Obama White House officials in 2016 after the Ebola outbreak.  Obama had both the foresight and the intelligence to realise what was coming.  But one of the first things  that Trump did  when he took office was to disband the unit which Obama had set up. Had this still been operational America would have been so much  better prepared and fewer people would have died. 

I think that Trump needs to be held up for war crimes because this is a war albeit an invisible one.  And yet it would seem that there is still a large number of Americans that do not get it. Maybe they are the same kind of ignorant people who have today ignored our government’s request to stay indoors. My local park  in London has been full of children and adults playing and picnicking. What don’t they get? 800 people died today in the UK!

Back to domesticity as I can’t control  the virus or the the politicians but at least I can control what goes on in my house.  Today I unleashed my inner goddess. A bit of a Stepford Wife but  without the husband.  Not only did I have this mammoth cook-in, but I have now washed every bit of clothing in my house, sheets, towels, blankets and for the first time ever  tomorrow I am going to iron the sheets.  This may not seem odd  to all you ironers, but I don’t iron.  In a moment of wifely domesticity, I did  once try and iron one of Tod’s shirts. He politely suggested that perhaps it was time to use one of the local shirt ironing companies.  Maybe my averse to ironing started when aged 16, I worked as an au pair.  Recently I found a letter that I wrote to my mother from the job. 

“Mum you wouldn’t believe it, but she makes me iron her bras.” No need for concern my inner goddess does have limitations!!!!

Let’s be safe out there

 

Vanity and Coronavirus

Here is something I never thought I would be saying  — thank you Ruth and Eamonn on the daytime television programme This Morning.  I can now see through my fringe.  Today I learnt a new skill how to cut my fringe.  What might be just a tad  more difficult is tackling my roots. Even in lock down, on my own, I am finding it difficult waking up and seeing myself age – daily.  The hair has to be sorted.  I honestly do realise that in these desperate times it should be the last thing on my mind, but it is the little things that matter. And I admit it I am vain and if I ever get out again I don’t want to frighten people. 

I remember what  my Aunt Billee used to say when she lived with us after my first baby was born .  I was slouching around the house in a post baby haze.  “For goodness sake,” she said with a look of disapproval and those of you who had met her will understand very well that ‘look of disapproval’ “put some make up on people have to look at you.”   So, for those people 2 metres away from me in the park I promise I will make more of an effort.

This gets me thinking about my Aunt Billee – she would have been great in just such a crisis. And I am wondering if everybody doesn’t have an ‘Aunt Billee’ in their family. She was our maiden Aunt, the middle of 5 head strong sisters and unlike the other sisters, no great beauty.  No one in our extended family had a baby or died without Billee being there to help, whether we wanted her or not. She had no home but live peripatetically in all of our homes. She also had an adopted family in Italy whom she helped to hide  from the Nazis during the last war.

Billee  was frugal and hardly ever took public transport preferring, even at the ripe old age of 75, to stick out her thumb with the proviso that she only hitched lorries. I always wondered what must they have thought seeing this odd looking old lady by the side of the road.

But she was not everyone’s cup of tea in the family and for some there was definitely a love hate relationship – perhaps more hate than love.  She was dictatorial, judgemental and had little time for men, except those she had sex with – apparently mainly the husbands of her sisters and friends in Italy.  She maintained that this was an altruistic deed.

“I am doing the women a favour by sleeping with their husbands,” she explained, ” it stops them going elsewhere to have sex.” Or maybe she just liked sex, and this was a good excuse.   My eldest first cousin in South Africa, wrote a chapter in her autobiography called My Demon Aunt – referring to Billee. Clearly, she was one of the haters. While we were all appalled by what she wrote, we were also concerned that maybe there just might have been some truth there.

She was however brilliant with babies and children as long as they behaved. Believing that the only thing wrong with them was their parents. Just for the record I was a great Billee fan.

Our family had a tradition of hitch hiking – probably because we never had much money. I used to hitch everywhere.  I still remember standing on the road in Hendon looking for rides up the M1 to Leicester to visit my family. 

My mother used to hitch up to Dudley to visit her parents because she too had no money.  And ever the careful one, to ensure she was safe, (I don’t think she told my father)  she would put in her diaphragm before setting out.  Maybe a bit too much information here.

Methinks I have digressed –  this all started with me worrying about my appearance.  And you might have hoped that I would have moved on to more important stuff.  My apologies I fear today’s blog might be a little too trivial so I could add in some rather more unsettling stuff such as the numbers of women who have died since lock down because of domestic abuse, or the children that are going hungry because they are not getting school meals or the asylum seekers that attended the drop in centre where I volunteered which has now  shut down. But I will address all these topics in another blog. Suffice to say that today  is a bit of life relief. Too much shit going on out there so I need to focus on the stuff which I can control like my hair. 

“Let’s be safe out there”

Winston v Boris

I have been thinking about my parents and what they must have endured in the last war.  My father was shot in the head and spent 2 years in hospital. Which resulted in him having a permanent head disfigurement. My mother was in the ATS. One  of her jobs was to extinguish with buckets of water the incendiary bombs during the London blitz. These were the initial bombs sent down to light up the area so they could better target with the real bombs. How scary it must have been for them. And how scary it is for us now.

The difference is that we are fighting an invisible war. We know who the enemy is, but we can’t see where it is, and we feel impotent against it. The other difference is that they had  Winston and we have Boris.  Like Winston in 1940 Boris suddenly finds himself in charge of the country in a  time of a national crisis.  Also, like Winston the population is aware of both of their checkered pasts.  The  important question here is  whether  Boris is able to rise up to the situation in the same way that Churchill did and lead us to victory over this pandemic.   And just to add to this misery while  Britain had Roosevelt as an ally, we now have Trump.

sir-winston-churchill-396973_1920
I guess the verdict is out

Still on the topic of wars. Another of my mother’s war roles was working in the central war office. She was one of the women who, using long sticks —   you must have seen them in the war movies –  moved ships around so the generals could decide on battle tactics. A few years before mum died, she confessed to me that she really didn’t know what she was doing.  I was aghast. “Why didn’t you ask?”  “I was frightened  in case they thought me stupid,” she replied. OMG mum I don’t want to even think about how many ships might have been sunk.  What on earth did she think she was doing playing ‘Battleships’. I guess anything for a pair of nylons!

Yesterday I spent the day in bed. My glands and ears were misbehaving and yes for just a moment I thought maybe….. but the house was also freezing as the boiler has chosen this  very auspicious time to stop working.   It would have been very unfair (to use trumps vocabulary )  if I had the virus. I have been self-isolating for over 2 weeks. Taking zinc, vitamin C and turmeric for the past month. Drinking copious amounts of hot lemon ginger and honey,  wearing gloves to get my mail, leaving packages outside for 2 days to decontaminate, disinfecting my Waitrose order and keeping at least 10 meters away from anyone on my dog walks. Paranoid me?

I had never really thought about Boilers  before this week. I flip a switch and hot water and heat miraculously arrives.  Until it doesn’t.  And then I realise how reliant I  have become on all these appliances.

Note to self:  Remember to have chimney swept.

Up until this week I loved my house.  It is old and full of character. But I have now come to realise it is also full of cracks, holes and  windows that don’t close properly.  So, despite numerous electric heaters donated by friendly neighbours, the house is still very cold and under the duvet is where I am warmest. Of course,  I know that I cannot stay under the duvet until summer arrives.  So I have a conundrum. How do I get a new boiler system put in place when I can’t have anybody in the house?  Answers please.

I  think now is the time to galvanise my Dunkirk spirit. It is also the time to invest in some more thermal underwear.

 “Lets be careful out there”

 

 

Scrabble

Not sure that I am taking sufficient notice of  yesterday’s Note to self.

IMG_2098 (1)

Clearly  the ‘clean up before you go to bed’ is not working.  I am sincerely concerned that I am becoming a slob.

As usual I awoke at 6 and was in my local park at 6.15 by 7,  I was back in bed with my coffee and Netflix  wondering how I was going to fill the next 15 hours.  Cue Word Feud, I have 12 people waiting for me to have my turn.  Some of the players are my friends but the majority are anonymous. And I have no idea who they are. Male or female, where they live in the world, how old they are and what they look like. It’s all very strange but in this Coronavirus virtual world I welcome them all.

 I have a friend who plays scrabble online and she knows exactly what they look like! She  is also well acquainted with the intimate parts of their bodies. How do I know this? Well one day she showed me – warts and all. And for days after  I couldn’t get the image out of my head.  Suffice to say  that even my adult children would have been shocked. 

 I am wondering why no one has ever approached me for this kind of game.  Maybe for the same reason that in 35 years of marriage nobody ever  flirted with me.  I think it is probably something to do with my levels of oxytocin – clearly, they are not very high. This doesn’t bode well if I ever want another relationship.  

Meanwhile back to my legitimate game of scrabble. Did you know that the following words are in the dictionary: thine, tef, yon, bor, tun, rah, vee, sey, ag,  azo  and these are only from my last two games.  All used by me. What do they mean? Well you might well ask. I have no idea.  And it really doesn’t matter  as a silly little word like  AZO on a treble letter score  and if conjoined with another word could bring you a massive  score of around 55 points. Oh, how my world has shrunk. 

The high light of  today was the Waitrose Delivery.  As I am self-isolating  it was all left on my door step in plastic bags.  Armed with disposable rubber gloves I decamped it on to my patio table. Then sprayed it with a Dettol solution. I think I will leave it there until this evening in the hope that any COVID-19 virus has been dissipated.  The cat is bemused.  I can see her having a conflab  with Izzi. 

“What on earth is going on in this house. Firstly, everybody disappears, then that woman who feeds us spends all her waking hours washing her hands and now she is leaving all the food outside and spraying it with a horrible smelling liquid.”    I think this is the first time that cat and dog have agreed on anything. 

food

Now you might think that this  is an awful lot of  food for one person  but in two weeks  when Toby and Linda finish their self-isolation they will be returning home.  Yay

On surfing the internet this week I came across an article from a  few years ago entitled “Making an adventure out of the banality of life. ”   I could certainly do with that right now. My life is anything but an  adventure. Unless, of course, trying not to die is an adventure. 

The author of the article talks about how her husband makes  taking the garbage out an adventure.  Yes this is pre-pandemic.  Apparently,  he challenges himself to see how many bags of rubbish he can squeeze into the dustbin. She goes to say that when he hits a new record of ‘bag squishing’  it becomes the high light of his week. And I thought that I was a sado.    She in turn finds joy in doing a sock-load of laundry and ending up with matching pairs.  Well I can second that. I have absolutely no idea where the errant socks go.  I have yet to discover The  Land of the Lost Socks. 

Let’s be careful out there” 

 

Messy Girl

So, coming downstairs  this morning to make my morning coffee I was   shocked by the mess that greeted me in the kitchen. “Who made this mess. “Why can’t you just clean up after yourself. Is it so difficult to wash your plate?”  OMG it’s just me. I am the messy one.  Sheepishly I slunk back to bed with my coffee contemplating this new revelation. Left alone with no witnesses I  really am a messy person.

Note to self:  Get your house in order.

And not only am I messy   I am also prone to laziness.  Having slunk back to bed, I then stayed there for 2 hours finishing off my Netflix series.  “So why not,” I said to  the bedroom furniture,  wtf else is there to do?”  The dog is getting very concerned about this new relationship I am having with the inanimate objects. In the kitchen this morning there was a lot of jealousy in the spoon drawer. “Pick me pick me,” said the small silver one. “Not fair she picked you last time it’s my turn today,” said the bigger spoon giving the little one a shove.  I intervened. “Ok guys there’s lots of time you will all get a chance to be picked,” Perhaps the dog is right to be concerned.  Only another 74 days to go. By which time I will probably be on very close terms with all the cutlery.

We have this Tom and Jerry thing going on in the house. A visiting Tom cat seems to have taken a liking to our house. Have posted his picture on  the Next door  website but there have been no takers. Entering through our cat flap he  roams about the house with such confidence — typical tom — that you would think  that he really does live here. This is until he is discovered either by me or by Izzi who tears after him after him at full pelt. Tom just manages to exit the cat flap before Izzi  snaps his tail . I fear that very soon  either Tom is not going to make it out in time or Izzi is going to smash her face on the cat flap. I’m not complaining  anything for a bit of distraction.

It’s almost time for my virtual bridge game.  I often wonder what my mother would say if she could see me discussing trumps and point counts.  She was a fanatical  bridge player and  would play 3 or 4 times a week with three somewhat disparate men. Sometimes she would creep in at dawn having been playing all night, well that’s what she said anyway.   Mum was very beautiful and very funny, and the three men adored her. Peter was a rather large builder; Roy was a Leicester university maths professor and Zoli was a Hungarian exile. Unbelievable that I can remember their names from 60 years ago and yet I cannot remember what I had for breakfast.  What’s that about?

In addition to the men she would play with three local women.  We  were quite poor growing up and my brother and I were latch door key children  as both my parents worked full time. So, when it was her turn to host the game she would bake cakes either first thing in the morning or the night before. I remember one time when she made chocolate eclairs and to ensure they were still there when her guests arrived, she left a note on them  which read: “I have spat on every single one of these.” We quite liked mum’s spit!

Yesterday I spoke about desperate consumer selling – well some are doing quite well. Clearly the on line beauty industry is booming – can’t think why. John Shopping for moisturiser I found that John Lewis was completely out of stock for Bobby Brown, Lancome, Clinique, Nars, and Dior. I know not exactly vital, but a girl has to try.

Let’s be careful out there

 

No longer a Dorian Gray

Our local Golf Club is closed which is bad news for golfers but good news for us dog walkers. Vast open spaces without fear of bumping into joggers or those ignorant selfish families that  think it is ok to walk on mass taking up the whole path. Time to start dishing out  an Asbo.   I am a golf course virgin having never felt the call to take up this sport. Maybe it has something to do with growing up in Leicester where  it was common knowledge that Jews couldn’t join the local golf club.  But hey I am not one to hold a grudge – I promise not to trample over your neatly mowed lawns.  

golf

I  fear my Dorian Gray days are over. Until recently  I hadn’t considered myself as old. In fact I always felt rather middle aged. That was until Coronavirus. I  have been endowered with my mother’s skin  and have very few wrinkles. I could easily pass as being in my mid fifties.  Sadly those days are over. 

I remember on my 50th birthday we went out to dinner with the children and I thought it time I fessed up that I wasn’t really 35. They were shocked and the youngest was very upset, “are you going to die soon,” he cried. Fast forward a few years and I  am now officially old. I know this because the government and the press keeps describing people of my age as elderly. Stop it please, its not helping with my anxiety which is already way higher than is healthy.

While I am on the subject of anxiety I have a request to my friends. Please stop telling me about people you know who have died. I am not watching the news for that very reason. Today almost got  cancelled because of this  and I had to hide under my duvet and binge watch on Netflix. 4 Hours later I emerged to write this blog.  So no more messages, emails, phone calls with depressing news. 

On a more positive note the community spirit on my road is  uplifting.  It’s like a long market with free goods being exchanged and left on door steps for collection.  So today one lady decided to clear out all the toys no longer required and offered them up to those with young families. They were snapped up immediately.  I think I’ve got a whole case of beanie babies in the loft. Another had flour and someone else  had  milk and  I was offered by a neighbour who knows I am alone, some delicious peanut butter and jam cookies and a tomato plant. I, in turn offered her a cucumber. Both were left on our respective doorsteps.  Depending on my consumption I might offer a few peppers tomorrow.

You’ve got to feel sorry for the companies trying to flog their wares. My in box is full of them.

Retirement mortgages – are you over 65 what is the right solution for you? Hello are you not following what is happening. Will we even get to next year?

Clarks shoes and Fit Flop offering 20% of your second pair. Really why would we  even need one pair of shoes. I am living in my slippers. 

Big discounts on designer handbags – shop for your Louis Vuitton and Gucci here. Absolutely I  am sure my furniture would be very impressed.

Shop for your spring denim here. Has no one told GAP that spring has been cancelled.

So today I did something I have never done before. My father – who was a tailor, would have been impressed.  I darned my glove. I even found a darning mushroom in my old sewing box. The moths had been at my cashmere gloves. And it felt very satisfying. I mean there are only so many television programmes one can watch. The fact that I remembered how to darn is interesting. The only time I have ever done this was 60 years ago in school. And for those who have never seen a darning mushroom…

..darning this one

Lets be careful out there