It smells like smouldering embers. Someone nearby has had a fire going overnight. Strange thing to be doing in London but we’ll all be lighting fires in bins soon. The smell is of wood smoke and it is comforting, anything elemental is comforting. Give us further reminders of our place. Render me small again.
The mornings are frequently beautiful. Then, as if mirroring our collective intake of news throughout the day, the weather turns. Usually by lunch. This morning, however, is different. It’s milder than it has been but there is thick cloud cover, reminding me of mornings in Spain before the sun heats up and melts the white blanket below it.
Our dystopian laundry sways on the line; face masks twitch in the gentle breeze.
I’m reading Beowulf now. Turns out he’s not a wolf, which was a little disappointing, but there is at least a monster in it. So that’s good.
The woman next door has a bath. I don’t know how one person can make so much noise in there. It is as if a whale has squeezed through the plughole and beached in the bath, and having realised the mistake it has made, is frantically trying to escape. Squeaking and creaking and splashing for its release. I would forgive it every now and again, but she does this every morning. A very sad thing to take the grace out of bathing.
I go for my bi-weekly jog. As a walker most of the time I have become aware of manic joggers getting very sweaty and out of breath, and then being very sweaty and breathing heavily very close to me, very close to everyone. I hold my breath a lot when I walk.
So as not to be one of these super spreaders when I do jog (which apparently is now something I do–jogging, not super spreading), I make sure I keep my distance and keep breathing at a minimum. I am also fortunate that, like Prince Andrew, I have had military training and therefore do not sweat.
The fact I walk for around three quarters of my jog probably helps with the sweating thing. But the training is also important.
However, I do have to breath a little, but I do not want to be frowned upon, so keeping my distance is paramount. This has its hazards. Today, I jog daintily around the lake, admiring the light on the water and smiling to myself in a moment of wild, endorphin-induced positivity. Suddenly, a very, incredibly old man appears out of nowhere. Why is he lurking by the reeds? Why is he even out of the house?! I don’t have time to question this ancient health-risk’s motives. Instead, I launch myself away from him and almost into the water so as not to contaminate him with my breath particles.
He laughs. I do too, but not because I think it’s funny.
Old superstitions passed down by my mother resurface. Whatever happens, however weird this all gets, regardless of my military training, I will only ever salute birds. Magpies are my master now.
I see a dead magpie lying on some ivy on one of my walks and raise my hand to the fallen. Three other magpies are bouncing around the trees above it, cackling as they do, but they seem distressed.
I don’t know about all this “great equaliser” talk surrounding the virus. I had thought it might be true, but now I’m not so sure. I appreciate all of us could die (no change there then), in the mean time it seems to me like everyone who was poor before is still poor now. Anyone more likely to die before is still more likely to die now.
Anyone rich before is rich now. Anyone doing ok before is still doing ok.
Everyone picking up the pieces before is still picking up the pieces.
Everyone at the bottom of the pile is still at the bottom of the pile.
Everyone who fell through the cracks is still falling.
I speak to a friend about her time in Cuba, because I want to go there one day, and ask her to remind me why she didn’t like it. She reminds me. I wonder if those calling for communism here will let us share their second homes and healthy salaries? I’m all for it, baby. I got nothing to loose. See you in the bread queues.
I take refuge in the past. Even bad memories seem attractive now.
While out shopping for an old gentleman, I catch my reflection in the shop window: face mask, latex gloves, leather trench coat. The look is very ‘Dr. Death will see you now’. And I think, If I have one regret, it’s that I didn’t buy more leather coats.