Today started out well, much better than most days lately. Then it went a bit shit but finished on a high. For the first time in 11 days my back felt OK when I woke up. It felt well enough that I even managed to do the exercises I was given by a physiotherapist when I had a bad back a few years ago. Clearly I had not been doing them and couldn’t even find the list I was given showing how to do them. But I googled and found them and did them for the first time in years. And I will keep doing them, I promise.
It was another rainy, chilly, windy stormy day so even though my back was better there was no way I was going to attempt a much-needed run. Despite having done the exercises my back tightened up again in the afternoon. So to cheer myself up I watched the first episode of Chernobyl with Charlie. It was just as grim as the first time around. Definitely not something that can be binged.
Decided I needed to get out of the house so, despite the pouring rain, I walked in to town. By the time I got back home the sun was shining again. Weird weather.
Boris Johnson finally decided to turn up at the daily coronavirus briefing and it was a disastrous performance by most accounts. He really is a hopeless buffoon. Meanwhile in Michigan heavily armed covidiots stormed the state capitol. This is all on Trump. He wants to start a civil war.
This evening I got an email confirming the Guardian is furloughing me for two months at least. So that’s a huge relief. Finished the day watching Radiohead’s 2012 Coachella gig with Charlie. I reminded him we were a mere 263 miles away in Phoenix at the time. All in all a good end to the day.
Well, this has been a forgettable day. Cold, rainy weather. Back pain. Very little accomplished. Thought my back was getting better but I was wrong. Now the pain and stiffness goes right across my lower back, where before it was in one spot. On top of that I felt sick to my stomach most of the day. Really looking forward to not feeling like shit.
I did manage to get out of the house briefly to spend some quality time in my man cave (aka shed).
In other news, Boris Johnson has another mouth to feed. But he went right back to work, trooper that he is. And Donald Trump is fearful of not getting his Big Macs so is forcing meat packing plants hit badly by Covid-19 to remain open.
Woke up to heavy rain that lasted most of the day. It’s the first rain we have had in nearly two months. It definitely brought a new feel to this whole lockdown thing. Not being able to go out in the garden and not really wanting to get soaking wet going for a walk, let alone a run, made it all too real. I did manage to get out in the afternoon when the rain eased off for a short walk around the cemetery, which I thought would be free of living people but wasn’t. It seems several people had the same idea and as the paths are narrow I had to keep turning around and doubling back to avoid them.
It’s starting to seem like the US and UK are competing to see which country can do a worse job of dealing with the pandemic. Although Boris Johnson returned to “work” on Monday he was nowhere to be seen when it came to the government’s daily coronavirus briefing. Instead he left it to Matt Hancock, the health secretary. Like most Tories, you can tell when he’s lying: his lips are moving.
Meanwhile, Mike Pence refuses to wear a mask while visiting the Mayo Clinic, setting an example for all the MAGA covidiots. Apparently he later explained he didn’t wear a mask because he wanted to be able to look people in the eye.
Here on the home front, my hair is getting a bit long, but I can’t get it cut and I certainly won’t let Alice anywhere near me with a pair of clippers. And anyway, let’s face it, it’s hair a lot of people would kill for!
All of my non-activity on Sunday must have really worn me out because I slept until 9.30am. Think I went to bed before midnight, so that was one of my better nights lately. Back is still improving but I think it might take another day or two of doing as little as possible. I am dying to get out for a run but still don’t feel like risking it. By the time I feel up to it our great run of good weather will be over.
Sat outside with my morning coffee enjoying the peace and quiet. All the neighbourhood kids are back to home schooling after having the past two weeks off for Easter break. It was so wonderfully quiet!
I spent a few hours looking in to getting my $1,200 stimulus payment and downloading the forms to do my US taxes. Still could not enter my bank account number so will have to hope a check arrives in the mail. Also discovered that Charlie is eligible for it too but we might need to set up a US bank account for him to pay it into.
Our blue tits are still looking after the eggs in the nest box (below). Read a worrying story about some disease killing thousands of blue tits in Germany. So even the birds are having a tough year too.
Slept much better and woke up thinking my back problems were behind me (geddit?) but not quite the case. It is a bit better but still stiffens up if I sit for too long and hurts if I make a wrong move.
But it was a beautiful morning so I sat out in the garden with my coffee, then made Charlie and I breakfast (eggy bread aka french toast).
I had charged my phone overnight but just minutes after I started using it this morning it was down to 1%. So I charged it again and it instantly lost the charge. I checked and found it was still under warranty from John Lewis, where I bought it in August 2018. So I called them and got tech support, who had me reset all settings (always a scary move) and it briefly appeared to fix the problem. But I was told if it recurred I would have to send it in to be checked/repaired, meaning I would be without a phone for at least a month, maybe longer. How the fuck does that work out as being a two-year warranty? Have had it on charge all evening. We’ll see what happens but I am thinking they had better give me a new phone pronto.
So after that ordeal my back was hurting more so spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the garden. Saw three very large raptors circling way up high overhead. Might have been honey buzzards. Then another big bird with a huge wingspan that I could not identify. Lots of interesting things passing overhead lately now that there are no planes.
Here’s a photo of me in my natural habitat. In an unflattering light.
Another day spent coping with by my bad back. But as I sit writing this at 10.15pm it seems like it might be getting better. Of course that could just be the painkillers talking. It’s been about as bad as it gets today. If I sit in one position too long it stiffens up and I can’t get up without excruciating pain. You get to the point where you are so in fear of making a movement that triggers this pain that you tense up, which only makes things worse. It sucks.
But this didn’t stop me from getting things done. I walked into town to get a few things that we could not get in our online grocery order. Reigate high street was pretty quiet, but I still had to wait about 10 minutes to get into M&S. Fortunately there were no idiots in the store.
Today was the day when I was meant to be driving Charlie back up to Birmingham, where his summer term would have started on Monday. But instead of taking him to the Sainsbury’s in Selly Oak to stock up on food we both drove down to pick up our online order from another Sainsbury’s, in Crawley. It was the first time Charlie had been in the car since 19 March when we went up to his house to collect most of his belongings. He leads a quiet life.
Spent the remainder of the day sat in the garden. It looks like our long run of fine weather might be coming to an end, with nine days of rain in the forecast from Tuesday. So there’s that to look forward to.
Hospital deaths in the UK went over 20,000 today and over 50,000 in the US. Grim milestones, with many miles yet to travel on this journey.
Another day gone and I struggle to remember anything about it. All I know is that my back has gone from bad to worse. So I didn’t do much, just the same old sitting in the garden. Walked in to town in the afternoon, very slowly, and managed to take a bad step and tweak my back even more. Somewhere I have a piece of paper with exercises I am meant to do to strengthen my back that I got when I had physiotherapy a few years ago. Tomorrow’s mission is to find it and start doing the exercises again. Or maybe I will try putting some bleach on it. I also get to go to Crawley and get the groceries again! Some day we will look back on all this and laugh.
So we begin the second month of this nightmare. Feeling quite fed up with it all. You would think that getting the chance to have so much family time together would be a good thing. But it hasn’t really worked out that way. Considering the three of us are in this house together all day, every day the amount of actual interaction we have is laughable.
Charlie gets up around 10, comes down briefly to have some semblance of a breakfast then goes back up to his room and either does uni work or plays computer games, mostly the latter. The he comes down around 2-3pm seeking lunch, then back to his room until suppertime. Then back to his room for a few hours only coming down just about the time we are going to bed. Alice spends most of her time sitting on the sofa in the dining room looking at her iPad. Now she’s started back to work so she’ll be up in the back bedroom/office four days a week. I move from here to there, the sitting room, sitting alone in garden (despite setting up chairs for all three of us every day), looking out the kitchen window. I suppose things have always been this way, it’s just that the current situation has brought our dysfunctionality into sharp focus. I don’t like it.
Maybe I am feeling extra grumpy because my back has got worse. I did something while I slept to tweak it even more and today has been spent trying not to make any movement that will take the pain up several notches. Just reaching my arm out a certain way can do it. Because of this I didn’t go for a walk or get any exercise at all today.
Things can only get better. But we know that’s not really true, don’t we?
Wow! I have been doing this diary for a month. Do I win a prize? No? Never mind, I’m going to keep doing it anyway.
It took a month but I finally did the inevitable today. I hooked up our long-dormant Wii and spent a few hours playing games on my own: mostly the old, easy ones on the Wii Sports disc and a little bit of NBA Jam. And I still suck as much as I did when Charlie would humiliate me repeatedly a decade ago. It was fun and I will probably do it again tomorrow. Terrific escapism.
Went for a walk on my own in the afternoon up around Gatton Road. It was another nice, sunny day with that clear blue sky that has been a permanent feature of this lockdown. Warm enough to go out in a t-shirt. Not bad for April.
Then this evening I finally did a #TimsTwitterListeningParty because @TimBurgess was spinning one of my very favourite records: Bring it On by @gomeztheband and it was great fun listening with loads of other fans and reading tweets by @OtwellBen, @MrTomGray and @iballmd. Such a great idea and it’s really helping a lot of people get through this thing. I took Charlie to see the Mez at the Forum in Kentish Town two years ago in May (that’s us at the gig).
It’s 5pm and I am sitting in our sunny garden listening to the male blue tit singing a very monotonous song almost certainly meant to warn away any other birds that might be thinking of occupying our main, camera-equipped nest box. The litttle bastard! Meanwhile, the mother of his children sits alone in the other nest box, keeping an unknown number of eggs warm and waiting for him to come and give her a short break so she can eat and shit before rushing back to the nest.
It’s not been a good day, it’s been a great day! First I managed to book our next grocery collection slot for Saturday afternoon. That’s always a big relief. The I found out that I will be furloughed by the Guardian, which means I will continue to get paid for the next three months at least. I was so worried about what we would do if I didn’t get any work in May and beyond that I was waking up in the middle of the night thinking about it. I am so grateful and so lucky to have worked for such a class outfit for the past five years.
However, I will have to find ways to occupy my time and try to keep my brain from turning to mush. Maybe write the great Anglo-American novel? Not bloody likely!
Watched the season 5 finale of Better Call Saul. Spoiler alert: Looks like there will definitely be season 6. It just gets better and better.
It’s now just gone 11pm and want to post this before I nod off.