There are times when it feels like things are getting back to normal. A favourite place to eat opens for takeaway orders, neighbour children having birthday parties, little things like that. But then you realise despite some loosening we are still locked down and will be for who knows how much longer?
I long ago grew tired of all the emails from every business I ever had to give my address to, all offering their wise words about the situation and vowing they will return, maybe providing recipes you won’t ever try. Now as things begin to ease they are getting even more annoying. I got one today from Cineworld telling me that a gift card is the perfect Father’s Day gift. Perhaps they are right, but this is one father who won’t be going to the movies if and when the cinemas reopen. There have been numerous times these past few months when I really wished I could go to the movies with Charlie and sit there in the dark for a few hours with a large popcorn and a gallon of Pepsi Max. But the reality is I can’t see that happening for a long, long time.
So I think what I am trying to say is I might be entering another tunnel. I get really frustrated by things I can’t change. I get upset that Charlie spends most of his time playing games online with his friends from uni and doesn’t spend near enough time doing things I consider to be more important, like working on his music. If he spent the time on his music that he does playing games he’d have three albums recorded by now. But he has to want it, and I worry that he doesn’t. I vented about it to Alice, who reminded me that he is locked down too and has finished all his university coursework and is doing things he likes doing. She is right as usual. And it’s not like I am overachieving during the lockdown.
Enough moaning. We went to a walk in Bletchingley, one we used to do when we lived there more than 20 years ago. It was really nice. This is an old red phone box along the way. It no longer has a phone but it is nice that they haven’t ripped it out.
Have tried to avoid the news for the most part today, but I do know that the #BlackLivesMatter protests are continuing and in London a huge crowd protested outside the US Embassy. I only hope this doesn’t lead to more people getting Covid-19.
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.
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 pretty much been a do-nothing day. Spent a lot of time sitting in the garden and went for a walk with Alice up to Wray Common and down Gatton Road. It was even warmer today than yesterday and suddenly the leaves are starting to come out on the trees, and the flowers are start to form on the viburnum. It’s always so nice when it blooms.
Slept pretty well last night but was still awake before 6am and up before 7. Just can’t seem to sleep in these days, which is frustrating because I could sleep all day and it wouldn’t make any difference to my day. Life is like that line from the Beatles song You Never Give Me Your Money: “Oh that magic feeling, nowhere to go.” Except in a bad way.
Had another Zoom call with the family, which was really good. I hope we keep doing them when this is finally over.
Another 900+ deaths in the UK yesterday and the total is approaching 10,000. And 2,000 in a single day the US. But at least Trump’s ratings are still high.
Charlie’s now been home for a month. It seems like a year since he came home for the weekend on Friday the 13th and I took the photo below on our way home on the Thameslink. What a different world we live in now.
So the plan to get this written earlier in the day has not been a huge success, but at least I have managed to stay awake past 11pm.
Woke up too early as usual and in a better mood, not as usual. Decided to stick with the strategy of keeping busy so decided I’d try to make some bread. It’s all the rage among the lockdown crowd. The other day I found a small tin of dried active yeast in the cupboard, left over from when “Other Charlie” was here last year and made cinnamon rolls for us all. Unfortunately, I think the yeast had long since lost the will to live so my hope of producing a couple of nice loaves of white bread ended up looking like ciabattas that were the weight of a tyre iron. But they tasted nice. I’d like to try again with fresh yeast but the stuff is like gold dust.
Went for a walk mostly around Priory Park. I wanted to go for a run but had been put off by a story I saw about researchers saying runners left a trail of breath 20 metres behind them. This later turned out to be bogus research. So maybe a run tomorrow.
Spent the evening watching another White Sox replay and a Radiohead concert from Dublin during the Kid A tour in 2000. It was OK but not great. I much prefer Arras 2017 (below). Would give anything to travel back in time to that summer evening in France.
It has been a beautiful spring Saturday. Alice and I went for a walk to the Clears and then up to the footpath to the North Downs Way. In normal times we would have carried on along it and back down Pilgrim’s Way. But there was too much risk of running in to other people and not having enough room to stay far enough away from them, so we headed back the way we came. This below was the view along the way. The bump just right of centre is Leith Hill, the highest point in Surrey at a breathtaking 297 metres above sea level!
Little else was accomplished today. Just trying to keep safe and keep it together. Growing slightly annoyed with Charlie spending most of his time in his room. He is working but also wasting time playing computer games. He’s happy, so I guess that is what really matters.
It is supposed to be even warmer tomorrow so might have to get the chairs out and sit in the garden and watch all the planes not going over. I am determined to get a run in. We’ll see about that.
I think when we look back on this event today will be seen as the day the novelty of being under lockdown finally wore off and shit got real. Deaths in Britain were up by 31% on the previous day, and now total 2,352. The government seems to be totally without a plan. They will almost certainly rise by perhaps another thousand tomorrow. And back home (I still think of America as home) things are about to get far worse than most people could even have begun to imagine just a few weeks ago. It’s hard not to think that both countries are being led to their doom by morons.
Thankfully we all remain well. Charlie applied for his student loan and maintenance grant for next year. Fingers crossed that this is all over and we are starting to get back to normal by the time his fall term starts in September. He’s planning for the future and still studying hard. He’s an inspiration to us all.
We went for a walk today and passed through the cemetery at Reigate parish church, where there are almost certainly people buried who died in the 1918 pandemic. As I said at the start of this entry, the novelty of this situation has definitely worn thin.
Charlie holds a copy of his GCSE results, which were absolutely brilliant! 8A*s, 2As and a bonus C in Astronomy. We are so proud of how he coped with a heavy load of exams and produced such great results!
Charlie ready to leave for school on the last day he will ever have to wear a school uniform, and 12 years ago on his first day of wearing one.
We made our 16th annual trip to our favourite bluebell woods today. The bluebells were beautiful, one of the better years for them. Not sure how many more years we’ll be able to get Charlie to agree to come and stand in the same spot though!