Ice-creams and foxes
Seven weeks down the line since the end of ‘normality’, and the end of April. April was unusually sunny, and with the trees in blossom it was a real pleasure to go for walks around the neighbourhood each day. The government has allowed everyone to take up to an hour of exercise each day in whatever form you choose to take it. Some heavy-handed police officers have apparently objected to some people’s interpretation though – banning sun-bathers, and questioning whether cyclists are actually working themselves into a sweat. Many people seem to have taken up jogging, and the parks are full of people doing press-ups, squat jumps and such. I suspect these are people who would normally spend time in a gym regularly.
The weather suddenly turned last week, becoming cold and wet, and even torrential hail on one afternoon. This put a bit a dampener on my mood even if I am spending most of the day in the house. I am still doing my morning cycle circuit and I was pleased to have broken my record, knocking it down to 16 mins 35 seconds. I felt mildly ill though for a while afterwards so since then I’ve taken it a bit easier, listening to music as I go.
The sun came out again on Saturday morning so me and my wife took the opportunity to go a bit further afield – we cycled east through Hackney (which has become a very desirable neighbourhood of London), locked our bikes up and walked out to the new Olympic park (“Queen Elisabeth Park”) in Stratford. The park was full of flowers, and at better times would have been packed with people but on this occasion it wasn’t too busy. We walked back, crossing the River Lea and the a canal, through Hackney Wick – an area that until recently was the home for artists and musicians but is now rapidly becoming very desirable, and we stopped for a cheeky ice-cream (shopping is supposed to be for essentials only, but we kidded ourselves that this was essential). We reached our bikes and cycled home via Clapton, popping in to say hello to my sister and her husband en-route and have a ‘socially-distanced chat’. When we eventually got home we’d been out for 4 ½ hours, but decided that given we hadn’t taken our exercise hours through the week this was allowed.
On our street there are a group of neighbours who hold regular impromptu street parties for any excuse. Everyone is invited, people keep their distance, and it’s very sociable, but it does feel as though it’s not quite in the spirit of the lock-down, with plates of food and drinks being handed round. Saturday’s event was a birthday party starting at 5pm that was still going 6 hours later.
Boris Johnson made his first appearance after recovering from the virus. We were told that he had been very close to death, being kept alive with litres of oxygen, and there had been discussions about what to do if he had died. This week his partner also had a baby (Boris’ seventh child I think), so quite a roller-coaster ride for him.
We’ve been chasing a young fox out of our back yard – after raising a trellis, tying wire above another trellis, tying up other gaps with string and bamboo, and spreading vinegar on the mat it likes to sleep on we seem to have encouraged the fox to hang around somewhere else, although I wouldn’t be at all surprised if its not the last we see of if him / her! It seems a bit mean, but our yard is very small and it stops us being able to leave our back door open.
Finally, I had a call a few days ago from a musician friend of mine, Duncan Hemstock, to say he had a horn section in a band he plays with and they wanted to record some of my original numbers, as a demo of what they can do. I’ve done gigs with Duncan for many years – he’s a great clarinet and sax player, and he sometimes plays with my Brass Volcanoes band which is an outlet for some of my original songs. It was quite a compliment and we’ve started making preparations for that.