Sunday, 8th March, 2020
The world is full of virus. It is on the streets, in the newspapers, on the broadcast media and the digital media. It is talked about everywhere. I found this statistical probabilities table published yesterday and breathed a sigh of relief that I was not yet 70. Could have been a death sentence.….
We are determined to follow our travel plans until something else stops us. Really only cancellation of flights will do that.
Outside, Spring is getting on with its job in spite of the weather rather than because of it. The plants around the front of the house know they only get one chance each year to impress and have gone for it.
Who knows what the year will bring. We need to make the best of it and that means going away and exploring the world in all its glories.
Monday, 9th March, 2020
Catherine is 65 today! Can you believe it? Mum gave many members of our huge family affectionate nick names. Liz was temporarily Lizzy Dripping, Michael was Mynel (presumably because he couldn’t pronounce his own name.) Bob was Boggart (Boggart is one of numerous related terms used in English folklore for either a household spirit or goblin aka bogeyman.) Catherine was known, amongst other things and only temporarily, as Katy-Cush. I thought it was just a lightly alliterative term of endearment.
I’ve done some research and I think I know where this came from. Our family were avid listeners to The Home Service on the BBC in the 1950s -1960s. The Archers, of course, was essential listening for some. Sing Something Simple with Cliff Adams and the Adams Singers on The Light Programme was a weekly source of group singing. As Mum had so many young children on the production line of that era, Listen with Mother was a favourite.
This was too late for Catherine to be listening but Mum was probably dealing with child No 7 – Caroline – by then and been attracted by the name. I can’t remember if I had a nickname but it certainly wouldn’t have been complimentary.
Tuesday, 10th March, 2020
Although I think this is generally true of me, it is a reaction heightened by Retirement. I am talking about the patterns of life we fall in to. I remember driving the 15 miles to work across the Pennines each day and, after a while of that action, arriving at School without much memory of the drive. The 30 mins had been spent in my head, planning the day, anticipating the evening, dreaming of the future and ignoring the present.
In retirement and without the varying demands of the day, we get drawn in to patterns of activity which occupy the space of the day normally filled by employment. We wake up at 6.00 am with the Today programme.. We get up at 7.00 am. We have out tea and orange juice with the Today programme. We discuss the jobs/activities we hope to accomplish in the following few hours. We leave for the Health Club at 11.45 am and exercise for 80 mins with Politics Live. Maybe 30 mins swimming outside followed by 30 mins in the Spa and we are driving home about 2.45 pm where we cook our meal. This is our modus vivendi.
Although we are aware of this narrowing regimen, generally, it pleases us. We do sometimes feel embarrassed about it. However, we break out by travelling for a good proportion of the year However, the reassuring warmth of our routine means that any spanner in the works can be really annoying. This morning I got up to find all the mini-Sky Q boxes had lost connection with the hub. I could get no reception at all. I had to charge round the house disconnecting all the boxes, powering them all back up and then getting them to talk to the main box. Fortunately, this is now much easier through the WPS (wireless protected setup) button. Even so, the gentle, morning routine was destroyed.
The thing is, we all (or many of us) go through these stages. I particularly like this development of David as he transitioned from ‘bearded like the pard‘ student to young, worker starting out on the next 40-50 years of his life in employment. The other thing is, it makes me feel so old and left behind.
Wednesday, 11th March, 2020
Out early this morning. Pauline has a appointment at the Beauty Clinic. I am reduced to walking the streets. Rustington is a lovely but retiring town of gardens, colourful planters, old fashioned shops and banks and lots of old people. It is rather a ‘chintzy’ little place. It is within walking distance of the beach that so many of the old people retired to. Quite a few shops that have disappeared from very modern High Streets still feature here. Going in to Boots, W.H.Smith’s, etc. feels a bit like the old days.
Anyway, after Pauline reappeared, we went on to Littlehampton Pier which runs along the junction between the River Arun and the sea. The Riverside Fish cabin had been recently stocked up with fresh and locally caught fish and so had the delivery lorries going off to the Surrey markets.
We have been discussing it for a few days but finally made a momentous decision today. We are going to keep away from the Health Club for a while. We have noted over the past few days that everything we do brings us close to other members. There are so many surfaces, handles, etc. that we touch that avoiding potential contamination is impossible. While we are not the most susceptible, we are aging primates and need to taken sensible precautions.
One of our exercise ‘friends’/companions on a regular basis is a BA Air Hostess who specialises in the Heathrow-Hong Kong route. As China’s virus epidemic exploded, we had the difficult problem of how to react to her. Should we stop and talk? Should we keep our distance? The Chinese experience of Coronavirus transmission is that gymnasiums have proved fertile ground for the reasons I’ve suggested. Today, we have walked by the sea in the morning and round the village in the afternoon. We will build that in to our daily routine for a while. Even so, I’ve missed my gym visit today.
Thursday, 12th March, 2020
We were supposed to be going to Yorkshire at the end of March and to France almost immediately afterwards. Both trips were using IHG Group hotels. I have been a Gold Card member for a few years now. Today, they contacted me to say I could cancel unconditionally in the light of the pandemic virus. We are thinking it over this evening. It affects March/April.
Today, we went out to Elmer Beach for a walk. Last time we went, the tide was out and our walk was absolutely wonderful. Today, we hadn’t checked the tide tables. The tide was in and angry. We couldn’t walk much and returned home after a short visit.
We spent an hour walking round our village. The wind was quite strong and cold today although the temperature reading was 12C/54F. At least we did our target for the day.
Friday, 13th March, 2020
Friday 13th – doesn’t feel auspicious. We have begun to retract from our year of travel. We had a week in Yorkshire in March/April and a week in France at the end of April already booked. Our hotels were through my IHG membership. Yesterday, they wrote to me to say that I was entitled to cancel without penalty because of the pandemic. Having considered it over night and erring on the side of caution, I cancelled both this morning. We will continue with our bookings for Tenerife in May and November as long as government advice doesn’t exclude it. We will probably make a one day shopping trip to France in the next week.
Our alternative to a gym workout today has been walk down to the beach. It takes about 30 mins to walk down to Angmering-on-Sea beach. It is a pleasant walk through the village, past Gladstone Cottages, over …
… the railway. Next we walk through the Kingston Private Estate and down to the beach.
When we got to the beach, it was largely isolated. Occasionally, a dog and walker appeared but, mainly, we had it to ourselves.
After 30 mins pavement pounding, I was more tired than 40 mins on a jogging machine. We rested on a beach bench and enjoyed the sea air before setting off for home.
Saturday, 14th March, 2020
Doctors’ surgery phone this morning to tell me not to go in for my annual review. They will phone me instead. Suits me fine. Our exercise today is a walk to East Preston beach. It is beautiful today, sunny and deserted.
East Preston thinks of itself as a ‘select’ part of the area. In reality, it is ‘old select’. Faded but with fading money, East Preston is dissolving in to coastal retirement. It features private estates which are not strictly ‘private’ but have struggled to maintain that aura. All the ‘private’ signs sit juxtaposed with ‘public footpath’ signs.
I was absolutely shattered when we arrived home and my watch indicated that we had walked 7 miles. We griddled swordfish steaks outside in the warm, sunny garden and sank in to relaxation. Missing the football already.