Monday 1 June

I turned the calendar over to a new month, devoid of social engagements, holidays crossed out, the occasional Zoom meeting noted. To be fair, I am continuing with online Pilates at 10.00 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, so there is some structure to the week, and I now mostly do a longer walk once a week, but the idea of a going to the theatre, a concert, a swim…….I walked into Coulsdon early and bumped into some neighbours who I had not seen for a long time. We compared notes on our lockdown experiences, remarkably similar of course, and agreed that for younger people with full- time jobs and small children, the picture is considerably bleaker. Learning a new language on DuoLingo is proving a popular pastime for locked down retired people: an academic exercise to a large extent I suppose, as we can’t visit the countries where these languages are spoken.

After Pilates I visited the local farm shop to buy some eggs, and I always have a chat with the man who runs it. He had been swimming at Ramsgate at the weekend, and said it was a bit chilly in the sea, but OK once you were in. He swims on New Year’s Day so he is clearly hardcore. We started talking about wild swimming in this area, and he told me about Divers’ Cove near Godstone. It is a former reservoir but now open for swimming. So I decided to check on the opening hours: in other words, it is not really wild swimming but open water swimming. However, having read reams of regulations about suitable attire, parking, distancing, time limits, no stopping, I decided it was definitely not going to be much fun. Shame really, I would so much like to swim. The coast beckons shortly.

I have a confession to make. I paid money to have my oven cleaned. I always feel such a slut for admitting to this, but I mentally justify it by thinking, I don’t have a cleaning lady, I don’t have a gardener, I just have the occasional oven cleaner, and he makes such a wonderful job of it, removing the doors and knobs and all the twiddly bits which I wouldn’t be able to do, so for me, it is money well spent. Today’s guy was a newcomer, and was brought up a couple of roads away. He told me he had been at Purley Boys’ School. I asked if he was there when the legendary Dr Akers was headmaster. Oh yes, he said. I had met him, when I was working as an advisory teacher in Croydon, and once seen, never forgotten. He always wore a gown, addressed the boys by their surname, and wielded the cane till the last day it remained legal. He ran a tight ship, and never accepted that it was anything other than a grammar school, played rugby not football and was a stickler for correct uniform. But at the same time he had the boys’ welfare at heart, and could be unexpectedly kind and generous. He died not so long ago at the age of 91. Absolute old school. So that was an interesting diversion to oven cleaning.

This evening we joined some neighbours in their garden for a glass of fizz, to celebrate their Golden Wedding. No big party in these circumstances of course, but they have had numerous small celebrations so not all bad! In honour of the occasion, I wore a Charles Rennie Mackintosh silver bangle. It is a very simple design, like so many of his pieces: 2 strands of silver with a twist in the middle.

Some of you eagle-eyed blog followers will realise that I am writing this on 2 June. This is because after the fizz, I returned to watch the final episodes of “Normal People.” Ahhhhh…..Irish romance, and pure escapism. I have enjoyed it so much and I suspect the ending has left it open for a sequel. I do hope so. I am not a fan of blockbuster violent series: I prefer something where there is no shooting, stabbing and killing. Gentle diversion.

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