Notes from the Diary, 2022

January 18th – January 24th, 2022

Hibernation. Wore the same woolly socks for days, as if in a lockdown winter. A new routine in the bathroom – pro-balance, anti-dementia – which involved cleaning my teeth standing on one leg and using the brush with my left, undominant hand. This creates ‘new neural pathways’ or so the man on the radio said.

When I did go out, took the usual pleasure in deciding what to wear, truffling through the wardrobe – it’s all exercise – in search of items hiding in there somewhere. A Guild meeting – a work-related event, no dancing – and a talk by two of the Archetypes ( members of the architecture group) about Rochester and Truro cathedrals, which made me want to go there.

Then a nasty shock from the solicitor, who told me that the housing association (with which the house has an unfortunate legal link) was threatening an innocent old lady – me! – with court proceedings. Punishment for challenging their right to impose obscure service charges. Rang my elder son in a panic and we composed a response together, but this particular dragon demands to be paid and fed and can’t be slain. It’s a battle lost, not won.

January 11th – January 17th, 2022

A nice letter from the council’s Park Department, ‘delighted’ to tell me about their plans for the open space opposite the house. They were going to plant a tennis-court-sized, ‘carbon-capturing’ – Mini Forest!

Met a friend for lunch, my choice a slice of quiche with a strange texture, which turned out to be paper – a napkin stuck, unnoticed, on a soggy bottom…The manager apologised ‘unreservedly’, which sounded a bit like Boris and co.

Put on the lanyard with its turquoise ribbon and did a spot of revision about the history and architecture, ready for a welcome-guide shift at the cathedral. I was alone on duty and there were very few visitors, one a small girl who I showed where to find some tiny sculptures in the Lady Chapel, easy to miss, of angels and a unicorn. When the people had gone and the shift was over, a moment of deep peace in the great Gothic nave – where I felt the spirit of the place and the silent solace of the stones.

January 1st – January 10th, 2022

A little lighter in the afternoons – another tiny tilt towards the sun – and on the second day, a double rainbow appeared in the sky, a bright and beautiful covenant curving over the house. But the year didn’t feel that new; some things stopped, others went on.

The pretty pink pills – the beta-blockers – didn’t agree with me, so that was the end of them. Resumed the Tai Chi. The NHS counsellor offered more sessions beyond the usual cut-off point – she’d ‘learnt a lot from me’ – but thanked her and said goodbye, promising to fill in a feedback form…

The house smelt of cheese. The present from the Enfield 2 was a hamper from Selfridges, including a French cheese so ripe its mould was escaping from the little wooden box. Far too fragrant for the fridge, so I left it out to bloom a bit more, hesitant to put it in the bin. A gift, after all; maybe the new penicillin, or a cure for Covid….

The spaced-out signs on the station platform – Stay Safe and 2 footprints – almost faded away, but masks still on the trains. 24 hours in London: Docklands and Islington. Christmas trees abandoned in the streets, prostrate on the pavement, awaiting collection. Pictures at an exhibition: Late Constable, the ‘cloud king’, at the Royal Academy.

A cold, hard look at my finances, appropriate to the weather. Could I even afford a shed south of Watford? Studying the figures and making a few calculations didn’t exactly spark joy, but glad I have enough marbles left to do so. Maybe a broomcupboard….