30th Jan – soft boy
This month feels like it should have ended two days ago, at least. Today it has rained a lot and we spent lots of time clearing and faffing around. I baked a wheatsheaf loaf from my Paul Hollywood Bread Book. Husb said it looked a bit like an octopus. Sure it wasn’t a perfect representation of a sheaf of wheat, but I was happy with it. I enjoyed the plaiting part of it. When I was a kid my mum taught me how to plait hair. She gave me three strands of wool and set them up on a hook on a shelf by my bed for me to practice. I don’t know how it came about or why, but that’s what happened. I was probably a strange child and grownups probably worried about me: desperately soft, emotional, uninterested in most normal boy interests. Looking back primary school for me was just a series of embarrassments, crying, being told off for crying, more crying, being told I’m too soft, crying again. One time I do remember succeeding. We had to write stories and I wrote one about a tortoise who was looking for his home, he was wandering around the garden looking at rabbit holes and birds nests thinking why don’t I have a home like that? In the end he realises his home is on his back and he’d forgotten he was lucky to always have a home. The story caused a real sensation in the classroom, teachers and the other kids told me how clever I was, how brilliant the story was. A girl who sat next to me even stole my idea but tried to make it about a bird looking for its home, misunderstanding the tortoise element of the premise somewhat. Thinking about it now, I’ve recalled that memory a lot over the years, probably the first time I had positive reinforcement for writing. It seems like such a simple story that it must have already existed somewhere else. I know I didn’t plagiarise it at the time though, but maybe it was something I’d heard before and wrote it thinking it was new. I don’t know, maybe not, maybe I’m just a genius?! I used to write with fountain pens then unlike all of the other kids. I don’t know why, another thing that I did to set myself apart. When I’d finish my ink I’d go up to the teacher and ask politely for more and he’d take a little plastic ink cartridge out of his desk for me. I get a sense now that maybe I should have had my own ink cartridges instead of scrounging off the teacher all the time. I was probably doted on a bit, allowed to take liberties. A known soft boy in the school. Another time from primary school, a poet came. She made us do writing exercises and I loved it. I remember writing something like: “the tropical breeze in the Florida Keys” and she was very impressed and asked if I’d been there, of course I hadn’t but I wrote that because I loved the BBC show Holiday and always wanted to go to far off places, especially Florida, for Disney World.
31st Jan – today we walked in the rain
We sit in a precarious place and we cannot believe we are moving forward positively. The daily numbers seem to be going down slowly as the weeks have gone on. On our Friday shop there was a sense from others that people weren’t too bothered about keeping a distance. We’re the weird ones for keeping a distance and looking at people with daggers when they get too close. It’s going to take a lot of work and time for us to be okay in crowds again, in public in general. I know we need to think about that, but also bringing that up is a sign we feel it’s going to be over and I just can’t let myself believe it.
Today we walked in the rain. It was not heavy and the quiet streets made it so pleasant. The quiet streets and being under an umbrella. Walking down with the streetlamps behind us I noticed the shape of my umbrella in shadow, a squashed hexagon just like the shape of my patchwork pieces. Maybe I’ve sewn too many and now I’m seeing them everywhere.
1st Feb – quiet instead of panic is a blessing
I’m groggy from a night of intense dreams, not scary just real. I was swimming across a lake towards a castle tower, very Zelda. Then I was negotiating an Indonesian airport. Then having a second wedding when the first one was the day before.
We sit precariously in February, hoping if we don’t move or breath, things won’t get worse. I think we’re in a place where things will get better very gradually. Things often get worse very quickly, but rarely get better at the same speed. The idea of Christmas 2021 being more normal is more acceptable now, but we could not have understood or accepted that in April 2020. The weather is a steady blank white cloud sky mistiness out there. Moss on the house roofs soak up the atmosphere. A morning with nothing but quietness. No grand ambition or sense of import. Quiet instead of panic is a blessing.
I don’t know if the foxes are more brazen then before or whether they were always about and we weren’t. We’d never walk these back streets on a week night after work like this, so really, we’re the intruders. The lone foxes lollop about the streets, jump up onto garden walls and watch us without fear as we walk past. They know we’re not after them. The careful hope of the world coming back to us, even gradually, is too exciting to really think about seriously. I just hope in the end things end up better, a few days working from home every week instead of going back to five days in the office. The future is coming, not matter how slow, it’s coming.
My parents had their letters about booking their vaccines today. It’s made me giddy with anticipation, knowing they’ll have that protection will be such huge relief.
2nd Feb – off-cuts from other rain
I got a box of fabric in the post from Hobbycraft, including the wadding for the quilt. I can’t believe I’m skirting around the edges of completing this project, might be another two or three weeks, depending on how much time I can commit to it. I’d decided to try to do it in Jan 2020, but obviously it was lockdown that gave me the time and space to really take it seriously. I have spent so many hours sewing and it’s been such a pleasure. So many hours with youtube in the background as I’m sewing away, just always on this one project.
Today we have a small sharp pin prick sort of rain, I can see it on the window and if I look carefully outside against the chimney of the house across from us, I can see the strobing, rushing raindrops, tiny discarded flecks, off-cuts from other rain.
Both my parents had their first vaccines today. Honestly it’s such a relief. I cannot believe it. I’m so grateful to everyone who work so hard to do this, to make it happen as soon as this. It’s overwhelming. I know things will still take time, but this is at least the first positive news I’ve had in a long time.