Promoting hair growth

I see from Twitter that a lot of older people (80-90) are determined to get their hair done. Men and women across the land feel that the worst thing in the world is to cancel a hairdresser’s appointment.

My first thought was they are very lucky to have a hairdresser to go to. Mine shut up shop as soon as the lockdown was announced. Like most of Farnham, actually.

I do realise that the older one gets, the more important scheduling and routine becomes. I know I suffer from it. It makes the girls happy but, as Mirinda keeps reminding me, it’s important to just do things off the cuff as well.

I struggle if something is planned, particularly if it has been officially logged in the calendar we share, and is then cancelled or rearranged. Being in the calendar makes it sacrosanct.

Of course, during this time of lockdown, everything has changed. Appointments are being cancelled left, right, up, down and centre. This is the new Appointment Anarchy.

As far as hair is concerned, I came across this ad today while I was researching an Australian soldier. I was instantly struck by the copious amounts of hair on this woman’s head. It’s an excellent example of how advertising seeks to convince you that you’re inadequate.

[In a literal side note…I also see that poor William George Miller died when he was kicked in the head by a horse. I’d like to think Mr Miller had a full head of hair because of his use of Cuticura soap. Though no amount of hair growth will stop a horses hoof.]

I couldn’t resist digging a little deeper.

It seems that one Mrs Darling, the wife of a missionary, was a great advocate of Cuticura. In 1908 she wrote a letter to the company claiming it was responsible for the most amazing improvements to her children’s heads. She was pretty keen on the ointment which she maintained, banished dandruff for good.

Her daughter had the most appalling dandruff. Mrs Darling seriously thought she was going to lose all her hair. After a single application of the miracle ointment followed by a wash with the shampoo, her daughter’s hair started to emerge flakeless and luxuriant.

She was so pleased with the product that she insisted the company print her letter. Of course, they did. I am a bit surprised that the wife of a missionary didn’t just ask god for a bit of follicular help.

I have to wonder how we still have bald people when Cuticura was so brilliant at promoting hair growth. And how come there’s still dandruff?

The company still exists (Cuticura UK) but no longer claims to promote hair growth. These days it’s all about hand gel and sanitiser. This makes me wonder what they started advertising during the Great Flu Epidemic of 1918.

Cuticura itself started in 1865 and ‘has been trusted by families for over 150 years.

I’m not sure that the schoolgirl complexion would necessarily go with my beard. And, anyway, who uses soap on their face? This seems a bit odd.

The company responsible for this miracle of hair re-grower was Potter Drug and Chemical. The company was originally Weeks and Potter of Boston which developed and sold medicines and other magic potions.

The name may have been created by a man called George Robert White who started working for the Weeks and Potter as a child and, in true American fashion, eventually owned it. He also left $50,000 in his will to be used to build a memorial to himself after his death.

Nice, but is it worth $50,000?
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:George_Robert_White_Memorial_-_Boston,_MA_-_DSC02616.JPG

While clearly big on self promotion, George also left a sizeable trust fund to the city of Boston ($5,000,000 in 1922) to be used for charitable concerns. He was actually widely known for his philanthropy and sounded like an all round nice guy.

As nice as he undoubtedly was, his charitable fund was only available for projects to make the city of Boston beautiful. This beautification was intended to give the poor something pretty to look at while they were starving…I guess.

I’m also not totally convinced by the Angel Statue or the reference to soggy bread.

Just like not everyone was convinced by the Cuticura claims. In 1914, having put the soap to numerous tests, Good Housekeeping magazine wrote that ‘Excessive claims made for Cuticura as to the prevention and treatment of skin eruptions, are not warranted by its composition.’

The company also claimed they had a cure for syphilis but this turned out to be highly unlikely. Particularly if people were spreading it on their heads.

Here’s a lovely piece about the wild claims for Cuticura. With apologies for stealing their image but I couldn’t resist it.

Image from: https://longstreet.typepad.com/thesciencebookstore/2008/11/manly-purity-beauty-1889.html

I rather fancy the unique anti-pain plaster.

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A sign of small wellies

The Lion and Lamb Yard was full of patiently queuing Sub 65’s as I sat reading a bit of Naomi Klein (That Changes Everything). Like the non-elderly, non-infirm, I was waiting for the clock to tick to 9 o’clock.

I was sat on a bench as the queue grew. Mind you, it didn’t have many people in it. The social distancing being practised meant the line stretched all the way down to Cote.

I didn’t need to look at the time. Normal shopping commenced with the line rapidly disappearing. I closed my book and left the Yard.

This was packed barely minutes before this was taken

The reason I was waiting was not for shopping – I’d already been in during the Oldies Hour. I needed to go to WH Smith to use the Post Office. I didn’t want to but needs must. And what a surprise it was.

I really dislike WH Smith in Farnham. The staff are not very good or helpful, it’s on the Borough and the aisles get a bit like a dodgem course when one is wheeling a trolley. Which reminds me…a lady was very complimentary about my trolley this morning. It still turns heads, it seems.

Going to WH Smith did mean I had the opportunity to check out the new footpath at the bottom of Castle Street. The guys working on it must be pleased about the lockdown because they haven’t had to contend with quite so many pedestrians and cars.

The reason I was having to head for WH Smith was because last week I made a photobook for mum and had to post it. The photobook turned out really well. It was just full of photographs taken around our house and garden with a few of the park thrown in. I thought she’d like to flick through and jog her memories a bit.

As it turned out, my trip to WH Smith was great. There were three customers in the whole place including me. I was in and out in about five minutes. All easy peasy. Like the footpath workers, I was rather glad about the lockdown.

Back at home, most of the day was spent researching people from Epsom.

Then, late in the day, we took our exercise by taking the girls up to Crondall for a walk around the fields.

Social distancing

We did see quite a few family groups and couples, most with dogs, but we all kept our distance while exchanging hearty greetings. Even Freya was allowed to fraternise given her latest season has ended.

The walk was absolutely glorious. Big sky and fields, a tractor ploughing one field while crops starting to emerge in another. Only this morning I watched a short Twitter video from a farmer who said that they were having to do a Spring planting because of all the rain at the back end of last year. I guess this chap was doing the same.

Our walk was exactly what we needed. It helped Mirinda deal with the day spent inside and it gave me a bit of exercise.

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Staying home

I didn’t leave the house and garden today. I’m restricting myself to shopping for two days at a time rather than my usual every day. Perhaps it makes a difference at Waitrose, I don’t know, but I’d like to think so.

So, instead, my day was spent mostly in housework, garden pottering and some research in between. (Mirinda did take the girls for a walk at 5pm but I had to start cooking at 6pm so I didn’t go today.)

Being stuck at home when the weather is so glorious is hardly a chore. Particularly when the colours are starting to appear.

First camellia

I managed to finish filling the new raised bed made from the old wooden planter. Mirinda is thinking of putting some broom in it (that’s the plant and not the sweeping implement). It will have to wait for her to find some online. But it’s ready.

Of course, being a Thursday, the line came down late in the day. Mirinda was a bit concerned with it being up all week (like it normally is) until I assured her it would be gone for the weekend. In normal times, I put it up on Tuesday (when she leaves for work) and take it down on Thursday (when she returns).

She thinks it ruins the look of the garden.

I made sure she realised that it is her encroaching on my household routine and some things will not change. The washing line rota is definitely one of them. Particularly given the amazing weather.

It was surprising that we didn’t eat on the terrace at lunchtime. Mirinda claimed it was still a bit chilly. Seems a waste of some perfectly good sunshine if you ask me. I know I’d be eating outside if it was just me and the girls.

Speaking of the girls, I think that Freya has finished her season. Tomorrow I will know for sure because I washed the waffle blanket she sleeps on. No stains tomorrow means no more season.

Lunch was a normal Chez Gaz salad with the remaining half of the paleo loaf.

Normally I put a few balls of frozen spinach in the loaf – this is my addition to the recipe – but thewidespread panic purchase of frozen spinach has made that impossible. Not a problem, I thought, I’ll use fresh.

While using fresh spinach made no difference to the taste, it did make the loaf a bit greener in places. Rather off-putting if you’d never had it before.

Not that it put us off. It was all gone by dinner time.

For dinner I made pollo al chilindron which was lovely though I should have made some cauli-broc to go with it. There was rather a lot of oil to soak up. I must remember that for next time.

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Building a new routine

I have to remember each day to let Mirinda know which one it is. She’s used to going into town, working, going to the flat, having long, boring, face-to-face meetings, etc, etc. Now her routine is a little more static. It’s up to me to be her calendar.

That’s not to say that my routine hasn’t had to be amended. I’m used to a house with just me and the puppies. An extra person, and one who’s working, does tend to impact on the home maker routine. Particular when it involves unscheduled baking, like it did today. Mirinda asked for a paleo loaf. What could I do?

Another evolving situation that mucks up my routine is the almost daily changes at Waitrose.

Today’s rule is that they only allow a maximum of 45 people in the shop at one time. Once the maximum is reached, they operate a strict one in, one out protocol. This sits alongside the old and infirm getting the first hour.

I have to say, it makes shopping the delight it normally is with few people, fast checking out and full shelves.

Before gaining entrance, the new rule meant joining a big queue outside the main doors. I grabbed a trolley and stood behind a man who was completely covered, head to toe. His outfit included what looked like an industrial dust mask, to avoid any contact with anything airborne.

I guess he may have some underlining health issue. For his sake, I hope so because he was dressed for Arctic conditions and it was not that cold. Still, one of the great things about social distancing is the fact that you are unlikely to smell other people’s body odour from two metres away.

The trolley was very handy for the social distancing rule. It kept everyone the correct distance without causing people to drift closer. It was a bit annoying when the guy in charge started telling people they shouldn’t collect a trolley first. I think he was trying to keep the line of people shorter but all he did was bring people closer together.

I’m not blaming him. The situation is continually changing and it is all very new to all of us. I think Waitrose is doing an excellent job and I have nothing but praise for them.

My wait in the queue was not very long. It took about ten minutes for me to get from the jewellers before Orvis to the head of the queue. The very well behaved and largely cheerful queue. It may have been a little less cheerful had it been raining.

The poor lion, which is normally crawling with kids, has been given a bit of a rest. It’s rare to see it devoid of laughing, screaming, licking children.

I’m fairly certain that the lion always has germs on it. Kind of like the way it always has kids on it. I’d be a bit concerned that my kids were not building up an immunity through contact. Still, I don’t have kids, so what do I know?

I managed to get everything I needed for the next two days and trundled my trolley home.

Mirinda had Skype and phone meetings all day while I pottered about. Then, after lunch, we headed up to Hankley with the dogs for our Period of Allowed Exercise.

It’s good that the places we walk them are big and usually quite empty because social distancing is not difficult. Except for the dogs. They don’t get the social distancing thing at all.

Actually, the walk around Hankley is a new one that Mirinda found a while back. It includes some lovely views across the MOD land as well as a trig point. As Mirinda said, it’s almost as good as one with a container in it. I suggested that while I do love a trig point, I’m fairly certain it’s a long way behind the possibility of running into a container in heathland.

There were a few individual family groups with their dogs who all kept their distance. We are very lucky to have such amazing spaces to relieve the boredom of the lockdown. Not for the first time, I felt very sorry for people in one bedroom flats in cities.

Back at home, I made lamb and pistachio rissoles with English asparagus and ribbon cabbage.

As I ate the asparagus (I love English asparagus) it occurred to me that my favourite vegetables were not ones I had growing up. At some stage I tasted asparagus, spinach, olives, etc and was overwhelmed with the deliciousness of them. I wonder if I’d like them so much if I’d had them as a child? Mind you, I still love broccoli, cheese and peas.

English asparagus is the best!

Regarding food matters, I follow quite a few farmers on twitter. One of my favourites is Joanne Pile. She regularly tweets photos of her cows. Today she was in her tractor and made a video. Here she is:

An amazing woman.

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End of eggs

In all the excitement of yesterday’s unexciting post, I forgot to mention the fight we witnessed at Frensham Little Pond yesterday. It was all over social distancing in a strange kind of way. It also caused quite a ruckus.

The pond has two resident swans. They feel that the entire pond is their private property and they tend to see off any other swans stupid enough to land on it. I reckon it’s the same swans we’ve always seen but Mirinda claims the original ones would be dead and these are yet another couple in the never ending natural ownership rules that govern the world of swans.

Today, rather than the couple, we saw only one. She was in a little pondette surrounded by rather dopey looking geese. At first we thought they were Canadian but, given their dumb expressions, I think they probably came from the White House.

Anyway, the swan was not happy with the geese and kept going for them. She swept through the water like a WWI battle cruiser, lowering the battering beak at each attack, sweeping the geese aside.

Not that the geese seemed particularly bothered. They would just move out of the her way and blithely float back once the coast was clear. There was no flying, just floating and dodging.

I thought I’d videoed it. I didn’t. I took a photo instead. Because I’m stupid.

Mirinda thought the swan was possibly protecting a clutch of eggs.

Speaking of eggs…it was Richard’s last delivery today. He handed over our final half dozen almost with a tear in his eye. He said he’d be back as soon as the lockdown was over. Rather annoying but perfectly understandable.

Things were pretty much the new normal today with Mirinda working from home and Emma taking full advantage of it.

I rang mum first thing (I didn’t go shopping and couldn’t visit the gym) and she was very sleepy. Denise had told me that she had been prescribed antipsychotic drugs because of her mood swings so I attributed her sleepiness to that. Denise said she hadn’t started taking them yet.

She couldn’t really have been sleepy from over activity. The care home is under lockdown conditions and they are basically being told to keep to themselves and in their rooms as often as possible. Of course, that was what mum said. The truth is not necessarily the same.

Still, we had a nice chat even though it was mostly about the virus and the First World War research I’m doing.

While chatting to mum, I noticed that Emma has decided we put the raised bed in especially for her.

I can’t blame her. With the glorious sunny weather we’re having, the raised bed is probably lovely and warm. She often lies on the path but I guess, being raised, the soil is warmer.

While happy with the garden improvements, Emma (and Freya) was much happier when we took off for Farnham Heath for our daily bout of exercise.

This is one of the lockdown rules. We can go out for essential shopping, prescription drugs, helping the elderly and infirm, the doctor and for one exercise session. This exercise session can include walking the dog(s).

The instruction, however, does not indicate how long it can be. A lot of people are claiming that means you can go out at 8am and get back at 6pm. Others wonder how it will be policed. Perhaps people should get a stamp each time they leave the house. Also, if one goes shopping on foot (like me) is that also their exercise for the day?

So many questions and so few answers.

Our walk was lovely apart from the woman walking her dog while constantly on the phone. This meant that her dog kept harassing us and she had no idea because her call was way more important. The dog needed to learn some social distancing.

Of course I don’t blame the dog. This was definitely a case of nurture not nature.

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Laundry as art

This morning, Waitrose was almost back to normal. There were a few more people than usual but no great crowds of queuing under 65’s outside while us ancients happily picked and packed. It was all most civilised and greatly welcomed.

I did read a disturbing statistic that food waste has increased 30% due to people throwing away food that they panic bought a fortnight ago. Presumably they are also using more toilet roll than is strictly necessary.

While it was all rather more pleasant than it has been of late (the weather helped) my trip to Waitrose did throw up this rather sad sight.

Closed for the duration

The woman in the photo is a regular – she gets a coffee before work every day – but clearly didn’t get the memo. I had a notification on Instagram last night regarding the closing of Starbucks. At least I was prepared.

I passed a lot of people in the park on the way home. Most of them observed social distancing by moving onto the grass. They would then make a big effort to say good morning and smile. I think this is in order for people not to think they are being rude by keeping their distance. Mirinda observed this later at Frensham and thinks it may become a new kind of social etiquette.

I accompanied Mirinda and the girls to walk around Frensham Little Pond after lunch and it was glorious. There were a few family groups and couples out but no large groups. I’m wondering if this will change as the weather warms.

The view from Carmen’s bench

There were a few iffy moments when I had to pick Freya up (she’s still in season) but otherwise it was very pleasant and good to fill our lungs with fresh air and ourselves with vitamin D.

Vitamin D was in plentiful supply today as the sun remained beaming and the sky drenching blue. The washing line worked overtime today with loads of clothes flapping around in the slight breeze.

My yukata looking all arty on the line

While obviously the Great Isolation of 2020 will prove a major disaster for the world’s economy, at least the weather is good.

At 8pm, the prime minister announced that we were now in lockdown.

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Days of sunshine and washing

One good thing about this plague we’re going through at the moment is the general lack of commercial aircraft. The sky is almost clear, no contrails, no silver jets, no jet engine noise. It’s almost as good as when the Iceland volcano erupted.

Mind you, I mentioned it to Mirinda today after I returned from Waitrose and suddenly noticed, a long way up, a tiny silver dart, a white puff spewing out behind it. Mind you, we regularly have Lear jets flying over our garden – I think they use my office as a turning beacon. They come from Southampton and Farnborough airports and can be a bit annoying.

Obviously, any aircraft noise we get here is miniscule compared to somewhere like Richmond. I only hope the effect of reduced flights is good for them in a much bigger way.

Of course, we still get the Chinooks, the police chopper and single engine propeller planes but none of them are nearly as bad as the jets. Okay, the Chinooks can be quite annoying to the point where we have to pause whatever we’re watching until they’ve flown off.

But there was very little sky action today and the sky was blue as blue can be.

Which made an otherwise annoying day rather pleasant. I only mean annoying in terms of the new way we all spend our lives now. Wearing latex gloves to shop. Avoiding people on the path by walking on the grass. Having to cook every day and night.

Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever had to cook every day and night before. I have found it quite challenging. It would be fine if we ate the same dull thing all the time but, unfortunately, Chez Gaz prides itself on freshness and variety.

Tonight, for instance was pork with green butter – the best crackling I think I’ve ever made – and tomorrow will be bolognaise with courgetti spaghetti. Tuesday will be salmon and avocado (my signature dish) and Wednesday…well, I’m not really that good at planning yet. Mind you, three days is a bit of an advance on my usual one.

I suppose I’d better say something about the queue at Waitrose.

While it was orderly and not feeling like it was about to explode into bloody violence, it was very long. Not for the oldies, of course, but for everyone else who decided to shop first thing on a Sunday morning.

As I watched the queue grow during my shop, I wondered what sort of mayhem would be unleashed at 11am when they were allowed in. I shivered and, not for the first time, thanked my parents for having me when they did.

I noticed on twitter this morning that someone had the bright idea of posting photos of full shelves in the supermarkets. He reasoned that we have had far too many empty shelves filling our timelines. There’s too much negative bile flooding the online world at the moment so here’s my full shelves. Naturally it’s my favourite aisle.

Back at home, Mirinda spent a lot of time in the greenhouse tending her babies while I pottered around. I planted up a couple of refugee aquilegias from a bottomless bucket, moved a rotting old wooden planter to the Crazy Bed for use as a raised bed and finally moved the two spare steps into new spots. It was very satisfying.

I also managed to research a couple of golfers from Epsom and add them to the SGW website. Here’s Gordon Charles Duffus, for instance.

Also, the day was so splendid, I put up the washing line for the first time this year and managed a couple of loads.

Good times.

Emma praying to her ball
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The oldies hour

Just to show that there are other deaths unrelated to the plague…Kenny Rogers died today aged 81. Cause of death has not been announced but it would appear it was not the virus. Perhaps it was too many weddings. He was married five times.

But, back in the plague drenched world of Covud-19, we went to the garden centre this afternoon. Probably not a good idea but we were very careful. There were quite a few people around but we managed to be socially distanced from them.

I noted one family group (mum, dad, two kids) where the father was carrying the youngest around. He had a bit of a cough on her head at one stage. He also touched a lot of plants. I managed to avoid him, his family and the plants.

Interesting to note there has obviously been a bit of panic buying in the veg seedlings area.

They might be optimistic about having any customers midweek. Still, whoever cleared this lot out is obviously in for the long haul. Mind you, it’s a bit more useful than toilet rolls.

And along the lines of panic buying, our Waitrose has decreed that the first hour of shopping will be reserved for the over 65’s. I have to admit that it felt a bit like the most vulnerable all together in order to isolate the least vulnerable but, hey, I wasn’t arguing when I was waved through.

The mood outside the doors was flickering on the edge of annoyance. I guess turning up at opening time only to discover that you’re going to have to hang around for an hour, clutching your trolley, isn’t going to make anyone’s day. And, by the time I left with my normal day’s shopping, the mood was starting to feel somewhat less than civilised.

I did laugh when my beer was age checked by one of the older staff. Considering the age restrictions in place, it would be fairly obvious that everyone shopping at the time was well over the legal drinking age. Still, rules is rules.

Mirinda had a couple of Skype sessions back at home. Fi was feeling a bit stressed and anxious (she is a nurse after all) and Sophie fancied a chat over a coffee. I pottered happily away in the kitchen.

For lunch I knocked up a frittata with stuff I had in the fridge. It was proclaimed delicious.

I had a WhatsApp chat with Tracey and all is well in Coffs though she’s worried because she works in Aged Care. And Bob is on the cusp of deciding to move to Queensland for the duration. We both think this is an excellent idea.

The weather was lovely today though the wind was chilly. And, late on, I realised I’d almost missed the crossover from winter to spring.

Trundling to Waitrose

For some reason, it was decided that the government press conference, a time for them to let everyone know what’s happening, was to be moved from 5pm to the early afternoon. This meant that when I turned the BBC 24 hour news on, I was confronted with Donald Trump droning on about…well, who knows. It was all a bit too droney to be listened to and remaining awake.

How does a government expect to fill the population with confidence when it just changes things like this? Also, how on earth are we supposed to follow any sort of guidance when we don’t know when to watch?

While some aspects are clearly annoying, the press conferences have at least filled us in on what’s happening at the top of the tree. Now we will return to ignorance. Of course, Boris Johnson doesn’t work on weekends so he didn’t turn up anyway. But surely that’s all the more reason top watch.

Away from Coronavirus, I see that Boris Johnson’s father Stanley has applied for French citizenship. That’s no big thing except when you realise what a vociferous advocate for Brexit he has been.

Sometimes the hypocrites really piss me off.

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The world has gone mad

The day has finally arrived that everyone thought wouldn’t. This afternoon, at the nightly news conference, our prime minister announced that the government wanted all cafes, pubs, clubs and restaurants to close. Also theatres and gyms. And anywhere else the masses congregate. It was a hard statement to make. It was almost dragged out of him.

According to Twitter, the pubs in London instantly filled up for the Last Hurrah. It reminded me of old Fred and the six o’clock swill.

Old Fred was chap I worked with in the building trade long, long ago. He used to regularly drink at a pub in The Rocks. One day a film producer came in and chatted to the regulars. They wanted to use the pub in a film and needed a load of ‘real’ people as extras.

They were paying a bit of pocket money so Fred happily agreed.

The film was Caddie (1976) and was set in the 1920’s when pubs closed at 6pm. The bit that included Fred was the memorable six o’clock swill. This was the reaction by serious drinkers at the bell signalling last orders. They would down as much cold, fizzy beer as they possibly could before one of two things happened. They were thrown out or they threw up.

Fred, notably, was sat at the bar when the clock approached the hour. He ordered another schooner and knocked it back. As the bell started he threw up the beer and then, recovering, ordered another.

Caddie was also memorable for Jacki Weaver (as Caddie) saying “Life’s a bugger!” which is something I often quote in my head when I see bad things happening but want to be all philosophical about it.

Like the closure of cafes, pubs, clubs and restaurants. And gyms. Which makes me very glad I decided to go to the gym this morning. I almost didn’t but something alerted me to the ill wind approaching. So I did.

And, being a Friday, the Noizee Boyzz were there. This is a group of four mid twenties lads who don’t seem able to speak below a shout. They encourage each other on a machine then swap around. They also yell and shout about sport though not so much sport today.

Nero’s was quite full this morning because both Starbucks and Costa have decided to have only a take away service. After this afternoon’s announcement, Nero’s will be the same. Therefore, this may be the final photo of the footpath in progress.

An old couple sitting behind me were complaining that the Poundshop has stopped taking cash. The woman then suddenly started coughing and complaining at the same time. Lots of people stopped whatever they were doing to watch, deciding whether they should run out of the cafe. There was a mass intake of breath.

The old couple must have felt the mood in the room as they left soon after.

After a coffee (or two) I had an optician’s appointment and went along half expecting it to be cancelled. They were just very, very careful.

My vision hasn’t changed and the super hi-tech scan shows the progress over the last four years has not shown anything to be too concerned about. I think I’ve mentioned before how much I love the scanning equipment. The results are amazing.

Waitrose was pretty amazing as well. Because I was later than usual, I was astonished at the empty fruit and veg aisles. It was like the locusts had been in and eaten everything in their path. There was still isolated shoppers, looking to buy anything they could.

In saying that, the fish counter was fine and Debbie served me some delicious cod loin for tonight’s dinner. I also managed to score the last fennel bulb. How bad is it when there’s only one fennel bulb left? I thought I was one of the few people who buy them.

I do wonder if the panic buyers know what to do with some of the stuff they are shoving into their trolleys. I fear there may be lots of rotting fennel in the weeks to come.

As I wandered around Waitrose, a lot of conversations I overheard were mostly to do with the world having gone mad. I doubt any of them really remember the war so this is all as new to them as it is to me. The world is ill prepared and is, I fear, skirting the edges of insanity. I do worry about the Americans panic buying guns.

In the lane I walk through from the gym to Castle Street, there stands a lone magnolia. It is surrounded by small businesses and looks glorious for the many people who pass it each day. Like ours, it is out now in all its glory. Sadly there’s not so many people to see it.

In this time of craziness, it’s important to take note of the beauty that remains and continues to brighten random corners of the world. It’s a reminder that everything isn’t completely mad.

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The Great Isolation of 2020

I have been watching the daily press conferences. It would appear that our prime minister is bored with them after only three. He’d lost count, asking the gathered reporters how many there’d been. When all we need is strong, decisive leadership, we get a buffoon who can’t count beyond two.

How come people who believe that their god has a plan, are scared to gather together in churches?

While the daily press conferences show that we don’t have a prime minister who cares about the country like he does the insurance industry; while they indicate we have a prime minister with few prime minister skills; there is one thing that keeps me constantly amused. That’s the deaf translators in the corner of the TV. I have no idea if they’re as funny to the deaf but they regularly have me in stitches.

In today’s briefing, apart from bluff and bluster, the government still didn’t announce wholesale closures of pubs, clubs, restaurants, etc, places where people gather. And because of this, it seems that pubs, clubs, restaurants, etc in London are booming. Business is great in this time of turmoil. A bit like profiteers making money selling single sheets of toilet paper for £5 each.

One positive aspect from the coronavirus is the increase in milkman deliveries. It seems a lot of people have suddenly discovered they can get their milk delivered by a milkman. Covid-19 is good for someone. And long may it continue after this crisis is just a memory.

I went to the gym this morning where social distancing is getting easier by the day. There were only four people in the whole place and all spread over the two floors. It felt like I had the place to myself. It was bliss.

Likewise at Neros where the only people sitting together were related or well known to each other. It was delightfully quiet again except for the concrete cutting going on outside in Castle Street on the footpath.

Waitrose was more crowded than normal but not as bad as yesterday though the shelves are getting less crowded as well. I took a stroll up the Carb Aisle (rice and pasta) and there was hardly anything left. The same with tins of spaghetti and baked beans. Maybe people will be forced to cook from scratch now. And drop their carb intake.

Later in the day we were talking about how we are of a generation ill-prepared for this pandemic. Being born in the West after WWII means conflict and plagues have been restricted to smaller areas than the entire planet.

We feel that we were born into a world regrowing, where everything was ours for the taking. And we took it. Right or wrong, it was a brilliant time to grow up and consume.

And now, the carpet is being pulled out from under us as we struggle to come to terms with the need for Social Distancing, continual hand washing and Self Isolation. Being kind and charitable and thinking of others rather than an obsession with our own enjoyment.

In more mundane news, the weather was gloomy today. It’s almost like the sun gets one day on, one day off at the moment.

I can’t take credit for the title. I ‘borrowed’ it from the amazing Dr Jessica Taylor.

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