Even cat videos can help a ’vulnerable’ to cope in a time of international crisis. PATTY RICHARDS ARMSTRONG, left, fesses up to that and worse
SURE AM GLAD I’ve been saving little hotel soaps for the last 40 years. They used to scent my underwear; now they’re saving my life.
Seriously, it’s sometimes hard to remain serious because of the absurdities and inconsistencies I hear every day on BBC Radio 4, and not just because of Covid-19. Worse, some government pronouncements on the coronavirus are barely credible.
I am one of the vulnerables, which took me a while to fully comprehend. My grownup daughter has made it abundantly clear and extracted a promise from me to stay indoors, even though I protest “I don’t look 74”. She’s teaching in Malaysia so she won’t know if I do or don’t keep my vow.
If I must be confined to my home, I am happy it’s in Hackney. Across the street from my flat, it’s Islington, where I lived until five years ago.
Letters from Hackney council are invariably polite and relevant, as are the messages from the MP, Diane Abbott, when I sign an online petition.
The Turkish shops run by Ma, Pa, brother, sister and cousin have gorgeous fresh veg on display even during this dire time — at least that’s what my neighbours tell me when they sweetly bring me perfect peppers, courgettes, beans and broccoli. It’s a struggle to make them accept payment for the food let alone their delivery of it.
The people living in my block of flats — mostly millennials, some with children — are kind, thoughtful and energetic.
Given the time I have to spend inside I have, as a lover of the grape and grain, been amazed to find I am drinking less than I have been in 50 years, although I admit, my throat automatically responds to beer ads on TV, wine being downed in Netflix dramas and whisky sparkling jewel-like in cut-crystal glasses in the huge number of movies on Film 4 and TCM.
Unable to go out to work, I have watched some daytime TV and seen the many gambling commercials for the first time. It is irresponsible to flood the airwaves with these crass ads, especially at this time. I speak as one who knows — I spent half a decade at Blackjack tables.
So from an idyllic Ohio, USA childhood to alcohol and cigarettes at university, gambling in later life, bouts of professional singing in opera and the West End plus marriage and motherhood and teaching toddlers music latterly, I guess one could call that a sort of progression brought up short by coronavirus.
When I look across the road while banging a pot from an open window on Thursdays at 8pm and see lots of people doing the same, as I hear the dawn chorus and later in the day see a big, fat wood pigeon in the holly tree 2 metres away (even the birds social-distance in Stoke Newington), I say to myself, “A good place to live, Hackney.”
* TOMORROW: a Dalston teenager in lockdown
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