Pandemic Pondering #109

Restrictions being lifted on travel and overnight stays could not have come at a better time for @theoldmortuary.

A scumbag fly tipped outside our flat in London this week

Imagine our happiness when we discovered our neighbours/friends had tidied it up.

London , like many big cities, has a reputation for being an unfriendly place but from the moment we moved here we were surrounded by neighbours who quickly became friends.

Shit happens everywhere and our neighbour/ friendships were forged over another adverse event. Three days after moving in we were burgled, traumatic enough in itself, but the day after, our flat and by extension ourselves were subjected to a frightening police raid.

Our lovely new neighbours swooped in and picked up the pieces just as they did this weekend.

Socially distant Pandemic Pondering in the garden with our neighbours.

Pandemic Pondering #82

Today @theoldmortuary attended the webcam funeral for a dear friend and regular reader of this blog. I think he would consider himself ordinary but actually he was one of the loveliest people you could hope to meet. There was so much love in St Petrocs Chapel it was easy to feel comfortable with this new way of celebrating and marking the passing of a life well lived.

The celebrant and family created a beautiful service that warmly evoked everything about our friend. Wonderful music had us dabbing at our eyes from almost the first note. Could this be a new way to mark the passing of someone when there are reasons that make actual attending of a funeral difficult.

For the first time ever , we travelled, digitally on this occasion,to the Crematorium at Bodmin. It was a beautiful day and the natural backdrop was perfect.

Is a daily blog, particularly in a pandemic, Social History ? Particularly in the hands of an ordinary person who just ponders and then writes about it.

I wondered about the appropriateness of mentioning a funeral in a blog, but it was an experience that has been altered by the Pandemic and this is our new normal for the foreseeable future. It may shape the future of mourning or it may just be for now.

If nothing else a daily blog is a way of recording the changes we are all experiencing.

Pandemic Pondering #79

Easing out of lockdown. Not so long ago conversations with people other than those that share the same home was a bit random or coincidental. We may have been deprived of hugs or the normal interactions with friends but our local to @theoldmortuary life has had some amazing revelations. We now know all of our near neighbours, and have had time to talk at length with many of them. We’ve made some new friends from distant places, distant in lockdown is not so far as it used to be. Being coincidentally in the same place at the same time made Coronafriendships. Social distance garden meetings have been lovely with our more longstanding friends.Today was a bit of a novelty, we had two meetings with two different pairs of friends . It felt novel and a little bit exciting . Giddy even.The morning started with a summer playlist . The stand out track was Peaches by The Stranglers . Such is my weird pandemic head that without thinking I chose these two garments to wear today, and the curious meandering that is Pandemic Pondering #79 formed itself.Back to The Stranglers. Peaches is one of those pieces of music that everyone is familiar with because bits of it are sampled in TV shows and other music. It was considered to be a seminal punk song in 1977 when it was released.
Listen to Peaches (BBC In Concert 23/04/77) by The Stranglers on #SoundCloud
https://soundcloud.com/the-stranglers/peaches-bbc-in-concert-23-04Enough of the Peaches, back to the nattering. This morning’s meeting was with people I’ve known for around 30 years, there have been some gaps, but now we see each other regularly and laugh about ridiculous stuff. The talk is non stop. After three hours we had jaw ache. A brief break and we were off to nattering session 2 this time with someone we met a couple of weeks before lockdown , more nattering and laughing at preposterous things . We completely forgot to mention Book Club which had been the plan. More jaw ache.Laughter is an amazing thing , it jiggles your belly and burnishes your mind.With my mind burnished and my belly jiggled it’s back to peaches. I’ve had a trawl through the photo archive and plucked out some peach images and had a look in the colour theory books. The photo file was a richer source of peachy stuff than the books. Peach seems a little overlooked in colour theory world.Peach represents immortality in Chinese culture. It is named for the interior flesh colour of the white Peach. It is a range of soft colours between pink and orange. It was first mentioned in literature in 1588.Art Deco in the 1920’s and 30’s used a lot of peach.With the randomness of the internet I can also share a code , which I accidentally wore today. In the gay community a ‘ bear’ who wants to hook up with other ‘bears’ wears a peach bandana. Exactly my choice for the new government guidance of face covering for public transport.Peaches from the archive.Last year’s Cafe Au Lait Dahlias.Close ups of a peachy rose.Autumn foliage in the garden.A tiny shell on a beach in Cuba.A peach trumpeted daffodilFriends , peaches and The Stranglers, that was a curious blog, sometimes they just write themselves.Have a peachy weekend.

Pandemic Pondering #70

Another friend has died in this curious time of Pandemic Lockdown. Just as my beloved friend mentioned in Pandemic Pondering #28, the friend who died yesterday died an anticipated death , unconnected to Coronovirus but most certainly affected by the restrictions imposed by the Pandemic. He died at home supported by a loving family.

We shared a love of books and music and he was kind and generous with his knowledge of both and equally enthusiastic about exploring new genres of either. I will miss his inspiration and enthusiasm.

Just as in #28 , I am a lower tier mourner. Unlike #28 I’ve had more time, as we all have to absorb the current way of marking a death. More experience too, our regular dog walk takes us between two graveyards and @theoldmortuary overlooks a church graveyard. In consequence we witness many restricted graveside services as voyeurs. We’ve become accustomed to the new way of marking death.

Not being able to join friends in a celebration of life at a traditional funeral has become an acceptable fact of life. The promise of attending a Memorial Service in the future is not something I’ve ever experienced before. It will, for many of us, be a new reality once communal gathering can take place.

For now, all I can do to mark a friend’s passing is quiet contemplation. Very Zen.

Pandemic Pondering #51

A complex image with a lot going on.

Pondering now and yearning for the ‘New Normal’

This reflects our minds at the moment @theoldmortuary. It’s Saturday, a day before the Government presents the new roadmap of British Life in Lockdown.

That’s one roadmap to consider then, there is our personal new roadmap to think about and the roadmaps of those we hold dear. That’s a lot of roadmaps to keep twirling. We keep busy and we work hard physically but sometimes in this pandemic those two things are not enough to keep us asleep at night.

What we all need are our friends and family, close enough to hug, squeeze, weep on and snuggle into. We are all denied that. We are touchers, I hadn’t realised quite how much we touch our friends and family. I miss you all physically, emotionally and desperately.

Ironically during Lockdown we have gained some new friends and many of our neighbours have certainly raised in status to aquaintances. The epic week working on the Cornish Hedge outside the oldmortuary gained many regular friends and quite a few offers of contracts to tidy up other people’s gardens. A new friend, S, has suggested we call our business “The Lady Gardeners”. Seriously our skill level is way below a name of that Calibre. We swap calories with S, containers of baked and cooked goods find their way from one house to the other whilst maintaining social distance. Those foods are then shared a third way with MLR who is isolating completely, she in turn provides our grandchild’s plush pig with crocheted super hero clothes.

We work on the theory that shared calories don’t count and obviously all super heroes wear crochet.

We’ve never met MLR or indeed M who is part of the food share and lives with S. But we have seen him on a balcony. This all goes to prove you create friends that you don’t touch or even get closer than 2 metres and even don’t really know.

Friendship is an organic thing.

Other 2 metre friends, A and K were first met last week in two different social distancing queues. By the power of Facebook we met them in a queue again today and then spent some moments sitting in the sun 3 metres apart enjoying a take out breakfast.

Then we took the dogs for a walk to a favourite ‘pop up’ social distancing coffee shop and met two of the owners who we’ve known as customers for three years and usually greet with a hug.

Then outside Lockdown, there is the infinite variety of our longstanding friends and family that exist ‘out there’ that we cannot see face to face or talk to without using technology.

Friends and family come in all shapes and sizes with varying longevity we are missing you all, we’ve added some strangers to the mix while we’ve been apart.

New Normal cannot get here fast enough. Someone find us the roadmap. We are desperate.

Pandemic Pondering #46

Even in the midst of this pandemic there is some great thoughts and conversations happening around how we will remember this period of our lives.

A smart phone has made diarists of us all. My phone is set deliberately to store all the pictures my family and friends send me. I delete some but most are kept as a personal archive.

This blog contains my pictures and ponderings shared to those who care to read it. Facebook and Instagram are more public. Instagram is the quickest, I think, to give a flavour of the times. I just scrolled through my Instagram grid to check out how 45 days of restricted living and Lockdown looked in picture form from @theoldmortuary.

This grid marks the end of normal life. The bottom 6 pictures are from the days running up to the official lockdown. The next row up shows a poster for a cancelled art exhibition and the offer of local help plus the all important hand washing picture.

The cancelled art exhibition poster also marked the beginning of Pandemic Ponderings.

The top row are images from early Ponderings. In private I was pondering on the madness of thinking I would find something to write about, every day, when life was so restricted.

This second grid shows a life of settling into Lockdown. The bottom row shows memories of foreign travel. A wet footprint on some decking in Hong Kong, it was so hot that image lasted less than 5 seconds as it dried off. The picture represents my first meeting with our adored granddaughter in 2018,We thought it was awful that she was thousands of miles away and our meeting with her was so brief. Then her mum and dad decided to move home. Just 50 miles between us and still we rely on phone calls to chart her progress.

The Pangolin pictures in the middle were an homage to the poor creatures caught in the middle of the controversial ‘Wet’ markets where this pandemic is said to have originated.

An image of coffee shows our early pangs of missing out on coffee shops and the bottle of Cuban rum marks the beginning of our cooking obsession.

This last grid shows us settled into Pandemic lockdown life. No longer worried about the subject matter of Ponderings I just natter on about any thing. There are two images that mark slight freedoms. The roots on the second row up were photographed when it was made clear that we could drive a small distance to take exercise and the cogs on the top row were photographed on our first trip to a proper independent coffee shop this Saturday. Yesterday, the very first picture on the grid above, there was of course, Cake.

Pandemic Ponderings #25 Chapter 3

Chapter 3 finds us in North London where an Easter tradition of 18 people gathering has shrunk to just two this past weekend. Two flatmates isolating together, one of whom is a friend from The Heart Hospital. The numbers might have been down but the creative effort was high.

The day was lubricated with a Hix Fix, surely one of the easiest cocktails in the world to make. Two teaspoons of Cherry Liqueur in a saucer style champagne glass topped up with Champagne or sparkling wine. I’m loving the Pandemic twist with this one. No one shopped for the desirable but non essential Morello Cherries.

Googling has informed me that TV chef Keith Floyd drank two of these at The Fish House, Lyme Regis, just before he died.

It was his Last Supper.

This is hugely relevant to this blog as this exactly where Nic experienced her first Hix Fix and thankfully survived. Hugely relevent too because I go off piste a bit with this blog.I promise I will pull it all together in the end.

This is where I take some time out and share a family anecdote. This is getting just like a gathering of friends and family.

My Dad knew that he was dying, he had terminal bowel cancer . He remained mentally alert during his increasingly rare periods of wakefulness. He had a schedule of Last Suppers that needed to be fulfilled, each with its own tiny guest list. Shamefully I only remember the ultimate and penultimate ones although I believe afternoon tea with his cousin, Gwen, was also one. As anyone, who has spent a lot of time with someone who is dying, will attest not only the earthly guests attend these gatherings. My grandmother had afternoon tea with my Dad and his cousin, something that slightly bothered him as he was eating in bed. The fact that she was dead was not a bother at all. The next day was scheduled to be an Indian Takeaway, with a very specific order from a particular Take Away, it was to be shared with one of my Dad’s much loved work colleagues called Gordon and his wife Doreen. It was a surprise to us all when my husband’s Dad turned up. Not only was he too dead he didn’t much like Indian Takeaway.

The actual Last Supper was Smoked Salmon Sandwiches and Prosseco and was attended in the earthly sense by Dad’s friends Margaret and Tony, myself,my husband at the time , Steve and my Uncle Peter. The three of us had been my dad’s only carers in the last week and were the fulfilment department of food dreams and guest lists. My mum was about but sadly she was already terminally ill herself and had a rare neurological disorder.

The guest list at the actual last supper went wildly out of control. Nothing wrong with the earthly participants but the deceased ones went crazy. There were people there we didn’t even know were dead.

In the morning we discovered that amid the uncleared plates and unfinished Prosseco glasses my dad had slipped off with the uninvited guests.

Now that is why googling in the middle of a blog is a risky old business. The Hix Fix knocked me completely off my chosen path. My apologies to Nic and her house party for two and those of you who were waiting for the next course.. No more googling for today.

To be fair Nic has suggested in her email to me that the Hix Fix may have knocked her slightly off the path of culinary perfection but like everyone who has worked in highly challenging environments in the Health Service she was prepared and she knew what had to be done.

Here we are back on track.

Big, fat, succulent , scallops on a pea puree with crispy Iberico Ham.

Followed by

Chicken Mole with Rice.

I am just going to have to slip off to Google . Mole!!

Wow. South American Chicken Stew with many gorgeous ingredients. This is going to be a Lockdown learning experience.
https://theforkedspoon.com/homemade-chicken-mole/

Here is the desert, slightly improvised because Nic had a broken oven. Lime and ginger posset with sesame things. It should have been served with home made sesame shortbread.

Thanks Nic Delahunty that was amazing food , thank you for taking the time to share.

The plan was to head off to Hungary next in Chapter 3 but I’ve probably given you enough for today so tomorrow that’s where we are off to.

Pandemic Ponderings #25 Chapter 1

#25 is significant because it’s a quarter of 100 and it falls on Easter Sunday. A significant day in the Christian Calendar and the 25th Pandemic Pondering. @theoldmortuary we have a cheerfully Agnostic view of life and will embrace any faiths festivals especially if food and drink are involved. Science, I find, has all the answers and yet fails to pull humans together for a good old communal eating session. Big error there I feel.

I threw the blog open to several platforms that I’m using to communicate with, asking people to send me pictures of celebratory/ festival meals. Hopefully I can tell a good story to link them all up. It’s going to take a week at least to finish as Greek( Orthodox) Easter happens next week. So there will be a few versions of #25 as images arrive.

I needn’t have concerned my self about nobody responding. I’m just grateful not to have to have been polite and eaten something from every contributor.

To start us off I give you the celebratory meals of Mr Abid Mahboob. Abid is a friend I met at a hospital named The Heart Hospital, not only did it fix all manner of broken hearts, and lungs. It was one of the most joyous hospitals to work in. Abid and I also worked together at BartsHeartCentre as St Bartholomew’s Hospital, at both these places Abid produced the most amazing festive creative catering , besides being a radiographer the same as me. Abid as his name suggests is Muslim and he produces the most amazing Eid celebratory meals. Christmas work celebrations or leaving/wedding parties at The Heart or Bart’s are the most amazing feasts when Abid takes charge. He has a fabulous family who support him in his culinary excellence. In London NHS staff come from every corner of the world. Not only did Abid cater wonderfully with his Pakistani Heritage food he also encouraged us all to bring in traditional food from our own homelands. I always felt I got off somewhat lightly with Pasties and cream teas.

The next few pictures are examples of Abids amazing catering. They are from his smaller gatherings. At work he would cheerfully feed 70 or more people on occasions. All images were taken before Social Isolation and Coronovirus restrictions.

Abid is currently working in the front line at Bart’s Hospital.

Another front line friend is Jane Cooke, she is a chef, currently providing excellent catering in a rest home. The following pictures are the Afternoon Tea the rest home residents were offered today.

Afternoon tea and cake was also the subject of my friend Karen Mills celebratory food.

All this cake brings me to a 60 th Birthday. I’m not sure I imagined a boat in this particular Blog but here are Kim Coles photos of Andy Coles birthday, his picnic happened on a boat. Family gathering at its best.

Gratefully I’m going to take a break on Pandemic Pondering #25. Time to enjoy my own Easter Lockdown Feast before more lovely contributions from others. More soon.

Pandemic Pondering #12

I realised yesterday that in one virus induced action all of my friends have become people I no longer see.

Some of those friendships have 55 years of longevity graduating down to those that have a tiny lifespan of a few weeks or months and may have fizzled to nothing in normal times. The pandemic preserves them all equally in digital ice like fertilised eggs at a fertility clinic. Granted equal potential to survive, or not, over this period of real life isolation. Many of them will be re-implanted into my future life to thrive, inevitably some of them won’t make it and they will be replaced by new friendships created during this highly unusual circumstance . Thinking about this is overwhelmingly sad if I consider the people I may never see or interact with again.
Thankfully none of us know specifically on which metaphorical doors the plague crosses will appear.

I realise fully that this is a highly pessimistic blog and in part it was induced by a photograph that I took a couple of years ago either in Cuba or Spain.

It was lost for a long while in my pile of digital images . Once I rediscovered it it was filed , waiting for its appropriate moment in the sun. Meloncholia seeps from this image but I love it .

For all our sakes I have some gorgeous optimistic flower images to lighten the mood.

A gift from a new friend. A lovely gesture .

Advent#20

Nearly Home Trees- watercolour by Juliet Cornell

The Nearly Home Trees.

Cookworthy Knapp. 140 Beech trees, planted 120 years ago near Lifton on the border of Devon and Cornwall. Clearly seen from the A30. They have become a sign to many returners and travellers that they are ‘nearly home’ or ‘ nearly there’

This coming weekend will see the highest volume of road traffic, of the year, on the A30 and A38 . Those who travel on the A30 in daylight hours will see the familiar mound of trees on the hill and feel a whole kalaidoscope of emotions . Love being the most significant in all its nuances, textures and intensities.