Pandemic Pondering #314

This slightly tatty perfume bottle has a story to tell. For a time it lived in my work bag and the fragrance perked me up at low points in 24 hour shifts.

Tom Ford fragrances were introduced to me by a work colleague, Haji. Haji always wafted into my work area on a cloud of fragrance, no matter what the time of day or night. His subtle perfume and his smile arrived slightly ahead of the man himself. Sometimes I would have to guess which particular version he was wearing. When a new one came out he would encourage me to go and try it in Selfridges on the way home. Maybe not his best idea, anyone who does massive shifts in the NHS knows the error of ‘reward’ shopping after a gruelling night of work.

My lovely friend and colleague Haji has died of Covid-19 his Janazeh, funeral prayer, was held yesterday.

A man who was such a valuable part of a place that was called The Heart Hospital when we worked together.

Social media is the hub of communual mourning now and the comments all mention how much people enjoyed working with him.

I’ve stolen and paraphrased another friends comment.

David said “I loved the football banter”

Haji, I loved the perfume banter.

Pandemic Pondering #282

Merry Christmas, who needs a big blog on Christmas morning, probably no one . What we all need is our friends and family around us. The hurly burly of traditions all bound up with over crowded homes and too much food. What we have this year @theoldmortuary is the time to go and look at Christmas lights after last minute shopping.

Southside Street, The Barbican, Plymouth.

And the chance to make home made cranberry sauce.

While watching Christmas Carols from Kings College, Cambridge.

Very peaceful and lovely, but not normal. We love and miss our festive season regulars, the irregulars and those in other realms. Love to our families and friends far and wide. You light up our lives.

Cranberry Sauce 2020

Pandemic Pondering #279

The shortest day has lost daylight and quite frankly the few hours of daylight were of pretty poor quality in our part of the world.

Hugo and Lola tolerated another day of dog walks planned around the rejigging of Festive Logistics @theoldmortuary . Nothing on our walks was inspirational enough to illustrate this blog so the Christmas tree has stepped in, rather camply, to shine a light in the darkness. Apart from fog and rain it was a successful day, the last of the Christmas gifts were wrapped and sorted for collection. All the gifts for our family, marooned so suddenly in London and the South East, have gone off in the post or with a kind friend who was driving up to the city today.

The shortest day is always a day of optimism that from here days start to lengthen and we can begin to look forward to Spring. This year the feelings have extra significance given the mental and physical load that everyone is carrying during the Pandemic.

So now concentration must turn to creating a festive season for two people and two dogs. This could be tricksy, we have never catered for such low numbers over Christmas.

I wonder if a quiet year will give us the chance to think about all the amazing people we have shared the festivus with in past years . There is also a chance that for once the TV might actually be turned on but if the weather is good that is unlikely.

Pandemic Pondering #235

Daily pondering is a lovely habit. It doesn’t always go to plan. As I write this it is the evening of Remembrance Sunday and this morning it seemed entirely appropriate to just post a simple picture of one of our poppies.We should have harvested more Poppy pictures today for the Monday blog but that didn’t happen. Never mind, a ready-made subject for 11.11.20. Meanwhile the day took its own path. Loads and loads of walking, some coffee and some 2:1 government approved socialising outdoors. Next week a painting commission from last month’s exhibition has to be started. It is a little too wintery in the garden studio so the table in the actual old mortuary has been cleared ready for action.

I’ve been experimenting with some new paints this weekend. I didn’t get quite as much done as I had hoped but anything more will have to wait until the commission is finished.

To avoid temptation all the experimental stuff has been tidied away. This Lockdown has a project!

Pandemic Pondering #198

October started @theoldmortuary with a touch of socialising with our Covid friends that we first met in Pandemic Pondering #44 on the 2nd May. A chance meeting in a coffee queue at Hutong, Plymouth, has led to a summer of meeting and exploring various locations in Devon and Cornwall. Again quite by chance we were both staying near the Cotswolds town of Burford. Given the location of our meeting it would have been uncivilised not to have met up for a coffee. Covid friends know the area well as they lived in Burford for a while. For us Burford is somewhere we pass through but never stop because it is always somewhat crowded with tourists. One of the bonuses of the pandemic is less tourists, so today was a good day to stop and have a wander. Burford is hugely picturesque and my photography is never going to be as good as the images you could find on the internet, so Google Burford to find all the gorgeous images and information that others have provided.

Cotswold Stone

The morning colours of Burford were amazing. It helped that October arrived wearing sunshine first thing in the morning. There was still dew in the nooks and crannies of the churchyard.

We also found a petulant cherub on a grave. She/he looks like the sort of toddler to avoid rather than a second order angel to spend eternity with. She/he may be unhappy because someone has dressed her/him with her/his wings under her/his chin. Speaking as someone who recently put a hoody on the wrong way round, I understand the grumpiness. It’s hard to be effective with either thing on back to front.

Effectiveness is the key word for this blog. @theoldmortuary has more things to do than the time available for a couple of days. Blogs will be brief but hopefully not dull. Link below to properly explore Burford.

https://www.cotswolds.com/plan-your-trip/towns-and-villages/burford-p720323

And the Churchyard where these pictures were taken.

https://www.burfordchurch.org/

Pandemic Pondering #159

The Art Group word, or words in this case, is Tuesday Treats. Hmmmm, not so sure that these are Tuesday specific treats and one of them is distinctly guilty of oversharing but here we go . These treats are mostly blog inspired. This is a bit of a classic meandering ponder.

The first one was a travel treat.

Teignmouth was completely unknown to us. What a gorgeous treat it was, amazing architecture, red sands and only a little tarnished with the usual seaside tat that Britain specialises in. We are going to go back with more time to explore so no more on the town but here we go with the oversharing.

The public loos were of a good standard . We were camping on a simple camp site with no facilities. Our van has toilet facilities but we observe strict rules which is why occasionally we visit a public loo. We popped in to perform the morning rituals not permitted in the van. Teignmouth Public Loos have a quite surprising soundtrack.

How staggeringly appropriate to hear at such a high volume Smoke On The Water by Deep Purple.

Smoke on the water,

Fire in the Sky

Smoke on the water.

I suppose the lyrics resonated at some level with the action to be performed.

The volume certainly resonated through the Municipal porcelain setting up a micro reverberation. Quite Unusual.

Thank you Teignmouth, unforgettable!

No more oversharing but another warning. Pandemic Pondering # 201 shared the spoken word One Hit Wonder Desiderata. A regular blog reader shared Baz Luhrmans spoken word song Sunscreen in response. Written by Mary Smith it also became a One Hit Wonder. Like Teignmouth it was unknown to me until Saturday , it is quite a treat. Some of you may wish never to hear it again, call it the Desiderata effect.

Link to the Lyrics
https://www.lyricsfreak.com/b/baz+luhrmann/sunscreen_20563151.html

Link to Youtube
https://youtu.be/MQlJ3vOp6nI

This portion of the Lyrics feeds nicely into my final treat. Another Saturday gift, a quote from Tim Rice’s biography from my fabulously wordy friend Dai, who wrote Pandemic Pondering #100.

Unlike Dai, who was a good sportsman and team person, as well as being a word nerd. I was not a good sportsperson, just a word nerd and never picked for sports teams. I always dreaded that ghastly experience when team captains were nominated and then allowed to choose from the gathered throng their teams, taking it in turn to pick the brightest and the best. I knew all too well that I would be left until the end, self- consciously checking the integrity of my plimsolls in a diligent way to prove how disinterested in the whole thing I was.

I’m sure Dai has shoe boxes full of team photos where his youthful face beams out. I however have the Primary School photo to share.

I have no idea why my face composed itself in such a toothless gurn, from memory these things took a little while to set up.

I’m with Tim Rice though on this, my life story from this measurable point has been about getting older. How lucky am I that life continues to take me on a journey of discoveries, not all of them welcome, but all of them leading me on to become that little bit older every day. Some of the children in this picture have already stopped their journey and I’ve forgotten the names of most of them but every one is a precious vessel of their own story.

Tuesday Treats, a sharing of Saturdays Surprises.

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.