Sunday, 5 July 2020


Today I typed two blog posts moaning about Leicester being back in lockdown and then deleted them.

I then typed a post about the nasty reaction I had to antibiotics last weekend and how ill I've been this week. I deleted that too. It didn't make for a fun read.

So what does that leave to talk about? Well, my 100 word piece was accepted for publication by 100 Words of Solitude. The website was set up by a group of University lecturers who wanted to record 'intimate moments, behaviours and feelings from real life in the time of Coronorvirus' from around the world. The site is well worth a visit. I was particularly pleased with the way they introduced my piece. They said that I had delicately and intimately detailed the dramatic changes to life in lockdown at the start of isolation.
You can read my piece here.

For those of you who love words like I do I thought I'd share a podcast that I've been listening to this week. It's called Something Rhymes With Purple and it's by Gyles Brandreth and Susie Dent.  It's not too serious about itself and it has helped me to pass a few relaxing hours this last week so I thought I'd share it with you.

Saturday, 20 June 2020

The Many Phases of Lockdown

It's been over twelve weeks now and I'm ok most of the time but every now and then I feel as if I might be about to unravel. I've passed through many phases of lockdown:

The clearing out cupboards phase: I've found make-up that was over ten years old, empty boxes and odd socks - very odd socks.

The jigsaw phase: That didn't last long. I only have three jigsaws and I've done them so many times the pieces could place themselves. 

Experimenting with new food recipes phase: This might have been more successful if I could have gone to the shops and if the online supermarket hadn't run out of flour and yeast and sugar. Toilet rolls I can almost understand but sugar? Really?

Trialling keep fit videos on YouTube phase: I still have the pain in my shoulder. Fortunately my online supermarket does have a supply of Ibuprofen Gel.

Watching films on Netflix phase: Eyestrain

Reading books on Kindle phase: Eyestrain

Walking round and round the garden phase: Dizziness

The piano and guitar playing phase: Abandoned in deference to my neighbours' sanity.

So what phase comes next? Let's hope it's the return to normal life phase... whatever normal is.

What phases of lockdown have you passed through?

Thursday, 4 June 2020

1950s Leicester - Some Real Characters

I clearly remember the tramp in Lewis's doorway and I've heard of Rum Weather and the other characters that I've mentioned below but I never saw them. If anyone reading this remembers them then do let me know. I've been told they were real characters.

Leicester's post-war kids knew all about tramps,
the demob dropouts with combat-proof medals,
compensation for war battered brains,
like the man with the grubby greatcoat
and wild hair stooped in Lewis’s doorway.

Rum Weather used to stroll round town,
down London Road and across Vicky Park,
clutching his brown cardboard string-tied suitcase,
rattling pennies in his tatty tobacco tin,
calling out, ‘Rum weather’ to anyone who'd listen.

Everyone knew how Scratch Cockshaw got his name.
He’d hang out round the fruit market,
beg a mug of tea, a fag, an apple,
a bacon butty if he was lucky,
squeeze fleas between filthy fingers.

Johnny No Legs was tough as brass shrapnel.
He’d board a bus with a swing of his arm
and go pea picking down at the local farm.
Back in town he’d show off, break neck speed
on his battered go-cart bogey - at least that's what I heard.

They were a part of our world, like the bomb-site
where Dad parked his car when we went up town,
the Welfare orange juice to build our bones
and the siren on the factory down the road
with its practice wail every Wednesday –
just in case.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

I Don't Like Change

There's a Chinese proverb that says, 'When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.' I am most definitely a bricklayer - a builder of proverbial walls. I don't like change. I need routine and sameness in my life.

Take driving. I'm only comfortable when I'm driving along a route that I know really well whereas many people love exploring and driving unfamiliar roads BUT right now I'm hardly doing any driving at all.

Shopping is another example. I struggle in unfamiliar supermarkets. I need to know where everything is BUT I haven't been to a supermarket for over ten weeks and don't get me started on internet shopping! Relying on a once-a-week delivery is creating a famine and feast situation here.

Then there's the gym. I love swimming. I'd go at least once a week, often more than once BUT lockdown has sadly put paid to that activity and I miss it very much.

For someone who hates change this is a bewildering time but another quote comes to mind. Benjamin Disraeli said, 'Change is inevitable. Change is constant.' And so I have to accept that the winds of change are blowing and the only thing I can do about it is to build that proverbial windmill.

What changes are you struggling with during this pandemic?

For those people who love windmills the above photograph is of the windmill at Cley, Norfolk, where we stayed on two occasions - two lovely holidays. They're still in business and their website promises that they will reopen as soon as they're allowed to but I wonder if we'll ever get back there.

Sunday, 17 May 2020

My Lockdown Garden

I'm not a gardener. It's far too physical for my liking. Fortunately Mr A has a passion for gardening and so here is a collage of my lockdown garden:

And here is a photo of my favoured gardening contribution... relaxing on my swing seat:

Tuesday, 12 May 2020


I had thought of handing this blog post over to Mabel the Cat to write but she'd only moan about how the Humans are getting under her paws. She'd reminisce about the days when she could choose her spot for a morning nap without interruption and her afternoon siesta would be spent in blissful silence. Now she has to listen to strangers shouting out from tiny squares on a computer screen, strange sounds from that 'darned piano' and endless discussions about meals. 'Just open a sachet of Whiskas and stop whinging,' would be her advice.

So for all the above reasons I am resigned to writing it myself. I've not a lot to say. I've not stepped out of the front door for over seven weeks. I wake up in the night wondering what the outside world looks like these days. Empty, I suppose. Empty also describes my diary and possibly my life - but is empty bad?

For the first time ever I have had the time to smell the roses - ok, maybe not roses, not yet, but lilac. I've been smelling the lilac every time I walk round the garden - walking and thinking and reassessing. A number of people I know have done just that and have decided that this is not the way they want to live. We all have free will but maybe it takes a major pandemic to make us stop, examine our motives, and decide to move in a different direction. I'm still pondering mine but one thing I know for sure. I never want to return to the manic life I was leading a few months ago.

And now I shall return to my piano practice, never mind what Mabel the Cat says. I'm rather enjoying working my way through my Easy Listening collection and you just can't beat a bit of Phil Collins...

"...You're the only one who really knew me at all. So take a look at me now. There's just an empty space..."

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Why is this night different from any other night?

This evening Jewish families around the world will be celebrating the start of Pesach (Passover) with a special service and meal called the Seder. It is traditional to gather with friends and family for the Seder meal - the more the merrier. This year will be strange and very difficult for those living alone.

One of the prayers said during the Seder service begins with the line "Why is this night different from any other night?" As far as I know, never before and hopefully never again have entire communities been obliged to hold their Seder meals in isolation so this night could not be more different from any other night, ever!

During the Seder service we tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. It's the one about Pharoah, Moses and the ten plagues. We eat bitter herbs to represent bitter times and dip parsley in salt water to represent tears and we try to imagine how the Israelites might have felt. We may not be slaves in Egypt but this year we are certainly experiencing our own bitter times and tears.

The picture above shows the centrepiece of a traditional Seder table with the Haggadah (the special prayer book for the Seder), matzo (unlevened bread eaten for the entire eight days instead of bread), goblets of wine (we're asked to drink four each during the evening), and a plate with egg, bitter herbs, salt water and charoseth (a mix of ground nuts, wine and dried fruit to represent mortar).

Before the main meal it's traditional to have a starter of hard boiled egg in salt water to represent new beginnings. Here's hoping that it's not long before we can all experience new beginnings.

An explanation for anyone reading this in years to come: we are in lockdown because of a worldwide Coronavirus Covid-19 epidemic and it's frightening.