London 1665: an old story, retold in 2020

“Again he shook his head. The world’s gone mad, he thought. The dead walk about and I think nothing of it. The return of corpses has become trivial in import. How quickly one accepts the incredible if only one sees it enough!”

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

1665

I’ve just finished reading Old St. Paul’s: A tale of the Plague and the Fire by William Harrison Ainsworth (1841), which, as I mentioned last week, details the 1665 plague of London, culminating with the Great Fire.

Several hundred years later, here I am (you are) in plagued-London (fill in the name of your city here).

Even if you are not a lover of classic novels, you will appreciate this … the parallels are simply uncanny! Continue reading London 1665: an old story, retold in 2020

Locking down the little details

“I think of every little trifle between me and Dora, and feel the truth, that trifles make the sum of life.”

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Cauliflower seedling in soilHave I mentioned that bedtime is my favourite time of the day? It runs in the family. We are an early-to-bed-family … not necessarily early to rise. My Mama gets so excited for bed that she squeals when she burrows under the covers. I’ve inherited that habit too.

One of my bed time wind-down habits is reading.

My current tome is Old St. Paul’s: A tale of the Plague and the Fire by William Harrison Ainsworth (1841). The details of 1665 London, during plague times bears much resemblance to COVID-times, I’m afraid, though also with an awful lot of Continue reading Locking down the little details

Stuckhome Syndrome

“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”

Anne of Avonlea, by L.M. Montgomery (Green Gables books)

X-ray butterflies in my stomach
Source: Google

We are well into 9 weeks of lockdown in the UK.

Some restrictions are beginning to ease.

But many people are afraid to go out, afraid to let their children go back to school, afraid to venture back to work.

A kind of ‘stuckhome syndrome’ has taken hold.

I get this.

What started off rather uncomfortable and restrictive, has become comfortable, safe, the new normal. Continue reading Stuckhome Syndrome

Paperless, office-less business in a time of the Coronavirus

“The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues.”

Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

Kermit panicsWho knew?

Who knew?

There I was waxing lyrical about 2020 and all its promise. It did hold promise. It did. Elections were over. New, interesting enquiries were coming in. We’d taken on a promising new trainee broker. We had travel plans. Some of Hubby’s more difficult deals looked like they were moving forward. It was an exciting time. Continue reading Paperless, office-less business in a time of the Coronavirus

Billingsgate Market, City of London

“Fish,” he said, “I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends.”

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

One of the enduring memories of my childhood is lying on the back seat of our family car, in the still cool dark hours of pre-dawn, still in my pyjamas, toe to head with my brother, and wrapped in a blanket, listening to my parents quietly chatting to one another, as I dosed and they drove.

It’s a peaceful memory, filled with potential and promise. Early morning. Pad kos. The open road.

Note: I don’t do early mornings. I love my sleep. To this day, I’m only really prepared to get up early for a road trip. .. and the promise of tea.

In the second to last week of August, Hubby woke us up at some ‘unGodly’ hour – me and Mama – to drive to Billingsgate fish market. Continue reading Billingsgate Market, City of London

Pigeons, Pantomime and Christmas vibes

“Good-bye,” said Michael to the Bird Woman. “Feed the Birds,” she replied, smiling. “Good-bye,” said Jane. “Tuppence a Bag!” said the Bird Woman and waved her hand.”

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

pantomimeI stood in the warmth of the church after the service sipping a hot tea in a paper cup. Outside a small boy, puffer-jacketed, gloved and woolly-hatted ran back and forth on the lawn chasing pigeons. They settled. He charged. They flew up into the chilled air and swirled around him for some seconds. Then they settled again on the other side of the lawn. He squealed and charged again. They took flight. He waved his pudgy coated arms around. They swirled. It was mesmerising, this game. Continue reading Pigeons, Pantomime and Christmas vibes

A Night at the Museum

“My dear young lady, crime, like death, is not confined to the old and withered alone. The youngest and fairest are too often its chosen victims.”

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Crime Scene InvestigationWe gathered around our Mancunian ‘lecturer’ for Forensic Anthropology.

“Skeletal analysis is all about 4 things: Sex, age, stature and cause of death,” she counted down with her fingers.

“Let’s begin with the golden rule – ‘Sex before maths’! Come on detectives, you heard what I said. Use your noggin, do some loggin’. ”

Some of us turned to each other and sniggered, but quickly scrambled for our notes. Continue reading A Night at the Museum

Keeping my head above water

“John kept referencing something called the ‘Downflooding Angle’. I looked up the term in the ‘Code of Federal Regulations’ – a multi-volume compilation of all US rules covering every conceivable industry from education, to energy, to agriculture, to shipping. The ‘Downflooding Angle’ refers to how far you’d have to tip a boat in calm conditions for water to penetrate the boat’s first nonweathertight opening… With a list like that, you couldn’t stop water from getting in. The vessel would never be able to right itself.”

Into the Raging Sea by Rachel Slade
Subtitled: Thirty-three mariners, one megastore and The Sinking of the El Faro

SS El FaroLet me introduce you to ‘Maria’, ‘Irma’, ‘Harvey’, ‘Matthew’, ‘Joaquin’ and ‘Igor’ – all category 4 and 5 tropical hurricanes of the last decade. ‘Florence’ is visiting the west coast of America as we speak.

I love extreme weather … that is, when I’m in my bed cosy and warm.

Last night an early Autumn gale came up and blew eerie groans among the trees outside our window. Reading the newly-published Into the Raging Sea about hurricane ‘Joaquin’ and the sinking of the US cargo ship SS El Faro on 1st October 2015, was about as much reality as I needed. Continue reading Keeping my head above water

Torrid temperatures take their toll

“Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932 when I first knew it. Somehow, it was hotter then. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon after their three o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frosting from sweating and sweet talcum. The day was twenty-four hours long, but it seemed longer.”

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

dry dry dryI love a good sci-fi film, a nail-biting apocalyptic flick or an edge-of-your-seat creature-feature.

Hubby and I often make up storylines – one such tale featured a family of hikers on the run from a scourge of stealthy blood-sucking giant mosquitos, the result of nuclear testing gone wrong.

I fleetingly imagined getting a call from Steven Spielberg about this one. Continue reading Torrid temperatures take their toll

A schvitzing summer

“As I sat in the bath tub, soaping a meditative foot and singing, if I remember correctly, ‘Pale Hands I Loved Beside the Shalimar,’ it would be deceiving my public to say that I was feeling boomps-a-daisy.”

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit by P.G. Wodehouse

#Allotmentlife

I love a good transferred epithet. I spent a restless night. I hauled my embarrassed bikini out of the cupboard. It’s happy hour.

They say a lot about my life.

Today this schvitzing summer was broken a little by a cool breeze and some welcome rain (did you see what I did there?). Many South Africans dub England ‘Mud Island’ and complain constantly about cold wet weather …

But Hubby will tell you that’s all lies and propaganda. Continue reading A schvitzing summer