Seven fire trucks this evening, all at once outside my window, bundling down onto the sheltered housing where the smoke alarm is rigged up to automatically call them in. I’ve written about it before. It happens every few weeks in the evening when somebody there is cooking a steak and sets the beeper off. I was standing at my window lighting a candle when they showed up, having taken down all my baubles and switched off all my flashing lights.

Immediately the flashing of my Christmas lights was replaced for Candlemas by the maniac blue blink of seven simultaneous fire trucks. They had everything. Big ones, small ones, ladder ones, all packed with volunteers who usually have to do very little and then occasionally have to do everything. This is the same district as Grenfell. Tough people, these. Something like that will happen again some time, as the companies at the heart of it have neither changed their ways nor paid anything but lip service to any requests for change. Lots of noise, no difference.

It’s like “Clap for carers”. It’s all very well to clap in the window, but it won’t fix decades of under-funding. Bless Captain Tom for walking around the garden, but that only further conditions us to think of the NHS as privately funded. And now Captain Tom has died with Covid. Great shame. He picked up the public imagination and walked with it a while. One of the early tales of hope in this mess all the way back in April. How did he even get noticed? Providence and timing, I guess. And his niece probably works for a newspaper. You rather wish that he might have made it out the other end of this shitshow and died quietly in his own bed. It doesn’t seem fair really. But then very little does these days.

Here we all are, at home.

I finished posting pictures, and some of them even got feedback already. That’s a thing that isn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I’m pleased. One inch closer to the end of the storage.

Lou is back in Brighton, and I’m trying to be ordered about what to prioritise in the long list of things I still have to do to get my life in some vague order. I don’t mind the chaos, sure, but there’s the notion of some sort of peaceful existence where I’m not living surrounded by noise. It’s years away most likely, and I wouldn’t really like it if I ever got there, but it’s something to strive towards and have fun on the way. It keeps me honest. There are a lot of scripts I want to write now, and the dream of having a space in my home set aside for writing – it is getting more and more persuasive. Better a surface than yet another pile of plates.

One step at a time. Like Captain Tom.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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