Storm and documentaries

At the marina in Brighton the old men know. “They’ll be closing the harbour wall soon,” they grumble to one another in the sunshine. I’m eating a mister whippy and looking at the pretty boats, wondering why people are taking the flags down and checking the ropes. It’s a gusty morning, but nothing to write home about.

Ten hours later and now the wind is coming off the sea and onto the windowpane to my left at a good 40mph. There’s the bang just now of something falling over when it’s not supposed to. It’s good the old men knew. They park their motorbikes facing the sea in this town if they know what they’re doing. This wind will have to cover a lot of ground before the edge is off. It’s cold and harsh and full of rain. I’m glad I’m in bed.

I nearly booked my ferry for tonight. Thankfully I’m not sailing until Wednesday by which time the storm will have blown over. Plain sailing, I hope, by then. I’ve got enough to be worrying about without one of those twenty hour crossings where everybody is sick.

Still no idea where I’m staying, but the Jersey Premier Inn is £30 a night with breakfast. I hate the idea of paying to be isolated in a cheap hotel in the town where I was born. A week in a Premier Inn when you’re allowed to leave the room is bad enough. A week in one where you have to stay there will be the worst. It’s looking like that’s the only option though, and I’ve just got to hope that St Helier has better delivery options for food now than it did when I was a lad. Lou suggested I stock up on Pot Noodles but I would literally rather starve.

As the weather descended gradually to the state it’s in now, so we retreated back along the coast until we were safely stowed here again in the relative warmth of the flat. I felt like watching documentaries.

“My Octopus Teacher” succeeds in being considerably less hamfisted and worthy than the title suggests. It’s a hymn to nature and a reminder of the power of doing the same thing every day. It made us want to go diving, to be near the Atlantic, to travel. Then we watched a short piece – The Last Honey Hunter – about the harvesting of mad honey in Nepal.

I often say it – the world is so huge. From the coastline of South Africa to the cloud forests of Nepal and again we were longing to travel. Jersey won’t cut it and will be mostly about paperwork anyway. I want the world back. Although I’m not necessarily sold on mad honey.

Rhododendrons can have a certain Granyanotoxin that can find its way into honey. If you eat it, you might have visions. You will also be mostly paralysed with your bowels loosened and the need to vomit. “The vomit is the important part,” says the guy who sells this honey at market. I don’t think I’m sold yet. Last summer I paid money to somebody to burn my arm and scrape toxic frog secretions into the welt. Moments later I passed out, woke up again, shouted about three litres of liquid, sat there gradually feeling more and more clear while still clutching a bucket, and eventually went home feeling fantastic. I’ll probably have more frog poison some day. But I’m not sure I’m interested in this rhododendron honey.

Incredibly hard work to harvest the stuff, and it’s a beautiful documentary made with a strong eye for the human. But it leaves me no more than curious about this honey – it feels like too much of a toxin and not enough of a medicine. No point going through that sort of thing just for kicks.

Anyway it’ll be a long time until I’m in Nepal and then one day I’ll see the stuff at a market somewhere and you’ll know one way or another.

Smoke?

I’m in Brighton with Lou. It’s half eleven. Lou is drifting off to sleep beside me. I picked up my phone to write my blog. I was going to write about taking Mao here. Maybe about the last minute panic to get the flat half decent. All of that went out the window when I read this text message, sent to me two hours ago:

“Hi Al..hope all is well, there is a smoke dectector going off a lot upstairs somewhere, sounds like a new tenant, maybe nit good at cooking or got the dectector in the kitchen instead of the reception room 🤦‍♂️”

Now I can’t sleep.

If the actual smoke detector is actually going off in my flat then that’s because my flat is on fire.

I was lucky enough to find a friend of Lou’s with a garage in Brighton. The car is there, under lock and key. I won’t be able to get it back tonight so a rush back up to London is out of the question. My messages don’t get through to this neighbour, who I hardly know. They come back rejected after a few minutes. Has the whole block burnt down?

I wasn’t cooking this morning. I lit no candles. I didn’t even make my usual coffee on the hob.

I have to look at the message and try to give myself some context. I tend to cook at about ten at night. I have an oven timer that I frequently use to time things, and I often leave it beeping to remind me there’s something left to do. I did this last night, and the two nights before. I often let it beep for over five minutes. Could it be that he’s a light sleeper and goes to bed early and this is him trying to preempt and prevent a fourth consecutive night of the unwanted beeping?

“There is a smoke detector going off a lot”. If it was going off when he wrote the text surely he’d just say “there is a smoke detector going off.” It’s going off “a lot”. Enough for him to start to get pissed off? Maybe (hopefully) this isn’t actually an emergency message. Maybe this is a passive aggressive neighbour finally plucking up the courage to address a regular source of annoyance. “A lot”. At least he knows it’s two words.

Then there’s the imaginary bad chef, the “new tenant” in Covid times.

I am a dangerously louche liberal who is probably murdering people with drugs in my flat. This is the accepted stance of my various neighbors, one of whom saw a guitar once when they were younger. I keep hours that are not normal and I frequently have facial hair. I am bad.

“A new tenant” he mumbles. “probably a prostitute criminal,” he says darkly to himself. *BeepBeep* “CAN’T EVEN FUCKING COOK!”

Maybe every time my oven timer has gone off over the last few weeks, he has grown more and more apoplectic with this covidrage we are all experiencing. He’s imagining some louche drug-liberal burning a nightly steak in his sandals with a smoke detector directly above the cooker and The Doors playing so loudly in his earphones that he can’t hear it to stop it.

Then we have the facepalm emoji… That doesn’t read like somebody who is worried the block is going to burn down imminently. You wouldn’t send a facepalm if an actual smoke alarm was blaring, would you? The emoji reads like somebody making a suggestion. “Ha ha you and I both know that only stupid people put the detector in the kitchen and not the reception room”. That’s what the emoji says. Hoping I will think “I’d better not look stupid. I’ll move the detector to my reception room.” But I don’t even have a reception room. What even is a reception room? I have a living room. And a corridor with a detector in it. Or I had a corridor. It might all be ash now…

There’s nothing I can do about it tonight. Either everything is ash or it isn’t. I hope it isn’t, but hope springs eternal. I think my textual analysis is correct and he’s just an awkward fucker timing his communication incredibly badly. That English degree of mine can come in handy sometimes.

I’m still going to call him first thing tomorrow. I’m still going to be worried until I’ve spoken to him. But I think now I’ve thought it out I ought to be able to sleep.

Boxes and naps

My friend moved to Olympia. I got a few quid to help her move in. Now I really know how lucky I am to have a lift.

It’s a top floor flat with two internal flights of stairs. The mattress was a killer. By the time I was finished I was no good to anyone. I went back home. As you’ll have seen from photographs, The Chairman likes to sleep on my half of the bed when I’m not there. Sure enough, there he was. I curled up next to him, just for a second, and gently held his belly as he started purring. I woke up two hours later. A cat nap. “Where are you going,” he seemed to say when I untangled from his happy warmth.

I have been meaning to get my flat ready for a friend to stay in while I’m in Jersey. That’s been my slow focus for some time now. I haven’t really been as efficient as I could’ve been, as nobody reading this will be surprised to hear. I did as much as possible in as short a time as possible, assisted by my delightful brother. It’s just much nicer to do anything with company. Even the heavy lifting this morning was in company with two fine gentlemen, one of whom drives a Luton van and knows lots of the people I know. Max and I talked about everything, as it always has been with us, from Kipling to governance through our parent’s friends, to Blondie and Atheism. His scientific brain has always elided well with my chaoshead. The two of us could make something curious and thought provoking, I think. It’s probably time to think of a way to combine our schticks.

But first, Jersey. We got everything into the spare room, which at least is out of the way for now, even if it makes one room in the flat uninhabitable for now.

Nobody is sleeping there any time soon, but the sofa is comfortable and my nearly-evicted friend has the Hampstead flat for a few months now so I’m not going to be bedless while my friend and I share this place through the summertime. It’ll be nice to have company here again too. I like being on my own but I achieve more when I’m not.

Tomorrow I’m going to have to clean up before I leave which means early wake up, which means I’m up far too late already as can often happen when you catnap in the middle of the day. He’s still fast asleep next to me. He only really wakes up for snuggles. It’s a cat’s life.

A day with audition and snake

The alarm woke me at 6. I stumbled into the bathroom and hacked stubble off my face. Then to the kitchen. Coffee in my pants. Back to the bathroom, open a box, stick a long thin cotton bud right up my nose. Probably full of nanobots. Wiggly wiggly. I can still feel it. It’s worse on the way out. Stick it into solution and drop it into the lateral flow.

I did a piece about lateral flow tests a while ago. I was dressed in angora in summer with great big glasses and an even bigger Northern accent. We were teaching people about antibodies through the medium of llamas pegging and minigolf. Get that fucker past the arts council. It was fun. At least I knew what to expect as I blearily watched the liquid go over the control line and then no second line. What a surprise. No Covid. Do I get a certificate? No.

I drove to Ealing and parked in the car park of a Baptist Church. “Parking with permission only,” it said. I gave myself permission.

I walked to a condemned office building by the station.

Actors. Six maybe eight of us. In the same room. Doing an audition.

I don’t know how to do that anymore. There I was at ten in the morning and it’s a workshop. Last time I just panicked and shouted. Oh God I hate auditions.

Movement first. Good. This is something I like. I’m always happy to be put into my body before I have to act. My journey has long been about that. You can tell from these blogs that the intellectual bit functions. How do I marry it with the primal bit? I commit to movement type stuff. It’s why I love theatre.

Lots of crazy physical shit. Then I’m ready and I’m A so I’m first and I realise that even though the speech I chose is on theme for the workshop it’s meant to be spoken by mister sexyboy. Still, commity time and it all happens somehow and eventually I’m back in the Baptist Church car park wondering what the hell just happened.

I drive home and tidy and look after the cat and the hands on the clock move inevitably closer to evening and there isn’t enough time left there just isn’t and at ten I get the snake and I wrestle him downstairs.

His tank was made for fish. It is exploded at the back as if it was shot, and has been mended by Mel with a plank of wood somehow. I always worry when I carry it. It could never carry water but it holds Hex well enough. The cat chaperones me out and it goes in the back of the car. Off into the ULEZ and I drop it off with Flavia. Last night I dreamt that Mel came back from New Zealand and tried to feed me a mouse instead of Hex. Last night I woke myself lunging for that mouse.

I don’t tell Flavia of my dream. I pretend to be all ordered in my head. We change the newspaper and I teach her the basics of snake/mouse interaction. She is sufficiently determined that I know Hex will be well looked after. Hex takes a mouse very quickly like a good little boy. I think he’ll be happy there, up on a pedestal.

I return home to a cat triumphant that the only rival to his affection is gone gone gone. We have snuggles. He falls asleep content.

My legs know they’ve been working. I’ll be after the cat before long.

I don’t know if this one will land. They’re seeing plenty of people. Nice though to be in the frame. It’s a funny old job. And I was so happy to be in that workshop I mostly forgot it was an audition at all just for the joy of process! BRING ME PROCESS.

First it’s time for Jersey though. That’ll be a slowdown for a while. Then, who knows.

New Life

I just got sent a picture of an ultrasound with a head in it.

There’s been a lot of death recently so I’m thrilled. Tomorrow I’m auditioning for a show that’s going to be about a man in the throes of denial of his own mortality. Friends have been losing parents, parents have been losing friends. For decades now I’ve had a good handle on the finality of death. I haven’t liked it but I’ve known his touch on those dear to me. I’ve looked him in the face a couple of times. I feel his work around me. In this town it’s hard to avoid encounters, on the roads or coming out of the house next door. In the river, over the bridges, in the parks. But so it goes.

A week ago I was shoveling shit into a trough. The stinking moldering wreck of something that was once living, hurled into a trough where it will become the spark that ignites new life. For ever, we go round and round. One spirit moves on, one spirit comes in. The cycle. The endless river.

A new life and not for want of trying. It has a head. But then the question – when is it truly alive? We know that question so well. It’s somehow managed to get tangled up in politics across the pond. It’s tricky and arbitrary to set a date on it. It has been there long enough for it to be officially okay to say it’s there to your friends. It has a head. When are we truly alive? And so too on the other side. When are we dead? Is it when we give up on life? Or is it when we stop moving? I’ve met plenty of dead people over the years, and some of them appear to be quite happy.

This headed thing will be alive and will be happy too, I should imagine. It’s lucky enough to have appeared in the existence of wonderful people this time round. Right now as it grows perhaps it knows more than us of where it has been before but soon it’ll just be part of the daily drive for food and shelter, with the optional extras like “Where’s my shirt,” and “I’m nervous.”

One in, one out, and it makes me happier still that I’m off to Jersey now to finally stop the ghost of my father screaming at me about what a ninny I’ve been for twenty years. I was a late arrival in his life, he was an early departure from mine. There’s a lot of crucial information that didn’t get imparted. I’m still playing catch-up, but only after deciding quite arbitrarily who I was going to be within the freedoms his life gave me, and being it quite loudly and perhaps a bit too selfishly for ages. I haven’t ushered one of these little lives into the world – quite the opposite – I’ve been fucking careful not to. But I’ve been alive along the way, and I fully intend to continue to be alive and more so as we switch back into being able to see each other. I will get to know this tiny human. We will be friends as I tumble to decrepitude.

For now though I’m going to go to a movement workshop tomorrow morning, which might be enough to kill me after months of apple crumble and beef pie. At ten fifteen I’ll probably be running on the spot or pretending I’m spaghetti boiling in the pot while trying to remember a speech about death from Shakespeare that I’ve never used as an audition speech before but which just … feels like it might be right… I expect I’ll be exhausted by noon. Here we go, back into the world.

Bed first. Mao is waiting.

Thinking ahead just a little bit

The ferry is finally booked. I’ve been waiting for my SEISS payment but then the sailing I wanted suddenly filled up so I went and put the next one on my credit card instead. There’s all sorts of red tape that I’ll have to go through and work out before I get there but that’ll wait. I have never even had a lateral flow test, least of all a PCR. I’m going to experience both of these wonders in the next week. I’m not even sure which one of them involves having something shoved all the way up your nose. Either way, I have to get to Jersey, so I’ll just have to have some sort of unpleasantness acted upon me in order to tick the boxes.

They don’t let us sit in our cars either, which I’d be fine with despite the smell and the clanking. You have to pay extra depending on the level of “comfort” you wish to subject yourself to. For just a tenner you get to sit in everybody’s feet, shoulder to shoulder with six people who hate you. For the princely sum of £20 you get to travel Club Class, which just means there’s a coded door into your special room full of feet and rage, where the chairs are bigger. I paid for it though. There are plug sockets in those big chairs and you get free coffee. A cabin with a door would’ve been £130 but it’s the colour of sick to make it easier to clean and it’s the size of a shower cubicle. I’d sooner sleep in the bed of Procrustes.

I still haven’t a clue where I’m staying. I’m hoping I’ll be able to cheerfully impose on family but it’s hard to cheerfully impose on anybody at the moment considering other human beings are terrifying disease ridden filthbags who want you dead. Chances are I’ll have to book a hotel for the first two weeks and then cheerfully impose on family once they can be sure I’m not going to give them death-cooties.

For now I’m enjoying my last couple of days of gentle home life, me and the animals, before I have to farm them off to their various carers and hit the land of difficult forms and numbers and stuff just on the other side of the English Channel. A month in Jersey. Land of my birth.

I’m looking forward to it. If money was no object I honestly think I’d have moved back there by now. The climate is better and even though it’s small I find it less cloying than The Isle of Man. Plus the sea is much better for swimming. I might even get to go in there.

First though I’ve got a theatre workshop audition on Friday morning. Heavens! All spaced out and distanced in Ealing. Two hours of movement while staying away from each other. I’m supposed to wear soft shoes and I literally don’t think I own any. I’ll need to get up into the attic and dig. Surely there’s a plimsoll in a bag there somewhere, unloved and hopeful…

With all this in mind, I’m getting an early bed. So is Mao.

Old snapshot

I can see the floor again in the room that used to be my bedroom. This is excellent, and something of a development. I’ve been using it as a storage area for things I didn’t know what to do with and for rarely worn clothes. Now at least the clothes are all in a pile for sorting and I’ve mostly worked out what to do with the things I didn’t know what to do with. That involved a few bin bags.

There’s a trunk of my uncle Peter’s belongings that he must have packed up when he left school. It hasn’t been opened since. Fifty years. Exercise books, work experience detritus, a little plastic wheel that makes it easier to convert shillings into new pence. Letters in the very familiar scrawl of my grandmother, who is still speaking eloquently to me from the back of paintings and notes pushed into old vases. Letters in the tighter and more formal hand of my grandfather the diplomat who never really wrote to me if it wasn’t on business. Stupid joke Valentine’s cards from my mum to her brother just like the ones she would send me. Applications for work by a school leaving Peter with a primped up CV. Bank statements. Not as many tissues and rennies as the older version of Peter was used to hiding for me to find, but still plenty of rubbish. And amongst them, a few old photos. They slowed me down, those photos. I became curious. Mum the teenager…

Here’s my favourite, taken perhaps before a garden party at Buck House, if I recognise those railings.

Four of the departed. Mum distracted. Danda concerned. Da telling Danda what to do. Peter arrogant. An animated little moment, taken long before I was born. When we die, nobody will stumble on our Facebook photographs, or the ones stored in our phone or in that Dropbox you keep meaning to clear space in. We will find paper photos by mistake and look into the faces of our progenitors and wonder what we never knew about them. Anyone that follows us will have to have a device, or a password, and is going to have to knowingly open a folder marked “photos”. Our moments will not be so transferable or so easily discovered by mistake. It’ll make throwing our stuff out a little easier I guess. I’m glad I saved this one from the bin. I found a contemplation within it.

I’m now at the age where normally the mortality of my parents would be brought to mind. My old friend Alexander lost his mummy this morning to cancer. At least four other friends have said their last farewell this pandemic, and only one with Covid. There they are staring at us full of life, and here we are, still in the stream, reading their life with ours. While we have it.

Grab that fucker, my loves. Grab it and ride it joyfully through all the noise we’re hearing and do not go softly and carpe the fuck out of it all and wheeeee. It’s GOOD. It really is and all the things are momentary. This is it, boys and girls. And then somebody is looking at it and wondering. So long as they can find the folder.

London days of old

Humphrey would be proud of me. I appear to be going to Mornington Crescent almost every day. It’s a part of London I first learnt about in the stupid game of the same name on radio four. Like many places, the reality is not as romantic as the idea. It’s basically an extension of Camden High Street. One fine summer evening I thought I was going to get knifed by a ratboy called Sid as I tried to have a pint in the outside seats of The Lyttleton Arms – named for Humphrey the inventor of the game. Sid wanted to sell us his drugs so badly he got very angry when we honestly weren’t interested. Many a night I’ve been in the Lyttleton without such happenings, but it’s always the weird ones you remember isn’t it?

Living in London I got used to expecting these strange or lovely or upsetting or wonderful encounters with angry or broken or happy or bizarre people. There are just so many in this metropolis and when the barriers go down they go down completely. Even going through my phone, the numbers are saved with little stories… “Lils Random Train Girl” I can’t remember this at all. “Steve Waterloo Suicide Watch” – hell yeah I remember him. He was in a dark place – I caught his eye and reflexively asked if he was ok as the darkness was so visible. I bought him some drinks at Vaulty Towers and we talked for hours. Love and money – the combination, both going wrong at the same time. I think I was flush at the time so I got him dinner and put him on the train home. We texted the next day. I hope he sorted it out for himself somehow. “Dark Hair Drunk Snog Gideon Reeling” … well yeah. That kind of speaks for itself really. I remember her. I remember the night. There was a dog and a pub and a walk and a kiss. I didn’t ring that number because I couldn’t remember her name and I was ashamed. Our phone holds all these records, stored up in the cloud now and passed from device to device so they’re never truly lost unless we delete them. All these little digital memories in a little rectangle in our pocket. They’re all we’ve got of that open crazy world for now. The nightlife and the buzz that swings me round the city at night. In sober years just as much as in drunk ones I was eating up sensation here and probably remembering it even better. The drunk memories often devolve when I follow them too far into flashes of one of a million different late night dives. Bad music and worse wine at stupid prices. Faces in the half light drawling out ideas forgotten as soon the dawn breaks.

I miss it though. When I was working it was most nights, after the show, pissing it up the wall as I forgot there are other ways of winding out adrenaline. Six foot tall and male I could mostly get about at night with nothing but misplaced confidence and a loud voice. Despite some of the areas I’d be staggering around in I’ve very rarely hit a snag. I’ve only seen one knife pointed at me so far. I’ve been pickpocketed about three times, but two of those times I think I might have just dropped it. Either way I just don’t have a wallet anymore and that solves that one. But I still miss it. The throngs. The noise. The heat. The mess. We have been without for so long that it has started to smell romantic… It isn’t. It’s horrid.

I’m glad I’ve quit booze in the quiet time. It’s going to be harder now if things switch back on. But the worst bit is signed off.

And I went to Mornington Crescent again. So I’ve won.

Cat board

About a week ago I went online to Amazon Prime. I was looking for something for The Chairman to scratch, after noticing be had his eyes on other items of furniture in the house. I bought him a Piupet 38cm cat scratching board. It sits on the ground in a little circle, and it comes with two little sachets of drugs. Catnip. The good stuff.

It arrived the next day and I really didn’t expect anything of it. It was twenty quid and it was money I was happy to burn for the chance of having my furniture safe from claws. I opened it up, lay it down and filled it with catnip. Immediately Mao was rolling in it, scaring himself with his own fun. Now he sleeps in it all the time.

When Tom came and stayed last week I gave him my room and I went on the sofa. I brought the board through to the living room as I know he loves to be near me, and I’m trying to wean him away from the spare room. We slept happily in the living room with his little circle under my butsudan in the living room.

Last night I forgot to bring the circle back into my room. I also left the living room light on. Mao woke me up so many times in the night that I actually can’t count them. It took me a long time for my muzzy head to work out what he was pissed off about. I just assumed he wanted cuddles, and so would muzzilyb cuddle him until he was purring and then go back to bed optimistically. But no, he wanted his pad in the same room as me, in the dark. He was not going to rest until he made it so. He’s an old man and he is very capable of making it abundantly clear when things are not as he would like them to be. He’s also a big softie, so I solved it for him and he was immediately happy.

I rose late this morning. Sunday lie in. Probably about 11. I have been going about my business all day and Mao has been sleeping like a rock in his little circular board in my room. He barely stirs when I pass him. It’s now half past nine. About ten minutes ago I heard him snore so hard he shocked himself awake. Now he’s looking at me, but he hasn’t got the energy yet to demand cuddles. There’s a whole can of tuna waiting for him in the kitchen and he hasn’t even looked. It can’t be a bad life, being Mao. Just a lack of dietary variation. A cat makes a home. I’ve really started to understand that. First Pickle, so gentle and affectionate and willful. Now Mao, habitual and robust and hairy. They both bring a great deal, especially in these times. They make movement harder. But we learn to compromise over time with these things, and Lou will have him for the Jersey trip and that will work out fine.

And for anybody who needs cat scratchy things, I’ve got to recommend the piupet. It’s getting hard use so I’m not sure how long it’ll survive. But it’s great, and he immediately understood that it was his.

Barbeque and Buddhism

The day started with a zoom meeting in bed. I’m past the stage now where I put a green screen up and make it look like I’m in a jungle or a disco or on a beach. That was 2020 zoom. Now I’m happy to show the cracks. Great big coffee mug, visible duvet, lump of ormolu behind me, talking about Buddhism.

It was a little connection with the local Buddhists, only one of whom I’ve actually seen in person for over a year now. It’s always good to know people in your neighbourhood, especially considering I don’t have many friends in my geographical area. This practice that I’ve adopted when I remember does encourage people to reach out to those around us. There are no temples – we use each others homes. Perhaps if I’d been more diligent in attending meetings like the one I went to this morning, I’d have found somebody to pop over to mine and feed Hex once a week. That has been my worry. Feeding him can be reasonably involved, with all the puppetry. But I found an angel. Flavia is going to take him on, God bless her. The only shit bit is that she lives inside the Congestion Charge area so I’ll have to stump up to get him there. But I’m glad he’s going to a safe home.

Buddhism completed and a long day of nothing was looming large when the phone rang.

Tristan has a garden. He got one of those sexy American gas barbeques for his fortieth. I’ve had sausages in my fridge from a trip to the butcher. An impulse led to the perfect Spring day as four of us sat at opposite ends of a little back garden in Richmond shoving down meat as the cherry blossom blew in the breeze. It made me realise how thoroughly I’ve decoupled myself from what little social ability I once had. I felt weird, sometimes a bit panicky, even. I’m sure all sorts of rubbish came out of my mouth unguarded. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert by preference, this pandemic has pushed us all to a kind of introversion. I seem to spend large portions of my days stroking a cat and mumbling to myself. Jersey will do me good, once I’ve worked through the quarantine period which might be horrible. Great to see some old friends though and do something traditionally sociable for a change. A barbeque. Who knew it would be so unusual.

It’ll take us years to get good at big groups again, I fear. I’m home, recharging and running myself a bath. I’ll book the ferry tomorrow…