DAY 6: Thurs 19 Mar

A bit of exercise and lots of little distractions

Early start today. Began my exercise regime. My body did not take too kindly to it.

Many years ago I joined gym and used to go early in the morning before work, but I just could not stand the blaring, thumping music. Often I was the only person there and I asked the staff to turn it down. They wouldn’t. They couldn’t they said. “It’s for the staff too. Bring your own music if you don’t like it. Other people do.” 

“But what if  I don’t want music?” They just shrugged.

It came to a head when, a second competing sound system started up in an adjoining room, using different tracks with conflicting beats. Again I was the only ‘client’ there. When I remonstrated I was told it was for a special fitness class, coming in at 9am. More shrugs. I was sweating it out on the rowing machine, but my head could not take it. I stormed out, never to return. Maybe it was a function of my misophonia (of which more perhaps, once you’ve looked it up) but why MUST we have loud music in gyms. 

Some years later another gym opened up closer to home and got myself assessed for a regular workout. A slightly podgy figure approaching retirement age was evidently not their idea of the clientele they were after, for when i went back for my first session the man who was supposed to put me through my paces was not there. Even through HE had made the appointment. He wasn’t there the next time either, and no-one offered to take his place. After one last try over the phone, to which I got rather dusty replies, I gave up. 

Instead, over the years I have saved up to furnish my home with bits of gym equipment which sit in odd corners taunting me to make use of them. I have occasional bouts and feel good about it, but work has taken me away from home quite often, and in between times the odd ailment has prevented regular use. Six months continuous use is the longest I have endured. This morning I managed 40 minutes with Gordon Brown and Gavin Williamson to keep me company on the Today Programme. More anon, no doubt.

I have already lost track of the days. Normally on a Wednesday I would spend the morning at Glenside Hospital Museum <> up in the ‘choir loft’ (it was actually the Chief Physician’s personal pew) of the former hospital’s chapel, working on my history of the private madhouses of Fishponds. I missed out yesterday – and the Museum itself will now be closing for the duration –  so I will devote the morning to it. I like to think I am working on the final draft, but there are always so many other angles to explore…

And other things to distract me. The afternoon was spent printing and posting up the NHS Coronavirus advice on the Back Lane Community Noticeboard outside my house; putting away the shopping my son delivered; trying to log the FIT readings from the solar panels (though we’ve had so little sunlight I wonder they have generated anything much of late); collating useful websites and YouTube videos to inform, educate and entertain the grandchildren while they are stuck at home; etc etc. So little (make that no) work done on the history book.

One sister’s knee and eye operations have now been postponed indefinitely; but another has been assured that her more serious op will go ahead on 2 April. Evidence that the NHS has more to do than just deal but the coronavirus crisis.

The care home looking after my aged godmother called to say they are now locked down with no visitors allowed, so they have instituted a daily call to relatives to assure us that all is well. A good example of best practice which I hope other care homes are adopting.

Might be better if Johnson found a better way of communicating than his cliche-ridden blather each tea time, which tells us as little as he appears to know. He could learn some lessons from Leo Vardakar’s St Patrick’s Day address – a masterful example of how to communicate clearly, honestly, and with humanity, qualities which Johnson sorely lack..

Today saw the discrete launch of the Connecting Communities blog some of us have been working on – to share stories and information to help people cope and thrive during these difficult times. health

Meanwhile many funny stories, videos and cartoons are being exchanged via social media – indicative of the infantilism that has gripped those of us now locked in alone. We are losing touch with what life is like in the ‘outside’ world unless we can see it on TV, or friends who are still free share anecdotes from their day. 

The grandsons, now off school, seem to have more fun larking about on Skype than paying careful attention to my rendition of the opening chapter of Salman Rushdie’s ‘Haroun and the Sea of Stories’. I am determined to finish it with them, having failed miserably when I first started reading it to my youngest son way back in the 1990s. 

This evening I was supposed to be sharing a lamb shank and a decent red with my good friend historian Madge Dresser, but we are now forbidden to meet! I made do with my own version of chicken breast in a mushroom and garlic sauce on rice, with a mug of herbal tea. Good night.

Mike J

Journalist, trainer, editor; storyteller; amateur historian.

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