DAY 17: Mon 30 Mar

They call it bluesy Monday

That was all I needed – the shrill chirrup of my phone at 03:59. A message allegedly from the Fraud Unit of my bank announcing that they had just blocked a payment they regarded as unusual activity on my credit card. I regard sending such messages at such an ungodly hour pretty unusual activity. No way someone half asleep can recognise or identify payments at such an hour. 

And besides I very nearly got caught on a scam recently which had commenced with a remarkably similar communique. I am now deeply suspicious when offered a link as a way of replying.

Took me quite a while when at last I arose to find the relevant documentation to be able to identify the bank’s number, and the payments. They had stopped the renewal of my house insurance and blocked my credit card for good measure. Just what you need when you are confined to the house and only able to purchase goods by card.

After much to do, things got sorted. At one point while waiting in a queue (for the second time) for a call to be answered I went online for a ‘chat’ with a disembodied advisor from the same outfit. At one point we were triangulating.

Whiling away the waiting time I searched idly through Youtube for something to soothe my mood. Found some classic blues to fill the rest of the morning – John Lee Hooker, Santana and Etta James having a great time at the Fillmore Auditoriam, San Francisco in 1986. 

That took me took me seamlessly to Muddy Waters jamming with the Rolling Stones in the Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago in 1981

Set me up for the day. It even inspired a brief foray on the exercise bike. That didn’t last long. I had to leap off to rescue my potatoes. It seemed like the chickens were intent on digging them up. Where is that roll of chicken wire when you need it?

The birds had earlier provided entertainment of a somewhat different kind. I noticed that they had gathered together on the patio in a defensive grouo, usually a sign that a cat or some other interloper is about. All I could discern was an odd knocking sound.  It was a magpie pecking at the a bird feeder onto which it could get no purchase. Each time in knocked the holder grain and suet pellets spilled onto the floor. The chickens were both fascinated and anxious. They dislike bigger birds, like magpies and gulls flying over head, but tolerate the blackbirds a a pigeons that visit the garden. Suddenly the magpie abandoned its efforts to feed and took off. It was the moment the chickens and been waiting for. They moved in as one, to snap up the food scattered beneath the bird table. Momentarily the hostilities of the traditional pecking order was suspended. It was as if they all felt vindicated for biding their time and each deserved whatever she could snaffle.

Despite the cold I made it to the greenhouse, where all is well (and it’s warmer even than the house). I planted some rather tired looking broad beans which are probably past their sell-by, but waste not want not. Last year the chickens took out all the broad beans I had carefully cultivated under a cloche over the winter.

I set some red radishes growing – since the chickens dug up most of the long white ones I had brought on much earlier. And some lambs’ lettuce is now underway. Trust my luck that a frost is promised for tonight, having left the planters outside.

No sign of the roofer who had promised to come today, so this afternoon I finished watching Chaotic Ana by the Spanish director Julio Medem. A quite pretty but rather mysterious oddity, graced by the presence of Charlotte Rampling,which seems to think it is a paean to feminism. In ten not so easy pieces we learn about the past and future lives and deaths of a very attractive somewhat bewildered young woman who kept having sex, being hypnotised and getting killed to the oft-repeated mantra “All women are whores and all men are rapists”. I watched it so you don’t have to. 

After that it was a blessed relief to Skype-read to my grandsons at 7pm, but I had not realised that my phone had been dead all afternoon, so I missed my 6.30 WhatsApp chat with grand-children 3 & 4.  

I also missed the news that my sister’s cancer operation, scheduled for Wednesday, has been cancelled – not postponed – but cancelled at very short notice because of escalating coronavirus in the vicinity.  None of us thought that was happening. Her op was still going ahead when she was seen before the weekend. Rather than refer her elsewhere she has been started on some medicine to ‘slow the spread’. Very worrying. he has plenty of support and remains cheerful but nonplussed. We all hope and pray that NHS resources will stretch to monitoring her her progress.  

Leftovers again for supper followed by a The Girl On The Train, a repeat viewing. I knew there was a plot twist but couldn’t quite remember what it was, so I watched it through and then just said “Oh yes,” to myself as the credits rolled.

I think I am in need of a good read or another film before I sleep. 

Mike J

Journalist, trainer, editor; storyteller; amateur historian.

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