DAY 59: Mon 11 May

The day that disappeared, unlike the rats

I don’t know where today went. It has been long enough, I was up before 7, after less than five hours sleep.

I spent much of the morning first of all clearing up all the rubbish scattered along the Back Lane by the wind in the aftermath of the refuse collection. Then it was a series of nervous investigations of where the rats are coming from; checking the poison traps; cleaning up the chicken run and shoving poison down into the newest rat hole than appeared overnight, then blocking it off with earth and a brick. The shock was not another hole but the fact that none of the bait has been even touched.

Yet no food is left in the coop over night, and the chickens finish off their tea-time treats before retiring to their perch for the night. The neighbours are taking similar caution with their dogs. Worrying,.

There is a thin sun and biting wind outside, so I was happy to get back indoors, and bake some bread. I had offered ‘hot-chocolate-in-the-front-garden’ to a friend, but it was too cold to contemplate such a diversion.

Then there was Johnson addressing the Commons. I actually fell asleep during the anodyne questions floated to him from his backbenchers in the the ethersphere. All we now know is that there has been a bit of a row-back by the government and no real change in circumstance for much the population, unless they feel pressured into going back to work. I only hope people have the nous to make up their own minds about whether it is safe to go back. They must think about their personal wellbeing and their families before the needs of their bosses. Trades unions have an important role to play here, not least in making sure the government understands the law about safety at work. We shall see tomorrow whether the Chancellor intends to turn the screws on the workers by reducing financial support during lockdown.

Luckily my evening was broken by a visit from grandchild No. 4 who has two teeth showing through (though I cannot get close enough to see) and apparently is now attempting to stand up. She chortles away while her dad and I chat plants and books and films. I loan him The Journey and The President, a really powerful film by Iranian director by Mohsen Makhmalbaf. He doubts he and his partner will have much time to watch with two young children to keep occupied.

Last night he and his 3 year old spent the night camping in the garden. Quite an experience for the young one, especially as it was a wild night with a huge moon.  

And then it was reading time with grandsons 1 and 2. Culann is kidnapped by Tirgach’s pirates on his way to the boat that will take him to safety in Gaul. But he is rescued through the ingenuity of the three Leprechauns who are secretly accompanying him.  

After that I joined the NUJ Branch Zoom meeting to discover that Bristol Branch, more active than many, has been asked to take on members throughout the south west! It is interesting to note that we are getting more people at Zoom meetings than turn up in person.

One worrying development of the lockdown phase, especially for photographers, is that some members of the public are taking out their frustrations on journalists. We may be good at trying to ferret out the truth when politicians are dissembling, and telling heartwarming stories about how people are surviving the coronavirus crisis, but things can turn nasty when pictures are taken of those breaking the rules. And when the official instructions are so confusing that no-one can know exactly what is permitted, it is even more problematic. And that goes for the police too, who have been told they can levy fines of from £100 to £3,600 according to the Prime Minister. And we already know to our cost that not all police really understand what the role of the press is, and seem keener to obstruct than to assist. Few seem to appreciate that journalists are officially regarded as key workers, allowed to be out and about; fewer still seem to have read the Metropolitan Police advice note, letting then know. 

I shall finish the evening finishing Clouzot’s  Le Courbeau on MUBI, which I have twice had to abandon, for sleep.

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