DAY 77: Fri 29 May

So much for lying in the sun with a good book

Very hot again today. I am leaving the chickens in their coop today to give the garden a rest. It also meant I could give the greenhouse some ventilation, it can get 45C in there these days, but if I leave the doors open when the chickens are around they ar straight in and cause destruction.

I had decide to take the morning off and lie in the sun with a book, since neither my house guest nor the academic colleague I need to talk to would be available before midday, but you can’t legislate for ‘circumstances’. It is now gone 12 and I am still inside despite having slathered my surfaces with factor 30 hours ago. Phone calls and emails have kept me busy. There is a whistleblower issue at a local publication, and now I see a CNN crew have been arrested live on TV for offences unknown or at least unspoken by the State Police, as things boil over in Minneapolis. And that comes just after I had been writing about those very issues to my new wound cousin in that benighted city. The world get’s smaller by the hour, 

I shall have poached eggs for lunch, and hope the afternoon is more productive. Maybe it would help if I did not start my day online… 

BTW Anyone else noticed how many ‘updates’ you are getting during this pandemic? It’s as if all the programming geeks of the world are trawling through every App known to humankind in search of something to put right. I only hope they are all genuine.

Still no sign of anyone, so I decide to spend what’s left of the afternoon with a book in the garden. No sooner have I settled down to finish off Jenny Erpenbeck’s excellent Go Went Gone than the phone rings and my academic colleague asks if we can now go through her paper. So back inside I come. However we can’t go through her presentations because she has more work to do. It must await another phone call (this evening perhaps, but it never comes).

Before I go back out to my book there is an email asking me to complete a lockdown questionnaire, from the Children of the ‘90s team. I oblige, as I always do, but my son is now 29 so I think I should be let off now.

Back in the garden my house guest is watering; we discuss the themes of Erpenbeck’s book as her central character at last begins to understand the predicament of the refugees he has met. It would-be nice to think that all those who criticise asylum seekers and migrants seeking to better their lives would have the patience and charity to read such a book, or some of the writings of current refugees. For more than 20 years I have lived with refugees, mostly fellow journalists who have had to leave family and friends behind to escape with their lives, often for reporting truths which upset politicians or warlords, or just business interests. Shooting the messenger should be a crime, but too often it is a ‘sport’.

I give up on reading and dismantle an old, dried out compost heap to replenish my stock of friable earth. Only to be summoned to the phone  where a neighbour wants to know if I have any citric acid. No sooner have I said no than it rings again, and it is grandchildren 3 and 4 on Facetime, It is lovely to see them and say hello. Then the front door bell goes (it is a cock crowing) and there is a bag of egg boxes (subtle hint from a neighbour) and a shopping list which my house guest has kindly agreed to fulfil before he goes out to meet friends and be social distantly along the nearby cycle path

Now I am ready for a decent supper – a Lidl game roast that has been waiting in the freezer since Christmas. Somehow I feel I deserve it. And as the weekend starts here, I shall open Il Fagiano (The pheasant), an oak-aged Italian red from 2013. Just a Is am about to go to ed after watch two more episode of Shtisel, a call comes from another locked-down friend, just wanting to pass the time. What is it they say about the best laid plans?

Mike J

Journalist, trainer, editor; storyteller; amateur historian.

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