Day 48 of Our Captivity

Let’s see, what’s new this week… not a ton, really. Hard to believe we’re approaching 50 days of isolation.

A very empty Clapham Common on a lovely spring morning

Our household has the same story as many households. We’re at home. We’re safe and healthy. We’re going a bit out of our minds but, overall, we are very grateful for our circumstances: a comfortable house, a paycheck, food, our health, connection with others via the Internet.

I am discovering new ways of doing trade with local businesses. One of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to try to support our local businesses over ordering from Amazon when we can, which is not always possible, especially now, when all businesses considered non-essential are closed. But we have succeeded a couple times, in odd ways.

Feeling a little like we’re in some dystopian post-pandemic world, this is what it now looks like to do business in a major international city in the year 2020:

The back story: I was cycling past the currently-closed art gallery down the road from us, and noticed a plant sale set up out front. I stopped and talked to the woman, who runs the art gallery. I bought a tomato plant and some rocket (arugula, though I’ll admit it is more fun to say you’re growing a rocket plant) from her. I had just ordered some growing herbs from our grocery delivery service like I do every spring, but I didn’t have a way to get soil (they call it compost here) for my container garden, since the places I would normally go to get some are closed. The lady from the art gallery does something with plants on the side, and told me she has access to the big commercial garden suppliers (hence the sidewalk plant sale). So she took my name and number and said she’d get me some compost in two days’ time. Three days passed and I hadn’t heard from her, so I rode over to the gallery again, and spotted the sign on the door. Apparently she’d lost the slip of paper with my number on it.

I got the compost, the owner of a currently-closed local art gallery got the money for it, and I’ve planted my container herb garden for the season. Win-win. I’m looking forward to those little yellow tomatoes, too.

I also recently had a man outside in my front garden filling jars I’d left out with poster paints. He owns the local toy store and we needed more paint. Demand, supply, we worked it out! I got paint for some neighbours, too. The kids have all been busy painting lots of rainbows lately so I figured we weren’t the only ones who needed a top-up, and I was right.

kids painting

On Monday, we threw a virtual birthday party for my MIL (known to her granddaughters as “Mimi”).

Batgirl and Bambi bake a cake

I helped Batgirl (E) and Bambi (R) bake a cake (best chocolate cake I’ve ever made and possibly ever tasted btw), wrap gifts, and make a poster to be our background on a Zoom call for the “birthday party.” During which we sang to her, showed her the cake she couldn’t eat (so, so sorry, Mimi),  and the girls opened her birthday presents for her, by proxy, which of course they loved doing.

Nothing but the best for my MIL!

After that, we participated in an at-home pub quiz put on by the National Theatre. We competed against M’s colleagues over Zoom, and the questions were HARD. We only got four right, and somehow we still won!?

Everyone put in £10 to play, and the winner would get the pot to donate to the charity of their choice. Our winnings are going to Little Village, the organisation I was volunteering at before lockdown, which helps mothers and children in need here in London. Their donations and volunteer hours have obviously decreased significantly, but the number of people needing their services is higher than ever. (Little Village Amazon wish list here.)

On Wednesday, I went to Marks & Spencer for the first time in more than 7 weeks.

I feel like we can now read this as, “GO PICK YOUR OWN EGGS!”

I used to be in there at least once a week, to pick up certain M&S-specific items, or things that we needed in between Ocado grocery deliveries. I got there before 7 a.m., which is opening time, to queue, as Wednesday is the only weekday that doesn’t have a reserved first hour for elderly/vulnerable people or NHS workers. I managed to get in and out as quickly as possible, noting that they were entirely out of eggs and flour. Fortunately, I’ve been able to find those things elsewhere, and they were not my goal yesterday morning.

No flour, but plenty of Atora “shredded beef suet”

We did our Thursday 8 p.m. clapping for the NHS and other carers last night, and this time, there was a little extra to it. It was “Captain Tom’s” 100th birthday. Now, I don’t know Captain Tom Moore, and I had never heard of him before this week, but he is a British Army veteran who has managed to raise over £30 MILLION for the NHS during this pandemic, by pledging to walk 100 lengths of his garden for his 100th birthday. (Look him up online.)

So yesterday was the big day, and apparently, what he said he wanted was for everyone to observe 2 minutes of silence at 7:58 p.m., in memory of all those who have died from COVID-19, and then clap for all the heroes. So we and our neighbours stood outside in our front gardens in silence, proceeded to clap and cheer as usual for a couple minutes, and then we all sang “Happy Birthday” to Captain Tom after that.

When we got back inside afterwards, I heard little R crying loudly in her room. I rushed in to see what was wrong, and she wailed, “I missed the clapping!”

I wonder all the time how much of this the girls will remember, and how this will shape them and their entire generation. It’s not necessarily all negative… the support we’re showing for total strangers, and the demonstrations we’re making of caring for others, that’s all incredibly important. Though if we ever thought the pendulum would swing back the other way on our kids communicating in person rather than online, I’d say that clock is broken.

On a related note, watching 7-year-olds converse over video chat is really amusing. It consists mostly of changing their virtual backgrounds or teaching each other how to turn their heads into emojis. Honestly, after a day of leading “home learning,” I have very little fight left in me to say “you’re supposed to be having a conversation with another human, not essentially playing a video game.”

This week I ordered reusable cloth face masks for all of us. It’s not required here, and I’d say there’s only maybe a quarter(?) of people wearing them from what I’ve seen when I’ve been out around here, but now that a lot of other countries are requiring them, I figured I’d better get ahead of it and get some before they’re made mandatory and then all go the way hand sanitiser and toilet paper did. As I can’t sew a straight stitch, I ordered them off of Etsy, from mask-makers here in London.

I even found one for me that includes the text “Walk in London” in the print! Hey, that’s me! Come to think of it, the title of this blog has never been so accurate, as we are basically confined to the area in between the commons right now.

E likes her mask, but R’s is still way too big, despite me ordering the smallest size I could find. I doubt kids her age will be required to wear them anyway, but look at the cute rainbow prints I found for us!

Speaking of rainbows, we had a double-whopper yesterday.

Does this mean that God is promising to never Coronavirus the Earth again? I sure hope so.

A few more recent pics of life around here to close this out:

And this is one of the funniest things I’ve seen so far: In England, schools display their Ofsted (short for Office for Standards of Education) rating in their windows, e.g., “Good,” “Outstanding,” or, in the case of this person’s home school…

Ofsted Bloody Awful

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