I can’t believe I didn’t know about this for so long, after living here for almost five years! And it’s even something we can go do within the current lockdown restrictions!
For those of you who are as in the dark as I was about what this is, well, you’ve heard of beach combing? Mudlarking is like that, except along the Thames River in London; and you’re not looking for pretty shells, but rather, for bits of centuries-old-trash-turned-treasure. Centuries of lost or cast-off items that now qualify as antiques. It’s treasure hunting the whole family can do together, right here in London.
Well, we came out of lockdown, and then pretty much immediately had to participate in “surge testing” for the South African variant of the virus, which had popped up in our local area.
It was like, Happy reopening! …now go get tested. (Ours were negative.)
But fortunately, school has resumed following the Easter holidays, and pretty much all the kids’ activities have resumed as well. So we’ve been trying to get back into a routine after a very disjointed start to this year.
Today, Monday, April 12, was a big one for removing quite a few of the restrictions we’ve all been under since Christmas. Domestic travel and holiday lets are now allowed, so some of my friends and neighbours have packed up their cars and gone off to various English country- or seaside locales for the remainder of the school holidays.
Retail shops and gyms could reopen, salons and barber shops could welcome back the desperate and ungroomed (that would be a good name for a soap opera, no?), and restaurants and pubs could once again serve diners and drinkers, as long as they were outdoors. People have been very excited for this day, and are hungry for a taste of the former freedoms and simple pleasures we once took for granted.
So it seemed like a particularly cruel joke when we woke up to this:
We made it through March. Always, always my least favorite month of the year–the dregs of winter dragging on for 31 days, so tedious after February’s brief 28–made even more dismal by the circumstances of a pandemic and lockdown; now, add in that today is the first anniversary of my father’s death.
But tomorrow will be April.
The combination of spring weather and an easing of lockdown restrictions this week has made an obvious difference in the vibe around here. It feels like we have finally made it through The Darkest Winter, and never has spring felt so much like coming out of hibernation.
Everyone is emerging from their hermitages, looking less like beautiful metamorphosed butterflies and more like hairy, hangry bears, desperate for socialization and sunlight, and probably also a roots touchup.
For the past week and a half, we have watched a tragedy unfold right here in our neighbourhood. Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old woman, left her friend’s house on the street directly adjacent to our block, and began walking home to Brixton, across Clapham Common. She never arrived home.
About a day later, I started receiving messages from people sharing the information that a woman had disappeared from our area. Missing person fliers appeared on every post around here.
A massive search took place over the following days, with police combing Clapham Common and knocking on doors, asking people to check their doorbell camera footage from the night she disappeared. Helicopters hovered over our typically quiet (by the standards of a major city, anyway) neighbourhood.