Week 10 of my Catford lockdown, and a series of lasts (last clap for carers, last home alone and deliciously spacious king-sized bed just for me, last lonesome dinner…) and firsts (first piss-up in the physical presence of a loved one, first trip in a car, first day in the countryside) since the country shut up shop on 23 March have exhausted this tough old bird.
As I adjust to having another human being in my midst I anticipate my training runs with some relish, even when, sleep deprived, I attempt a speed session posted on the Club’s WhatsApp. It was not a success, but it was completed, rather like much of my work schedule, which is a haphazard series of attempts and semi fails and issues with overloaded internet.
So far, the best day of Week 10 has been the one I spent admiring the views, through a haze of rose wine, on a post-lunch walk around a series of winsome little Somerset villages, where it seems to be the law that roses clamber around the front door and people greet you cheerily and offer up their excess tomato and chilli plants, sun warmed strawberries and bunches of rhubarb. How bucolic, how utterly wholesome. Remind me why I live in south London, again?
It is still against the law for people from one household to stay in the households of others, however closely related they are. So if your husband’s mother is 87 and living alone 120 miles away, you have to go there and back in a day. Pretty exhausting.
Thank goodness, then, for the large gardens of the countryside, where extensive family sized tents can be pitched on the rather parched lawn and London-lurgy carriers like me can be told to sleep inside it.
I love camping, so am counting the days before I can pitch my politically correct second home, in the hope that the old man, and main carer, will think better of it and retire to his bedroom indoors. There’s an outdoor privy and basin so a wash and brush up won’t be out of the question and I’ll be able to rise with the birds and go off for my long Sunday run across rolling fields and past pretty Somerset orchards.
The weather, however, may be a fly in the ointment. After nine weeks of wall-to-wall sunshine we’re facing a weekend of rain and gales, so our plan to leave the tent pitched so we can return every weekend, like posh Londoners with their place in the country, may require adjustments.
In terms of lurgy-carrying, however, it seems London folk have weathered the worst of Covid 19. The city’s lockdown – up until the weekend of 30/31 May at least, has served us well, and cases, hospitalisations and deaths are on the decrease. It’s the West Country, apparently, that’s suffering a spike. However, witnessing the crowds in my local Lewisham park yesterday, on the last hot day for a while, you’d be forgiven for fearing a new wave of infections may be coming.
Whether people will be willing to forgo the summer-holiday travel and treats in order to flatten any new curves is a bit of a moot point. But the general movement of folk seems to be toward the open spaces, and estate agents have opened up their emails again to witness a surge of disconsolate city dwellers looking to sell their overheated gardenless apartments to invest in the healing spaces of the shires, moors, uplands and downlands.
If this is the case, will we see a return to the inner-city poverty of London of centuries past, when the healing breath of the countryside just three or four miles outside the urban stews became the destination of choice for those with means?
And the towering glass penthouses of £6m-plus apartments, such as those at One Blackfriars? Who will buy? What will become of us city folk who are left behind? And can I even remember where all the bits of the family tent are?