This morning in the Mistley sub-Post Office I was called a “f***ing arsehole” by the only other person in the little shop, at the counter, posting lots of parcels.
She was complaining about wearing a mask; it was stuffy and stupid, she said, and why should she? Her sun glasses misted up she told Frances the postmistress, behind her glass screen; how could it save the economy (sic) and what about her freedoms? She had a rainbow mask that could not cover both mouth and nose at the same time so she may just as well not bothered to wear one.
From a metre and a mask away and hoping to speed up the transaction taking place, in a calm, muffled voice, extremely politely I said, “Its less uncomfortable than the disease.”
“What?” she turned round and asked. “What did you say?”
“I said, it is less uncomfortable wearing a mask than getting Covid. I have had it and its ghastly.”
“I know that!” she snapped.
A long silence ensued while the packages were stamped and the transaction completed. She turned to go, glaring at me, “Sorry to have taken so much time; nice to be acquainted,” she said, though her eyes told the opposite.
Then, as she left, “f***ing arsehole!”
I asked Frances who the customer was as I’d not seen her around here before but she refused to say, “Just a customer, a customer.”
Then again the other day in the Manningtree Coop I was called a “Pratt” for wearing a mask. I was by the vegetables, seeing no one and saying nothing, when this voice behind told me I was a “f***ing Pratt” in the nasal twang of deep Essex. Without any provocation at all.
So here we are friends, deep into phase two of this pandemic living in bucolic paradise far from the madding crowds but surrounded by possibly the most right wing, independent-minded, ignorant and prejudiced English in Britain. Essex man looming large. Nigel Farage’s hunting ground with Clacton, Jaywick and Dovercourt, where there are few Jews and fewer ethnic groups, being possibly the most racist and anti-immigrant of all.
I generalise of course but if you saw what I saw daily in these environs I think you’d forgive my bias.
Which is not to say that there are not a lot of very friendly, wonderful people here too.
“If you don’t like it here why don’t you leave?” or “Why not go back to bloody London?” or “Go back to where you came from!”
Oh please….. not another emigration. Once in a lifetime is enough!
Landermere Wharf, sometimes called Landermere Quay, is a former dock area suitable for lying at anchor in the Tendring district of Essex, England.
The wharf was first used in the Elizabethan era, and was sold in 1760 to Richard Rigby. The main cargo was coal, corn and Scandinavian wood. The area had a tide mill in 1292, which was rebuilt in 1493, but no trace remains now.
In 1954 resident artists Eduardo Paolozzi and Nigel Henderson (artist) established Hammer Prints Limited, which traded their designs for wallpapers, textiles and ceramics from premises there until 1975.
It is now primarily a small residential hamlet in the administrative area of Thorpe-le-Soken.
I went up to London on the train for the first time in 120 days. The carriages were brand new, very clean and empty. The few on board were obligatorily masked. Liverpool Street Station was empty and the Barbican almost completely deserted. It was spooky. I met Friend Richard there, ostensibly for a snack lunch and then a look at MASCULINITIES, the current exhibition showing at The Barbican Gallery.
We eventually found a Pie & Chip shop open (+ free Moretti if we opted to eat in); very little else. So : pie & chips it was and eating in for the beer.
By the exhibition, we were rather underwhelmed and came away unenlightened – it seemed a haphazard collection of admittedly, excellent pictures and installations but poorly phrased, should I say? There wasn’t even a Mapplethorpe. Too controversial? It was not arranged well.
And friends more books, more streaming, lots more walking, webinaring, zooming and bridge-playing, eating and drinking. We have started small scale dinners with friends, two-at-a-time, and exercising social distancing. These are all “firsts” for us in the new world we inhabit. Refreshing to be open again no matter how small the scale.
The summer has been cool. A few weeks of heat wave at the beginning of June but now we are damp, humid, cool, partially cloudy. The fan in our bedroom has only been switched on once all summer so far. I know zilch about farming but on our walks there seems an abundance in the fields – all bursting with crops of beans, barley, wheat, rapeseed, fat cattle and sheep. Am I correct in saying it’s a bumper year? Any farmers out there to enlighten me? Please do so.
The harvesters are out gathering in this abundance though we have heard complaints that there is not enough labour to go round. We have a friend who has a fruit farm in Suffolk. He produces the most fantastic strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and other fruit but cannot find enough labour to pick it all. The new immigration rules make it difficult and the labour exchange produces local people who are exhausted by lunchtime and can’t take the strain. The lockdown does not help.
I am currently reading about four books at once. I’ve still not finished A LITTLE LIFE; like Ariston : it goes on & on & on & on! Then there is Mary L. Trump’s analysis of her Uncle which no-one really needs to read since I think most sane people on earth have come to the conclusion long ago that the current incumbent of The White House is stark staring mad – and evil to boot. Still, its riveting reading. Then my “Mavis Troupe” on WhatsApp is ventilating its current obsession around the themes of genocide, anti semitism, China, Russia, Trump and fairly symptomatic of us all going to hell in a hand basket. So THE LIE THAT WILL NOT DIE, Hadassa Ben-Itto’s investigation into the iniquitous falsehoods that are The Protocols of the Elders of Zion has proved useful; HIDDEN HAND and HAS CHINA WON? are occupying time at present too along with a harrowing and heart-breaking novel based on a true story of life in German occupied Poland, THE LIGHT IN HIDDEN PLACES by Sharon Cameron. A sweet-sad story of hope.
THE RISE OF THE MURDOCH dynasty, Michaela Coel’s elliptically intriguing I MAY DESTROY YOU and THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA a series based on Philip Roth’s book have occupied viewing time – all with equal fascination.
On Thursday last we got into the car and drove up to London for our first night in the flat since early March. The place was knee-deep in dust and spiders’ mess, and the moth boxes were full. The flat above us is undergoing refurbishment and there have apparently been many weeks of banging about – so we are glad we are not there. There were two hospital visits scheduled. These completed, we scuttled back to Mistley as soon as possible rather like naughty boys playing truant.
I have to say, Camden and Kentish Town looked tired and grubby; a lot of shops have not re-opened and may never do so. There are few places to eat safely without crowding and our meeting with wonderful Friends Amit and Alistair had to be arranged as an outdoor event in the back of The Tufnell Park Tavern. All niceties observed.
Amit is a doctor at UCH and deeply involved with the current crisis. He told us that having tested positive for the Covid antibodies our immunity period would probably be very short, backing up official thinking; but he also said that there has so far in the world been very few cases of reinfection which gives us cause for hope.
A change of gear here –
As you know from past postings I am keen on birds. I must tell you this sweet story:
My cousin Rufus whose marriage in Vietnam I attended three years ago works in Sfx and photography. In his office one day he heard a scratching sound in the ceiling above his head and on investigating found a recently hatched Mynah fledgling. Since Rufus was little he has always cared for animals; looked after them; nursed them back to life and here was another desperate case. He named her Estee Lauder because of the distinctive Mynah bird eye markings and against all possible odds she survived and is now ten years old.
Now, I don’t know if you know this, but apparently birds and water fowl, when hatched latch onto the first thing they see when opening their eyes. In Estee’s case, this was Rufus and they have been inseparable ever since. She is the most jet set bird on the planet having made the trip to and from England and South East Asia many, many times. But she resides mostly in Gloucestershire now and is a little arthritic and can get bad tempered when the agues of age beset her and the separation from her parent, Rufus, is too long.
But here’s a thing : when Rufus, who now lives with his beautiful wife in Jakarta, comes home to visit his own parental units in Gloucestershire she remembers him every time and goes literally berserk with joy and will fly to greet him. Its such a sweet sight.
Here is a picture of Estee Lauder about to have a relaxing, pampering bath in preparation for greeting her parent on his brief visit from Saigon (HCMC) to be reunited with family.