THE GREEN DIARY : Canadian New Year 2021

Friday, 8th January :

We got here in the nick of time and it looks as though we are going to get out in the nick of time too.

The UK has announced that all international passengers will have to be tested for Covid no later than 72 hours before their departure; but as they have as yet not announced a specific date, in the usual indecisive manner we have come to expect from Bojo and his Shudder of Cabinet Clowns, it looks as though we are home free. 

Ironically, four days ago the Ontario Government announced that anyone from the UK and all those with whom they are in contact must take the test. We, by which I mean our whole Canadian family bubble, six of us, duly attended a clinic, had sticks up our noses and tested negative. It was all efficiently handled, results received online and in printable format to be easily produced for inspection if necessary. 

That test of course expires before we leave on Monday but by now it is too late anyway to have one, get the results and travel. If Grant Schapps suddenly imposes a date by then we are liable for a fine of £500. I shall elect to go to prison rather than pay it! Ho-hum!

It’s -11˚C here this morning; clear sunny skies and crisp, dry air. I was meant to get a massage from John Bain (rhymes with pain), the local sports physio. Having ricked my back and neck rather badly when I fell on the ice the other day. But the results of his obligatory test have not come through yet and he is not allowed to be in touch with anyone until they do. So that was cancelled. 

We have watched, like the rest of you no doubt, the appalling events in Washington unfolding in the past day or two; not to mention the soaring Covid statistics coming from Britain. Apparently our local hospitals in Ipswich and Colchester are now full and the death rate the highest ever. I offer no comment on these dismal turn of events but as we feared, 2021 looks no better than 2020 so far – early days though. As for Brexit? Well let’s see what next the Cabinet Clowns come up with. Will we be able to get tomatoes & lettuce let alone Camembert & Frisee at the Co-op? Shock horror!

Ivan & Libby & Sarah & Grandpa Tony & Anna – a New Year’s day – Canada 2021!

For us the two pieces of really good news is that we were able to be with our family at this special time and that the forces of reaction in Washington were repelled. Rejoice! Rejoice! 

Saturday, 9th January :

And so this morning our test clearances allowed me to meet John Bain (rhymes with pain!) at his clinic for an hour of a massage of the sports variety. No pampering here as he melted those knotted muscles. Such relief.

Spontaneous rinks

Another sunny, icy day. Some of the family went skating at Beaverbrooke. Apparently the crisp white covering will now stay until spring so there is less ice to kill yourself on!

Still no specific news from Mr Shapps and his friends so we are now passed the possible deadline of 72 hours and may well appear in London on Tueasday with no valid, negative test certificate. Ho-hum. Do not pass GO, do not collect £200, go straight to JAIL.

One journey – and for once only please – has been traversing the cosmos with all twenty-one of the Marvel epic Avengers, a Disney odyssey of quite spectacular destruction ending in half the universe being killed off by a dour, large-looking man called Thanos (I think). CGI has never had it so good; but very diverting especially while we have another set of real avengers busy trying to destroy American democracy just south of us here!

While on the subject, we’ve finished The Flight Attendant, a rather whimsical comedy thriller and the latest, brilliant Bryan Cranston series, Your Honor.

Sunday, 10th January :

Overcast today, our last day – and still no news  from Mr. Shapps. 

The massage yesterday has proved wonderful. Today, hooray, no  pain-in-the-neck and upper back! I wish I could have another massage soon but our lovely Paul Carey in Manningtree I guess, will not be able to come out for a while.

We have to go into immediate quarantine again when we get back. Friend Willie Meston has laid in emergency stocks and Tesco’s comes with a big order the day after we arrive. Other than that there is nothing in the Calendar for the whole of 2021. Our Madeira visit is cancelled, sadly, and the Voucher Folder is now overflowing with pretty useless airline vouchers none of which can be amalgamated into a nice, single, handy amount nor converted into cash. Hey Ho, Friends. 

Wake me when it’s over!


Home to Covia Brexitannia.

A gentle song from the sirens of Mistley:

THE GREEN DIARY : Canadian Christmas 2020.

Thursday 17th to Tuesday, 29th December :

We got here in the nick of time. Soon after we left,  a travel ban was imposed on the UK by pretty much everyone and all flights to and from Canada suspended for three days. This has now been extended to the 6th January ’21; we are meant to be returning on the 11th but with the new virus strain threatening everyone, who knows whether we will be returning at all!

Canadian Christmas

Yesterday the Ontario Government extended its lockdown regulations until the 9th January so, while Tony and I come out of quarantine in four days time with the whole family, we are all still in lockdown with everyone so our status doesn’t really change much. 

ArriveCAN is an App we have to use to report our temperatures daily and receive and send any Covid communications necessary. From time to time either a virtual or actual telephone call will come in to check on us. So far there have been no personal visits though these apparently do happen as well.

In the end this journey will be one, long quarantine but as we came here to be with the Canadian family anyway, it does not matter a jot. It’s just a pleasure to be so welcomed by them and they have gone to extraordinary lengths to prepare for the siege. We lack for nothing. Entertainment, media & meal menus have been meticulously prepared and all my hopes of a thinner New Year have been kicked into touch!

With Gin, Jigsaws, Netflix, Bridge- virtual and actual – games and books aplenty, we have been royally looked after. We have even played Bridge-online with friends at home and both our Canadian and English families joined transatlantically in a web game called Codenames. Technology is astonishing.

One piece is missing. We think it’s in the dog!

Best of all is just to be here after all the months of cancellations and nail-biting moments as plan after plan went south. Its been over eighteen months since we were last together.

We are allowed to walk outside. The joy of this is Nala, the youngest edition to the family. She is a seven month old Bernerdoodle with the sweetest, kindest nature and adored by all, needing lots of exercise in the freezing cold to work off her enthusiasm! She has us all wrapped round her paws and seems not to feel the cold at all.

Temperatures have ranged between -15 and +8˚C with some light falls of snow and rain on the warmer days. Today it was –9˚C with clear skies and sunshine – and no wind.

We are of course riveted by the Brexmas developments at home, the sad slide into the new coronavirus variant and the casting off of HMS Britannia, finally slipping her moorings and leaving the European quayside to journey we know not where.

See amid the winter snow………….

We come out of Quarantine tomorrow, the 30th December straight into an Ontario lockdown similar to Tier 4 at home. Apparently the new British Covid Variant has arrived here now. It remains to be seen what the new developments mean for our flights home on the 11th January. Air Canada have not cancelled us yet but we are expecting they might. This is certainly a spontaneous, flexible journey, who knows what 2021 will bring.

In the meantime yet another jigsaw puzzle bites the dust as Schloss Neuschwanstein, that 19th Century vanity project to honour Wagner by Mad King Ludwig II comes together. This time with all the pieces.

It’s -15˚C (chill factor) this morning. Yesterday we played transatlantic bridge with Friends Edward & Jane, our third stab at transatlantic gamesmanship. It snowed in the morning, rained at midday; during our bridge the snow melted completely; after bridge we walked Nala and Granddaughter Libby into a blizzard and over the day the temperatures ranged from 3˚ to -9˚C (wind chill -11˚C). Astonishing swings. It was my first blizzard. A small one but quickly re-covering the ground in white.

I was going to run this until New Year but think I’ll close 2020 here.

A very Happy New Year to all our dear Friends everywhere – may it be Vaccine-filled, healthy and safe.

See you all in 2021!

THE GREEN DIARY : Saturday, 12 December 2020


We have just returned from Snape where we listened to and watched the wonderful Nicola Benedetti playing works by Biber, Bach, Paganini and Ysaÿe, whom I’d never heard of but glad I’ve now met.  She has a charming presence and took us through the works with such warmth on her £2,000,000 Gariel Stradivarius, that the hour flashed by far too fast. We wanted to hear more, especially Paganini, but with a concert immediately following, there was no time for an encore.

Here is an interesting link. Nicola chats about her violin.

Speaking of violinists, Jorge Jiménez, our wonderful composer/virtuoso and neighbour, has just released a new CD, Lunaris featuring his own compositions and works by Ysaÿe, Berio, Bartók and Merula. Along with Anna Stegmann, the Recorder player, has created an eerie, moody Lunar soundscape in the pattern of the 28 day moon cycle: New, Crescent, Full and Eclipse. It is rather esoteric but fascinating – and certainly creates atmosphere.

Jorge continues his work with the Hanover Band on their project to complete the full set of Beethoven Symphonies recorded in the Mansion House in London. All eight of them have now been presented and the 9th will be streamed next week. Here is Mark Elder talking about the symphony which he will be conducting.  Jorge is the lead violinist. It has been beautiful listening. All the instruments are period pieces:

I thought I should mention this 1-MINUTE-FILM-ABOUT-MARRIAGE. We’ve not been streaming only escapism only but trying to find other insightful creations too – “art baby!” There’s a limit to how far MAR DE PLASTICO and BARBARIAN can take you! Have a look at this, it is very sweet and only takes a minute:

This is delightful, Friends.


Our walks continue. 22 kilometres was our biggest one since my last post. On this subject may I have a little rant? Forgive me, but today it’s farmers!


As you know we walk a great deal all over the Tendring and Shotley peninsulas taking advantage of the literally hundreds of specially marked pathways that crisscross farmland, through woods and along riversides. Most of these we have memorised over the years but we have a set of survey maps of the area to make sure we do not stray into forbidden territory or get lost. East Anglia is flat and low lying and once you’re out there it can be confusing despite the smallness of the landscape in these islands.

Why are farmers so grumpy always? Our experience is purely anecdotal of course and I have no statistical evidence to back me up here other than what we see and hear around us on our walks, on the television and the radio.

With Brexit coming up and all the lunacy surrounding that, the farmers are now holding their collective breaths. Gone will be the protections of the Common Agricultural Policy and who knows what will replace it? Yet it was many farmers that wanted this; they want ‘out’ but want the privileges of ‘in’; they never get enough subsidy or if they do its unfairly distributed; the weather is too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry; the public are a nuisance; the public should not roam the land; they don’t want immigrants but can’t find migrants to harvest their land, to pick their cherries and apples and fruit; English labour is useless we have been told; they don’t want immigrants but are not prepared or are incapable of doing, themselves, the grubby, back breaking jobs that migrants do. 

Farmers plead poverty but seem in many cases to be able to afford public schooling for their children and, one hears, private medicare, Bupa and so forth. I know this is not universal but it happens.

One of the things they frequently do around here is obliterate the pathways and even maliciously destroy signposting so that you can suddenly become lost in a clod-turned field, reminiscent of the muds and clays of the trenches of world war one! Short cuts become long doglegs turning for example a ten miler into twelve or thirteen; what was there last year has gone this. It can be infuriating. 

Then there is the evidence hidden in ditches of carelessness with rubbish. Driving along in a car you see a beautiful landscape, hedgerows, avenues of trees and immaculate fields. But walking slowly along these routes you see evidence in the ditches and under the brambles of detritus strewn about. Not just coke cans, burger boxes and bottles (which could be passing cars) but empty plastic containers of fertilizers and chemicals and other farming detritus just dumped in ditches and concealed by brambles. 

Well that’s enough rant for this post! At least we get to walk the routes and draw sustenance from this beautiful landscape – despite the farmers, not because of them.

We are going to Canada for Christmas – seeing our family there at last. It has entailed the most extraordinary skill navigating the labyrinthine eVoucher and airline schedules; the restrictions, the quarantine regulations – all an exciting travel adventure on their own. There are no direct flights to Ottawa; we fly via Toronto being one of  the three airports open in Canada for Inbound international flights. We have had to fill in special quarantine forms which, in Canada, unlike here, are properly policed. So the entire family will lockdown at home for two weeks. Stocks have been laid in and all measures to survive the siege are in place! It remains to be seen whether we are all sane at the other side! Watch this space, dear Friends.

I don’t really like Round Robin Christmas Cards and have sent real ones this year to as many as I can but for those who are in parts unrefreshed by my postal enthusiasm I want to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and, please god, a very Healthy, Prosperous and Vaccine-filled New Year. Great Mistley talents, Derek & Nancy Bell designed the Christmas Window here. I love it because it is both Festive and Hopeful. Their home overlooks the ghastly fence along the quay which we have all protested about for twelve years now. At last the Supreme Court will rule and we are all hopeful that we will win and the monstrosity will be removed. So the little fence at the bottom of the picture will perhaps not appear in next year’s festive greeting!

The fence is at the bottom and we really do have black swans in the Stour River.

For those of you watching the Good Ship Britannia slipping itself from its European moorings on an unchartered course to who knows where, we ask your prayers!

And here is a wonderful Christmas Carol by Friend Jo Michie in Scotland to be sung to the tune of the 12 Days of Christmas:

The first day of Christmas Covid gave to me
A pandemic level tier three.
The second day of Christmas Covid gave to me
Two hand sanitisers …and a pandemic level tier three
The third day of Christmas Covid gave  to me
Three potential vaccines ..and a pandemic level tier three.
On the fourth day of Christmas, Covid gave to me
Four in our bubble  ….and a pandemic level tier three!
On the fifth day of Christmas, Covid gave to me
Five flimsy face masks  ….and a pandemic level tier three!
On the sixth day of Christmas, Covid gave to me
Six pairs of  gloves …..and a pandemic level tier three!
On the seventh day of Christmas, Covid gave to me
Seven shops going bankrupt….and a pandemic level tier three!
On the eighth day of Christmas, Covid gave to me
Eight pubs a ’closing …and a pandemic level tier three!
On the ninth day of Christmas, Covid gave to me
Nine Zoom meetings ….and a pandemic level tier three!
On the tenth day of Christmas, Covid gave to me
Ten exhausted medics …and a pandemic level tier three!
On the eleventh day of Christmas, Covid gave to me
Eleven MPs faffing …and a pandemic level tier three!
On the twelfth day of Christmas, Covid gave to me
Twelve more days of lockdown  …and a pandemic level tier three!
                                                                                                            Jo Michie

THE GREEN DIARY : Thursday, 26 November 2020

We went walking in crisp sunshine yesterday, along one of our favourite paths into Copperas Wood, along the south bank of the Stour, past the actor, Clive Owen’s beautiful arte deco home near Ramsay. He is one of our local celebrities and the walk is about 8 kilometres long. In all the years we have been coming here we have never seen so many people and the small, shaded car park was full; we had to drive a while along the road to find a suitable place to park. 

It is a reflection on our lockdown status that more and more of us are using local amenities and it is amusing to notice how many visitors have clearly never walked like this before. It’s extremely muddy and slippery underfoot and many were wearing completely inappropriate clothing for such an outing! One person was wearing patent leather shoes with heels

which reminded me of the scene in THE CROWN where Mrs Thatcher is utterly humiliated when she turns up for deer stalking at Balmoral with the Royals, dressed in a blue twinset, black patent leather heels and her obligatory handbag. She didn’t last long as you can imagine – poor woman!

Continue reading “THE GREEN DIARY : Thursday, 26 November 2020”

THE GREEN DIARY : Sunday, 8 November 2020.


Its Remembrance Sunday today, a beautiful, sunny, crisp, cloudless late-Autumn day and we are in our second national lockdown of the year. No formal gathering at the village memorial this year and Tony and I walked up to Furze Hill across the rugby fields and into the woods where we stood quietly for two minutes, reflecting together. You could hear the birds singing and in the distance the excited chatter of children, the sweet sound of innocent youth; we thought how fitting that theirs was the only sound other than nature’s, to be heard. For was it not for these children, our hope for the future, that toil and strife, pain and death was endured? That our world would be safe?

Mistley War Memorial at the entrance to the village

That at any rate is the hope that sustains humanity. Hope that decency, good will, understanding between the nations and religions of the world would banish fear, greed, graceless selfishness and evil? 

The news from the United States today can only be a fitting coincidence to this day of hope and remembrance. That Trump is gone, hopefully to languish in a jail in due course, where I firmly believe he and his Trumpfia belong, must surely be a cause for rejoicing?

Goodbye to Trump but not Populism I fear?

Then why is there a lingering feeling of anxiety on this sunny day? 70 Million Americans cannot all be monsters, racists and bigots and so it is surely true that many of their concerns, their issues must be real and will have to be addressed by the new President if he is truly to “heal America”. 

Can he do this?  Lets hope so.

There has been a fundamental change with us here since my last post. The American election and the new lockdown have had a depressive effect. That the world is not in a good place at present cannot be doubted. We are lucky because not a lot for us has changed other than swathes of travel plans; but that of course is not true for millions of others all over the world who most certainly are experiencing difficult, sometimes life-threatening times.

To the pandemic, to the rise of new populist leaders and their nationalisms, to extremisms, to hunger, need and fear must be added concerns with our climate.

We belong to a small chat group on WhatsApp which was sweetly set up eight months ago by some of you when Tony and I were laid low with the Covid virus. It acted as a contact group and we monitored each other’s health situations and lent moral support to each other; with the passing of the illness it became more of a platform for comment and debate on current affairs and as we fundamentally agree with each other on almost all issues, so it has become a bit of an echo chamber – reflecting, as one friend wrote, “an existential anxiety” devoid of optimism or hope. 

We have noticed that long silences have fallen between us. They are companionable silences but in our long relationship extremely unusual. Ours has been an animated partnership and these silences have arisen since Covid, since the unending bad news has unfolded and we have become paralysed by events to the extent that there seems little more to say or do other than to look inward.

Perhaps that may not be such a bad thing but it’s not really a happy development in the long run. I wonder, dear friends, whether you have perhaps experienced anything similar? A sort of ghastly emptiness underlined by anxiety? What is this? An indulgent middle-age, middle class crisis-of-no-importance? Perhaps.

Forward, Friends, forward! Into the sunny uplands of winter!

30 September, 2006.

Our walks continue; and the streaming, binge-watching and the reading – and the cooking! Exactly a year ago my brother David and I were on a two week cruise through the Panama Canal and I started A LITTLE LIFE by Hanya Yanagihara, a story in my opinion so over written that it could easily be told in half its 720 pages; but so compelling that I must get to the end of it – after a whole year! 

Which is not to say there have been no other books in the interim: there have and I have been multi-tasking.

Lots to help encourage optimism in the long month of lockdown. After all its not as though we have had no practice!

Bon Chance.

THE GREEN DIARY : Thursday, 22 October 2020.

What to say this time, dear Friends?

Lets turn the elephant out of the room: we may not agree about many things, some of us are Sumptionists, some of us welcome more lock down, others, less; but on one thing we can agree, and clearly do from your many emails and feelings on the matter, and that is Bojo and his Shudder of Clowns appear not to have any idea of what to do about anything very much; that Britannia is certainly advancing but towards what?

The virus spreading as we approach winter? The dread of half the Nation as we advance towards a no-deal Brexit? FOMO affecting the mental life of most of us?

While across the pond we gaze in horror at the possibility that the November Presidential election may very well not go the Democratic way and that banality, narcissism, cruelty, mendacity and greed may well succeed for a further four years?

Here in East Anglia and particularly Essex we have been moved up a tier and seem to have stepped firmly backwards witnessing a lot of disobedience and reluctance as we do so. Even our Conservative MP, Sir Bernard Jenkin is getting worked up, especially by the Government’s side-lining of parliament and descent to diktat.

Enough. You get the drift and we all agree that the world is not in a good place.

Dillie Keane, one of my favourite entertainers whose Fascinating Aida often hits the nail on the head came up with this last month:

Dillie Keane

I would love to play you her Dogging Song, otherwise known as A Song for Essex but might get into trouble with the censors, and I’m sure you have heard her wonderful take on “cheap airlines”?

Her Gavin Williamson song is rather apt too, for those of you battling with schools.

The Ferryboats to carry you across the Deben Rivermouth to rejoin the Suffolk Coastal path.

We continue our hikes which get slower all the time. The big one this time has been our Felixstowe to Woodbridge walk along the Deben River. This completes our programme of walking the left and right banks of the Stour, the Orwell and now the Deben Rivers though only the west bank of the Deben has access as it’s a maze of channels, saltings and dykes that snake inland, wild and isolated: low skies, rain threatening and very beautiful in its own special way. Part of the dyke has collapsed and entailed a long detour turning the whole expedition into 18.5 miles and eight hours from Felixstowe to Woodbridge stations with a lunch break at the Maybush pub in Waldringfield at 2.30, at least an hour late. 

Lowering skies by the Martello Tower overlooking the Deben Rivermouth

We were all alone. The estuary smells of oysters, mussels and samphire; the big skies are filled with honking geese and the cries of sea birds, Terns and other waders fishing the muds. 

I managed a dyke-glissando and fell upside down into the mud. Quite a manoeuvre to be righted and dragged up the embankment! Nothing serious but the event slowed us down somewhat. Here is a picture which shows the position I was in though not on a dyke; rather an example of our states of mind when friends join for lunch at our favourite pub, the Alma in Harwich rather the worse for wear. I think the entire carriage were singing of all things,  Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens……..don’t ask!

All I can say is that I was very grateful for our masseur, Paul’s visit the following day.

Hardly any due- tri- quar- or quin-tettes to report. The new lock down has seen those off for the time being but visits to Snape continue. They have solved the spacing issue and very comfortably accommodate an audience of about, I guess, a hundred. The concerts are small scale, never last longer than an hour and involve only one or two artists at a time. Thus we have been treated in the last two weeks to piano works by Schubert and Rachmaninov  and the brilliant virtuosi Steven Osborne and Christian Blackshaw. Thanks Friend Ruth Gee for alerting us to these concerts. There are more to come.

Thanks Ruth Gee for chivvying us to Snape!

The other major project has been to watch the streaming of the MetOpera’s fantastic 1990 Ring Cycle produced by Otto Schenk, by far the best we have seen. Beautifully staged, Otto’s production captures the scenic world of Wagner’s Ring as brilliantly as James Levine and the Met orchestra capture the musical world. The incredibly complicated story is rendered at last easy to follow.

I know Wagner’s not everyone’s cup of tea and that many are mystified by both his story lines and his music, never easy in any opera, so I can’t resist introducing Anna Russell’s 1952 recollection of her own experience with the Ring Cycle which, Friends, took 18 hours out of our time!

We have an array of talent on our Green. Terence Davies the film auteur is a few doors down and in spite of lockdown has managed to keep his latest film project on the road. Benediction is a film about Siegfried Sassoon – interestingly named Siegfried after his mother’s passion for Wagner – and Terence and the production company backing it seem to be dodging all the Covid brickbats. 

Here is a link for more information if you are interested.

Terence Davies

Jorge Jiminez and Joy Smith live a few doors down too and they are managing to keep their show on the road though it is of course incredibly tough. As well as home-schooling their two lovely daughters who form two of the Pixie quartet I mentioned in an earlier post, manage to keep their harps and violins singing. 

Visit Jorge Jimenez on his website at

This week saw the streaming of The Hanover Band’s latest project the filmed concerts of Beethoven’s symphonies starting last night with the 1st and Jorge in there as lead violinist. Such beautiful playing, it was recorded in the acoustically challenging Stationers’ Hall in the City of London. 

All the instruments were of the period Beethoven composed the work; it was premiered in 1800.

They were beautiful to listen to.

And so Friends, soon the clocks go back and winter is fully upon us; the leaves have almost all turned here; the migrating geese and other birds have now departed for warmer destinations; the last of our summer/autumn plans were cancelled recently and we head towards what Nicola Sturgeon calls a digital Christmas though I’m not at all sure what that means exactly.

Lots of Zooming I expect!

THE GREEN DIARY : Friday, 02 October 2020.

I went to London last Thursday for a long delayed visit to Laura, my Hygienist who is a charming, amusing person. She loves to chat away just when you are incapable of any response beyond a gargling, choking sound as the water spray, shrieking plaque scraper and rotating fluoride brush whizzes about; your head in her lap almost, gazing through Perspex goggles, gloves, masks and dazzling lights everywhere.  I have always been terrified of dentists though they have all been without doubt charming, gentle people. 

Continue reading “THE GREEN DIARY : Friday, 02 October 2020.”

THE GREEN DIARY : Friday, 11 September 2020.

Quartet, trio, duet and even on one or two occasions, solo dinners and lunches have been proceeding at a pace here at No. 11 while Bojo and his Shudder of Cabinet Clowns tinker with the rules of engagement, perform U-turns enough to make us dizzy and seem, certainly in the international arena, to be bringing our country into disgrace with broken treaties and, it looks likely, a dishonourable discharge from the Club of Europe.

Well we shall see. What else can we do?  Nothing.

Thank you so much, dear Friends, for all your emails and messages. This is proving an excellent way to keep in touch at this frustrating time. Its lovely to hear from you and thank you for reading these communiqués! Many of you were interested in how Tony and I met each other and asked that I complete the story as I think I left him in the last episode greeting me in his office wearing a smart Panama hat, courtesy of Marina Martin. That was Part 1 : HAPPENSTANCE – The Meeting.  

Parts 2 & 3 are COINCIDENCE : The Waiting (Sitzkieg) and ACTION : The Beginning (Blitzkrieg).

If you’d like to read those click on the link here: in a new tab)

So it’s been a short season of Staycationing, the new way to explore England for as long as the ever-changing rules allow. On Monday it will be a criminal (sic) offence to be in a domestic gathering of more than six people. Luckily this did not  disarray our August Bank Holiday visit to the Family in Cambridgeshire where there were eight of us. Now we would be subject to arrest and a fine or, I suppose, even imprisonment!

Three Grandchildren, Jabe, Fin & Tyger fronted by Father Zac and backed by Mother Julie. Last Christmas!
Continue reading “THE GREEN DIARY : Friday, 11 September 2020.”

THE GREEN DIARY : Wednesday, 26 August 2020.

A Friend in Wilderness, South Africa sent me this poem, which I felt was hilarious considering where we all are today, surrounded by U-turns and indecisions.

I won’t arise and go now, and go to Innisfree
I’ll sanitise the doorknob and make a cup of tea.
I won’t go down to the sea again, I won’t go out at all,
I’ll wander lonely as a cloud from the kitchen to the hall.
There’s a green-eyed yellow monster to the north of Katmandu
But I shan’t be seeing him just yet and nor, I think, will you.
While the dawn comes up like thunder on the road to Mandalay
I’ll make my bit of supper and eat it off a tray.
I shall not speed my bonnie boat across the sea to Skye
Or take the rolling English road from Birmingham to Rye.
About the woodland, just right now I am not free to go
To see the Keep Out posters or the cherry hung with snow
And no, I won’t be travelling much, within the realms of gold.
Or get me to Milford Haven. All that’s been put on hold.
Give me your hands, I shan’t request, albeit we are friends
Nor come within a mile of you, until this shit show ends.

FROM A Brisk Walk through a Pageant of English Verse

Though to be fair our new regimen of what we call Quartet Luncheons & Dinners has gone some way to breaking the ice in our isolation, so-to-speak. These are Two+Two affairs observing the niceties of distancing, always only four of us.

But much excitement into the big smoke we plunged to visit Friends Penny & Nick, one of our BridgeBase-Online partnerships in East Sheen. It seemed so naughty driving there, not playing live bridge but spending a lovely evening in actuality not virtuality. 

Thanks Friends it was a lovely evening. A Quartet dinner of note.

Home to sad, dusty Leverton Street . It needs love and a lick of paint I think. The windows remind me of scenes from Miss Haversham’s failed wedding night in GREAT EXPECTATIONS; but I am just too fat and unsupple to do the deathly window ledge balance and clean the acres of dirt & diesel off the glass! Oh where is the wonderful window man?

This is Falkland Road just before you turn into Leverton Street. It has become very colourful. Perhaps because Sir Keir Starmer lives in the neighbourhood. He is our MP.

Hampstead Heath was surprisingly not crowded; perhaps it wasn’t the finest day. We walked our usual circuit up from Parliament Hill to Kenwood House and round down to the Ladies’ Pond, the Boat and Men’s Ponds to catch a 214 down the hill home and were distraught at the sight of all the diseased Horse Chestnut trees, their leaves brown with some sort of fungus.

The autumnal effect is in fact some sort of bacteria or fungus. This is the lane near the Ladies’ Pond. In summer!

What do you think will happen to them? Can they fight off this disease or will they go the same way as the beautiful Dutch Elms that were so ignominiously expunged from the English landscape? It’s a tragedy.

A Sestet birthday party of note in Clapham changed gears slightly. Friend Edward’s 69th. Soixante Neuf. An excellent position we think! The 88 bus took us all the way from Camden; it was immaculately clean and empty; alighting at its terminus in Clapham Old Town we were surprised by the over-flowing cafes, bars and restaurants filled with unmasked, careless twenty-and-thirty-somethings for whom there seemed to be no worries. For us hayseeds this came as a shock.

So, the ‘burbs are busy but the West End and City glumly uncrowded, we found.

This is where the bus stopped but it was not like this! Clapham Old Town.

Two more Quartet Luncheons last week and Quartet Martini & Campari Locktails of a sunset : except we were blown indoors! There is a lot of wind at present, the weather has cooled appreciably but none of this changed the taste of the martinis, I can tell you!

Tyger, Tony and Fin : Lovely Lallies all three!
With Tyger and Fin gathering lots of blackberries. Jams and Puddings have been forthcoming.

Two grandchildren came to visit and stay the night. We took them blackberrying and then wined and dined them at the Thorn Hotel round the corner where an extremely brisk trade has taken advantage of England’s new Staycationing habits. In fact on Monday last when our lovely Polish Ladies came to dust us down (they like the house to themselves), we went for breakfast at the Thorn where the special discount is still in force. Friend David McKay, the owner, stopped by and told us that they have never been so busy and were run off their feet; its impossible to get a booking; that even if there were no discount they would still be just as busy with people who have found they need not be in London to work and play. The empty cafes, bars and restaurants there are gains for the provinces.

This was brought home to us when we went for a Quartet Luncheon with friends in Thorpeness, near Aldeburgh. We have never seen so many cars and people there before, even in normal times. It was astonishing. Some friends who’d been up to Cromer and visited the north Norfolk coast told us that there were at least 20,000 cars at Holkham. Everybody is holidaying at home and there is no room at any inn anywhere. All this chimes with what David told us. Their Enoteca in Manningtree, Lucca, is chockfull too.

I rehearsed and played in my first Webinar last week too, playing Colonel Lukyn in Pinero’s THE MAGISTRATE. This seems to be the new way forward with much theatre now, streamed events whose virtuality never quite adds up to actuality but is great fun nonetheless. 

Some work well: we watched ALBION from the Almeida and though quibbled with some of the writing and one or two over-busy performances,  thought it was riveting and extremely good. It’s still available if anyone is interested.

Have a look, Friends.

On the television two major documentaries have struck us. ONCE UPON A TIME IN IRAQ, a five-part documentary shedding a terrifying perspective on that unhappy country and the effects of the invasion. 

So very sad. 

What we liked about it was that ordinary people from all sides gave their views and described their experiences. No politicians with their spin and their dishonesty. You can find it on catch-up as you can too the amazing full length film, due for theatric release next month, COUP 53, about the cynical involvement of the CIA and MI6 in the overthrow of the Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953, in retaliation for his nationalisation of the Iranian oil industry which was hitherto wholly owned by British and American interests.

Ten years in the making and much material is still in secret archives, which MI6 will not yet release. What struck us most about the film was the ripple effect down the years that that sponsored coup d’état had on the whole region and how it has negatively affected so much there ever since, never mind any trust between the Middle East and the West. It was like watching a political thriller with the consequences of the action still to play out in our future.

And now I have added another book to my growing reading list, all being read simultaneously. Get a grip! Why can’t I get rid of this reader’s block?  LADY IN WAITING, Anne Glenconner’s fascinating story of her “Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown” may finally have achieved an unblocking. It’s wonderfully amusing, but dark too as much in her life was not easy. There was much tragedy. I can’t put it down.

I think she may have dictated it into a recorder because it has the directness of a speaking voice; quite a feat. It rollicks along at a rate of knots.

An end note for today – Tony and I have been together for just over thirty-five years and many of you, our Friends, have asked how we met.  If you are interested I have written a piece about it elsewhere on my site and if you click on the link a new story will open to entrance and amaze you (tongues in cheeks!).

Ha! Ha! See you all soon……………!