THE GREEN DIARY : Saturday, 25 July 2020.

Mistley sub-Post Office with Swan Basin (John Adams) in the foreground.

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.

Landermere Quay
Ransome Territory

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.

The Tufnell Park Tavern.

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.

Estee Lauder

27 Replies to “THE GREEN DIARY : Saturday, 25 July 2020.”

  1. How awful to hear about the abuse – I just do not get it. We haven’t had any problems so far in our little shop – everybody wearing face coverings, some quite fashionable!
    Your blog is wonderful! You are very inspiring and I am so pleased that you are sharing your lovely stories with us.

  2. I love it when I open up my emails and see a new piece written by you to settle back and enjoy.
    You are just great at finding the best in whats around you and the rest you treat with great humour. We need loads of that to keep us going. Thank you. For being you.

  3. What a charming story about Estee L. I have now changed my mind about mynahs. My memory is waiting for the bus in Durban at dusk as they gathered in the trees making a terrible racket. Inevitably they would leave droppings on my school Panama! I love your news, will have to write about Covid free NZ and the complacency that has crept in!

    1. Thank you.They can be a total nuisance those mynahs. They are mucky birds and eat all the fruit! The farmers hate them! But Estee knows nothing of this. She thinks she’s human! Refuses to fly away and finds other birds extraordinary! Px

  4. It’s really nice to read a rational commentary on these crazy times. We cannot believe the continuing insanity all around us. Australia seems to have a more sensible head on its shoulders than the UK or (need I say it) America, but we have our share of idiots.

    Loved the mynah story. YouTube is full of stories of unlikely animals bonding with humans. Our favourites are the foxes that go hehehe.

  5. A great blog today 😊masked and in your green shirt you look like a very competent surgeon. Handsome too!

  6. All good to read Pietertje! Wonderful birdstory.
    Crazy Covid-people are everywhere. Here in Holland they just lost in court, they had a case against the government as they wanted the Covid-rules to be done with. Personal freedom, yeah right.
    Over here also a grey day, you’re not alone!

  7. Thank you for all this wonderful news Peter!
    How shocking about your experience in the Post Office.
    I loved seeing Landermere…
    Our neighbour used to have a mynah and we were rather relieved… it used to wolf whistled every time is saw us come out of the kitchen door!
    Dave back on Saturday and Pattens coming to visit next week. Hat is coming over at the end of August.
    I’m afraid I need the bedroom fan on nightly… 34c in the shade at 8am today…
    SO much love to you both XX

    1. I just LOVE your pictures on Instagram. Greece looks fantastic and your agroikía looks wonderful. A far cry from the muds, ebbs and flows of the Stour River! Px

  8. Love this! Thanks for giving me something joyful and amusing to read. Hope to see you soon for a walk! And tell your friend I am more than happy to come pick strawberries! I need a job! x

  9. Farming. No farmer would ever readily admit to a bumper year. More particularly, not this year. Cereal yields are very mixed after the wet winter and spring drought. Here in Guernsey the barley harvest is over. But in Durham where we used to farm it has hardly started. Politically, farmers probably hoping for a Biden win to put an end to the chlorinated chicken and hormone beef debate.

    Mynahs. Estee Lauder reminded me of an anecdote from the Natal Supreme Court. A trial was being continually interrupted by noisy mynah birds outside the Court. The Judge ordered the officials to shut the windows and frighten the birds away. An advocate leapt to his feet. “My Lord, I would remind you that the Supreme Court is the guardian of all minors”.

    So sorry to hear about the verbal abuse. I thought lockdown was meant to make everyone more caring of each other!

    1. Love the Supreme Court story! Thanks for sending that.And for your agricultural comments! Poor farmers never seem to get exactly what they want ever! Tell me about broad beans? There are fields of them here: they have all ripened and if you open a pod the beans are big and bursting and taste wonderful but they are being allowed to blacken in the fields? Why is this do you think. It seems a waste? Will they plough it all under to enrich the soil do you think?
      Glad things in G. are loosening up. P.

  10. My Dear Pete

    I do so enjoy your [always] beautifully written diaries. Makes me feel more human and civilised somehow. And I always feel Tony’s presence lurking somewhere. Our situation is getting drearier by the day, not helped by the fact that Johan is not talking to me – he attacked me viciously about a week ago with no apparent reason – I think things are getting to him too. Philip has also gone into a suitcase and has ‘cut ties’.

    The fibrosis in my legs is not improving, [I am having to use a stick now and if ever I conduct again it will be from a wheel chair!], so no country rambles for me. I enjoy yours by proxy and miss the two of you very much. Otherwise things move through a reasonably mild Cape winter so far. Yesterday I went to a suitably distanced lunch party at a friend here in Penhill which was a welcome distraction. Dora and Cillas are hard to come by and expensive, but we manage somehow.

    I am starting [at some stage] a Music Education project for people who are interested in and love music, but want to know more. By necessity, it will have to be via zoom, which I’m now learning the ins and outs of. Technology moves so quickly that I get left behind; like an old fart…

    How is Helly bearing up, by the way? I think of her often and must give her a ring. Does she have a cell that can Whats-App [if that’s how one spells it]?

    In the meantime, lots of love to you and Tony and keep the diaries coming.



      Cut and paste the above link and you’ll have Doras and Cillas for Africa! LETS SPEAK GAYLE!
      My dear thanks for your sweet response. So sorry Johann & Phil have placed you on the back burner so to speak (have you been behaving naughtily?) I have been speaking to Philip a lot in the past week which has been nice.
      Fibrosis in your legs? When did that start. I’ve googled it and it looks horrendous. Reminds me of the Cellulitis I had two years ago which started from some sort of sand fly bite off a dirty beach in Thailand. Not pleasant. I see that Lifestyle factors such as smoking, lack of exercise, prolonged hours of sitting or standing, or being overweight can also impact CVI. I say no more. Is there treatment? Do you WhatsApp? I think you do. So does Hellie. Give her a whirl. Love Px

    2. We loved that one, Pedro. Thank you.. ….and it’s already another weekend. Love to you both. The Unsies. XX

    3. Hello Graham – Somehow I missed this for which I am sorry. I always try to reply to everyone and don’t understand how it passed under my radar! Especially as you say very kind things!! We must reach for a phone and talk! P. x

  11. Totally fascinating, Pedro of the Green, as always…only one sadness, some of the photographs have obliterated the text…will we ever know what the rude woman in the Post office said after…”Sorry to have ……” What ??! I’m guessed it was something sarcastic ? …..
    Loved the Arthur Ransome bits too…my cousin Celia was in the cast of the terrific modern version of Swallows and Amazons some years ago…I think it began at the Theatre Royal, Bristol…and then on to London………
    Another great piece, Hunks ! Xx M.m

    1. Thanks you Mary Mouse. Hope things are good in France? Was SWALLOWS & AMAZONS a stage play? I know they made a TV series but not that there was one for the stage?

  12. The Beans. I would imagine they are field beans not broad beans.
    They are a great break crop in a cereal rotation as they fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil.
    Before you can combine the crop, it must be quite dry so it will look black and mouldy.
    We grew them for 2 outlets . 1. To add to livestock feed as home produced vegetable protein. 2. If the quality was good for export, usually to Egypt. The Fava Bean is a traditional part of their breakfast and are also used in soups, stews and dips.
    Pick a few and have a go!

    1. Thanks Roger. Thats very interesting. And I think you are right these are going to be used the way you say. I picked a few and even though the pods are starting to brown up, the beans inside tasted good. We are both very fond of beans.
      I wonder why they particularly export them to Egypt? Can’t we use them all here?
      What is your take on the deals we inch towards in the Brexit strategy? I see today that there is apparently to be a good deal wrapped up shortly with Japan. P. x

  13. I can only think they go to Egypt because of the historic demand and the trade is well established.
    Local consumption is increasing. is a Norfolk supplier.
    Farmers are concerned that a trade deal does not lead to an increase of food imports that would be illegal to produce here. That principle must apply to all deals and everyone will be relieved if deals are done on that basis. Hope the news on Japan is correct.

    1. That was quick! Hodemedods is where I get my beans from. They even ship to your door! Yes – I hope the news on the deal with Japan is a good one. We need some good news.
      I don’t think I’ve asked you this before but were you a Leaver or a Stayer? (Not that it makes much difference by this time!) – just out of curiosity and as a past farmer?

  14. Most farmers voted to leave. We were very surprised as the EU had been good for UK farming providing solid support.
    We were remainers but not just for farming reasons.
    C’est la vie.

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