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.
Anyway. Up comes the Trump conversation. That alone is enough to sink one into a slough of despond; and Laura made me choke when she said without any irony that, slam dunk, Trump will win in November. She’s even wagering a bet at Samuel Hill’s! I was horrified at her certainty.
I wonder what she thinks now that FLOTUS & POTUS have got Covid-19? Or have they? Is it a hoax, false news, some sort of electioneering trick? Might he die? I don’t wish anyone dead but I do wish Trump would recover enough just to go.
Thanks for all your emails and messages. We are all transfixed by what is going on and here at home we surely are not proud of our own failing leadership? My Hygienist had no time for them either. On the Economy, on Brexit and on Covid her thoughts aligned with my own and helped make the dental torture a background noise!
Some of you have opined that we should not allow personalities to cloud our judgements; rather look at policy, at the plans and at the results and judge those and not the personalities that implement them as if these had no bearing on either policies or results. I’m afraid I disagree. That’s rather like divorcing the nature of Adolf Hitler from the realisation of his Race Dreams and their consequences. All institutions ultimately reflect the personality and priorities of the person in charge. It follows that of course we should take careful, critical note of the personalities that swirl around us. I can only think that the personalities of Bojo & His Shudder of Cabinet Clowns and Herr Donald “Donnie” Twitler reflect the serial incompetence of the regimes in Downing Street and The White House and the tragic consequences for our future?
These are worrying times, dear Friends. Reflected in a clever birthday card Tony received on his 69th two weeks ago.
So, what to do? We carry on with our domestic programme of Due-eats, Tri-eats, Quart-eats even stretching, outdoors, to a Quint-eats meeting. No Sext-eats yet though and what with the endless U-Turns on almost everything, one is only sure of one thing – better to wear the mask than not; better to minimise visits anywhere on public transport. Swathes of plans have been junked and I’m certain we are not the only ones battling with Vouchers and Refunds.
Courtesy of Friend Lisa Stevens!
And walking. We set off last Monday in pouring rain taking the little train round to Ipswich and Felixstowe for a walk along the north bank of the Orwell River, from Trimley to Ipswich Station, 32,000 steps my pedometer on the iPhone told us; about eighteen miles. It took most of the day, a chilly autumnal one, partially cloudy and no rain once we started off.
It’s a beautiful landscape; full of waterfowl and birdlife, though right next to the container port, strangely isolated and bleak in a gentle, lambent way. The birds use the Trimley Marshes to rest on journeys backwards and forwards during the great migrations of geese and others, that take place each year in Spring and Autumn.
We came off the dykes and marshes past the marina at Stratton Hall, walked up to Levington where the Ship Inn, a tiny thatched pub provided an excellent brunch and fuel for the onward march to Nacton via Orwell Park School once the rather grand home of the Vernon family, built in 1770.
It still has a functioning Observatory complete with refracting telescope and clock and water towers of some interest; we see the Observatory dome frequently from walks on the other side of the river, the Pin Mill side, but have never explored there before. It is a private school for girls now but was evacuated during the war and used as a training location
for The Desert Rats prior to the D-Day Landings in June 1944.
Veering inland over noisy motorways and through an industrial park, we were returned to the riverside at Orwell Park proper and hiked under the enormous, concrete Orwell bridge, aching in every limb, into the Ipswich Suburbs and so to the station for connections to Mistley.
The week before we’d thought we ought to have a small warm up and did the eight-miler circumnavigation of Alton Water, an enormous reservoir near Holbrook on the Shotley Peninsula, also in Suffolk which to my mind is a beautiful, if somewhat flat County.
The Orwell Road Bridge at Ipswich Docks
The reservoir is big enough for yachting and water sports and there is a club there and “facilities” for picnicking and parking of the motor and bodily kinds!
Swimming and throwing sticks into the water for dogs are discouraged as it’s eventually drinking water.
The walk around is pretty. Woodland edges the lake and we found ourselves in pleasant shade on a hot, sunny day.
I have been continuing with the Oxford & Cambridge Club Players, with rehearsed play readings under the direction of Friend John “Flempots” Fleming (pictured here), via Zoom. This time it was Philip King’s On Monday Next.
Billed as a comedy – and I don’t know how many of you know it? I’d love an opinion – I found it rather dark and sad though there is much amusing about it too. Play readings streamed like this are quite difficult because often business is vital to comic effect and rests on visuals that you cannot do anything other than verbally describe. This affects cueing and timing and rather slows things down. The technology of Zoom is still not perfect and there is often a drop in signal which can lead to confusion; but its great fun and we all have a laugh.
Next will be AN IDEAL HUSBAND, a far more verbal comedy.
We are enjoying discovering Snape where there have been an imaginative series of programmes tailored for the pandemic and social distancing. Small scale events that are nonetheless uplifting. We are reminded again that, in the end, live performance is always best.
Oh, may the pandemic pass that we may return to those live events. This morning on the radio we heard that Cineworld is to mothball its nationwide chain of cinemas and has put about five thousand staff out of work. A sad day indeed. Even James Bond has been put on hold.
So at Snape on Friday afternoon last we listened and watched Elizabeth Llewellyn, Soprano, accompanied by Simon Lepper at the piano, take us gently by the hand and lead us through works by Strauss, Mahler and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (with poetry by Christina Rossetti). It was magical. Llewellyn has a magnificent voice and you could hear a pin drop. Brava, bravo. More please.
Next week it’s Christian Blackshaw playing Schubert: an Impromptu and a Sonata. I can’t wait.
Tony went up to see the Titian at The National Gallery last week which he said was great. I couldn’t go because of a ticket mix-up. The upside of gallery visits during this pandemic is their emptiness and quiet. You can see the pictures and don’t feel pressed. We are hoping there’ll be no lockdown for the much awaited Artemisia exhibition starting soon, also at The National Gallery.
I shall tell you all about that some other time; outside the rain is falling along with the leaves, and Autumn is upon us. Now its off to play Bridge-on-Line with grandchildren and fix a supper! What to do with Butter Beans?