Absolutely not as a result of orders from Boris, I have been riding my bike for the first time in two years. I ventured out early, round the deserted streets of a nearby housing estate. I didn’t attempt to change gear, concentrating on steering and practising indicating. It felt good, although my legs felt a bit wobbly when I got off. I plan to do a bit of off-road training on the static bike in the Wash House.
Here is today’s randomly selected Tarot card, The Emperor. This is a ‘seed’ card, marking the end of a cycle, furnishing the impetus for the next. Rational thinking, practical measures now take precedence over emotion. Does this meaning looking to government for guidance? Or trusting our own rational ideas? Conscious judgements need to be made every day about where we go, who we see, how we plan our lives. It is very different from the emotional, intuitive approach of lockdown. The Emperor may be our ruler but we would do well to think for ourselves.
After weeks of blank calendar pages, our social life has been picking up. Walks (and even lunch) with friends, Daughter staying overnight and a recent weekend visit from Wee Boy have made life busier. Our lockdown decorating project had to be accelerated, with the theatre collage wall finally completed. It consists of theatre posters and programmes from 1962 to the present day, with some art exhibition flyers. It is hugely nostalgic for Cannyrob and me, with little prospect of getting back to the theatre in the foreseeable future.
As well as cutting and pasting for the wall, I’ve been getting back to some actual painting out in the Wash House. This is my second Venice picture, based on photos and sketches from one of our last holidays, left half-finished before my knee operation. It feels so remote now. We were there at the end of a long trip by rail from Leuchars in Fife, via London, Paris, Versailles, Zurich, Chur, Tirano, Milan, to Venice, coming back by sleeper, one of the last journeys by the Thello train to Paris. It was a packed ten days!
I see that European sleeper services are in demand again as people opt not to fly. There is a romance about rattling through the flashing dark, tucked up in a bunk. I am so glad we have had such great holidays over the past twenty years from San Sebastian to San Francisco. Even if we never make it out of Scotland again. We have just cancelled a holiday in Tenerife booked a year in advance, for this November . The prospect of last minute changes to rules and possible quarantine makes staying at home preferable. Even locally, it is a challenge to go anywhere. On Sunday we promised Wee Boy a picnic at our favourite (usually deserted) beach. There was not even the possibility of parking. Cars and campervans squeezed down the narrow road to park on verges. Our second choice proved more accessible but it was too cold and windy to stay long.
The gazebo in the garden provides a vaguely festive vibe (provided the puddles of water which collect in the roof don’t descend on unsuspecting guests). I enjoy reading and lazing in my hammock (if I close my eyes to weeding and pruning). We are very lucky to have our own outdoor space.
My varied summer reading continues. I’ve just finished Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet, which I found fascinating, as a glimpse into the mystery of Shakespeare’s life, and moving, as a narrative of grief. It has stayed with me. I have returned to science fiction after many years. If our real world seems too difficult to deal with just now, learning the lexicon of an invented reality is a diversion. In The Fifth Season the world is threatened, not by a pandemic, but by constant tremors and earthquakes, requiring strict rules of behaviour. Masks are worn to protect against ash dust. I do plan to read Lemn Sissay’s book next though.
Some of you mentioned following up my book choices to read yourselves. I’d be interested to have some feedback.
THE GUARDIAN 22nd July
There’s a hidden epidemic of racism in UK schools – but it’s finally coming to light
…..62% of black Britons agreed that the reducation system had a culture of racism. It is also to see just how school communities can punish their non-white children. Black girls are still policed for their physical appearance; Asian kids are laughed at for having strict parents. In the whiter areas or the better schools, there is often a sense that the minority-ethnic children are lucky just to be there. Naomi told me about starting primary in Chelmsford, Essex, and being the only black girl in her class. Kids called her “poo”, said she smelled and laughed at her hair. “I felt very, very ugly,” she said.
‘We couldn’t be silent’: the new generation behind Britain’s anti-racism protests.
This article contains shocking interviews with young people about their personal experience of racism.
Thanks so much to all of you who responded to my last post. Most felt that we should keep our statues but put them in a historical context. My Wee Sister sent me this example of modern sculpture via WhatsApp.
Wee Sister: Have you seen St Mirren, put up a few years ago? It’s horrific!! All out of proportion, he has tiny legs.
Me: He has a footballer haircut.
Wee Sister: Looks like a very sad pint sized wee guy whose mum gave him a perm.
How has this summer been for you? Do message, email (email@example.com) or leave a comment/reply below.