Tuesday, 1st September, 2020

[Day 169]

I am ashamed to say that today of all days (the first of the month) I forget to say ‘White Rabbits! White Rabbits! White Rabbits!’ and to keep my fingers crossed behind my back until we saw a policeman riding on a white horse. That’s what we used to do in Yorkshire when I was pretty young but I gather that younger generations used to say ‘Pinch! Punch! First of the month‘ and then pinch? punch? their siblings accordingly. I must say that if I were to wait until I saw a police person riding any sort of horse, let alone a white one, I would wait for ever. Meg and I had made a much earlier start this morning as I knew that we had a quicker turn around before I went off to my resumed Pilates class at the end of the morning. We had some words with our Italian friend on the way down to the park and then went to collect some newspapers from our little (Asian-owned) newspaper shop. I knew that the elderly Asian proprietor was enjoying watching Vikram Seth’s ‘A Suitable Boy‘ and there was an expression used of one of the principal characters that she was a ‘lipstick girl’ Although I think I can guess at the meaning (a girl who has adopted western styles of dress. modes and behaviour including the wearing of lipstick?)I thought I would enquire of the Asian shopkeeper if he knew what the expression might mean. This is the point at which one must say – never make assumptions. In reply to my question I got the response ‘I’ve never been to India in my life. I come from California!‘ Later on in the park, we met one of our park friends who had kindly brought along a book of trees for us to borrow so that we could identify all of the trees in the park (when we have time) And finally, on the way home, we bumped into another friend but he was busy doing his constitutional walk in a slightly different direction so we had a rapid conversation and then parted. Quite a busy social morning, actually

Today my Pilates class was resuming but, of course, it had ro be organised in a completely different way. We had all brought along with us our own gear (principally our Pilates mat) and some of us remembered that we should also have brought our balls along with us. But the class was confined to 4 of us, each in a separate zone of the studio whist our instructor took up her position in the open door but protected by a screen. One of our regulars was also following us on Zoom as some of the other class members had been doing but I had not bothered. We remembered our exercise routines, largely, and although it been the best part of six months since we had held a class together, altogether we performed pretty well as a group. From now one, it will be only upwards and onwards.

This afternoon was the start of the great damson preparation. In theory it is all very simple – add to a sterilised jar the requisite amount of damsons, then the calculated sugar and then top up with gin (followed by a vigorous shake to dissolve the sugar) The only complication is that as one moves from larger to smaller size of kilner jar, one has to recalibrate by altering the amounts of the ingredients. Gin gets measured out as either 3/4 litre or 1/2 litre by the simple expedient of marking out the relevant portion with a felt tip pen on the side of the bottle. So far, I think I have processed somewhat less than one half of the damsons and will have to press some plastic into service (I only like to use glass kilner jars if I possibly can).

Earlier on today, I had emailed Meg’s cousin’s daughter to see if we could make a lightning visit to pay a visit to Bolton in about a month’s time. Looking at the distance and proximity to the motorways, if looks as though we could there and back in one day quite easily. However, tonight as I write it looks as Bolton is enduring a spike in COVID cases and the council may be asking for an extension of the restrictions that were due to expire tonight. So everything is rather up in the air now and we shall to wait and see how the situation develops to see if our intended trip is still viable or not.