Tuesday 21 April 2020

The Busy High Street

Wm. Kurelek again to soothe our nerves.
Yesterday was another day of staring at the screen, asking people for statements and resisting conspiracy theories. Here's one: China covered up a deadly virus to the extent of allowing citizens from the worst-hit area to continue flying all over the world, thus infecting people in other parts of Asia, Europe and America. The resulting pandemic killed over 170, 000 people, and forced Western economies to shut down. Christian churches, including the Catholic Church, suspended public worship.

Oh, sorry. That one actually happened.

But there were some relatively tranquil times yesterday. In the morning, I rushed out in my bathrobe to take the newspaper pages off the bean seedings. Then later in the morning I addressed an envelope to my girl student and walked to the new High Street (British for the principal shopping street of an area) to the post office. Although not exactly warm, it was another lovely, sunny, blue-skied day. 

I was shocked by the crowds, which weren't actually crowds, as everyone was more-or-less six feet apart. There were just a lot of people around, which I see now makes me nervous. There was a Romany beggar sitting on one side of the road, and a blonde beggar sitting on the other side. There was a long queue outside the chemist's shop and another long queue outside the bank. There was no queue outside the five-and-dime that houses the post office, I was happy to see. 

The homeless aren't bound by the lockdown rules, but all the same I was surprised to see the Romany beggar, despite Romany beggars being a part of contemporary Edinburgh life. Perhaps it was just too normal a sight for the perilous times. The blonde beggar and the long queue for the bank made me feel worried and sad; I wondered if she was a newly unemployed waitress and if the people outside the bank were there to beg for clemency on missed payments. 

On the way home, I was tempted to pop into Tesco for a falafel sandwich. I love the fancy falafel sandwiches with their crunchy veg and tangy sauce. However, I decided it was not worth risking the Vile Germ yet again, so I went straight home. 

In the late afternoon I took a break and popped out dandelions for half an hour. B.A. had gone out in a green boiler suit earlier and dug up some himself. I am not sure what his method was; from the looks of it, he attacked just the bigger, more obvious ones instead of minutely searching the grass, square foot by square foot. That took him rather far, which was a nice morale booster for me. I now predict that the dandelions will be gone from the lawn by the end of the week.

The neighbours further along the street were out. One of the best thing about our humble street is that the residents, no matter how impoverished, have a long strip of garden. The two-storey buildings were built for local workers by the local government circa 1930 when the Scottish poor still had many children. It was a manufacturing district, and must have been very noisy, but the buildings were well-built and the gardens generous: some philanthropic notions were clearly at play. 

Beginning in the 1980s, the local council began to sell the apartments to their occupants. Eventually the occupants sold them on at a profit or rented them out. I'm not sure if the Council still owns any of them; whoever owns the Moppet's part of the building is certainly neglectful. 

The gardens are separated by low hedges or wooden fences in good or bad repair, and it is easy to see right across them down the street. Three or four gardens over a tent has been erected in the lawn, and I spotted a boy near it, dressed in a purple velvet cloak and yet still staring down at the phone in his hand. 

After work, I went outside to grub again. The Moppet's mother sat on her stairs and chatted to someone sitting in the garden and coughing shallowly. She coughed; the pal coughed; I noticed the wind blowing in my direction. Cough, cough, cough. 

"Smoker's cough," suggested B.A. when I told him. 

Coconut aubergine curry for supper, rubbish telly, and becoming irritated by stupid opinions on Twitter. I suspect I will have to limit any reading of Catholic News and Opinion to Monday to Friday, 10 AM to 6 PM, for otherwise I will go insane. B.A. reads Catholic News and Opinions obsessively, too, and came in to tell me yesterday about Diane Montagna's tweet about Mayor Gabriele Gallina sicking the cops on a priest while he said Mass. I was working on something else, and thinking about another story--which my editor, of course, already knew about and had assigned to someone else--gave me an instant headache. 

Another conspiracy theory that is true: there are Catholics who tweet their hatred of anything beautiful or traditional just to make other Catholics upset. At least, that is the only reason I can think of for this message by a private high school religion teacher calling himself a "theologian."  

Okay: new resolution. No more internet reading before 10 AM or after 6 PM. I will force myself back to my language studies and also read some actual books. 

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