Friday 31 July 2020

Long Weekend!

Goodness me. Blogger has changed its interface without warning. But thank heavens, I have found a message from Sinead (not Siobhan), accent on the 'e'. She's fine, and I want everyone to know that I always put in the accents on the names in my work articles. 

I do not like changes in my technology because I am a bear of very analogue brain. Sometimes I miss simply typing out my ramblings and circulating them among friends at church and school. An Eighties' Child, that's me. 

Apologies to everyone who has sent me comments in the past month that I did not see. I will go through the com boxes and respond. 

Meanwhile, it's the August Holiday long weekend in Canada, and I opted for the Canadian Bank Holiday Mondays (as B.A. usually had to work the British ones), so I am free! That said, my break from the computer lasted as long as it took me to make a blackcurrant vodka cocktail and have a look at the explosion of fluffy purple flowers in my garden. It looks like an invasion from space. 

I told a colleague that today was supposed the hottest day of the year in Scotland, hotter than Lanzarote. At lunchtime B.A. and I walked to the parish church in the sun and then to the ice-cream store. It was marvellous. My colleague asked how hot, and I looked online to see. 75 F. He then laughed merrily, as he is in Virginia, where it is in the 90s but the humidity makes it feel like the 100s. 

Now I get to think about what to do with my time now that I don't have to read or write news. Naturally I will study Polish, read Italian, and finish a book I'm reviewing. I will make some suggestions about a pupil's "Chapter One," and I will even write a "Chapter One" myself, so as not to make my students do anything I'm not doing myself. I will read up on New Criticism, so I can get some insight into what it is that I am teaching decades after being taught it myself. 

I will do some housework--the hard scrubbing and hoovering stuff, not just the dishes and the laundry. Oooh, I think the charity shops are open, so I can have a real rid-out at last. 

For the moment, I'm on the stoop at the top of our stairs and I've just had a chat with the downstairs neighbour. She's says she's back at work at the hotel--just 15 hours a week to keep her in chocolate and Gin-and-Tonic.

"Life's little essentials," she said. 

The marvellous thing about our street of row houses is that every flat has its own private garden. Several of them--including ours--are full of washing, as the neighbourhood takes advantage of 75 degree weather. You would think that the Scots would all invest in drying machines, given our usual weather, but no! Well, perhaps the New Town can laugh off the utility bills, but we cannot. 

Anyway, B.A. and I may go on another country walk although this is not certain as the poor man has developed plantar fasciitis. He can no longer bicycle, and he refuses to be put in a bicycle trailer, so our options are limited.  

Now I will read your comments--I hope.

Tuesday 28 July 2020

A Way of Life

I meant to write a long and luxurious post on the above topic, but all I have time to do is catch up.

On Saturday Benedict Ambrose and I went on a splendid walk from East Linton to Dunbar. This represented the last leg of the John Muir Way. Apparently some Americans are trying to cancel our Johnnie for saying rude things, but he'll never be cancelled in Dunbar. He was born there, his birthplace is now a museum, his statue in in the middle of town, and he was voted their "Man of the Millennium." I wouldn't suggest anyone go to Dunbar to fiddle with his legacy, for Dunbar is what B.A. calls "rather rough."

On Sunday B.A. and I went to Mass and did not pass out and die when the congregation of 40 absentmindedly sang their usual half of the Credo. Afterwards we enjoyed a Gin and Tonic of Togetherness and then went with a London-based pal (Andrew Cusack) to Bar Napoli to relive his student days and eat lunch. After Andrew ran for his train home, B.A. and I sauntered to our own bus stop, untempted by the luxuries of George Street.

On Monday after work B.A. and I went to the Historical House, secure in the permission of the Head Gardener, to harvest blackcurrants for next year's blackcurrant vodka. Someone had done a number on the rhubarb, so I picked the last forlorn pink stalks and took them home for crumble. I washed and dried the black currants and today, during my lunch hour, I bought a bottle of Absolut (on sale at £16) to pour over them.

Now we have three bottles of blackcurrant vodka in various stages: a bottle of creme de cassis, a bottle of straight czarna porzeczka for Christmas 2020, and today's mixture, to be left until  Christmas 2021. I am drinking creme de cassis with soda at this very moment.

Today is July 28, exactly a year after my last tincture-making. As B.A. and I went off berrying yesterday, it occurred to me that this has become a tradition in our Way of Life. Our Way of Life is not the ideal for married Catholics--the absence of children still rankles my soul--but harvesting fruit for cordials and puddings is very pleasant.

Our Way of Life clearly involves long walks in the countryside, the Traditional Latin Mass, meals with friends (whenever possible), the making of alcoholic drinks from flowers and fruit, the reading of books and The Spectator,  the study of Polish and Italian (me), and the study of 18th century Scotland (B.A.).

Saturday 25 July 2020

Sinead, check in!

I have read that Ireland's health workers have the world's highest rate of Covid-19, so please check in Siobhan Sinead. I'm worried about you.  Reader response is (obviously) low these days (moral of story: don't  put up and close down blogs every couple of years), but occasionally I wonder how my old readers are doing. 

Meanwhile, I have finished my review for Peter Kwasniewski's Reclaiming Our Roman Catholic Birthright (Angelico Press, 2020). I possibly went overboard on the feasting analogy, but I discovered it was the best way to describe the structure and properties of the book. One day I hope to write something with as much substance--something as meaty, as it were.  But what I most admire about Peter K is that he works on his writing craft day after day. 

Kwasniewski is prolific, but he's not cranking it out. He's thinking, structuring, and polishing those lovely or striking metaphors. Back in Jesuit theology school, I was taught to mark up books with symbols denoting desolation, consolation, new ideas, important information, and questions. For PK I have added a little daisy for phrases or sections I find particularly lovely. It's moving that in promoting the Traditional Latin Mass, Kwasniewski is striving to write about it as beautifully as he can. 

"Beauty will save the world," said Fyodor Dostoevsky. I learned that in Jesuit theology school, too. 

Now on the top of my pile is Fr. Armand de Malleray's X-ray of a Priest in a Field Hospital.  What works in a homily does not necessary work in a book, so I have no idea what to expect. I've reviewed three Kwasniewski books now, so I will begin reading his next with a general idea. I was going to say that nobody (except Peter and Angelico Press) will want me to review PK's next one, but it occurs to me that I am developing much background knowledge. I can say authoritatively "This is an improvement on his last" or "This element that so distinguished his last is sadly MIA." 

My undergraduate English professors at the University of Toronto were very old fashioned, fortunately for me, and I believe they were all New Critics. What this meant, in practise, is that they trained us to read every word of the books we read and judge the works on their beauty, balance, shapes--I'm not articulating this correctly. At any rate, I can tell you that the last words in Reclaiming Our Roman Catholic Birthright are "Printed in the United States." That's how hard "read every word" was banged into me as an undergrad.  Naturally I am teaching my homeschoolers to read every word, too, and to look at how essays, stories and novels are structured.  

I have just pondered what a feminist critique of Kwasniewski's works would look like and shuddered.  On the other hand, I have been out of academia so long, I don't know what the latest fashion is. Possibly students of English Literature no longer write essays but defecate on books in public and then set fire to them as their classmates film the acts and post them to Instagram. When one of the hopeful sprigs of the local TLM indicated a desire to study English Literature at university, all the university-educated adults in earshot shrieked in horror.

On second thought, though, I suppose a student might be well-served by the English Department at a Newman-approved college. Also, I do read and write for a living, so my B.A. in English Lit/Classical Civ. was not useless, however I feel about my appalling English Lit M.A.  Still, my undergrad professors were New Critics, and may God's perpetual light upon them. May those no longer with us rest in peace. (Special mention of Fr. Charles Leland, CSB, whose rendition of the first lines of A Streetcar Named Desire, once heard, could never be forgotten.)

Friday 24 July 2020

The £11 Hamburger, or Keeping Institutions Alive

Benedict Ambrose and I have been worried about our local Latin American restaurant. It has excellent steaks at affordable prices and dulce de leche cheesecake. Before lockdown it was busy on weekends but usually rather quiet during the week. After lockdown it was deserted, of course.

Now that lockdown has been greatly eased, we decided to abandon parsimony for an evening and have a meal at the steakhouse. B.A. put on his tweed jacket, and I put on my Sala Stampa dress, and off we went. To our surprise, the restaurant was rather busy.

The new femme maitre d' was cheerful behind her plastic visor and informed us that the restaurant has been popular since it reopened. We professed ourselves happy to hear this and ordered supper. B.A. reacted with exaggerated expressions of shock when I ordered a hamburger instead of a steak. It was delicious. Replete and satisfied that the restaurant would survive if we didn't have dessert, we decided not to have the dulce de leche cheesecake. Instead we went home to sleep as well as we could, given the entire bottle of Montanes we drank. I woke up at 5 AM.

(An aside: what is the point of eating beef and drinking red wine at 7 PM - 9 PM at night? Wouldn't it make more sense to have these things at lunchtime, so as to tackle the rest of the day with vim?  Or at least to have them for supper only if a night of dancing or some other vigorous activity is planned?)

I have finished reading Kwasniewski's Reclaiming Our Roman Catholic Tradition, and in it he asks the reader to invite as many people as possible to the Traditional Latin Mass, so that they too can worship God in this beautiful and fitting way. He begs us to be nice to the people who arrive with purple hair or black fingernails, suggesting that they will get the hang of correct dress in time.

(Another aside: whereas purple hair strikes me as banal, I don't mind black fingernails myself, even on men. If a tall Goth-like chap in a long black trench coat and shiny black nails turns up at Mass, I will certainly buzz up to him in the carpark afterwards and invite him into the parish hall for a cup of tea.)

I agree with Kwasniewski's pleas, and one of my proudest accomplishments is evangelising people with my blog. One would-be convert, shocked by her local Mass, went online to find out about Latin Masses and found my blog. She was inspired by my  descriptions of the TLM it to seek out her local Oratorians. The Oratorians take would-be converts very seriously, and so today this lovely girl is a Catholic.

However, I feel that I must add somewhere that a TLM can be incredibly off-putting for the first-timer.

TLMers can also be incredibly off-putting, too. Thirty years ago (!) I was surprised at Mass in the ordinary form when a party of pro-lifers I knew suddenly knelt beside me while I was standing. I had stood at that part of the Mass all my little life. If I remember correctly, one of the pro-lifers my age tugged at my hem so I would kneel too. She explained later that the Mass itself was wrong, and I thought she was off her rocker. She explained about there being an Old Mass and that the Old Mass was the Right Mass, but I still thought she had gone over the edge into the Extreme.

However, I was curious enough about the Old Mass to go to one in my incredibly ugly and banal parish church. My childhood parish used to have a beautiful cruciform church on the principal street of our city. It was built around 1949. The land it was on, unfortunately, was worth millions by the 1980s, and so it was sold and a squat new church complex was built for us on a side street. Its only architectural connection with the old church is the stained glass windows. I'm very fond of those windows, and I learned about the Seven Sacraments from them before I could read.*

My pastor was, I now realise, a crypto-trad, and he had arranged (or allowed) for what was then called the Indult Mass to be said in his church once in awhile on Sunday afternoon. So one day I went, and it was the most boring thing ever. There were no instructions to be found. If I remember correctly, there was no sheet of paper with the readings. I didn't know such things as TLM missals existed. The church, being hideous, didn't raise my mind to heaven. I was disappointed and, what's more, didn't see the point. I didn't set foot in a TLM for the next 18 years.

The only reason why I went back to the TLM at all was because I went on holiday to Scotland and my host, who was about to be received into the Church, was a TLM enthusiast. I found everything very strange, and even rather frustrating, but I was very impressed by the intense silence. Everyone there seemed to be intently focussed on what was happening at all times. Having been liturgically brought up to focus on the community, I was very impressed by the piety of this community. Then I married my host, so good-bye to Bugnini.

Peter Kwasniewski thinks the Catholic Church is doomed without the TLM, and I suspect it will certainly be doomed in the West without the TLM. I will one-up Kwasniewski and say I think the West is doomed without the TLM because the TLM provides the spiritual foundation for parents bringing their children up in the classical tradition.

If there's anything we should have learned from the ecclesiastical debacle of the 1960s and 1970s, it's that a culture cannot survive having its foundations removed.  B.A. and I want our neighbourhood to thrive, and so we spend our money in local businesses. Wanting our Church to survive (and souls to thrive, we support the TLM.

*Nobody should underestimate how much theology children pick up from church art and architecture. My parents unintentionally went to the most lefty church in town when I was an infant and the wooden stations of the cross are carved into my brain. The 1970s baldacchino--a large ring set with light bulbs hanging from the ceiling--reinforced my impression that whatever was happening at the altar was very important.

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Card-less in the Cash-free Toon

It's Professional Development Day for me, so I went to see my Spiritual Director. This was the first time I had been by for over four months, thanks to the lockdown. It wasn't as simple as getting on the bus, for on Sunday I lost my bank card on another bus and had to cancel it pronto. Thus, this morning I emptied out jars of change looking for pound coins, 50 pence pieces and, indeed, 20 p pieces to make up bus fares with.  I also had two lottery tickets worth £5 in my pocket, for the McLeans enjoy their little flutter and occasionally win something. 

Out I went into our (almost) cash-free society with my pocket of coins and lottery tickets.  Oh, and my mask. The front part of my mask is denim, so it matches my new indestructible maxi-skirt of feminine traddery. 

My journey through the town was like this: I walked to a bus stop and took the bus (£1.80) to the West End. Then I walked through the pouring rain to my Spiritual Director's house, arriving 20 minutes early. Next I had a long chat with my Spiritual Director before deciding to walk in the now-gentle rain towards Waterstone's bookshop on Princes Street. On the way I noticed that various cafes I might have stopped in were not accepting cash, so I didn't stop in any. 

Waterstone's had a sign saying that it would take only cash payments. After ascertaining that they don't have Assimil Italian (is Assimil ever in shops?), I continued on. I caught a bus to the Bridges (£1.80) and cashed my lottery tickets at Sainsbury's. Then I had a look at my favourite cafe which, unfortunately, is not only still shut, there is a large wooden board over the doorway. This bodes ill. Next I stopped by Central Library, whose ornate gates are still shut, and so proceeded to the Bow, past Walker Slater to La Barantine, a cafe-bakery on my "Acceptable Croissants" shortlist. 

There were a few tourists about, obvious from their cameras and need to photograph "The Elephant House: Birthplace of Harry Potter", but for once there were tables free at the Bow's La Barantine. The waitress did not want me to pay with cash, however, so we came to a compromise where I bought a croissant with exact change (£1.80) and toddled off. Munching my croissant, I examined the tweed-filled shop windows of Walker Slater and then went to Blackwell's Books. 

Blackwell's had more staff around than customers. A masked young salesman in the foyer greeted me and explained the shopping protocol: gel for hands, mask on face, one-way system: the now-usual. I had hoped to find a nice comfy chair in an isolated corner in which to discreetly read more of Kwasniewski's Reclaiming Our Roman Catholic Birthright, but it soon clear that chairs are now hard, obvious and few. I had a distinct feeling that using  reading a non-Blackwell's book would not be smiled upon.  Thus, after some melancholy wandering upstairs and downstairs, I went back upstairs, picked up the Dummies Guide to Polish and had a skim. (It's quite good, and it would serve as an expanded phrasebook for the studious/committed.) 

After that I got on a bus and went home (£1.80). My trip to and about the ancestral city cost £7.20, and I never dipped into our lottery winnings. I wasn't much tempted to, either, thanks to social disapproval of cash and also the doleful closures. The was a "For Sale" sign on "Mother India", which is a terrible shame, as that was our favourite Indian restaurant.  

I'm feeling rather low about my favourite cafe. It was the scene of so many of my Polish conversations and last-minute bouts of Polish homework doing. I even wrote Polish letters while sitting in one or the other of the big red leather chairs and deciphered Polish Pretend Son's letters by copying them out by hand, word by word. 

Months ago I wrote to the cafe ask what I could do to support them, and the respondent suggested I support the coffee company that now owns the joint. I signed up for the company's coffee subscription, so at least I have been drinking good coffee.  I now see that my cafe is selling vouchers for future drinks. Having seen the wooden panel in the doorway, though, I'm a little nervous of doing that. But, as a matter of fact, I can't do that until I get my new bank card. 

Sunday 19 July 2020

You'll Have Had Your Te Deum

Today we went together to a publicly celebrated Mass for the first time since St. Joseph's Day. Benedict Ambrose wore a suit. I wore my brown silk dress and velvet jacket. We were cheerful, and not even the sight of closed cafes along our way could dim our joy for long. Some of the cafes are just closed on Sunday now. Some ... Well, we'll see.

At any rate, we were two of the fortunate thirty-five who signed up to go to Mass this morning.  Five others turned up without leave, so they were especially fortunate there were places left. There was a large blond Austrian scientist with a clipboard at the door, checking off names.

As we were already wearing masks, the Sacred Bouncer just indicated the bottle of hand sanitiser beside the box of disposable masks and asked us to leave the long pews in the centre of the church for families. He also explained that we now have a one-way entrance-exit system, so we would have to leave the church through the sacristy door afterwards.

The loos, being in the parish hall, were unavailable.

When B.A. and I went into the church, we saw that pairs of pews had been tied closed (as it were) with long blue cloth tape, and that worshippers had to sit, therefore, in every third pew. The faithfuls' door to the sacristy was open and the sacristy door to the car park was also open. There were a few open windows, too, so the church was certainly well aired.

It was lovely to be back in church before the Blessed Sacrament and to see people we haven't seen in person for months and to guess who they were. Some were obvious, even wearing masks, but others were less so. I was feeling quite gleeful, in fact, until the priest came out and gave a pre-Mass homily in which he declared that we should be angry at the injustice done to us by governments and that there would be no Te Deum as we had nothing to be thankful about, etc.

He also explained that there would be a Low Mass, and no singing, and that the [Eastern] Orthodox have only sung liturgies, so this no-singing rule affected them most severely. He then read the regulations about masks, so that we knew the actual letter of the mask law.

Then we had a Low Mass, complete with an organist in the back playing deedle-deedle, which made it more difficult for people with early onset age-related deafness (e.g. me) to hear, but B.A. liked it.  There was no homily after the Gospel.

Between the checklist, the masks, the halved congregation, the blue cloth tape, the regulations, the unknown five, and the instruction to fume, I was strongly reminded of the Penal Times.  I was not around during the Penal Times, naturally, but it really did seem that the government, casting around for someone not the CPP to blame for Covid, had hit on the idea that public worship should be deemed particularly dangerous and discouraged as much as possible.

One thing I noticed was that people in the church were much more spaced apart than people are on Scottish buses. The pews were naturally cleaner than the buses, as they were disinfected after the up-to-forty people at the Novus Ordo left the building. I don't know how many times a day the buses are disinfected, but it is almost certainly not after the first 40 passengers have all left. Scottish bus passengers do not sit, stand or kneel in silence, but chat away as usual. Presumably Scottish bus passengers could also sing, if they were so minded. Oh, and many Scottish bus passengers don't bother to wear their masks the whole time they are on the bus.

Don't get me started on the supermarkets.

Anyway, an offertory basket was set up at the door, and it looked like we didn't disgrace ourselves, so that was cheerful. Also cheerful was standing around 2 metres apart from our unmasked friends, chatting in the sunshine.  Eventually a party of us strode off in the direction of the train station, most of us turning off, however, on an elegant street to have a three-household picnic lunch. It was supposed to be in the private park in the middle of the square, but the weather was uncertain, so we had it in the drawing/dining room instead.

In the kitchen (wonderful view!) our host caught his finger on the edge of the tin he was opening and exclaimed something highly mysterious, heartfelt and Austrian. It seemed to involve cats, but I am not sure. I am mentioning this only for colour. But I must say, although it is unlucky to cut oneself on a tin, it is lucky if the first words out of your mouth afterwards are in a dialect no-one around can understand.

Benedict Ambrose says that objectively speaking it was better to be present at Mass than in our sitting-room watching the Warrington Mass over the computer. I agree that this is objectively true, but I note that I was a lot more distracted than I have been watching the Warrington Mass, even though everyone around was at least outwardly attentive. A Low Mass on Sunday is not what I'm used to, and also I wasted a lot of time pondering the government regulations, the sad absence of half the congregation, the comparative danger of bus travel, how germy the mask my mother made me might be by now and what temperature I ought to wash it at, what emotions one ought feel at Mass, was that the thurifer in the pew ahead of us and will he eventually bring his new fiancée.

Now Polish Pretend Son is preparing to type "How just like a woman" which will be unfair, as I am sure St. Therese the Little Flower, St. Theresa of Avila, St. Theresa Benedetta of the Cross and probably even Mother Teresa never got so distracted during Mass. My point is that life is nowhere back to normal although I am very happy indeed to have been back in our church and to have seen some of our friends again.

I suspect the governments, Westminster and Holyrood, don't actually know what they are doing and, indeed, that they have been very badly advised. Naturally they have been running roughshod over our inalienable right to public worship, which is an utter outrage, as human beings owe worship to God as a matter of fundamental justice. But on the other hand, most of them are ignorant of this, some, no doubt, invincibly.

Those who cannot be invincibly ignorant of this are the Catholic Bishops. The most charitable interpretation of the Bishops' behaviour over the past four-and-a-half months is that they were terrified of their priests and flocks dying on ventilators en masse and then, once they noticed the busy supermarkets, they realised they had been conned and began to negotiate to get the churches open again. One does wonder what they will say to St. John Ogilvie, St. John Fisher, St. Edmund Campion, St. Margaret Clitherow, and the Carthusian Martyrs of London when they see them, but I suppose that's their business. No doubt quite a few saints have some choice things to say to me.

Friday 17 July 2020

Our Deep Roots

I was up too late last night. I somehow--I don't now remember how--stumbled on online photographs of daguerreotypes of a set of my German great-great-great-grandparents. It was rather a shock seeing the face of an ancestor born in the 18th century. More clicking around brought more photographs, albeit mostly of gravestones, and biographies of other ancestors, and the names and relationships of people I know only from scraps of my father's and his mother's stories.

There were two sad stories in all of that biographical data. The oldest concerned a son of my abovementioned German great+grandparents. Not many years after he arrived in the USA--the family settled in the 1850s--he joined the Union Army and died of pneumonia in the first year of the Civil War. His obituary described the military endeavour he had joined as a Holy Cause.

The other story was the death of illness, at 45, of  my "Irish" great-grandfather. His father was born in Ireland, but his mother was of pioneer stock, and like her he was born in the USA. But one scrap of story I heard from his daughter-in-law (who, of course, never knew him) was that his youngest son, my grandfather, was so poor he got only an orange for Christmas one year. The loss of a father had been an economic, as well as a personal, tragedy.

This story doesn't quite mesh with stories about my grandfather and his older brother wandering into a poorer Irish neighbourhood, much to the disgust of their mother and nanny, but economic ups and downs were not unknown to my family. The Germans had done quite well for themselves in Germany--they emigrated in First Class--and they continued to do quite well in the USA until, ahem, 1929. The Irish--very cleverly, I thought--married into the aforementioned pioneer stock and then into my grandmother's German-American clan.

I went to bed, quite late, thinking about all of these ancestors and their siblings, and I wondered if any of my siblings' descendants will look at a photograph of me in 2200. Perhaps my life will have been colourful enough for one of them to have any interest in it, just as my eye was caught by that young German man who died at Camp Yates.

That's not really important for me, but it might be important for the descendants. I would hate a child of my family to grow up thinking that they sprung, fully formed, from a place of shameful privilege, or that their ancestors were boring and bad. It is much better to have a grasp of the ups and downs in their ancestors' lives, to know that even the times of prosperity brought the heartbreak of loss and that the times of poverty had their good side, too. Apparently my German-American great-grandfather got a job as a travelling salesman after the Crash of '29 and drove up and down his state scattering cigar ash out the window. What a great example.

Then there's Great-Aunt Meta, who had a crush on the Kaiser's brother, making a scene at a Red Cross dinner during the run-up to the American entrance into the First World War because someone insulted the German Royal Family. Imprudence or guts? Whichever, she's certainly someone to remember the next time someone trashes me on Facebook for my lack of Wokeness.

All these wonderful stories that root me in history. And I am just one person. Whole cultures or nations are also rooted into history by stories. It is important to know our stories and to love our ancestors, even if we unearth stories about them that make us uncomfortable. To take Pope Francis' most famous phrase egregiously out of context (as everyone else does), "Who am I to judge" someone born in completely different circumstances than I? We can judge that an act performed or a belief held by a particular, individual ancestor was in itself wrong, but I don't think we justly make a judgement against that particular ancestor.* Naturally what we think can't hurt him or her now, but sneering at our own ancestors hurts us. Cutting ourselves off at the roots makes us a very sick tree.

A very sick tree, and easy to topple.

Thursday 16 July 2020

Creme de Cassis

Benedict Ambrose and I came home to a screaming flat.

"That will be the duck," said B.A., meaning that the fire alarm had been set off by the oven roasting our supper.

I swiftly scanned the roof and, not perceiving there leaping flames, gathered some kale from the veg trug.

Then I went in and opened the windows B.A. had not already opened, stood on a chair, and poked at the wailing alarms.

B.A. showed me the duck legs, which are pleasantly crisp, not charred. But clearly we need to clean the oven.

For some reason, this put me in mind of strong drink, so I tried a little of our half-litre of homemade creme de cassis. I poured off the vodka from last July's blackcurrants and added simple syrup to it on Tuesday morning, much to early in the day to taste it. My feeling is that it could use a little more simple syrup. It certainly packs a wallop.

Today was a busy day, for all that I did not get up until actual nine. My language-study-on-the-stationary-bicycle time was sacrificed to an editing favour for a Polish friend, who returned the favour when I wrote a Polish email. But I didn't write the email until after I actually made a phone call to Poland, and the fact that I did that is glory to my Italian tutor.

Speaking foreign languages on the phone is psychologically difficult to many, but after sixteen or so Covid-era Italian tutorials over the phone, I though I could handle a Polish receptionist. As it was, I had only to say my name, business and telephone number to an answering machine. Fortunately, I said numer (number) not liczba (also number) even though I had an awful sensation that was actually German. As a matter of fact, "number" in German is "Nummer", so I was not entirely wrong although Google tells me that for phones it is really Telefonnummer.

Anyway, it was a busy day, and having to think in, speak to a machine in, and write in Polish for work was an excellent substitute for my usual language study. In fact, at the end of the day, it is what the language study is for.  Now I probably know better than any other anglophone journalist what Poland's leading pro-lifer thinks of both Poland's leading party and one of its more conservative   opposition parties. Yay, as they say, me.

I have thought more about what I want to do during my Polish holiday, and my top picks are impractical. At the very top of the list is to sit on a beach at Sopot between bouts of swimming in the Baltic. This is impractical because A) we are going to be staying almost 300 miles away from Sopot and B)  Covid-19 or no Covid-19, Sopot is going to be heaving with people. Probably the best time to go to Sopot is early June or early September after B.A. and I have won the lottery put away a special Sopot fund.

A much more practical idea is not to look at a computer for a solid week. It will be a challenge, I think, especially if I want to look at a map. However, I can lessen the temptation by looking things up ahead of time and buying a very detailed paper map.

Monday 13 July 2020

Poland, Sunny Poland

Benedict Ambrose and I have bought airline tickets for Poland, and the price of Ryanair tickets are now so expensive, I cried. They are more than four times as expensive as they were in late February. But that said, we are going to Poland as the treasured guests of friends and do not anticipate many more expenses. We will not be spending more during our one week holiday in Poland than we used to pay for our glorious ten to twelve days in Italy.

Twelve whole days! That was before I began working full-time, of course. B.A., being British, has oodles of vacation days. My most recent long holiday was last July when we joined family members in Berlin. We had a week of sightseeing and family meals, and then I went to Poland for two days and B.A. went home.

B.A. waved me off at the bus platform before he headed for the airport. The Poland-bound bus driver steered the wheel with his elbows whenever blowing his nose on a paper handkerchief. He chatted merrily in Polish with his co-driver, and when the bus crossed the border into Poland it began bouncing up and down, so bad was the road all of a sudden. I found all of this quite comforting.

What I liked best about Berlin was drinking coffee with B.A. in the Hotel Adlon and then on a boat going down the Spree. I did not much like Potsdam or any of the palaces we wandered through because I am not one for urban sightseeing anymore, except from boats. I much prefer to walk for miles in the countryside and the survey the landscape from the top of a hill. Had our Poland plans fallen through, I would be planning a week's march along the John Muir Way--not the whole thing, but  from Helensburgh to home, punctuated by B&Bs because B.A. does not enjoy camping.

We have not worked out yet what we will do in Poland besides admire my goddaughter and eat delicious cuisine polonaise. This must be discussed with our hosts. Perhaps we will walk for miles and miles in Przemkowski Park, if no other national park is nearer. If Kraków were not too far away,  I would pay a call on Polonia Christiana.

Well, it is something to look forward to, and in the meantime I will cut all personal expenses, take a lot of vitamins, and not give the airline or the boarder guards any reason to suspect me of harbouring the Vile Germ.

Sunday 12 July 2020

Sunday Best/A Long Walk/The Prophetess Lionel

1. I have had an instructive Sunday morning. First I read another chapter of Dr. Peter Kwasniewski's Reclaiming our Roman Catholic Birthright, which I will highly recommend in my book review for work. Then I broke my usual custom to send work emails to contacts. And then I put on a dress and a mantilla and watched the Warrington FSSP Mass with Benedict Ambrose.

The right of people in England and Wales to worship in public has been ... I'm not sure "restored" is actually the right word. Putting aside the consciences of other religious bodies, let us say that the CBCEW is no longer afraid to permit Catholics in England and Wales to return to Mass. Catholics in Scotland are not yet permitted by our bishops to return to Mass; the government has permitted them and us to return to Sunday Mass on July 19th. 

Fr. De Malleray preaching on anger (for the four months we have been deprived of personal attendance at Mass), hunger (for the Holy Eucharist), the Gospel of the day (feeding the four thousand and then all the scraps collected in seven baskets), the Divinity of the Holy Eucharist (and therefore the necessity of the correct method of receiving the Holy Eucharist), and Correct Deportment and Clothing for Mass. 

Correct Deportment and for Mass came right at the end, capping off a courageous homily with what might have been the most courageous part of all: risking annoying the congregation. As it was, we were well into the Nicene Creed before Benedict Ambrose and I stopped arguing over what Fr. De Malleray (who is French) meant by a "suit." Benedict Ambrose argued that a jacket and trousers (with shirt and tie) are smart enough for Mass; they don't and shouldn't have to match.  

"If you would wear a suit to a wedding, why would you not wear a suit to the Wedding of the Lamb?" I said piously, echoing (I suspect) the married women scattered throughout the English-speaking world who had just heard Fr. De Malleray's homily. And how refreshing it is for a man to take umbrage at a priest's strictures about Correct Dress. 

"I'm wearing leggings next week," I said. 

"No, you're not," said B.A. 

In the end I admitted that Fr. Malleray might not have mean "suit" in the same way that B.A. means "suit." But again I underscore that as trad women hear over and over again arguments that we must wear skirts, and that those skirts must be at least knee-length, and that our sleeves must be at least elbow-length and that, really, we should wear our Sunday Best, it is refreshing to hear that men must also bow to an exacting standard. 

Incidentally, last night I insisted on changing my Denim Maxi-Skirt of Feminine Traddery before going to the patio of a newly reopened Italian restaurant for drinks. I put on my Sala Stampa dress, and B.A. (who put on a jacket) noticed that all the women on the patio were more formally dressed than the men. 

Meanwhile, the Warrington Mass ended with a Te Deum. Thanksgiving was indeed apt.

2. Yesterday we had a splendid walk. We put on masks like good little subjects and took the country bus to Haddington. We queued up outside Falco's German bakery-cafe, which is in a splendid 18th century building, and ate our treats and drank B.A.'s coffee in the shelter of St. Annes Place. Then we toddled off along streets to a scary highway, which we crossed with great care. Then we followed a lovely path up into the Garleton Hills.  At the top of one of these hills, we waded through long grass, Scottish thistles (ouch!), and little blue forget-me-nots to reach a ruined brick hut. There we had a rest. We could see for miles and miles all around, and I was quite delighted to think that all of these beautiful landscapes were our home. 

When we were sufficiently rested, we continued on past ruined castles and healthy farmhouses towards Athelstaneford. Part of one ruined castle was being used as a shed for farming equipment and   such rubbish as old pallets. B.A. noticed that the walls had slots for firearms and so decided the castle must have been built in the 16th century.  

Athelstaneford is a pretty village overlooking the site where some marauding Scots and Picts trapped by King Athelstan of the Saxons and his men prayed for divine assistance and saw the Cross of St. Andrew in the blue sky. Thus Athelstaneford is called the Birthplace of the Saltire (Scottish Flag) and it has a splendid 16th century dovecot converted into a museum to celebrate it. The dovecot--and the view--is tucked behind the 18th/19th century village church. Naturally there has been a church there for many centuries before that, but this is merely its latest shape. 

We ate our packed lunches on a bench outside the village hall and then we wandered through the village hoping to see my acquaintance who had me to lunch at her home there once. We didn't see her, though, and I couldn't remember which was her cottage, so eventually we wandered off the main road to look at a house I had seen advertise for sale online. We found it, and B.A. was enthusiastic. It would certainly make an excellent base for country walks. It would significantly add to our transportation costs, however. 

We meant to take the country bus to North Berwick, but the timetable on the bus stop did not match the notes B.A. wrote on a scrap of paper. Therefore, instead of kicking our heels in the village, we marched off in the direction of a hamlet called Needless and turned left at the road for Drem, which has a railway station. 

B.A. thought it would be splendid to live in Athelstaneford (or Needless) and zoom up and down this very quiet country road on a Vespa to the railway station. We passed many farms and cottages, the cottages mostly hidden behind large hedges. We saw sheep and cows and, in the distance, the railway line and very much in the distance the Firth of Forth. It was a sunny, breezy day--excellent walking weather. 

When we got to the empty Drem railway station we established that the Edinburgh train would arrive in just a few minutes, so that was splendid timing. We put on our masks and climbed aboard, dreaming of our drinks at the Italian restaurant. Originally we were going to have our post-hike beer in North Berwick, but we were just as happy to support our local. 

A local, strictly speaking, is your nearest pub, but our nearest pub is somewhat frightening, so we are agreed that the snazzy restaurant is our local instead. 

3. This morning I also perused the Spectator and saw that the novelist Lionel Shriver had written an essay against the concept of "white guilt." What struck me was her utterly secular observation that no human being can take on the responsibility of all the sins of humanity and that inherited guilt means damnation. Look at this: 

As a species, we've been treating each other like [faeces] from the year dot. The horrors to which we've subjected one another, including slavery but a great deal else, are so incomprehensibly dreadful that no-one, as an individual, could conceivably bear the crushing weight of all that torture, mass murder and sadism. If guilt is inherited, then every last one of us should be condemned to Dante's nine circles of hell." 

As a Christian, I have two observations. The first is that only God could bear that crushing weight and, in fact, He did in the Person of the God-Man Jesus Christ. The second approaches the doctrine of Original Sin.  

Saturday 11 July 2020

Get out of the elevator, now.

Hello, me again to remind you that if you are a woman in any situation where a man makes you feel worried about your safety, get out of there.  Don't second-guess yourself. Don't worry if the man might think you are a Bad Person if you suddenly vanish. Don't check your privilege or conduct an internal struggle session. Just get out of there.

If the man is blocking your way, call for help. If nobody else is in earshot, call for help on your mobile/cellphone. The most important thing is that you get home alive and unharmed.

You are a woman. If you are like most women, you are only one-half to two-thirds as strong as the average man. You're probably stronger than most children, though, so please don't use your strength to threaten or brutalise children. In the meantime, bad men of all nations, colours and creeds use their strength to threaten and brutalise women and children all the time. And sometimes women and children have only seconds to guess if a man is bad or not. So if you feel scared, get off the elevator. Exit the shop. Get out of the stairwell. Leave the room. Run to the nearest place of safety. Pull out your phone and call someone.

You are a woman and if you're alone in a room/elevator/forest with man, and he happens to be a bad man, you don't have any so-called privilege anymore, whatever colour you are. You have a famously underprivileged female body---and a phone.

When I was an amateur boxer, many years ago, I learned two important things. The first is that the world doesn't end if a man punches you in the face, so don't go through life worrying that a man might punch you in the face one day. The second is that fighting men with your fists is nevertheless very, very dangerous. It is very, very dangerous because men--and I'm including 15 year old boys here--are so much stronger than you, even if you are a super-wiry 27 year old in top condition.

I'm sorry I have to say all this again, but I've just watched a video of a man mocking a woman who is clearly afraid of him because she has encountered him alone in the woods and she thought he was standing in her way. When she called the police on her cellphone, he shouted "You're not talking to anyone! You're not talking to anyone!" When it became clear she had been talking to police, he shouted "Karen!"

I don't know if he's (usually) a good guy or a bad guy. But I do know that if I were brave enough to go running alone in the woods, I would have pulled my phone out if I was startled by any man I encountered there. Finding oneself alone in the woods with an aggressive male stranger of any colour is just about every woman's nightmare.

Update: Here's some statistics from 95% "white" Scotland, population 5 million:

  • [In 2018-2019] sexual crimes increased by 8% from 12,487 to 13,547. The recording of these crimes is at the highest level seen since 1971, the first year for which comparable groups are available.

Friday 10 July 2020

A Beautiful House

Don't mind me! Just parking a link here so I can find it later. I'm working, so must go.

Update: B.A. does not like the above house and did not respond well to my suggestion that we build a house just like it when  if we win the lottery. But I remembered another big American house--the  Studebaker mansion in South Bend, Indiana. My elder grandma used to take us to there for grand lunches.

Update 2: "I don't like North American architecture. It's hideous and derivative," said B.A. re: Tippecanoe. He likes log cabins, though.

Wednesday 8 July 2020

The Absolute Necessity of Asking for Help

I have been falling asleep by reading the reassuring and familiar plots of Georgette Heyer, fairy tales for grown-up ladies. What struck me last night was the reassuring set of rules her characters know they are to abide by. When in London, for example, an unmarried "Lady of Quality" must not go out for a walk unless accompanied by a friend, her maid, or a footman.

What frightened me very much in high school, university and at various points in my life was not knowing what the rules were, the "How Tos" that would get me from "my dreams" to their fruition. n the same way I thought that merely attending language classes would make me fluent in, say, Irish, I initially believed that success and happiness would just come along through mere attainment of university degrees, the ability to attract positive male attention, and the avoidance of mortal sin.

(These things, by the way, are indeed helpful--the last is crucial--but not enough in themselves.)

I can still remember my utter dismay, my aporia, to employ one of the few terms I remember from my philosophy classes, upon approaching graduation and not knowing what to do about getting a proper job. I wasn't just dismayed: I was frightened. Reading want-ads in the student job centre was something I could handle, but actually asking someone in the job centre to help me was simply beyond me.

Sometimes, when thinking about my adolescent self falling into yet another pit of despair, I impotently ask "Why did you not ask for help?"

The first person to ask me this, if I remember correctly, was our German friend Johannes the Good, who was astonished when I complained of a  non-German stranger in Frankfurt who insisted on making me the subject of his amorous intentions and would have followed me back to the residence in which I was staying had I not finally, heart fluttering like a bird in a net, succeeded in discouraging him.

"Who would have helped me?" I asked, as when this annoyance began I was in a bus station surrounded by various Germans all busily minding their own business.

"An older German lady," said Johannes firmly. "If you had asked her, she would have shouted at him."

And this, I realised, was absolutely true.

If I were to compose a list of advice for Young Women Today, I would put "Ask for help" somewhere near the top. If a Young Woman's response is "The last time I asked for help, I didn't receive help" or "The last time I asked for help, I got yelled at", I would respond "Ask a different person for help" or "Figure out whose job it is to help you, and ask them for help."

"Always look for the helpers," as Mr Rogers famously said albeit in a different context--or is it?

Sometimes I feel modern life is a dark and scary cave and one must feel one's way along the walls to keep from falling into an even darker and scarier tunnel. I don't have a map; all I have are Regency romance novels, and they are really no help. In fact, they can make life worse for they underline, again and again, that women-of-honour are inescapably financially dependent on their families, especially their male relations or husband. This is simply not true.  It has not been true for a long time.

They suggest--indeed most books written before 1950 suggest--that women who have to work for their living are terribly unfortunate and usually socially inferior to women who don't. Work, in books, also makes you terribly vulnerable. Every time a runaway ingenue in a Georgette Heyer novel suggests becoming a governess or a chambermaid, her confidante is so firmly against the idea, that it is clear to the fully-adult reader that this is because governesses and chambermaids were routinely victims of sexual violence.

By the time I graduated from university, I wished I hadn't read so many novels that expressed such a horror of work, especially women working. The conservative circles in which I moved were similarly lukewarm about women's employment outside the home. I was also primed by such books as Lifting a Ton of Feathers: A Woman's Guide to Surviving the Academic World to expect unrelenting horror in pursuing my career dreams.

But now I am writing myself into a depression, so I will go back to my initial point which is that in an age in which we are no longer have a clear blueprint of how to get on in life, it behooves us all to find out whose job it is to provide help and advice and to ask for help and advice.

If you have children, I suspect it is a very good idea never to dissuade them from asking you for help and advice. Presumably if you tell children who ask you for help that you're too busy or  that they should be able to do whatever it is on their own, they will get the idea that asking for help is useless or bad. And that would be too bad.

Monday 6 July 2020

Let's not glamourise the mortgage.

This morning it occurs to me--having seen the editor of a competitor tweet about his mortgage--that paying for a mortgage may have turned into a Symbol of Adulthood and that by writing it I have continued to make it sound glamorous and grown-up instead of the ridiculous modern institution it is.

Crean and Fimister's Integralism (which I recommend making the effort to read) comes down hard on wage slavery, and a mortgage is another form of wage slavery. Unfortunately, most people in the West cannot live in a what we consider a decent home (e.g. a roof, windows, cold & hot running water, a stove) without paying rent or spending an eye-watering sum.

The eye-watering sum is not necessarily the down payment although I shudder at what down payments can be for a house in London or Toronto. Our two-bedroom flat is worth less than the down payment on a one-bedroom flat in Kensington's Old Brompton Road I saw online this morning.  No, the eye-watering sum is the actual price of the home, which is not the price you (usually with the help of the bank) pay the seller but the price you end up paying the bank over the years. In short, you are lining the pockets of the bank with the money your employer or your client gives you for your time and expertise.

Benedict Ambrose and I have been watching an old British television series called "How to Live Mortgage Free," which addresses inflated housing prices and interviews people who get around them by either by building their own homes for between £5,500 - £30,000 or by paying down the mortgage early. These built homes are usually a houseboat, a converted vehicle, or a "temporary" dwelling built on a parents' farmland. Another innovation is to form a collective with others, buy a piece of land with some of your collective savings, and then build a multi-family dwelling together (using the rest of the collective savings) on that. (Actually, I'm not sure that is so innovative, as families in North America have been doing that for some time.)

But I have run out of time before work, so that's my thoughts on the subject now. Mortgages are not a sign of adulthood but a necessary evil that falls upon many adults. They may be a lesser evil, however, than rent. In the end it may depend on whether more money goes up in smoke on rent than it does on interest payments.

Sunday 5 July 2020

In the Woods

Either it has been a strange weekend, or the uncertainty of the lockdown is getting to me.

Yesterday was Saturday, and B.A. and I took a short (for us) walk along an old railway line. Our county abounds in old railway lines which are now paved trails and nature reserves. This trail ascended gently through woods, and I saw a figure in army fatigues run into the undergrowth, leaving behind a large bundle.

The bundle moved, and I wondered then if it were a large dog or a person in need of help. When we approached it, I perceived that it had hands and something that looked very much like an assault rifle. In fact, the person lying there was in complete British military camouflage--face paint, fake greenery, the works.

What do you do when Western Civilisation seems to be burning to the ground, and you come across young men in army fatigues and assault rifles during your woodland walk? If you are me, you walk politely by, praying that the guns are fake.

"Is anyone stalking us?" I asked B.A.

"They look about nine or ten years old," said B.A.

Such was the state of My Nerves (long-time readers will recall I got them honestly from my grandmother) that I didn't notice this.

It was gently raining. It rained until we got to the next town, discovered that the Catholic Church is open for personal prayer only 2 hours a week (and that we were too late for both), and enjoyed looking at all the houses and cottages we will choose among when we win the lottery/have an unprecedented pay raise.

I had a wonderfully juicy "I told you so" comment when a large and beefy jolly chap told B.A. (who still had his map in his hands) that he could tell he was taking advantage of our new freedom to travel more than five miles.

We had coffee and millionaire's shortbread with one of B.A.'s pals, who lives in a beautiful house in the town.

When we returned to our own neighbourhood, we bought a small bottle of prosecco to celebrate our annual mortgage overpayment. Perhaps you thought my interest in minimalism was for the aesthetics of it all. Alas, no. While we were celebrating, I printed off the bank statement for June, so as to see how we spend our money. We spend it on food and drink, apparently. Our "ethical carnivore" bill would astound you, so I won't publish it. Jaunts to the famous local ice-cream counter came to £18.55.

Unfortunately, financial thoughts continued to chase each other round and round my head, leaving me utterly unable to sleep. Trying to relax with a Georgette Heyer novel didn't work this time, possibly because it was Faro's Daughter and the plot is all about debts, bribes, gambling losses and a mortgage. There was light in the sky before I fell asleep.

I am sure I am not alone in having a sleepless night over the mortgage. In fact, I think my mother used to lie awake picking at the counterpane thinking about hers 40-odd years ago. Meanwhile, I have received notices from our lender about "mortgage holidays" and when I got on the phone in an attempt to announce our overpayment to a live person, a recorded voice asked me to choose from various options, beginning with "mortgage holiday" requests.  Thanks to minimalism, we ourselves do not want to take a "mortgage holiday," but I feel awful for all those in Britain who have to.

Sleeplessness, the continuing ghastly news from the USA, and thoughts about what new horrors the lockdown will bring all rendered me rather weepy today. What makes the lockdown worse is the lack of consensus among my friends about whether or not it is even necessary. At least one calls the emergency measures the "coronahoax." It's also not great that in Scotland we talk about "Nicola" (the First Minister) as if she were Big Brother or rather, since the remarks are usually derisive, the bogey monster.

What I would really like is to  do now is take a live-in-person holiday. However, I prefer holidays abroad to see family and/or friends to holidays sitting on (as now seems likely) British beaches. Everyday, therefore, I check to see if "Nicola" has relaxed the mandatory two-week quarantine on travellers.

Friday 3 July 2020

The Tomatoes

My friend in the countryside sent me home with two tomato plants, for she feels she has too many in her greenhouse. It is a truth universally acknowledged in Scotland that a tomato plant without a greenhouse perishes in the damp summer weather. We don't have a greenhouse, so I am experimenting with the windowsill. When the sun comes back, I will put the tomato plants for an extended daylight recess.

Meanwhile, the second courgette, which is trying to supplant the rosemary as the king of the herb barrell, has put out a blossom. I will eat it for breakfast tomorrow.

In pea news, the pea seedlings under pop bottle cloches have clearly developed so much faster than their younger brothers that I have made new cloches for them. So far there has been no damage to the peas seedlings.

The kale and the rainbow chard are flourishing hugely, and we are having the rainbow chard with dinner tonight.

I have complained to the First Minister about the 14 day quarantine on travellers to Scotland via Twitter. Unfairly, I did not complain to the Prime Minister of Canada about the 14 day quarantine on travellers there. However, what happens in Canada is a minority interest in Scotland, and the fact that the English can traipse back and forth across the Channel without a care probably rankles in many Scottish souls.

Keeping the Shadows at Bay

We had an excellent Dominion Day, thank you, spent in the countryside with another Canadian-Scottish couple and their children. We lunched on pancakes with maple syrup, and we dined on hamburgers. We had a lovely walk through fields up hills and down dales, praying the Rosary. The Canadians sang the National Anthem in French. Being able to sing the National Anthem in French just feels more Canadian. Don't ask me to write it out, however.

The next day I went back to swimming through the swamp of bad news, and it was pretty terrible. While researching a freedom of speech story, I watched a short video of a coked-up woman playing around with a gun in a car and then shooting the man beside her in the head. As the previously lively yet nervous man fell sideways with a sound like the air being let out of a balloon, blood pouring from his head, the woman and the man in the back burst out of the car.

The person who posted this video had introduced it with an unpleasant racial slur, which made it all the worse. The injured man did not die, by the way, but suffered significant brain damage. I had to find this out myself, as the poster wasn't interested in his welfare.

To put this in perspective, I couldn't make myself watch the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" series because I couldn't take the violence.  I can't watch Scorsese films, and I lasted only the first two minutes of Wild at Heart. Incidentally, what the hell is wrong with the human race?

Don't answer that: I know.

As an exercise in freedom of speech, the poster failed in his object. Well, that's assuming that his object was to convince other people that his racial theory was correct. I'm doubting that his object was to traumatise (however mildly) a conservative alt-media journalist and give her a serious case of writer's block. Yesterday was not one of my got-two-stories-done days.

I seriously need a holiday but--and here is the point of this article, really--for once world events are having a serious impact on my daily, domestic life. What I really want to do is go home to Toronto, chat to my parents, possibly swim in their pool, definitely visit my siblings and best pals, rediscover how hot a Toronto July can be. However, my parents are over 70, and despite a torrent of stories suggesting that everything we have been told about coronavirus is wrong, I am mortally afraid of somehow infecting my parents.*

The more likely plan is going to Poland. However, this is not so simple either, for whereas England is not going to punish its residents with a two-week quarantine after returning from July travels, it appears that Scotland is determined to do so. Being quarantined at home doesn't matter as much to me, as we have a garden and food delivery accounts, but B.A. refuses to risk being quarantined. For one thing, if he isn't laid off at the end of the month, he will be called back to work.

Did I mention that B.A. (like so many others) is at risk of being "made redundant"? Yes. But we won't go there for now. I am not being made redundant, so we'll be better off than thousands of British households.

Under these circumstances, it would be great not to have to take on board all the other sufferings in the world. The ideological carnage in the USA is just really too much, and I deliberately did not read the Dominion Day news in Canada because I knew that a day celebrating Canada's history and people's would naturally be used by malcontents as an excuse to pour hatred on our country. (I don't know what is worse--that or using shows like "Anne with a E" to rewrite our history and literature.)

So what to do? Well, the first thing to do--I think--is to stop reading any news except the news I have to write on. That's it: two or three bad things a day. No more than three broken hearts, bad bishops, ideological outrages or social atrocities a day.

After that, I really don't know what else to do to keep the shadows at bay.

*And I can't stay elsewhere in Canada--there's a strict 14 day quarantine, so I'd have to stay indoors and not see anyone anyway.

Update: Occasionally I come across sanity-saving "good news" or, rather, good old news.