Monday 13th April, 2020

[Day 28]

Last night, a brief but very intense squall hit the Midlands – when we woke up this morning, we discovered that two owls had been smashed to pieces and the body parts lay scattered around the patio we have outside the house in the back garden. Before readers recoil in absolute horror, I ought to mention that the owls in question were china owls (well, pot actually) and had been residing on our outside patio table. So what were they doing there in the first place? Well, the story is this. Last summer, I renovated some aluminium garden furniture (table and four chairs) by repainting them with a dark green ‘Hammerite’ paint. However, a local robin had taken to perching on the back of one of the newly painted chairs and was threatening to ‘poop’ all over my handiwork. In order to preserve their renovated status, I scoured the local Charity shops (of which we have at least half a dozen) and managed to secure two pottery owls, often used as money boxes, They were put at slightly different angles and they were used to deter robins and the like from messing up our garden furniture. Unfortunately, the storm arose before I had the chance to lay them flat and they paid the ultimate sacrifice…

This morning the normal pattern repeated itself in that we exchanged several pleasantries with dog walkers in the park but we did not tarry long as there was quite a brisk wind. On the way back home we did have a chat with some near neighbours who live just around the corner but with whom we have not had the chance of an extended conversation before today. They were digging over and renovating a little triangular plot in front of their house and they had been waiting for a spot of rain so the earth would have softened a bit before they started digging and planting. We mentioned to each other that one of the side effects of the present crisis was that once people had got bored with decorating, gardening and spring cleaning they would revert to more traditional modes of indoor entertainment and the experts were predicting a ‘baby boom’ in about nine months from now. We reminisced that the last time a national crisis brought together groups of neighbours was in 1973 when the country as a whole had to endure a three-day week as well as intermittent power disconnections of both gas and electricity. The official (Conservative) government advice, which we followed enthusiastically was that we should ‘shower with a friend‘ to save the country’s diminished energy supplies. ‘Oh, that’s interesting’ the wife of the couple remarked ‘as I was born in 1974!’ We giggled and wondered?

In the late afternoon, we were delighted to have an hour-long FaceTime video link with my wife’s cousin’s daughter (is that called a ‘cousin once removed’?) We found out how at first hand how COVID-19 crisis was affecting the USA – predictably, the Democratic states were blaming the lack of preparedness on President Trump whilst the more red-neck states (inland, Republican) were inclined to believe that it was all a conspiracy to attempt to discredit Trump! Whereas here in the UK, we quickly added shops selling alcohol (off-licenses) to the essential stores such as supermarkets, pharmacies and garages the Americans had decided that it was a top priority to keep open – the gun stores! One really has to wonder. Now that we have discovered the joys of FaceTime-ing, we wonder why we have not done it long before. Of course, it does assume that you have Apple technology at both ends but given that the Apple Contacts pages give you one link to activate, then what could be easier?